Luke came back at dusk. He offered no apology for leaving me behind with a stranger and forcing me to worry about his hide for hours. By the time he walked through the door, I was more than a bit testy.

Luke smiled as he walked into the room. "Hi." He was now dressed in all black: a black sweatshirt, black jeans, and black boots.

"Hey," I answered from the couch, continuing to flip through TV channels.

Luke had a gray duffel bag in each hand. He walked over and put them down in front of me before joining me on the couch. "How are you doing?"

"I'm just fine and dandy. Been here all day, watching TV and eating cereal." I turned and gave him a glare. "How's your day been?"

"I went back to Pagan's."

I gasped. "You didn't. We decided it wasn't worth the risk."

"I know we did, but there were things I need for the ritual that I can't get anywhere else. Not out here."

"And were the men..."

"There was no one around. They trashed the place." He frowned and ran a hand through his hair. "They didn't take anything as far as I could tell. It looked like someone went through the place and just smashed stuff up for the fun of it."

Regret went through me. Pagan's beautifully converted barn, ruined. "Did you find what you were looking for?"

"I did." He gestured toward one of the duffel bags. "Just about everything we need. I also stopped and did some shopping." He took in my clothes. "I figured you might want to wear something that actually fits."

"Thanks."

He looked around the room. "Where's Freddy?"

"Upstairs."

"We should get going soon. There's something else I need to get, and it may take a bit of time."

"Freddy wants to come with us. He wants to help."

Luke shook his head. "It's a bad idea."

"I know he doesn't have any magic, but—"

"I'm going to help get Darla back." Freddy's voice sounded from the stairs.

Luke stood up. "I told you, it's not a good idea."

Freddy walked down the stairs and over to Luke until he stood toe-to-toe with him. "I've known Darla all my life. If she's in danger, I'm not just going to sit here and do nothing." He looked over at me. "If nothing else, I can hang back and be a lookout. Or be backup. If you two get caught, someone has to be around to tell your family where to find you."

Luke's expression turned grim. "If we get caught, we'll probably be dead by the time the family comes back."

Freddy crossed his arms. "All the more reason you need my help."

"The magic they have is powerful."

A stubborn expression crossed Freddy's face. "I'm willing to take the risk."

Luke didn't say anything for a moment. "Okay. You can help when we go after my sister. But you can't come with us tonight."

"But you might need me..."

Luke held up his hand and stopped him. "What we're doing tonight isn't something you can be a part of. We've put you in enough danger by coming here. Somehow they keep finding us, and the longer we stay, the more likely you'll end up on their radar."

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