Chapter Nine

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Justin opened the back door as soon as I jumped the privacy fence surrounding his yard. His eyes blazed with curiosity, and I could feel protective energy radiating off his skin. I tried to smile at him as I slipped inside, hoping I'd made the right choice. I needed to talk to somebody, and no matter what hadn't happened between us at the prom, Justin was still the person I trusted more than anybody else. If I was being honest, maybe I'd admit that I texted him because a part of me wanted him to leap to my defense and prove that he still cared about me, which was sort of silly, really, but I couldn't help it if I had a romantic streak. I could, however, keep those thoughts to myself.

He closed the sliding door behind me and sealed it by drawing a pentacle in the air. I almost saw the line of energy; he was getting stronger since his declaration of White magic. My skin tingled, and I felt myself being pulled toward him like a magnet. I took a careful step back, trying to get a grip on my emotions. I wondered if Justin wasn't feeling as awkward as I was, but he acted calm and collected. Had he forgotten that he'd sort of proposed to me before I went Red?

He put a finger over his lips, and I nodded. We slipped upstairs silently and shut the door to his bedroom. Justin again sealed the door, this time with a gesture I'd never seen before. I studied the white light as it faded, but I couldn't quite make out the shape. I made a mental note to ask him later if that was a White magic thing. When he turned to face me, his eyes were shining with excitement, and I felt my own heart speed up in response.

"So tell me what's going on."

I smiled, despite the empty pit in my stomach. Justin's straightforwardness had been one of the things that attracted me to him the year before, combined with his casual sense of comfort. When Justin moved, there was a sensual grace in his step, but whenever I watched him, it was clear that he was oblivious. There weren't many Witches who weren't at least a little bit arrogant, but Justin was humble even before declaring White. It was one of the things I loved about him, although I'd never admit that out loud. Instead, I focused on the matter at hand.

"I'm a Red."

He nodded, unsurprised, and I realized that word of my unconventional choice had probably circulated around the school on the heels of my expulsion. That annoyed me, but I didn't think now was the time to get defensive about my privacy.

I took a deep breath. "I think I've found out what that means."

He leaned forward. "What?"

"Reds control chaos. There are never more than three Red Witches at any given time, because they are so powerful." I felt my cheeks flushing; Justin was a powerful Witch, and I was making it sound like I was better than him. I'd always accepted that the boy I'd fallen in love with was more powerful than I was, but everything had been flipped on its head. He didn't look offended, though, so I pushed on. "Reds have been responsible for some of the worst events in history. Helen of Troy was a Red, and we all know how much better she made her world."

Justin snorted with suppressed laughter, and I smiled.

"The three Witches in Macbeth really existed, and they were all Reds. Reds aren't allowed to know each other anymore, because every time the Reds have gathered in history, chaos has gone spinning out of control."

"You can't control chaos." Justin was quiet, but his words were powerful. I paused for a second, considering.

"I don't really understand it all yet, but I think you—I mean I—can. I think Red magic exists to shape the chaos that happens. There will be chaos in the world no matter what; it's a primal force, and we can't ignore it."

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