Chapter Thirty-Seven

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"I have to go talk to my parents." We had reached my house, and all the lights were on, illuminating the dark street.

Justin shoved his hands in his pockets. "But I'll see you tomorrow, right?"

I hesitated. "Justin—there are things I need to do."

"So I'll help you!"

I shook my head. "Look, I really appreciate everything you've done, but I don't want to put you in any more danger. Hecate has no problem using the people close to me, and I don't want her to get her hands on you." I hated myself then, but I didn't want to find out how I'd survive if something happened to him. Still, pushing Justin away felt like I was sticking a nail into my heart.

"I'd like to see her try." Justin clenched his fists and I grabbed his hands, shaking my head.

"No, you wouldn't. I don't care how strong a White Witch you are, Hecate will always be stronger. She's stronger than me, too, but I'm not trying to beat her."

A confused expression crossed his face. "Then what is all this about?"

I sighed. "I want to use Red magic to find some kind of balance. Hecate wants things to tip in favor of chaos, I don't know why. But I need to find the other Red Witches and see what we can do together." I had realized that Hades was right. I didn't have to do this alone. It wasn't about winning; it was about using Red magic for good. Maybe if I found the other Red Witches, I could learn something.

He frowned and looked at the ground. Gently, I touched his cheek.

"Justin, look at me." Reluctantly, his eyes met mine. "I love you. Nothing changes that."

His frown deepened for a moment, but then he nodded. I kissed him lightly.

"Thank you." I hoped he understood what I meant: I wasn't just thanking him for tonight.

"I still think I can help." He sounded petulant, and I smiled.

"You already have."

My parents were sitting in the living room when I opened the door. Xerxes crept out from under the couch, purring regally as if nothing had happened. He hopped up beside my dad, who began petting him absentmindedly.

I drew a deep breath. "I have a lot of things that I need to tell you both."

Mom shook her head. "No, you don't, honey."

"But—"

"Darlena," Dad interrupted, "we knew when you made your declaration that there would be certain things you couldn't tell us."

I stared, confused. Mom got off the couch and crossed to me. "You're a Red, sweetie. And we can't help you very much." She embraced me tightly.

"You know I'm a Red?"

Dad nodded and Mom patted my cheek. "We've known since the beginning. Don't you remember when Hecate visited us?"

I stared at them, confused. Had their memories just been miraculously restored? What if the spell Rochelle had cast had dissolved when I killed her? My stomach flipped at the thought, and I tried to ignore the memory of Rochelle sailing off the roof to her death. "But what about tonight?"

Mom sighed. Dad stared at the crackles of electricity flying off the cat's back as he stroked him.

"Tonight," Dad said firmly, "you saved us. I still don't know what was going on, but I know we're safe. And so are you."

"We've missed you, Lena."

"Missed me? What ... " I trailed off as Persephone walked out of the kitchen. "Oh."

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