One More Wicked Deed

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The easy part was sneaking out

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The easy part was sneaking out. All it took was a spell to quiet their footsteps done by Willow. It would be harder to sneak back in, when their mother would have most likely grown suspicious. Either way, Cora already knew what she'd say to Stella when it happened.

They took the train to the park, sitting side by side on the cold, hard, orange seats. Willow had made Cora swear up and down she wouldn't intrude on her and Oliver's date.

You have it so easy.

At least Willow didn't have to cause misery to the boy she was interested in. Why couldn't she be twelve again?

When they'd gotten off the train, and were heading up the stairs, Willow said, "He's waiting for me outside, so stay away."

Cora had informed Beau that they'd be spying on her little sister. To her surprise, he'd taken it well. He understood, being a big brother himself, that she had to keep a close eye on Willow. After all, this was Willow's first official date.

The stuffiness of the train had spoiled Cora. Outside, the cold air nipped at the parts of her skin that were exposed. She shoved her hands into her pockets, keeping back as she promised as Willow strode up to a boy who looked harmless enough from a distance. She couldn't see them under his hat, but she remembered Oliver had ears that stuck out and had a slight gap between his teeth. He was the one who'd said their Halloween costume was lame.

As Willow and Oliver began ahead, Cora followed them, being sure to keep a few feet between them. In the night, the headlights from cars were like early Christmas lights. The trees made the air smell cleaner than usual, sending that smell Cora's way as their leaves rustled. Cora felt a slight thrill, because the holidays were upon them, because she was meeting Beau for their fourth date, counting Crumbs and Crumble Café, and because she'd never snuck out before, but she supposed every little bit of wickedness counted.

The light changed and they started across the street. Willow turned, waving at Cora, a gesture that meant keep back. Cora thought she had been keeping back, but she slowed her pace, only to quicken it again when she caught sight of Beau on a bench not too far away.

He stood as she approached with a wide grin across his face. He held two Styrofoam cups. Handing her one, he said, "It might be too cold now but it's your favorite."

Cora took the hot chocolate from him. Keeping one eye on Willow who'd headed through the entrance, she gave Beau a quick peck on the cheek, then, taking his hand, she said, "Come on, let's go before we lose them."

***

The skating rink closed at six-thirty on Saturday, which didn't give Cora and Beau much time for skating or spying. Beau kept one hand on the rail and one hand in Cora's the whole time. Although he looked silly, like a baby taking his first steps, he never stopped smiling.

"That's it. You've got it," Cora said to encourage him. On the other side of the rink, Willow and Oliver were chasing each other, as if they were playing a game of tag. Maybe they were. Cora found them sweet, their sweetness made her think of the freckles on Beau's lips again and she found herself staring at his mouth.

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