Part 13

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For the most part, Bronte didn't do angry. She did upset on occasion. And annoyed maybe once in a blue moon. But full-blown angry was not something she experienced often, not with her fair attitude.

When she did reach angry though, even Tolkienesque orcs would have run for cover.

Eyes flashing, she stared down at me with the most repulsed look I had ever seen. I wouldn't have even thought her face could screw into such a scowl. "Purified?"

"Yes," I whispered, still huddled into a ball on the couch. I had my arms wrapped around my legs and I, for whatever macabre reason, couldn't look away from the fire on her face.

"You allowed him in here to purify our spirits?"

Behind me, I heard Oliver let out a pleased chuckle. "You hear that? She said, 'our spirits,' like we fit here. Did you hear that, Cyril?"

"Yes, Oliver, I heard her."

Both Cyril and I were trying to ignore the joviality in his tone. He seemed to be thoroughly enjoying Bronte's wrath.

"Go back to the part," Bronte snapped, "where you decided not to tell me about any of this."

Now I had to look away. "I'm sorry, Bronte, I just...I just wanted to have this handled, you know?"

"Handled." She spat the word out like a curse.

"I made a mistake."

"You did a hell of a lot more than that."

I flinched at her tone and her language. She never swore. Never.

I'd really pissed her off.

I continued staring at the ground, not sure what else to do.

"And he said the longer the four of us continue to live in close proximity to each other, the greater the risk of summoning that monster back here?"

"Yes."

"Because it had happened to him before? And he'd shown you the scars?"

"Yes."

"And knowing how afraid he was, knowing that he'd already been hurt once, you thought it'd be a good idea to invite him over for a little tête-à-tête?"

"Yes, but—"

"Idiot," she snapped, cutting me off. "You're supposed to be smart, Stella, but that was a real stupid thing to do."

"I wanted to talk with him more."

"Then you invite him out for coffee or something. A neutral site. You don't bring him to exactly where he wants to exorcise the ghosts—you do know that's what purification is, don't you? Exorcising them?"

"But I thought Cyril and Oliver might have questions too."

She ground her teeth together. "Then you write them down and take them to him later."

"I—yes, you're right. I should have done that."

She took in a sharp breath. I winced, expecting another verbal attack. And her words were angry. But the content surprised me. "And the bruises on your arms?"

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