CHAPTER 19

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"Is it always a chick protecting the guy?" I asked as we settled into the seats, side-by-side at the library.

The tables behind and in front of us were empty, and the towering bookshelves flanking each side of our table, gave us the privacy I'd hoped for. Despite my better judgment, I was beginning to believe this whole Melace and Patronus thing.

I mean, I'd survived all this time, never knowing why, maybe this was the reason.

"Yep. Always female. And the Melace is always male."

I flipped open the Advanced Demonology textbook toward page 400. I'd never been one to study much, but what if someone would have flipped ahead in the book and found all this out? "And you know it's always a chick because of your mental download from the previous Melace?"

Okay, that felt weird to say.

Tom laughed. He leaned into his chair and rested his arm on the back of mine while I thumbed through the pages. "Yep. The powers-that-be gave me a bunch of knowledge. But it isn't stuff I can just recall, like something I've studied for an exam or anything. It filters through as I go."

"I don't get it."

"When I first came here, I knew only that I was the Melace—a being meant to even out the playing field against evil—and that I had a Patronus meant to join me." He smiled.

"How'd you find our little TLC Agency?"

"When someone starts Googling all these mystical things, super powers, weird words like Melace and Patronus, it tends to set off some alarms that our fun little Agency has lookouts for. Mr. Smith found me."

"Same here. Well, and the fact that I killed my parents."

He gripped my shoulder. "You killed your parents?"

"Wicked nightmare, I sparked a fire in the house, they didn't survive."

"I'm so sorry, Dakota."

I turned my attention back to the textbook, so not wanting to dwell on my parents' deaths. Not now, anyway.

Tom had been so sweet. After last night's talk on The Hill, he walked me to my dorm and let me be, agreeing to meet me in the library the next morning. Didn't get much sleep, though, with my mind whirling more than a twister ripping up tornado alley.

"Mr. Smith appeared, and as I mentioned the other night, my parents were more than happy to get rid of me. I didn't fit into their perfect social status."

"That sucks." I continued flipping pages with shaky fingers. Things were setting in for me. Maybe this was true. "Wait, seems backwards. The girl protecting the guy? What's that about?"

"Just how it's always been." Tom sat up in his chair.

"Okay, so, here it is." I flipped forward a few pages and saw the chapter was less than five pages long.

"Not much there, I know," he said.

"You can fill in the blanks, now." I glanced at him. "Right?"

"Mostly. Mr. Smith and Professor Adams have me documenting everything. I'm sure they'll come out with a new edition of this text book."

"I bet."

"But, Red. Don't be scared by what you read, okay?"

"Why would I be? Well, besides the fact that I'm charged with guarding a five-hundred-year-old Melace?"

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