Chapter Twenty-One

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I lay awake for most of the night. Christina's bed is too soft and her room is unfamiliar, but the real reason I can't sleep is the way my thoughts are racing. Who could hate my sister enough to ruin her chances at the Threes? If that's even what this is about, I remind myself, rolling over for the millionth time and trying to get comfortable.

If this were just about me, I'd say Becca is the most likely suspect. She's really the only person who openly hates me, and the feeling is pretty much mutual. But Christina's questions about someone attacking her or, even worse, our whole family, are circling around in my brain, and I can't figure out what's really going on.

Christina and I talked way past midnight, but she had finally yawned and suggested we sleep and try to figure things out in the morning. I wish I'd have insisted that we should sleep in our right rooms, but she said that we should swap, on the off chance that Mom or Dad decide to check on us and get confused.

I roll over onto my back, staring up at the ceiling. Christina's got posters of rock groups and famous casters all over her ceiling, and the light from the street filtering through the window is enough for me to make out some of the images. I stare into the semi-darkness, trying to will my brain to come up with the solution, but nothing happens. Finally, somewhere just before dawn, I fall asleep, but the alarm is ringing before I can even dream, and I wake up groggy and disoriented. For just the first moment when I open my eyes, I don't know where I am, and then realization rushes in. I almost wish I could go back to groggy oblivion.

I lean over to the nightstand and grab my spell book. Before I'd left Christina in my room last night, I'd fished it out of my bag, and having the familiar notebook in my hands is surprisingly comforting. Flipping open to a blank page, I start writing. I'm not trying to scribe right now; I'm just journaling, writing down all the mess of everything that's happened, and somehow, by the time I've filled three pages, I feel a little bit better.

I close the notebook and set it down on the nightstand, but I must put it too close to the edge, because it falls to the ground. With a sigh, I get out of bed and bend down to pick it up. The spell book has landed face down and open, and I glance at the page it's opened to before I close it. As I do, the skin on the back of my neck prickles, and I bring the book closer to my face, skimming the words.

The page it fell open to has my angry rant about Christina, the one I wrote after my spell business blew up in my face and she'd gotten into it with me in the kitchen. I knew I'd been mad, angrier than I've ever felt toward her, which is saying something considering how crappy our relationship has been lately, but I hadn't remembered exactly what I'd written. Now, re-reading the words, I feel a sick, unbelievable certainty settle over me. I read the words again and again, but despite my desperate wishing, they stay the same.

Swallowing, I mark the page and take my notebook with me into the hall. I knock on the door to my bedroom, hoping that Mom or Dad don't come into the hall and ask me what I'm doing, and when I hear my own voice say, "Come in," I take a deep breath and slip inside the room, shutting the door firmly behind me.

Christina is digging through my closet and doesn't look up. "We've got to get you some new clothes; seriously, Shelby, did your fashion sense shrivel up and die this summer? How am I supposed to wear any of this?"

I don't say anything, and she must feel the tension in my silence because she glances at me over her shoulder. She pauses, one hand holding my Chucks, and the other hand halfway toward a purple sundress. "What is it?"

"I think I figured out who did this to us."

Instantly, she drops the shoes and straightens, her face a mask of furry. "Then let's undo it and make them pay."

I swallow, and then I hand her the spell book. It falls open to the page I'd marked, and Christina's eyes get big as she reads the angry words. I can see the wheels in her head turning, but I clear my throat and say it before she can make any accusations.

"It's me. I don't know how, but somehow, I think I'm responsible for this."

Christina stares at me for a moment, but then she begins to laugh. "You can't be serious."

I narrow my eyes at her. "Didn't you read what it says? 'Walk a mile in my shoes and see what it's like to be me.'"

"So? Shelby, even if you managed to scribe something that works, you'd have to find a caster to cast the spell for any of this to matter, and that didn't happen." She tilts her head to one side, considering. "Unless you got Jeremiah to do it."

I shake my head, trying to make her understand. "I didn't get anyone to do it. But come on, Christina, this is the only explanation. I wrote that the night before all this happened, and then bam, I wake up and I'm you and you're me. That's more than a coincidence; I did it."

"But how? You're a scribe," she says stubbornly. "And scribes can't cast, even if you were any good."

All my rage and frustration bubbles over, threatening to explode. I grit my teeth. "Actually, I can scribe. I wrote the spell that brought Kelsey her boyfriend, and the spells I've been selling have actually been working, even though normies have been using them. So maybe you don't have to be a caster to make magic." My voice has gotten louder, and I'm practically shouting at her now.

She shakes her head. "I don't believe you. Besides, if you did this, why haven't you fixed it?"

I hold out my hand for my spell book. "Let me try right now."

Skeptically, she gives me the notebook. "What are you going to do?"

"I'll come up with another spell to reverse this." I breathe evenly, trying to still my mind and slip into the pseudo-meditative state I've been using to write spells, but my thoughts are jangling around too loudly, and I can feel Christina's eyes on me, making it impossible to concentrate. I close my eyes, but instead of calming down, the cacophony in my head just gets worse.

When I open my eyes, Christina is looking at me with a mixture of triumph and pity. "Give it up, Shelby. I know you want to believe you're powerful, but there's no way you did this to us."

Before I can retort, someone knocks on the door, and I just about jump out of my skin. Christina rolls her eyes. "Yeah?" she says in my voice.

Dad opens the door, his eyes taking in both of us in an instant, and I see a flicker of confusion on his face before he smooths his features. "You girls are going to be late," he says, tapping his watch.

Christina nods, dismissing him, but I just stand there, clenching my fists around my notebook. Dad notices, and he frowns.

"Isn't that Shelby's?"

For a minute, I don't know what he's talking about. Of course it's mine; I'm holding it, aren't I? But then I glance at my sister and I remember that she looks like me, so Dad must think Christina has grabbed my notebook and maybe that's what we're fighting about. I glance at Christina, hoping she'll tell him something believable, but she just raises one eyebrow and glares at me.

I swallow the lump in my throat. "Right, yeah, I was just looking at it." I hand the notebook to Christina, even though it makes me feel sick to see it in her hands. She takes it with a smile, but there's a flicker of calculation in her eyes that makes me shiver.

Dad is still standing in the doorway staring at me, and I shake myself. "Guess I'd better go get dressed," I say, walking past him like I haven't just left the biggest part of my soul in my sister's hands. I glance back over my shoulder once, and my stomach twists.

Christina is standing in the center of my room, flipping through the spell book with a hungry expression, her lips moving silently.

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