Chapter Twenty-Three

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When we walk up to the MAX station, I start to move toward Miah, but Christina holds me back.

"You're me, stupid," she hisses under her breath. "Try to act like it."

I clench my teeth and hang back, but it's harder than I thought it would be to watch Miah's eyes light up when my sister goes up to him. Does she have to stand so close? He glances up at me and smiles, but there's a tightness around his eyes that wasn't there when he looked at Christina.

"Did you guys have any trouble sneaking out?"

I shake my head. "It was pretty easy. Thanks for letting me tag along."

He nods, glancing at my sister. "I suppose Shelby told you what this is all about?"

"Yeah, but don't worry; I don't want to cast tonight. I'm just here to watch."

His expression brightens, and he slides an arm around Christina's shoulder. "Hopefully, there will be a lot to see." He grins down at her, and my fingers clench reflexively. "Did you bring any spells, or am I on my own again?"

She smiles up at him, giving him an overly sappy expression that looks stupid on my face. "I've got a few," she says flirtatiously. "If you still want them."

I force myself not to gag, and I push past them to the waiting train. "Come on. You two can talk shop on the way there."

"Where are we going, anyway?" Christina asks, threading her fingers through Miah's as we board the train.

He winks. "It's a secret. I don't want to tell you until we get there, in case your dad decides to use his mind woojey powers to figure out what's going on."

I force a laugh. "He doesn't read our minds," I say with more confidence than I feel.

Christina glares at me. "But it's probably a good idea to be cautious about the Caster Force."

The train is full, so we lean against the poles in the middle as we pull out of the station. "You can say that again," Miah says, reaching up to grab the pole that my sister is leaning against, so it's almost like he's got an arm around her. I look away, trying to fight back the jealousy that's curling in my stomach. "After last time, I just don't want to take any chances."

Christina's eyes flicker to me, and I realize with satisfaction that I didn't tell her about the Caster Force showing up the last time I was there, or about Sanderson's arrest. I stare back at her innocently, and she fakes a smile. "Right. I'm glad you're being more careful tonight."

Miah leans toward her, surprisingly steady despite the swaying train. "So, what spells do you have for me?"

It nearly killed me to give Christina my notebook again, but she'd pointed out that it would look pretty weird if I were the one carrying it around, so she reaches into her bag and pulls out my spell book. She doesn't even glance at me as she flips the pages, and I try not to care. I tune them out, staring out the window at the fast-moving darkness around us, trying not to think about the guy I'm crazy about plotting strategy with my sister who looks like me. I shake my head. Someday, I think, I'll tell him about this mess, and maybe we'll laugh about it. My stomach clenches as soon as the thought flickers through my mind, and I cross my fingers with the desperate hope that Miah and I will have a someday that will matter.

***

We change trains once, and finally we get off near the river, at the same stop Kelsey and I take whenever we go down to the flea markets and vendors that set up every weekend for Saturday Market. It's disorienting to be there in the dark, however; instead of bright tables overflowing with cool products and bustling people, the riverbank is dark and gloomy, looking more like something out of a murder mystery novel than the cheerful flea market I'm used to. For a minute, it almost feels like the shadows are growing, and I shake my head, trying to stop worrying about the creepy sensation that's crawling across my spine.

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