“Mike was a dick,” I say loudly. It shocks Will into stillness, which is what I intended. “He didn’t deserve loyalty. Not Carmel’s, and not yours.”
All his attention is on me now. The blade shines brightly under the school’s fluorescent lights. I don’t want my skin to stretch up over my face either, but I’m curious. I wonder if my link to the knife, my blood right to wield it, would protect me somehow. The probabilities weigh out in my head. Should I rush him? Should I wrestle it away?
But instead of looking pissed, Will grins.
“I’m going to kill her, you know,” he says. “Your sweet little Anna.”
My sweet little Anna. Am I that transparent? Was it obvious, the whole time, to everyone but me?
“She’s not weak anymore, you idiot,” I spit. “You won’t get within six feet of her, magical knife or no magical knife.”
“We’ll see,” he replies, and my heart sinks as I watch my athame, my father’s athame, disappear back inside the dark of his jacket. More than anything, I want to rush him, but I can’t risk someone getting hurt. To emphasize the point, Thomas and Carmel come and stand by my shoulders, ready to hold me back.
“Not here,” Thomas says. “We’ll get it back, don’t worry. We’ll figure it out.”
“We’d better do it fast,” I say, because I don’t know whether I was telling the truth just now. Anna’s got it in her head that she’s supposed to die. She might just let Will in her front door to spare me the pain of doing it myself.
* * *
We decide to scrap the pizza. In fact, we decide to scrap the rest of the school day, and head instead for my place. I’ve turned Thomas and Carmel into a right fine pair of delinquents. On the way over, I ride with Thomas in his Tempo while Carmel follows behind.
“So,” he says, then stops and chews his lip. I wait for the rest, but he starts to fidget with the sleeves of his gray hoodie, which are a little too long and are starting to fray at the edges.
“You know about Anna,” I say to make it easy on him. “You know how I feel about her.”
I run my fingers through my hair but it falls right back into my eyes. “Is it because I can’t stop thinking about her?” I ask. “Or can you really hear what’s going on in my head?”
Thomas purses his lips. “It wasn’t either of those things. I’ve been trying to stay out of your head since you asked me to. Because we’re—” He pauses and looks sort of like a sheep, all lip-chewy and lashy-eyed.
“Because we’re friends,” I say, and shove him in the arm. “You can say it, man. We are friends. You’re probably my best friend. You and Carmel.”
“Yeah,” Thomas says. We must both be wearing the same expression: a little embarrassed, but glad. He clears his throat. “So, anyway. I knew about you and Anna because of the energy. Because of the aura.”
“It’s not just a mystic thing. Probably most people can pick up on it. But I can see it more clearly. At first I thought it was just the way you were with all of the ghosts. You’d get this excited sort of glow whenever you were talking about her, or especially when you were near the house. But now it’s on you all the time.”
I smile quietly. She is with me all the time. I feel stupid now, for not seeing it sooner. But hey, at least we’ll have this strange story to tell, love and death and blood and daddy-issues. And holy crap, I am a psychiatrist’s wet dream.
Thomas pulls his car into my driveway. Carmel, only a few seconds behind us, catches up at the front door.
“Just chuck your stuff anywhere,” I say as we go in. We shed our jackets and toss our book bags on the sofa. The pitter-patter of dark little feet announces Tybalt’s arrival, and he climbs up Carmel’s thigh to be held and petted. Thomas gives him a glare, but Carmel scoops the four-legged little flirt right up.
I lead them into the kitchen and they sit down at our rounded oak table. I duck into the refrigerator.
“There are frozen pizzas, or there’s a lot of lunch meat and cheese in here. I could make some hoagie melts in the oven.”
“Hoagie melts,” Thomas and Carmel agree. There’s a brief moment of smiling and blushing. I mutter under my breath about auras starting to glow, and Thomas grabs the dish towel off the counter and throws it at me. About twenty minutes later we’re munching on some pretty excellent hoagie melts, and the steam from mine seems to be loosening up the old blood still stuck up my nose.