"See, this is so much better," Elodie said, as we studied my reflection in the mirror over my dresser. Even though the image was warped and distorted, I had to admit that I did look nice. Elodie had smoothed a hand over my hair, and the next thing I knew, it was falling in soft waves to my shoulders.
That's awesome, I told her, but I'm letting you use my body so that we can break into Lara's office, not so that you can give me a makeover.
Besides, if I wander around looking like this , people will either know I'm doing magic somehow or wonder how I managed to sneak a flatiron into Hex Hall.
It was an odd thing, watching my face crumple into a scowl at...myself.
"You're supremely irritating when you're right," she said, waving her hand. Once again, my hair sprung out in a messy halo of curls.
After we'd gotten back from the cell ar, Archer and I had told Jenna and Call about the kids down there. All of us had decided that getting into Lara's office was the next plan of attack. "There's bound to be something in there," Jenna said. "Either the spell that makes kids into demons, or the grimoire...."
"Maybe she'll have a file folder labeled, My Evil Plan," I suggested. "That would be super helpful." It had taken us three days to come up with a strategy to get into the office. Call was distracting Lara with questions about his own powers and how they might be useful to "the cause," while Jenna and Archer kept an eye on Mrs. Casnoff. Since she'd taken to just wandering in circles around the pond, that wasn't particularly challenging.
Which left the most important part to me and Elodie: using Elodie's magic to get into the office and search it for anything that might help us stop the Casnoffs. As far as plans went, it wasn't exactly D-day, but it was the best next step.
Now Elodie looked at my reflection and said, "It's weird. Looking in a mirror and seeing you." Yes, I think we've established this is kind of awful for everyone involved. Can we go now? We don't have much time.
Heaving a sigh, she turned away from the dresser. As she did, I thought I saw the mirror...I don't know, ripple for a second.
Did you see that? In the mirror?
Elodie glanced back. "All I see is you. Me." She waved her hand. "You know."
I studied the glass, but Elodie was right. Nothing there. Probably just a trick of the light, I told her. Sorry.
"It wouldn't surprise me," she muttered, opening the door. "That mirror is super jacked." We made our way onto the landing. I noticed a few of the younger witches huddled on one of the sofas, their heads close together. It wasn't the first time I'd come across one of these whispering pods of kids, and I wondered if maybe we weren't the only ones coming up with plans.
I don't swing my hips like that when I walk, I said to Elodie as we passed them. Cut it out.
She gave no sign of hearing me.
The house was nearly silent. Dinner had ended an hour or so before, and it was getting close to sundown. Everyone would be locked in their rooms then, which meant we had to hurry.
I could feel my heart pounding as we stepped into the main hallway. More glass had fall en from the stained-glass window. Now the angel who had created witches and warlocks was missing half her face, and a little shudder went through me as we tiptoed around the glass. I wasn't sure if it was me who was creeped out or Elodie. Probably both of us.
When we reached Lara's office, Elodie laid my hand on the doorknob. I could feel the magic sizzle up my arm, and gave a mental gasp.
"Why do you think Lara is Lara Casnoff, and Mrs. Casnoff is Mrs. Casnoff?" Elodie whispered as she worked her magic on the enchanted door. "It's her family name, right? So shouldn't she be Miss Casnoff? Or Ms.?" Of all the things to wonder about, that's what you're focused on? Her marital status?
"It's weird, that's all I'm saying," she hissed in reply.
You know you can talk to me in my head, right? You don't have to talk out loud and make everyone think I'm a crazy person. Just FYI.
"The only time I can talk is when I'm in your body, so sue me, I'm taking advantage of that." Before we could snipe at each other anymore, the door suddenly gave way. Pushing it open, Elodie dashed inside, closing the door behind her. Lara Casnoff's office was the total opposite of Mrs. Casnoff's, complete with soaring bookcases and a heavy wooden desk so brightly polished that I could see myself in it.
"Any idea on where we should start?" Elodie whispered.
The desk, I finally said. It'll be locked, and if it's anything like Mrs. Casnoff's desk, magic won't work on it. There's a nail in my pocket. Get it out, and I'll talk you through jimmying the lock.
Elodie's disdain flooded over me, but she got the nail and went to work on the lock. "Were you a burglar in the real world?" she muttered as she worked.
No. My mom and I lived in a particularly bad apartment once. The lock never worked right, and we always had to break in. Have to admit, I never thought the skill would come in handy again.
She gave a little chuckle. "What did you break in Mrs. Casnoff's desk for?"
Information on Archer. After he left.
"Ah. You're welcome, by the way?"
She jiggled the nail harder. "For putting him in his place the other night. Working with The Eye," she scoffed. "Yeah, that's a brilliant plan." He's just trying to think of something, I said automatically. I wasn't sure why I was defending him when I'd basically said that idea was the stupidest thing ever to have stupided, but I didn't like the scorn in her voice. Well, my voice, her words.
Elodie paused in trying to open the desk drawer and shoved my hair back with both hands. "What's it going to take for you to realize that Archer Cross is bad news? He's an Eye. He's a liar and a jerk, and he's not nearly as funny as he thinks he is. And you're betrothed to Cal. Boys who can heal all wounds and are super hot, to boot? Don't exactly come around every day." I don't think about Call like that.
Pressing the point of the nail back into the lock, Elodie snorted. "Um, hi, I've been in your head. You totally think about him like that." Look, this isn't a slumber party, I snapped. Can you please get back to work?
"Fine," she muttered. "Don't listen to me. But I'm telling you, Call is the way to go. Heck, if I had a body, I wouldn't mind-" I'm going to need you to stop right there.
I'm ninety-nine percent sure she wasn't going to stop right there, but before she could say anything else, the lock on the drawer gave way.
"Aha!" Elodie whispered. "Success!"
Here's the thing. When she slid open that drawer, I didn't expect to find anything. Not really. I mean, maybe a cryptic note or two, or a stupid riddle written on parchment that we had to decipher.
So when I saw the book sitting right on top of a pile of papers, I didn't realize what I was looking at. It was only when Elodie said, "Um...is that the grimoire you were talking about?"
I looked at the cracked black-leather cover, felt the power coming off it in waves. Yeah. It totally is.
"Well, that was...easy."
She reached out to take it, and without thinking, I shouted No!
Wincing, she raised my hands to my ears. "Ow! I told you, inside voice!"
It can't be this simple, I told her, Torin's words ringing in my ears. It's a trap. A trick.
"Or maybe something is finally going our way," she suggested. "Come on, Sophie. Gift horse. Mouth. Don't look at it." Again, she reached out to pick up the grimoire, but this time, it wasn't my mental screaming that stopped her.
It was the low creak of the door opening.
Before the door had moved more than an inch or so, Elodie scooped up the grimoire and shoved it awkwardly into the waistband of my skirt. As soon as the book touched the skin of my back, we both winced. The magic coming off of it felt like a low-level electric shock, and my arms and legs broke out in goose bumps.
I had to hand it to Elodie. If I'd been in control of my body, there would have been flailing and knocking things over, and I probably would have caught my clothes in the drawer. But Elodie smoothly closed the drawer without a sound, and sat down in Lara's chair like she belonged there. An excuse was already formulating in her head-or my head, it was hard to tell -when Call stuck his head around the door.
Elodie sat down with relief. "Oh, it's you."
Frowning, Call gave a curt nod. "I stalled Lara as long as I could. She said she was heading to the greenhouse, but I still wanted to give you a heads-up."
Elodie stood up and walked around the desk. "It's fine," she said. "I found what I was looking for." I? Why are you saying "I " and not "we" ?
There was no reply in my head as she smiled at Cal. "Thanks for the warning." He scanned my face with yet another one of his inscrutable expressions. I wondered if he had trademarked them. "So, are you Sophie? Or Elodie in Sophie?"
"Just me," she said with a little shrug. "Elodie whooshed on out of here when you opened the door." I didn't worry about inside voices now. What are you doing? I yelled as loudly as I could. She stiffened a little and caught Cal's arm. "Come on.
We should get out of here."
As she and Call walked back upstairs, the grimoire a buzzing weight against my back, and my fingers still nestled in the crook of his arm, I kept up a constant refrain to Elodie.
Stop it. Right now. Either tell him you're me, or get the hell out of my body.
We'd reached the third floor. The sitting room was empty, and Elodie steered Call past it toward my room. Trust me, Elodie finally replied. I'm doing you a favor.
She opened the door and gestured for Call to follow her. I watched him hesitate, and for a second, I thought he was going to realize that I wasn't me. But then he followed her. Jenna was gone, and Elodie hopped up onto the dresser, ankles crossed. Call softly closed the door behind him. "Did you find anything?" he asked in a low voice.
Elodie nodded. "Did I ever. I found the grimoire."
Call blinked at her. "The grimoire? What, just sitting out in the open?"
"In Lara's locked desk. Hey, do you know why Mrs. Casnoff, is, well, Mrs. Casnoff? I mean, that was her dad's name, so why the Mrs.?" Seriously? I asked.
Rubbing the back of his neck, Call said, "Huh? Oh, uh, she was married a long time ago, but all the Casnoffs keep the name. It's a tradition or something. But about the grimoire-"
"Did she have an arranged marriage? Like us?" Elodie asked, sliding off the dresser. She moved to stand in front of Cal, so close that I could see my reflection in his eyes. As stupid as it sounds, I was surprised by how me I looked. I was so sure some sign of Elodie would show up in my face. But there was nothing.
Still, Call gave her an odd glance as she sidled in closer. Come on, I begged silently. See it. See me .
But the moment passed, and after giving a little shake of his head, Call said, "Yeah, I guess. Sophie, did you see the spell? The one that could give you back your powers?"
Elodie was taken aback by that, and my hand strayed to the book, still pressing against my back. "Oh, right, that. Yeah, I was just about to find that spell, actually."
No! I howled yet again, but thankfully, Call had the same thought. "Don't," he snapped, grabbing my wrist as my fingers reached for the grimoire.