Home > Charmfall (The Dark Elite #3)(13)

Charmfall (The Dark Elite #3)(13)
Author: Chloe Neill

My stomach growled, and I wished I had a stash of snacks in my room. By the time I was showered and dressed, I wouldn’t have much time for breakfast. That was St. Sophia’s—you better be an early riser or you weren’t getting fed.

Thinking Scout might have a snack in hand, assuming she was even awake, I hopped out of bed and scuffed across the common room in my pajamas—a tank top, fuzzy plaid bottoms, and thick socks. The stone floors were always cold.

I knocked on her door, and as soon as she muttered, “Come in,” pushed it open.

Scout was already awake, wearing her uniform skirt and a long-sleeved shirt against the early-morning chill. Today she’d pulled her short hair into tiny ponytails that stuck out on each side of her head. She sat on her bed, her Grimoire—her book of magic spells—on the bed in front of her. To me and everyone else, it looked like a comic book. To Scout, it held the mysteries of magic. She was a spellbinder, which meant that not only could she cast spells, she could make them. Figure out the recipe and the words that would bring the spell to life. Her Grimoire held them all, which was why Reapers were always eager to get their hands on it.

I made a growly noise and sat down cross-legged on the floor.

“Good morning, sunshine.”

I growled again. “I still don’t have magic. I can feel it in my bones.” I looked up at her. “What about you?”

“No, and if I spend too much time thinking about not having it, I’m going to lose it. So I’m going to pretend it’s just a blip on the screen. Just a temporary hiatus.”

Somehow, I didn’t think that attitude was going to last long. “Why are you already up?”

She waved a hand over her book. “I’m looking for answers,” she said, rolling the “r” at the end of “answers” like a bad fortune-teller.

“Any luck?”

“About the magical blackout, not even a little. But if you have smelly ankle warts, I am your woman.”

I wrinkled my nose. It was way too early to talk about smelly ankle warts. Not that there was ever a good time to talk about smelly ankle warts. While I was on the subject . . . Who even got smelly ankle warts?

“I’m going to need a lot of coffee before I’m going to be ready for smelly ankle warts.”

Scout leaned over the side of her bed. When she sat up again, she held a paper cup of coffee in her hands. I snatched it immediately and took a sip. I was only fifteen, but I’d grown up at the college in New York state where my parents had been professors. I was brought up around school supplies, backpacks, and coffee, which explained why I loved fancy Japanese notebooks, cool messenger bags, and lattes.

I was a girl before my time.

I took a sip and closed my eyes. It was some kind of caramely goodness with whipped cream and just enough sugar. Maybe not diet food, but a really good waker-upper. “Oh, my God, I love you. Seriously. Marry me and business.”

“That is probably the best offer I’ll get today, but I must decline. Since I’m looking for answers today, I already called that Detroit. Girl wakes up at five o’clock every day. It’s ridiculous.”

“That is ridiculous. What did she say?”

“She used a bunch of technical words, but I think the gist was that they’re working on finding the cause of the blackout. They’re monitoring e-mail traffic and they have ‘eyes and ears’ on the sanctuaries, with cameras and video feed blah blah nonsense blah blah. Do you know what an aperture is? She kept throwing that around a lot.”

“I think it’s part of a camera. Is she going to call you back if she finds something?”

“Technically, she’s supposed to go through her Varsity Adepts, but yeah, she said she would.” She frowned. “Hey, you don’t think Michael has a thing for her, do you?”

“For Detroit? Are you serious? Scout, if he was any more into you, he’d quit school and start following you around like a groupie. I mean, that’s really the only other move he could make at this point.”

“Fine,” she said. “I get it.”

“I mean, he could propose, I guess, unless he already has?”

“Are you done?”

“Oh, my God, you two could totally have a winter wedding. That would be sweet.”

She lifted her eyebrows.

I put my hand over my heart. “Now I’m done. Swearsies.” And while we were on the subject of boys . . . “Hey, is it wrong that I’m feeling less motivated about going to the dance with Jason if he’s skipping out this week to maybe—possibly—go meet the girl his family’s picked for him?”

“Did he say that’s what was going to happen?”

“Well, not in so many words, but it’s on the list of things he has to do at some point.”

“Then keep the faith, Parker. I’m not denying he’s got issues about being a wolf, but he’s good people. He wouldn’t string you along. He’s not that kind of guy.”

“I just don’t want my heart to get broken, you know?”

“You’d rather bail out now than risk it, you mean? That’s not exactly the brave Adept I know and love.”

“Maybe my courage is in the same place as my magic.” I flicked my fingers into the air. “Poofed right into the ether.”

“I’ll poof you right into the ether. Now, go take a shower. You’re kind of stinking up my room with Adept funk.”

“I do not have any Adept funk.” I delicately sniffed my tank top. It smelled like laundry detergent, but I wouldn’t mind brushing my teeth. “Fine,” I said, turning my back on her and heading for the door. “I’m going. But I’m not happy about it.”

“By the time you come back,” she said, “you better have a fantastic smile on your face.”

I hoped I would.

After a trip down the hall to the shower, I climbed into my St. Sophia’s uniform. The plaid skirt was mandatory. We had some choices for shirts—button-down, hoodie, long-sleeved T-shirt, cardigan. It was chilly in my room, so I assumed it would be even colder outside. I opted for the button-down and a cardigan on top. It wasn’t exactly high fashion, but it would keep me warm in the usually freezing-cold halls of St. Sophia’s.

Thankfully, the shoes were entirely up to us. I loved shoes—especially if they came from vintage stores or thrift shops. The hunt was really the best part. The floor of my small closet was full of them—the ones I’d hauled to Chicago from New York and a few I’d found with Scout in stores in the Loop.

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