Home > Charmfall (The Dark Elite #3)(6)

Charmfall (The Dark Elite #3)(6)
Author: Chloe Neill

She might have been angry about the commotion I’d caused—and the assault I’d just perpetrated. But there was something that would anger her even more.

“He’s a Reaper,” I said, putting the suitcase on the ground. “He was working on Lisbeth.” I pointed to the bench where she still sat, hunched over the arm.

“Oh no,” Foley said, running in her skirt and low heels to the bench. She sat down beside Lisbeth, gently moved her head, and looked into each of her eyes. “Weak,” she said, “but she’ll manage.”

Foley looked back at Lesley. “Go to my office. There’s a number on speed dial—it’s the first one on the phone. Call it. Tell the man who answers that I need him.”

Without a word, Lesley nodded and ran for the door.

Foley stroked a hand over Lisbeth’s face. She knew all about magic and Reapers and Adepts. Her daughter had been one, but she’d died in the line of duty.

“It was bold of him,” she said, then looked over at me. “To be out in the open.”

“Maybe they’re working on infiltrating the school. They’ve tried to take Scout’s Grimoire—her book of magic—before.”

“I remember.”

“I tried to get him away from her.” I shivered involuntarily, thinking of what I’d seen—the Reaper actually stealing her soul, one wisp at a time. “He was already in the middle of it.”

“So I see. Why did you hit him with a suitcase? Why not use your own magic?”

That was my question, too.


I barely paid attention to the school as I passed back through it, from the dome in the main building, to the Great Hall where we studied, and then on to the dorms. I ran upstairs to the suite I shared with Lesley, Scout, and Amie and unlocked the door.

I knocked on the door to Scout’s bedroom, but didn’t bother to wait for an invitation.

Scout wore black pajamas and sat cross-legged on her small bed, an open book in front of her. Her hair was blond on top and dark underneath, and it was currently sticking out of her head in a million directions. She looked a little like a Goth pincushion, not that I was going to tell her that.

Eyes wide, she yanked off a pair of earphones. “What’s wrong?”

“A Reaper was outside—on campus—attacking Lisbeth Cannon. He was just sitting there, drinking her. And when I tried to firespell him, my magic was gone. It doesn’t work. At all. No firespell at all. And then Foley came, and she called someone, I don’t know who, and Lisbeth was unconscious.”

“Whoa, slow down.” There was concern in her eyes, but also confusion. She patted the bed beside her. “Sit down, slow down, and tell me exactly what happened.”

I filled her in on the Reaper’s attack and what I’d tried—and failed—to do.

“He broke through the wards.”

Scout had put wards, magical guards, on the giant door in the school’s basement that led to the tunnels. The wards were supposed to keep Reapers at bay, but the Reapers had at least one wardbreaker whose job was to break through those protections. Daniel Sterling, the leader of our Enclave, had recently helped Scout strengthen the wards to keep the wardbreaker out, but maybe that still hadn’t been enough.

“Not necessarily,” I said. “Maybe she just let him in through the gate. It definitely looked like they knew each other.”

“Maybe,” Scout said, but she didn’t sound convinced. She unfolded her legs, then hopped onto the floor. “Let me see your back.”

I stood up, lifted up my T-shirt, and showed it to her.

“Your Darkening is still there,” she said.

“I’m still me,” I said, pulling my T-shirt down again. “I’m just me with nonfunctioning firespell. What about you? What was the last magic you worked?”

“Uh, I turned off my alarm clock this morning.”

“With magic?”

She blushed a little. “It’s a new kind of spell. Hardly magic at all. Like a little appetizer-type thing. I was testing it.”

“And it worked?”

“If you’re not still hearing talk radio played at jet-level decibels, it worked.”

“Your alarm is set to talk radio? Why?”

“Because I hate it,” she said simply. “And that makes me want to turn it off faster.”

I couldn’t argue with that, but it also was not the point. I wiggled my fingers at her. “Try something now. I want to know if it’s just me.”

“But I feel fine,” she said.

“So did I before the Reaper popped in and my firespell was completely ineffective.”

She looked at me for a minute, probably trying to figure out whether I was really hurting or just getting upset about nothing. She must have decided to trust me, because she walked over to one of her bookshelves, which—like the rest of her room—was packed with stuff. She picked a small, glossy lacquered apple from one of her collections and put it on her bed, then stood back.

“Do I need safety glasses for this?”

“Are you going to poke your eye out just standing there?”

“Probably not.”

“Then, no. Watch and learn, newbie.” Scout blew out a breath and tucked her chin in to her chest, giving the apple a concentrated stare. Her lips moved with some silent spell, and I watched and waited for something to happen.

But nothing did.

Frowning, she shook out her hands and shook her head. “I’m probably just tense or tired or something,” she said, and then tried again, her expression fierce and focused.

Again, nothing.

“I don’t understand. I did everything right, the same way I always do it. How could it not work?”

“Probably for the same reason mine doesn’t work.”

“This is bad,” she said. “We need to call Daniel.” She dug into her messenger bag and pulled out a phone, then frantically typed out a text message.

I nibbled on the edge of my thumb, the tension in the room high while Scout texted Daniel and we waited for a response.

I hated waiting in situations like this. The anticipation killed me. Trying not to dwell on it, I pulled out my own phone and checked for messages.

There was one waiting for me—from my parents. I didn’t hear from them as much as I wanted, and sometimes getting their messages hurt as much as not hearing from them. It was like a reminder they were only partly connected to me anymore. They were far away, and little bytes of data weren’t the same as getting a good hug—or just knowing they were there.

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