Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia


  But I didn’t have to worry, because if there was one thing I had figured out about girls, it was that pretty soon they would give up trashing each other. They’d be too busy trashing me.

  “That’s because he’s afraid to make a decision,” Liv said.

  “No, it’s because he doesn’t want to upset anyone,” Lena snapped.

  “How would you know? He never says what he’s thinking.”

  “That’s not it. He never thinks about what he’s saying,” Lena fired back.

  “Enough!” I pulled through the crooked iron gates of Ravenwood, furious at both of them. Furious at Ridley. Furious at how the year was turning out. Furor, that was the right name for it, whatever this was. I hated feeling this way, and I hated it even more because I knew the feelings were real, even if it took a spell to bring them out into the open.

  Lena and Liv were still fighting when we got out of the car. Even though they knew they were under the influence of a Cast, they couldn’t help themselves. Or maybe they didn’t want to. The three of us walked toward the front door, and I stayed between them. Just in case.

  “Why don’t you give us some space?” Lena pushed in front of Liv. “Ever heard of a third wheel?”

  Liv pushed her back. “Like I wanted to come here? So once again, I’m supposed to clean up your mess? Then you’ll forget all about me, until next time—”

  I wasn’t listening anymore. I was looking at Ridley’s window. I saw a shadow pass in front of it, behind the curtains. All I could see was a silhouette, but I could tell it wasn’t Ridley.

  Link must have gotten here first, except I didn’t see the Beater. “I think Link’s in there.”

  “I don’t care. Ridley has a lot of explaining to do.” Lena was halfway up the staircase when I crossed the threshold. I sensed the change immediately—the air itself felt different. Lighter, somehow. I looked back at Liv.

  Her expression looked the way I felt. Confused. Disoriented. “Ethan, does something feel weird to you?”

  “Yeah—”

  “It’s the Furor,” Liv said. “It’s broken. The magic can’t pass the Bindings.”

  “Ridley! Where are you?” Lena was steps from her cousin’s door. When she reached it, she threw open the door without knocking. She didn’t seem to care if Link was in there or not. But it didn’t matter.

  The guy in Ridley’s room wasn’t Link.

  10.18

  Hostage

  What the hell?” I heard his voice before I saw him. Because he probably wasn’t expecting to see me in Ridley’s room any more than I was expecting to find him here.

  John Breed was sprawled out on Ridley’s pink shag carpet, with a video-game controller in one hand and a bag of Doritos in the other.

  “John?” Lena was as surprised as I was. “You’re supposed to be dead.”

  “John Breed? Here? It’s not possible.” Liv was shocked.

  John dropped the bag and jumped to his feet. “Sorry to disappoint you.”

  I stepped in front of Lena and Liv protectively. “I know I’m disappointed.”

  Lena didn’t need protecting. She pushed past me. “How dare you come into my house after everything you did? You pretended to be my friend, when all you wanted to do was take me to Abraham.” Thunder rumbled outside. “Every word you said to me was a lie!”

  “That’s not true. I didn’t know what they were gonna do. Bring me the Bible. The Book of Moons, whatever you want. I’ll swear on it.”

  “We can’t do that. Since Abraham has it.” I was pissed off, and I didn’t want to listen to John play dumb. It was a new tactic, and I was still trying to adjust to the fact that he was hanging out in Ridley’s bedroom eating Doritos.

  Lena wasn’t finished. “If that wasn’t bad enough, you turned Link into—you.” Lena’s hair was curling, and I hoped the room wasn’t about to catch fire.

  “I couldn’t help it. Abraham can make me do things.” John was pacing. “I—I can’t even remember most of what happened that night.”

  I crossed the room, until I was standing right in front of him. I didn’t care if he could kill me. “Do you remember dragging Lena up to that altar and tying her down? Do you remember that part?”

  John stopped pacing and stared at me, his green eyes searching mine. When he spoke, I could barely hear him. “No.”

  I hated him. The memory of his hands on Lena—of almost losing her that night. But he looked like he was telling the truth.

  John dropped down on the bed. “I black out sometimes. It’s been that way since I was a kid. Abraham says it’s because I’m different, but I don’t believe him.”

  “Are you saying you think he has something to do with it?” Liv pulled out her red notebook.

  John shrugged. “I don’t know.”

  Lena looked at me.

  What if he’s telling the truth?

  What if he’s not?

  “None of that explains why you’re in Ridley’s bedroom,” Lena said. “Or how you got into Ravenwood.”

  John stood up and walked over to the window. “Why don’t you ask that manipulative cousin of yours?” He sounded pissed off for a guy who had just been caught breaking and entering.

  Lena’s expression darkened. “What does Ridley have to do with this?”

  John shook his head, kicking a pile of dirty clothes. “I don’t know. How about everything? She’s the one who trapped me here.”

  I don’t know if it was the way he said it, or because we were talking about Ridley, but part of me believed him. “Back up. What do you mean, she trapped you?”

  He shook his head. “Technically, she trapped me twice. First in the Arclight, and then in here, when she let me out.”

  “Let you out?” Lena looked stunned. “But we buried the Arclight—”

  “And your cousin dug it up and brought it here. She released me, and I’ve been stuck in this house ever since. This place is Bound so tight, I can’t get any farther than the kitchen.”

  The Bindings. It wasn’t keeping something out of Ravenwood; it was keeping someone in. Just like I thought.

  “When did she let you out?”

  “Sometime in August, I guess.”

  I remembered the day Lena and I came in here to go down into the Tunnels—the rip I thought I’d heard.

  “August? You’ve been in here for two months?” Lena was losing it. “You’re the one who’s been helping Ridley. That’s how she’s Casting!”

  John laughed, but it sounded like bitterness more than anything. “Helping her? Thanks to your uncle’s library, she’s been using me as her own personal genie. Consider this dump my bottle.”

  “But how did she keep Macon from finding you?” Liv was writing down every word.

  “An Occultatio, a Concealment Cast. Of course, she made me do it.” He banged the wall with his fist, revealing the black tattoo that snaked its way around his upper arm. Another reminder that he was Dark, no matter what color his eyes were. “Lena’s uncle has a book about almost everything—except how to get out of this place.”

  I didn’t want to listen to him complain about the way he’d been treated. I’d hated John since the first time I saw him last spring, and now he had shown up to ruin our lives again. I looked over at Lena, whose face was unreadable, her thoughts closed off.

  Was this the way she felt about Liv?

  Except Liv hadn’t tried to kidnap my girlfriend and lead most of my friends to their deaths. “That’s funny, because I’ve got a few bottles hanging on a tree in my front yard, and I’d love to stuff you into one of them,” I said.

  John appealed to Lena. “I’m trapped. I can’t get out of here, and your nutbag cousin promised to help me. But she needed me to do a few things for her first.”

  He ran his hand through his hair, and I noticed he didn’t look as cool as I remembered. In his wrinkled black T-shirt and five o’clock shadow, he looked like he’d been watching soap operas and eating a lot of Doritos. “Ridley’s not a Siren—she’s a
n extortionist.”

  “But how have you been helping her if you can’t leave Ravenwood?” Liv asked. It was a good question. “Have you been teaching her to Cast?”

  John laughed. “Are you kidding? I turned cheerleaders into zombies and some party into a rumble. You think Ridley could pull off a Furor? She can barely tie her own shoes as a Mortal. Who do you think has been doing her math homework all year?”

  “Not me.” Lena was softening, I could tell, and it was killing me. He was like a painful, nasty infection that wouldn’t go away. “Then how is she Casting, if you didn’t teach her?”

  John pointed to the belt around Lena’s waist. “That thing.” He yanked on an empty belt loop, at the top of his jeans. “It acts as a conduit. Ridley wears the belt, and I do the Casting.”

  The creepy scorpion belt. No wonder she never took it off. It was her lifeline to the Caster world and John Breed—the only way she could have any power of her own.

  Liv shook her head. “I hate to say it, but it all makes sense now.”

  It did make sense, but that didn’t change anything for me. People lied. And John Breed was a liar, as far as I was concerned. I turned to Lena. “You don’t actually believe any of this? There’s no way we can trust him.”

  Lena looked from Liv to me. “What if he’s telling the truth? He knew about the cheerleaders. And the party. I think I agree with Liv. It all makes sense.”

  You two are going to start agreeing now?

  Ethan. It was a Cast. A Furor Cast makes people uncontrollably angry.

  Sure seemed real to me.

  I looked at John, skeptical. “There’s no way to know for sure.”

  John sighed. “I’m still in the room, you know.”

  Lena glanced at the door. “Well, there is one way.”

  Liv looked at her, nodding. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

  “Hello?” John looked at me. “Are they always like this?”

  “Yes. No. Shut up.”

  Reece was standing in the middle of Ridley’s room, her arms crossed disapprovingly. In her sweater set and pearls, she looked like she had been shipped in from some other, more proper Southern family. She wasn’t happy about being used as a human lie detector, and seemed even more annoyed to see John Breed in her sister’s room. Maybe Reece had some misguided fantasy that Ridley was going to become a Girl Scout like her, now that she was Mortal. But once again, her sister was bringing her down by association. Come to think of it, it was too bad the DAR had the whole bloodline requirement. Reece could have founded her own chapter.

  “If you think I’m keeping this a secret, you two are crazier than my sister. This is so over the line.”

  Neither one of us wanted a lecture from Reece, but Lena didn’t give up. “We aren’t asking you to keep it a secret. We want to know if he’s telling the truth before we tell Uncle Macon what’s been going on.” Lena was probably hoping John was lying—that Ridley hadn’t been hiding a dangerous Incubus stolen from the grave and channeling his powers.

  It wasn’t clear which was worse.

  “Because you’re about to be grounded for the rest of your life?” Reece asked.

  “Something along those lines.”

  Reece tapped her foot impatiently. “As long as we’re clear. You are telling Uncle Macon. Or I will.” Of course she would. She couldn’t pass up a good grounding.

  I was worried about more than her ratting us out. “Are you sure this will work, since—”

  “Since what?” Reece snapped. “Since my powers have been a little inconsistent? Is that what you’re trying to say?” Great. An angry Reece was never a good thing.

  “I—I just meant, are you sure you’ll know if he’s lying?” It was too late to backpedal now.

  Reece looked like she wanted to tear my head off. “Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m still a Sybil. Whatever I see in his face is the truth. If my powers are off, I won’t see anything.”

  Lena slid between us.

  You’re in over your head. I’ve got this.

  Thanks.

  I’ve been dealing with Reece the Beast a lot longer than you have. It’s an acquired skill.

  “Reece.” Lena took her hand, and I could see her hair begin to curl. I winced. Casting at a Caster was almost never a good idea. “You’re the most powerful Sybil I’ve ever met.”

  “Don’t try that on me.” Reece pulled her hand away. “I’m the only Sybil you’ve ever met.”

  “But you know I trust you, no matter what.” Lena smiled encouragingly at her cousin. Reece frowned at both of us.

  I looked away. Misfiring powers or not, I wasn’t looking into the eyes of a Sybil if I could help it. I noticed Liv hadn’t said a word or looked in Reece’s direction either.

  “One shot. Then you’re telling Uncle Macon, either way. Because this whole thing shows, once again, why you should not be allowed to Cast when you’re underage.” She folded her arms again. It took me a while to figure out that was a yes.

  John hopped off the bed and walked over to where Reece was standing. “Let’s get this over with. What do I have to do?”

  Reece stared into John’s green eyes, studying his face as if it held all the answers we were looking for. “You’re doing it.”

  John didn’t move. He stared back at Reece, letting her absorb his thoughts and memories. Reece turned away before he did, shaking her head as if she didn’t like what she’d seen.

  “It’s true. He didn’t know what Abraham and Sarafine were planning, and he doesn’t remember what happened that night. Ridley let him out of the Arclight, and he’s been here ever since, doing my sister’s dirty work.”

  John looked at me. “Satisfied?”

  “Wait? How is that possible?”

  Reece shrugged. “Sorry to disappoint you. He’s not evil. He’s just a jerk. Sometimes it’s a fine line.”

  “Hey.” John looked less smug now. “I thought you were supposed to be the nice one. Where’s that famous Ravenwood hospitality?”

  Reece ignored him.

  I should’ve been relieved, but Reece was right. I was disappointed. I didn’t want John to be one of Sarafine and Abraham’s pawns. I wanted him to be one of the bad guys. That’s how I saw him—how I would always see him.

  More than anything, I wanted Lena to see him that way.

  Lena wasn’t thinking about John. “We have to talk to my uncle. We have to find Ridley before she does anything stupid.”

  Right. If I knew Ridley, she was probably hitchhiking her way out of Summerville by now. After the stunt she pulled tonight, she knew Lena would go straight to Macon. And Ridley wasn’t big on facing the music. “I think it’s a little too late for that.”

  Lena bent down and flipped back the corner of the pink shag carpet. “Let’s go.”

  “You sure about this? I don’t want to, you know, wake him up or something.” I also didn’t want to see the look on his face when we told him that Ridley had turned Savannah Snow’s house into a thirty-on-thirty boxing match, using the Charmed belt of an Incubus we were all looking for—who just happened to be living in Ridley’s bedroom.

  Lena opened the trapdoor. “I doubt he’s asleep.”

  Liv shook her head. “Lena’s right. We have to tell Macon. Immediately. You don’t understand, we’ve been—” She faltered, looking at Lena. “Your uncle has been trying to find John Breed for months.”

  Lena nodded. It wasn’t a smile, but it was something. “Let’s go.”

  John ripped open another bag of Doritos. “While you’re down there, can you ask him to let me out of here?”

  “Ask him yourself,” Lena said. “You’re coming with us.”

  John looked down into the darkness that led into the Tunnels below us, then back at me. “Never thought you’d be rescuing me, Mortal.”

  I wanted to kill him or punch him in the face. I wanted to make him pay for everything he’d done to Lena and Link, all the trouble Abraham had caused because of him. But
I would leave that to Macon.

  “Trust me, I’m not.”

  He smiled, and I stepped into the air, feeling for the rough solidity of the steps I would never see.

  10.19

  The Ultimate Weapon

  I knocked on the door of Macon’s study, and it swung open. I didn’t need to worry about waking him up, though. A miserable-looking Link was already sitting at the table.

  Macon waved me in. “Link has filled me in on everything. Luckily, he came straight here, before he hurt anyone.” I hadn’t considered the damage a raging Incubus could inflict.

  “What part of everything do you know?” I stepped inside.

  “That my niece snuck out of the house.” He looked at me pointedly. “Not a wise decision.”

  “No, sir.” Macon was already angry, and I didn’t want to tell him something that was going to make him even angrier.

  He crossed his arms. “And that Ridley somehow managed to Cast a Furor?”

  A whole lot angrier.

  “I know you’re upset, but there’s something more important I need to tell you.” I glanced at the door. “Or maybe you should see for yourself.”

  “John Breed.” Macon loomed over him. “This is quite an unexpected turn of events. All things considered.”

  John was standing just inside the door of the study, as if he was going to make a break for it, Mortal-style. In Macon’s presence, his smart-ass attitude was gone.

  Link was staring at John like he wanted to tear him apart. “What the hell is he doin’ here?” I felt bad for Link, being stuck in the same room with John. He had to hate John even more than I did, if that was possible.

  Lena couldn’t look at her uncle or Link. She was ashamed of Ridley, and herself for not figuring it out sooner. But more than anything, I knew she was worried about her cousin, no matter what she’d done. “Ridley stole the Arclight out of Uncle Macon’s grave after we buried it. She freed John, and she’s been using his belt as a conduit to channel his powers until now.”

 
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