Every time she did a spell, she drew on my power to make it stronger. To make her stronger. My leaving had left her in a power deficit. The second I was asleep, my consciousness relaxed, and she could use my powers to boost her own. It was causing nightmares, making me sleepwalk and cry out into the night as she siphoned away my energy, but I wasn’t about to go back to the coven. Not even to put an end to this.
I’d find a way to break the link. If I didn’t, it wouldn’t matter anyway. Because I’d be dead. Either way, Luciana wouldn’t be getting what she wanted.
The stiff sheets crinkled as I lay back against my single pillow. “I’ll be okay. It’s just a few bad dreams.” We didn’t have total ESP, but we knew each other well. Ridiculously well. We finished each other’s sentences, knew when the other was hurt, and definitely couldn’t lie to each other. It never worked.
“Whatever she made you say in your oath, it’s obviously much stronger than what’s standard. We’re working on breaking ours—hell, Shane’s is already broken just by the force of his counter-oath—but yours… It isn’t normal. She shouldn’t be able to do this to you, and it’s scaring me.” He paused. “You have to break this oath before it kills you.”
I rolled my eyes, trying to act as exasperated as possible. “I’m not going to die.” I tried to make it sound like a ridiculous idea, but my brother was always too smart for his own good.
Raphael shifted just enough to look down at me. His black hair was sticking up at odd angles, which meant he’d been asleep. He always knew when I was having a bad dream. Our twindar was strong, no matter what else was going on.
“Your skin is pale and the bags under your eyes have gotten darker every day. You’re losing weight. She’s sucking you dry. Don’t think I haven’t noticed.”
I suppressed another eye roll. “I wouldn’t dare call you anything but observant.”
“Don’t get sarcastic with me. This is serious.”
“I know.” If anything, I was more aware of that fact than he was.
“She’s using your oath for more than she should. The bitch will bleed you dry if we don’t stop her.”
Please, Raphael, tell me something I’m not fully aware of.
I looked into his eyes. They were the same dark brown, almost black, as mine and nearly the same shape. Mine were a little more round, giving me an innocent look. The kind of look that no longer fit me. “I know better than you what Luciana is capable of doing.” I’d even betrayed my own cousin’s trust trying to stop her.
“I think you should consider this trip to Peru. Putting some distance between you could weaken her hold.”
I shrugged. “I’m not convinced that distance will help.”
“It can’t hurt, that’s for sure.”
I couldn’t help the little smile that came out at his nickname for me. He used to make fun of mom with it. She hated when people called me Claw-dia. She’d say, “Cloud-ia. Like a cloud.” I didn’t really care how people pronounced my name. There were bigger things in life to worry about.
“And what about Mathieu?”
I groaned. “What about Matt?” He hated being called Matt. It was petty, but I refused to call him anything else.
“He’s been calling my cell.”
The guy was such a jerk.
“He’s a jerk,” Raphael said, and I snorted. Twindar alert. “But if he knew what Luciana was doing to you, he might help. As far as he knows, you’re going to marry him.”
The thought of asking him for help made me want to throw up. Besides being too young for marriage at only twenty years old and not loving—or liking—him at all, he was the kind of guy who truly thought that a woman’s place was barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. I wouldn’t survive a marriage like that.
Or maybe he wouldn’t survive it.
Either way, it was another thing I’d given up to keep my family safe from Luciana, and another thing I had to free myself from. “I think you’re forgetting that I’m trying to get out of marrying him. Asking him a favor would be a horrible idea. He’d take it as confirmation of our engagement.”
“I know you don’t want to marry him, and I don’t want you to. Just tell him you need help, and I bet he’ll come through.”
Nope. Not going to happen. The situation with Matt was complicated enough already. I’d been an idiot and agreed to the match that Luciana wanted. But, in my defense, I’d met him four years ago, when I was young and naive. I’d been unhappy with my situation, and he knew it. He swept in like he was going to save me. He was going to take me away from the Wicked Witch and bring me to live with his coven just outside of Windham, New York, when he became their leader. For all of about five minutes, everything seemed perfect. We even had the same interests.