Raven a creepy hollow st.., p.3
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       Raven (A Creepy Hollow Story Book 2), p.3

           Rachel Morgan
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  “I see.”

  Raven opened her eyes and leaned forward. “She doesn’t know anything about what happened before.”

  “I know.” She hesitated. “But do you think he will say something?”

  Raven shook her head. “He has a reputation to protect, doesn’t he?”

  “I don’t know if that ever mattered much to him. He always did whatever he wanted.”

  “Daisy, you—”

  “I’m not going to make a scene,” Daisy said, “as much as I might want to. He isn’t worth it.”

  “No. He definitely isn’t.” Raven would have to keep reminding herself of that, otherwise she might be the one to make a scene if Orson didn’t watch himself. “So everything’s going to be fine on Monday night then?” she asked.

  “Yes. I mean, do you think it will be fine?”

  “Of course. You’ll come and get ready at my house? You said you wanted to wear the blue dress I designed for last month’s Cast Till You Drop.”

  “Yes. Thank you.” Daisy gave her an awkward wave and walked out. Raven dropped back into her chair with a sigh. Stupid Orson Willowstack. Why couldn’t he just stay away? He was so … so …

  She stared unseeingly at her desk for several moments as images, colors and spells—the spark of an idea she’d been waiting for all day—began ticking through her mind. She bunched up the tulle and tossed it aside, then fished in her bag for a pair of sound drops. After sticking one coin-shaped piece to each temple, she waved her hand past of them. Music filled her ears. Then she reached for her notebook, turned to a blank page, and began sketching.

  Orson was deceitful like a snake, but snakes were also beautiful, mesmerizing, and she’d never used a snake concept before. It would fit in well with the various creatures she’d used as inspiration for her other pieces. She could craft it from silver with glowing flecks of blue the same shade as the rest of her collection. And blue gems for the eyes. The right combination of spells would cause the metallic snake to slither all the way up the model’s back, then maybe around her neck and all the way down her back again. Perhaps ending as a belt around her waist. The rest of the dress would need to incorporate the snake concept somehow, but Raven couldn’t yet see the specifics in her mind.

  She was in the middle of scribbling down every idea that came to mind when a high-pitched squeak reached her over the sound of her music. She ended the sound drop spell with a quick wave and dug around in her bag until she found the decorative round hand mirror responsible for the annoying squeak. Her mother’s face appeared in the mirror’s glossy surface. With a sigh, Raven leaned back and tapped the screen.

  “Where are you?” Zalea demanded before Raven could say a word. “I’ve just been informed that you’re not home yet.”

  “I’m at Delph working on my replacement for the sprite dress,” Raven said. “I sent you a message earlier, remember? You said it was fine.”

  “Yes, but it’s after nine now. That’s far too late for you still to be at college. Now you’ll have to return home in the dark.”

  Raven hadn’t realized so much time had passed, but that didn’t change the fact that Zalea’s logic made little sense. “Mom, it would have been dark if I’d left an hour ago. Why is it more of a problem now than it would have been earlier?”

  Zalea clicked her tongue in irritation. “Because suspicious characters like to come out when it’s late. Suspicious characters who might want to kidnap you for ransom.”

  Raven couldn’t help laughing. “Nobody wants to kidnap me, Mom. Don’t be so silly. All I have to do is walk out the front door, write a faerie paths spell, and I’ll be inside our home seconds later. You can wait in the entrance hall and see for yourself.”

  “Your father and I aren’t home right now.”

  “Oh.” She wondered what event she’d forgotten about this time. “Well, anyway, I’m finally getting somewhere with this new idea. I just need another half hour or so to get all my ideas down on paper. And I haven’t finished cleaning up the explosion mess from—”

  “I’m sending a message for a guard to come get you now,” Zalea said.

  “You really don’t need to do that, Mom.”

  Zalea looked over her shoulder for a moment, as if distracted by something. She laughed, then turned back to Raven. “Wait inside the main entrance. Don’t go outside.”


  “I’ll tell the guard to be there within ten minutes.” Zalea’s face vanished from the mirror.

  Raven groaned and smacked the mirror down onto her desk. Then she shoved it into her bag, grabbed her stylus, amber and jacket—three-quarter sleeves, light-weight, in a bold floral print Daisy had helped her with—and hurried out of the classroom without so much as pushing her chair in. Her desk was messier than anyone else’s, but her teachers were used to that by now. As long as her untidiness didn’t spill onto anyone else’s desk, no one really cared.

  She dashed into the auditorium, left her bag on the end of the runway, and cleaned up the remaining rubble with a few quick spells. She should have done it during lunch, but she was too busy hunting down inspiration in the supply rooms. Looking up, she saw a hole in the ceiling leading to the space above where lighting and special effects enchantments were controlled. Was she supposed to fix that too? She wasn’t quite sure how, so she’d have to ask Director Drizwold about it tomorrow. “Almost done,” she muttered to herself, noticing one last item out of place—a scrap of paper on the runway. She scrambled up in her chunky, square-heeled boots and retrieved the paper, which turned out to be covered in someone else’s handwriting, not her own. She stuffed it into her jacket pocket, retrieved her bag, and swung herself down off the runway.

  She was about to leave when a sparkle in the first row caught her eye. Looking closer, she discovered a shoe with petal-like pieces that extended upward to around ankle height. It was covered in silver sequins, which blinked in the auditorium’s light. She picked up the shoe, admiring the design and wondering who it belonged to. Probably some other student who’d had to get their outfit approved by the director. Someone who was now freaking out about their missing shoe. Raven placed it inside her bag. She would hand it in the next morning.

  She walked quickly along the dim hallways, hoping her parents’ guard wasn’t already waiting. When an echo sounded behind her, she threw a look over her shoulder. But nothing was out of place. Then the sound of a voice reached her from up ahead, along with the staccato clip clop of heels. As the sound grew closer, she recognized the voice as Director Drizwold’s.

  “… apparently we have to drop everything and jump whenever she says so, and then she changes her mind and the jumping was for nothing.” She rounded the corner, and Raven saw her speaking to a mirror. “No, dear,” she said after a pause. “I don’t mean actual jumping. I mean that I was asked to wait for her, and she was supposed to be here right now, but instead—” She stopped at the sight of Raven and lowered her mirror. “Raven, what are you doing here so late?”

  “Um, just working on my new design. The one to replace the sprite-wing dress.”

  “Oh. Yes, I suppose you don’t have much time to get a whole new outfit done. But you should be working at home, not here. I don’t want students running around the college at all hours of the night.”

  “Of course. I’m sorry. I’m on my way home now.” She slipped past the director and moved quickly along the remaining hallways.

  She was almost at the entrance when she heard a familiar voice say her name. “Raven. There you are.” Flint strode toward her. “I was just wondering whether I should look for you.”

  “Sorry, I was cleaning up yesterday’s mess.” She smiled. “I’m glad it’s you. I didn’t expect my mother to send …” She trailed off and looked down at her bag with a frown because somehow, for no reason she could think of, it had begun to grow warmer. She tugged the bag open and looked inside, but the sequined shoe blocked her view of the rest of the bag’s contents. She pulled it out—

p; “Oh, ow!”

  She let go as her fingers burned, and the shoe would have hit the floor, but Flint’s hands were suddenly there, scooping the shoe from the air. “Get down!” he yelled as he flung the shoe straight through the open doorway onto the college’s front steps.

  Light and sound and heat exploded, ripping through the air and throwing Raven backward. A shriek escaped her lips, and she braced herself for the impact of her body slamming against the marble floor. It didn’t happen. Magic cushioned her fall, catching her momentarily in its embrace before releasing her. With ears ringing and heart hammering in her chest, she pushed herself up and looked into the smokey orange glow of the flames engulfing the entrance of Delphinium College.

  Chapter Four

  “Thank you, Miss Rosewood,” said the guardian who’d been questioning Raven for the past ten minutes on the lawn outside Delphinium College’s front steps. “We’ll be in touch if we require any further information from you.”

  Raven nodded, wrapping her arms more tightly around her chest. A light touch against her elbow made her flinch and twist around. “Sorry,” Flint said. He lowered his arms stiffly to his sides, adopting the kind of stance he always took on when standing guard outside her home. Nothing like the laid-back young man she always hung out with on top of the tower. “Are you ready to go home?”

  “Um, yes.” Raven took one last look at the cracked, smoking steps and the doorway framed with jagged pieces of glass. She swallowed, thinking once again of how close she’d come to dying tonight. If she’d spent just a little longer walking back to the entrance … If Flint had arrived just a little later … “Thank you,” she said hurriedly, grabbing hold of Flint’s hand and squeezing it. “Thank you so much. If you hadn’t thrown the shoe …” She shook her head, not wanting to voice her thoughts. “How did you know?”

  His eyes flicked momentarily to her hand on his. His shoulders relaxed. “I’m familiar with explosive spells. The heat shimmer in the air, the smell.” He removed a stylus from an inside pocket of his jacket. “We should get going if you want to arrive home before your parents.”

  Raven nodded, dread curling in her stomach. “Do they know yet?”

  “Your college director is trying to get hold of them right now, so if they don’t already know about the explosion, it won’t be long before they do.”

  “They’re going to completely overreact about this,” Raven said as Flint wrote with his stylus on the statue of Mella Cascata. “Mom will probably insist on driving me to and from Delph in the carriage every day instead of letting me take the faerie paths. Or, even worse, she’ll lock me up inside my own home for the rest of my life so that nothing can happen to me.”

  An opening to the faerie paths appeared on the statue’s leg. “Well, if the worst really does happen,” Flint said, holding his hand out to her, “I promise to sneak into your luxury cell to keep you company.”

  She rolled her eyes but smiled anyway as she placed her hand in his. She pictured the entrance hall of her home, and moments later, light materialized up ahead, revealing the vast circular room, the tall vases filled with flowers, and the staircase. As they walked out of the faerie paths, something occurred to Raven. “Do you have access here?” she asked. “I mean, from the paths into this home?”

  “No. No one except you and your parents have access via the paths.”

  “Oh. So you have to wait outside when you get here every day?”

  “Not outside the main gate. Those of us who work here have access to the exterior parts of the property. So I usually arrive around the back and the head of security or his second will let me in.”

  Raven nodded, feeling silly all of a sudden that she didn’t know these things. She decided to change the subject. “Are you finished for the night?”

  Flint’s gaze moved to the clock behind Raven. “Almost. I’ve got about ten minutes left.”

  “I suppose I’m keeping you from doing your job then.”

  His smile fell a little. “Yes, I guess I should return to my post outside, now that you’re safely home.”

  “Seems silly if you’ve only got ten minutes left of your shift,” Raven said, pushing her hands into her jacket pockets. She wasn’t being the least bit subtle, but she couldn’t help it. Something about almost having a bomb explode in her bag left her feeling like she didn’t want to be alone. “I’m surprised you’re the one my mother sent,” she added before Flint could protest about having to finish his shift. “She already thinks we have an inappropriate relationship because I smiled at you. I doubt she’d want to encourage any more interaction between us.”

  Flint glanced toward the nearest door before straightening slightly and placing both hands neatly behind his back. “She didn’t choose me, actually. She sent the butler to see who was on a break at the time, and I happened to be the lucky guy.”

  Raven laughed. “Lucky, my ass. You almost wound up killed.”

  “All part of the job,” he said, not sounding the least bit concerned for his safety.

  Her fingers played with the scrunched up scrap of paper in her pocket. “I wonder if that shoe was even supposed to be a bomb, or if it was simply an accident. The wrong combination of spells mixed together by a fashion student trying to create something spectacular. I mean, why would someone want to blow up part of the college?”

  Flint shook his head. “I don’t know. I asked the guardians who questioned us if they had any idea what was going on, but they wouldn’t say.”

  “I suppose it isn’t right for them to speculate.” Raven dropped her hands to her sides and looked around. “Anyway, I expect my parents will arrive at any moment, shrieking about the lack of security at Delph. I doubt seeing the two of us casually chatting in the foyer will help the situation, so I should probably let you go.”

  Flint smiled. “Good night, Raven.”

  She watched him walk away before looking up at the clock. Almost ten. She headed for the stairs. As she climbed toward the upper level of the house, she removed the scrap of paper from her pocket and flattened it.

  until after eight. Won’t be interrupted then.

  The paper was torn at one end, and clearly showed only half a message. Raven was hoping for something more interesting—a secret declaration of love from one student to another, perhaps—but this could mean any number of boring things. She lowered the note as she entered her bedroom—

  —and found a woman standing there.

  For a moment, Raven was too startled to say anything. When she found her voice, she stuttered, “H-How did you get in here?”

  “That doesn’t matter,” the woman said. “Unfortunately, you were in the wrong place at the wrong time tonight. You survived the explosion, and now you know too much.”

  “But—what? I don’t know anything.”

  “I saw you take that bit of paper from the runway, and I saw you examining it now. If I let you take it to the Guild, they’ll find out who’s behind this.”

  “But I wasn’t planning to take anything to the Guild. Wait, behind what? What’s going on?”

  The woman raised her hands, magic crackling at her fingertips.

  “Wait, wait. You can take the note,” Raven said hastily. “Then I have no way of knowing who’s—”

  A gust of wind swept the paper from her fingers and sent it spinning and twisting toward the woman. She snapped her fingers. The paper caught fire and burned away within seconds.

  “So—so now I have no way of knowing who’s involved,” Raven said. “And you don’t need to hurt me.”

  The woman gave her a self-pitying look. “But you’ve seen me. Which means you know far too much for me to let you get away.”

  Sparks shot through the air toward Raven. She threw herself to the side, collided with the wall, and lunged for the tiny green bubble stuck to the edge of the vanity mirror. But an irresistible force tugged her back.

  “HELP!” she screamed before magic slammed her onto the floor. The woman raced toward her. Gasping for
air that wouldn’t come, Raven swung her arms around, reaching for something, anything. Her hand struck the leg of the vanity stool, and she tossed it with all her might. It tumbled onto the floor in front of the woman, who leaped around it easily. Raven grasped the edge of the vanity and pulled herself up. As the woman reached her, Raven smacked her hand against the bubble.

  An alarm shrieked through the air.

  “Damn you,” the woman growled, tugging Raven back by her hair. A knife swept down, slicing the air and heading straight for Raven’s throat—

  A rush of wind and sparks threw them both across the room. She landed on the woman, who cursed loudly in her ear. Confused and half-blinded from the sparks, Raven kicked and shoved and scrambled away. Something caught hold of her leg.


  She kicked again, her foot connecting with something soft as she looked up and found Flint dashing across the room toward her. Behind him ran another two guards, their glittering, golden weapons at the ready. Flint grabbed her hand and tugged her free of the woman’s grip. They fell together against a box of fabric. “Don’t let her get away!” Flint yelled as the woman jumped to her feet. He wrapped an arm around Raven, and when she looked down, she found dark space opening on her bedroom floor beside Flint. He pulled her against him, and they fell into the nothingness of the faerie paths.

  Chapter Five

  They landed on a paisley patterned rug. Flint grasped Raven’s shoulders. “Are you okay?”

  Breathing heavily, she blinked and swallowed. “I—I think so. That was … just … wow, I am so useless at defending myself.” She took in another deep breath. “What in all fae is going on? She said someone was behind the explosion, and that paper I picked up would tell the Guild who it was, and that I knew too much because I’d seen her, and—”

  “Hey, calm down.” Flint squeezed her shoulders. “Those guardians will take her in. They’ll question her, and they’ll probably question you again, and they’ll sort this whole thing out.”

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