Home > The Power (The Secret Circle #3)

The Power (The Secret Circle #3)
Author: L.J. Smith

Chapter One

"Diana, I have a little surprise for you," Faye said.

Diana's emerald eyes, with their thick sooty lashes, were swimming already. She still hadn't recovered from the shocks of tonight, and her face was strained as she stared at Faye.

Well, there was worse to come.

Now that it was finally going to happen, Cassie felt a curious sense of freedom. No more hiding, no more lying and evading. The nightmare was here at last.

"I suppose I should have told you before, but I didn't want to upset you," Faye was saying. Her eyes burned golden with a savage inner fire.

Adam, who wasn't stupid, glanced from Cassie to Faye and obviously came to a quick, if shattering, conclusion. He swiftly cupped a hand under Diana's elbow.

"Whatever it is can wait," he said. "Cassie ought to go and see her mother, and - "

"No, it can't wait, Adam Conant," Faye interrupted. "It's time Diana found out what sort of people she has around her." Faye whirled to face Diana again, her pale skin glowing with strange elation against the midnight-dark mane of her hair. "The ones you've chosen," she said to her cousin. "Your dearest friend - and him. The incorruptible Sir Adam. Do you want to know the reason you couldn't make it as leader? Do you want to know how naive you really are?"

Everyone was gathering close now, staring. Cassie could see varying degrees of bewilderment and suspicion in their expressions. The full moon shining from the west was so bright that it cast shadows, and it illuminated every detail of the scene.

Cassie looked at each of them: tough Deborah, beautiful Suzan with her perfect face marred by a puzzled frown, cool Melanie, and graceful, elfin Laurel. She looked at Chris and Doug Henderson, the wild twins, who were standing by the slinking figure of Sean, and at icily handsome Nick behind them.

Finally she looked at Adam.

He was still holding Diana's arm, but his proud, arresting face was tense and alert. His eyes met Cassie's and something like understanding flashed between them, and then Cassie looked away, ashamed. She had no right to lean on Adam's strength. She was about to be exposed for what she was in front of the entire Circle.

"I kept hoping they would do the decent thing and control themselves," Faye said. "For their own sake, if not yours. But, obviously - "

"Faye, what are you talking about?" Diana interrupted, her patience splintering.

"Why, about Cassie and Adam, of course," Faye said, slowly opening her golden eyes wide. "About how they've been fooling around behind your back."

The words fell like stones into a tranquil pool. There was a long moment of utter silence, then Doug Henderson threw back his head and laughed.

"Yeah, an' my mom's a topless dancer," he jeered.

"And Mother Teresa's really Catwoman," said Chris.

"Come on, Faye," Laurel said sharply. "Don't be ridiculous."

Faye smiled.

"1 don't blame you for not believing me," she said. "I was shocked too. But you see, it all started before Cassie came to New Salem. It started when she met Adam down on Cape Cod."

The silence this time had a different quality. Cassie saw Laurel look quickly at Melanie. Everyone knew that Cassie had spent several weeks on the Cape last summer. And everyone knew that Adam had been down in that area too, looking for the Master Tools. Cassie saw the dawning of startled understanding on the faces around her.

"It all started on the beach there," Faye went on. She was obviously enjoying herself, as she always enjoyed being the center of attention. She looked sexy and commanding as she wet her lips and spoke throatily, addressing the entire group although her words were meant for Diana. "It was love at first sight, I guess -  or at least they couldn't keep their hands off each other. When Cassie came up here she even wrote a poem about it. Now how did that go?" Faye tilted her head to one side and recited:

"Each night I lie and dream about the one Who kissed me and awakened my desire I spent a single hour with him alone And since that hour, my days are laced with fire."

"That's right; that was her poem," Suzan said. "1 remember. We had her in the old science building and she didn't want us to read it."

Deborah was nodding, her petite face twisted in a scowl. "I remember too."

"You may also remember how strange they both acted at Cassie's initiation," Faye said. "And how Raj seemed to take to Cassie so quickly, always jumping up on her and licking her and all. Well, it's very simple really - it's because they'd known each other before. They didn't want any of us to know that, of course. They tried to hide it. But eventually they got caught. It was the night we first used the crystal skull in Diana's garage - Adam was taking Cassie home, I guess. I wonder how that got arranged."

Now it was the turn of Laurel and Melanie to look startled. Clearly they remembered the night of the first skull ceremony, when Diana had asked Adam to walk Cassie home, and Adam, after a brief hesitation, had agreed.

"They thought they were alone on the bluff - but somebody was watching. Two little somebodies, two little friends of mine . . ." Lazily, Faye worked her fingers, with their long, scarlet-tipped nails, as if stroking something. A flash of comprehension lighted Cassie's mind.

The kittens. The damned little bloodsucking kittens that lived wild in Faye's bedroom. Faye was saying the kittens were her spies? That she could communicate with them?

Cassie felt a chill at her core as she looked at the tall, darkly beautiful girl, sensing something alien and deadly behind those hooded golden eyes. She'd wondered all along who Faye had meant when she talked about her "friends" who saw things and reported back to her, but she'd never imagined this. Faye smiled in feline satisfaction and nodded at her.

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