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For chloe, megan, fionn, and ríAN. I love you, my stinkies. Contents - 12


power, so we can dictate the physical form it takes. You just have to want it bad enough.”
“Chloe, hit me!” Áine ordered, dancing from foot to foot.
“Whoa there, Rocky, I’m not going to hit you.” Chloe laughed, getting up from the
ground.
“Rían, you hit me, then,” Áine demanded.
“You want me to hit you?”
“Yes! Go on. Hit me!”
“Promise not to sic your rabid mutt on me?”
“Just do it!” Áine said, crouched and ready to spring.
Rían lightly punched her on the arm.
“Ow! That hurt,” she squealed.
“Well, you told me to.”
“Yeah, but I thought I’d be able to stop you.”
“It takes practice.” Rían smirked and glanced over at Chloe.
“Fionn will freak if he finds out you’ve been using the elements like this,” Adam
snapped.
“We should be prepared to defend ourselves. And what better way than with our
elements?”
“But we’re not allowed,” Adam continued.
Rían shrugged. “We’re all breaking the rules anyway. You and Megan, me and
Chloe.”
“Hey, I’m not breaking any rules!” Áine said, sticking her nose in the air.
“Need I remind you that you have a smuggled fox cub by the name of Sven living in
your bedroom? Oh, and the fact that you’ve been screwing with people’s heads?” Rían
said, raising an eyebrow.
“No,” Áine muttered, crossing her arms.
“We’ve all broken so many rules—why not a few more? It makes sense to be able to
defend ourselves.”
Adam nodded. “I guess you have a point.”
Chloe stepped forward. “I can give you the technique, and you can hone your skills.”
I glared at Chloe. I still didn’t understand how Rían could forgive her for lying. “Isn’t
that what you’re here for, Chloe? To protect us?”
She looked at me with guarded eyes. “I can’t be with you all round the clock. A time
will come when you’ll need to defend yourselves. You should start now.”“Count me out. I want no part of this.” I turned on my heel and started back toward
the house.Nineteen
SECRETS
On Saturday, Adam and I went for an early-morning walk on the beach. Everything that
had happened over the past two weeks had left me feeling like the world was caving in
on me, like the walls were edging closer, leaving me with little air to breathe. Now the
fresh sea air really cleared my head. By the time we got back to the DeRíses’, I was
feeling good.
Áine was on her way out as we came in.
“Where are you off to?” Adam asked.
“Down to the town to do a smidgen of training.” She winked and tapped the side of
her head. “Seb’s mind is growing resistant, and none of you will let me practice on you.”
Adam exhaled heavily. “You can’t just randomly pick strangers and mess with their
brains. You know how it affects people.”
She looked slightly deflated. “This is the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me. I
just want to . . . flex it a bit.”
I reached out and grabbed her hand as she was leaving, surprised to find myself
enjoying the fizzing sensation that used to feel uncomfortable. “Áine, it’s not right.”
She shrugged. “I’ll be gentle, I promise. I’m getting better.”
I glanced down and tried to pry my fingers open, but couldn’t.
“And you say I’m weird!” Áine muttered, pulling her hand out of mine. She walked
into the courtyard, where Randel soared above her in the wispy low-lying clouds of the
damp morning.
“Fionn will have to rein her in,” Adam said, heading into the kitchen. “She’s too
cavalier about the whole thing.”
We each grabbed a coffee and went to hang out in his room. Shrieking laughter came
from the next bedroom.
I scrunched up my face. “Let’s go downstairs. I’m not listening to that.”
“No! With Sebastian and Matthew lurking constantly, this is the only private place I
have. I’m not being driven out of my own room by Chloe and Rían’s antics.” Adam
scowled and banged on the wall. “I can’t wait for Fionn to get home. They’ve been at it
like rabbits since yesterday.”
The noise died down, followed by some giggling. I did my best to ignore it, but
hatred for Chloe washed over me. Unlike the others, I couldn’t get over her betrayal. But
deep down under the layers of my disapproval, I knew that jealousy fed my dislike of
her. Because she had Rían. And I hated myself for feeling that way.
Adam chatted away like nothing was going on, but I couldn’t focus on what he was
saying. Next door, Chloe shrieked again and the muffles got louder. I drained my cup,scorching my throat in an attempt to finish it. “I’m going to get another coffee—want
one?”
Adam went to stand. “I’ll go.”
I stopped him. “No! I’ll get them.”
Adam’s eyes slid to the hideous orange-flowered wallpaper that divided his room
from the debauchery going on next door, and he smiled wryly. “Sure, okay.”
Downstairs, I flicked the kettle on, thankful to be away from the torturous sounds of
Chloe and Rían. I glanced down at the papers on the counter. They were Hugh’s
instructions for the alignment training, written in his round, tidy script, complete with
diagrams. I reached out to pick them up and knocked Adam’s coffee cup over in the
process, spilling the remains all over them.
“Oh crap!” I grabbed the notes and tried to shake the liquid off, but it didn’t work.
They were stained and soggy. I just had to hope they’d be legible when they were dry.
Very carefully, I peeled away each page and lined them up on the counter where the sun
streamed in. Then some unfamiliar scribbles written faintly across one of the pages
caught my eye. I picked it up and held it to the sun. Behind Hugh’s neat, round writing
was more text indented into the thick paper. The coffee had been absorbed into the
letters, but not so much where it was indented, making the older writing stand out when
held against the light. The words “Ciorcal na Fírinne” jumped from the page. I didn’t
speak Irish but had heard enough around school. “Ciorcal” was circle. What did “na
Fírinne” mean? There were symbols too, curling Celtic circles, and other words I
couldn’t make out. I turned the page over and could almost make out a ten-digit number
on the other side. Before anything else could go wrong, I grabbed a pen and wrote down
the numbers and words that were legible. “Ciorcal” kept haunting me. Hugh had said
those words when I’d absorbed some of Rían’s element. The night he’d walked out. I
was sure I’d seen it somewhere else too. It had to all be connected.
Adam walked into the kitchen and found me peering at the backs of coffee-stained
sheets of paper. “So what’s on those pages that is more interesting than your boyfriend
lying on his bed waiting for you?”
“Look,” I said, pointing to the word “Ciorcal.”
Adam squinted at the page. “I just see Hugh’s handwriting.”
“No, beneath it. Look at the indentations.” I ran my finger along the line.
“Ciorcal na Fírinne,” Adam said in beautiful-sounding Irish. “Circle of Truth.”
“What’s the Circle of Truth?”
He frowned. “I have no idea. Here, let me see that.” Adam took the pages and held
them out in front of him, allowing the sun to shine through. “This is hard to make out,
but I see ‘imolán.’ I think that means ‘whole’ or ‘full.’”
“Do you think this has something to do with what Hugh was going on about?”
“It could be.”
“There’s more. If you look at it from behind, you can just make out what looks like a
cell number.”Adam sat down on the bench behind him, squinting at the page. “The Circle of Truth.
That sort of sounds like . . . hang on a sec.” He ran out of the kitchen and was back two
minutes later, carrying one of the books from Fionn’s study. “Do you see that symbol
there, the three curling swirls?” He pointed to what looked like some casual scribble of
Hugh’s. “Look at this.” He opened the book and flipped through the pages until he
found what he was looking for. “The two gifts from Danu! The Amulet of Accaious and
the Cup of Truth. Look at the engraving on the cup!”
I peered closer at the picture in the book, then back at Hugh’s drawings. They were
the same markings. “What do the Cup of Truth and Circle of Truth have to do with each
other?”
“I wonder if we’ll find out when we call that mobile,” Adam said, tapping the number
I’d scrawled down. “Go get Rían—he needs to see this.”
My legs like lead, I climbed the stairs and paused for a brief moment outside Rían’s
room before lightly knocking. The laughter inside came to an abrupt stop, followed by a
thud, then footsteps.
The door opened a few inches, and Rían’s face appeared. “What’s up?”
Trying to focus on the door frame, I cleared my throat. “Adam wants you downstairs.
We found something you need to see.”
Rían swung the door wide. “What is it?”
I could barely think, let alone form words, as Rían grabbed his jeans and pulled them
up over his boxers. “Are you all right?” he asked, putting a gentle hand on my arm as he
passed by.
“I’m fine,” I mumbled.
Rían made his way down the stairs, but not before glancing at me curiously. As soon
as he was gone, I slumped against the banister and banged the back of my head on the
wall. I had to get a grip.
“He feels the same, you know.” Chloe’s voice came from the room.
Crap. I turned around to face her. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yes, you do.” She pulled on a sweater and tied up her tussled hair. “I know you hate
me. I can live with that. But what I can’t deal with is knowing that the guy I’m with
wishes he was with someone else.”
I swallowed hard, not knowing what to say.
“I see the look in your eye when Rían’s around. I know what you’re thinking. I
certainly know what he’s thinking when he sees you.”
“Chloe, I don’t hate you. I . . . I just, I find it hard to forgive you.”
“And it has nothing to do with the fact that Rían and I are together?” She walked right
up to me, her face too close for comfort.
I dropped my gaze.
“Thought as much.”
“It’s not like that, Chloe. Rían and I are attracted to each other, but it’s our elements.
Their pull is incredibly hard to resist. But we’re trying.”She stepped closer and lined her mouth up with my ear. “Don’t take him away from
me.”
I drew a sharp breath, staggered that Chloe thought I was capable of doing something
so horrific. “I love Adam. I would never . . . anyway, I didn’t think you even cared.”
She shook her head. “I care, way more than I should. You can’t imagine the ache in
my heart when he wakes up in the morning and rolls over to hug me, only to look
disappointed.”
I softened a little, but I couldn’t bring myself to offer her comfort. “You chose the
Knights over Rían.”
“I made that choice because of how I feel for Rían. You’ve no idea of the obligations
I’m under. I have to see this through; it’s the only way.”
“We all have choices to make. If you really cared for him, you would have picked
him.”
She laughed sadly. “You don’t get it. We don’t have choices, Megan. You, me, Rían,
all of us, our choices are made for us. We’re following a path that’s already been plotted
out. You still believe they’re your decisions, but you’ll learn.”
Her eyes searched mine for a moment before she brushed past and stood at the top of
the stairs. “Look, I don’t need you to forgive me, or be my friend, but please, leave me
him.” She trundled down the stairs without looking back.
My heart ached for the girl who loved the boy, and the boy caught in the confusion,
but she’d stirred something else in my heart. Doubt.
In the kitchen, Adam and Rían had stuck the pages to the windows. Avoiding Rían’s bare
torso, I went to the other side of Adam. “Where’s Chloe?”
Rían stared at the pages. “She’s gone to get Áine and Sebastian. We’ve got to ring
this number.”
“Let’s wait until the others get back.” Adam glanced sideways at Rían. “And put
some clothes on, for Christ’s sake.”
“Jealous?” Rían swung his arm up into a bodybuilding pose and laughed as he left the
room.
The back door opened. I expected to see Áine, Chloe, and Sebastian coming in, but
instead it was Matthew and Caitlin.
“Hey! What are you guys doing here?” I asked as Adam surreptitiously took the
pages down from the window and stacked them on the counter behind him.
Matthew flushed and let go of Caitlin’s hand. “We were kinda hoping we could
watch a movie or something. Do you mind?”
Adam raised his eyebrows. “Sure, whatever. But as soon as Fionn gets back, you’re
going to have to tone this down.”
Matthew smiled broadly. “Sure. I’m going home tomorrow, anyway.”
Caitlin looked at him with her practiced puppy-dog eyes.
Matthew took Caitlin’s sad face in his hands. “Oh, Caitie, I’ll be back in a few weeks,
I promise.”“Caitie?” I mouthed at Caitlin, hiding my silent guffaw from Matthew. Caitlin gave
me a sly kick and hooked her arm through Matthew’s.
“Eh, guys, the sitting room is that way,” Adam said, pointing to the hall. “Take as
much time as you need.”
Caitlin skipped ahead, winking at me as she passed.
Adam scowled. “I don’t like Caitlin being with him.”
I laughed. “Why not? They seem like a good match.”
“This is all a game to him. He’s using her.”
“Caitlin has her head screwed on. She knows he’s leaving.”
“Yeah, but he’s too old for her. And he’s a player. You should talk to her.”
I put my arms around Adam and hugged him as tight as I could. Burying my face
into his neck, I breathed in the smell of his warm skin. I think I loved him more in that
moment than I ever had. “I’ll talk with her tomorrow. Promise.”
“Good.”
Rían wandered back into the kitchen, this time fully dressed. “Come on, let’s call this
number. Maybe we’ll be able to track down Hugh.”
“I don’t think you should,” Chloe said, coming in the door with Áine and Sebastian.
“I think we should leave this all alone. Cú will be back tomorrow. Let him handle it.”
Adam glared at her. “Do you know something you’re not telling us?”
Chloe shook her head. “What if someone is looking for you? Your number will lead
them right back here.”
“Rubbish. It was a number that Hugh had. I’m dialing it.”
Chloe threw her iPhone on the table. “At least use my phone so it can’t be traced back
to you.”
Adam dialed the number and hit the speaker key while we all waited anxiously. It
rang three times before a female voice answered the phone with a curt “Hello.”
I held my breath, waiting for someone to say something, but no one did. We all
looked at each other. Chloe rolled her eyes and stepped forward. “Hi. We’re sorry to
bother you, but we were wondering if there was a Hugh at this number?”
Silence hung on the other end of the line for a few moments.
“I think you have the wrong number.”
I stood stock-still. I knew that voice. My eyes met Adam’s in a horrified glare.
Caitlin walked into the room talking. “Megan, does Adam have any crisps or—”
Rían grabbed her around the waist and put his hand over her mouth, while Adam
dove for the end-call button. I wasn’t sure who got silenced first, Caitlin or the cell.
Caitlin mumbled something through Rían’s fingers and tugged his hand off her face.
“What on earth is going on?” she gasped. “Why am I being manhandled by Rían?” She
turned her eyes to him and smiled a bewitching smile. “Not that I’m complaining or
anything.”
“Who was that?” Chloe asked, looking from me to Adam.
I picked the cell off the table and stared at it. “It was Petra.”“Petra?” Sebastian asked.
“The woman who just moved into my house.”Twenty
HATE
Caitlin glanced around at our startled faces. “Am I missing something here? Why did
you just hang up on Petra?”
I sat down on the bench, stunned. Petra was using Dad to get to me. I scowled at
Chloe. “She’s a Knight, isn’t she? You’ve been watching us longer than you’ve let on,
haven’t you?”
Chloe took a step backward but held my eye. “I don’t know what you’re talking
about, Megan.”
Wind blew through the kitchen and whipped Hugh’s instructions from the counter,
tossing them around the room. The doors slammed shut as my hair twisted upward.
“Áine, get Caitlin out of here.” Adam perched next to me and gripped my shoulders.
“What’s going on?” Caitlin demanded. But Áine was already dragging her away.
Anger flared inside me. “You might have been able to screw with me, but nobody
screws with my father. Do you have any idea how long it’s been since he’s been with
someone? Do you?” I strained against Adam’s hold on me.
Chloe backed up against the wall. “Megan, I swear, she’s not a Knight.”
Rían moved between Chloe and me, putting his arms up protectively. “Megan,
you’ve got to calm down.”
“I don’t want to calm down!” I shouted. “She’s been going out with my dad for
months. He loves her. And it’s all been a game!”
Sebastian edged forward. “Petra is not one of us.”
Power twisted and stabbed my chest, sparking in front of my eyes. I blinked hard,
trying to see through the blur of the element obstructing my view, trying to fight the urge
to unleash its strength on Chloe.
“Listen to them, Megan,” Adam whispered into my ear. “Petra’s been living in
Kinsale for years. Long before you arrived. It wouldn’t make sense.”
I struggled for control, focusing on my breathing and the grounding sensation of
Adam’s hands on my shoulders. Uncomfortable silence filtered through the thudding
pulse that continued to hammer inside my skull. “So if she’s not a Knight, who is she
working for?”
Rían started collecting Hugh’s pages from where they were scattered around the
kitchen. “My guess is Order.”
“Really?” Chloe asked.
“Who else could she be with?” Rían said as he sat down beside her. “She can’t be
Knox. We would’ve sensed danger from her if she was.”
Adam shook his head behind me. “Something doesn’t make sense. If she was Order,she wouldn’t have been keeping her nose out of our business. I hadn’t even heard of her
until Megan moved here.”
Rían scratched his jaw. “Well, if she’s not Order, Knights, or Knox, then who the hell
is she?”
Blood still pounded through my head, beating against my skull from the inside. I
winced, wishing the pain would stop. Then, like someone had flicked on a flashlight in
the darkness, I was standing in my sitting room at four thirty a.m., speaking with Petra.
“I got an important phone call I had to take,” she’d said. Hugh had called her! Suddenly I
knew where I’d heard the circle thing before.
“An Ciorcal Iomlán,” I said, cutting across their theories. “Hugh said it, the night he
left, before he disappeared. Petra said it too.” I shook my head. “When I got back to my
house the night that Rían went after Chloe, Petra had been on the phone. She’d been
talking to Hugh—I know it. She said we had to stay together, that the Ciorcal Iomlán had
begun.” I wriggled out of Adam’s embrace, grabbed the papers stacked on the table, and
found the ones with the swirls and writing. “What did you say ‘Iomlán’ meant, Adam?”
He looked over my shoulder. “I’m not sure. I think it means f—”
Chloe interrupted. “It means the full circle.”
I swung around to her. “How do you know that?”
“It’s part of our Knights’ oath, from the original Irish translation. ‘Nourished by
earth, warmed by fire, quenched by water, and enabled by air, bound are we until the
circle comes full.’ An Ciorcal Iomlán.”
The pounding in my head slowed and released me from its painful clutches. “What is
all this about?” I whispered.
Chloe glanced at Sebastian nervously.
“Caitlin!” I jumped back, banging into Adam. “Oh my god! I completely lost it in
front of her.”
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