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Just then a family entered the pool area. A mom and dad with two loud, little boys in tow where weighed down with bags that held toys and other pool essentials. Ronnie quickly appeared with a clean plastic cup as the family looked for a place to set up and Elayne hurriedly dropped the charred herb into before scrambling to her feet.

“We need to go,” she said quietly as she started to gather her things, never allowing the cup to leave her hand as she did. Her mind was reeling with the knowledge of what the presence of the herb could mean and her eyes continued to dart back and forth around the pool area as she moved. The three men were quick to join her and soon they were on their way back upstairs to the room that Scott and Elayne shared.

“What exactly is sullcap?” Scott asked when the door was securely shut behind them. Ollie had gone directly to the window to look out in the late afternoon sunshine and Ronnie lingered near the door as if he were ready to make a quick exit if necessary.

“Scullcap,” Elayne corrected as she looked down into the cup, a sickly feeling in her stomach causing her to try to breath evenly. “Usually it’s used in spells for relaxation or peace.”

“And what else?” Ronnie asked, clearly understanding that the situation had nothing to do with either.

Elayne looked up and lock her gaze with Scott’s in an almost accusatory way. “Other times it’s worn or used by women who want to keep their men faithful.”

Silence hung over the room as they all tried to process this new information. Scott didn’t know what to think. He knew that this girl had to be a little off if she meant to use magick to win him over, but to think that she actually thought that he was being unfaithful to her totally blew him away.

Elayne didn’t know what to think, either. The use of scullcap meant that there was a great sincerity involved with the witch’s intent. Scott had said that he didn’t know the girl, but what if he did and hadn’t wanted to admit it? For all she knew, the girl was a one nightstand that was coming back to haunt him. Haunt him in a really bad way.

“Elayne,” he finally said after a moment, sensing where her thoughts were heading and knowing that he had to set her straight. He prayed that she didn’t start to believe what she was thinking, even though he wasn’t realizing that she hadn’t said a word about her accusations out loud. “I swear to you that I have no idea who this girl is. If I did I would have told you.”

She blinked in surprise. It was as if he had read her thoughts. She hadn’t projected anything toward him, but he responded to what she had been thinking perfectly, effectively lending further credibility to her idea that Scott may be developing some kind of magickal gifts. She still wasn’t sure what that meant, but now was not the time to worry about it.

“I know,” she said with a heavy sigh, realizing that her assumption was absurd because of the sincere way that he had responded to her. It was just hard for her to think otherwise initially. Given the circumstances, the girl would think the situation warranted the use of such a powerful herb, even if it didn’t fit.

Ronnie and Ollie looked at one another in confusion from the opposite sides of the room where they each stood, not really sure what had just transpired. It was as if the conversation between Scott and Elayne had been partially executed out loud and the other part had occurred by some other means. Neither had any answers and they weren’t sure they wanted any just yet. Too many weird things were going on around them right now to shy away over this one.

“So is everything okay then?” Ollie asked hesitantly.

“I think so,” Elayne said. “I had no warning that something was going to happen, but I have an idea that this is a precursor to something else that is to come. I think that she’s gone somewhere that she feels safe so that she can plan something big.” All eyes in the room where on Elayne as she spoke. “I think that this was the first of many spells that she may have to accomplish before coming to the final one. Whatever it is that she’s planning could take up to a year before the final spell is in place. I need to call my coven mates and let them know what’s happened.”

Everyone was quiet as Elayne called home to Michigan. Luckily, Connie was home and answered the phone on the second ring. “What’s happened?” she asked without a preamble.

Elayne quickly outlined for her friend what had happened by the pool and what she thought was going on. Connie agreed with her assumption and said that she would gather the others together so that they could have a group discussion that afternoon. They had a dinner party scheduled for that night but they would assemble early to call her. Ollie and Ronnie left soon after she hung up, promising that they would come back later as well for the expected call.

Elayne was looking out the window and thinking about what was ahead as the door shut behind them. Her hopes of dissuading the girl into giving up her pursuit of Scott were quickly dwindling and she didn’t like what she might have to do in the interim. She had never used her magick to hurt anyone in her life and she was afraid of what might happen to her if she did. Of course no one had ever threatened someone she loved before, either. But she firmly believed in the Law of Three and even though she knew that stopping the girl was important she couldn’t help but wonder how it would change her forever. Hurting someone just once could be enough to make it all too easy for her to do again.

Scott could see that Elayne was weighing something of great importance in her mind when he turned to her again. He wanted so much to go to her and tell her that everything would be okay, but he knew that he couldn’t hide behind his false assurances anymore. Today had proven that. This threat continued to be very real and even though there hadn’t been any physical evidence of the girl lately, she was definitely still hard at work and she still had to be stopped.

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