Her father dropped her off at school on his way to work. She slung her bag over one shoulder and walked into the school. She went straight to her locker and when she opened it, a piece of paper fluttered out. She managed to catch it. She expected it to be from Robert. But it wasn’t his handwriting.
Tick tock goes the clock.
Beth froze. It was that swirling handwriting again. When she heard her name, she managed to tear her eyes away from the card and paint a false smile on her face.
“What’s wrong?” Alex asked.
Beth’s smile failed as she handed him the card. He sighed and pulled her into a hug. Running his fingers through her hair, Alex sighed.
“I’m so sorry about all of this,” he whispered.
“It’s not your fault,” she replied. “Robert said something about me being a witch.”
Alex let her go and stepped back. “We talked about that this morning. Though he wouldn’t share with me the details of his discovery. He thinks that whoever it is needs a witch.”
“But I don’t know anything. My mum doesn’t either. She told me to ask my dad about the Salem witches.”
“No. He’d be really suspicious and start spying on me. He probably wouldn’t let me out of the house without knowing where I’m going, who I’m going to be with. Do you want to be the one explaining things to him? Do you want to tell him about Robert?”
“Point taken. We’ll try to put it off as long as possible, but we might have to ask at some point.”
Beth sighed. “Come on, let’s get to lessons.”
The two of them headed to Maths. They took their seats as all the others streamed in. Catalin wasn’t among them. Beth shot Alex a worried glance but he shook his head. He knew where Catalin was. The empty chair between the two of them was worrying, even if Alex knew the whereabouts of its usual occupant.
Mr Ashfield walked into the room. He glared at Alex, and then looked confused at the empty seat. Alex gave him a dangerous look so he just got on with the lesson. Beth was sat alone, at the edge of a row.
“Beth, why don’t you move next to Alex?” Mr Ashfield suggested quietly.
“Okay,” she replied with a smile.
She shuffled over into Catalin’s seat and smiled at Alex. Alex twined his fingers through hers, using his left hand to write. Beth remembered he was ambidextrous.
When the lesson was over, the class trickled out of the room.
“Where’s Cat?” Beth asked Alex as the two of them left the room.
“She’s with Robert,” Alex said with a small smirk.
“Was that her idea?”
“It was actually. You should have seen them this morning... He’s so much taller than she is, it’s hilarious. The glare she gave me when I laughed. And the way they argue... It’s like some sort of old married couple.”
“Do you trust Robert?”
“I’m beginning to. I know you do, and you want me to. I believe he wants to help, but why? Is it because he’s scared that something might be stronger than him? Is it because there’s something else he wants?”
Beth blushed as she remembered Robert kissing her this morning.