The blade felt warm against my skin. I started to gag.
Aiden laughed and lowered the knife. “Too messy,” he said. “Cutting your throat would be too messy, Harmony. I just wanted to give you a thrill.”
“Let go of me!” I screamed. “You’re crazy!”
Marissa stepped up to Aiden. “Let go of her. You’ve already had your revenge.”
“Harmony wants to be with you,” he said, tightening his grip on me, bending me backward. “She wants to be with her beautiful cousins over there.”
“Let go! Let go!” I screamed, panic choking my throat.
“It only hurts for a few seconds,” he said. “When you fall off the cliff, it only hurts when you land. And then . . .”
“No, Aiden. Don’t do it,” Marissa pleaded. She grabbed his arm. “Don’t do it.”
“Listen to her,” I heard Rebecca say.
The last words I heard before everything went black.
I blinked my eyes open, then shut them. My head didn’t feel like a human head. It felt like a rock of throbbing pain.
I groaned. “Where am I?”
I opened my eyes again. A shadow rolled over me. A face peered down, studying me. Aiden.
“Get up,” he ordered. He grabbed me roughly by one arm and tugged me to my feet.
The ground tilted and spun in front of me. My eyes refused to focus. Blurs of colored light danced around me.
“Aiden—?” I choked out.
Then the tall grass came into focus. The dirt leading up to the flat edge of the rock cliff. Slowly, my brain rolled over, regained some ability to think, to remember, and I knew I was high on the mesa, just a few feet from the cliff edge.
“No—Aiden!” I heard Marissa’s desperate cry.
“Aiden—don’t!” A plea from Ruth-Ann. I saw her lingering back in the grass, huddled with her sister and Marissa.
The ground still swirled beneath me. My head spun and throbbed. I struggled to come back all the way, but the blow on the head had me woozy and weak.
Aiden gripped me by both shoulders. He gave me a hard push. “Over you go, Harmony, sweetheart.” He spit the words in my ear. “You won’t ruin any more lives.”
Another hard shove.
One more shove and I knew I’d be over the edge. I’d be gone. Dead. Maybe trapped in time here forever, or maybe lost like poor Taylor.
One more shove . . .
I lowered my gaze and saw the ragged floor of gray-brown rocks far below. The sight made me gasp. My brain whirred into action.
One more shove . . .
The words of a spell ran through my frightened brain. A darkness spell? I didn’t know it well enough. Would a deafening blast of sound be enough to make Aiden let go of me so I could flee?
The dirt at the cliff edge crumbled under my shoes. Aiden tightened his fingers on my shoulders, about to give me the last push.
I shouted out the words of a spell I knew, shouted them to the sky.
I felt Aiden’s fingers loosen, his hands pull away.
He uttered a startled cry—and did a wild cartwheel—up high in the air, twisting his body. As he flipped over, his hands touched the edge of the cliff, and then he sailed over the side.
His scream sounded like the wail of a wounded animal.
I left him suspended in air. Screaming in air. I controlled him with my eyes, muttering the words of the ancient magic. He was head down, still in the grip of his cartwheel, hanging in midair.
What shall I do with him? Why not just leave him there?
Then with Aiden’s screams in my ears, I turned and ran, ran past Marissa and the Fear sisters . . . ran down the dirt path to the lodge.
Still dizzy, still reeling from all the horror, I zigged and zagged and staggered through the front entrance. And prayed . . .
Please . . . please let it be today and not the past.
The young woman behind the desk cried out and jumped off her chair as I dove over the counter. I landed hard on my elbows and knees. Scrambled to my feet.
“What are you doing? Somebody—help me!” she screamed.
I turned to the wall, struggling to catch my breath—and grabbed the frame of the 1924 photo in both hands. With a wrenching swipe, I pulled it off the wall.
“Stop her! Somebody—stop her!” the poor, alarmed girl wailed. She backed away from me, shouting for help.
“Don’t worry,” I choked out. “Don’t be scared.”
I tore the back of the frame away and tossed it on the floor. Then I pulled out the old photo. The paper was stiff and crinkly. The photo smelled old, kind of sour. I pressed it to my forehead.
Yes, I pressed the photo to my forehead. Shut my eyes. And murmured the words I’d seen in one of the old books of Fear magic. Murmured the words I’d memorized, I was so entranced by this spell.
I’d never gotten it to work. But this time . . . this time . . .
I murmured the words until the desk clerk’s screams faded from my ears. Pressed the old photo to my head and repeated them again and again.
This time . . . this time . . . it had to work.
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