Ysabel levitated Samiyah and drew her across the room. She touched Samiyah’s cheek and laughed as ice began to cover her body, her skin draining of color. Samiyah heard a muffled voice say, “Stubborn. Why?”
She felt strength seeping in. Her head cleared and Oliver’s voice was louder as he said, “Why did you go without me?”
She tried to reject his strength but he wouldn’t allow it. The threads of their bond were healing but still too fragile to handle a battle of wills. Samiyah could feel it starting to fray and she gave in grudgingly. Her borrowed strength allowed her to break away from Ysabel, who eyed her with a curious expression.
“Interesting.” She reached towards Samiyah and beams of light prodded her.
Oliver’s energy became weaker with every touch. Samiyah ran. “Kat! Could use some help.”
Her sister groaned but managed to stand. She created a shield between Samiyah and Ysabel. Her breath came out in heaving gasps. Neither of them could fight much longer. Katherine was untrained and Samiyah was running out of borrowed time. Ysabel moved dashed forward. Her form was blurred. A second later Katherine’s shield cracked and splintered. She tried to run but Ysabel changed into her ghostly form. Katherine screamed as she was surrounded. Flailing wildly to defend herself, she accidentally sent out bursts of fire. They weren’t that strong and burned out quickly but Ysabel let out a pained noise. Samiyah felt a strange sense of elation as she realized her magic must be keeping Ysabel solid enough to feel physical pain.
Not caring how much it must’ve cost, Samiyah kicked out at the intricately carved coffee table until one of the legs snapped off. “Ysabel!”
Her named forced Ysabel back into her human form. She turned, a vicious snarl ripped from her throat. Her face was twisted by anger. Ysabel launched herself at Samiyah, who got in one solid blow before the table leg was yanked from her hand. She heard her wrist pop but she didn’t have time to concentrate on the pain. She grabbed the front of Ysabel’s dress and flung her towards the marble fireplace. Ysabel caught herself, her nails created deep gashes in the marble.
Ysabel wrinkled her nose as if she could smell Oliver in the room with them. “Wolf,” she growled.
Samiyah, knowing her surprise was gone, leaped over the ruined coffee table and couch. Her fingers were just closing around the table leg when Ysabel’s fingers closed around her neck. They stretched to completely encircle Samiyah’s neck, tightening.
“Kat.” Samiyah’s voice came out as a harsh croak.
“What do I do?” She sobbed.
Samiyah kicked back, connecting with Ysabel’s knee. They fell. Samiyah landed on top of Ysabel. She rolled off and raised the table leg; bringing it down where Ysabel’s head had been moments before. Taking a risk Samiyah held it out and shouted, “Kat, light it.”
“Are you crazy?” She balled her hands into fist.
“We don’t have time to argue.” Samiyah tried to dodge an attack. A spasm of pain shot through her left side and she stumbled, clutching at the couch for support. Samiyah gave Katherine a desperate look.
“I can’t believe this.” She concentrated on her hand until a weak flame appeared. Katherine tried throwing it but it fizzled out.
While she struggled Ysabel leaped towards her.
Samiyah forced herself to follow, and tackled Ysabel to the ground. She fell through to the floor when Ysabel suddenly changed again. Before Samiyah could defend herself Ysabel attacked her mind. She panicked as she lost feeling in her legs; the numbness creeping up until she wasn’t sure she hadn’t stopped breathing.
“I will have your power.”
Samiyah used everything in her to push back. She would not let Ysabel hurt people. She’d keep it, and herself, locked inside before she let that happen. Ysabel renewed her attack and Samiyah screamed until her throat hurt. Suddenly Ysabel drew away from her. She pressed against the wall, howling and spitting at Katherine; who finally had a sizable fireball floating above her hand. Her expression was just as angry, which made the tears streaming down her face more terrifying.
“Just go away.” She threw the fireball as if it were a softball.
It hit and Ysabel’s dress went up in flames. She tried to run but wherever she went Katherine met her with another one. Ysabel tried calling up another wind. Only to have it cut off when Katherine snapped her hand closed. The look of intense concentration told Samiyah this was all instincts. She forced herself to roll onto her side, gritting her teeth, forced her arms to push herself up. As she was standing up Ysabel rushed Katherine, who met her steadily. Her eyes fluttered and then closed. Katherine’s expression was peaceful. Samiyah felt as if ice was crawling over her again. Her stomach rebelled but there was nothing to throw up. A burst of energy knocked Samiyah to her knees. Ysabel lay on the floor before Katherine, dress mostly burned away and her skin was translucent.
Katherine’s face was devoid of emotion. When she spoke, the power in her voice made Samiyah shake. “Get out.” It was dark. Heavy.
Ysabel jumped at her. She exploded into light just as she hit. Katherine slowly sat down and drew her knees to her chest.
Samiyah crawled over to her sister, wrapping Katherine in a hug. “I’m sorry.”
Katherine didn’t respond and they sat like that for a long moment. Eventually Samiyah noticed the magic swirling around her. It crowded around her but didn’t try to force its way in. She could send it away. Samiyah looked at where Ysabel had just lain. She knew she wouldn’t. With a sigh, Samiyah called the magic back. She felt her body relax as it seeped in through her skin. Once Samiyah was sure her magic had completely returned she pushed it to her core, sealed it. Her head snapped up when she heard a groan and she remembered where she was. Samiyah started to stand but Katherine gripped her arm.
“I’ll handle him. Just go to the car, I’ll meet you there.”
Katherine nodded. “Some pretty expensive things got broken. You’ll only put your foot in it.” She gave a weak laugh.
Samiyah tried to give a comforting smile though she was sure it looked as forced as it felt. Her legs were stiff as she walked towards the door. With each step she felt more disconnected. At first Samiyah wasn’t aware she’d even gotten to the car until she bumped into the hood. She stopped and just stood there until someone tapped her on the arm.
Samiyah expected Katherine so she didn’t turn around. “What?” she asked in a flat voice.
“I didn’t mean for any of this to happen.”
Samiyah felt angry suddenly.
“I didn’t know. I swear! I just wanted to say I helped you. I didn’t know it was her.”
Samiyah spun, ready to yell at him because he was close. He looked as exhausted as she was. Who knows how long Ysabel had been using him. Her words died in her throat.
“I didn’t even know she existed. I wouldn’t have answered.”
“She would’ve made you.” She gave him a comforting pat on the arm. Taking a deep breath she said, “I’m going home. You can forget about this and never speak to me again.”
Trevor gave an incredulous laugh. “I can’t forget this.” He grabbed his hair. “What do I do now? Did everything I have come from her?”
He moaned. “I’ll lose what I worked for. This will ruin me.”
Samiyah turned away, walking around to the passenger seat and opening her door. “Would you rather she be here again? You’d rather be possessed?”
“That’s not what I-”
“What did you mean?”
Trevor started to walk towards her but Samiyah waved him away.
“Retire from doing exorcisms, become an author playing yourself up. I don’t care. I’m done with Ysabel. We’re done.”
“At least you told me in person this time.”
Samiyah snorted, sliding into the passenger seat and slamming the door.
Katherine stood in the doorway watching their exchange. She wanted to feel something about it but all she could concentrate on was the buzzing in her head. Her whole body tingled as competing magic coursed through her. Katherine looked down at her hand expecting it to look different. It didn’t. Nothing did. She ran her hands over the faded red tank top she was wore. It was significantly more wrinkled than it was before. Otherwise it was fine, she looked fine; not like someone was stretching inside and testing her out like a new car.
I’m strong enough to keep you in. I’m going to get rid you.
Katherine looked up in time to see Trevor walking towards her. He looked distraught and she wanted to laugh.
“What are you going to do?”
“What can I do?”
Katherine shrugged. “Honestly? I don’t care, Trevor.” She walked by him, chuckling. “I’ll send a check for anything ruined. But I suspect you’ll have bigger problems.”
Trevor grabbed her arm. “You two can’t leave me like this.”
Katherine jerked her arm away. “We did our charity service for the day. Goodbye.”
She turned and walked away, feeling momentarily light.
When they arrived back in Kissimmee Rhonda rushed out of Isi’s shop, deep shadows under her eyes like she didn’t sleep for days. She threw her arms around Katherine, pressing her daughter’s head to her chest. “I was so worried about you. Are you okay? Is it over?”
“Yes mom. It’s over.”
Rhonda pulled away and searched Katherine’s face. She tried to smile but Rhonda frowned.
“I’m fine. Let’s go home and we’ll have dinner.
Samiyah watched this silently, holding her injured wrists though it’d been wrapped. She didn’t expect to be invited but she did need a ride home. “It’s a bit early for that.”
Katherine stared at her as if she didn’t fully comprehend. Then sudden realization crossed her face. “Oh. I must be confused.” Her voice was still robotic with only the slightest inflection.
“It’s fine sweetheart.” Rhonda glared at Samiyah. “If you want dinner, we’ll have dinner.” She waved Samiyah away from the car and helped Katherine get in. “We won’t talk about any of this anymore.” Rhonda got in and drove off without saying goodbye.
Samiyah heard a bell ring as the door opened behind her.
Samiyah knew he could sense her magic. “Lucky me.”
Oliver came to stand beside her. “I’m still your friend. We’re bound for a reason.”
She folded her arms, as if that could protect her from everything that happened. “How can any of this have a reason?”
Oliver shook his head. “I don’t know. But I understand, you still need space,” he said with a dry laugh. “At least call this time.”
“I will.” Samiyah looked away, not sure that she would.
He made her look at him. “Sam, call me.” His voice was gentle though it held a pleading undertone.
That Oliver let her hear it let Samiyah know more than any words. If he hadn’t fully forgiven her, he didn’t hate her either. “I will. Promise.”
He gave her a small smile. “Uh…I’ll uh, get Delfina to drive you home.”
Samiyah nodded. They weren’t friends and that’s what she needed. Someone who would let her sit, and think, in silence. She surprised Oliver by giving him a tight hug.
“Why? He tentatively returned it.
“Just accept the hug,” she said laughing. “I’d be dead if you hadn’t helped.”
He muttered something, embarrassed, but hugged her tighter.