Newton rooted through the memories I’d stolen from Vincent’s mind. I had no idea that I’d taken as much as I did. The names, abilities, and weaknesses of every senior Coven member waited in my mind for him to uncover. It made me paranoid that Vincent might have had darker plans for me than a Coven-sanctioned assassin. Was it possible I’d done the Coven a favor by murdering him before he got the chance to turn on them? That seemed too good to be true, but Vincent believed in being prepared. If he thought that the rest of the senior members would condemn him for his recruitment practices, he might need to kill at least a few in his escape.
The process wore me down; every memory I relived exhausted me further. Not all of them were useful to Newton, but he went through each of them to the end. Somehow, he showed no sign that digging through my mind took anything out of him. Every time I came back to myself on the living room couch, he looked as fresh as he did when I fell into the memory. The exhaustion must have finally shown on my face after coming back from a memory where Vincent and Temperance hooked up. Maybe that intimacy was a part of why she didn’t find out about his habit of stealing children. I lived through the memory of ten other murders like my mother’s. Whenever he came across a powerful witch born to mundane parents, he had no compunction about killing the parents that refused to turn their child over for training.
“That’s enough for now, I think. Go get some sleep. We can resume when you wake up,” Newton said.
When I got to the room Sal assigned me, I saw that only two hours had passed since we finished eating. It felt like we’d spend three times as long going through the memories. The fact that there was more to explore still baffled me. How could I be carrying around this many foreign memories without knowing it? Tired as I was, I didn’t fall asleep immediately like I thought I would. Vincent’s murders replayed in my mind. It enraged me. He’d gotten away with it for so long. How could the rest of the Senior Coven Members not know? Maybe they did, and they chose to look the other way because of how much their ranks swelled thanks to him. How many more victims would he have claimed if I didn’t kill him?
Thankfully, I didn’t dream of Vincent’s crimes. Instead, I stood on the back deck of a house, watching silver snow falling as far as I could see. It rested on woods in front of me, weighing down each branch with the shine of it. The distant mountains glowed as they reflected the moonlight. The dream held the same magic as those woven by Clark. He shouldn’t have been able to send me a dream, though. I still wore the blocker that kept his magic from finding me when we were apart. He stepped up next to me on the deck, and I knew it was him, not a version my subconscious created.
“You shouldn’t be here,” I said. He rested his hand on mine. The compulsion to kill him didn’t come. Had it worn off, or was I safe from it while I slept?
“I couldn’t stay away,” he said. “I’d rather be trapped with you than free without you.”
“Please tell me you didn’t offer yourself up to him after Umbra saved you,” I said. He didn’t answer, just looked out at the snowy landscape. “Clark, he ordered me to kill you. You’re not safe here.”
“Neither are you, Milo,” he said. “I know what I’m doing.”
“Eli’s not here too, is he?” I asked.
“No, he’s on his way out of town as far as I know,” Clark said.
“I wish you’d gone with him,” I said.
“Trust me, Milo,” he said.
Clark woke me from the dream. As soon as I saw his face, the compulsion started working again. My hands wrapped around his neck even as I begged them not to. My whole body shook as I tried to resist the cerebremancy pushing me to take Clark’s life. He didn’t even try to stop me. Something wasn’t right. It was definitely him, but he held so still as if I’d already killed him. The magic wouldn’t be pushing me to tighten my grip if that was the case, though. In the end, I couldn’t stop myself. The magic won, and I constricted my fingers.
“Milo, stop,” Newton said from the doorway. Immediately, I pulled away from Clark, tears streaming down my face, too thankful for this reprieve to worry about hiding them from Newton. “I think you’re right, Clark. I can find a use for you. Remember this, Milo, Clark’s life is in your hands. If I have to use my magic to enforce an order, his life is forfeit.”
“I understand,” I said. I failed another person. Eli was the only one I’d managed to protect at this point.
“Very good. Clark, you may move. The two of you have half an hour. Do what you need to freshen up and then come to breakfast.”
Newton closed the door behind him, but I didn’t mistake that for privacy. Even if he didn’t have surveillance in these rooms, he’d be able to pluck the memories out of my mind with ease. Clark pulled me into a hug, and I hugged him back. I wanted to yell at him for coming here; I wanted to argue about how stupid it was. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was too thankful that Newton released me from the order to kill Clark to do anything but hold him tight. Whatever I had to do to keep him safe, I’d do it. I didn’t want to think about what that would mean going forward, but I knew it was true. I pulled back and looked at him again. Something still felt off, but I couldn’t place it. We showered, spelled our clothes clean, got dressed, and went out to join Newton and his other captives for breakfast.
I couldn’t enjoy the food because every bite reminded me that the man who made it had no voice. At least the rest of us could vent our feelings, which Tina often did. She’d made mimosas, but I didn’t touch mine, and neither did Clark. Even if I were ready to resign to this situation, I wouldn’t be able to relax as long as Clark’s life was in danger. He told me he knew what he was doing. I wanted to believe he had a plan, but what if he was just being a hopeless romantic? It wouldn’t be the first time he chose a harder life to be with me. I stole a glance at him as we ate. It wasn’t until a piece of potato fell from my fork and I looked down that I realized what was off about him. He wasn’t wearing his blocker. The Coven would be able to find him. Was he banking on them showing up to save us? Would they be able to find us behind whatever wards Newton had set up?