You look just fine, for a human,” Jameson said. I swear he was the only cat who could make a compliment sound like a dig.
I turned to my mirror. “Just fine for a human?” I frowned. I thought I looked great, and I was ready for Palmer’s eyes to bug out when he saw me. I’d dressed up for Christmas dinner at his house, but tonight was an entirely different story.
Tonight, we were attending the slightly delayed Portsmouth Police Department annual New Year’s Eve party. No police department threw parties on actual holidays, because they were needed on the streets. I didn’t suppose much happened on January 7, though.
“Black suits you, but don’t you want more flair? More color?” Jameson asked. “You could cast up a quick glamour and really dazzle them.”
I turned to him. “What are you saying? I’m not dazzling enough as I am?” I’d worked hard on my hair and makeup this afternoon. It took an astonishing amount of time and product to make my hair curl perfectly and, as for the cat eye eyeliner—fifth time’s the charm. Or at least fifth time was enough practice to evenly line both eyes. Yeah, some magical assistance might have come in handy. “Too late now. I’m done.”
“Next time, consider it. You could have saved yourself time and money.”
I walked into the living room to retrieve my new evening purse. He had a good point there. Saving time and money were part of the fundamental nature of the Proctor family. “What happens if I drink too much champagne and let the glamour slip? How would I explain that to a room full of police?”
He rolled his eyes like a teenager. “The young are rather silly. You don’t let the champagne affect you. Didn’t your mother teach you that spell?”
I shook my head and my curls bounced around my face. “I don’t drink much. But if my cat continues to mock my fashion sense, that may change.”
He stretched and walked into his room, pushing the door shut.
I paced in the living room, now doubting how I looked. Thea and Delia were giving their last “Christmas in Portsmouth” tour tonight, so neither of them were available to help me get ready. Inspiration struck, and I took a picture of myself in a full-length mirror and sent it to Hannah McGinty.
Tell me I look okay for the party
Three dots came up on my screen and I waited for her response. She sent me the wide eyes emoji, so I guess I looked fine.
The knock at my door had me put my phone in my bag. I saw Palmer through the peephole and grinned. “Who is it?” I asked.
“Ma’am. This is the police. I need to inspect your apartment,” he said with a smile.
I opened the door and leaned against the frame. “You got a warrant, buster?”
His jaw dropped and he said nothing.
Bruce’s door squeaked as it opened, and I quickly pulled Palmer into my apartment. I didn’t need my nosy neighbor eavesdropping on us.
“You look . . . amazing,” he said.
I beamed. “Thank you. My harshest critic says I look okay, for my species.”
Palmer furrowed his brow. “Who?”
“Jameson.” I gestured to the roses in Palmer’s hand, white with red edges. “Are those for me?”
He blushed. “Yes. I forgot about them for a minute.”
I took them from him. “You’ll need to stop staring at me at some point tonight. If only to drive us to the party.” I had already filled a vase with water, hoping he’d bring me flowers. I set them in the water and placed the vase on the dining room table.
Now that our hands were empty, he pulled me to him. “Only for matters of safety. You’re too gorgeous to look away from.”
I put my arms around his neck and pulled his head down for a kiss. When we separated, I thought Jameson’s idea of a glamour might have some merit. At least then I wouldn’t worry about Palmer having my lipstick on his lips. “Ready to go?”
I took his outstretched arm and yelled goodnight to Jameson.
Over the course of the nine months I’d known Palmer, I’d had the chance to meet a lot of his coworkers, mostly all in the line of duty. I wasn’t sure how going to a party with them would be fun. “What was last year’s party like?”
Palmer turned out of my parking lot. “I didn’t go. I heard it was fun, though.”
“Why didn’t you go?”
“We can’t all go and leave the department unstaffed. I didn’t have a date, and I didn’t care if I went or not.”
Was it wrong to be happy he hadn’t had a girlfriend last year? Probably.
“People who worked last year got first choice to go to the party this year. I said yes.” We stopped at a red light and he looked at me. “I wanted the entire department to see the gorgeous woman I’m dating.”
I blushed. “That’s very flattering. And I want the women you work with to see you’re off-limits.”
He chuckled. “They already do. Kate’s made sure of it.”
We pulled up to the valet parking stand at the Marriott on the river.
The valet opened my door. I got out and waited for Palmer to join me on the sidewalk. Kate stepped out of the car behind us. “Woah,” I whispered. Kate’s floor-length red dress with plunging neckline and swirling patterns of crystal embellishments made her look like she was ready for the Oscars. “Oh my gosh, you’re stunning.”
She beamed at me. “Thanks. Don’t tell anyone, but this was the dress I wore to my senior prom.”
Palmer joined me. “Kate, you look lovely.”
“Thanks, boss. You look . . . about the same.” She touched the arm of the man standing next to her. “This is my friend, Mikey Dunn.”
Palmer stretched his hand out. “Steve Palmer. Nice to meet you, Mikey.”
Mikey shook Palmer’s hand, but looked like he wasn’t sure it was his best course of action.
“Let’s head inside,” I said while trying not to shiver. My wrap was perfect for a warm car, but it didn’t block the icy wind coming off the Piscataqua River.
I’d never been to a party like this, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d never even gone to a prom in school. Thea, Delia, and I had considered going to the junior prom without dates but, as the resident “weird girls,” we were pretty sure no one would ask us to dance, and we’d wind up sitting together in a corner. Why do that when we could be home, not wearing high heels, having actual fun?
Palmer took our seating card and walked us to our table. Kate grabbed hers and followed us. “We’re at the same table, good,” she said.
“Can I get you ladies a drink?” Palmer asked.
“Seltzer with lime, please,” I said.
Kate asked for the same.
Palmer stared at Mikey, who made no move to get his date a drink. “Mikey,” Palmer prompted.
It took Mikey a beat to realize what Palmer wanted. “Oh, right. I’ll be back in a minute.”
As I watched them walk off to the bar, I said, “Where did you find him?”
Kate sighed. “He’s a friend from school. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find a date when you’re a cop.”
“Once you discount all the ones who can’t resist asking about your handcuffs, yes.”
I laughed. “Not exactly the thing you ask about before your first date, that’s for sure.”
“And I didn’t want to ask anyone I work with, so my choices weren’t . . . great.”
“Probably not best to date coworkers. Tell me, when is your birthday? I want to take you out for a drink.”
“Not until July.”
“It’s a date, then.”
“But speaking of birthdays,” Kate said conspiratorially, “Palmer’s is next Saturday.”
“Good to know. I’ll have to plan a surprise.”
Palmer and Mikey returned with our drinks. I smiled up at Palmer. “Thank you.”
He sat next to me and took my hand in his. “Dinner is in an hour, but there are hors d’oeuvres if you’re hungry.”
I took a sip of my water. “In a few minutes.” I turned to Mikey. “Have you and Kate been friends for long?”
He looked up from his bottle of beer. “We did drama together in high school. I was a senior when she was a freshman, so I didn’t know her all that well. I ran into her at the grocery store a few months ago, and we got to talking. I graduated from college in June and moved home with my parents.”
“Interesting. What did you study?” I asked.
“A little of this, a little of that. I wanted to be an engineer, but wound up with a criminal justice degree.”
“Do you work for the department?” I asked.
He looked at the table, then back at me. “I hope to. I’d like to move out of my parents’ house. Can you believe my mother turned my room into a hot yoga studio, and now I have to live in the basement?”
Music started and Palmer leaned in close. “Let’s dance.”
“Absolutely,” I said.
When he brought me out to the dance floor, he said, “Mikey will never work for the department. I ran his name as part of his application and . . . let’s just say there were several lapses of judgment while he was a student.”
I looked up into Palmer’s deep brown eyes. I didn’t want to talk about Mikey, but I had one question. “Does Kate know?”
“I didn’t know they were friends. I’ll tell her on Monday.”
He pulled me in closer, and I forgot all about Kate, Mikey, and the rest of the party as we danced. We didn’t stop until the music did. Palmer led me back to our table, where the chief, Papatonis, and his date had joined us.
“This is my fiancée, Lourdes,” Papatonis said once we sat. “Lourdes, this is Detective Steve Palmer and his girlfriend, Isabella Proctor.”
“Nice to meet you, Lourdes,” I said.
She smiled and nodded, but didn’t say anything. She bit her lip and looked to Papatonis. The poor woman was clearly intimidated.
“I’d like to freshen up before dinner. Kate, Lourdes, would you join me?”
I was grateful that Kate and Lourdes stood up. It was silly to need to use the bathroom in groups, but I thought if Kate and I could talk to Lourdes for a minute, she might relax a little and have fun.
Once we were in the hallway, I stopped. “Lourdes, are you okay?”
“Because you don’t look it. Can we do anything to help?”
Lourdes stopped biting her lip and looked from me to Kate. “I’m at a table with Luke’s boss and his chief. I’m terrified I’m going to do something to hurt his career.”
After what Palmer had told me about Mikey, there was no way she could be the worst date at the table.
“You’ll be fine once you relax. My date’s been arrested in the past. I’m sure you can’t top that,” Kate said.
I said nothing, thinking Palmer could fill Kate in on Monday and that I didn’t want to ruin her night. “He has?”
Kate nodded. “He doesn’t know that I know but, after tonight, I’m not seeing him again.”
“Lourdes, I think you’re going to be fine. Papa—Luke obviously loves you. Kate and I like you already, and I’ve got a lot of sway with Palmer and the chief,” I said.
Lourdes frowned. “You know the chief?”
“Since I was a baby. We’re all friends at our table, so try to relax and have fun.”
She blew out a deep breath. “I’ll try.”
We walked back into the party and I almost ran into Max Hathaway, the night coroner, as he was leaving. “Hi Max, nice to see you here.”
He looked down at me. “Oh, hi. Can I talk to you outside?”
“Lead the way.”
Once we were halfway across the hotel lobby, he stopped walking. “That guy with Detective Palmer, is he really Kate’s date?”
I grimaced. “He is. But she was desperate for a date and asked him as a last resort. She’s already said she’s not interested in him.”
Max’s shoulders sagged. “He was her last resort?”
I realized I should have phrased that better. “Oh, Max, that’s not what I meant. I know you like her, but I’m not sure she knows. Maybe ask her out for coffee someday, you know, try to spend some time with her outside of work.”
“That’s what I was going to do tonight, but then she shows up with him.”
I put my hand on his arm. “Do you want to join our table? I’m sure we can squeeze you in.”
He shook his head. “No. I don’t want to look like the loser who couldn’t get a date. I’m just going home.”
“Promise me you’ll call her tomorrow and ask her for coffee?”
He didn’t promise, but he didn’t say he wouldn’t, either, as he walked away.
I took a sip of my white chocolate mocha and leaned back in my office chair, proud of myself for finally getting the hang of running my business. I’d managed to order in advance all the potion-making ingredients I thought I’d need for the next three months. No rushing around to find what I needed, no paying for overnight shipping. Now all I had to do was spend a solid week in the prep room creating potions, salves, and tinctures from the inventory I currently had.
I pulled up my notes app and walked out to the shop floor to do a quick inventory. Mackenzie was chatting with Mrs. Rothman, whose sciatica was acting up again. “I can absolutely sell you the muscle relaxant salve, but if you don’t go out for a walk every day, I’ll be selling it to you forever.”
Mrs. Rothman smiled. “That’s easy for you to say, you’re young. It takes serious effort to get out for a walk at my age.”
Mackenzie looked skeptical. “You’re forty-five. You’re not old. Trust me, if you walk a half an hour every day this week, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.”
Mrs. Rothman took the jar of salve. “You know the weather is terrible, right?”
“You know an inexpensive gym is ten dollars a month, right?”
Ooh! Game, set, and match to my assistant. “Fine. I’ll do it, but only so I can prove you wrong,” Mrs. Rothman conceded.
I got back to my inventory, pleased with how well Mackenzie fit into the shop and its vibe. Our customers didn’t come here for just tea or remedies, they came in to take charge of their own well-being. Sometimes they just needed a little help to do the right thing. She instinctively knew how to talk to the customers to get them to do the right thing. “Nice work with Mrs. Rothman,” I said once she’d left.
Mackenzie rolled her eyes and smiled. “I’ve been telling her the same thing every week for a good month now. It’s about time she listened to me.”
“Only a month, that’s good. I’m going to be working in the prep room for the rest of the day, so come find me if you need anything,” I told her, not thinking she’d actually need anything. I was amazed at how confident I felt leaving the store in her hands.
“No problem, boss,” she said.
Once in the prep room, I started pulling down ingredients for a new potion I’d created that boosted a person’s immune reaction. Before I could start the potion, I heard Hope’s voice in my mind.
Good afternoon, ladies. It’s time to get back to work. We’ll meet tonight at seven, at Proctor House.
This was not what I needed to finish out my day. We hadn’t met since the disastrous night the sorority abandoned me to watch over a neighborhood on my own and, honestly, I hadn’t gotten over it yet. I had asked for their help safeguarding a neighborhood that had seen two murders in the space of a few days and, while they hadn’t said no, they came out with the most perfunctory effort and then went home, leaving me on my own.
I didn’t know how to deal with people who disliked like me for any good reason. I didn’t think being young was a good reason to not like me. Being young and having a familiar, though, was a good enough reason for them. I’d spoken to my grandmother, and she wasn’t a lot of help. She was more inclined to ignore people who didn’t like her and not worry about it. I’d rather work with people than around them. Grandma said I’ll grow out of that by the time I hit fifty.
I really hoped she was wrong, because working with other witches made me happy.
Once I closed the shop at six, I went straight to Proctor House. If I was going to work with my sorority tonight, I was going to need a good dinner and some time with people who loved me first. Aunt Nadia was pulling a lasagna out of the oven when I walked into the kitchen. “Smells fantastic,” I said.
She set the pan on a trivet. “You’re here early. Give it five minutes to cool down and then help yourself. I’ve got to help your grandmother with a spell. And pull the rolls out of the oven when the timer rings.”
I raised an eyebrow at my aunt. “What kind of spell?”
She hung her apron on a peg by the stove. “No clue. She didn’t tell me anything other than it had to be done before we ate.”
What was Grandma getting up to now? I shook my head and grabbed a plate. We’d all find out soon enough.
Thea and Delia were laughing as they came in from the driveway. “And then, when he fell for the third time, I thought his pants were going to split!” Thea said.
“I don’t know why people don’t trust you when you tell them they won’t be able to stand on the slipperiest ice Mother Nature ever made,” Delia said.
Thea rolled her eyes. “Some people can’t resist taking the challenge, and we can’t resist laughing at them when they do.”
I dished out three plates of lasagna, then pulled the rolls out of the oven. Rolls used to be my job, but I’d become too busy since I’d inherited the Portsmouth Apothecary to think about what I used to do at Proctor House. Before I could think about the sadness that came with that thought, Delia started asking me questions.
“Sorority meeting tonight?”
I sat at the table and took the fork and napkin Thea handed me. “Yes. We haven’t met since before Christmas.”
“Think they’ll start acting better?” Thea asked.
I took a bite of lasagna and shook my head. They had no reason to start liking me more now, and I doubted time away from each other would fix the underlying issues. Not for the first time, I wondered why Mrs. Thompson thought I’d be a good fit in this group of witches.
Delia put the rolls and garlic butter on the table. “I’m sure Hope will figure something out.”
“I hope so. I’m not sure what I’ll do if she doesn’t. No one wants to be part of a group that doesn’t like you, but I don’t want to give up Jameson or the amulet. So I guess I’ll stay and just wear them down with persistence.”
Aunt Lily and my mother walked into the kitchen. “Good evening, girls,” Aunt Lily said.
They served themselves dinner and joined us. We ate dinner and chatted about inconsequential things—the perfect relaxation I needed before my meeting.
At five minutes before seven, the rest of my sorority and three other women I’d never met came to the kitchen door. My mother let them in and offered them dinner. “Thank you, Michelle, but we’ve already eaten,” Hope said. “Isabella, come with us. We have a lot to do tonight and need to start right away.”
I looked at the last few bites of my dinner and sighed. Before I looked up at Hope, I pasted a smile on my face. “I’m ready to go.”
“Your grandmother said we should use the formal dining room tonight,” Hope told me.
I stood up. “Follow me.”
Once we all sat at the large table in the red dining room, Hope started the meeting. “I’d like to introduce you to three witches from the California sorority. Their leader, Inanna Blackwing, is here to observe our group dynamics and adjust them so that we work well together.”
An older woman with black, frizzy hair and a wart on the tip of her nose smiled. “Yes. Hope tells me there’s a problem accepting the newest member into the sorority. These kinds of problems are common enough, particularly when a younger witch joins an established group, and I’m sure we can work through the issue with a minimum of fuss.”
That wasn’t exactly the problem. Helen was the newest member but, because she was older, the other members didn’t have any issue with her. Should I correct Inanna? I decided to let Hope deal with the misunderstanding.
“Inanna has brought two other members of her sorority with her, Raven Stone and Winter Hart. They’ll be working with you in smaller groups for the week.”
A short woman with curly gray hair and laugh lines around her eyes smiled. “I’m Raven.”
The third woman, Winter, looked nothing like her name. Her warm, ochre skin and gold-streaked hair made her look like the embodiment of summer. “I’m Winter. We’re all happy to be here to show how our coven of fifty-three witches gets along and works like a team.”
“The problem as I see it,” Anna said, “is that one of us acts like she’s better than the rest of us. We each had to earn our familiars and hers was given to her, even before she joined the sorority. She’s also hoarding two other familiars, most likely to give them to her cousins rather than those of our members here who have gone without for too long.”
Inanna looked at Hope, who gave her an I-told-you-so look.
“And you are?” Inanna asked.
Inanna leaned forward. “Tell me, Anna, how you think that was a helpful comment.”
I marveled at how Inanna managed to sound like she was correcting a kindergartener while still conveying that Anna had made a terrible mistake.
Anna smirked. “I wasn’t sure Hope would give you the whole story. She’s been friends with Isabella’s grandmother since they were young, and it’s no secret to any of us that has bought Isabella a place in the sorority, and her familiar.”
Sasha leaned back and shook her head. While it wasn’t support, at least I knew not everyone felt like Anna. It didn’t even matter that Anna wasn’t telling the whole truth. It was Mrs. Thompson who gave me Jameson and the amulet, not Hope. From what I could see, Hope had no choice but to allow me into the sorority.
“It seems that not everyone agrees with your assessment.”
Anna opened her mouth to speak, but made no sound.
“I’d like you to think about how your words affect others before you speak again,” Inanna said. “Maybe an hour will do.”
Anna tried to speak again, her face turning red as she attempted to yell. As much as I liked the idea of Anna not being able to lie, the thought that Inanna was willing to cast a spell on her to keep her from speaking was frightening. She’d barely met us, didn’t even know our names, and already she was casting what could be considered a harmful spell on one of us.
“No one likes it when a woman succeeds because of her family connections. Or when she takes what never really belonged to her. Unfortunately, we have to deal with these people whether we want to or not.”
Was she talking about me? I’d never taken something that didn’t belong to me, but I was sure my entire sorority thought I only got Jameson because I came from a prominent family. I looked to Hope, who shook her head. I stayed quiet and waited to see what else was in store for us tonight.
“We’re going to break into two groups. Raven will take Anna, Sasha, and Christina. Winter will take Claire, Isabella, and Helen.
We filed out to the backyard. This didn’t bode well for us. It was cold outside, but I wasn’t going to be the first to complain, or the first to use a spell to keep myself warm.
Inanna stood in front of us. “I want each group to stand on opposite sides of the yard. You’ll start with the same group exercise, and once you’ve mastered it, the two groups will challenge each other.”
My group turned to follow Winter to the rose bushes by the back fence.
“Isabella, I’d like to speak to you for a moment,” Inanna said.
My group walked off without me, and I stood, alone, with the most frightening witch I’d ever met.
“You may think your problems are over now that I’m here to sort out the mess you’ve made with your sorority. They’re not. I’m going to do whatever it takes to convince Hope that you’re too young to be here. She can invite you back in thirty years, if you’re lucky.”
“But what about Mrs. Thompson? She was the witch who said I belong here.”
Inanna scoffed. “Beatrice Thompson was a sentimental old fool. She was one of the weakest sorority members I’d ever seen, aside from you, and no one took her seriously.”
I said nothing as I felt my confidence crumble. I’d held on to the idea that I was special because Mrs. T. chose me. Inanna ripped that away from me in less than a minute.
“Go join your group, and don’t discuss this with anyone.”
I walked away, tears of humiliation threatening to spill out of my eyes.
When I joined my group, Winter said, “Now that we’re all here, let’s start with a basic training exercise.” A glowing ball of light appeared over her outstretched hand.
I pulled up the shield around the backyard, hoping none of the neighbors saw the light appear from nowhere.
“Not this again,” Claire complained. She made a face and rubbed her neck. “It’s the wrong season for bees, isn’t it?”
Winter stepped forward, closer to Claire. “I understand Hope tried this exercise with you and there were problems. Inanna decided you needed to try again, only this time there are consequences for not working together. Nothing bad, just a little zap, like a dog feels when it gets too close to an electric fence. But each time you disobey me, talk back, or do anything else I see as not working together as a team, the zap will get stronger.”
She stepped back and looked at the three of us. “I don’t want to hurt you. That’s all in your control though.”
I didn’t appreciate being trained like a dog, but I wasn’t going to complain and get zapped. I didn’t see the point of forcing us to work together, either. It was obvious the California witches had been brought in because no one wanted to work with me. Hurting our New Hampshire members until they gave in didn’t seem like it would be effective once they left.
Winter passed the light to Claire. “You know how this works, ladies. Gently toss the orb to each other.”
Claire tossed the orb to Helen, who tossed it to Winter. “I’m not part of your training group,” Winter said as she tossed it back to Claire.
Claire threw it to me, faster than she had to Winter, but I caught it. I tossed it to Helen. “You call that a pass? It barely got here.”
Winter frowned at Helen, and Helen yelped and rubbed her neck. “That hurts!”
Winter grinned maliciously. “Oh, I’m sorry. Did I forget to tell you that the spell gets a little worse each time I use it?”
This was not okay. I looked over to Hope, but she had her back to me. Hey, Hope. You know they’re hurting us when we don’t behave, right?
Hope’s shoulders stiffened, but she didn’t turn or respond in any way.
“Hey! Cut that out!” I heard from across the lawn. Sasha must have gotten a strong zap.
I almost missed the light, but caught it with a wobble. I needed to pay attention to the exercise and try to keep from being zapped. I tossed the light to Claire. What was the other group doing that they would get zapped? They’d been working together for years—decades even—why did Sasha get zapped?
I felt a zap on my neck. It stung, but not even as badly as a mosquito bite. “Pay attention, Isabella,” Winter warned.
That didn’t hurt so bad. Either Claire and Helen had a low pain threshold, or Winter had lied about it always getting worse.
Inanna clapped her hands and the lights extinguished. “All right, ladies, it’s time for our second exercise. Everyone come together in a circle.”
We did as she said, and I hoped the zapping portion of the evening was over.
“You don’t seem ready to challenge each other yet. As sorority witches, you need to be prepared for pain. I’ll be working with Hope to toughen you New Hampshire witches up.”
Toughen us up? That didn’t sound like a good idea and it could cause some of the other members to leave.
“What did we learn from the exercise?” Inanna asked.
No one wanted to say anything, probably because they didn’t want to get it wrong.
“There will be no penalties for telling the truth,” Hope said.
“I learned that Isabella gets preferential treatment because she’s a Proctor, and there’s nothing we can do about that,” Claire said.
Preferential treatment? I sighed. “Look, I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t even know Mrs. Thompson was a witch for most of the time she was my neighbor. I had no idea about the sorority and certainly never asked to be part of it. I was pulled in, against the better judgment of my entire family, and told it was too late because I had the amulet and the familiar.”
I took a deep breath. “And now I’m stuck in a group where I’m resented for what other people have forced on me. I’m trying to contribute to the group, follow the rules, and use my power to keep us safe.”
Before I continued, I looked at each witch in the circle. “I don’t know what else I can do to earn your respect. I don’t think this was a good idea—forcing you to play nice or feel pain—but I had nothing to do with that. So here I am, in a group of people that hate me, won’t work with me and, yet, I’m duty bound to stay.”
Inanna put her hand up and I stopped talking. “Think back to when you joined the sorority. How did the other witches treat you? Were you made to feel welcome? Did anyone tell you that you didn’t belong and you should give up your amulet and familiar?”
Everyone else shook their heads.
“Exactly,” Inanna continued. “How would you have felt? What would you have done?”
“I’d have quit,” Christina said.
“Right. But she hasn’t. You may not like her, you may resent her because she’s young and has things it took you much longer to get, but you can at least respect her for staying. Training is over for the night. Go home and reflect on tonight’s lesson.”
I blinked back tears. I never considered that being my stubborn self was worthy of respect.
Several witches teleported away, but Christina remained behind. “I never considered that this could be tough on you.”
I didn’t have time to reply, because she teleported away.
“All right, ladies, let’s get back inside,” Hope said. “We’ve got a lot to think about tonight.”