Clyde pointed forward, brushing the unruly hair he inherited from me from his forehead. “What’s that?”
My heart sped up. “What’s what?”
“Those wavy things in the air.”
I exhaled loudly, tension I hadn’t even realized I was carrying relaxing from my shoulders. “Damn.” “Damn?” he and Macy parroted at the same time.
“Yeah, damn. You had me freaking out there. Those waves distorting the air are magic. If Clyde can see them, we’re in the clear.”
“How come I can’t see them?” Macy asked.
“You must just not be looking right,” I said, though I didn’t know how exactly she could be looking wrong. The barrier was ahead of us, in plain sight. Anyone with magic should be able to see it. Even those with weak magic could find the town limits well enough to enter.
“I must not be looking right,” Macy repeated, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Right there.” I pointed ahead just as Clyde had. “It’s like heat waves coming off the pavement.” “Only they go all the way up to the sky,” Clyde added, and a bit more tension oozed from me.
Macy shook her head. “I don’t see anything. Seriously.”
“That’s …not possible,” I said.
She crossed her arms and turned the full brunt of her sass toward me: “I’m telling you, there’s nothing there. You think I’m lying or something?”
“Of course not. There’s no reason to lie. Actually, there’s never reason to lie to your mother.” I arched my brow at them in my I’m-dead-serious look.
Clyde chuckled. Super encouraging.
“I don’t know what to tell you, Ma,” Macy said. “I don’t see anything but more pot-holey road.” Clenching my fingers around the steering wheel, I debated what to do. I couldn’t call my family. There were no cell phones or landlines in the entire town, a fact I’d purposefully omitted in my brief rundown to my kids of what was to become their new home. They would’ve fought me to leave even harder if they’d realized their beloved iPhones were about to be rendered useless.
The barrier dome that protected Gales Haven from discovery behaved as a gigantic Faraday cage. No electromagnetic pulses got in, and none got out. The concentration of magic in the community interfered with connections to the outside world. Every time landlines had been attempted, the result was the same: crackle.
My options were twofold: I could drive through and hope like hell the protective barrier didn’t zap my daughter. Or I could turn around and abandon all hope that Macy would get the help she needed, guidance she could only get from my family.
I’d never heard of someone with magic not seeing the barrier’s signature shimmer. I had no idea what it meant.
“When your magic erupts like it’s been doing,” I asked Macy, “what does it feel like?” “Like I stuck my entire hand in an electric socket and shocked the shi—”
I gave her my mom glare.
“Like I get a monster shock every time,” she finished.
Nodding, I nibbled at my lip. “Okay. Good,” I said, mostly to myself.
“What’s good?” Macy asked.
“If your magic’s too weak, the barrier won’t let you through. I assume it also won’t let you see it. But if it’s shocking you like that, you’ve got enough. For sure.”
“What about me?” Clyde asked. “Do I have enough?”
“If you can see the barrier, we’re good.” I nodded to convince myself that everything would be smooth sailing from here on out, and kept right on nodding to myself when I didn’t fully believe it. Nothing had been particularly easy in my life.
Didn’t mean I didn’t kick ass and take names. I did—all day long.
I’ve got this.
I eased the car back onto the road and crawled toward the shimmer, throwing constant glances at Macy. With her big brown eyes and long, dark straight hair, she didn’t look much like me.
Maybe twenty feet from the barrier, I asked, “Still nothing?”
“Nope,” she answered, popping the p.
“I can’t believe you can’t see it,” Clyde said. “I can see it tons.”
“It’s not like that makes you better than me,” Macy retorted right away.
He hmmphed, and Macy swiveled in her seat. She gasped. “I see it! When I turned my head, I saw it out of the corner of my eye,”
“Good enough for me.” I exhaled loudly and pressed down on the accelerator.
I might have left Gales Haven under less than auspicious circumstances, but nineteen years had passed since then. Long enough to discover that in this world—magic or not—we make our own luck.
I had no desire to be some shrinking violet. Or the meek wife Devin had expected and tried his darnedest to mold me into.
I was returning to town on my own terms—sort of. And not a single woman in my family had ever done anything meekly—or quietly.
I gunned the engine, and yelling out “Towanda,”I crossed the shimmering barrier.