A Witch's Choice; Part 2 by Cycy Smith

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Mike replaced the phone on its cradle and stared at it thoughtfully. Despite her best attempts to hide it he had heard the sadness in Rowena's voice, and the love when she spoke Sean's name. Both of which made it even harder than before to understand exactly what had happened between the two of them. Although he knew a proposal could freak anyone out, especially someone like Rowena who liked to be totally in control of her own life, that still didn't explain her reluctance to even talk to Sean. But then Rowena had never been like the other girls he knew. She was breathtakingly beautiful, of course, with her long red hair and eyes so green you could drown in them, but that wasn't what made her different. It was the aura of strangeness that seemed to wrap around her like a cloak, the impression that she saw the world differently to everyone else. Whenever he was with her he always had the sense that she was listening to something deep inside her which no one else could hear. The only time she had ever seemed completely there was when she was with Sean. He rooted her, brought her fully into their world.

There were other strange things about her too. Like the tarot cards and crystals and other odd things that were always scattered around her room. Rowena had said she was just fascinated by the occult but something in the way she said it made Mike think that wasn't the real reason at all. And then there was her grandmother's scarily in depth knowledge of herbal medicine, not just for curing common aches and pains but also which herbs were good for love potions and for easing depression. And the strange clothes Rowena always wore when she was at home but not expecting anyone, long skirts and sleeveless tunics that looked as though they came straight out of a history book. Outside her own house she dressed like other girls their age but he always had the sense that she was more comfortable in the odd clothes she wore at home.

None of that had ever made any difference to Sean though. He and Rowena had been dating for nearly two years and Mike knew that Sean was deeply in love with her. What's more he was sure that Rowena felt the same way, which made her sudden withdrawal all the more surprising. In any other girl he might have attributed it to simple stubbornness but Rowena wasn't like that and he knew from their conversation that she still cared deeply about Sean. Guilty though he felt at using her emotions against her any regrets were quickly banished at the memory of how Sean had looked last time Mike had seen him. Sean had a naturally slim build but in the two weeks since he and Rowena had split up he had become thin to the point of emaciation. Usually the one to drag Mike out and the natural centre of any gathering Sean had become withdrawn and introspective, barely leaving his room and refusing to talk to anyone about what had happened.

Mike had known Sean for nearly twelve years now, ever since they had met at the age of ten, the two new boys in a class of children who already knew each other.

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