– “Spirits from the other side…
…hear my words, hear my cry…
Only one of you we do seek…
…a mother of two, whose secrets still sleep…
We ask you to cross the great divide…
…to share the truth you chose to hide.”
I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath until I felt Asher’s eyes on my face. Still, I couldn’t exhale.
There was this part of me that was terrified I’d be disappointed, that the worst would happen, and she
Through all the fights I loved the mother I knew, but I wished she were here to tell me this herself.
Cordelia repeated her chant a second time, and then a third. The air around us was thick and heavy, like
a tangible substance that weighed us down. I watched as Breyona wiped the sweat from her forehead
with the sleeve of her hoodie. She pointed at it and grimaced, regret in her eyes. Asher was stoic, his
face a mask that revealed nothing. Even Rowena looked a bit flustered and was using her hand to fan
Just when I thought she’d say it a fourth time and s**k the rest of the oxygen from the room, something
They were too light to be shadows. More like whisps of smoke that rolled across the floor, gathering
within the ring of candles at the center of our circle. They coalesced, swirling like smoke under glass.
First, the figure of a woman formed.
As the smoke faded, absorbed into the corporeal being standing feet in front of us, I found myself looking
into the eyes of my mother.
She looked different than what I remembered, but it had been an entire year since I last saw her. We had
fought tirelessly over Tyler, but she hadn’t argued with me when I told her I wanted to live with grandma-
she hadn’t said much of anything.
Her hair was longer than I remembered it and curled softly at the ends. Sean had told me what she
looked like when he went to identify the body, the wounds that she had. The button -down shirt she wore
was spotless and held no evidence of the way she’d been k****d.
The longer I stared at her, the more I could’ve convinced myself that she was actually here-alive and
safe. It was the translucence to her body that sent me hurtling through space, crashing towards earth as
I remembered she wasn’t here, she wasn’t coming back. I would never get the closure I wanted, the
answers to my thousands of questions but maybe I’d get this one chance at a goodbye.
I promised myself I’d stay strong, that my mask would be as indestructible as Asher’s, but something
inside of me broke when my mom got down on her knees and said, “…you make such a beautiful Luna.”
She smiled at me, one of her genuine smiles I seemed to witness less and less as I aged. There was no
anger in her eyes, no guilt or disappointment. They shimmered with happiness, filling with tears that
refused to fall.
“Hi, mom.” I croaked, barely able to get the words out. The knot in my throat grew, aching every time I
held back a sob.
Cordelia’s face was serene, but the intensity of her eyes and the sheen of sweat on her face served as a
reminder that we were on borrowed time. I had to pull myself together long enough to ask the important
questions, then I could break down.
“We called you here to ask you some questions …” I took a few seconds to find my voice, oblivious to the
tears that trailed down my cheeks. Mom’s lips fell and she reached for me, stopping at the barrier of
candles that separated us. “…there isn’t much time, but we need your help.”
“I’ll help how I can, I promise. I was supposed to tell you these things myself, Lola…” Her eyes held
everything we had missed together. The conversations and secrets, even the arguments and silly way’s
we would make up. “…you weren’t supposed to go through this alone.”
“She’s not alone, she never was.” Even though I had promised myself I wouldn’t take my eyes off her,
that I’d memorize every detail of what she looked like, I couldn’t help it when my head turned towards the
sound of Asher’s voice. “Me, Breyona, Mason, Sean, her dad and grandmother, we’ve all been with her
every step of the way.”
He looked up at my mom with the confidence of an Alpha, but there was a softness in his eyes that
rivaled his fierce protectiveness, one that showed exactly what he felt for me. She could see it; I know
she could. It was one of the reason’s she had hated Tyler, because no matter how many cocky smiles he
flashed, he never looked at me the way Asher did.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you in person, Alpha Asher.” Mom’s smile was knowing and gave me a look I had
never seen before-one that said, ‘I approve’.
“Likewise.” He nodded stiffly.
“Mom…we need to know how to remove this binding spell you had put on me.” I wiped away the tears
that fell, blinking past them until I could see clearly again. “…I need to know why you did it. Was it
because you couldn’t tell Dad about me?”
“No, baby…It wasn’t about that. The more people I told, the more dangerous it was for you. Your magic
had to be bound…I tried every other option, but I had no choice.” Her voice broke at the end, and that
one crack in the armor of the strongest woman I knew released all the anger I’d been holding inside me.
“You were showing signs of magic when you started walking…all you wanted to do was explore, but
soon things started happening. Car keys would disappear, and eventually so would your toys. They’d
always turn up in the strangest of places. On the roof, in the neighbors washing machine, even in the
lobby of the police station around the corner. For awhile I could lie and shrug it off, but as you grew so
did your power. They would’ve noticed you, Lola. He would’ve noticed you.”
“You did it to keep me safe, but now it’s putting me in danger. I need to be able to defend myself,
because even though my father’s d**d there are still threats out there.”
“She told me you would need this list someday if you ever wanted the bind removed. It’s ingredients for a
spell, and the last one is the blood of the witch who bound your magic. The witch is with me on the other
side…” My heart dropped, then soared fast enough to leave me lightheaded and fumbling over her
words. “…but her sister is still alive. Her blood can undo the spell too.”
“She’s alive.” I exhaled; the rush of relief was so strong I had nearly mistaken it for adrenaline. “Where
can we find her?”
“She’s close by…” Mom’s eyes twinkled mischievously, “…she has a son and two grandchildren to look
“No, that’s not possible.” I started to shake my head but paused.
Grandma’s always been too smart for her own good, following those instincts of hers that never once led
her astray. I lost track of the number of birthdays and Christmases she ruined by guessing her gift before
we had the chance to pick it up from the store.
Plants quite literally flourished under her touch. I had watched the woman revive countless rose bushes
and saplings that were far beyond repair, only to grow them into vibrant showpieces.
“You’re telling me Grandma has a sister and that sister is a witch…” I trailed off, “…which means
Grandma is a witch.”
“Why do you think I never liked the woman? No one’s baking is that good. No one.” Mom chuckled, and I
memorized the outline of her smile before it fell into something softer. “I needed to keep you away from
magic, Lola… which also meant keeping you away from her. There’s not enough time in the world to ask
for your forgiveness, but I don’t want you to walk through life holding onto anger. It’s not worth it–I’m not
“I don’t think I can be angry at you anymore.” Even though my throat tightened, my voice came out
strong and confident. Perhaps it was because I believed what I was saying, or because I wanted my
mom to know that she didn’t have to ask for forgiveness.
It was there for her to take and had been all this time.
“You aren’t the only one asking for forgiveness…” To anyone else Asher probably looked like an
emotionless a*****e, but through the bond I knew exactly what he was feeling. He felt the same thing I
did whenever I looked at Mason or Breyona—a soul-crushing sense of guilt. Just this once, Asher
dropped the indifference in his eyes and let every ounce of emotion shine through. “I want to formally
apologize for my hand in your d***h. It was my decision to punish Tyler’s disrespect by attacking his
pack. I wasn’t thinking of the d***h I would cause-of the lives I would ruin, but I should have. Yours is one
I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.”
“Since you’re my son-in-law and I’m d**d, I think I’m going to risk calling you Asher.” A mix between a
laugh and a sob escaped my lips because I hadn’t realized how much I missed my mom’s attitude. What
was even worse, it took me all this time to realize how identical we sounded. “You have one chance to
make this up to me, Asher. Protect my daughter at all costs, and make sure there’s never a moment
where she doesn’t knowhow special she is, and how much she’s loved.”
“I won’t fail you, or your daughter.” His promise brought a smile to her face.
Mom rattled off the ingredients for the spell that would unbind my magic, and with each one I felt like we
were one step closer. I knew what some were like bay leaf and anise, but others like black thistle left me
“I’m afraid we’re out of time, folks. Say your goodbyes so I can release her to the other side.” Cordelia’s
voice was strained, but her spine was rigid and her eyes still burning with determination.
“How am I supposed to say goodbye to you?” I sobbed, a hand against my mouth as though that would
hold back every ounce of grief I’d been shoving down for the past year. “I’ll make you proud, Mom. I
promise, I will.”
“My strong, fearless daughter…I’ve always been proud of you. It’s never goodbye, Lola…” Mom’s voice
trembled, and a watery smile formed on her face. Bits of her translucent form began to fade, curling back
into the smoke that had once filled the room. First it was the curly ends of her hair, then her slender
hands and arms. “We’ll see each other again, but only after I’ve watched you grow into the Luna and
Queen you’re destined to become.”
That crack I felt in my chest, it had been the dam that held everything back-every beautiful, painful
moment that I missed desperately. One last fight, one last chance to see her eyes light up in anger, to
smell the gardenia and pear perfume she’d wear every single day. I’d never get those moments back, I’d
never get another chance to live through them, to appreciate them the way I should have.
As I watched the spirit of my mom vanish in mist and smoke, carried from the room by a gust of wind that
seemed to emerge from nowhere and everywhere all at once, my heart and head felt a million times
Cordelia closed her eyes and whispered, “I release you to the other side…may you find happiness and
peace until the ones you love are called home.” And one by one the candles went out.
One last breeze carried the echo of her voice, an echo no one else seemed to hear.
‘Lola, be warned…the kind of magic you have, it hasn’t been seen for a long time. They will want it…’
Seconds passed in utter silence. I barely noticed when Rowena stood and glided towards the c******s,
tugging them open enough to let a few rays of sunlight creep inside.
Both Cordelia and I jumped, visibly startled when Breyona’s ragged sob filled the air. It was followed by a
wet sniffle and a few hiccups.
Cordelia handed her a powder-blue hanker chief, which Breyona took and loudly blew her nose in. Her
eyes were bloodshot and swollen from crying, and her make-up she had spent half an hour applying was
smeared halfway down her face.
She looked at Asher and I with a trembling lip and sniffled, “that was beautiful, you guys.”