Home > This Coven Won't Break (These Witches Don't Burn #2)

This Coven Won't Break (These Witches Don't Burn #2)
Author: Isabel Sterling



SUMMER WAS STILL BLISTERINGLY hot when classes resumed at NYU, where a young Caster Witch named Alexis Scott was starting her sophomore year. After her final lecture of the day, Lexie gathered her things and hurried home. Her professors had wasted no time piling on assignments and complicated labs, leaving her with hours of coursework to complete. At least this year, she didn’t have to learn how to navigate Manhattan on top of everything else. With her bag secure on her back, she moved confidently through the city streets.

   Her life was coming together exactly as she’d hoped.

   She headed east toward her apartment, weaving through the crowd of Regs as the sun warmed her brown skin. She ticked through the to-do list in her head.

   Read chapters three through five for molecular and cell biology.

   Finish problem sets for calculus.

   Attempt the invisibility potion again and hope the new version doesn’t explode.

   The Regs around her—people who had no magic of their own—couldn’t find out about the potions she created in her apartment. They’d never know that creating new uses for magic was her favorite part of being a Caster. She’d figure out the invisibility potion, even if it took a hundred permutations to get it right.

   Halfway home, her phone rang. The number showed up as a fire emoji, but she had no idea who it was. Someone from class? Did her roommate, Coral, mess with her contacts again?


   A pause on the other end. Then a sudden inhale. “Lexie?”

   Lexie didn’t recognize the voice. It was feminine and young, probably around her age. “Who’s asking?”

   “It’s Veronica.”

   She racked her brain, trying to connect the name with the voice. She came up empty. “You must have the wrong number.”

   “Wait!” the voice on the other end shouted. “We met last May. I’ve been trying to reach Tori, but her phone is disconnected.” When Lexie didn’t respond right away, the girl on the other line groaned. “I’m an idiot. She blocked me, didn’t she?”

   A series of goose bumps rose along Lexie’s arm in the wake of those words. In a flash, she remembered exactly who Veronica was.

   It was at the end of last semester. Lexie had decided to spend the summer in the city with her Caster roommates, Tori and Coral, instead of going back home to Chicago. That particular weekend, the three of them had met a pair of Elementals who were visiting the city on a school trip. Veronica and the other girl—Heidi or Hannah or . . . something—snuck out of their hotel room to hang out Saturday night.

   But the Blood Witch who had been threatening Lexie and her friends for weeks attacked again, breaking into their apartment and covering their walls with bloody runes, meant to do goddess knows what. The memory made Lexie shudder. Tori had tried to wash the blood away. She scrubbed frantically until the bucket of soapy water ran red with the other witch’s blood.

   When the Elementals saw what the Blood Witch had done, they wanted to protect Lexie and her friends. Tori convinced her it was a good idea to let the Salem girls help, and together, they’d captured the Blood Witch. But things got more . . . complicated than anyone intended.

   At least the Blood Witch wasn’t a problem anymore.

   The Elementals made everything so much worse that weekend, and Lexie wanted to put the whole thing behind her. She didn’t want some near-stranger dragging it up again.

   “Lexie? Are you still there?”

   “What do you want from us?” Her voice snapped out, harsh and bitter. She should have changed her number. She shouldn’t have let Tori talk her into giving it to Veronica in the first place.

   “Did you hear?”

   She paused to wait for the signal to cross the busy street. Surrounded by Regs, she kept her voice low. “Hear what?”

   “The Witch Hunters,” the younger girl said, voice breaking. “They’re back.”

   Lexie’s entire body turned to stone right there on the Manhattan sidewalk. The signals changed. Regs pushed past her, unaware that her sense of reality was shifting. Someone bumped into Lexie’s shoulder, and the touch was enough to make her legs work again.

   “What do you mean they’re back?” Lexie kept her voice low, which wasn’t hard since she could barely breathe. She hurried across the street, heart slamming against her ribs, and counted the blocks until home. Only two left and then her five-story climb. “How do you know? What happened?”

   “They tried to kill me. Hannah, too.” A shuddered breath cut off Veronica’s words, and she had to clear her throat to try again. “The Council doesn’t want to cause panic, but I thought you should know. Coral didn’t answer her phone, and Tori—”

   “Tori isn’t around anymore.” The words ripped from her throat. They shredded her chest and raised an invisible flush of shame along her skin. Lexie squeezed her empty hand into a tight fist.

   “Oh. Do you know where she is?”

   Lexie shook her head as she reached her building, even though she knew the Elemental couldn’t see her. Once she was safe behind the closed door, she started the climb. At least Tori wouldn’t have to face this new horror.


   Anger twisted up from Lexie’s gut, but she forced her voice to remain neutral. “Don’t call this number again.”

   She hung up before the other witch could protest.

   On the fifth floor, Lexie walked down the hall and unlocked the deadbolt on her door. Inside her small, shared apartment, she let out a shaky breath and dropped her bag. The heavy textbooks thunked against the wood floor. Coral was in their kitchen-turned-Caster-workshop. She bent over a notebook, filling the page with symbols as a potion bubbled before her.

   “Hey, Lex,” she said, brushing a thick curl behind her ear. Coral glanced up, and something in Lexie’s expression must have alarmed her, because she abandoned her notes. “What’s wrong?”

   Lexie picked up a bundle of dried rosemary and twirled the plant between her fingers. The herb’s power hummed against her skin. It wanted to be shaped and combined and made into pure magic. There wasn’t time for that.

   She focused her gaze on her roommate. “We have a problem.”





HIGH SCHOOL. THEY SAY it’s the best time of our lives. A time of exploration and endless possibilities. We can try out for any sport, dabble in any form of artistic expression. And by the time we walk across the graduation stage, we’re supposed to know exactly who we want to be.

   They say a lot of things, but as I sit in my dead father’s car, parked at the back of the student lot for the first day of senior year, I can’t help but call bullshit.

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