Today the Sun's On Us
By for Connie

Stickler for tradition that she was, Diana had insisted on an official leadership election and a swearing-in ceremony. The white shift she normally wore to rituals no longer felt appropriate, though, so she had made herself a simple sage green dress instead. Faye, naturally, had worn a slinky red number, her neck and wrists virtually dripping with jewellery. To Diana's surprise, Cassie had chosen a silky sky blue dress. It wasn't exceptionally revealing or risqué, but if there were any doubts as to whether Cassie was too young to lead, her dress definitely showed that she was a confident young woman.

The ceremony was mercifully quick, Faye's theatrics mostly distracting Diana from the looks Cassie and Adam shared all throughout. While the others celebrated—not that it took much cause for the Henderson twins to bring out the firecrackers and beer—Diana made a quiet retreat, holding her sandals in her hand as she walked barefoot up Crowhaven Road. Her feet naturally veered to Number 9, where Adam lived, and she lingered on his lawn for a moment, letting her toes sink into the grass, curling around the freshly cut blades. She had spent so much of her past few years with him—in that house or in hers, down at the beach or at school. Every place in New Salem held ghosts of his memory. Getting used to being on her own and not a part of a comfortable pair was going to take some time.

Hearing the others approaching, Diana hurried to the end of the road, not wanting to face the inevitable barrage of questions about her early exit. She shut the door swiftly behind her; her next-door neighbours, Nick and Deborah, weren't the type to pry, but Melanie was in Four and Laurel was in Five, and they were the type to worry. Once inside her home, Diana shut her eyes and sighed. Finally. A place that was hers. She and Adam had had their share of moments in Number 1, but the house had always remained her sanctuary of sorts. She slipped out of her dress and laid it out on her bed before going into the bathroom and running herself a hot bath.

As she sprinkled herbs in the water, Diana remembered doing much the same for Cassie. All that—Kori's death, Cassie's arrival—seemed so long ago now, like another life she had been forced to give up before she was ready. They hardly thought about Kori anymore, but things could have been so different if she had been initiated into the coven, if Cassie hadn't moved from California. . . .

Diana pinned up her hair and stepped in the tub, hoping to chase away her dark thoughts. She lounged for a few moments, letting the tension seep out of her muscles, and was about to grab a sponge when she saw a shadow beneath the bathroom door. As she sat up, the door opened, and Faye sauntered in, looking strangely plain without all her jewellery. "Bailing on your own leadership ceremony?" She arched a brow. "Did you really think no one would notice?"

"How did you get in, Faye?" It wasn't as if security was a huge issue on Crowhaven Road, but bathing was one thing Diana liked to do in peace.

"You forgot to lock the front door." To Diana's surprise, Faye disrobed and dipped a foot in the tub. "Well?" Faye actually looked somewhat surprised when Diana didn't move back. "Come on. Make room. We used to do this all the time, remember?"

"Sure—when we were kids. The tub's not really meant for two—" Diana winced as Faye lowered herself in anyway. There hadn't been enough water in the tub to make Faye's arrival create an overflow, but the layer of bubbles was perilously close to the tub's rim. "What are you doing?"

Faye grabbed a sponge and started cleaning her arms. "What does it look like?" Her long, loose hair coiled like snakes on the surface of the water, making Diana think of sirens, luring sailors to their doom.

Diana kicked some bubbles into Faye's face. "You have a tub in your own house."

"But not the company." Faye flicked some bubbles back at Diana, but her honey-coloured eyes had gone sombre. "Don't mope. Yeah, so you and Adam were together forever. Now you're single! Enjoy!" Faye spread her arms wide, sloshing water and bubbles to the floor. "Bask in the freedom! What was Mr. Dexter going on about in history? Free market or something?"

Despite herself, Diana laughed, swiping some suds off her nose. "I don't think that's quite what he meant. And it's not that easy, Faye. Adam and I were together for a long time—not just as . . . us, but as leaders of the coven. It's a lot to deal with all at once."

Faye winked, sinking deeper into the water and nudging Diana's knee with hers. "Sounds like Nick would help you deal with it."

"What?" Diana heard her voice raise an octave and she mentally cursed herself, feeling the blush flare across her cheekbones. "I—I don't know what you mean. Nick's too busy with his cars."

"When Cassie insisted that you help lead the coven, he wasn't too busy to protest on your behalf. At least twice. I counted." Pretending to examine her nail polish, Faye smirked. "Considering you usually have to fight to get more than two words out of that boy, that's saying something. He had at least eleven for you. Plus he lives right next door. Eliminates all that 'sneaking out the morning after' drama." Now she didn't even try to hide her wicked grin. "Of course, Deborah lives next door too, if you're looking for something . . . different."

Diana tried to throw a handful of bubbles at her cousin, but they plummeted silently into the deflating mounds of suds. "Shut up and give me a sponge, will you? If you aren't going to leave, you can at least be helpful."

Faye just smiled, sinking deeper into the water. "I'm always helpful."
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