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The Legacy of Androva Series

Today's blog post is a little extra world-building for the Light Mage series. Throughout most of Spell Tracker, Luca, the protagonist, is trying to make the best of an impossible situation. He's forced to break a lot of rules for a chance to save the boy he loves, and in doing so puts himself at the mercy of the Spell Tracker. The magical contract between Luca and the Spell Tracker works almost entirely in the Spell Tracker's favor. He uses Luca's desperation to negotiate extremely one-sided terms, then throws in a bunch of additional restrictions almost entirely for his own amusement.

The document below captures all the elements of the code of conduct Luca is supposed to be following and highlights his most significant transgressions. However, irrespective of the fact that Luca is a rule-breaker, he's also very well-intentioned πŸ’™. If I were to live in Luca's world, I'd be happy if he were my guardian and looking out for me.

In the second book of the series, the story will spend some time in the magical dimensions to explore the seven listed professions and how they contribute to the society Luca and Devin come from. I still haven't made up my mind which profession I prefer though... I think being a Light Mage instead might be more fun! Thank you for visiting my blog today!

I hope everyone's December is off to a great start! The countdown to the holiday season seems to have come around faster than usual this year πŸŽ„⛄. Today's blog post is the ninth chapter from Spell Tracker. Luca attempts to make friends with Cass while doing his best not to be distracted by Devin. Unfortunately, neither situation works out quite the way he wants it to!
You can catch up on earlier chapters by using the New series label at the top of this post, and thank you very much for reading πŸ’•

9 A Decision

Those first two weeks at Sherbourne High passed so quickly. Two weeks gone already out of fourteen weeks in the semester. To the average high school student it was a lifetime. To me, fourteen weeks was nothing. I’d never completed an assignment so quickly before.
And Cass was not exactly an average assignment. Even if I’d been helping her in the normal way, from my own dimension, I would probably have lost her. As it was, though, I was screwed. My attempts to become her friend achieved nothing. No, that’s not quite true. They’ve made her dislike me even more than she already did.
She ignored my efforts at small talk. Polite conversation was never really my forte, but I tried. I asked her about things like books, music, Netflix, and college. On one disastrous occasion, running out of ideas, I managed to combine a comment about politics with one about the weather, at which point she gave me a disbelieving look and walked out.
She didn’t appear to have any friends. She seemed to view Devin with the same animosity as she did everyone else, perhaps even more so. She didn’t want to talk about anything. Every single question I asked her was met with silence.

After the first week I changed my approach and stopped asking questions, talking about myself instead. That was better, temporarily. She was interested in Europe, even asking me a question about the Globe Theater in London and what it was like inside a replica of an Elizabethan playhouse.
I didn’t have to fake my enthusiasm. Even back in the seventeenth century, when girls were not permitted to act on the stage and the crush of unwashed bodies gave out an aroma that would stun an elephant, the playhouse had an immediacy and an energy to it that modern theater lacked.
Then I ruined it. Conscious of how little time I had, I listened to the anxiety in my heart rather than the years of training in my head. I tried to go beyond casual conversation, and I did it way too soon. I can only cringe at how clumsily I mentioned other things we might have in common.
I don’t know what I expected her to say. Oh, you come from a broken home? That’s awesome! I come from a broken home too! We should be best friends!
She must have either pitied me for my oversharing and tragic lack of social skills, or thought that I was making it up as some kind of spectacularly inept way to get into her pants. She walked out again before I could figure out which it was.
So far, we had practiced together as Benedick and Beatrice four times, not counting the two other occasions when she’d left before we could get started. We met most days after school in one of the empty classrooms. Miss Randall had given us two additional scenes to learn for the following week’s lesson, when we would audition officially for our parts in the play.
Even without a confirmation text message, I could have guessed that he had “helped” Miss Randall with her choices. The two scenes might have been hand-picked to cause me the maximum amount of disorientation.
The problem was that when I performed them properly I was almost on my knees by the time we finished, confused, desperate, and unable to differentiate between my past and my present. The classroom would shimmer around me, and it took all my strength to prevent it from turning into the training area in the Ludus Magnus. The area I’d just happened to share with Cass.
That was a lose-lose situation in the making. If she recognized the Ludus, she’d probably remember it all, and it would be game over. If she didn’t recognize it, she’d probably freak out. I mean, who wouldn’t? Don’t worry, Cass, it’s just that I’m a Light Mage and I can’t seem to control my magic around you. Surprise!
At the end of the second week I came up with the idea to protect myself with a spell before performing. Unfortunately, my ability to act disappeared as soon as the spell was in place. I was as wooden as the rudis I’d used when I was a gladiator-in-training, sleepwalking through the lines with no passion whatsoever.
“What was that?” she asked, putting her hands on her hips.
“No good?”
“Is that a serious question?”
“I was… er… trying something new,” I said.
“Unsuccessfully,” she replied.
She was talking to me. This was the most engaged she’d been since her question about the Globe. Usually she just nodded at the end of each scene and we moved on.
I reached behind me for one of the chairs and sat down. I had the beginnings of an idea.
“You know that, right?” she added. “It was awful.”
I twisted the hem of my sleeve around my wrist and kept my eyes on the floor. “The thing is… I find you quite intimidating,” I said.
“We never discuss the play. I have no idea what you think or how to improve what I’m doing.”
“That’s… ridiculous.” She hesitated. “It’s not my responsibility to make you feel good about yourself.”
“Well, that’s not what I said.” I looked up. At least I could now make eye contact without worrying about the consequences, given that I was prevented from making any new connections. “I just want to talk to you about the dialogue so we can do the best job possible at our audition.”
“Did you deliberately mess up that scene?”
“No,” I said truthfully. “I was trying something new.”
“It sucked.”
“Yeah, I get that.” I risked a smile. “But does that mean it was good before? And could we make it better?”
She sat down opposite me. “Maybe. I don’t know. What were you thinking?”
Soon we were having a conversation about how we could improve our respective performances. I was careful to keep my comments to the play and only the play. Nothing personal this time. After we’d discussed our acting, we moved on to the characters.
“What’s your view on Benedick’s motivation?” she asked. “Is he deliberately horrible to Beatrice because he’s secretly attracted to her?”
She looked me up and down. Is she asking about Benedick or me?
“Um,” I said. Do I find her attractive? Gods, Luca, don’t go there. She’s a girl, anyway. I don’t… with girls. Except… I would with her. I… what?
“Um?” she repeated. “That’s all you’ve got?”
“No. Sorry. He does think she’s attractive. He says as much to his friend Claudio. I think it’s more that they have a history and he’s being defensive.”
Cass shifted her chair closer. “How do you know they have a history?”
“She talks about it. What does she say, again? Something like he won her heart with false dice and she ended up losing her own heart and his too.”
“Really? I didn’t know that. I haven’t read the whole play yet. So… he’s an asshole, then.”
She blinked. “Calm down. It’s not real.”
“I just don’t think their relationship is black and white like that. They’re both as bad as each other. It’s no one’s fault.”
“Huh. Very charitable of you, but trust me. It’s always someone’s fault.”
I wanted so much to ask her why she would say that. It was the first hint she’d given me of what was going on inside her head. Who did she blame, and for what? Herself, or someone else? With an effort of will Hercules himself would have been proud of, I said nothing.
“So why does Beatrice give him another chance?” she asked. “Is it just because he offers to avenge her cousin Hero’s honor?”
“Yes, but it’s so much more than that,” I said. “She asks him to prove his love by challenging his best friend to a duel. And he has to do it based on her word alone. As far as he knows, his friend has done nothing wrong.”
I leaned forward. “It’s a defining moment between them. He asks, ‘Think you in your soul the Count Claudio hath wronged Hero?’
“She replies, ‘Yes, as sure as I have a thought or a soul.’ If you deliver that line effectively, the audience will be on the edge of their seats.”
I knew it by heart. Magicians had excellent memories, and I’d reread the play the night after that first Drama class.
Cass tilted her head, considering. I waited, worried I’d overdone the enthusiasm, but then she broke into a smile. It was so unexpected and so beautiful I could only stare.
“Thanks,” she said. “I’ll read the play and let you know what I think next week.”
Carefully, I returned her smile. It turned out smiling was more complicated than I’d realized. The more I tried for sincere and low-key, the more I feared I was veering toward creepy.
I nearly threw caution to the winds and said, “Concesso,” but lost my nerve before the word reached my tongue. She left the classroom with a promise to message me if she came up with anything new over the weekend.
Dropping my head into my hands, I sighed. Had I made the right decision? I was second-guessing everything. Concesso was a serious spell, designed to immobilize an assignment without them actually losing consciousness. From their perspective they would just zone out for a few seconds—nothing too scary. The earthbound frequently did that anyway.
Concesso would enable me to look at her life path, which I could only do when she was awake. Cass wasn’t like Mr. Mason. I couldn’t expect her to stand by obediently while I inspected her energy. Not to mention that her armor was so thick she would probably feel me doing it.
I wanted to see her life path. I needed to see it. Without a connection, her life path was my next best hope of learning enough to be able to help her. But I hadn’t used a single spell on Cass yet, and every time I came close, I chickened out. I’d convinced myself I would somehow be playing into his hands if I did so. I was sure that the minute I used any magic on her, my phone would chime and it would be too late to undo the damage I would have caused.
There had been no more restrictions since the first four. No more texts. At first their absence had been welcome and I thought perhaps he was done. Then I realized how stupid I was being. He was a master manipulator. There was an agenda to everything he did. I would never figure it out because my magic did not work like his. His silence had to be deliberate.
The shadows bent to his will as easily as the light obeyed mine. He might not cross over, but his influence was powerful nonetheless. There was more than enough darkness in the earthbound dimension for that. And I’d agreed to a magical contract. I’d given him more power than he would usually have.
 I resolved to use a simple spell the next time Cass and I were alone. I had to try. Feeling better at having made a decision, I lifted my head and gave a start of surprise.
Devin was standing in the doorway.
“Hey,” I said, the smile sliding off my face when he didn’t return it.
“Are you avoiding me?”
“Er…” I’d been about to deny it, but I changed my mind about lying to him. I hadn’t avoided him so much as I’d hidden behind a subtle, “Non video,” to make sure he never quite noticed me outside the classroom. “Maybe a bit,” I added. “I thought after what happened you might want some space.”
More like I can’t deal with you and Cass at the same time. More like I need some space from you.
“More like you want some space,” he retorted. Heat rose up my neck and into my cheeks at how easily he saw through me. I’d been nervous of my feelings. It wasn’t the connection so much—I’d made plenty of those before. I’d fallen for assignments, even. The problem came from being earthbound. It was the way this physical covering was becoming part of me. I didn’t trust myself with him.
“You’re right. I’m sorry.”
“Do you have any idea how difficult these two weeks have been?” He took a couple of steps into the room. “Your messages were all so polite. I thought I was losing my mind. Spells on teachers, snow falling backstage, the best kiss I’ve ever… I mean… did I imagine it? If you laugh at me right now, I’ll hit you.”
I held up my hand to my mouth to hide the smile that had reappeared when he’d mentioned our kiss. As my fingers touched my lips, the memory of it obliterated every other thought in my head.
The connection between our magic was making my skin tingle. I was hyperaware of everything. The sound of his breathing. His emotions. The color of his eyes. The light on his skin. Having a physical covering is dangerous.
“Don’t look at me like that,” he said.
“Like what?”
“Like…” He walked up to me. “Like you looked at me before you kissed me last time.”
“Why not?”
“Because it’s my turn.” He put his hands on my shoulders and moved them up and inward until they were resting on my bare neck. One of his thumbs stroked my collarbone. “Shit,” I muttered. “What are you doing to me?”
He shook his head slightly. “I was going to ask you the same question.”
Then he kissed me and I forgot anything else I might have been going to say.

Up to and including Sunday 2nd December, the Legacy of Androva series will be at a special price on Amazon! Stealing Magic, Capturing Magic, and Seeking Magic will be FREE and the other four books in the series will be priced at $0.99/£0.99 on Amazon US and UK.

You can find The Legacy of Androva: Books 1 -3 here:

Amazon UK The Legacy of Androva: Books 1 - 3

Amazon US The Legacy of Androva: Books 1 - 3

And the series here:

Amazon UK The Legacy of Androva

Amazon US The Legacy of Androva

As it's only a week until Spell Tracker is released, today's post is a short poem set in the world of the Light Mage Series. It's written from Luca's perspective as both a Light Mage and a guardian. You can find more information about Spell Tracker and a preview of the first eight chapters by clicking on the New series label at the top of this post.

Thank you very much for visiting my blog today 😊

The Guardian

Surrender all your memories
Believe this world is real
Live your life as best you can
You made a binding deal

There’s no such thing as magic
Not here, not in this place
Lessons failed are lost forever
No spell to change your fate

Don’t count on tomorrow
Time will not wait for you
This moment might be all that’s left
To prove what you can do

And yet you are not quite alone
Although you’ll never know
I do my best to light your way
Until you’re called back home

I hope you are successful
I hope your dreams come true
Most of all I hope one day
Your magic returns to you

For today's blog post I want to share some of the research I carried out for Spell Tracker insofar as it relates to Luca's past life as a gladiator. Ancient Rome was a period in history that had always fascinated me, but I'd never looked too closely into the lives of gladiators before. My knowledge beforehand owed more to Ridley Scott's film than it did to history books 😏.

A good starting point for some context might be to share the gladiator's oath: “I will endure to be burned, to be bound, to be beaten, and to be killed by the sword.” (uri, vinciri, verberari, ferroque necari, Petronius Satyricon 117). Doesn't sound like something to aspire to, does it? Gladiators were slaves, or prisoners of war, or convicted criminals. They had no rights under Roman law. Yet there was more to the life of a gladiator than a brutal and almost certain death. The arena created stars. Fame and fortune for the lucky few. It wasn't unheard of for the lowest born in Roman society to sign up voluntarily. After all, soldiers serving in the Roman legions could encounter death via the sharp end of a sword too.

Accepting this ambiguity in terms of their perceived status, gladiators were undoubtedly treated as possessions, and valuable possessions at that. They were kept under lock and key. They were given high-energy food (although they were also vegetarian), they trained meticulously, and they received the most sophisticated medical care available at the time. Their lanista--their owner--needed them to survive long enough for him to be able to realize his investment. Unfortunately, that was likely to be less time than the average gladiator needed in order to win his freedom. According to Mary Beard's Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town:
  • Three quarters of gladiators would have died before their tenth fight
  • If they entered the arena at the age of seventeen they could expect to be dead by the time they were twenty-five
The rate of death also depended on the occasion and the finances of those involved. The bigger the spectacle, the greater the expected bloodshed. However, a defeated gladiator could always surrender and request missio (mercy), often granted pollice verso (at the turn of the thumb), according to the mood of the crowd. Although no one knows for sure which direction meant what... πŸ‘πŸ‘ŽπŸ€·‍♀️. This French painting by Jean-LΓ©on GΓ©rΓ΄me from 1872 was apparently one of the reasons Ridley Scott was persuaded to direct Gladiator, depicting as it does all the “glory and wickedness” of the Roman Empire!

In Spell Tracker, Luca was once a slave of both Gallic and Roman ancestry. He was born into slavery and belonged to several owners before being sold to his lanista at the age of seventeen. He refined his skills at the Ludus Magnus, the largest gladiator school in Rome (left). Situated directly east of the Colosseum, the Ludus Magnus had its own arena, space for three thousand spectators, an estimated one hundred and thirty gladiator cells, along with stables for the animals, and even a row of shops.

Rising fear confused my senses. I was unable to form a complete picture of the Colosseum—my eyes captured isolated images only. The feathers on the helmets. The sun glinting through the gaps in the awning. Splattered blood along the wooden boards at the edge of the arena. The emperors, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, unmoving and expressionless. Waiting. For us.
I could hear the low roar of the mob interspersed with catcalls from the nearby spectators. I only caught the odd word, and none of them made any sense to me. Sweat was already trickling between my shoulder blades and the strap of my shield slid across my palm. I tightened my grip.
--Spell Tracker.

When I'd finished researching the facts, I imagined the people--young men in the main--who'd lived that life. They were real human beings. This is history. Not fiction. Most of them never chose to be gladiators. Most of them never had the luxury of choosing for themselves ever again, right down to the food they ate. What was it like for them to live in the shadow of the Colosseum, hearing the roar of the crowd, and knowing it was likely to be the place where they died? Inscriptions on their tombstones indicate they were often friends with their fellow fighters. Brothers-in-arms. Witnesses to each other's victories and each other's deaths. I don't think it's impossible to believe that love could also be part of a that life. I hope it was. Although love would inevitably raise the stakes, I think it would have been worth it.

In the words of Seneca the Younger, a Roman philosopher writing in the first century, “Non est ad astra mollis e terris via--There is no easy way from the earth to the stars.” 🌟

Another weekend, another chapter of Spell Tracker 😊. Devin is understandably curious after what just happened between him and Luca, but Luca refuses to give him the explanation he asks for. There's also another message from the Spell Tracker and, inevitably, it's not good news. Finally, there might be a first kiss on the horizon, so this feels like the right time to remind everyone that the romance in this story is m/m. If you'd like to catch up on any other chapters, please follow the New series link at the top of this post, and thank you very much for visiting my blog today!

8 A Distraction

“I’m not. There’s no such thing, trust me. I’m just a guardian.”
“You mean a guardian angel?”
“No. Angel is a word the earthbound use. I’m a guardian. I was earthbound once, but now I just… help.”
“So… you’re a ghost?”
“No.” I suppressed a smile. I’d never heard a Light Mage referred to as a ghost before. “I’m not ready to talk about it. There are rules.”
“OK.” He nodded seriously, then that smile broke through again. “It’s still snowing.”
“Uh-huh. Want me to make it stop?”
“Not yet. I quite like avoiding reality for a change.”
“Well, this is still reality. It’s just that the earthbound do not understand any dimension except for the one they exist in.”
Apparently I was more ready to talk about it than I’d realized. What was the matter with me? I pulled my sleeves over my hands. The air was growing colder as the snow continued to fall.
“Ah… excuse me? Can you explain that, please?” asked Devin.
“Better not.”
“Why not?”
 “Well, it’s safer if you don’t know. Plus, you might not be ready to accept it anyway.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Do you have any idea how patronizing that sounds?”
I nodded. “Doesn’t mean I’m wrong, though.”
“I’ve only got your word for that.”
“Yep. And it’s all you’re getting.”
“Then you should think before you open your mouth,” said Devin, his brows lowered in a scowl. “You can’t just casually mention other dimensions and refuse to explain.”
“I obviously can because I did. But I won’t do it again if it bothers you.”
“Well, that’s just perfect,” he retorted, rolling his eyes. “I feel much better now.”
I nearly laughed. I like you, Devin. “Can’t we change the subject?” I said.
Devin opened his hand to catch a few snowflakes, then curled his fingers into a fist. He let out a sigh.
“Just say the first thing that comes into your head,” I suggested.
“Fine. I don’t know whether to hit you or kiss you right now. Shit. Shit. That wasn’t what I meant to say.”
He scrambled backward, attempting to stand. After catching his foot on a table leg, he landed on one of the cardboard props, which crumpled underneath his weight with a tearing sound.
“God, I’m so smooth I amaze even myself sometimes,” he muttered, keeping his eyes on the floor.
I bit my cheek to keep from laughing. “What did you mean to say?” I asked. Don’t think about kissing him. Don’t.
He lifted his head. “I was going to tell you about the inflationary multiverse theory. Some physicists believe—”
“I know,” I said, interrupting him. “The idea that there was more than one Big Bang. Parallel universes and all that.”
“Was there? Are there?”
“I can’t tell you. But earthbound science certainly helps us to refine the rules within which we operate.”
“Us? How many of you are there?”
“Nowhere near enough.” That’s an understatement. Not many magicians are Light Mages, and even fewer go on to qualify as guardians.
The bell rang. School was over for the day.
Rescindo,” I said, and the snow stopped falling. Devin stood up slowly. “Do you want to get a soda? I mean… can you do that?” he asked.
“No. I only pretended to eat before. This physical covering is an illusion. It doesn’t need the… er… the traditional earthbound things.”
His eyes dropped lower down my body for a few seconds, before he blushed and looked away. Fleeting though it was, damnit if that part of me didn’t pay attention just the same. I pressed my lips together, fighting the temptation to do something stupid, like tell him needing wasn’t the same as wanting, and would he please kiss me already.
The more I got to know Devin, the more intriguing he became. There was a fierce intelligence hidden behind that easygoing exterior. I wanted to spend more time with him. I wanted to help him.
My phone chimed with a text. My first thought was that it must be from Cass, and I took the phone out of my pocket straight away. I muttered a swear word. Him. It was from him.
Hello, Luca. Having fun? You do know this boy has nothing to do with our little contract, don’t you? You’re going to lose lose lose lose lose lose LOSE!
My reaction, as he had no doubt intended, was to panic. He was right. Spending time with Devin would not help me save Cass. School was done and she’d be leaving. I was suddenly desperate to find her and make her understand what would happen if she didn’t—
“What’s the matter?” said Devin. “Was it bad news?”
“Um. Not exactly. Just a reminder about something.”
The phone chimed again. For the love of
Fourth restriction: you can only make ONE connection. And you just wasted it on someone completely random. I find that quite amusing. Have a great evening, won’t you, Luca?
“No,” I said, staring at the phone in disbelief. “No.”
Devin leaned closer. “God, Avi, what is it? You look terrible.”
Sweat prickled on my forehead and the small room turned from cozy to claustrophobic. I wanted to scream. My throat burned as I swallowed the noise down. If I couldn’t make a connection with Cass, my chances of success would reduce even further.
We avoided connections. We did. Except in cases where the potential benefits outweighed the risks. In cases where we couldn’t reach our assignment because their armor was too carefully crafted to get past it any other way. In cases like Cass’s.
“What is it? What—”
“Don’t touch me,” I said, leaning back. My voice was loud in the small space. Devin snatched away his outstretched hand.
“Calm down,” he said. “I was only trying to help.”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean… I’m sorry,” I repeated. “I have this thing going on with… at… at home, and it’s really getting to me.”
Devin’s face relaxed. “OK. I get that. Although… exactly what ‘home’ is for you, I have no idea.”
I put the phone away. This was my fault, not Devin’s. I’d been warned about the restrictions and I’d still rushed into making a connection, apparently unable to help myself. It was like all my years as a guardian counted for nothing and I was Avi again, for real. Well, that’s a scary thought.
“What I said just now. It’s not what you think. It would really hurt you if your skin touched mine. It already happened once before. Gabe saw it.”
Devin understood immediately. “So that’s the reason he…”
I nodded.
“Why don’t I remember?”
“It’s easier on you if you don’t. The pain appeared to be excruciating.”
“Yeah, but… I don’t like you deciding what I should and shouldn’t remember. That’s not cool.”
I didn’t know how to answer him. Guardians filtered memories all the time. It was a very effective way of managing the help we gave, and I was accustomed to making decisions on my assignments’ behalf. Good decisions.
“This is where you apologize,” he said, folding his arms.
I was still on edge from the text message, and my temper rose. “No. What am I apologizing for, exactly? Protecting you? If I stopped you from walking off a cliff, would you expect me to say sorry for that too?”
“That’s hardly fair. You can’t compare what you did with… with death. Don’t be ridiculous.”
I raised my eyebrows. I was being spiteful, but I couldn’t seem to help myself. “Can’t I? What if I told you I was protecting you from death in both scenarios? What would you say then?”
My gaze was unwavering. I watched the muscles in his body tense up.
“No,” he said quietly. “That’s impossible.”
“You would probably have said the same about the snow until you saw it.”
“Yeah, but… death? What does that mean? You’re not dead!” His voice rose.
“That depends entirely on your definition of death.”
“Not alive. Of course.”
I laughed. “Yes, it’s all very simple from where you’re standing. But what does alive mean to you? A beating heart? A conscious mind? A soul?”
He took a step closer, his eyes fixed on mine. “I can’t argue with someone who twists everything I say. Don’t mess with my head. That’s wrong no matter what all the other stuff is supposed to mean.”
His anger wasn’t the complicated, murky kind. It burned a clean, bright red, making the air between us crackle with energy. Making me feel alive. Before I knew what I was doing I leaned forward and kissed him.
Devin only hesitated for a second, then he was kissing me back. My hands came up and cradled his jaw. I ran my tongue along his bottom lip and his mouth opened on a gasp. My head was spinning.
With great difficulty, I pulled back. “I’m sorry,” I said, slightly breathless.
Now you apologize?” His chest rose and fell as he looked back at me. He lifted one hand to his mouth.
“Wait…” He trailed off.
“I’m not going anywhere,” I said.
“I thought I couldn’t touch you?”
It must be the connection. Oh… that might be dangerous.
“You couldn’t,” I said. “But now you’ve seen who… what… I am, I think that’s changed.”
“That’s impossible. Physics doesn’t work that way, whatever dimension you’re in.”
It was more than that, but I didn’t want to scare him by explaining how the connection worked. For him to know that I could use magic was risky enough, but for him to know why he couldn’t…
He frowned. “Maybe it wasn’t really that painful in the first place.”
Commemoro,” I said.
Devin flinched and looked down, curling the fingers of his left hand inward. “OK. It was pretty bad. God, no wonder Gabe thinks you’re a monster. We have to tell him.”
“No,” I said.
“Yes. We have to. Mina and I thought he was losing it.”
He stepped closer and lifted his chin. “Yes.”
I couldn’t stop staring at his mouth. I was starting to understand why guardians did not live alongside the earthbound. This physical covering had a mind of its own. And it was desperate to kiss Devin again. You can’t go around forcing kisses on people, Luca. Get ahold of yourself.
Gritting my teeth, I stepped back. “Look. I’ll be honest with you. I’m in uncharted territory here. I’ve never done this like… this.” I gestured to my body. “Rank-and-file guardians like me are usually invisible in this dimension. We don’t cross over. It’s not allowed.”
He considered this. “You’re breaking the rules? Why?”
I sighed. “It’s a long story.”
The light above our heads went out. Devin’s surprised intake of breath sounded loud in the darkness. “It must be getting late,” he said. “I need to tell my mom I won’t be home on time. She worries.”
His face glowed in the light from his phone as he typed. The tip of his tongue emerged from one corner of his mouth. I was staring again.
“Is she…? You said Cass was your half sister. Do you share a mother or a father?”
He flicked his eyes upward, then down again as he continued typing. “That’s an interesting way to put it. We did share a father. Except neither family realized they were sharing him until he was killed in a road accident.”
“Gods, that’s… horrible. When did he…?”
I heard the swooshing sound of his message sending, but he kept his gaze lowered. “A while ago. When I was in fourth grade.”
“I’m sorry,” I said inadequately.
After a short silence Devin looked up and gave me a smile. “Did you just say ‘Gods’?”
I shrugged. His smile got bigger.
“It’s kind of cute,” he said. “Like you really did arrive here by accident from Ancient Rome.”
“I can’t help it,” I said. “It’s the one word I can’t seem to shake from before.”
He glanced at his phone as it buzzed with a notification. “We should go. They’ll be locking the school, and we don’t want to spend the night here.”
“I can’t leave,” I said.
“You can’t? You’re stuck here?”
“It’s part of the long story.”
“Maybe I could…”
“No,” I said. “I need some time to think, and if you stay here you’ll distract me.”
“Oh,” he said, disappointed.
“In a good way,” I added. “I mean, you’d distract me, but in a good way. No. I don’t mean that. It would be a bad way. I mean… you’re the distraction. Damnit. I give up.”
His disappointment had turned into a grin as my inarticulate floundering continued. “At least give me your number so I can message you,” he said. Before he left, he leaned in as if he were going to kiss me, but stopped an inch or two away.
“For the record,” he said, his voice low, “you distract me too.”
I sat down again as the sound of his footsteps faded. I am in so much trouble.

I'm so happy to be able to reveal the cover for Spell Tracker, the first book in the upcoming Light Mage Series 😊. It's the work of Christian Bentulan (more info about him on his website here) who did an amazing job, as you can see!

The book is set for release on December 1st, and the pre-order at $0.99/£0.99 is now live.

Spell Tracker Amazon US
Spell Tracker Amazon UK

In the meantime, there are seven chapters available to read via the New series label at the top of this post. Thank you very much for visiting my blog today!

Back cover description:

Luca has a problem his magic can’t solve. The boy he’s loved since they fought side-by-side as gladiators in Ancient Rome is about to die for the last time. Luca’s only chance to prevent it is to make a deal with the Spell Tracker, who demands Luca’s own life as collateral.

At seventeen years old, Luca is a Light Mage, the rarest of magicians. He’s able to navigate the earthbound dimension without losing his memory of its magical counterpart. Like an invisible kind-hearted ghost, he helps others to graduate their life paths and take up their chosen magical professions.

But this time, with the help of the Spell Tracker, Luca is earthbound again for real as a high school senior. The boy he’s here to save is nothing like he expected, and before long his head and his heart are all over the place, as well as his intended rescue.

The Spell Tracker can hardly wait for him to fail. The life of this particular Light Mage is something he’s wanted for a very long time…

Spell Tracker, the first book in the Light Mage series, is a contemporary fantasy story with time travel, m/m romance, and no cliffhanger. Additional content information will be available via the Look Inside feature. Recommended for 14+

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