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The Legacy of Androva Series


Welcome to another chapter of Spell Tracker! Monday morning brings a whole lot of trouble for Luca after the events of the weekend. He winds up feeling less like a Light Mage and more like an earthbound teenager as a result. Luca also discovers that Mina's meddling has caused an unexpected rift between him and Devin.

You can catch up on chapters one through sixteen via the New series label at the top of this post, and thank you very much for reading 💕.


17 A Rumor

I arrived at homeroom as late as I dared. After my conversation with Devin the day before, I didn’t trust myself not to lose my temper when I first saw Mina. I hadn’t looked at social media since the afternoon before the party, just in case it provoked me even more.
Mina hadn’t just slept with Nate. She’d made sure Gabe was the one to discover them together in her bedroom. She’d gone on and on about how cool it was to be with such an “alpha guy,” giving Gabe pointed looks all the while. Devin told me he’d half expected her to out Gabe in front of the entire party.
He also said Nate had the look of someone who’d clicked on an interesting link and landed on a website that scared the hell out of him, but the page had frozen and he couldn’t close it.
Once the party ended, Mina caused a massive fight between Nate and Gabe, who were still shouting at each other when they left her house. At which point Mina burst into tears and sobbed on Devin’s shoulder until she eventually fell asleep.
You don’t know her life path. You don’t know her life path. I repeated it over and over, like the words could somehow turn me back into the nonjudgmental guardian I used to be.
I stopped in the almost empty hallway. Am. The guardian I am. Shit.
Someone overtook me, their footsteps brisk. It was Mrs. Stanton. “Step on it, Mr. Sequani, unless you want me to mark you down as late.”
Though I was tempted to use a spell and get out of the day completely, I knew it wasn’t an option. It wasn’t like I had time to spare, even if I did appear to be having an existential crisis.
Mrs. Stanton looked over her shoulder when I didn’t immediately follow. “If you’re interested in detention this evening, I have plenty of freshman papers that need grading.”
Gods. No way. “Thanks, Mrs. Stanton, but I just realized I really want to get to homeroom.”
“Excellent. I do like to motivate my students.”
She carried on walking and I ran ahead to get the door for her. The usual silence descended as soon as everyone noticed her arrival. I had to walk past Devin, Mina, Gabe, and Cass to get to my seat at the back. It felt like the longest walk of my life.
Too late, I remembered I should close myself off to Devin’s and Cass’s emotions. My breath caught in my throat at the onslaught and I nearly stumbled. All I could do was put my head down and keep going. By the time I reached my chair I was ready to throw up. Just as well my internal organs are only an illusion, then.
Devin was a mess. Torn between Gabe and Mina, unable to make things better for either of them, he was angry and scared. The connection between us magnified his feelings like a cellphone mast. There was something linked to me, too, but I couldn’t figure out what.
As for Cass… What I sensed around her was terrifying. The darkness was now threaded with hope. Fragile and new, sparkling like shards of glass in sunlight, and just as dangerous.
Hope was usually a good thing. Under most circumstances, I encouraged it. But Cass was not most circumstances. She wasn’t ready for hope. Not yet. Her balance between light and dark was right on the edge of tipping. And shattered hopes can turn to darkness as fast as the lights go off in a blackout. Game over.
I’d been wrong-footed again. I had expected him to give Cass something to fear. Not something to wish for. If I couldn’t help her find it…
Mrs. Stanton was staring at me.
“Can I take that as a yes?”
I had no idea what she’d asked. “Itero,” I said under my breath, staring back. I hoped it would sound like “I don’t know” to the boy next to me.
She hesitated. I was about to say the spell again when she opened her mouth. “It seems I have no option but to repeat myself.” She fixed me with a glare that made me want to shrink backward. She can’t know about the spell. Can she?
“I’d like you and Miss Vryson to write a short report about the challenges of joining a new high school in senior year. Most of the class will be going to college, and there are parallels between the two scenarios.”
“Yeah, ” muttered someone on the other side of the classroom. “I hear sleeping with your mentor really gives you a head start.” A ripple of laughter was interrupted by Mrs. Stanton, whose expression was furious.
That’s enough. The next person to make such an ill-advised observation will be in detention with me for the entire week. Do I make myself clear?”
Silence. I was horrified. Is that what they all think we’re doing? Cass, sitting at the table in front of me, didn’t react.
“As for you, Mr. Redston, you can go straight to the principal’s office, where I will join you shortly.”
She turned back to me. “I trust I don’t need to ask you a third time?”
“No. I’ll—we’ll—do it.” Cass turned around and gave me a smile. Not yet knowing what he’d done to make her so happy, I found myself in the ridiculous position of wishing her scowl back.
Mina stood up. She looked exhausted, but she made a fair attempt to tilt her head in imitation of her usual arrogance. “I have an ill-advised comment to make,” she said. “In exchange for the week’s detention.”
Mrs. Stanton raised her eyebrows. “Indeed? Unless you have something extraordinary to say, I encourage you to reconsider.”
Devin was pulling at the back pocket of Mina’s jeans, trying to get her to sit down. She ignored him. I tuned into her emotions to see if I could find out what was going on.
Jealousy. Who is she jealous of?
The thought barely had time to register before Mina started speaking. To Cass.
“I knew your holier-than-thou attitude was just a front, but even I didn’t think you’d give it up this fast. How long did it take him to get your panties down?”
There were a few gasps of horror, and most of the class turned to look at me. I half rose out of my seat, a silencing spell on my lips. Were it not for the size of my audience, I’d have used it already.
“Get out of my classroom, young lady,” said Mrs. Stanton. She went to the door and held it open, adding, “Now!” when Mina didn’t move.
Cass stood up and put her hands on her hips. Although her eyes blazed with anger, her voice was calm. “Bad weekend, Mina?” She deliberately shifted her gaze lower. “Maybe you should pull your own back up before you start asking about mine.”
Exclamations accompanied the gasps this time. I expected Mina to throw a punch or something in retaliation but, within seconds, her face crumpled. She ran past Mrs. Stanton into the hallway.
No one spoke. The bell rang for first period.
“All right. Show’s over,” said Mrs. Stanton. “I’m sure you all have somewhere you need to be.”
Conversation broke out, getting louder as people left the room. It seemed like everyone else knew more about what had just happened than I did. Cass looked up from putting something into her backpack and gave me a shrug.
“She deserved it.”
“I’m sure she did. Um… what the hell is going on?”
Devin marched up to me before she could answer. “I need to talk to you,” he said. “Is it true?”
“Is what true?” He looked mad. Was there a script for today I hadn’t been given?
“Miss Vryson,” said Mrs. Stanton. “I appreciate you were not the instigator of that little exchange, but your comments were inappropriate, nonetheless. Detention. This evening.”
“But—”
“One detention is me being reasonable, I assure you.” She glanced at me. “You seem to be mixed up in all of this, Mr. Sequani. You can join us.”
“What?” I protested. “That’s not fair. I didn’t even say anything!”
OK, my transformation into an earthbound teenager is officially complete.
Mrs. Stanton ignored my outburst. “You can both use the time to write the report I asked you for,” she said. “At least while you’re in my classroom I can be sure you’re not doing anything inappropriate.”
“We haven’t done anything inappropriate,” said Cass, rolling her eyes. “What do you take me for, Mrs. Stanton?”
“You haven’t?” said Devin. His angry expression wavered. “Cass, tell me the truth. For once. Please.”
She didn’t answer. Gabe came up behind Devin and gave me an accusing look.
“What?” I said, glaring back. “What’s your problem?”
“Gabe, it’s OK,” said Devin, taking hold of Gabe’s upper arm. Gabe looked down at Devin’s hand with a pained expression. Devin winced.
“Sorry,” he said hastily, lifting his hand.
“Don’t do me any favors.” Gabe practically spat the words.
“Plenty more seats in detention, gentlemen,” said Mrs. Stanton. “Or perhaps you could go to first period and postpone your discussion until you’ve calmed down?”
“See you at our audition later,” said Cass, giving me a grin. “There’s something I want to ask you. I had this idea yesterday.”
I did my best to return her smile.
“Cass. I asked you a question!” Devin raised his voice as she walked away.
“Sorry, Dev,” she replied, without turning back. “I’m late.”
Mrs. Stanton looked pointedly at the clock on the wall.
“Leave. All of you. And if you run into Miss Daylin, please direct her to the principal’s office, which is where I’m going to be.”
Mina. I realized I should probably try to help her. There was no way I could sit through double Math without knowing what the hell was going on, anyway.
When we reached the doorway, Gabe turned left and Devin and I turned right. Gabe wasn’t in Mr. Fennick’s class.
“Gabe…” Devin’s voice was apologetic. “I’ll meet you at lunch, OK? Let me know if you see Mina anywhere.”
“Whatever. Just remember—that door was locked. You only have his word about what happened behind it.”
Gabe put his head down and walked off.
“We’re going to be late,” said Devin.
“I’m not going.”
“Well, I have to. I need a good grade in this class.”
“OK,” I said, relieved. “I guess I’ll see you later, then.”
“Oh, no,” he said, grabbing my hand. “No way. I’ve just had the night from hell, thanks to you. You’re not going anywhere until I get an explanation.”
“What?” I tried to resist, but he dragged me after him. He was a lot stronger than he looked. Actually, it was kind of hot. I could have used a spell to escape, but I didn’t want to.
Fortunately we weren’t so late that we had to sit at the front. I took my phone out of my pocket and murmured, “Non video,” before putting it on the table. I was determined to catch up on what I’d missed.
Devin’s emotions subsided when he switched his concentration to the lesson. Keeping an eye on Mr. Fennick to avoid having to use itero like I had on Mrs. Stanton, I checked my social media accounts.
The backlash against Mina had been considerable. To begin with, on the night of the party, she’d been a hero. It was all about how cool she was for owning her choices and bagging herself a college boyfriend. The day after—not so much.
Everyone seemed to think Gabe had feelings for her, and that she’d deliberately broken his heart by choosing his brother. There were suggestions it had been going on for a while. Some people thought Mina was pregnant. Others said she must be frigid, because she’d turned so nasty over the summer. It was horrible.
I scrolled past the comments after a while, finding them too difficult to read. How much worse must it have been for Mina? Then I noticed something new. Mina had joined in the conversation late last night, saying she had a “scoop for all the haters.”
Cavi. After tryouts. Behind a locked classroom door. Anyone want to know which classroom? Which teacher’s desk they used? Play nice and I might tell you.
Most of my sympathy evaporated. You bitch.


Today's blog post is a collection of my seven favourite quotes about spring, in the hopes of encouraging the chilly UK weather to embrace the new season! I love each of the four seasons, but the arrival of spring is one of my favourite times of the year. Anything seems possible while nature is performing such amazing feats of transformation all around us. I hope you enjoy the beautiful words from these wonderful writers, and thank you very much for visiting my blog today 💕.

“April dress’d in all his trim
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”
― William Shakespeare, Sonnet XCVIII

“Come and let us seek together
Springtime lore of daffodils,
Giving to the golden weather
Greeting on the sun-warm hills.

Ours shall be the moonrise stealing
Through the birches ivory-white;
Ours shall be the mystic healing
Of the velvet-footed night.

Ours shall be the gypsy winding
Of the path with violets blue,
Ours at last the wizard finding
Of the land where dreams come true.”

― Lucy Maud Montgomery, Spring Song

“And where suns peep, in every sheltered place,
The little early buttercups unfold
A glittering star or two--till many trace
The edges of the blackthorn clumps in gold.”
― John Clare

“The year has changed his mantle cold
Of wind, of rain, of bitter air;
And he goes clad in cloth of gold,
Of laughing suns and season fair”
― Charles Duke of Orleans, Spring

“Is the spring coming?” he said.
“What is it like?”
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine...”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

“It is so small a thing to have enjoyed the sun, to have lived light in the spring, to have loved, to have thought, to have done.”
― Matthew Arnold


Hope everyone is enjoying the month of April so far, and welcome to another chapter of Spell Tracker 😊. Luca's weekend continues after he says goodbye to Devin, and even though Luca hasn't found a way to help Cass yet, he gets the chance to provide a bit of guardian-like assistance to someone else. Devin also explains the drama at Mina's party, and the Spell Tracker throws in a new threat for his own amusement. You can catch up on earlier chapters using the New series label at the top of this post, and thank you very much for reading 💕.



16 An Unexpected Visitor

Devin wanted to stay, but I was scared I’d end up telling him even more things he shouldn’t know. A little space might help both of us to think clearly. If he’s going to regret this, better to give him the chance to find out now. Except… I really hope he doesn’t.
It was dark outside. The security lights by the delivery gate created long shadows, turning the ordinary surroundings into something sinister looking. I asked Devin to message me later. He apologized for being so negative about Cass.
“Maybe I could help. I could—”
“Next time,” I said, stopping him before he made any promises he might later wish he hadn’t. “You should show your face at the party. Mina will be pretty upset if both of us miss it.”
He shook his head. “I’m not sure she wants to see me. She said… I think she blames me for what happened with Gabe.”
I smiled. “I doubt it. You’re very cute, but I don’t think that would be enough on its own.”
He gave an embarrassed laugh.
“Go on,” I added, with a gentle push against his shoulder. “I’ll see you in homeroom on Monday.”
He leaned in to give me a kiss. It was soft and sweet and more than I deserved. I returned to the library with a smile on my face. Then, inevitably, my phone chimed with a text.
No one sends me texts but him… The others all use messaging apps.
I unlocked the screen.
I suppose you hoped I wouldn’t notice your little trip to the seventeenth century playhouse? Too bad. I did. Even better, it gave me an idea. I’m going to give that idea to Miss Vryson. I can’t wait until Monday morning :)
What the hell? What was he talking about? I paced up and down, trying to think of how he might have twisted this to his advantage. I hadn’t told Cass anything about being a guardian or her life path. The rules regarding free will were intact and, more to the point, it had brought us close in a way I would never have been able to achieve otherwise.
Perhaps he just wanted me to spend the rest of the weekend worrying in order to make fun of me on Monday. Time spent worrying was time wasted. Please let that be it.
No matter how I tried to rationalize it, the sense of unease persisted. I was glad when I got a message from Devin. I welcomed the distraction. At least, I did until I opened it.
Mina has done something really stupid. She slept with Nate.”
Who’s Nate?” I asked.
Gabe’s older brother.”
I sucked in a breath. “How?
His college isn’t far and she invited him to the party without telling us. Said he was her 18th birthday present to herself,” Devin replied.
Is Gabe OK?
Not really. He idolizes Nate.”
Does Nate know…?” I typed.
That Mina is in love with Gabe? No. That Gabe is gay? No.”
I suppose I should have guessed the answer to that one. “What about Mina? Is she OK?
No. I’m still at her house. She’s gone to sleep, though. Finally.”
I checked the time. It was two in the morning—much later than I’d realized.
And you?” I asked. “Are you OK?
I miss you.”
Then he added a red-faced emoji, followed by, “Or something less desperate.”
I miss you too,” I replied.
Maybe I shouldn’t have convinced him to go to the party. But things might have been a lot worse without him there. I could guess that Mina would have stage-managed her revelation for maximum impact.
Do you want to talk about it?” I asked.
No. I should sleep. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
OK.” I hesitated, before following up with “x.” He immediately replied with a smiley face and an “x” of his own.
I spent the rest of the night revisiting the school records, making sure I’d found out everything I could about Cass, Devin, Mina, and Gabe. The better informed I was, the better my chances of being successful at helping them.
Doing my best to take a step back and view them as assignments, according to normal protocol, I realized how alone I was. How limited in my resources. I can’t even leave the school.
I wondered what Mina’s house looked like and whether Devin had woken up yet. And what about Gabe and Nate? Cass was out there somewhere, too. Maybe she was sleeping. Maybe she was reading the play. I would never know.
More than that, my physical covering effectively shut me off from my own dimension and the communication network I was accustomed to. I had no doubt I could access it if I used a spell, but that would rather defeat the purpose of all this.
I wanted to remain invisible. I needed to. If it had been possible to help Cass any other way, I would have. A guardian’s objectivity must be protected. Guardians may not seek out or attempt to influence a previous earthbound connection. Guardians may not inhabit the earthbound dimension. Guardians may not seek out or attempt to influence a previous assignment. It went on and on. Everything was a variation of the same theme.
Irritated, I put on some music, jamming the earbuds into my ears and turning the volume up high. There were better things to listen to than a mental replay of the rulebook. I climbed onto the third-floor railing and walked along it, treating it like a tightrope, closing my eyes to better submerge myself in the sound.
Thoughts of my training inevitably reminded me of when I’d met him for the first time. He was a necessary evil. In order for the earthbound dimension to function correctly with regard to the most aspirational life paths, it needed an enforcer. He was the Spell Tracker. I’d met several of his predecessors, too, but there was something about him that set my magic on edge.
He’d qualified a couple of hundred earthbound years ago—a Shadow Mage who’d been elevated to a position of power way beyond what his kind could usually aim for. The High Council had no intention of doing their own dirty work.
Stabilis,” I murmured, and, keeping a tight grip on my phone, I threw myself into a forward somersault, landing back on the railing with a thud that vibrated through my body. For a second or two, gravity competed with the spell, trying to pull me downward. I kept my eyes closed, enjoying the sensation of floating halfway between standing and falling.
The song ended, just in time for me to hear an exclamation from below. I opened my eyes to find Mr. Mason staring up at me with an expression of such extreme astonishment, it was almost comical. The hand holding his takeaway coffee cup had gone limp, and brown liquid was pouring steadily onto the carpet.
“Oh,” I said, rather inadequately. I straightened up and paused my playlist before the next song could start.
“Er… your coffee?”
Mr. Mason jumped. “Shi… I mean, shoot.” He moved his shoe out of the way of the spreading stain before looking back up. “Why are you…? That is to say… I…”
He tried again, sticking to a safer, albeit ridiculous, question. “What brings you here on a Sunday, Avi?”
Seeing him there had given me an idea. I needed something to distract me, and Mr. Mason needed his horizons widened. No, that wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t my job to change him. He just needed to know that his horizons could be wider, if he wished.
I’d seen his life path, and it had as many branches as an ancient tree. Before embarking on his earthbound lives, he’d obviously wanted to learn so much. But his progress was almost nonexistent.
He wasn’t unhappy. Or afraid. Not yet. He had time. Maybe he’d have a guardian in his next life. Or the one after that. Except I’m here now. Why not?
I stepped off the railing, saying, “Gradarius.” I descended like one of the snowflakes I’d created for Devin, steady and weightless. Mr. Mason dropped the rest of his coffee. The empty cup rolled toward me and came to rest against the side of my foot. I bent down and picked it up.
“Sorry. There’s no Latin word for coffee, so I can’t replace it for you.”
He gaped at me.
“Oh, right,” I said. “What am I doing here on a Sunday? I’m here every day, Mr. Mason. I kind of live here. Just think of me as a friendly school guardian.”
“Are... Aren’t you a student, then?”
“We’re all students. That’s the great thing about this. Maybe you could take a seat? There’s something I’d like to talk to you about.”
I gestured to one of the tables in the main area. Obediently, still in shock, he pulled out a chair and sank into it. “You’re not meeting anyone here, are you?” I asked. He shook his head.
Calix,” I said, and a glass appeared on the table. “Do you want some water?”
Mr. Mason didn’t answer, staring at the glass as if he expected it to sprout legs and run across the table to attack him.
“How about some wine, then?” I offered, grinning.
“It’s Sunday morning,” he said, eyes wide.
“The Romans drank wine morning, noon, and night,” I said. “If it was good enough for them…”
He recovered slightly. “They did a lot of other things as well, Avi. What was good enough for the Romans encompasses a multitude of extraordinary behavior.”
“True. History is a fascinating subject, isn’t it? Well, id scis. You teach it.”
“Yes. I do.”
He put his clasped hands on the table and stared at them, apparently working himself up to speaking. “The Latin,” he said eventually. “And the photo I took. What are you?”
Noli timere,” I said, just in case. I sat down opposite him.
“I’m not afraid,” he replied.
Well, obviously you’re not now.
“What do you think I am?” I asked.
“Are you a ghost? A Roman ghost?”
I grinned. “Not exactly, but I quite like that idea. I could wander the earth telling everyone the truth behind the empire.”
“What, then? What are you?”
“Think of me as a flashlight,” I said. “I brighten the darkness and I show people the what ifs. I try to help.”
“Are you here to help me?” said Mr. Mason, with a bewildered expression. He glanced over his shoulder.
“Is that so hard to believe?” I said gently. “You’re a decent person. And you’re a great teacher. It’s not the easiest of professions.”
He smiled, relaxing. He loved teaching. “Thanks. You don’t attend any of my classes, though.”
“No. But I can tell. I’ve seen a lot of teachers. Let me help you. Please. Mulsum,” I added, and the glass filled with honeyed Roman wine.
“Mulsum?” he repeated. “But that’s… impossible.”
I raised my eyebrows. “Which bit? The magic or the fact I’m using it to create an ancient Roman drink?”
Mr. Mason laughed. “When you put it like that…”
Commemoro,” I whispered, looking down at the glass, and the liquid shimmered. I pushed it toward him. He hesitated, then picked it up and took a sip. Then another. “It’s…” Another sip. “Wow. I didn’t know it would be like that.”
“Like what?”
He sighed. “It makes me feel… sentimental.”
“What do you remember?”
His expression softened, and the faint lines on his face disappeared. “I’m happy with my life, Avi. But I was in high school, once. I had dreams. It’s funny, looking back, but I didn’t know the time would pass so quickly. I always thought that was just something old people said.”
“You’re not even thirty-five yet,” I reminded him.
“I know. I have no plans to die next week,” he joked. As he realized what he’d said, the color the wine had given him drained from his face. “Er… I don’t, do I?”
I waited for a few seconds before answering. I wanted to give him the chance to see his life from a new perspective. Then I shook my head. “No. You don’t.”
“What the hell?” he said, pushing his chair back. His anger made him look like a different person. “Don’t play games with me. If dying next week is the only ‘what if’ you’ve got, I’m not impressed.”
“Forgive me. It isn’t an elegant way to begin, but its effectiveness, unfortunately, is hard to match.”
I got up and locked the library doors before pulling my sleeves over my hands. “If you wouldn’t mind holding onto my arm, there are a few things I’d like to show you.”
“What things?” He narrowed his eyes. I quite liked this assertive Mr. Mason. Now his life path made a lot more sense to me.
“Afterward, if you tell me you regret seeing them, I’ll make you forget. Will you trust me?”
A brief nod. He stood up and put his hand on my wrist. I took him into the future. His future. I showed him three different branches of the tree. I never did more than that. Given too many options, an assignment was likely to procrastinate or, worse, run in the opposite direction and hide from them all.
 When we returned, he sat down immediately, putting his hands on his knees, pressing down to stop them from trembling. “W-which one?” he asked. “Which one is my future?”
He was staring into space as if he were reliving the scenes we’d visited.
“Any of them. None of them. Two and three you could combine, if you wanted to. It’s up to you.”
“Me? I could…? She’s out there somewhere?”
“Your daughter? Yeah. I can’t promise you won’t get your heart broken along the way, but… yeah. All of that can still happen. You’re starting late, but every day you focus on what you want makes a difference.” I hesitated, before adding, “You’ll make an amazing father. I would…” I swallowed. “I would have been happy if you were mine.”
Mr. Mason’s eyes came back into focus, and he gave me a look that was part surprise, part sympathy.
“Anyway,” I said hastily, “here endeth the lesson. Any regrets?”
No.”
“Great. I’m glad,” I said, smiling.
“What happens now?” he asked.
“Ah. I’m glad you asked. Us having this conversation—me being here impersonating someone earthbound—it’s rather unorthodox. So I have to blur the lines a little, I’m afraid.”
“Blur the…?” His voice trailed off when I spoke over him.
Erat omnes somnium. Dormi.”
He blinked a couple of times, before sleep overtook him and his head fell sideways. I leaned down to whisper in his ear. “You might only remember it as a dream, but you will remember it. And, when you wake up, tibi ipsi crede. Believe in yourself.”
I unlocked the doors and left the library, resolving to spend the rest of the day in another part of the school. I expected Devin to call me that afternoon, and then I’d have to deal with whatever he had arranged for Monday morning. If he had given Cass an “idea,” it was bound to be a problem for me.


For today's blog post I've created an aesthetic to represent the world-building/story of my second work-in-progress for 2019. My imagination is a mixed-up random place most of the time, so it can be useful to visually sense check my ideas and see how/if they might come together!


I'm hoping to complete two books this year. First up will be the sequel to Spell Tracker, and the second book will be the start of something new. It's tentatively called Beyond Androva because the jumping-off point will be the choice Galen's sister makes at the end of Surviving Magic. However, the book won't be set on Androva. After what Angelus did there, Serena never goes back to her home world. She is Androvan, however, so her use of magic will obviously follow Androva's rules.

Each of the eight images in the collage is linked to an object or theme that I have in mind for the story. I'm very much enjoying the writing process because although most of the book is very different--new world, new characters, new magic, new threats!--there's also a little bit of familiarity. I hope you like the collage, and thank you very much for visiting my blog today!



Another weekend, another chapter of Spell Tracker 😊. Luca and Devin finally confront their feelings toward each other, (just a reminder that this book's romantic sub-plot is m/m), and Devin learns a little more about what Luca is trying to do. Of course, Luca can't tell Devin anything about the magical dimensions, but he (Luca) is caught off guard when he realizes exactly what kind of magician Devin is. You can catch up on earlier chapters via the New series label at the top of today's post, and thank you very much for reading!

15 A Few Questions

I felt for him. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen years of friendship rocked to their foundations by the L-bomb, and to say that the fallout tended to be complicated would be understating it.
“I’m sorry. Pretending it never happened isn’t a great plan, though,” I said.
“It wasn’t my plan,” he replied, folding his arms. “I hate it. I feel as if my best friend was lying every time he told me it was OK to be gay. I mean, he clearly has no intention of coming out, does he?
“And I don’t know how to behave around him. Like, every time I touch him, even by accident, he might be thinking I’ve changed my mind or something.”
His voice was rising and his emotions were flooding the small space. Fear, resentment, relief. I was glad. I might finally be able to help him.
“And Mina is being so nasty,” he went on. “She used to be popular because she was fun to be around—can you believe that? But I can’t call her on it. I know how much she’s hurting.”
He fell silent, and I waited, wanting to be sure he’d finished.
“Well? Can you help them, or not?” he said. His arms were still folded, the muscles tense.
Tenuo,” I said softly. “I can help them. But only if you let me help you too.”
“I’m not the one that needs helping,” he protested. “If I wasn’t worried about them, I’d be fine. What… what was that word you just said? I feel like I want to sigh with relief, but I don’t know why.”
“I banished the fog. Temporarily.”
“Oh.” Devin frowned. “I didn’t ask you to.”
“Stop being such a martyr. The three of you are completely mixed up in this. I have to help you too.”
He glared at me. “What the hell happened to free will?”
“What’s your problem?”
“I don’t have a problem!” He got up and walked to the door.
“Stop. Stop.” I went after him, grabbing hold of his arm.
“Let go of me.”
“Make me,” I said, without thinking.
Devin turned around and leaned into me, until we were touching from chest to knee. I clutched his arm even tighter. I think it’s the only thing keeping me standing.
“I don’t want to be your assignment, Avi,” he said. “I want to be…”
“Yes?” I prompted.
God. I want to be the person who can do this.”
Oh, shit. All I could do was kiss him back and hope that my enthusiasm didn’t put him off. His hands were in my hair, twisting my head to find a better angle. It felt like every single nerve ending I possessed was burning with the need for more.
“I can’t,” he said, in between kisses.
“C-can’t what?”
“I can’t stop.”
I pushed him against the door with my body. “Do you want to stop?”
“No. Please.” He pushed back and that was it. At that moment, all my training might as well have happened to someone else. I wasn’t a guardian. I was earthbound. And I wanted.
We didn’t really do much of anything, but it was no less amazing for that. At least, for me. Afterward, Devin leaned his head back against the door, closing his eyes and screwing up his face in an expression that was half a smile and half embarrassment. He huffed a laugh.
“What’s funny?” I asked.
“I saw that going differently in my head.”
“What do you mean?”
He opened one eye. “Uh… slower?”
I started laughing and he joined in, until we were both laughing too hard to stand up. We sank to the floor, holding on to each other.
“In my defense,” said Devin, “this is the first time I’ve done anything like this, and you are…” He squeezed my upper arms. “Well, look at you.”
“I’d rather look at you.”
So much for that non-romantic vibe I was going for.
Devin moved his hands down until his fingers were linked with mine. His emotions surrounded us with something that was all the colors of the rainbow, soft, and beautiful. I’d never experienced anything quite like it. I can feel his magic. He’s a Light Mage too. Oh… wow. No wonder.
“What happens now?” he said. A gray thread of fear began to weave its way through the rainbow, like barbed wire slicing through the softness.
“Don’t,” I said.
“Don’t what?”
“Don’t be afraid.” I was suddenly overcome with the desire to protect him.
“I’m not afraid. I just… I don’t know what to expect. We can’t exactly date, can we?”
“You’d do that? With me?” I couldn’t keep the grin off my face.
“Are you kidding? I’d love everyone to know what great taste I’ve got.”
I ducked my head, nervous that the longing would show on my face. He makes me wish I was earthbound. I’ve never wanted that. Not since I started my training and understood what guardians did. For a few seconds I humored myself with a fantasy of being earthbound again—including having Devin as my boyfriend, and the chance to do whatever the hell we wanted together.
“I know,” said Devin, letting go of my hands. “I know we can’t. Look, will you be honest with me if I ask you a few questions?”
I lifted my head and nodded. “As long as it doesn’t interfere with your life path choices.”
“How do you know if it will, or it won’t?”
“I’ll be careful.”
He frowned. “Do you know what my choices will be?”
“No. I could look, but I haven’t so far.”
“Why not?”
“Well… I don’t want to. Despite what you might think, you’re not my assignment and I can help you without it.”
Suddenly I had a terrible thought. You’re a Light Mage. Your life path will eventually lead where mine did. I tried to keep the knowledge from showing on my face.
“What about Gabe and Mina?” he asked.
“It depends. I don’t have a connection with them like I do with you. I’ll probably have to look.”
His eyes widened. “We have a connection?”
“It’s a guardian thing. Remember the moment you figured out what I really am?”
“Yeah, I’m not likely to forget. It’s the reason I can touch you, you said. I still don’t get that, by the way,” he added.
“It’s because I let you see the real me. And the observer creates the reality,” I said. It was one of the first principles of magic. If you don’t believe it, you can’t see it.
“The observer… I’ve heard that expression. In Physics. Give me a minute…”
The tip of Devin’s tongue poked out of the corner of his mouth while he concentrated, as it had before. It was really distracting.
“I said my knowing didn’t change anything, but I never thought it might be about seeing. You’re talking about that famous double-slit experiment, aren’t you?” His face lit up.
“I get it. You… the light… it’s a particle when it’s being observed and energy when it isn’t. So I can touch you, but everyone else gets an electric shock. The way it was for me the first time.”
He sat up on his heels. “Wow. That’s… like… awesome.”
“I’m glad you think so. I’m finding it a bit inconvenient,” I said.
“Didn’t you know it would be like that?”
“No. I think the physical covering I’ve got now must be like a conductor.”
“Right. The dimension thing.” He hesitated. “Can I ask my questions now?”
“You already asked a lot of questions,” I pointed out.
He shook his head. “Not the… not the important ones.” His fingers curled into fists, like he was bracing himself to speak. “Why are you here? And when are you going to leave?”  
I stared back at him. I don’t want to leave.
“If you can’t answer the first question, then at least answer the second one. I know you won’t stay. I just want to be prepared.” He bit his lip.
“I’m here to help someone. I have an arrangement with… I have an arrangement. The timing is at his discretion. I think I have five more weeks.”
“You think?”
“Where he is concerned, I can’t be sure.” Reflexively, I touched my phone as I spoke.
“Who is this ‘he’?” asked Devin. “Is it the person you’re helping?”
“No. The person I’m helping is Cass.”
“Cass? As in… my sister, Cass?”
I saw no harm in admitting it. Devin might know some things that would make it easier for me to understand her life path. Assuming I ever get up the nerve to attempt to look at it.
“Are you sure she wants your help?”
Devin’s emotions had become impossible to read. There were so many layers to the way he felt about Cass that I couldn’t hope to understand them without using a spell.
“I thought you hardly knew her,” I said, frowning. “Your emotions are all over the place.”
“That’s none of your business,” he said, shifting backward.
“Hey.” I held up my hands. “I’m not going to analyze them. I’m just stating the obvious.”
“Whatever.” He turned his head to the side.
“Devin. However you feel about her… whether she wants my help or not… Cass is almost out of time. She…” I thought of what would happen to her if I failed. Although I swallowed a couple of times, the lump in my throat refused to go away.
Now I’m crying. Shit.
“Avi…” Devin was looking at me in disbelief. “I’m sorry. Please don’t…” He raised a hand to my face and his thumb brushed my cheek. “Your tears look like ice crystals.”
I took a shaky breath but still didn’t trust myself to be able to speak properly. Of course I’m going to fail. Even Devin thinks she’s past helping.
“I’m sorry,” repeated Devin. “I was being a dick about it. You can do whatever you want.”
“Thanks,” I managed.
“Is she…?” He paused. “Is she going to hell or something? She’s not that bad.”
I gave a rather hollow laugh. “There are worse things than hell. I can’t explain,” I added, before he could ask me. “I just have to get her back on her life path.”
“Can you at least tell me what the hell—” He broke off, wincing. “Sorry, bad choice of word. Can you tell me what a life path is?”
“I don’t know. Your free—”
“Yes, I get all the ‘free will’ stuff,” he said, interrupting. “But I’m not asking about my life path, am I?”
I shifted into a more comfortable position and wiped my eyes. “No. But even if I only explain the mechanics, that might still compromise your choices.”
Devin moved forward on his knees and sat next to me, leaning his shoulder into mine. It was nice.
“What’s the worst thing that could happen?” he asked.
“Um… as long as I don’t tell you about your path… as long as I keep it vague… I guess the worst is that you’d have to start over. The lessons from this life wouldn’t count if you knew you’d have another chance…” My voice trailed off. “Shit. I guess I just screwed that up for you. I’m really sorry.”
He tensed. “I’m not… I’m not going to the thing that’s worse than hell?”
“No.” I was quick to reassure him. “No, of course not.”
“Then why can’t Cass start over, too?”
She already has. “Each life path only contains so many chances to learn the same lesson. If you turn your back on it, over and over, you accumulate enough shadow to be vulnerable to… well, to something very dark.” It’s part of the contract. And no matter how powerful a magician you are, the contract always prevails.
“So,” he said, recovering quickly, “there’s one life path and you reincarnate your way along it.”
“Yes,” I replied.
“What kind of lessons? Who decides what they are? You make it sound like we’re all the servants of some evil mastermind.”
“No way can I even comment on that,” I said. You decide, Devin. Every magician decides for themselves what they want to learn. Being earthbound is like attending the best school in existence.
“What happens when you make it to the end?” he asked.
“Definitely no comment.”
“Are they interdependent? You said Mina might be doing something for someone else…”
“I shouldn’t have. I must have misspoken.”
“Yeah, right,” he said. “I get the feeling you’re not going to tell me anything else. What about Cass? What’s the lesson she won’t learn?”
“Er… I don’t actually know.”
He moved around to look at me. “What? You don’t even know?”
“Not yet.”
“But… how many lessons are there even? You can’t just guess.”
“I know that,” I said, making a face. “I’m not stupid.”
“And even once you know, you have to help her make the right choice without telling her what that is? And she’s made the wrong choice for several lifetimes already.”
“Yes.”
“And you have five weeks.”
I shrugged.
“Plus, it’s Cass. No way,” he said. “It’s not going to happen.”
Yeah. You said it.


Spring will officially begin in a few days and it seems like a good time to review my writing progress for 2019. The aim, as always, is to complete two books and right now, I'm on track to do that 🙂.

First up will be the sequel to Spell Tracker. The second story in the Light Mage Series takes place partly in the earthbound dimension (Tudor England, to be precise) and partly in the magical dimensions. The surviving primary characters from Spell Tracker all return, and Devin is the narrator this time. His approach to problem-solving is a little less considered than Luca's! One of the characters is accused of committing murder and is forced to go on the run to avoid the death penalty. There's also a new guardian, a girl, who was a sixteenth century French corsair (a kind of legal pirate) in her graduating earthbound life. Here's an excerpt from the beginning:
* * * * * * * * *
My boyfriend worries. It’s kind of cute.
“We get audited every earthbound month,” I said. “What are you pacing for?”
“It’s still an audit. Carried out by a Spell Master working for the High Council. Aren’t you even slightly nervous?”
I grabbed hold of his hand and pulled him to a stop. “This is stupid. You nearly tripped over the threshold, for God’s sake. You haven’t used your magic for anything forbidden. You never do.”
He stared at me for a second. Here, in the primary dimension, he looked nothing like his earthbound form. Slender and wide-eyed, magic lending his caramel skin a slight iridescence, he was the most beautiful Light Mage I’d ever seen.
“Who says I’m worrying about me?” he asked with a faint smile.
“Hey,” I protested. “I haven’t broken any rules.”
“Devin. You practically told that guy his life path last week. If I hadn’t dedisco’d him, we’d both be in trouble.”
“I love it when you speak Latin,” I said, grinning.
“Yeah, you love not taking me seriously, too.”
I’d only been a guardian for a few months. A lot of the time I still spoke like the American teenager I used to be.
* * * * * * * * *
The second book is going to be the beginning of a new series tentatively called Beyond Androva, although that name may change as I write it. However, it won't be anything to do with Jax, Shannon, and the others. Much as I love all of those characters, I think I've told their story. Beyond Androva will begin with Serena, Galen's sixteen-year-old sister, and her adventures on a brand-new world after the events of Surviving Magic. Androva originally opened portals to seven other worlds, which means she has five to choose from. (Imbera is a no-go, for obvious reasons, and she's not interested in second-century Terra). Here's an excerpt, again from the beginning:
* * * * * * * * *
“You won’t change my mind. I’ve been thinking about this for weeks. I want to live somewhere interesting,” I said.
“What does that mean?” asked my older brother. “Here is interesting. You don’t have to leave Terra. Or if you insist on changing worlds, you could always go back home.”
I raised my eyebrows. “To what? Home doesn’t exist anymore. Everyone we ever knew on Androva is dead. And if I returned I’d have to endorse the lie about what happened there. I’m not sure I can do that.”
Galen sighed and placed his hand over mine. His magic expanded, powerful and familiar, lighting his eyes with silver and encasing our hands in a veil of energy. He wasn’t using a spell. He was just using magic to illustrate the strength of his feelings. From where I was sitting, it felt a lot like emotional blackmail.
* * * * * * * * *
I'll post updates on timing when I have them! Thank you very much for visiting my blog today 💕


Today's Chapter Fourteen takes us to the halfway point of the book 🙂. At the end of his flashback to Ancient Rome and gladiator training, Luca shies away from remembering how he and Cass were eventually separated. Then he meets up with Devin, who explains the reason for the tension between him, Mina, and Gabe. Luca's attraction to Devin is also becoming more and more difficult to ignore.

If you'd like to catch up with the rest of Spell Tracker so far, you can follow the New series label at the top of this post. I hope you enjoy the chapter, and thank you very much for reading 💕.

14 A Game

Cass and I spent every spare moment together as we prepared to enter the Colosseum for our inaugural fight. Knowing we faced the threat of imminent death, we wanted to do all we could to celebrate being alive. I believed in the gods when I was with her. Someone so extraordinary could not have come into existence by accident.
We worked hard to fool the lanista into thinking Cass knew what she was doing. Every night I gave her a horse-riding lesson in secret, and every day she had to fake her ability a little less.
“Don’t copy Julius,” I told her. “It’s not just a matter of kick to go and pull to steer and stop. The horse will feel your weight shifting and respond to a much lighter touch if you give him the chance.”
“He’s got to give me the chance to stay on first,” she complained. “Everything hurts.”
“Everything?”
“Yes! I’m in agony here, Avi.”
“Oh. Maybe I should take a closer look,” I said, adopting a solemn expression. “Examine you. Just in case.”
She bit her lip to hide a smile. “In case of what?”
“In case I can find… um… something that doesn’t hurt. You know… to make you feel better.”
Cass stared at me for a second, then she climbed into my lap and we were kissing. It was fierce, and sweet, and I wouldn’t have noticed if the emperor himself had interrupted us.
In the training arena, whenever it looked like she was going to mess up, I deliberately pushed her off the horse and we fought on the ground with our swords instead. The horses tolerated the training sessions with remarkable patience. I often felt ashamed, knowing I would be forced to take one of them into the Colosseum with me. Very few of the animals that entered the games ever came back.
The others continued to laugh at our enmity, and the lanista suspected nothing. It was important no one knew our real feelings. They would jump at the chance to use them against us if they could.
Eventually, the time came when Cass was proficient enough to fight a moving target on horseback. We started on opposite sides of the arena before urging our horses into a fast canter in order to attack. Before I had time to properly take aim, Cass threw her blunted spear, hitting my unprotected shoulder hard and upsetting my balance. My horse skittered backward. Cass was traveling toward me so quickly that her practice sword was raining down blows on my head and my raised shield before I could right myself.
I fell off, my sword, spear, and shield landing on top of me with a clatter. She shouted triumphantly. I suppressed a grin, happy for her even through the pain of my landing, and shouted back, “Is that the best you can do?”
“My worst beats your best any day of the week,” she retorted.
After that, she could hold her own. Her confidence increased. Our fighting styles complemented each other, and we naturally began to pair up against the others. Cass learned to throw her spear with great precision, while I worked on my sword fighting, combining force with finesse in a way that had eluded me before. Once she’d unhorsed an opponent, I finished them off.
It led us to an ending we would never have chosen.
Enough. Enough remembering for now. I’m not ready to think of… I’m not ready.
It was fortunate this was a weekend. The sun had already passed across the library skylights and begun its descent by the time I stopped. I’d been lost in bittersweet memories for half the night and most of the day.
I checked my phone. Everyone was messaging about the party. Mina had posted a lot of photos so that her followers could be in no doubt about how amazing it was going to be and also how stunning Mina herself was going to look. The whole thing must have taken her ages.
High school ends this year, Mina. What happens then? You can’t cut and paste your popularity when you go to college.
There was an extended debate in the comments about whether “Cavi” would put in an appearance. Mina hinted, but didn’t promise. I scrolled up and down a couple of times to see if Gabe or Devin had said anything, but there were no comments from either of them.
It was ridiculous how easy it had been for Mina to start the rumor about me and Cass. The more times it was repeated on social media, the more people believed it. Seeing the lie on the screen of their phone somehow lent it credibility. At least I knew Cass didn’t care.
What did you decide?
Devin. And I hadn’t decided anything.
Still thinking,” I replied.
I’ll be there in an hour. Delivery gate. You’ll have to let me in.
What?” It struck me as I tapped Send that my reply was stupid. Devin’s message was pretty clear.
?” said his reply.
I don’t know if I want to see you.” I decided to go for honesty.
I need your help,” he replied.
I sighed. Some things I couldn’t say no to. Helping the earthbound was still my job. I was on a temporary transfer, not a sabbatical.
OK. An hour.”
Cool.” He added a smiley face and I found myself smiling back at the screen. Be honest, Luca. You do want to see him.
 I passed the time by working on the library computer to complete a History essay. I wasn’t attending every class, but I didn’t want to use spells to get out of the entire timetable. I’d be far more credible as a high school student if I actually spent some time being a high school student. And graduation didn’t happen by accident. Even with sixty percent attendance, I had a lot of studying to do.
When Devin arrived, I was waiting. He smelled like he’d just had a shower. It was kind of distracting.
“According to the alarm system, a couple of teachers are signed in,” I told him. “We should go to our place. I mean… the place. Backstage. You know.”
“Our place?” he repeated, smiling.
“It was a slip of the…” I trailed off. Then, like an idiot, I touched my tongue to my lower lip.
“Avi… if you don’t want me to throw myself at you right now, you should turn around and start walking,” said Devin, not taking his eyes off my mouth.
He’s been here less than a minute. Walk.
I started walking, slowly, until I heard him follow a few paces behind me. I concentrated on finding something sensible to say. It took me a while. “What did you want my help with?” I asked, looking over my shoulder.
“I’m worried about Mina.”
Not what I was expecting him to say.
“Why? Is there a problem with the party or something?”
 He shook his head. “It’s not the party. Look… I suppose you think Mina is like this super-bitch who’s more into status than anything else, right?”
“Er… isn’t she?”
We sat down in the same places we’d been before. I didn’t soften the lighting this time, in an attempt to avoid creating any kind of romantic vibe.
“Well?” I said. “Are you going to tell me that she’s secretly insecure and misunderstood, and really she’s hurting worse than all the people whose senior years she’s trying to ruin?”
Apparently my guardian’s objectivity has completely gone to shit.
“I’m sorry,” I said before he could answer. “I didn’t mean that. I don’t know her life path, do I? She might be doing this for someone else.”
“What’s a life path?”
I made a face. “Something the earthbound aren’t supposed to know about.”
He shifted closer until our hips and shoulders were touching. “Are you talking about fate? Most scientists say every decision we make is predetermined. I haven’t decided what to believe yet.”
“Exactly,” I replied. “You haven’t decided.”
“You just said life path,” he argued. “If there’s a path, it sounds predetermined to me.”
“Yeah, but there are forks in the path. Look, I’m breaking so many rules here. Can we talk about Mina instead?”
“No.” He elbowed my ribs. “You can’t keep telling me stuff, then refusing to explain.”
“Ow.” I elbowed him back. “I’m trying to do the right thing.”
I exhaled, then shifted position so I could see his face more easily. “Look, let’s just say, hypothetically, you did have a life path and… choices. What if someone told you which fork was the most difficult? Or who’d designed the path… or where it crossed with someone else’s… or what the stakes were…
“Don’t you see? Free will is so easy to undermine. And once it’s gone, you are done. So I won’t be responsible for undermining yours.”
Devin nodded. His shock filled the space between us, the ribbon of emotion spiky and dark, but he did a good job of keeping it from showing on his face. “I get it. Why didn’t you just say that before?”
“Yeah. Well. I told you. I don’t really know how to be a guardian like this. My assignments can’t usually interrogate me.”
“Assignments? You make it sound like school.”
I shrugged. “It is. Everyone’s learning. All the time.”
“So…” He pushed up his sleeves. “Is there anything you can tell me that’s not classified? You said you wanted to help me, before. I was hoping you could help Mina.”
“I can try. As long as you understand that I can’t tell her what to do.”
Devin laughed. The spiky ribbon had already begun to fade, and now it transformed into something that fizzed like the surface of a newly poured glass of soda.
“No one can tell Mina what to do,” he said, grinning.
Percipio,” I said, wanting him to know what it felt like. He blinked. Goosebumps appeared on his forearms.
“Are you doing that?” he asked. “It’s kind of nice.”
“No. You are. Rescindo,” I added. Devin looked disappointed.
“That was me?”
“That was the happy version of the snakes and fog you felt before. Thoughts and beliefs translate to emotions, which translate to mag… to energy,” I said, correcting myself. “They have more power than most of the earthbound realize.”
“How do you cope? I mean, being able to feel this stuff all the time. Doesn’t it distract you?”
“Not really. I kind of tune in to it when I need to. I only have three assignments at a time. I mean… usually. That’s not to say I don’t get distracted, though.”
He stared at me, and the fizzing slowed down, softening into something different. I had to grit my teeth to keep from leaning into it. Gods. Would it be too obvious if I used a spell to make my jeans a bit less tight?
“Well,” I said, swallowing, “w-why does Mina need help?”
“How old are you?” he asked.
“What?”
“How old are you?” he repeated.
“Seventeen,” I said. “Didn’t I tell you that already?”
“But you’re Roman. Doesn’t that make you, like, ancient?”
“I was a Roman. When I was last earthbound. But… sorry to disappoint you. I’m not particularly old, or wise, or anything. My age is a blueprint I carried with me when I became a guardian.”
“You mean… you’ll be seventeen forever? Seriously?”
Time passed differently here. The average earthbound life was equivalent to a year in the magical dimensions. I wouldn’t live forever, but it would seem like a long time from Devin’s point of view. And I’d be seventeen for the duration of it. He was right about that.
“Not quite forever, but… yeah. Sometimes it sucks, but I’ve got used to it.”
“Thank God,” he said, relaxing.
“Why?”
“I thought I was crushing on some really old dude or something.”
I laughed. “Thanks. I think?”
He scooted a little way back from me, and the buzz of attraction between us diminished. “Sorry,” he said. “You’ll probably think I’m stupid, but I can’t seem to think clearly when I’m too close to you.”
I don’t think you’re stupid.
He looked down at his hands. “I’m going to tell you something about me, and Gabe, and Mina, and you have to promise you won’t repeat it.”
“I promise.”
“I’m hoping that because of… because of what you are, you can’t break your word. Is that true, or am I being stupid again?” He looked up. His cheeks were a little red.
Promitto,” I said. “I wouldn’t have… but now I can’t.”
“OK. Cool.”
Silence. Devin opened his mouth and closed it again. “This is really difficult.”
“You don’t have to tell me.”
“No, I do. Otherwise you won’t understand. We’ve been friends forever. They’ve always accepted me for who I am. I mean… that I’m gay. They made it easy for me.”
He waited for me to acknowledge it. “OK,” I said. “I know it can be a big deal. But remember I come from a time when people were pretty open about it.”
“Yeah. You don’t seem bothered one way or the other.”
“Well… it’s me. Can’t really escape it.”
He smiled. “I know, right? The thing is… not everyone feels that way.” His smile disappeared. “We played this stupid game of truth or dare one night. I didn’t find out until later, but Mina had been drinking. And once she said… what she said…. things just went from bad to worse.”
“What did she say?”
“Oh, only that she’d been in love with Gabe since we were thirteen. He looked like he was going to throw up when she tried to kiss him.”
“Then what happened?”
I can guess. I’ve seen how he looks at you.
“Then… then he blurts out that he’s gay and in love with me. Can you believe it? He gave me no warning. He just tried to kiss me and… he’s my friend. I don’t like him that way.”
He hunched his shoulders. “I probably looked like I was going to throw up, too. We all swore we’d act as if it never happened. But Mina’s changed. I’m worried about her. I’m worried about both of them.”

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