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
not. There’s no such thing, trust me. I’m just a guardian.”
mean a guardian angel?”
is a word the earthbound use. I’m a guardian. I was earthbound once, but now I
you’re a ghost?”
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.”
nodded seriously, then that smile broke through again. “It’s still snowing.”
Want me to make it stop?”
yet. I quite like avoiding reality for a change.”
this is still reality. It’s just that the earthbound do not understand any
dimension except for the one they exist in.”
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.
excuse me? Can you explain that, please?” asked Devin.
“Well, it’s safer if you don’t know. Plus, you
might not be ready to accept it anyway.”
raised his eyebrows. “Do you have any idea how patronizing that sounds?”
nodded. “Doesn’t mean I’m wrong, though.”
got your word for that.”
And it’s all you’re getting.”
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
can because I did. But I won’t do it again if it bothers you.”
that’s just perfect,” he retorted, rolling his eyes. “I feel much better now.”
laughed. I like you, Devin. “Can’t we change the subject?” I said.
opened his hand to catch a few snowflakes, then curled his fingers into a fist.
He let out a sigh.
say the first thing that comes into your head,” I suggested.
don’t know whether to hit you or kiss you right now. Shit. Shit. That
wasn’t what I meant to say.”
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.
I’m so smooth I amaze even myself sometimes,” he muttered, keeping his eyes on
I bit my
cheek to keep from laughing. “What did you mean to say?” I asked. Don’t
think about kissing him. Don’t.
lifted his head. “I was going to tell you about the inflationary multiverse
theory. Some physicists believe—”
know,” I said, interrupting him. “The idea that there was more than one Big
Bang. Parallel universes and all that.”
there? Are there?”
tell you. But earthbound science certainly helps us to refine the rules within
which we operate.”
many of you are there?”
near enough.” That’s an understatement. Not many magicians are Light Mages,
and even fewer go on to qualify as guardians.
rang. School was over for the day.
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.
only pretended to eat before. This physical covering is an illusion. It doesn’t
need the… er… the traditional earthbound things.”
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.
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.
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
“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—
the matter?” said Devin. “Was it bad news?”
exactly. Just a reminder about something.”
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?”
said, staring at the phone in disbelief. “No.”
leaned closer. “God, Avi, what is it? You look terrible.”
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.
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
touch me,” I said, leaning back. My voice was loud in the small space. Devin
snatched away his outstretched hand.
down,” he said. “I was only trying to help.”
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.”
face relaxed. “OK. I get that. Although… exactly what ‘home’ is for you, I have
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.
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.”
understood immediately. “So that’s the reason he…”
don’t I remember?”
easier on you if you don’t. The pain appeared to be excruciating.”
but… I don’t like you deciding what I should and shouldn’t remember. That’s not
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.
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?”
hardly fair. You can’t compare what you did with… with death. Don’t be
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?”
was unwavering. I watched the muscles in his body tense up.
said quietly. “That’s impossible.”
would probably have said the same about the snow until you saw it.”
but… death? What does that mean? You’re not dead!” His voice rose.
depends entirely on your definition of death.”
alive. Of course.”
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?”
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.”
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.
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.
great difficulty, I pulled back. “I’m sorry,” I said, slightly breathless.
you apologize?” His chest rose and fell as he looked back at me. He lifted one hand
to his mouth.
He trailed off.
going anywhere,” I said.
thought I couldn’t touch you?”
must be the connection. Oh… that might be dangerous.
couldn’t,” I said. “But now you’ve seen who… what… I am, I think that’s
impossible. Physics doesn’t work that way, whatever dimension you’re in.”
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…
“Maybe it wasn’t really that painful in the first place.”
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.”
have to. Mina and I thought he was losing it.”
stepped closer and lifted his chin. “Yes.”
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.
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.”
considered this. “You’re breaking the rules? Why?”
sighed. “It’s a long story.”
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.”
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.
she…? You said Cass was your half sister. Do you share a mother or a father?”
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.”
that’s… horrible. When did he…?”
the swooshing sound of his message sending, but he kept his gaze lowered. “A
while ago. When I was in fourth grade.”
sorry,” I said inadequately.
short silence Devin looked up and gave me a smile. “Did you just say ‘Gods’?”
shrugged. His smile got bigger.
kind of cute,” he said. “Like you really did arrive here by accident from
help it,” I said. “It’s the one word I can’t seem to shake from before.”
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.”
leave,” I said.
can’t? You’re stuck here?”
part of the long story.”
said. “I need some time to think, and if you stay here you’ll distract me.”
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.”
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.
record,” he said, his voice low, “you distract me too.”
down again as the sound of his footsteps faded. I am in so much trouble.