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The Legacy of Androva Series

New Book, New Series, Eleventh Chapter 1️⃣1️⃣

In this next chapter of Spell Tracker, Luca finally gets to know what Cass is hiding behind her prickly exterior. There's also a hint that Cass might remember something about their shared past life as gladiators in Ancient Rome. This terrifies Luca because she won't be allowed to graduate her earthbound life path if her memories of past lives or magic are restored in any way. Failure to graduate would invoke her contract with the Spell Tracker, leading to a very painful death. Finally, I'd just like to give a sensitivity warning that this chapter deals with the death of an off-page character. Please don't continue if you think this might be a problem for you. 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 💕

11 A Chink in the Armor

I left the gymnasium as fast as I could, hoping that the scream of frustration would remain trapped in my throat. By the look on Gabe’s face, he wouldn’t be following me. Probably just as well. I’ve never felt so angry.
When I judged I was far enough away, I went into an empty classroom, grabbed the first chair I could reach, and threw it at the wall. It glanced off a map of Europe, tearing a hole in the middle of it, and landed on the table underneath with a satisfyingly loud crash. I glanced behind me. “Taceo!” I shouted.
Three more chairs followed in quick succession. Unfortunately, it was much less rewarding now that I’d silenced the noise. I picked up a table and lifted it to shoulder height, ready to launch it at the wall, but started to feel ridiculous. I set it back down and leaned against it.
I was just as annoyed with myself as I was with him. This was exactly the kind of thing he enjoyed, and I should have been prepared for it. Time was never straightforward. No matter what the dimension, it could be a gift or a burden, and he manipulated it to his advantage either way.
As a guardian, I only saw him at the worst of moments, when an assignment faced the ultimate penalty. It didn’t happen often, but still more often than I would have liked. He always treated me like a child, telling me I didn’t understand how necessary he was. How no one else was prepared to do what he did.
“It doesn’t mean you have to enjoy it,” I’d said on one particularly painful occasion.
He had laughed. “Are you telling me your noble sensibilities would tolerate me better if I bowed my head and wept? No. I am not in the business of hiding the truth and certainly not to protect the likes of you.”
I lifted my hands off the table and turned around. The room was a mess. I should probably replace the furniture by hand rather than take the easy way out with a spell. Screw that.
Constituo,” I said, and watched everything return to its former state. The table was the last to move, and I had to jump out of its way to avoid being knocked over.
I lifted the silencing spell and turned to the doorway, where Cass was standing with a look of disbelief on her face.
“It’s not what you think,” I said immediately.
She pushed her bangs out of the way. Her eyes were wide but she showed no sign of being afraid. “Really? You know what I’m thinking, too?”
“No. Of course I don’t. Sorry.”
Slowly, she took a couple of steps into the room.
“So… if you don’t know what I’m thinking, how do you know I didn’t guess right?”
Dedisco,” I said, before I could change my mind. I’d wanted to try using magic on her anyway, and after what he’d just done with the deadline, I figured I had nothing to lose.
“What? I don’t…” She blinked.
I waited to see if the spell would work. Suddenly aware that I was watching her far too closely, I forced myself to walk up to the map of Europe and I leaned in to examine that instead. My right hand reached into my pocket to grip my phone, as if I could somehow prevent it from receiving a text telling me what a huge mistake I’d just made.
Silence. No text, and no sound from Cass, either. I turned around. She was frowning.
“Cass,” I said, pretending surprise. “How long have you been standing there?”
“What just happened?” she asked, ignoring my question.
“Er… what do you mean?”
“I don’t remember,” she said. Her breathing sped up. “I don’t remember. Oh God. I don’t remember.”
“Hey, it’s OK.” I walked up to her. “Everything’s OK.”
“Why do people always say that?” She gave me a frantic look. “It’s the most ridiculous statement ever. It’s a lie. Why say it?”
I swallowed. “Tell me what the problem is. What don’t you remember?”
She gave an incredulous laugh. “Are you serious? I don’t remember. That’s kind of the point.”
“Sorry. I didn’t say that properly. I meant, what’s the last thing you remember?”
Cass rubbed her forehead and attempted to steady her breathing. “I was looking for you. You left the gym while I was on the other side of the court, waiting for play to stop so I could cross, and you looked majorly pissed off. I thought I might finally get past that façade of yours.”
“I… what? I don’t have a façade,” I said indignantly.
She raised her eyebrows. “Hello? Can we try to keep on topic? I’m more concerned about the fact I just had another blackout than your ego right now.”
“Another blackout? What does that mean?”
After glaring at me for a few seconds, the fight seemed to go out of her. She pulled out a chair and sat down. I took the chair next to her, moving it back a couple of feet to give her some space.
“It happened after my father died.” She gave me a resigned look. “I assume you know about that. Everyone does.”
“All I know is that it happened when you were in fourth grade and he was Devin’s father too.”
“Yeah, that about sums it up. The thing is… I was fine at first. Well… not fine, but… I lived through it, if you know what I mean. I was sad. I grieved for him, even after the truth came out.
“It was shocking, but I think on some level I must have known, you know? I don’t think we were his favorite family. He got impatient a lot. Distracted.”
She shrugged, and my chest tightened painfully at the thought of the brave nine-year-old girl who’d lost her father twice over.
“We heard Dev was going around smashing up his school. I remember feeling sorry for him. I was really close to my mom,” she continued, her voice getting quieter, “and she told me everything would be OK. That the two of us was all we needed. She promised.”
Cass’s face went blank and I braced myself for what she was about to say. “Cross my heart and hope to die. That’s what my mom said. And she did. She carved an X under her collarbone, then slashed her wrists.
“I found her after school one day. Her bed was covered in blood. I never knew one person held so much.” She hesitated and raised her hand to cover her nose and mouth. Her eyes were unfocused. “It smelled sweet and disgusting at the same time, like air freshener in the trash or something. There was no note.”
She lowered her hand. “I never knew what tipped her over the edge. The police kept it all hushed up for my protection. The inquest was private. No reporters.”
“Oh, Cass. I don’t know what to say.” My voice came out low and scratchy. I was determined not to cry. It’s not about me.
“Oh, Avi,” she said, mocking me. “No one ever knows what to say.” She sighed. “I started getting blackouts a few months later after I started junior high. They said it was probably the shock and wanting to forget what I’d seen. I had all kinds of therapy and medication, tests for epilepsy, you name it. They were never certain if the cause was physical or mental. One day I just stopped having them.”
She folded her arms together and bit her lip. “If they’ve come back… I’ll lose my driver’s license. I’ll have to declare it on my college applications. I won’t be able to act anymore, and”—her voice broke—“everyone will feel sorry for me again.”
I didn’t know where to begin. All I wanted to do was put my arms around her and look after her until she stopped hurting. I can’t even touch her. “It wasn’t a blackout,” I said, going for the easiest thing to fix. “It was my fault.”
Your fault? Don’t be stupid. How was it your fault?”
Commemoro,” I said, and waited as it all came back to her.
“Holy shit.”
For a few seconds Cass just looked at me, speechless. Then she got angry. “You did that to me? You made me think I was going crazy again?”
“Er… I didn’t actually know about your blackouts when I…”
Her chair fell backward with a clatter and she leaned over me, fist pulled back. “You complete and utter asshole. How dare you?”
Part of me wanted her to land that punch. I deserved it, and the last thing she needed to do was suppress her emotions more than she already had. However, the second she touched my skin she’d be in agony, and I couldn’t let that happen.
Non,” I said, standing up and backing away.
Her knuckles tightened but her fist didn’t move. “You can kick me if you want,” I said. “But you can’t use your hands.”
“I can…? I can kick you?” She shook her head. “Is that a serious suggestion?”
I nodded. She lowered her arm and I relaxed slightly. Too soon, as it turned out. She sprang forward and kicked me extremely hard in the knee. I went down like a bowling pin.
“Gods, gods, gods,” I said, clutching at my kneecap.
“Gods?” she repeated, standing over me. Her mouth twitched. “Just how many do you need to help you feel better?”
“Twelve,” I replied through gritted teeth. “Sano,” I added, and the pain receded. I exhaled slowly. “What about you? Do you feel better now?”
“Actually, I do,” said Cass. “I feel…” She trailed off and looked at me more closely. “Have you ever had déjà vu?”
Oh, shit.
“No,” I said quickly. “I don’t believe in it.”
She grinned. “Really? You just believe in the twelve gods, then?”
“There’s no god of déjà vu,” I said defensively.
“How did you get that scar?”
Double shit.
“Why do you want to know?”
She knelt down on the floor, close enough to touch my face if she wanted to. “I just… I think it has something to do with me.”
“How the hell could it?” I said, scrambling to my feet and backing away.
“I don’t know. I thought you could tell me. You’re the one rearranging the classroom with magic.”
There was no answer to that.
“This scar has nothing to do with Cassandra Vryson,” I said, my voice rising. “I know that for a fact, and that’s all I’m going say on the subject.”
I sound like a teacher. Great strategy, Luca. Cass gets on so well with teachers.
“Fine,” she said, standing up. Her smile had gone. “We both have secrets we want to keep. I won’t talk about this as long as you don’t talk about my mom.”
We regarded each other warily for a few seconds. She took a step backward, then another. I couldn’t let her leave. Not now. She’d voluntarily given me a glimpse of her life path. This was my chance to help her. I had to do something. She was nearly at the door before I had an idea.
“Wait. Please.”
“Why should I?” she asked. “You made it pretty clear you were done talking.”
“Look. There are some… rules. And I won’t break them. I really can’t talk about the déjà vu thing because the consequences would be irreversible. But there is other stuff we can do.”
“Like what?” she said.
“Come here and I’ll show you.”
Cass raised her eyebrows. “I hope you’re not going to tell me to close my eyes and make my lips into a pout.”
I failed to suppress a smile. “I know this will come as a huge disappointment, but I can’t kiss you.”
She walked toward me until she was standing close enough that I could feel her breath on my face. My smile faded. Her energy signature surrounded me, familiar and exciting. The rest of the world disappeared. It was just the two of us.
“Do you want to kiss me, Avi?”
I couldn’t stop myself. “Yes.”
“I want to kiss you.”
I trembled with the effort of keeping still. Desperately, I reminded myself she’d experience terrible pain if my skin touched hers. Not to mention that she might remember our shared history.
“I can’t.” I moved my head back a fraction. “Believe me, if there was a way to get around this, I’d be taking it. Frigus,” I added, hoping the shock of the cold air would help to strengthen my self-control.
“Keep looking,” said Cass. “For a way around it, I mean. Although… this is freezing. I think the moment might have gone.” She rubbed her arms. “What were you going to show me, if it wasn’t your amazing kissing skills?”
Using a quick “Occludo… sero,” I closed and locked the door. Then I lengthened my sleeves until they formed makeshift gloves and I took her hand.
Scena Globe,” I said, “die 18 Iunii, 1600.” The classroom disappeared.

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