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The Legacy of Androva Series

New Book, New Series, Tenth Chapter 🌟

My first blog post of 2019 and it's time for Chapter Ten of Spell Tracker! In this chapter Luca will get to know Gabe a little better. After Gabe reacts badly when he interrupts Luca's and Dev's second kiss, Luca feels like he has nothing to lose by trying a friendship spell. Past memories of his final earthbound life continue to resurface too. However, the Spell Tracker doesn't miss the opportunity to introduce an additional restriction. These restrictions are mainly for the Spell Tracker's own amusement—he doesn't think for one second Luca will actually emerge from their contract the victor. The Spell Tracker is a Shadow Mage, and he thrives on negativity.
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 💕

(Update: October 2019. Spell Tracker is now available in full via the New series label. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page to start 📙)

10 An Interruption

I don’t know how long it was before we were interrupted. If I’d even considered keeping track of time, I’m pretty sure my ability to do so would have been a little impaired. Where did Devin learn to kiss like this?
“Dev, are you in her—”
The words stopped abruptly and so did we, the sound of our breathing impossibly loud in the shocked silence. I was facing the door where Gabe stood, unmoving, his knuckles white where he was clutching the doorframe.
Devin turned slowly. I realized I was still holding onto him and hastily let go. He and Gabe stared at each other. The tension in Gabe’s expression was more like pain than anger. No one spoke. Should I apologize?
“You’ll be late for tryouts if you don’t go now,” said Gabe in a low voice.
“Oh God, tryouts. What time is it?”
“Ten after. If you run, you’ll still make it,” said Gabe.
Devin glanced between the two of us.
“Go,” I said to him.
“Will you… come and watch?” he asked.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” I replied.
“I don’t give a shit,” said Gabe. “Just in case you’re worried about my feelings all of a sudden.” He kept his gaze fixed on a point somewhere over my shoulder. Silence again.
“He doesn’t… I haven’t told him anything,” said Devin.
“Nothing to tell,” said Gabe.
“Right,” agreed Devin. “I’ll… I’ll be going, then.”
There was another excruciating pause. I almost wished Gabe were ranting and raving rather than keeping his emotions locked away behind gritted teeth and pretend disinterest. However, there was no time for a confrontation, and I was sure neither of us wanted Devin to miss his chance to make the team. I leaned into Devin and whispered, “Apoculo.” He left the classroom at a run, his sneakers squeaking on the floor of the corridor when he turned the corner.
“I think I’m going to be sick,” said Gabe.
I narrowed my eyes, bracing myself for the inevitable onslaught of anger and disgust. But when I looked at him, I saw that he meant it more literally. His face was ash-colored and he was swallowing over and over, like he was actually on the verge of throwing up.
“Do you want to sit down?” I asked, dragging a chair toward him. As he sank into it, his legs wobbling, I turned away and placed my hands on one of the tables.
Calix,” I murmured, quickly followed by, “Aqua frigus.” I picked up the glass of cold water that appeared and turned back to offer it to Gabe, keeping my fingers well away from his.
He took it from me without comment, immediately raising the glass and drinking half the contents. A few drops escaped his mouth and fell down his chin, but he didn’t seem to notice.
“Thanks, I suppose.” He looked at the floor next to his feet as he spoke.
“You’re welcome, I suppose,” I replied, equally unsmiling. “Are you feeling better?”
He didn’t answer. Tentatively I reached out to assess his emotions and had to grab hold of the table to steady myself when a wave of shame hit me in the chest. He hated himself. That wasn’t at all what I’d been expecting.
“I’m not stupid,” he said eventually. “I don’t care what Dev says. There’s something different about you.”
“I never said you were stupid.”
“Don’t try to be clever. Every time you lied about what you did—making Dev scream with pain… and you did do that… you took me for a fool.”
“I didn’t lie.”
He gripped the glass a little tighter. “You never corrected Dev when he kept on defending you.”
“Dev wasn’t lying either. He just remembers it differently from you.”
He finally raised his head. “How? We were both there, together, in the same place, at the same time. You’re not suggesting I hallucinated?”
“No.” I wished I could think of a way to get past this without either telling him the truth or making him forget. I didn’t think he would believe me if I told him what I really was, but if I used dedisco and it backfired…
“I swear I didn’t mean to hurt him. I also swear it won’t happen again,” I said quietly.
His gaze sharpened. “Will you swear it on your life? On the lives of everyone in your family?”
“Yes,” I said straight away, keen to prove my sincerity. “I swear on my life and the lives of my family.” Inexplicably, my eyes blurred with sudden tears. I hadn’t thought of my earthbound mother for centuries, but now I could see her face as clearly as if she were standing right in front of me.
Our ancestry had been complicated, just like the Roman Empire. By the time I was born, the people of Gaul had long since been chewed up and digested by the empirical machine. The final battle, Vercingetorix’s last stand at Alesia, had taken place in 52 BC. I’d grown up listening to the stories. Although my mother had both Gallic and African blood, our owners had chosen to give us the name Sequani. It amused them to mention one of the defeated Gallic tribes whenever they were demanding we satisfy their every whim.
My mother had been a survivor. Her dignity had always remained intact, no matter how she was treated. She’d made our parting seem like an opportunity, protecting me from the full knowledge of how precarious my future was likely to be.
Placet accipere cura te ipsum, Avi.”
Promitto,” I’d replied, squaring my small shoulders.
Please take care of yourself, Avi. That’s what she’d said, and that’s what I’d promised to do. I’d failed. Even as a slave, I should have lived longer than seventeen years of age. I’d been sold for the first time at the age of five, which was the last time I ever saw her.
Gabe was watching me with a puzzled look, and I blinked the tears back.
“OK,” he said. “I believe you.”
It was so unexpected, I smiled before I could help myself.
“Don’t smile at me,” he said. “Believing you doesn’t automatically translate to liking you. Even if you didn’t hurt him deliberately, you still did something. We are never going to be friends.”
I put my hands into my pockets. Never is a long time. I don’t think he realizes how long.
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” I said. I shrugged. “Maybe one day I’ll convince you to give me a second chance.”
“Don’t hold your breath. Here,” he added, offering me the glass. I kept my hands in my pockets, shifting to the side to indicate he should put it on the table next to me. I wasn’t going to run the risk of his skin touching mine. Not when we’d only just agreed to a truce.
He looked at the glass more closely before he set it down. “This doesn’t belong to the school. Where did you get this?”
“Uh… Cass and I were practicing our lines before and the water fountain is all the way down the hall.”
“Oh, right, the play. Cavi,” he said. He made a face, too distracted by the reminder of me and Cass to notice that I hadn’t actually answered his question. “Keeping it in the family, aren’t you?”
“Get lost. What are you, Mina?” I said, glaring at him.
He raised an eyebrow. “Did I hit a nerve?”
“You said yourself we’re not friends. So my personal life is none of your business.”
“Except you’re mixing your personal life with one of my friends.”
“Are we back to square one here, or what?” I asked.
He sighed. “No. I don’t know. Look… I’m going to watch Dev. Are you joining me?”
I was about to shake my head but then changed my mind. I wanted to see Devin again and I had a long and lonely weekend ahead of me after everyone left the school this evening. I’d have plenty of time to worry about how to behave with Cass next week.
“Yeah. Let’s go.”
We walked in silence to begin with while I racked my brains for something to say. Guardians didn’t have to make conversation as a rule, so it wasn’t surprising I was bad at it. It simply wasn’t a necessary skill. We were always invisible, hidden in our separate dimension, providing hints and silent encouragement to our assignments as they went about their lives.
What the hell. Here goes nothing. “Amicalis,” I murmured.
“What? Did you say something?”
“Er… Devin says you’ve been friends a long time,” I said.
“Since fourth grade,” Gabe replied.
“Oh. Did you know him when his father…?”
Gabe stopped walking and turned to face me. “He told you about that?”
“No,” I said. “Well, not the details. Just that it happened.”
Gabe continued along the corridor, kicking a screwed-up ball of paper to one side on his way past. “His father was a real piece of work. No one can believe he got away with it for so long. Dev won’t hear a word against him, though.”
“He won’t?”
“No. Says he refuses to judge someone who isn’t around to explain themselves.”
“Really? He never got angry?” I said, surprised.
“Oh, he did. He went off the rails big time. He just got over it.”
Now I was even more convinced Devin had been helped by a guardian.
“He got over it,” I repeated.
“Yeah. Does that shock you?” He slanted me a sideways glance.
“No,” I said. “I don’t know him very well, but he doesn’t seem like the kind of person to hold onto things.”
“He’s not. Not like…” He trailed off.
Not like you? Not like his sister? I wondered what Gabe had been going to say. Before I could think of how to ask him, we arrived at the doors to the gym. Gabe pulled one of them open, releasing a wave of emotion so strong I would have felt it whether I were paying attention or not.
Anticipation. Hope. Disappointment. Resolve. The spectators were just as invested in the outcome as the players. Tryouts were a big deal. The coach’s voice, by turns encouraging and exasperated, rose over the background noise to direct proceedings.
I spotted Devin immediately. He was standing on the sidelines, and I couldn’t tell if he was waiting to play or if he was already done. He was wearing shorts. Of course. Because an even bigger distraction is just what I need right now.
Gabe climbed the steps to an empty bench and I followed him. As we sat down, I noticed a lone figure on the other side of the gym, high up and right at the end of a row. It was Cass. She was slouching against the wall, earbuds in her ears and eyes half closed.
What is she doing here?
I got out my phone. “The Globe must have been a bit like this during auditions.
After I tapped Send, I waited. If I hadn’t been watching so closely, I might have missed it, but one corner of her mouth definitely lifted.
What are you doing here?” she typed back. “No one will believe in Cavi if they catch you eyeing up my brother like that.
I froze. I hadn’t realized she knew about Cavi, let alone me and Devin. If “me and Devin” was even a thing. My stomach flipped like someone was bouncing a basketball inside it. Unable to help myself, I looked at him again. When I glanced back at Cass, she rolled her eyes.
Subtle,” came her message.
Would you rather I came and sat next to you?” I typed quickly. “Or shall I just stare at you until everyone notices?
Her hair fell forward while she typed a reply, and I couldn’t see her expression. “NO,” said her message.
“Dev’s up,” said Gabe, nudging me with his elbow.
I put my phone down and turned to watch. Devin was good: fast and accurate. The determination he played with was kind of exciting. He kisses like that too. As soon as the thought entered my head, I was cringing, grateful Cass couldn’t read my mind. Or anyone else, come to that.
Gabe shouted encouragement when Devin walked up to take a free throw. He turned his head and our eyes met. My stomach flipped again. He grinned, like he knew. I didn’t dare look in Cass’s direction.
When he lined up the shot, I muttered, “Intra.” The ball fell through the hoop without touching the sides, and Gabe and I applauded, along with most of the other spectators.
“I think he’s made the team,” said Gabe. “Coach just said something to him, look.”
The coach was lifting his hand from Devin’s shoulder, and Devin stared back at him with a smile that lit up his face.
“I think you’re right,” I said to Gabe.
“I’ll tell Mina.” He got out his phone. “She didn’t stay because of all the arrangements for this stupid party she’s throwing tomorrow.”
“Oh, yeah,” I said. “I’d forgotten.”
Gabe huffed a laugh. “How the hell did you manage that? I suppose you’re going with Dev.” He looked up from his phone. He obviously wasn’t delighted at the prospect, but at least he wasn’t outright glaring at me.
“No. I can’t go,” I said.
“Does Mina know?” he asked.
“She won’t notice.”
Gabe stared back at me. “You have met Mina, right?”
I wondered if Cass had been invited. I looked across the gym, but the bench where she’d been sitting was empty. I wished I had seen her leave. Was it too late to go after her?
I was hopeful that her messages were a sign she was relaxing a tiny bit. Especially after we’d just had our first proper conversation about character motivation. I smiled as I remembered. Then my phone buzzed.
Well, isn’t this all nice and cozy. Making friends, are you, Luca? Feeling confident? You just lost half a semester. I’m moving up the deadline. Let’s see you smile now.

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