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The Legacy of Androva Series

New Book, New Series, Twelfth Chapter 👩‍💻

This was one of my favorite chapters to write because I got to imagine visiting Shakespeare's Globe Theater in 1600, a few months after it was first built. Luca is pulling out all the stops to get Cass's attention—using time travel to take her somewhere he thinks she will love. As a Light Mage, he has the ability to travel within the earthbound dimension to anywhere he knows by name and sight. He's been a guardian for nearly two thousand earthbound years, which means he knows a lot of places!

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 💕

12 A Glimpse

The theater rose up around us, three stories high, its twenty even sides giving the impression that it was circular. Like a globe. It was open to the London sky, and the smell of new wood combined with early summer rain was fresh after the stale air of the geography classroom.
I adjusted my focus while our surroundings were still flickering, until I reached the exact location and time I was searching for. I’d deliberately chosen a rehearsal day. We settled in the top row of seating, directly facing the stage. I gently tugged at Cass’s hand until we were both sitting down on the narrow bench behind us. The shadows were enough to keep us hidden as long as we kept still.
The actors on the stage were conferring, speaking in voices too low for us to hear them. Cass looked left and right, up and down, with quick glances, her hand holding tightly onto mine.
“This can’t be what I think it is,” she said.
I squeezed her hand. “Yes it can. This time it’s exactly what you’re thinking.”
“We are not in the Globe Theater. That’s impossible!”
The murmuring of voices from below came to an abrupt halt. I shifted position to conceal her from view. “Vestis aequalis,” I whispered, and our clothes transformed into something more appropriate for the early seventeenth century.
I dressed her as a man. Not that she wouldn’t have made a beautiful Elizabethan lady, but the shock of lead-and-vinegar makeup and no underwear might have been a little much.
“OK?” I asked, giving her a reassuring smile.
She lifted her free hand and ran it inside the high collar with its starched white ruff. The black and white set off her skin perfectly. She looks stunning. Oh, stop it, Luca. Focus.
We were both wearing jackets made from dark, richly embroidered cloth, with close-fitting breeches and stockings. Our cloaks were pinned over one shoulder, as was the fashion.
“You, sir! No person hath the right to claim an audience here. Performances begin next week, at which time you may pay your pennies like everyone else.”
I stood up and made a bow over the low rail. “Apologies, gentlemen all. We meant no offense. My father is one of your investors. Me credite.”
 It was doubtful my “Believe me” spell would work on the entire company of players, which was why I had changed our clothes and focused only on the man speaking to me. I knew he was in charge of this particular production. When I’d been here before, my assignment had been one of the secondary actors.
Cass and I could have hidden backstage. We could have visited the theater when it was empty, but I wanted her to see a scene from Much Ado About Nothing for real. I couldn’t take the risk of attending a performance—the Globe had space for three thousand spectators and it was usually full. My chances of being noticed by another guardian would be too high. A rehearsal was the next best thing.
He’d promised to keep them away from the school, and I trusted him, simply because he had as much to lose as I did. Although our motivations for doing this were very different, we were both breaking the rules.
On the stage below us, the man’s expression relaxed. “Ah, I see. Young sir, forgive me. You may remain.”
One of the actors behind him muttered a complaint. The man frowned. “Yes. Yes, I understand your argument.” He looked at me again. “Your complexion, and that of your companion… you’ll forgive me for saying… you are both rather Spanish in appearance. One cannot be too careful in these troubled times.”
I kept my face expressionless by sheer force of will. The earthbound are so obsessed by skin color. As if physical appearance is what defines an enemy.
“We are recently arrived from the Netherlands and spent much time on deck during our voyage. That’s all.”
I sat down again to indicate that as far as I was concerned, the conversation was over. I was relieved to see those on stage take the hint and return to their rehearsal.
“Is this…? Is this…? When is this?” Cass whispered so quietly I could barely hear her.
“It’s the date I said. June 18, 1600.”
“Oh.”
“Look, they’re going to rehearse a scene. It’s Much Ado About Nothing, in case you hadn’t guessed. That’s what they’ll be performing next week. I was here on opening night, too. It was awesome.”
She looked at me without speaking. My eyes, my mouth, my scar, my hair, my neck, my chest. She looked at it all. I didn’t know what to do with my expression, feeling self-conscious in the face of her scrutiny.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“Er… I brought you here to see the play. I thought you might like—”
“No,” she said, interrupting. “What are you doing here? With me?”
I didn’t know how to answer. “I came to help you,” I said eventually.
She considered this. I wished so much that I knew what she was thinking. I could force her to tell me with a spell, but only if I was prepared to sacrifice the new and fragile trust between us. I’m not.
“Are you being forced to do this?” she asked.
“No!” I gave the stage a nervous glance and repeated it more quietly. “No. Definitely not.”
She sighed and lowered her shoulders. “I can’t rationalize this. There’s just no way to explain it. None. It’s not a blackout, though. I suppose that’s a good thing. What should I do?”
“Are you asking me?”
“What would you say if I did?”
 “I would say you should watch the rehearsal. They’re pretty good.”
She laughed and held up her hand to muffle the sound. “OK. I’ll watch the rehearsal. How does the saying go? When in Rome… what is it? What did I say?”
“Nothing.” My heart pounded. Some reactions I couldn’t act my way out of. When in Rome, do as the Romans do… and fight in the Colosseum. I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye and nudged her arm. Good timing, Bill. “Look. Down there. It’s Shakespeare.”
Cass gasped. “The Shakespeare? Do you mean it?”
“Sure. This is his play, and he’s part owner of the Globe, too.”
“Oh my God. Shakespeare.” She leaned forward. “He’s shorter than I expected. How old would he be now?”
“Thirty-five.”
“He doesn’t look very happy.”
“Well… he recently started working on Hamlet, so I guess that’s his tragedy face.”
“Wow. Really?”
I grinned. “No. He always looked like that. He invested his life savings into this theater. He’s probably worried about whether he can still afford to go to the pub.”
She smacked me on the arm. “Not funny. He was a genius.”
“Yes, he was.”
“My mom loved Shakespeare’s sonnets. My dad used to quote them to her.”
Her expression became sad and I waited, hardly daring to breathe in case I distracted her from the memory.
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings, that then I scorn to change my state with kings, she recited. “When I was little, I used to wish on that one. I wished that the handsome prince would give up his kingdom in exchange for a life with me so that I wouldn’t have to become a princess.”
She gave me a faint smile. “I hated the idea of being a princess, but I didn’t see why I couldn’t still have the prince.”
There was the minutest softening in the darkness she carried. Just a whisper, but it was there. Hope rose in me so fast it was almost painful. It had been worth the risk of bringing her here, just for that moment.
The scene began and she turned to watch. It was at the end of the second act, when Benedick’s and Beatrice’s friends have hatched a plot to convince the squabbling pair that each of them is secretly loved by the other.
Benedick, the first to overhear the news of Beatrice’s hidden love for him, resolves to return her affection. Beatrice, sent to give Benedick a message, and unaware of his change of heart, responds to his friendly overtures with disbelief.
“Against my will, I am sent to bid you come in to dinner,” said the boy playing Beatrice.
“Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains,” replied Benedick, attempting to deliver a winning smile.
Beatrice looked at him as if he had two heads, saying that she hadn’t taken any pains. “If it had been painful, I would not have come,” she added, with customary scorn.
“You take pleasure, then, in the message?” persisted Benedick, all but batting his eyelashes.
“Yes, just so much as you may take upon a knife’s point,” came Beatrice’s withering reply. She left the stage soon after, leaving Benedick to analyze her words, telling himself there must be a “double meaning” in what she’d said. He reaffirmed his intention to love her before the scene ended.
Cass and I gave them a round of applause, and the two actors bowed. I decided we should probably quit while we were ahead, and with a quick, “Rescindo,” we were back in the classroom in our jeans and shirts.
“I have a lot of questions,” said Cass. “It must be really late, though.”
“No. We returned to the exact moment we left.”
“Like none of it even happened?”
“If you want,” I said carefully. The expression on her face was hard to read. Was she annoyed because she’d told me all those things? Or was that frown caused by the questions she’d just mentioned?
“It did happen,” she said, frowning harder. “You’re not going to make me forget this. I don’t believe you’d be so cruel.”
“That’s not what I meant. I was talking about not telling anyone the stuff you said about your…” My voice trailed off in the face of the glare she gave me. “That’s a great look for Beatrice,” I said, with a weak attempt at a smile.
Cass rolled her eyes. “Yes, but how the hell am I ever going to act the part where I fall in love with you?” Her eyes widened. “No, not you… I mean, the part where Beatrice falls in love with Benedick. Not you. Clearly.”
I held a hand over my chest. “You’re breaking my heart, fair Beatrice. Surely falling in love with me is the easy bit?”
“So modest. And I’m not fair,” she muttered.
“Fair, as in beautiful,” I said. “Which you are.”
“Am I?”
“I think so. For a girl,” I added, then made a face. “No, for a person. I mean… a human being. Or something. Gods.” I considered using a spell to shut myself up. “Sorry.”
“I would return the favor, but I’m not sure I can be as eloquent as you,” she said, grinning.
“Well, thanks,” I said, hanging my head. “I do my best.”
“I think I should go,” she said unexpectedly. “I need to get a few things straight in my head, and I can’t do that when I’m with you.”
“Please don’t… don’t go back to hating me,” I said. Nicely put, Luca. You’re telling her how to think, now? You’re on a roll.
“Sorry,” I said. “Again.”
“I never hated you.”
“But you told me you hate everyone.”
“Oh, for God’s sake,” said Cass, with a sigh of irritation. “I was generalizing. And you were preaching to me at the time, if I remember correctly.”
She paused. “Did all that shit about loving and hating have something to do with this help you’re supposed to be giving me?” she asked.
“Er… maybe?”
“What does maybe mean? Did it, or didn’t it?” she asked.
I answered in an embarrassed rush of words. “Well, it kind of did, but I realized as soon as I said it that it wasn’t helping, so I’m hoping we can pretend I didn’t actually say it.”
“I don’t know what to make of you,” she said.
“I don’t know what to make of you, either.”
She put her head on one side. “Let me get this straight. You want to help me. You travel in time. You may or may not be some kind of wizard, and I feel like we’ve somehow met before. True or false?”
“Cass and Avi haven’t met before,” I said.
She raised her eyebrows. “You’re avoiding the question.”
“It’s the only answer I can give you.”
“All right. I’ll think of some better questions. I have to go now. I’ll message you.”
Without even giving me a backward glance, she unlocked the door and walked through it. I had to admire her self-possession. I was ready to throw a few more chairs to release the tension. I could hardly believe what had just happened. It was going to be a long weekend while I waited to find out what would happen next.

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