Spell Tacker continues... and Luca finds out what Cass wants him to do. He has to think fast in order to keep the Spell Tracker from gaining any ground because he still can't access Cass's life path. Unfortunately, Devin doesn't want anything to do with Luca after Luca showed Devin one of his past lives in the last chapter. Being a guardian is never easy, but being an earthbound guardian is almost impossible!
You can catch up on chapters one through eighteen via the New series label at the top of this post, and thank you very much for reading 💕.
19 Another Name
did you say?”
gave me a skeptical look, so I tried to come up with an excuse. “I… uh… I was
saying it’s a bit scary. Having you be all nice to me like this.”
was looking downright suspicious. “I don’t believe you’re scared of me. Or of
any ordinary person. What did you really say?”
taken our lunches outside and were sitting under one of the trees at the edge
of the baseball field. The air was hot and heavy, as if late summer had settled
on the earth like a blanket, its tightly woven strands keeping back the chill
“I am a
bit scared of you,” I said truthfully. I watched her, waiting for a sign that the
spell was working.
relaxed against the tree, her posture softening. “God, I’m tired,” she said.
“It must be the stress of the audition. I didn’t sleep very well last night.”
neither. Well, I don’t sleep, so that’s probably a stupid thing to say.” I made
a face. I was so on edge, it was a miracle I was making any sense at all. I
couldn’t stop thinking about Devin. Even though it hurt. Even though it was a
distraction I didn’t need.
“You’re hard to figure out. I don’t understand how you can be as awkward as
anything one minute and so impressive the next.”
Tell me what I do that’s impressive, and I’ll do it all the time.
occasionally,” she qualified. Her pupils expanded a little, and she sighed.
“Maybe tired isn’t the right word. I just feel…”
about your idea,” I said. That was the whole point of the spell. I thought
maybe if she were chilled out when she talked about it, I’d be able to manage
the consequences better.
Cass glanced left and right to make sure no one was close enough to overhear.
“I want you to take me back in time so I can talk to my mother.”
back on my heels. Shit. He’s really outdone himself. I tried to arrange
my features into something that would mask how horrified I was feeling. “Er…
and what would you say to her?”
I’d convince her not to kill herself,” she replied. “Obviously.”
so certain of success. It was heartbreaking. Even if it were possible to
interfere in the historic section of a life path—which it’s not—there
was still a high chance that her mother would make the same choice. “Why
obviously?” I asked, as gently as I could.
stared at me. “Because… I’m her daughter. She would never have left me if she
knew how much I loved her. All I have to do is…” Her voice faded. “Don’t look
at me like that. Fine. She did know. I told her every day. Whatever. Who gives
a shit.” She became agitated. “At least she could explain to me why the hell
she did it. She owes me that!”
only the spell keeping her from falling headlong into rage and despair. She was
too smart to fool herself for very long. Whatever hopes she’d talked herself
into having over the weekend were teetering on the edge of collapse. I had to
do something. He wasn’t going to win like this.
try,” I heard myself say. I curled my fingers into fists, willing the lie to
sound convincing. “You’ll have to give me some time to figure it out. I’ve
never done anything like it before. Can you do that? Can you give me some
talking, my voice low, until gradually, her emotions subsided. Gathering my courage,
I reached out with my magic—slowly, Luca—to look at her life path. She
immediately tensed up, her shoulders lifting.
know. It feels like someone walked over my grave. Ugh. I don’t even know why I
said that. It’s a dumb expression.”
I pulled my magic back. It looked like I would
have to be patient for a while longer and use concesso when a better time
and place turned up. Soon, though. It has to be soon.
shivered. “Sorry. I don’t normally let myself get so emotional. When do you
think we’ll be able to do it?”
second I thought she was asking me about concesso, and I nearly
answered, “As soon as possible.” I bit back the words and did my best to be
noncommittal. “As soon a-as… as soon as I’m sure I can do it.”
I’ve waited all this time. I guess I can wait a little longer.”
want any lunch?” I asked. Cass wrinkled
her nose. The plastic cartons of salad had looked unappetizing enough in the
cafeteria, and half an hour outside in the heat had done them no favors.
not,” she said.
want something else? You should eat.” I knew I was sounding like a parent but I
couldn’t help my training. The earthbound needed food and she was no exception.
Especially after the emotional rollercoaster she’d just experienced.
wait,” she said. “My foster mom keeps the fridge pretty well stocked.”
but we’ve got detention, remember? Let me… patella, panem, caseus,
pomum, non… rubeus,” I added, turning the apple that had appeared from
green to red.
out a tentative hand and touched the food I’d produced. “It’s warm,” she said,
looking at me. “The bread is warm. How did you do that?”
it’s only bread.”
not just time travel and floating furniture? You can do ordinary magic too?”
It was all magic as far as I was concerned. There was no way to know what would
help an assignment until you tried. The simplest of spells could trigger the
most unexpected breakthrough.
tore off a piece of bread and then another, eating with increased enthusiasm
when she realized it tasted good. It was citizen’s bread. The white bread we
slaves had never been permitted to eat. I had shared some with her once before.
One of the older gladiators, given a parcel of food by an adoring noblewoman, had
been feeling generous and had thrown me a portion.
was finished and the plate was empty, I dispareo’d it.
better,” she said, sounding surprised. “Still tired, though.”
a little while till the bell. If you want to take a nap I promise to wake you
up in time for afternoon class.”
raised her eyebrows. “Take a nap? Are you kidding?”
I’d feel stupid. No one naps in high school.”
you’ll be unique. I thought that was your thing.” I raised my own eyebrows.
few seconds it was like we were having a raised-eyebrow standoff. Then she
laughed. “Here?” she asked. “You expect me to take a nap right here? Like, put
my head in your lap or something?”
You always used to.
the thought away as soon as it appeared. Not fast enough. The image was too
mind,” I said. I waited. Time seemed to stop.
maybe I’ll lean against you and close my eyes for a few minutes. Would that be
minutes later she was fast asleep and I was battling to keep my surroundings
from shifting into the Ludus Magnus. It was so familiar. Her energy
signature was like coming home. I smoothed her hair back, careful not to touch
her skin, and muttered, “Non video.”
learned my lesson. I wasn’t going to have him sending students over to
stare at us and add to the rumors. I whispered, “Tenuo,” over and over.
I couldn’t look at her life path while she slept, but I could dissolve a little
of the darkness she carried.
sorry, Leander. I tried to find you. I really did.”
shifted slightly, but her eyes remained closed. “Who’s Leander?” she murmured.
I said in reply, killing off her memory of the name before it had a chance to
take hold. Saying it out loud had somehow made me feel better, despite the
risk. I had saved him… her… before. I could do it again.
I squeezed her shoulder. “Cass… it’s time to
blinked up at me and smiled. When she realized where she was, she struggled into
a sitting position. “I can’t believe I actually went to sleep,” she said,
self-consciously pulling down her T-shirt. “The rumor mill will be going
seemed to be bothered,” I said. “Look.” A group of students walked right past
us on their way back for afternoon class. Until I said rescindo, we’d be
here, but anonymous like background noise.
that,” I added. “I’m sorry for what Mina posted. I think Gabe came looking for
me and he put two and two together to make Cavi.”
thought it was something like that. I feel bad for Mina, but I couldn’t let her
get away with what she said to me.”
were amazing,” I said. “You never even bothered to deny what she accused you
picked up her backpack. “Like I told you in our first Drama class—if people
want to assume shit about me, I can’t stop them. As long as I know the truth.”
what is the truth?” I asked, curious.
want to kiss you. I was surprised how much. But it would only lead me somewhere
I swore I’d never go.”
started walking, and it took me a moment to recover enough to lift the spell
and follow her.
that supposed to mean?” I said when I caught up.
thought you’d know. Aren’t you here to help me?”
well, yes, I am, but it’s not as easy as that. I already told you I can’t read
did. Just checking.”
her life path I wanted to read. Without it, I had no idea which life lesson was
causing her so many problems and no idea how to help her past it. But I’d have
to wait. The bell rang as we approached the school building. “I’ll see you in
detention,” she said, walking away.
reinstated my non video. I had no intention of going to class, and there
were surprisingly few places to be alone in a high school during the day unless
you had a layer of magic to disappear behind. Someone was always hanging around
no matter where I went.
I checked the school for Mina’s energy signature. I was quite familiar with it
by now and it should have been easy to locate, even without access to my own
dimension. I drew a blank. She must have gone home.
Devin were both in Mr. Nux’s English class. I only glanced in quickly. Devin lifted
his head, no doubt feeling the same flicker of proximity through our connection
as I was. He scowled, so I kept on walking.
Luca. Now he thinks you’re stalking him.
didn’t get any better. Mrs. Stanton kept a close eye on me and Cass during
detention, and Cass left as soon as we were done, saying she had to get back
home. “Work on that thing, OK?” she said. “Let me know as soon as you think you
can do it.”
nodded, unable to come up with a reason for her to stay behind. I was almost
desperate enough to run after her, but I couldn’t. Not with Mrs. Stanton
watching and no words in my head except the desire to shout, “You have to do
what I say—otherwise you’ll belong to him!”
what girl wouldn’t respond positively to a threat like that?
you have a home to go to, Mr. Sequani?”
Stanton walked up to my table. I was staring at the empty doorway and wondering
if I dared leave the school, just for one evening.
he’d kept me anonymous. He’d honored our agreement. I hadn’t sensed any
guardian activity despite the fact that high schoolers were of prime assignment
age. I could only suppose they were being helped outside of school hours, at
least temporarily. On reflection, that was entirely possible. Even favorable.
course, I didn’t doubt he’d also honor our agreement if I failed. It wasn’t
just Cass who’d be lost. I’d agreed to the contract. It was bound to my magic.
sighed. I couldn’t leave the school. His restrictions were part of the deal. I’d
given up my chance to negotiate the moment I’d let him see how much this
mattered to me.
Sequani. I asked you a question. Are you feeling all right?”
I spoke without thinking. “Oh. Yeah, I’m fine, Samantha. Oh, shit. I mean, Mrs.
Stanton. I’m sorry. It was a genuine…”
trailed off when she placed both hands on the table and leaned over me. “A
genuine… what? Attempt to annoy me? Win another night’s detention?”
I said indignantly. “A genuine mistake. I’m used to first names, that’s all.” Guardians
always use first names.
have an audience this time; so I’m inclined to believe you.” She returned to
the front of the classroom to pick up her things. “However, this is your last
nodded. We could agree on that. It’s my last chance with Cass. It’s my last
chance with everything.