Spell Tracker's story is reaching the final few chapters, and Luca needs to figure out a way to help Cass escape the deadly Spell Tracker contract before it's too late. Meanwhile, Gabe and Mina face everyone following their decision to be honest about the way they feel. And it looks like Devin's made up his mind about his feelings too. With his help, Luca might just have an idea that will work.
You can catch up on chapters one through twenty via the New series label at the top of this post, and thank you very much for reading 💕.
21 An Accomplice
for educated guesses. It was much easier when I could use the life path—like clicking
on exactly the right link rather than trawling search engine results. After a
lot of dead ends and a couple of very close calls, I had to stop. The janitor
would be opening up in a little while, and using so much magic was really
taking it out of me.
made it halfway down my list. It hadn’t been entirely wasted—I’d found out that
Cass and Devin had been friends, briefly, in junior high—but I was no closer to
understanding her life lessons.
arrived at homeroom, the atmosphere was tense. Mina and Gabe were surrounded by
a small group of students: her friends, plus Devin. Given the lack of general
conversation, I was pretty sure every other person in the room was trying to
listen in. Mina and Gabe were leaning against a table and holding hands.
gave me a small smile and I looked over my shoulder to see if it was directed
at someone else. When I turned back, he was smiling properly. Laughing, even. Suddenly
the day seemed a lot brighter.
not making a big deal out of it,” said Gabe.
changed your status at, like, three in the morning,” said one of the girls.
said another. “What’s that all about, Mina? You might have messaged me at
something happen? You can tell us,” said a third girl.
won’t judge you. If he broke your heart, you don’t owe him anything.” The first
questions kept coming. Gods, high schoolers are relentless. Just like the
mob at the Colosseum.
“I’m gay,” said Gabe abruptly. Stunned
silence. Devin moved closer to him in silent support.
one of the boys on the basketball team with Devin, sniggered. “Hey, Mina, you
must have something really special between your—”
behind him two seconds after he started speaking. “Taceo,” I said in a
low, furious voice. He finished his sentence, but no sound came out of his
nothing to do with Mina,” said Gabe angrily.
course it doesn’t. Bron, you’re an asshole,” said Devin.
attempted to defend himself but as no one could hear a word he was saying it
was a futile attempt.
awesome,” said Gabe. “Completely awesome.” He kissed her on the cheek. “I’m
sorry I got her mixed up in this.” His expression hardened. “Anyone who
criticizes her had better be ready to discuss their point of view with me.”
me,” said Devin.
me,” I added. Mina lowered her eyes and squeezed Gabe’s hand.
you and Dev… like… together?” asked the first girl.
said Gabe. “The three of us are just friends. The way we’ve always been.”
checked his emotions. Terror, overlaid with determination. He was very scared,
but he’d decided to see this through. I was glad. And his focus on protecting
Mina would help him.
emotions were more of a concern. Her fear was more complicated than Gabe’s. She
had a lot of regrets. Some of them she’d have to live with, but I could help
her a little. She didn’t deserve to spend the rest of senior year known as the
girl who’d dated one brother after another.
Mina did a great job promoting the play, by the way,” I said. She looked at me,
not sure whether to pretend she knew what I was talking about or not.
play?” asked one of her friends.
I said. “Her birthday party—it was all a Drama experiment. Right, Mina?”
right,” she replied.
Ado About Nothing shows how easy it is to start a rumor about who’s
sleeping with whom. In case anyone is still gullible enough to think she went
with Gabe’s brother,” I added, rolling my eyes for effect.
God!” said the friend. “You’re such a good actress, Mina. That’s, like, so
clever. I thought it wasn’t true, of course, but I didn’t want to be the
one to ruin it.”
said Mina, giving her friend a faint smile. “Amazing what people will believe,
isn’t it?” She looked at me.
Stanton’s arrival prevented any further conversation, but I knew I’d said enough
to get the student population talking. It wasn’t until Mrs. Stanton was
reprimanding Bron for not answering during attendance that I realized I hadn’t rescindo’d
the silencing spell yet. Oops.
giving me sideways glances. After more than two weeks of nothing but “stay
away” vibes, it was like the volume had been turned back up to maximum on our
connection. If I concentrated, I found I could pick up images and vague
thoughts alongside the emotions. Ten seconds later I realized what he was
picturing and bit back a gasp.
at my table gave me a curious look. I shifted in my chair. “Present,” I said
through gritted teeth when Mrs. Stanton called my name. Gods, Devin. Stop.
I visualized jumping into an icy lake, thinking icy cold, icy cold.
Devin coughed. He stopped. His ears went red.
as the bell rang and everyone began to disperse, I went up to him. “Are you
talking to me again?” I said. “Or do you just plan to spend your time torturing
he said, grinning. “Can I do both?”
OK?” I asked.
so. It was a lot to get my head around, you know?”
I nodded. “I’m sorry about everything. Showing you so much, I mean. I was being
little. Maybe. But you really helped Gabe and Mina. Even the story you came up
with just now about the play… you’re good at what you do.”
never… I’ve never liked anyone this much.” He lowered his voice. “It scares me.
I thought I should stop it before I got in any deeper. Until I realized I can’t
stop it. I don’t want to stop it.”
you too. A lot,” I said.
avoided my gaze. “If you’ve gotten together with Cass in the meantime, I know I
only have myself to blame.”
I said, panicking. “Where is she? Shit, I only just realized she wasn’t in
sick,” said Devin. “Didn’t you know? I wasn’t kidding. I thought you guys might
be together now. Most people seem to believe Cavi’s a thing.”
We’re not. This is a disaster. It’s Friday. That means I won’t see her for
another three days. I only have two weeks left as it is.”
to check the empty classroom as if she might appear just because I wanted her
to. Devin put his hand on my arm. “I thought… haven’t you helped her yet? I
didn’t just leave you alone so I could think about stuff. I was giving you
space to do your job.”
haven’t done anything, really,” I admitted. “It’s been impossible.”
sorted out Gabe and Mina in one evening. You must have made some
progress with Cass.”
rang again for the start of first period. I had no idea what I was going to do.
Cass hadn’t messaged me the night before, despite saying she would. What if
she’s sick because she remembered what I said about her mom? What if she
doesn’t come back to school on Monday, either?
He had already shifted the deadline forward
once. I had no guarantee he wouldn’t do it again—only the belief that he wanted
to create a more drawn-out humiliation for me than suddenly announcing, “Time’s
It was a
complicated system of magic that enabled the earthbound dimension to function
so autonomously from the magical ones. The High Council, the seven Master Mages
responsible for its construction, had combined their skills and experience, testing
and improving over many years until they were satisfied with it.
magician who wished to adopt a profession in our society had to complete their
training here. Given that life was impossible without a profession, it was
rather more of a requirement than a choice. To succeed without magic, without
any knowledge of magic, when the odds were stacked against you, and you had no
memory of the magician you really were… that was the test and the opportunity.
was dependent on having an agreed contract. Not the earthbound kind, using
paper and pen. The magical kind, using an engraving spell that carved itself on
the source of a magician’s magic. I could feel mine, if I concentrated. The
closer I got to its execution, the more it burned.
magician tied his or her magic to a contracted outcome such as their chosen
life path, there were consequences. Stakes. The more difficult the lessons you
signed up for, the greater the prize for success and the heavier the penalty
for failure. The Spell Tracker enforced a particular kind of penalty. He was
probably rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect of enforcing mine.
want to help.”
blinked. Devin was still there. “Don’t you have to be in class?” I said.
But I can see how scared you are. I can”—he swallowed—“feel it.”
can? It must be the connection again. I’m sorry. I don’t know why it’s so much
more powerful today.”
ducked his head. “I… well… it might be… no, I’m being dumb. Forget I said
me. Guardians can’t forget, by the way. Even if you used a spell, I wouldn’t be
able to obey it.”
up, Luca. Why would he think he can use a spell in the first place? At this
rate, you might as well tell him he’s really a Light Mage and have done with it.
I won’t use a spell,” he said, giving me a strange look. “It’s the connection…
what you said that time about using intent—I decided to do that. When I talked
to Gabe and Mina on the way to school this morning, I realized I knew what I
wanted to be with you. For however long you’re here. So, I chose. And I concentrated
on that choice.”
that would do it. He has enough magic for that.
I said. “You mean… you chose?”
It was a
strange way for him to put it. I can’t be part of his life path. That’s
impossible. He can’t choose me.
chose. So how can I help Cass?”
Cass. The reminder brought another surge of anxiety,
making me turn and check the classroom again.
not here,” said Devin patiently. “She’s home sick. I ran into Miss Randall on
the way to homeroom, and she asked me to tell you. She said you can take a free
period during Drama because the others need to rehearse different scenes.”
say what was wrong?”
considered using a spell to calm myself down. It wouldn’t help anything to have
a full-blown panic attack. I’d only lose even more time that way.
have you tried since I last saw you?” asked Devin. “Did you find out what her lesson
I’ve looked at some of her past… and I think it must be to do with her mother
somehow. But to be certain, I need to look at her life path, and I can only do
that when she’s within reach of my magic.”
but…” Devin frowned. “You’ve been together a lot, haven’t you? Not that I’ve
been paying attention or anything,” he added hastily.
life path is buried. I can’t get to it without her noticing. I need to use a
spell to immobilize her, and we’re never alone. I can’t exactly turn her into a
statue in public.”
suppose not,” he agreed. “And I guess you can’t explain it to her, either. That
free will thing’s a bitch, isn’t it?”
in spite of my agitation. “You’re not kidding.”
some things about her past, though,” he said. “You could question me. Maybe
that would help.”
it would. But your free will is hanging by a thread as it is. I’d rather not
raised his eyebrows. “You mean, there’s more to know? More than reincarnation
and life lessons?”
flickered as he suppressed his curiosity. “Well… what about her other lives,
then? I don’t know anything about those. Can’t we… review them or something?”
without her life path. I’d just be guessing where and when to go.” I’d spent
most of the night guessing. Even though I’d concentrated on what I knew about her
current life, my success rate had been spectacularly low.
mean you don’t know about any of her former lives? Not a single one?”
hesitated. “I know about one of them.”
thought so. You said it was like me and Elizabeth. Have you visited it?”
I said. I still hadn’t been brave enough to return to the day it ended. My chest
of,” Devin repeated. His eyes narrowed. “I think you have. I felt that.”
someone just stabbed you in the heart.”
That.” I lowered my gaze.
have visited it?” he asked.
didn’t see any unlearned lessons? Avi,” he went on, taking my hand when I
didn’t answer, “I know you’re hurting. I know you can’t think straight. Let me
on what you know of her former life, and this life, what are the similarities,
the common ground? What could the lesson be?”
it hit me. He’s right. My death. And her mother’s death. I need to find out
what happened afterward. Maybe Devin can ask her…