Bonus chapter from Frivolous Magic
Two hours ago, my alarm blared to wake me up after maybe two hours of sleep. I’d followed Lacey from her last class to the bus, then to her aunt’s Victorian home close to campus. I’d seen another man following her earlier in the day, and my protective male side kicked into full gear. I sat outside the house most of the night before I realized that I was once again being an idiot.
She did not have the talent. Gil was right, and I needed to face it that she wasn’t going to be a part of this life. Part of my life. That, even if she did want to be with me, we couldn’t be together. A regular human would die in this life. Especially with a 3rd generation mage like myself. I had all the power but was completely lonely.
If I hadn’t already had a taste of what life with her would be like, then perhaps I could move on, but I admitted that Chantilly Lace Ashcraft had me whipped.
Her parents had died, leaving her with an elderly aunt. Despite that, she was sweet and kind to everyone. She made friends with all the different types of people, including Braxton Stanwick. Big man on campus. Wealth wasn’t the only thing that made him popular. The girls found him to be charming and handsome. I saw the way he looked at Lacey, even though he already had a girlfriend.
Of course, if my girlfriend was Shawn Maydestone, I’d be looking elsewhere, too. Of our little group, to me, she was the one that didn’t belong. I’d already sensed trouble with her.
I took a quick shower, then grabbed my backpack. Maybe I could make it to the student union on time to meet up with everyone for the morning coffee break. Seeing Lacey on a daily basis caused me pain, but I kept going back. I enjoyed the torture.
I picked up a cup of coffee on the way in because I didn’t want to wait in line at the student union. Hustling through the student union, I slowed as I approached our normal table. Lacey, Brax, Shawnna, Harper, and Marley were there. A dark figure in the corner caught my eye. Standing on the other side of the common area, a man hid behind a newspaper. I felt darkness flowing from him. Another magical stalker. I didn’t dare extend my senses to him, because I didn’t want to alarm him, but he definitely watched our table.
Then I saw it. The water bottle that sat in front of Shawnna picked up off the table, then spilled in her lap. She squealed like a pig. My eyes darted to the man who watched the table, his newspaper lowered, and I felt his magic strengthen. Instead of projecting to him, I reached out to our table with a magic seeking spell that Gil had taught me just a few days ago. My magic seeking missile darted across the room and centered on Lacey.
“No,” I muttered.
I sent the spell again, thinking I must have done it wrong. Gil was convinced that she wasn’t the one we were looking for amongst my friends. We knew one of them had power, but I wasn’t sure which one. The spell targeted Lacey again.
The man across the room stood, putting his newspaper down. I ducked around a corner lifting my magical circle. I focused on the shadow rune and used an incantation of avoidance. I felt the magic melt around me. Turning back to my friends, I slowly moved to the table so that I would cross paths with the man headed toward them. He slowed his approach when I walked past him, then turned away like someone else had called his name.
I took my place at the table among my friends watching Lacey out of the corner of my eye. I had always felt that she was the one, but I’d convinced myself that it was my own hopes muddling my judgment. Shawnna whined about her wet sweater while Braxton attended to her.
“Sorry, I’m late,” I said, as I continued to focus on the man across the room who now seemed to be confused about what he was doing. My avoidance spell had worked better than I had anticipated.
Lacey’s voice shattered my concentration on the residue of magic in the room and at the table.
“Did you oversleep again, Fane?” she asked. I hated it when she used my last name, considering what we were once to each other. I had hurt her, and I felt it keenly every time she spoke my name. Lacey was sweet, but in her sweetness, I knew the daggers. The prickly little stabs at me and what I had done to her. I deserved it. Now that I knew she was the one I was sent to find, I didn’t know how to repair what I had damaged.
“I had a rough night,” I grumbled. A night spent outside her house watching over her.
Her voice softened as her disdain for me washed away with her genuine concern. “Are you okay?” she asked.
“I’m good, Lacey. I missed Econ. Mind if I borrow your notes?” I asked as I burned my tongue on my coffee. I tried not to wince.
“No prob, Bob,” she replied. So completely weird. So Lacey.
“You are so weird,” I teased, watching her eyes light up with the attention. I watched her closely as she took her notes out of her notebook, then laid them next to me. I reached for them, brushing her hand in the process. I wanted to touch her. To feel her warmth once again. A hope that maybe I could fix this between us now. Gil couldn’t tell me any longer. Now more than anything, she needed instruction.
Her gaze lingered for a moment with mine. Then it hit me. If she was the one, then so many would be after her. Someone would try to take her. The rumor was that the 3rd gen in Stonehill had the missing books from the library in Athens. Mages from across the world would come here to take them. To kill her.
Not on my watch.
I watched as she gathered her things to get to her Art History class. Because we had dated, I knew her schedule and where to find her at all times. After she left, I too gathered my stuff to leave.
“Where are you rushing off to?” Braxton asked.
“I’ve got some homework to catch up on. I thought I’d find somewhere quieter,” I replied, shooting a dirty look to Shawnna.
Brax held back a smile. “Catch ya later, Fane.”
“Later,” I said.
Hurrying through the student union, I exited at the opposite end from Lacey’s normal route to class. I wanted to catch her before she got into class. She needed to be warned. I’d already seen two people following her. Perhaps I could convince her to come with me. Gil would want me to do it as Ajax and not reveal myself to her. I just wanted to hug her and tell her that I was the same. That we could do this together.
I called Gil on the way.
“Good morning, Kota. Where were you last night?”
“You know where I was.”
“I told you to leave it.”
“She is the one.”
“We’ve talked about this.”
“No, Gil. This morning in the student union. I saw her use magic. I felt it. But there was someone else there, too. She’s in trouble.”
“Where are you now?”
“Following her to class,” I replied, hoping he would give me permission to intervene.
“Ajax should confront her. Warn her of the dangers of using. Perhaps we can keep her safe until I am able to convince her to train. Are you absolutely sure it’s her?” he asked. “You were together for months, and yet you felt nothing.”
“I swear it. We gotta keep her safe,” I emphasized.
“Do not let your personal feelings get in the way, Kota. It will only endanger both of you. She has to choose the path. You cannot make the choice for her. Remember our rules.”
“I know. I’ll talk to her,” I said.
“Ajax will talk to her.”
“That’s what I meant.”
“Kota, take a deep breath. Everything is going to be fine,” Gil said. I’d trusted him since I’d meet him. My parents said he was one of the best of us. I’d been under his instruction since I moved to Georgia. I’d learned so much from him. He had to be right about this. I needed to trust him.
I slipped my backpack behind some bushes between the buildings, then slipped into my black robe. People wearing weird things on campus didn’t faze anyone. I put my hand on the power meter attached to the building unleashing a jolt causing the power connection to fail. I then put my hand on the wall and spoke the words to a transport spell. It would only allow me to go short distances. I focused on the stairs that I knew Lacey would take.
Appearing in the darkness, I heard her shuffling to find a safe place. She lifted her hand and I felt the magic in the room shift to her.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”