Table of Contents
appeared in issue 275.
Lynda, a college freshman, passes her last test to earn the title of junior wizard by casting a complicated spell on an unsuspecting victim: Jason. She expects to turn him into a servant, but the spell backfires and they fall in love.
Lynda discovers that another junior wizard has designs on capturing the Mayor’s office. Lynda fears he will try to take over the city and thereby cause extensive problems for the other wizards. The master wizards tell her that they can’t help her stop him unless he sets foot on their property. With only the assistance of the man who was first her victim and now her lover, she sets out to confront the evil wizard.
The clock tower chimed one-thirty and disturbed my reverie. I was sitting on one of the benches next to the pond, watching the ducks and trying not to think. It wasn’t working. The ducks were asleep and my thoughts wouldn’t quit going around in circles. I had debated going home several times but I knew what would happen. My bed would whisper sweet nothings and by the time Kathy got off, I’d be floating on a cloud of dreams.
I stood up and stretched the kinks from my legs. The full moon scattered silver light across the pond and I stood watching the ripples and trying to decide if I should go get Kathy a little early. I lost the opportunity three minutes later when she stepped out of the darkness and plopped down on the bench.
“You get off early?” I was annoyed she’d managed to sneak up on me and my voice telegraphed my irritation. She grinned.
“Yes. Things got slow around one. Not my night to close so I got my part of the clean-up done and left. Where did you want to go?”
I twisted my head around and tried to see her face but it wasn’t happening. She’d picked the darkest part of the bench to flop on and I couldn’t make out anything other than her eyes. “Somewhere warm. With coffee. And privacy.”
“That leaves out just about everywhere but my place.” She stood up and zipped her jacket. “I took the bus down here tonight. You want to walk or take your car?”
“I hate it when you do that.”
She chuckled. “You shouldn’t shout so loud if you don’t want me to know what you’re thinking.”
“I wasn’t aware I was shouting. We’ll take my car, come on.” I walked past a dozing mallard and cut across the grass toward the parking garage.
The gate arms were down and the attendant was long gone for the night. I glanced around and snapped my fingers and we materialized several levels up next to my car. Kathy wrinkled her nose and acted like someone had just asked her to eat an unripe persimmon. “You know I don’t like that.”
“Pay back for sneaking up on me.” I used the key to unlock the car and slid behind the wheel then waited till she was in and settled. “Seatbelt.”
“Spoilsport.” She pouted, but latched the belt and leaned back against the seat. “There’s no one on the streets.”
I ignored her and backed the car out of the spot. I didn’t feel like getting into a discussion about safety at the moment. Or any topic other than Jason for that matter. I put him on hold and concentrated on maneuvering the car down the exit ramps and out of the parking garage to the street.
We drove across the city in silence and pulled into the entrance way of the gated apartments Kathy called home. I punched in her access code, waited for the gate to slide open and negotiated the narrow drive which wound around the three story buildings. Someone had left an open space right in front of her door and I grinned. “What happened to your car?”
“I moved it so you’d have a place to park.”
I figured as much. I was going to have to work out some way to keep her from hearing me when I was upset. I put the car in park and gave her the eye then got out. She snickered, climbed out as well and headed for the stairs to the third floor. I debated the easy way then followed her on foot. When in Rome... besides, I was tired.
The door was open, and the light was on in Kathy’s apartment when I struggled up to the third floor landing. I stood next to the stairs for a few seconds and caught my breath then staggered into her apartment and flopped on the first chair I could find. Kathy chuckled and handed me a cup of coffee. “You really should start working out.”
I favored her with a dirty look and took a drink of the coffee. “I’m in perfectly fine shape. I’m just not used to three flights of stairs.” I drank some more of the coffee and set the cup on a nearby table. Kathy sat down in a chair opposite me, kicked off her shoes and put her feet on the table. She sipped her coffee and pretended not to know what I wanted to discuss.
I let her. For about two minutes. “Okay, explain something to me.”
She turned big, round eyes on me and attempted to portray a picture of innocence. “What would you like explained?”
I squinted at her and tried to look angry. It didn’t work. She chuckled and set her cup down on the table next to mine.
I rolled my eyes and she burst out laughing. “All right, I guess I do owe you something of an explanation.”
“You owe me more than just something. I want the whole story.”
She shrugged. “Not much to tell, really. We were busy and there wasn’t anyone available.”
“The place was packed!”
“Yes. But everyone either had a date on their arm, or was part of a crowd. He was the first one that walked in alone. And you almost got there before he did.”
“Did you even talk to him?”
“As much as I could. Enough to find out he didn’t have a girlfriend. What can I say?”
I picked my coffee up and drank some more of it instead of glaring at her. It swirled around in the cup as chaotically as my thoughts. I finished it off, set the cup down and leaned back against the chair.
“What all did he tell you?”
Kathy pursed her lips and contemplated the ceiling. “That was a month ago. I don’t remember much. He said he wasn’t from around here, he was going to start school in a few weeks and he didn’t have a girl friend.”
“Did he tell you he was over eighteen?”
Her eyes returned from the ceiling and met mine. “Yes. He looked awful young to be starting college at all, so I did ask. I didn’t check his license though. We were busy and I didn’t have time to do more than a once over.”
Kathy’s eyebrows headed for the stratosphere and I wondered if they were going to succeed in reaching a low altitude orbit. She debated my assertion by peering at me. “Repeat that.”
“I said, he lied. He just turned eighteen last week.”
“Oh that’s just peachy.”
“No kidding.” I let her digest that one for a moment then pushed on. “Where’d he say he was from?”
Kathy pursed her lips. “He just said he wasn’t from around here. I assumed that meant out of state. But if he...”
“His folks live over in the Snow Homes. They paid a visit earlier today. They weren’t pleased to find him living with someone of the opposite sex.”
Kathy sighed and rubbed her eyes with her fingers. “I’ll bet they weren’t. How’d that go?”
“Surprisingly well. I’ll explain what happened later... after you explain why you didn’t have a valid mark waiting.”
“I told you, it was busy and the only people that came in were with others.”
“You could have set someone up ahead of time.”
“I did. Remember that red-haired guy I pointed out the week before?”
“The one that made me sick to my stomach?”
“I don’t consider him a valid mark.”
“He was from out of state and no one was going to notice if he went missing.”
“Yeah, but he was also ugly as sin.”
“Well at least you can’t accuse Jason of being ugly. In my opinion, he’s pretty cute.”
Jason’s face resurfaced and I found myself looking into his eyes again. I shoved him away and tried to stay upset. “Yeah. But he’s a kid for crying out loud!”
“You just said he was eighteen.”
“So he’s what? Four years younger than you? Get a grip Lynda. Cripes! Break the spell and let him go if you don’t want him hanging around.”
“I can’t!” My eyes flashed and she ducked a small bolt of lightning that whizzed across the room and splattered on a door. “And I don’t want to anyway... but that’s not the point!”
Kathy’s face lit up brighter than the sun and she pointed at me. “You’re falling in love with him! Aren’t you?”
“No!” I glared at her and tried to pretend she hadn’t just voiced what I was afraid of. Discussing things with Gino moved to the top of my list at about the speed of mach five.
Kathy took one look at my expression and erupted with laughter. So hard she fell off her chair and lay on the floor pounding the carpet with her hand. I crossed my arms tightly over my chest and glowered at her. She gasped for breath, glanced at me and was off again. I maintained the glower for a few more seconds, rolled my eyes and gave up. I looked at my watch, put my feet on her table and settled back to wait till she wound down. It took her almost five minutes to regain her composure and deposit her rear end back on her chair.
“I’m glad you find this funny.”
“Oh I do. Immensely.”
“Thanks a lot.” I tried to affect a growl but I wasn’t feeling angry enough.
Kathy chuckled and wiped her eyes. “Look. I know this might come as a shock to you, but there’s nothing wrong with falling in love.”
I scowled at her and didn’t reply.
She chuckled again and relaxed in her chair. “If you don’t want him, break the spell and give him to me. I can find lots of uses for him.”
“I have plenty of uses for him and I just told you, I can’t break it! It’s permanent.”
Kathy tisked and shook her head. “Went a little overboard, did you?”
“I didn’t want... never mind.”
“Well then, all I can say is: get used to it. You could be in a lot worse shape. What if he’d been a girl?”
I narrowed my eyes and looked daggers at her. She waved a hand to deflect them and they shattered against her wall. She grinned. “Tell me you don’t at least like him.”
“I do... and that’s the problem. I didn’t want to like him! I wanted to...”
“Use him. Yes I know. Well the spell’s still in effect, isn’t it?”
I sighed. “Yes.”
“So he’s still going to do what you tell him, right?”
“Then what’s the problem? At least you won’t have to worry about him cheating on you.”
I wrinkled my nose, handed her the sour lemon glare and stared at her ceiling.
She chuckled again, got up and took the cups to the sink. “Face it Lynda, you’re just as stuck as he is. Poetic justice in my opinion. Now you know how he probably feels. I distinctly remember trying to talk you out of that spell. I told you it was unethical. I told you it wasn’t right to do that to someone else even with their consent, much less without it. You told me to shut up, remember? Well now you might as well make the best of it.”
She walked back into the living room drying her hands on a towel. “The way I see it, you have two choices. Either you waste your energy being upset, or you change a few plans and make things work. I personally,” she tossed a round yellow object at me, “would suggest making lemonade instead of being sour.”
I caught the lemon and picked up my purse. “I’m going home.” She grinned. I handed her back the lemon and poked her in the chest. “Maybe I’ll make lemonade eventually, but first I’m going to try and get rid of the lemons. I need to talk to Gino.”
“Have fun.” She smiled and patted me on the head. “You know where to find me if you want to talk.”
I grunted a response and stalked out of her apartment, got back in my car and drove home. I didn’t mind Jason being in love with me, but falling in love with him was the last thing I wanted to do. It had to be a side effect of the binding spell and Gino was going to tell me how to get rid of it if I had to shine his shoes, sweep his floor and take out his garbage every day for the next year.
Copyright © 2006 by Crystalwizard