Table of Contents
appeared in issue 274.
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.
I scrounged some change out of the bottom of two backpacks and a purse and headed back into the kitchen. Everyone was right where I’d left them. I had a second to wonder if they’d triggered one of the burglar spells and been thrown into stasis, then they all turned to look at me. I beamed a smile and handed Jason the change.
“Here. That should be enough for a small box of tea bags from McAndrews. You remember how to get there?”
Jason stuffed the money in a pocket, looked at me with the closest thing to gratitude I’d seen from him yet, and shook his head. “No.”
“Down the street.” I pointed away from Uncle Nick’s. “You’ll see the sign when you get close.” Which should happen about the time he walked out my front door and turned left. It was only fifty yards away. I wondered how long he’d try to stretch being gone and gave him an excuse to use if he wanted. “I’m kind of in the mood for that red tea they carry sometimes. The stuff in the little blue box. But I’ll take regular tea if you can’t find it.” I patted him on the arm and gave him the trusting, innocent maiden look. Behind me, I could feel his mother having conniptions.
Jason bit down hard on his lower lip but his eyes were laughing and I wondered what family nerve I’d just hit. The situation suddenly developed a lot of interesting potential and I decided not to be too hard on Kathy after all. If I ever spoke to her again.
“I’ll be back.”
I was sure of that. He didn’t have any choice. His gaze darted behind me to his mother and I watched a strange expression flicker over his face. It vanished, replaced by that odd glint in his eyes and he suddenly hugged me and headed for the door. The old woman’s fury was almost tangible. I shut the pantry door and forced the snicker to become a smile as I turned around.
“I’m really sorry; I thought we had some tea. I’m sure it won’t take him too long, though. McAndrews usually has a good selection. I’m so glad to finally get to meet you.” I gushed. A whole bag of sugar with every word. His father bought it. His mother wasn’t so sure. I wondered if she was still carrying his baby pictures around in her wallet. “Did you have any problem finding the apartment, or did he give you good enough directions?”
Mom’s face got one of those superior looks. The kind a cat gives a mouse when it thinks it’s got the hole blocked, and his dad squirmed. I leaned on the sink and watched them. Dad cleared his throat and scratched an itch on the side of his neck. “We had no trouble at all.”
I decided to make things a little hotter for him. “Oh good. It’s so easy to get lost down here with all the one-way streets. Most people have to stop for directions.”
Dad imitated Jason and sank into the chair while Mom turned her evil eye on him instead of me. I wondered how many times they’d driven around the block before he gave in and let her ask someone where the address was.
“I hope you didn’t have too long a drive?”
“No, we only live a few miles away.” Dad stopped squirming and sat up straighter. Mom’s eyes narrowed, but he didn’t notice. I pretended not to. “Oh? I thought he said... maybe he meant someone else? Don’t you live out of state?”
“No, we live over in the Snow Homes section.”
I knew exactly where that subdivision was. I had friends in that area and I’d wanted to rent a house there a couple years ago. Except it had been too expensive. Way too expensive. As in, almost three times my take home pay for the month for one bedroom, too expensive. I was pretty sure they weren’t renting and equally sure they had more than one bedroom. I looked at the ceiling and pretended to be confused. “The Snow Homes... is that on the north side?”
Mom was about ready to explode. Discussing geography wasn’t what she had in mind but I wasn’t ready to give her the floor. Dad put his back to the developing atomic explosion and faced me, a friendly smile growing on his face. “Actually, it’s over on the east side. You must be new here.”
He was right; it was on the east side. The east side of the wealthiest section of the city. I wondered what they would have done had they walked into my old apartment. Probably bought the building and had it condemned.
“Well...” I tossed mom a glance and took a moment to wonder if her face would look better in a lighter shade of purple. “I don’t get many opportunities to see much more than the college. Classes take up so much of my time. They load you down when you’re a freshman. I almost don’t get a chance to sleep.”
“You’re going to college here?” Dad was starting to enjoy himself. I expected mom to grow fangs any second.
“Why... of course. Didn’t Jason tell you? The dorms are impossible but it’s too expensive to live off campus without a roommate.”
Their faces switched expressions. The thunder cloud settled over Dad’s countenance and Mom decided she liked me all of a sudden. “Is Jason...”
Mom interrupted him. “How nice to know you are only roommates.” She bit down on the word ‘only’ and I wondered if she’d convinced herself that her baby hadn’t hugged me.
I twisted her arm. “What did you think we were?”
She didn’t take the bait. “Are you taking classes this summer, dear?”
“Is Jason...” Dad tried again. I knew what he wanted and I wasn’t going to give it to him.
“No, my next class starts in the fall. I’m currently job hunting.” I didn’t think a little bit of truth would hurt things. I miscalculated. Mom’s eyes narrowed and she reminded me of a cat again.
“You’re looking for a job... how... unfortunate. I suppose Jason’s paying your rent?” Her voice dripped acid.
I blinked and gave her a wounded look. “No. He’s not paying my share of the rent.” He couldn’t have if he’d wanted to. The only bill I didn’t have to pay was rent since I’d earned the apartment at graduation. Never mind the fact that Jason didn’t have a job. I wondered if his parents owed him his allowance, but decided against asking and readjusted my assumptions. Mom thought I was gold digging while Dad was fixated on whether Jason had signed up for college. I tossed both ideas around and waited to see who’d give me an opening next. Dad won.
“Is Jason...” he tried for the third time.
I debated whether a few weeks in the terrarium would help his ability to compose sentences, and decided it probably wouldn’t. It hadn’t helped the chip off his block at least. I gave him a push. “Going to be gone long? I don’t know....”
“In college with you.” He surprised me and got the words out.
I handed him back a generic answer to see what he’d do. “The college frowns on students taking roommates who aren’t registered.” I had no idea what I meant but Dad jumped on it.
“I told that boy we didn’t have the money!” He slammed his hand down on my table hard enough to rattle the lid of the terrarium and launched himself from the chair.
Mom rolled her eyes and stood more calmly. “Andrew, he’s eighteen as of last week and can go to this college if he wants to. The piddling tuition they want isn’t going to break the bank, or your wallet. It’s time we were going.” Nice to know she supported Jason’s choice of schools, even if she didn’t support his choice of life styles. I wondered what sort of hissy fit she’d throw if she knew what he’d really gotten himself into. I thought more daggers at Kathy. I was less than thrilled to find out he was still seventeen the night of my graduation.
Mom walked around the table, grasped her husband’s arm and dragged him toward the front door. He spluttered all the way up the steps then cursed at the top of his voice all the way to the street.
I stood on the stoop and watched her open the passenger door of their car, shove him inside and slam it. She turned and threw me a look that meant nothing, strode around to the driver’s side and drove Dad away into the late afternoon traffic. I leaned on the rail and stared at the empty spot by the curb for a few minutes then went back inside.
Copyright © 2006 by Crystalwizard