The sun warmed his skin and the latte warmed his insides. A toasted sandwich helped bolster his energy. The day was beautiful and the street was quiet as he pretended to read his book while letting his gaze shift around. Richard also searched through the gravitational strings around him. He didn’t pluck or strum or rearrange them at all, he just studied them. He was looking for something out of place, where, perhaps, someone was doing something they shouldn’t be. But, for over an hour he sat at the little table outside the coffee shop and all assaults against him stopped. Nothing looked out of place. Nobody walked by that he didn’t recognize from the neighborhood. He couldn’t spot anyone lurking in nearby shadows. All was quiet. All was calm.
Frustration that his plan hadn’t worked began to grow, along with a tremor of fear. If he couldn’t figure out who was attacking him, then what? What would be subjected to next? What if he couldn’t ward off the next attack. Someone obviously didn’t want me to be successful in what he was doing. The spells they’d used against him were proof of that. Rather, the cost of those spells was proof.
The chair across from him at his little table was pulled back and a woman sat down, startling him out of his thoughts, and out of the world of magic where he’d been scanning for things out of place.
“Good morning, Richard.”
“Oh,” he replied, trying to play off his surprise as having been interrupted from his reading. “Hello, Bree. How is my favorite neighbor this morning?”
She smiled and said, “Tired.”
“On such a beautiful day? I’m sorry to hear that.”
“It’s okay. I’m sure I’ll feel better tomorrow. You don’t mind if I sit with you for a bit, do you?”
“Not at all,” Richard replied truthfully. Bree was his favorite neighbor. She was only one of a couple people on the block he actually talked to and the only one he talked to more than general greetings in passing. “Everything okay? Something I can help with?”
“I’m glad you asked,” she said, a small smile on her lips.
She’d been sitting with her hands in her lap but now she raised them to rest on the table in front of her. She had a large bandage on the wrist of her right arm. A red stain ran down the middle of it. The wound was fresh.
Richard gasped and locked eyes with Bree, “You?”
“I threw the best I had at you. Just to see. Just to try and prove that you shouldn’t have given up on blood magic. And you blocked it so easily it was laughable.”
Richard had no idea what to say. He couldn’t Bree was a magic user too. He couldn’t believe this person he had considered a friend would use blood spells against him. His mind reeled.
The smile fell from her face and she grew very serious. She didn’t look away, though, and when Richard thought about the exchange later he decided that was the key. “Will you teach me?”
He didn’t miss a beat, “Yes, of course.”