by Jane Doe
Rowena answered the door when we knocked, and immediately took Asher into the den to scan him for any charms, spells, or curses. She pointed me upstairs where Cordelia was, and as I climbed the stairs, I searched for the words to say. It had been an accident, stealing the book, but once I had it I’d knowingly cast a spell from its pages.
“Come in, Lola.” Cordelia called out, her back turned to me as she rummaged through the old trunk in her bedroom. There were stacks of magical textbooks, the entire culmination of Cordelia’s collection throughout the years. Most of which she’d gotten from her family, but there were a handful she procured from powerful friends and distant cousins. She’d told me previously that she had charmed the box to vanish should anyone try to break into it.
When I entered her bedroom, which was a cocoon of tapestries and billowing fabrics, she had just snapped the lid shut. The bangles around her wrists were clinking as they hit into one another, playing the same song as the numerous amulets around her neck. Her greying hair was braided, trailing down her shoulder until it stopped around her waistline
She met my gaze and frowned, the lines around her mouth becoming more prominent.
“What’s wrong?” Cordelia asked, placing a hand against the amulets she wore. ” You look positively torn.
“There’s nothing wrong. Well, not exactly.” I said, sg my nerves as I struggled to get to the point. Instead of speaking, I rummaged through the old tote bag I wore and pulled out her spell book. I could pinpoint the exact second that realization flooded her eyes, bringing on a light of distrust that made my stomach curdle and sour. “I-I casted a protection spell on Asher, but I swear I never meant to steal the book.”
Her eyebrows, which were naturally soft, fell into a sharp grimace. With the wave of her hand, the bedroom door clicked shut. She looked down at the book, then thumbed through its pages, leaving me to drown in the uncomfortable silence.
“So, you accidentally stole my book then proceeded to cast a risky spell on your mate, one that could’ve had horrible consequences if you had messed up a single detail in the slightest, am I correct?” She said, pinning me in place with a look that could’ve easily belonged to my mom or grandma.
Ruefully, I nodded.
Cordelia made a sound of understanding, then began tapping her nails along the hard cover. “Thank you for telling me the truth. I was wondering when my book would turn back up. I was beginning to think the gnomes had taken it.” She spoke.
She stared blankly at my confused expression before snorting and shaking her head. “It’s a joke, Lola. Though, I would like to know how you stole my book, even if it was by accident.”
With the book in her hands, and the jeweled rings on her fingers sparkling merrily, she turned to slide the book into her trunk.
Feeling a blush creep along my cheeks, I swallowed and asked, “Does the term Conjuration mean anything to you?”
She froze, her back still turned to me as she murmured, “That’s a word I haven’t heard in a very long time.”
Clicking the lock on her trunk shut a second time, Cordelia stood and turned to face me. Her eyes were calculating, though not in a sinister sort of way, more like she was seeing me clearly for the first time.
“That’s what your magic is. It’s how you stole my book, through Conjuration.” Cordelia wasn’t asking. No, this was a statement, a fact she knew to be true.
The harder I looked at her, the more certain I was that she couldn’t possibly be the spy the Blood Witch had sent. There was no trace of greed on her face. If anything, there was sympathy.
“You poor child.” She said quietly, nearly fracturing my heart with fear. She sank slowly onto the bed and placed a hand on the post for support. “That’s why they want you so badly. Oh, the damage they could do.”
“No, they won’t get the chance. I’m going to master this. It’s not going to control me, just like they aren’t going to control me.”
I was not going to be a pawn. Not now, not ever.
Cordelia lifted her chin, a hint of pride flashing in her eyes. “Good, because that’s your only option. It’s going to get worse for you now. It always does once the witch knows what her magical type is, and for a witch of Conjuration, it makes things incredibly dangerous.”
“How do you know about Conjuration, Cordelia? I thought it wasn’t well known.”
“It’s not, but I come from a very old family, from a long line of witches. Word travels through the generations, and I’m more than certain I’m not the only witch that knows.” She replied.
I thought back to Ember and Tessa, to what they had said in the warehouse. “Two of the Blood Witches assassins mentioned they needed to get to me before I realized the true extent of my magic. I’d bet anything that they know about Conjuration too. In the book I have, it says nothing about how to master it. There’s a handful of pages missing, and I can’t help but wonder what information they had on them. You don’t think it was important, do you?”
Cordelia frowned, “I think anything having to do with Conjuration is important, Lola. Wherever those pages are, lets hope they aren’t in the wrong hands. I suppose we’ll have to up your training now. What I want you to do is to practice Conjuration every chance you get but do so very carefully. Mind your thoughts, don’t put too much feeling and energy into them, especially the ones born from anger. Try your magic out on harmless things.”
The minute the words left her mouth I found myself focusing on that trunk of hers. I dug into the pit of need hiding inside of me, nestled deep within bones, the same one I’d pulled from all those other times when I thought I was just invoking my magic. It wasn’t a particularly strong thought, yet the lid to the trunk flung itself open not a second later.
Cordelia jumped, slapping a hand against her chest as she shouted in surprise.
I blinked, my eyes darting between her and the trunk. A yawn tickled the back of my throat, but I kept it at bay. “I barely had to think about that, but I could use a nap now.”
“Yes, well…” She stammered, clearly surprised. “It’ll take time for you to build up a tolerance, which is why you need to practice. However, I do not recommend stealing any more of my book.” Her voice changed from surprised to stern within seconds.
I held my hands up in surrender. “I promise you it won’t happen again.”
“Good.” She nodded, pleased, and seemingly convinced. “Now, tell me about this protection spell you did.”
After explaining to her the spell Holly and I placed on Asher, down to the smallest of details like where we’d placed the candles in correspondence to one another, she made a sound of disbelief deep in her throat.
“You just can’t stay out of trouble.” She chuckled, shaking her head. I swore there was a hint of pride in her eyes that she fought to cover up. “You say the spell saved his life?”
“According to Clara he would’ve died if I hadn’t.”
“Well, Rowena will be able to detect if the protection spell is still on Asher, but typically it fades with time. The fact that it lasted that long with you being a beginner speaks volumes about your power. What’s done is done, but I still believe you should know the risks involved with what you did.” She tutted.
“Oh, yes. Every spell has its risks, and there’s a reason even seasoned witches steer clear of protection spells. In essence, a protection spell links the life-force of one with the life-force of another. Asher was very much protected but should you have died. Well, so would he.” She explained, and only now did I fully realize the dangers of the spell I had done. She patted my shoulder gently, just like grandma did. “Don’t worry, dear. Let’s go see what Rowena has to say, shall we?”
When we made it downstairs, there was no sign of the auburn-haired witch. Asher sat on the sofa; his eyes glazed over from the mind-link he was currently in the middle of. Seconds went by before they cleared. He blinked rapidly and stood, coming to my side. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed his touch until his arm was around my waist, pulling me into his side. All of the anxiety and stress melted away, vanishing much faster than it had during training.
“Where did Rowena go?” I asked him, looking around but finding no sign of her.
“She got a phone call and had to leave, said it wasn’t a big deal.” He replied, “Cass made it to the house and said if we had nothing better to do we can help her set things up. I’ve already mind-linked your dad and the others. They’ll be there in a few hours.”
I turned to Cordelia, “Did you want to come? We’re having a cook-out tonight.”
Cordelia’s eyes softened, taking some of the years out of her face, but none of the wisdom. “It’s quite alright. Actually, I could use an afternoon of relaxing myself. I may just meditate some and take a long bath.” Her eyes traveled to Asher’s face, “Did Rowena find any magic clinging to you, Alpha?”
Asher shook his head, and a pang of relief stung my chest. “She said I’m clean, which is great but doesn’t explain what made my wolf go feral. She felt the echo of the protection spell Lola did, but she was confident it wore off.”
“Thank the Goddess.” I sighed, earning a confused look from Asher. “I’ll explain in the car.”
The middle-aged witch nodded, her expression troubled yet thoughtful. “While that is a good thing, a protection spell wouldn’t have affected your wolf in that way. If it’s magic that made your wolf lose control, then I believe Rowena would’ve been able to sense it. Is there any chance stress could be involved?”
Asher and I shared a look. We both knew that Cordelia meant well, but she wasn’t a werewolf herself. Stress might’ve been a factor at first, when Asher’s protective nature had worsened, but stress alone wouldn’t cause a wolf to go feral. Our wolves were meant to steady and guide us, not send us head-first into chaos.
No, what turned Asher’s wolf feral had to be something else, something Rowena missed.
We made it back to the house within the hour. As we pulled into the circular drive, parking next to the granite fountain Asher had installed, the first thing we spotted was Cassidy’s smiling face. Her cheesy grin made sense the moment Kendrick came into view, carrying bags of groceries from her car into the house.
Between the four of us, we managed to get everything set up before the first of our guests arrived, which just so happened to be grandma, dad, and Sean. I spotted Flora alongside them and smiled at how her and dad had their arms wound around one another’s waists. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, other than my dad smiling ear-to-ear, I went back to work and waited for them to come inside.
I could hear them before I saw them, pinpointing Sean’s laugh first and foremost. It was raspy, which made sense considering my big brother was a grown man, but still had that squeak that reminded me of the scrawny little boy I’d grown up beside.
When the four of them made their way into the kitchen, I noticed instantly something had changed. It didn’t take long to figure out what that something was. The second my dad moved, untangling himself from Flora’s petite form to pull me in for a hug, I saw it.
“Dad, what the-” I stammered, pushing him away.
He didn’t take any offense to my actions, and actually smiled when I held him at a distance and scanned my eyes up and down his body. The grizzly man looked the same, only he was freshly shaven for once in his d**n life. Instead of crazy cave-man vibes, his beard gave off more of a refined lumberjack look. What made me push him away like a mad woman was that he didn’t limp when he approached me. Not only that, but his usual grimace was gone, the one signaling to the world that his knee was hurting him.
“Can you believe it, Lola? I’m healed.” He grinned, like a full-fledged grin that brightened his eyes and removed just about every line and crevice on his face, making him look younger than I’d ever seen him. For emphasis, he did a little spin, splaying his hands out like he’d done a backflip.
His joy was contagious and his confidence inspiring as he said, “Not only did I spend the morning in the hospital getting x-rayed, but I also had Rowena check me out. There’s no injury there to be seen. No shrapnel, no scar tissue, nothing. It’s like the accident never happened.”
Alpha Asher by Jane Doe
Author: Jane Doe
Native Language: English