Don't Hex with Texas
This was big. If Idris was out to teach people how to do magic his way, the world could be in a lot of trouble. On a whim, I tried Googling every phrase I could think of that might lead me to magic lessons, but I didn’t ever get the Spellworks site in the search results. At least it didn’t look like random people playing around on the Internet could stumble on the site. The question was, how widely were they advertising this? Was it just around here, and what was the purpose in teaching a bunch of amateurs to do petty parlor tricks?
When I’d wrapped up my work for the day, I headed straight to the courthouse to find Sam. I took a magazine stuffed with printouts from the Spellworks website and sat on a bench, trying to look like I was just casually sitting there, reading the magazine. Sam flew down from the roof to join me. “The perp must’ve heard of my reputation and took off,” he said with a grin on his grotesque face. “Not a single sight of ’im. And boy, is this town of yours slow, or what?”
“Tell me about it. Believe it or not, this is pretty exciting as things go around here. But I have something you need to see.” I pulled the pages out of my magazine to show to him. “It’s not quite what was on the website—maybe magic doesn’t come through on the printer—but I think you can get the idea. They’re recruiting new wizards. Can they do that? Are there really people out there who don’t know they have magical powers?”
He shrugged. “Hey, that’s not my area of expertise. I just do security, you know? But there’s gotta be someone out there who doesn’t know he’s really a wizard. We can’t catch ’em all. This definitely looks bigger than a single rogue wizard to me. It might be easier to put a stop to this here than in New York.”
“Why’s that? All our people and resources are in New York.”
“But there’s no power here. The magical lines are weak in these parts, which is why you don’t have a big magical community. Magical folk tend to settle around lines of power. We get a few of our big guns down here who are highly trained and who’ve got their own reserves of power, and fighting off the bad guys will be a snap. In New York, there’s enough power flying around to put everyone on a more even footing. We just need to figure out who our local wizard is, grab him, and then we can use him to draw Idris out.”
“Hey, ain’t it funny that you headed down here to get away from all that, and then it comes to you anyway?”
“Yeah, it’s a real scream.” From what Sam had said, it didn’t sound like the specifics of my decision to leave had been widely broadcast. I may not have escaped from magic, but I had still separated myself from Owen so he wouldn’t be tempted to make the wrong choice in a showdown, so I figured I’d still accomplished something by leaving. “You’ll tell headquarters what’s going on?”
“Don’t worry, I got it under control.”
Before I could respond to him, someone called my name from across the courthouse grounds. I turned to see Nita waving at me. Then she ran full throttle toward me, so fast that Sam had to scramble to get off the bench before she plopped down on top of him. “What are you doing here?” she asked me.
I tried to keep my eyes from following Sam as he flew back to the courthouse roof. “Oh, you know, just hanging out.”
She raised an eyebrow. “At the courthouse?”
“The grounds are nice. It’s like a park. And my family isn’t here.”
“That would be the important part.”
“So, what are you doing here?”
“Mom sent me to the grocery store. It’s my day to get off ‘early.’” She formed air quotes with her fingers. “That means I get to go home at a normal hour after working a normal day, and Dad works the desk until Ramesh gets to start a little later on the overnight shift. This is practically a weekend for me.” She whirled a finger in the air in a halfhearted show of celebration. “Whoopie. Hey, I have an idea. We should do something tonight.”
I looked around at the sleepy town square, then spread my hands to indicate all that nothingness.
“We could eat out and go to a movie. It’s a Tom Cruise movie this week.”
“Eww.” I made a face. “I can’t stand him.” Besides, the last thing I wanted to do right now was look at a dark-haired, blue-eyed man who wasn’t Owen.
“Your lack of aesthetic sense is not my problem. He’s pretty as long as he keeps his mouth shut. And it’s not like we have a lot of options. There’s one movie screen in town, and that’s what’s showing.