Today’s words are from the story I’m working on for JMS’s 13th anniversary.
Just Our Luck is about Luca Antonelli, a seventh-generation Third-Tier Wizard born on the seventh day of the seventh month at seven o’clock in the morning. But Luca was born with an unfortunate condition. He was born unlucky. After a botched attempt at asking someone out on a date leaves him mortified, Luca desperately attempts to brew a luck potion. Only instead of getting a potion, Luca accidentally summons a demon.
N’ver Moore is a half-demon of the Moon Tribe who was sold into servitude as a baby. Whenever someone uses the correct spell, it binds him to a new master. Being bound to Luca Antonelli is unlike anything he’s ever experienced.
(I’ll write a better blurb at another time lol)
The shards of glass rattled and scraped along the floor as they reshaped themselves into what they once were. Magic brushed across Luca’s skin, feather-light and kind, and when Luca, finished with the quick and basic mending spell, took a good look at it, he frowned, disappointed by the outcome. Sure, the cup had mended itself, but not without a few jagged lines and one big crack down the middle. Better than nothing, but it’d be nicer had the repairs been a bit more flawless.
“Sorry.” He picked up the mug and handed it to Nathan. “It’s not…the best. If you want me to pay for it—”
“Wow!” Nathan exclaimed, taking the mug and examining it, turning it this way and that to get a better look. “That was incredible! I didn’t know you were so good at magic! Are you leveled?”
“Ah…” Luca scratched the back of his neck and first offered a nervous chuckle. “Well, I…yeah, sorta.”
“I had no idea! Are you ranked? What’s your level? And title?!”
Not used to anyone making a big deal of his magic, considering, especially, his magic had never really impressed anyone before, Luca blushed and awkwardly shifted his weight from foot to foot.
“I chose wizard for myself,” Luca said. “And I’m a Third-Tier, but just barely.”
The grin on Nathan’s face made Luca’s heart do some very silly things. A somersault or two. Some fluttering. Even a few sparkles glittered.
“Third-Tier, Fifth-Tier, whatever, hell, you’re ranked! I couldn’t even get into an academy to study magic, let alone take a Ranking Qualifier Exam.” He shrugged, and managed to convey disappointment, longing, and resignation all in one shoulder lift. “My family’s always been touched, but never produced any real practitioners. All I can do is simple illusions and dumb impressions.” Nathan rotated his hand, turning the cup in it. As he did, the cup changed from yellow to orange and then back again.
“Nothing special.” Still grinning, he sighed, and said, “Anyway, I’ll get this all cleaned up and then bring you another hot chocolate.”
Another smile tickled Luca’s mouth, threatening to pull wider and wider, a damn hanger shoved in his mouth. He nodded, and took a step back to allow Nathan some extra room to clean the mess Luca’d made. When he did, however, the back of his foot clipped one of the chair legs, rocking him off-balance. His hand landed hard on the back of the chair, but his momentum was too much for it to help him. The chair started to fall, taking him with it.
The only reason Luca remained upright, was the hand under his elbow. Nathan’s hand kept Luca steady, helped him gather his bearings, put the world back in place for him.
“You good?” Nathan asked once it became clear Luca wasn’t about to crash. “Luca?”
Luca, face flushing so hot, wouldn’t be surprised to see steam rising off him. He had no idea which way to look, which direction would be less humiliating. All he knew for sure was looking right at Nathan would likely result in Luca bursting into a thousand mortified pieces. Didn’t help much when he took a peek at Nathan and found him grinning. Amused, Luca thought, and couldn’t bring himself to look away again.
“You’re a little clumsy,” Nathan said with a cute chuckle in the back of his throat, “ain’t ya’?”
Oh, clumsy didn’t even begin to cover it. Yes, Luca was a klutz, but dear gods, it went so much further. From bumbling awkwardness to being an introverted extrovert. A talented wizard who could barely work his own magic. Still, Nathan waited for an answer with that adorable smile on his face.
“I—well, sorta, I guess. Uh…” Luca shifted in place. “I’m sorry, I keep makin’ a mess and—”
“Don’t apologize, kid.” Nathan’s hand moved from beneath Luca’s elbow to over his shoulder. “I think it’s cute.”
Luca’s belly flipped. Cheeks warming, again, he froze, staring wide-eyed at Nathan. Not only had Nathan started something of an actual conversation with him, he said he thought he was cute. Well, technically, he said he thought Luca’s clumsiness was cute, but Luca’s clumsy ass belonged to Luca, ergo, Nathan thought Luca was cute.
Of course, instead of replying with some sentiment of gratitude or responding with a returning compliment, Luca opened his mouth only to have a ridiculous giggle drop out of it. He desperately tried to stop this by clapping both hands over his mouth and folding in his lips; both efforts a huge failure. Maybe clumsy was cute, but this was thoroughly embarrassing.
This silly reaction to such a simple remark made Nathan’s eyebrows lift. He smiled, the amber flecks in his eyes glistening like buried treasure.
“Uh. So.” Nathan started heading back to the counter. “I’ll go grab your drink.”
“Oh, um, actually, my lunch hour’s almost over.” Not exactly a lie, even if most people didn’t really count twenty more minutes as almost over. Luca, noticing how much of his Quiché remained, shoveled a bunch more into his mouth before continuing with, “I should probably get back.”
This hadn’t been the worst interaction, but Luca did not want to push his luck. He needed to get out of here before disaster struck.
“Um, okay? What about your hot chocolate? I could make it a to-go order if you want.”
But Luca was already attempting to flee, to make his daring escape, before he made a complete and utter ass of himself. An even bigger one, as it were.
“N-no, that’s…it’s all good.” He clipped the back of his hip on the corner of a table as he backed away. Not exactly helpful in his attempts to keep from making a fool of himself. And it hurt. Enough to make him wince, but not enough to make him stop to soothe the pain. “I really need to go.”
The perplexed look Nathan gave him almost made Luca stop. Almost crashing into the person behind him and coming much too close to knocking their coffee all over the floor, however, kept him going.
“Uh…’kay. Will I see you tomorrow?”
“Yeah!” Luca replied, far too loud to sound casual. Cheeks burning red, he tried to fix his blunder with a, “I mean…yeah. Sure. I dunno. Maybe,” and hoped like hell Nathan—even without a magical education—could magically decipher his ridiculous rambling.
Nathan may’ve tried to say something else; he did open his mouth and all, but if he did want to add a little more to this very awkward and embarrassing farewell, Luca didn’t give him the chance. Instead, he spun around and sprinted the last few steps to the door, tried to shove it open only to remember after a few attempts that he needed to pull, and then flung himself out into the cold afternoon, wondering if this was a good time to find a new place for lunch.