I gave in to my habit of mixing business with pleasure with Lee. He’d jumped at the opportunity to help me break into the DPI office after hours. Since we hadn’t gotten any hits that matched Smith’s M.O. yet, I decided to kill time with the raid warning spell for the Bentons. I knew I could handle any human security we’d encounter, but he would ensure none of the surveillance technology detected us. We hadn’t had time to meet up since sleeping on the pull-out couch. Our confession hung between us, making every moment feel charged.
As we approached the DPI building, Lee wrapped us in a shield of magic. His pink and purple circuitry formed a cube in the air surrounding us. The door’s badge scanner blinked green, and it unlocked for us. I briefly wondered if it would log someone in our place or simply wouldn’t record this entry. Either way, I felt confident that Lee’s magic would keep us safe. I poured a line of ground herbs across the threshold, and we moved on.
“So, how does this spell work?” Lee asked as I poured the next line of herbs.
“Once I’ve spread this mix at each doorway, I’ll cast the spell. Whenever someone passes through any threshold in this office, the spell will detect their intentions. If they’re thinking about the Lyndale Market, this crystal will glow,” I explained.
“And the Bentons will know to expect someone from the DPI?” he asked.
“Unfortunately, it won’t guarantee that someone’s actually going there. If any agents casually think about the market, it will react.”
“Yeah, but what are the chances people will casually think about a magical market? It’s not the sort of place people daydream about,” he said.
“That’s my hope. Even if it’s a false alarm, the Bentons can gauge how often their business crosses the DPI’s collective mind,” I said.
“Has your agent mentioned my offer to get them Specternet access?” Lee asked.
“If he takes me up on it, I could set up a background program that watches for mentions of the market in documents and communications,” he suggested.
“You don’t have to risk that,” I said.
“I’m as invested in that market as anyone else. If the DPI shakes things up too much there, it will decrease foot traffic. That means less profit for all the vendors.”
“Good point. I’ll feel out where Boone is on your offer,” I said.
“Boone? You call him by his last name?” he asked.
“Yeah. That’s how I’ve thought of him since I met him. I can’t see myself calling him Arty like their in-house enchanter does,” I said.
“Yeah, that’s too cutesy to suit him.”
A door opened across the office. I pulled Lee through the door I’d just finished lining. The motion sensor lights came on as the person walked through the office. I grew more impressed with Lee’s magic as I realized his shield kept the motion sensors from detecting us. My admiration for his magic slipped from my mind as I noticed how close he was. We’d squeezed together behind the open door, so our intruder wouldn’t see us if they passed this room. I looked up and found him looking down at me. His normally blue eyes shone purple as he maintained the spell hiding us. A smirk broke across his face, and I inched closer to him.
The sound of our intruder’s footsteps pulled my attention away before I gave in to my desire to kiss him. They were coming our way. I watched through the crack between the door hinges. As soon as the man stepped into sight, I cast a sleep spell. I followed it up with a levitation spell to keep him from hitting the ground. It would be harder for him to convince himself he’d drifted off at his desk if he got any bruises on the way down. I took some satisfaction in knocking him out for interrupting us. If he’d passed a few seconds later, I’d have pulled Lee to me until our lips met. When I looked back at Lee, the tension was gone.
“That was close,” Lee said. I caught the disappointment in his voice.
“Yeah,” I agreed, not hiding my own disappointment. I stepped out from behind the door and looked our intruder over. He wore a grey security uniform. I sighed at the thought of dealing with him. “Can you access the building’s security from that computer?”
“Sure,” Lee said. He crossed to the desk and turned the computer on. “What are we looking for?”
“I need to make it seem like he drifted off somewhere believable. Can you check if he’s got any friends roaming the building?” I asked.
“Looks like there’s someone two floors up. The security room is empty,” he said.
“Can I see?” I asked.
I stepped around the desk and stood beside him. Lee pointed to an empty room glowing with the light of monitors. I cast a teleportation spell and saw our unconscious security guard appear in the room on our screen. He landed safely in a chair. He wouldn’t wake for a few hours. Rather than allow the second guard to surprise us, I decided to find him and repeat the process.
“Can you send your shield with me if you stay here?”
“I don’t think so. I’d need eyes on you, but it would hide you,” he explained.
“All right, shut this down and let’s go knock out another security guard,” I said.
Thankfully, the second security guard didn’t see my spell coming, either. Even if the Coven hadn’t outlawed memory spells, I just didn’t like using them. It’s hard to be sure not to erase anything important along with the targeted memories. Plus, a chunk of lost time could raise more suspicion. With both security guards asleep on the job, they’d more likely cover for each other rather than risk reprimands. With both of them out of the way, I rushed through lining the rest of the thresholds. I skipped over Sal’s lab. I didn’t want to risk her detecting the spell from sheer proximity. The spell wouldn’t draw attention from someone walking through on their way somewhere. But she might catch it sitting next to it all day, every day.
I cast the spell and felt the energy roll out from me and through the office. As my magic hit a threshold, the herbs burned fast and hot. The smoke filled each doorway, settled into a wall of power, and faded into the background. Lee and I walked through a door with the market in mind. The crystal glowed with a red light. I hugged Lee in excitement at our success. When I pulled back and looked at him, I felt that temptation again. This time I gave in. He leaned down as I stood taller, and our lips met in the middle. His hands caught me by my hips, and I wrapped my arms around his neck as we fell deeper into the kiss. We wore matching smiles when we pulled away from each other. He took my hand, and we left the DPI office together.