Summoning Saul

an excerpt

Chapter One



Trazer clapped Gayllen on the shoulder as he exited Professor Pazee's office. "Are you excited for graduation tomorrow night?"

Gayllen's throat constricted. "Nervous," he admitted. He had just picked up his red silk cloak. It draped carefully over his right arm.

Trazer smiled, gaze flicking to the cloak. "Nervous about the graduation or the mating ceremony?"

"Both."

Trazer laughed softly. "I'll be in your shoes next year. We'll all be cheering for you."

Having the support of the student body, helped but they couldn't participate in the ceremony. That fell squarely upon his shoulders.

"So how long have you been practicing your mating spell?"

"A month." He probably should have written it earlier, but the Fighting Fae final had taken more of his time than he had expected.

Trazer let out a shrill whistle. "You must have one complicated spell."

Gayllen nodded. Perhaps it was too complicated. He didn't know if his skills were up to the challenge. Yet, he had to try. His heart demanded a certain mate.

"When I get the chance, I am going to summon a leggy succubus."

Gayllen rolled his eyes. Trazer could be so predictable. "I think most of the male students here want a succubus for a wife."

"True." Trazer paused before asking the question Gayllen knew was coming. "So who is your mate?"

Gayllen's lips parted, and he was about to say, but something stopped him. Maybe it was like a wish, if he shared it, voiced it, then it might not come true. "You'll have to wait and see him tomorrow night."

"Knew it was a him," Trazer exclaimed.

Both of them chuckled. It felt good to relax if only briefly. He pushed his glasses back up on his nose. "Want to go to the cafeteria?"

"Not anxious to go back to your room?"

Gayllen shook his head. Once he was alone again, he'd only dwell on his upcoming graduation. The only way to keep the anxiety from devouring him like a hungry dragon was to keep his mind busy with other things. Trazer could talk endlessly about broomstick racing and politics within the academy.

"Sure. We can grab a bite. I'm always willing to help a friend out."

They turned the corner and strolled down the long hallway. The aroma of the day's stew wafted toward them. Frog legs and mushrooms. That was one of his favorites. His stomach rumbled. He hadn't eaten much lately. Thinking about graduation and especially the following mating had zapped his appetite like a dieting spell. Goodness knows he didn't need to lose any weight. He was small enough already.

Trazer stepped into the cafeteria ahead of him. His friend had longer legs, and with his mind wandering, Gayllen hadn't bothered to quicken his stride.

"The groom is buying," Trazer said, looking back at him.

Gayllen let out a loud breath. Likely Trazer didn't have any money left in his account this being the end of the month. "I'll buy," he relented. "But stop calling me the groom."

"But you are the groom."

"So is my mate!"

"Hmm. True. So instead of calling you the groom I should just say that this will be your last supper as a bachelor."

"So not helping." He was used to Trazer's teasing, but he hated being the center of attention. Maybe this hadn't been a good idea after all.

"All right. I'll behave myself," Trazer promised. "I'll do anything for frog leg and mushroom stew."

* * * *

Gayllen's insides shook. It was by sheer will that he kept his hands still. He'd closed the blinds on his window to keep passersby and fellow students from seeing his state of anxiety. Tonight, he'd use all the knowledge he'd acquired over the past six years to summon his mate from the other side of the veil--the paranormal realm. If he somehow screwed up the spell, he could be stuck with an ogre or a gnome. He could send the creature back and summon another mate, but he was expected to mate within forty-eight hours of the ceremony, and if his first spell failed, he'd have to wing a second spell. Likely, that would have disastrous results.

Worse, the whole academy would be in attendance--students and staff. The professors would also bring their mates. Mates many had chosen this very same way. When he'd signed the paperwork to attend Magnificent Mel's Academy, he'd read about the graduation ceremony. It was written in bigger letters and bold print. A condition of attending was accepting the centuries old practice of summoning his mate. At the time, it had seemed surreal--a long ways away. It didn't help that no other magic academy had accepted him. So he'd signed on the dotted line. The only way to get ahead these days was to know advanced magic. If he didn't, he'd be stuck in a menial job like exercising centaurs or cleaning laboratories.

He knew exactly the kind of mate he wanted: a tall, dark, and handsome genie--masculine but not ripped like an incubus. He'd chosen a male mate, and in a way he was following the founder's footsteps. Magnificent Mel had been a bisexual witch who had summoned a female fairy to be her mate. Mel's academy accepted all who wanted to learn and agree to follow the strict code of conduct. No one would laugh or gasp when he summoned a male.

He should be envisioning his genie. That was a bit tricky. Since genies could easily alter their appearance, their relationship would never grow stale. Would the genie be summoned in his natural state or would the spell somehow prompt him to change something like the color of his eyes or the length of his hair?

Of course, it all depended upon whether he could summon a genie in the first place. It didn't boost his confidence that none of the academy's current professors had a genie as a mate. Genies possessed more flexible magic than demons, werewolves, sprites, and other paranormal creatures. That made them slippery, and his spell had to account for all possibilities in order to close loopholes.

Was he being too ambitious? He should practice the spell he'd written again. He pulled a slip of paper out his trouser pocket. The creases were engrained, so even after he unfolded it, the note wanted to curl. He chewed on his bottom lip as he read through his sprawling script. There was no way to stop the spell once he began speaking the incantation in the sacred circle. Every word had to be perfect.

Gayllen glanced at the clock above his bed. It was ten p.m. He had two hours until the ceremony. Two hours would give him plenty of time to practice and plenty of time for his anxiety to crush him. At midnight on All Hallows Eve, there was a narrow window where the veil separating the human realm from the paranormal realm was at its weakest point of the entire year.

Knowing the veil would be weakened didn't ease his nerves much. Numbness spread from his shoulders to his ankles. He'd pace to work out some of his built up energy, but he was afraid if he took a step, his legs would crumble.

Reaching out with both hands, he grasped his mattress. For once he was glad he hadn't bothered to make his bed as the blankets wouldn't have provided him much support. He pulled himself over to the bed, climbed on top, and lay on his back staring up through the skylight in the ceiling. On this clear night, stars twinkled, as if they were joyful about the upcoming ceremony.

If only he could be as relaxed and as joyful as those stars. This would be his last night in the dormitory, and his first night with his mate. His chest tightened making his breaths shallow. His life would change completely in less than one hundred and twenty minutes.

* * * *