Harley Merlin And The Mystery Twins by Bella Forrest, now you can read online.
A massive ball of fire came at me.
I dropped flat on the ground and felt the scorching heat of the blaze as it shot past, warming my back before it dissipated somewhere behind me. I jumped back to my feet and put my hands out. My palms felt hot as I summoned the flames within me, eager to pay it back in kind.
Panting and covered in a sheen of sweat, I managed to produce a flurry of small fireballs, which I shot toward Wade. Poof! Poof! Poof!
He ran across the training hall. My blazing balls missed him by inches every time. I cursed under my breath. Wade chuckled as he slowed down, then stopped.
“You’ll have to get more precise with your shots, Merlin!” he said, breathing heavily.
He came back to the center of the hall, his tall figure reflected in the black marble floor and in the four walls surrounding us. I caught snippets of myself as well, and of Preceptor Nomura standing on the edge of the training space, which was marked with a thin line of white paint that glowed whenever one of us crossed it.
“Hey, I’m better than I was a month ago!” I retorted.
“Watch yourself, Crowley! You lose points if you leave the training space,” Nomura interjected.
Wade gave him a quick glance, then shifted his focus back to me. Sometimes it was difficult to concentrate with Wade Crowley looking at me. His deep green eyes seemed to pierce through my very soul, and in combination with the large curls of his black hair and the way his dark blue pants and vest hugged his athletic figure… well, I had to put in additional effort to focus on his magical abilities so I didn’t get plastered all over the floor.
“Come on, Merlin. Hit me. I just lost ten points dodging instead of blocking your fireballs,” Wade said. “Attack me again so I can get them back.”
I laughed mockingly, then put my hands out again. He took great pleasure in riling me up—I could feel it in my chest. There were definite perks to living with Empathy. When we trained, Wade focused more on the action and less on his emotions, which allowed me to read him accurately. Outside the training halls, he was guarded, aware of my ability to feel him. He’d been practicing emotional control over the past couple of weeks. I could feel that, too. He didn’t like me knowing how he felt.
“I don’t know about that, Crowley. I’ve got you running around like a monkey already. It’s only a matter of time before I get you all hot and crispy!” I replied.
I produced over two dozen small fireballs this time and worked on perfecting my aim as I released them at Wade. Some he dodged with smooth and fluid moves. Others he swatted away with his hands. Without his ten Esprit rings lighting up orange to prevent his skin from burning upon contact with my fire, he had to use his raw Fire Elemental ability to protect himself.
“Well, for someone who, up until a month ago, didn’t even know what a magical was,” Wade said, “you can hold your ground. I’ll give you that.”
“I could do a lot more if someone would just let me use my Esprit!” I shot back, gritting my teeth.
This was a non-Esprit training session. Only our raw powers were allowed, and I hated it because even without his rings, Wade was a fearsome adversary.
He ran toward me, grinning like the devil.
Like the rookie that I still was, I froze.
He moved so fast that I didn’t even have a second to react. He stopped about ten feet away from me and released another fireball at full strength. I gasped and crossed my forearms in front of my face. I summoned my own fire to protect me, but I moved one split second too slow.
Wade’s fireball smacked right into me. The force of its impact threw me backward. I landed on my back with a painful thud, then slid past the training circle.
Once I stopped, I stared at the black marble ceiling for a few moments. I heard Nomura click his teeth.
“Too slow,” he said.