Fifty-four countries. One will be crowned champion of The Wana Cup. After accidentally selling an Almaz stone and exposing Africa’s secret magic, the only way 17-year-old Ma’aza can avoid life imprisonment is entering the tournament as Ethiopia’s player. And she’s not only battling against other players but an ancient political war that could tear the continent apart.
The sight of Mathew Sanders approaching––pale, blue-eyed, handsome––evoked the exact opposite emotion of when I first saw him in seventh grade.
There was anger now. Disgust. Maybe even hate.
Thick clouds shrouded the hall windows, allowing little light to filter through. Somehow, this only emphasized the shine of his white shirt. I almost rolled my eyes. The last thing nature needed to do was cast more attention on Mathew.
“You ready, Mazi?” He rubbed his hands together. We’d both left our previous class early to discuss our deal––money in exchange for his shot at the basketball finals.
I cringed at the nickname. It was Ma’aza. Or Maz. “I am, are you?”
At a closer glance, his face had pinched more than usual, eyes a little dazed. “Yeah, I guess.”
He ran his hands over his forearm. Again. Then again.
I nearly reached out to swat it away. If this was his idea of being subtle, he’d give us away long before we’d make it to class. “Stop looking so nervous.”
While I kept my own face blank, my chest heaved when the enormous Victorian clock ticked above us. It settled heavy, almost crushing my lungs. I didn’t blink at rule breaking, and was relatively thick skinned––you needed it to conquer high school in a foreign country, but this was another matter I couldn’t shake.
“Uh, Mathew.” I perched my books on the small ledge. “We need to talk about what happened.”