Happy October 1st! Wheeee! It's my favorite time of year – apples, cider, bonfires, and Halloween. I want to celebrate by giving you an excerpt from Snow, Sister Witches of Story Cove, releasing Tuesday.
This story takes place at Halloween, so it's perfect to read this month!
A bad apple is about to ruin Halloween, and my fairytale ending depends on the luck of a homeless black kitten.
Runa alerts three seconds before the stranger knocks, coming to her feet, her white ruff snapping to attention and her lip curling in a low growl. The tiny hairs on the back of my neck mimic hers, rising as though electricity is charging them.
“Down, girl,” I tell the wolf-hybrid.
I suspect it’s Esmerelda from the reaction, but Korbin perched in my open window this morning and let loose a hair raising “caw” before lifting into the lavender shade of dawn.
The raven is an omen-hunter, a messenger. Since that rude awakening, I've been waiting for the sign his appearance denotes. Upon opening the door, my morning tea still in hand, I understand his warning. Thankfully, it’s not Esmerelda.
Relief wars with curiosity as I regard the dark-haired stranger on my front stoop. With eyes the color of oak moss, he nods and offers a slightly stunned—if not awed—look. “Er…morning.”
I get that a lot, thanks to my thick, black hair, violet eyes, and pale complexion. Esme used to enroll me in local beauty pageants when I was a girl, and I hated every moment of them. The ribbons I won went up in flames the day my father died and my stepmother became my enemy in more ways than one.
My cousin, Belle, has been working her magick to set me up with men on Fairytale Love, a dating site she claims has made over a million successful matches. I assume this is one of the latest to see my profile. Bold of him to show up in person. “Sorry, not interested.”
“Apologies, then.” His voice is laced with a brogue. Scottish? “Heard you might be in need of an ornamaner. Handyman. Must’ve heard wrong, eh?”
Yep, a Scot, and a handsome one at that. “Wait,” I say as he turns. “Are you applying for the farmhand position?”
The Story Cove Pumpkin Festival is this weekend—hayrack rides, corn mazes, a rubber ducky derby, face painting, pony rides, all kinds of handmade crafts, and, of course, food. The festival is known far and wide for the all-town event, and a big draw is my orchard, A Bushel and a Peck. My regular farmhand and jack-of-all-trades, George, is out with a bad back and I’m up to my ears in jobs that need doing.
The Scot gives a curt nod. “Been on the road a while, but was passin’ through and stopped at the diner. Saw your flyer, asked around. Folks said you’re good people.”
“Did they now? This time of year, I’m quite popular. Other times, some believe I’m working spells and holding rituals. They’re correct, but I don’t tell them that.”
Could be he thinks I jest, but his intelligent eyes tell me otherwise. “Could use a place to stay and I'm good with animals.” His gaze goes to Runa.
The dog wags her tail. She, too, is taken in by an handsome face.
Her partner—Ferrin, the wolf who haunts my woods—wouldn't care for it, I bet.
“The Pumpkin Festival is in two days, and plenty of tourists are already here. The event keeps the farm in the black for the next year, so it’s all-hands on deck. The work is hard, days long.”
“Name’s Broden. Clan Campbell.” He offers a hand. “I’m no stranger to hard work.”
His tanned skin and callused hands speak to that. A black kitten peeks around his booted ankle.
Motioning for him to come closer, I lean down as if to whisper in his ear. His breath catches and my nose captures the scent of forest pine and soap. I pause for half a second, meeting his eyes, dissolving in them. He holds my gaze, doesn’t glance at the slender scar under my left eye that mars my acclaimed beauty. I smile, and as he returns it, I yank out a few strands of his hair.
He yelps, jerks back. “What’s that about, now?”
The kitten hisses.
I make no pretense about being a witch around town, but if he’s only passing through, he may not know it. “Need to check if your intentions are true.”
Inside, I drop the strands into my cauldron, watching the smoke as it rises. The misty vapor turns green like his eyes.
True intentions, it appears.
But there are three flecks of silver threaded in the green. I watch as they spin and dance, representing three secrets our handsome Scotsman is hiding.
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