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Here’s today’s snippet of AMERICAN WITCH.
This section concludes Chapter Two. Please remember, as always when I post snippets of draft work, it’s all subject to change (or even deletion). Anything you read will very likely have typos and grammar issues that will be addressed during the editing process. For that reason, I ask that you don’t post this in other places.
Hope everybody has a good weekend, and you enjoy!
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Chapter Two (continued)
She had a doctor’s appointment after lunch, so she said goodbye to Julia and went in for her checkup. And since she had no idea how often Austin had cheated on her or with whom, she had her doctor run tests for HIV and STDs. Again.
Then she spent the afternoon shopping for the various items she needed. She could have gone back to the house to pick up her own things, but the thought of possibly running into Austin made her feel nauseated and furious. Tiny sparks appeared again at the corner of her vision, and she thought she might stroke out.
Eventually she would have to go back to the house. Probably.
She could technically survive without ever going back, but later on she would regret not picking up the box of childhood mementos and the photos of her late father.
Maybe Julia would go with her and help run interference, or even go in her stead to gather up everything Molly wanted to keep. She hated to involve someone else in her personal drama, but she didn’t think the other woman would mind.
As the afternoon went on, the pleasant buzz from the lunchtime martinis wore off, leaving her feeling headachy and dull.
She headed back to the hotel and stopped at the bellhop desk in the spacious hotel lobby to get her shopping bags delivered to her room. When she turned away, she noticed the doorway that led to the hotel bar.
The open space seemed to beckon invitingly, and she gave in to the impulse to go inside. Maybe the sugar and caffeine from a Coke would banish her hangover.
As she stepped across the threshold from the lobby into the bar, a change occurred that was hard to define. The air felt different—cooler and sharper, full of energy. Her headache vaporized.
If the bar manager could bottle whatever was in the air, he would make a fortune. Inhaling deeply, she straightened her shoulders and looked around.
Dark cherry tables lay scattered over a patterned tile floor. Several of the tables were occupied. The bar itself was made of the same wood as the tables, and light reflected off shelves of colored bottles of liquor and the mirrored wall behind them, making everything seem hard and bright.
A solitary, dark-haired man sat at the bar, his long, folded figure indicating height and broad shoulders. As she glanced at him, he looked up from his drink and into the mirror.
His eyes, yellow like a cat’s in a lean, suntanned face, met hers.
Surprise throbbed a single pulse beat throughout her body. Josiah Mason, Atlanta’s new DA, lounged at the bar as if he owned it. As if he were waiting for something or someone.
Seeing him here, in a place she had unconsciously claimed as her own, brought back the sickened adrenaline from Thursday night. She fought an instinctive urge to bolt.
Leveling a long look at him, she thought, I’ll be damned if I run. She gave him a civil nod and walked to the bar several seats away to settle on a stool and set her purse beside her.
When the bartender came to take her order, all her good intentions to avoid more alcohol vaporized. “I’ll take a single malt scotch. Your best one.”
“We have a twenty-one-year-old Balvenie, will that do?”
She raised her eyebrows. “Yes.”
“You got it.” He slouched away.
While she waited for her drink, she spread her hands flat on the smooth, gleaming wood surface of the bar.
Coincidences happen, she told herself. Don’t look at him again. Look at your hands. People wig out and scream at their husbands at dinner parties all the time. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Austin is the one at fault, not you.
Besides, maybe he won’t recognize you. You look completely different than you did at the party. This is no big deal.
Movement in the mirror caught her attention. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched as Josiah Mason slid out of his seat with casual grace. He wore jeans and a thin cream sweater that looked like it was cashmere and highlighted his healthy tan. Dark hair swept back from his strong forehead in a long, unruly wave.
He approached. Of course he approached. Her hands clenched. Damn it to hell, why was he ignoring the go awayvibes she threw so strenuously into the air? Anybody with discretion or good sense would avoid her like the plague after witnessing her meltdown.
He was a powerfully built man, and he moved with the sinuous grace of a jaguar. He looked like he could take down any opponent in a championship boxing match. Like he could kill someone if he wanted.
As he neared, she felt the same thing she had sensed on Thursday, that he emitted some kind of dark, intense frequency that made everybody else in the bar appear pale and flat, like paper dolls. This man would re-form reality wherever he went.
Without asking permission, he slid into the empty stool beside her. When the bartender set her drink down, she signed for it, then wrapped both hands around the glass and clutched it as if it were her lifeline. Just stay calm and breathe normally, she thought.
In a low voice, she said, “I am intensely uncomfortable with you coming to join me.”
“And I am positive you will survive it.” His voice was deeper than she had expected. With a small jolt, she realized this was the first time she had heard him speak. “We haven’t been properly introduced.”
“I know who you are.” She took a big gulp of the Balvenie. Fruity and smoky, the scotch glided down her throat as smoothly as a hunting knife sliding into a sheath. Warmth suffused her middle, spreading outward like a fresh pool of blood. She had turned unexpectedly morbid. “People call you hot shit, or so I’ve heard.”
That probably shouldn’t have slipped out of her mouth. Day drinking wreaked havoc on impulse control.
As she watched in the mirror, one corner of his long mouth tilted up. He didn’t have yellow eyes so much as amber. They seemed brighter when the light hit them just right.
“I prefer Josiah.” His strong throat muscles worked as he took a swallow of his own drink. It was something clear and bubbly on ice with a slice of lime, probably a gin and tonic, or vodka. Or maybe it was soda water. He didn’t look like the kind of man who would enjoy losing control to outside influences.
“When I walked in here, it looked like you were waiting for someone.” She took another swallow of her scotch. “Josiah.”
His voice turned cold. “Don’t be coy, Molly. It doesn’t suit you.”
Sudden caution caused her to tense. He couldn’t mean that he had been waiting for her. Could he? If so, that was insane, ridiculous. How could he have known that she was going to walk into the bar on impulse?
A chill ran over her skin. Had he been looking for her? If so, how had he found her? And why?
She realized she knew next to nothing about the man sitting beside her. Matching his tone with her own coldness, she replied, “How can you possibly know what does or does not suit me?”
“I came to apologize.” He leaned his elbows on the bar. “When I cast a spell of finding, I didn’t sense any witches of significant Power in Atlanta, which was one of the reasons why I moved here. If I had known you were here, I would never have intruded into your territory. Now that I’m here, I’m hoping you and I can come to some agreement about coexisting in the same city.”
Spell of finding… What the fuck?
The word reverberated in her head, drowning out the music and the sounds of nearby conversation. Carefully, she set her glass of scotch on the bar, reached for her purse, and began to slide off her stool.
“I have no earthly idea what you’re talking about,” she enunciated to the calm, sane-looking lunatic who sat beside her. “You have me confused with someone else. Please excuse me.”
Swiveling with a speed that took her by surprise, he stared at her as if she were the lunatic. The dark slants of his eyebrows rose, and he began to smile, making him look more dangerous than ever.
“You have no idea?” he repeated. “You. Have. No. Idea.”
“Okay, nice talking to you.” She backed away. “You have a good night now.”
He said something swift and unintelligible. The words were strange, perhaps in some foreign language, and the sound sizzled through the air like broiling steak.
A shimmering, transparent barrier sprang up around her and Josiah, separating them from the rest of the bar. All other sounds cut off, and suddenly it was so silent she could hear her own quickened breathing. She stared around her, wild-eyed.
He had created it. She knew he had. She could sense the connection between the strange words and the barrier, and how it had all originated from him.
How could she feel that? How had he created it? Would it hurt her if she touched it? Was she trapped here, unable to leave?
With a smile, Josiah walked up until he stood very close, inside her personal space. The light hit his eyes just right, making them flare with lambent color. Shaking, she stared up at him. His body heat warmed her chilled skin.
Watching her intently, he put his hand on her forearm and slid long fingers down to her hand. Calluses rasped her skin. He closed his hand carefully around hers and lifted it. She tensed to resist yet didn’t.
He took their combined hands and pushed them gently through the barrier. She flinched as her skin came into contact with it. It felt slightly cold, almost like a soap bubble. She stared as their hands passed through harmlessly.
“There’s no reason to be afraid. It won’t hurt you.” His tone had lowered, to either accommodate their proximity or the intense silence that enfolded them. “It’s a privacy spell. You’re the only one here with the ability to see or sense it. Nobody else is paying any attention to us, and now they can’t hear a word we say to each other.”
“How did you do that?” But she already knew. He had cast the spell with those strange-sounding words.
“I can show you, if you like, but not if you run away.”
She only realized he was still touching her when he slid his hand back up her arm, grasped her elbow, and urged her back to the bar.
“Sit and drink your scotch, although we should be opening a bottle of champagne. It’s not every day one runs into an awakening witch.”
Copyright: 2019 Teddy Harrison LLC
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