Here’s today’s Friday Snippet of AMERICAN WITCH for you! As always, this is draft material and things are subject to editing and possibly deletion, so please don’t share.
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Josiah watched Molly Sullivan’s beautiful, dazed face in fascination. She really hadn’t had any idea about what was happening to her or what she was capable of.
“You mean me.” Molly seemed barely able to articulate as she slid back onto the barstool. “You can’t be serious. This can’t be happening.”
“I’m deadly serious, and of course it’s happening.” He sat on the stool beside her again and swiveled to face her. “Some part of you has to know I’m telling the truth.”
Casting another glance at the shimmering barrier, she held herself rigid. Her expression was unpredictable, as if she might bolt at any minute. He couldn’t tell if she was panicking, but she probably was.
An unpleasant thought occurred to him. Those with magic abilities tended to congregate in magic-tolerant areas, such as close to the heart of the Elder Races demesnes, which existed overlaid with human geography. There were seven demesnes in the United States alone and many others scattered across the globe.
If they didn’t live close to an Elder Races demesne, they often chose to live close to the crossover passageways that had been created when time and space buckled during the earth’s formation. The crossover passageways led to magic-intense Other lands, where time moved differently, modern combustible technologies didn’t work, and the sun shone with a different light.
But the magic-intolerant, or those who had xenophobic tendencies, tended to congregate in other areas, away from the demesnes and crossover passageways. The United States had seen a backlash of opinion against the Elder Races or anyone with magical talent, and Atlanta wasn’t an area known for tolerance.
By far, most of the city’s demographic was made up of plain old nonmagical humanity, and the area’s voting majority was not pro-magic. Molly was going to live a miserable life if she couldn’t come to terms with what she was experiencing.
“Look at me,” he commanded.
Her widened gaze flew back to his.
“Something is happening to you.” He leaned forward. “Maybe it was started by the trauma from your husband’s betrayal, or maybe it’s been happening over the past several months. Inexplicable occurrences… things like car breakdowns or power outages. You might be having strange dreams or seeing visions of things that can’t possibly exist. Am I right?”
Her blank expression fractured, and her lips trembled. She whispered, “It’s been a couple of months now.”
He pinched the bridge of his nose. She was turning out to be surprise upon surprise, all of it entirely unwelcome.
After a moment, he told her, “When you broke that vase on Thursday, I thought you were venting your rage in a way that wouldn’t hurt anybody. It never occurred to me that you had no idea what you were capable of or what you’d done.” He couldn’t stand to look at her devastated face any longer, so he pressed the tumbler of scotch into her hands.
She blew out an unsteady breath and accepted it. In a quick move, she tossed back the rest of the drink. “I felt it,” she confessed hoarsely. “I saw sparks at the edges of my vision, and I knewsomething had shot out of my body. And then the vase shattered.”
“Yes.” He nodded. Obeying an impulse he didn’t stop to define, he touched her warm, soft skin, rubbing the sensitive spot at her inner elbow with his thumb. “That was you. There isn’t one in a hundred thousand people like you. Not one in a million, possibly ten million. You hold an incredibly rare Power, and you’re just now coming into it.”
Carefully, she pulled away to run her fingers through her hair. “But this doesn’t make any sense,” she muttered. “We don’t have witches in my family history, or any mention of magic whatsoever. We’re just your ordinary, garden-variety humans.”
“You may not have witches that you know of,” he replied drily. “That doesn’t mean you didn’t have any. Witches have been known to conceal their true natures so they can coexist peacefully with magic-intolerant families and communities.”
He watched his last statement slam home, and her expression filled with dismay. “But why me? Why now?”
He shrugged. “I don’t think anybody knows. Everyone’s different. Sometimes witches manifest early, from the time they’re toddlers. Some come into their Power when they hit puberty. Others come into it later in life through personal trauma, like the death of a spouse or child, or a strong life shift like menopause.”
“But what about the old family dynasties in the witches demesne—in Louisville, right?” she asked. “They seem to have witches in every generation, or at least that’s what I’ve read.”
“Those families have carefully married and bred to strengthen their magical aptitude, but that isn’t any guarantee. Sometimes even the most Powerful families in the witches demesne can produce null offspring.” After pausing, he continued more slowly, “I didn’t have any history of known witches in my family either, but many years ago I was in an accident that put me into a coma for two weeks. When I came out of it, I was permanently changed.”
She dug the heels of her hands into her eyes. “Is there any way to stop this?” she asked. “Any way to turn it off?”
He laughed, genuinely amused. “Of course not. Why on earth would you want to?”
“Maybe because it’s scary as hell?” she retorted. “I don’t want to blow fuses or have my car break down randomly, or possibly hurt someone without meaning to.”
He sobered. “No, definitely not. You don’t want to hurt someone by accident. Everything you do, you want to do with intention.”
She looked more spooked than ever. “But I don’t understand what’s really happening or how to control it.” Her voice rose. “I know nothing. This is the first time anyone has said anything to me about any of this!”
“In some ways you’re a blank slate,” he murmured as he studied her with an assessing gaze. While discovering her had been a massive inconvenience, maybe he could make it work to his advantage. “You’re coming into so much magic it radiates out of you. You’re going to be a very Powerful witch. The only way you can hope to control it is through training.”
“Training.” She leaned forward. “What kind of training?”
The intense kind that reshapes your life. He thought it, but he didn’t say it.
Instead, he replied, “Practice, technique, and spellwork will help you gain control over your own Power. How long that takes is up to you. If you’re dedicated and focused, it will happen quicker.” His gaze narrowed as he considered the idea that had occurred to him. Unlike the other surprises, this one was not entirely unwelcome. “I could teach you.”
“You could?” She looked even more astonished.
He poked harder at the idea. He hadn’t planned on taking a student, and in many ways, it would be a hindrance to his goals, but with the kind of uncontrolled Power she was radiating right now, she was like a human Chernobyl. Unless she gained control over herself, she was going to draw unwanted attention to the area—attention he wasn’t yet ready to face.
“Think of everything we could do.” He studied her as he calculated this new turn of events. “Together, we could become a major force on the Eastern Seaboard if we wanted to—we’d be right up there with the Lord of the Wyr or the Elven High Lord.”
She coughed out a disbelieving laugh. “Become a major force on the Eastern Seaboard? Where the hell did that come from?”
His eyelids lowered to hide his expression. “I have ambitions.”
She shook her head. “My life is in shambles right now. This is too much to take in all at once. I didn’t ask for any of it.”
“You may not have asked for it, but you’ve got it.” He took hold of her hand and gripped her fingers. “With my training and guidance, there’s no limit to what you can do. Doesn’t that appeal to you on some level? Think of it—really take a moment and think.”
She hesitated, clearly snared by his words, and her gaze focused on their hands again.
Turning his voice deep and seductive, he said softly, “You want revenge against your husband for what he did to you? With some discipline, training, and a little work, it’s all yours. You want to be wealthy and powerful? You can achieve it, and it’s easier than you might think.” Obeying the impulse to touch her again, he lifted one hand to brush his fingers against her petal-soft cheek. “Wouldn’t you like to stay as youthful-looking and beautiful as you are now, for as long as possible? Powerful witches can live much longer than the normal human life span. I can show you how.”
Moving as slowly as he had, she pulled her face away from his touch while her gaze never left his.
Giving her a crooked smile, he let his hand fall to his thigh. “I can show you how to get anything your heart desires. Anything. Working together, we can create a new future, the likes of which you can’t even imagine.”
But he had pushed too hard—he knew it the moment the words came out of his mouth. She jerked her hand out of his grip and slid off the barstool.
“This is too much to take in all at once,” she said abruptly. “Thank you for coming to find me and explaining everything. At least I’m not going crazy. I think.”
Josiah straightened to his full height. “You’re welcome, but don’t go just yet. We’ve barely scratched the surface of what you’re going through. You’re bound to have a thousand questions.”
She laughed as she backed away. “That’s a massive understatement. I have no doubt I will.”
“Have dinner with me, and we can talk over everything in more depth.” He advanced close enough to smell the faint, sexy perfume that she wore. By the flickering of her expression, he could tell that she wavered.
She even leaned toward him again, and a slow, triumphant smile widened his lips.
But letting his triumph show was another misstep. Her gaze dropped to his mouth, and she jerked back. “Not tonight. I have too much going on.” She waved the fingers of one hand in a circle beside her temple. “It’s a mess in here. I need to think.”
He cursed inwardly. “You’re making a mistake. You’ll think better if you talk things out. I can explain anything you don’t understand.”
Just when he thought she was going to bolt, she did the exact opposite. She took a step toward him and gave him another level look while her Power flared. “I said no.”
Immediately he backed off and gave her a slight smile. “So you did. Here.” As she watched warily, he reached into his back pocket, pulled out a heavy white card, and handed it to her. “My personal cell phone number. Feel free to call anytime, day or night.”
She hesitated to take it, her reluctance obvious.
An edge entered his voice. “It’s an offer I don’t make to very many people, Molly.”
“No, I’m sure you don’t,” she replied. “Just one thing. Is there a spell on that card?”
Surprise jolted him. He narrowed his eyes. “Why do you ask?”
Her expression turned fierce. “Because you put a spell on this bar to draw me in, didn’t you?”
Another surprise jolted him. “Good question, and a very good observation. Yes, I threw a spell to lure you into the bar, but if you had been strongly inclined to do otherwise, it wouldn’t have worked. It was more like an invitation.” He passed a hand over the card and erased the small spell he had cast on it. “Now this one is gone too.”
Her hand rose and hovered in midair. “What was it?”
“Same type of thing. A small encouragement,” he told her. “A welcome, if you will.”
She studied his expression, clearly questioning the veracity of that, but it didn’t stop her from snatching the card. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” He waved his fingers, and the privacy bubble that had surrounded them vanished. “Talk to you soon.”
Giving him a jerky nod, she walked away. Her relief at leaving was so palpable his expression turned wry. Most women didn’t try so hard to get away from him. In fact, most women looked for ways to get closer. Talking to Molly had been a reality check for his ego.
His phone buzzed. Pulling it out of his pocket, he checked the screen. There was a text from Anson. Did you get a chance to talk to the Sullivan woman yet?
Fingers moving rapidly, he replied, Yes.
How’d it go?
Pursing his lips, he considered how to answer, and his mood turned grim. We might be facing trouble before we had expected. You’d better warn the others.
And they weren’t ready for trouble if it decided to show up soon.
Lost in thought, he drove to his apartment in the city. The DA needed to spend some time in his fashionable apartment before anyone noticed his absence and began to ask questions he didn’t want to answer.
Copyright: 2019 Teddy Harrison LLC
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