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Chavez – Blitz

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Jagged Edge Series #7
Romance, Erotica
Date Published: September 12, 2017
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Working hard to graduate at the top of her class and becoming the best FBI agent had finally paid off for Agent Gabrielle Jackson. Selected to head one of the most important operations of her career, the unexpected happens when Jagged Edge Security is brought in to assist. The thing that Gabrielle needed was to be attracted to one the men. Trying to keep her distance, she soon finds that she can no longer resist the charm of Michael Chavez. Soon that all changes when she finds that her past has a connection to the operation and the only person on her side is him.
Working with a woman like Gabrielle Jackson was something that Michael Chavez hadn’t counted on. Even with her cheeky Latino attitude, she was the sexiest woman he had ever met and he had to have her. Just when he thought his night of bliss would lead to more, she halts his efforts by turning their night of romance into a one-night stand. When things begin to surface and the truth is revealed, there is no stopping Chavez from getting what he wants.
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About the Author

My love for writing began several years ago after an early retirement from a demanding job that I loved, but also hated because it consumed so much of my time. Now, I am able to focus my time on what I love. Writing romance has been a life long dream and to actually say that I am a published author is beyond what I would have ever expected.
Even though some may say I have a little naughtiness in my books, I look at it as an added bonus for my readers. After all what is a romance book without a little spice.
When I am not writing, I enjoy spending time with friends either at home or out on the town. Mostly, I enjoy a relaxing night at home where I can enjoy a glass of wine in the company of a good book.
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Picture Perfect Murder – Blitz

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Cozy Mystery
Date Published: August 2017
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Hold on to your seats as hilarious and talented Cozy Mystery Author, Jenna St. James, takes you on the ride of your life! You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you may even scream during this rollicking romp through the town of Granville. This down to earth non-traditional Cozy is an absolute delight that pushes the boundaries of the genre in some daring ways that make it all the more enjoyable.
Ryli Sinclair had no idea that moonlighting as a Forensic Photographer for the Granville Police Department would put her directly in the path of a crazed killer. Determined to identify the murderer before she becomes the next victim, Ryli enlists the help of her best friend, Paige, and her elderly great-aunt, Shirley, a former private investigator. From the driver’s seat of Aunt Shirley’s coveted ’65 Falcon, Ryli and the girls are hot on the trail of the murderer…and hilarity ensues, as the ridiculously handsome chief of police, Garrett Kimble, throws stumbling blocks in their path at every turn.
 
About the Author

Jenna St. James is a former court reporter turned educator. She has a Master’s degree in Special Education, and an Education Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She also spent twelve years in the ministry. She loves spending her days unwinding from teaching by reading and writing Cozy Mysteries. She also repurposes glassware by making chandeliers, lamps, nightlights, hummingbird feeders, and all sorts of other crafty things.
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Sniffing Out Murder – Blitz

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Cozy Mystery
Date Published: July 2017
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One dog with two names, twice lost, yet always found. Two newly orphaned boys who love their dog and love each other so much they vow to stick together against all odds. Enter super sleuth Mina Calvi, the quasi-grown up Italian import who likes cats more than dogs. When she tries to locate the owners of a lost dog, Mina is drawn into tracking down a murderer in spite of her loneliness, absentee boyfriend, and the fact that even with an espresso machine worth more than a diamond ring, she still can’t manage to make a good cup of coffee.
Excerpt
 
Eleven
 
De Fiore stared at the only living room wall deprived of artwork. They hadn’t exchanged a word since Tom loaded Leo and Buddy into his truck, and after promising a small detour to pick up dog food, headed home to his large place with the fenced yard.
Millie had walked back to her small place, her eyes red rimmed from the suppressed crying and the exposure to bright light.
The mood was anything but pleasant. Why? She had no way of knowing a kid was squatting in Kalinda’s house. She hadn’t set foot in there since the woman left weeks ago. But De Fiore should have known. He checked out the place often, and he was a detective after all. Apparently he didn’t detect squat until—until what?
“De Fiore, how did you catch Leo? How long had he been hiding there?”
“He wasn’t there the other day when I stopped by to check on the landscape.”
“That was the same day Buddy was spotted wondering around the train tracks in San Clemente. Yes, that fits. Leo said he ran away to go looking for his dog. Poor kid. We need to find his brother, let him know what’s going on.”
“Tom is going to try to locate him. I’ll call Kalinda and ask her how to get in touch with the construction crew. He’s obviously traveling with them.” He glanced at Mina, his voice slightly mellower than his attitude. “How do you do it?”
“Do what?”
“Turn something as uncomplicated as transferring a rescued dog from one shelter to another into a possible murder investigation and a big hot mess that touches many lives here and abroad?”
“Oh, wait, wait. What are you talking about? I get the murder investigation, and you can thank me later. But hot mess? Here and abroad? Seriously?”
He kept staring at that same wall. Avoiding her eyes. Why?
“The phone.” He slipped his hand inside his jacket and pulled out a phone from the breast pocket. Diego’s phone.
“You found it. You found it. Oh, thank you, thank you…” She leapt from her chair to grab the phone. The detective moved it out of her reach. “No, I didn’t find it. It’s the other way around, and I can’t let you have it. Sorry. Gave my word.”
“Come on, De Fiore, stop with the games. I’ve been searching for it. It’s very special. It’s the one I lost yesterday when I was chasing Buddy. I fell, hit my head, and it must have slipped out of my jeans pocket. Where was it?”
De Fiore shook his head, and there was not a trace of a smile when he said, “That’s how I found Leo. He had the phone.” He paused and then spoke in a slow and staccato pattern. “He-was using it. Your boyfriend’s super special, high-tech, state-of-the-art phone was being used in random efforts to reach—friends? Family? Except that’s not what the phone is programmed to do.”
He kept it at a certain distance from himself, as if afraid the device would cause him bodily harm. How ridiculous was that? Probably trying to give her a guilt trip. She who thrived on eternal guilt.
“This cell has now been disabled and will be picked up at my office tomorrow and properly disposed of, after being dissected and carefully analyzed of course. If you don’t get the dozen of nefarious consequences that may have been set in motion by the kid’s actions, I suggest you ask Diego to explain it to you.” He sighed. “All the calls originated from Kalinda’s house.”
It all sounded preposterous, right off some B spy movie, which in turn made the whole thing even more plausible.
“Is he mad at me?” she asked, troubled by De Fiore’s accusations.
His answer left no doubts. “You’ll have to ask him yourself. There are lots of rumors floating around with the passing of the Gran Dame. And none are good.” What did he know about Diego’s deceased boss? “I need to get going. You behave kid, and let me do my job. Look at me, Mina. I mean it. You need to lay low. It was suggested that you go about your usual routine but avoid at all cost going anywhere near Kalinda’s place. Got that?” He paused, waiting for her answer. “I was asked to relay the message to you. And I promise I’ll keep you informed regarding the Cordero case.” He shook his head. “What am I saying? What case? See what I mean? Your disease is contagious. Didn’t even get to say hi to Aria. I’m leaving; don’t get up. Sit and stew on that promise you just made.”
Mina sat until she heard the front door close. What promise? He did all the talking. She never agreed to anything. She headed upstairs to let the cats out of the bedroom.
About the Author
 

Best selling author Maria Grazia Swan was born in Italy, but this rolling stone has definitely gathered no moss. She lived in Belgium, France, Germany, in beautiful Orange County, California where she raised her family, and is currently at home in Phoenix, Arizona–but stay tuned for weekly updates of Where in the World is Maria Grazia Swan?
As a young girl, her vivid imagination predestined her to be a writer. She won her first literary award at the age of fourteen while living in Belgium. As a young woman Maria returned to Italy to design for–ooh-la-la–haute couture. Once in the U.S. and after years of concentrating on family, she tackled real estate. These days her time is devoted to her deepest passions: writing and helping people and pets find the perfect home.
Maria loves travel, opera, good books, hiking, and intelligent movies (if she can find one, that is). When asked about her idea of a perfect evening, she favors stimulating conversation, Northern Italian food and perfectly chilled Prosecco–but then, who doesn’t?
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In the Beginning – Blitz

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Sci Fi/Space Opera
Date Published: Sept 5th 2017
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The origins of Judeo-Christian religion and mythology come together in this mature science fiction page-turner.
To combat overpopulation on the planet Orion, the government releases a birth control virus to keep women from becoming pregnant. Only the brightest and most attractive of their species are allowed to mate. But the virus rages out of control, killing both mother and child. Attempts to develop a cure fail. They only have one option left: search other worlds for advanced societies that may be able to help.
The two most intelligent minds on Orion—and former best friends—Lucifer and Zues band together to search for a secret planet. When they finally arrive, they are greeted with unexplainable death and destruction. This planet is not the answer. Something doesn’t add up. They discover an extra unknown planet in the solar system.
The new planet is covered in lush land masses and bodies of water. Different species of hominids run—and mate—freely. Fire-breathing dragons guard the land. Lucifer is determined to figure out who or what created this planet. He thinks it just might be the key to saving Orion and the Orionites.

 

Excerpt
Hippolyta cleared the launch tube and dived down into the planete’s atmosphere. It only took her a few seconds to begin to get a full view of the alien planete. She had heard the rumors that this planete wasn’t actually a planete—that it was artificial or something like that. Sure looks real to me, she thought as she made her approach. The closer she got to the actual planete itself, the more amazed she became.
This place is huge, and it’s gorgeous. It’s perfect. No pollution, no buildings, nothing covering up its inherent natural beauty. It is too perfect; maybe this place isn’t real after all. It’s too good to be true, too beautiful to have just happened by chance.
She found herself completely mesmerized by the incredible landscapes, gigantic bodies of sparkling blue water, and enormous amounts of vegetation existing all over this untouched planete. Then as if out of nowhere, she saw it. Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit! It was one of the gigantic flying beasts that were supposedly capable of breathing fire or something like that. She had been briefed on their existence. She had even been shown pictographs, but she quickly realized that until this very moment, when she was seeing one of the great beasts with her own eyes, she hadn’t really believed it.
She brought her Vimana to a complete stop and hovered in midair, not moving at all. She knew that she was in no real danger. Her Vimana was cloaked, and the miniature arc-core power source that Vimanas used was completely silent. Flight operations of Vimanas in general were completely silent. There was no exhaust or propulsion system to speak of. Vimanas moved air and space around them; they didn’t actually move through air and space, although it seemed as if they did.
“What a majestic creature! Hera, help me!” she heard herself say. Hera was Hippolyta’s grandmother. She was the greatest female warrior in Orionite history. So great, in fact, that the Orionite government deemed her worthy of deification. Hippolyta knew that it was disrespectful to say her grandmother’s name aloud since she had been made a deity, but when she was alone, where no one else could hear her, she often did. It just made her feel better.
For a few moments, she sat there completely still, in wonderment of the sheer power and grace that the creature possessed, and then said to herself, “I am going to have to go in for a closer look at this magnificent beast.” Hippolyta moved her Vimana slowly toward the creature. She was able to match its speed and came up along the side of the winged beast.
It looks like it has armor plating on its chest and head. I’d like to see it shoot some fire out of its mouth, as Mikael said it could, she thought.
Then suddenly the beast flipped end over end and turned toward her ship. Hippolyta brought the Vimana to a complete stop and didn’t move a muscle. She was holding her breath, she realized. It appeared as if the creature were looking directly at her. What the fuck? There was no way this thing could know that she was here. She was completely cloaked and completely silent. And that was when it came.
Hippolyta got her wish as a gigantic superhot blue-and-white ball of fire shot out from the creature’s mouth and totally enveloped her Vimana. “Fuck!” Hippolyta screamed as her Vimana began to plummet toward the surface of the planete. She attempted to regain control of the craft, but her flight systems were not responding. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the craft began to come back online, and she was able to reestablish control of the ship.
“Holy fuck! How did that thing see me? Must have some kind of infrared vision or some bullshit like that. That’s fucked up!” she said as she evened out her flight path. She got on the horn and spoke into her comm unit. “Olympus actual, this is Sergeant Hippolyta requesting immediate assistance. My ship has been damaged, and I may not be able to make it back into orbit.” She waited for a reply for one second, two seconds, three. “Olympus actual, please respond and advise.”
There was no answer.
“Oh, this is seriously fucking great. Fireball must have fried my communications array. Shit!” She continued on her flight path and tried to decide what to do. She’d probably be able to make it back to the Olympus; she just didn’t know how much damage the ship had endured. Then she saw, or rather sensed, a very large shadow looming over her. She looked up and saw the same creature directly overhead.
“Mikael said these things never left their own territory! Well, that was a total fucking lie! Mikael, fucking dumb-ass son of a bitch, give me good intel before you send me out on a mission! I am so going to kill that motherfucker when I get back! How the fuck is this thing tracking me?”
And then the shadow grew larger. She looked up and saw the great beast descending on her, producing a brilliant stream of blue-and-white flame from its mouth. She put the Vimana into a dead drop and pushed it to its top speed. See ya, you son of a bitch, she thought as she escaped her pursuer. She had started to approach a landmass to the southwest of where they were setting up the Atlantis base when she saw the creature again; it was right on her tail. The beast was matching her speed. She couldn’t believe it. That’s not possible, she thought, and then she saw the flame coming toward her again; this thing was not going away.
She dropped the Vimana down to an even lower altitude and began to follow the path of a wide winding body of water. She was using this winding river like a highway. She had grown desperate to escape the flying menace, but she still couldn’t keep herself from marveling at the incredible beauty and splendor of the untouched waterway that she was using to help navigate her flight path. Then even at this low altitude, she felt the shadow of the creature creep over her Vimana once again.
I’ve got to get the hell out of here, she thought. She didn’t know where to go; she needed a place to hide. The shadow grew larger as the beast began to descend upon her ship. She saw a clearing to the north of the jungle. There, right there. She flew her Vimana through the clearing and a little way into the jungle itself, where it would be under the cover of some large trees.
She didn’t know if this would work. Her Vimana was already cloaked, but it felt better than being out in the open, waiting to be burned alive and eaten. She sat there holding her breath for ten, twenty, thirty minutes, waiting for the blue-and-white flame to cook her where she sat, but fortunately it never came. After she got herself together and after many more failed attempts at contacting the Olympus, Hippolyta decided that it was time to try to make it back to the mother ship, but for some reason, she just couldn’t bring herself to go. Maybe it was fear of encountering the giant flying reptile again, or maybe it was something else. She had been entranced by the beauty of the surrounding jungle the entire time that she had been hiding from her tormentor. She decided that she was going to get out of her Vimana and take a look around.
Just for a few minutes, she thought. The beauty of this place was pulling her toward it; she could feel it. Sergeant Hippolyta popped her cockpit and was the first Orionite person to ever set foot on Terra Firma. She stomped on the ground. Felt like ground to her, but the grass was so green; the skies were so clear. It was familiar but different. It was better…much better. She was nervous about it, but she decided to remove her flight helmet as well. Mikael had said that the air was breathable. Let’s find out, she thought. She removed her helmet and held her breath for a very long time. Then in one big gasp, she sucked the alien air into her lungs.
“Great Hera!” she said to herself as the clean, oxygen-rich, alien air hit her lungs. This is magnificent; this is intoxicating! I feel incredible! Her head felt light; she was initially a little woozy. She had never experienced such raw, untouched, and unpolluted air as this. It was truly a beautiful experience. She lay down in the soft green grass and just soaked in the beauty of the place for a long time. She felt at peace; she felt happy. She felt, maybe for the first time in her life, that she was at home. After spending some time lying in the grass and soaking in the astron rays, Hippolyta sat up and looked around. The jungle was gorgeous. She wanted to go see what was back there, and so she did.
She walked through the jungle and again marveled at its untouched beauty—the plants, flowers, trees all so complete and untouched by the hand of man. She came around a turn, and that was when she saw them. There were hominids up in front of her. “Oh shit!” she whispered to herself as she ducked down behind a rock formation. They didn’t see her.
Thank Hera, she thought. She spied on the hominid creatures for quite a while. They were completely naked and without shame. They were bathing themselves and one another, she noticed, in what must have been a hot spring of some kind. There was a small waterfall up over their heads. The water was clear and beautiful; she could see their forms clearly. They were beautiful, magnificent specimens. They were much taller than the other hominid species she had seen in the pictographs; they were almost as tall as she was.
They don’t have any pictographs of these hominids up on the Olympus, she thought. Their skin, eyes, and hair were so dark. Their bodies were so muscular, their thighs and buttocks so strong, their breasts so firm and full. Sergeant Hippolyta felt something begin to stir down deep between her thighs, a feeling she had never felt before. What the hell is that? she wondered. She shifted on the rock that she was sitting on, but no matter which way she tried to sit, she could never get comfortable. She continued to spy on the hominids bathing in the hot spring.
They’re all female, she suddenly realized. There wasn’t a male among them, and she slowly began to understand that she liked that. Her breathing began to get heavy, and she began to perspire in the heat of the jungle. She began to tug and pull at her flight suit; her skin felt flushed. Other parts of her body began to feel flushed as well. Certain parts of her body began to swell and ache that had never swollen or ached before in her entire existence.
Then as if she were having an out-of-body experience, Sergeant Hippolyta removed her flight suit and her undergarments and stood up on the rock that she had been hiding behind. She stood completely naked for all these gorgeous female alien hominids to see. She wanted them to see her. She knew that she should be embarrassed by her swollen genitalia that could easily be seen through the clear pubic hair that all Orionite women possessed, but for some reason, she was not. She stood tall and proud and naked.
The hominids in the hot spring did see her. They did not seem afraid, however. They seemed curious. Hippolyta slowly stepped off of the rock face and made her way down toward the all-female tribe and then slowly entered the water. It was warm and inviting; it felt so good as the water rose up above her thighs and began to make contact with her swollen and aching clitoris. The alien females began to slowly move toward Hippolyta; they still seemed unafraid. They began to stroke her clear hair. They looked into Hippolyta’s large blue eyes; they explored her face, her nose, her ears, her mouth, her lips, and her neck. Then they began to explore other parts of Hippolyta’s anatomy.

That was the first and last mission that Sergeant Hippolyta ever flew for the Olympus arc vessel. She was never heard from again.About the Author

 

BCE is originally from parts unknown and currently resides in areas of the planet yet to be explored. His favorite pastime is reading old encyclopedias while eating Peanut M&M’s. He does believe that the warehouse depicted at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark actually exists. He has only one goal left in his life that he wishes to accomplish: to live long enough to see the aliens return so he may look over at his beautiful wife in her nursing-home bed and say, “I told you so.”

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The Witch’s Handbook to Hunting Vampires – Blitz

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Paranormal/Witch Cozy Mystery
Date Published: September 5, 2017
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Andie Taylor is your average single mom. She’s got a beautiful toddler, a great job at the local preschool, a neurotic best friend and one huge secret—she used to hunt vampires. Now retired, Andie would much rather be wiping kid snot off her clothes than stalking the undead.
But after a meteor rips through her small town, strange things start happening—like the school janitor is found dead with fang marks in his neck.
Andie’s retired, it’s not her problem.
Until vampires attack Andie on her front lawn. Now she has to figure out who the head bloodsucker is and stop him from taking any more victims—all while juggling single motherhood, a crazy great aunt, and Andie’s own lust for a fallen angel. Can she solve the mystery before the vampires claim someone else? Or will she become the next target of the bloodsuckers?
Excerpt
ONE
“Expect the unexpected, especially when it comes to relatives.”
—The Witch’s Handbook
My great-aunt Dot decided to poof into my life at the exact same moment I was talking my best friend down from the comet-pocalypse that was about to hit our town.
Literally—on both fronts.
I waved away a shimmering cloud of silver dust and came face-to-face with a pink-haired, feather-jacket-wearing seventy-year-old.
“Andie, get off the phone.” Aunt Dot pulled off a pair of matching feather gloves and tossed them on a side table by my turquoise front door.
I placed a hand over the receiver. “I’ve told you a thousand times, I don’t want you working magic in my house.”
“We’ve got bigger fish to fricassee than your stupid rules.”
“I don’t want Gabby to see.”
Dot’s blue eyes sparkled. “Oh? Where is the little munchkin?”
I nodded toward the bedroom. “In there. Sound asleep.” I wagged a finger at her. “Don’t you change that.”
My newly acquired geriatric companion shuffled off to not wake my two-year-old daughter, who happened to be the love of my life. I sighed and put the phone back to my ear.
Kate panted into the line. “It’s the end of the world, Andie! I just know it.”
I grimaced. Kate McCall, my best friend and cohort in crime, pierced my eardrum with her shrieks of the apocalypse.
“It’s not the end of the world,” I said soothingly.
“Go look. Missy Burke’s already rode down my street calling it that. If she says it’s the end, then it probably is. That woman’s got her finger on the pulse of this town.”
“More like her nose up its rear end,” I said.
“Andie. Be nice.” Kate paused. “Never mind. I love you the way you are.”
I opened my front door and stepped out. A cold October wind ripped over the porch. I rubbed my arms to warm them. Boards in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint creaked under my ballerina flats.
A shiny full-size Ford pickup truck grunted down Cedar Street in my small hometown of Normal, Alabama. The driver bore down on the horn, threw her head out the window and yelled, “It’s the end of the world, y’all! The Lord’s coming in a comet to set y’all straight.”
Missy Burke was nothing if not informative. Dark hair trailed behind her like snakes as the wind whipped across her face.
She pointed at me. “Say your prayers, Andie Taylor. The Lord sees you. He knows where you’re going when you face judgment.”
Which I took to mean I wasn’t going to be standing beside her in heaven. If you asked Missy, she was the most perfect person on the planet and one of the few who’d get through the pearly gates.
I gave a friendly wave. “He sees you, too, scaring the good folks in this town half to death. You should be ashamed of yourself, Missy.”
Missy scrunched up her face and swatted at me as if I didn’t matter.
“Missy Burke just told me I was going to hell,” I said over the line.
“I’ll probably see you there,” Kate said. “I don’t think I prayed enough, Andie. St. Peter’s going to tell me I need to turn right back around and go the other way.”
I laughed. “That’s not going to happen. You’re a great person. St. Peter’s going to be excited to have you.”
With Missy gone, the night had quieted but for a white light shining in the distance. It looked like a star except it was getting bigger by the moment. “It’s a comet. Nothing to worry about.”
“It’s pretty bright. It’s going to hit my house.”
“Listen, I’ll keep an eye on it. If it looks like it’s going to destroy your house, I’ll call you.”
“Thank you. Mwuah.” She kissed the phone. “You’re the greatest friend in all the world.”
“I try.”
We hung up, and I went inside, immediately wondering if I had any chocolate in the house. I entered the kitchen, opened the fridge and found a bottle of syrup. Dot’s presence always stressed me out. I flipped the lid and squirted some in my mouth.
Better. Now I was ready to face my great-aunt. I crossed back to the living room.
Dot entered and started zipping up all the blinds.
“What are you doing?” I said.
“We’ve got to keep an eye on that comet. It’s not a natural phenomenon, Andie. It’s something magical.”
“It’s always about magic with you,” I mumbled. “Did you show up just to make my life complicated?”
Dot plumped her pink hair. “Of course not, but you’re a hunter and a witch. It beats me why you won’t use your powers.”
I crossed my arms and leaned against the front door. “Was a hunter. Witchcraft causes more problems than it’s worth. You of all people should know that.”
Dot withered a bit. I instantly felt a pang of guilt, but the truth was the truth.
“Mom died because of magic.”
Dot shook her head. “Your mother died because she called something she couldn’t control. It nearly killed all of us.”
I flared my arms. “That’s in the past. I don’t need magic and I don’t want it. My life is perfectly normal exactly as it is, and I want to keep it that way.”
Neither of us said anything. I waited a moment, letting the tension in the room dissolve.
Dot shrugged off her jacket and threw it on a chair.
“You’re not staying long, are you?” I said.
Please, don’t let her be staying long.
She plopped onto the couch and kicked up her feet. “I don’t know yet. Depends on what that comet brings.”
“How about some stardust and that’s it.”
At that moment a Magic 8 Ball sailed into the room.
Dot threw up her hands in glee. “Vordrid! Finally, someone with sense.”
Vordrid sniffed. I know that as a Magic 8 Ball he didn’t technically have a nose, but that didn’t stop him from making sounds only a person with a head could create. “I’m twelve hundred years old. I should have some sense.”
Dot turned to me. “For someone who doesn’t want Gabby seeing magic, I don’t understand why you keep Vordrid.”
“Because Vordrid is family, and he doesn’t cause any trouble,” I said, nodding at her.
Truth be told, Vordrid was the only link I had to Dex, my husband, who’d died before Gabby was born.
An arrow of pain pierced my heart. I pushed it aside, doing my best not to fall into the pit of despair that was the longing I still had for Dex.
“I wouldn’t leave Andie if you gave me a crystal skull to live in,” Vordrid said. “And according to that Ancient Aliens show, crystal skulls possess lots of power.”
Vordrid had been my mentor in my hunter days. What’s a hunter, you ask? A select group of witches and wizards employed to seek out and destroy evil beings. Dex and I had specialized in vampires, though plenty of hunters tracked other magical creatures.
Vordrid was the only piece of that old life I’d kept.
The light outside brightened. Dot flew off the couch and to the window. “Quick! This is no ordinary comet.”
“As you’ve said.” I caught my reflection in the mirror above the mantel. My thick honey- and platinum-colored hair lay in sagging curls over my shoulders, and I had dark circles under each eye that even my cute fringe of bang couldn’t draw your attention away from. What I wouldn’t give for some stress relief.
Like a massage.
I yawned. “Wake me when it’s over.”
Dot glanced at Vordrid. “Can’t you do anything with her?”
Vordrid settled himself down on the coffee table. “What can I do with a witch who doesn’t want to be one?”
I smiled. “He’s pretty much right.”
Dot clasped her hands in frustration. “Andie, you must advocate for us. For your profession.”
“Dot, I’m a preschool teacher at Giving Trunk. I advocate for children every day.”
Yes, it’s trunk, not tree. I think there was some sort of infringement thing that kept the place from being called Giving Tree.
Dot choked on something. By the sound of it, I think it was frustration. “You’re a witch.”
“Was a witch. I don’t practice.”
Vordrid pivoted toward Dot. “I haven’t been able to do anything with her for years. Not since that night.”
Dot shook her head and glanced back at the comet. “I don’t have time for your piddling, Andie. It’s coming.”
“It’s not like it’s the end of the world,” I said.
Vordrid hopped a bit. “It could be. You know that’s what killed the dinosaurs.”
“Vordrid, it’s not the end of the world.”
“Stranger things have happened.”
I nodded. “Exactly. Like me living with the spirit of a twelve-hundred-year-old wizard who resides inside a kid’s toy.”
Vordrid rattled his shell. “As I said, stranger things.”
I rolled my eyes. “Thank you for reminding me. I’m going to check on Gabby.”
I padded into the small bedroom off the parlor and placed a hand in the crib. Gabby slept soundly. I pulled the covers down over her legs and made sure she was breathing.
Because that’s what all mothers do—we sporadically make sure that our children are still breathing because we’re a little mental that way.
The house started to shake. I pulled Gabby’s crib away from the wall to make sure nothing would fall on her and went back into the living room. A couple of picture frames tumbled from their place on the mantel.
“Magic,” Dot whispered.
“Natural phenomenon,” I shot back.
“I feel a disturbance in the force,” Vordrid said.
What the…? Seriously? Were they all against me?
I peeked out the window. Yellowish light filled the entire sky. People were coming out of their homes. I rushed back in to check on Gabby, and she was sleeping soundly. I glanced out the window as the comet flew over the street, scorching the tops of the trees.
A moment later it sounded like the world had split in two. A quake rocked the house. Knicknacks fell off the shelves to the floor. The shaking subsided as quickly as it started, and the night retuned to peace and quiet.
Except for the twenty car alarms blaring down my street. I guess the rumbling had set them off.
Gabby slept soundly. Thank goodness. Whenever she woke in the middle of the night, she would cry on and on. It was a nightmare trying to get her back to sleep. I had a feeling Dot may have had something to do with keeping her in slumber.
“I’m going to see what happened,” Vordrid said. His spirit lifted from the ball. It looked like strips of white gossamer as it zipped out the window.
I thought things might get back to normal in Normal for the rest of the night.
Silly me. I realized that wasn’t going to happen when Dot grabbed me by the shoulders and spun me around. Perched on my couch, licking its paw, sat a gray gargoyle. He wasn’t very big, about the size of a pound of flour, but he was still a creature that wasn’t supposed to be in my house.
“What the heck?” I screeched.
Dot pushed me forward. “It must’ve hitchhiked on my back when I came up from Patagonia.”
“Patagonia?” I said.
She wiggled her fingers. “I was there learning how to touch the sky. I must’ve touched something else instead.”
“Yeah, like a monster.”
The gargoyle stopped licking its paw. It opened leathery wings lined with veins, unhinged its mouth, and shot fire at us.
I ducked. “Oh dear Lord!”
“Stop it, Andie,” Dot said, pushing me forward.
I tried to scramble back, but she held me fast. “Why are you shoving me closer to it? Are you trying to fry me?”
Dot clasped my shoulders tightly. “You’re a hunter. Use your power!”
I pressed my heels into the rug, turned around and said, “Would you quit calling me that!”
Another spray of fire shot above our heads.
“Ah,” I screamed.
“You’re going to wake up Gabby,” Dot said, patting down her pink hair.
Holy crap on a stick. She was right. If I didn’t deal with this little turdball on my couch, the toddler would wake up and that would be a crying nightmare worse than my great-aunt visiting me.
I started to pull the energy from the room and bring it into my body. The small taste of power felt good. Almost a little too good, like when you haven’t eaten chocolate in a really long time because you’re on a diet. Then when you taste it, it’s like heaven melting on your tongue.
Yeah, that’s kinda what using my magic felt like.
Don’t worry; I wasn’t going to admit it to Dot.
Speaking of my great-aunt, I glanced over my shoulder. The look of glee on her face made me stop. Something smelled funny, and it wasn’t the streak of blackened ceiling that little monster had caused.
I walked over to the creature and crossed my arms. “Okay, how much is my aunt paying you for scaring me?”
The gargoyle frowned.
I rubbed my thumb over my fingers. “How much? Because what she didn’t tell you is, if I use my power, you will turn to dust. I suggest you get out of here before that money or gold or whatever seems like nothing when you’re sewing yourself back together.”
The creature opened his mouth and screeched. He flapped his wings and, half a second later, vanished in a purple cloud of magic.
I waved the air clear.
“You think you’re so smart,” Dot grumbled.
I grinned. “You almost had me.” I pinched my fingers together. “So close, but you know, there’s a reason why I don’t invite you over often. Oh, and fix my ceiling.”
Dot snapped her fingers, and the smudge disappeared. She clucked at me. “Your daughter needs to learn witchcraft.”
My nostrils flared. “Gabby won’t get her powers until she hits puberty—if she even gets them then. The magic could skip a generation. But until that time, I want Gabby to live a normal, happy life. Magic has taken too much from me—first my mother and then Dex.”
Dot plucked her shirt from the waistband of her jeans. “It wasn’t the magic, per se.”
I shot her a dark look. “It was because of the magic, and don’t you forget it.”
Dot clamped her lips shut.
Vordrid shot back into the house and twisted inside the ball.
I rubbed at the headache that had sprouted in my temples. “What’d you see?”
He jumped up and down, making the knickknacks on the table jumble. “It wasn’t a regular comet.”
“See?” Dot said. “Told you so.”
“It’s really annoying when people use that phrase,” I said.
“We’re related. I can use it as much as I want.”
Vordrid kept jumping. “If it had been a comet, I would’ve expected to see the meteor. But instead of a rock, there was a shape formed into the ground.”
I scratched the back of my head. “Really? A shape? That’s interesting.”
“It was interesting, Andie. Most interesting of all was the shape it had taken.”
“And what was that?” I said, half listening.
Vordrid cleared his throat. “The shape of a human.”
Dot smirked. “Something just landed in Normal. Get ready, Andie. This town is going to need a witch, and that witch is you.” 

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About the Author

Amy Boyles grew up reading Judy Blume and Christopher Pike. Somehow, the combination of coming of age books and teenage murder mysteries made her want to be a writer. After graduating college at DePauw University, she spent some time living in Chicago, Louisville, and New York before settling back in the South. Now, she spends her time chasing two toddlers while trying to stir up trouble in Silver Springs, Alabama, the fictional town where Dylan Apel and her sisters are trying to master witchcraft, tame their crazy relatives, and juggle their love lives.
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