Witches of Mystic Hollow, Book Two
I was pretty sure my life would get back to normal the moment Azzie was out of it. However, things aren’t exactly unfolding the way I’d like them to. With our house gone, my family is staying with the Sullivans. Not that I mind sharing a room with my best friend, but all she wants to do is talk about magic, while all I want to do is forget about it.
My sister is still bent on dating her crush, and my parents are still bent on me chaperoning her. With a date. Who hangs out at the Sullivans’ all the time and annoys me to no end. And to top it all off, I’ve managed to accidentally unleash a demon on our school who now terrorizes the students and sets random objects on fire.
Why can’t I ever just be normal?
Enchant Me will be published in October 2017. If you would like to be notified when it’s available, please sign up for my newsletter.
There’s something to be said about large beds. The one I’m failing to fall asleep in right now definitely isn’t one of those. My best friend Jessie is asleep on the other side of it, completely oblivious to the fact that her elbow is lodged in my throat, while her leg is pressing my stomach into my backbone. Come to think of it, I think my throat is already there.
I gently push first the elbow and then the leg off. Jessie moans, rolls over on her side, hugs me and nuzzles my cheek. Great, now there’s drool all over my face. I wriggle out of Jessie’s embrace and put a pillow in my stead. Jessie hugs the pillow and buries her face in it, making a funny clucking sound with her tongue.
I assess the situation. The alarm clock on the nightstand shows 8:15 a.m., and although I went to bed pretty late last night—or rather this morning—I don’t want to go back to sleep. I don’t feel tired at all. And the fact that Jessie has drowned my pillow in her drool doesn’t inspire any sleep-related ideas in me, either.
I know that Jessie won’t be up for a while, because last night after I came back from the party, she made me tell her every single detail about what went on there. I had to admit that the party was pretty amazing. I didn’t even have the time or inspiration to be mad at Chloe for dragging me there, which is saying a lot.
We stayed up until almost three in the morning while I told her about every football player, basketball player, cheerleader, class president, and, surprisingly, chess club president who attended the party. It seemed like Brian, who himself is both the star and the director of all our school musicals, has managed to create some kind of an elite gathering of the most accomplished students of Mystic Hollow High.
In addition to being a great actor, singer, and director, Brian has a knack for decorating and staging, and he decorated his house in the style of Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Even though most of the other kids weren’t wearing costumes, a few chosen ones were dressed as Alice, the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, and other characters from the book. Brian himself was the Cheshire Cat. There was a performance, and even a tea party, with real tea, which I was particularly grateful for, because there was also plenty of beer going around, apparently to cater to every taste.
I was surprised that none of the football players cared for the alcohol, though. Health-conscious much? Or does Coach Dancy give them random urine tests? I suspect it’s the latter, because cheerleaders weren’t abstaining.
When we were leaving the party, I definitely saw stink-eye Jen puking on Brian’s front lawn. One of her friends was holding her hair with one hand and had a beer cup in another. She had Jen’s puke all over her shoes. I can’t say I felt sorry for either of them. I mean, Jen and the other girl, not the shoes. The shoes had been nice and deserved someone to feel sorry for them.
Jessie rolls over on her back and lies spreadeagled, taking up three quarters of the bed. Her left leg is bent at the knee and her left foot is pressed against her right knee. It looks like she’s been doing yoga and got stuck in the tree pose. That’s my favorite pose. For sleeping, not for doing yoga.
I decide to make myself a cup of tea and cozy up with a book somewhere. I’m wearing pajama shorts I borrowed from Jessie and a blue T-shirt that must have belonged to Logan at some point in time but is obviously too small for him now. I think my outfit looks decent enough that I can risk running into someone in the kitchen. At least that’s what I tell myself, but the truth is, I’m too lazy to change into something more appropriate but less comfortable and then have to change back into this comfy outfit—because what normal person does her Saturday morning reading in something else other than her pajamas?
I trudge downstairs and, once in the kitchen, place a teakettle on the stove. I grab a mug from the dish rack and then reach into one of the top cabinets to get the tea. Only the tea is out of my reach, and the harder I try to reach it, the farther away it slips from my grasp. It sucks being short. But before I have the time to contemplate whether I should grab a chair, another hand reaches into the cabinet and takes hold of my tea.
“There you go, Munchkin,” a familiar voice says from behind me.
I slowly turn around, plastering a defiant expression on my face—just because I’m short doesn’t automatically mean that I need someone to get things for me from the top shelves, especially when I haven’t asked for it—and stare at a collarbone. A very naked collarbone. The collarbone is attached to Parker’s chest. Also naked.
I can’t help but stare—it’s right there in front of me—and I’m too stunned to move away. Also, my mouth has opened in shock, but when my eyes travel upward and focus on Parker’s arrogant smirk, I’m pretty sure he has interpreted my stunned silence and gaping mouth very differently from what they actually mean.
“Jeez, Munchkin, stop ogling me. You’ll make me blush.” Even the roots of his hair are smirking at me.
Before I can come up with a retort, the fridge door closes and Logan reappears with a carton of orange juice and a basketball under his arm. “I don’t think that qualifies as ogling,” he says. “She’s probably trying to come up with a spell to knock you out.” Logan guzzles orange juice right out of the carton. He’s not wearing a shirt, either. In fact, the only items of clothing they both are wearing are shorts and running shoes. Are they going to play outside? Because it’s barely sixty degrees out there.
“Can I have my tea, please?” I ask, sticking my hand out for the tea.
Apparently, that isn’t the right thing to say, because Parker grins at me and then lifts the hand holding the tea over his head and way out of my reach. Even if I jump, I won’t be able to grab it. Even if I put on super-high heels and jump, I still won’t be able to get hold of it.
I still jump, though. It must be a reflex or something, because I know it’s a futile endeavor. I don’t reach the tea, of course. I try again, and this time I almost grab Parker’s wrist, so he moves the tea to another hand.
“Ugh, I thought you wanted to help me with the tea,” I say, irritated.
“Whatever gave you that impression?” He raises his eyebrows in mock surprise.
“Um, when you said ‘there you go, Emmy’ after you grabbed the tea from under my nose.”
“That’s not what I said.”
I squint at him.
“And he didn’t exactly grab it from under your nose,” Logan helps his buddy out. “More like from a couple of feet above your nose.” He shakes the carton of juice, which sounds empty, and then tosses it into the waste bin.
The kettle on the stove starts hissing and sputtering boiling water. This distracts Parker for a second. I use the distraction and pinch his side, then, while he’s too surprised to react, I jump up and grab the tea out of his hand.
“Ouch,” he says and rubs his side. “Was that really necessary?”
“Seriously?” I ask him while I put a tea bag inside the mug and pour some hot water over it.
“No, not really.” Parker grins. “Why are you up so early, anyway?” he asks me, while Logan helps himself to a slice of cold pizza from the fridge.
“Um, a magical amulet that affects my sleep patterns, remember?” I pull the necklace he gave me from under the T-shirt I’m wearing. “What’s your excuse?” I know he only had a few hours of sleep, since he drove me here from the party last night, after midnight, then he obviously drove himself home, and then back here in the morning. Why would anyone bother with all that driving on a Saturday morning?
Before Parker can answer my question, a basketball bounces off the side of his head.
“Jeez, what was that for?” Parker glares at his best friend while rubbing a new bump on his head.
“Sorry.” Logan grins like he’s not sorry at all. “I didn’t realize you could get so distracted hiding tea from little girls.”
I want to say something about being called a little girl and also about the fact that I got my tea without anyone’s help, thank-you-very-much, but any of that would be lost on them, because Parker and Logan have started wrestling for the basketball.
I pick up my tea and try to navigate around the scuffle, stepping sideways, and almost spilling my tea a couple of times. I’m finally on the other side of the kitchen and am about to congratulate myself on safely transporting a full mug of very hot tea around two testosterone-driven teenagers fighting for a ball, when I bump my shoulder into something. I’m pretty sure that something is not a wall—it’s too soft and too warm to be one. A little tea spills out of the mug, and a few hot drops land on my bare thighs.
“Oh, sorry, honey,” my dad says as I wave my hand in front of my thighs trying to cool them off.
I turn around and my eyes meet another collarbone. Attached to a naked but this time slightly hairier chest. My mouth gapes open just for a second, and then I quickly cover up my eyes with my hand.
“Oh my God, Dad! Not you, too.” This house does not have a good influence on my father. He never walks around bare-chested, especially not during breakfast time. He always wears at least a T-shirt, usually a shirt and a tie. To be honest, I don’t even know what is more disturbing—Parker shirtless or my dad shirtless. No, I do know. Both. Both are equally disturbing.
“What?” Dad shrugs at me. He’s wearing shorts and sneakers. Mr. Sullivan, who is standing behind him, is dressed in the same attire.
I’m starting to hate tea. I think it’s all this beverage’s fault that I have to stare at four naked hairy chests—okay, two of them not so hairy just yet—first thing in the morning.
“Dad, you don’t play basketball,” I try to reason with him.
“Sure I do,” he says matter-of-factly, as if he does indeed play basketball every Saturday morning with his buddies. Only he doesn’t have any basketball buddies, and he doesn’t play sports, unless you count cheering from a couch with a bottle of beer as playing sports.
“In all my sixteen years, I haven’t seen you play once.”
“Sure you have. You just don’t remember.”
“So, the last time you played basketball was what? Fifteen years ago?”
“Something like that,” he says, flexing his biceps and pectoral muscles.
My dad has pectoral muscles and he can flex them. I could have lived to a ripe old age without ever knowing that fact. I would have preferred to have lived to a ripe old age without ever knowing that fact. What’s next? My mom is going to start doing butt exercises in front of me?
“Ready to kick the kids’ asses, Chuck?” Mr. Sullivan asks my dad.
“Sure thing, Ed,” Dad says as he ruffles my hair.
I’m pretty sure my dad and Mr. Sullivan are the ones who are going to get their asses kicked, but I keep that thought to myself. The dads leave, and Logan and Parker follow them. Logan tousles my hair on the way out.
“Hey!” I swat his hand away, but while one of my hands is busy keeping Logan from messing with my hair, and the other one is still holding the tea, Parker manages to ruffle my hair, too. Then both guys disappear before I can even say another word.
If this is any indication of what my mornings are going to be like in this household, I think I’d rather go live in my own room—even if it is just a pile of ashes right now.
Back in Jessie’s room, I curl up in an armchair by the window with my tea and a new Jennifer L. Armentrout book I found on Jessie’s nightstand. Jessie herself is still blissfully asleep, slobbering all over my pillow. She’s smiling in her sleep, too, probably dreaming about Gabe from The Undead Chronicles—I can count at least three of his posters in the room. I suddenly miss the huge Warren poster that used to hang above the bed in my room. Now it’s gone, like the rest of my stuff.
Sighing, I open the book and manage to read half of the first paragraph when I hear shouts from the outside. When four men decide to play basketball on a Saturday morning, they don’t care that some of us like to spend our mornings in peace and quiet, with a nice book, rather than shoving each other in the backyard.
I sneak a peek out the window and notice my dad and Mr. Sullivan congratulate each other with a chest bump. My mouth hangs open, and I’m not sure if it’s because I will never be able to erase this image from my mind, or because it means that our dads actually pulled one over on Logan and Parker.
“What’s going on out there?” Jessie yawns and stretches her limbs. “Are they playing basketball again?”
“Yep, all four of them,” I confirm.
“All four? What are you talking about?”
“Logan, Parker, and our dads.”
“No way. I have to see that.” She jumps off the bed all too eagerly.
“Trust me, you don’t want to see that.” I try to stop her before she gets a glimpse of something that will make her want to gouge her eyes out.
Jessie doesn’t listen, of course, and gets to the window just in time for another chest bump. Her mouth hangs open just as mine did a few seconds ago. Then she blinks and rubs her eyes.
“You were right.” She turns to me. “Why don’t I ever listen to you? From now on, I am going to do everything you say I should do. And not do anything you say I shouldn’t do.”
“No, you won’t.” I grin at her.
Jessie flops on the window seat, making sure to turn her back to the window. “I didn’t even know our dads could play basketball, let alone that they could beat those two.”
“They can’t play and they definitely can’t beat anyone. I’m pretty sure Parker and Logan are letting them win.”
“I think I’d punch Logan if he ever even suggested that I needed him to let me win at something. Anyway, do they have to be naked while they play?” Jessie cringes as she peeks out the window at the four men who are wearing only shorts and sneakers.
“I don’t know. You tell me. Is that what they do every Saturday morning?”
“Parker and Logan—yes. My dad and your dad—no. Whatever.” Jessie shivers all over as if to shake the image of our dads running around half-naked out of her mind. Good luck with that.
I go back to reading my book and drinking tea, while Jessie grabs her laptop, goes back to the window seat and checks her email.
I manage to read to the end of the second paragraph when I hear a squeal of delight. “Yay! Ciara wrote me back,” Jessie explains her enthusiasm. “Adelise has plans for tomorrow, so Ciara has the house to herself. We can come over, and she will teach us how to read those magic runes.”
I wouldn’t call it a yay!-kind-of moment, but Jessie seems excited beyond measure.
“Please tell me you’re not seriously thinking about continuing with this whole magic thing? Isn’t the fact that my house has burned down enough of an indication that it’s not a good idea to dabble into it? Actually, I think it’s a pretty good indication that we should stay as far away from magic as possible.”
“We just need a little practice, that’s all,” Jessie says matter-of-factly as if what I just told her doesn’t mean anything. And apparently to her, it doesn’t. She stares at the screen of her laptop, then starts typing—probably an answer to Ciara’s email.
I bite my lower lip, trying to come up with the best approach of how to handle this situation. I really need to keep Jessie away from magic, because it’s not going to end well for either of us, but I have no idea how to convince her to let it go. When Jessie gets something into her head, it’s almost impossible to persuade her otherwise.
I need to come up with some kind of plan, and it has to be something really good if I want to change her mind—she seems really bent on following through with this whole learning magical runes thing. Maybe I could ask Logan for help? I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want his sister to become a practicing witch—and potentially do to their house what we did to mine; but, on the other hand, his trying to help could backfire and make things even worse—Jessie does not have a history of listening to her brother’s advice.
My lip feels sore from all the nervous biting. I stop nibbling at it and start thinking even harder, but I can’t come up with a solution. I’m not sure if there actually is a way to stop Jessie from playing with magic, but one thing I am sure of: there is absolutely no way I am going to let her drag me into this again.
The last time we performed a spell—which backfired pretty badly—I was just trying to play along. But this time I know that playing along is not going to simply feed into Jessie’s delusions—because, as it turns out, they are not delusions at all—but is going to be downright dangerous. We don’t need another house destroyed, or we’ll just run out of houses to burn down with magic.
“Count me out,” I say.
“What? Why?” Jessie looks up from her laptop and stares at me with her eyes open wide and her eyebrows traveling into her hairline, as if the thought of someone not wanting to get into trouble—magical kind of trouble—is completely alien to her. Well, I suppose it is alien to her. As much as I love my best friend, I have to admit that caution and common sense are not among her virtues.
“Look around.” I point my hands at the room.
She looks at me like I’m making no sense.
I sigh. Do I actually need to spell this out for her? “Because of magic, my house is gone, my family has no place to live, so we have to impose on you. We have no earthly possessions. No clothes to wear. I think I’ll have to wear this old Logan’s T-shirt,”—I tug at the hem of my garment—“to school on Monday morning because I have literally no other clothes.”
Jessie clears her throat, interrupting my rant.
“What?” I ask.
“Actually, that’s Parker’s T-shirt,” she says with a smirk.
My hand automatically drops the hem of the T-shirt like it’s on fire, even though the rest of the T-shirt is obviously still touching my skin. “How in the world did I end up wearing Parker’s T-shirt? And how in the world did it end up in your wardrobe?”
“I don’t know.” Jessie shrugs. “He must have left it here by accident a couple of years ago, then Mom washed it and put it with my clothes.”
“Right, because it’s such a normal thing for Parker to walk around your house—and then around town—with no shirt on.”
“Sure, if it’s hot outside.”
I’m speechless. I meant what I said about Parker walking around shirtless as sarcasm, but apparently it was a simple statement of fact.
I walk over to the dresser, pull the T-shirt off, then rummage inside the drawer for something that couldn’t have belonged to Parker at any point in time. Something like this T-shirt with cute little owls on it.
“Why did you take it off? Do you think Parker will recognize it?” Jessie asks as I grab the owl T-shirt.
“Oh my God, I didn’t even think about it until you suggested it,” I say, feeling queasy. I quickly put the owl T-shirt on.
“What’s the big deal? So he was your date last night, and today you’re wearing his T-shirt. I’m sure that won’t give him any ideas.”
I turn around and glare at Jessie. She’s trying really hard not to laugh, pursing her lips tightly together, but her entire body is shaking with suppressed laughter. I grab a pillow from the bed and throw it at her. By some miracle it smacks her right on the forehead, stops for a second, then falls to her lap. For a moment Jessie’s body stops shaking, but then she bursts into real laughter.
“Okay, now that you’ve had your fun at my expense, can we please forget about it?”
Jessie wipes a tear from her eye. “I’ll do my best, but I can’t promise anything. Anyway, returning to our conversation about magic. I don’t think that you should just give up on it because it, well, didn’t work out perfectly the first time.”
“Because nothing good and nothing that’s worth pursuing ever works out perfectly the first time you try it,” Jessie continues lecturing me. “Besides, we didn’t know what we were doing the first time. And the second time,” she adds quickly. “But if we learn more about magic, try some easier spells first, maybe it won’t be so bad.”
“Like we’ll only blow up one room instead of an entire house?”
“Something like that.” Jessie grins.
“Still, I’ll have to pass,” I say.
“But didn’t you say it was the most amazing adventure you’d ever been in?”
“It was the only adventure I’d ever been in, and I intend to keep it that way. I have enough memories to last me a lifetime.”
“Are you saying there’s nothing I can do to make you change your mind?”
“There’s nothing in the entire universe that can make me change my mind, trust me.”
Enchant Me will be published in October 2017. If you would like to be notified when it’s available, please sign up for my newsletter.