Rest for the Wicked
By Cate Dean
She's running from her past – and running out of time.
Claire Wiche is an ordinary woman, running her Wicca shop in an ordinary California beach town. But Claire wasn't always ordinary, and she isn't quite human. She hides a secret, and a past she thought she had put behind her.
A past that is about to explode into her present.
When it does, and everyone she loves is in danger, Claire must face up to her past - and become what she left behind in order to save them.
This was one of my favorite scenes to write. I got to create a spell, set the mood, and have it go completely wrong. What fun! Here’s a little background: Annie Sullivan, one of the main characters in The Claire Wiche Chronicles, is doing exactly what she was told by her friend Claire not to do: cast a love spell. As an inexperienced witch, Annie quickly loses control of the spell – with disastrous consequences.
“You can do this,” Annie said to herself, her fingers shaking as she pushed her hair back. “You can do this.”
Opening the notebook, she skimmed the love spell she’d composed that morning—and ignored the guilt scratching at her conscience for lying outright to Claire.
She had learned so much more since that first unfortunate—incident. And she had been practicing. Another little detail she failed to mention after Claire’s last lecture on the dangers of using magic when she wasn’t ready.
She adjusted the cloak on her shoulders and checked everything on the makeshift altar. One pink candle, bought at Claire’s competitor—another scratch at her guilt. A small bowl, holding the herbs for her love powder. A bottle of rose oil, also bought at the competitor. A lighter for the candle, and the photo Mildred had given her: a charming man who looked like he was in his late sixties. A bit young for Mildred, but at least they were born in the same part of the century.
She carved his name into the side of the candle with her athame, and set it in the center of the cloth, next to his photo. Mildred’s photo sat on the other side of the candle. Mixing the herbs, she rubbed them on the candle, then anointed it with the oil. She also rubbed both the powder and oil on his photo, then Mildred’s, to create a connection.
Feeling a little silly, she picked up Mildred’s photo, lit the candle, and held the photo up in front of her, Mildred’s face looking down at her intended target.
Taking a deep breath, she started the spell.
“As this candle burns, so does your love for me,
As this wax melts, so does your heart for me,
By the power of three times three,
As I will, so mote it be!”
After the third time through the table began to shake.
“Uh-oh—” Annie let out a scream as the candle flame shot up and spread across the ceiling. “Oh God!”
She stumbled backward—and fell when she tripped over the stool she’d set behind her just in case. Crawling toward the hall, she tried to call up a counter spell. The fire merely cackled at her and kept coming.
“Where the hell is the extinguisher?” Smoke swirled around her. She coughed, using the velvet of her cloak to keep from breathing in more of it. The same cloak hindered every movement, tangling around her arms, her legs, a living creature bent on stopping her. “Come on—”
She could no longer see through the smoke, her lungs on fire, her eyes blinded by tears. Flattening herself against the floor, she focused on moving. She refused to die here, to let a stupid love spell kill her in the one place she felt safe—
Claire burst through the smoke like an avenging angel.
Grabbing Annie, she dragged her in the opposite direction. Right past the fire extinguisher.
Huddled next to the corner of the door, breathing in the small amount of fresh air seeping in through the uneven bottom, Annie watched Claire as she stood up, both arms raised. The smoke seemed to recoil, and when she started to chant under her breath, the fire whirled away from her.
She closed her hands into fists and the fire screamed, fleeing across the ceiling, followed by the smoke. Claire moved with them, hair flying around her as she raised a wind from nothing. That wind whipped her skirt around her legs, then surrounded the smoke, tore it into dark, writhing shreds until it let out a dying gasp and faded. Then she turned on the fire.
The wind disappeared, left only Claire. Small, defenseless, she stood inches from the burning column, trapped in the far corner of the living room. She spoke a single word.
“Leave.” The fire bulged. Annie screamed as the fire swallowed Claire—then cut herself off when the fire wrapped around Claire, like it hit an invisible shield. “You were not summoned. Now leave before I vanquish you.”
The fire screamed at her. And Annie watched, her mouth dropping open, as it folded in on itself until it finally disappeared.
Claire lowered her head, swaying. With a shaky breath, she pushed hair out of her face and headed for Annie.
“Hush. Let me check you out.” Hands brushed over her, one settling at her throat. “How bad?” Annie coughed, her eyes tearing up. “Okay, then. Arm around me; we’ll get you over to the sofa.”
Claire half-dragged her across her small living room, lowered her to the sofa, and disappeared into the kitchen. Blinking through her tears, Annie scanned the living room. It looked like nothing had happened. No smoke damage, no scorch marks. Claire returned with a glass of water, handed it to her. “Drink.”
Annie obeyed. It felt like heaven as it slipped down her throat, soothing every raw inch. It also gave her a chance to stall, to try and sort out the thoughts flying around her mind. She knew Claire was powerful, but seeing it, seeing her in action— Annie wasn’t sure she could ever look at her friend the same again.
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Cate Dean has been writing since she could hold a pen in her hand and put more than two words together on paper. She grew up losing herself in the wilds of fantasy worlds, and has had some of her own adventures while tromping through the UK, and a few other parts of the world. A lover of all things supernatural, she infuses that love into her stories, giving them a unique edge. When she's not writing, she loves cooking, scaring herself silly in the local cemeteries, and reading pretty much anything she can get her hands on.
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