Snippet Sunday — Better Witch Next Time

Okay, so technically it’s Monday, but for the sake of Snippet Sunday, we’re going to pretend it’s still the weekend.

Deal?

Good, because I’m really excited to share this snippet it with you. It’s from the Witch in Time Mystery series that I’ve collaborated on with some FANTASTIC authors  (authors like Ava Mallory, Mona Marple, Jenna St. James, and KM Waller…like I said, fantastic authors!)

First, here’s the blurb:

Would you travel to the past to right a wrong?
Solve a cold case?
Catch a killer?

Meet one of the five witches who will.

Vee Harper is the job. 

She lives for jumping back in time and solving cold cases for the Agency of Paranormal Peculiarities. It’s the present day that trips her up. So when a missing persons case comes in, throwing her back to 1958 New York City, Vee sets off to solve it.

But nothing about this case is what it seems.

Rogue witches, power-hungry shifters, and friends who are anything but innocent send Vee on a supernatural chase that just might require more power than even this witch can summon. 

Can Vee solve the case before her time is up or will Irene Hendricks remain missing forever?

And without further ado, here’s a look at BETTER WITCH NEXT TIME. Available for preorder now!

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

“You’re killing me,” Andrew said. What had started as a promising relationship quickly tanked after two weeks of dating. Andrew had presented himself as a confident and smart business attorney, but he turned out to be neither. We were standing on my front porch, it was summertime, the sun was setting, and the country setting would’ve been completely romantic if the man before me didn’t make me cringe. Andrew looked up at me with puppy dog eyes. Big fat crocodile tears rolled down his cheeks. 

I looked away. I would rather take down a murderous ghost or a rogue witch compared to having this conversation.

How in the world had it come to this? All because I hadn’t returned Andrew’s afternoon phone call. That was how. 

“I was just worried about you. I swear, I won’t call you tomorrow,” he pleaded.

“That’s what you said when you showed up here yesterday,” I reminded him before shaking my head. It was a moot point. It wasn’t just the incessant phone calls and frequent daily visits. Honestly, I should’ve been flattered that a guy was that smitten by me, and maybe I was the first couple of times it happened, but now I was just straight up annoyed and looking to end whatever this was between the two of us as quickly as possible. “You know what, that doesn’t matter. Honestly, it’s not just that. None of this is working out.”

 “What do you mean? I’ll do better. I promise. I won’t call you anymore, ever,” Andrew replied, unaware of how ridiculous that sounded. 

“Just trust me on this. We’re too different,” I said.

“I can change. Just tell me who you want me to be,” Andrew offered. 

There were so many things wrong with that statement that I didn’t even know where to begin. So I didn’t even go there. Instead I said, “No, that’s not the way it works. Listen I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in dating you anymore.” It was harsh, but the guy just wasn’t getting it.

Andrew tentatively reached up to brush his hand across my cheek. 

I took a step back. 

“Don’t.” I held my hands up in a stopping motion, but quickly dropped them before I blasted Andrew backwards. Despite my physical restraint, my power hummed to the surface. The energy was ready to be released, charged by the emotions that hung in the air like humidity on a hot summer’s night.

“But I love you,” Andrew said, his bottom lip quivering.

“You love me? Oh c’mon. Two weeks, Andrew. We’ve been seeing each other for two weeks. That’s not love. Maybe a touch of lust, but certainly not love.”

“I don’t need a number to quantify my feelings for you.” Andrew shook his head, sending more tears falling. He wiped his snotty nose on the arm of his business suit. A suit that I had once thought he had looked sexy in. Then I got to know him. Andrew blew his nose in the crook of his arm. I didn’t think I could’ve been anymore turned off by the guy, and yet there I was.

I sighed in frustration and looked down at Agatha, my Siamese cat and familiar. I swear she was laughing. Agatha, who’s heyday had been at the turn of the twentieth century, found modern dating to be hysterical. Especially since she didn’t have to live through it. Agatha used her tan paw to stifle a laugh. I gave her my best evil eye, which only made her laugh harder. Thank goodness Andrew was too busy having an emotional breakdown to notice. 

This was hopeless. Why was I magnet for emotionally unstable men? 

Then, my evening brightened as I spotted an unmarked delivery truck head down the country road and come bumping up my dirt driveway. To the average eye, the white nondescript truck looked like it could be delivering anything—flowers, food, furniture. Only I knew it was something more. Fifteen years working for the Agency of Paranormal Peculiarities and I could spot a new case coming from a mile away. A country mile, to be exact. Except when the cases just magically appeared on my dining room table. I hated when they did that. 

Agatha rubbed against my leg telling me she saw it too. Being made of magic, she could go wherever I went, including back in time (that is when she felt like it), which was exactly what we did for the agency. I was one of a select few witches trained to travel back in time and solve cold cases. Only they weren’t cold when I arrived on the scene. Like my mother, I lived for the job, and I never turned a case down. Ever. Let’s just hope I wouldn’t meet the same fate she did and one day never return home.

Andrew continued to declare his love for me and beg me to reconsider dumping him while I signed for the familiar-marked package. 

“You okay?” The delivery driver asked me while handing the package over. No doubt he was a supernatural of some sort. Werewolf if my nose wasn’t mistaken. They always gave off a wild scent, like being in the middle of the woods after a rain storm—earthy and animalistic. The driver eyed Andrew who was now pacing the porch, listing out loud his qualities. 

“Solid job, fast car, nice hair,” Andrew rattled off.

Oh brother. “Yeah it’s okay, I’ve got it,” I replied, tucking the awkward-sized box under my arm. I left Andrew on the porch and went inside and put the box on the couch. Part of me thought of just locking the door, or better yet, hopping back in time to where ever this assignment took me and leaving Andrew still standing on the porch. The only problem with that was he’d still be there when I got back.

Grudgingly, I went back out to the front porch. 

I looked down at Agatha, to Andrew, and back to Agatha again. She nodded, knowing what I was about to do. I glance from side to side out of habit to make sure the coast was clear. Not that I needed to worry living out in no-man’s land here. I didn’t even have any neighbors, not unless you counted the deer that nosed on through the farm fields every evening. 

With the delivery driver long gone, I walked over and took Andrew by his hand. Skin to skin worked best. Andrew smiled at my contact and then his eyes rolled back. The smile momentarily replaced by a goofy grin while his mind floated off in La-la Land. I was careful to only hold on for five seconds. I didn’t want to erase too much of his memory. Andrew blinked a time or two when I let go of his hand. 

“I guess you should be going,” I said when he looked over at me.

“What?” Andrew replied, shaking his head as if trying to make sense of the situation. 

“Just so you know, I completely respect that you want to date other people,” I said, planting the seed in his mind where I knew it would grow.

“Date other people?” Andrew asked.

“Yes, and you’re right. I think there is someone out there who is perfect for you, and I’m not her. Good luck.” I took a couple of steps back. 

“Er, right. Okay. Well, good night then.” Andrew looked around my yard, seeming to take in the old farm house with its freshly-painted white clapboard siding and wide-planked front porch, for the first time. He sort of swayed a bit as he walked down the steps back to his flashy sports car. 

“Do you think you might have zapped a bit too much?” Agatha asked me.

Andrew got behind the wheel and zoned out for a second before starting the car. “Nah, he’ll be alright,” I said, walking back inside the house, leaving the screen door to slap shut behind me. 

“Let’s see what we’ve got here,” I said, picking back up the box and carrying it with me to the kitchen table.

At about the same time, my cell phone rang. I took it out of the pocket of my jean shorts and saw that it was my best friend and fellow cold-case solving witch, Lexi Sanders.

“Was that ripple in the atmosphere you breaking up with another boyfriend?” Lexi asked me when I answered the phone.

“You seriously couldn’t sense it, could you?” I’d like to think my best friend was joking, but Lexi had the ability to sense things others couldn’t.

“Maybe,” she joked back.

“Why do men have to be so…so…” I was at a loss for words.

“Clingy?” Lexi filled in.

“Yes! And just down right ridiculous. You should’ve seen Andrew, he was acting like a nut. I hate it. I’m just not cut out for dating.” I loved men, but I hated relationships. And I didn’t date warlocks. Too much of a power struggle. The fleeting image of my father, the wicked warlock, leaving my mother and running off in the wind came to mind.

“Girl, I hear you,” Lexi replied.

“But things are going good with you and…” Shoot, what was Lexi’s new boyfriend’s name?

“Shawn.”

“That’s it,” I said. “Sorry, my mind is so scattered. Yet another reason not to date!”

Lexi laughed. “You just haven’t met the right guy yet.”

“I’m pretty sure he doesn’t exist. But, I’m happy things are going well with you and Shawn.

“So far. None of my scare tactics seem to be working,” she replied.

“Give it time,” I joked back. Agatha jumped up on the table and started rubbing against the box, reminding me to get back to it. “Hey listen, I have to run. Special delivery.”

“Where you off to?” Lexi asked.

“Don’t know yet. I haven’t even opened the box.”

“Well, take care, you. Call me when you’re back,” Lexi replied.

“Will do, and you know I’ll fill you all in on the next debriefing.” Twice a year all of us time-traveling witches were summoned by the agency for a long weekend away where we were expected to reflect on our recent cases, share our tips and tricks of the trade, and gel together as a team. Industry professionals had conferences, we had debriefing sessions. Personally, I liked to think of it less as a work function and more as a time to drink fruity cocktails with my girls and work on my tan. 

“Where is it at this time, Cabo?” Lexi said.

“Some place like that,” I replied.

“Good deal. Now go kick some butt.”

I clicked off with Lexi and looked down at Agatha. “You ready to do this?” I asked her.

“Open her up. Let’s see where they’re sending you off to this time,” my feline friend replied.

I cut the tape and dug inside. First out was a lovely kelly green dress with capped sleeves, a tight bodice and a pleated skirt. A corset, a pair of black high heels and a black leather purse completed the look. Inside the purse was a wallet with a fake ID, a handful of dollar bills and some change. I pushed the clothes aside and rifled through the accompanying papers. A small gold key was tucked in a pocket envelop with an address on the outside: 505 West 85th Street. Apartment 2A. New York City. My new residence, I presumed. Then I read the file.

“A missing person’s case,” I told Agatha. “Irene Hendricks. It appears she walked out of her family’s Upper West Side apartment and was never heard from again.”

“And the year?” Agatha asked, jumping up on the table and nosing the box’s contents.

“Nineteen fifty-eight.” What did I know about New York City in nineteen fifty-eight? About the same amount that I knew about living in the Upper West Side. 

Not much. 

No time like the present to find out. 

“Pass,” Agatha said, stretching out on the table, belly-side up. 

“What do you mean pass? I might need your help on this one.” Everyone knew that familiars were supposed to help witches. It was part of the deal.

“You know how to find me if you need me,” Agatha replied, closing her eyes and drifting off to sleep as if that settled it. 

Yeah, I did know how to find her, through astral projection. But that took a heck of a lot of power and it would just be easier to have her by my side. Let’s just hope I didn’t need her…

I got my head in the game while getting ready. I had been to the Big Apple before, but I’d never worked the city as a cold case and the fifties weren’t my speciality. Most cases dropped me someplace mundane, like Idaho in the seventies. But I never turned down a case. I liked to think of this assignment as a sort of promotion. The further back you had to travel, the more power it took to get there. Apparently my supervisors thought I was ready. I wasn’t going to let them down. 

It took longer than I’d ever admit to putting the corset on. The blasted thing had about thirty eyelets to fasten. Thank heavens I’d only be spending a week in nineteen fifty-eight. That was the maximum amount of time we were allowed to work a case, seven days. I pulled the dress over my head and smoothed the fabric out flat. It was the type of dress a girl wanted to twirl in, if I was the twirling type. 

I added a couple of personal items to my issued leather purse. Things like a quartz crystal for scrying, and my tiger’s eye for protection, plus the rather mundane, but necessary sleuthing items like rubber gloves. It’s a sad fact, but fingerprints could track you across time. 

“Guard the house,” I said to Agatha. And I knew she would, seeing it was her place before mine.

Agatha opened one eye, yawned and fell back asleep. That was familiars for you. 

My magic was at the ready, thanks to Andrew’s recent visit. The moment I was centered, the energy flooded to the surface in a hot second. I closed my eyes and sat for a minute with the power. It snapped and crackled at my fingertips, just waiting to be instructed. I took a deep breath and, on the exhale, said the words that would take me back in time.

Crimes are unpunished 
The world’s not right. 
Cosmos guide me into the time-travel light. 
To the past I’ll travel 
Absent of any time ripple. 
Nineteen fifty-eight is my time 
to solve this heinous crime.

**Preorder Better Witch Next Time and save 40% today!

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