(Halfway Witchy Series #2)
by Terry Maggert
The circus came to Halfway, and they brought the weird.
When clowns, vampires, and corpses start piling up in town, Carlie has to break away from her boyfriend, Wulfric, to bring her witchy skills to the table- or grill, as the case may be.
When the body of a young woman washes up in the lake, it unleashes a spiral of mystery that will bring Carlie, Gran, and Wulfric into a storm of magical warfare. Spells will fly. Curses will rain. Amidst it all, Carlie will make waffles, protect her town, and find out if a man from the distant past can join her in happy ever after.
With love and honor at stake, Carlie has no peer.
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Chapter One: Mail Call
The moon hung full, meaning I would sleep on the couch to listen for the squeak of my mail slot announcing the plaintive request for a secret spell. That was where people who I rarely knew would push a handmade envelope through the slim space to fall into my home; the letter would slide across the floor with a swishing rasp before coming to a stop. I would then open each letter in the moonlight of my kitchen, where I got down to the business of being a good witch.
In a sense, I grant wishes.
I have growing power. I’m a work in progress, I guess, and I feel it in my bones that every little bit of effort must be made to keep the most subtle kinds of evil at bay. Things like loneliness. Fear. A loss of caring. These are the things that all of my spell requests are built around; the words change but the pleas are always the same. I think that because of this ability to use my magic, I understand that there must be goodness in the world in order to foster even greater kindness. I’m okay with that. It’s my calling.
My Gran taught me that goodwill should be freely given. The ability to be kind without strings is the mark of pure magic; its sole purpose can only be fulfilled when there is no expectation of reward. In a sense, the envelopes that fall to the wood floor of my foyer are the closest thing to a physical prayer that I will ever see. I treat each request with the care it deserves, and I am utterly committed to lessening the suffering of the people around me. Gran always told me that someday, I’d think of myself as a priestess who cared for the world around me, and I think I’m starting to understand.
The moon slides across my kitchen in a soft pane of light for three nights out of each month, unless it’s cloudy, or snowing, or rainy. It’s during this transit of light that I wait in a state somewhere between dreams and reality. If I doze too soundly, Gus will wake me when an envelope arrives, but for the most part, there’s a part of my mind that anticipates each quiet plea. To fill the hours between now and then, I went to the kitchen to graze. It’s a scientific fact that if you eat while standing over the sink, it is neither a meal nor does it count against your alleged workout plan. Fortunately for me, the diner keeps me in shape, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling a twinge of guilt when I eat something that has no nutritional value whatsoever.
Like right now. I selected a spoon that is just small enough to fit in my mouth, opened the fridge, and pulled out a tub of homemade peach ice cream.
“Hello, beautiful,” I murmured. “We’re about to get uncomfortably close for the next half hour.” I spooned the first frigid bite of heaven into my mouth and let my eyes close with the kind of pleasure that only ice cream or a lingering kiss can bring. The spoon rested on my tongue, cold and brittle, and I was moving to dredge another bite when the mail flap opened and an envelope slid onto the floor. Gus eyed the ice cream with a feral speculation; he wasn’t above pilfering licks if I left the tub unattended, so the ice cream went with me to the foyer.
I bent to pick it up and my hand stopped in mid-air. The paper was marred by three dark smears, but I knew it wasn’t ash or ink.
It was blood.
Moonlight has a curious effect on many things. It can spawn romance, or poems. It can light the water at night and the snow, too, spangling the frozen crystals with the second-hand sun from the other side of the world. In the fall, it can turn an innocent night into something sinister, looming over the harvest like a fat reminder that the veil between worlds is thin indeed. But for blood, it takes that which is crimson and makes it black, and I knew this because it’s something I’ve seen before.
I reached for my power and let my senses drift across the innocuous paper, and I was sorry that I did. Fear, like blood, can stain things, and this message was fairly soaked with the kind of terror that can kill. Gus padded over and uttered a low growl from the depths of his throat; he knew that something bad had made the aura surrounding this plea for. . . .something.
“I guess I have to open it.” Gus hunkered down next to me, an expectant look on his broad feline face. I stood and turned on the hallways light, then plucked the envelope from the floor and opened it in one smooth motion.
It was a torn piece of paper, yellowed from sun or weather. The smell hit me first; a mélange of age and the coppery bite of blood that was still too fresh to be oxidized. The words were clearly written with a fingertip, and in a hand that shook so badly I wondered if the author had survived to the end of the message. I read, turned my eyes for a moment to steady myself, and then read the note once again.
When they find her, you will know. Please do not forget the rest of us.
My mind screamed at the opaque meaning, knowing that somewhere in the depths of those few words was a message that could save lives. I knew intuitively that what I held in my hand had been written at great cost, and curling fingers of dread hooked around my spine and began to squeeze, just to let me know that I was powerless in that moment. I sat down on the floor of my foyer and felt the first hot tears of rage spill down my cheeks, hating that all I could do was wait.
If you know me at all, there are certain things I’m not very good at. Reaching things on the third shelf? Not my thing. Eating butter beans? No way. But the thing that actually galls me is to wait, yet that’s exactly what I did, resting on my couch with Gus until my gray eyes were dark hollows in my face. The sun rose as my stomach roiled with frustration and guilt, but as the light became impossible to ignore, I rose and went to make coffee.
I stood sipping the first cup, my eyes gritty and red. I could feel the low simmer of anger percolating within me even as I stepped into the shower. This was going to be a bad day. I considered and discarded dozens of possible meanings for the note before walking to work with my head down and eyes locked firmly on the sidewalk. It was too early to bother Gran, but I resolved to call her when I could steal a moment away from the grill at the diner. I knew we’d be slammed, but there was something about the note that froze the marrow in my bones.
I didn’t know what was coming, but I could tell it was going to be bad.
Halfway Witchy Series
Halfway Dead (Halfway Witchy Series #1)
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About The Author
Born in 1968, I discovered fishing shortly after walking, a boon, considering I lived in South Florida. After a brief move to Kentucky, my family trekked back to the Sunshine State. I had the good fortune to attend high school in idyllic upstate New York, where I learned about a mythical substance known as "Seasons". After two or three failed attempts at college, I bought a bar. That was fun because I love beer, but, then, I eventually met someone smarter than me (a common event), and, in this case, she married me and convinced me to go back to school--which I did, with enthusiasm. I earned a Master's Degree in History and rediscovered my love for writing. My novels explore dark fantasy, immortality, and the nature of love as we know it. I live near Nashville, Tennessee, with the aforementioned wife, son, and herd, and, when I'm not writing, I teach history, grow wildly enthusiastic tomato plants, and restore my 1967 Mustang.
You can find Terry at
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