Dreaming of a Witch Christmas
It’s beginning to look a lot like Yuletide…
And newlywed Jane Madison needs to find a gift for her warder David Montrose. A pen set and a necktie would be easy, but those are hardly gifts of the heart. Fortunately, Jane does a little witchy research and discovers the perfect present. But now that she’s found it, she’s not certain she can afford it—in terms of money or of magic! Will Yule turn out to be the most wonderful time of the year? Or is Jane destined for a blue Christmas?
Which made a perfect excuse to be sitting inside, in the Cake Walk bakery, nursing a hot chocolate and trying to keep from snitching the last Hot Spiced Plum mini-cupcake from its pottery plate. Melissa White, the evil baker who’d dreamed up that molasses and caramel confection, did what a best friend should do. She pushed the plate closer and urged me to snitch away.
“Maybe I’ll just get David a box of your mini cupcakes,” I said, after licking the caramel glaze from my fingertips.
“Nothing says First Married Christmas like baked goods,” Melissa agreed with a sanguine smile.
Married. After only two weeks of wedded bliss, the word still sent a shiver of pleasure down my spine. I twisted the silver band on my left ring finger.
Melissa consigned the now-empty pottery plate to the sink. “As a witch, aren’t you supposed to skip all this Christmas stuff? Isn’t Yule your winter holiday of choice?”
I shrugged. “Same difference, in a lot of ways. We have a pine tree in the front room, decorated with a lot of sun ornaments to encourage the rebirth of the year. We have a Yule log in the fireplace, decorated with three candles—red, green, and white. I set out bowls of cinnamon sticks and cedar chips, and the pine boughs make the whole place smell like the holidays. I was never real big on mangers and magi and all that traditional Christmas stuff.”
“You’re just traditional enough to send your students home for a couple of weeks,” Melissa smirked.
“The Jane Madison Academy is formally on Winter Break,” I said primly. My school for witches was about to undergo some major changes, based on a major catastrophe two weeks earlier. But I wasn’t going to dwell on that. Not with two shopping days left before Yule. I knew how to prioritize emergencies. I took another slug of hot chocolate before saying, “I’m sure you finished your holiday shopping months ago, Little Miss Organized. What did you get Rob?”
Melissa wrinkled her nose. “I held off on getting anything, until I knew if he’d make partner at the law firm.”
“And now that he has?” The vote had been held two days earlier. My Birkenstock-clad best friend was thrilled for her husband, but devastated at the thought of attending formal firm events.
“I bought him a membership in one of those airline clubs because he’ll be doing a lot more travel.”
Yeah. I couldn’t quite steal that idea. When David needed to get from point A to point B, he used warder’s magic. No airport lounges for him.
Melissa said, “And I bought him a booklet of parking vouchers for hockey games, down at the Arena.”
Another non-starter where David was concerned. He could apply his warder’s powers to find curbside parking anywhere in the city. Not that he even followed hockey.
“I wanted to get him something for his new office,” Melissa continued, “But it’ll take a few months before one opens up at the firm. So I settled on getting him a Montblanc pen, instead.”
“That’s brilliant!” I said, jumping to my feet in a rush of enthusiasm.
“Um, it’s a pen.”
“No. I mean, Rob will love it, I’m sure. But I could get one for David.”
“There’s a good selection at—”
Before she could tell me the best purveyor of luxury pens in the Washington DC metro area, the door to the bakery swung open. A trio of customers swirled in on a bitter wind, bringing snow and ice with them. I glanced at the clock on the wall. It was nearly three o’clock—long past any time I could reasonably have called my lunch break.
As I collected my purse from the counter, Melissa said, “Wait! I wanted to talk to you about a yoga retreat. The studio is doing a New Year’s Day seminar, with hot yoga in the morning, and—”
“Sorry. I can’t make it.”
“You don’t even know what time it is!”
I inclined my head toward the avid customers who crowded the display case. “I’ll let you get back to work.”
“Come on, Jane!” Melissa was well-accustomed to my yoga-avoiding ways. “Rock, paper, scissors.”
“Whoops!” I said, cinching my scarf tight around my neck. “Will you look at the time?”
I dashed out of the bakery, leaving Melissa to serve her paying clientele. That had been a close call.