Nice Witches Don’t Swear
Librarian-witch Jane Madison is ready for a road trip!
Jane has learned how to work spells, read runes, and bind crystals. She’s ready for a little R&R, a getaway weekend with her best friend.
Heading to a nice, sedate Shakespeare festival, Jane never expected to drive straight into the mother of all thunderstorms. And she never imagined she’d discover a treasured book on witchcraft in a tiny local library. And honey badgers? She never dreamed she’d run into ravening, rampaging honey badgers.
Spells work differently in Assjacket, West Virginia. How quickly can Jane forge a path through the magic and mayhem? Because honey badgers aren’t the worst thing lurking in the shadows!
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That’s what I told myself as I shoved two full-size suitcases, a duffle bag stuffed with shoes, and a bag of emergency mojito supplies into the trunk of my grandmother’s Lincoln Town Car. Sure, I could have narrowed things down a bit. Kept myself to half a dozen changes of clothes for the weekend. Taken only eight pairs of shoes for the four-day trip. Left behind the lime and mint and rum altogether.
But where’s the spontaneity in that?
No holds were barred. I was skipping town with Melissa White, my best friend. We were two wild women, hitting the road for a four-day weekend of debauchery and carousing. We were free of all responsibility—no library for me, no bakery for Melissa. And most importantly, not a whisper of a hint of a scintilla of witchcraft.
That’s right. I’m a witch. I’ll spare you the details—suffice to say I spent the past four months learning how to work spells, read runes, bind crystals, and all sorts of other magical fun and games. I had a familiar, Neko, who supposedly bolstered my powers, when he wasn’t off pursuing the man of his dreams. And I had a warder, David, who put the brakes on anything fun I wanted to do with magic. And I’d discovered that just about every application of my new-found powers was illegal fun, in David’s book.
So, yeah. I was ready for a girl’s night out with Melissa. Make that a girl’s weekend out. But despite the mojito fixings clanking around in the trunk, we weren’t exactly wild and crazy rule-breakers. We were actually heading toward the Shenandoah Shakespeare Theater, in scenic Granite Valley, West Virginia.
What can I say? Melissa and I were lifelong Shakespeare nuts. And the SST was staging a production of Timon of Athens. “Worst Shakespeare Play Ever,” said a lot of critics. That’s why neither Melissa nor I had ever seen a production. So we were hitting the road, big-time—four days of being foot-loose and fancy-free, all in service of the bard. We didn’t have tickets yet, but there was no chance the show would be sold out. It was Timon, after all.
Time to hit the road. At least it would be, as soon as I drove my grandmother’s car over to Melissa’s tiny apartment above the bakery where she worked. I turned around to give Gran a hug. “Thanks again,” I said, jangling my set of her car keys.
“Just make me a promise, dear.”
Oh, no. Not another one of Gran’s promises. She spent the better part of her spare time reading terrifying articles: Ten Things In Your Bedroom That Will Kill You By Midnight. This Woman Went Skydiving Naked And You Won’t Believe What Happened Next. The One Food You Should Never Eat—And It’s In Your Refrigerator Now.
Gran called me after each new discovery.
“Promise you won’t keep baby powder on your nightstand, dear.”
“Promise you’ll carry a flashlight the next time you go skydiving, dear.”
“Promise you won’t eat fermented sheep brains, dear.”
Over the years, I’d learned it was a lot easier to make the promises than it was to argue about their basic premises. Making promises saved a lot of time. And time was increasingly of the essence—I was supposed to pick up my best friend for our road trip extravaganza in less than fifteen minutes.
“I promise,” I said to Gran, reaching out to hug her again.
“You haven’t even heard what I’m asking,” she said, her voice somewhere between a challenge and a sob.
I forced myself to take a calm breath. “Sorry, Gran,” I said.
After raising me for more than twenty-five years, Gran had mastered the art of accepting my apology. She only pursed her lips a little as she said, “Promise me you won’t sleep in any treehouses.”
Immediately, I imagined trying to haul myself up the trunk of a gigantic oak tree, teetering on rustic steps nailed into the trunk. I pictured a giant “No Boys Allowed” sign rattling in a gust of wind. I was one-hundred-percent confident I wouldn’t miss the lure of treehouse living. “Sure, Gran,” I said. “I promise.”
“I wouldn’t ordinarily ask, but I read an article about a luxury hotel in Botswana, where a couple was attacked by an enraged elephant who kept them from reaching ground for over a week.”
Melissa and I didn’t plan on dropping by the African continent during our long weekend. And I was pretty sure we wouldn’t run into any enraged elephants. It seemed like a safe bet to assure Gran. “No treehouses. Cross my heart.”