Read Spellbound: A magical sequel to Bewitched Online
Authors: Daisy Prescott
Tags: #witches, #magical realism, #paranormal romance, #New Adult
Clearly his puritanical beliefs descended from his side of the family and the world view they carried with them on the Mayflower.
Talk about opposites attract. My parents could not be more different.
A witch walks into a bar and meets a future lawyer sounds like the start of a bad joke.
I guess that makes me the punch line.
That’s me. A laugh a minute chucklefest.
“Hi,” Madison speaks from behind me. “Sorry I’m late.”
In the big picture, she’s early, but I don’t tell her that. “You’re perfect.
She returns my smile with her own. “So where are you taking me?”
“It’s a surprise.” I hold out my elbow for her to loop her arm through mine.
“Another dark and mysterious location?”
“The Black Book doesn’t serve dinner.”
“I love that place, but I can’t imagine we’d be able to see anything we were eating at night.”
My favorite café, run by one of my favorite people, Martha, the Black Book was the location of our first date. If a spontaneous afternoon hot chocolate can count as a date, then it was our first. However, tonight is our official beginning.
I lead us off campus and toward the cobble streets of downtown. We pass the witch museums and straggling Halloween decorations from the citywide party last night. At least the sidewalks have been swept clean.
Less than twenty-four hours have passed since our midnight revelations. I can feel Samhain’s power wane as the barrier between ours and the spirits’ world reweaves and thickens. Most people don’t notice the ebbing of magic because they attribute the sensation to the letdown the day after a big event.
From now until Yuletide on the winter solstice as we enter the darkest days of the year, magic quiets. Whatever magic set in motion between Mabon on the fall equinox and Samhain last night will continue along its path. The laws of physics apparently apply to spells, charms, and curses. Unless the coven votes to intervene in a matter of dire consequences, most witches settle in for a few months of downtime. Mom will close the shop an extra day or two as the demand for all things magical slows. It’s like a post-Christmas hibernation for most of the magical world until Yuletide brings back the light.
This makes me feel confident I did the right thing in being honest with Madison last night instead of waiting until her birthday. Everything in place before All Hallow’s Eve at midnight bodes well for Madison and me.
As we pass Salem’s grand old hotel with its enormous white pillars and head in the direction of the old harbor, a cool wind blows in our faces. Madison ducks her head and tightens her red plaid scarf.
“I’m not ready for winter.” The wool around her neck muffles her words.
“Never dread the change of seasons.” I tug the scarf from her chin to kiss her. “I promise to keep you warm.”
Whether from my words, the kiss, or the cold, her cheeks color with a blush.
Over her shoulder I catch movement as we cross the intersection. A black cat darts behind the museum and lands on the low wall surrounding the memorial to the witch trials. It strolls along until it gets to the spot where my family name, Wildes, is carved into the stone. I know the memorial by memory and can tell you all the names, dates of their deaths, and whether or not the victim was a real witch.
The cat pauses to sit, letting his tail swing in front of the stones like an old-fashioned clock pendulum.
I swear the cat blinks his bright yellow eyes at me twice before hopping off the ledge and batting a dead leaf around like a mouse. At least from this distance I think it’s a leaf and not a rodent.
I switch my focus from the cat back to Madison. “Yes?”
“You totally zoned out there for a second. Like you saw a ghost.”
I give her a soft smile. “Not a ghost, more like something familiar.”
When I glance back at the park, the cat is gone. I shake my head, certain I’m imagining my mother’s cat wandering the streets. He’s more likely asleep on a pile of papers in the shop or nestled on top of the back of the couch near the window at home.
“Come on, you’re freezing and we’re almost there.” I guide her to a little seafood restaurant on the water. During the warmer months, a deck doubles the seating capacity, but not tonight. Inside the blue and white space accented with warm wood floors, we’re greeted by the hostess and shown to a rustic wood table in the corner away from the crowd watching the Patriots play football on the bar’s TVs.
Once seated, I brush my hands over my thighs, attempting to calm my nerves.
“Are you nervous?” Madison asks.
I guess I’m not as smooth as I think I am. Normally, I’m so stoic I’ve been accused of wearing a mask. In some ways, that’s true.
Madison is the opposite. She has a terrible poker face. Her eyes reveal her thoughts and emotions. At first glance they’re simple brown, but they continually change. Sometimes they can be completely dark, her pupils disappearing into the deep brown of the irises. Other times, gold and green reveal themselves in bright light.
“I might be a little.”
“Oh, good. Me too.” She smooths out her napkin on her lap and fidgets with her silverware.
Knowing she’s not unaffected helps calm me. My knee stops bouncing and I no longer have the urge to wipe my palms on my jeans to ward off any imagined sweat.
“I’m not sure why I’m nervous. We’ve hung out before.”
“We were kissing less than twenty-four hours ago. I’ve had your tongue in my mouth,” she blurts out.
The words hang over us for a few beats. A server and a busboy pause to look at us.
“Please tell me I didn’t say that loud enough for everyone to hear me.”
My laughter releases more of the awkwardness. “I think only the busboy and maybe the family of four sitting directly behind you.”
She spins to make sure she’s not shouting about tongue kissing in front of children. “I wish only the random busboy heard.”
“Why? I was there. He wasn’t.”
“I remember,” she whispers. While my anxiety has all but disappeared, hers seems to be increasing. I can’t tell if she is embarrassed over her outburst or the idea of kissing me. I need more data.
“I have an idea,” I whisper.
She meets my eyes. Candlelight from the small votive on the table warms the chocolate brown.
I’m not much of a tell kind of guy, so I lean over the small table and brush my lips against hers to show her I remember last night, too. I’m about to deepen the kiss when someone politely coughs to my right.
The loitering busboy is holding a basket of bread and a pitcher of water. I think we could’ve survived without passing out from starvation for another minute … or five.
Smiling, Madison thanks him. “I’m starving.”
I settle back in my chair and bite into a chunk of the warm bread, letting the salty butter coat my tongue. Madison licks a drop from her finger.
I lean forward again. “This is going to sound potentially weird and I probably shouldn’t even say anything, but I missed you today.”
I cringe at how desperate I sound. For me, I’ve lived with these feelings for two years, but for her, we’ve known each other a couple of months. The worst thing I can do is scare her away.
My typical setting around women is neutral. They intrigue me, but don’t fluster me the same way Madison does. No one has ever affected me like she can with a single look or word. Nothing to do with any prediction or magic. She’s an old-fashioned kind of beautiful with a delicate nose and strong chin. With her wide dark eyes set in pale skin framed by dark hair, she’s a classic beauty as my godfather would say. Her delicate appearance hides her fire and intelligence.
Our waiter returns for our order. I say I want whatever Madison is having, earning a funny look from her.
I laugh when our twin salads arrive.
“Seriously? You’re only going to eat a salad? You said you were starving. Aren’t you hungry?” I stab a piece of romaine. “Wait, you’re not doing the girl who only eats a salad on a date thing are you? Please tell me that’s not why.”
“I like salad.” She pokes a crouton with her fork. “They make the best homemade Caesar dressing here. With garlic and real …”
I can’t hear the rest because she’s covered her mouth with her hand.
“Is everything okay?”
She’s not speaking and I’m worried she’s choking. I’m about two seconds from shoving out of my chair to give her the Heimlich when she moves her hand.
“I’m terrible at dating.”
“I’ve ordered the worst thing on the menu for a date. Smelly garlic dressing. I’m cursed.”
“Well, when you put it that way.” I take a huge bite. “It’s a good thing we’re both having the salad.”
Tentatively she takes another bite. “Next time you should order for both of us.”
“Very old-fashioned of you. I figured you for a modern girl. Insisting on splitting the check to the penny.” I give her a shy grin, hoping she realizes I’m teasing. I’m too busy focusing on my stupid joke that it takes me a moment for my brain to process her words. “Next time, I’ll be paying, too. I’m old school when it comes to dates.”
I love the way her smile starts small before her faces lights up with it. Amusement sparks in her eyes.
We spend the rest of the meal chatting about the party and classes at Hawthorne, our favorite writers, food, movies, and growing up in Massachusetts.
“My parents still live on their farm in Hardwick.”
“I didn’t figure you for a farm girl. Sam looks more like the farm-raised, all American ideal.” I bring up Madison’s roommate because the two of them could not be more opposite. While Madison is petite and dark, Sam resembles a corn stalk with her height and blond hair. Perhaps not the most flattering description, but not inaccurate either.
“She’s wholesome on the outside, but don’t let the perfect smile fool you. There’s a heart of darkness beneath the blond braids.”
“What lies beneath your dark beauty? Rainbows and kittens?”
She tilts her head back and laughs. “Yes, I’m ninety-seven percent rainbow filling.”
“You have the best laugh. You should do it more often.”
“I could say the same about your smile. I see you’re back to your disguise.” She points at my glasses and brown contacts. The two combine to help me be unremarkable. “I miss your real eye color. I think I prefer the blue.”
“Good to know. It’s easier this way, but when we’re alone, you’ll always get the real me.”
Her smile returns.
“I think we need dessert to balance out the salad. Agree?” I ask.
I don’t want the date to end, but when we finish dessert, I glance around the empty restaurant. In the front room, chairs are resting upside down on the bare wood tables. Our waiter and the busboy are sitting at the bar, talking with the bartender while the late news plays.
“Where did everyone go?”
“They disappeared like magic.” She presses her lips together to suppress her smile. It’s adorable.
“Can you do that?” Her face is serious.
“Make a room full of people disappear? I’m not a magician or illusionist who does tricks.”
“Sorry. This is all new to me.” She tucks her hair behind one ear.
“Surely Sam and her Wicca fascination have explained a few elements.” I touch her hand to reassure her. Sam is a regular customer at my mother’s shop and attends the public coven gatherings.
“Other than smudging me with burning sage and making me smell like a Thanksgiving dinner, I don’t really ask her about witchcraft. She teases me about being descended from the Salem witches, but I’m not magical. I think I’d know.”
“You can always ask me anything. There are a few coven rules about sharing knowledge with the uninitiated, but otherwise, I’m an open book.”
“You’re in a coven?”
“Sure. Isn’t everyone?” I smile at her. “It’s mostly a group of my mother’s friends. Think knitting circle or book club.”
“Sam said they had apple cobbler after the Mabon ceremony she went to in September.”
“The coven loves a good pot luck. Martha always brings the cobblers.”
“Martha? She’s a witch?”
I nod. I don’t think Martha would be mad I’ve outed her. Since Madison’s first visit, she always asks about my girlfriend. No pressure or anything.
“Anyone else I know?” she asks.
“Several, but that’s for another time.”
She doesn’t argue with me over the bill and I pay in cash, leaving a generous tip for taking up the table all evening.
A light rain falls as we step outside. Too soft to ping off the car rooftops, but more than a mist, it carries the briny scent of the harbor behind us.
“Crap. I didn’t bring an umbrella.”
I grin. “Want me to take care of it?”
“Are we talking about you holding your jacket over both our heads? Or something else?”
“Show me.” She sounds eager to see more after I revealed my fire-starting skills last night.
Concentrating on the sky, I focus on each drop of rain as it falls until I can shift them back into the clouds. “It won’t last long, so we might want to hurry home.” I hold out my hand for her to take.
With our fingers interlinked, we pick up our pace, laughing and imitating Olympic speed-walkers with our fast walking. When we get to the intersection near the memorial, I glance over to the wall, no black cat. I do see a shadow in the corner that could be a man, but I don’t pause long enough to confirm. It’s probably nothing more than the streetlight shining behind a tree.
We return to where we began the evening. Madison pauses, looking uncertain about the odds of a good night kiss. If only she knew I’d wanted to spend the night kissing her. Garlic won’t keep me away. I’m not a vampire.