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Authors: Ann Gimpel

Witch's Bounty

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Witch's Bounty
Witch Chronicles [1]
Ann Gimpel
Taliesin Publishing (2014)

A demon-stalking witch teams up with a Sidhe, but their combined power, never mind their love, may be too late to make a difference.

One of only three remaining demon-stalking witches, Colleen is almost the last of her kind. Along with her familiar, a changeling spirit, she was hoping for a few months of quiet, running a small magicians’ supply store in Fairbanks, Alaska. Peace isn’t in the cards, though. Demons are raising hell in Seattle. She’s on her way out the door to help, when a Sidhe shows up and demands she accompany him to northern England to quell a demon uprising there.

Duncan swallowed uneasy feelings when the Sidhe foisted demon containment off onto the witches two hundred years before. He’s annoyed when the Sidhe leader sends him to haul a witch across the Atlantic to bail them out. Until he sees the witch in question. Colleen is unquestionably the most beautiful woman he’s ever laid eyes on. Strong and gutsy, too. When she refuses to come with him, because she’s needed in Seattle, he immediately offers his assistance. Anything to remain in her presence.

Colleen can’t believe how gorgeous the Sidhe is, but she doesn’t have time for such nonsense. She, Jenna, and Roz are the only hedge Earth has against being overrun by Hell’s minions. Even with help from a powerful magic wielder like Duncan, the odds aren’t good and the demons know it. Sensing victory is within their grasp, they close in for the kill.

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without the publisher’s permission. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 (http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/).

 

Published By: Taliesin Publishing, LLC, PO Box 155, Sanford, MI 48657

www.taliesinpublishing.com

 

Witch’s Bounty

 

Copyright © 2014 by Ann Gimpel

Digital Release: March 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62916-037-5

Cover Artist:  Fiona Jayde

 

All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination, or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales, or organizations is entirely coincidental.

 

Table Of Contents

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Witches’ History Primer

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Epilogue

 

Witch’s Bounty by Ann Gimpel
The Witch’s Chronicles Book One

A demon-stalking witch teams up with a Sidhe, but their combined power, never mind their love, may be too late to make a difference.

One of only three remaining demon-stalking witches, Colleen is almost the last of her kind. Along with her familiar, a changeling spirit, she was hoping for a few months of quiet, running a small magicians’ supply store in Fairbanks, Alaska. Peace isn’t in the cards, though. Demons are raising hell in Seattle. She’s on her way out the door to help, when a Sidhe shows up and demands she accompany him to northern England to quell a demon uprising there.

Duncan swallowed uneasy feelings when the Sidhe foisted demon containment off onto the witches two hundred years before. He’s annoyed when the Sidhe leader sends him to haul a witch across the Atlantic to bail them out. Until he sees the witch in question. Colleen is unquestionably the most beautiful woman he’s ever laid eyes on. Strong and gutsy, too. When she refuses to come with him, because she’s needed in Seattle, he immediately offers his assistance. Anything to remain in her presence.

Colleen can’t believe how gorgeous the Sidhe is, but she doesn’t have time for such nonsense. She, Jenna, and Roz are the only hedge Earth has against being overrun by Hell’s minions. Even with help from a powerful magic wielder like Duncan, the odds aren’t good and the demons know it. Sensing victory is within their grasp, they close in for the kill.

 

 

Dedication

I’d like to raise a glass of fine, old Irish whiskey to my husband. Mountain climber and renaissance man, he thought it was challenging being married to a psychologist, but that was before I became an author.

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Georgia Woods, Barb Wilson, and Lisa Dugan for loving my stories enough to give them a home. Thanks also to Lisa for her skilled editing and sharp eyes.

 

Witches’ History Primer

 

…In the beginning, Ceridwen bent over her cauldron, stirring up the world. Sometimes the other Celts helped, but mostly they left her alone because she was so ill-tempered. She created witches somewhere between Sidhe, dark fae, and Druids—borrowing a pinch of this, and a bit of that, to give them an eclectic mix of magic.

Gwydion dropped by one day and leaned over her shoulder, peering into the large, black pot. “You’ve made the witches far too powerful,” he complained.

Ceridwen shrugged. She pulled her staff out of the sludge simmering before her, dark eyes flashing dangerously. “Do you want this job?”

The master enchanter shook his head. Blond hair wafted in steam from the cauldron. “No, but you’ll rue the day you didn’t temper their magic.”

The goddess narrowed her eyes. “Does Bran, god of prophecy, know you’ve taken over his job?”

Gwydion bristled. “Damn my eyes, woman, you’ve made witches as strong as the Sidhe.”

She got to her feet, faced the other god, and thumped his chest with her forefinger. “One day we may need that strength.”

Gwydion looked as if he wanted to say something. Instead, his broad-shouldered form shimmered and disappeared.

“Hmph. Good riddance.” Ceridwen sank into a cross-legged sit next to her cauldron and went back to stirring. She’d die before admitting this to the other Celtic gods, but out of all her creations, witches were her favorite…

 

Chapter One

Rain worsened from a steady drizzle to a pounding, punishing deluge of icy sleet. Colleen Kelly strengthened the spell around herself. It sizzled where it ran up against the droplets. At least she wasn't quite as wet as she would have been without its protection. Pavement glistened wetly in the last of the day's light. It was just past three in the afternoon, but December days were short in the northern latitudes and Fairbanks was pretty far north.

“At least it’s not snowing,” she muttered as she pushed through a nearby glass-fronted door into the magicians’ supply store she owned with two other witches in the older part of downtown. Bells hanging around the door pealed discordantly. She sent a small jolt of magic to silence them.

“I heard that. Not the bells, but you. It’s supposed to snow this time of year. How could you possibly be pleased the weather patterns have gone to hell?” Jenna Neil stalked over to the coatrack where Colleen stood. Blonde hair, hacked off at shoulder level, framed a gamine’s face and shrewd, hazel eyes. Jenna towered over Colleen’s six foot height by a good four inches; her broad shoulders would have made most men jealous. Between her trademark high-heeled boots, and a scruffy embroidered red cloak tossed over skintight blue jeans, she looked as exotic as the anti-hex hoop earrings dangling from each ear.

Colleen rolled her eyes, shook out her coat, and hung it on the rack. “Spare me your lecture about global warming, okay? It’s cold enough to snow. It just isn’t, for some reason.”

“Mmph.” The line of Jenna’s jaw tensed.

Indian spices wafted through the air, mingling with the scents of herbs, dried flowers, and desiccated body parts from small animals. Colleen’s stomach growled. Breakfast had been at six that morning—a long time ago. Pretty bad when even dried newt smelled like food. “Did you cook something? And if you did, is there any left?”

A terse nod. Jenna turned away, walking fast. Colleen lengthened her normal stride to catch up. “Hey, sweetie. What happened? You can’t be in this big a snit over the weather.”

Jenna kept walking, heading for the small kitchen at the back of the store. “A lot of things. I was just having a cup of tea. Shop’s been dead today.” She disappeared behind a curtain.

Colleen glanced over one shoulder at the empty store. A phalanx of bells around the door would alert them if anyone stopped in. The minute she tugged the heavy, upholstery fabric that served as a kitchen door aside, the pungent tang of Irish whiskey made her eyes water. “You said tea.”

“Yeah, well I spiked it.”

Colleen grunted. “Smells like you took a bath in booze. What the fuck happened?” She grabbed the larger woman and spun her so they faced one another.

“We got another pay-your-tithe-or-die e-mail from our Coven.” Jenna’s nostrils flared in annoyance.

“So? That’s like the tenth one.” There were new policies none of them agreed with, so they’d joined with about twenty other witches and stopped paying the monthly stipend that supported their Coven’s hierarchy.

“It’s not what’s bothering me.” Jenna pulled free from Colleen, tipped her cup, and took a slug of what smelled like mostly liquor.

Colleen fought a desire to swat her. Getting to the point quickly had never been one of Jenna’s talents. She clamped her jaws together. “What is?”

“Roz called with…problems.” Jenna turned and started toward the steep staircase ladder leading to her bedroom above the shop.

“You can’t just drop that bomb and leave.” Colleen made another grab for Jenna to keep her in the kitchen. Worry for their friend ate at her. Of the three of them, Roz was usually the most volatile. “What happened? I thought she was in Missouri, or maybe it was Oklahoma, visiting that dishy dude she met online.”

“Didn’t work out.” The corners of Jenna’s mouth twisted downward. Colleen quirked a brow, urging her friend to say more. “He only wanted her for her magic. Turned out he preferred men.”

“Aw.” Colleen blew out a breath. “She must have been disappointed.”

Half a snorting laugh bubbled past Jenna’s lips. “Maybe now she is. At the time, furious would have been closer to the mark.”

Colleen’s throat tightened. “Shit! What’d she do?”

“Turned him over to the local Coven.”

“Thank God!” Colleen let go of Jenna and laid a hand over her heart. Roxanne Lantry was more than capable of killing someone who’d pissed her off. It was how she’d ended up in Alaska. Roz hadn’t exactly been caught when her cheating husband and his two girlfriends went missing, but she hadn’t stuck around to encourage the authorities to question her, either.

Colleen and Jenna had already left Seattle; Roz repressed her antipathy for Alaska’s legendary foul weather and joined them. Magically, she was stronger than either of them, and she had a hell of a temper.

Colleen’s stomach growled again. Louder this time. It didn’t give a good goddamn about anything other than its empty state. She pushed past Jenna to the stove, lifted a lid, and peered into a battered aluminum pot. Curry blasted her; the spicy odor stung her eyes and made her nose run. “Whew. Potent. Mind if I help myself?”

“Go ahead.” Jenna sat heavily in one of two chairs with a rickety wooden table between them. She picked up her mug and took another long swallow.

Dish in hand, Colleen slapped it on the table in front of the other chair and went in search of a mug of her own. There weren’t any clean ones, so she plucked one out of the sink and rinsed it. Back at the stove, she tipped the tea kettle. Thick, amber liquid spilled from its stubby snout into her waiting mug. Jenna waggled the whiskey bottle in her direction.

“Nah.” Colleen settled at the table. “It would go right to my head. Maybe after I get some food on board.” She tucked in. After the first few mouthfuls, when the curry powder nearly annihilated her taste buds, the pea, potato, and ham mixture wasn’t half bad.

BOOK: Witch's Bounty
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