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Battle of the Hexes (Book 2 EBOOK)

Battle of the Hexes (Book 2 EBOOK)

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Holly Day, AKA Twitch the Witch, has a target on her back.

When Cody Pendant, a black market occult dealer, is murdered, no-one is surprised. Cody was a fraud and a conman who had ripped off almost everyone he’d ever done business with. When her address is found on his body, Holly is convinced the killer is closing in. On her.

Deciding life is better if you’re living, she makes plans. Big plans. Plans such as renovating her house. Baking bread. And exploring exactly why her heart skips more than a beat whenever the sexiest lawman she’s ever seen is near.

But first she needs to figure out if Cody’s killer is the same supernatural assassin out to get her. And how to foil them. Easy, right?

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Give me a quick list: what can I expect?

  • Cool Powers and Magic
  • Witches
  • Slow Burn Romance
  • Snort Worthy Hilarity
  • Hot Cop
  • Small Town
  • Cozy Mystery

Want a sneak peek? Read a sample

It was hot. Hotter than the hinges on the gates of Hades. Hotter than Satan’s butt crack. Sweat pooled in places I’d rather not think about as I limped my way toward Gravestone’s foreshore. Flynn, my rat familiar, perched on my shoulder, one paw clutching my hair for balance at my uneven gait. I’d be glad when my broken foot was healed, and I could give this walking boot the boot. Har har. I chuckled to myself at the pun, and Flynn swiveled to give me a look.
Probably a look that said, have you lost your ever-loving mind? Probably.

Hiding out in Gravestone until the hit on me had been neutralized was not my idea of fun. Forbidden from using my magic and given the alias Holly Day was just as grating. As an SIA agent, I wasn’t used to twiddling my thumbs and waiting for someone else to save me. I was a woman of action. An elite soldier fighting bad guys of the paranormal variety. Not the book store clerk playing house I claimed to be.

“Come on,” I grumbled, my small bout of humor evaporating beneath the heat of the morning. “Doris said the market is fun. According to her, everyone and their dog sets up a table on the first Saturday of the month and sells their treasures.”

Streamers and balloons were attached to light poles, and stands lined both sides of the street, residents busily putting out their wares. I spotted Doris across the street at a booth in front of the general store and crossed to where she was unpacking what appeared to be broken and chipped dinner plates.

“Mornin’ Holly.” Doris glanced up with a smile, her eyes landing on my rat. “Flynn.”

He gave her a salute before launching himself off my shoulder and onto the table holding the broken crockery, gingerly picking his way around the display, whiskers twitching as he made it his mission to sniff every single item. Thankfully, his fur was a subdued gray and white today. For some odd reason, Flynn’s fur kept changing color—I figured it was something to do with his shifter magic fighting with the dark magic that had turned him into a rat. The same blast that had broken my foot had turned Flynn into a rat. Flynn had saved us both, but at what cost? Was he destined to be stuck in rat form forever? I felt like a dick for grumbling that I had to sit around and do nothing when he definitely had the short end of the stick. From wolf shifter to rat in one fell swoop.

“What’s all this?” I jerked my thumb at the broken plates.

“People come from miles around to attend the market,” Doris said, pausing to dab at her brow with a red handkerchief. “Sure is a warm one today. Storms brewing.”

I glanced at the gray clouds tinged with purple looming on the horizon, slowly closing in. The humidity had to be sitting at two hundred percent. “What does that have to do with selling broken plates?”

“Mosaics.”

“Mosaics?”

“Yes. You know. Where you take broken tiles of different colors and create a pretty pattern or picture. Only instead of tiles, you use plates.” She swept her arm along her table as if to say ta-da!

I cocked my head. “Much more fragile.” A dinner plate was considerably thinner than a bathroom tile.

She grinned. “Exactly!”

“This is quite the collection.” She had plates of all colors and patterns, some only half a plate, others completely intact except for a small chip or a hairline crack.

“Been collecting them for oodles. I do the rounds at the end of the market and snatch up a bargain. Vendors don’t want to drag home any damaged stock and are happy to sell them to me for a song. Or give ‘em to me for free.”

“Nice.” I nodded. I was impressed. Given the price tags she’d attached, I’d imagine she would reap a tidy profit.

Picking up the milkshake take-out cup balanced precariously on the edge of a shard of porcelain, she placed her lipstick covered lips around the straw and sucked, her cheeks sinking in, leaving her cheekbones in sharp contrast. She released the straw with a pop and a grin. “Want some?”

“Errr, no thanks. What is it anyway?”

Before she had a chance to answer, Flynn came scampering back, keen to inspect the cup. “No, Flynn,” I admonished, scooping him up and ignoring his outraged squeaks. “That’s Doris’s drink. We have no idea what’s in it. Remember those cocktails she made? And how sick you got?” Doris, I’d discovered, usually carted around a bottle of something alcoholic in her purse, and the cocktails she’d made us, while being coffee liquor based, had been lethal.

Flynn stopped chattering, clearly remembering. With a heartfelt sigh, he made his way to my shoulder and sat. “Don’t worry, we’ll go get something to eat and drink shortly,” I assured him. To Doris, I said, “So, where’s the best place to grab a bite around here?”

“River’s, of course.”

“No, I meant here at the market.” River’s café was farther along the foreshore, just after the pier.

“So do I. River sets up a stall selling funnel cakes. They are, of course, out of this world. Come on, I could use a snack. I’ll take you.”

I waved her back. “That’s okay, I’ll find it. You have a booth to man.”

“Pft, Bernadette can keep an eye on it for a few minutes, can’t you Bernadette?” She raised her voice so the woman at the table next to Doris’s could hear.

“What’s that, Doris?” Bernadette Bridge was of the same vintage as Doris. Somewhere in her seventies. Only that’s where the similarities ended. While Doris was slim and vertically challenged, Bernadette was a larger build, both in height and width. On her table was a clash of colorful doilies.

“I said, you don’t mind keeping an eye on my table for ten minutes, do you?” Doris practically shouted.

“Not at all!” Bernadette beamed at us, the lenses on her glasses so thick you could barely make out her eyes.

“Is she blind?” I asked Doris under my breath.

“Color blind, most definitely.” Doris snorted, stepping out from behind her table and linking her arm with mine, urging us forward. “She crochets those doilies by memory without using a pattern, but her yarn choices? Oi!”

“Thanks, Bernadette,” I called as we stepped away. “I won’t keep her long.”

Her reply was lost in the surge of the crowd. The stretch of road had been closed off to traffic, and people young and old meandered from one side of the street to the other, keen to view the dozens of stalls open for business.

“I had no idea there were this many people in Gravestone,” I commented, dodging a young boy with ice-cream dripping from the cone in his hand.

“There aren’t,” Doris said. “Vendors and visitors come from miles around. The market has become quite well known. They’re very popular now.”

Color me surprised, but I liked it. I liked it all, from the streamers and balloons to bunting that ordinarily would be flapping in the breeze—if there was one. But today, the air was still. Dead still. Not a rustle of a leaf in the trees, zero movement to dry the sweat beading on my skin. “Surely, it’s too hot for such activities?” I grumbled, irritation—and perspiration—making my skin itch.

“Nonsense.” Doris waved away my concern. “We’re used to the heat. Heck, if we waited for a cool day, we’d never have the market at all. Look, there’s River. Yoo-hoo!” Doris waved and darted forward. I followed at a more leisurely pace, my walking boot slowing me down. We won’t mention the fact that a seventy-year-old woman was running rings around me. It was embarrassing.

“Hello, ladies.” River greeted us with a smile until she saw my face, then her smile dropped. “Oh, Holly, you look like you need a little pick me up.”

I barked out a snort laugh. Obviously, I looked a wreck. No doubt my face was as red as it felt, my hair plastered to my scalp on account of the sheer amount of sweat I was currently producing. “Thanks.”

“I’m sorry. That was rude,” River immediately apologized, and I felt a twinge of remorse for making her feel bad.

With herculean effort, I plastered a smile on my face. “No, it wasn’t. I’m a little overheated, and it probably shows.” No probably about it. I had no doubts I looked as terrible as I felt.

“I’ve got just the thing.” She reached beneath her table, covered with a red and white checkered cloth, and produced a pitcher. “Iced tea?”

“Yes!” I was tempted to snatch the jug from her and down the entire contents in one mouthful. “Please,” I hastily added.

“Wanna think about it for a second?” River laughed and poured me a serving in a dixie cup. “Here you go. And how about a funnel cake? A little sugar and carbs will perk you right up.”

“Sure, why not?” I watched, sipping my drink, while she sprinkled powdered sugar on the fresh cakes she’d just removed from the fryer.

A commotion a few stalls down caught our attention. Doris and I watched as a young couple appeared to be arguing with a booth holder. I didn’t catch everything they were saying, but a few words reached my ears. Words like fake, fraud, rip-off, and money back.

“That’s Cody Pendant,” Doris said, brows drawn. She crossed her arms and shifted her weight from one foot to the other. “He’s not local. He comes into town every month to set up shop at the market.”

“What’s he selling?”

“Antique furniture, occult based bric-à-brac, that type of stuff.”

The young man was up in Cody’s face, poking him in the chest. The woman had hold of the man’s arm and was trying to hold him back. “Who are they?”

“Beau and Claire Whelan, newlyweds. Got married a few months back.”

“You made a big mistake messing with us!” Beau Whelan raged, his anger palpable.

“Babe,” his wife, Claire, placed a hand on his back in a soothing gesture. “Leave it. For now.”

Beau looked down at her, held her gaze for several seconds before his body relaxed, and he took a step back.

Cody watched the pair, a smirk on his face. He was late fifties, early sixties, with a thick head of white-gray hair, a matching, closely trimmed beard, and heavy frown lines deeply embedded in his face. He was big, six foot plus, and broad. He looked like the type of guy who wouldn’t hesitate to punch you in the face and laugh as you lay bleeding.

Doris confirmed my assessment. “Cody Pendant is a douche.”

“So I see.”

“This isn’t over,” Claire Whelan said to Cody, her voice scarily calm. I felt a shift in the air, and the hairs on my arms stood on end. Flynn felt it too, his claws digging into my shoulder.

“Whatever, sweetheart.” Cody sneered, waving his hand in a move along gesture. We watched as Beau and Claire clasped hands and left, both of them casting one last, long glare at Cody before pushing through the crowd that had milled around to watch. With the argument over, the spectators soon drifted away.

“Dad!” A pretty woman with green hair that hung in two braids over her shoulders hurried up to Cody. “Take a break. Go cool off,” she admonished, hands on hips. I didn’t hear his response as River reminded us we were standing at her stall waiting for our funnel cakes.

“Here you go.” River handed me a funnel cake, wrapped in a napkin, and I took a hearty bite.

“Oh, my God, this is incredible!” I said around the mouthful of sweet dough practically melting on my tongue.

“Told you so,” Doris said, accepting her own funnel cake.

“How much do we owe you?” Placing my dixie cup on the table, I reached into my shorts pocket for change.

“First one’s on the house.” River grinned. “Since this is your first Gravestone market and all.”

I inclined my head. “Thank you, that’s very generous.”

With my belly full of iced tea and funnel cake, I realized River had been right. I felt better. Not cooler, but the sugar spike made the heat slightly more tolerable. Doris had been feeding Flynn tiny pieces of funnel cake, thinking I wouldn’t notice, but the woman was as subtle as a sledgehammer. That and the crumbs bouncing off my collar bone and tumbling into my cleavage to stick uncomfortably amongst the sweat were perfect giveaways.

“I gotta get back to Bernadette,” Doris said, dusting off her hands. “There’s a queue forming, and lord knows that woman doesn’t work well under pressure.”

“I’m going to take a look at Cody’s antiques.”

Doris grabbed my arm and looked me dead in the eye. “Don’t you be messing with that man. He’s trouble with a capital T. You’re meant to be keeping a low profile, remember?”

“Oh, I remember all right. Don’t worry, I’m just going to look. Plus, he’s not there. His daughter is manning the booth. Perfect time for a little recon.” I’d seen Cody heed his daughter’s advice and head off while we’d been shoving funnel cake into our mouths.

“Holly.” I heard the warning in Doris’s voice. It was scary that I’d known her a few short days, yet she already knew me so well. Could be because we were both SIA—Doris retired, me in hiding. We were also both witches. And with Gravestone on a ley line that conveniently hid magic, I figured the SIA weren’t the only ones using it to their advantage.

“Good morning. Sure is a hot one, eh?” The girl with the green hair beamed at me when I arrived at her booth. She was dressed in denim shorts and a white lace top, with not a bead of sweat in sight.

“It sure is,” I agreed. “I’m new here. This is my first time at the market.” Hoping to strike up a rapport with the girl, I plastered on a warm and sincere smile. At least, that’s what I was going for. It may have turned into more of a grimace, but she smiled back, so I took it as a win.

“Welcome. I’m Macey. I come to the market every month with my dad. We have an antique store in Corpus Christi, so we bring some of the smaller items to the market for a quick sale.” From a distance, I’d thought Macey to be a teenager, but now, up close, I could see she was a little older, maybe early twenties.

“Hi, Macey, I’m Holly.”

“So, Holly, see anything you like?” Macey waved her hand across the table between us, drawing my attention to the various antiquey looking items. There were a few occult bits and pieces, ceremonial daggers, candles and incense, a cauldron the size of my palm, a collection of crystal balls, a golden replica of the statue in the town square, plus a bundle of altar cloths.

I opened my mouth to say no when something caught my eye. “Actually…” I reached for a box buried beneath a stack of old books. “This looks interesting.”

“It’s a puzzle box,” Macey said. “You have to solve a series of puzzles to open the box. People used to use them to hide their treasures or important documents.”

“Kinda like a safe.”

“Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

The puzzle box was intricately made, with carvings etched into the wood. You could see the multiple joins where sections of the box opened or moved. The trick was to align the pieces of the box in the correct sequence to open it.

“How much?”

“A hundred.”

“Dollars?” I laughed. “I don’t think so. You don’t even know if this opens. What if it’s damaged and is basically a decorative chunk of wood, nothing more?”

Her blue eyes widened, then narrowed. “Seventy-five.”

“I’ll give you twenty.”

It was her turn to laugh. “Sorry, no can do. My dad would kill me if I let it go for less than fifty.”

“Fifty it is.” I had no idea if it was a fair price or not, but something about the box called to me. It practically vibrated in my hands. I had to have it.

“Sold.”

We both grinned and while I paid, I said, “I saw your dad arguing with a couple just before. What was that about?”

She froze before quickly shoving my money into the cash tin she had under the table. “I don’t know.”

“The couple, the Whelans I believe, seemed mighty angry.”

Her smile disappeared, and a shutter came down across her features, all pretense at friendliness gone. “Was there anything else I can help you with, Holly?” She put emphasis on my name, as if wanting me to know she remembered it.

I pursed my lips. “Nope. I think I got a bargain here today. I hope your dad doesn’t get too mad at you for letting it go at such a cheap price.”

Her face drained of all color, and I thought for a minute she was going to pass out. “What?” she squeaked.

“Relax, I’m just teasing.” I felt like a bit of a heel and quickly backtracked. “It’s just a box, and it’s going to look great on my dresser,” I lied. I didn’t have a dresser. I barely had furniture. I slept on a borrowed camp cot in my living room thanks to my cover story—that I’d arrived in Gravestone to claim my inheritance from my long-lost great uncle, John Smith. My inheritance? A run-down cottage, furniture that was only fit for the dump, and a ton of work.

Clutching the box to my chest, I bid Macey farewell and left to peruse the rest of the market. In the distance, the low rumble of thunder vibrated through the earth. Flynn, still on my shoulder, dug his claws in.

“I heard it,” I assured him. “Pretty ominous, eh?”

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