Sneak peek at WILLOW

As promised, my birthday gift to y’all is a few pages of a never-before-seen, totally unedited, story. The votes are in and Willow has won! So enjoy, and those who are exceptionally sensitive to spelling and grammar know you have my apologies in advanced. 

Photo credit: Heather Shea with Reflective Dreams Photography 

The night was dark and cold. It shouldn’t be for July in
Wylie, Texas. My gray gaze swung around to my coven clothed in black robes,
arms thrown wide, heads tilted to the full moon, chanting softly.

I inhaled, the circle was cast, it was now or never.

I tightened my grip on my peal hilt dagger before mimicking
their positions.

“Goddess we invoke you,” I called to the night letting the
white threads of magic inside of my loose. I pulled up my second sight feeling
another presence brush against my consciousness.

Tilting my chin down I looked at the man at my feet bound in
salt soaked ropes. He writhed and fought against the tight bounds, rubbing his
wrists until they bled. His eyes were black, dark cords of magic wrapped around
his throat and chest.

The church called it possession, but I knew better.

I knelt in front of him, the dry grass brittle against my
black robe. Brining my blade in front of us I sent my white threads into the
metal, seeing it glow in my second sight.

“Be gone from his human,” I whispered brining my blade down
to slice across the dark cords holding the human hostage.

The dark energy snapped at me, its head leaving the humans
and I saw the red eyes and pointed ears that marked it as a death hound. A
creature that was base instinct craving misery and pain. I was careful not to
cut through the rope bonds, nor the actual man himself.

My blade of white slowly turned black absorbing the darkness
from the death hound. It snarled at me again lashing out with razer sharp
teeth.

I pulled back just in time, my exhale short and sharp before
gathering my nerve and going back to pushing the white energy to drive out the
darkness.

Only darkness can
conquer darkness
. A familiar voice whispered.  I had given up placing who or what was
speaking to me. I only knew it was usually right, if not annoying.

As a white or good witch, I wasn’t allowed to draw on the
darkness. It was forbidden.

But called to me, every time I worked magic, a reassuring
brush against my soul. I was certain there was something wrong with me. I tried
to deny the call and most of the time I was able to complete my set upon task
with the weaker white magic, but right now, I let my guards down and let the
darkness rush me.

Sweet relief stole away the pain throbbing in my temples, my
shoulders relaxing I felt my lips smile down at the death hound. My blade
coated in darkness throbbing with power.

I saw the hound’s sudden confusion and fear before I resumed
my cutting, my blade sure and true.

The circle was called down, my blade safely stored.

“I can’t thank you enough,” whispered the man’s wife.

I smiled at her and nodded, she handed me the rest of our
payment, her husband wrapped under a blanket in the passenger side of their
vehicle.

I watched her tear stained face make her way over to the
open door. He watched me solemnly. It was hard to go back to having a normal
existence when knowing there actually was something terrifying that went bump
in the night.

I hopped he would recover. She tucked the cream blanket
around his shoulders and he looked at her with such raw trust I had hope.
Leaning down she brushed a kiss against his cheek before backing up and closing
the door.

Calvin slid next to me, leaning on my old Honda Civic. “You
did good,” he told me slipping an arm around my waist.

I smiled watching the humans drive away before I let him
pull me against his body. Leaning our hips pressed together I lightly ran my
hands over his clean shaven face.

“Willow!” a voice called out.

I groaned pulling away from Calvin seeing Constance and her
entourage storming our peaceful gathering.

“High Priestess Constance, we are honored to receive you,” I
greeted her formally.

Her salt and pepper brows were drawn down, her matching
curly hair pinned tightly back into a bun above her nape.

“What do you think you are doing?” she hissed at me coming
to a stop, her own coven dressed in black robes. She wore white.

I shrugged, it was best not to reveal too much, least she
not actually know anything.

She hissed at me smacking my crossed arms from my chest.

“You don’t have to answer me. I saw it all. You used dark
magic!” she screamed at me. Thankfully we were surrounded by corn fields in
this little piece of property belonging to my coven.

“You saw it?” I questioned her.

“We all did!” She yelled indicating those behind her. They
shifted uncomfortably.

I shrugged, “It worked. He’s free of the death hound.”

Constance slapped me hard. My neck twisted with the familiar
pain. I fisted my hands at my side willing myself not to rub the sting out. I turned
back to her flinging my raven locks back with a hand.

“You are dangerous playing with magic you don’t understand.
You pathetic girl!”

For the record I was twenty-two, pretty sure that qualified
me as woman.

I took a step closer to her sneering down at the woman who
had reluctantly raised me, “I did what was necessary.”

She scoffed, “And your coven? Did they know what you planned
to do?”

My silence was answer enough, said coven gathering around to
watch the show. I ground my jaw.

“That’s what I thought,” she smugly answered. I tiled my
head watching the all too pleased smile on her face. That worried me, not her
ranting and raving, the freaking smile.

“Servitude with the shifters.” She hissed at me.

“What?” I screamed taking step toward her. “I am not a slave
you can’t force into that role.” I hissed right back at her.

“Fine, then you are stripped of your title of witch and
banished.” She smug bitch just kept smiling.

I had saved him. I had banished a dark energy and helped a
human. How was this fair?

“I thought you’d see it my way.” The bitch was reading a lot
into my silences.

“You will report here in one week. I suggest you get your
affairs in order,” with that she turned on her heels and left.

I wanted to crumple the piece of paper she had given me,
will it to burn into ash, but I didn’t. I was outcast from human society. While
Constance was a nightmare, she was the only family I had. 

I turned back seeing my coven gathered around me.

“Did you really use black magic?” Calvin asked me.

I nodded meeting their gazes.

“You know the danger you put all of us in!” he scolded me.

“We are fine. We saved a life. Doesn’t that count for
anything?” I asked defeated.

Maddie shook her head pulling Calvin toward her, “Let’s go.
We don’t want to be associated with her anymore.”

I sighed watching all of them leave. At least I still had
the money.

I had packed up my meager apartment and used the money from
last night to pay for a year of storage, taking two suit cases of clothing and
my trunk of witch supplies with me into my servitude.

 I had no job to quit
at the moment, I suppose that was fortuitous. My last stint bartending had
ended abruptly when my boss had gotten too feely. I left an itching hex bag in
his office, also, for the record against white witch rules.

Whatever.

It was a forty five minute drive to Blue Ridge, Texas,
population eight hundred and thirty. The time passed quickly. I wasn’t looking
forward to this.

My reservations about this whole situation only grew as I
turned off the highway and onto a gravel path. My GPS was confident it was only
five miles ahead. I wasn’t.

In four miles I saw Constance’s car. I pulled next to her
unsure if this was an actual parking spot or what. Opening my door the warm
Texas air brushed my skin. It carried notes of purity and peace. I breathed
deeply, perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad after all. 

Constance rounded on me, she must have used a spell to hide
in plain sight.

“This will only sting for a minute,” she assured me. I
instantly backed away from her dagger only to find myself held in place on
either side on her coven of goons.

“What the hell are you doing?” I yelled at her.

She slapped a hand over my mouth before slicing a perfect
cut over my heart. Shock had me rooted in place waiting for an answer.

“Bound by the words, bound by the command, not to disobey,
not to break, by this I decree.”

Heat seared from the wound on my chest as she rubbed herbs
into it. I bucked then and they release to fall on my knees. I rubbed the
wound, not smearing a thick paste over my fingers.

“What did you do?” I repeated staring at the gray gravel
digging into my palms.

“What good is a servant that won’t obey commands?” I could
hear the smile in her voice, “Now you will.”

“You took my free will,” I hissed seeing all the horrible
ways this could play out.

She tilted my head up, my gray gaze into her faded blue one,
“Be at peace the Alpha is a good man. You need to learn obedience and he is an
excellent teacher.”

I ground my jaw about to speak, “I command you to be silent.”

It shut with an audible click.

One of Constance’s flunkies drove my vehicle up the hill,
while I stiffly sat in the passenger seat, my lips magically pressed together.
We passed thick trees and dense foliage and I felt trapped. I was regretting my
decision to stay in the coven.

We continued to climb higher up the mountainside, deeper
into the woods and my breathing increased. My driver was oblivious to it all.
We crested in front of monstrosity of a home built in log cabin style. There
were other buildings in the area, but my eyes were glued to the porch were the
Alpha stood.

He had to be the Alpha the way he stared down our approach
watching it with lethal intent. I shifted in my seat my gaze following him as
the flunkie put my beater in park.

I got out of the vehicle and the Alpha hadn’t broken eye
contact.

Constance came to my shoulder pushing me, “Do not challenge
him in such a manner,” she hissed at me.

My gaze was jerked from his and I looked down at her
confused.

“Stupid girl,” she chided me before pulling my along. “Bring
her belongings.”

I tripped over my feet my hip hitting the headlight of my
car bruising my hip. I couldn’t even cry out.

“Leo, how lovely to see you again,” Constance greeted him
releasing me at the bottom of the stairs to shake his hand. I kept my gaze
averted, even though I wanted to study the tall, tan, body builder standing
above me.

“Constance,” Leo responded his tone guarded.

“Shall we take this inside?” Constance asked sweetly turning
to go in.

The door opened and dark haired filled the doorway blocking
Constance.

“Did you bring it?” Leo rumbled.

Constance turned annoyed, “Right to business then?” she
snipped. With an irritated sigh she pushed back a few steps coming off the
porch, “The spell has to be done outside. Do you have a particular place to
complete it?”

Leo nodded, and my eyes were glued to him as he gracefully
jumped from the porch clearing the steps with ease. The dark haired man exited
the doorway closing it firmly behind him before following our group.

I stood there watching him intently cataloging his faded
blue eyes and defined jaw. He looked over me.

“Cat got your tongue?” He asked.

I tired to answer, it came out as moan followed by a huff. I
shrugged.

“Willow I command you to follow!” Constance yelled.

My feet moved instantly, running to catch up to her.

Leo didn’t spare a backwards glance as he took us on an
animal trail into the lush undergrowth. I followed my flip flops doing a poor
job to provide me protection against the few rock protruding. The path curved
down evening out into a peaceful meadow.

“Will this do?” Leo asked turning the tall grass brushing
against his faded blue jeans.

Constance looked around, “Would it have killed you to mow it
first?”

Leo growled softly. “Feel free to take your slave and
leave.”

Constance recovered giving him a shaky laugh, “This will
do.”

Her team spread out claiming a corner and setting down
candles. I wanted to ask what spell they were doing, but obviously couldn’t.

The dark haired man came to stand next to me also silent,
but his was by choice.

I watched the candles closely wondering who was pouring the
salt circle.

“Call the corners,” Constance demanded. She wouldn’t, she
couldn’t call a circle without salt. There was nothing to ground the energy,
nor was there anything to keep the negative energy out. Not to mention it would
degrade the integrity of whatever they were casting. 

I ground my jaw debating if I should say something while she
called began calling the corners.

Leo came to stand on my other side.

“Doesn’t this seem a tad barbaric to you?” The dark haired
man asked Leo.

I kept my gaze ahead, keeping still so that they would
continue this honest conversation with me in their midst.

Leo looked down at me before turning his gaze to the dark haired
man, “We need this tracking spell Braxton.”

Braxton grunted, “One spell for taking care of their problem
for a month? Hardly seems worth it.”

I huffed crossing my arms over my chest. Assholes.

“I negotiated for four, three more to be determined before
her year is up,” Leo stated looking down at me.

I turned my gray eyes defiant as I looked up at him.

Dangerous, a voice
whispered. Stronger then I’ve ever heard it.

I turned behind me scanning the forest.

“What is it?” Leo asked.

I tried to answer but it came out as muffled moans. I turned
to Leo trying to mime for his phone.

He looked questioningly at me and I made the universal
gimmie sign.

Little pet, what have
you gotten yourself into?
I swear the damn voice was right at my shoulder.
I ducked turning my back to the dumbass witches behind me. I had no doubt
Constance was not using a salt circle in order to weaken her spell. But
something was out there.

Leo handed me his phone, arm outstretched. I took it, not
looking at him, scanning the forest still. Braxton didn’t even bother looking
at me his gaze reserved for the witches behind me.

Leo had opened his phone into a note app. I typed furiously,
Something is out there. I can hear it.
Constance didn’t properly cast her circle. I assume to weaken your spell.

I turned the phone around to him. He read it his concaq gaze
quickly reading the text. He turned behind him sniffling the air.

“I don’t sense anything,” he said to me, unbothered by my
worry.

I shook my head, frustrated with my lack of communication.

Constance clapped and the magic stopped brushing against my
skin.

I’ll be seeing you
soon, pet
.

I shivered.

I felt Constance stand next to me, still scanning the dark
woods.

“Here it is, do be careful. I’d hate all our of work to have
gone to waste.” She said handing Leo a small maroon pouch. My gaze cut to her,
my eyes narrowing. I hit the lock button on Leo’s phone carefully slipping it
into my back pocket.

“Now I’ll just need a drop of your blood to transfer the
command spell I have placed on Willow to you,” she continued on seeing nothing
wrong with that statement.

Leo regarded her warily, his gaze dropping to my now empty
hands before back to Constance. Braxton growled lowly.

“You can always take her without it,” Constance chirped.

“How much do you need?” Leo asked warily.

“Just a drop,” Constance replied easily. One of her flunkies
hander her a small dagger and white cloth. My mouth felt permanently etched in
a frown as I watched him extended an index finger. My gaze locked onto the digit
before Constance sliced the dagger across the meat of his pad.

Quickly she caught the drops of blood that fell into a soft
white cloth already loaded with herbs. Leo’s finger healed instantly leaving no
mark behind of the wound. The blade was replaced with a clean one, while our
supernatural blood couldn’t carry diseases that didn’t stop Constance from
slighting Leo with the switch. Pressing the new blade into her index finger
until a bubble of dark red welled up.

Her flunkie that drove my car held the white cloth carefully
as she squeezed a few drops from her fingers before sticking the digit in her
mouth.

Using twine, she tied the bag together.

“Until fire takes this fabric, the spell shall hold.” I felt
Constance’s magic rover over me binding me to Leo.

I closed my eye turning around, not able to watch the pouch
transfer hands.

The walk back up was brisk. I followed in the rear, but in
front of Braxton. I had a feeling he was the guard of this situation. My lack
of shifter knowledge was coming to bite me in the ass.

The witches went to their vehicles, my belongings thrown
carelessly against the gravel in front of the house. My trunk on its side,
supplies spilling out.  I went to it
putting it up right and re-stowing my belongings.

I didn’t miss the fact that some of my items were no longer
in my possession.

Leo came to stand next to me, waiting for me to acknowledge
him. I stood dusting off my jeans before gazing into his honey gaze.

“You were spelled so you can’t speak?” He asked.

I nodded.

“Can I undo it?’

Again I nodded.

“What did Constance say?” He rubbed his stubbly chin.

“I command,” Braxton said standing on the pine porch his
gaze watching the cars leave.

“Right, I command you to speak, if you want,” He amended.

“Thanks,” I muttered rubbing my lips with my fingers.

“So tell us, what did you do to get thrown into the clutches
of the shifters?” Braxton asked.

I raised an eyebrow at him, surprised they didn’t already
know.

“I freed a human of dark energy,” I answered righting my
suitcase and brushing off the black exterior.

“A demon?” Braxton asked. I almost think he was impressed.

“I don’t believe in demons. When humans have a traumatic
experience or any event that causes them severe grief or depression they are
open to darkness. The death hound feed off of those emotions until it drains
the human.” I answered.

“Why did that result in your servitude?” Leo asked, his lips
curling in disgust at the last word.

I sighed, “I used dark energy to free him.” I shrugged ready
to defend myself.

“Isn’t that what all witches use?” Braxton asked his gaze
shifted back to me.

“No, while it is available to all, and is potent and
immediate, we are forbidden to utilize it. There are uses for it though.

“The Witch’s Coven disagrees with you,” rumbled Leo.

“Yes, they are quite antiquated.” I agreed.

“How old are you?” asked Braxton.

“Twenty two”

“And clearly an expert on the world,” Leo dismissed me
taking my trunk.  

I narrowed my eyes at him, “In the world of magic I am far
beyond my years,” I defended myself.

“Why is that? Your worldly knowledge?” Braxton also
dismissed me.

I scowled at the both of them, “I can yield more magic then
most. Not to mention I had my own coven.”

“Had being the opportune word. Brax get the rest?” Leo
asked.

Braxton grunted stepping down the pine steps and taking both
my suitcases easily. I followed behind them, having nothing else to do.

The interior of the house was an understated elegance. A
large TV hung against one of the pine walls with a chocolate leather couch
facing it. An assortment of landscape scenes hung on the walls. The floor plan
was open. To my left there was a desk and computer, in front of me the entrance
to the kitchen. Leo and Braxton were climbing up the stairs setting my bags
inside one of the three doors up there.

I didn’t know if I should follow them or not.

Leo turned clearly reading my indecision. “This is your
room, but I want to talk more about the potency of the tracking spell they made
me first.”

I nodded. “Tracking spell? Do you not have an item from the
person you want to track?”

Leo and Braxton both exchanged looks.

“Yes,” Leo answered.

“Why didn’t you use that?” I asked confused. “It’s a simple
an easy spell to track someone with an item.”

“What kind of item?” Braxton asked, both of them having come
back downstairs.

I shrugged, “Toothbrush, favorite shirt, shoes, meaningful
pictures in print form, jewelry. Anything beloved by the person. Energy and
emotion leaves a residue that is trackable.”

Leo and Braxton exchanged a look, before Leo took the velvet
pouch from Constance out of his pocket looking closely at it.

“Is this worth anything?” He asked.

I shrugged, “The only way to tell is to use it, but given
the crappy set up Constance used, I wouldn’t.”

“Can you do it?” Leo asked me.

“I can, but Constance took a few key items from my trunk.”
Without a coven I was really pushing the limits of my self-proclaimed abundant
power, but I wasn’t telling them that. Being a needed slave was better than a burden
slave.

“Make a list. We are headed to town.” Leo hadn’t used the
command language but I heard the undertones all the same.

I’d rather write, than edit.

Me, thinking of finishing writing my latest book. 

So here I am, sitting posed on the end of Penni’s story and stalling. Yep, I’m on my web page, trying to make it better. And granted, I think I have made improvements, my skill level for this is low, like my three year old could probably do better. 

Truthfully, I always have a hard time with the endings. One, I get to go back and edit. Ugh. That’s painful and tedious and a necessary evil. Than I send it to an editor and do the whole process again and again. 

But the real reason I stop and flail around like a fish out of water, is I hate the endings. I love these characters. I’ve lived and breathed them. I’ve had them downloaded into my brain to flow from my finger tips. They surprise the hell out of me. Penni’s story took a quite a few turns I wasn’t expecting. One of the largest, is she went from being a one book story to three. 

AND Olie and Logan make an appearance! Excuse me while I fan girl. Writing Olie from another persons POV is so fun. I missed her and Logan. There may be another book for them, I can’t decide. I also have a list of other characters begging for their turn at being inked down. It’s a beautiful problem to have. 

So let you know your thoughts on the new layout and if anyone has a copy of Idiots Guide to Web Design, I’ll take it. 

The Mel Files

The Mel Files is available!

Amazon edition

All other editions 

The Mel Files ebook Hi, I’m Mel. In the following pages you will get an up front seat at watching my life fall apart.

But let me back up, I work at C&B Investigations supporting the investigators in an admin role, and life was predictably safe.

A break in, ending with me shot, spun all my normal, predictable, life out of control. I’m shifting through the broken pieces of my marriage, trying desperately to keep my job, and reconnecting with my estrange brother.

This is my story, and believe that I am a fighter.