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Small-town librarian Ophelia Jensen is finally starting to embrace her lot as one of the "chosen"âa psychic and folk magick practitioner, a.k.a. a witch. Expert loving guidance from her magickally adept grandmother Abby helpsâand adopting Tink, an exceptionally talented teenage medium, has given Ophelia's life new purpose...until a brutal murder clouds the sunshine of their days.
Ophelia's co-worker and best friend, Darci, is distraught when her cousin is implicated in the small Iowa town of Summerset's most recent murderâthe violent death of a biker. Unfortunately for Darci's cousin, it's her fingerprints all over the murder weapon. She claims she's innocent, but it'll take Ophelia and Abby more than a good incantation or two to get to the bottom of this crimeâwhat with ghosts, crooked cops, secret identities, and a small army of outlaw bikers thrown into this devil's brew.
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The honeymoon was over. The sweet, quiet thirteen-year-old girl from last August had now, in May, morphed into a drama queen. In the evening, my phone rang constantly with calls from her friend, Nell, whom she'd spent the entire day with at school. One would think they'd talked over everything there, but evidently they still had important issues to discuss. Every weekend there was some event that required her attendance. And if she didn't go, she said she'd die. For a thirty-something librarian who had lived a peaceful life, becoming a foster mother was a change that had left me reeling. I was in over my head.
My beloved grandmother sat at her kitchen table and listened to my tale of woe with a small smile playing at the corner of her mouth. Her green eyes held a distinct twinkle.
"You think this is funny, don't you?" I said, leaning up against the counter in Abby's kitchen.
Her smile widened while she tucked a stray strand of silver hair back into the heavy braid coiled at the top of her head. In her seventies, her face bore the traces of the lovely young woman my grandfather had brought to Iowa all those years ago. And when she smiled, that young woman seemed to peek out.
"Yes, I do. I can recall similar conversations I had with your mother when you were a teenager," she said in a voice still rich with the tempo of the Appalachian Mountains where she'd spent her girlhood.
I frowned. "Wait a second. I never spent hours on the phone every night after school. And most of my weekends were at the library, not running around some mall."
"That's right." She nodded. "You did spend most weekends studying, but I do recall one weekend at Halloweenâ"
"Hey, that wasn't my idea. Linda had a crush on the dean's son. She wanted to get his attention."
Abby's laugh rang out. "Well, you succeeded. You not only got the son's attention, but the dean's and the campus police."
I lowered my eyes and traced the toe of my shoe across the wooden floor of Abby's rustic kitchen. The smell of wood smoke from her cook stove mingled with the scent of the dried herbs hanging from the open beams, as I remembered all too well the incident Abby was referring to. My girlfriend, Linda, thought she was madly in love with the dean's son, but he wouldn't give her the time of day, so one Halloween we decided to change all that and decorate every bush and tree in his yard with toilet paper. The pristine white streamers looked lovely waving in the moonlight, or at least we thought so until the campus police rolled up the driveway and busted us. Not a good situation to be in when both your parents are professors and the dean is your mother's boss.
I think I got grounded for a month over that little escapade.
Abby's voice jarred me out of my trip down memory lane. "And then there was the time you and Lindaâ"
"Okay, okay," I grumbled. "I get it. I put my mother through my share of drama, too."
She walked over to me and placed her hands on my shoulders. "It's going to be all right, Ophelia. Kids don't come with instruction manuals. All you can do is love them."
A frown puckered my forehead. "I do love Tink. She's had a tough life for someone so young. Losing her mother at such a young age, then being forced to live with her psycho aunt for all those years."
A shudder ran through me as I thought of Juliet Finch, Tink's aunt and former guardian. When we'd met the Finches last summer, Juliet had been trying to use Tink's talent as a medium for her own purposes. She tried to keep the kid drugged, and Tink's only ally had been a Native American shaman, Walks Quietly. Juliet's plan backfired and landed her in a state mental hospital in Minnesota. Her husband, Jason, had been more concerned...
Witch HuntBy: Shirley Damsgaard