As Joel neared the door, he smelled it. Witch. It was a witch at the door. His muscles tensed, preparing to take the witch on his own. Gail hadn’t yet recovered from using her magic back at her house. She wouldn’t be able to help, and he didn’t want her to push herself farther than she already had.
When Gail reached his side he said, without looking away from the door, ‘It’s a witch.’
“A witch?” she whispered. “Are you sure?”
He bobbed his head in reply.
“Damn, how did they find us already?”
The witch knocked again.
“Okay, right. Well, they must know we’re here so…”
“You need to focus,” Aunt Rose told Gail, and not for the first time that morning. Gail blew out a breath, giving up on trying the simple spell her aunt told her to work on. She was focused. So focused, Gail had a headache coming on. “I’m trying.” Her aunt gave her a closed lip smile. “Yes, but you’re easily distracted and don’t bother denying it. Magic needs singular focus, Gail. You can’t let anything else occupy your thoughts or else it won’t work.” Again, Gail sighed and nodded. Her aunt had also told her that several times already. “Yeah, yeah.” “Let’s try again. Your magic takes its power from the moon. Focus on the glass ball in your hands. Your intent is to fill it with the light of the moon. That is all you must think about. Keep your eyes on the ball, look
Exhaustion pulled at Gail, forcing her shoulders forward. She stared at the mess that was her aunt’s backyard. Her latest attempt to control her magic led to every animal in the surrounding area to come to her. It looked like a zoo gone wild. Deers were peeling bark off her aunt’s crabapple trees. Birds filled said trees, chirping or squawking down at the deers. There were squirrels and raccoons everywhere, getting into everything within reach, which turned out to be quite a lot. A family of possums were making themselves comfortable under the picnic table.The only one mildly amused was Joel. He laid out on the porch, watching the cha0s. He was the only reason the boars did not overrun her aunt’s vegetable garden. Aunt Rose’s flower bed wasn’t so lucky. They destroyed it, eating the tulip bulbs.“This is a disaster,” h
Joel growled, ‘Open the door. I’ll deal with them.’ “No, there is no need,” Gail told him, watching the witches approach. ‘But-’ “My aunt has protections in place,” she told him. “And hers are much better than mine. They’ll never get through them before she comes back. We’ll be okay.” ‘Okay,’ he huffed, but not an inch of him relaxed. “Any minute now they’re going to realize their mistake.” She held her breath as she watched them get closer… and closer. Her stomach tightened. “Odd.” ‘What? What’s wrong.’ “Oh, nothing. It’s just… I must have miscalculated where my aunt placed her spells.”
Gail breathed in the pine scented air, her body relaxed at the smell. Memories of her parents taking her on hikes filled her. A warm, bittersweet sensation filled her. God, she missed them so much.Gail gave her head a little shake and focused on Joel in front of her. He had yet to explain what his idea was, only that he wanted her to go with him into the woods. That alone almost sent her aunt into a conniption, but even dear ole Aunt Rose was out of ideas, too. She had no other choice but to let Joel try his ideas, even though he wouldn’t explain what they were. Before leaving, Gail’s aunt insisted she take a silver-coated dagger for safety.Unable to push her curiosity aside, Gail asked, “So what is the plan?”‘You’ll see,’ he replied and said no more until they reached a
As Gail and Joel neared her aunt’s house, the curse returned and forced Joel back into his husky form. Gail sighed and picked up the blanket. “Sorry.”‘This time it was longer than last time. That was only maybe fifteen minutes max, this time had to be closer to thirty.’“Oh great, so perhaps in ten years you’ll get to spend a day as a human.” Gail couldn’t hide her bitterness at how ineffective her attempt had been.‘Hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day.’She blew out a breath, folding the blanket haphazardly. “You’re right, but it still sucks. Let’s find Aunt Rose.”‘You go ahead. I’d bet she’d be more willing to he
“Joel,” Gail called out as he stumbled back, pain etched on his face. “Couldn’t have waited just five minutes,” he growled, taking off his t-shirt, tossing it to the ground. “You’re shifting back?” He nodded, then cried out as the crack of bone echoed through the woods. Gail sucked in a breath and turned her back. She didn’t want to see that again. How could he stand to go through that every day? Guilt tugged at her heart. This was her fault. If she had figured out how to break the curse, he wouldn’t have to go through this. She jumped when Joel nudged her leg with his snout. ‘It’s done.’ Gail looked down at him. “I’m sorry.” He
Gail walked into the kitchen, tiredly fixing herself a cup of coffee. ‘How did it go?’ Joel asked as he trotted into the kitchen. “It’s going,” Gail said with a tight smile before taking a drink of her coffee. ‘Is that good or bad?’ “A little of both,” Gail said, eyeing the door. After her talk with her aunt, Gail thought it was best if she put some distance between her and Joel, but they were staying under the same roof, which made it more than a little difficult to avoid him. ‘Meaning?’ “I haven’t found anything that can help me free you.” ‘I see and that’s why you haven’t taken me with you in the last week?’
Gail ran her fingers over the leather bound spines of the books. None of the golden embossed titles called to her as books that might help her break Joel’s curse. Residual anger still stewed deep in her stomach as she remembered her conversation with Aunt Rose. After all this time, only now did Gail discover her aunt had a small library filled with books about magic. Perhaps if she had known about the library sooner, Gail might have been able to break Joel’s curse and avoid confessing her feelings to him. Two days had passed, and every time she was around Joel, the awkwardness was so thick it almost drowned her. Any time he started to say something, Gail would run out of the room, overwhelmed with an insane mix of fear and hope he’d tried to talk to her about it. As if she didn’t have enough to worry about, now this. It was all just too much. Gail needed to break this curse before she went insane.