A little magic can go a long way -- to really screwing things up. Mara is having the worst month of her life. At least, that’s what her cards tell her and they’ve never been wrong. She's evicted from her apartment, loses her job and is banned from Beverly Hills. So when the tarot cards predict... read more
Table of Contents
Part One -- Killing Aunt Tillie
Chapter One -- At the beginning of this whole, surreal journey, I had no idea you could be evicted from your body as easily as you could be booted out of your apartment.
Chapter Two -- Later that night, I was whipping up a bowl of frosting when I heard a scratching sound at the door and the doorknob turned.
Chapter Three -- "Dad?" I gaped at him. He looked like he was in his twenties, with a full head of blond hair, instead of the graying strands he had when he died.
Chapter Four -- I threw a prayer up to the traffic Gods that Coldwater Canyon wasn't nightmarishly backed up and jumped into Sally, the cherry-red, vintage Mustang convertible I had inherited from my dad's mid-life crisis.
Chapter Five -- Well, there was nothing I could do about it now. "I'm sorry, I thought I locked the door," I said.
Chapter Six -- When I got to Gus's apartment, he was hard at work, dashing the hopes of the next Great American Screenwriter.
Chapter Seven -- After dinner, the waitress and the bartender brought over a bowl of treacle pudding with a birthday candle stuck smack in the middle of the spongy glop.
Chapter Eight -- After a week of apartment hunting and nightmares, I was exhausted.
Chapter Nine -- I turned on the lights. What the hell was going on? I had never seen a fetch take life like that.
Chapter Ten -- Gus came rushing back in from the living room. "What the hell?" But then he saw it.
Chapter Eleven -- The Crooked Pantry advertised itself as a place for groceries only a witch could love.
Chapter Twelve -- Saturday morning, the Valley was already insanely hot and the only direction the temperature was heading was up.
Chapter Thirteen -- Time passed quickly. Too quickly. Before I knew it, there was a massive group of tired, happy and broke pagans gathered in the clearing for our closing ritual.
Chapter Fourteen -- Sunday morning, I was so into my stake-out of Lasio's apartment, I didn't even notice Gus walking into my living room.
Chapter Fifteen -- I spent the next week packing up everything I wanted to keep. Everything else could go to Goodwill.
Chapter Sixteen -- When I came to, I was laying down on the picnic table with Gus's pool-water soaked tank top draped over my forehead.
Chapter Seventeen -- "Mara, Mara, wake up!" The voice seemed to be coming from a mile away. I tried to grab onto the sound and crawl towards it.
Part Two -- Aunt Tillie's Revenge
Chapter Eighteen -- After five days of driving, I felt like I was one of the living dead, operating simply because my body was moving out of habit.
Chapter Nineteen -- I half-expected some Little House on the Prairie scene, with a pinched-face Harriet Oleson behind the counter, hoarding sugar and taking chickens in trade for flour.
Chapter Twenty -- It didn't take me long to drive through Devil's Point. It really was an adorable, old-fashioned slice of Americana, preserved in time.
Chapter Twenty-One -- As I got out of the car, still talking to Gus, a movement in the upstairs window caught my eye.
Chapter Twenty-Two -- While I've always hated underground rooms, I needed to get a grip. I couldn't start wigging out.
Chapter Twenty-Three -- "Aunt Tillie?" I asked. Well, it was a reasonable guess, given that she was the most recent deceased occupant.
Chapter Twenty-Four -- As the wind picked up, I double-checked that the window shutters were all fastened.
Chapter Twenty-Five -- The living room looked like a battle zone. Chairs had been knocked over, the couch was on its back, lamps were on the floor.
Chapter Twenty-Six -- I gasped and sat up. This time, I really was awake. No snakes, no sunrise in the West and no mom.
Chapter Twenty-Seven -- The librarian, Mrs. Anderson, was a sturdy, older woman with a kind face and sensible shoes.
Chapter Twenty-Eight -- I closed the book. Wow. That was the history of my little cottage?
Chapter Twenty-Nine -- I walked for what seemed like ages. I walked long enough for my head to stop bleeding. My feet were sore and dead-tired and I was totally lost.
Chapter Thirty -- I woke up on the living room floor, cleaning supplies dropped haphazardly around me.
Chapter Thirty-One -- The next morning, I woke up gasping for air. Something was wrong. I could feel it. The cottage was practically vibrating.
Chapter Thirty-Two -- There was a large, pasty-faced, soft-fleshed boy in the pickup that had flipped. He was hanging upside down, anchored by the seat belt.
Chapter Thirty-Three -- As I slowly opened the cellar door, a cold breeze came up out of the darkness. Goosebumps raced my arms and across my scalp.
Chapter Thirty-Four -- By the time I got home, it was late. And the thought of tackling the cellar, at night, made me queasy.
Chapter Thirty-Five -- I opened the attic door, ready for anything, and was amazed to find a really cool-looking room. All weird angles and tiny hide-away nooks.
Chapter Thirty-Six -- After I got home, I took a long, hot shower and scrubbed my wrist about six times, to make sure I got all of Gus's flying ointment off my skin.
Chapter Thirty-Seven -- I could feel my spirit rise, up, up, up, until it was free of my body.
Chapter Thirty-Eight -- When I got back upstairs, it was dark outside. I settled Grundleshanks back on his table and escaped to the kitchen.
Chapter Thirty-Nine -- When I woke up the next morning, it finally dawned on me how freaky the previous night had been.
Chapter Forty -- Half a bottle of bourbon later, we were getting pretty friendly.
Chapter Forty-One -- "Oh my God, are you levitating?" I climbed on top of him, tried to use my own body to pin his down.
Chapter Forty-Two -- Within days, Lucien was able to access enough of Paul's mind to be able to drive.
Chapter Forty-Three -- That night, while Lisette was asleep, I asked her again about Matthew Gilardi. This time, I got through her defenses and went straight into her subconscious.
Chapter Forty-Four -- The next few days passed in a blur of sex and food. Every position, every imaginable (and some not-so-imaginable) sex act.
Chapter Forty-Five -- While Lucien was out of the house, haggling over a black bull calf, (I shuddered to think why), Lisette was getting the back yard prepped.
Chapter Forty-Six -- When I came to, I was on the couch, wearing an oxygen mask and my arm was sore as hell.
Chapter Forty-Seven -- After the ritual was over, Gus held Grundleshanks's body up to the sky.
Chapter Forty-Eight -- Samhain Eve dawned cold and crisp. The leaves had dropped and the tree branches were bare and stark against the sky.
Epilogue -- After Samhain, Gus was more determined than ever to do the toad bone ritual.
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