First released in the No Rest for the Witches anthology, delight in this magical, sexy short story from bestselling author Christine Warren. Available for the first time ever as a standalone ebook, get lost in the sinful pleasures of the being the witch has summoned to tame her world…and unleash her passion…
When a witch, craving the touch of someone who loves her, decides to take matters of into her own hands, she casts a spell of unmeasured powers into the cosmos to find the one who can set her soul on fire. And when her magic summons the sexiest being she's ever laid eyes on, desire will consume them both…in Any Witch Way She Can.
About the Author
CHRISTINE WARREN is the author of Stone Cold Lover and Heart of Stone, as well as the Novels of the Others, including NEW YORK TIMES Bestsellers Big Bad Wolf, Walk on the Wild Side, and One Bite with a Stranger. Born and raised in coastal New England, CHRISTINE WARREN now lives as a transplant in the Pacific Northwest. When not writing (as if that ever happens), she enjoys horseback riding, playing with her pets, identifying dogs from photos of their underbellies, and most of all reading things someone else had to agonize over.
Christine Warren is the bestselling author of The Others series, including Wolf at the Door, Big Bad Wolf, Born to Be Wild, Prince Charming Doesn’t Live Here, and Black Magic Woman. Born and raised in coastal New England, she now lives as a transplant in the Pacific Northwest. (She completely bypassed those states in the middle due to her phobia of being landlocked). When not writing, she enjoys horseback riding, playing with her pets, identifying dogs from photos of their underbellies, and most of all reading things someone else had to agonize over.
Read an Excerpt
Any Witch Way She Can
By Christine Warren
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2007 Christine Warren
All rights reserved.
"And he stood me up! Stood me UP! Can you believe that?!"
"I went home and I checked my voice mail and the voice mail on my cell and my e-mail. I even looked out the bloody window for a carrier pigeon. Not a thing. The slimeball didn't even have the courtesy to offer a lame excuse!"
"He's a slimeball."
Randy Berry glared at her cousin. "I'm detecting a certain lack of sympathy in your voice, Cass."
Cassidy Poe Quinn rolled her eyes and continued to shove onesies into a voluminous diaper bag. "Miranda, it's four forty-five in the afternoon. I had two hours of sleep last night because the twins were up with colic starting at midnight, and Sullivan and I have a plane to catch in just over three hours. I'm sympathetic, but I'm also half-comatose. Take what you can get."
Randy held up a hand. "Okay, rewind. Can we bring it back to me here? I'm having a crisis."
Her cousin snorted. "Of course, Ran. How could I have forgotten that it's all about you?"
"You're saying that like I'm some sort of selfish git. Believe me, I'm sorry you're exhausted, but you've got a husband who's so sexy there ought to be a law against it, two gorgeous little babies who could star in Gerber commercials, and you're packing to go spend six months at a sixteenth-century castle in Ireland that happens to be your family's second home. Me? I'm withering up like an unused piece of parsley no one wants garnishing their plate."
"Bitter, party of one, your table is ready."
"Hell, yeah, I'm bitter," Randy said. "I think I've got good reason. I'm thirty-two years old. If the term 'spinster' were still in use in today's vocabulary, I'd be the poster child."
Cassidy shut the top drawer of the nursery dresser and made a loud sound of disgust. "Oh my gods, Ran, you need a Valium or something. What the hell has gotten into you? This aging, man-crazy desperation thing is so not you."
"Maybe I'm turning over a new leaf," Randy shrugged, shifting in the enormous rocking chair she'd commandeered while her cousin packed baby gear in preparation for her trip. "I've been nursing this mad-on all day, but then I realized maybe the problem here isn't the guys I date. Maybe it's me. Maybe I drive men away, and I need to start resigning myself to a lifetime of loneliness and pet cats."
"Okay, now I know you need a Valium."
"No, what I need is a man."
Cassidy laughed and grabbed a handful of tiny white socks. "Trust me, you've had your share of men, Ran."
It was hard for Randy to take offense over something so true, especially since she didn't see any reason to think of it as a bad thing, but she gave it a try. "Gee, thanks, Cass. Here I am, baring my soul to you in my time of need, and you're calling me a whore."
"What I meant was that you've never had trouble finding men, and you know it. I think what has you all tied up in knots right now is that you don't just want a man; you want a mate."
Randy flinched. "You're forgetting that I'm from the black sheep side of the family, Cass. 'Mating' is for Others. I'm as human as heartburn."
"Stop splitting hairs. You're just bent out of shape because you've finally realized you want someone to settle down with instead of someone to take you to the newest nightclub."
"Oh, great. So now I'm a vapid whore."
"Miranda Louisa, you could try the patience of a saint —"
"Which is something I'm very pleased to report you're a far cry from, Cassie love."
Both women turned to the door of the nursery at the sound of that deep, masculine voice. Even after more than a year of marriage, the sight of Sullivan Quinn could still make Cassidy visibly melt, and Randy had to admit that the sight of the six-foot-two-inch werewolf standing there with his arms full of drowsy little babies would make any woman's stomach give a flip. His son snoozed away on Quinn's left shoulder while his daughter rubbed the sleep from her eyes with a chubby pink fist.
Cassidy rushed forward immediately. "I'm sorry, honey. I was just finishing up their bag while they were napping. Have they started fussing again?"
"They're fine. I told you a drop of whiskey would settle them down." Quinn dropped a kiss on his wife's forehead and turned to raise an eyebrow at her cousin. "It might help you, too, Randy. You look as if you could use some calming."
"What I need isn't going to be found in your liquor cabinet. Unfortunately."
Quinn glanced down at his wife, a second eyebrow climbing to join the first.
"Randy is having a little ... crisis of couplelessness," Cassidy explained, shrugging the bulging diaper bag onto her shoulder and leveling a pointed gaze at her cousin.
Randy felt herself squirming on the inside, but on the outside she restrained herself to crossing her arms over her chest and glaring. "Shut up," she muttered.
Quinn grinned. "It's nearly five, love," he said, turning back to Cassidy. "The car will be waiting for us downstairs, and we want to leave plenty of time to run through the mess at security."
"Right. Why don't you give me Molly? No sense in you trying to keep them both." She reached out and took her daughter, balancing the little girl on her hip. "Are the bags downstairs?"
"All but what you're carrying. I had the doorman arrange for someone to take them down."
"Good. Then we're all set."
Randy watched, sulking, as Cassidy and her husband linked their free hands, each with a baby on one hip and a glow of marital contentment on their faces. She wasn't sure if it was a lack of sleep or the stirring of jealousy in her belly that made Randy feel vaguely ill.
"Have fun," she managed grudgingly. "I'll make sure the plants stay watered and the mail gets forwarded, and I promise to clean up from any keggers before you get back."
"We'd appreciate that." Cassidy leaned forward to press a kiss to her cousin's cheek. "And if you can manage to look in on Gran once or twice, we'd appreciate that, too. She had a party last night, but we couldn't go because of the twins."
Randy rolled her eyes, but she didn't forget to give Cassidy a hug that encompassed both her and Molly. "Oh, yeah, because you know how thrilled Dame Adele always is to see me. It's going to make her day if I start hanging around and trying to take care of her. She'll probably smack me upside the head with her cane. You're gonna owe me for that one."
"Your sacrifice there is duly noted. But seriously, she's been upset lately with all this stuff with the Council. The fact that her suggestions are constantly being preempted by members of the Witches' Council is really getting her down."
"Whatever." Randy took no interest in the politics of the Council of Others in which her grandmother and cousin were so involved. "You're still going to have to make this up to me, which means you should give me the name of someone with a talent for love potions."
Cassie shook her head and headed for the door with a laugh. "The last thing you need is a love potion, Rand. You've always had men lining up at your door. All you really need to do is to make up your mind."
Before he moved to follow his wife, Quinn took Randy's hand with his customary Irish gallantry and drew her forward to drop a kiss on the top of her head. "And I think the last thing you should fear is spinsterhood, Miranda darling," he murmured, "but if you truly wish to find yourself a mate, I think you know what you ought to do about it."
Randy stroked a hand over baby Declan's fuzzy head while she frowned up at his father. "And what exactly is that?"
Quinn winked at her. "Make it happen. Remember, cousin, all's fair in love and war. And personally, I've never quite been able to tell the difference."CHAPTER 2
The apartment had gone way too quiet now that everyone had left. That had been great while she'd been unpacking her bag in the guest room and helping herself to her cousin's bubble bath, but now it was eleven P.M., there was piss-all worth watching on television, and Marc, the jerk who'd stood her up last night, still hadn't managed to locate her cell phone number and grovel like the unworthy, slime-sucking bastard he was. And she had gotten no closer to figuring out what Quinn had meant with that last remark of his than she'd been when he'd first made it.
Flipping past four channels' worth of eleven o'clock news programs, Randy stared at the flat-screen TV and brooded. Cassidy had been right. This mood wasn't like her. Miranda Berry tended to be the sort of woman who figured there would be plenty of time to worry about the future when it got to be the future. She'd always been much too busy enjoying her life, and the men who moved in and out of it, to worry about settling down. As she liked to say to her friends and family, she'd been brought up never to settle, and she didn't intend to introduce the word to her vocabulary at this late date.
The problem was that she'd come up with that particular witticism when she'd been eighteen. Now she was pushing thirty-three, and being footloose and fancy free was starting to feel more like just being alone. It didn't help matters that almost all of her friends had gotten married by now — some of them more than once, it was true — but all the same, she was starting to feel left out of the marriage game. Looking at Cassidy and Quinn had gone from making her roll her eyes at their palpable enthrallment with each other to making her wince with envy. And she didn't even want to get started on the way her ovaries had started wailing and gnashing their teeth every time she saw Molly and Declan.
Gah. It was almost like she was finally growing up.
Randy sighed and tucked the chenille throw closer around her legs. Her tank top and sleep shorts might be comfortable, but they didn't do much in the warmth department. She wasn't so far gone into despair, though, that she planned to trade in her customary pajamas for a flannel granny gown. That would mean giving up entirely, which was something Randy Berry was constitutionally unable to do.
If you truly wish to find a mate ... make it happen.
Quinn's words returned to haunt her. He made it sound like it was easy. Like all Randy had to do to find the man of her dreams was to click her heels together three times or wave her magic wand, and ...
Bolting to the edge of the sofa, Randy let the blanket in her lap slither unnoticed to the floor.
That was it! Magic!
When she'd asked Cassidy for a love potion, Randy had been kidding — mostly — but that didn't make the idea worthless. Randy knew very well that magic existed, that it could do things most people never would have thought of before the Others Unveiled themselves to the mortal world, but Randy had grown up in a half-Other family. She'd seen magic happen since before she'd understood that not everyone had a grandmother who could turn into a fox whenever the situation warranted. Randy knew magic could do amazing things, so why couldn't magic find her a man?
"By George," she muttered, "it just might work!"
Springing into action, Randy jumped up from the sofa and ran down the hall to the study. The built-in shelves that lined the walls held Quinn's books on mythology and folklore alongside Cassidy's anthropology texts and obscure academic treatises, but unless she was very much mistaken, Randy would be willing to swear that those same shelves sported a small collection of books on magic and spell casting.
They had been part of her cousin's doctoral dissertation on the use of magic in native populations around the world. At the time, Randy had been unable to imagine anything more boring — especially given the dense, technical language Cassidy tended to use when talking shop — but now her heart beat faster at the idea that one of those books might hold the key to her future.
Shoving open the door, she flicked on the light switch and rushed into the room. Bless her organized little heart, Dewey and his decimals had nothing on Cassidy Quinn. Her shelves were sorted into subject areas, the titles alphabetized by author's last name. Randy didn't give a shit about authors, but at the moment, subject matter had become her utmost concern.
She scanned the shelves. "Languages ... Latin American tribes ... local history ... Maa? ... magic!"
And was this Fate speaking to her, or what? Displayed prominently in the middle of the shelf with an eye-catching red dust jacket sat a book entitled Love Spells.
Randy snatched it up and flipped to the table of contents. "To mend a broken heart? I think not." She dragged a finger down the page. "To attract a woman? Not really my thing ... Ah ha! To attract a man! Page ninety-two."
"'As I said in the beginning of the book, to cast a spell that forces one person to fall in love with another would be both immoral and contrary to the creed by which all witches must live. To bend another being's will is unforgivable, but that doesn't mean there's no such thing as a love spell. The spell described here is one that does not compel one person to love another, but instead allows the spell caster to guide her future love into her life.'"
Excitement made Randy wriggle. This was perfect!
"'Of course, the same cautions apply to this spell, as to all the others in this book. Magic is not something to be used by those uneducated in its power. Casting a spell without truly understanding it can cause it to backfire in a way that could result not in true love, but in —'"
"Oh, whatever." Randy broke off and turned her attention to the actual steps of the spell listed on the next page. "Some lawyer probably made the author put a disclaimer in there." It didn't apply to her. She had magic in her blood. Almost. She scanned the instructions briefly and felt a rush of adrenaline that had her grinning for the first time in more than twenty-four hours.
"I can totally do this," she muttered to herself. "After all, how hard could it be?"CHAPTER 3
"I'm disappointed there's no eye of newt," Randy announced from her seat on the floor in the living room to no one in particular. The apartment was still empty, and the man of her dreams nowhere in sight. She optimistically chalked that up to the fact that she hadn't gotten around to casting the spell yet.
The instructions had been surprisingly complicated, and the list of necessary ingredients, minus any newt eyes, had proven a momentary setback. It named several items Randy had never heard of and more than one whose existence she frankly doubted. Still, no one had ever said the road to Prince Charming didn't contain some potholes — just look at what Cinderella had gone through! — but she knew that when she got there, it would absolutely be worth it. He would absolutely be worth it.
For once in her life, Randy had gone into something fully prepared. She'd actually read through the entire spell twice and made a mental list of what she would need to cast it, and she'd gathered her ingredients ahead of time, something she never did when cooking or, you know, packing. Normally she was a fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants kind of girl, but she wanted to do this right. Otherwise, there'd be no point in doing it at all.
The book's instructions were elaborate, but Randy had determination and a certain level of adrenaline on her side. She'd cleared off her cousin's coffee table, a low, round expanse of mahogany that shone dark red in the light of the dozen flickering candles she'd placed on its surface. She'd turned all the lights off, per the spell, even though that meant squinting to read the text in the uneven illumination of the candle flames.
On the plus side, the heat the candles threw out certainly kept the chill away.
Fidgeting in anticipation, she bent to the book and read aloud.
"'In a shallow silver bowl full of moon-bright river water ...' Check." She pulled the stainless steel mixing bowl she'd brought from the kitchen a little closer and poured water almost up to the brim. Cassidy would never miss those bottles of Evian, and seriously, where in Manhattan was someone supposed to get "moon-bright river water"? The Hudson? Get real. The candle cast a nice little glow over the surface. That would do.
"'Place seven scarlet petals from a fully bloomed red rose.' Check." That one was easy. Quinn, bless his besotted heart, brought his wife flowers so often, his florist had named the latest baby after him. In fact, there were so many of the things around the apartment that Randy threw in an extra handful. Might as well do things right.
"'Add half of what you need and of what you want a quarter, for love is never lasting that on whims of fancy grows.'"
She glanced down at the two lists the spellbook had instructed her to make: one contained two columns of the things she thought she needed in a man; the other outlined in four corners of a second piece of paper all the things she wanted in a man. And she was just supposed to throw out most of these?
Yeah, right. No way was she giving up "sexy." Especially not since she'd put it on both lists.
She tossed the two complete lists into the bowl and watched the paper slowly darken and sink into the water, dragging rose petals down with it. Her heartbeat quickened.
Excerpted from Any Witch Way She Can by Christine Warren. Copyright © 2007 Christine Warren. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fun story. I have not read any other books in this series but am now planning on it! Humor, sarcasm, magic and a human trying to do a spell make a wicked combination.