A small town that’s about to be in some big trouble.
Tammy Jo Trask is finally ready to embrace her mixed-up magic, but not everyone in town is what you’d call supportive. While a scripture-spouting posse is organized to kidnap her and “save” Duvall from witchcraft, the president of WAM—the World Association of Magic—arrives to investigate Tammy’s entanglement with the off-limits and drop-dead gorgeous wizard Bryn Lyons.
But when a clash between the locals and the magical visitors leads to a series of unnatural disasters, Tammy Jo will have to hope that her magical synergy with Bryn is enough to save the town from certain doom.
About the Author
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The reason I don’t normally bother to plan my schedule is that something unexpected always seems to come up and throw it off. That Friday when I got kidnapped was a prime example.
It was only four days after I’d almost been incinerated and drowned, but I was hopeful that I could balance my new life as a witch with my old life as a pastry chef. I’d accepted a commission— my ﬁrst ever—from an accountant who donates her time to the Texas Friends of Fish and Fowl. As a celebration of their third anniversary, they were holding a regional fund-raiser in Duvall, and the centerpiece was to be a chocolate sculpture designed by yours truly. They wanted it to involve birds and ﬁsh, which was a bit of a challenge to my creativity because although ﬁsh are tasty—as anything but dessert—I just don’t see them as art.
I was hard at work on a woodland scene with ﬁsh popping out of a brook when the bells chimed, announcing that someone had opened the front door to Cookie’s Bakery. I glanced at the clock. It was twelve twenty, so Cookie hadn’t returned from her lunch break yet. In the bargain we’d struck, Cookie would let me use the bakery, if I covered her lunch hour and one Saturday.
I wiped my hands on a rag and walked out to the glass counter to ﬁnd my mailman, George. Technically he’s not mine. He belongs to the town, but he’s delivered the mail to our house since I was ﬁve, and his route always seems to be expanding. Truth be told, George would like to be the only mailman in town. He considers postal work a calling.
“Hey, George. Are you in the mood for a cinnamon roll or a caramel pecan one?” I asked with a smile.
His bushy silver eyebrows rose. If a hedgehog ever mated with a hobbit, George could’ve had a twin. “I’m not on a break, Tammy Jo. I’m here on ofﬁcial postal business.”
I smiled a little wider. “Okay, then. I’ll take the bakery mail,” I said, holding out my hand.
“No need,” he said, rounding the counter to set the mail into Cookie’s straw mail basket. That was George. Mail delivery with military precision.
“All right, have a good day on your route,” I said, moving toward the back.
“Just a moment, young lady.”
“Yes?” I said, turning to face him again.
“We’ve got to discuss the situation at your house.”
I frowned, thinking about our family home, which had sustained ﬁre damage and was under repair. I was staying at my ex-husband Zach Sutton’s house while he was out of town. I’d had my mail forwarded there. “Well, the situation at my house is being handled. Between TJ’s construction crew and Stucky’s brother-in-law, Chuy Vargas, who’s the best carpenter in a hundred miles, they’ll put it to rights. Chuy did the built-in bookshelves at Bryn Lyons’s house, and I can tell you ﬁrsthand, he does the most beautiful work you’ve ever seen.”
“That may be the case, but that still doesn’t address the situation I’m talking about.”
“I had my mail forwarded, George. Filled out all the paperwork two days ago, and the mail already came yesterday. You guys are a top-notch operation.”
George rattled off Zach’s address with a frown.
“Right, that’s where I’m staying.”
“It’s not on my route.”
My jaw dropped a little. “Right, but I’m not moving off your route permanently. It’s just until my house is ﬁxed.”
“Shoreside is on my route. Highest tax bracket in Duvall, and I’m on that route by request. I believe you could stay there if you wanted to.”
“I can’t move in with Bryn Lyons just so you can deliver my mail!”
“You’ve got a package all the way from London, England. Airmail. Express with insurance attached. You going to trust something of that nature to the likes of Jeffrey Fritz?”
“I’ve got a package from England?” I asked, half amused that George couldn’t stand for a high-priority package to be delivered by his rival. “I haven’t ordered anything. And I don’t know anyone there.”
“International mail,” George said with a solemn nod.
“Sounds important. Do you happen to have it on your truck?”
“In my bag,” George said in a grave whisper, as if the package contained state secrets that spies in foreign countries had lost their lives to bring us.
“Well, that sure is convenient. Do I need to sign for it?”
“No. I’ve got my computer. I’ll take care of everything,” he said. He took out the small package and scanned its label, then handed it over. “Zach Sutton’s mailbox isn’t large enough to hold that.”
“George, how did you know I’d be here today? I didn’t arrange with Miss Cookie to use the bakery until last night. I can’t imagine who even knew I’d be here.”
“You’re part of my route,” George said crisply.
I laughed and couldn’t help wondering whether George might have one of the town ghosts as some sort of spirit guide. No one was better informed than the Duvall ghost network.
With his sworn duty fulﬁlled, George marched out of the bakery, head held high.
I took a pair of scissors and carefully opened the box. There was a double layer of bubble plastic, which I unfolded to ﬁ nd a disc-shaped object, heavily wrapped in white foam packing sheets, making it about three inches in diameter. I raised it. Concealed underneath was a folded piece of thick stationery. I lifted the corner to read the note.
Never let it be taken from you. Keep it secret. Keep it safe.
A chill ran down my spine. I turned the paper over. No signature. Nothing written on it besides the three sentences in fancy black script.
I ﬂipped up the box ﬂap to look at the label. No return address. I set the note down carefully and returned to the mystery object. I pulled off the tape and slowly unrolled it. Peeling away layer after layer, I ﬁnally uncovered a beautiful antique cameo brooch. It was about two inches tall. The carved white image of a young woman’s proﬁle stood out from the pinkish-red background. There were ﬂowers tucked into her upswept hair, and she had delicate features, angelic and pretty. The oval rim of the brooch was laced in gold and dotted with the tiniest pearls I’d ever seen. So many precious details. It made me feel like factory-manufactured jewelry ought to be outlawed.
Could Momma or Aunt Melanie have sent it? If so, why hadn’t they written a longer message? And why would they be in England? Or, if it wasn’t from them, who else in the world would have sent it to me?
I reached down to touch it, and a jolt of electricity shot up my arm. My brain seemed to rattle in my skull for a moment and then my vision blurred, the bakery receding.
I staggered, blindly catching myself on the counter just as she appeared. A woman with thick chestnut hair and high cheekbones. Her disheveled clothes, a blouse and skirt, ﬂared out as she ran. I heard her panting breath, the clicking of her heels, and I smelled damp, rain-soaked streets. The haunted look in her wide eyes made my heart contract, and her fear consumed me. I reached out to her, to rescue her, but she went past me and disappeared.
I stood, staring at the spot where she’d been, but there was only black. Trying to catch my breath, I sank shakily to the ﬂoor.
Who is she?
The darkness faded, and the bakery reappeared around me. The smell of melted chocolate and baking bread. The ticking of the wall clock that was shaped like a country apron. I shook myself. I was safe at home in Duvall. The girl had been part of a premonition—my ﬁrst ever. Were they always like that? Yikes. I hoped not.
And who or what had been chasing her? She’d been terriﬁed, running as if her life depended on it. I’d felt what she was feeling. I wasn’t sure if that was normal with psychic visions or not, but it didn’t really matter. Only one thing was important; I had to ﬁnd out who she was so I could save her from whoever or whatever was chasing her.
Excerpted from "Halfway Hexed"
Copyright © 2014 Kimberly Frost.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
“A laugh-out-loud magical ride that I didn’t want to stop…Can’t wait for the next installment!”—TwoLips Reviews
“A big, heaping helping of Southern-fried magical fun!”—Alyssa Day, New York Times bestselling author of The Cursed
“Pick up this series, you won’t be disappointed.”—Once Upon a Twilight