Wanting to know what’s in store for Lucy and her allies in Book 3 of The Cotton Family Series? Here’s a little TEASER to get you revved up!!!
Blood Moon, 1562
The nightshade berry burst between my fingertips. I squished the little morsel until the skin had sloughed off and there was nothing left but the fleshy fruit. Its toxic ebony juice formed a tiny puddle in the palm of my hand. I smeared it like war paint across my cheeks, nose, and forehead. Then smashed another handful of berries and marked my chest, shoulders, stomach, feet, and thighs. The energy in the air was palpable. Butterflies churned butter from the contents of my nervous stomach.
At long last, the night had come. A small group of wild Cornish women stood ‘round the witching tree, gazing up at its knotted, lifeless limbs. It was a large, brown tree that stood out like a sore thumb at the side of the Bottreaux Castle ruins. The tree appeared to have been dead for years, though somehow it kept its stance through Cornwall’s tattering sea-storms and rough winters. This hollow tree served as a connection between the human world and the other worlds. The moon was full and red above us, smiling down on us, anticipating our elaborate ritual. Beckoning us to come closer.
“Frost! Are you ready, M’Dear?” My close friend Maud called to me from the northern point of the circle.
I nodded and took my place amongst the witches of the Black Crow Coven. We held hands, gripping each other tightly. We swayed in the cool breeze tumbling down off the crags that swirled and melded with the winds from the torrential seas below. This was the second time we’d attempted such a risky ritual. The first attempt nearly ended in the loss of a sister-witch. By the love of the gods, she was saved by the loose hem of her dress caught on a precipice.
The power ascended from the earth, penetrating the pads of our feet, twirling through our bodies and bursting through the crowns of our heads. The nightshade’s boozy essence could not be ignored. It brought me to the edge of the world, tugged on my soul, calling me to take up my broomstick. As I did so, the others followed my lead. Cackles, giggles, and the stomping of wild women’s bare feet filled the night air. The salty scent of the ocean and the sweet aromas of heather and clover fused together and tickled our senses as we made our way to the edge of the precipice. I peered up at the castle’s stone wall to my right. Bottreaux Castle had been abandoned and in ruin for centuries, and made the perfect place for our meetings, rituals, and holy-day celebrations. It had seen lighter, gayer days. This was a darker night, to be sure.
The twelve women stood in a line, facing the ocean, brooms between their legs. Curls, bonnets, and pointed hats turned this way and that. Blue, brown, and green eyes scanned the landscape. Fear and excitement took hold of each of us. Time to fly.
“Repeat after me, then take to the skies! Off I go and touch nowhere!”
And we were off. Our feet had left the ground, along with our fickle inhibitions. The fear of being persecuted for what we were melted off of us like ice from the rooftops. Not a single priest, nor witch hunter, nor magistrate could touch us. We were invincible. And we were prepared to take back what Maggie Mills had unrightfully stolen from Maud’s farm. Precious milk, herb, and butter-cream all.
Once our deed was complete, we met again at the ruins. All thirteen witches were exhilarated and exhausted. The flight, herbal intoxication, and journey had depleted our energy.
As I turned to close our circle and bid the Coven farewell, a dark figure emerged from the shadows of the castle walls.
I turned and glared at Maud. “Why did you invite him here?”
“You know we need his protection. His knowledge. Please, Frost. Just listen to what he has to offer.” Maud crept over to the dark god and stood beside him, head raised high. The scent of betrayal clung to her breath.
I pulled my broom to my side and steadied myself. I was High Priestess and I had to be strong for all witches present. No matter if Maud had persuaded them of his helpfulness or not, I had to be the one to stand up for my sisters.
If you enjoyed this teaser, don’t forget to read the first two of The Cotton Family Series, click HERE!!!