(a very short novella)
The first installment in an upcoming paranormal serialization, featuring the witches and warlocks of Witchdom. These short novellas will feature both new adult and adult stories.
Here's the first part!
Jade McIntire is flunking out of WWU—Witches & Warlocks University. While retaking Potions & Lotions 201 for the third time, on the eve of Halloween no less, she meets up with a High Warlock of McScreamy proportions who delivers an urgent quest. A quest, which for this witcherly-challenged, WWU near-dropout, seems impossible to achieve.
Just when she thinks the task has been accomplished, she learns she’s been summoned—a High Warlock somewhere has chosen her for his future, High Witch mate. But if she can’t pass Potions & Lotions, how in the netherworld can she pass High Witch training?
What’s a lowly witchling to do, when the High Warlock of her McNightmares comes knocking with marriage on his mind?
It’s not like I’m a fish out of water or anything, because I am a real witch. Well, witch in training, of course. Or, witchling, as we are called.
And even though I am sitting here in night school, retaking Potions & Lotions 201, it doesn’t mean I’m a loser. It just means that I’m, well, witcherly-challenged. Or so I’ve been told by teachers and classmates alike:
Jade, you are flat-out potion-challenged.
Jade, that spoon hasn’t moved one iota. Levitation is a challenge for you, is it not?
Jade, repeat that spell six more times please. By the bones, I swear you are spell-challenged.
And on it goes…
Jade McIntire twisted a cord of jet-black hair around a finger and tugged. She always did that particular thing—tug at her hair—to get her brain back on track when daydreaming. But could she help it? One look out the window at the almost-full moon hanging golden and round in the very dark sky, and one glance at the clock hands on the wall—which incidentally were about to point straight up midnight any second—and who could blame her?
I just talk to myself to figure out crap. And in her life, she’d had a lot of crap to figure out. What with her mother dying, and her grandmother disappearing, and her father never making an appearance—not even once—yes, a lot of crap to wade through.
Talking to herself was her gift, of sorts—if one could call it that. Potions and spells, not so much. She worked things out by talking aloud, and usually if she pondered things long enough the solution came to her. Those close to her were used to it. Mostly they just ignored her. Often she told strangers she was simply talking to the cat. Except sometimes, there wasn’t a cat, which only complicated matters and made her look foolish.
She wished she possessed gifts in other areas, like conjuring, or communicating with spirits, or simply doing plain magic. She was halfway decent at human anatomy, and she had a really solid handle on botany and plants, but creating chants and conjuring spells using anatomy and botany, or bloody horrors both!—well, she definitely fell short there.
She had so wanted to graduate and experience total and complete Witchdom. Seeing that she was adopted into the Clan, was even more reason to strive hard to reach the goal.
But that goal was unlikely to happen. She was on the verge of failure.
Here she was, retaking this test, because she had already flunked Potions & Lotions 201. Not once, but twice. She’d barely squeaked by P&L 101, so this was not unexpected. And witchlings who flunked out of a WWU class only had three chances to make it right.
This was her third chance.
And on All Hallows’ Eve, of all days. Why am I here? I should be out doing witcherly things. Like I used to do with Gran…
Doomed. I’ll never be a real witch. Let alone a High Witch.
She wasn’t even sure if she wanted to be a High Witch. Of course, if she didn’t pass this darn class with the exam she was about to take, her future days as an official, certified and credentialed witch, would definitely be over before they began. Witchling she would remain, now and forevermore. Sad. And unheard of in the Clan.
Leave it to her to be the first.
A horrid thought struck her. Would they even allow her to keep the title of witchling?
Would she have to—oh the universe forbid—leave the Clan? That frightened her more than she wanted to admit. The Clan had been her family, and the University her home, for over two years now.
Panic settled behind her breastbone. She glanced to her desk again, and the test, and her pencil that wasn’t moving across the page because the answers to the questions wouldn’t come from her head. She should at least try. Shouldn’t she?
A shooting star out the window caught her eye. She stared into the black. At least she thought it was a shooting star. At any rate, something shiny streaked by. Why had she chosen a seat next to the window anyway? Distractions were difficult for her to manage. And tonight of all nights…
Maybe she had Attention Deficit Disorder. Like some mortals she knew.
She glanced at the other students. Busy bees. All of them. Drat them all.
I can probably kiss my day job goodbye too. Aromatherapy was her cover while in school. Just a lowly sales clerk, she was, but she loved helping mortals pick out potions for themselves. Even though she couldn’t remember exactly what each herb or flower or infused plant root did for the body, she liked the scents and was pretty good at matching and choosing for clueless humans who just wanted to be hip and into aromatherapy stuff. She actually loved that part of her job.
But never mind. If she didn’t pass this test, she’d be one of them. She would be—ugh—mortal. A regular person. Not special and witcherly, at all. Worse, she’d be panhandling on the street by morning.
No. Not me. Not again. She looked down at the test. She had this, didn’t she?
The official graduation was tomorrow night, and she intended to be there with her pointy hat and broom right along with the rest of the graduating class. Her slinky black, vintage Elvira dress—a gift from her Gran years ago—was ready and waiting, hanging in her closet.
She sidled a glimpse across the classroom. Every single one of her classmates and fellow witchlings sat hunched over their exams, their magic pencils flying over the pages. Show-offs.
I am too old to be here.
Fact of the matter, she was nineteen. Would be twenty in a couple of months. Yes. A mite old for university. She imagined the median age of the rest of her class to be about thirteen. It’s true, WWU is a university, but training to be a witch or warlock generally starts very early. Like, at least by nine.
Sometimes earlier. Overachievers.
Can I help it if I came late to the game? No one even told me I was a witchling until I was seventeen. Not. My. Fault.
“Ahem.” A pointer tip clicked rapidly on the wooden top of her desk. Slowly, Jade lifted her gaze, bringing herself out of her own little world. Professor Mona, a High Witch, master of potions, and pretty much a hard-ass case when it came to rules and formulas and shit, stared down at her with witch-hazel eyes that appeared a tad bloodshot, at least to Jade.
Here it comes. And for no good reason. To say that the High Witch had it out for her was an understatement. She hadn’t liked Jade since the first day of class—three classes ago.
“Yes, Mrs.?” Jade whispered. Witch Mona insisted she be called Mrs. because, well, she was married, and you see, the rest of them in class weren’t. Because they were all witchlings, of course. And so, that gave her top billing in the room, as far as Clan hierarchy goes. For in the Clan—clan, coven, they all worked the same—witches, even some High Witches, and particularly witchlings, remained unmarried unless they were summoned by a High Warlock.
Summoned, of course, to mate. Or, as that meant in Witchdom, couple for life.
The choosing of either—witch or witchling—happened only in extreme circumstances. Generally, witches and warlocks preferred to remain free spirits. To play the wicked field, you might say, sexually. But she’d heard there were advantages to being mated—advantages that she’d not yet been privy to learning. Just whisperings from some of the younger witches behind the broom closet door.
To say those whisperings made her curious was an understatement. What exactly was the difference between casual sex among witches and warlocks, or being summoned and mating? Was it the for life thing? The happily-ever-after, I’m yours-you’re mine, and never do us part thing?
That part almost made her swoon.
What she did know for certain was that witchlings were summoned only when there was a cause—and often when the match was made outside of either the witchling, or the warlock’s power. In other words, an arranged witcherly marriage. And, those only happened when something dire was about to happen, and the union of the two would mean saving the Clan from utter destruction, or infiltration from an opposing coven…or something crazy like that.
A witchling being summoned hadn’t happened in like, 4000 years.
She’d learned all of that in Witch & Warlock History 202. She was so much better at history than potions.
Therefore, to commit to a one witch, one warlock relationship that was like, sigh, the ultimate. Most witchlings secretly dreamed about it on the inside—being romantically summoned and whisked away to High Witch training to prepare for life as the mate of a powerful High Warlock, and settling down for all eternity—but on the outside, they boasted of how many warlocks they could seduce and run away on. Peer pressure, you know, and conquest.
The tapping again. Louder. The green-eyed witch leaned closer and yes, definitely, her eyes were bloodshot. Not a very pretty witch, Jade decided. But she already knew that.
“Pretty is as pretty does.”
Shit. I forgot that Mrs. High Witch Mona also reads minds.
“It will behoove you to remember that, missy.”
“My name is Jade,” she said boldly, still staring the witch down, “not Missy.” She was so over this witch. Jade ticked her head to the right. “Missy is sitting there in the olive green drab dress, two rows over.”
“You would do so well to follow the rules of the Clan, yourself, my dear.”
You see, witchlings like herself were only allowed to wear two colors until graduation——olive drab and mud brown. Once you passed your merits, you could wear black. She’d bought that slick Elvira dress when she’d started university just as an incentive.
Jade glanced down at herself. Pink. Tonight she’d chosen a low-cut, neon pink, tank top that hugged her breasts and made them nice and perky-looking. She was such a rule-breaker, and knew she was pushing it. High Witch Mona might mark her down just for the pink. Cleavage wasn’t allowed until after graduation, either.
She gathered the plackets of her mud brown jacket together at her chest. Good thing Mrs. High Witch couldn’t see her pink-toed cowgirl boots under her desk.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Oh, boy. Three solid taps. I’m in trouble now.
“Get busy, missy.”
High Witch Mona bore down on her and Jade could do nothing but lift her head a little higher, point her nose in the elder witch’s direction, and hold her ground. “Oh eye of newt and pistil of petunia, hang on a minute, will you? I am attempting to do that, Mrs. High Witch Mona, but you keep interrupting me!”
All the magic pencils in the room stopped scratching over their papers, and every witchling’s head jerked to attention at High Witch Mona’s single word.
Smoke eased from the old witch’s ears. A crackling and popping skittered off from beneath her voluminous skirt and behind. Jade had to stifle a giggle, wondering if she’d emitted a giant witch fart. In fact, indeed, there was a bit of a stench.
Then Professor Mrs. High Witch Mona—the witch just had too many titles—started a low, deep gut-chant as her entire body began a slow, eerie rise, and before Jade realized it, Mrs. Mona was hanging from the rafters by her jagged fingernails. All eyes, and especially Jade’s, were glued to the almighty High Witch.
Then the witchling sitting next to Jade leaned over and hissed, “Good going. You just zapped her with your newt-petunia spell.”
Spell? Oh, what have I done?
Jade was pretty sure one corner of her mouth turned up into a semi-smile. She’d actually cast a spell! It was then she saw the most beautiful, fantastic, utterly awesome thing she’d ever seen in her entire life.