What is a girl to do to break a curse?
A Shade of Witch
ForNever, Book Two
By Rosaline Saul
They believe love's first kiss broke the curse, and Heather O'Halloran made her choice.
She allowed herself to fall in love with all her heart.
However, to break the curse, Jayden Fitzgerald must convince Heather to marry him before the next full moon.
The witch who cursed the trio, altered the fabric of the universe, and now Kieran Fitzgerald will stop at nothing to get Heather back - even summon the witch from the dead.
As the truth unfolds, Heather learns about her heritage and the magic in her blood but slips deeper into the witch's deadly games of forbidden magic.
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About this book
Amazon ISBN 9798849195032
Ingram ISBN 9781393213062
eBook ISBN 9781393381471
Imprint: Fiction for the Soul
Date First Published: 1 October 2017
Paperback Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
For readers aged 13 and up
Read the beginning of this story
I wailed as I begged the guard standing in front of the jail house, “I need to speak to her, please Liam. I will be so quick.” Michaila was standing behind me, my skirts were clutched in a bundle in her fist. She kept pulling me backwards, afraid for my safety, but I had to see Jayden’s mother.
I should never have listened to Jayden when he convinced me to blame his mother. I was afraid when the Magistrate asked me, “Who inflicted you?” His eyes were shining like eyes I imagined full of demons. He licked his tongue over his lips as if he was a hungry lizard. “Heather. Speak up, child. Who has you dancing in the forest, speaking nonsense, and worshipping the devil? Who may it be?”
I kept my eyes on the ground, following the groove in the wood of the plank floor.
“Look at me,” he screamed.
I cringed at the sound of his voice, but without looking up, I shook my head.
My father’s shoes stepped closer. I knew his shoes well. It was my chore to make sure his shoes always shined so bright he could see his reflection in them.
They whispered something, and then my father’s hand wrapped around my upper arm, pulling me up from the wooden chair I had been pushed into this morning. I really needed to use the lavatory and I really needed a drink of water. When I thought either thought, one or the other of my urgent needs became even more urgent.
I kept my head lowered and my shoulders slumped as my father led me down the aisle, past people I had known my whole life, who were now looking at me as if I was guilty. They thought I was a witch who had to be burned alive. Burned so that my soul could be purified.
When we walked out into the bright sunlight, out of the church, which was being used as the Court House, my dad murmured just loud enough for me to hear, “Heather, the Magistrate is going to put you in the pulley. He believes you to be a witch, and, dearest child, we cannot have people paying us any more attention than they do. Especially in these times.”
I looked up at him with fear in my eyes. My actions had caused my whole family to be in danger.
He continued, his lips hardly moved as he spoke, “Just blame someone. Anyone. It matters not.”
Jayden came running across the dry dust of the village square. His hands wrapped around my upper arms, and my dad let me go. I wanted so badly to move closer to him so that he could wrap me in his arms. In his arms, I could disappear. He could hide me with his body, take my pain and take my fear.
Jayden bent down until his face was level with mine, and urged me with a muted voice, “Tell them it was Katherine.”
I looked up at him with shock. How did he know?
His expression remained afraid. He looked scared to lose me, I could tell. I did not want to lose him either. How did everything change so quickly?
“It will be fine; you can say it was her. She will be fine, trust me,” he insisted.
Did he know?
Did he know it was Katherine who sought me out, even before he asked my father for my hand in marriage, long before we were betrothed? She came to me, and she knew our family secret. Knew we were born into magic, magic flowed through our veins. We barely escaped the old country, and my parents made Michaila and me swear we will never, ever practise magic, but Katherine made promises too. Told us, no-one will ever know.
Now I must make the choice to either have my limbs pulled from their sockets or, as Jayden said, I should tell the Magistrate it was Katherine Fitzgerald who made me do all those things. Jayden did not even know how true his accusation was. As far as I knew, Jayden did not know my secret.
“Do it.” Jayden pushed his face closer to mine. “I cannot… You and I are supposed to...” He begged, “Please do not do this to us. Please do not die.”
I felt fear coil in my stomach when I nodded my agreement.
“Take her home, lad,” my dad told Jayden. “I will take it from here.”
At the door of our thatched roofed cottage, Jayden held me by the arms. It was forbidden to publicly display affection, especially since we were still unwed.
“Stay here. I must find Kieran,” he told me. “Meet me at the old Oak tree when the sun touches the spire.”
My eyes glanced at the church and then at the position of the sun in the sky. It was still a long way off. I nodded obediently.
As soon as I saw him hurry around the corner, I called, “Michaila. Make haste.”
Michaila, my sister, was two years younger than me, and I could not help smiling when I saw her young, round face peek around the corner of the cottage. She had an insolent look on her face. “I’m feeding the chickens. What do you want?” Then she remembered and rushed to me. “What happened.” Her blue eyes grew bigger in her round face. “Did they find out?” Her eyes darted to the pathway in front of our cottage. “Do they know?”
I shook my head. “No, but I must speak with Mistress Fitzgerald. Will you come with me?”
When we got to the jail house and I saw it was Liam guarding the prisoners, I was glad to see him. We grew up together, floated leaves on the river, played in the Salem Woods, and I knew he would let me see Katherine.
However, when I asked him, he was adamant not to let me pass. He crossed his arms over his broad chest, flicking his shoulder-length brown hair over his shoulder by moving his head. For a short while, we did a strange side-step dance, but he kept blocking me.
“Please, Liam. You know she was going to be my mother-in-law. Can you imagine my anguish?”
I heard Michaila take a deep breath before she let go of my skirt and stepped past me. She smiled up at Liam. “She’ll be only a second. If you let her go in, I’ll meet you at the Oak tree, two nights from tonight.”
Liam had liked Michaila since we were young, and I had a feeling in two years he would ask my dad for her hand in marriage. I shook my head. “No, Michaila. You cannot. You are not yet of age.”
Liam stepped aside and Michaila followed him.
I knew she liked him too, and often we whispered in the darkness of our room about how our lives would be once I was married to Jayden and then when she married Liam, all our dreams would come true.
I rushed past them and saw Katherine immediately where she stood in the corner of the dank cell. The other women, men, and children with her were dirty and dressed in dull colours. Katherine was beautiful, her black dress was still bright.
My hands held onto the bars and I could feel the cold metal, thick and unbreakable in my fists.
Katherine smirked as she stepped closer to me, and she looked at me as if she already knew I had betrayed her.
Without saying a word, she held her hand out to me, palm up.
My fingers cramped when I pulled them away from the rusted metal bar, and I reached for her.
She looked at me for a second and then gripped my fingers between hers.
With fright, I pulled my hand away from her, and she held onto my ring. I felt it slip off my finger and there was nothing I could do about it.
Without a word, she turned away from me and walked back to the place she was standing when I entered.
“I am so sorry,” I cried. “Please forgive me.”
Michaila grabbed me by the hand and pulled me away from the metal bars and the prisoners who were all staring at me now as if they were indeed witches, or maybe they had just accepted their fate. She hissed, “Don’t say you’re sorry. Have you lost your mind?”
I stood in the shade of the old Oak tree, waiting for Jayden, looking up at the spire and the sun, which caused me to see bright spots in front of my eyes when I looked away.
He was late and I started to worry. With Jayden, it was as if we were always standing hand in hand on the edge of an adventure. I loved him, and when he asked my dad for my hand in marriage it was the happiest day in all my sixteen years.
I could not wait for us to move into the house he was building for us not far from this Oak tree. It was on the edge of the meadow, within the shade of a large Ash tree.
He surprised me from behind and I jumped with fright. Chuckling softly, he nuzzled his face in the fold of my neck, and wrapping his arms around my waist, he pulled me closer to his chest.
I sunk into him and for a short moment if felt as we were invincible against the world. The world and the inquisition could throw the book at us, and we would remain unbroken, always.
Nudging Jayden with the side of my face, he looked up and with trepidation, I watched a group of people walking in our direction.
Quickly, Jayden pulled me by the hand further into the forest behind us until we were camouflaged by the shadows.
As I stumbled through the dense foliage, I sensed something did not feel right. Every bone in my body was telling me something was terribly wrong.
He turned to face me. “It’s over, Heather. I’ve just heard my mother was convicted of being a witch and is to be executed, burned at the stake immediately.”
I reached for him. “I am so sorry. It is all my fault.”
He shook his head. “She will save herself. Keep the flames from her body, even if it looked to everybody as if she was burning. She would cloak her body until everyone had gone back to their boring lives, and then she would whisk herself away to safety.” He looked at me worried. “Yet, her wrath will be unfathomable. She will have her revenge on both of us.”
“Why did you tell me to put all blame on her?” I asked softly, hesitant to even say the words.
“I want to hide the truth, to shelter you.”
“You know? How?”
“Heather, I love you. There is nothing about you I do not know. I know your every truth.”
“But you know there will be nowhere to hide from your mother. She will be so angry.”
“Everything will be fine, Heather? Do not be afraid.”
“Stop it, Jayden. We should not have done this.”
The weight of his steps grew heavy. He was anxious and making no attempt to hide it. “And have you in the pulley? There was no other choice!”
My heart quickened with the feeling of being hunted. “What have I done?” I whispered.
He stepped closer to me, my back pushing against the tree behind me. “Heather. Do not blame yourself. With magic, my mother will escape. She will be unharmed. Angry, but unharmed.”
“Step back, Jayden. You are too close.” I was feeling claustrophobic and it felt as if my heart was hammering in my chest. “Jayden. What if she dies? I should never have done this… I am a murderer,” I shouted.
“You have not killed anyone,” he insisted.
“You are wrong!”
He made a sound of pure frustration, slamming his fist against the trunk of the tree we were standing next to. Then he stepped even closer to me, and before I could step away, he leaned down and pressed his lips to mine.
I shoved him away hard and turned away from him. “I have to fix this.”
He grabbed me from behind, his arms around my waist. “Wait,” he pleaded. “Just wait.”
I sobbed. “Let me go. You are making it worse. My dad told me when she was arrested, she warned you and I will never be together. She promised to curse me for all eternity. I cannot… I do not know if I will be able…”
He held me firmly to his chest and even though I knew each one of my kicks was connecting with his shins, he did not let me go.
“Will you stop squirming?” Jayden hissed in my ear.
I did. The fight was over. My will was deflated. After a few moments and many deep breaths, I calmed down, but the tears continued to stream down my cheeks. “We cannot escape this,” I whispered.
Jayden did not relax his hold on me. His forehead was pressed tightly against the top of my back, and even though I could not see him, I wondered if he himself was crying too.
For a long time, we stood like that, until I moved first, turning around in his arms, and wrapping my arms around his waist. “Jayden, I love you.”
Softly he planted a kiss on the top of my head. There was something to be said about loving someone. Every emotion felt more intense.
“What is that?” I asked as long tendrils of black mist snaked between the trees toward us.
His muscles tensed under the palms of my hands. “Shadows,” he murmured.
“Did my mother take something of yours?” There was a worried tone in his voice.
I moved my head to look up at him. “She did. My promise ring. When I went to tell her how sorry I am, she gripped my hand between hers and when I pulled my hand away from her because she was making me feel afraid, she pulled it off.”
The look he gave me made me blink hard.
This was a desperate situation, utterly desperate. What were we supposed to do? Run through the forest? Run, and run, and run with nowhere to go?Copyright © Rosaline Saul (published by Fiction for the Soul). All rights reserved.