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Witches of Skye - Love Lies Bleeding (Book Three): Paranormal Fantasy by M. L. Briers (1)

 

 

~

I’d like to say that my life had gone back to normal, but in truth, things would never be the same again. How could they? I’d gone from being a carefree witch to finding out about dark magic, Gran’s spell that summoned my sisters and me with a power that perhaps we shouldn’t have had, Ross being a werewolf and the existence of vampires.

How do you come back from all of that?

I’d also lost Jack. Not that I ever had Jack, but there had been the promise of having him, but that had turned out to be nothing more than a lust-crush, and I was okay with that.

Jack and I were two different people, and he could never really exist in my world — not my new world — a brave new world of magic and mayhem, and … life goes on. I still go to bed at night — I still wake up in the morning — I still cook muffins and cookies for tourists and townsfolk alike.

It’s not glamorous being a witch, there are no applause, no spotlight, and no money rolling into the bank as though I just tapped a few ones and zeros into a computer and found the next best thing to sliced bread for a generation whose attention span is that of a goldfish. We spent all of those years evolving to walk upright and yet most people today hardly ever look up from the tech in their hands.

My personal favourite, when the tourists aren’t doing the midge dance down the street, is watching out the bistro window to see who's going to walk into the ill-placed street sign. The thing is; they look so surprised when it happens as if the sign just jumped out in front of them.

Every generation has its flaws, but what did it say about the country when young people wanted to be reality tv stars or marry a footballer? In a day and age when people could be anything they wanted, case in point those tech billionaires, you had to wonder at it.

Maybe it’s because I grew up on Skye that these things didn’t interest me? I did, however, meet a rap star that was filming on the island the other day, boy, did I wish I hadn’t. If that’s what money and fame does to you, then I’m glad I’m just a lowly witch that bakes cookies.

The man had his head so far up his own backside I’m surprised he didn’t feel a tickle in his throat. He got short change from the people on the Isle, nobody fawned over him, and he left in a huff — well, a helicopter actually, but that’s the magic of Skye, we’re just simple folk.

Kind of.

Now here I am, after my less than impressive brush with fame, in the stockroom of the bistro, trying to sort out the mess left by the delivery driver. How I love stock day. Glamorous — glamorous — glamorous.

“Magic — magic everywhere, and I can’t use it in case somebody walks in,” I grumbled.

I was finding that I was becoming more like Gran and talking to myself on a regular basis. Perhaps that had something to do with all the spells that we say out loud, perhaps it comes to us all in time, or perhaps I was going slowly insane. Little wonder living with my family.

“That somebody wouldn’t be me,” Malachi’s deep melodic voice made me jump in place, and I know he’d seen it because he saw everything. The slightest twitch, the slightest blush, and a whole heap of other stuff that I didn’t even want to think about. “Go ahead, Broom Hilder, do your witchy worst, or best, as the case may be, I’ll be the lookout.”

“Don’t you have small children to terrorise?” I shot back over my shoulder, perched as I was on the second step of my small ladder with my back to him.

He still annoyed me, but he was also growing on me like moss on a stone, and if I could put a cowbell around his neck, so he didn’t do that stealthy appearing thing then we might get along a whole lot better. That and I got to zap him whenever I wanted because he just bounced back from it.

“Isn’t that more in the witch department? I’m thinking gingerbread house, Hansel and Gretel…”

“You know, regret is a pity party that you’re going to be throwing yourself any second now.” I have to admit, just not to him because my spells and wards were woven so tightly around me that not even air could get through let alone his vampire mind reading tricks, but I did enjoy our verbal fencing matches sometimes.

At other times I wanted to stab myself in the eye with a fork, but that’s life, you had to take the rough with the smooth, and there were times when Mr Smooth the vampire could be a bitter pill to swallow.

“That may be, but it’s better to go out with a bang than a whimper, don’t you think?” He chuckled, and that sound didn’t annoy me half as much anymore. I guess that I really was getting used to having the walking dead around.

“I try not to think when you’re about.” That was a lie, I was always trying to think one step ahead of him, but the man was annoyingly unpredictable. Still, it flexed my mental muscles to give it a try, and sometimes I even surprised myself, but that was normally when I was being bad and thinking evil thoughts.

Perhaps it wasn’t just my mental muscles that needed flexing because the box that I was wrestling with just wouldn’t budge. I pulled on my magic and was about to give it a witchy shove when I felt Malachi step up onto the ladder behind me.

His strong arms reached around me causing an internal rush of excitement to shoot through my body like it was fireworks night, as he reached up and moved the box as if it was full of feathers. Of course, that move had been designed to elicit a response from me. Everything about him was designed for that, by choice as well as design; he seemed to revel in trying to throw me off kilter in one way or another.

The man was a tease.

“Show off,” I bit out.

I wasn’t mad that he was super-strong, I wasn’t even miffed that he intervened, but I was annoyed with my body’s reaction to having him that close. What did that say about me, that I could be attracted to a walking corpse?

I’d read Twilight, all of the books, and I liked the story, but I still couldn’t see the attraction to the undead.

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it, I always say,” he practically whispered in my ear, and no matter how hard I locked up my muscles, and that was tighter than a duck’s butthole, I still shivered. “You could be this strong, just say the words…”

“Back off or burn in hell,” Moira’s sarcastic tone echoed through the room, and made me feel guilty even though I hadn’t done anything. Being caught in a compromising position with a vampire wasn’t something that she was going to let drop anytime soon.

Lucky me.

Although, I guess I was grateful for her timing in the awkward moment when my body was trying to overrule my brain with stupidity.

“Sweet talking me won’t get you what you want little Moira; the offer was for your sister and not you,” Malachi tossed back without missing a beat. I turned my body slightly and met him eye to eye.

“What she said,” I offered back as sweetly as I could and with just a hint of wicked intention in my smile. Now that I had backup I wouldn’t be caught dead entertaining the idea of the walking dead in my life in anything but … friendship.

Not that we were friends, as such, but we might have been getting there. Or maybe it was just familiarity; he always seemed to be around in one way or the other. He was even becoming a regular at the dinner table, which my dad seemed less perplexed and more accepting of these days.

“Some people you just can’t help to fulfil their potential,” Malachi said as he shrugged his broad shoulders, and he didn’t immediately release me from the eye lock that he had on me.

Luckily, my magic was in place, and I could release myself with a swift elbow to his ribs, and a little magic to back that up.

Malachi grimaced at the power of the blow. He gave me a look that berated me and was full of disappointment at the same time. That look was a lie — he’d been expecting retaliation, and he’d got it.

It was a dance that we seemed to be performing with each other lately, sort of like sex without the physical part, and that was disturbing on some many levels that I didn’t want to think about it.

“Oh, that had to hurt your pride,” Moira chuckled.

“Pride before the fall,” I said, and Moira got her magic in before I did, taking his legs out from under him and ensuring that he ended up on his backside on the floor. I had to chuckle, if only because the look on his face said he’d been expecting that as well.

“And you wonder why I didn’t offer you the chance to become a vampire — you would be like Vlad the Impaler on steroids,” Malachi said as he pushed back to his feet with more grace than I could ever manage, and brushed his hands against the back of his black jeans.

“Oh, that sounds like fun — I’m rethinking already,” Moira grinned and he snorted a chuckle.

“I pity Ross. It’s not often that I feel sympathy for a werewolf, but these are exceptional times,” Malachi offered with a small smug smile as Moira narrowed her eyes at him and considered her options.

I’d knew Moira well enough to know that her options were all about getting even. He might have pitied Ross, but I pitied him.

“Witch!” Eileen announced as she rushed down the corridor and bowled into the back of Moira who was still standing in the doorway but got nudged a few steps inside.

“Times — three,” Malachi said holding up three fingers and getting a small giggle from Eileen in return. She either had a thing for vampires or perhaps she was being nice because he was bat-boy’s cousin. Not that Duncan was impressed with having his kin around, but that was a different story and one I couldn’t seem to get Gran to spill the beans on.

“Make that four,” Eileen announced as she hooked a thumb over her shoulder back toward the bistro. “There’s a new witch in town.”

While that piqued my interest, Moira’s reaction was the one to watch. I knew where her mind was going before she had even given birth to that thought.

“What does she looked like?” Yep, that was Moira — she didn’t like competition on any level, bless her little jealous heart.

“Does it matter? You have Ross,” Eileen tossed back. Of course, she knew just what our sister was like.

“And you have bat-boy, does that mean you’re going to stop washing your hair and shaving your armpits?” Moira shot back, catty to the last.

“Bat-boy — I do like that one,” Malachi chuckled. I knew why he liked it because Duncan didn’t. There was something off between the two of them, and I was determined to find out what it was – vampire rivalry perhaps.

“I don’t like that one,” Eileen lifted her chin and snorted contempt at Moira. “I think it’s rude.”

“No, because you think it’s funny when Maggie calls Ross split-personality, you little hypocrite,” Moira shot down her protest in one go.

“Well, that is funny,” Eileen shrugged.

“Yep, that one’s really funny,” Malachi agreed with my sister and got a conspiratorial smile back in return. “What’s my nickname?”

I grimaced as my sister’s turned to look at me. Eileen opened her mouth, which she really shouldn’t have done because she knew better, and I zapped her.

“Hear no evil — see no evil — speak no evil,” I reminded her as she lifted her hand and rubbed the sore spot on her hip. She shot daggers back at me, and I thought she just might do that in real life if she’d had the daggers to hand, but alas for her, she didn’t.

“I wasn’t going to tell him,” Eileen protested.

Of course, that made me feel a wee twinge of guilt, but it didn’t last long because she had a look in her eye that said she just might spite me and tell him now.

“Well, let’s go see this new witch,” Malachi said slapping the palms of his hands together and rubbing them for warmth. That was the only warmth that man was going to get from being around any of us.

“So what does she look like?” Moira asked Eileen as they started down the corridor together.

“I know you call me Satan claws,” Malachi whispered as I started to walk along with him.

“That was your old nickname — before I knew you the way that I know you now.”

That was the truth. We had a new nickname for Malachi, and I wasn’t sure that he was going to like it, which was great. He seemed to revel in the Satan claws tag that we’d attached to him, and that just wouldn’t do.

“When are you going to admit that you’re madly and passionately in love with me, Maggie?”

I couldn’t help but snort a chuckle, and then another, and another. He opened his mouth to speak, narrowed his eyes at me, and then rolled them towards the ceiling. In between my chuckling, there was sniggering, then chuckling, and then more sniggering.

Bless his little unbeating heart. You had to give him credit for trying his luck whenever possible, but I think he got the message.

 

~

 

Wow! Talk about out of place.

The new witch looked like a flamingo in a hen house. Tall, with the kind of hourglass figure that Jessica Rabbit wished she had, and dressed in leather biker gear, the blonde stood at the counter and eyed her surroundings like a Hawk waiting to strike.

“Well, I suddenly feel inferior and self-conscious,” Moira bit out with a little bit more venom in her tone than was necessary. “Let’s run her out of Dodge.”

“Where’s your generosity of spirit?” Malachi asked, raising his hand and clawing it through the air, “meow.”

I had to chuckle; my sister could be very territorial. I often wondered if she went around peeing in corners when nobody was looking.

“Puberty chased it away,” Moira sneered back.

“Well, we can’t just stand here staring at her…” I said, but trust Malachi to pipe up at an inopportune moment.

“You’re right — let’s go make friends.” There was a look of glee in his eyes, and I had the urge to replace it with a fork.

“Friends? Would you be saying the same thing if it was a stray vampire?” I asked.

“Maybe if she looked like that,” Moira tossed back.

“You think so little of me, that I would be enthralled with her ravenous beauty, leather-clad legs that just keep going, and…”

“And don’t finish that sentence.” I for one wasn’t enthralled by her ravenous beauty, although, when the door opened and Ross stumbled in — his gaze flicking towards the new witch standing at the counter like his male radar had been pinged — the man did almost trip over his own tongue.

The sound of Moira releasing a long breath like a squeaky balloon going down didn’t bode well for Ross. He heard that sound too, flicked his gaze toward her, swallowed hard, and looked decidedly guilty.

Then Ross did what Ross does best — he put his foot even further in it — offered Moira a cheeky grin and shrugged his broad shoulders.

Oh boy, could men be really stupid sometimes? I heard my sister gasp in a breath shortly before she snapped her fingers, and Ross jumped in place. That cheeky grin was definitely gone, more fool him for wearing it in the first place and thinking he could get away with it.

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