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The Secret Life of a Witch, Page 6

Jessica Sorensen

  My lips curl and my fingers spasm, not just out of anger, but because my body is unfreezing. The demon notices, too, and steps back.

  “Until we meet again.” He throws me another wink as my body movements return to full form.

  I spring to my feet then leap for him with my hand outstretched. “What do you know about my sister’s—”


  He dissolves into a mist of smoke. And while I’m pissed off as hell, one good thing came out of it.

  “I got a demon scale!” I cry, jumping up and down, holding the reddish scale up in the air.

  “I’m glad you’re so happy about that, but I’m completely confused as to why.” Hunter grunts as he stumbles to his feet.

  “Oh, my gosh, are you okay?” I ask, rushing toward him.

  He nods as he staggers sideways. “Other than getting my ass kicked by a cocky-ass demon, I’m just lovely.”

  I hold his arm as he steadies his balance. “Did he hit you with a curse?”

  “Yeah. I think it was a freezing one. He tried to hit me with a couple more, but ended up hitting my hair instead.” He looks at me worriedly as he ruffles his singed hair into place. “How bad is it?”

  “Um …” I press my lips together, debating whether or not to lie.

  “Come on; just rip the Band-Aid off.”

  “Other than a few bald spots in the back, you look as sexy as always.” Whoopsie. I so didn’t mean for the sexy part to slip out.

  “Sexy?” he questions. Then his eyes enlarge as he shoots his hand to his head. “Bald spots?”

  “It really doesn’t look that terrible,” I lie as he fusses with his hair. “There’s just a few in the back.” I put my hand to my mouth and cough out, “And, like, seven in front.”

  “Seven!” Fury flames in his eyes. “If I ever see that demon again, I’ll kill him.”

  “No killing. But feel free to hit him with a molting spell.” I retrieve his wand from my pocket. “You dropped this back on the sidewalk.” I hand the wand to him. “Maybe you can do a spell to make your hair grow back.”

  “Thanks.” Leaving one hand on his head, he takes the wand. “But I can’t use my wand for probably at least twenty-four hours, if not longer.”


  “Because a demon’s curse hit it.”

  “Oh. Well, that sucks.”

  “Yeah, it definitely does.” He gives a contemplative pause. “Hey, maybe you could do the spell.”

  Thinking he’s joking, I snort a laugh. But the hilarity dies when I note his serious expression.

  “Did the demon hit you with a lose-your-mind curse?” I ask. “Because that’s the only reason I can come up with as to why you’d ask me to use my magic on you.”

  “It’s just a small spell,” he insists. “And I’ll help you.”

  “Or you could just wear a hat.”

  “The only hat I own is the standard wizard’s hat, and I refuse to walk around town with that on my head.”

  I kick the tip of my boot against the grass. “Why? Troy used to do it all the time.”

  He gives me a stressing look. “Exactly.”

  I sigh. “Hunter, please don’t make me do this.”

  He struggles not to sulk. “I won’t ever make you do anything, but I really wish you’d try.”

  Guilt creeps up on me. I shift my weight uncomfortably as I rotate my wand around in my hand. “You really think I can do it?”

  He nods. “I really think you can. It’s a fairly easy spell, and like I said, I’ll help you.”

  Swallowing hard, I nod. “All right, let’s do it.”

  He grins from ear-to-ear, but the slightest bit of nervousness is evident in his eyes. “Okay, put the end of your wand to my head and repeat after me.”

  I do as he says, lightly touching the tip of my wand to the peak of his forehead.

  With a deep breath, he utters the spell softly. I open my mouth to repeat the chant and try not to totally lose my cool as he covers his hand over mine and holds my wand with me. His eyes are trained on mine, which only takes my nerves up to an eleven hundred. Somehow, though, I manage to get the entire spell out coherently, and enchanting sparks twinkle from the end of my wand to spread across his head. Blond strands of hair begin to regrow until no bald spots remain on that pretty head of his.

  I’m just about to smile when the end of my wand wheezes and the sparks sputter out into smoke, the spell gone awry.

  I frown. “Aw, crap.”

  Chapter Six

  Ten minutes later, Hunter and I are parked in front of the Mystic Willow Bay Daily newspaper. The silence that has stretched between us since we left the park is maddening, but I don’t dare open my mouth. No, after what I did, I need to wait for him to speak first.

  He silences the engine and slants forward to examine his reflection in the rearview mirror, something he hasn’t done since we got in the truck. Then he runs his hand over the top of his head, flattening his hair down.

  “Well, it could be worse,” he finally says, turning toward me with the sweetest smile. “I could still be bald.”

  My shoulders hunch forward. “Don’t try to coddle me. I screwed up big time and now you have short, black and blue hair. And for who knows how long.”

  “I’m not trying to coddle you,” he insists, reaching across the seat to take my hand. “It really isn’t that horrible.”

  “Really?” I question skeptically. “Even though there’s no blond left or length?”

  He gives a half-shrug. “I’ve been meaning to cut it, anyway. It was becoming too hard to maintain.”

  “Hunter, you’ve been obsessed with having your hair long ever since we were in middle school.”

  “Well, I’m not in middle school anymore, am I?” He rubs his hand over his cropped hair. “And this … This could be cool, right?”

  I nod truthfully. “It looks very punk rock.”

  He smiles thoughtfully. “Huh. I never thought I could pull that kind of look off.”

  “Well, you definitely can.” I pick at my chipped fingernail polish. “I’m sorry for screwing up … again.”

  “This isn’t your fault.” He gently squeezes my hand. “I’m the one who asked you to do the spell. If anything, it’s my fault. I should’ve helped you more or just lived with the bald spots.” He wavers his head from side to side. “Nah, I take that back. I’d way rather have blue hair than be bald.”

  I smile, but the move is excruciating. Why can’t I, just once, be an awesomely skilled witch?

  Suddenly, my thoughts backtrack to something strange.

  I straighten in the seat. “Hey, off the subject, but did you hear anything the demon said to me?”

  He shakes his head. “I lost my hearing when he blasted me with the curse. Why? Did he say something odd?”

  I nod then give him a quick recap of what the demon said.

  “He called you weirdly beautiful,” Hunter mumbles after I finish.

  I rest my elbow on the back of the seat. “Yeah, I wasn’t too impressed, either. But I think that was probably the least important thing he said.” When Hunter hesitates to agree, I ask, “What’s wrong?”

  “It’s nothing.” He tugs at the ends of his sleeves. “It just kind of seems like he was hitting on you.”

  I bark out in laughter. “Ha! Yeah, right!”

  “Why is that so funny?”

  “Because a demon—or anyone, for that matter—would never hit on me.”

  Now Hunter is the one to laugh. “You think no one’s ever hit on you before?”

  “Not think. Know.”

  “You’re more oblivious than I thought, then.”

  “Hey.” I reach out and lightly pinch his chest, eliciting a chuckle from him. “I may live in my own little world sometimes, but I’m not oblivious.”

  He rubs the spot where I pinched him. “If you say so.”

  “Hunter,” I protest. “Stop saying that.”

  “Why?” he asks innocently. “It’s the

  When I glare at him, he laughs.

  “I don’t know why you’re getting upset about this,” he says. “It should be a good thing.”

  I lift my brows. “That a demon hit on me?”

  His amusement fizzles. “Not that part. I’m serious, if I ever see it again, I’m going to kill it.”

  “No killing, remember? Molting spells are okay. Killing … not so much,” I remind him. “We’re completely steering away from the point.”

  “Which is?”

  “Well, for starters, I’m pretty sure the demon might not just know where my sister’s body is, but he may even know some stuff about her death.”

  “Even if he did, we’d have to track him down in order to get answers.”

  I elevate my brows. “Or go to the place he warned us not to go.”

  He slips the keys out of the ignition. “No way. I mean, for all you know, he wanted you to go there and threatened you to put the idea in your head.”

  I unfasten my seatbelt. “You think he was trying to set me up?”

  “I’m not sure. What I do know is demons can’t be trusted.” He climbs out, and I follow suit, meeting him in front of the truck.

  “And what about him acting like he never saw a witch before?” I ask, drawing my sunglasses over my eyes as the sun peeks out from the clouds.

  Hunter puts on a pair of shades, too. “Depending on what kind of demon he is, he might not have.”

  I untie my plaid jacket from my waist and slip it on. “You didn’t recognize what kind he was?”

  “No, which means he’s probably something rare.”

  He starts across the parking lot, and I hurry after him until I am by his side. I wave at a couple of middle-aged pixie women as we pass by them. The tallest one has glittery skin that casts a shimmery glow in the sunlight. It reminds me of the magic sample Hunter and I collected. I pull my jacket tighter around me, aware that almost anyone could be a suspect.

  “Will you relax?” Hunter hisses as we reach the glass doors of the station. “You’re making me nervous.”

  “Sorry.” The wind kicks up, blowing strands of hair into my face. “I don’t even know why I’m nervous.” Other than I have one of those unsettling feelings again; a silent warning that something bad is about to happen.

  “Mr. Trickleten—the guy in charge of the paper—is a leprechaun, so you need to make sure you aren’t nervous,” Hunter says as he wraps his fingers around the door handle.

  “I didn’t realize he was a leprechaun.” My nerves become even more frazzled.

  Leprechauns are the worst. Tricky and mean, they twist everything you say until you confess all your secrets. Then they use them against you in the worst possible way. I guess it sort of makes sense that a leprechaun would be a reporter.

  Time to put your game face on, Eva.

  I suck in an inhale and release it before squaring my shoulders. “All right, I’m officially chillaxed.”

  Hunter nods then pulls open the door and steps inside. I match his steps, keeping close as he gradually makes his way inside. Then he suddenly grinds to a halt and, not being quick enough, I end up slamming into his back.

  “Sorry,” I apologize as I put some space between us. “I didn’t mean to …” My eyes widen as my gaze travels around the room in front of us.

  Papers and boxes are strewn all over the tipped over desks and filing cabinets, the ceiling tiles are cracked and falling down, the lights flickering on and off, and a giant crack splits down the center of the room.

  “It looks like a magical tornado blew through here,” Hunter mumbles as he inches farther into the newsroom. Glass crunches beneath his sneakers and pieces of sheetrock fall from the walls. “What the hell do you think did this? And why?”

  “I’m not sure about the why part, but I might know the what,” I say, plucking a tinted scale from off the burnt carpet.

  Hunter’s fingers curl into fists at his sides as he sees what I am holding. “That damn demon did this?”

  The scale is warm against my fingers. “That or something of his kind.”

  He scratches his head. “But why?”

  “I’m not sure.” I stuff the scale in my pocket beside the other one. Always good to have a backup. “But I don’t think it’s coincidental that he was here only moments before we showed up.”

  “How do you know it was only moments ago? For all we know, this could’ve happened earlier.”

  I point at traces of smoke lingering in the air. “The smoke would’ve cleared out by now. Plus, the scale’s still warm.”

  “You’re probably right.” Hunter glances over at the desks as a soft buzzing fills the air. “What is that?”

  “I’m not sure, but let’s go find out.” I start toward the desks, but he snags ahold of my arm.

  “Let me go first,” he says, dragging me behind him.

  “You’re being very chivalrous today,” I nervously tease as we weave through the mess and toward the buzzing.

  “I’m chivalrous every day,” he throws back with a grin. “Just ask all of my many stalkers.”

  I roll my eyes and tell my aching heart to shut the eff up. “You’re so cocky sometimes.”

  “It’s all part of my charm.” He winks, but his humor vanishes as we arrive at a buzzing printer, fully on and printing the next edition of the newspaper.

  “How on earth is it still working?” I snatch up the front page—the only page. “Attention Mystic Willow Bay citizens. Due to being overworked, I have decided to take a temporary vacation. At this time, I am unsure of my return date, but until then, Mystic Willow Bay Daily will no longer print. Sorry for the upset this may cause, but perhaps you’ll appreciate me more when I return. Sincerely, Mr. Trickleten.” I glance up at Hunter. “You think this is legit?”

  Hunter shrugs as his gaze skims the desks and the crack in the floor. “I have no idea, but we need to report it to the police.”

  “What about my sister?” I fold the paper and tuck it into my pocket. “We’re running low on time.”

  “We’ll stop at the police station on the way to the expert,” he says, stuffing his hands into his pockets. “Considering how dismissive the police can be, I’m sure it won’t take too long.”

  I start to nod when the printer spews out a buttload of papers into the air. I catch one and read the fresh ink staining the front.

  “P.S. For anyone who finds this mess, just leave it alone. I’ll take care of the problem when I get back. In fact, I think I’ll take care of it now—”

  The room abruptly jerks to the right, and then to the left, causing the desks, papers, and filing cabinets to flip over and realign. The printer shuts down, and the paper in my hand dissolves into a pile of ashes.

  “Well, so much for reporting the mess,” I mutter as I watch the crack in the floor reseal.

  Hunter massages his temples. “This is becoming a real headache.”

  “I’m sorry,” I say, feeling awful. “Maybe I should handle it on my own.”

  He stares at me blankly. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

  “I’m not being ridiculous. This is taking up a lot of time, crazy things are happening, and you have blue hair.” I gesture at his head. “Things are getting out of hand.”

  He dismisses me with a wave of his hand. “I’m not going anywhere, so drop it.”

  I reluctantly nod, part of me relieved he’s staying with me.

  While I’d love to think I can handle anything on my own, the truth is, I can’t.

  My sister’s missing body proves that.

  Chapter Seven

  “How did you find this expert, exactly?” Hunter asks as we round the side of a rusted warehouse located on the outskirts of town near the water tower.

  The sky is still a cloudy grey, and the wind has chilled the temperature to a cool autumn.

  “We used to hang out in grade school before he transferred schools.” Gravel crunches beneath my shoes as I approach a crooked door at the back of t
he warehouse. “I haven’t talked to him since then, but I heard he became an expert. I figured it might be better to use someone I know, you know, since I’m searching for a dead body I was technically not supposed to have. Confidentiality is important.”

  “I guess so.” Hunter eyeballs the metal door with distrust. “Are you sure you can trust this guy? I mean, you haven’t spoken to him since you were, like, what? Ten? That was over eight years ago. A lot can change in eight years.”

  “Some stuff can change, but I’m sure Evan is still the same sweet guy who shared his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches whenever my lunch got stolen.”

  “Your lunch got stolen more than once?”

  I give a nonchalant shrug. “Kids weren’t really fans of the girl who claimed she could talk to dead bodies. Although, for the record, I never did claim I could. This town just loves to gossip.” I rap my knuckles on the door. “I don’t know why you’re so surprised by this info. You knew me in middle school and high school, which wasn’t much better.”

  “No one stole your lunch in high school. If they did, I’d have kicked their ass.”

  “Yeah, I know. And I love you for that. That doesn’t mean kids treated me any better. I was still the same freak who occasionally chatted it up with dead bodies and who has dorky rainbow eyes.”

  “Your eyes aren’t dorky at all,” he says matter-of-factly. “And the whole dead bodies thing isn’t so bad.”

  I arch my brows at him. “So, you didn’t freak out the first time you saw me do it?”

  “I was a little startled,” he admits, carrying my gaze. “But only because of a dead body being five feet away from me.”

  I can’t help smiling a little. “Well, that’s because you’re awesome. Most people aren’t.”

  “No, they’re not.” He stops talking when the door creaks open.

  My jaw nearly knocks against the ground as a guy with short brown hair, a pierced lip, and dressed head to toe in black steps into the doorway. Leather bands cover his wrists, a chain hangs from his belt loop, and a leather collar ornaments his neck.