Accidental MagicP. C. Cast
My Mysteria novellas grew from two of my favorite things: wine and Gena Showalter (though not necessarily in that order!). Gena and I have been friends for years. I can’t remember exactly which RT Booklovers Convention we were at (lack of memory attributed to the wine), but it was during some heavy “working” at the RT bar that Gena and I came up with the idea to create a magical town—somewhere gorgeous, like Colorado—where our characters, especially our heroines, could interact with each other and have fun, funny, and sexy adventures. This RT convention was so long ago that Gena and I were scrambling to pay for the convention (and the wine), our room (which we shared—Gena was a good roommate, except she shed like a cat), and food (and drink). The reason this little financial fact is important is because if we hadn’t been stuck together in a hotel room, we probably never would have followed through on our alcohol-soaked anthology idea. Well, we sobered up and wrote an outline, a world bible, and a proposal for Mysteria. I then sent everything to my longtime editor at Berkley, Christine Zika, having no clue that Berkley had never before published an author-incepted romance anthology. Get this: Berkley bought the idea! Gena and I did a bunch of high-fiving and then got down to the business of playing in each other’s literary sandboxes.
Guess what happened? We had an awesome time! The novellas Gena and I created still make me giggle. Writing is a solitary profession; it really is magic when authors get the opportunity to work together on projects, especially when the authors are good friends. I think you’ll appreciate what we created. May our combined awesome times bring you giggles, too, and maybe your own little glimmer of magic.
P. C. Cast
Stay tuned for Gena’s novellas, which will
continue the Mysteria fantasy and fun!
PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF P. C. CAST
“Sexy, charming, and fun, Goddess of Love is the fantasy romance of the year! You will fall in love with this book. (I did!)”
—Susan Grant, New York Times bestselling author
“Ms. Cast has taken mythology, Cinderella, a bit of Shakespeare, and a dash of Shaw and mixed them with her own style of comedy for a winning read that is [as] heartwarming as it is funny.”
—Huntress Book Reviews
“Most innovative…From beginning to end, the surprises in P. C. Cast’s new page-turner never stopped. Its poignancy resonates with both whimsy and fantasy…I loved it!”
—Sharon Sala, New York Times bestselling author
“An amusingly tongue-in-cheek take on the Trojan War featuring a modern-day heroine…Funny, irreverent, and clever…You can’t go wrong.”
—The Romance Reader
“Outstanding…Magic, myth, and romance with a decidedly modern twist. Her imagination and storytelling abilities are true gifts to the genre.”
—RT Book Reviews
“Pure enjoyment…Anything can [happen] when gods and mortals mix.”
“A fanciful mix of mythology and romance with a dash of humor for good measure…Engages and entertains…Lovely.”
—Romance Reviews Today
“One of the top romantic-fantasy mythologists today.”
—Midwest Book Review
“Captivating—poignant, funny, erotic! Lovely characters, wonderful romance, constant action, and a truly whimsical fantasy…Delightful. A great read.”
—The Best Reviews
“A fun combination of myth, girl power, and sweet romance [with] a bit of suspense. A must-read…A romance that celebrates the magic of being a woman.”
—Affaire de Coeur
Berkley Sensation titles by P. C. Cast
GODDESS OF THE SEA
GODDESS OF SPRING
GODDESS OF LIGHT
GODDESS OF THE ROSE
GODDESS OF LOVE
GODDESS OF LEGEND
(with MaryJanice Davidson, Susan Grant, and Gena Showalter)
(with MaryJanice Davidson, Susan Grant, and Gena Showalter)
(includes Mysteria and Mysteria Lane, with MaryJanice Davidson,
Susan Grant, and Gena Showalter)
(includes P. C. Cast’s novellas from Mysteria,
Mysteria Lane, and Mysteria Nights)
P. C. Cast
Previously published in Mysteria Nights,
Mysteria Lane, and Mysteria.
BERKLEY SENSATION, NEW YORK
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Novellas previously published in Mysteria Nights, Mysteria Lane, and Mysteria.
“Introduction” by P. C. Cast copyright © 2006 by P. C. Cast.
“Candy Cox and the Big Bad (Were)Wolf” by P. C. Cast copyright © 2006 by P. C. Cast.
“It’s in His Kiss” by P. C. Cast copyright © 2008 by P. C. Cast.
Excerpt from Goddess of Legend by P. C. Cast copyright © 2010 by P. C. Cast.
Cover design by SDG Concepts.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
BERKLEY SENSATION® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Berkley Sensation trade paperback edition / September 2012
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Cast, P. C.
Accidental magic / P. C. Cast.
1. Divorced women—Fiction. 2. Vegetarians—Fiction. 3. Werewolves—Fiction. 4. Magic—Fiction. 5. Vampires—Fiction. 6. Paranormal romance stories. I. Title.
PS3603.A869A33 2012 2012022743
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Candy Cox and
the Big Bad (Were)Wolf
It’s in His Kiss…
Once upon a time in a land closer than anyone might be comfortable with, a demon high lord was sent to destroy a small, starving (and, let’s face it, weird) band of settlers who were fleeing the last town they’d tried to settle in (a place eventually known as Kansas City, Missouri, the Show Me State, which did indeed show them tar and feathers and the road west). The group was composed of magical misfits and outcasts: a bloodaphobic vampire, a black-magic witch and her white-magic husband, a pack of amorous (translation: hump-happy) werewolves, and a man named John, who had gotten confused and joined the wrong wagon train. When the demon spied this ragged, rejected bunch, he (for a reason known only to himself but which had to do with uncontrollable random acts of kindness) decided not just to spare them but to create a magical haven for them.
And so, nestled in a beautiful valley in the Rocky Mountains, the town of Mysteria was founded. Over the years, it became a refuge for creatures of the night and those unwanted by traditional society. No one—or thing—was turned away. Magic thrived, aphrodisiacs laced the pollen, and fairy tales came true.
The first settlers eventually died (those that weren’t already dead or undead, that is), but they left pieces of themselves behind. The vampire invented a powerful blood-appetite suppressant for any other vampires with a fear of blood. The witch and the warlock created a wishing well—a wishing well that swirled and churned with both white and black magic, a dangerous combination. The hump-happy werewolves left the essence of perpetual springtime and love (translation: they peed all around the boundary of the city, so that everyone—or thing—that entered or left Mysteria was, well, marked). John, the only nonmagical being in the group, left his confused but mundane genes, founding a family that would ultimately spawn more humans of nonmagical abilities who remained in Mysteria because finding their way out was just too much like geometry.
Each of the settlers thought, as their spirits floated to the heavens—all right, some of them went straight to hell, the naughty sinners—that their best contribution to the fantastical town of Mysteria was a happily-ever-after for their descendants. If only they could have known the events that would one day unfold…
AND THE BIG BAD
with a smile and a wink.
Thanks for the…inspiration.
I’d like to thank Berkley, and especially my talented editor, Christine Zika, for publishing this author-created anthology. It’s wonderful when your publisher believes in you.
Thank you to my agent and friend, Meredith Bernstein, who said, “Absolutely!” when I called her with this idea.
And a big THANKS GIRLFRIENDS to Gena Showalter (my partner in crime in the inception of this anthology), Susan Grant, and MaryJanice Davidson. It was such fun to work on this with the three of you. Let’s do it again soon!
“Godiva! Wait—wait—wait. Did you just say that you and your sisters called forth the dead two nights ago?” Candice said, rubbing her forehead where it was beginning to ache.
“Yeah, but you missed the important part. Romeo was…spectacular,” Godiva said breathlessly into the phone. “Who knew that poor, wounded wolf would turn into something—I mean, someone—so delectable.”
“So he actually did more than hump your leg this time?”
“Candy Cox—I swear you haven’t been listening.”
“You know I hate it when you call me that.”
“Fine. Candice, you haven’t been listening,” Godiva said. “He’s not just a wolf. He’s a werewolf, which means he has an excellent tongue and he humps a lot more than my leg.”
Candice kept muttering as if Godiva hadn’t spoken. “It’s not like I don’t get enough of that name crap at school. Why I ever decided to attempt to teach high school morons I’ll never know.” She cringed inwardly, remembering the countless times some hormone-impaired sixteen-year-old boy had made a wiseass remark (usually replete with sophomoric clichés) about her name. God, she was truly sick and tired of Mysteria High School—Home of the Fighting Fairies.
“You could have kept one of your ex-husbands’ names,” Godiva said helpfully.
“Oh, please,” Candice scoffed. “I’d rather sound like a porn star than keep any reminders of ex-husband numbers one through five. No. My solution is to change careers. As soon as I finish my online master’s in creative writing I can dump the fucking Fighting Fairies and snag that job in Denver as assistant editor for Full Moon Press.”
“Honey, have I told you lately that you have a very nasty mouth for a schoolteacher?”
“Yes. And I do believe I’ve told you that I have said nasty mouth because I’m a schoolteacher. Uh, please. Shall we take a moment to recall the one and only day you subbed for me?”
Godiva shuddered. “Ack! Do not remind me. I take back any form of criticism for your coarse language. Those teenagers are worse than a whole assortment of wraiths, demons, and undead. I mean, really, some of them even smell worse!” Just remembering had her making an automatic retching sound. “But Candice, seriously, I don’t want you to move!”
“Denver’s not that far away—we shop till we drop there several times a year. You know I need a change. The teenage monsters are wearing on me.”
“I know,” Godiva sighed. Then she brightened. “Hey! I could work on a spell that might help shut those boys up whenever they try to speak your name. Maybe something to do with testicles and tiny brains…”
“That’s really sweet of you, but you know that magic doesn’t work on or around me, so it probably wouldn’t work on my name, either.” Candice sighed. It was true. As a descendant of one of the few nonmagical founders of the town (his name was, appropriately, John Smith), Candice had No Magic at All. Yes, sadly, she lived in a town full of witches, warlocks, vampires, fairies, werewolves, et cetera, et cetera, and her magic was nonmagic. It figured. Her magic worked like her marriages. Not at all. “Men are such a pain in the ass.”
Without losing a beat at her friend’s sudden change in subjects, Godiva giggled. “I agree completely, which is why I know exactly what you need—a werewolf lover.”
“Godiva Tawdry! I’m too damn old to roll around the woods with a dog.”
“A werewolf is not a dog. And forty is not old. Plus, you look ten years younger. Why do you think high school boys still get crushes on you, Ms. Candy Cox?”
“Put boobs on a snake and high school boys would chase after it. And don’t call me Candy.”
Godiva laughed. “True, but that doesn’t make you any less attractive. You’ve got a killer body, Ms. Cox.”
“Godiva! Do you not remember what happened last time I let myself commit matrimony?”
“Clearly,” Godiva said. “It took ex-husband number five less than six months to almost bore you to death. And he seemed like such a nice guy.”
“Yes, I admit he did seem nice. They all did at first.” Candice sighed. “Who knew that he would literally almost kill me? And after my brush with death, I decided that I. Am. Done.”
“Okay, look. You accidentally took an unhealthy mixture of Zoloft, Xanax, and pinot grigio. It could happen to anyone, especially when she’s being bored to death by a man scratching himself while he incessantly flips from the History Channel to CNN—”
“—And pops Viagra like they’re M&Ms and thinks that the telltale oh-so-attractive capillary flush constitutes foreplay,” Candice interrupted. “Yeesh. I’m going to just say no from here on out. Truly.I’ve sworn off men.”
“No, I remember exactly what you said. ‘Godiva’—here you raised your fist to the sky like Scarlett O’Hara—‘I will never marry again.’ So you’ve sworn off marriage, not men. And anyway, a werewolf is not technically a man. Or at least if he is, it’s only for part of the time. The rest of the time he i
s the most adorably cuddly sweet furry—”
“Fine.” Candice cut off Godiva’s gushing. “I’ll think about it.”
“Yes.” No, she thought. She hurried on before Godiva could press the point. “I’ve really gotta go. I’m deep in the middle of Homework Hell. I have to turn in my poetry collection to the online creative writing professor next week, and I still haven’t figured out a theme for the damn thing. I’m totally screwed if I can’t get rid of this writer’s block.”
“Well…” Godiva giggled mischievously. “I don’t know how it’d work on writer’s block, but Romeo sure unclogged me last night.”
“You’re not helping.”
“I’m just saying—a little werewolf action might fix you right up.”
“You’re still not helping.”
“Sorry. I’ll let you get back to your writing. Remember, you said you’d think about a werewolf lover.”
“Yeah, I’ll think about it right after I think about my poetry theme. Uh, shouldn’t you and your sisters be frolicking about the graveyard checking on the dead or whatnot?”
“Oh, don’t worry about it. Our little screwup actually ended up being a good thing, what with those horrid demons on the prowl; the town could use the extra protection. And anyway, it’s only temporary and the dead have already quieted down. Uh, but since you mentioned it…are you planning on going jogging today?”