Teenage Depression is a debilitating condition that strikes during a person’s formative years. It’s estimated that one in five teenagers from all walks of life will suffer from depression at some point. Depression can destroy the essence of their personality, causing an overwhelming sense of sadness, despair, or anger.
Teen depression isn’t a weakness or something that can be overcome with willpower. I encourage anyone who is dealing with depression to seek help.
I wanted to write a story that showed teen depression in action. Teens with depression don’t necessarily appear sad–irritability, anger, and agitation are often more prominent. I wanted my teenage readers to see themselves within the pages and to know they are not alone.
Yet, I didn’t want to preach–so I created a world filled with witches and vampires to make the story fun.
Enter Brittany Meyer
You may remember Brittany from my Amazing Wolf Boy series. She is a seventeen-year-old girl living in Loxahatchee, Florida. Her life is a mess. Her grandpa died, her parents got back together, and her boyfriend broke up with her. Her aunt, a Wiccan Priestess, has welcomed Brittany into her coven and is teaching her about Wiccan ceremonies. Now, her aunt is telling everyone that Brittany has the aura of a witch queen. Brittany doesn’t want to be a witch queen.
Enter Ravyn Crowe
Ravyn was literally born and bred to be a Queen Potential. She was conceived in a dark ceremony and has been passed around from witch to witch all her life. She’s better than Brittany at everything–and she makes sure Brittany knows that.
Suddenly Brittany wants to win. She wants to become the Potential and rip the smirk off Ravyn’s face.
When Ravyn tries to one-up Brittany by involving her in a madcap scheme, Brittany knows she should walk away. But if she does, Ravyn will never let her forget it. Their reckless rivalry puts them in the path of killer vampires.
Read Which Witch
Which Witch is the first book of my Brittany Meyer Novellas series. It follows Brittany who, while dealing with depression, must navigate a world of demons and vampires previously unknown to her. You can find the book at Amazon.
Please enjoy this excerpt.
12/20/2008 Loxahatchee, Florida
“No! Please, no!” She panted, writhing. “Don’t do this!” Brittany Meyer woke abruptly. Her heart raced. Tears streamed down her temples and gathered in her hair. She’d been dreaming about him again, reliving the awful moment when she realized he was going to leave her. She wiped her face and glared at the sunbeams dancing across the ceiling. How could he abandon her in this world alone? How could he expect her to make sense of it all when he wasn’t with her? He said to go on with her life and forget about him. Fine. She would keep living, but she would never forget…
“Cody,” she whispered.
She sat up and hugged the warm comforter. Her room was as it always was—clashing shades of purple on her bed, crystal teardrops dangling in the windows. A poster of Captain Jack Sparrow spread over the opposite wall. How could everything look so normal when the whole world had changed?
“Brittany. Company,” Myra called up the stairs.
Brittany flung back the bedsheet. What idiot would come over so early on a Saturday morning? She pulled on a pair of jeans under her Ninja Turtle sleepshirt. Barefoot and yawning, she padded half-way down the stairs—then stopped. The intruders were her parents. They stood at the front door talking with Myra.
“Mom,” Brittany blurted, “what are you doing here?” She carefully avoided her father’s eyes. Maybe if she acted like he wasn’t there, he wouldn’t be.
Her mother smiled. “Good morning, sleepyhead. Merry Christmas. We’ve come to get the decorations out of the garage.”
“Oh, yeah.” She hadn’t forgotten the holidays. She was just actively trying to ignore them.
She continued downstairs and followed her parents and Myra into the kitchen. A window was open, and damp Florida air stirred the yellow curtains.
Aunt Lynette stood at the counter, filling the coffeemaker. “Morning. Can I make y’all a cup?”
“No, thank you, Lynette,” Mom said. “We’ve just come from breakfast.”
With barely a grunt of acknowledgment for his sister, Brittany’s father brushed past Aunt Lynette and opened the back door leading to the garage. Myra’s black cat, Isis, came in, dodging his feet. She leaped smoothly onto the kitchen counter. Isis was born with only three legs, but she never seemed to notice.
“Son of a—” Recovering from the near-trip, Brittany’s father stepped into the garage.
Mom crossed the room and stood in the doorway. “Over there, Dean. No, not that one. Pay attention. They are clearly marked.”
He brought in a stack of boxes labeled Christmas Decorations and set them on the kitchen table. The musty smell of old cardboard overrode that of the brewing coffee.
“How many of these are there?” he groaned.
Her mother’s face pinked. “A few more.”
Brittany gave a rueful smile. There were more than a few boxes of decorations. Her mother was a craft nut, and she loved the holidays.
Her father went back into the garage, muttering something Brittany didn’t catch. She poured a cup of fresh coffee and offered it to her aunt, but she pursed her lips and gave a quick shake of her head. Brittany picked up the cup and sat at the table behind the growing stack of boxes. Her mother opened a box, sighed, and opened another.
Myra peered inside and pulled out a Santa Claus made out of pipe cleaners and cotton balls. “This is clever. Did you make it?”
Mom smiled. “Bartley made that in second grade.”
Brittany said, “Where is Butt Crack? Why didn’t he come with you?”
Mom cocked a brow at her. “Your brother spent the night with a friend.”
“I haven’t seen him in like forever.” Ever since you and dad got back together and took him away.
“I’ll tell y’all what,” Aunt Lynette said, her southern twang emerging with her pique. “Why don’t the three of you come for Sunday dinner next week? I’ll fix you something nice.”
“That sounds lovely,” Mom said. “I’ll check his schedule. He’s a busy boy, with classes and all.” She glanced obliquely at Brittany. “How are you doing in school?”
Brittany took a sip of coffee, scalded her tongue, and blurted, “I’m thinking of dropping out of high school. I’ll get my GED and start college with the new term in January.”
Her mother stiffened. She turned slowly toward Aunt Lynette and said through gritted teeth, “You promised to keep her in school if we let her live here with you.”
Just then, Brittany’s father set two more boxes on the table. “Now, now. I have a GED, and I turned out all right.”
Brittany blinked in surprise. She wasn’t used to her father taking her side.
Mom clenched her fists and lowered her voice into a growl. “You work road construction. I had hoped for more from my youngest daughter.”
Her father’s face darkened, and Brittany saw some of the old violence there waiting to explode.
Before he could respond, Aunt Lynette said, “But she will be in school, Dalia. She’ll be attending South University over here in Royal Palm Beach.”
With forced cheerfulness, Brittany’s father asked, “What subjects will you be taking, Brit?”
“Herbology. I’m going to be an apothecary. That’s like a pharmacist only for homeopathic medicine.”
Her mother sniffed. “If you’re interested in medicine, you should become a nurse like me. It’s hard work, but it pays well.”
Brittany set down her cup. She wasn’t interested in making money. And truth be told, she wasn’t that stoked about becoming an apothecary anymore either. The world had changed, and she didn’t much care what happened to her. But she also didn’t want to fight with her mother. So, she braved a smile and said, “That’s good advice. I’ll consider it.”
Her mother sniffed again and went back to rummaging through the boxes. “What does that boyfriend of yours think about you dropping out of school? What was his name again?”
Brittany grimaced with a spike of anger. “You know perfectly well that his name is Cody. And he doesn’t think anything about it. We broke up.”
“Oh.” Her eyes flicked to Brittany’s, and for a moment, they held genuine surprise and concern—then the moment was gone. “You’re too young to be so deeply involved anyway.”
Father carried in another box and set it with a dozen others on the floor. “I think that’s the last of them.” He stepped back and shook his head. “We can’t fit all this in the van much less in our apartment.”
“More’s the pity,” Mom said. “We’ll just take a few select items.” She and Myra pawed through the boxes, chuckling and oohing over select items.
Brittany got up and poured herself another cup. Aunt Lynette stood near the coffee pot, keeping as far from the action as possible. She eyed the decorations with obvious distaste. Brittany wondered if it was Christmas or the unexpected visit that had her so grumpy.
Mom chose a Christmas centerpiece, three boxes full of icicle lights, two armfuls of knick-knacks, and a box of ornaments for the tree.
Father waved an arm. “Is that it? Now, I just carry all these boxes back to the garage?”
“Can we put up some of this stuff?” Myra said then looked embarrassed at speaking out. “You have such nice things, it’s a shame not to enjoy them.”
Mom smiled. “Of course. Use whatever you like.”
So, her parents left the mess in the kitchen and loaded up the van. Brittany walked them out. She wanted to give them a message for Butt Crack but didn’t want to act as if she missed him too much.
Mom said, “You’re coming for Christmas on Thursday?”
“Should I expect Lynette and Myra?”
A smile quirked Brittany’s lip. You could have asked them yourself. “No, they plan to have a quiet day alone.”
Mom kissed her cheek then got into the van. Brittany waved as they drove away. With a sigh, she returned to the kitchen table and her cooling cup.
Myra was pulling whimsical elf figurines out of a box and setting them on the kitchen counter. “Look at this one,” she exclaimed to Lynette who gave her a sour look.
As Brittany sat, she said, “I didn’t realize Wiccans celebrated Christmas.”
Aunt Lynette muttered, “We don’t.”
At the same moment, Myra said, “I love Christmastime. The lights, the candles, the gingerbread scents.”
Brittany used to love Christmas, too. With a pang, she remembered that she had wanted a Christmas wedding. Not that year, of course. Next year when she was eighteen.
Aunt Lynette sat across from her at the table and said, “I’m planning a larger celebration for Winter Solstice tomorrow.”
“Larger than the three of us?” Brittany said.
Aunt Lynette nodded. “I got the idea around Samhain. The celebration seemed so solemn. When Myra and me was still living in Georgia, our coven always celebrated Samhain with the other local covens. We’d build a huge bonfire, and everyone would dance around it. Anyway, there are a couple of friends of mine from high school still living in the area. Theodora and Zoe. I’m surprised they’re still here. They each have covens based in West Palm Beach. So, I invited them over for the feast tomorrow.”
Brittany took a final gulp of coffee, trying to think of what to say. Was Aunt Lynette trying to expand her influence as a Wiccan priestess? It must be hard to preside over a coven of only three. “Did you tell them about me?”
“I told them you’re a powerful witch but you have a lot to learn.”
Brittany nodded, hoping she hadn’t told them more. Aunt Lynette claimed Brittany had the makings of a witch queen. She was sure that was the reason her aunt let her live there in Grandpa’s creaky old house.
Just then, Lynette’s phone beeped. She pulled it out of her pocket and checked the screen. “Good. Theodora and Zoe both confirmed they will be here.”
“I didn’t realize there were other covens in South Florida.”
“Witches are everywhere,” Aunt Lynette told her. “Theodora has a coven of seven, and Zoe has a coven of five.”
“You said you grew up with Theodora and Zoe?”
“I did. I didn’t know Zoe well, although she’d been to the house a few times.” She smiled as if remembering. “But Theodora and I were quite close. It will be nice to spend time with her again.”
“Ooh, this is lovely,” Myra crooned as she pulled a blown-glass ornament shaped like a deer out of a shoebox. “Forest creatures.”
Aunt Lynette said, “That was my ma’s.” She looked inside. “All of this was Ma’s.”
“They would be a nice tribute to the Wild Hunt.” Myra smiled and held out the deer. “Too bad we don’t have a tree.”
Aunt Lynette took the deer in cupped hands and looked at it for several moments. Then she said, “In the back forty down by the road there should be some sand juniper. You could cut a few boughs off of ‘em and fashion yourself a tree.”
Myra brightened even further. “I’ll do that.”
Brittany rinsed her cup in the sink and put it in the dishwasher. “I’m going back to bed.”
“Don’t that sound nice,” Aunt Lynette said. “Unfortunately, there’s work to be done. You have your choice of helping Myra with the decorations or helping me bake gingerbread men.”
Brittany rolled her eyes. She wanted to stamp her feet like a little kid. “I’ll help bake cookies. I don’t feel like getting dressed and going outdoors.”
“All right, then.” Myra grinned. “I’ll see you both later.”
Brittany carried the Christmas boxes into the living room and stacked them in front of the couch. Then she scrubbed the kitchen table. While she did that, Aunt Lynette took the ingredients she needed from the cupboards.
“Gingerbread men sound a bit Christmassy,” Brittany muttered.
“Not at all. The custom of gingerbread men weren’t never aligned with any holiday. They were used by witches as love tokens. A young woman would commission a witch to make a gingerbread man in the image of her beloved, and if the young woman could get her intended to eat said gingerbread man, the man would fall in love with her.”
“Like a love potion.”
“Only this was for life. Then one day Queen Elizabeth the First was having a royal banquet and had her baker make gingerbread men in the images of her guests. She meant it as a joke. Her guests would eat them and fall in love with her. After that, everyone was baking them.”
“Are we making these to resemble Theodora and Zoe?”
Aunt Lynette gave her a stiff smile. “You do the decorating. Make them look any way you like.”
Soon the kitchen smelled like warm ginger and nutmeg. Brittany removed the first batch of cookies to the cooling racks. She wondered where her Christmas spirit had gone. She usually loved baking and decorating the house for the holidays. Now it just felt like a chore.
As the second batch cooled, Brittany made her grandmother’s recipe for vanilla frosting and piped it onto the gingerbread men. They didn’t look like anyone in particular. Aunt Lynette gave her a nod and a pat on the shoulder.
Myra came in from the garage. She dragged a red wagon behind her. It was filled with bundles of branches. “I found the juniper,” she said, “and look what else I found.” She held up a branch with dark green oblong leaves and red berries.
“That’s pretty,” Brittany said. “What is it?”
“Cassena. It’s a type of holly that grows in swamps. I’m going to make a wreath out of it and hang it on the door for protection.”
Aunt Lynette said, “Save a little to decorate the yule log.”
Brittany frowned. “You can’t put that on a yule log. What if it’s poisonous?” When they both looked at her, she said, “Aren’t yule logs made out of cake and icing? My mother made one once.”
“Them’s fake,” Aunt Lynette told her. “Real yule logs are real logs. Ours is from the orange tree that fell in the front yard. That tree had special memories for me, thoughts of me growing up. It will be right fine to help usher in the light.”
Myra kissed Aunt Lynette on the cheek then took her little red wagon into the living room.
Brittany continued to decorate the gingerbread men. They must’ve made a hundred of them.
Aunt Lynette said, “I’m glad you told your mother about you dropping out of school. But I was surprised you told her about maybe becoming an apothecary.”
“I had to tell her something,” Brittany muttered without looking up.
Aunt Lynette said, “Becoming an herbalist takes a heap of studying. Are you sure you want that?”
“No, I’m not sure.” Brittany gestured widely. “How can I know what I want to do for the rest of my life? I’m seventeen.”
Aunt Lynette fell silent for several moments, then said, “You have a real knack for potion-making. Seems it made you happy before.”
Brittany muttered, “That was before. When I was happy.”
Aunt Lynette looked at her as if swallowing a mouthful of anger. Turning away, she went into her room. She came back with a wicker laundry basket filled with squares of red-and-green striped fabric. They looked like napkins only their edges were frayed.
“Take three cookies,” Aunt Lynette said, “wrap ‘em up like so and tie the bundle shut with this here jute. We’ll give them out as gifts. While you do that, I’ll get started on the apple butter.”
“Fine.” Brittany sighed. “Why are you doing all this?”
“The best part of Winter Solstice is the feast.”
Brittany parceled up the gingerbread men and stacked them in the wicker basket. It took almost an hour. “Done. What should I do with them?”
“Put the basket by the tree,” Lynette told her.
Brittany gave an inward scoff. They didn’t have a Christmas tree. But she carried the basket into the living room anyway.
Myra had been decorating, but not the traditional garland-around-the-banister type of decorating. She’d covered the living room ceiling with tiny white lights that twinkled like stars then took the filmy curtains from the back porch and tucked them up to look like clouds. She took an old wash bucket, fastened a red velvet bow to the handle, and filled it with rocks and water. Then she tied several juniper boughs together into a vaguely Christmas tree shape and stood them in the bucket. The juniper bark was orange-brown and had a strong cedar scent.
Brittany looked around. “It smells like my grandmother’s hope chest in here. Lots of memories.”
Myra sat on the floor placing tiny blown-glass animals on the tree. She glanced up. “Good memories, I hope.”
“All my memories of Grandma are good. She’d like it that you’re using her ornaments. She loved Christmas.” Brittany set down the basket.
“That looks festive,” Myra said.
“We baked enough of them.”
“It’s all about giving.” Myra got to her feet. “Come help me make the holly wreath. We have a lot to do before the festivities tomorrow.”
Brittany groaned. Why couldn’t they leave her alone?
The next day, Brittany stood at her bedroom window and looked outside. Morning fog hung low over the yard and seeped into the surrounding trees. The sky was a flat, uniform gray. Not stormy, just blah. Like her life.
What would she do with her life now that Cody was gone?
She dressed and went downstairs to the kitchen hoping for a peaceful cup of coffee. Instead, she found bright lights and activity. Myra was making bread dough. Aunt Lynette was taking a pumpkin pie out of the oven and adding it to the cooling rack on the table. There were two pumpkin pies, two mince pies, and two apple pies. The kitchen smelled spicy and sweet.
Myra looked up as she entered. “Good morning. Happy Solstice.”
“Good morning,” Brittany said. “That’s a lot of pie.”
Aunt Lynette dabbed her forehead with the back of her hand. “Solstice is all about the feast. I’ve got a nice turkey in the slow cooker, and I’ll put a ham in the oven later. Traditionally, we would roast a boar on a spit. But a nice big ham should suffice.”
“All that for fifteen people?” Brittany yelped.
Myra shrugged. “We can freeze the leftovers.”
“Are you hungry, Brittany?” Aunt Lynette asked. “I can whip you up something for breakfast.”
“No, thank you.” Brittany grabbed a cup from the cupboard. “All I want is coffee.”
Myra and Aunt Lynette exchanged a look. Steadfastly ignoring them, Brittany poured herself a cup and sat at the table with the pies.
Aunt Lynette wiped her hands on a towel. “After you have your coffee, would you mind going out into the forest and finding me some stones? I want to put them around the bonfire.”
“At least a dozen. They need to be larger than your fist.”
So, Brittany got the wagon out of the garage and went outside for the first time in days. The world seemed hushed as if it were holding its breath. Even the birds were silent. The air was clammy and cool, and the dew soaked her pantlegs after a few steps.
Half-way across the yard, she stopped and looked back at the house. The old whitewashed home looked gray in the fog. It was big and rambling with a huge screened-in front porch that was filled with wicker furniture. She used to sit there with Cody and drink lemonade.
Her dog, Haff, bounded up to greet her. Haff’s dark fur plastered his legs and belly.
“There you are,” she cooed. “Look at you.” She crouched to embrace him. “You smell like a wet dog, stinky boy. You’re supposed to go inside. I left the garage door open for you.” With a final pat, she got to her feet. “I’m taking a walk. Want to come?”
She pulled the wagon into the forest, Haff at her side. Acres of land surrounded their home, but most of it was woodland. The wagon rattled over tree roots and twigs, disturbing the morning silence.
Why had Aunt Lynette assigned her this particular chore? To get her out of the house? Perhaps she imagined her traipsing around for hours, head down, searching the forest floor for rocks. If so, she was in for a shock. Brittany had a secret stash of stones from when she’d intended to make her mother a rock garden.
She smiled as she reached the overgrown mound of softball-sized stones. More than a dozen of them. She piled them into the wagon then called Haff to let him know they were leaving. As she dragged the load back to the house, rain fell in soft misty drops like hidden tears.
By early afternoon, it was pouring. Brittany hugged her arms, staring through the kitchen window. Would the rain ruin Aunt Lynette’s festivities? Her aunt was so focused on cooking, she might not have even noticed the weather. Likewise, Myra was busy putting the finishing touches on her decorations. Ceramic elves now adorned every open surface in the living room. She placed a popcorn garland on the tree and orange pomander balls in dishes on the end tables. She also found extra chairs for the onslaught of people.
Around five o’clock that evening, two vans pulled up the driveway. The covens had arrived. Aunt Lynette went out to the porch to greet them. Brittany stood stiffly in the living room.
Myra stepped beside her and took her hand. “I haven’t met them yet, either.”
With a roar of laughter and conversation, the witches filed through the front door. Their ages ranged from their early thirties to mid-forties. Brittany was happy to see they were dressed as casually as she was—jeans and T-shirts.
“Come in,” Aunt Lynette called. “Make yourselves at home.” She ushered two smiling ladies over to where Brittany and Myra stood. “This is Theodora and Zoe.” She nodded to each as she spoke. Theodora had thick, curly red hair and freckles. Zoe’s hair was in a brush cut and dyed purple. “This is Myra, the love of my life and my right hand. And this is Brittany, the Queen Potential I told you about.”
Brittany blinked and gave her aunt a sharp look.
Theodora crooned, “Ooh, she certainly has the aura for it.”
Zoe said, “It’s a pleasure, Brittany. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“Like how you’re a whiz at whipping up potions,” Theodora said. “Maybe you can give me some pointers. I’m dismal at potion-making.”
“Is this the Potential?” another woman asked.
Two more crowded around. Brittany took a step back. She would have escaped up the stairs, but Myra held fast to her hand.
“Let’s not spook the filly,” Aunt Lynette called over their heads. “Who would like some glogg?”
“I would,” said Theodora.
Aunt Lynette draped her arm around Theodora’s shoulders and escorted her toward the kitchen. As they walked away, Aunt Lynette said, “You know, I planned to have everyone out in the yard, but the weather wouldn’t cooperate.”
The crowd eased back, cliques of friends finding their seats, and Brittany took a breath. She didn’t want to be a witch queen. She just wanted to be left alone.
Aunt Lynette and Theodora came back from the kitchen with pitchers of glogg and handfuls of stemware. The glogg turned out to be mulled wine. Myra rushed to help serve their guests. The next hour or so was spent with the witches reconnecting and catching up. Brittany was pulled into two conversations—one about the perils and joys of living with cats, and another about an herb garden that failed despite all attempts to keep it living. Brittany never felt so lonely.
“Who’s hungry?” Aunt Lynette said. “Let me set that feast out.”
Over the resulting cheers and laughter, Theodora said, “I’ll help.”
Soon the living room filled with enticing aromas. The laughter grew even louder, and the party-goers kept glancing toward the kitchen.
At last, Myra appeared in the doorway. “Come in for the blessing.”
Brittany followed the witches into the kitchen where every available space was laden with platters of food. There was turkey, ham, and baked salmon. Potatoes, squash, and slivered green beans. Biscuits, cornbread, and fresh dinner rolls. And, of course, the pies.
Aunt Lynette beamed. “Everyone together.” And the witches intoned with her, “Earth who gives to us this food. Sun who makes it ripe and good. By Earth and Sun. By you, we live. Our loving thanks to you we give. Blessings this day on our meal, our family, our friends, and our world.” She lifted her arms. “Dig in.”
The witches converged on the food. The noise swelled in waves.
“More glogg here,” Myra called over the cacophony. She stood at the stove next to a humongous pot of the mulled wine and waved a ladle.
Brittany chose a few items for her plate and started back toward the living room with everyone else.
But Aunt Lynette called to her. “Come sit in here with us.”
Brittany frowned and glanced around. Myra left to entertain the peons in the living room with its fake stars and fake tree. With a sigh, Brittany carried her plate into the dining room where Aunt Lynette, Theodora, Zoe, and two other women stared up at her.
“This is Carla and Abigail.” Theodora motioned to the two strangers. “They’re our officers.”
“Bright blessings.” Abigail smiled.
Brittany nodded and took her seat. At least, it was quieter in the dining room. The yule log sat on the table as a centerpiece. It was a two-foot chunk of the old orange tree decorated with holly, moss, and mushrooms. Three holes had been drilled on the top to hold candles—green, white, and red.
“This bird is delicious, Lynette,” Zoe said around a mouthful of turkey. “So moist.”
Theodora grinned. “She gets her cooking skills from her mother. I used to love sleepovers here.”
“What can I say?” Aunt Lynette told them. “It runs in the family.”
“I was surprised to hear you moved back to the area,” Theodora said.
“I was surprised you never left,” Aunt Lynette said. “Weren’t you the one who was dead set to go to California?”
“Well, life gets in the way.”
Zoe giggled. “She married Bruce Jones.”
“What?” Aunt Lynette cried. “That scrawny kid?”
Theodora blushed as red as her hair. “It didn’t last long.”
“So, you’re Theodora Jones now,” Aunt Lynette said. “No wonder I couldn’t find you in the listings. I found Zoe, though.”
Zoe nodded. “I haven’t changed.”
A burst of laughter came from the living room. Voices in the kitchen betrayed people getting second servings.
Aunt Lynette ate a bit of squash. “Brittany here plans to study herbology at South, my alma mater.”
A variety of congratulations rounded the table.
Theodora said, “South U has a good program, but if you want the best you have to go to California.”
Brittany gave her a weak smile. “I don’t have the money to go out to California.”
“But, you know,” Zoe said conspiratorially, taking in the whole table, “you don’t have to go anywhere anymore. A lot of universities these days have classes you can take online.”
The other women spoke at once.
“I didn’t realize that.”
“Praise the Internet.”
“What’s this world coming to?”
Brittany sat back, stunned. Did that include classes in Europe?
“So, you could conceivably go to two universities at once?” Aunt Lynette asked.
“Or more.” Zoe nodded.
They ate in silence for a time, then both Theodora and Zoe got up for seconds.
When they settled down again, Aunt Lynette said, “South Florida is a large area. I’m surprised you don’t have a queen.”
“Oh, ho, ho,” Zoe roared with mock laughter. “We have a queen.”
“Queen Imogene,” Theodora said. “The tyrant.”
Aunt Lynette frowned. “Tyrant?”
“She’s horrible,” Zoe said. “It’s either her way or the door.”
“You have to petition for every ritual,” Theodora said. “Wait. Didn’t you ask for permission to have this little shindig?”
“Didn’t know I was supposed to.”
“I’m surprised she didn’t contact you.”
Zoe said, “Maybe a coven of three is beneath her notice.”
Theodora looked thoughtful. “I doubt that. She knows everything.”
Aunt Lynette laughed. “How?”
“Invisible spies,” Zoe said in a harsh whisper. “They report back to her.”
“At least that’s the rumor,” Theodora said. “One of many.”
“Rumors?” Brittany asked. “Like what?”
“She’s bullied people right out of Florida,” Abigail said. “My friend, Yvonne, just up and left one day. Didn’t even say goodbye. Just vanished.”
“That’s weird,” Brittany said.
“There have been weird occurrences, that’s for sure.” Zoe nodded.
“She puts spells on people. Hexes them. Ruins their lives,” Carla said. “You don’t want to run afoul of Queen Imogene.”
They fell silent for a moment.
Then Zoe looked at Brittany. “Queen Imogene also has a Queen Potential. A real piece of work.”
“Her name is Ravyn Crowe,” Theodora said. “Ravyn with a y.”
Brittany chuckled. “Is that her stage name?”
“She chose that name herself when she was seven years old,” Zoe said. “Shows the darkness in her.”
Just then, there came a knock at the door.
“Who could that be?” Aunt Lynette said.
“I’ll get it.” Brittany stood and picked up her plate. “I’m finished eating.”
She dropped her plate into the sink and went to the front door. Two people stood there—a woman with graying hair wearing a purple robe and a girl about Brittany’s age. The girl looked Asian, with almond eyes and high cheekbones, but her skin was toffee-colored, and her hair was a mass of twisted locs falling to her waist.
“Good evening,” the woman said with a slight smile. “We’ve come to join your Solstice festivities. I’m Queen Imogene.”
Want to Read More?
You can buy Which Witch, the first book of the Brittany Meyer Novellas, at Amazon.