Thursday, April 19, 2012

New Paperback Release!

HOME FOR A SPELL is now out in mass market paperback (Book 7, The Bewitching Mysteries, Apr. 2012, ISBN# 0425255336)...

Get 'em while they're hot!  

Much love,

Mad {madly!}

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The MaJicKal Life . . . a new venture

Nothing ventured, nothing gained . . . so the old saying goes. So won't you join me with my BFFs, Jennifer Hupke and Kristy Robinett, in our new venture?

Presenting . . . The MaJicKal Life ! Three Everyday Goddesses of the Abnormally Normal talk about, well, just about everything under the sun, really.
And while you're at it, you can Like Us On Facebook, if you're of a mind, and for those who love Twitter, you can follow us there, too.

Hope to see you there! And here as well, of course. :)

Love to all,

Mad {madly!}

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Who might these three beauties be? Hmmmm . . . I wonder . . .

Stay tuned!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Back to the Land of the Living...

To all of my loveliest of lovelies,

A little birdy mentioned {a.k.a. has been harassing me} that I really needed to rouse myself from my slumber, emerge from my dark, secret hidey-hole, and come online to quell the rumors, quaff the speculation, and quiet the fears. To let you all know that I have not:

a) died a horrible death in any way, shape, or form

b) gone flying off the earth as a result of a hitherto unrecorded shift of axis on our beloved planet

c) locked myself in my bathroom and, unable to free myself or to gain the attention of my Call of Duty-playing son, taken up permanent residence

d) hitched a ride with a space alien

Or even:

e) ascended to a higher realm, leaving y'all {I'm in the South now, I should probably get used to this} selfishly behind

I am okay. Most of the time. I think.

I don't even know what to say by way of explanation. Life, illness, personal crises . . . they all take their toll, especially when you try to ignore the toll it is taking and push through it by gritting your teeth, over and over again, until there is just no more energy left for anything. Sometimes, you have to pull back, lick your wounds, and with any luck, allow yourself to heal. And that, my loves, is what I have been trying to do, desperately, all year.

I think I'm ready now.

It's time for me to get back in saddle and reclaim the life I love. The writing . . . it's there. It has not forsaken me. Maggie and Company have been whispering to me all along, assuring me all was okay, that they would be there when I was ready. And they are. I'm pushing to complete IN CHARM'S WAY {please, please don't groan, sigh, or stamp your feet with exasperation that it is so behind schedule -- I have put quite enough pressure on myself as it is, LOL}, and . . . I think it's good. Quite good, in fact. I know you were looking for a publication date of this fall, but obviously that didn't happen. The reason the book shows a 2025 release date is that it was removed from the schedule to remove the pressure from me. Just as soon as I turn it in, it will find its way back onto said publishing schedule, and all will be well.

Just a few asides:

If you have emailed me or messaged me, I'm very sorry but I have not {again, please don't smack me} read it. My online presence has been woefully, um, lacking {just restating the obvious, ahem}. Email, FB, blogging . . . I just didn't have the brain power or the energy to address any of it. has indeed been compromised. I'm working on that, too. It will be back, better than ever, soon, but for now I think I had better reserve myself for IN CHARM'S WAY, no?

Yes, I have moved. I'm now in the greater Charlotte, NC area. No, this does not mean Maggie will be moving away from Stony Mill. Yes, this was a good move.

So, thank you all for your kind posts here, your worrying, and for quite frankly noticing that I hadn't been around. I now know that should I ever fall in the bathtub and get eaten by my beloved pets, someone will notice. Yay! ;> I have said before that I have the best readers in the world, and I will keep saying that until I no longer have breath to say anything. You all are awesome, phenomenal, super-stupendous people, and I am proud to have the connection to you through my whimsical scribbles and imaginings. It's quite an amazing thing, when you think about it. To me, at least.

Much love to ALL,

Mad {madly!}

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A New Year . . . And Two New Releases

Well, here we are in 2011 {!!} already, and bright and early this year we are officially on Bewitching Watch for not one release, but two from the Bewitching Mysteries! Book 7 in the series – HOME FOR A SPELL – was released in hardcover on January 4th, and right alongside it was the mass market paperback release of Book 6, A WITCH IN TIME. Which means, if you missed AWIT in hardcover or were waiting for it to come out in paperback, now is your chance!

I have to say, 2010 was a year of changes for me. Recapitulating, restructuring, revelations, a lot of hard work, and in the end, the greatest of rewards. It wasn’t an easy year, but wow, how starry bright the world looks right now! What are some of the things I have been up to? Historic home remodeling, world travel, worrying and fussing to previously unrealized levels, packing, putting the newly finished home on the market, moving one son with me to meet my husband in South Carolina {final ETA yet to be determined}, and suffering the separation of pets and family. My Christmas holiday season included two trips to Charleston, two stops in Morristown, TN, one dead alternator, a quick trip back to Indiana to return Number 3 Son, back to Charlotte, and then a flight to NYC, a whirlwind survey of northern New Jersey, and then a return flight to Charlotte. And it’s not over yet. My husband’s National Guard unit has a trip overseas coming up next month. After that? Who knows!

On the book front, I am finishing up Book 8, which has just been given the title IN CHARM’S WAY. And, I hope to have some good news for you soon about further releases in the Bewitching Mysteries. Cross your fingers that the PTB luuuuuuuuurrrrrve the sales numbers they’ve been seeing!

And to all of you who have been recommending my books to their friends, relatives, and perfect strangers in the bookstore aisles, you have my undying gratitude and forever love! Honestly and truly. You are all the bestest of the best!

That being said . . . Happy 2011, dearhearts!


Mad {madly!}

Sunday, October 03, 2010

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World... And I really mean it!

There once was a woman named Mad
Whose home was looking rather sad
It sagged where it shouldn't
Lift spirits? It wouldn't!
It was making her feel really, well, kind of bad...

Color and life it was most certainly lacking
So she set out to do a bit of spackling
"A bit" turned into "A Freaking LOT!"
Months passed by, nerves were shot
She had zero free time for internet yakking...

Spackle and dust became her life
Each new project filled with strife
Old houses, well, they take a lot of care
{Weary remodelers, beware!}
Project stresses can run especially rife!

Plaster walls come crumbling down
and leave owners with big frowns
Hardwood floors look lovely, so true
but bring on refinishing blues
Spackling, sanding, painting, more sanding... Yikes! Zounds!

But words are Madly's great love
Storytelling fits her like a glove
She's ready to put down her tools
To get back to ghosts and ghouls
And other mysteries, as below and above...

HOME FOR A SPELL comes out at New Year
Yes, there are more Bewitching books, never fear!
I have some doozies planned for you
Stay tuned, my lovelies! If you only knew!
Oh, the things that will be coming out, my dears!

Home For A Spell, Hardcover release 1/4/11
ISBN# 0425238679
Available for pre-order now!

If you know of anyone looking for a castle...
A charmer in the heart of the great Midwest...
In an Indiana town that is as Mayberry as, well, Mayberry...
A town with tree-lined streets...
And ice cream socials and pancake breakfasts at the local fire station...
And a drive-in restaurant that still puts on sock hops some Saturday nights...
And where Friday night varsity games draw numbers that give most local churches attendance envy...
Let me know...
Because Castle Alt is going up for sale! Woot!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

We Interrupt This Blog...

... with an important announcement from ... me.

Just a note to say that my main website,, is down for the time being, but will be returning shortly. I've been having one technical difficulty after another this summer, but hopefully everything will be ironed out within the next couple of weeks. Watch this space for news of updates, and I'll let you know when the site is back up.

I'm in the middle of revisions on Book 7 right now. Titled HOME FOR A SPELL, the hardcover will be released on January 4, 2011 . . . along with the paperback version of A WITCH IN TIME. If you have been waiting, patiently or otherwise, for the paperback release of AWIT, January is right around the corner! {I promise!}

In the meantime, enjoy your summer! I'll be posting here within the next week or two, letting you know about some of the other things that have been claiming my attention.

Back to revisions for me!

Love to all,

Mad {madly!}

Monday, March 08, 2010

Sneak Preview of A WITCH IN TIME

{{Madly blows the dust off the blogboard ::koff koff:: and sweeps the cobwebs from the corners of her cyberspace...}}

Hello, my lovelies ~~

I know, I know, long time no write, but that's another post in itself, and for the time being I wanted to get this out to you.


Look what was just delivered to my door:

Isn't she beautimous? My very own, very first, hot-off-the-press . . . HARDCOVER.

It's probably wrong to be so enamored of an inanimate object, but . . . whatever. Because the good things in life need to be fawned over. They need to be reveled in. They need to not ever be taken for granted.

And so, my dear ones, I had to share. And by the way...

I'm baaaaaaaack!

Missed you all, mwuah mwuah!

Love always,

Mad {madly!}

And just to prove I love you, here is a long snippet from A WITCH IN TIME:


I’ve often been told happiness is relative and that truth is subjective. Words of wisdom usually wielded with deflating precision by cautioning mothers, well-meaning aunts, busybody neighbors . . . and always, always intended to keep you on the straight and narrow. Because that was important, you know. Can’t let a girl get a big head about things. Too much happiness is bad for the complexion, or was that the equilibrium? No matter. And truth . . . well, no one really wants to hear it, do they? Regardless of how much they ask. So of course it’s good to put out the notion that it depends on something nebulous, something individual, something completely indefinable. That way, when you argue your truth with someone of a different mind, your truth can always trump theirs, simply by playing the “Subjectivity” card.

And that, dear friends, really is the cold, hard truth. Hoosiers like the cold, hard truth . . . but only when it doesn’t apply to themselves.

And then there are stoic platitudes. They’re very popular here. You get out of it what you put into it. There are two sides to every story. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. Patience is a virtue. There’s no such thing as ghosts. Do unto others, before they can do unto you . . .

Whoops, that last one isn’t quite right in spirit, is it?

And yet we see its effect day after day as it is reenacted in the day-to-day.

Dark thoughts for a sunny mid-August afternoon, I admit . . . but I couldn’t seem to help myself. Month after month, every time I thought things were getting better, every time I thought, surely that was it, now the town can get back to healing itself . . . Time after time I had been proven wrong. It was too much.

I shook my head to clear away the mists of worry that hovered there on the fringes as I rang up the purchases for what would likely be Enchantments’ last customer of the day. At least I hoped it was our last. For once, I was Ready. To. Go.

“That will be thirty-nine ninety-six,” I told our customer, a regular, as the numbers totaled on the cash register. It had been a long, hot day, our air-conditioning had been acting up, the HVAC crew was missing in action, and a seemingly endless period of Mercury being retrograde in the cosmos had ensured that Murphy’s Law was alive and kicking. Things at the store had been chaotic at best. Add in the missing shipments, a broken crystal vase thanks to my little furry fiend, I mean, friend and store kitten Minnie, and a laptop whose hard drive suddenly stopped talking to its keyboard, which forced us all to rely on memory to locate items in our extensive inventory, and what you got in total was frazzled nerves.
All mine. Liss was, as per usual, as cool as the proverbial cucumber. My proverbial cucumbers, on the other hand, always turned out pickled.

“How do you do it?” I asked her when the customer had walked out with a gift bag packed chock full of goodies and a smile of satisfaction on her face. The admiration coloring my tone was not for effect. I would be the first to admit that I aspired to achieve my boss’s Zen approach toward life someday. It would be nice not to be affected by all of the small annoyances and frustrations some would consider a normal part of spending time on this earth.

“What’s that, ducks?” Liss asked, peering at me from over her half-moon glasses as she tucked a pencil absentmindedly into the hair above her ear and pushed the return key on the non-functioning laptop.

“Stay calm and cool in the face of adversity?”

Liss laughed, a lovely, merry sound that in all the months I’d known her had never yet failed to make me feel better. “I wasn’t aware that we were facing adversity. I’ll have to keep my eyes open now, won’t I?”

Her unfaltering good mood stopped me in my tracks. Was I making too much of things? “You’re right. I’m being overly dramatic.” And I, for one, despised melodrama.

“It’s just the heat getting to you, love. Now, where are those repairmen? They were supposed to be here hours ago. This old building needs some TLC.”

She was right. August had been sizzling, steamy, and sultry and just plain abysmal as far as the weather went . . . not that that was unusual for this time of year. But sometimes there was a sense that we were all dancing around like grease on a forgotten griddle. You’ve heard of jumping from the frying pan into the fire? Yeah. Despite all of the good things that had been happening in my life of late—the most interesting of which had been the blossoming of a new and potentially promising pairing with the not-nearly-so-dark-as-everyone-thought but nevertheless dangerous-to-my-equilibrium Marcus Quinn—there was still an element of edgy uncertainty swimming around in the mix. Or was that just me, being dramatic again?


Liss was right. What was a little hot weather in the overall scheme of things? What were a few minor annoyances? It was the town gone mad that we had to worry about.
And on that cheery note . . .

“Would you like me to wait with you for the repairmen?” I offered, although I freely admit that for once the offer was only half-heartedly made. Tonight was a scheduled off night for me, and I had made plans. Big plans. Hopeful plans.

I caught Minnie gazing at me with her luminous bi-colored eyes. I shot her a meaningful look that said, And said plans will not require input from you, Missypants! None of your funny business. She just blinked at me, the soul of innocence, then bent over to acrobatically lick the back of her leg.

“Oh, my dear. I wouldn’t dream of keeping you. Now, now,” she said, brushing away my hands as I made a move to tidy the counter. “None of that.” She examined me more closely. “If I didn’t know you better, I’d say you were procrastinating.”

“I’m not procrastinating! I’m— ” I wasn’t, was I? I double-checked myself. Of course I wasn’t. What was there to procrastinate about? A night of movies, munchies, and Marcus in front of the television at his house, away from the nervous energy cycling through town . . . what was there to be nervous about that?

Except the butterflies in my stomach were calling me out as a liar. Because that after three weeks of exploring every facet of making out with Marcus like a teenager in the heated throes of new love, I knew that we were standing on a precipice that would change things forever, for better or for worse, and while I wanted it as much as I thought he did, there was still that edge of uncertainty about what it would mean to the relationship. What it would mean to us.

Get a grip, Maggie, I told myself. It’s not like you’ve never done this before. Visions of a young Madonna flashdanced through my head, and I don’t mean the beatific one.

But it really had been a while, and all the What Ifs were making me crazy.



Hormones. I blamed hormones. They get all out of whack when not let out of their padded cells every once in a blue moon.

“I’m not procrastinating,” I repeated, ducking away from her all-seeing gaze. “I just . . . I . . . well, tonight’s a big night,” I finished simply, unable to find the words to explain further.

It didn’t matter. Liss seemed to understand. The soft look she gave me was both compassionate and reassuring. “Deep breaths, my dear. Don’t fret. Whatever is troubling you, you’ll make it through with flying colors.”

That was Liss for you. She always understood. She did however seem to be waiting expectantly for me to offer up what it was that I was so nervous about. But somehow I just couldn’t. Despite the fact that I knew without a doubt that Marcus and Liss had never been the item I had originally imagined them to be, it still felt a bit like the new girlfriend comparing notes with the former. Silly, really. But there it was.

To ward off her preternatural ability to read my thoughts and moods, I bent down and picked up Minnie, who had raised herself on her hind legs and had planted her front paws against my kneecaps. (The little minx was growing so fast! Sniffle . . .) She’d also been hitching her rear quarters back and forth like a hula dancer with a bad knee--in preparation for launching herself up my body, no doubt. Poor girl--foiled again! She didn’t seem to mind so much. She’d closed her eyes and started to purr the moment I’d scooped her into my arms. “Well, look at you,” I cooed to her. “Pretty girl.”

Liss went back to fussing with the laptop. “Minnie, dear, do tell your mummy that a few well-placed red and pink candles can do much for generating a lovely romantic glow. Not that I think you’ll need it, mind you,” she said, switching the point of her attack to me. “Marcus seems to know what he’s doing, good lad. But the Love candles are upstairs in the loft in the event you feel the need to prime the magickal pump. So to speak.”

So much for thwarting her psychic prowess. “Stop that,” I said, the heat in my cheeks speaking volumes for the blush I knew must have taken root there.

“Stop what, dear?” Liss asked, guileless as any mother gently guiding her child through a troubling situation.

“Stop being so good at the whole Vulcan mind meld thing. I swear, sometimes you are positively spooky.” And sometimes a girl liked to keep her secrets.

“Thank you, my dear. I do try.”

She didn’t have to try, and I knew it. It was just a part of her, a very positive, very para-spooky part of her. One that I could only hope to aspire to one day. It could come in handy, at that.

More and more I thought of Liss as a second mother . . . only one who didn’t have a vested interest in the eventual advantageous outcome of my life’s trials and travails, and unbiased by anything more than a bighearted wish to help and a goodly dose of love. My own mother could have learned a thing or two from that. I love my mom, mind you, but Holy-Mary-Mother-of-God, that woman really knows how to push my buttons. God love her.

The Goddess, too. And all the angels and saints and protective spirits, to boot. My mother needed all the divine intervention she could get to counteract what was a majorly controlling nature.

“Come on, Minnie,” I said, placing a resounding smooch on the velvety fur between her pointy ears, “let’s leave Liss to fight with the computer gremlins. You and I have places to go. People to see.”

Movies to watch.

Men to . . .

Come to think of it, maybe the candles would be a good idea. They certainly couldn’t hurt.

“The candles are in the top right drawer in the large cabinet up in the Loft,” Liss couldn’t resist calling after me as I covertly made my way toward the stairs. “I dressed them myself in Goddess oil, cloves, dragon’s blood, and cinnamon for that extra boost. Should be just the trick.”

No use pretending I wasn’t interested. I paused in my cross-store trajectory as a thought occurred to me, and turned back to face her. “Liss . . . can I ask you a question?”

“Of course, dear. You can ask anything you like.”

“Well . . .” It took me a moment to find the words. It could be a sensitive subject, after all. “Why is it you haven’t found yourself a willing male and taken your own counsel?”

“You mean, why am I not out, looking for love in all the sacred spaces?” I was relieved that she took the question for what it was—curiosity. Humor crinkled at the corners of her eyes. “What makes you think I’m depriving myself?”

I had seen the woman in action, charming every man of a certain age that she came into contact with . . . but: “That doesn’t mean you have opened yourself up to love.”

She smiled, and I saw a hint of wistfulness behind the pragmatism. “One does not control or influence the heart. Love happens only if or when it is meant to happen. Not before, not after.”

It had been four years since her husband Geoffrey had crossed beyond the veil that parted the earthly plane from the more nebulous realms of spirit. Perhaps it was still too soon, I mused, for her to move on in that way. The romantic in me wanted all of my girlfriends to be completely and utterly happy, and while a man should never be deemed a necessary ingredient for a girl’s happiness, the fact remained that having one around sure could make life a whole lot more interesting. But maybe it would always be too soon for Liss. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.
I was getting myself all misty. I cleared my throat. “So. Top right drawer, big cupboard.”

“You’re welcome.”

The Loft was one of the most peace-filled places I had ever been lucky enough to experience. It was Liss who had made it that way, injecting her own personal energy into the space until the entire area sparkled with life. When the weather outside prevented her from using the circle in the forest clearing on her property just outside of Stony Mill, the Loft was where she performed many of her meditations, rituals, and spells. I myself often came up here when I needed a few minutes to clear my head, or when I just wanted to meditate and soak up the powerful atmosphere of the place. Powerful in a good way. In a way that spoke of protection, and lightworking for the good of all, and keeping out the dark. In a way that called up my own power from deep within.

Good magick.

I slid my hand along the gallery rail as I made my way toward the wall of cabinets, mostly big solid antiques. As was my habit, I circled around the center rug that marked the ritual area—to me it was sacred space, just as much as her forest glade, and not something to be crossed lightly and without regard. My deference might also have something to do with the protective Invisible Threshold wards Liss cast over the area, although as one of her inner circle, it’s not as though I wasn’t allowed to spend time there.

I found the candles right where she’d said I would, in a drawer clearly labeled “Candles, Red and Pink—for all romantic magickal purposes.” Bingo. I selected three, a power number. Going for the big bang, without bankrupting the store for my own personal gain. I preferred to cache my romance karma, thankyouverymuch. Better safe than sorry.

“Might I suggest that you take a sampling of rose petals and violets from the bulk stores as well?” Liss called up the stairs, ever helpful. “Although now that I think of it, you might not want to burn it in his presence. Marcus is a smart cookie--it’s not as though he doesn’t know what the herbs are for. A sachet, perhaps, to tuck into your pocket?”

I decided to forgo the herbs. She was right, Marcus wasn’t oblivious. And besides, while I wasn’t against a little bit of pump-priming, I really didn’t think much of it was needed in this case. If the last few weeks were any indication, things were well primed as it was. Granted, it had been a while for me . . . but not that long! I did, however, grab a little package of dried catnip to keep the wee one well plied.

Call it insurance.

Liss was waiting for me when I returned once again to the main floor. “Or maybe some fresh fruit. Strawberries, cherries, apples are all good for love. Add in a bit of chocolate, and a savvy witch is in business.” She arched a meaningful brow.

I shook my head at her persistence and grinned in spite of myself. “Goodnight, Liss.”

A savvy witch also knows when to butt out. Which she did. Gracefully, of course. “Goodnight, ducks. And good everything else, too,” she said with a mischievous twinkle in her eye.

Honestly, maybe she should rethink her stance on finding love again, I thought to myself as I gathered Minnie into her soft-sided carrier and hit the gravel parking spaces behind the store. If her current zeal for the topic was a true measure, it seemed quite possible to this armchair therapist that she was living vicariously through others as a defense against reentering the dating game for her own gain. Always a matchmaker, never a match of her own. P’raps the two of us would have to have a talk one of these days. When the time was right.

In the meantime, I had places to go . . .

And so it was with a wildly beating heart that I loaded Minnie into my aging VW Bug (early on in our partnership my dad had jokingly compared her to Stephen King’s Christine due to her cantankerous and unpredictable nature, and the mostly affectionate epithet had stuck), and headed home to my basement apartment in the aging Victorian on Willow Street for a quick pit-stop to freshen up before my scheduled meet-up with Marcus.

“What do you say, Minnie?” I asked the Furry One, who blinked at me sleepily from her spot in the sun on the passenger seat. “Have a little kibble while I get dressed?”

Lifting Minnie’s carrier, I made my way across the surprisingly-green-for-August-thanks-to-a-bevy-of-rainstorms lawn to the sunken entrance to my basement apartment. Eager to escape the steam, I let myself in, grateful for the immediate blast of cool darkness. My basement apartment wasn’t exactly Home Beautimous material, but at least it was always temperate, despite the weather raging outside. My things I set down on the old dining room chair just inside the door, all except for Minnie’s carrier, which I placed on the floor. Immediately she began pawing at the zippered escape hatch.

“Hold on, silly. So impatient!”

The moment she could wiggle her way out, she did, squeezing through the gap I was making like a squirt of ink from a plastic bottle. Once free, she shook her head hard enough to see stars. She blinked blankly until her vision cleared, then scampered off to the kitchen. I knew what was coming next; I stood to one side to watch the entertainment unfold. First, the industrious pawing at the food dish until it scooted right off the soft braided mat that kept the kitty dining area mess-free. Next came the unrelenting flicking with hooked claws at the bottom of the door to the cupboard where I kept the kitty kibble. Finally, she hopped from the chair to the tabletop to the counter, meowed at me—loudly—and while I waited to allow her to finish what had become a nightly performance, she proceeded to knock any item within reach to the floor. Notepad, pencil, keyring. When her beady little eyes fixed on her next target, I moved in quickly.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa there, Turbo. Not the glass,” I said, putting it in the sink. “I take it you want food?”

She began to purr and sauntered back and forth along the counter. And then, just to seal the deal in the event I was a little too dense to understand her meaning, she waited until I had bent down to open the cupboard before stretching out a paw and deliberately pushing the salt shaker over the edge. It missed me by inches, dousing me with a shower of salt crystals as it fell. “Hey, knock it off!”

She tilted her head quizzically to one side as if to say, But I just did . . .


I scooped the crunchy kibble into her bowl and set it down on her mat. Before I could straighten again, Minnie had taken a falling leap from the counter, landing gracefully, and started crunching away happily. I only wish I could eat with that same lackadaisical absence of guilt. Instead I had to worry about the elastic on my underwear creating unsightly ripples.

You know, sometimes I think coming back as a cosseted housecat wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Smiling indulgently down at my girl, I dug the milk out of the fridge and poured a bit into a clean dish. The moment I set it down beside her, Minnie changed tactics and pushed her nose deep into the newest offering, her bubblegum pink tongue lapping away.

I watched her until I realized I was postponing the inevitable . . . what was I waiting for?

Leaving Minnie to nosh at her usual breakneck pace, I bypassed the lights blinking on my answering machine, because I knew it was bound to be nothing more pressing than the daily calls from my mom, just “checking up on me,” and I really wasn’t in the mood to handle her queries and complaints just yet. Instead I slipped directly into my bedroom. I’d worn ankle cropped pants with ballet flats and a close-fitting tee to the store this morning—which was fine—but I thought maybe I’d kick things up a notch. One flirty, drapey, babydoll cami and a pair of strappy Mary Jane peeptoes later, and I felt I’d heightened my sex-appeal enormously. To this I added some earrings that sparkled and flashed when I moved my head, and deepened my makeup just a tad. After shaking out my hair, which had been twisted up in clips all day to keep its unruly waves from frizzing in the August steam, and running my fingers through it, I looked in the mirror to find I actually looked quite . . . good. Maybe even better than I’d intended. Hm. That was a happy surprise.

“What do you think, Min? Do I meet with your approval?”

Minnie had finished with her evening feast and was now perched, round-bellied and satisfied, in the middle of my bed, watching me. She tilted her head sideways and gave me an inquisitive stare.

“Now, don’t go giving me that look. Yes, I’m going out tonight. But you get to go, too—we’re going to Marcus’s house.”

Minnie yawned, but I knew it was all an act. Pretending to be disinterested, when inside that fuzzy little noggin waged schemes and daydreams of mayhem and mischief, and possibly even world domination. She perked up again the instant she saw me pick up her favorite toy, a stick-string-feather combo that would have her dancing around like a Spanish flamenco dancer, but before she could leap I popped it into a canvas tote along with her nibble treats, then cast an eye around me for anything else Minnie could possibly need.

Yet another stalling tactic on my part, and an obvious one at that.

I couldn’t believe how nervous I was about tonight. It wasn’t the possibility of rejection that was making me as distracted as a cat in a room full of parakeets—with Marcus, rejection had never really crossed my mind. It was the possibilities that were making me run both hot and cold today. And what possibilities they were! Because my deepest fear was that I was falling for him, fast and hard, and my track record with love hadn’t been what anyone would call “exemplary.” In fact, I was the poster girl for sad tales with bad endings. I had definitely been left nursing a wounded heart once or twice before. But that shouldn’t be a concern with Marcus. Should it?



Good grief, my sister was right. I am neurotic.

I took a deep breath. There was no reason to worry. Not this time. Things were going swimmingly with Marcus. So much so that it was easy to forget the strange events that had brought me to him. The weirdness in town. The murders. The rise in the tide of spiritual energies, light and so-not-light. My unexpected awareness of said energies, an awareness that, once acknowledged, had kept growing and growing and growing, until now it had evolved into something I didn’t understand, with no clear end in sight. But none of that mattered, as long as this one thing in my life was going well.

So . . . what was I so afraid of?


Minnie’s placid stare seemed to echo what the voice in my head was whispering:

What are you waiting for?

What, indeed?

Taking a deep, fortifying breath, I made myself move.

The first step is always the hardest, Margaret. . .

The voice of my conscience all too often took on the vocal stylings and attitudes of my late Grandmother Cora. It wasn’t something that I relished—Grandma C had always been a pragmatically stern woman of country ways and devout sensibilities, and that side of her had never failed to come across loud and clear, even as a whisper in my head. Does everyone out there have a snarky conscience? Or was I the only one?

It was because of that that I now turned a dubious eye inward. Because . . .

Since when had Grandma C ever been on my side?

Suspicious minds, Margaret, the soundless voice tsked.

And just what was that supposed to mean?

Only that they always find what they expect to find. Remember that.

Hmm. There was something to that, actually. Deepest fears always seemed to manifest into the direst of circumstances at the worst of times, somehow, some way. It was the biggest reason Murphy’s Law was viewed as truism with a capital T. It was up to all of us to do our best to banish the Murphmeister from our lives. I understood that. In theory. Practical application proved trickier, but I was trying.

And you see Marcus as good for you, I think? the Grandma C conscience voice prodded.

Yes. Oh, yes.


For once, Grandma C had it going on. And with her, and Liss, and Minnie on my side, how could I resist?

Crosstown traffic was clearing by the time we ventured past our quiet neighborhood. Not that Stony Mill rush hour could ever compare to or compete with a larger city, but with narrow streets and parking along the curb, safe passage could at times be a complicated process. I cut across via the byzantine residential routes, wending through subdivisions, until I hit the sleepy older neighborhood on the outskirts that Marcus called home. Before I got to know Marcus, I would never have envisioned him living in a one-and-a-half story Craftsman-style bungalow, complete with a deep porch and low-slung roofline. The spiky iron fence at the front might not have matched in theory, but the river stone posts separating the sections made it work. The house was far from modern, but it possessed a quiet dignity that felt comfortable and familiar. I loved everything about it, from the faded linoleum in the kitchen, to the carriage barn in the rear that had been converted into a garage-slash-motorcycle workshop, a.k.a. the ideal Man Cave. Now that was what I had always expected from my Marcus.

My Marcus. I smiled at the very thought.

I parked at the curb. Deep breaths, Maggie my girl, I told myself. A quick check in the mirror I’d long ago velcro’ed onto the visor assured me that neither the heat nor the humidity had demolished my best beauty efforts yet, though getting out of the elements would certainly help. I glanced over at Minnie and smiled.

“Here we go.”

I grabbed my bag, Minnie’s carrier, and the canvas tote of kitty goodies and let myself in through the front gate. It made the usual squawk of the hinges as I closed it and dropped the latch into place. The cobbled walk under my feet felt like the curving yellow brick road of Oz, leading me to . . .

“Hello, sweetness.”

I felt a flush of pleasure sweep through me as I looked up to find Marcus waiting for me in the crook of the old-fashioned wooden screen door and looking nothing like the wily Wizard. I stopped in my tracks at the base of the steps. Even from deep in the belly of the porch, his eyes seemed to glow in welcome. My heart did a little bounce and wobble.

Oh, yeah, I was in big trouble, all right.

I lifted my hand and gave a weak, fluttering wave. “Hi.”

“I’ve been waiting for you.”

Another wobble, and this time my stomach got into the act. Keep your head on, nice and straight,Grandma C’s voice intoned inside my head. “You have?”


“Oh.” I was having trouble getting the gears in my brain to function. All they did was whirr. Madly.

“You going to stand down there all day?” he asked, a lilt of amusement lifting one corner of his mouth as he leaned a shoulder indolently against the inner doorframe. “Or did you want me to come down there and get you?”

Well, that option did present some distinct possibilities . . .

Flustered, I cleared my throat and made a show of displaying my things as I mounted the steps. “I come with baggage.”

“Do you, now. Hello, Minnie.” He reached down to take them all from me, setting it all inside the door, which he still held propped open with one foot, then turned back to face me. His clear blue eyes searched mine. I couldn’t help wondering how much he saw there. “And you . . .” he said, his voice trailing off as he took my face between his hands and lowered his mouth to mine for one long, heart-stopping minute.

Big trouble.

Oh yeah.

“Hellooo, Miss O’Neill.” The low croon teased my tingling lips most pleasantly.

“Hello, Mr. Quinn,” I breathed back, linking my fingers together behind his neck.

“I’ve been waiting to do that all day.”

“You have? That’s funny. Me, too.”

The slow curve of his lips was all I could see. Truth be told, it was all I wanted to see. Without another thought I slid my arm around his neck and kissed him soundly, pressing myself to his body tight enough that he was forced to reach behind himself to grope for the doorframe with one hand to support us both. His other arm was wrapped up and between my shoulder blades, his long fingers cradling the nape of my neck. I couldn’t have gotten away if I’d wanted to.

I didn’t. Want to, that is.

Nervous . . . had I been nervous? How ridiculous. This was exactly what I had been hoping for. What was to be nervous about this?

I didn’t know how long it was before I drifted away from the enchantment of his mouth and back to the realization that we were standing on his front porch, displaying the full measure of our mutual fascination before God, Goddess, and the entire county. I pulled away slightly, regretfully, my hands lingering on his chest. “We should probably go inside. Someone might see.”
He raised one eyebrow in amusement. “And?”

“My mother has a lot of friends.”

“You ashamed of me, Maggie?”

“Of course not.”

“Or are you just afraid of your mother?”

I frowned at that. I was less than three weeks away from my thirtieth birthday. A woman, full grown and in charge of her own destiny. I did not need my mother’s approval for my life. On the other hand, it certainly did make life easier if the two of us weren’t at loggerheads with each other.

Tricky, tricky.

“I’m not afraid of her,” I told him, and I couldn’t help nibbling on the inside of my lower lip. “I’m . . . wary of her web of spies, that’s all.”

“I see. Well, in that case, maybe you’d better come on inside.” He took my hand and tugged. “I have a special way of dealing with spies and busybodies and other unwanted entities.”

I knew he was just being funny, but I had seen firsthand how he dealt with unwanted entities, and in truth the experience had both frightened me and made me feel very safe in his capable hands, all at the same time. There was something deeply reassuring about his knowledge and mastery of all matters spiritual, a certainty I did not yet possess. Maybe I never would. But one thing I did know: Next to Liss, Marcus made a pretty good counselor of the mysterious. Between the two of them, I was covered.

I followed him inside, privately enjoying the warmth of his hand holding mine.
“What’s all this?” I asked him when my eyes had adjusted to the more shadowy interior. Unusually shadowy. I couldn’t help noticing that all the curtains were drawn, and that set up in front of the big windows were what appeared to be a couple of cameras on tripods, as well as a couple of other odd-looking devices whose purposes I couldn’t guess. Heavy wires, neatly bound with tie-wraps, snaked across the hardwood floor and down the hall toward the bedroom he used as his own private digital compound. While on his stint in the military, Marcus had served in Intelligence. Something told me he hadn’t completely gotten that lifestyle out of his system.

“This? Nothing, really. Call it . . . insurance.”

Marcus wasn’t usually this circumspect. I peered up at him, curiously. “Insurance for what? What’s going on?”

He shrugged away the question. “Nothing I can’t handle. Trust me on this.”

I had no misgivings about his ability to handle, oh, just about anything. Without a doubt he had an innate understanding of how to handle me.

“Cameras. Wires. What’s this?” I asked him, pointing to a round dishlike object.

“Just a little listening device.”

“And this?” I indicated a smaller black box.

He grabbed my hand and drew me away, carefully avoiding the various tripods and tripwires. “A voice amplifier. Nothing to worry about.”

Noooo, nothing to worry about here. Nothing at all . . .

“And why are we doing the whole James Bond thing with the neighbors?” I pressed, knowing the story had to be a good one.

“I would never spy on my neighbors without good reason,” he protested as he plopped down onto the sofa and pulled me into his lap. His arms closed immediately around my waist to hold me in place.

Distractions were not going to work on me this time. No sirree . . .

“And you explain all of the devices and whatnot pointed at them, how?”

He tilted his head back on the sofa, staring thoughtfully at the ceiling for a moment. “Hm. Would you believe me if I told you that they’re not directed toward the neighbors specifically?”

I glanced over my shoulder. The cameras certainly seemed to be aimed in all the pertinent directions.

He sighed, his fingers toying with one of my curls. “I take it you’re probably not going to be able to just let this go.”


“I suppose you’re going to need an explanation.”


The one word answers seemed to be working in my favor. “Well,” he said, considering his options, “I suppose I was kidding myself to think that you could come over without wondering what was up.”


“So I guess you’re wanting answers.”

“Mmhmm.” Was that one word, or two? Or none?

“You’re awfully cute when you’re curious,” he said with a wicked grin.

Maybe the one word answers weren’t working so well, after all. “Stop trying to confuse me.”

“Maybe I want to confuse you. Maybe—” he twirled the strand of hair around his index finger then flicked his gaze to mine— “just maybe—” he said, his voice dropping to a low murmur intended to warm a girl’s blood in an instant, “that was my plan all along.”

Before he could lean in to kiss me and scatter my senses to the four winds, I placed my fingertips over his lips. “Neighbors?” I prompted.

“Can’t see a thing, I promise.”

“But you can see them.”

“Nah.” He shook his head. “It’s not for the neighbors, Maggie. I told you that.”

“Then who is it for?”

“That’s what I’m trying to find out.”

All of this talking in circles was making my head hurt. I just looked at him, waiting patiently.

Finally he relented. “Take a peek through the view finders.”

I got to my feet and walked over to one of the cameras, bending close to peer through. To my surprise, the object in view wasn’t the house on the opposite side of the street. “It’s pointed at the street itself,” I realized, frowning.

“Check another.”

I did. Same story, second time around. The camera that seemed to be pointing at the neighbor’s house next door was actually capturing anyone approaching the house from that direction.

“There’s another camera in the dining room,” Marcus told me.

The question was, why? I turned to him in bemusement.

“I think someone has been watching my place. I just wanted to see if I could catch said someone in the act. Get it on film. Try to figure out what’s up.”

My eyebrows lifted and I glanced sharply toward the window. “Someone’s been watching you? Why would anyone do that?”

“I don’t know.”

“How long has this been going on?”

“I don’t know,” he repeated. “A week? Two weeks? I’m not sure. I’ve been a little distracted lately.” He winked at me.

I could relate. Boy, could I ever.

While I was up, I unzipped Minnie’s carrier and set her down on the floor. “There you go, little one.” She stretched and yawned, hooking her claws down to the floor as though searching for carpet to latch onto. I handed her one of her catnip mousies. “Run and play.”

Obediently she picked up the tiny mouse in her mouth and darted for the nearest hidey-hole. She was almost as comfortable at Marcus’s house as she was at the apartment. We’d been over often enough that Marcus had surprised us both by setting up a litter box in the laundry room and a soft kitty bed in the office window that overlooked a group of bird feeders he had installed in the yard, and by installing resident food and water dishes in the kitchen. Already Minnie thought of Marcus’s place as her own.

I turned back to the living room. Still as bemused as ever, I sat down next to Marcus on the sofa. Immediately he drew my legs up over his and placed a steadying hand on my knees to hold me in place.

“Who do you think it is?” I asked him.

“Not a clue,” he said, I didn’t like the way his gaze slid away from mine. Why did I have a
feeling that wasn’t entirely the truth?

“Well, have you said anything to anyone?” I persisted, “About all this?”

“Uncle Lou and Aunt Molly know.”

“I don’t mean them. I meant, have you filed a report?”

His eyebrows rose. “With the police? Uh, no.”

“Why not?”

The look he gave me made me realize with a start how pointless the question was, considering Tom’s role with the S.M.P.D.

“Oh. Oh, yeah.” And yet the situation frustrated me. Worst of all, I knew it was entirely my fault. Not intentionally . . . but did that make a difference when someone’s heart was hurting? “There has to be some route available to you. What if this turns out to be serious?”

“Hey . . . Hey.” Turning, he tipped my chin up to look at him, and my heart turned over. “It’s no big deal, Maggie. I’ve got it covered.”


He pressed a kiss to my lips to quiet my protests. “No worries, okay?”

It was easy for him to say. He wasn’t the one who was responsible for his inability to go to the police if he needed to. I was.

“So . . . what’s in the bag?” he asked, purposely deflecting my concern toward another topic altogether. I understood immediately what he was doing, but since there was no easy solution to the stalker problem, I quickly decided we might as well try to forget about it. For now.

“Oh, just a few goodies for tonight.”

My airy reply made his eyebrows lift in interest. A slow smile began at the corners of his mouth. “You know, this sounds promising.”

“Maybe.” I kept things light and teasing, though inside me the element that had perked up was far more fiery in nature.

“Mmm. So are you going to show me what you’ve got? Or are you going to make me wait?” The blue of his eyes blazed a little hotter. “I’m not sure I’m going to be good at that.”

I smirked. I couldn’t help myself.

“Waiting,” he supplied quickly as clarification. “I’m not great at waiting.”

I giggled this time. I couldn’t help that, either.

“I assure you,” he leaned in closer, pinning me with his gaze, “I am very good at the rest of it.”

Copyright 2010 by Madelyn Alt. All rights reserved.

****** A WITCH IN TIME will appear magickally on bookstore**********
****** shelves April 6, 2010, or you can pre-order it today***************

A WITCH IN TIME (#6, The Bewitching Mysteries)

Berkley Prime Crime

ISBN-13# 978-0425232613

Coming April 6, 2010

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Guess what today is?????

Hello, my lovelies!

Can you guess what today is?

Need a hint? I'm thinking of a number between 4 and 6 . . .

That's right! Today is a BEWITCHINGly good day!

{despite the fact that I had to get a root canal this morning... ;> }
It's out, it's out, it's out, it's out, it's out!!
WHERE THERE'S A WITCH, book #5 in The Bewitching Mysteries, is out today on bookstore shelves and center kiosks nationwide!

So go forth, dear ones! Buy, read, recommend, and multiply, and you will have my undying, everlasting, never-failing gratitude. Mwah! {and if you've already found it, feel free to post below!}
Love always,

Mad {madly!}

P.S. Congrats and kudos to Faith, Goddess of Purple, who won the ARC and gift card in the Bewitching contest, and many, many, many thanks to everyone who participated. Love you all!
P.P.S. Coming next: Stay tuned for a post on a very special upcoming event -- Putting Normal Back in the Paranormal, Traverse City Style! Traverse City is one of my very favorite places, and I want to show you why. July 25th is the date, right before the Traverse City Film Festival, so if you need a mini-break, why not head on up to see me, Kristy, and maybe even do a little stargazing on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan? Until the next blog, you can find more details at (click on Events!)...

Monday, May 25, 2009

CONTEST! -- Three weeks only!!

So, as a way of celebrating the upcoming release of WHERE THERE'S A WITCH, I thought I'd run a little contest. This contest is for my truly dedicated readers, who faithfully read my blogs and scan the web for new news on The Bewitching Mysteries. I wouldn't be here without you. Thank you, love you, owe you all!.

The Prize: An Advanced Reading Copy of WHERE THERE'S A WITCH . . . plus a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble.

What do you have to do to enter? This is the easy part. All you have to do is blog about why you follow The Bewitching Mysteries. On MySpace (and if you're really feeling the love, you could post a Bulletin there as well), on Facebook, on Blogger, on LiveJournal, whatever. Wherever it is that you like to network with friends and family, or even complete strangers. If you don't blog, but you belong to a group of readers online who post together on a forum or message board, yes, that counts, too. Write about why you love the series, then either post a comment here with a link and a valid email address, or email the link to me at

That's it! As Maggie would say: Easy peasy, right?

The winner will be selected by the extremely scientific method of throwing all the names in a hat, stirring them around a bit, shuffling them once or twice for good measure . . . and then my ten-year-old will draw the name. Don't worry, I'll make sure he's blindfolded.

Deadline: You have until 11:59 p.m. June 15th to make your post.

Sneak Preview of WHERE THERE'S A WITCH

That's right, my lovelies. It's preview time for my July release, WHERE THERE'S A WITCH, #5 in The Bewitching Mysteries. Which means, of course, that I am in deep deadline mode . . . hence my absence. I did have a terrific time at Paranormacon in Fort Wayne the weekend of the 15th--the In Nomine group did a fantastic job at organizing the event, and I got to spend the entire weekend sitting next to one of my most favoritest people in the whole world: my best friend, Kristy Robinett. We gabbed, giggled, took silly pictures, and of course, went ghost hunting with a really cool group of people. Fun!

Heads up: Kristy and I are planning another of our fun "Putting the Normal Back in Paranormal" events, this time in Traverse City, Michigan on July 25th. This will be a ticketed event. For more information, please see

Without further adieu . . . the preview. Enjoy!


Chapter One

When a person has spent her entire life in the same small town, she starts to think she knows everything there is to know about it. That she has seen and heard and done it all, and no matter what happens, it is nothing that hasn’t been seen or heard or done before.

I believed that about my Indiana hometown. I did . . . right up until the day I met my witchy boss, Felicity Dow, and began to discover the truth about Stony Mill’s not-so-hidden dark side. Along the way, I also unearthed a few truths about myself.

My name is Maggie—Margaret Mary-Catherine O’Neill, actually, but I’m not a formal kind of girl—and one of my personal truths recently discovered is that I am an empath. A bona fide, natural-born intuitive capable of sensing emotion, both past and present, in the air around me. This means that I have a tendency to pick up strong emotional memories that linger near people, places, and things, whether those feelings are in the physical world or the world of spirit. Memories perhaps better ignored, or even forgotten. Too bad I didn’t understand all of this sooner. It would have saved me from internalizing a lot of emotional heartache growing up that wasn’t even my own.

And that was only the beginning, as I had been discovering. When I looked back over the last several months, I realized my abilities had been expanding. Whether I liked it or not—which also appeared to be a moot point. And the spirits who were making themselves known to me? I used to think ghosts and hauntings were no more than the products of an overly imaginative mind. Now, I’m not saying I’m psychic. But I will acknowledge that there is something more going on with me. No more sleepwalking through life, blissfully ignorant of the truth about the world around me.

I didn’t have that luxury anymore. Things were changing. I was changing.

And I wasn’t the only one experiencing oddities in my hometown. There were the other N.I.G.H.T.S., of course, a motley crew of ghost-hunting sensitives/intuitives I counted among my closest friends. But pay no attention to all the old stereotypes. You’ll find no scarf-wearing, crystal ball–gazing pseudo-mystics here, only normal people living somewhat extraordinary lives. To me, that juxtaposition was part of my friends’ charm. It proved one thing—that if none of us were quite “normal,” at least we weren’t alone in the experience. I, for one, couldn’t have done it without them.

My name is Maggie O’Neill—empath, sensitive, and ordinary girl, and this is my story.

# # #

Dragon’s breath. Well, that’s what it felt like, anyway. The air, I mean. The month of June had baked us straight on into July with little respite in the way of rain, and my temper was slowly beginning to fray. Make that fry. Maybe that’s why I was in such a black mood as I awoke that Sunday well before the alarm clock’s bleeping beeps, the damp sheet wrapped like bindweed around my ankles. The remnants of a dream were still clinging to my cobwebby brain. A stone building, water surrounding it . . . sunlight streaming down, warm and golden in the crisp air . . . the sky so blue above, as vivid as I could remember seeing it . . . and the eyes . . . oh God, the eyes, paler blue with just a hint of green . . .I knew them well. Whose were they?

It was that dream again, the one I had been receiving in tantalizing snippets. Bits and pieces, flotsam and jetsam drifting through my consciousness time and again. Sometimes months separated the fragments, and sometimes they would be close enough together to actually almost, kinda, sorta make sense. “Almost” being the operative word. The bits and pieces seemed to connect, without being consecutive in any way. More like variations on a theme. It was only after years of having the same recurring dreams that I’d started to put it all together, the narrative of the story my mind was telling. Even then, I didn’t believe what it was telling me. Couldn’t believe. They were just dreams—what our minds liked to do for entertainment when the rest of the body was shut down for the night. SnoozeTube. They didn’t really . . . mean . . . anything.

Of course, that didn’t keep me from trying my darnedest to catch a glimpse of the face those eyes belonged to. It also didn’t keep me from feeling desperately disappointed every time that I failed in my quest.

But that didn’t matter. Because . . . “Dreams are nothing to worry about. Dreams are just dreams. Right?”

I posed that very question to my witch of a boss, Felicity Dow, the moment I set my things down and slid into my usual place at the gourmet tea and coffee bar I haunted at my place of employ. For several reasons: one, because as the proprietor of Enchantments, Stony Mill’s best darned gift shop and secret witchy emporium, Liss had the best grasp of all matters that lay beyond the realm of normalcy of anyone in town; two, she had voluntarily served as my mentor in all things metaphysical since the moment I walked—er, fell—through the store’s front door; three, because a part of me worried I was making too much of things; four, because another part of me worried that I wasn’t making enough; and last but not least, five: because if Liss didn’t know, who would? A rhetorical question, surely. Especially in this town.

I mean, what was the sense of working for a real, honest-to-goodness witch if you couldn’t get the inside scoop on matters otherworldly—or not—when they presented themselves to you?

Lucky for me, Liss didn’t seem to mind answering a never-ending stream of semi-intelligent questions from a struggling would-be sensitive. Liss personified grace under pressure. She was the kind of woman who never failed to take life in stride, even when she wasn’t wearing the right shoes for the job. This morning she took one look at my pale, washed-out face, dark circles, and the wavy light brown hair that sprang out in all directions no matter what I did to tame it, and immediately set to work pouring out a demitasse of her favorite medicinal potion for sleepwalkers and talkers: Espresso, steaming hot, ultracharged, and guaranteed to vaporize any remaining vestiges of cobwebs still clinging to overtired brains.

“There you are, ducks. This should do you some good.” There was something about her British accent that made me feel all cozy inside. It was like an instant shot of the warm-and-fuzzies.
Unlike her espresso. One sip of the stuff was more likely to give me a case of the nervy-and-janglies. I eyed it warily, took a deep breath, and wished it would
magickally turn into a cup of Earl Grey on the spot. Still, I took it in hand and lifted it to my lips, determined to give it a try.

“Thanks,” I muttered around stiff lips—the stiffer, the better with this stuff.

Liss waited politely and made sure that I downed every last, bitter drop. “Now, then. What dreams are we talking about here?”

“Weird ones,” I confessed. “Dreams where I’m not me—I mean, not the me that I am now, here, today, but another me. And yet it’s still me. Only that doesn’t make sense, does it.” A statement, not a question. I knew it didn’t.

“That depends. Have you been having these dreams often?”

She poured herself a cup of tea. Simple, neutral, nontraumatic tea that soothed one’s system more than jolted. I gazed at it longingly as I shook my head in the negative. “Not often. Every once in a while, I guess.”

“Is it a recurring dream? One that you have over and over again?”

“Well . . . I have had it—I mean, them—more than once. It seems to be part of a string of dreams that somehow feel as though they belong together if I can figure out how to put them in the right order.”

That faint, neutral smile still hadn’t left her lips. “And are you always the same you in them, this string of dreams?”

I bit my lip, remembering. “Always. A young woman. Blond, I think, with my hair in a long braid. Only it doesn’t seem to take place in the here and now. And that’s the crazy part.”

“Not crazy. Not if you’re remembering yourself from before this life.”

That brought my chin up sharply. Not a good idea, when one was nursing a migraine and fighting sleep deprivation. “You mean . . .”

“You suspected it yourself, didn’t you? Another lifetime? Another existence? Unless we’re speaking of spirit contact through dreams here,” she amended, her brow charmingly furrowed in deep thought. “It can at times be tricky to tell the difference.”

Another surprise gift from the Great Beyond. Was I ready for this? I didn’t even have a handle on the first ones yet. Wasn’t being empathic and occasionally telepathic and newly aware of the spirit world enough? “Hm. I’m not sure I like either option. Do I get a choice?”

Liss laughed softly and reached out to cover my hand with her own. Her rings flashed in the focused beams of light from the recessed lighting, tastefully hidden in the rafters over our heads, which made the coffee bar glow like an oasis in the middle of the overflowing aisles. “I rather think we are the chosen ones,” she told me, “not the other way around.”

I’m afraid the face I made swung a bit toward the wry side of the spectrum. “So that’s a no, then.”

“Take heart, pet. Perhaps it is nothing more than dreams after all. Maybe there is no hidden meaning. Go with what your instinct is telling you.”

That was just it. There was something different about these dreams, something very vivid and compelling that made me remember the details. Enough to recognize the fact that I’d had them before, more than once, and enough to fit them together like so many puzzle pieces. Something about them felt . . . important.

From the floor beside my bar stool came an insistent, chirruping Merch! that made me jump. “Minnie!” I leaned down to reach for the soft-sided pet carrier that was my constant companion these days. “I’m sorry, sweet pea. I wasn’t thinking. I should have let you out first thing.”

“I was wondering when you were going to let our dear girl out of there.”

Our dear girl” would be my beautiful kitten, Minnie, who had found her way into my life mere weeks ago and had instantly taken over. It wasn’t just me, though—Liss seemed just as charmed by the little fireball of black fuzz, and had insisted that, as she was too young to spend her days alone in my apartment, Minnie should be the store cat while I was working. She didn’t have to ask me twice. Minnie had accompanied me every morning since then and really seemed to be settling into her role. She spent her days learning how to walk on shelves without bumping things out of the way, which windows were best for viewing the birds and passing pedestrians, and, most important, where I hid her litter box. All the vital things in life.

I unzipped the carrier. With another funny meow Minnie scolded me for my forgetfulness as she climbed out onto my lap, all righteous indignation as she arched her back in a long stretch. I ran my hand down her back by way of apology, smoothing the gleaming fur and then scratching behind her ears. My reward was a motorboat purr, larger than life, as she lifted her face toward me. Her bicolored eyes, one blue, one green, sparkled like gems beneath the lights before she took a flying leap from my lap to the middle of the aisle and walked nonchalantly toward the back office.

One blue, one green . . . “Maybe that’s what it meant,” I mused, half to myself. Maybe Minnie’s spirit or energy was coming through in the dream as the mystery individual. Maybe the dreams were simply an entertainingly symbolic confirmation that the two of us belonged together, she and I.

“What’s that, dear?”

I shook my head. “Nothing. Nothing important, that is.”

I was saved from having to answer any more questions when Evie Carpenter and Tara Murphy, our two young protégés and both sensitives in their own right, strolled through the front door.

“Hi, Liss! Hi, Maggie! What do we have on the plate for the day?” That was Evie, an angelic blond ray of sunshine with a lightness of being that could rival any daisy blowing in the summer breezes.

“Cool it with the sweetness and light, wouldja, E-Vil?” Tara groused, shuffling around the corner of the bar and snatching at the first cup she could find. “I mean, jeez, it gets a little hard to take at the ass crack of dawn.”

Evie just smiled and started to hum as she reached down to pet Minnie, who had reversed course the moment she heard the girls’ voices and was now circling around Evie’s ankles and gazing up at her intently.

The longer I knew the two of them, the funnier I found their differences. Tara was the yang to Evie’s yin. It showed in her every aspect. Where Evie’s hair was blond, Tara’s was dark; Evie’s long and free-flowing, with a sweep of bangs over one eye, Tara’s shorter and chunky, almost as though she’d taken the scissors to it herself, and actually, I wouldn’t put that past her. Evie was a morning person; Tara would sleep ’til two if no one woke her—and would still bite heads off until she got her shot of caffeine. Evie always looked on the bright side of things; Tara viewed the world-at-large as an adversary, ready to be squashed. Evie was all things Light; Tara, her polar opposite, right down to her quasi-emo makeup and predilection for Screamo Rock. But don’t get the wrong idea. Tara also had a softer side to her that she hid behind all the hard-edged bluster. She just didn’t want anyone else to know about it.

Tara plunked herself down on the nearest stool and rested her head on her hand and her elbow on the scarred wooden surface as she blankly stirred her iced mocha, heavy on the whipped cream. “Late night, sweetie?” I asked her soothingly. She barely lifted her glance in my direction and continued stirring.

“She had an argument with Charlie last night,” Evie filled us in as she scooped Minnie up into her hands and settled on the stool to my right. “Because he’s not spending enough time with her. I keep telling her that he’s just got a lot on his mind right now, what with signing up for college classes next month and work and everything.”

Teenage dramas. Boy, was I glad I had grown past all of that.

Tara glared at her. “Thanks for the spill, Evil. Jeez. Like they want to know about my man trouble.”

Man trouble. Hee. Oh, if she only knew . . .

Evie pretended to be wounded. “I just thought maybe they could help. Give you some input. A shoulder to cry on. You know.”

“Like I need advice from older ladies.”

Older? Well, for heaven’s sake, I was only twenty-nine. At least for a little while longer. “Oh, I don’t know,” I said, trying not to be insulted. “It’s not like I don’t remember what it’s like to be seventeen. It wasn’t that long ago, you know.”

Tara gave me a sidelong glance that wasn’t so much annoyed as it was completely and utterly dismissive. Which somehow made it worse. “No offense, Maggie, but, um, well, you aren’t exactly a shining example in the relationship department, ya know.”

Evie had just taken a sip from her cup of tea and spluttered into it. Liss turned away toward the cash register, but not before I caught the twitch of her lips that she was trying so valiantly to hide.

“Exactly what is that supposed to mean?” I bristled, really insulted now.

Tara had the decency to at least appear apologetic. “I’m sorry, but . . . well . . . you know.”

And that’s all she had to say. That was the trouble. I did know. It wasn’t a secret that my most recent foray into the dating world with Tom—Fielding, that is, duly appointed officer of the law and recently named Special Task Force Investigator for the local boys in blue—hadn’t exactly been the raging hot success that I had so hoped for. It wasn’t even lukewarm. There just hadn’t been time. He was busy. I was busy. We both had busy, busy, busy lives . . .

And I was making excuses. And what’s more, I knew it. Because every girl in the world knows that a relationship needed to be made a priority in its early days if it was ever going to get off the ground.

And then there was Marcus. Marcus, who had become such a close friend, and whom I had been struggling so valiantly to keep at arm’s length. Well, my efforts had been valiant, if not particularly successful. It had been easier when I’d thought him Liss’s romantic property. Now, though . . . hm. I guess it was fair to say I was feeling more conflicted than ever. Why had I been struggling so, you might ask? I was beginning to wonder that myself. What was it about Marcus that made him the Kryptonite to my Superwoman attempts to resist my own weakening resolve? Was there something special about him? Or was it more that he represented everything that Tom did not?

Was I being played by my own mixed-up sensibilities?

I turned away so that I couldn’t see the sympathy—not pity, never that—in their eyes. Give me liberty or give me death, but for heaven’s sake, don’t give me pity. I’m much too proud for that. “So, what’s on the calendar for today?” I said, changing the subject and making my voice light and carefree.

“Before or after work?”

“After, obviously. Since we’re all already here, for actual work, mind you, and Liss is such a slave driver.”

“So sorry, ducks,” Liss sang out good-naturedly without a shred of contrition as she sailed toward the front door to turn the sign over to Open.

“Well”—Evie climbed down from her bar stool and grabbed Tara’s now empty cup for a refill before the wannabe-Goth cutie could even register the need—“here’s the thing. Tara’s all up in arms about Charlie not having time for her—”

“With good reason,” Tara interjected in her own defense.

“He’s working construction this summer, you know,” Evie continued without missing a beat. “So, what we thought we’d do is head on over to the Baptist church out on Wayne Road for the fundraising carnival.”

I was following along word for word, but obviously I had missed something somewhere. A fundraiser instead of face time with the boyfriend didn’t seem like an acceptable trade-off to me. Because I couldn’t stand being the only one who didn’t have a clue, I let my bewilderment get the better of me. “Wait, why the church?”

Tara sighed and gave me a look. You know the kind. One that said, Do we have to spell everything out for you? “The fundraiser is for the new wing they’re adding on to the church,” she said, as though I should already have known that.

Still missing something in translation. “Oookay.

Evie leaned over the counter and looked into my empty demitasse, grabbed it, then slick as a whistle turned to the espresso machine, refilled it, and had it back under my nose before I could say Timbuktu. Or even, no thank you. Urg.

“Charlie’s working as a dirt laborer for the construction firm that’s doing the job for the church,” Evie supplied, helpful as always. “They’re all supposed to show up there for the cook-off, and then there’ll be a groundbreaking ceremony while everyone else is invited to watch. Most people there will be parishioners, but the fundraiser’s open to the public, so it’s okay if we show up, too.”

Church fundraiser, huh? That hardly seemed like Tara’s first choice for a fun Saturday afternoon’s hijinks. “So, you’re going to check up on Charlie, then? Make sure he’s doing what he said he’s doing?”

Liss coughed discreetly. “I’m sure the girls wouldn’t dream of spying on Tara’s boyfriend, ducks.”

No, of course they wouldn’t. Our strong, hard-as-nails Tara would never stoop to that kind of weakness. Our Tara would kick ’em to the curb at the first sign of anything untoward. Go, girlpower.

“We’re going,” Tara said tartly, with an angry toss of her head, “to make an appearance. To show Charlie that he’s not the only one with a life.”

A life that still managed to revolve around someone else’s schedule didn’t quite qualify . . . but hey, who was I to judge? I made my tone neutral as I said, “Sounds like fun.”

I soon forgot all about the girls’ plans as I served a few early customers and Liss and I set about changing the window display at the front of the store. Liss had cooked up a fab idea for something fresh and different that involved switching out the antique furniture and adding in new, wrestling it into place between the two of us, draping and swathing and polishing it to perfection, and sprinkling it with clear white Christmas lights. Tiny fairies, diminutive masterpieces crafted by an English High Priestess of the Fey (known to us only by her Craft name of “Titania of the Woodland Green”), were strung from above, not so much elements to be viewed as discovered. Pretty little treasures. What we were left with was an enchanting Victorian fairyland, more than enough to bewitch anyone whose head was still filled with sugarplum daydreams. And really, what was wrong with that? A little fairy tale never hurt anyone.

We stood back, each gazing in satisfaction at the fruits of our labors. “Well. That turned out even better than expected,” Liss said with only a hint of smugness as she wiped her dusty hands on a damp bar towel.

“I most heartily concur, Ms. Dow,” I said, finishing off the round of back patting. “How do you do it?”

“I was, shall we say”—Liss cast her gaze playfully heavenward—“inspired.”

“What do you think, girls?” I asked as Evie and Tara came up behind us.

“I like it,” Evie offered.

“You like everything,” Tara complained.

“Well, I do. I can’t help it.”

“It needs more sparkle. Another strand of lights or some glitter or something,” Tara assessed casually. “Want me to put the sign on the door?”

“Sign?” I was tilting my head and squinting at the display, trying to see it through Tara’s eyes. Did it really need more?

“The Closed sign. The noon siren went off ages ago. Didn’t you hear it?”

I hadn’t. I had been otherwise engaged, blissfully immersed in the artistic process. I glanced at wall of antique and restoration clocks. Twelve fifty. Goodness. “Well, what are you waiting for? Don’t you have places to go? People to see? A boyfriend to put in his place?”

Tara didn’t need to be told twice. She was already grabbing her bag and heading for the door. Evie hesitated, torn between following her friend and her devotion to duty. “Don’t you need our help shutting down and closing up the shop later?” she asked.

I waved away her concern. “We’ve got it covered. You two go on and enjoy the rest of your weekend.”

The smile that spread over her face was as sudden as a ray of sun breaking through the clouds, and just as brilliant. “Thanks, Maggie. We owe you one.” With a last scratch under the chin for Minnie, who was once again hovering underfoot, Evie waved at us and headed off to emulate her friend’s disappearing act.

Liss removed the cash drawer from the register for counting. I headed toward the front door to turn the lock with Minnie scampering along at my heels, bat-bat-batting at me all the way. Little minx. I locked the door and scooped her up for a good ear rubbing as I carried her up the aisle . . . or, I would have returned up the aisle if a harsh rapping at the glass door behind me hadn’t stopped me in my tracks. I turned to look, only to find Evie and Tara with noses pressed against the glass and hopeful and even, dare I say it, ingratiating smiles on their faces.


I unlocked the door. “What’s up?”

Evie and Tara rushed across the threshold. Evie turned me around and inserted herself under one arm, wrapping her arms around my waist, best-girlfriend style. Tara looked as if she might be thinking of doing the same thing, though in the end she decided to play it cool and let Evie handle all the sweet stuff while she fended off Minnie’s relentless barrage of attention-grabbing tricks.

“Maggie? Do you think . . . oh, I know you’re busy,” Evie fussed, “but maybe do you think you could . . . oh, gosh, it just doesn’t seem fair to ask, and if we had any other option at all, of course we wouldn’t bother you, but . . .”

“For cryin’ out loud, Evie, spill it, wouldja? It’s not like Maggie’s gonna bite our heads off or anything.” That was straight-up Tara, proponent for the fast and dirty approach toward most things in life.

“Oh, I know. Maggie would never do that.”

“Right. I try to reserve that for bats and old bosses. And old bosses who are bats,” I quipped, laughing.

Liss scurried past us toward the coffeemakers. “What bats are those, dear?”

“Present company most definitely excluded!” I sang out, grinning at her.

“Can we get back to the really important things?” Tara interrupted. “Like whether or not Maggie can give us a ride over to the Baptist church.”

Evie sent Tara a reproachful glance for her lack of tact. “What Tara is trying to say is that her scooter ignition is messing up. Again.”

“What can I say? Big Lou said it was fixed.”

“Which means that we don’t have a way to get there today. I don’t suppose you’d want to tag along with us, would you? It might be fun . . . Just think. Brats. Elephant ears. Hot fudge sundaes. Frozen lemonade. Cotton candy. All the good stuff.”

What did it say about me that all of Evie’s offered inducements were food related? Probably not as much as the fact that they were actually working.

Hot fudge. Hmmmmm. Talk about food for thought.

“First sundae is on me . . .” Tara just had to up the ante.

“Well . . . I do have Minnie here with me,” I hedged, glancing down to where Minnie was playing with the ties on Tara’s backpack.

“If you’d like to go with them, I’d be happy to keep the little dear here with me,” Liss offered as she wiped down the outside of an oversized coffee vessel.

“Well . . . all right. I’ll take you. But no complaints from whoever has to sit in Christine’s barely existent backseat.”

Evie and Tara looked at each other. “Shotgun!” came the simultaneous cry.

Evie grinned. “I called it first.”

“Like hell, Evie. I called it before you did.”

Before World War III broke out at my feet, I held up my hand. “One of you gets the passenger seat on the way there, and the other gets it on the way back. Easy peasy.”

Tara raised her brows. “Easy peasy? News alert: No one says that anymore, ya know, Magster.”

“Stuff it, Tara!” I said cheerily. Then to Liss, “You’re sure you don’t mind kitty-sitting?”

Liss scoffed. “Would I ever mind having the little sweetheart around? Go on and have fun. I have a million things to catch up on here. How does that sound, little one?” she asked, scooping Minnie off her feet. Minnie just gazed up at her with trusting eyes, seemingly entranced by Liss’s face.

“Good. Great! Thanks, Liss!” Tara grabbed my arm and pulled me toward the office and the back door that lead to the alley parking before I could even give Minnie a departing chin scratch, with Evie bringing up the rear. I pulled my arm free with just enough time to snag my purse and car keys, and within moments the motor of my old VW Bug (long ago endearingly, if not originally, christened Christine) puttered into action and we were on our way. Evie and Tara had played an amazingly speedy game of rock-paper-scissors, a test Evie won to much grumbling on Tara’s part. Evie took the front seat without further ado, leaving Tara to crowd into the diminutive backseat with her knees drawn up to her chin. I avoided looking in the mirror, because I could feel the thundercloud emanations rolling from her and I was afraid I would laugh. It’s not that I couldn’t sympathize, but . . . well, Tara on a rant could be very entertaining.

As we drew closer to the destination du jour, Tara forgot her annoyance with the heat and the tight quarters, even with the jarring ride over bumpy country roads. Her whole demeanor changed with every corn or soybean field we passed, becoming sharper, more focused, more intent as the sky-stabbing heights of an old church steeple loomed between distant treetops on the horizon. The sighting was soon followed by a series of handmade signs along the roadside that heralded the fundraiser one tantalizing word at a time:

You’re . . .
Almost . . .
There! . . .
Who, Me? . . .
Yes, You! . . .
Ice Cream! . . .
Games! . . .
Godly Fun . . .
For The . . .
Entire . . .

The fallow field next door had been roped off to provide parking, since the majority of the church’s regular lot had been taken over by construction crews and heavy equipment. The makeshift lot was filled to overflowing with old-fashioned sedans, a few SUVs, and an extraordinary number of pickup trucks parked willy-nilly in the choppily mown field grass, almost all of them displaying the ultra popular “In God We Trust” specialty license plates to the world at large. Dodging jutting bumpers, I drove slowly through the chaotic disarray of vehicles, searching for a place to berth Christine for the afternoon that would still allow me a way out later, when the girls were ready to make a departure. Behind the roped-off area I could see a number of open-sided tents and tables, even a raised platform with bales of straw set around it in radiating half-circles for a makeshift open-air sermon hall. Fancy.

The old Baptist church that was hosting the afternoon’s event was your stereotypical small country church that stood at one edge of what had once been a Depression-era crossroads community that grew up on the fringes of Stony Mill. Time had not been kind to the once-upon-a-time village—homes had fallen into disrepair, the corner store was gone, and the defunct gas pumps looked like something out of Pleasantville—but the need for the church had not dissipated in the same way. Instead, the pocket of Stony Mill Baptists had grown by leaps and bounds over the years. Some had stayed faithful to the old-style Baptist preachings of a vengeful God fond of fire and brimstone, and some had split off into other, more lenient factions, but the overall size of the congregation had grown incrementally, thanks in part to the charismatic tent gatherings spreading The Word back in the day. It was a universal truth that people might move from home to home around the county, but few felt comfortable in leaving their church behind and would travel miles, despite the price of gas, to attend with their old tried-and-trues. And there was nothing more tried and true than a country church of stark white clapboard, double doors spread wide in welcome at the front, while the bell loomed, little more than a shadow in the towering steeple high above.

“I guess we’ll park . . . here,” I said, looping into a spot at the very end, which seemed easiest to manage. I had barely shifted the car into park before Tara was pushing against the back of Evie’s seat.

“Come on, Evie!” She nudged the seat forward the teensiest bit again.

“Hold on and let me get out of the way. Sheesh!” Evie waited, standing dutifully aside as Tara climbed out. “Wait, don’t you want your purse?”

Tara shook her head. “Nah, it’ll just get in the way. I’ve got my cell and some cash in my pocket.”

The two headed off like a shot toward where all the action was without even a wave or a backward glance, leaving me to shake my head after them. Ah, youth.

Left by the wayside, I dislodged my purse from the floor behind the passenger seat, dropping my keys into its depths before reaching across the car to roll up the window to within four inches of the top to keep the heat outside from baking the interior and lock the door. More from habit than because I honestly thought there was a chance anyone might be inspired to steal my beloved, if slightly ragtag, VW Bug. Outside I spritzed myself liberally with aerosol sunblock, then slung my bag over my shoulder and set off idly toward all of the activity myself.

It was hotter than hot out. Hotter than Hades is what my Grandma Cora would have said with one of her trademark grim glances at the sky. The sun was beating down, the few clouds doing little to dispense it. I hurried over to where the tents were set up, not caring what entertainments would be found there so long as they were under cover. First things first: I found a frozen lemonade at a stand right by the edge of the parking lot and handed my money over with gratitude. It tasted a little too much like the kind of powdered lemonade you get out of a can, but the extra-large cup of smoothly ground ice was worth it. I sipped it slowly as I moved around the widespread gathering, indulging my favorite pastime of late: people watching.
And there was plenty of it to be had. One thing about church functions that I always found intriguing was the fact that people remained their usual, stressed-out, over-the-top, unlovable selves, despite the churchy goings-on, which one would think would ensure everyone’s best behavior. Good, church-going families, all; and yet everywhere I turned, I saw more than one meltdown in progress. Some of them were even by the kiddos.

Was it the heat that was fraying tempers all over town? Because it definitely seemed to be a trend on the upswing. Just yesterday morning on my way into work, two men at the gas station I’d stopped by had nearly come to blows in front of me. Not over the astronomically rising prices at the pump, but because one didn’t move his pickup out of the way fast enough to suit the other waiting his turn. And then there was the flustered call from my mom the day before. Seems she had gone to the grocery store only to witness a woman she knew from her own church group roughly handling her oldest daughter. A woman she had known for years to be the soul of grace and patience. Now, everyone knows that anybody can have a bad day. And teenagers have a tendency to push both boundaries and buttons. But this was harsh, even borderline abusive behavior, and it upset the applecart that was my mother’s comfortable, small-town existence.
Because these were not isolated incidents. Because it was happening over and over again, between people not known to be violent. Longtime Stony Mill families that were displaying the first signs of splintering and dysfunction. Normally that kind of thing, when it did happen, would have been kept quiet. Family secrets better left to sleeping dogs. Even the Stony Mill Gazette sometimes agreed with that philosophy, burying select newsworthy but scandalous local items behind the farmer’s report on page seven . . . but it did
publish the police call report religiously. Everything that was called in to Dispatch showed up on those reports. Who, what, when, where, and why-dunnit, even if it was as minor as rescuing a cat stuck in a tree. The information it conveyed was better than a gossip sheet.

Lately, the call reports had been running . . . long. Very long. And not with lost pets. Filled with incidents similar to the one my mother described, like the one I had witnessed myself. So many people, already on short tethers, snapping for no good reason. Not to mention the deaths—murders, actually. No wonder I rarely saw Tom these days. He still had his regular duties in addition to serving as leader of the special task force that had been created to integrate between law departments. That promotion had guaranteed that any kind of a personal life Tom might have been wanting to have would have to be put off for later.

Oh, Tom denied this. We’d talked about it before. But even though he’d said mostly the right things, and even though he had more than hinted that he would like our so-called relationship to go somewhere—although the somewhere in question was clearly open to interpretation—the two of us never seemed to achieve liftoff status.

Maybe it was too much to ask right now. Timing, as everyone knows, is everything. History proved that particular Nugget o’Wisdom over and over again. Knowing it was one thing. Accepting it, well, that was another matter entirely.

It was a sore subject with me, growing sorer by the day. Was it any wonder Marcus and his gentle but compelling flirtatious ways had held so much intrigue for me? Tom told me time and again that he’d like to deepen our relationship, but it was beginning to feel like lip service. And Marcus? Marcus went out of his way to make me feel I was important, without demanding a single thing in return. Everything he did said that he wanted me. But what did I want? I was starting to wonder if I knew. All the more reason to steer my thoughts out of treacherous waters and channel them into more calming venues.

But deep within me was the sense that change was on the horizon, must be on the horizon.

It would come whether I was ready for it or not.

Copyright 2009, Madelyn Alt. All rights reserved.