Despite her shaky beginning at Despaign Academy, a school built on the property of Connecticut’s last convicted witch, Evelynn Marston finds friends and hopes to score a reporter position on the school’s newspaper. But in a place founded on a bedrock of magic and mystery, Evie discovers there are some willing to summon great evil to gain power. When a friend’s life hangs in the balance, Evie gathers her wits and a heaping dose of her own brand of magic to right a terrible wrong, never suspecting the life she saves might be her own.
Evelynn Marston didn’t mean to burn down the science room. A little anger, some flames, and an expulsion later, Evie finds herself destined to spend the rest of her high school years at Despaign Academy—named for Connecticut’s last convicted witch.
Despite its shadowy past, Despaign has the same cliques as other schools, and Evie struggles to fit in and to be noticed by the handsome and mysterious Dylan Fox—that is, until she casts her first spell.
But even in a magical place, evil lurks. When Evie’s friend, Laurie Silver, turns up dead, Evie must rely on all her newfound powers and friends to find the truth. But bringing a killer to justice may require stronger magic and true love, the kind that can’t be found in a potion.
WITCH WINTER By Kristy Tate Copyright August, 2015
It’s not the monsters beneath the bed, or the ones lurking in dank and shady basements, or even those living behind bars in our prisons that frighten us the most. The real monsters, the ones we are too afraid to face, live inside us. We listen to them. We let them guide our decisions. We call them common sense, and wisdom, or prudence. But really, they are just fears. They are our monsters, these creatures of our own design, constructed out of our hurts, wounds, and insecurities. They hold us back. They become our excuse, our justification, our rationalization. And we embrace them.
But what would happen if we allowed these monsters to take shape and form? Could we beat them and restrain them with the same strength they use on us? What if we gave them a voice, a voice loud and strong enough to battle our wits? Most of us never take that chance. But I did. And I thought I had won. I faced the monster, confronted my fear, and sent him back into the chasm of hell.
Only to find I’d made a terrible mistake.
The creature stared at me with his unblinking yellow eyes, watching my every move, as if he knew. I turned my back to him, grateful for the bars that separated us.
“I don’t think he has eyelids,” I said.
“Mmm,” Bree muttered, staying focused on the computer monitor. “Any luck?”
Moonlight streamed through the windows, illuminating the piles of papers on Uncle Mitch’s desk. I didn’t dare turn on any lights, knowing that Uncle Mitch was across the street at Janette’s house, and that he wouldn’t like me poking around his lab.
“Maybe we should just go online to see if we can find the experiment ourselves,” Bree said, sending me a quick glance over her shoulder. “Didn’t he say that he based it on some university’s study?”
I set down a pile of papers. “Yeah, but we know his worked.”
Bree grinned. “No, we don’t. Remember the love potion?” The light from the computer screen cast a green pallor on the angles and planes of her face.
I turned away, shivering, my attention landing back on the creature staring at us.
Bree followed my line of sight. “It’s a guinea pig. It can’t hurt you.”
“No, the fact that your uncle used a recipe to make Janette fall for him is creepy.” Bree scrolled down a page on the screen. “I mean, I love your uncle, but it’s just so not like him.”
“I know. That’s what makes it interesting, right? Usually, he’d say it’s all hokum.” I turned my back on the guinea pig. “That’s why it would make such a killer article for the newspaper.”
“Even though he specifically told you not to use it.”
“No, what he said was,” I dropped my voice to imitate Uncle Mitch’s professor speech, “‘It would be dangerous and irresponsible to introduce it to impressionable youths in the throes of puberty’.”
“Exactly. And who doesn’t love fireworks?”
But fireworks were exactly why I’d been expelled from Hartly, the school I had attended since kindergarten. Not that I had intentionally set fire to the science lab a few months ago. An itch crept up my neck. I didn’t want to be expelled from Faith Despaign Academy as well.
But I did want to make the high school newspaper, and the only way to do that was to write a great article. A wave of discouragement washed over me, because I knew that even if I wrote a great feature article on how to make anyone fall in love with you, it couldn’t match the news article I’d written about the Thornhill Thespians’ murders.
“I’ll never find a story like that again.”
“I know. There’s been one murder in Woodinville in about a hundred years and you discovered it.” Bree paused.
“It’s lame your advisor won’t let you use it.”
I swallowed hard. “That’s why I need a story that will create buzz.” I paused and used my fingers to make air quotes. “’And doesn’t even hint at witchcraft’.”
“But what did Lauren’s murder have to do with the witch’s coven?”
“She was a witch.” “Huh.” Bree leaned back in her chair, clearly surprised. “Well, she wasn’t a very good one.” “Why do you say that?”
“If she could use magic, why didn’t she try to make her life better? I mean, why wear an orange parka every day and live in a hovel if you don’t have to?”
“Maybe she was happy with her life. Maybe she was okay with the orange parka and her house on Old Barn Road.”
“Maybe…” Bree sounded skeptical. “If I was a witch, I’d at least get a nice coat.”
I didn’t tell Bree that there was a lot more to being a witch than choosing what to wear. Not that I really had any idea. I only had a tickle brewing in the back of my head, and I pretty much tried to ignore it. I disliked being tickled, even by ideas.
“Hey,” Bree said, leaning closer to the monitor. “This is pretty good.”
I peeked over her shoulder at the screen. How to Make Anyone Fall in Love With You, the banner read. Bree squinted as she read. “It’s not all sciency like your uncle’s experiment probably would be, but it’s not too Cosmo Girl either.”
I scanned the article, liking it. “It’s not as if teenagers don’t fall in love every day, if not every second.’” I pulled out my phone and copied the URL onto my browser, tucking my phone back into my pocket after I got the link pulled up. “But you won’t try it on Dylan, right?” Bree had been my best friend since my dad and I had moved next door after my parents’ divorce eight years ago, but last month Dylan Fox had interfered with that. Mostly because Dylan liked me and Bree liked Dylan. We were past that now. Sisters before misters…mostly.
“Yes…” Bree puffed out an exaggerated sigh, as if I’d asked her to give up shopping for Lent. “Even though I think it’s dumb.” Bree switched off the computer and pulled herself out of Uncle Mitch’s office chair. “I mean, if you don’t like him, why shouldn’t he fall for me?” She squinted at me through suspicious eyes and pushed her red curls off her forehead. “You don’t like him, right?”
Josh, Bree’s older brother, flashed in my head, with his dark hair, even darker eyes, and football-hard muscles. He was nothing like his wispy, fair-skinned, red-headed sister. With my pale hair and complexion, I looked more like a Henderson than Josh. I told myself that we were talking about Dylan, not Josh, and I shook his image away. Bree would make my life hell if she knew I thought of her brother like that.
Like what? I couldn’t answer that question. Besides being Bree’s brother, Josh was also Dylan’s best friend, and that just made everything complicated and weird. I fussed over the papers on Uncle Mitch’s desk, hiding my face from Bree, and trying to make it seem as if we’d never been in the lab.
Which would have been easier if it hadn’t been for Clarence, the guinea pig.