Authors: Dana E Donovan
Return of the Witch
Dana E. Donovan
Book 9 in the Detective Marcella Witch’s series: The Guardians of Four, keepers of Earth’s elements and the prime essentials of witchcraft, are disappearing under strange circumstances. Have they succumbed to a prophetical reality, or merely perpetrated the best internet hoax in recent memory? Either scenario could trigger a battle for control over the fifth element, the quintessential, and the possible survival of every witch on the planet.
There’s a fine line between practical magick and true mastery over the quintessential. Crossing that line requires the mettle of conviction, a declaration of attitude and the heart of a pentacle prodigy. Not one of the three will do. A good witch knows that. A bad witch doesn’t care.
Author's note: I based this story entirely on fiction and derived its story line solely from my imagination. No characters, places or incidents in this book are real, no matter how unbelievable that may seem. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, places, events or locales is entirely coincidental. No part of this publication may be copied or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means: electronic, mechanical, photocopy or otherwise without this author’s expressed written permission. Now then, enjoy.
of The Witch © Dana E. Donovan 2013
Design © Vickie Donovan 2013
Special thanks to June Nicholson for proof and copyediting.
Books in this series include:
The Witch’s Ladder
Eye of the Witch
The Witch’s Key
Bones of a Witch
Kiss the Witch
Call of the Witch
Gone is the Witch
Return of the Witch
Other books by Dana E. Donovan:
Death and Other Little Inconveniences
I know a little place along Gloucester Beach where sometimes, when the tide is low, the rocks there shimmer like black pearls in the setting sun.
water’s cold, always cold. It numbs my feet as I walk barefoot into the surf and onto a jetty. There, my senses awaken. Ancient souls of the sea welcome me, splashing me in salty kisses. It’s cool, but refreshing. I breathe in their welcome until it fills me and I am one with the spirits.
the rock’s edge, a Jonah crab scrambles ahead of an incoming wave and disappears into the cracks. The wave assaults the jetty. It breaks in protest, retreats in defeat and yields to a procession of others in endless repeat. They are the drones of eternity, a future locked in the present, awaiting an end that will never come.
wilight grows. A frolicsome breeze cuts deep across the water. It nudges me back, mocks me, tangles my hair in teasing jest. I face the wind, close my eyes and let it carry me off with the pungent aroma of low tide.
elcome thee thy weary soul, the gulls cry. Welcome thee thy respite. Lose thyself upon these shores. Seek haven for the desperate.
Am I the desperate
? I ask. But I must be, for it’s there on that stretch of rock reaching into the sea that I hide in plain sight. There, no one can find me. I am an island unto myself, alone with my thoughts. There, I have the power to notice all or notice naught. There, my heart beats in rhythm to the empty drum that is my lonely, wretched soul.
Damn. I looked back and saw Carlos tripping over the rocks as if tiptoeing through a minefield. He had his pant legs rolled up to his kneecaps, his shoes in his hands, socks stuffed inside.
“Lilith! There you are.
Can’t believe I found you. I’ve been looking all over.” He pitched his shoes up onto the rocks and began climbing. “Give me a hand, will you?”
my back and tried reestablishing my embrace with nature. It was no use. Carlos had severed that cord completely.
He’d managed to get himself up on the jetty and cozyed next to me, bumping my shoulder. “Hey, kid. This is nice. You been here all day?”
“No, just since the tide went out. How did you find me?”
“Ursula suggested I get on your computer and use your find-my-phone app.”
Ursula came up with that?”
Yeah, go figure, right?”
“Look. She cares about you, and so do I. We’ve been trying to reach you all day. Did you turn your ringer off?”
“Oh, I get it. You just
weren’t answering it.”
“There, you see. That’s why you’re the detective.”
“Funny. Excuse us for worrying.”
You’re excused. Now you can stop worrying and go home.”
He laughed and snorted. “
Ha. Good one.”
“I mean it, Carlos.
I want to be alone.”
! Hey look at that.” He pointed out on the water. “What is that, one of them clipper ships?”
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah, what do you think? I bet it’s a replica. You don’t see too many genuine clippers these days.”
“Carlos, that’s a seagull.”
“Seagull?” He squinted, as if needing to study it closer to verify my observation. “Oh, yeah. Guess it is. Ha. Looked like a clipper.”
I took a seat on the rocks.
“Well, it’s not. Now quit trying to change the subject, and leave me, please.”
ignored my request, took a seat beside me, and returned his gaze out onto the horizon. When it seemed to me that he’d said all he was going to say, I did the same.
, how after a while I began liking the idea of him sitting there next to me. I started imagining that he was Tony, his hard, lean body sheltering me from the wind and the cool sprits of ocean spray.
closed my eyes, slipped my hand around his forearm and laid my head against his shoulder. He patted my fingers, granting my moment of vulnerability with a tenderness so uniquely Carlos. I felt him breathe a heavy sigh the way Tony often did when words were no longer needed between us. For a brief moment, serenity placated my troubled mind.
After a while, t
he sound of lapping waves had nearly lulled me to sleep. Carlos caught my head as it began slowly sliding down his arm.
I opened my eyes and
sat at attention.
ou all right?” he asked.
“Yes, of course. Guess I was dozing off a little.”
“Yeah, I’m not surprised. Ursula told me you’ve not been sleeping well.”
“Ursula has a big mouth.”
“You want to talk about it?”
“What’s to talk about? I try to sleep. I have these fucked-up dreams and
then I wake up somewhere I’ve never been and I don’t know how I got there.”
“You say your dreams are strange?”
“No, Carlos. Strange
would be if I was having dreams about the crazy shit that happened in the Eighth Sphere. My dreams are fucked-up, like when I’m dreaming about….” I trailed off without finishing.
I shook my head, partly because I didn’t want to talk about it, but mostly because I didn’t want to give life to the images that haunt
ed my restless nights. “Forget it. It’ll pass.”
You can always talk to me, Lilith.”
I pressed my ear
to his shoulder again and leaned into him. He cradled my cheek in his palm and kissed the top of my head. Then he did something I didn’t expect. He kept his mouth shut, letting the whisper of waves carry me off once more on fragments of thoughts as fleeting as time.
blinks, I opened my eyes wide. I saw the distant flash from a lighthouse beacon rip across the sky. Only then did I realize that night had compromised the day. I felt a shudder ripple through my bones. Carlos wrapped his arm around me tighter and pulled me in close.
I’m all right. You?”
He nodded. “Yeah, I’m all right, too.”
“Listen, Carlos. It was nice of you to come all the way out here like this. I mean to check up on me and all. I guess I should have let someone know where I was. I just didn’t––”
Shhh. Lilith, it’s okay, really. I think everyone understands.”
I shook my head and let the words retreat from my parted lips. Carlos reached up and pulled on his collar, freeing a subtle wisp of cologne into the wind. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply, knowing that he and Tony often wore the same brand. Life can be cruel sometimes.
tell me,” he said. “Did you and Tony come here often?”
Shee-yeah, like only all the time. I used to tell him that I needed the sand from this beach to do my scrying.”
“Ah-huh. Told him it had to be Gloucester Beach sand for it to work properly.”
Ha. I bet he was on to you, though.”
“Tony? Of course. He could read me like a book.”
“You mean like the Grimoire.”
“No, not the G
rimoire. He never learned to read that damn thing. Guess some things never changed.”
Yeah,” is all he said, and then grew silent again. We both did. Of all the people I could imagine missing Tony as much as I missed him, Carlos was it. The two were brothers in every sense of the word. In my mind, I had no doubt that when Tony died, a very big part of Carlos died with him.
“Hey.” Carlos nudged my head off his shoulder. “You missed a nice ceremony today.
Must have been a hundred cops there.”
ah. Why didn’t you go?”
Why not? I’d have been there to support you. You know that.”
, but I just couldn’t. You wouldn’t understand.”
No, I do. I understand. But you have to know that no one blames you…I mean for not being there.”
“No, but they blame me for sending Tony back into that building.”
“That’s not true. You didn’t send him back in. You tried to stop him. I was there. I saw you. I had to stop you from going in yourself to get him.”
“But I’m the one that dropped the witch’s key.”
“That was an accident.”
“It was my idea to blow
up the building.”
“And we all agreed.”
“Yeah, well…that damn ankle of his. He should have––”
“He should have listened to you.”
“Exactly. Why didn’t he listen, Carlos?”
“I don’t know.”
Carlos shuddered from the wind, or perhaps it was something else. He took his jacket off and draped it over my shoulders. “Anyway, it was a beautiful ceremony. Brittany gave an outstanding eulogy.”
” He could probably hear the surprise in my voice. “I thought she transferred to Ipswich.”
“She did, but she came down for the ahm….”
“Funeral, Carlos. It’s okay. You can say it.”
He shook his head. “
No, I can’t. Anyway, you should have heard her. She was very eloquent.”
“I’m sure she
was. How come you didn’t give the eulogy?”
“Me? Please. I’m a verbal klutz when it comes to public speaking. Oh, but Dominic said a few words, too. He wasn’t as good as Brit, but he held his own. He even did some card tricks
At a funeral?”
Afterwards. It was okay, though. He was good. And man you should have seen Ursula. She was funny. She thought Dominic was doing real magic.”
“Human magic, or witch magick?”
“Magic, magic. What’s the difference?”
The difference is one she thinks he’s Houdini and the other she thinks he’s a w
“I don’t know. I just know that she asked him to teach her some of
his tricks so that she could show you later. So remember to act surprised if she does.”
“Fine.” I waved my hand to dismiss the nonsense. “Look.
I appreciate you driving all the way out here, but I think I’d like to be alone now.”
“I don’t think so, Lilith. I can’t let you do that.”
“The tide’s rolling back in. You stay out here much longer and it’ll carry you away.” He laughed dully. “Probably have
to go all the way to England to pick you up.”
Great. While you’re there you can pick up your shoes.”
“What do you mean?”
I pointed into the water. “They’re floating away.”
“Huh? Oh, jeez
!” He hopped down off the rocks and waded into the surf up to his waist to fish them out. “Damn, they’re probably ruined.”
I laughed, perhaps for the first time in week
s. “So, buy yourself another pair, Mister Penny Pincher. You can afford it.”
But these are fifteen-hundred dollar Testonies. They’re genuine crocodile.”
Fifteen-hundred dollars. That’s pocket change to you. Let me hear you cry about something that really matters.”
As soon as I said that, I regretted it. I watched his expression
dissolve into something of stone-cold loneliness. He’d been doing his best to move on after the accident, which was more than I could say for myself.
In the week
plus since the tragedy, I’d seen Carlos cry, curse and drink himself into a stupor, grieving over Tony’s death. But like a trooper, he pulled himself up by his crocodile bootstraps.
’d been there for me, Ursula, Dominic, Brittany and anyone else who needed a big broad shoulder to lean on, or in my case, cry on. And so what did I do? I pulled the damn rug right out from under his feet.
“Carlos, I…I didn’t mean that.
I’m sorry. It just slipped out––”
He waved his hand to stop me. “No, Lilith. You’re right. It’s just a pair of shoes. They mean nothing.” He turned around and pitched the shoes as far as he could into the surf. “I’ll get another pair.”
“Nice. You’re going to kill another crocodile?”
“What, I didn’t kill the first one.” He climbed back onto the rocks and reclaimed his seat next to me. “It was already dead
, I’m sure.”
“No. Someone kill
ed it to satisfy a market created by people like you.”
hat about you? You wear leather shoes. How many cows have you killed in your lifetime?”
“I don’t wear leather shoes. I wear canvas sneakers.
“Fine, so my next pair of shoes will be made of tree bark.
Will that set things right?”
“Not for the tree-huggers of the world.”
I looked him in the eyes with a straight face before busting out laughing. “Come on. I’m just messing with you. Half my wardrobe is made of leather.”
“Sure, just ask Ursula. She’
ll bare witness.”
He snapped his fingers.
“Witness! Oh man, that reminds me.”
“That’s the other thing I wanted to tell you.
Dominic says there’s somebody going around killing witches. Says there’s been two so far, one in Salem and another in Georgetown.”
Two dead witches? And how would Dominic know that?”
“What do you mean
, how would he know? He’s Dominic. How does he know anything? The man’s a walking Wikipedia.”
“No. I mean how does he know they’re witches?”