Sand Witches in the Hamptons (9781101597385)

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Contents

Praise

Also by CELIA JEROME

Title Page

Copytight

Dedication

Willow's Tates Long Island

Acknowledgements

About the Author

 

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

CHAPTER THIRTY

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

Raves for the Willow Tate Novels:

“This is a fun zany romantic Hamptons fantasy with the lead couple (Willy and Grant) heating up the sheets with enough energy to keep Long Island warm in the winter.”

—
Midwest Book Review

“Willow Tate is back with another crazy adventure. You'll love her feisty attitude as she tries to stick to her ‘no men' creed with her newest partner. Laugh-out-loud funny! Readers will be in stitches.”

—
RT Book Reviews
(RT top pick)

“Fans of Jerome's Willow Tate, a cheerfully melodramatic writer and Visualizer, will find much to enjoy in her fourth adventure. . . . Willow is an unlikely but affable protagonist, undercutting her neurotic self-absorption with cheerful humor and a strong desire to perform good deeds.”

–
Publishers Weekly

“This is a fresh new take on the fantasy world mingling with our own, with a bit of supervillians and true love thrown in. For someone who likes paranormal, but wants a new twist, this is the perfect read.”

—
Parkersburg News and Sentinel

“This light-hearted urban fantasy series, which is what used to be known as the Unknown style of fantasy adventure, stood out for me with the very first book and the third is the best yet. Willow Tate is an illustrator who can bring magical creatures into our world by drawing them, in both senses of the word. Her latest is a fire wizard, which leads to a series of magical mishaps involving fire, until the secretive organization that deals with these things sends a man whose presence suppresses fire. But that leads to all sorts of new complications. There's a bunch of quirky subsidiary characters, amusing plot twists, and Keystone Kops type mayhem. This is definitely not a series you want to lump in with the majority of recent urban fantasy, and it's guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.”

—
Critical Mass

“The world-building is the best part of Trolls. The people and places come alive; the fantastical back-story is unusual and fascinating; and the whole of it is definitely something new and extraordinary, and a welcome break from vampires and were-creatures.”

—
Errant Dreams

“In fine, small-town mystery fashion, Paumanok Harbor is full of quirky people, many with odd little magic talents. . . . It's a fun adventure; Willow's an engaging character . . . charming series.”

—
Locus

“This is a well-written, cute series that is on the very lightest side of the urban fantasy genre—almost chick-lit light, really (but without the shoe shopping). . . . The author definitely captures the sense of place in both Manhattan and the Hamptons. This is an entertaining and amusing series that would make a perfect beach read.”

—
Fang-tastic Fiction

 

 

DAW Books Presents CELIA JEROME's

Willow Tate Novels:

 

TROLLS IN THE HAMPTONS

NIGHT MARES IN THE HAMPTONS

FIRE WORKS IN THE HAMPTONS

LIFE GUARDS IN THE HAMPTONS

SAND WITCHES IN THE HAMPTONS

Copyright © 2012 by Barbara Metzger.

 

All Rights Reserved.

 

Cover art by Dave Palumbo.

 

Map by Pat Tobin and Bob-E.

 

DAW Book Collectors No. 1603.

 

DAW Books are distributed by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

 

All characters and events in this book are fictitious.

Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

 

The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.

 

Nearly all the designs and trade names in this book are registered trademarks. All that are still in commercial use are protected by United States and international trademark law.

ISBN 978-1-101-59738-5

 

 

 

 

To Carole, and everyone else who believes in magic

and laughter, small treasures and small dogs.

A
CKNOWLEDGMENTS

To all the usual suspects, with love and gratitude

for your support and good ideas.

 

And to Robert Parker.

 

 

Celia Jerome lives in Paumanok Harbor toward the east end of Long Island. She believes in magic, True Love, small dogs, and yard sales.

 

You can visit Celia at www.celiajerome.com

C
HAPTER
O
NE

I
had a new fan. And a nosebleed.

Part of being a writer like me is promoting yourself, creating a fan base, getting your name out. In my case, I push Willy Tate's name. My own Willow Tate is too girly for some of my audience, so I try for androgyny or ambiguity.

For better or worse, book tours, store signings, and library talks have mostly given way to online social networking sites like Facebook. A lot of the kids who read my YA graphic novels aren't old enough for Facebook, not legally anyway, though some of them find Willy Tate there. I automatically accept Friend requests because that's part of selling books, showing the new covers, announcing publishing dates and book conventions, connecting with the people who actually pay my rent.

For the same reasons, I keep a weekly blog and fan page for the younger readers, mostly about my writing progress and Little Red, my six-pound, three-legged Pomeranian. I often ask them for character name suggestions—they love that—and about their own pets. Sometimes the threads go on for pages.

Then there's my website, where visitors can look at covers, read excerpts, check the backlist. They can post comments about my books or whatever they want there, or write to me directly at Willy Tate's dedicated email account, as opposed to my own personal addy, for friends and family.

Maybe three times a year I get a real letter, in a real envelope, with a stamp even, forwarded from my publisher. Wow.

I try to write back to everyone, online or those three snails. It's the courteous thing to do, and good PR, even if it takes hours a day, hours I could spend writing. Sometimes the kids are sweet and charming and ask intelligent questions, which makes it all worthwhile and gratifying. Sometimes the need to be cheery and chirpy and polite to some teenaged twit who finds fault with one of my books is enough to piss me off. It's not like I can't handle criticism—What author can't? What author likes it?—but if I don't like a writer, I don't buy another of their books. I don't write a diatribe about what they did wrong and how they should stick to writing orders at Applebee's. I don't enjoy giving up precious hours for a brat's ego trip.

Deni wasn't that bad, just a pain in the neck. She showed up everywhere, leaving effusive comments at every site, ones that required an answer.

L
V LV LV YR BOOKS!!!
R
ED EM ALL 2X.
W
HEN'S THE NEXT
1
OUT?

I wrote back with the date and title, then mentioned the meeting that afternoon to finalize the cover. I'd post the artwork as soon as it became final.

Not good enough. She—Denise?—switched to instant message: W
HASSIT ABOUT?

I replied it was a secret for now, she should have a great day and thanks for writing.

A
NY BKSIGNINGS SOON?

Damn. I could shut off the computer or make a ttyl excuse, but I felt bad since the kid had to be a good customer. So I wasted more time explaining that I didn't do many bookstore appearances anymore, but I'd let her know if I'd be at ComicCon or any science fiction/fantasy conventions, maybe the one at Stony Brook on Long Island. Bye.

She must type a lot faster than I do.

I
F ITS CAUSE YR NOT A DUDE, THAT'S OK.
I
ALREADY KNOW. +
I
LIVE IN NYC LKE U.
W
E CLD MEET 4 COF AND U CLD SIGN MY COPIES.

The pain in the neck radiated to my skull, the kind of headache that sat over your temples and played bongos. S
ORRY,
I wrote. T
OO BUSY.
M
EETINGS, AND WRITING, ETC.

P
LS.
I
WANT TO BE A CARTOON ARTIST 2. NEED YR ADVICE ON MY PORTFOLIO.

Worse and worse, a wannabe. I didn't have any magic words to pull a publishing contract out of my hat, or the heart to tell someone their work wasn't professional enough or creative enough. The drums went right to my sinuses. I told her about all the on-line courses and wished her good luck, then said I had to get to that meeting. I signed out.

I pressed my fingers to the bridge of my nose. That didn't help so I went to see if I had any painkillers that hadn't expired.

Holy hell. The bathroom mirror showed blood dripping down my nose and upper lip. I swiped at it with a tissue, but more kept coming. Don't panic, I told myself, wiping it off my chin, my fingers. Too late. I really hated the sight of blood, especially mine. I tried to convince myself it was only a nosebleed, not a brain hemorrhage. Except I'd never had a nosebleed before in my life. Was I supposed to put my head back? Or lie down? Pack my nose with cotton balls—yeck—or put an ice cube on the back of my neck? Meanwhile, a red Rorschach spatter bloomed on the blue man-tailored shirt I'd intended to wear to the sales meeting at my publisher's office, because it matched my eyes and I had a nice navy wool blazer perfect for the end of September and a new silk scarf with batiked blue butterflies. That and jeans, and I'd appear mature and competent and artsy. Perfect, except for looking like a mugging victim.

Don't panic. I had lots of shirts, lots of time to get downtown. A simple bloody nose had to stop soon, didn't it?

It didn't.

Like millions of mature, competent, independent women before me, I called my mother.

“Mom, my nose won't stop bleeding. What do I do?”

“How am I supposed to know? If one of my dogs bled from the nose, I'd rush it to the vet.”

My mother was a renowned dog whisperer. After thirty-five years, I should have known that nothing without four feet and a tail registered on her radar. Except my single state.

“That's what you should do. Call that nice Dr. Spenser you've been seeing.”

“Mom, Matt is a veterinarian! And he's out in Paumanok Harbor. I'm in Manhattan.”

She sniffed, which is my mother's way of saying a toothless Chihuahua had more sense than her only daughter. And she'd like the dog more. “Well, I'm in Arkansas and you called me. I'll be up north for Halloween and we can talk about it when I get there.”

“My nosebleed? I'll be dead by then!”

“For heaven's sake, Willow, stop being so dramatic, but I suppose you can't help it, being your father's daughter. The jackass most likely gave you thin blood, too.”

The divorce was decades ago, the rancor remained. She sniffed again. “We need to talk about sharing the Manhattan apartment if you're not going to move in with Dr. Spenser. My new TV show starts taping in November.”

Could stress cause nosebleeds? I went through another box of tissues. “Yeah, Mom, we'll talk when you get here. Remember they don't allow dogs in the apartment.” I had to sneak Little Red in and out, but he was tiny. My mother tended to rescue greyhounds and pit bulls, which could eat the Pomeranian, as if I didn't have enough to worry about. “I've got to go stop this bleeding and get downtown by noon for an important meeting.”

“Call your grandmother.”

My grandmother was a renowned herbalist whose potions and powders could cure almost anything. She also ran Paumanok Harbor's All Hallow's women's celebration. Like any elder witch would, she terrified me. Call her and her crone coven cronies? My nose could fall off first. Or maybe later, if I let her experiment on me. Besides, whatever Grandma Eve recommended couldn't be found in the city, like dried toad skin. I shuddered and grabbed some paper towels.

The other reason I wouldn't call my grandmother was that she firmly believed I held the responsibility for keeping all of Paumanok Harbor safe, its crazy people with their crazy talents, its secrets, its connection to another universe where magic ruled, and its future filled with infant espers. Yeah, like I wanted that load on my shoulders.

My mother's sister wrangled children for a living, as assistant principal of the Paumanok Harbor school. She'd know all about nosebleeds, but I hated to bother her during school hours. My cousin Susan could cook, not cure, and my father in Florida would only tell me about some awful premonition of danger that no one could figure out. They all had psychic talent, like most people born or bred in Paumanok Harbor, but magic couldn't help me now. I did not need someone to control the weather or talk to dead people.

Matt? I couldn't think about him now, unless I wanted a bleeding ulcer, too.

So I went across the hall to Mrs. Abbottini, whose apartment took up the other half of the third floor of the brownstone we lived in.

I knew to knock loudly over the noise from the TV that filled the hall. “It's Willow, Mrs. A. I have a nosebleed.” Of course it came out like a cow's mooing, with the wad under my nose.

Mrs. Abbottini opened the door an inch, on the chain, to make sure I wasn't some thug about to knock her down, have my evil way with her, and steal her Yankee memorabilia. I repeated my problem, in case she missed the stains on my shirt and the sodden paper towels.

“Don't bleed on the carpet,” was all she said.

“What do I do about it?” I shouted.

She nodded on her chicken-skin neck, barely moving the dyed-black helmet hair, like a geriatric bobblehead. “My Antony got the nosebleed a lot.” She shuffled her pink slippers over to find the remote and turned the TV volume down a notch.

I still had to yell. “What did you do for Antony?”

“The nosebleeds stopped after my husband hit him on the side of the head.”

“A physical blow stopped the bleeding?”

“No, it stopped him from shoving things up his nose. I always had to take him to the emergency room before that. Of course, they had to stick a long tweezery thing up his nose to get whatever he shoved up there. What did you do?”

“I didn't do anything, I swear. And I'm not going to the emergency room for a nosebleed.”

She didn't hear me. Or didn't want to. “So when are you going to marry that nice vet from the Hamptons?”

I bled red, not gray matter, the way I'd have to before I discussed my love life with my mother's old friend. “It's nothing like that. We're just dating.”

“Hating? That's not what I heard, the two of you screwing like bunnies on the beach.”

“We did not!” Well, maybe a little. “Dating,” I shouted at her. “We are dating.”

“How can you date with you in the city and him in the country?”

That was a damned good question, and another headache. I'd gone back to the Harbor a couple of weekends ago, but Matt had two emergency surgeries, so we didn't spend a lot of time together. Then he had to cancel his turn to come into the city. His ex-wife's father died suddenly, and he had to go to the funeral in Connecticut. Not that I expected to be invited—how tacky would that be, bringing your new girlfriend to your former wife's grieving family?—but I wished he'd sounded more sincere about regretting missing the museums and shows I'd planned. Then last weekend he made some excuse about a cat scratch that sounded lame. “I don't want to talk about Matt.”

Or think about him getting back with his ex in her moment of need. I had a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe the blood from my poor nose.

“Your mother thinks he's a good match.”

At this point in my thirty-fifth year, my mother thought Donald Trump was a good match. But she did like Matt and trusted him . . . with her dogs. “Should I put ice on it?”

“Freeze your eggs? Mightn't be a bad idea, you wait any longer.”

“On my nose!”

“Oh, stop whining. I'm missing my game, and you don't hear me complaining.”

I was not whining. And her game was a rerun of an old Yankee classic. The team never lost in the replays.

“Come here.” She gestured for me to sit in a chair—not her favorite, I noted.

Then she reached over and pinched my nose between her fingers, tightly. How could a little old lady with arthritic joints squeeze so hard? “Hey, are you trying to kill me?”

“Sure, then I can finally have the front apartment with the view.”

Hers faced the building behind us, overlooking a tiny space for the garbage cans. She thought she should have the front unit after my mother decided to live full time in Paumanok Harbor, other than her dog-rescue work around the country. I took the rent-controlled apartment for myself, instead. Mrs. Abbottini squeezed harder.

I jumped up and ran for the door before my poor proboscis broke. “You wouldn't like it. We get all the street noise.”

“What did you say?”

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