Magic, Mystery, a little Whisky, and a Cat

A Cold Spring–Episode 18: Return to Highmoor Valley

Before we get to Episode 18:

Zoraida Grey is up for a RONE Award!! Voting for the Long Paranormal category in Week 2  begins on April 24, but you need to register to vote. Go to and Click the Subscribe button at the top of the page. You can opt in or out of additional emails and the whole thing is FREE. You will get an email to confirm your subscription. Be sure to do that to be eligible to vote.

If you have not read Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones–now is a great time. Grab a copy HERE and if you enjoy it, please vote for her in Week 2.

Voting for week 1 is under way. To vote, go to and from the menu bar select InD’Scribe/Rones >2017 Rone Awards > 2017 Rone Awards Week 1. You will be prompted to register if you have not already done so. It’s free and easy.

You have plenty of time to read these short works and decide who to vote for. I recommend these three books in the Novella category now under consideration in Week 1:


  •             Barbara Bettis: The Lady of the Forest
  •             Becky Lower: A Regency Yuletide
  •             Sharon Buchbinder: The Haunting of Hotel LaBelle

The Rone is a prestigious award and Reader voting is only the first step in the process. A limited number of books will progress to the next level. YOUR vote might make a huge difference. Please take a few minutes to support writers who publish independently and with small publishers.

“A Cold Spring”

Need to catch up with the story?

Download Episodes 1-13 HERE or read in the file below.

Episode 14: Now I Wait

Episode 15: Old Crows and Offerings

Episode 16: Pilgrimage

Episode 17: Quarried Stones

[pdf-embedder url=”” title=”A Cold Spring 1_13″]

Episode 18: Return to Highmoor Valley


The rocky trail ascends higher and higher.  I gasp with each step and grit my teeth against a gnawing pain in my side. Behind us the setting sun casts long shadows across the moor for which the province gets its name. The constant drizzle which has pursued us since we left Mayebelle’s comfortable croft relents and pinpricks of starlight dot the darkening sky.


As we walk, the bubble and splash of water on stones grows louder and the path broadens. Evening deepens, but patches of repaired pavement make walking easier. The vibrant waters of the Whispering River cascade beside the road, increased by the confluence of smaller tributaries until it is a broad, strong stream. The last rise is before us. On the other side lies Highmoor Valley where New Highmoor Castle should stand on the ruins of the old one.


Sheltered by a ring of mountains, this tranquil spot in a secluded region was ever the safe haven for the magical and often contentious Darkmores and La Croixs. Though we ventured outside into the world of mortals, Highmoor remained a steady and abiding refuge. When Lucia Darkmore and Avery La Croix married, the families anticipated a generation of peace but Lucia smashed those hopes with murder and malice and madness. No one lives here now.


Maddock and I dreamed we could restore trust between our families. In a way, we did. I lean on Mayebelle La Croix’s arm.  She and I may be the only ones left.  But the witch stone bounces against my chest and I can’t abandon hope just yet. My belly cramps, insistent and sharp. My muscles scream for respite after days of scrambling over the scrubby wasteland.


“We should stop,” Mayebelle puffs the words on breathless gasps. “We can go down into the valley tomorrow after a good meal and a night’s rest.”


“Come on. It’s just over the next rise beyond the forest.” I totter down the hill. Mayebelle limps behind me. The last time she ventured this far from her doubly-secured croft, she witnessed fire and devastation and felt Lucia’s dark magic once more.


“The last time we were here, you saved my life. Have I ever thanked you properly?”


“We saved each other that night,” she catches up but I feel her growing fear. “I would have gone mad if I hadn’t found you.”


“And I would have sat beside the river waiting for Maddock to come back until I died.”


“Allium,” she stops, pulling me around to face her. “Though we both hope the witch stone is a sign, we must be prepared in case  . . .”


“It is a sign. Otherwise, I can’t make sense of this. Otherwise, I can’t make sense of anything.” I push forward, hurrying along the now broad and graveled path as it ducks into the forest. I tell myself I am ready for whatever I see but little Samantha or Sabrina or Elspeth begs to differ with a solid thump. My belly contorts, and I double over, hands on knees.


The last white wisps of cloud drift to the north leaving the sky ice blue. A current of cold night air winds around my ankles. Clutching each other for support, Mayebelle and I step from the forested fringe on the ridge. For the first time in eight months, I look down the graveled path beside the clear stream to the meadow where Maddock and I built New Castle Highmoor.

Stay Tuned for Episode 19: Something Witchy This Way Comes

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