Magic, Mystery, a little Whisky, and a Cat

Witchin’ Winter Sale: Zoraida Grey Trilogy

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Zoraida Grey Trilogy by Sorchia DuBois

How many Scottish witches does it take to destroy one small-town fortune teller?

Follow Zoraida from Arkansas to Scotland on a quest to save her granny’s life. But it seems Granny hasn’t told her everything. Zoraida lands smack dab in the middle of a witchy clan war and in danger of being ensorcelled by not one but two smoking hot witches. The truth of her own heritage is buried deep beneath Castle Logan. She’s going to need help but the only one who strikes fear in the black hearts of the Logan witches has stepped in a steaming pile of Voodoo thousands of miles away in the Caribbean.

To save her granny and her best friend, Zoraida must decide between her old, safe life or a new one filled with magic and danger.

The task may be the end of her—

or the beginning.

Sale Ends January 22

Start the adventure with Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones in which Zoraida discovers just what a mess Granny has let her in for. Continue the story in Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen in which Zoraida journeys to the Yucatan Jungle to retrieve a Scottish wizard who turns out to be naked and painted blue. The trilogy ends with Zoraida Grey and the Pictish Runes as Zoraida returns to Castle Logan with vengeance on her mind.

From Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones

Chapter 1

Granny started it. I can lay the whole mess at the feet of that cantankerous old pelican. Funny, isn’t it, how a solid, normal life twists into something else? Makes you wonder if it was ever so solid or so normal in the first place.

Her snow-white hair spreads like a halo on the purple pillow. A dried apple of a woman, Granny’s hummingbird fingers tug knots into a brown jute cord. The frayed cord cascades across an amethyst quilt and down to the grey board floor. From beneath the bed, a cat’s soft black paws bat the dangling end.

I survey the view of hazy Arkansas woodland from the window, but I watch her out of the corner of my eye. She looks as she has looked for the twenty-nine years of my life, yet ice crystals grow in my heart. The white light of her essence flickers and flutters like a moth’s wings against the window. What if she really is sick this time?

Late afternoon sunshine flickers through the leaves of the giant oak outside the window. Shadows and sunbeams dance across the floor, across Granny’s bed, across the knotted cord growing in her hands. The familiar musty aroma of sandalwood incense wafts through the silent shack.

 “Zoraida.” Granny’s voice snaps me to attention. “Stop gawking. I ‘spect you’re already plannin’ my funeral, ain’t you? More’n likely figuring out what you’ll do when I’m dead and you have all of this to yerself.”

I cast my gaze around the one room she calls home. The wood cook stove and sink on the east wall serve as a kitchen. Oak pollen lies in a fine, yellow-green dust, coating dried flowers, bottled herbs, and candles on the stained wooden table. Parchments and books cascade from two frayed wicker chairs onto the rough board floor. The corner of the window screen folds back, torn to allow easy access for cats. With each breeze, Arkansas black flies, freshly hatched and thirsty for blood, swarm in through the hole.

 “Yes, Granny.” I swat a fly on my arm before it gnaws to the bone. “I’m living for the day when I can bask in all this luxury. It can’t come soon enough.”

“Now, don’t you be a smartass.” Her eyes glitter. Sarcasm is the only language the old bat understands. She’s up to something, that’s for certain. “Git over here and sit beside me. I have somethin’ to tell you.”

 “If you’re expecting me to clean this place, you’ve got another think coming.” I push a grey cat out of the cane rocking chair and sit down.

Unimpressed, the cat flops on the floor. I shed my shoes and sink my toes into the soft fur on his tummy.

“I’m dying.” Granny whips the jute around her fingers and knots it into the pattern. Her shiny, black eyes match the beads she strings into the cord.

My breath stalls somewhere between my lungs and my throat, but I know better than to let it show. I grit my teeth and shake my head. “You’re at death’s door every other time I come out here. What’s wrong with you now?”

 “I’m spent, Zoraida,” she whispers to the cord of jute. “The grey days of my life stretch behind, but when I look ahead, I see the void. This’ll be my last summer.”

 “You need to get outside in the sunshine. You’ll feel better then.”

“Sunshine ain’t got nothin’ to do with it.” She squints at me, sizing me up. “But you can help. If you want to.”

I squint back at her. “I knew you wanted something. Why can’t you just ask straight out without pretending you’re about to die?”

She jerks a knot tight. “I ain’t foolin’ this time. If you want me to live to see another full moon, you’ll do what I tell you. Get me back my healing crystal. They stole it five-hundred years ago. It’s the only thing as can save me.”

“What healing crystal, you crazy old woman? Who stole it?” I feel her pulling me into her web. This is how she operates.

“You always was the brightest one in the litter, though they was all clever. Not counting your cousin Clyde. That boy didn’t have the brains God gave a head of lettuce. If you can’t steal my crystal, nobody can. You’ll have to sneak in at night when they ain’t expecting it.” She laughs a cackling laugh to herself. “They won’t never be expecting the likes of you, anyhow.”

“I may skate on the edge of the law but I don’t lie any more than I have to and I certainly don’t steal.” Any twinge of conscience dissolves in righteous indignation that she, of all people, would ask me to commit a crime after all the lectures and punishments she dealt out as I grew up.

“You and that man of yours sell pot in your little store. Callin’ it ‘smoking supplies’ don’t change the facts.” She narrows her beady eyes at me and squinches up her face. Without her teeth, she looks like a shrunken head from the Amazon. “And you lie whenever the urge strikes you.”

“What I do is my own business, but you’re crazier than I thought you were if you expect me to run out and start stealing stuff just because you say so.”

“Don’t be sassy. You ain’t but thirty years old and don’t know much about nothin’ yit.”

“I won’t be thirty for three and a half more weeks.” I chew the inside of my lower lip, partly because Granny is driving me nuts and partly because I really do not need a reminder of my pending natal commemoration.

 “I reckon I’ll have to tell you the whole nine yards, then.” Granny heaves a tortured sigh.

From Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen

Her dry, cool hand on my arm guides me through the store, steadies me when I trip on uneven boards, pulls me through the blue-curtained doorway. Red lips blow sparkling powder from long, elegant fingers. The particles hang in the air, spinning and swirling. I inhale instinctively.

My knees give way and down I sink. Down onto the red velvet chair. Past the weathered floorboards, down into the silt and mud of the Delta. Down to the center of the earth. Satin folds of mesmerizing ensorcellment coil around my shoulders, pulling me deeper still into the space between time. Reality wastes to silence.

“Don’ fight, my girl. You can’t do it. Let it take you,” she whispers. We face each other, sitting in matching red velvet chairs. Our knees touch. She holds my hands, massaging my palms with her broad thumbs.

Fresh sweat pops out on my forehead. The powdered drug slows my heart, my breathing, my mind. Each second stretches into infinity. Colors spiral around a green face. My eyelids weigh fifty pounds each. I yield to the irresistible need to let them slam shut. Cigarette smoke on her breath. A cold hand on my forehead. I’m helpless, bound, and sedated.

This won’t do.

My toes dig deep into the rich Mississippi silt and curl around the bones of the earth. Ancient, patient life grounds me, reminds me who I am. A molecule at a time, I transmute the drug to saline, a trick I did not learn in high school chemistry. A trick I didn’t know I could do. The effort leaves me gasping but my mind is once again my own. I open my eyes.

“You got de juju in you, bébé.” Azili laughs, red lips wide, teeth white. Her coils tighten. “But I got de juju in me, too.”

This time, I can’t keep her out. Like rising floodwaters, she seeps into every corner. A scream gurgles in my throat and dies.

From Zoraida Grey and the Pictish Runes

Dinner guests at Castle Logan look like a traveling Halloween party in search of a human sacrifice. Why am I surprised? A few of them stare at the looming figure of Jock in the doorway, but the majority seem to be people not put off by a giant wizard and his feathery familiar in the foyer.

Castle Logan looks much as I remember it, but I’m changed in more than appearance. The place is as creepy as it ever was. Dark shadows lurk in the upper hallways, a cold mist flows along the floor, and the prickle of magic crawls across my skin like a dozen tiny spiders. The first time I walked into Castle Logan, I had a severe case of the heebie jeebies. Now, the weirdness feels homey. I’m glad to be back.

Normal rules don’t apply here. We’re going to sit down to dinner as if nothing monumental has happened. Our unexpected appearance is but one of many odd happenings in the last quarter hour alone.

Zhu materializes beside me and hands me a glass of wine. I marked her presence and apparent good health the first minute I walked into the castle. I’m glad to see her, and not just because of the wine, though that’s a nice plus.

“You took your sweet time,” she says, grinning like a drunken Cheshire cat. “This place is nothing like Arkansas.”

“You’re the one who wanted to see witches and real magic. I didn’t want to come back too soon and ruin your fun.” I breathe a silent sigh of relief. She’s safe and she’s not bewitched. The world is still right side up. “You look pretty chummy with all these folks. I had the idea you were being held hostage.”

As I lift the glass of wine to my lips, I notice a tall, blue-eyed man standing close to Zhu. If I didn’t know better, I would say he was her bodyguard. And if not for the large, dark Scotsman holding my hand, I would be giving this blond fellow a longer look. Instead, I raise my eyebrows at Zhu.

Zhu smiles sweetly and sips her wine. By this, I understand I am not the only one with a story to tell.


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