Today, I’m sharing an excerpt from my latest release, Tangled Roots, the first book in my Tangled Magic Series. Follow the witches of the Willow Creek Coven as they battle shadowy magical forces, find love, and embrace new beginnings.
In this scene, from the opening of Tangled Roots, Cassie enters the forest to cast a spell to keep her brother, Nathan, from finding her. She hopes to entreat the Guardian of Willow Creek’s magic to shield her from her brother.
As Once Upon a Time’s Rumpelstiltskin says, “All magic comes with a price, dearie.”
The question is, what price will Cassie pay?
Tangled Roots: Excerpt (Prologue)
Torches’ flames danced. Quartz crystal points in their many forms—clear as glass, smoky gray, the yellow of citrine, the purple of amethyst and pale pink of rose quartz—jutted from the earth below and cavernous ceiling above. Silver moss dangled. The eyes of unseen creatures peered from the shadows, hidden by swirling silvery mists.
The mists before me parted, revealing a throne carved of dark, twisting wood, as though the tree from which it was carved were still alive, still sentient, still growing. Green crystals poked out here and there. Behind it was a wall of dark green vines speckled with red roses the size of small cabbages.
But it was the figure who sat in that throne—and such a chair could only rightly be called a throne—who sent my jaw dropping.
“Cassandra Anne Gearhart.” Full lips, a deep, plum purple, almost black but glistening as though they’d kissed the stars, turned upward in a dark, sinister smile as they hissed my name.
I stepped backward, but a wall of vines pressed against me, halting any retreat. “Yes?”
Her eyes were silver like the mists, but bright as the coldest of winter stars. Her skin was bronze as though stained with earth, her hair a twisting mass of light brown braids filled with moss and twigs.
She rose. I was short—a mere five-foot—so most people seemed tall to me, but she was purely a giantess. She towered over me, her robes the same near-black purple of her lips, threaded with green, amber, and teal threads. I almost reached out to caress the billowing fabric, to test its fibers under my fingers. Instead, I curled my fingers into my palms.
She reached out with bony fingers and tilted my head upwards, until I strained backwards to meet her glinting gaze.
That smile again. Wise and wicked. “I will grant your wish.”
“You’ll…” I sucked in my lips. It was too easy. I shouldn’t have done this. “You’ll make sure Nathan can’t find me.”
She nodded, each bob of her head deliberate, decisive. “Yes. But there’s a price.”
“What would you ask of me?” The words came out a little too high, too desperate. Never a good position when one was facing such a powerful being.
“I see far more than you, and I am not obligated to tell you all that I see,” she snapped.
I lowered my gaze back to the wall of vines. “Of course, my lady.”
She released my chin from her bony clutches, and I sighed with relief. “One day, you will awaken. You will sleep for many years, and, when I need you, you will awaken.”
“I don’t understand. How does that stop…How does that grant my wish?”
A gust of wind shook the cavern. “I do not owe little mortals explanations.” She tilted her head, as if listen to whispers the wind carried. “He’s here, you know. Your father is sick. Do you want to go home?”
“I want to stay in Willow Creek.”
“Then you’ll stay. I can make that so. Do you agree to my terms?”
“I don’t understand your terms.” I inhaled, wishing I could suck the words back in, swallow them.
To my surprise, she chuckled. “You don’t need to. If I release you this night without granting your wish, he will find you. Or you can accept my offer. But I’m not a creature of patience, immortal though I might be.”
That attic bedroom. Those woods I couldn’t enter.
What fate could be worse than magic caged?
She nodded. “Then as I will it, so mote it be.”
Ribbons of magic twisted in the air, wrapping around me, tugging me back up through the earth.
“I know she’s here, bitch!” My blood ran cold at those words. I tried to crane my head, to see where Nathan’s voice came from, but every muscle was stiff, frozen.
“Don’t you dare speak to me that way. Get off my land. This is private property.” Ginny’s voice, madder than I’d ever heard her.
Nathan came into view. He’d grown a beard since last I saw him, and even in the moonlight I could see how red his face was. “Where is she? Cassandra? Cassie!”
I’d seen my brother angry before and, not for the first time, I feared that in his rage he’d hurt me. I tried to run, but my feet were rooted to the earth.
He glared down at the candle, pointing at the now extinguished flame. The spell was over, the magic cast.
What had I done wrong? Why hadn’t she saved me?
Why couldn’t I run?