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A Witchy Surprise Excerpt

I just wanted to share this excerpt from A Witchy Surprise, the first book in my new Witches of Whispering Pines young adult paranormal cozy mystery series. (Remember, this is an unedited first draft. 🙂 )

Will be available in 2020!

Image shows a black eReader with a book cover featuring a teen girl wearing a black witches' hat, a flirty purple dress, and black boots. Her arms are bent at the elbows with palms facing up. She's standing in front of a large full moon on a purple background, a cute pink pig on the left and a black cauldron on the right. Text is on black background: A Witchy Surprise, Author Rhonda Hopkins
Covered designed by Bridgette O’Hare of Dark Unicorn Designs.

Chapter One

Cackling, laughter, and high-pitched squealing came from our backyard as I stepped outside just in time to snatch Babette, our miniature pig, out of the air.

“What the heck is going on?” I cuddled Babette to me, her squeals slowly ratcheting down as she pushed her warm velvety snout into my neck. I hugged her closer and she quieted.

Even at ten o’clock in the morning, the scorching Texas heat had me sweltering in seconds. Backing up, I opened the screen door and sat Babette gently inside before turning to face the dastardly duo in the yard. My cousin Danu was bent at the waist, hands on her knees, laughing so hard she had tears streaming down her face. My great-grandmother, who was definitely old enough to know better, cackled the laugh of the wicked witch she sometimes was.

“What in heaven’s name do you two think you’re doing? You’ve probably traumatized Babette for life.” Folding my arms across my chest I stood looking at them, my bare foot tapping against the wooden beams of the porch.

“Oh, don’t be a spoilsport, Charley.” Grandma Ruby huffed and rolled her eyes. She sometimes acted like a twelve-year-old rather than someone in her seventies.

It’s not every day you see a pig flying by. Not even in Whispering Pines. As shocking as that was I was still surprised it took so long to finally notice Grandma Ruby’s attire and my eyes nearly bugged out of my head. She wore her signature ruby red, of course. Only today, the color spanned a pair of shorts. Short shorts. I mean, really reeaallly short. A black halter-top adorned with red ladybugs and black combat boots finished off the outfit. Pasty white wrinkled skin with blue veins running the length of her legs was on full display.

I gasped and then couldn’t seem to close my mouth. I scanned the backyard and sighed in relief when the high wooden fence and trees surrounding the five-acre property came into view. Then I remembered Mom had recently put a concealment spell on the backyard because Danu and Grandma Ruby had been spending a lot of time working on Danu’s magic this summer.

I breathed in and out, calming myself. “Grandma Ruby, what are you wearing? You haven’t left the house like that have you?” I was trying not to be disrespectful in my panic, but with school starting back in a couple of weeks, I didn’t want the kids teasing me about my crazy grandma on the first day. I had my whole junior year ahead of me for that.

“What? It’s hot out here. Besides, I think I look good.” She twirled around and Danu put out a hand to steady her when she tilted to one side. As she turned, I got a good view of Grandma Ruby. Way more than I ever wanted to see. Fortunately, she was skinny and her boobs weren’t that big, so they didn’t sag down like some of my friends’ grandmothers. Still, the side view of Grandma Ruby and the glimpse of buttcheek were a little more than I needed to see. Ever.

Shaking my head, I remembered Babette. Focus, Charley. “Why was Babette flying through the air?”

“Well, Miss Nosy. I told Danu she had to get over her fear of flying and get on the broom and she said, ‘When pigs fly.’ So…” Grandma Ruby waved her arm in front of her as if it was a perfectly reasonable explanation.

Danu’s laugh burst into the silence that followed. “I’m still not getting on that broom, you old witch.”

“Better an old witch than a scared witch.” Grandma Ruby bent over to pick up the broom lying on the ground and I slapped a hand over my eyes. Seriously, the woman needed to put some clothes on.

I peeked through my fingers and found her standing again. I lowered my arm and turned around, opening the door. I commented over my shoulder, “You know… Mom’s not going to be happy when she finds out what you did to her familiar.

“Well, don’t be a tattletale!” Grandma Ruby shouted at me.

Just before the door closed I said, “I won’t have to say a word. Babette will tell her.” I glanced back through the screen and saw Grandma Ruby frown which made me smile. Dinner tonight should be entertaining.

I walked to the fridge and opened the door. I wasn’t really hungry, just frustrated and needed something to do. Spying the new jug of tomato juice, I pushed some items around until I could pull it out. No one but me and Dad liked tomato juice so it was a treat when we had it in the house. I poured a large glass and took a long sip before putting the container back in the refrigerator.

Days like today were when I really wished I had a friend I could confide in. Oh, I had friends. Two really good ones. I had grown up with Grace and Kaleb and we were inseparable. I could tell them just about anything. The craziness of my witchy family wasn’t one of those things though. They had no idea supernatural beings existed.

My mom came from a long line of witches. Her mom was a witch as was her grandmother and great-grandmother and so many more populated my family tree. My dad was Chief of Police in our small town of Whispering Pines, but he was human so it was a fifty-fifty shot my sister and I would be witches. Most have their powers by the age of twelve. Since I turned sixteen in June, all bets were pretty much off for me gaining any powers and I guess I was a little jealous of my cousin Danu. Having received her magic right on time, she’d been practicing magic for two years now. If you could call it practicing. She tended to throw it about as she liked.

I couldn’t understand why she wasn’t more grateful for her gift. She treated it like a way to stir up trouble rather than do good things with it. I envied my mother’s ability to use hers to blend potions, creams, and medicinal concoctions to help others.

But, Danu? No, she used hers to curse another kid just before school was out. Not that Tiffany hadn’t deserved it. She was a mean girl who went out of her way to bully those not in her clique. She’d been relentlessly teasing Danu all year when Danu finally reached her limit. But, still, Danu’s actions weren’t subtle and Mom and Aunt Bridgette, Danu’s mom, were worried she was going to bring the wrong kind of attention to us.  So, they insisted she spend the summer training with Grandma Ruby. Personally, I didn’t think Grandma Ruby should be anyone’s role model, but no one asked me.

I finished my juice, rinsed out the glass, and put it in the dishwasher just as my sister came into the bright and cheerful kitchen.

“Why do you have that look on your face?” Deanna grabbed a blueberry muffin from the plate on the counter and took a bite.

“What look?”

“The one that says you’d like to run away from home. What did Danu do now?” She pushed her glasses up on her nose.

I shook my head. “Not Danu. Have you seen what Grandma Ruby’s wearing today?” I pointed to the back door.

Deanna walked over to the door and peered out the glass. “Oh my gosh! That should be illegal!” She laughed and plopped another bite of muffin in her mouth. “That can’t be all of it though,” she mumbled while chewing.

I sighed. “No. I walked outside just in time to snag Babbette out of the air. Grandma Ruby had her flying around.” I waved my arms around.

“What?” Her eyes widened. “Poor thing. Mom is going to hit the roof.”

“Yeah. I’m kind of looking forward to it.” I shook my head. “I guess I’m just feeling sorry for myself. No magic for me, but the two of them just use theirs whenever and however they –”

“Is Babbette okay?” Deanna headed out the door.

I stopped her. “She’s fine. She’s probably hiding under the bed until Mom gets home.”

We both moved into the living room, plopping down on the comfy sofa.

“You know, I don’t have magic, either.” She put her head on my shoulder and I slung an arm around her.

Some might have thought it strange we were so close and didn’t squabble like many siblings. Oh, we’ve had our moments, but I nearly lost my baby sister when she was five. She became so sick she nearly died. Nothing medical or magical worked for months. If they ever determined the cause, my parents didn’t say. I just knew I stayed by her bedside, with Grace and Kaleb keeping me company when they could. I prayed and bargained. I was only eight when I swore I’d protect and take care of her if she’d only get better. One day, she woke up and the illness had passed. I still don’t know how or why. I’m just very grateful.

“Yeah, but you just turned twelve. You still have nearly a full year to go.” I picked up the remote and flipped through channels on the TV. “Besides, you have your own brand of magic. Anyone who has an IQ as high as yours can do a lot that we mere mortals can’t do.” I smiled and gave her shoulder a squeeze.

“It’s not the same.” She shrugged and moved to get up. “I think I’m –” My phone rang, cutting her off.

“It’s Mom.” I swiped upwards, answering the call. “Hi, Mom.” I listened, then said, “Sure. We’ll be right down.” I disconnected the call, picked up the remote and flicked off the TV. “Mom wants us to come help her set up the booth for the festival. Apparently, there were some issues earlier that she had to help out with, so she’s behind.”

“Should we ask Grandma Ruby and Danu to come, too?

“Are you kidding? You saw Grandma R.” I laughed, shaking my head. “Would you just let them know where we’re going? I need to run upstairs for a sec.”

“Sure.”

We took off in different directions. While heading up the stairs, I sent off a text to Grace and Kaleb, letting them know I was heading to the festival grounds in case they wanted to meet up.

I brushed my teeth to get rid of tomato juice breath, then ran a brush through my reddish-brown hair and pulled it up into a ponytail. I grabbed a pair of well-worn tennis shoes from my room and put them on. By the time I finished, both of my friends had left messages. Kaleb was already there helping his dad set up their ice cream concession and Grace would meet us at the end of our street.

As I reached the bottom of the stairs, Deanna capped the sunscreen and pitched it to me. Good thing my sister was a stickler for reminding me of sunscreen or my fair skin would be lobster-red by the time we finished. I had inherited our mom’s skin and hair coloring, along with her green eyes. I was tall and lanky like Dad and Deanna was vertically-challenged like Mom. My sister got our dad’s brown eyes, curly brown hair, and easy-to-tan skin, but she was still religious about protecting her skin. And, mine. Seriously, I often wondered which of us was the older sister.

***

Grace waved as we drew nearer. She wore cut-off denim shorts similar to mine and a baby blue t-shirt that matched her eyes. Her long blonde hair had been braided into a french plait that hung down her back. White tennis shoes donned her feet at the end of her lithe dancer legs. Just like her name implied, she was graceful. Completely my opposite. My middle name could well be “Klutz”. She had what I considered a pixie personality. Grace habitually wore a smile and her spirit was filled with happiness that overflowed through her quick wit and motions. She couldn’t stay still. Even as we approached, she bounced on the balls of her feet.

Deanna hugged Grace who returned it and grinned. “Hey, Squirt. What have you been up to?”

Deanna screwed up her face at the nickname; but, as she often did, brushed it off and smiled back. “Just hanging around with Casen and trying to get ready for school. I’m going to miss my friends.”

“Oh, right! The new academy for brilliant kids. Are you excited?”

Nodding, Deanna moved off the pavement and onto the grassy field which would take them through the forest. “I am. I’m just not going to like not knowing anyone.”

“Knowing you, you’ll make friends as soon as you get there.”

I stopped looking toward the treeline. A chill moved down my spine and my flesh prickled.

“Hey…” I interrupted the conversation. “Are you sure you want to go this way?” I took a couple of steps toward them.

“Don’t you?” My sister turned her head toward me, but kept walking. “It’ll be much cooler through the trees than on the streets.”

She was right of course, but I hesitated. Both girls stopped and turned to face me. After a few seconds, I shrugged and caught up unsure why I felt unsettled by the thought of cutting through the forest we’d played in since we were children. We often took the path through the trees into town and it made sense to do so on such an incredibly hot day.

Even before entering the woods, my senses were overloaded with the smell of pine, oak, and elm along with a cacophony of floral fragrances. It was a smell I associated with home as these same Piney Woods of East Texas bordered our backyard. Entering the thicket, the trees shaded us from the sun. Relief from the heat made us all sigh.

“Oh, man, That feels so much better.” Grace sighed, raising her arms above her head as if in thanks.

“Mmmm.” I muttered. It was cooler, but I still felt anxious.

“So, what happened this morning at the festival grounds?” Deanna grabbed my hand and sent our arms swinging back and forth. She was one of those that always needed to be touching.

“Mom didn’t say. Just some sort of incident that put them all behind.” I hip bumped Grace. “Soooo…how’s Stefan?”

Twigs cracked under our feet and birds twittered above us.

Grace blushed, her pretty cheeks going bright red. “How should I know?”

“Oh come on. He’s been hanging around ever since he moved in next door to you. “I think he has a crush. And, I’ll bet he was at your house last night.”

“So?” She looked away. “That doesn’t mean anything.” She waved an insect away from her face.

“You like him, too. Don’t you?” I asked, not letting her off the hook.

“Sure. He’s nice enough. But, I don’t like him like that.” She stopped and looked around. “Do you hear that?”

“Oh, don’t try to change the sub–”

Deanna cut me off. “She’s right. Listen.”

I stopped, looked over the trees, the ground. “I don’t hear anything.”

“Exactly.” Deanna whispered. “Everything’s quiet. Too quiet.”

Then I understood. There were no birds flying around, No chirping. No insects. No anything.

We cautiously moved forward. Our steps took us almost to the edge of the forest. The opening into the field that would take us to the festival grounds grew closer.

Suddenly, two men stepped out of the trees on opposite sides and wrenched Deanna and Grace from either side of me. Now they held my sister and best friend in their grasps. Both men wore black and white buffalo plaid bandanas over their faces so only their eyes were visible. One had dirty blonde hair to his shoulders with hazel eyes and the other had neat brown hair and brown eyes.

“Don’t scream. None of you.” The blonde holding Deanna shoved a knife under her chin. “You make a sound and this one bleeds.” The other had a gun to Grace’s temple. She closed her eyes but it didn’t stop the tears escaping down her cheeks.

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A Witchy Surprise (Witches of Whispering Pines, #1)

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eReader with image of teen girl with turquoise dress, black witches hat and knee-high black boots. She's standing in front of a large full moon, a bat in the air on her right and a cauldron on her left, title of book: A Witchy Mistake: Witches of Whispering Pines 0.5 by Rhonda Hopkins

A Witchy Mistake: Book 0.5

A Witchy Mistake is a novella in the Witches of Whispering Pines series and will be FREE to my email subscribers when it’s finished. Click on the image to read an excerpt.

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Rhonda

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