Book Tour 🖤 She’s Powerful Trouble

🖤She’s Powerful Trouble

🖤Series: The Foul & Fair Series (book #1)

🖤Author: Taylor Hartley

🖤Publisher: Parliament House

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MASSACHUSETTS, JULY 2003

The two women dance cautiously around the dead.

“The lights.” Mother Mol grabs Dahlia’s arm as they creep further inside the hospital. “She

even blew out the lights.”

They inch through the darkness, clinging to each other out of necessity more than fear,

moving carefully around the bodies. The light from the full moon filters through the windows, casting long shadows along the walls. A man in a tweed jacket lies flat on his back in front of the double doors, the muscles in his face relaxed so he looks like he’s smiling. In the café nearby, the steam wand from the espresso machine screams. The outline of the barista drapes over the counter, and beneath her, another body lies curled like a sleeping child. Entire families slump against each other in the waiting rooms. The nurse behind the admit desk stares straight up at the ceiling, seeing nothing.

The women expected the usual two corpses. Nothing like this.

“We should leave, Sister,” Mol says. “The power to do something like this…the girl’s evil.” “What about ancient duty and dying breeds?” Dahlia tenses beside her. “If we don’t protect

her, who will?”

“She isn’t like us.” The grip on her arm tightens. “Look around you, child.”

“I’m not a child anymore, Mother Mol,” Dahlia hisses. “But when you found me all those

years ago, do you remember what you told me? You said I could fix the evil things I’d done. And this girl, she deserves that same chance, don’t you think?”

That fact is written on Dahlia’s bones. Pushing past Mol, she closes her eyes and lets the magic wake inside her, lets it pulse and spiral through the air, searching.

“Where are you, lady?” The words come out of her mouth and surprise her.

Mother Mol huffs beside her. “Novices.”

“There.”

Dahlia feels the baby’s fear well up inside her own body: how dark everything is, and how

lonely. She’s close, on the second floor maybe. The elevator on the far wall doesn’t work; the girl’s short-circuited the entire building. Dahlia cocks her head at Mol, and together they head toward the staircase at the end of the hall. They tiptoe around the nurses and doctors who lie sprawled on the steps.

At the top of the stairs, Dahlia hears it: a loud, enchanting wail. Zigzagging around more corpses, she races toward the sound. She’s not sure what it is, only that she’s desperate to hold that little girl, see her and know that maybe the Coven’s not doomed after all.

The baby lies in the room at the end of the hall. With the curtains drawn closed, it’s impossible to see anything, so Dahlia flicks her wrist, and the fabric draws apart to let the moonlight in.

The child’s father lies draped over the foot of the bed, hugging his wife’s feet. There’s a look of joy on his ebony face and tears of blood in his eyes.

He never knew he was dying.

The mother’s eyes are closed, neck bent low toward the infant cradled in her arms. Dahlia feels the sob sitting in her chest and lets it go. She thought this part would be easy, she’d heard about it so many times. But this mother wanted so badly to kiss her beautiful daughter, who cries like she has four lungs instead of two, and it doesn’t make sense. Dahlia bends down slowly and touches her lips to the mother’s forehead.

“Rest well,” she says, pressing her forehead against the woman’s. Her skin is cold. “We’ll take care of her.”

She hears Mol moving behind her as she bends her knees and takes the child in her arms.

“Sister, we cannot take her with us,” Mol says. It’s the first time Dahlia’s ever heard her frightened. “I’ve never seen this kind of carnage before, and I’ve seen terrible things. This isn’t natural. This child is our end. I know it.”

“Why would nature give us something we don’t need?” Dahlia asks, eyes fixed on the girl. Her grey eyes spark in the light. “If we let her die, we violate every law we swear to live by, don’t we? I can’t do that again. I won’t.”

“She could kill us all,” Mol says. “There’s no way to know what she’s capable of…”

Dahlia looks into the girl’s face, and the baby hiccups and turns her face away. Dahlia steadies herself and looks back at Mol just as the sirens start to blare in the distance.

“Unless we take her with us.”

**

NORTH CAROLINA, 2019

Mother Mol started telling me the story of my birth when I was like four. I blew out my birthday candles, and then she just hit me with that little nugget of knowledge. She wanted to ensure I knew that I’m the dark, evil force that might just kill us all.

“There’s only ever been one other witch born with a power like yours, and she nearly destroyed the Coven,” she said. “So, you must remain vigilant.”

And that was it, the end of the story.

Then when I was seven, I met that witch face-to-face. I mean, not really, because she’s like super dead, but pretty much. We were in the Gathering Room, just me and Airi and Amana practicing with Mother Calista, trying to levitate books, when I suddenly felt a freaking pipe organ going off inside my chest, and then the entire room evaporated.

This darkness swallowed me, and I was falling, falling through total and complete nothing. Then, I slammed into the ground, and all I could see was a woman, red hair billowing around her like we were underwater or in some kind of fluid dimension or something. Her green eyes flashed, and her grey gown flowed behind her as she walked toward me. As she stooped down and brought her face to mine, her name bloomed in my mind: Eurydice.

And then she spoke, and her voice echoed through my head so loudly my ears rang for actual days. Her words sounded like smoke.

“The Earth shall shroud in shadow. The dead shall rise again. In Wicker Creek, two lovers meet, and the future shall begin.”

She looked at me with this smile on her face, and I felt my magic curdle. I felt it bubble in my veins, like she hadn’t just dropped a stupid nursery rhyme in my lap, but instead, set off a toxin that turned me into a nuclear weapon.

Sister Dahlia and Mother Calista (total space cadet, by the way, but she can definitely see the future), said I’d been “called,” said the whole freaky vision thing meant there was some kind of destiny waiting for me in this Wicker Creek place that could “change our world forever.”

But Mol wouldn’t let me go, even after Dahlia begged her.

“If a witch doesn’t fulfill her calling, nature makes the world pay for it,” she told her, amber eyes blazing. “Everything around Mariah will start to sour, you know that!”

“If it’s a message from Eurydice, it’s better not to listen,” Mol insisted. “Besides, we don’t even know what kind of beginning she means. It’s far too dangerous.”

Then I walked down for breakfast the next morning and nearly set the house on fire because I short-circuited everything. And later that week when I practiced levitating again, the books swirled around the room like they were caught up in this violent cyclone and whacked Airi straight across the face. Dahlia said it was magic lashing out, the universe ramping up to tip us right over the edge because we refused to listen to it.

Mol finally let me go to Wicker Creek when all the windows in the greenhouse shattered because I dared to open the freaking door. She made Dahlia come with me as my Keeper, to better train me on how to handle my magical shit…and to ensure I keep it hidden from humans, because there’s never been a good time to be an actual witch in this world.

In ten years, I’ve only lost control once. And if you knew everything about my magic…well, you’d be pretty impressed by that, actually.

Mol reminds me I’m dangerous every year when we go back to the Coven for Solstice Gatherings. She swears if I don’t fight like hell to find the light in my magic, I’ll swallow the world. She says power like mine’s way too unpredictable to stay hidden for long.

“If you can’t control yourself, I will come collect you.” Mol growled that at me in eighth grade…right after everything went down in the woods with Finn and Shelley. “And I will do whatever it takes to make sure you do not threaten this world.”

It’s why I don’t tell her about Eurydice’s voice and the way it creeps into my dreams sometimes. It’s why I don’t tell her about the way my magic tore through him and how I thought he’d die right there, right then, if I didn’t pull him back from the edge I felt him tumbling toward.

She acts like I enjoy being a threat to the living world. But my whole life, I’ve only ever wanted to be one thing: Good.

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