With: Jeri Westerson
Our crossbow slinging hero and her ragtag gang of Wiccans tuned in to the paranormal have earned some rest. But when Kylie learns that the Booke may have released not one, but two creatures of horror out into the world, it’s up to her to save Moody Bog. Again.
Calling upon the devilishly handsome demon Erasmus once more for help, Kylie’s determined to handle the mischief of the Booke and go back to a normal life. But when digging through Moody Bog’s history leads her to the ghost of her grandfather, the past she once knew is turned upside down.
Can Kylie save the town and her grandfather, or will the horrors of the Booke be too much to handle?
Kylie Strange is the owner of Strange Herbs & Teas, while Erasmus is the demon, guardian of the Booke of the Hidden.
He drank while I stood there, hands thrust in my coat pockets, trying to keep warm. I didn’t want to go in just yet.
“So…” he said. He stared down into his glass. “You, er, went on another date with that man.”
There was a part of me that reveled in his obvious jealousy. Then the realization struck me that he had probably been hanging around even though I couldn’t see him. “Were you following me?”
He considered, as if he didn’t quite understand the question. In the end, he merely ignored it and took another drink.
I crossed my arms. “And so you were reduced to being a peeping tom.”
“I did nothing of the sort.”
“I saw you through the window.”
“Because I couldn’t get in.”
“So how long were you planning on standing there?” I was tapping my foot now.
He shrugged one shoulder and drank.
“I’m not the one throwing myself at the nearest male under forty.”
He knew he’d gone too far. Before I could explode, he downed the brandy and offered me back the empty glass. “Thank you.”
I grabbed it out of his hand with the idea of throwing it against the wall. He raised a hand. “Don’t you think it would be wise to do a little hunting?”
I stopped in mid-throw. “What? Now?”
“Of course now.”
“But we don’t know what we’re looking for.”
“That shouldn’t stop the Chosen Host, now should it?”
I hated when he called me that. “Let me get a hat…and my crossbow.”
The knit hat I took from the hall tree. The chthonic crossbow whistled in the air, coming toward me from its hiding place upstairs. I put out my hand automatically and caught it. Chosen Host stuff.
I grabbed a scarf, wrapped it around my neck, and locked up the place. “A-hunting we will go,” I hummed. “Where to?” I asked aloud.
He raised his face and sniffed the air. He pointed toward the forest behind the house. “Let’s try that way.”
I hated the idea of hunting blind…but I couldn’t help but feel a little thrill to be with Erasmus again. Which was completely stupid and wrong. I could have been in the strong embrace of Sheriff Ed…and a fine embrace it was. If only I hadn’t looked out the window. Had I left those curtains opened slightly on purpose? Freud 1, Kylie 0.
I stuffed the crossbow under my arm and dug my gloves out of the mackinaw’s pockets. I checked. The crossbow hadn’t loaded itself. It had the habit of picking just the right quarrel from its many hiding places on the hilt. Each one—ten, to be exact—was made of a different wood, point, and fletching. The crossbow knew just what was needed to defeat whatever beastie was about. And a good thing, too, because the Booke didn’t come with an instruction manual. Mostly because it enjoyed its mayhem. I felt that much coming off of it.
I gripped the crossbow again, ready when it was. But the woods were dark, and the moon was setting. And I had forgotten my flashlight again.
I followed Erasmus. He moved noiselessly like he always did, while me, the stumbling, bumbling human, made the biggest racket crunching through leaves, breaking twigs and branches in my path, and swearing as I tripped again and again.
“Is there no sound you can’t make?” he sneered at me.
“It’s not easy to do this in the dark, you know.”
He didn’t bother turning back or replying. A subtle shaking of his head sufficed.
We traveled downward. There was bit of a path which made the going easier. The forest ahead seemed to rise and I noticed that hills emerged around us. I tried to note where we were in case we got separated. I knew he’d try to protect me. It was his job, though I was a little sketchy on the whole demon/Booke dynamic. The Booke was, apparently, far older than the Powers That Be, and they assigned a demon to close up the Booke when it was opened because they didn’t like the idea of things existing over which they had no control.
He slowed to a stop, sniffed the air, and then finally turned. His eyes were deep holes in the dark, but they glittered from starlight, making them more human-seeming.
“The Booke is still such an enigma,” I said. “The Powers That Be don’t like it, but their big plan was to put a demon on it? Seems that, if they are so powerful themselves they could have come up with a better solution.”
“I don’t like talking about them.”
“Why? Are they eavesdropping?”
“Beelze’s tail, I hope not.” When he looked back at me he must have seen the concern in my eyes. He stopped to face me. “They cannot see or hear what transpires on this plane except through the eyes of their own demon servants.”
“Not quite. In order to communicate with them I must travel to the Netherworld.”
“What’s it like? Is it very Dante’s Inferno?”
He sneered. I guess no one likes their world reduced to a cliché. “No. I do not know why you creatures give such credence to the unremarkable ramblings of a bad poet. He’s never been there, I can assure you.”
“Okay. But…what is it like? Do you…like it there?”