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Authors: Nancy Holder,Debbie Viguié

Witch & Curse

Witch
&
Curse

Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié

SIMON AND SCHUSTER

SIMON AND SCHUSTER
First published in Great Britain in 2009 by
Simon & Schuster UK Ltd,
1st Floor, 222 Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8HB
A CBS COMPANY

Published in the USA in 2008 by Simon Pulse,
an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Division,
New York.

Witch
copyright © Nancy Holder, 2002
Curse
copyright © Nancy Holder, 2003
These titles were originally published individually
by Simon Pulse.

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction
in whole or in part in any form.

A CIP catalogue record for this book
is available from the British Library
ISBN 978-1-84738-662-5
eBook ISBN 9780857070135

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places and incidents are either a product of the author's
imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance
to actual people living or dead, events or
locales is entirely coincidental.

Printed by CPI Cox & Wyman, Reading, Berkshire RG1 8EX

Contents

Witch

Curse

AUTHOR'S NOTE

In preparation for the writing of this series, I explored one of the Wicca traditions under the guidance of a Wiccan high priest. I am aware that Wicca is not a single faith tradition, but a set of them, and that some magic users and spellcasters dislike the more stereotypical “black magic” of fictive invention. To them, I offer apologies; to everyone else, I offer the hope that the many forms of magic I present in this novel serve to show what a diverse and rich place can be found within a Book of Spells.

—Nancy Holder

Witch

To my wonderful co-author Debbie Viguié, and to Michael Reaves, with love.

—Nancy Holder

To the three people who have always loved me: my parents, Rick and Barbara Reynolds, and my husband, Scott Charles Viguié.

—Debbie Viguié

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Thank you Debbie, for being the great writer and friend you are. Thanks to Lisa “The Termineditor” Clancy and her intrepid Schusterians past and present: Liz Shiflett, Micol Ostow, and Lisa Gribbin. To my agent, Howard Morhaim . . . you're magic. Thanks to David Hahn for the technical assist, and thanks to those who kept it goin'—Melissa, Von, and Jenn.
Mahalo
John and Shannon Tulius and Liz Engstrom of the Maui Writers Conference. You are
no ka oi
! And a big thank you to Christopher Vogler for writing
The Writer's Journey
.

—N. H.

I would like to thank my coauthor, Nancy, whose generosity as a writer and a person has enriched my life. Thank you Lisa Clancy, you are a fabulous editor and your humor and compassion make you a joy to work with. To the organizers of the Maui Writer's Conference I extend my heartfelt thanks. You do so much more than help writers grow in their craft, you provide a forum for forging friendships and alliances. Lastly I need to thank the people who have always believed in me and encouraged me: my grandparents, Harold and Mildred Trent, who encouraged my creativity; Matt Washburn, an awesome writer and encourager; Chrissy Hadley, my number-one fan; Juliette Cutts and Ann Liotta, true friends who have always read what I've written with joy; Michael Mueller, the most loyal friend anyone could ask for. Peggy Hanley, thank you for always being there for Scott and now for me. Thank you to my other writer friends who have patiently waded through hundreds of pages and given helpful critiques: Penny Austen, John Oglesby, and Kelly Watkins. Thank you to Jennifer Harrington for always listening. I love you all.

—D. V.

Part One: Lammas
The Harvesting

LAMMAS

“And the ground refused to give up its natural fruits, but instead yielded unholy and
unnatural creatures. The dead walked along with those who had never lived.”

—Simon the Prophet, 8th century

ONE

BARLEY MOON

Fare ye well, Lord of Light
Thou wilt rule on Yuletide Night
Blackfires burn and scythe the Rows
So crieth House of Deveraux

From out thy Vessel, Lady Faire
Cahors Witches take to Aire
Blood drink of Foe and Blood of Friend
Renew the Earthe with Blood again

Mile 76 from Lee's Ferry, the Colorado River, August 1 (Lammas)

Oh, great. A storm. On top of everything else
.

Ignoring for the moment the thick, hot words her parents were exchanging at the bow of the inflatable raft, Holly raised her gaze to the shard of sky between the canyon walls. Nickel and copper sunlight sheered her vision, making her eyes hurt. Clouds like decomposing gray fists rumbled, and the canyon wrens fluttered from their hiding places, cooing warnings to one another.

Behind her, the extremely buff boatman who did these rides every summer for his USC tuition money grunted and sighed. Her parents had pushed the guy beyond his “Hello, my name is Ryan and I'll be your river guide” manners, and she didn't blame him. Her mother and father were wearing everybody out—him, her, and Tina, her best friend, who had had the bad luck to be invited on this nightmare vacation. Of course, Tina got invited to everything. Being an only child had its advantages, and both Tina and Holly were onlies.

Tina's mom had dropped out at the last minute, claiming a problem with her schedule at Marin County General, but Holly wondered if the petite, dark-haired woman had known something was up. That would make sense; Barbara Davis-Chin was Holly's mom's best friend, and even grown-up best friends told their girlfriends everything.

Hey, I know the score
, Holly thought.
I've seen
Sex and the City.

Five days ago, when Holly had gotten home from her horse stable job, it had been obvious something had been going on behind the closed doors of their classically San Franciscan Queen Anne Victorian row house. Her parents' shouts, cut short by the sound of Holly's key in the front lock, had practically echoed off
the white plaster walls. She'd heard the rhythmic sound of a push broom as one of them swept up a mess. Above Holly's head as she stood in the foyer, taking off her jacket, the floorboards of her parents' bedroom creaked with tension.

“Hey, hi, you guys, I'm home,” she'd called, but no one had answered. Then after a moment or two, her father had come downstairs, his smile reaching nowhere near his eyes as he said, “Hi, punky. Good day at the stables?”

No one had talked about what had happened. Her parents, Elise and Daniel Cathers, had joined in a conspiracy of polite silence, chilly to each other that night while packing for the trip, with the emotional frost dipping below freezing on the flight to Las Vegas. Thankfully, she'd sat with Tina in another row of the plane, and she and her best friend had had their own room in their suite at the Bellagio.

Her parents had gone out to see Cirque du Soleil, leaving Holly and Tina in their own room to talk about the upcoming senior year and their plans for college—USC for Tina, UC Santa Barbara for Holly. Then the two adults had come back, very late—and drunk, Holly hoped, because she didn't want to think that they would ever speak that way to each other when they were sober. They had flung mean words at each
other like knives, words designed and honed to hurt. Holly knew it was wishful thinking that her father was not saying
bitch
, but
witch
, even though it had sounded like that through the closed doors of the suite's second bedroom. That was what Tina had heard too.

In the morning Ryan had met the four of them in the Bellagio foyer and driven them to the raft trip launch site. Mom and Dad had barely been civil to each other during the daylong safety training class.

Ryan got the raft into the water and told them where to sit. Then, as if the swirling waters of the Colorado had driven their tempers, the arguing had begun again, and during the day of white-water rafting it had grown steadily worse.

Now Holly and Tina hunched over their oars, paddling according to Ryan's directions and pointedly trying to pretend nothing weird was going on. They wore bright orange life vests and orange helmets, Tina's hanging low over her black hair, which she had dyed aquamarine in honor of the trip. Holly, her own dark hair a mass of damp, crazed ringlets, was crammed beside Tina in the center of the raft, which resembled a kind of pudgy dinghy. Cold water sluiced at them from every direction as the raft rollercoastered between slick black boulders and tree trunks. As chilly as the environment was, it was tropical compared
to her parents' attitude toward each other.

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