UFI welcomes Stacey Kennedy Author of The Cat's Meow. Thanks for Joining us!!
I scrunched my nose as my spaghetti dinner threatened to make an appearance at the sight of the slaughtered black cat on the forest floor. The kitty’s stomach gaped open and its intestines spilled out along the ground, as well as other grossness I’d rather avoid.
Not how I intended to spend my night, or any night for that matter. I turned to my fellow witch, Peyton. “Of all the hobbies to take up, taxidermy isn’t something I’d peg you as interested in.”
Flicking her blond bouncy curls over her shoulders, her baby-blue eyes narrowed on me. “This isn’t a time for jokes, Libby.”
Not as if her wrath had the desired effect; an angry Peyton looked as deadly as a growling puppy. She placed her hands on her tiny waist, pursing her lips. Too bad, I only paid attention to her cute knee-length black baby-doll dress, a tad jealous I didn’t own it. “Look at the poor kitty. Its guts are hanging out.”
“Yes, I see that.” Even if I wanted to pretend I didn’t. In fact, I would have preferred to enjoy the dark night surrounded by the rich earthy scents of the large trees hugging the trail. Sadly, that wasn’t an option. Once again, I glanced down at the disgustingness at my feet.
From all viewpoints, this appeared to be an open-and-shut case. “Looks like a wild animal wanted a snack.” Evil warlocks, I’m there. A dead cat was not a priority. “You better have a good reason for bringing me here.”
“An animal didn’t do this. There’s magic present.” She fiddled with the hem of her incredibly cute dress. “Besides, it’s the fourth gutted cat in three days.”
I paused at that bit of weirdness. I had dealt with at least a hundred cases in the five years I’d worked for Charleston’s coven, and out of all of those cases, none had ever involved animal murders. Four cats in three days was staggering.
I sighed, beginning to understand my presence there. “Four, really?”
Worry darkened Peyton’s eyes. “Each death the coven has sent me to, there has been this weird magical presence.” She rubbed her arms, shaking her head at the dead cat. “It’s peculiar.”
The leaves beneath the cat’s body were soaked in enough blood that I assumed it had been killed at this location. To my disappointment, even with that knowledge no answers materialized, and actually more questions were raised. “If this is the fourth cat, why is this only coming up now?”
“At first, it didn’t seem malicious and no human deaths resulted from the dead cats.” She shrugged. “Now, with this many felines dead, it could be an animal ritual.”
“Possibly,” I agreed. Charleston’s last case of a warlock tapping into dark magic happened only a week ago, but it got cleaned up quickly enough and the warlock received his death sentence. Compared to that, a few dead cats wouldn’t concern the coven, but then why did it now?
Furthermore, why hadn’t the coven contacted me? Peyton held the ability to sense magic’s presence. I am an Enchantress, a witch gifted to work spells. We both held an important role in the coven, as did every witch and warlock who worked for them. Peyton located the scenes tainted with magic, I found the offenders, other witches assisted with different gifts, and warlocks killed the guilty.
If the coven had been as concerned as Peyton seemed now, I would’ve been brought into this a lot sooner. They would’ve requested I take on the case to search around and see if I discovered a reason behind it. That I knew with total certainty. The coven didn’t take chances on these things. The longer we waited to act on someone who harbored evil, the higher the chance they would succeed.
“The coven clearly wasn’t worried about the past deaths, so what’s happened to change their opinion?”
Peyton nibbled her lip. “They didn’t think much of it before because the level of magic isn’t dangerous. Strong, yes, but not dark.” She continued to rub her arms, shifting uneasily on her feet. “I’ve been watching over the matter to see if things worsened, but the only change has been more deaths.” She tilted her head. “One cat can be shoved aside as maybe someone who practiced their magic. This many deaths can’t be overlooked.”
The coven obviously requested that she see if the levels of magic had increased. Yet, why did Peyton call me and not the coven? An order had never come to me in this manner before and it made me curious. “Who told you to ask me to come here?”
“Glenda.” Peyton grimaced at Fluffy. “There’s a reason behind this. The Goddess is warning me.”
I refused to look at the mangy beast and attempted not to inhale the odor of decomposed flesh beneath me. Instead, I scanned the area. Within the dark night the old trees around me created shadows. The stars above twinkled in the sky and the damp grass below my boots glistened with dew. A typical night for me—I hadn’t seen a sunny day in the five years I’d been employed by the coven.
Danger happened during the witching hours of midnight to three in the morning because magic held the most strength then, so the coven stuck to the night shift. I’d become so accustomed to it I never missed the days I had lounged in the sun anymore.
On a sigh, I continued to ponder the fluffball at my feet. If magic were present, clearly someone had either spilled its blood as an offering to dark magic, or simply practiced a spell to kill. Either one sucked, at best. Resolved I’d get nowhere in discovering the truth right now, I moved along. “What does the coven expect me to do about this?”
Peyton rolled her eyes, giving her customary flippant look. “Find who’s responsible.”
I snorted. “What am I, a pet detective?”
“Yes, Lib, that’s exactly what you are.” She frowned. “Must you be a smart-ass all the time?”
I grinned. “I must.”
She ignored my dig—as usual—and carried on in a hurried tone. “Stop stalling, conjure a spell, and fix it.”
“You know I can’t—it’s dead.” I glanced at the cat and groaned. Yes, still very dead. “The coven would wring my neck if I brought it back to life.”
The role as Enchantress with the coven came with one rule—never step out of white magic boundaries. Resurrecting a dead cat hit the no-no list. My job within the coven: stop those who went against the coven rules to protect human lives, since the last thing we needed was the human population going out on a witch hunt. The coven existed to keep witches in Charleston safe. That one law ruled my life.
Peyton’s shoulders slumped and her eyes saddened. “Okay, okay. I know we can’t, but it’s so sad, the poor little kitty.”
My best friend at her finest: her soft heart in this cold magical world had never changed over the years. Yet Peyton’s innocence had once been damaged by loss and pain over the death of her mother, and ever since she’d been emotionally fragile. Three years ago, I’d seen her go into a deep depression at the death of a teenager, and it took her a good month to recover. I would give my life to ensure she stayed away from anything that could damage her again.
Especially now, seeing the vulnerability in her eyes, confirming that any death still rattled her. “Who’d do this?”
“Someone after a higher power.”
At the low velvety voice, I glanced over my shoulder, scowling at the approaching warlock. The coven’s muscle came after I found the offenders. I preferred no help, so his presence at my scene awakened my inner bitch.
Not to say I didn’t realize their worth to the coven. I might be brave, but I couldn’t kill, and warlocks held that desire in spades. However, his presence this early in an investigation meant this matter leaned to the serious side. The coven wouldn’t have called him in if something wasn’t up. More to the point, called in a warlock I’d never seen before. Two strikes against my coven on the “what the hell are they doing” meter.
“Go away.” I pushed the bitch to the forefront of my voice and snapped, “I’ll call the coven when I’m done.”
“I’m looking for Libby Jenkins.” The warlock stopped a foot away by a fallen tree, ignoring my demand, and in the same low voice with a slight Southern accent said, “Would that be you?”
I grunted, not at all impressed with the confidence he exuded, either in his voice or his powerful posture. Doubly annoyed, in fact. “I’m Libby. You are?”
As he took a step into the moonlight, the shadows of the night left his face. He appeared relaxed, shoulders back in his black T-shirt, chest out, and chin lifted. Typical I am a fine specimen of man.
His eyes were a shadowy gray and his face was defined by hard angles, from his high cheekbones and sculpted jaw to lips that seemed carved out for a serious smooch. His chocolate-brown hair reached the bottom of his ears, all scruffy and sexy-like, and he filled out his pair of faded blue jeans well enough.
Not like that impressed me either. Warlocks tended to be pretty. Maybe to some I’d be easy on the eyes with my small frame, longish light-brown hair with honey and auburn highlights, and my dark-blue eyes. But it came from the magic, not a natural gift. Besides, witches aged the same as the humans we lived among. We just tended to do it a little more gracefully, and typically lived to be over a hundred.
The warlock’s focus swept over Peyton as if he took a measure of her before his firm gaze returned to me. “I’m Kale Griffin. The coven requested I join you on this case.”
Great. What serious danger had I landed myself in? “They what?”
Sure, Kale looked nice, but I didn’t want—or need—his help. The idea of being teamed up with a warlock interested me about as much as if someone pulled out my hair strand by strand. Besides, never in all the years I had worked for the coven did they team me up with a warlock, which only made me wonder why they’d done it. I thought back over the past cases I’d worked. Perhaps some cases took longer to solve than others, but why in the hell had they sent me a babysitter now?
Stacey Kennedy’s novels are lighthearted fantasy with heart-squeezing, thigh-clenching romance, and even give a good chuckle every now and again. But within the stories you’ll also find fast-paced action, life-threatening moments, and a big bad villain who needs to be destroyed. She lives in Southwestern Ontario with her husband and two children. If she’s not plugging away at a new story—which is rare because her muse is annoying—you’ll find her camping, curling up with the latest flick, or obsessing over Sons of Anarchy, Games of Thrones, Supernatural and Dexter.
Find Stacey and her books
The Cat's Meow
Witch's Brew #1
Books on Board iTunes
Witch's Brew #1
Books on Board iTunes
Libby is an Enchantress—a witch gifted by the Goddess to conjure spells. When a magical presence is detected around a recent string of feline slayings, Libby takes the case to uncover the reasons behind the odd deaths. Much to her displeasure, the coven also sends a sexy warlock, Kale, to assist her.
While having the muscle around proves to be useful, fighting the attraction between them is worse than a hex, especially considering Kale is keeping secrets. But soon, Libby has bigger problems than the elusive warlock when her spells turn up clues that point to something far more sinister than slaughtered cats.
Now Libby has landed herself in the midst of an uprising. She trusts no one and isn’t safe—not from the warlocks stirring up trouble. Not from the worrisome rebellion she can’t escape. And certainly not from Kale, who is weaving a very dangerous spell over her heart.