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Wouldn’t you rather have one of the others, Brenda? They’re more playful. That little runt looks half-dead. I’m not even sure why my apprentice put it in the mix today.”

I shrugged. “I guess half-dead runts appeal to me. My mother said I could pick whichever one I wanted.”

Your mother also said she’s wanted you to do this for almost a year now.”

What can I say? I’ve been busy.”

I tried to ignore the icy glare my flippant comment inspired. When it came to witch manners, I figured I was lacking. Not that I really cared. It’s not like my powers were any big deal. Not compared to my mother’s.

Go pick out your familiar so you can start your real training.”

But I don’t want to be a witch.”

You can’t change what you already are.”

We’d had this discussion every Monday for nearly a whole year, ever since I turned sixteen. But when you don’t really want to do something, it’s hard to feign interest. Basically, I just wanted to be normal. I didn’t want to go into the “family business,” as it were.

Maybe I should have gone to live with my dad after the divorce. Normal high school, normal friends, normal life. I just wished I knew for sure what the right answer was. A little bit of perfect clarity would really come in handy every now and then.

Like this—picking out my “familiar.” A familiar is a witch’s pet, an animal that becomes her constant companion and is supposed to help her do magic and bring protection and good luck. Frankly, I could use all the luck I could get. My mom was a high level, respected witch in our neighborhood coven, but me? I could barely do a decent card trick. Mom says it’s because I don’t practice very much, but I had other things to do. More important things. At least, that’s what I kept telling myself.

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