Shadow of Magick

By: Lucy True
PROLOGUE





A letter edged in black.

Who even does that anymore?

I look at it for maybe the tenth or twentieth or hundredth time before placing it atop my clothes and shutting the suitcase, jiggling the reluctant latches into place. It’s a long drive from Massachusetts to Nebraska, but the only way to go for someone like me who loathes airplanes and airports. At this point, I’m not sure if I’m memorizing the letter or using it as a talisman against ill fortune.

“Miss Cadence Gray...”

They got my name wrong. Gray was my mother’s maiden name, but it’s not mine. I’ve never accepted it as mine.

“We regret to inform you...”

I close my eyes.

“Your mother succumbed...”

I take a deep breath.

“If it is any consolation...”

I open my eyes.

“We look forward to seeing you.”

I grasp the handle of my suitcase, mindful that I cannot say the same, that my only consolation is in knowing this will be the last time I ever have to visit that place. Like it or not, I have to live with myself and the choices I made. Like it or not, the time has come to face them.

Like it or not, the time has come to go home.





CHAPTER ONE





Cadence glanced up at the familiar sign and tightened her hands around the steering wheel. There was no erasing the grimace from her face as she drove past the enormous blue and yellow sign: “Ravenna. Nebraska’s Hometown Hideaway. Est. 1886.”

Her hazel-green eyes narrowed and focused back down on the road, a ribbon of asphalt gray winding across the golden prairie. A shaft of sunlight danced through the driver’s side window, giving a shine to her copper-tinted hair. For a brief moment, she appreciated the warm light that told her she was in the Midwest. It was small comfort, though.

Coming back to her hometown was not her idea of a good time and the magick liked to remind her of that. It crackled through her. Cady hated being a human live wire even more than she hated visiting Nebraska.

Not that it would have made any difference if her mother died in Massachusetts, of course. Either way, it hurt. Either way, she wasn’t prepared to deal with the loss. The sudden homecoming simply added a layer of inconvenience, which in turn made her feel guilty for feeling inconvenienced.

What Cady couldn’t understand was why her mother remained here in the first place. She supposed it was a family thing. Her mother’s family had lived in Ravenna for generations. In fact, her mother’s refusal to leave the town for more than a long weekend, let alone to move to the east coast, was one of the reasons Cady’s father had divorced her almost twenty years ago. The divorce had been a rather odd one, with the judge giving Philip Chilton custody of his daughter. Phil had more of a family support system back in Massachusetts, while all of Cady’s mother’s family was deceased. Cady also suspected her mother’s... differences had played into the judge’s decision, though her father never said a word about it.

Like her mother, Cady was an only child. Neither Harmony Gray nor Phil had remarried after their divorce. Phil ran his own construction company back on Cape Cod, while Cady had majored in journalism at Boston University. Working for The Cape Cod Gazette wasn’t exactly glamorous, but she loved her assignments. It was also nice to choose her environment as her mood dictated: the varied city amenities of Boston, the seasonal activities available throughout New England’s mountain ranges, colorful beach boardwalks up and down the coast, or any of the towns in the region that boasted rich history and timeless architecture. From quiet coffee houses to thrilling sports events, Cady felt like she had everything at her fingertips.

Returning to Ravenna was something she hated doing, whether her mother was living or not. It was simply in the middle of nowhere. During one particularly snarky argument with her mother, Cady had referred to it as “an intellectual and cultural void, comparable only to Utah.”

However, like a dutiful daughter, she came back year after year to spend the Winter Solstice, which was also her birthday, with her mother. It meant something to her mother to have her there for the celebration of the longest night. Harmony wanted to pass on the family tradition of witchcraft to a reluctant Cady.

The problem, as Cady saw it, was the kinds of powers she had already marked her as a freak. She didn’t need that kind of trouble, especially since she suspected most of what her mother talked about was just a load of bull. Move along, nothing to see here, she often told herself when strange things happened around her. And happen they did, though she tried to pretend she didn’t see things that didn’t belong or shouldn’t happen. Like the occasional fairy she might glimpse out of the corner of her eye or the time when her emotions over a break-up resulted in every light in her home dimming to the point that she had to replace all the lightbulbs.

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