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Winter grips White Haven, bringing death in its wake.

It’s close to the winter solstice when Newton reports that dead bodies have been found drained of their blood. Avery and the other witches suspect that an ancient evil is the cause.

Then people start disappearing, and Genevieve calls a coven meeting. What they hear chills their blood.

This has happened before, and it’s going to get worse – far worse.

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Chapter One

Avery took a deep breath and uttered the spell that she now knew by heart. Within seconds she blacked out, and when she woke up, she found herself on the floor, her cheek against the thick wool rug.

She gingerly pushed herself upright, checked for injuries, and then looked around the room. She had no idea where she was, but the room was beautifully decorated with antique furniture, a huge bed, and expensive Persian carpets.

A moment later she heard a voice, faint but clear. “Avery! Can you hear me?”

She sighed, hating the fact that she could not master witch-flight. “Yes. I’m in a bedroom, somewhere.”

A whirling black cloud appeared in front of her, manifesting into the tall, dark-haired Caspian Faversham. He raised an eyebrow. “You seem to have found my bedroom.”

She glared at him. “I can assure you it was not intentional.”

He smirked. “The bed would have been a softer landing.” He stretched out his hand, and Avery accepted it as he pulled her to her feet.

“I’d settle for landing on my feet,” she said archly.

“Perhaps you’d like me to demonstrate with you this time? I did suggest it was the best way to learn.”

Avery sighed heavily. She had been at Caspian’s house—the huge one he had inherited from his father, Sebastian—for the last two hours, and was no closer to mastering the skill than when she had arrived.

Ever since Caspian realised Avery needed help, he had offered to teach her, but she had resisted. Partly because Avery knew Alex was uncomfortable with the idea once he learned Caspian had made a pass at her, but also because she didn’t really want to spend time with Caspian alone. Although, she couldn’t fault him. He’d been the perfect gentleman. But he was also still Caspian, and therefore infuriating. He’d said the best way to learn was to experience witch-flight with him, but she didn’t want to. Until now.

Caspian spoke again, echoing her own thoughts. “Avery, I realise you’re a stubborn and independent woman, but you really are no closer now than when you first arrived.” He frowned in thought. “Are you still saying that spell?” He was referring to the spell she had found in the old grimoire.

“Yes. Why?”

“Because, as I told you, I don’t use one, and neither do most other witches. The spell you found was most likely for witches who are not masters of elemental Air, and was therefore designed to help them achieve witch-flight. Clearly it’s flawed, and you shouldn’t use it again. It’s hampering your natural ability.” He held out his hand again. “Let me demonstrate.”

Avery stared at him for a few seconds, assessing her options, but had to agree that he was right. She extended her hand and he held it in his cool one, pulling her closer.

“What are you doing?” she asked, resisting.

“Not seducing you, just making life a little easier,” he said with a smirk.

He placed his arm around her waist so her back was pulled against his chest, his chin an inch above her head. She held herself stiffly, uncomfortably aware of his closeness.

“Now, I want you to feel as I gather the air. You do what you normally do—pull it towards you, and use its energy for yourself. But you need to become a part of it, Avery.”

She grimaced. “Yes I know, but…”

“But you’re rushing it. You must control it. I’ve seen you lift off the ground before. This is a similar process. We are going to the kitchen, which I am envisaging very strongly. Do not resist me.”

Avery felt Caspian’s power reach out and the air begin to gather. He pulled it closer until they were wrapped within it, and then she felt its elemental force start to rush through her, her body dissolving into it. However, with the process slowed by Caspian, she was better able to feel how it worked.

With a snap, the bedroom disappeared and was replaced by a kitchen. More importantly, she was still standing and conscious.

Avery pulled away from Caspian, who still held her lightly, and looked around the room. “Wow. We made it!”

He sounded impatient. “Of course we made it! I’m an expert.”

She turned to look at him and resisted slapping his arrogant face. “You’re right. I could feel how to do it better with you.”

He smirked. “Everything’s better with me, Avery.”

She snorted. “I doubt that.”

He still looked insufferably pleased with himself. “Suit yourself. Now, once more. But this time, I’ll do it slightly quicker.”

She backed into his embrace once more, wondering at what point double-entendres with Caspian had become normal, but within seconds the room disappeared again. This time they reappeared in the garden overlooking the large lawn that spread to the shrubs and trees bordering the grounds.

She shivered as she stepped away. “Bloody hell. It’s freezing! Did we have to come outside?”

He grinned. “I thought it would motivate you to get back inside again. Ready to try on your own?”

Avery nodded. “Yes. I can definitely feel where I was going wrong before.”

“Good. See you back in the kitchen.” And with that, he disappeared.

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, clearly envisaging Caspian’s kitchen, and then she summoned Air, dissolving her being into it. The now familiar but uncomfortable sensation overcame her, and this time, she landed in the kitchen, fully conscious, but on the floor again.

“Bollocks,” she exclaimed.

Caspian was leaning against the counter, watching her. “But you’re here, and awake! I really am a great teacher.”

Avery just stared at him as she stood. “Can you stop being quite so irritating? I’m going to try again. Put the kettle on.”

***

Avery drove back into White Haven after leaving Caspian’s place and headed to The Wayward Son, Alex’s pub, ready for some lunch.

She smiled as she navigated through the streets. It was a Thursday in mid-December, and the entire town was now groaning under Christmas decorations. A large Christmas tree had been erected in the square, shop fronts and restaurants were lit up with fairy lights, and the streets were adorned with giant baubles and snowflakes.

Avery loved Christmas. She didn’t believe in God or Jesus, instead celebrating the pagan Winter Solstice, but nevertheless, she loved the way everyone came together to enjoy each other’s company and to give presents.

The winding streets were full of shoppers huddled in heavy woollen coats or puffer jackets. The skies were grey and heavy with clouds, and a biting wind sliced through the streets. It looked as if it would rain, and Avery mused, it might even snow. Although, on the coast, snow never seemed to stick around for long.

As she rounded the corner onto the quayside, the view opened up and she saw the sea stretching to the horizon. The sea was as grey as the sky, and fishing boats bobbed on the heavy swells. Avery shivered, despite the warmth in her van. She pulled around the back of the pub and squeezed it into a parking spot. When she entered the pub, the chatter of the lunchtime crowd hit her, and she headed toward the bar to her usual spot.

Alex, another witch and her boyfriend, was pulling pints, and he grinned as he saw her. He was working with Zee, one of the Nephilim, and a young woman who Avery had never met before. This must be either Grace or Maia. Alex had told her he’d employed some extra bar staff for the Christmas and New Year period. The young woman was blonde, and looked to be in her early twenties. Alex had said they were both students at the university. Zee caught her eye and nodded before continuing to serve customers, and Avery smiled. Zee now had a scar running down his left cheek after his encounter with the Wild Hunt a few weeks before on All Hallows’ Eve. With Briar’s salves and his own unnatural ability to heal, it had already faded considerably.

Avery perched on a stool, and looked around the pub at the crowded tables. A large Christmas tree stood in the corner of the room, decorated with lights and baubles, and tinsel was strung up over the bar. She recognised quite a few faces, but there were new ones, which was unusual at this time of year. It was well out of the summer holiday season, and the school holidays were another couple of weeks off. But she knew why the place was busy. It was the same reason the whole town had been busy for weeks.

Ever since Samhain and the Walk of the Spirits, as the press had called it, paranormal lovers and ghost hunters had arrived in droves. They had booked up hotels and Bed and Breakfast places, and the whine of EMF metres sounded along every street. The event had put White Haven on the map. The footage—admittedly sketchy—had been on national news, and interviews with the locals had dominated headlines for over a week. Ben, Dylan, and Cassie, the paranormal investigators, had also been interviewed, and they were now getting referrals from all over Cornwall. National reporters had descended for a few days, and then finding that nothing else of interest was happening, had disappeared again. But the steady stream of other visitors had remained.

Avery allowed herself a smile. The Walk of the Spirits had been fun, especially after the horrors of the Wild Hunt in Old Haven Church. Although, not a single ghost had appeared in the centre of White Haven since. Except, of course, for Helena, her own witch ancestor who’d been burned at the stake. She was now a ghost who appeared from time to time in her flat. Avery strongly suspected that Helena had organised the spirit walk in order to keep everyone’s focus away from Old Haven Church, if ghosts did such things as organising. It was a surprisingly magnanimous gesture from Helena if that was the case. Avery presumed that with the passing of Samhain, the time when the veils between worlds became thinner, the opportunity for such a mass event had gone. However, there were still spirit sightings, hauntings, poltergeists, and other unusual spirit activity in certain places.

Avery was disturbed from her reverie by Alex placing a glass of red wine in front of her. His dark brown, shoulder-length hair was loose, and as usual he had stubble across his lower jaw and chin. “Hi, gorgeous. How did your witch-flight go?”

She smiled. “Very well. I can do it! I hesitate to use the word master, but I don’t pass out anymore.”

He grinned and leaned closer. “Awesome. I knew you’d do it. And I expect you to show me later.”

“Of course. How is your new staff?” Avery nodded to the blonde.

“That’s Grace. She’s a bit slow, but she’ll pick it up. She’s very charming, and I’m pretty sure very capable of telling the overeager punters to back off.” He frowned, changing the subject. “How was Caspian?”

“Very helpful. I actually didn’t need the spell from my grimoire, but I did need his guidance.”

“Did he try anything with you?”

Avery knew Alex was annoyed at Caspian for his over-familiarity with her, and she tried to reassure him. “No. He was the perfect gentleman, and as usual, very annoying.”

“Good.” Alex looked relieved, and he pulled a menu off the bar. “Go and grab a seat and I’ll join you in a minute.”

“Are you sure you can spare the time? I don’t mind if you’re too busy.” She looked around at the room again. “There are a lot of people in today!”

“And my bar staff are very capable of handling the crowd,” he said with a wink. “Besides, I have news.”

Avery headed to the small back room that Alex had spelled to remain quiet, a haven for the locals, and found a table under the window looking out on the small courtyard garden that was deserted today, except for two hardy smokers who sat under a string of colourful fairy lights.

Avery had barely had time to decide on her lunch of soup and garlic bread when Alex reappeared, placed their orders, and then sat down opposite her with a pint.

“So, what’s your mysterious news?” Avery asked, thinking it was something about the pub or their Christmas plans. They hadn’t decided how to spend it yet, but were debating whether to go to Reuben’s, their surfer friend and rich witch who lived at Greenlane Manor.

He sighed and stared at the table for a second, and then looked up, his eyes meeting hers. “You know how we thought Gabe, Zee, and the other Nephilim had killed the two fey who broke through the protection circle?”

“Yes.” Avery hesitated. “Well, not so much presumed. Gabe said they had.”

“Well, he lied. One of them was killed, the other one survived.”

Avery almost dropped her drink in shock. “What do you mean? A fey is alive, here in White Haven!” She looked around as if she would see it sitting in the bar, casually sharing a drink with the locals.

Alex laughed briefly before looking deadly serious. “No, she’s not here. Gabe’s keeping her prisoner up at that old, creaky farmhouse they live in on the edge of the moor.”

“The fey is a she? And how do you know?” Avery’s heart began to pound with worry and annoyance.

“Zee told me. He’s not happy about it. He wants me to ‘do something.’”

Avery frowned and took a big glug of wine in an effort to steady her thoughts. “But it’s been almost six weeks since Samhain! He’s been keeping her prisoner all that time? That’s terrible!”

Alex shrugged. “Well, yes and no. Would you rather she was dead?”

“Well, if she was killed during battle as I expected, yes. She was attacking us! She was part of the Hunt!”

“Well, according to Zee, she’s not attacking anyone anymore. She just wants to get out and try to salvage her life.”

Avery’s thoughts were reeling and she leaned back in her chair. “Does Gabe know that you know?”

“Not yet.” Alex watched her, his dark eyes thoughtful. “But I’m going up to see him this evening, when Zee finishes his shift. Want to come?”

“Hell, yes! I’ve been dying to get up to their place. Gabe has been very secretive.”

“That’s why I’m going with Zee,” Alex explained. “I want to be sure of a warm welcome.”

“He still may not let us in. In fact, he may be furious with Zee.”

“Zee’s a big boy. I’m sure he can handle it,” Alex said, and then promptly shut up as their food was delivered by a nervous Grace.

She smiled as she placed their plates in front of them and Avery introduced herself.

Grace nodded, saying, “Good to meet you, Avery. I’ve heard all about you! See you next time.”

As she disappeared back to the bar, Avery said, “I presume she doesn’t know we’re witches.”

Alex shook his head. “She doesn’t know she works with a Nephilim, either. Not many do.” He winked. “There are some things I like to keep secret.”