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The anthology, SEASON OF THE WITCH, includes these three novellas:   

CONNAL’S ETERNAL LOVE by Christine Young
A few days shy of All Hallows' Eve, Connal McKenna, Laird of Clan Chattan, stands on the parapets of his castle. Bonfires line the hillsides while his clan prepares for the upcoming festivities. Drawn by the whispering of the wind, Connal feels a strange restlessness in his soul. Setting out on a ride to discover the wickedness calling to him, he discovers his mate. With gentle words and sensuous kisses, the highlander conquers the beautiful, defiant Wynnie Adair. She must ultimately put her trust in the only man who can save her from the ruthless plans of her father.

SORCERESS’ SECRET by C.L. Kraemer
The Lending Library is open – again! The new "other" is able to see the fae and wood nymph buzzing about, and she states she has no fear of the Night Elves on the hill. However...a lost traveler from another era pushes her to expose the secret she hoped to keep.

THIRTEEN MAGIC PUMPKIN SEEDS by Genie Gabriel
A half-bionic computer nerd teams up with a beautiful witch and an assortment of Halloween characters in a series of spook-tacular misadventures. On their way to save a small country from a zombie apocalypse, they bring bad guys to justice, and lend a helping hand to new friends they chase down, crash into, and stumble across.

EXCERPT from THIRTEEN MAGIC PUMPKIN SEEDS

"Can we find Batzy and go home?" Chloe's woeful look tugged at Finn's guilt.

"We also need to help Batram regain his sonar and turn Maurina back into a human," Shabina Louise said. "All before midnight."

The adults shared a look. "Okay, girls, let's head back to the party at Aunt Maddie's."

As the two girls set out slightly ahead of the adults, Finn asked, "Are all the offenders from the past?"

"Many are because the shock of traveling to a different era can make them more open to changing their ways, and they aren't in a familiar environment with their usual connections," Asteria said. "But we also get modern-day politicians and lawyers–anyone who thinks they don't have to comply with the laws and agreed upon behaviors of their time. Again, shock value can be good therapy. If an offender comes face to face with a power they can't manipulate or control, it shocks them into changing. However, some offenders like these two are good at adapting their crimes to fit any time period or circumstance. That's when more drastic measures are taken to make sure they don't harm others."

Asteria paused, then pinned Finn with a direct look. "Now, tell me about this deposed dictator."

Finn knew Asteria would see through anything less than the truth. Yet his agreement with the military bound him not to reveal some information. "Much of the details are classified military information. But the basics are this dictator was overthrown about a year ago, then disappeared, and has been gathering support to regain his power. My brother's unit is charged with making him disappear permanently."

"Wait a minute." A frown of concentration wrinkled Asteria's brow. "There was a kerfluffle in the magic community at the same time about witches mixing too closely with mortals in a little country named Hallowoden. That's when Spell Central was established and witches were given computers to control their spells. Supposedly to keep dark magic from growing too powerful. Didn't set right with me at the time, so I've kept up my own magic the old-fashioned way with spells and potions."

Finn keyed the country name into his computer. "Looks like another kerfluffle–a news flash about a zombie apocalypse happening now. Think it's fake news?"

"Well, many things are possible with dark magic."

With a few more keystrokes, Finn said, "Thought I remembered a scientific possibility for zombies. A neurotoxin found in some sea creatures can cause problems walking and breathing as well as a confused mental state. Says high doses could also cause paralysis and coma, which makes some people seem dead. I would think a doctor could tell the difference, but generations ago doctors weren't always available. So if relatives thought someone was dead and buried them...waking up and trying to dig out would be a real challenge. Unless grave robbers were prying open coffins and someone sat up to have a chat."

A corner of Asteria's mouth kicked up in a half smile. "There really is more to you than you appear. And, as I recall, a potion made with the corpse flower can turn people into zombies also."

"We met an old man who had one in a coffin," Finn said.

"It must be carefully combined with other ingredients under specific conditions. Otherwise, the one casting the spell could succumb to a coma. Older witches knew this well, but it became used for dark magic and was forbidden by Spell Central. Only a few witches, like my friend, Louise, retain this knowledge."

"Witches who use dark magic wouldn't care what was forbidden, would they?"

"No, they wouldn't. These times of great world chaos have affected witches also, bringing up issues buried long ago to be vanquished. Just as with humans, there has long been the conflict between dark and light magic among witches, and where to draw the line between."

"Sometimes more than a line. More like a very blurry no man's land between the two."

"You have been there."

"Most of my life, it seems." Finn looked at Asteria. Would she understand? Would she consider him a freak? One of dark ones? When declared clinically dead at six years old, Finn had no choice in his father's decision to revive him with experimental bionic body parts.

Now he faced his own decision: whether or not to become fully bionic and a tool of the military. Was this a choice between dark and light?

From what his brother shared about military operations, much was kept secret, even from those involved in a mission. The need to keep information out of enemy hands if someone was captured? Or the selfish desire for power by dark forces in charge?

He would become a hero, they said in trying to sell him on their scheme. A pathfinder in a new generation of soldiers that used technology coupled with brains and physical might beyond that of a mere human to keep peace in the world.

Yet, Finn wondered, could a super-warrior designed for conquering, war and violence really be content with peace? All his life Finn's desire for a sanctuary where he could feel he truly belonged had eluded him. Becoming a super-soldier sounded like it would take him farther away from contentment, and certainly would further set him apart from all other people.

"Finn?" Asteria's voice pulled him from his musings. "Was there something you wanted to tell me?"

Yes, tell her, his internal computer urged.

This time, Finn pushed the voice aside. "Ah, sorry. My mind went off-rail for a moment. You think dark magic may be interfering with the atonement of souls sent to the enchanted pumpkin patch?"

Asteria considered this mortal man named Finn. He was indeed more than he appeared, and she did not for a minute buy the excuse about his mind wandering. This man had something deep and serious going on.

"Hey, what's taking you two so long to catch up?" Uncle Werey reappeared as Chloe and Shabina Louise waited impatiently a short distance ahead.

"We've come up with a mystery." Asteria briefly outlined what she and Finn had discovered.

"If a deposed dictator and someone with dark magic were working together to gain power, staging a zombie apocalypse, then saving the panicked masses by defeating the zombies would be a creative way to do that."

"Does anyone who appeared in the enchanted pumpkin patch for atonement hold that much dark magic?" Asteria scrolled through the list of offenders.

"They wouldn't really need much power if the mortals were predisposed to believe in zombies," Uncle Werey said.

"I agree," Finn said. "They could run old zombie movies to set people thinking about the possibility of a zombie apocalypse, and run footage on the news, along with the information about the neurotoxin that can cause zombie-like symptoms..."

"And the imagination of mortals could do the rest." Asteria shook her head. "They would be out digging up great-aunt Hilda to make sure she was already dead."

"Depending on whether or not they had spent all the inheritance she left them." Finn's teasing remark earned a smile from Asteria.

"Well, I can transport to Hallowoden and deal with anyone using dark magic," Uncle Werey said.

"While my brother's military unit takes out the deposed dictator, now that they have the correct coordinates of his location," Finn said.

"And we can find Batzy, as well as help Batram and Maurina."

..."Well, I'd like to be human again." Maurina stared at her eight legs, one at a time. "I've learned that words can be hurtful, so think before speaking. After seeing how all of you try to help others, I realize the life I had back in the 1700s was very selfish and shallow. I wasn't making a positive difference in anyone's life, including my own."

"Bravo, my dear." Asteria took off her pointed witch's hat and bowed to Maurina. "You have done what the enchanted pumpkin patch is meant to do: change a person's thinking to make a better life. But this darned computer has another glitch that won't let me access my spell book to look up a potion to help you become human again."

Thought I fixed that too. Finn frowned as Asteria handed him the computer tablet. "Let me make one more tweak to the programming to let you access your spell book while the tracking program also keeps tabs on those transported to the enchanted pumpkin patch."

"I want to access everything Spell Central decreed we should automate," Asteria said. "I think Bruney was taken in by the pretty face of a con man masquerading as a computer expert. This will bring witches into the modern world, he said. Will make magic much easier, he insisted. Dolion just wanted to her magic to increase his own power."

As Finn accessed the programming, the wind began swirling around them.

"What's happening?"

Grateful for the strength of the bionic side of his body, Finn locked his arms around the girls and Asteria, who clung to the cats and Batzy. Maurina in spider form dropped into Finn's pocket to ride out the storm.

Faster and faster. Around and around they spun. When the wind stopped abruptly and they fell toward the ground, Chloe screamed.

 

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