Hello Hayley here!
Today Dark Readers has an exclusive story from Christina Courtenay via Choc Lit books. You can follow the rest of the round robin via the various links within this post...ENJOY!
Part 3 by Christina Courtenay
An amateur witch attempts to summon a new (and hopefully less gittish) lover using her grandmother’s spell book … what could possibly go wrong?
Each section of A New Love for Halloween will be told by a different Choc Lit author to create one magical story. You can follow the tale on five separate blogs from the 27th Oct to Halloween. You can read part one by Berni Stevens here and part two by Jane Lovering here
'Gran, is this your idea of a joke?' Jo glared in the direction of heaven, then quickly changed her mind and glanced downwards instead. Witches probably went to the darker place, especially if they were going to play tricks on their relatives after death. She could have sworn she heard a cackle in reply and gritted her teeth. 'This is so not funny, Gran.'
Most of the houses along the street were in darkness, but there was one place guaranteed to have someone at home – number 29. As she didn't seem to have much choice in the matter, Jo set off across the road. Sure enough, sounds of revelry could be heard as she drew closer, and music and lights blared out of a partially open front door.
Jo was shivering now – bare legs and feet didn't mix well with sharp autumn winds – and tiptoed inside without knocking. No point, they wouldn't have heard her anyway. The hallway was only lit by a single candle in an old-fashioned lantern and Jo stubbed her toe on someone's big boot. 'Ouch!'
As she turned, she also walked straight into something hard, but warm, which turned out to be a male chest. She looked up into a face she recognised. 'Oops, sorry! Oh, it's you.'
'Paddington,' said Musketeer number two with a teasing smile. 'Decided to join us, have you?'
'It's Jo actually, and no, not exactly. I've locked myself out.' Which wasn't strictly true but she couldn't tell him her gran was an annoying witch who liked to torment her grandkids.
He glanced at her attire once more, his smile turning into a grin. 'Well, you're welcome to stay here with me. No one seems to be in any hurry to leave and they’re being boring anyway, dancing to 70s disco music. Seriously? In this?' He indicated his gorgeous silk outfit and funnel top boots. His eyes, which were a strange, deep blue colour in the light from the lantern, twinkled at her and she felt a pull of attraction. Why hadn't she noticed earlier how hot he was? Even wearing a long curly wig. She took a deep breath.
'Thanks, but if I could just call a locksmith, please?'
'Are you sure you don't want to stay for a while first?'
Jo shook her head, although the inviting gleam in those eyes of his were making her doubt herself, sending a shiver down her back. But no, she had to stay firm and wait for that spell to work. Just one month and she'd have her perfect lover. How hard could it be?
'I'm Zach by the way.'
He took her hand, twining his fingers with hers and giving her another jolt that shot straight into her heart. Well, maybe it wouldn't be quite that easy to resist.
He sighed. 'Okay, come on then, I'll fix your lock for you.'
'You? But ...'
He didn't reply, just towed her out the door and back across the street. 'Now close your eyes please.'
Jo did, but peeked slightly through her lashes. His muscular frame shielded the door from her view, but she could have sworn she saw a small blue flash, then she heard a grating sound.
Jo opened her eyes and Zach indicated her front door, which was open. 'How did ...'
Once again, he didn't reply but propelled her inside. 'Go on, you don't want to catch your death out here, with no knickers or anything.'
Jo frowned. 'How do you know I'm not wear—' She stopped as his broad, teasing grin told her she'd just given herself away. He laughed, a lovely sound that sent shockwaves down to her toes and made her smile against her will. 'Damn it, Zach!'
'I think you owe me a cup of coffee at the very least,' he said, stepping past her into the kitchen.
Jo followed, then stopped short with a gasp as he picked up the spell book she'd forgotten to put away. Shit. 'I ... that's just ... er, a family joke,' she stammered, hoping he wouldn't realise how seriously she'd been treating it earlier.
He looked amused and put the book down. 'I should think so too. Spell books are so last century. It's all in the fingers these days.'
He pointed at the kettle and another of those blue flashes shot out of his index finger, making the kettle boil immediately. 'See? Now where's your instant coffee?'
Christina Courtenay lives in Hereford and is married with two children. Although born in England she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, the family moved to Japan where she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East.
Try her spooky time-slip novels, The Secret Kiss of Darkness and The Silent Touch of Shadows, winner of the 2012 Best Historical Read award from the Festival of Romance.
To win three Choc Lit paperbacks of your choice, collect each of our 5 questions (you’ll find one at the end of each story section) and email ALL 5 answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question 3: In The Secret Kiss of Darkness Jago Kerswell is a) a highwayman b) an innkeeper and smuggler c) a vampire