Right Witch Wrong Time, page 1part #5 of A Witch in Time Series
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Right Witch Wrong Time
A Witch in Time Book 5
Right Witch Wrong Time is a work of fiction.
All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Sometimes both.
The complete book is copyright © 2019 by Stephanie Damore, Mona Marple, Jenna St. James, Ava Mallory, and Kizzie (K.M.) Waller.
A Witch in Time (and what happens within/ characters/ situations/ worlds) are copyright © 2019 by Stephanie Damore, Mona Marple, Jenna St. James, Ava Mallory, and Kizzie (K.M.) Waller.
All rights reserved. No part of this specific publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the collaborators.
“I’m fat. I’m forty. And I want to hit something. Hard.” The woman with over-teased bangs and a sour expression slapped a twenty dollar bill on the gym’s counter. She wore a wrinkled, fitted navy business suit with a duffle bag slung over her shoulder.
On a slower than usual Saturday and with zero personal training clients lined up for the rest of the evening, her words were sweet music to my ears. Not the self-deprecating comments but the fact she wanted to punch something. I unzipped my hoodie and pulled it off, excited to take on a new challenge.
My shifter familiar, usually a gnarly black cat but today in grumpy old lady form, perched on a stool behind me and snorted a laugh while chewing on an unlit cigar.
I ignored Lily Rose’s snicker as I reached out and touched the top of the woman’s hand and her money. It didn’t take my empath powers to know from her body language and tone of voice she was frustrated, but the touch gave me a direction in which to focus the woman’s negative energy. While she’d described herself with disparaging terms, most likely the root of the anger came from someone in her life who’d hurt her feelings. Their mistake, my new client gain.
The words mother-in-law and ungrateful husband floated through my head as if whispered by an invisible spirit. No wonder that out of my personally-crafted scale of one to ten, she registered a hard eight on the anger meter. The simple reason I avoided family drama like a sixteenth century plague. I didn’t have the powers to change her emotions but I could let her punch something until she felt better.
I removed my hand from hers and placed it on my chest, demonstrating a breathing technique. “Take a deep breath…?”
I dipped my chin and waited for her to fill in the blank.
“Suze,” the woman answered through clenched teeth. She sucked in a sharp shaky breath and let it go with a whoosh.
“Take another one, Suze, and this time do it slowly. Also, put the money back in your pocket. First round of boxing lessons are free.” I pointed to my boyfriend, Seth, who stood on the other side of Butterfly and Bee Boxing Gym, our little piece of the world nestled in Lakeland, Florida. “See that meathead over there with the nose that looks like it’s been through a grinder? By the time I’m done with you, you’ll be able to put him on his butt. Then you’ll go home and smile at your family. I will help you develop a ‘leave it in the ring’ mentality.”
Suze’s face brightened. “Thank you, Noo… Nu-a-la?”
I tapped my nametag. “It’s pronounced Noo-la. It means white shoulders.”
“Oh.” Suze squinted at me and then raised an eyebrow, taking in my tan shoulders, which looked even darker with the recently bleached white sports bra and matching tank top.
I shrugged, unoffended by her stare. “My shoulders aren’t exactly white and that’s thanks to a Latino father I’ve never met. But I guess Mom liked the way the Celtic name rolled off her tongue.”
Not that my biological mom had actually named me. I wasn’t sure who had. And I was almost positive my dad had been Hispanic.
Suze nodded as if the explanation made perfect sense. Unable to help myself, I always worked that bit of history into every introduction to put a quick halt to prying questions later on about my mixed heritage. If they only knew the half of it.
“The changing room is to your left. We’ll practice making a fist and wrapping your hands, then some light work on the pads for your first session today.”
Suze bounded off to the changing room with a hopeful bounce in her step.
“How are you going to keep the lights on if you don’t charge money, Nuala?” Lily Rose’s gruff voice filled the area behind the counter. “In fact, you should charge that woman double.”
I didn’t turn around but kept my tone teasing. “What did we say about you being nice to the patrons, Lily Rose?”
She blew a raspberry. “I thought the rule was I couldn’t slap the hot guys on the butts and ask them to meet me out back.”
I closed my eyes against the image of Lily Rose sucking face behind the gym. “That’s definitely another one.”
“Whatever.” She wriggled off the stool and headed to the back door. “I’d rather go chase a rat in the alley, anyway.”
My adoptive sister, who’d come in to work out after her nursing shift, finished a round of combination punches and kicks on the nearby heavy bag. She wiped the sweat from her brow with the back of her glove and eyed Lily Rose with the same wary distrust as most people who didn’t know her the way I did. “What are you doing taking a client right now? We’re meeting Mom and Dad for dinner. They even let you choose the restaurant.”
“I need to build up my clientele, Paige.” I helped her remove the bright pink boxing gloves. When my hands brushed against hers, my powers sparked and caught Paige’s usual the-glass-is-half-empty feelings. I continued for her benefit. “Besides, people having a terrible day need a few wins.”
She used her teeth to unhook and start unwinding her wraps. Something I’d told her more than once not to do.
“You should’ve taken up life coaching instead of opening a boxing gym with Lefty.” Paige sniffed as she referred to my boyfriend by his boxing nickname.
Although I really cared about making people like Suze feel better, I really needed to build a strong client base for the gym too. I didn’t do well with failure. I didn’t do well with family dinners either. “I’ll leave the mental health counseling and coaching to Momma Carla and Chuck.”
“You cannot bail on family time again. I can’t stand being their sole focus.” She glanced toward the door where Lily Rose had exited. “And don’t bring Lily Rose to deflect their attention either. She runs circles around them verbally, and I think Mom goes home to cry afterwards.”
I bit the inside of my lips to stop a smile. To my adoptive family, Lily Rose was the eccentric homeless woman I’d befriended and formed a bond with in my adult years. They had no idea she’d been around since my teens when my powers had manifested. The one true curse of being a witch raised by regular humans in their non-paranormal world was the fact I kept the most important part of myself a secret from them.
“Stop searching for excuses not to go,
Momma Carla and Chuck had taken me out of the foster care system and adopted me on my sixth birthday, and even with my thirty-third coming up at the end of the year, I’d never been able to consider them my true family. Not when I knew so little about my real parents and my witch heritage.
The Walshes had never treated me any differently than Paige, who’d been their flesh and blood, but I couldn’t help that ache that sat in the pit of my stomach when the entire family gathered together. A feeling that I didn’t belong and that I never would.
I exhaled a heavy sigh. Even in my head it sounded ungrateful.
Suze walked back onto the main floor, black spandex covering her from ankles to shoulders like a wrestling diva from the 1980s. She slapped her hands together several times. “Let’s do this.”
This time I didn’t hide my smile and a huge part of me felt relief that Lily Rose had already left the building. “Suze, I have no doubt you’re about to become one of my best students.”
Paige crossed her arms. “Actually, Nuala has this thing tonight she can’t miss.”
Dripping with sweat from battling the double-end striking bag, which looked like a ball tied to the ceiling and floor, Seth approached us and ruffled Paige on top of the head, messing up her hair. This earned him a quick jab to the kidneys.
“What thing?” he asked and rubbed the afflicted area.
“Family dinner with the Walshes.” Paige wrinkled her nose at me and stuck out her tongue. “Now you have to come.”
I rolled my shoulders. “I’m working with a new client.” I turned my attention back to Suze. “This is my partner at the gym, Seth ‘Lefty’ Fletcher.”
Suze’s eyes glazed with amazement. Honestly, most people didn’t know how to take on Seth’s intimidating size or the six-pack abs he’d never been shy about showing off. They’d be more surprised to know he’d been a better detective than boxer in his mid-thirties before a bullet had thrown him into early retirement from the police force.
“Is the nickname Lefty because you fight left-handed?” Suze’s cheeks turned a rosy shade of pink.
He chuckled. “I wish. It’s mostly because every time I get knocked out, I land on my left side. It’s super weird.”
Suze rubbed her hands together. “Nuala said I can hit you.”
His eyes widened, and they locked onto mine.
I hadn’t said that exactly, but I mouthed the word “please” to him.
Seth spread his arms wide giving Suze a wide range from chest to abs to give him a tap. She wound up her fist and sailed a punch into his stomach. He doubled over with a grunt. After a few seconds he straightened and smiled. “Good shot.”
Paige grabbed Seth by his bicep and gave it a squeeze. “Hey, Suze. I bet Lefty here wouldn’t mind giving you a free first lesson.”
“Really?” Suze asked.
Really? Little sisters, biological or not, were the worst sometimes. I shrugged in defeat. Guess I wouldn’t get out of the family dinner after all. “If it’s okay with Seth.”
Seth leaned down and gave me a peck on the cheek. The touch resonated with his high level of contentment at the gym, in life, and with us. Even though there was a ten-year age difference between us, we had an amazing relationship. He got me and never questioned my quirkiness. At times I could be overwhelmed with the guilt of hiding my witch powers and second career, but Lily Rose had drilled into me from a young age that keeping that part of me a secret from humans would insure I didn’t spend a forced vacation in a mental hospital. Or worse, a government testing facility.
“I’m glad I met you today, Nuala.” Suze patted my shoulder. “You may have stopped me from slapping the fire out of my sixty-year-old mother-in-law.”
My heart squeezed in reply. Momma Carla had identified me early on as being a people pleaser, but as a witch vexed with the power of empath, enhancing people’s emotions for the better just meant making that secret world easier to live in.
Seth started off toward our wall of boxing supplies with Suze but he hesitated. “Before I forget, Nu, a package with your subscription cold case of the month club was waiting by the door this morning when I opened. I put it in the office.”
“Oh, thanks.” Speaking of my secret career. Another kick-butt adventure to look forward to. The one area of my life where I excelled without a doubt was solving crimes involving the paranormal. Not just any crimes. Cold case crimes from the past.
“Are you still doing that murder club thing?” Paige asked. “It’s so macabre.”
“Um, yeah. It’s just a hobby.” Or more accurately the best way I’d found to explain my side job as a time-traveling, cold-case-solving witch to regular people. The cover worked well and kept me from having to lie about everything. Especially with Seth who looked over the notes in the file with a keen detective’s eye. He thought it was a game. My success and closure rate wouldn’t be so high without his unofficial input.
Best of all, I never had to worry about removing any paranormal references since the case notes came from police departments. Most of them never considered a paranormal connection even if the evidence was plain as the crooked nose on Seth’s face.
I knew Paige wanted to ask more questions about my hobby but I cut her off, deflection being one of my talents. “Are you going to change before we go?”
“And give you a chance to weasel out of it? No way.” She looped her arm through mine and pulled me toward the exit.
Outside, the waning Florida sun greeted us with a heavy dose of summer-evening humidity. We walked the two blocks to the sushi restaurant I’d picked a week ago when I’d agreed to dinner. The place was super casual with outdoor seating, so it wouldn’t stand out that Paige and I were in our workout clothing.
Momma Carla and Chuck waited for us outside, their hands interlocked and easy smiles on both of their faces. They broke apart and Momma Carla reached for a hug from Paige while Chuck grabbed me. Then we switched.
I kissed Momma Carla on the cheek and as we broke apart I marveled at her wrinkle-free skin. She wore her blonde hair in a loose ponytail and today’s maxi dress stopped just above her pink-painted toes.
She cupped my cheek. “You look tired, dear. Are you getting enough sleep?”
Her emotions of sincerity and motherly affection came through in her touch and her words.
I patted the top of her hand. “I’m fine. It’s just trying to get personal training and boxing clients of my own is a whole new world.”
“Ah,” Chuck guffawed and raised his fists in a fighting stance. “You’re a champ. I know you’ll be training the next Christy Martin.”
“Yeah, right.” I teased back and pushed on his fists. Chuck didn’t know the first thing about boxing, and I bet he’d Googled champion women boxers in the car while waiting on us, but his efforts never went unnoticed by me or Paige.
“Dad, you’re such a dork,” Paige said.
A cell phone ring tone went off and Chuck patted his pockets. “That’s mine. It’s my hospital ring tone.”
“I have it.” Momma Carla dug around in her purse and retrieved the phone. She handed it to him and he stepped a few feet away to take the call.
The psychiatric doctor and the social worker. If a gal were to be adopted, they were the parent dream team to be adopted by.
He turned back to us and I could tell from his stance and the regret radiating from his bright blue eyes he hadn’t gotten news he wanted. “I’m sorry, girls. I need to head back to the hospital. One of the psychiatric patients is having a hard evening and they might need me to sedate her.”
Relief squiggled and wiggled through me, and I hadn’t even realized how tense I’d been since walking out of the gym. I’d never be able to understand why it hurt me to be around such a loving and caring family.
“Can we resc
“I’ll check my calendar,” I said.
“She means yes,” Paige answered for me.
Paige and I waved them off and returned to the gym. Paige made me promise about Sunday before heading home and internally I promised myself I’d try to keep the plans.
Back inside the gym, I hummed and wiggled my hips to the pop music blaring over the loudspeakers. With Seth working with his ever-growing group of clients, I took the opportunity to check out the assignment box delivered from the Agency of Paranormal Peculiarities. In the past six years since they’d recruited me, I’d never once seen the deliverer of the box. Like magic, it appeared somewhere the Agency knew I’d be.
Today it came in the form a brown postal box. If anyone looked closely enough, they’d realize the postage stamps and seal were faked.
The Agency took on stray witches either without a coven or ones who wanted to leave the covens they were born too. For a select few, like my friend Vee, they joined because of their family ties. I’d been recruited and trained by a warlock who’d for lack of a better word magically found me. Every witch on the payroll had a special witch talent that made them an asset when solving crimes.
Since changing the past could come with consequences, the Agency carefully chose each assignment based on the specialty of the witch and the amount of work done later done by a time traveling clean-up crew. The smaller wrongs of the past deserved to be righted even if the bigger ones, like wars, couldn’t be.
They put strict rules in place to make sure we didn’t screw up the present.
I shut the door behind me and locked it. Like a birthday present, I ripped into the contents, my excitement growing. As good as I was at boxing and personal training, I was freaking awesome at time-traveling and solving cold cases—which became less cold when I traveled back in time and solved them. I’d tracked down rogue witches, rabid werewolves, and neck-hungry vampires who’d gotten away with their murders because human police didn’t know how to put together the paranormal clues.
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