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Magic and Mayhem: When You Witch Upon A Star (Kindle Worlds Novella), page 1


Magic and Mayhem: When You Witch Upon A Star (Kindle Worlds Novella)

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Magic and Mayhem: When You Witch Upon A Star (Kindle Worlds Novella)

  Text copyright ©2016 by the Author.

  This work was made possible by a special license through the Kindle Worlds publishing program and has not necessarily been reviewed by Robyn Peterman. All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements appearing in the original Magic and Mayhem remain the exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of Robyn Peterman, or their affiliates or licensors.

  For more information on Kindle Worlds:

  When You Witch Upon a Star

  Melanie James

  Table of Contents

  Books by Melanie James



  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty One


  Magic & Mayhem Authors

  About the Author

  Books by Melanie James

  Magic & Mayhem

  When You Witch Upon A Star

  Literal Leigh Romance Diaries

  Accidental Leigh

  Serious Leigh

  Hopeful Leigh

  Haunting Leigh

  Joyful Leigh

  Disastrous Leigh

  Tales From The Paranormal Plantation

  Gertie’s Paranormal Plantation

  Back to the Fuchsia

  Karma Inc. Files

  Karma Inc.

  Mission Impawsible

  Black Paw Pack

  Fur Ever Yours


  Éveiller Drive

  Ava & Will

  Kara & Dave

  Laura & Alan

  Jamie & Brad

  Ashley & Jeff

  Valerie & Greg

  Éveiller Drive Boxed Set

  Riverton Romance

  A Valentine’s Surprise

  A Deadly Obsession

  Stand Alones

  Conjuring Darkness

  Snowflakes, Exes & Ohs

  When You Witch Upon A Star

  By: Melanie James

  Editing: Elayne Morgan

  Cover Artist: Renee George


  Robyn – First and foremost, thank you! I am so very honored to be part of your crazy world!

  Teri – You are one of the best and I love you!

  To all of my Crazy Lady Sisters – I love and adore you.


  To all of my wonderful readers. Thank you for being you!


  Nearly a year ago, I made a discovery that changed everything and it wasn’t red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, though that cake does rank pretty damn high on the list. Nope. I learned that my cousins Randy and Kelly had somehow become witches. In fact, all of their close friends were witches and they trotted through magical worlds as easily as they went to the mall.

  It was accidental that I found out, mostly. Some people might call me nosey, but they’re wrong. I prefer to describe myself as naturally curious. A trait like that predisposes one for a career in science. For me specifically, it led me to follow my true calling: professional cryptozoologist.

  I may be a waitress at my day job, but it’s not who I am. Once I complete my correspondence course, I’ll never ask another person if they want fries with that.

  I know cryptozoologists have their detractors. They ridicule us for our courage to delve blindly into the unknown, but we all know who’ll get the last laugh—cryptozoologists. Yep. When someone like me discovers the Loch Ness Monster or captures a Chupacabra, the joke will be on them.

  In any case, Gertie, Randy’s roommate and fellow witch, runs the Paranormal Plantation, a shelter and safe haven for paranormal creatures. You can just imagine my excitement when I found out about the amazing creatures she has. In fact, it turns out Gertie and I are like kindred spirits when it comes to our love for all critters of mysterious origins.

  I really put my cousins in one heck of a predicament when I discovered the truth about the world they lived in. What could they do with an inquisitive person like me, their dear sweet cousin? Could I be trusted to keep such amazing secrets to myself? That’s doubtful. Now that I knew their secret, would I keep my investigative nose out of their witchy business? Absolutely not. There was only one sensible answer. I had to be inducted into their coven as a novice witch.

  If you’re like me, you just asked, “What the hell is a novice witch?”

  Good question. From what I understand, it’s a special status which puts me under the watchful eyes of the Witches Union Local 1313. Strictly limited magic—only what they’ve deemed safe enough for a recruit like me—will be made available. The Union then appraises my magical ability and makes a determination of whether or not I was born to be a witch. If all goes well, I’ll be given a mentor and proper training.

  I’ll be honest, I have my doubts about their training program. Having personally tasted the bitter failure of the other witches’ magical disasters, it’s safe to say the Union Training Program is dead on its ass.

  It didn’t matter that much to me. I was standing on the threshold of my twenty-second summer and it practically glimmered with magical possibilities. Why shouldn’t it? I was a newbie witch, a hopeful cryptozoologist, and a young woman with a secret wish for some steamy Shifter romance.

  Chapter One

  “Che schifo!”

  Nonna’s howls reverberated through the bungalow’s cramped hallway. Hell hath no fury like an Italian grandma at the receiving end of a botched hairstyle, even if the stylist is her thirteen-year-old granddaughter.

  I winced and whispered a quick prayer for my little sister, Maria. She’d offered to make one of Nonna’s dreams come true by turning her into a beautiful redhead.

  Maria’s pleas and Nonna’s thick Italian accent approached my room. When the door swung open, I gasped—quite audibly.

  There was no denying it, Nonna’s hair had certainly been dyed red. But it was a disaster: a very unfortunate orangish-reddish and frizzled beyond belief. When I say frizzled, I mean it poked out in all directions and had the texture of a used scouring pad. My poor Nonna looked like an orangutan with a bad perm. Her canary-yellow polyester pants only added to the already shocking effect.

  “Nonna, it’s only May. Halloween is a long ways away.” I figured a little levity might break the tension. Boy, was I wrong.

  “Jessie! Jessie! Look at me. You see this? I’m goin’ to go to the Andrea Bocelli concert. Like this! ‘Look! It’s Sophia Loren!’ No! He’s gonna say, ‘Look! It’s a clown!’ What can I do? Tell me, Jessie.”

  “Well, you do kind of look like Ronald McDonald on acid, Nonna.”

  “Oh my God! What if Andrea Bocelli sees me?”

  “He’s blind, Nonna.”

  “Lucky for me.”

  Maria inched closer to me, avoiding Nonna’s wagging finger. She quickly snapped her eyelids shut for fear of having her eyes poked out by the wrinkled aging threat, and tiny tears trickled from the corners. Her closed lips contorted, like she was trying to hold back a case
of the hiccups.

  The familiar squeak of the front door opening and the booming voice of Nonna’s brother caught our attention. “You should keep the door locked! You never know who will try to come barging in!”

  “Hi Uncle Carmine!” I shouted, loud enough for him to hear me from my room.

  “Ha! Watch this. I’m gonna scare the hell out of Carmine.” Nonna tiptoed out of the room, her mischievous laughter quietly trailing behind her.

  Uncle Carmine’s shouts proved success for Nonna. The unintelligible Italian conversation that followed prompted Maria to close my door. Then she let loose. It wasn’t tears she’d been holding back, it was a full-scale laughing fit.

  “Jessica! Oh. My. God. Nonna’s hair!” Nearly hyperventilating, Maria huffed, “I think I might have ruined it. How mad is she, really?”

  “She’s not mad at all. You know her. Besides, you saw—she’s already having fun with it. I don’t know what kind of crowd shows up at an Andrea Bocelli concert, but she doesn’t give a damn. Nonna does what she likes and I dare anyone to get in her way. Do you think style is important to her? If it was, she wouldn’t dress like a polyester Easter egg.”

  “Yeah. I guess you’re right. I kind of admire her for it.” Maria pawed around my desk and picked up a steamy paranormal romance book. “Bangin’ the Billionwere by Leigh Epstein. Can I borrow it?”

  “Yikes!” I snatched it away like it was a box of rat poison. “No, no, nope. You’re way too young.” I traded it for another Leigh Epstein paperback. “Here, take this other one she wrote, Regurgitant. It’s one of those teen dystopian stories.”

  “I’m going to miss you this summer when you go off and earn your Bigfoot Hunter badge or whatever you call it. You better come back before school starts.”

  “I’ll miss you too, and it’s called my cryptozoologist certification. I may be just a waitress for my daily bread, but you of all people know my passion is cryptozoology. This trip is the first real step on my yellow brick road to becoming a cryptozoologist. Don’t worry though, I’ll probably run out of money and come back early.” Unfortunately, I was telling the truth.

  “Unless you meet someone awesome and fall in love.”

  “Love? Not on my checklist. Besides, I’d have better odds playing the lottery than finding love.” My response trailed after Maria, going unheard as she strolled out of my room with her nose stuck in the book I’d just given her.

  Love. My twenty-first birthday wish had been for true love. Pshh! Apparently, I’d wasted a perfectly good wish there. While other girls my age were already in some pretty advanced relationships, I was an untouched, unromanced, uneverythinged virgin. It wasn’t for lack of trying—it was for lack of opportunity. Let’s face it, the pickings are slim when you come of age bouncing around from town to town with a traveling freakfest.

  About a month ago, I’d blown out my twenty-second birthday candles, silently reciting a carefully crafted wish for something more realistic than true love. I wished to find a hot male Shifter—purely for scientific study, with an option for friends with benefits.

  Completely reasonable, right? I was quite specific because the way I understand it, you only get one wish per birthday. Downgrading my goal from true love to FWB was something I could live with. Thanks to my collection of paranormal romance books, you could say I was beyond desperate. Hell, if I had balls they’d be as blue as Anderson Cooper’s eyes.

  But, like Nonna says, “Spit in one hand and wish with the other, and see which one fills up first.”

  In other words: if I wanted results, it was up to me to go out and find a real live Shifter.

  Chapter Two

  The Shifter really is the ultimate prize for a cryptozoologist, in my opinion. Bigfoot? Found a pair of them, and it was a thrilling and hilarious experience, to say the least. I never expected them to be so frisky and full of mischief. I mean, who would have ever thought they’d see a Bigfoot smoking a bong and running around the sixteenth-century countryside with a giant purple dildo strapped to its big furry head? But my escapade back in time with Gertie is a whole other story. And since the Sasquatches resided at my new friend Gertie’s Paranormal Plantation, I couldn’t tell a soul about the adventure of a lifetime. It sucks to be me some days.

  If I ever expected to earn the highly prized and coveted certifications needed to achieve my professional cryptozoologist’s status, I’d have to hit a home run with an up-close and personal Shifter encounter.

  Thanks to my gossipy cousin, Randy, I knew right where to start.

  As luck would have it, he’d coughed up a very juicy rumor that begged for my investigation. His sister, my cousin Kelly, supposedly found a real bear Shifter somewhere up in northern Wisconsin. According to Randy, she’d not only discovered one but, in fact, had enjoyed a steamy romantic relationship with a sexy Native American werebear.

  Sure, it was all hush-hush. As a cryptozoologist, I find that most people prefer to keep the world of Sasquatches, Shifters, alien abductions and the like a secret. My job was to drag those secrets out into the light of day, exposing them for the world to see.

  There was just one thing I needed to take care of before I approached my cousin.

  I doubt many scientists write a submission letter for their report before they’ve even started their research. But I needed to. If I had it down on paper, it’d be a virtual contract to ensure I’d actually carry through with my summer plan.

  I powered up my laptop and before long, my fingers were carefully pecking at the keys like finicky chickens.

  Your Highnesses,

  I’d like to thank the Chicago Chapter of Cryptozoologists and UFOologists for the opportunity to submit my expedition journal for review. I’m sure that after you’ve read my report you will be impressed, amazed, and flabbergasted. I humbly request the illustrious and majestic officers consider my request for elevation to the distinguished level of Semiprofessional Cryptozoologist, Third Class.

  Gratefully, I am, as always, your devoted follower,

  Jessica Franchetti

  P.S. Yes, that’s right: I am from the notorious Franchetti family. Please keep that in mind as you weigh your decision.

  “That should work. What do you say, Tiago?” Tiago, my blue-fronted Amazon parrot, bobbed on his perch. He either agreed, or was digesting breakfast. Suddenly he froze, lifting one leg up, as if a thought had occurred to him.

  “Try again.”

  “Ah, I see. You think throwing my family name out there might give them the wrong impression. Perhaps they’ll think I’m a spoiled diva from a well-connected Chicago mob family, like the ones you see on TV. Hah! Look around. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Still, I do want to be taken seriously.”

  The truth is, my great-uncle Carmine is a retired capo. Sure, he ran a neighborhood, but it wasn’t like in the movies. Construction bid rigging, illegal betting, and exotic pet smuggling were all in a day’s work for his outfit, but he had legitimate business interests as well. When people came to him for favors, he’d do what he could.

  No, there weren’t any extravagant lifestyles to be found in the blue-collar Franchetti family. If the TV mobster families’ piles of cash and jewels actually exist outside of fiction, they must keep them all on the East Coast, because they sure as hell never made it our way.

  I deleted my veiled threat. Tiago squawked his approval.

  I was ready to take my first step on the journey. Sammy’s Diner wasn’t going anywhere and I’d already received assurances that my job serving mediocre Italian food to the lunch-hour crowds would be waiting for me in the fall.

  I glanced around my bedroom. Thumbtack-studded maps displayed the locations of each reported cryptid sighting—color coded by species, of course. I also collect posters portraying all the great paranormals or cryptids in photographs, paintings, and movies. Those familiar images papered over every bit of the remaining wall spaces. I’d somehow managed to triple my collection over the three years since I’d moved in with Nonna.

  Her Chicago bungalow is the only real house I can remember living in. Not many people can say their Mom performed in a knife-throwing act in the circus. She hauled me and my baby sister, Maria, around in a grotesque 1983 Chevy Suburban, towing an even more grotesque travel trailer from state to state.

  It wasn’t all terrible. I’m comfortable with traveling. I appreciate friends more than most people, I think. Growing up with our lifestyle, I never had friends. As soon as I turned eighteen, I told Mom I was moving to Nonna’s and it was in Maria’s best interest to come with me. Mom went absolutely insane, freaking out just like that time the mimes replaced the bearded lady’s shampoo with Nair. She said there was no way she would allow it.

  The Fates didn’t agree with her. The following week, she found out her latest boyfriend, Jake, who was also her performance partner, had been cheating on her with a clown—a serious breach of social etiquette. A few days later, during the second Saturday performance in Blue Ball, Pennsylvania, Mom missed her target for the first time in nineteen years. Instead of shaving Jake’s smoldering cigarette from his lips, she impaled him to the wooden backboard with a chrome-plated dagger through his scrotum.

  She could have gotten away with it by claiming it was an accident. However, after she strutted up to him, plucked the cigarette from his mouth, took a drag, and twisted the dagger a few times, it was clear to us it was no accident. Apparently, it was clear to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well. We’re hoping for parole by Christmas. And that’s how Maria and I ended up at Nonna’s. I wasn’t about to hang around the circus any longer than I had to after that little incident.

  I knew I’d miss Maria and Nonna when I set foot on my own personal yellow brick road, but they’d be fine. They got along great and, in fact, Nonna had given me her blessing and encouraged me to go on my summer expedition.

  With a somewhat anxious sigh, I printed my letter and thumbtacked it to the wall. It was time to go interrogate my cousin.

  Chapter Three

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