Finding Magic, #6
by Blair Drake
Date of Publication: August 9th 2018
Publisher: Magic Quest Books
Cover Artist: Jennifer Zemanek/Seedlings LLC
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Tash Pruitt lands in 17th century Massachusetts with a mission which soon becomes clear to her: she has to save Goody Cooke from a charge of witchcraft and escape back to the present before she herself is charged as a witch.
Seventeenth-century Massachusetts, and charges of witchcraft fill the air. When Tash Pruitt is catapulted from the Grey Cliffs Academy into this strange colonial environment, she has no idea that she herself is a witch. All she knows is that she has to save the woman who has taken her in—an unmarried healer—from charges of witchcraft, and keep the woman’s ward safe. Soon enough, Tash realizes that another life she has to save is her own.
Tash lifted her head and gazed around. She was propped up on her hands and knees like a baby learning to crawl, planted in the middle of a dirt road. She had landed hard. Her knee throbbed.
Where was she?
More dirt road stretched ahead of her, rutted gray and brown. On one side of the road was a field filled with weeds and wildflowers, bordered by dense forest. On the other side was more forest—thick, towering pines, streaks of white birch, a crazy tangle of undergrowth lining the road. She recognized ferns, ragged daisies, and poison ivy sprouting through a carpet of rust-colored pine needles. She might have the wind knocked out of her, but she knew enough not to mess with poison ivy. A painful rash would spoil the soccer season, plus she wouldn’t be able to get close to Kyle. Poison ivy was contagious, wasn’t it?
Why was she wasting time worrying about poison ivy when she had no idea where she was or how she got here? One minute she was standing in her dorm room, her backpack slung over one shoulder and her phone in her other hand while she texted Kyle about their plan to study for the calculus final together. The next minute Headmistress Lalane was ordering Tash to put her phone away and herding her, along with a bunch of other kids, first to Headmaster Auster’s office, where they’d stood around, confused, while the office got darker and colder, and then they’d been taken up to the roof. And the minute after that…
The minute after that, Tash opened her eyes to find herself crawling down a dirt road, with pebbles embedded in the palms of her hands and her right knee bruised and bleeding.
This was really weird.
She shifted to sit, swinging her leg around carefully because it hurt. After plucking the grit out of her hands, she flexed her fingers to make sure they still worked, then checked her knee. The skirt of her uniform was dirty. The flesh around her kneecap—her patella; she’d knocked herself memorizing the proper names of the bones in the human skeleton in honors biology last year—looked like a puffy pink sponge. The skin was scraped raw. Trickles of blood skittered down her shin.
She groped for her backpack and discovered it missing. Great. No tissues. More important, no phone. No wallet. No money. No anything.
Where the hell was she?
What the hell happened?
She was in major trouble. Leaving campus without permission was a serious breach. She’d probably be dragged before the disciplinary board, and they’d contact her parents, and God knew what would happen next. Loss of senior privileges? Expulsion just weeks before graduation? Serious shit from Mom and Dad?
Would they go light on the punishment if she explained she hadn’t done anything wrong? She was minding her own business, texting back and forth with Kyle about studying for the calc final, when Lalane poked her head through the open door to Tash’s dorm room and ordered her to come. Tash obeyed. Surely the school would cut her a little slack.
Especially since she had no idea how she’d even gotten here—wherever here was.
Her dorm. Auster’s office. The roof. She recalled the other kids—nine of them—murmuring among themselves as Lalane hustled them up the stairs to the roof. She recalled Lalane dropping something into the pocket of her blazer. She recalled the roof. The air was chilly, the sky surprisingly dark, clouds as dark as soot obliterating the morning sunlight.
She reached into the pocket of her blazer and pulled out a pin. Round, sort of gold, it didn’t look like much. Why had the headmistress stuck it in Tash’s pocket? Was Tash supposed to pin it to her blazer?
She did now, fastening it to a lapel. Who knew why Lalane gave her the pin? Some of the students were kind of pals with the headmistress, but Tash always maintained her distance from the administrators. She was a scholarship student. She didn’t want to run the risk of antagonizing the folks in charge—or to seem like she was kissing up to them.
She returned her attention to her knee, using her thumb to wipe the rivulets of blood leaking out of her torn skin. Now her thumb was bloody, too. Wonderful. She supposed she could use the tail of her shirt to mop up the mess, but then her shirt would be stained, and she’d get in trouble for that.
Above her, the sky was a crisp, vivid blue marbled with rippling white clouds. One minute she was breathing the aroma of the travel-mug of coffee she filled in the dining hall during breakfast and brought back to her room, and the next she was breathing a dry, piney fragrance. No hint of the musty scent hanging in the corridors of the old school buildings, or the stale smell of the locker room adjacent to the soccer field, or the ocean-tinged breezes drifting across campus. Was she even still on the island? She’d never seen this field before, or these woods.
She forced herself to stand. Her knee ached, but her leg didn’t buckle. No broken bones, she decided. Correction: no broken patella, femur, tibia, or fibula. If she was going to do pre-med next year, a notion she was considering at the moment, she ought to practice using the correct terminology.
She bent over and tried to rub the blood from her sticky thumb on a patch of grass. That didn’t work too well, but a little saliva helped, and she got most of the blood off. Then she straightened up and started down the road. Maybe her backpack dropped somewhere along the way. She’d be royally screwed if she couldn’t find it. It contained not only her phone and wallet but a few textbooks. If she lost them, she’d have to pay to replace them, and she wasn’t exactly rolling in money.
Replacing her textbooks would be cheap compared to replacing her phone. When her parents gave it to her last Christmas, they went on and on about how much it cost, which kind of spoiled the whole Christmas thing. You weren’t supposed to mention the price of presents at Christmas. You weren’t supposed to make a person feel guilty about the gift you were giving them. You were just supposed to give it and say, “Merry Christmas.”
She hobbled along, scanning left and right in search of her backpack. If it slid off her shoulder somewhere in the field, she would spot it easily, but it could have landed in the woods. She hoped she wouldn’t have to traipse through poison ivy to retrieve it.
Like that was going to happen. How could she think logically when this was so illogical? She didn’t know where she was. She didn’t know how she’d gotten here. She didn’t know why she was here.
She ought to be scared—except she didn’t do scared. Scared was for wusses. Tash was the girl who killed the spiders venturing into the third-floor bathroom in her dorm. She was the girl who argued with Mr. Pritchard, the meanest history teacher in the school, when he insisted on popping surprise quizzes or grading essays on a curve. She was the girl who stood up to that bitch Susie Martland two years ago, when she was picking on Mary Ann Leominster, who obviously had Asperger’s, even if she wasn’t officially diagnosed. Mary Ann was hard-wired and weird, everyone knew it, but that was no reason for Susie to give her a hard time.
Tash noticed a movement in the woods. Not her backpack, which didn’t move, at least not on its own. A shadow weaving through the trees, meandering toward the clearing. An animal? A dangerous beast? Not that Tash was afraid, but were there wolves on the island?
The shadow drew closer, and Tash noticed a flutter of pale gray, and then a crescent of white. She halted, which actually made her knee hurt a little more, and watched as the figure moved through the forest toward the clearing.
It was a girl, dressed in a shapeless gray dress with long sleeves and a full skirt falling to her feet, which were shod in dusty black flat-heeled shoes. A sagging drawstring bag hung from a belt around her waist, and a strange white cap fit snugly over her head. Her hair was tucked up under it, but a few pale strands leaked out and drizzled down around her round, open face. Freckles dappled her tiny nose. Her mouth shaped a perfect O as she gaped at Tash.
Tash gaped back. If this girl was a student at Gray Cliffs Academy, Tash had never seen her before. It wasn’t as if she knew all the younger students, but the school wasn’t that big. And if she ever heard about some eccentric freshman who dressed like a stowaway on the Mayflower, she would remember.
To her surprise, the girl broke into a smile as she stepped into the clearing. “Greetings, wayfarer!” she called to Tash.
Blair Drake believes in magic, especially the magic of stories with fantasy, adventures, romance, action, and surprises. She has loved writing and living in the stories of the Finding Magic series and is so excited to share the quests of the Gray Cliffs Academy students with her readers.
When she’s not writing about magic, she’s reading about it. Her influences are Cassandra Claire, Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, Garth Nix, and many more.
In the mortal plane, following the lure of magic has drawn Blair into strange and wonderful adventures from Australia to New York City, with many stops in between. She currently lives near Denver. Her very favorite spot is a red loveseat in her office, frequently shared with two cats, an outnumbered Dalmation, and occasionally her bewitched husband.
She might have gone to a school similar to Gray Cliffs Academy and would love to go through a magic portal. In the meantime, she’s creating her own in more books of magic.