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Reader’s Choice: Georgie’s Story

Vote for my next project. If your pick wins, you will get a copy of the winning story.

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Let’s get started! Georgie’s story is below. Doni’s story is at: http://annertan.com/readers-choice-doni/

~Anne

P.S. These are rough drafts, so please excuse the typos, grammatical errors, and other rough draft mistakes.

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Chapter 1

“Most people call or text rather than use a summoning spell when they want to see their children,” Georgie Chan said. Even with her broken magic, she’d felt the compulsion slammed down on her a few hours ago. She had driven nonstop to Enchanted Cove to relieve the nausea and the prickling on her skin.

Mom shrugged and leaned back on her favorite armchair. “I’m not like most mothers.” She flicked her hands and released the summoning spell.

The tightness and tingling sloughed off of Georgie. She shivered and had to bite her lower lip to keep her teeth from clattering. She held still for a moment longer, trying not to throw up on her shoes and pretending to glance around the living room. “It’s been sixteen years, but everything still looks the same.”

The interior of the treehouse that emerged from the side of an ancient redwood was ten times bigger than it appeared on the outside. The decor could be described as grunge cabin chic by the city folks, but in reality, the home hadn’t been updated since her mother was a little girl when the wealth disappeared from the family. The roaring fireplace held a black bubbling cauldron, and the scent it gave off wasn’t beef stew.

Mom gave her a puzzled look. “Has it really been that long?”

Georgie bit off the snarky comment on the tip her tongue. She pulled out her cell phone to glance at the time to hide her thoughts. She was fourteen years old when her mother shipped her off to live with her uncle in San Francisco. Apparently, she was the only one who had been counting.

“Why am I here? I don’t like leaving Dai Baak to manage the herbal shop alone,” she said.

Her sixty-five-year-old uncle shouldn’t have to manage the Chan family business alone in Chinatown. Even with Georgie’s broken magic, she had been able to ward their premises to keep the triad from hustling small business owners for protection money. Their building was nicknamed the Lucky Stop for a reason.

Mom huffed, managing to look indignant. Her mom had broken several hearts in her lifetime, including Georgie’s. All water under the bridge now…if her mother had left her alone. “It’s been years, Donella. I just want to see you.”

“Georgie, please.” Georgie hated her first name with a passion. Who wanted to be named “the dark-haired one” in a family full of blonde hair and blue eyed children?

“Oh, baby girl.”

Georgie raised an eyebrow. It was bad enough when Mom tried these games on the phone, but it was even worse in person. She crossed her arms and sat back on the sofa. If her mom didn’t want to spill it, there was nothing Georgie could do to rush her.

The silence stretched out for several minutes. Mom finally threw her hands in the air. “All right. Your sisters disappeared a month ago. I need you to find them.”

“Both of them?”

“Yes. I was hoping they would come back by now but they haven’t.”

Georgie sat back on the horsehair sofa, shifting to ease the lump off her tail bone. Her mother probably tried a summoning spell on her half-sisters like she did with Georgie. Since her half-sisters were nowhere in sight, they were either dead or hiding from their mother. If they were hiding, they were close enough to deal with the discomfort, which meant they were in town. And if it were the former, there wasn’t much Georgie could do to help them.

“You made me drive three hours because my sisters are avoiding you?” Georgie asked, her voice full of incredulity.

Mom blinked as if the thought of inconveniencing her youngest daughter hadn’t occurred to her. “The coven is voting this week. I need them here to support me.”

“I still don’t see how this is my problem.”

“Well, honey, if I don’t get enough votes to side with me, the other witches will seal my magic.”

Georgie fell back on the sofa in shock and jumped when the lump hit her tailbone again. She shifted and returned to matters at hand. “Can they actually do this? Can’t you appeal to MAC for help?”

“MAC says it’s coven business. They won’t interfere on my behalf,” Mom said. She studied her painted nails like she didn’t have a care in the world, but Georgie knew her mother. If she wasn’t afraid, she would be railing against the governing body.

The Magical Accountability Counsel kept a tight rein on rogue magical activities that could harm a human. If sealing her mother’s magic didn’t qualify as harmful, this meant they probably thought her mother deserved it. What did she do to tick them off this time?

“Why does the coven leader want to seal your magic?” Georgie asked diplomatically. When it came to witches, her mother was a bit of a loose cannon. She drank a little too much of her own moonshine to be considered respectable by the local witches.

Mom turned coy, dropping her eyes to her lap. “She doesn’t like that I have a good time at the Halloween Ball.”

“That’s last week. What did you do? Got drunk and danced on the table with the lampshade on your head?”

“I drank and danced all right. Just not on the table…and not by myself.”

Georgie groaned inwardly. She had a feeling her mother did more than dancing. “Did you put a spell on the wrong person?”

Mom twisted the fringe on her peasant blouse, twirling it around her finger. “You can say that.”

“Mom,” Georgie said, not even bothering to keep the exasperation from her voice.

“I can’t help it if I’m attractive. It’s like telling a rose to stink like a dung pile.”

“What did you do?”

Mom blushed, her cheeks turning into a pretty shade of peach. She batted her large blue eyes. “I might have slept with the coven leader’s husband.”

“You did what!”

“How am I supposed to know who was behind the mask? It was a masquerade ball. And he was more than willing. It’s not my fault their marriage is on the rocks,” Mom said, crossing her arms.

Georgie let the groan escaped this time. At seventy her mother had the sex drive of a teenager. This wasn’t the first time it had gotten her in a bind, but this was the first time the consequences hit home. Without her magic, Mom would finally look her age—wrinkles, warts, and all. The more powerful their magic, the more warts a witch had. While it had been years since Georgie had seen her mother in full living color, the hag look would kill her mother. It would be poetic justice in a sense.

She snickered. And if her mother no longer had access to her magic, then Georgie could return to her life in San Francisco without having to worry about being summoned home again. It would be the perfect solution for everyone.

Mom gave Georgie a sly look as if following her thought process. “Oh, wipe the smirk off your face. Even if the coven seals my magic I can still summon my girls. This mother-daughter bond has nothing to do with magic and more to do with our bloodline.”

Georgie stood. Was her mom a telepath in addition to being a witch? The best she could do was to pretend it didn’t faze her. “I better start talking to people if I were to find my errant sisters.”

Mom held out her hand and a business card appeared in her palm. “First, you need to talk to your grandma’s lawyer.”

“Are you done contesting the will?” Her grandma’s estate had been in probate for the last six years.

Mom frowned, her nose flaring like she smelled an open sewer pipe. “I lost.”

Georgie’s eyes widened at a sudden thought. “When did my sisters got their inheritance?”

“A month ago,” mom said. Her tone was flat.

Georgie sighed. “I need to get back to San Francisco to pack some clothes and feed my pet. It’ll probably take me a couple days to track my sisters down.”

“How come you didn’t pack before coming here?”

“Because you made the compulsion pretty strong. I didn’t have time to stop by my apartment. I did tell my uncle goodbye as I was driving on the highway here.”

Mom shrugged like this wasn’t her problem. Of course not, it was Georgie’s. Her mom went from relaxed to a stiff board in a nanosecond. Her ashen face swiveled mechanically toward the front door.

Georgie followed her gaze. Through the window cut out, she saw blurred shadows from three people on the other side. “Are you expecting—”

The front door blew inward along with a rush of hot air, slamming into the stone fireplace. Power rushed into the house, lifting her mother into the air and pinning her spread-eagle on the ceiling.

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Reader’s Choice: Doni’s Story

Vote for my next project. If your pick wins, you will get a copy of the winning story.

Vote here: https://goo.gl/forms/PClcO2DaG7GWCMlI3

Let’s get started! Doni’s story is below. Georgie’s story is at: http://annertan.com/readers-choice-georgie/

~Anne

P.S. These are rough drafts, so please excuse the typos, grammatical errors, and other rough draft mistakes.

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Chapter 1

If my mother hadn’t been found shot in the stomach in her private investigation office, I wouldn’t have come home.

It was another seventy-degree day when I drove from my little apartment in San Francisco up the coast to my hometown of Cape Mendocino. My last visit was at my step-father’s funeral. More at my self-appointed godmother’s urging than a sense of familial longing. The fluorescent lights flickered overhead, casting a sick gray pallor over the hospital room despite the pale yellow walls. The only sounds in the room were the beeping and whirling machines that kept my mother alive.

As I stood mesmerized by my mother’s still form on the hospital bed, my hands tightened around the foot board. The mother of my memory was a vibrant woman, towering over my five-foot self, and willowy with thick blonde hair. Whereas I had inherited my Chinese father’s black hair and had been on the pudgy side in my childhood. Even now, no matter how much I worked out now, my body liked its padding.

Or at least my mother did twenty years ago. The elderly woman in front of me had a permanent frown in her rail yard of a face. Her body was more shrunken than lush, and the blonde had become a mane of white. The years since my stepfather’s death have been hard on her and it showed.

I willed myself to feel something, but there was nothing. There was no sadness, no pain. The anger had disappeared when my stepfather died. Sure, she’d chosen him and my half-sister over me, but that was a long time ago. Water under the bridge according to my therapist. I just felt tired…and numb. The drive had come after a long day in the office, and my manager had screamed at me for a data entry typo from a co-worker. Granted, as an accountant, a single digit could change the course of someone’s life, but it wasn’t like a gunshot wound.

“Donella?” asked the tentative voice next to me. “Do you feel faint, hon?”

I glanced over at Mom’s neighbor. Her name escaped me, so I shook my head.

“Here’s your mother’s spare keys.” The neighbor held out her hand nervously. “I can’t find your sister, and there wasn’t anyone else…Do you want me to call a cleaning service for the office?”

I stiffened, stopping the shiver down my spine at the mention of my mom’s office. How much blood… I slammed a lid on the thought. “Thank you, Mrs…”

“Beasley. Lotta Beasley,” said Mrs. Beasley. “My son is the town’s sheriff. You might want to talk to Max…after you settle in.”

I nodded woodenly and stumbled out of the hospital room. Settle in? I wasn’t staying.

In my haste, I didn’t see the man on the other side of the threshold. I stepped on his toe and my head rammed into his chest. I would have fallen if he hadn’t grabbed onto my forearms. When I straightened, I suppressed a sigh. Could this day get any worse?

“Max,” Mrs. Beasley said, “This is Donella Lin, Evelyn Marsh’s ba…uh…daughter.”

I ground my teeth. Mrs. Beasley was about to say bastard daughter. I couldn’t believe the citizens of this town still remembered—and cared—that I was born out of wedlock thirty-six years ago. “Doni,” I mumbled. “I go by Doni.”

I shouldn’t have come back. There wasn’t anything I could do for my mother. I would only get insulted and shunned like I did in my childhood for being different. For having black hair among those with blonde or brown hair. For having slightly slanted eyes—

“Ms. Lin, can I get you some coffee or tea?” Miles Beasley asked, his face concerned. “You seem to be in shock.”

I shook off his hands and held my hands in front of me. “I’m fine. I just need to go.” Edging around the Beasleys, I backed away from the room. Neither of them moved, but I turned and ran for my car.

The drive to my mother’s two-bedroom Cape Cod house was a blur. One moment, I was backing out of the parking spot, and the next I stood in the driveway breathing in the salt air. I couldn’t remember if I blew through stop signs or sped. I had no idea which shops were still in business in the small historical downtown.

My hands shook, jiggling the keys, when I opened the front door to let myself in. It had to be from hunger. I refused to believe a woman I haven’t seen for over a decade would have this kind of impact on me. After all, I hadn’t eaten since lunch. There was a granola bar at the bottom of my purse, but I needed to check on the attic first.

As I made my way up the stairs, I caught glimpses of the ocean through the windows. The steel blue water was tranquil from this angle, but I knew it crashed against the rocks below the cliff.

My steps thudded loudly in the silent house. For a moment, as the door to my attic bedroom swung open, I held my breath as if waiting for my baby sister to pop out from the closet. Of course, there was no chubby cheeked preschooler. The room was just as I’d left it twenty years ago—a twin bed against one wall, a desk next to a dormer window, and a small trunk against the remaining wall. On the walls were the posters of my teen idols. Mom hadn’t even cared enough to come up here to dust.

~~~

I jerked up from the bed, my heart pounding, and clutching the sheets. The room was dark with unfamiliar shadows from the dormers of the roof line. I glanced at the digital display on my cell phone. Two in the morning. I’d fallen asleep less than two hours ago.

My head felt thick and groggy from emotion and exhaustion. It took me several heartbeats to realize there was a shuffling noise in another part of the house. No one had mentioned someone else living in my mother’s house. My half-sister had an apartment of her own in the downtown area.

I sprung out of bed and crouched next to it. What if the intruder was the person who shot my mother? I reached underneath the bed for the baseball bat I’d left there when I’d lived here. My fingers connected with the smooth wood, and I exhaled in relief. I might not do too much damage to a big burly man, but he wouldn’t find me easy picking either.

I tiptoed barefoot down the attic stairs, careful to skip the squeaky last step. At the second story landing next to the stairs, I peered over the balusters and squinted at the dark shapes of the furniture in the living room. I held my breath, afraid to alert the intruder.

Something scraped and shuffled but I couldn’t tell where the sound was coming from. I would have to go downstairs to investigate further. My hands shook and I tightened my grip on the baseball bat. I wanted nothing more than to race upstairs and throw the covers over my head. This wasn’t an option. If I stayed in this position any longer, I would become immobilized. My imagination would increase the size and monstrosity of this intruder. It wasn’t courage which made me crept down the stairs, but fear and maybe stupidity.

At the bottom of the stairs, I cocked my head, listening for the sound again. There! A thin squeal from my mother’s bay window above the kitchen sink. I followed the sound and gasped at the sight of a man trying to pull himself in. His hands were braced on either side window, and one leg was already in the kitchen sink. My mother’s potted herbs were scattered across the counter. With the moonlight behind the intruder and his ski mask, I couldn’t see his face, but he could see me.

He froze, and for a fraction of a section, we stared at each other, waiting for the other to disappear. Or at least I did until I remembered the bat and this was my home. I screamed like I was an extra in a battle scene in Braveheart, and ran swung my bat at the intruder.

“Get out! Get out!”

I swung at him with everything I got. With all the anger and frustration from the day before. With all the fear I’ve kept hidden since the moment I laid eyes on my mother in the hospital bed. With all the resentment and regret. I might not have a chance to make things right between me and my mother.

He must’ve seen the madness in my eyes. He jerked back and barely got his leg out in time. My bat cracked against the sink. I swung again and got a yelp from the intruder. I must have gotten his fingers holding onto the frame. Bam! Bam! Glass shattered. The bat bounced against the countertop. Herbs went flying. The intruder disappeared from my view. As he ran, his footsteps crunched on the gravel outside on the side yard.

I stared at the battered window and broken glass, willing for him to come back so I could get one more swing at him. The kitchen clock ticked, and as the adrenaline rushed out, my legs collapsed underneath me. I sank to the floor, clutching the bat, and tears blurred my vision.

It took another ten minutes before I could get up to call the police. The dispatcher said someone would be over in the morning now that the intruder was no longer in the house. Apparently, there was only one officer on duty at night and he had to man the station in case a more urgent call came in.

I ground my teeth and hung up. It made sense for a sleepy little town to have one cop on duty during the swing shift but didn’t help with the current situation. There was no way I could get back in bed, and I couldn’t clean up the kitchen until the police got here to take prints or whatever else they did for a break-in. I doubted the intruder would return tonight, so I wasn’t worried about my safety.

I glanced at the kitchen clock. 4 AM. This would give me some time to go through my mother’s things in her home office to see if I could figure out what was going on. After all, a shooting and a break-in within twenty-four hours weren’t a coincidence. Someone wanted something from my mother, and he wasn’t afraid to kill for it.

 

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What’s Next for Raina Sun?

I am done! No more attempts at USA Today. <– okay, fine. They didn’t want me. Or in the words of my 3-year-old, “Anne sad.” Queue jutting lips and puppy eyes. Enough of this. Back to focusing on writing more books.

Will there be more Raina and Po Po stories?

Some readers are concerned I’m no longer writing another Raina Sun Mystery. I have clear cut-off points in the story arcs if I see a drop-off in sales. This is a business decision I made so I can continue to grow my writing career instead of beating a dead horse. Luckily, my readers seem to love Raina and Po Po as much as I do, so there will be a Raina Sun #6 and #7.

Books 1-5 completed the grandfather secret family story arc. Books 6-7 will finish another mini arc. I have enough ideas to get the Raina Sun Mystery series to 12 books. Whether or not I write the later books depends on readers interest.

I need more!

What took you weeks to read, took me 6 years to write. I’m craving something crunchy at this point (hopefully, this doesn’t give me a broken tooth). Based on the minimal feedback I’ve gotten in the Joley Mok Paranormal Mystery/Urban Fantasy, this story idea is a no-go.

Next month I’ll send my newsletter subscriber another concept for a new mystery series, and they’ll tell me which way to go. Basically, I had one story premise–woman returns home after a long self-imposed exile to save her estranged mother. I have two opening chapters that change the entire flavor of the story. If you want to read both rough drafts and vote on my next series, sign up to be part of The Posse Club (aka. my newsletter).

Thanks for supporting my art,

Anne R. Tan

 

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