- Author: Willow Mason
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How to Stone a Crow
Witch Like a Boss Book Two
Copyright © 2021 Willow Mason
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No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Cover design by Francesca Michelon at Merry-Book-Round
About the Author
Also by Willow Mason
I was about to grab a spot of lunch when Genevieve came barrelling through the door. Her messy black hair was piled precariously atop her head, secured with a couple of pins. It looked like the entire construction might collapse at any second and drew my attention so fast I didn’t notice the cat carrier until she plonked it down on my kitchen bench.
“Thank goodness, I caught you. Mwah, mwah.” The supreme air-kissed me on either cheek before twiddling her fingers through the bars of the cage. “This animal is giving me conniptions.”
I had my hands up in a warding off gesture that had missed its chance to be effective a full minute before. “I’m not a vet and I don’t know the first thing about cats.”
“This from someone who’s done an admirable job at keeping her panther alive. Besides, this isn’t a pet,” Genevieve scolded, retrieving a mature black cat from the depths of the carrier. “Paisley is a familiar and isn’t she just the cutest thing?”
Despite the supreme’s cooing, the cat’s fur stood on end while her murder mittens extended fierce claws. Was that dried blood matting her right paw? The feline squirmed out of Genevieve’s grasp and skittered under the table before I could tell for sure.
<Desdemona already has a familiar,> Annalisa growled as she entered the room. <One that isn’t scraping the basement of witchy clichés.>
“Where are you from?” I asked Paisley, ignoring my panther for a moment. “Are you one of the familiars causing trouble down the back of my property?”
<I haven’t caused anybody any trouble ever,> the cat replied, loosening her back muscles a smidgeon. <That business with the gravestones is nothing to do with me.>
“Gravestones?” My eyebrows crawled halfway up my forehead as I turned to Genevieve. “Is there a graveyard in the back of my section?”
“No,” she said in a reassuring voice, laying a comforting hand on my arm for good measure. “There’s no adjoining church, so it’s called a cemetery.”
If the words were intended to console me, they went far wide of the mark. “Why has nobody ever told me this?”
“Well, you’ve only been back in town for two minutes. Give us a chance.”
“Two months,” I spluttered, running a hand through my hair. “How many bodies are buried? Is it a health and safety hazard? Shouldn’t the council relocate them to public property?”
“Ooh.” Genevieve winced. “I don’t think digging up people who’ve peacefully lain dead for a century is a good idea. Who knows what sort of trouble that could unleash?”
“You should know. That’s why you’re in charge.”
Genevieve spluttered with laughter for a second before she seemed to remember she was indeed in charge. “Just don’t do it. Didn’t they get the Poltergeist movie up in Auckland?”
“Yeah. When I was minus twenty.” I clicked my fingers at the cowering cat, avoiding Annalisa’s glare.
<She’s not staying.>
“Paisley doesn’t have to be your familiar,” Genevieve said, getting to her hands and knees as she tried to coax the cat out from under the table. “But she does need someone to look after her, and since you did such a good job with Oscar—”
“Oscar was a parrot with his own cage and I only babysat him for a fortnight, prearranged.” The longest two weeks of my life. I still had a scar on the back of my hand where the grumpy bird had mistaken me for a seed ball.
“I’m meant to be a paranormal investigator, not a cat-sitter.” Realising how harsh my words sounded, I offered Paisley a sheepish grin. “No offence.”
But a glance at the supreme’s face told me it was useless arguing, though my tongue desperately wanted to try. Genevieve took a haphazard approach toward most of her leadership role, but once she put her foot down about something, no matter how trivial, it stayed glued to the floor.
“I hope you’re not intending to clean up the rogue familiars by dumping them all on my doorstep,” I muttered, moving to the fridge to get out some milk so I could tempt Paisley out of hiding. “Unless the coven is paying me for the privilege.”
“We’ve all got to muck in if we’re going to clean up this town,” Genevieve said with a clap of her hands, looking brighter now she’d got her way. “All for one and all that jazz.”
I lifted the disturbingly light two-litre bottle and peered through the half-opaque sides. Not even a dribble left in the bottom. I sighed and put the empty container back in the fridge, miffed at how quietly the door closed. Why couldn’t you slam anything, anymore?
<Violet would never let her house run out of milk. She’s the queen of organisation.>
I whirled on my heel, my eyes darting everywhere for the strange voice. Paisley padded out from under the table, having decided pouring scorn on my housekeeping abilities was more important than taking cover.
<Even if she did, there’d be a spell on hand to replenish any forgotten groceries.>
Wow. Violet sounded great. “Since it’s working hours, this is officially my office and not equipped for drop-ins.” Fantastic. Defending myself to a cat. My day could only go up from here. “I was about to go out for some lunch when you arrived and planned to get milk then.”
<Yep. She’d have the spell all ready, just for emergencies like this.>
I considered pointing out that someone who had the foresight to invest in a