A Paranormal Romantic Comedy
This is still going to have one last comb-through by my editor but I thought I’d give you all a sneak peek of Karma Effect!
When the girl’s mother first made the inquiry for a bomb-proof baby-sitter, the high priestess hadn’t taken the request literally.
Hazel Goode was a high priestess of the Order of the Light. She’d been the apprentice to some of the greatest sorceresses of all time. She’d painstakingly studied the art of magic since she was old enough to talk and spoke several languages because of this. She studied occult magic and its anthropological beginnings at Harvard, and rumor is that she is the sole person responsible for Oprah Winfrey’s success. She’d arrogantly thought that it would take more than a spirited young girl to take her down.
Despite all the credentials, being a priestess isn’t a full-time gig now-a-days and it doesn’t exactly pay what it used to, so she was forced to take up a more traditional form of employment. Over the years she’d become an accomplished childcare professional and her resume proudly boasted there wasn’t a child hopeless enough that she couldn’t transform into a well-behaved individual. This claim held fast until the day she first met nine-year-old Teagan.
Things were rough between the two from the very beginning. Teagan it seemed had made it her mission in life to ruin Hazel Goode’s reputation as a childcare professional. Things started off with a resounding bang—on day one—when she awoke from a cat nap without eyebrows. The child was supposed to be doing her homework at the time but instead she thought she’d test how light of a sleeper her new sitter was, by shaving off both of the woman’s bushy eyebrows. Within a week’s time Hazel had had quite enough of the child’s clever trickery, and when the Teagan refused to heed her warnings the High Priestess sub-consciously started to devise a counter attack.
Circumstances, however, quickly progressed from bad to worse. The more Hazel tightened her hold on the spirited young girl, the harder Teagan pulled. She took away her television time and Teagan had her sitter’s car towed. Hazel forced her to make her bed and Teagan handed the lady at the grocery store checkout counter a note claiming she had been kidnapped.
She secretly had to admit that the child had a cunningly devious mind but this dark gift was rapidly getting out of hand.
The last straw came on the day Hazel got a credit card statement—for a credit card that she didn’t apply for. But this was only phase one to Teagan’s piece de resistance. Upon receiving notification that the card was approved the child had also taken the liberty of signing her sitter up for daily phone sex calls from an Island off the coast of Guam. Hazel had simply assumed the calls had been pranks but at thirty-two dollars a minute, they were far more than that.
It was determined at this time that Teagan didn’t play fair. This was when Hazel decided all bets were off. She’d made a promise to the girl’s mother that she would correct her behavior and she was going to keep that promise. She just needed a little magic to do it right. She would never admit to herself or anyone else that most of her reasoning came from pride. Hazel in all her years had never been bested, not by a single witch, wizard or warlock and she certainly wouldn’t admit defeat to a nine-year-old girl, no matter how extraordinary she was.
After a little research and some brushing up she set her plan into action. She set everything up for when Teagan got out of school. She’d never worked a curse—to say nothing of the hoodoo mess this particular curse required— but when She looked over her list and then at the improvised alter/kitchen table she was pretty proud of myself.
The feather of a pure black raven…check.
The blood of a dead chicken (store bought, but… check).
The femur bone of a bowlegged man…check.
…and a gift to the spirit, a bottle of vodka…check.
All she needed now was the hair of a nine-year-old spawn of Satan and her plan would be set into motion.
As if on cue Teagan entered the kitchen and flashed her wary sitter a charismatic grin. She was a beautiful child which, honestly, was probably half the reason her behavior seemed so malicious.
Her glance darted from Hazel to her half-dead—soon to be whole-dead—goldfish. Larry, unaware of his impending fate, was swimming sideways in his bowl and praying for death. He’d been on his way out for days and Hazel justified it as being no worse than flushing the poor creature down the drain. The small fish bowl was placed within the circle of unlit candles with the rest of the objects strewn artfully around it.
“What’s up?” Her green eyes sparkled with interest.
“I’ve had enough of your behavior.” Hazel replied calmly, placing the Capital One credit card statement on the table for her to see.
Teagan smiled proudly. Considering the amount of effort that particular ruse entailed it was well understood why she might be pleased with herself, but it also reaffirmed to Hazel that if the girl’s behavior continued to go unchecked things would quickly spin out of control.
“Please have a seat.” Hazel offered her the chair at the head of the altar. “We are going to play a little game.”
“What is it called?” Apprehension was finally creeping into her little voice.
“It’s called casting. It’s magic.” Hazel straightened Teagan’s chair and pushed her into the table before continuing to her side of the table/altar. “Teagan, do you know what karma is?”
She shrugged passively.
“Karma is when people who do good things have good things happen to them, but it is also when people who do bad things have bad things happen to them. What kind of karma do you think you deserve?”
She shrugged again and started to look bored with her babysitter’s little diversion. Considering the child’s uncanny intelligence, it wasn’t surprising that she was already growing tired with the new “game”. Hazel recognized the signs and knew from past experience that if she didn’t move things along, she was going to quickly regret giving the child any down time to think up another prank.
Hazel rolled her eyes and picked the scissors off the table. “All I need is a little bit of your hair.” Teagan’s hair was by far one of her most striking attributes—long red curls, shimmering with threads of golden highlights, reached nearly to her waist.
Her eyebrows rose at the request. “My mom will kick your ass if you cut my hair.”
Hazel’s own eye twitched at the girl’s use of vulgarity—and at the further reminder that her time here had done absolutely nothing to improve her behavior. “If you want to see magic, I need your hair.”
“Real magic?” She looked intrigued as she deliberated briefly. “Okay.”
Hazel could practically see the wheels turning inside the girl’s clever little mind. This was potentially a two-for-one deal for her. Her sitter would perform a magic show and later her mother would fire the woman for cutting her hair.
Hazel didn’t care that she was about to lose her employment. This particular task was more important than a baby-sitting gig. The fate of humanity depended on this. Left unheeded, Hazel had convinced herself that this particular child would soon rein supreme overlord of the universe.
Hazel took a deep breath. She was about to cast her first curse. In all the training she’d received over the years the consequences of delving into the dark arts were well known, but she was convinced this had nothing to do with revenge or bruised pride and everything to do with the betterment of human civilization.
Hazel leaned in and cut off a massive chunk of long red curls, dropping them into Larry’s bowl. The fish was officially belly up in the water and she hoped it still had enough life left in it to serve as a proper sacrifice. She snapped her long narrow fingers and the candles flared to life.
Teagan’s eyes darted around the table to each candle and she squirmed happily in her seat. Apparently she was satisfied with the price of admission. She was no longer even the least bit nervous. This was probably what irritated Hazel the most. Teagan had never felt real pain and therefore didn’t feel true fear. After today she would learn fear and feel pain—karma would see to that.
Hazel began to chant the incantation and a breeze started to swirl in the closed-off kitchen. She let three drops of chicken blood drip into the fishbowl and stirred it with the raven’s feather. She held up her hands in prayer and continued chanting and within moments the water in Larry’s bowl began to boil. The sacrifice had been made…hopefully.
Teagan demanded for her sitter to stop as the soft breeze became a hurricane wind and the candle’s flames shot high into the air. The witch took a mouthful of the vodka and sprayed the alcohol over the table. As she said the three last words of the dark curse the wind stopped abruptly and the candles instantly snuffed out, the curls of smoke dancing from their wicks the only evidence that anything had happened.
The girl scowled at Hazel from her seat at the head of table/altar. Her little eyes narrowed into angry slits, but just beyond her anger there was shock. She refused to cry but she didn’t immediately jump up to leave the room either because just like Hazel, the child was too proud to admit defeat.
“It is done. Heed my warning child. Every bad thing you do will have a consequence. Every mean word you say and every prank you play will come back to haunt you.” Hazel warned.
Teagan didn’t move a muscle until her mother arrived home. The sitter knew her over-protective mother would be angry about her daughter’s hair and the black magic goings-on in her kitchen, but she hadn’t expected her to call the police.
By the time Teagan and Hazel were through telling their sides of the story the High Priestess wasn’t simply arrested, she was committed.
As she was cuffed and led to the back of a cop car the warning words of elders past rang in her ears: The caster of a dark curse, if casting under prideful intent, will suffer a grave backlash.
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