So, I wrote a thing. And it’s kinda amazing. But since it is technically a Practical Magic fic and there are like only 5 of them…and I want it read…here ya go! Inspired by Merideath’s fic Plant Lavender for luck: (btw, his name is James on purpose!)
Just a little push; inspired by Merideth’s Plant Lavender for Luck.
"Always throw spilt salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for luck, and fall in love whenever you can."- Sally Owens
"James Blake, the acclaimed author of ‘debunking myths’ is at it again. The 29 year old Irish man is back on the road to find ‘magic’ to discredit. His website wasn’t specific as to where he’s traveling but you can bet that his book will fly off the shelf so fast, you’ll swear it’s magic!" That was left on his voicemail from his younger brother Craig. Killian had been pretty young the first time he called someone out on saying magic was real. Made her cry too if he remembered right. When were people going to stop looking for the easy way out on their problems? Magic wasn’t real.
Killian’s big issue wasn’t with people who believe. Simply with the people that try to profit from it. The ones claiming to be psychics and selling “love potions”. The ones who could contact the dead ( for a hefty price). The ones who sell you a stay in a haunted mansion that would make Scooby Doo run scared. Those assholes needed to go. He smirked. And he’d get rid of them.
Amongst the hundreds of emails he’d gotten recently, one caught his eye. The emailer said she lived on a small island called Williams, Massachusetts . It was small, maybe only a couple thousand occupants. But it apparently boasted a family who firmly believed they were witches. The email went on to discuss how about 15 years ago, many women in town “helped” the family “banish” a ghost or spirit or demon out of one the family members. The emailer’s mother included. That particular group of women believes whole heartedly that this family has magic. Killian couldn’t wait!
Williams was just about as big as Killian expected. The small downtown area boasted charming cobblestone and old looking buildings. There was a centuries old millery on the hill. There was a small building downtown that claims to sell “organic lotions and potions” and even went so far as having a charming straw broom hanging from their rod iron sign. Cute. The houses that lined the streets also has old world charm to them. 2 and 3 story colonials with wrap around porches. What’s not to like? The emailer had said that recently, the witch family was renting out rooms in their ancient looking house to any ‘true believers’ that want to experience magic. Personally, that sounded pretty lame. But they never promised any real magic so Killian was wary. Generally, attempting to prove someone as a liar was only necessary is they’re profiting from it.
Killian turned his attention to the houses. The emailer has given Killian the address and now all he has to so was rent a room. He got back in his car to drive the few blocks. It wouldn’t do well to leave his car somewhere. Small towns were unpredictable about strangers. He saw the old house and stopped short. It was what the email describes. But there was something about it. It felt light and happy. Kind of odd for a coven of witches, am I right? Killian parked his car on the side of the road and grabbed his duffel bag. The front steps creaked charmingly and the mailbox was small and ornate gold. Killian opened the screen door and knocked. A minute or so later, the door opened. And Killian was hit with a curveball. “Can I help you?” The girl at the door asked politely.
Killian was momentarily struck. She was seriously pretty! Bright clear eyes and curtains of wavy dark hair. “Uh I was looking to rent a room. Someone in town said you rent them out.” He finished stronger than he started. The email hadn’t mentioned anyone young! It only mentioned the two older women running the house. She smiled softly. “Is it just you? Or others in your party?” Her voice was light and reminded him of a pond; refreshing and safe. Killian smiled (what he hoped was) charmingly. “It’s just me right now. I have 3 friends that are driving around the states and may join me.”he explained. She nodded. “Oh! Please come in.”she said suddenly and pushed the door open wider.
The house was (finally!) what he expected. Creaky and well preserved wooden floorboards, older yet maintained furniture, and drafty! He zipped his hooded sweatshirt and she grimaced. “Yea, sorry about the cold. It’s something of a fixture here!”she joked and he smiled in surprise. Usually, he has to force this part out. She was surprisingly easy to be around. “Oh! Where are my manners! I’m Killian.”he said with his hand out. She took it and shook lightly. “I’m AJ. What brings you to Williams?” She’d motioned then to a living room area of couches with a laptop on the antique coffee table. He was struck by the mix of modern and antique. “I write travel books. Doing one on New England charm.”he lied easily. Though, it wasn’t a total lie. She nodded thoughtfully.
"Truthfully, I really just do it for the history. Old towns like these are an obsession of mine."he continued. Her mouth tilted into a grin. "Town has lots of interesting history!"she said a touch sarcastically. He chuckled. "Sounds like it." There was a minute if silence where his mind wandered to her. "Well, how about I show you the rooms and then we can talk about the rest?"she suggested. He rose in answer. She motioned him to follow her up the stairs (which was enjoyable once he saw her backside!). There were 4 doors in the hallway. She opened the first door. "Standard bathroom." She opened another door. "Two bed suite." He peered in. Two full size ness an one large dresser. There was a bookcase on one wall that held towels and sheets and a small seating area. "This is a couples room." Queen bed, dresser, desk, opened closet. "Another two man." Same set up as before but ha a desk instead of seating area. "And an empty." She said without opening the last door.
"Where does that go?"he asked, pointing on the staircase they hadn’t walked up. "Ah, attic room. My room." She clarified. He turned in shock. "This is your house?" She smiled lightly. "My great aunts actually. But it was my idea to rent the rooms out so…"she trailed off with a shrug. "Can I see it?"he asked, gesturing to the staircase. "I really like attics and basements and hidey wholes in these old houses." He said with a smile. She nodded. "Uh sure." He opened the door and walked up the steps. This staircase was much more narrow than the main. Obviously it was never intended to house more than one person. There was no door to the room. The staircase just opened into her room.
He smiled broadly. A side effect of his travels was he really did develop a love of these old houses. Her room was awesome. The ceiling came to a point above her bed. At 6 feet tall, Killian was sure he couldn’t walk around in her whole room. She has the same antique floorboards and white walls. She had lavender colored bed sheets and comforter and a white desk. She had a bookcase that was painted lavender in between the shelves. “This is so cool.”he said, voice coming out little louder than a whisper. She blushed. “Thanks. It has its own charm.” There was another moment of silence before she breathed out roughly. “Aunts are home.”she said quietly. He raised an eyebrow at her.
A door slammed. “Jadey?”a female voice called. Killian shuddered. That was a little odd. “We’re up here!”she called down. Killian could her the voice now whispering. “We? Fran, who’s up there?” AJ shook her head slowly. “Ready to meet the aunts?”she asked warily. He nodded. “Bring it!” She smiled warmly and led him downstairs. Two older women were standing in the kitchen when they got down there. “Oh my!”the woman said and nudged the other woman. “Guys, this is Killian. He’s going to rent a room. Killian, these are my great aunts Frances and Jet.” AJ introduced with a smile. The blonde woman (Jet) held her hand out warmly and Killian shook it. The brunette eyed him. He smiled at her. She narrowed her eyes.
"Welcome to Williams." She said finally. Killian internally let out a sigh of relief. "Thank you. I have a few friends that will probably come to the area too." AJ nodded. The aunts shrugged. "More the merrier." Frances said sarcastically. Killian choked on a laugh. AJ let out a breath. "Mom."she said quietly. Killian turned to her in question. And then the phone rang. Jet picked it up immediately. "Hello Sally dear." Killian shuddered again. "Why yes we do have a guest right now." Jet replied into the phone. That was a tad unusual. Maybe her mom called at the same time every day or something. Killian was sure it was explainable.
"Of course dear. Jade, can you get Owen from school tomorrow? Your mom and Gary have an appointment in Merett." She nodded automatically. "Yes Sally. That’d be fine." AJ shook her head and motioned Killian to follow her back out into the living room. "So, any foods you don’t like or are allergic to? They’re about to start dinner."she said. He shook his head. "M’Irish. We’ll eat anything."he said with a grin. She grinned back. "Okay then. Still want to stay?" He nodded automatically. He definitely needed to see more. "Jade?"Frances said from the doorway. AJ stood. "Yep, I’ll get cooking." She smiled at Killian before disappearing into the kitchen. And he and Frances were left alone.
"So, Killian, what do you do?" She asked, sitting down on the couch opposite him. Killian straightened up in reflex. "I’m a writer ma’am."he replied. Truth. "What kind of writer?"Frances asked, eyes narrowing. He clenched his fist. "Mostly travel." Truth. " I write a lot about the places I stay. Advocating for small family run establishments instead of chain hotels." Also truth. She was scrutinizing him. "So it’s part travel, part history." Truth. She nodded once. A beat. "Why don’t you go get settled?"Frances suggested and stood. She didn’t trust him. Killian nodded. He grabbed his duffel bag from by the door and walked upstairs.
He took one of the two man rooms and pulled his phone out. He hit call and it rang twice. “Already?”Craig laughed. Killian let out a breath. “Yep. The girl who runs the house as an inn is like psychic or something. It’s nuts!”he said excitedly. “Girl?”Craig questioned. “Yep. Emailer neglected to mention their great niece that’s running it. And she’s….something.”he finished lamely. Craig laughed. “She hot?” Killian frowned. “She’s beautiful.”he answered uneasily. Craig gasped. “You LIKE her?!” Stunned silence. He did. That was gonna be a problem. “We’ll be there tomorrow morning.” Craig said quickly. Killian did like AJ. Which would make him not see so clearly. He needed his team. “K. See you then.” They both hung up. Killian had a lot to think about.
Dinner somehow tasted better than it should. The aunts and AJ had joined hands right before eating. They claimed it was a prayer but he didn’t buy it. “Did I see a garden out back?” He asked after another amazing bite. “You did indeed. We grow all our own herbs.” Jet answered sweetly. He nodded. That made sense. Wasn’t the newest rage ‘farm to table’? He just must not be accustomed to super fresh herbs. “So, Killian, do you believe in magic?”Jet asked suddenly. AJ shot her a look that he didn’t understand. He swallowed his bite. “Do you mean greasy men pulling rabbits out of hats of gypsies telling my fortune at a fair?” It was a calculated move.
AJ laughed. The aunts looked torn between amusement and horror. “So young to be so cynical.” Frances said with a smirk. He squared his shoulders. “I don’t think it’s cynical to want to see what I’m expected to believe in.” Jet looked up suddenly. “You’re that little boy who always yelled out the secrets during magic shows, weren’t you?” Everyone laughed at that. “I was actually.”he confirmed. Still am, he thought with a smirk. “So, did you come to Williams looking for proof?”Frances asked with her eyes once again narrowed at him. He shook his head. “I came to learn about the town. The history, the architecture. The witchy business is just a bonus.” He said with a grin. “You don’t believe in witches?”AJ asked quietly. He shook his head and made a disbelieving face.
"I believe that there are people who believe they’re witches. But I’ve never seen one fly a broom." "But you wouldn’t believe it if you saw it anyway!"AJ said. She looked annoyed. He smiled sardonically. "I would. If there was no other way to explain it."he placated. "And what if we could prove it to you?"Jet asked. He looked up stunned and AJ slammed her fork down on the plate. She shot both her aunts a look and stood. She took her plate to the kitchen and didn’t come out. Jet sighed. "Suppose we took that too far." She said wistfully. Frances grinned wryly. "It’s what we so best!"
“Excuse me.” Killian stood and followed after AJ. But she wasn’t in the kitchen. He looked around and saw the back door opened slightly.
He opened it and squinted into the dark. AJ was laying on the grass that overlooked the water. The town was on an island so most of the inhabitants had waterfront property. Pricey to buy into. He crossed to her and sat down beside. “I wasn’t trying to make you mad.” He started. She rolled her eyes. “You did. You meant to push us. It just didn’t work the way you expected.” He couldn’t really argue that. He leaned back next to her. “Ok. I kinda did.” He admitted an she grinned. “So you don’t believe in magic. What about god?” She asked. He shook his head. “Nothing I can’t tangibly prove.” She rolled on an elbow to stare at him.
"What about love?"she asked sadly. He shook his head. "I’ve never been in love. But I believe in it. It can be scientifically proven. It’s a chemical reaction in your brain." She looked angry and like she wanted to laugh at the same time. "Love can’t be scientifically proven. And it’s not a high seratonin level. What made you so cynical?" She shook her head as she said it. Like, she pitied him. Which pissed him off. "Well, have you ever been in love?" He asked a touch cruelly. She opened her mouth. But he pressed on. "I mean like story book love. So deep and immediate that you can’t breathe without the other person. Give up anything to be together!" She was silent now. "Exactly! It doesn’t exist! Maybe you really care for someone. Maybe you even love them. But love isn’t what we’ve been told it is. You don’t fall the second your eyes meet. That’s attraction."
"Stand up!"she ordered. He raised an eyebrow. "I mean it. Stand up." She was tiny but demanding. He stood warily and so did she. "When you were a kid, did you ever put your arms out and spin really, really fast?" He shook go head. "I don’t think so." She rolled her eyes. "Do it. Put your arms out and spin." He glared. "Why?" She growled.
“Because, that’s what love is like. It makes your heart race. It turns the world upside down. But if you’re not careful, if you don’t keep your eyes on something still, you can lose your balance. You can’t see what’s happening to the people around you. You can’t see that you’re about to fall.”
He couldn’t take his eyes off her. Even in the dark, their eyes bore into each other. She pulled away breathlessly. Killian wasn’t sure what to make of that. They had a connection for sure. It was possible it was just physical attraction. It felt like more for some reason. He couldn’t explain the pull to her. And it fucking terrified him.
He slept soundly for the first time in years. All the way through the night. No insomnia. No nightmares. He woke slowly to smell breakfast cooking downstairs. And people talking. He pulled his phone closer from the bedside table and his eyes widened web the time read 10am. He shook his head to clear it and stood. AJ laughed downstairs and a male voice did too. Killian dressed and walked downstairs slowly. The events of the night before flooded his memories. When he reached the bottom step, he eyes it warily. If he takes that last step, it’ll be a new day. “Bout time!” Someone snorted.
Killian looked up in shock. Ryan James was staring at him curiously. He smiled brightly. “Morning Ry!” He took the last step and the 3 into he kitchen. Craig and Jack sat at the kitchen table and AJ was sitting on the counter. “It’s allliiiiivvvveee!” Craig said in a teasing tone. Killian flipped him off and everyone laughed loudly. “Sleep well, princess?” Jack added. The oven timer beeped and everyone peeked up. AJ rolled her eyes. “You lot are pathetic!” She hopped down from the counter and opened the oven. The kitchen was flooded with an amazing scent. “I love you!”Ryan said, mouth opened. AJ shook her head.
Once the bread (whatever kind it was) was out, AJ began cooking. Pans filled with eggs and sausages came together fast. She took out the leftovers from last night and began shredding potatoes to fry them. They guys talked about all the places they’d been lately. And some of the local color (they’d met some strange people!). When breakfast was ready, the guys dug in. AJ hung back and shook her head at them. “You guys are pigs!”she said but had an affectionate smile. Killian wasn’t really sure how to act around her now. She wasn’t really acknowledging him individually. “So what’s the plan for today?” Craig asked and broke Killian from his stupor.
"Oh! Uh, thought we’d check out the downtown and then the town records So maybe city hall?" He aimed at AJ who nodded. "Ah man, saw a cute place downtown that sells potions and lotions." Jack said holding up ‘spooky fingers’. AJ laughed. "My mom owns that. I’m sure she’d appreciate the business." She said it sarcastically. "We believe in promoting small business." Killian said and AJ finally looked at him. "Well, good then. It’s all organic and hypo allergenic. And everything smells amazing!"she insisted. "You use it?" Ryan asked with an eyebrow raise. Her face twisted into an obvious look. "Yes. That’s sort Of the point of a family business!" Jack laughed loudly. "Idiot!"
Killian left after breakfast to shower. He needed to get his head focused before going out. He knew Jet and Frances were Owens’. By blood, so was AJ. And she clearly believed in all of the hocus pocus crap. He wondered just how much she believed. It could really present a problem if he was found out before he finished. Or if his emailer spoke up. So far, they’d picked small towns and no one had managed to put it together. And for that he was thankful. But if AJ or the aunts found out he was lying, there could be serious trouble. He finished showering and dressing and came downstairs. AJ was sitting on the back porch with Craig while Ryan and Jack brought the bags inside.
Killian had a moment of pure jealousy at Craig and AJ’s easy interactions. “You gotta chill around her man. She likes you, don’t push it.”Jack warned. Killian nodded. It was what he needed to hear. Craig said something and AJ laughed. Another flare. He took a deep breath. AJ stood and came inside, grey sweater wrapped around her tightly. “Heading out?”she asked quietly. He nodded. “Yea, me and the guy. You hanging here?”he asked. She nodded. “Until 3. Gotta pick Owen up.”
Killian nodded slowly. “I mean, you could come with us to your moms place. Was gonna hit that one first.” He said after a pause. AJ smiled brightly. “Sure. Seems like a better idea anyway. To have someone who knows the area.” Sure. That’s why he was asking. Not to spend more time with her. “Ready to go homo?” Jack called obnoxiously. Killian rolled his eyes but nodded anyway. Craig walked in from the back porch and Killian couldn’t stop the glare he shot him. Craig raised an amused eyebrow. AJ locked the door to the house and they walked down Magnolia Street chatting amiably. Killian always felt forced when he had to interact one on one with people. But not with AJ.
"And this is obviously our little downtown area." AJ said with a slight blush. A preteen was hanging out against a garden gate and winked at AJ. She rolled her eyes. "Caleb, go back to school!"she said in exasperation. Her moms shop was just ahead and Killian tried to clear his mind to ready himself. He’d need all of his faculties for this. The dangerous thing about this family was their devout belief magic was real. It’s something they clearly grew up learning about. It made Killian’s job harder and he wasn’t looking forward to it.
"Welcome to Verbena Botanicals!"a blonde women called happily. AJ smiled widely and stepped forward. "Hey Carla." "Hey Jadey!" The two smiled familiarly at each other. "Mom in?"AJ asked and a brunette woman emerged. "Of course I am. And you’ve brought friends." The woman appraised them coolly and her eyes fell on Killian. "I’m Sally. Welcome to Williams." Sally and AJ definitely resembled each other. The dark hair, the pale skin, the eyes. But AJ was less willowy than her mother, leaning toward petite (and fairly curvy). The woman Carla was regaling Jack and Ryan in conversation and Craig was looking at the shelves. "Toni tells me you’re writing a book." Sally Owens said softly. Killian raised an eyebrow. "She means me." AJ whispers as she brushed past him.
"Oh. Yes. A book on New England." He said easily. It wasn’t a lie. "What’s the subject?"Sally asked with a twist of her mouth. Killian smirked. "Little travel, little history, little about the accommodations and shops I come to." Sally’s eyes narrowed. "You’ve been deceiving people a long time, haven’t you?"Sally asks and Killian’s heart stopped beating. He swallowed heavily. "Keep in mind that she knows you aren’t being totally honest with her." Sally continues and Killian had to interrupt. "I’ve been nothing but honest with her!"he snapped. Sally shook her head slowly. "No. You’ve been honest. Not fully or totally. You’ve answered her questions but never really answered them. And she will find out sooner or later. Count on sooner. We Owens women have our ways."
He grinned rudely. “Yes. Your witchy ways, right?” He said it with the intention of pissing her off. But Sally Owens laughed. “Do you think you’re the first man to see a beautiful Owens woman and refuse to believe in magic?” She was so confident in what she said. “Antonia’s father didn’t believe. It didn’t stop us from loving each other. But I could never tell him the whole truth. His disbelief didn’t stop him from dying.” Killian’s breath left him in shock. No one had mentioned the two like they were related. “So watch yourself Killian. Love is a powerful thing. Wether you believe in it or not.” Sally walked away and Killian’s mind swam.
Sally Owens wasn’t angry that Killian didn’t believe in magic. She was angry he didn’t believe in love. “Find anything of use, yet?”AJ said sweetly from a step stool against a shelf. He shook his head. “Haven’t looked around. Anything new catch your eye?” Flirting he could do. It was simple and fun. Without the complications of feelings or deception. She smiled shyly. “Nope. Nothing new.” He grinned fully at her. “I bet. I bet that I could guess all the things you use in this store.” He said boldly. She smiled immediately. “You’re on, lucky charms!” She walked away with a glance over her shoulder at him as Killian began looking around.
She’d use something sweet without being overly girly. The few times he’d touched her, her skin has been smooth and warm and she always seemed to be biting her lip. He wondered briefly of she wore something with cinnamon during the holidays. He began grabbing things from shelves, letting his mind wander to her hair, her skin, her mouth. Carla laughed loudly. He walked confidently back to her and held his small basket out. AJ glanced quickly. “Nope!”she said with a smile. He se the tip bottles down. “Rosemary and mint stuff is for my mom. Is this ok to ship to another country?” He asked more to Sally who nodded curiously.
Killian turned his face back to AJ. She was standing completely still and looked like she wasn’t breathing. “Did he get it?” Carla asked loudly. AJ let out a breath shakily. She looked up at him and bite he corner of her lip nervously. He pulled the small tube of sweet beeswax from the basket and held it up to her. Her eyes flooded. “They pushed.” She said quietly and left without another word. He placed the basket on the counter and looked at the door she’d just left through. Sally approached and began wrapping up the bottles for his mom. “Might need to start believing.” She said quietly. Killian pulled his wallet from his jeans. His hands were shaking.
It took him a solid hour to be able to focus again. He clutched the little tube of beeswax in his pocket. He don’t know why he bought it. She clearly already had one. But Killian wanted AJ close to him somehow. When they entered the county clerks office, Craig smoothly flirted their way into the records room. Killian wasn’t prepared for what they encountered. Since the start to this town by a Ms Maria Owens, there had been 12 Owens women. Nine of them had been married. All of the husbands (besides Sally’s currently living one) had died less than 10 years in to their marriages. All of the deaths could be explained. But it was still freaky. Michael Fenreich, AJ’s father had been hit by a truck. The driver was even cited at the accident and served jail time. Apparently, he was apologetic and heartbroken at the pain he’d caused.
AJ was five when it happened. He wondered if she even remembered him. The archives had stories that the guys made copies of. Things the town couldn’t explain mostly; the Owens women ‘flying’ on Halloween being the key one. “Didn’t she say she has a sister?” Ryan said suddenly. Killian looked up. He was holding an article out to Killian. “Car accident on Lakeland bridge kills 1, fatally injured another.” He raised an eyebrow at Ryan. Who rolled his eyes. “Keep reading ass hat!” Killian did. The boy in the accident had apparently lost contorted and flipped his car. He died on impact. The girl that was with him needed emergency surgery and (when the article was written) hadn’t been released yet from the hospital. Named Kylie Fenreich.
“Explain it!” Craig hissed as they walked back down Magnolia Street. “You know he can’t!” Ryan said in a loud voice. “Exactly!”Craig said as he stopped in front of the group. “Explain any of it! You said you forgot to tell her we were coming. She had rooms ready and breakfast started. She knew the person calling this morning before she answered the phone and no, asshole, there was no caller id. And now all this shit about their husbands licking the bucket! Either they’re a coven of black widows or something hinky is going on!” Craig took gaping breaths as he finished. “Explain it. Explain any of it!”he said after a beat. “They’re clearly killing their husbands!”Jack said like it was obvious. “Or its bad luck that’s bred the rumors.”Ryan added. “Killian. Explain it.” Craig said in a final tone.
"I can’t." He whispered quietly. Craig folded his arms smugly. "You can’t. And now you’re scared." Craig spoke. "So what the hell do we do?"Ryan asked confused. ‘We run’ was on the tip of Killian’s tongue. The clock in town chimed loudly. "It’s only 3." Ryan said. "We should head back to town. Interview a few people." He suggested. Killian shook his head. "You guys go ahead." He could see them exchanging looks but no one questioned him. He sat on the porch for 20 minutes until AJ walked up the steps with a small boy. The boy sat down beside him. "Hi! I’m Owen!"
Killian smiled in surprise. The kid was smiling proudly at him. “I’m in second grade!” He said. Killian laughed. “That’s impressive. What’s your favorite subject?” Owen looked thoughtful. “I like science. What’s yours?” Killian didn’t want to tell Owen that it had been years since he was in a classroom. “I like history.” He said finally. Owen stuck his Inge out. “History is boring!” He looked up and AJ was standing in the doorway. “Maybe Killian will help you with your history homework.” Owen stood and ran inside. “Snack first!”he yelled on his way to the kitchen. AJ gave Killian an appraising look before she turned into the house. “What would you like, Owen?”AJ asked. Killian looked into the house, unsure.
He’d wanted to leave just a few minutes ago. “Brain food!”he heard Owen giggle from the kitchen. He squared his shoulders and walked inside, decision made to stick this out as long as it took! He entered the kitchen. Owen had his work laid out on the table and AJ was looking through the fridge. “Gotta give me more to go on than that!”she said in a sing song. “Matted calves brains with maggots!” Owen said loudly and immediately giggled. AJ laughed too. “Anything else, master?”she said cutely. Killian smiled from the doorway. “And ghost blood!” AJ snorted. “Owen, your brain is a scary place!”she said wistfully. She poured him a glass of milk. Owen finally noticed Killian and held his glass up. “Ghost blood!”
Killian found himself laughing. AJ opened a tin on the counter and handed Owen a cookie. “Calves brains with maggots!”she said as she sat it down. “Oatmeal raisin!”she stage whispered to Killian. Killian had to hand it to Owen, it was imaginative! “What’s on the agenda for today?”AJ asked Owen. Owen made a face. “Math, history, and spelling.” Killian finally sat at the table. “I thought wizards liked spelling!”Killian joked and Owen laughed. “I’m not a wizard. I’m a warlock!” He said with authority. AJ smiled contently. “My mistake. Do you have magic?”Killian asked. Owen rolled his eyes. “You don’t have magic. You use magic! Duh!” AJ giggled behind her hand.
Killian found himself unable to stop. “And do you use magic Owen?” He asked. Owen smiled widely. “Mom helped me cast a spell of health for Shelly Raymond. She has cancer.” Killian wasn’t prepared for that. He had expected Owen to talk about flying or making things set on fire. But spells for health? “Do you cast any other spells?”Killian asked, still a little in awe of the 8 year old. Owen shook his head. “I can tell you don’t believe.”he said wisely. “But that’s ok. AJ will show you soon!” He patted Killian’s hand as he said it and stood. “I’m going to go feed Magpie!”he yelled as he ran outside. “The cat.” AJ said at Killian’s expression.
She pulled herself up onto the counter and he looked at her for a long minute.
"You’re hiding something." She said quietly. "Physically, this time." Killian smirked. He pulled the little tube out of his pocket and threw it to her. "Kind of a lame-ass departing gift, isn’t it?" He face was carefully blank. "I’m not going anywhere." He answered back, eyes locked on hers again. Before he knew what he was doing, he was out of his seat and in front of her. He tilted her face up and kissed her lightly. Really, it was little more than a brush of their lips together but his body felt on fire. Their breaths mingled for another second before they were kissing again. He didn’t know if he leaned in first or she did but her hand was balled in his collar and he was gripping her hips as they kissed.
Her mouth moved smoothly against his, as of by nature thy knew what the other liked. “Knock knock! Sorry to just come in. The front do…”AJ and Killian had jerked apart at the make voice. “The door was opened…”the guy said from the doorway. “Uh hi.”he said awkwardly. AJ sighed heavily. “Mark. What can I do for you?” She said, straight to the point. The man named Mark held up a bag. “My dad asked me to bring you guys a few striped bass. And to get some dill from you. Said you had company.” The man eyed Killian strangely. “Oh. Thank you Mark.” She said and hopped down from the counter. “This is Killian. Killian, Mark Scalia. His family owns the seafood market in town.” Killian offered a polite smile. It was really all he could muster for the guy who interrupted what had been the best kiss Killian ever had. And who was eyeing AJ strangely.
"I’ll..uh..go get that dill." She said awkwardly and headed outside. The two guys stood in the kitchen awkwardly. "I’m her ex." Mark said finally with a little chuckle. Killian nodded slowly. "You and her? Going out?" He asked a little rudely. Killian smiled aggressively. "I haven’t used that expression since I was like, 15." Marks eyes narrowed. "Oh yea. And that was what? 20 years ago?" Marks face showed confidence. He was convinced he could have AJ again if he wanted her. "I can’t find Mags!"Owen whined as he entered the kitchen. "Hey little man!"Mark said in a friendly tone. Owen’s face shifted. He went from open and sweet to confused. "Killy, will you help me find Magpie?"Owen asked sweetly.
Killian had won. “I will. As soon as you sister gets back inside.” Killian explained an stood straighter. “Planning on sticking around Williams?” Mark questioned. Killian shrugged cutely. “The town looks better and better the longer I stay.” AJ walked inside and tied up a large bundle with twine. “There ya go.” She said holding the bundle to Mark. He smiled and swept AJ into a hug. He smirked at Killian while he caressed AJ’s back. He pulled away finally. “You look great, babe!”he said and tapped AJ’s nose.
"What a jerk!"Owen said loudly as the front door closed. AJs mouth tilted up. "Magpie was in Ms Canning’s tree. It’s homework time, buster!" Owen sat down without argument. Killian as down next to him at the table as AJ began cutting up the fish. "Z-e-b-r-a, right?"he asked Killian. Killian nodded. He was struck by how comfortable it felt to be here. Which would ultimately be a problem when he left. He didn’t want to hurt Owens feelings. "W-i-l-l-i-u-m-s?" He asked again. Killian shook his head. "Is it that one that makes a yum sound that isn’t a U?" Owen asked thoughtfully. "Honey, were home!"Jack called from the living room. Killian winked at Owen as the guys entered. Jack and Ryan shot looks at Killian. Craig stepped forward. "Well hello. My name is Craig." Owen grinned broadly. "I’m Owen. Are you two brothers?"
AJ spun around to look at them. “We are. But it’s a secret!”Killian said in a loud whisper. “Kill, we’ve got…business to discuss!” Jack said awkwardly. Killian glanced over at Owen. “I’ll be right back bud.” He stood and followed the guys up the stairs to see what they’d found.
Sally and her husband Gary picked Owen up about an hour later. Gary appraised Killian coolly. Dinner that night was a loud affair with all four of them, AJ, and the aunts. Ryan stayed quiet all through dinner. It was really starting to piss Killian off. “What’s your deal?”he whispers to Ryan in the hallway. Ryan shook
his head. “Kill, I saw something. That I can’t explain!” Ryan’s face was pale as his eyes wide. He looked a little crazed. “Ok. Calm down. Tell me about it and we’ll riddle it out.” Killian said in a soothing voice. Ryan took a deep breath. “I came downstairs to get my jacket. And I saw AJ. She walked up a candle and blew on the wick. She lit it!” Killian’s face scrunched in confusion. “It was probably a fake candle.” He said easily. Ryan shook his head fast. “I touched it man. It’s real. I can’t explain it!” Killian swallowed hard. This is what he feared most.
One day someone would come around and Killian couldn’t explain it away. “I’ll figure it out.” He promised quietly. Ryan nodded.
But the more Killian thought about it, the less he could explain. They walked back into the dining room and the chatter stopped. “Everything ok, dear?”Jet asked sweetly. Killian smiled back. “Of cou..”“Are you witches?” Ryan interrupted. All eyes turned to Ryan. “What did you see, dear? That has you so worried.” Hey asked. Ryan shook his head. “A candle.” He said quietly. Killian watched AJ’s face pale. “And I can’t explain it. So if you could, that would be great!” Ryan finished in a choked off laugh. Killian kept his eyes on AJ. After a couple seconds of silence, she looked up. And into Killian’s eyes.
"What did his eyes see that you still refuse to believe?"she asked softly. Killian narrowed his eyes at her. "If I can see it and touch it, it’s real. That’s it." "No wonder you dont believe in love." AJ said sadly. Ryan slammed his hand on the table. "I saw it. It’s real!" Craig and Jack both looked nervous. "So you think he’s lying?"AJ asked Killian. His face showed his frustration. "There could be a million explanations. Electric candle, alcohol, hallucination…" Killian trailed off. "I’m not crazy. I know what I saw!" He said loudly. "Maybe they drugged you!"Killian said in an exaggerated voice. "Maybe we drug the whole town every Halloween?" Frances said with a smirk. Ryan pointed at her.
"Exactly Kill. There’s too much here we can’t explain!" Frances and Jet looked pleased. Killian stood. "So because you can’t explain it, it’s magic?" He asked in a rude tone. AJ stood up fast and threw her napkin down. "You’re not just narrow minded, your closed minded. Who has tangible proof and denies it?" She looked a cross between angry and hurt. "Then show me! Give me proof!"Killian yelled at her. AJs eyes clouded with tears. "I did. You still refuse to see it." She turned and headed out back like she’d done nights before. He followed her again.
"When? What did you show me?" He yelled. She whipped around. "You don’t get it?" She asked like he was dumb. "Everything you’ve seen me do. Heard me say. Felt. None of its real to you?" Her tears had finally fallen. "What are you saying? You’ve been casting spells on me the whole time?"he asked sarcastically. "Yes!"she screamed. "What?"he choked out eternal clenched teeth. "Not me! The aunts!"she backtracked. "What spells?"he yelled angrily. "Do you think every kiss feels like that!" She yelled. "Do you?! When’s the last time a kiss made your heart race and gave you goosebumps? When is the last time a kiss felt that perfect?" She kept yelling. "So none of what I feel for you is real?"he asked shakily. She took her phone out and threw it at him. "You don’t feel anything! You’re a broken, cynical man who is dead inside!" She sobbed and caught her breath. "And I hate you for it!"
She practically ran inside. Killian sank to the ground and felt drops hit his arms. He wiped his face hastily. He felt it. He felt magic swirl around him every time she smiled at him. Like a hot knife twisting into his gut. She’d never really be his. She couldn’t be. She’d hate him once she knew the truth. It was better this way, he told himself. “It’s called a push.” Frances said as he sat down beside Killian. “It doesn’t force or change your feelings. All we did was propel your forward. Everything else, you two did on your own.” She finished and interlaced her fingers. “I suggest, if you want any kind I future with her, you tell her whatever it is you’re hiding. Before someone else does.” He nodded dumbly. Frances stood and left and Killian had no idea how long he stayed out there.
He slowly walked inside and up the stairs. He stopped in the middle of the hallway and stared at her door. His hand shook on the knob and he opened it slowly. He carefully walked up her narrow stairs. She was laying upside down on her bed. She pulled herself up and turned on her stomach to stare at him. “I’m terrified..”he started. “But so are you.” His voice wavered slightly. She made no move to contradict him. “What are you afraid of?”she asked quietly. He crossed to her and sat on the corner of her bed. “All of it. Being in love. Believing in magic.” He looked up at her wall. “I never asked you to believe in magic. I asked you to believe in me.” Her soft voice was full of emotion as it physically pained him.
"I believe you." He said finally. "At least, I want to." He turned to look at her. "You have to know that I want to believe you!" He was begging. She sucked in a breath quickly. "So why are you afraid of?"he asked her finally. She swallowed audibly. "Losing you. To the curse." She rolled on to her back and looked up at her ceiling. "It’s terrifying that I could fall so deeply and then lose it all." His throat constricted painfully. "I already told you. I’m not going anywhere." She shook her head and bit her lip. "You can’t promise that." Killian had no idea what to say. He couldn’t promise that. "I promise to stay. Until you tell me leave."
He stood and crossed to her door. “I hate that I fell for you anyway!”she said. Killian choked on his breath. His fists clenched. “And I hate that you made me fall without trying!”he answered.
When he got to his room, Killian collapsed against the wall. His feelings swirled all around him and he felt strange. He’d told her he loved her and she’d said nothing. She hadn’t moved or spoken. She could have stopped him from leaving. She could have made him stay. Hot tears flowed down his cheeks. He was in love with her. And he had no idea how to fix that!
Turns out, he didn’t have to. He woke on the floor and for dressed quickly. His (dead) cell phone said it was 930 and he went in search of his guys. They had just finished breakfast and were on their way upstairs when they approached him. “What are we going to do?”Craig asked quietly. Killian rolled his eyes. “Figure it out as always.” He said in a falsely cocky tone. He didn’t want them to know how hurt he was.
“So explain it then!” Craig whispered. “I can’t!”Killian whispered back. “You must have imagined it!” he said.
Craig scoffed audibly. “Ryan knows what he saw! She lit the candle without touching it. She knows who is calling before the phone rings. She knows who is at the door before they knock. Killian, AJ is an honest to god witch!” He was dead fucking serious. Ryan nodded. “She is Kill. The real deal.”He said quietly. “You guys are ridiculous. Really intuitive, I’ll give you that. But she hasn’t figured us out so how good could she be?” Jack said in a cocky tone. Killian kind of had to agree with him. If they were so powerful, why hasn’t they realized what he was doing. Or maybe they did know. Some of the bongs Frances and Jet said were leading and just this side of teasing. It’s possible they had always known. Maybe they were playing him!
AJ wandered down the stairs looking pale. “AJ, you alright, love?” He asked in a concerned voice. Her hands shook. “How could you?”she whispered. His face shifted to confusion. “How could I what? AJ, you aren’t making sense!” He was genuinely worried. “How could you lie to me like that! You had so much time to tell me the truth. And you just kept lying!”she ranted. Craig stepped forward and AJ pointed at him. “Not a word. I heard you earlier. You could have told me the truth. Any of you could have!” Ryan and Jack were giving Killian the look. They’d been found out. And worse, she was hurt in the process.
Her whole body was shaking now. “James Blake? Ringing any bells?” She spat angriky. Killian’s face paled unnaturally. “Either way. James, Killian, whoever you are. Get out!” She whispered dangerously. Killian stepped forward. “AJ, Antonia, please let me explain!”he stuttered. She shook her head. “Do you believe I’m a witch?” She asked. He shook his head. “I believe that YOU believe you’re a witch!”he tried. She looked livid. She tried to push past him but he grabbed her wrist.”You need to leave!”she said fighting back tears.
"AJ, please…" He started but she’d has enough. "Get out NOW!" When she screamed, their suitcases flew down the stairs at them. Killian was hit by his own duffel. Antonia smirked at that briefly. But the tears were flowing down her face. "Get your shit and get out. And don’t ever come back here." She said it quietly but direct. Craig nodded. Killian’s heart felt like it had stopped beating. He had just witnessed real fucking magic! Her face was streaked with tears as she slammed her front door.
"We should go." Craig said quietly. "Killian?"Ryan asked confused. "What the hell was that?"Jack said in a low whisper. "It was magic." Killian answered. He dropped to the hard wood floor and looked around. He couldn’t explain it. He’s never seen anything like it. She was powerful. "We could check the camera we put in the rooms. See if she strung out suitcases up with fishing line or something." Jack said with a head shake. "You boys are creative!"Frances said as she walked in to the living room. "Go get your cameras and the rest of your things. And leave." Frances had spoken calmly but Killian knew she was practices at schooling her emotions. Killian has broken her nieces heart. And he was lucky to still be alive. So they gathered their things in record time and left, hoping to figure out what had happened.
“There’s nothing here.” Craig said for the third time. They were currently at his and Killian’s place, combing over every second of the footage from the room. She touched the laptop. She touched the bed. She stood up. 4 minutes later, the luggage shakes and flies out of the room. No explanation. Killian ran his hands through his greasy hair. He hasn’t slept or showered in 2 days, desperately searching the tapes for anything. But deep down, he knew there was nothing to find. Antonia Owens was a witch. And he was in love with her. Truthfully, Killian had no idea which fact was more unsettling.
"What do we do?"Ryan asked quietly. Killian shook his head. Craig stood up. "Alright. Well gents, kill has a new book to write. Lets give him some room!" Craig ushered the guys out. Killian was alone. And he was totally lost. So he decided to go for a run in the park. Running usually cleared his head. Today, his thoughts were still disconnected and random. Mostly, he thought of AJ; her eyes, her smile, her laugh. Okay lets be honest; her kiss. She had been right when she said no kisses felt the way theirs had. Killian stopped to drink from a fountain. He looked up at a large field. He walked to the open area and looked around. People were leaving the park. So Killian out his arms out and spun. The first time, he fell only a second later unaccustomed to spinning. The next time, he tried to focus on a single object. When he fell, a bunch of teenagers were laughing at him.
She was right. If you can’t stay focused, you lose your balance and fall. Like he had. Like he had for her. Killian ran home and started writing. His publicist was going to kill him!
“Writer James Blake reveals new information today regarding his next book. Blake states that he hopes he doesn’t offend his previous fans as his new book is drastically different. Blake focuses on a single encounter as opposed to a new one each chapter and details seeing and feeling real magic. Blake also talks how he fell for the young women who opened his eyes to true magic.”
Jennifer O’Day had always been kind to him. He hoped that somehow AJ saw it or read his book. He needed to talk to her. He even considered putting his cell number in the dedication (which was to her) but wondered who would call him instead. People were kinda crazy. As weeks past and he still hasn’t heard from her, he became desperate. Craig said he sent her an email but got no reply. Halloween was coming up. And he’d already decided to drive back to Williams and beg for forgiveness.
The town was exactly as he remembered but was even prettier somehow with the brightly colored autumn leaves. Since book 2 had come out, his fans became divided; into true believers and true skeptics. He donned a bright blue true believer shirt and his coat as he walked the familiar half mile down magnolia street. He’d been staying in a hotel room for 3 days and the Owens witches were all people were able to talk about this close to Halloween. There was already a crowd gathered outside of their house. He hid in the back and looked around. For a town of people who thought this family was evil, quite a few has turned up.
Killian recognized aunt Frances and Jet on the roof. He was surprised to see Owen up there, all black outfit and grinning broadly. A woman who must be the sister was up there, holding hands with AJ. AJ finally saw him and his heart stopped. Her eyes looked sad. Killian blinked hard to shake himself out of his stupor. The aunts were laughing and counting down. He wasn’t prepared for what he was about to see. All 5 of them jumped together and ‘flew’ smoothly to the ground. He smiled as the assembled group clapped for them and he glimpsed their hilariously poignant witch costumes with standard striped stockings and red heels. Both AJ and her sisters heels were a little risqué but no one else seemed to notice.
The pretty strawberry blonde approached him aggressively. He knew, without being a witch, what was about to happen. She slapped him hard and tilted her head to the side.”I deserved that.” He said with a rub to his jaw. “Mmhmm, don’t fuck up again!”she said with a smile and bounced away. Killian watched her leave and smiled affectionately. He liked her already! AJ approached him warily. “True believer, huh?”she asked him quietly. He pulled her witches hat off and out it on his head. “Whatcha think? Am I a warlock or a wizard?” He asked with a grin. She rolled her eyes. “Was thinking liar, personally.” He stopped grinning.
"And I won’t deny that I lied. But I am sorry." He said. She looked pensive. "And I really do love you, AJ, Jade, Toni…whatever your name is!" He said with a grin that she mirrored. "It’s Antonia. Can you see why I need a nickname?"she said. He tilted her head up. "I like Antonia. Antonia Jade James. Has a nice ring to it." Her eyebrows lifted but she blushed anyway. "You’re asking a lot. Considering you don’t believe in magic." He swallowed hard. All in. "I can’t explain why I saw. And I believe in love. Someone once told me that was enough!" She was shaking her head. "Aren’t you worried?"she asked quietly while looking at her feet. He shook his head. "Nope. I’m not going anywhere. Until you tell me to leave." She smiled wide and pulled him down to her by his collar. When their lips met, Killian knew magic was real.
No kiss should ever feel that perfect. Unless it was true loves kiss. Now those, he hears, are always perfect!
So, in the words of his mother in law,
“Always throw spilt salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for luck, and fall in love whenever you can.”