The Witch's Ring That Ruined Halloween



All characters are mine and mine alone. If they look like anybody you know or think you know it’s sheer coincidence. This story does contain some violence, murder, foul language, and witches.

Synopsis: Riley Cabot accidentally damages an antique ring while shopping and is forced to buy the ugly thing. While she knew she would fear the interest on her credit card bill, she did not know she also needed to fear the witch she had awoken sleeping within. This witch seeks out the virgin who broke her ring, intent on sacrificing them to awaken her family and restore their powers. No one expected the three-hundred-year-old witch to be romantically curious in women nor that Riley wasn’t a virgin.

Especial thanks to Armengard for editing.

Questions? Comments? Rude remarks?


Riley Cabot shoved her hands as deep into her pockets as she could. Her annoyance level only increased when they failed to go as deep as she would have liked. “Damn women’s pockets.”

“I’ve told you a dozen times to just buy some men’s pants,” her cousin said from the other side of the aisle. “We have lots of deep pockets everywhere.”

“And I’ve told you a dozen times cargo pants are stupid and unflattering to my ass. And yours. Your ass deserves better.”

Will Cabot shrugged and kept looking over items on his side. He liked his cargo pants just fine. They were comfortable. He wasn’t going to trade comfort for looks, unlike his vain cousin. “Your bellyaching isn’t going to help us find Granny a birthday present.”

“I still say we should just buy her a Hallmark gift card and a book of stamps. She loves sending cards,” Riley said, more than ready to get out of the store. Antique stores reminded her of the endless hours she had spent following her mother around as a child. Shopping hadn’t been her thing then, nor was it now. She carefully passed the shopkeeper who was rearranging items in a glass case. The last thing she wanted to do was bump the old woman, accidentally break something, and be made to pay for a priceless antique and hospital bills.

“That’s impersonal and we’re not doing it, Riley.”

Riley let out a long sigh and wandered further down her aisle. “Why can’t we get her a nice gag gift, then? What’s the fun of having a grandmother born on Halloween if we can’t tease her about it?”

Will was beginning to regret bringing his cousin along with him. He only did it because of all the weird looks he got when he shopped at antique stores alone. “You know she hates Halloween. She thinks it’s Mr. Dee Vil’s day.”

Riley snickered at her grandmother’s refusal to call the devil the ‘devil.’ It never ceased to amaze her that a woman so liberal could be so suspicious of the supernatural.

The chime of a ringtone caused each Cabot cousin to check their phones; there was something about the antique store’s atmosphere that demanded silence, similar to libraries or even church. As it turned out, however, the ringing originated from the shopkeeper’s pocket. The woman slowly pulled out the phone, peered at it over the rim of her thick glasses, and pressed the big green button her children had told her to.


As the old woman shuffled away to talk, Riley found herself drawn to what lay in the wide-open case. She and Will had been in the store a few times before, and the case had always been closed and locked. Riley would sometimes give its contents a glance-over, but she was never one for history unless she could actually touch it.

The smudged, scratched glass of the case was full of tiny, expensive items; items that surely had a habit of walking out of the store in people’s pockets if they weren’t properly locked up. Riley let her eyes take in each piece of history. There were dozens of trinkets; old coins, pocket knives, broaches, yet for some reason, Riley found her eyes drawn to the center of the middle shelf.

On it was an old ring, gold and studded with four red stones; rubies, Riley suspected, the stones framed in a bezel setting, facets roughly cut. However, there was something about the diamond-shaped layout that appealed to her. She had to try it on.

Riley ignored her cousin’s distant question of if she had finally found something. She reached in the display case, took out the ring, and for a long moment, held it in the palm of her hand. How could something be so ugly and yet appealing at the same time? Why was she reminded of a stupid poem that she was certain she’d learned in her college World Literature class?

To hold infinity in the palm of your hand

She hissed and flinched back as her palm was suddenly burned. It was as if the temperature of the ring’s metal had risen by 100 degrees. Riley did what the wise Snoop Dogg told her to do. She dropped it like it’s hot.

 ...and Eternity in an hour.

It felt as though a lifetime passed as she watched the ring fall slowly to the ground. She prayed to half a dozen deities that it wouldn’t break.

Please God, Jesus, Allah, Buddhi, Ganesha, and the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The six neither heard nor cared. With a chilling crack, the ring hit the floor, bounced once, and stopped. Riley’s heart plummeted. One of the rubies was damaged.



Deep in the heart of what was once known as the Cherokee Mountains, west of the Deep River, sat a spot cleared of trees, weeds, and flowers. It had remained that way for centuries, despite the natural growth of the forest surrounding it. A large majestic turkey with an arrow through his wing would often be seen watching over the land.

The moment the old ring’s ruby was damaged, the leaves on the ground began to stir. The tom yelped excitedly as he ran towards the pile, his cries causing the leaves to spin counterclockwise. He gobbled to let his hen know he was here.

The whirlwind uncovered dirt and dust that had not been unearthed since 1701. From the dust formed a woman. The turkey gave an alarmed yelp when she did not move after several minutes. His hen looked the same as ever. Her skin was still youthful, firm, and tan, her hair long, thick, and dark. He almost seemed to exhale in relief when she finally opened her eyes.

Cristobel smiled when she saw Fian waiting on her. She curtsied, “Thy humble servant.”

The tom bowed his long neck, then let out a series of long, loud yelps. He was calling an assembly of his hens. She nodded as she looked around for her mother and sister to join them.

Neither appeared.

“Only mine stone was broken,” Cristobel said. “We shall hast to ratify. Pray, Sir, doth thou wot the year?”

The turkey gave a short cluck. No.

He then gave a series of shorter clucks. But many, full seasons have passed.

Cristobel sighed as she ran a hand through the bottom strands of her hair. “We might not but leave here and find the ring.”

Fian cooed. Cristobel nodded in agreement. “Yes. And the virgin whom bears it.”




“This is beyond fucking ridiculous,” Riley complained as they got into Will’s car. “All I did was fracture a ruby. I didn’t throw it into the fires of Mount Doom. How in the hell will I ever pay $2,000 off?”

“That’s why we have credit cards. At least we were able to talk her down. She was trying to spike it up to three,” Will replied, buckling his seatbelt. “The ring will make a nice present for Granny.”

“She’d probably think it was from Mr. Dee Vil,” Riley grumbled, jerking too hard as she tried to buckle her own seatbelt. It refused to move. She jerked again and let out a frustrated howl when it still refused to extend. She threw her hands in the air. “Fuck it. With my luck today it’d cut my head off in the accident.”

Will turned to look at her. Riley was slumped down in the seat, staring grumpily at the plastic bag in her lap.

“Look, don’t worry too much about it. We’ll take the ring to a jeweler, get it fixed, and sell it somewhere. We can take it to one of those antique stores in Charlotte, find an auction, or do something with it online. We’ll have the money to pay it off by the end of November before you even have to pay interest on it.”

“Let’s hope so,” Riley said. She reached back and slowly pulled the seatbelt across her chest. This time the belt moved and she clicked it into place. “Let’s go get some breakfast and then head to Danny’s.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Will said. He put his own bag in the backseat before starting the car. At least he had found a present for their grandmother. She was going to love the blue candy dish to add to her collection.



Cristobel and Fian walked to a stream not far from where her home once stood. She knelt beside the burbling water and using her cupped hands, she drank and drank. She had never been so thirsty before. She let out a satisfied sigh once her ferocious thirst was quenched. Cristobel cupped one more palmful of water in her hands, but this time she did not drink. Instead, she whispered old Gaelic words passed down from her mother’s line for centuries.

She asked the water to show her where her father’s ring was. The water shimmered before showing her an image of a young woman. Queerly, her heart started to race as her eyes traced the woman’s features. In all her memory, her heart had only raced so once before.

“She is beautiful,” Cristobel whispered, a little stunned to hear the words slip from her mouth. Her mother had often whispered such things about the men who visited their cabin in the past. Cristobel had never truly understood her meaning. Yet this woman’s straw colored hair and green eyes were lovely.

“Fian?” Cristobel asked, uncertain of what she could glimpse beyond the woman in the water’s image. The turkey purred before pecking her arm. The movement disrupted the image she held in her palms, and she let the water slip away, dribbling through her fingers. Cristobel didn’t flinch as he broke the skin, a drop of blood quickly rising to the surface. She licked her arm even though she disliked the taste of blood. Her mother had always insisted it was sweet, but it only tasted like metal to her.

Fian’s magic washed over her and she knew he would lead her on the right path without fail. Fian might not know where the ring was, but he could show her the way to someone who could.



“Well, if it isn’t the Cabot twins,” Melanie called out as the pair walked into the diner. A couple of out-of-towners gave Riley and Will confused looks before refocusing on their meal. The cousins did not look remotely like twins.

Riley and Will took their accustomed place at the counter bar. Melanie wandered over with two cups in one hand and a coffee pot in the other. She placed a cup in front of each of the cousins and filled it before setting out their silverware. The gray-haired woman placed a bowl of creamer packets in front of them before fishing out her ticket book. “The usual, Riles?”

“Yes, Ms. Melanie,” Riley muttered before laying her head down on the counter. Melanie arched an eyebrow at her before turning toWill. “And for you, Mr. Smith?”

Will rolled his eyes before glancing down at the menu. “I do not look like Will Smith. Grits, eggs, and bacon.”

“Over easy?”

“Yes, Ms. Melanie.”

“I’ll have Billy get right on this,” she promised.

Will shook his head at his cousin. “You gotta stop acting like it’s the end of the world. It’s one ring and we’re going to sell it.”

Riley sat up and looked down at her right hand, where the ring had left a small, circular red welt on her palm. The burn was the only reason Will had gotten the ring’s price down to two thousand, though neither he nor the shopkeeper truly believed the ring had burned her, despite Riley’s insistence. Still, Will hadn’t graduated from the UNC School of Law for nothing. Just the mention of faulty wiring within the antique shop possibly burning his cousin, and the woman had changed her price back to a more reasonable one.

“So what happened?” Melanie asked after she returned from checking on her other tables.

Will explained what happened at the antique store while Riley doctored her coffee and Melanie made tsking sounds with her mouth. “Hmm. I’m sorry, child. But Will here is right. You can probably sell it for more than you paid for. I bet it’s from colonial times. Maybe a Spanish soldier dropped it.”

“Maybe,” Riley reluctantly agreed. It did look old and somehow Spanish. She’d need to have it appraised, which meant more money. She sulked further at the thought.

Melanie shook her head at the girl and turned her attention back to Will. “So what are you two going to do with the rest of your Saturday?”

“We’re heading to Danny’s after this.”

Melanie’s shoulders slumped as she shook her head at the cousins. “I don’t know what you see in that bar, or that man.”

Riley perked up, frowning. “Hey. Danny is our cousin.”

“He’s disgusting. He’s always chewing dip and wears dirty overalls every day.”

“But he’s not racist,” Will defended.

“Or homophobic,” Riley added. The two cousins shared a conspiring grin that only the black sheep of the family could understand.

Melanie shook her head again and turned once she heard a ding. “Your food’s done. I’ll be right back.”



“What’s a little lady like you doing out here?” the man asked before releasing a loud belch. He crushed his beercan in his hand and tottered off his front porch. She was dressed like an actor in one of those old history reenactments, but he didn’t recall anyone mentioning something like that in town. “Are you lost?”

He glanced down at her feet, surprised she had climbed so high in moccasins. “Is there a Indian thing going on today?”

Cristobel said nothing as she walked closer to the strangely dressed man. It was clear based on his odd cadence and clothing that many years had passed since she had last been awake.

“What are you…” His question was cut off as she lunged forward, grabbed his arms and kissed him, using his gasp of surprise to stick her tongue in his mouth. She rubbed the remains of Fian’s blood across his gums and palate and closed her eyes as the magic began to do its work. Within seconds, all of this man’s knowledge would be hers. Already, she began to adjust her speech to match the time period.

Several moments later, Cristobel let him fall bonelessly to the ground. Gary was his name; she knew that now. The man himself wasn’t all gone yet, just what she could make use of. Fian clucked as he made his way over to the fallen man. He hadn’t eaten in many decades, and he was terribly hungry. Cristobel turned her head away as Fian feasted.

Once, there had been a time when Cristobel felt badly about helping to kill men. Perhaps the first six or seven murders, but after that, it’d become more of a routine. At least this one deserved to die. She had his memories, vivid flashes of hurting women and people of color with cruel words and even crueler hands. Her family had killed men for less.

However, and most importantly, she knew now where the woman she sought dwelled, and how to find her.



 Danny wrapped his two younger cousins in a rib-creaking bear hug. “Did you find anything for Granny?”

“A nice candy dish,” Will answered, looking up at his cousin. Danny towered over Will and Riley by almost a foot.

“Nice. I always give her gift cards to the bar, but she never comes,” Danny said. The cousins shared a laugh. Their granny was very proud of ‘little Daniel,’ her first grandchild, for owning his own business, but she would never step foot into a bar, not even for him.

“I’ll get you two some sodas,” Danny said. “There’s plenty of pool tables open.”

Riley and Will selected their favorite pool table. Will inserted the quarters as Riley went to fetch the pool sticks. Will took one from her with a grin and lined it up to his eye, ignoring Riley’s indignant gasp. “You think I would give you the crooked one?” she asked, mock-offended.

“Yes, because you have given me the crooked one before. Don’t think I never noticed.”

Riley smirked and racked the balls. Will let her break to make up for the terrible morning she’d had.

The cousins played a round of eightball as Danny’s regulars chewed the fat around them, the drone of conversation filling the bar with a steady hum. Sometimes they joined in, laughing and joking with patrons or each other. Suddenly, everything seemed to stop as a young woman walked through the door.

Riley saw her first, mostly because she had been staring fixedly at the entrance for the past few minutes, her body tensed with a strange expectation. She couldn’t explain why, nor could she explain why the ring in her pocket felt hot against her hip even though it was in a case.

Oddly enough, the woman was wearing a Colonial period dress and moccasins. Riley didn’t recall any history reenactment happening this weekend. Before she could question it further, the woman saw Riley and immediately walked toward her.

“She’s coming this way,” Will whispered. Riley’s grip on her pool stick tightened. For some reason, a part of her wanted to go to the woman, but every brain cell she had screamed she should run.

“I am Cristobel,” said the woman. “Can you help me with metal horse?”

Riley blinked and turned her head to look at Will, who was equally confused.

The woman sighed, appearing frustrated. She turned away and back with a bright look on her face. “Car? Help me with my car?”

Riley found herself nodding and walking out of the bar almost against her will. She shot a helpless look at Will over her shoulder.

Outside, she looked quickly around as she continued to follow the woman. She recognized every vehicle in the parking lot. “Where is your car?”

“Oh, it is nearby. What’s your name?”

“Riley. Riley Cabot.”

“Riley. Such a lovely name.”

Riley tried to stop walking, but only succeeded in tripping over her own feet. The woman caught her by the arm and took her by the hand. Riley looked down at their joined hands and then up at the woman who was now blushing faintly.

“This way,” said the woman.

Riley allowed Cristobel to lead her around the back of the building. Her eyes widened as she found a turkey waiting for them. He was the largest she had ever seen, though the only one she had ever seen not cooked on Thanksgiving. Her flesh crawled at the sight of his reddish-purple, wrinkled neck, and the arrow piercing his wing.

The woman had lied. There was no car. “I should go back inside.”

The grip on her hand tightened. “But I need your help.”

“I don’t think I can help you.”

“But you can. You must free my mother and sister, and return our witchly powers.”

“No,” Riley drawled, realizing this woman was officially crazy. “I don’t think I can do any of that.”

Riley jerked as Cristobel placed a hand over her jeans pocket, right over the coal-hot jewelry case. “I can sense the ring upon you. You awoken me, dear virgin, and soon you shall awaken my family.”

“A dear what now?”



Everyone was perplexed as to why Riley had been chosen to help the strange woman with her vehicle. Out of everyone in the room, Riley was the least capable of fixing any sort of car trouble. She didn’t even like driving. Yet no one seemed able to move from their spots, as though they’d been bewitched. Will struggled the most against it mentally. The helpless look Riley had given him as she walked away helped him break free of the mysterious spell that overtook the bar. The second his mind was clear, he threw down his poolstick and ran after his cousin.

“Riley!” he shouted as he slammed open the door to the building. “Riley!”



At her cousin’s cry, Riley broke from her daze. “Here! I’m here!”

She watched Cristobel grow frustrated as the crunching sounds of Will running towards them across the gravel grew louder. The woman and the turkey hissed alike as he rounded the building.

“Begone, male!”

Will pulled Riley to his side. “I don’t know what kind of weird organ harvesting shit is going on here, but you can not have my cousin.”

Cristobel clawed her hand at him, baring her teeth. “By my witch’s blood and this spirit’s soul, I demand you leave my sight or a curse shall fall upon you!”

Riley and Will exchanged a look before he grabbed her arm. “We’re leaving.”

Riley didn’t argue. As he pulled her away, her feet stumbled beneath her. Cristobel hadn’t said she could leave so it was as if her feet simply refused to walk. Will wrapped an arm around her waist to help move them forward. “Did she drug you before I got out here? Work with me, Riles.”

Riley tried, but she only had the strength to curse with her cousin as they rounded the corner to find Cristobel and the turkey once again in front of them.

“She comes with me,” Cristobel growled. “You shall not take this virgin sacrifice from my side.”

Riley struggled not to scream. This was maddening. She wanted to move, but couldn't. She wanted to speak, but couldn’t. Most of all, she wanted to explain that she was not a virgin, nor did she want to be a sacrifice. She squeezed Will’s side, hoping he would understand. He did, of course, and held on tight to her as they paused and then ran straight at the woman and her turkey.

Later, Riley would laugh about it. It was clear the woman had never played chicken before as she quickly leapt to the side to avoid being knocked down by the bum-rushing pair. Even the turkey had hopped aside with a shrill gobble.

Will threw open the door to his car, helped Riley in, then scrambled to get into the driver’s seat. His hands shook as he jammed the keys in, but he still managed to start the engine on the first attempt. The woman and turkey darted forward, trying to get in the path of his car, but he swerved to miss them.

“Fuck!” Riley shouted as soon as enough distance had passed, relieving her on Cristobel’s unseen spell. “Fuck! What the fuck was that!”

“Did they drug you? I’m taking you to the hospital and we’re calling the cops,” Will said, looking around, trying to see if they were being followed.

“No! No, Will. She didn’t drug me. This is going to sound crazy, but I think she was a witch. I felt like she had me under an enchantment or something.”

“That’s called being drugged, Riley. We’re going to the…”

Will slammed on the brakes, skittering them to a screeching halt. Both Cabots stared in horror at Cristobel and the turkey standing in the middle of the road in front of them. By now they were at least three miles from Danny’s place. There was no possible way the pair could have traveled so far so fast on foot.

Will slammed the car into reverse and whipped them around, then punched back into drive and pressed his foot hard on the gas, engine roaring as he picked up speed.

“Okay. Yeah. She might be a witch, Riley.”

“I’m not capable of handling this shit,” Riley said, grasping over her jeans at the jewelry case still in her pocket. “She’s a witch. The ring feels stupid hot when she’s around.”

“Do you think they’re related? The witch and the ring? And what’s up with the weird turkey?”

“I don’t know. This whole thing is fucked up. She called me a virgin a few times, but I’m not. I don’t know what to do. This is something out of a Jenny Reeves novel,” Riley groaned, rubbing her head. “A god damn lesbian supernatural fiction.”

“Yes. She or Rebel could handle the fuck out of this. They deal with shit like this all the time on Into the Unknown,” Will said, also an avid fan. “When do you think the new season is coming out?”

“Will! We have bigger problems! There is a witch and an evil turkey chasing us!”

“I know, I know. I’m just stress thinking. I wish we could talk to them,” he rambled, stopping at a stop sign. He turned on the indicator to turn left and flinched when he saw the woman and turkey waiting there for them. He turned right instead.

Riley sat up, alarmed, then dug out her phone. “We could email them. They might not answer, but what the hell do we have to lose? Keep driving.”

“Wasn’t planning on stopping,” Will said. He gripped the steering wheel tighter, ready to change direction if the witch or turkey appeared again. He glanced down to check how much gas he had and gulped.



“I only have thirty miles left in the tank.”

Riley sat up in her seat. “What? But I want to get as far away from these freaks as possible.”

“We will,” he promised. “But we have to stop for gas before we hit the highway. You know there’s nothing for miles if we don’t. It will be quick. I’ll be watching the whole time.”

Riley felt uneasy as he pulled into the old Dixie Station. At least it had upgraded to gas pumps that accepted credit cards a few years ago. Will swiped his credit card and quickly keyed in the zip code, keeping vigil as he placed the nozzle into his gas tank and prayed it pumped fast.

Riley jumped as she felt the ring suddenly heating up in her pocket. She knew the woman and her turkey were close. She jumped out of the car as Will put the nozzle up.

“What are you doing? We have to go,” he said.

“The ring is hot. They’re nearby.”

“Then let’s go!”

“No. I can’t go. You have to go, with the ring. They want me but they also want the ring,” Riley said, placing the box in his hands. “Take it and get as far away from here as you can.”

“No,” Will argued. “I’m not leaving you,”

“I’m dead weight to you, Will,” Riley pleaded. “I can’t do anything when she’s around. I know, in my heart, they want me and the ring. But we can make sure they only have one of them. I bet I can get away once her power fades. I’ll call you when I do. Now go!”

It went against all of Will’s instincts to leave his cousin, but he did. He heard Riley shout ‘love you’ as he climbed into his car and felt his throat go tight and thick with emotion. He hoped he would get to tell her the same when all was said and done.


Cristobel continued to follow Riley and the ring with Fian’s help, though the turkey’s magic was fading fast. She worried what would happen if they didn’t capture their quarry soon. When she found Riley waiting for her at the waystation, her happiness and rejoice turned to anguish when she realized the virgin no longer had the ring. The smirk on Riley’s face only made Cristobel’s ire increase. She had been tricked.

Fian clucked and Cristobel relaxed. He had a plan. Fian would follow the ring while she was to take Riley to an abandoned shed he knew of in the woods.

Cristobel was so upset over losing the ring, she didn’t even blush as she took Riley tightly by the hand and led the silent woman into the trees.



Riley wasn’t able to comprehend how they walked miles through the wood and brush in only a matter of minutes. Her head throbbed sharply when she tried to think about it. Before long, she found herself in an old, dilapidated shed and bound to a chair with rope. She was surprised to find the longer she sat, the more she regained the ability to move. After more time, she was able to speak.

“Let...let me go,” Riley struggled out.

“I can not,” Cristobel replied at once.

“Please... let me go.”

For a moment, the other woman appeared strangely remorseful. “I’m sorry, but I can not. I need you to unlock my sister and mother from the ring. And then we have to sacrifice you to release our powers.”

“No. Please.”

Cristobel looked away. “I do not do this out of malice. My family has lived many years in the woods, worshipping Fian. He gives us blessings and we feed him the flesh of mortal men. I had hoped a male virgin would find my father’s ring. I do not feel at ease sacrificing a woman, but it must be done.”

“But I’m not a virgin,” Riley argued, feeling more like herself than before.

Cristobel laughed. “Of course you are. My spell would not have worked otherwise.”

Riley had read enough Jenny Reeves novels to know one had to keep the supernatural element talking to discover a way to ultimately defeat them.

“How does the spell work?” she asked.

The witch turned around, and Riley thought she appeared pleased by the question.

“My mother sacrificed my father, a Spaniard, to Fian centuries ago. She gave me his ring to remember him by. One of Fian’s gifts was the ability to walk invisible amongst others. My sister and I would sneak into town and learn everyone’s secrets from the shadows. Sometimes, we would lure men to our home in the woods. One day, my sister and I were walking unseen among the townsfolk when we learned of witches being hanged in the northern colonies. There was talk between men of burning the whole forest outside the town to find the three witches who dwelled there.”

Cristobel sighed. “We had killed too many men, or perhaps helped too many women. I knew the group of men would hang or burn us if we were found. I decided to cast a spell that would seal us away until a new era came, a time where no one would remember us and we could start anew. Four stones, four elements to our spell. I studied and practiced with Fian for decades. The spell went perfectly, and I assume Fian moved the ring so it would be found. I just didn’t suspect it would take over three hundred years for the touch of a virgin to awaken us from our rest.”



Riley struggled with the ropes binding her to the chair. “You know,” she laughed suddenly, “I’ve always been a little curious about trying bondage with a woman, but I have to say, I’m not exactly a fan at this moment.”

Cristobel narrowed her eyes and rolled the words around in her head, trying to make sense of them with her and Gary’s extremely limited knowledge.

“You wanted women to tie you up?”

“Not like this,” Riley grumbled, tugging her wrists ineffectually.

Cristobel shook her head. “Is there another instance when someone is tied up?”

Riley closed her eyes as she sighed, exasperated. “How old are you?”

“Two score and three years.”

Riley thought back to the Gettysburg Address to figure that one out. “You’re 23?”

Cristobel wrinkled her nose. “A score is twenty.”

Riley quickly redid the math. “You’re 43 years old? I guess you look great for your age.”

Cristobel blushed. “One of Fian’s blessings is long life and beauty. I do not feel two score and three years old. Time passed strangely in our home.”

Riley shook her head. “Anyway, I assume as a 43 year old witch intent on murdering me, that you must have had sex with the poor men you tied up before killing them.”

Cristobel looked aghast. “What? Of course not! If we have sex with them, which we often do not, we knock them out and then tie them up.” Her brown eyes grew large. “Wait. Sex? You… You want women to tie you up and engage in coitus with you? Is that what you meant, before?”

“Points to the homeschooled kid. I’m guessing you were homeschooled by the way.” Riley studied her and found her attention drawn to Cristobel’s heaving chest, a red blush spreading down from her neck and collarbones and her increased breaths pushing out her breasts. She wondered if this so-called centuries old witch was bicurious. She decided to push the matter.

“Do you like that thought, maybe? Tying up women to have sex with them?”

Cristobel whirled around and moved several steps away. “Of course not. It’s not natural.” It had to be true. Her mother’s words and Gary’s memories reinforced the idea.

“That’s bullshit,” said Riley. “This isn’t colonial times anymore. It’s legal for a man to love and marry a man and a woman to love and marry a woman in this country.”

“Legal? By law?”

“Yes. By law. Some religions are behind on the times, sure, but some churches allow gay people to marry.”

Cristobel knew that word ‘gay’ in two very different forms. She followed Gary’s stolen knowledge of the word, but it was sharp and cold and filled with hatred. She knew from his memories he had tormented any gay people he found. He had even insulted Riley once and gotten banned from Danny’s Tavern. He had wanted to slashed Danny’s tires in vengeance, but knew Danny could beat him in a fight, and so slunk away like the coward he was.

The second form of the word, Cristobel still was not sure of… but for her, it was warm and hopeful, so unlike Gary’s in every way.

“You romantically like women?” she asked. “And want to lie with them as one would a man?”

Riley couldn’t help but smile. “I do love women and I have already lain with several. Which is what I don’t get about this whole ‘virgin’ thing. I’ve slept with 7 different women. Well, maybe six because this one time neither of us orgasmed and I don’t know if that counts, but I slept with those other six women. Full sexual intercourse. Strap-ons and everything, both ways, so I know I am not a virgin.”

Just the idea of holding a woman’s hand was enough to make Cristobel blush and her pulse flutter. Holding Riley’s hand earlier had caused a new, unfamiliar rush of emotion to warm her heart. The images Riley provided (with Gary’s knowledge of such words) made her want to melt.

“But you are a virgin,” she insisted, rubbing her hot face with tacky palms, trying to calm her pulse. “The ring reacted to you and by Fian’s spell it would only do so under a virgin’s touch.”

“But I’m not. Can’t you check with some witch mind reader spell or something?”

Cristobel rubbed her tongue across the roof of her mouth. There was just a spot of Fian’s blood left on her tongue. Not enough to steal knowledge for her own like she had done with Gary, but perhaps enough for a glimpse of Riley’s valuable knowledge. She was extremely curious to know if Riley spoke the truth on the legality and her claims of not being virginal.

Moving in front of Riley’s chair, she braced her hands on top of Riley’s and leaned forward, attempting to seal the kiss. To her surprise, Riley yanked her head away with a cry.

“Hey! What are you doing?”

Cristobel leaned back, utterly confused. “I was performing the spell you asked.”

“It looked like you were going to kiss me,” Riley argued. Cristobel blushed.

“Well, yes. That’s how the spell is done. I’ve never done this with a female, but I presume it reacts the same way.”

“That’s great and all, but you should ask before you kiss someone. It’s called consent, and I have not given it.”

“But you confess to like women,” Cristobel argued, standing up. “I do not understand.”

Riley’s face wrinkled in anger. “Just because I’m a lesbian does’t mean I like all women.”

“Oh. I see.” Cristobel turned away. “You do not find me attractive.”

Riley dropped her head back and groaned, beyond frustrated. “Jesus Christ. You kidnapped me, tied me to a chair, and plan to sacrifice me. I think it best if we don’t start anything between us. ”

“I can’t do the spell any other way,” Cristobel said, refusing to look at Riley. She was crushed, and embarrassed, and didn’t want Riley to see. Finally, she had finally met someone who showed her that her lack of feelings towards men and feelings towards women were legitimate, and they tragically did not view her as a prospective partner.

Riley twisted her wrists against the ropes binding her to the chair as she considered her options, though she didn’t see any other way out of this besides charming Cristobel over to her side.

“Okay. You may kiss me.” Cristobel brightened and stepped forward. “Wait, are you going to put your tongue in my mouth?”

Cristobel paused. “Yes.”

“When was the last time you brushed your teeth?” Riley asked. She gagged at the thought of kissing a mouth that tasted three-hundred years old.

Cristobel reviewed Gary’s memories of brushing his teeth. “We did not have brushes like you do, but I chewed a fresh oaken branch every morning.”

Riley suspected kissing her wouldn’t be terrible if that was the case. Cristobel seemed to have decent looking teeth, besides.

“Okay, fine, whatever. You may kiss me with tongue if it means you finally believe that I am not a virgin and we can forget all this ring nonsense.”

Cristobel found herself reluctant to obey, but it was a familiar feeling. She had never wanted to kiss the men who came to their home in the woods when mother said it was her turn to do so. She returned to her position in front of Riley and leaned down to quickly press their lips together, wasting no time in pushing her tongue into Riley’s mouth, feeling the speck of Fian’s blood create a magic bond between them.

In multi-colored flashes, she saw all of Riley’s memories unspooling before her. She focused on those involving other women, and watched, enraptured, as Riley made love to multiple women, more women than the number of men she slept with.

Riley hadn’t lied. Cristobel couldn’t watch the memories and believe Riley was a virgin any longer. As Riley herself had said, there had even been fake male parts involved.

Cristobel pulled away from the blurry memories and focused on the kiss between them. She had to admit it was much easier and nicer to exchange a reluctant kiss with Riley than all those other men in the past. There was no stubble or rank breath. Riley was so soft. Cristobel quickly pulled away, aware she was blushing again.

Stepping back, she waited for Riley to pester her with cutting words, but nothing came. She risked a quick glance at her captive. Riley appeared as though lost in thought.

“Riley?” she questioned, worried she had accidentally pushed too far with the kiss and captured her memories for her own. She touched her shoulder, ready to shake her. “Riley, answer me.”

“Who was the girl?”

Cristobel froze, her heart hammering in her chest. “What girl?”

“The girl with hair like fire. The one you played with as a child, and who made your heart race as an adult. The one you watched die.”

“I did not watch her die,” Cristobel whispered, feeling violated. Fian’s magic should have only shown her Riley’s memories; not the other way around.

“I saw your memories. You watched her die,” Riley argued, furious. “You are a witch. I saw her age and grow older while you stayed the same. You cared for her. How could you just watch her die?”

“I didn’t watch her die!” Cristobel shouted, swatting her hand through the air as if to knock away such terrible memories. “Rachel was dead when I came to her cabin that winter to check on her. I saw her only moments before she passed on to the next realm. She was pregnant. The winter had been harsh on the town. Many starved. But no one sought us out for food even though we had plenty to spare.”

Cristobel wiped her eyes. “Why didn’t the women come to us? They knew we would provide. They knew we could save them. I don’t understand.”

Riley guessed it had something to do with murdering the women’s husbands and sons, but kept it to herself. “She was your first crush, wasn’t she.” It wasn’t a question.

“My only crush,” Cristobel corrected, feeling her cheeks flame up. “My heart raced the moment I saw her when I was young. I begged my mother to let her join our coven, but she scolded me. She told me it was unnatural to long to spend my life with a woman who did not share blood. Mother decided I merely longed for a sister and so begot Aphra soon after. But I checked up on Rachel over the years in secret. I told her she could come to me if she ever needed anything. But soon enough she met a man and forgot about me. Oh how I longed to sacrifice him to Fian, but I did not. He made her happy, I think.”

The witch burst into tears and covered her face with her hands. “No. Why did you make me think of her? Why did you make me remember? I have tried for so long to bury this. It just shows how stupid men are. How horrible this world is. All I want is to regain my powers and restore the world to some resemblance of order, even if it means I must sacrifice every man alive to do so.”

While Riley wasn’t romantically or sexually attracted to men, she did love a few of them : Will, Danny, and both her grandfathers. Seeing them sacrificed was the last thing she wanted.

“This world is horrible but it’s also incredible. We live in an amazing time. I can show you. I can show you everything right now,” Riley promised. “Anything you want to know or see, I can pull up on my phone. What do you want to see?”

Cristobel lowered her hands from her damp face and sniffled as she pondered the question. Ever since she was a child, she had always been a curious soul who hungered for knowledge. She had long wondered where the home of her long-dead father was. Her mother and Fian had not been helpful in telling her exactly where Espana was, just somewhere across the far-reaching sea.

Even her current knowledge rolling around in her head from Gary was not useful. Gary continued the name of her father’s homeland to the word ‘Spanish,’ but from there the connection devolved to a string of cruel words Gary loved to utter with disgust. She assumed those words were hateful slurs and refused to speak them.

“Can you show me España?” she asked before she could stop herself.

“España? Oh, you mean Spain?” Riley asked, grateful she had a basic grasp of the Spanish language and geography. “Yes. I can show you. You just have to untie one of my hands first.”

Cristobel tilted her head, considering. Untying the other woman probably wasn’t a good idea.

“Please?” Riley begged. “Haven’t I done everything you asked? Haven’t I answered all of your questions? I just need one hand to use my phone.”

Cristobel’s thirst for knowledge overwhelmed her. She untied one of Riley’s arms and watched intently as she pulled out a flat, black rectangle. She knew what a phone was thanks to Gary’s stolen memories, but it still awed her to see the device light up, almost like magic.

Riley clicked her Google Search app. “Show me pictures of Spain,” she said aloud.

Cristobel hovered over Riley’s shoulder as tiny images of blue seas and beautifully constructed buildings filled the small screen. Riley typed a few times and the images grew larger. She held it out to Cristobel. “Swipe your finger across the screen from right to left to see a new picture.”

With great care, Cristobel did as instructed, heart racing as she pored over each fascinating new picture of her father’s homeland. “It is so beautiful. Full of white stone and blue seas. Why did my father ever leave?”

Riley could imagine Spain didn’t seem quite as nice three hundred plus years ago, but decided not to voice the comment. While Cristobel was distracted with her phone, she’d begun working her other wrist free. She had just gotten loose when a hissing noise drew her attention to the door. She gasped in dismay as the turkey entered the shed with Will trailing behind him.

“Will! Will, what are you doing?”

Will didn’t answer. Riley noticed a red stain on his khaki pants and, with a bolt of alarm, realized he was bleeding. Then she saw the turkey had a smear of blood across his beak. “No Will. Fight it!”

Cristobel dropped Riley’s phone on the ground in surprise and quickly began retying the ropes. “I wasn’t going to let her escape, Fian. She was helping me scyr.”

Fian gobbled in disbelief and dropped the ruby studded ring held in his beak onto the ground. Cristobel picked it up with care and gently brushed it off. She hesitated before bringing the ring to Riley, finding she wasn’t as excited to finish the ritual as she had been this morning.

Fian clucked sharply, spurring her to move. Riley was trapped, unable to speak or move once Cristobel took control of the ring. “Turn your hand over, Riley.”

It felt as though Riley’s heart was trying to climb out of her chest in a desperate effort to get away. Her wrist turned and twisted against the rough, frayed rope as she held her hand out, palm up. Her throat constricted in a silent scream as Cristobel dropped the ring into her hand, burning worse than it had that morning.

“Good. Now. Drop the ring.”

Again, Riley’s hand turned against her will. Despite her relief that the pain was gone, she knew with a mounting dread more witches would appear. It also meant she was one terrifying step closer to being sacrificed.

When the ring hit the floor, the crack of impact echoed around the shed like a gunshot, followed by a second splintering sound a split second later. Will and Riley watched, horrified yet transfixed, as twin dust tornadoes formed in the shed and slowly settled into two women.

The first to fully form was a tall, blonde woman who Will and Riley though could star on the show Vikings.


Cristobel began to weep, flinging herself forward to embrace the other woman. “Sister. Oh how I’ve missed you, Aphra.”

The second woman was nearly as tall as the first. Riley wondered idly if it was one of Fian’s blessings to grow the women so tall, or perhaps it was just a witch characteristic.


“Cristobel, thou saved us,” Jennet beamed. “Is this our sacrifice? He is of wax.”

Cristobel quickly shook her head. “No, Mother. The woman is our sacrifice.”

Jennet moved closer to study Riley, cupping her jaw in a surprisingly cool palm to get a better look. At the sight, Cristobel’s jaw tightened, teeth clenching. She didn’t like her mother touching Riley so. It felt like she was going to lose Rachel all over again.

“She shall doth,” Jennet said, satisfied. She bent to pick up the fallen ring. Approaching to similarly cup Riley’s chin to inspect her, Aphra said, “Tis strange that she is still a virgin.”

Cristobel ground her teeth, fighting back a wild urge to lash out. Her family was inspecting Riley as if she were a worthless man to be given to Fian as feed. Cristobel still wasn’t even certain Riley counted as a virgin.

With what little magic she retained from three hundred years prior, Jennet held out her hand and conjured a dagger. “Shall we spill her blood upon the ring?”

Cristobel subconsciously moved herself in front of Riley. “Should we not wait for night fall?”

Jennet and Aphra appeared confused. “That was not part of the spell. You know this.”

Cristobel did not get a chance to defend her attempts to delay the ritual when out of nowhere the shed door was suddenly kicked open with the dry crack of splintering wood.

The witches and Fian turned to view the interrupters. Bound by the spell, Riley and Will couldn’t turn, but each prayed it was someone coming to their rescue.

“Witches, we demand you release the Cabots!” shouted the stranger.

Jennet chuckled, sounding almost like the turkey’s gobble. “You shall have to take them from us.”

“Is that a challenge?” said a second voice.

Jennet gasped in pain as the shorter of the pair rushed forward, backing quickly away to remove herself from the burning aura.

“Be gone witches!” the taller woman shouted, shaking a multi-tailed whip. It jingled and rasped through the air like a snake. Riley could make out charms and gemstones attached to the end of the strands. The other woman also shook a multi-tailed whip, but it was quieter, bits of grass tied to each end.

Somehow, the combination of the whips worked against the witches. Jennet, Cristobel, and Aphra backed away, hissing and cringing as if in pain.

“Give me your whip. I’ll hold them off while you untie them,” the shorter woman ordered. The taller one handed over her whip and raced to untie Will and Riley. “Let’s go. Our SUV is outside. Run!”

The moment they were free, the Cabots bolted out of the shed with the two women close behind them. Nearby was an already running SUV with the doors open. Will and Riley scrambled into the back.

“Let’s go!” Will ordered as soon as the other woman climbed in. The driver didn’t need to be told twice as she gunned the engine and raced away from the cabin, eyes flicking to her mirrors carefully. “I think we have some time before they come after us.”

“I think you’re right, Rebel,” said the other woman. “They’ll need to recharge and start tracking her soon.”

Will nudged his cousin, but she was already pinching herself. This had to be a dream. How else could she have somehow acquired a magical ring and a cute baby gay witch that wanted to sacrifice her in the space of a single day? And then, to top it off and be saved by reknowned lesbian supernatural experts, Rebel and Jenny Reeves?

“I can’t believe you two actually came,” Riley said, completely starstruck.

Jenny smiled from the passenger seat. “You seem to have a witch problem, Ms. Cabot. Rebel and I were scoping out possible filming sites in Charlotte when I got your email. We decided to swing by and see what was going on.”

“It’s a good thing we did,” Rebel said, glancing at Riley from the rearview mirror. “I would definitely say you have a witch and a spirit problem. There are legends of witches in these woods who worshipped a twisted and old Native American spirit. I’m willing to bet that is your gal.”

“How do you know all that in such a short amount of time?” Riley asked.

“It’s called the library and specifically, librarians. They can find anything,” Rebel said, looking a little dreamy. “I have a team I call in case of emergencies. They told us everything minutes before we tracked the power spike to that shed.”

Jenny rolled her eyes. “I still can’t believe you are so enamored with librarians.”

“Do you not like librarians?” Rebel shot back.

Jenny held up her hands in peace. “Of course I do. But my ex-fiance didn’t leave me for a librarian.”

Rebel looked sheepish. “To be fair, I kind of left her for you around the same time she was leaving me for Kelly.”

Jenny smiled. “Yes you did. And I’m grateful.”

Riley and Will shared a look. These women were definitely in love.

Jenny turned her attention back to the Cabots. “I digress. Are you okay? Do you need medical attention?”

Riley turned towards Will. “Your leg.”

“The bastard appeared in the car with me and pecked me. His beak was sharp. I had no choice but to do his bidding afterwards.”

“We should definitely clean it then,” Rebel said. She pulled into the next parking lot she found. Will followed her to the back of the SUV to get his leg doctored with a poultice.

Riley allowed Jenny to check the rope burns on her wrists and burns on her hand from the ring.

“It appears to be well done,” Jenny said, disappointed. “We might have broken it with a simple counterspell.”

Riley slumped. Why couldn’t anything about today be easy?

She decided to make the most of the opportunity and ask the writer a question that had been burning in her mind for years.

“Mrs. Reeves, I’m sorry. I know this is a completely inappropriate time, but I have to ask. Of course, you don’t have to answer. Will we ever get a third book about Penelope and Trouble?”

Jenny laughed, sounding delighted. “Of course. To be honest, I have been a little slow in writing it but that series was always meant to be a trilogy. Remind me, where did we last leave Penelope and Trouble?”

“Trouble had sacrificed her newfound love and memories of Penelope to save the world from the demented chocolate love monster,” Will quickly offered, as he stepped out from behind the SUV. He shrugged when all the women stared at him. “Hey, I was the one who introduced Riley to your books and tv show. Don’t look at me like that.”

Jenny beamed. “I’m glad you’re a fan, Mr. Cabot. The third book will take place back in Penelope and Trouble’s hometown five years after the second book. Penelope returns to investigate a series of arson events which she and her familiar believe to be the work of a fire spirit. Trouble has realized she is not straight during the past five years and has a girlfriend who she is bringing home to meet the parents. Trouble decides to help her father, the police chief, investigate the arsons and runs into Penelope again, quite a lot. Old romance and feelings are rekindled just as Cupid promised in the second book. In the end, they save the day and live happily ever after.”

Will almost swooned. He already couldn’t wait to read it. Riley, on the other hand, was more pragmatic. “What about Trouble’s girlfriend?”

“Don’t worry, she marries a librarian,” Rebel called out with a laugh.

Will and Riley exchanged glances. Was Penelope and Trouble’s story actually the story of Jenny and Rebel?

 The cousins’ answers would have differed the day before, what with Will being a staunch believer in the supernatural and Riley not so much. Today, however, both cousins found themselves leaning toward yes.

“Enough about writing. Tell me everything that happened in the shed,” Jenny commanded. “Perhaps there is something one of them said that can be used against them.”

Riley relayey everything she could remember from the moment she’d touched that horrible ring with Will helping the story along when he could. By the end of their tale, the cousins were stunned by how gleeful Jenny appeared with everything.

“She’s curious,” Jenny stage-whispered. She grinned and turned to her wife. “Rebel, she’s curious.”

Rebel scratched her head. “I’m not sure we should risk Riley’s life on this so-called ‘Cristobel’s’ curiosity.”

“Curiosity killed the spell, and the turkey is not going to be able to bring it back,” Jenny stated. She turned to Riley and Will. “I know this is going to go against everything you want to do right now, but I need you to confront the witches again.”

“What? No way!” Will and Riley shouted in unison.

Rather than balk, Jenny just smiled. “Let me explain the plan. First…”



“I can’t believe I let her talk me into this,” Riley muttered, clutching tightly to the bundle of herbs wrapped in amethyst stones Jenny and Rebel had given her. Will held his own bundle close to his heart in a white-knuckled grip.

“Me either.”

They both jumped and gasped as a cool, raspy voice whispered around them as if on the wind itself. “I knew you would come back.”

“Fuck,” Will cursed, nearly dropping his protection bundle from the nerves. He rushed forward to shove open the groaning door to the shed. “Back off, witches. We’re here for the ring.”

Riley and Will entered to find the shed empty except for a small fire providing a meager light against the oncoming darkness. “Where are they?”

“Behind you,” the voice breathed harshly into Riley’s ear. She jumped and screamed as she was seized from behind, her protection bundle knocked from her hands.

“Such a puny thing could not keep us at bay,” Aphra mocked with a sneer as she pinned Riley’s arms painfully behind her back. Riley struggled until Jennet held up her hand. “Stop.”

The ring on Jennet’s finger glowed hot, forcing Riley to obey. Jennet addressed Will. “Drop the bundle or we will make her death very painful.”

Will dropped his bundle at once, glaring balefully at the mother. Jennet cackled shrilly. “So beautiful. I would have you with joy.”

“Mother,” Aphra interrupted. “We have no time for dallying. Let us make haste in bleeding the virgin.”

Until now, Cristobel had stood silently in the corner, cowed into silence. Now she spoke up. “Allow me to make the cut.”

Jennet pauses, then handed over the dagger. Cristobel walked solemnly over to Riley. She took Riley’s hand in hers and held her still as she dug the sharp tip of the dagger into her forefinger.

Riley wanted to cry out in pain, but she could not move, could not speak. She could barely breathe. She watched, helpless, as Cristobel squeezed a few drops of blood from her finger onto the shed’s dirt floor.

Fian waddled over and eagerly licked up the blood to begin the sacrifice, then paused. Something wasn't right. He licked again. A scream rose from the tom’s throat, so high and keening it was nearly human.

“What’s wrong?” Aphra cried, rushing to Fian’s side.

“Why is it not working?” Jennet shouted above Fian’s hysteria.

“She doesn’t believe!” Jenny’s voice crackled loudly from the speaker on Will’s phone, cleverly hidden in his shirt pocket the entire time. “Cristobel doesn’t believe!”

Everyone’s attention swung to Cristobel, who stumbled as if their collective gazes held a physical power over her.

“What does she mean, that you do not believe?” Jennet demanded.

“I do not believe Riley is a virgin,” Cristobel whispered to the ground.

“What? She has not lain with a man,” Aphra declared. “Therefore she is a virgin and we must spill her blood.”

“But she’s not a virgin. She has lain with others. I have seen it.” Cristobel dropped the dagger. “She can not be sacrificed.”

“But she awoke you when she touched the ring. She awoke us. It makes no sense!”

“This new world does not make much sense, but it is the order and law of this new world.” Cristobel squared her shoulders. “The spell is void. We can not regain our power.”

Fian flailed about on the floor. His power had been tied with his hens. If their strength could not be entire, his own would fade as well. He cried out in anguish. He did not wish to return to the spirit realm an angry, twisted form of his former glory.

“Will, you have to be the one to pull the arrow from the turkey’s wing,” Rebel ordered through the phone. “And say some kind of apology from the race of men while you’re at it.”

Will shot forward while the witches were still too shocked to react. The amethyst protective bundles at his chest had merely been a decoy. Beneath his shirt, he wore dozens of amulets, enabling him to resist their magic.

With slow, measured steps, he approached Fian, hands raised to show he meant no harm. “Look, fella, I’m sorry some guy shot you hundreds of years ago. I’m sure it was a white man. Believe me, the white man hurt a lot of us over the years in just as many ways. War. Violence. Let’s end this cycle of violence now, and try our best to be better.”

Will gulped as his fingers brushed the wooden shaft of the arrow sticking through Fian’s wing. He whispered another apology through his teeth before grabbing tight and pulling the arrow out as fast as he could.

The arrowhead tore Fian’s flesh, the turkey crying out in pain as it exited his wing. However, it was a good hurt, leaving the turkey feeling as though his body had been reset to when he was merely the watchman of the forest. The hate, the anger… It was gone.

Fian clucked to his hens. It was time for him to return to the forest and find the resting place of his kinsmen. Cristobel fought back tears, while Agtha openly wept.

“I do not know any other way without thee, nobel spirit,” Jennet begged. Fian clucked again, comfortingly. They would all find a new way.

Fian waddled off and faded before he reached the door. A moment later, the door itself burst open to admit Jenny and Rebel, armed with their whips and ready for a fight. Once they saw Riley was alive and hardly bleeding, the pair cheered and ran to embrace the Cabots in triumph.

“You did it, Riley,” Jenny said, hugging the woman tightly. Watching them, Cristobel couldn’t help but shift in uncomfortable jealousy. “All your education showed Cristobel the new world and old magic has limits in the new world. With a lack of virgin to complete the sacrifice and the arrow removed from the spirit’s wing, the cycle of vengeance can stop.”

Rebel clapped Will on the shoulder. “You did that, Will. You gave the spirit exactly what he needed to move on. Thank you.”

She turned to evaluate the three shell-shocked Colonial women. “I strongly speculate that their magic is fading, and soon they will be three normal women. Hopefully the penchant for murdering men will also fade. We’ll keep them under observation for a month or so before seeing if they can be reintegrated into society.”

Riley hoped if it did happen, it would be far away from her. “Thank you for your help, Mrs. and Mrs. Reeves. I think I’m going to go now.”

“Of course,” Jenny said. “I’ll call you later.”

Cristobel couldn’t believe her ears. These women were going to take them away from their homeland. She would never see Riley again. No, she couldn’t stand that. “Riley, wait. Please.”

Riley and Will shared a heavy look before exiting the shed together. Neither looked back.

“I’m going to need some therapy, Will.”

“Same, Riles.”

Inside the cabin, Jenny placed a hand on Cristobel’s shoulder. “It will be okay. We’re going to help you. Over the next few months, you’re going to learn lots of things about being a mortal in this century. You might even learn how to get her back.”

“Get her back?” Cristobel repeated, perking up.

“Yes, but you will have to study very hard,” Rebel warned. “The ways of the modern-day women are very difficult to learn.”

“I will study hard,” Cristobel promised, her voice hard with conviction and her eyes set and determined.


Three Months Later


Riley and Will waited eagerly outside of Danny’s bar, eager for him to reopen. For the last month, he had been closed for ‘remodeling’ and wouldn’t tell a soul about it, not even his cousins. He had even promised a new, mouth-watering menu, which explained the crowd waiting with them.

At exactly noon, Danny opened the door to his bar without fanfare and waved people inside. “Come on in, everyone. There’s so much I want you to see.”

Riley and Will joined the rush and looked around. For all the talk of the ‘remodeling,’ there wasn’t too much to show for it besides a large chalkboard above the bar with food items scrawled on it in colorful letters. While the furniture had been arranged ever so slightly to increase space and flow, the cousins couldn’t see why Danny had felt the need to close for an entire month until an alarmingly familiar woman walked out from the back.

“What in the hell are you doing here?” Riley growled, balling her fists.

Danny’s brows scrunched up in disappointment. “Now, look here Riley, I will not have you disrespecting my wife.”

Riley balked, sure she’d heard wrong. “Your what?”

“My wife.” Danny’s face softened as he looked over at Jennet working busily behind the bar. Riley followed his gaze and watched as Jennet paused to spit into an empty coke bottle. “She likes chewing tobacco just as much as I do. She’s just as traditional as I am and hard working. More people have been coming in for the food since she and the girls got here. They can sure cook up a storm.”

Will felt he had to point out the obvious. “Danny, she is a lovely woman but by my calculations, you’ve known her less than a month.”

Danny shook his head. “I’m too old for all that dating nonsense. The moment I met her, I knew she was the one and the same for her. She’s the one who asked me to marry her. How could I say no?”

Riley could think of a dozen ways he could have told the former witch ‘no’, though most of them involved curse words. She was more than ready to describe in detail all these different ways when Cristobel appeared from the back of the bar. Riley stared, completely forgetting everything she was about to tell Danny. Really, it was entirely unfair how incredible the 350-ish year old witch looked in a low-cut tank top.

“I can’t believe Rebel and Jenny brought them here,” Will whispered to Riley, who shook her head to clear thoughts of Cristobel from her mind.

“Yeah, what the actual fuck. I know they said they would get them settled in a place where no one would realize how old they were, but I didn’t think it would be Danny’s.”

They argued back and forth but ultimately decided to stay rather than storm out, unwillingly ordering sandwiches off the new menu, only to support their cousin. Riley tried not to stare too much when Cristobel brought them over, but it seemed embarrassingly obvious to everyone that the pair kept sneaking glances at each other when they thought they other wasn’t looking.

“Danny, what is with the food?” Riley grumbled after taking a reluctant bite of her sandwich.

“Jennet wanted to try new things. She never knew meat could taste so good with the right seasoning. She’s been trying all kinds of different spices and concoctions. We’re going to make the best barbecue in the south, you wait and see.”

Riley suddenly lost her appetite despite the fact the meat tasted better than it ever had. She pushed her plate away and hopped out of her seat. “I’m leaving.”

Will watched as his cousin fled the bar, a concerned looking Cristobel following her. He considering tailing after the pair of them, but decided against it. Cristobel should be harmless, as the witches had no more power, and really, Riley needed to get some things off her chest.

“Riley,” Cristobel called out once they were both outside.

“Nope,” Riley said, not slowing down. “I don’t want to hear it.”

“I just want to talk. To apologize.”

Riley whirled around, scattering gravel as she faced the former witch. “Well, I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear any apologies or talk about feelings. You gave me nightmares, Cristobel. Am I just supposed to forget that you tried to sacrifice me to an old turkey spirit? That you used and hurt me?”

“No, Riley. I did use and hurt you, and for that, I am truly regretful. You showed me a world so much better than my own, and you saved me. You saved me, Riley.” Cristobel reached a hand out, but quickly withdrew it. She knew her touch wouldn’t be welcome. She crossed her arms and sniffled, fighting back sudden tears.

“Not only that, you also showed me it’s not strange or unnatural to love my own kind. I would have gone my whole life thinking I was alone in my desires. For that, I am most grateful. You saved me in so many ways and...and…”

“And?” Riley prompted, trying hard to remain unaffected.

“And I just want to be with you. Or try to, at least. I know it’s strange and it must revolt you. But I want to be with you, learn from you, learn with you, even laugh with you. Jenny left me books to learn from. I know because you are the first woman I want, I probably will not earn your affections. Or, if I did earn them, manage to keep them. But still, despite what the words say, I long to be with you. I want to court you,” Cristobel finished.

It was quiet for a long beat. Then, Riley spoke. “No. I can’t do this. I have to go,” she said, turning away. “Tell everyone I’m walking home. Don’t follow me.”

Riley stalked off, bitterly thankful that Cristobel obeyed, and didn’t run after her. She walked for miles, grateful she had worn tennis shoes that day. A few miles down the road, her anger had faded to the point where she felt capable of handling another conversation with the woman who had caused all the new chaos in her life. That said, her annoyance was so elevated she pressed the wrong button on her phone three times trying to call Jenny Reeves. It only got worse at how cheerful Jenny sounded when she answered.

"Hello, Ms. Cabot. How are things in Greendale?"

"Rather more witchy than it was yesterday," Riley snapped, not in the mood for niceties.

Jenny hummed knowingly. "To be fair, they've been there at least two weeks now."

"How could you let them come back?"

"Because it's their home," Jenny gently reminded. "It's been their home a lot longer than it's been yours."

Riley let out an exasperated growl. "You know what I mean. They've killed men in the past. They tried to sacrifice me!"

"And with Fian's influence removed, they appear to be genuinely remorseful. To be clear, Cristobel is extremely remorseful. Jennet and Aphra went through the usual stages of grief and acceptance before settling on resound to their new lives. Myself, Rebel, and some spiritual guides discussed it at length, and we decided they would not kill again. The malice has left them."

"They've enslaved my cousin Danny!"

Jenny laughed. "I think that was more a marriage of convenience. Danny wanted a partner and so did Jennet. She liked that he was large and owned a tavern. It showed he had money to spare. Plus, she loves beer. We took her to a lot of breweries during her transition. It really helped."

Riley groaned and pressed her phone against her forehead as she collected her thoughts, until Jenny’s tinny voice calling her name brought it back to her ear.

"I'm not sure I can process all of this," she admitted quietly.

"And that's okay," Jenny reassured her. "It took years before I was okay with all the supernatural events that happened to me. Ms. Cabot, I know Cristobel has a great amount of affection for you. You don't have to return the feeling. You don't even have to become friends. But whether you like it or not, these women will be in your cousin's life and I imagine your paths will inevitably cross. Just try to be civil or avoid them until you can."

“Civil?” Riley repeated. She stepped off the road to let a car go by, then saw it was Will.

“Try,” Jenny pleaded softly. “For me please.”

“...I’ll try,” Riley said before hanging up and climbing into Will’s car.



Ten Months Later on Halloween


“Are you sure this is okay?” Cristobel asked for the third time as they exited the truck. She carefully pressed the lock button before placing the key into her pocket. Her stepfather had given her this truck, and she didn’t want anything to happen to it.

“Of course it is. It’s just Granny’s birthday party,” Riley said, walking around to stand by her. She linked their hands and tugged. “You’ve met her before, dozens of times by now. You’re like another grandchild to her.”

While Cristobel no longer blushed over holding another woman’s hand, her stomach still fluttered in happiness, as though a butterfly was trapped in there. “I know. I meant is it okay for us to be attending your grandmother’s birthday celebration as our first date?”

“I think it’s safe to assume our first date was going to be strange no matter what we ended up doing. You are the witch I resurrected from an old antique shop ring, after all,” Riley laughed. Cristobel smiled and pulled Riley to a stop just shy of the front door.

“Former witch,” she corrected. “Just a waitress now.”

“Right, just a waitress; who has already gotten her GED and is starting college classes in January,” Riley added. “Not that there's anything wrong with being a waitress. I just wanted to make sure you don’t forget all your achievements. That biography you wrote with your mother, sister, and Jenny Reevesis making you good money. Granted, most people think it’s an old diary Jenny found, but that’s beside the point. You also learned to drive.”

“Lucky for you,” Cristobel teased.

Riley laughed. “Yes. Lucky for me. Let’s not forget you also dated like, a dozen women this year.”

Grinning, she tried to pull them forward and stopped when Cristobel resisted, pouting. “I dated four women. Why do you always exaggerate?”

Riley shrugged, suddenly very self-conscious. “I don’t know. I guess I’m just jealous you dated two more women than I did this year.”

Cristobel wanted to point out Riley had had plenty of chances to date other women too. It was Riley herself who had showed her how to use the dating app they both frequented as the pair slowly worked toward friendship. Though she’d had plenty of matches, Riley hadn’t replied to any of them. Cristobel had gotten dozens of matches too, but only dated the ones who seemed open-minded enough to handle her and all the baggage that came with her. In the beginning, Riley was actually the one to select Cristobel’s first few dates.


Riley sighed. “Okay. If I’m being honest with myself, I was jealous of those last two women you dated. I was okay with the first two because I picked them out of the line up. But you picked the others on your own. And somewhere between them, I really started thinking about us being more than friends. This last month when you dated number four, I started wondering if I had already lost my chance with you. What if I never got to learn and laugh with this wonderful woman who I literally brought into existence with a magical spell?”

Cristobel squeezed her hand in support, rather amused that Riley refused to call her ex-girlfriends by anything other than numbers.

Riley continued, “So when you broke up with number four a few days ago, I knew I had to ask permission to court you, just like you did before. Because you were right. I do want to learn and laugh with you, Cristobel. I want us to try and find a way to be together.”

Cristobel beamed. “I want that too, Riley. Ever since the beginning. Those other women were nice, but they weren’t you. I loved spending time with you more than I did with them. I think those relationships ended because they knew there was someone else on my mind.”

Riley couldn’t help but smirk. It felt good to be number one in Cristobel’s book. Cristobel couldn’t resist any longer.

“May I kiss you?” she asked, remembering Riley’s explanation of consent and the many rules she had learned in the past year of dating.

Riley smiled. “Yes, you may... even though you really should have asked me at the end of our first date and not the beginning.”

“Oh,” said Cristobel, looking slightly embarrassed. “We can wait, if you--”

“Cristobel,” Riley smiled. “Just kiss me already.” Glancing around to make sure they weren’t going to give any of her family a free show, Riley leaned forward to meet Cristobel’s shy kiss. While they both knew Cristobel was no longer a witch, the moment their lips touched, neither could deny how magical the kiss felt.


The End.


Special guest stars were Rebel and Jenny Reeves. This story takes place in the same universe as the Into Series. For those of you who were curious about the third Rebel and Jenny story that may or may not ever be written, a nice summary was provided and you get to see how their future turns out. Thanks for reading.


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