Not the Witch You Wed by April Asher (Excerpt)

Not the Witch You Wed

1

Son of a Witch’s %$@!

When most people envisioned hell, they conjured images of wicked, soul-destroying flames and near bottomless abysses bursting with spirits of the damned. The Head Honcho himself, either in his horn-to-hoof birthday suit or a red satin Armani three-piece, usually sat on a throne built from the charred skeletal remains of his victims.

That wasn’t Violet Maxwell’s brand of hell.

Far, far worse, hers was a triple-threat combo of Whispering Pines Ski Resort, her sister Rose’s Witch Bond Announcement weekend, and the three-inch heels said sister had strong-armed her into wearing that morning.

A hell-break was long past due.

Her torture stilts abandoned in the hotel foyer, Vi hustled to the nearest corridor as if Lucifer himself was hot on her tail. If luck—and Mrs. Bender’s gift of gab—was on her side, she’d get a five-minute head start before Rose realized she’d ducked out of the meet ’n’ greet.

It wasn’t like she hadn’t done her sisterly duty. She’d met. She’d greeted. She’d smiled, unhinging her jaw more with each guest who poured into the lobby. For Goddess’s sake, she’d withheld her gag response while their gran’s coven friend described her recent bunion surgery in explicit, gory detail and offered to show her pictures.

Since their gran, Edie Maxwell, the Prima Witch herself, sat on the Supernatural Council that had been responsible for Supes stepping out from the shadows fifty years ago, anything having to do with a Maxwell was a big deal.

A sneeze? Report it in the paper.

A shopping trip? Buy stock from the visited stores.

A Witch Bond between a Maxwell triplet and Valentin Bisset, the notorious European Alpha? Hold the presses, hold your wallets, and party like it’s the event of a lifetime. People had come out of the woodwork to celebrate, and the ceremony itself was still months away.

Now that was a three-ring circus she wasn’t looking forward to.

As Vi turned at the indoor swimming pool, her cell phone vibrated against her left boob. Going against her better judgment, she tugged it from her DD cup and immediately regretted reading Rose’s message.

You can run, but you can’t hide. You and Olive owe me.

Hell’s Spells, it hasn’t even been a minute and the witch broke out the emoji threat.

Those little icons sat on Vi’s chest like an anvil. This was bad. This was Dirty Dancing remake bad. This brand of bad called for triplet backup.

She didn’t need to ping her younger-by-four-minutes sister’s phone or use her nonexistent Magic to track Olive down. Where there’d be no people, there’d be an Olive, and no one in their right mind would hit the library while at a state-of-the-art ski resort except for her sister.

It took four minutes at a mall-walker pace to reach the H. Kline Library and all of two seconds to spot the youngest triplet, sitting on the leather corner sofa with her legs curled beneath her and surrounded by no less than a dozen books. Olive didn’t even look up when Vi closed the door.

“You know I hate interrupting your literary vacation, but unless you want to be subjected to one of our sister’s bright ideas, we need to relocate you. Pronto.” Vi snatched Olly’s bag and waited by the door. “Like five minutes ago pronto. Fifteen to give us a comfortable cushion.”

Behind her thick-framed glasses, Olive’s blue-eyed gaze finally flickered off her book and transferred to Vi. “What happened to Rose greeting guests with the Tiger King all morning?”

“Olly, what time do you think it is?”

“Ten? Maybe eleven?”

“Try three in the afternoon. You missed the brunch. When she brought up outdoor excursions over the omelet station, there was a look in her eye. She means business.”

“There’s always a look in her eye. She claims it’s from determination, but I’m ninety percent sure it’s the uncorrected astigmatism.” Pushing her glasses higher on her nose, Olive turned back to the book in her lap.

Vi stole it. “You’re not grasping the severity here, babe. It was worse than the look that led to the skinny-dipping incident freshman year.”

“That was your idea. So was the triple date I still have nightmares about, and the hair dye fiasco Mom still won’t forgive us for.”

“Oh. Yeah. Those were … me…” Vi paused, thinking, then snapped her fingers. “It was worse than the time she bulldozed us into being the Sanderson sisters for Halloween. Remember? That was not me.”

Olly’s face paled. “Why the hell didn’t you lead with that? I am not being Winifred again. She’s way too cutthroat for my blood.” Jumping up from the couch, Olive carefully crammed her dusty book friends back into their empty shelf slots. “Let’s get the hell out of here before—”

“Before what?” Rose’s voice startled them both.

“Son of a witch’s tit!” Vi clutched her chest, her pounding heart practically tickling her tonsils. “For the love of Goddess, Ro, my purple highlights just turned white. Do you know how much experimenting I had to do to find the perfect shade?”

Olive frowned. “Did Gran teach you how to do her poofy ninja-appearing thing? Because we’ve discussed how that trick is to never be used for evil … or against your sisters.”

“No, you both were too busy plotting your escape to notice me.” Rose cocked a meticulously microbladed eyebrow. “Or are you denying trying to make a break for it?”

“Would you believe us if we did?”

“We’re at a ski resort. What did you think we’d be doing in our downtime?”

“Truthfully?” Vi ticked the list off on her fingers. “Avoiding our parents. Avoiding our parents’ friends. Avoiding the people pretending to be our parents’ friends.” She slid a questionable look to Olive, knowing her younger sister loved Supernatural societal nonsense nearly as much as she did—insert sarcasm. “Did I leave anything out?”

“Avoiding people in general?” Olly quipped.

Vi playfully tugged a strand of her dirty-blond hair. “Ah, our little introvert.”

Rose huffed, not amused. “You can’t possibly avoid everyone all weekend.”

“See, I beg to differ, because this place has a seriously decadent room service menu. I can’t tell you the last time I ate seared scallops that didn’t make me feel as though I had sand in my teeth.”

“You want to spend all your time at this incredible mountain resort holed up in your room? Or here?” Rose looked around the small library in distaste. “How did we share a womb for eight months?”

“I ask myself that every day,” Olive muttered under her breath.

Copyright © 2022 by April Schwartz