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Authors: Kimberly Frost

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Casually Cursed

BOOK: Casually Cursed
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PRAISE FOR

SLIGHTLY SPELLBOUND

“Nonstop until the final page. It’s a great ride, and fans of urban fantasy will really enjoy [it] . . . I won’t miss the next in Kimberly Frost’s Southern Witch series.”


Fresh Fiction

“Filled with incredible laugh-out-loud humor,
Slightly Spellbound
is lighthearted, whimsical, and absolutely delightful . . . Tammy Jo is a sassy and fun heroine; the men in her life are sexy; the small-town Southern atmosphere is perfect; and the fairies, ghosts, witches, and vampires round out this book for a fantastic paranormal romance. Readers will be more than slightly spellbound with Frost’s eccentric characters—they’ll be thoroughly enchanted.”


RT Book Reviews

HALFWAY HEXED

“Another addition to Frost’s delightfully entertaining Southern Witch series . . . 100 percent entertaining and satisfying . . . The romance really steams up and love takes hold. Sassy, sexy, and seriously fun.”


RT Book Reviews

“A brisk pace coupled with colorful characters and light humor makes this an enjoyable romp. Tammy’s inept use of magic, a cool ocelot familiar, and quick thinking under pressure carry her through astounding family revelations.”


Monsters and Critics

“Plenty of action . . . Pick up this series; you won’t be disappointed . . . If you are a fan of Sookie Stackhouse, then [the] Southern Witch series will fit right in with your reading.”


Once Upon a Twilight


Halfway Hexed
is a laugh-out-loud magical ride that I didn’t want to stop. There’s humor, romance, and action all rolled into a fun, entertaining read with great characters and an intriguing plot. I was hooked from the beginning and can’t wait for the next installment!”


TwoLips Reviews

BARELY BEWITCHED

“Frost’s latest Southern Witch novel has all the fun, fast, entertaining action readers have come to expect from her . . . Populated with fairies, goblins, vampires, wizards, rampant plants, and a few nasty-tempered humans thrown in for good measure, there’s no end to the things that can and do go hilariously wrong.”


Monsters and Critics

“What an amazing author! Kimberly Frost’s Southern Witch series is fated for great things.
Barely Bewitched
was full of romance [and] magical havoc, and goes from one wild scenario to another. I was definitely hooked all throughout the book and couldn’t put it down . . . I am definitely going to read Kimberly Frost’s next novel!”


Romance Junkies

“The author is on a roll with Tammy Jo. Book two has as much action as the first, if not more. Ms. Frost’s sharp wit and interesting characters propel the story to a satisfying end.”


A Romance Review

“Kimberly Frost’s Southern Witch series is destined for great things. Full of action, suspense, romance, and humor, this story had me hooked from the first page until the last.”


Huntress’ Book Reviews


Barely Bewitched
is filled with humor, sass, and sizzle! Every page is a new adventure in a world of hilarious antics and smoking chemistry. I love this series and I am really looking forward to the next Tammy Jo fiasco . . . I mean, story!”


TRRC Reading

“The amusing story line is fast-paced . . . Fans will enjoy the escapades of Tammy Jo in this jocular urban fantasy.”


Genre Go Round Reviews

“Kimberly Frost can tell a tale like no other . . . A can’t-miss read.”


Fang-tastic Books

WOULD-BE WITCH

“Delivers a delicious buffet of supernatural creatures, served up Texas-style—hot, spicy, and with a bite!”

—Kerrelyn Sparks,
New York Times
bestselling author of
How to Seduce a Vampire (Without Really Trying)


Would-Be Witch
is an utter delight. Wickedly entertaining with a surprise on every page. Keeps you guessing until the end. Kimberly Frost is a talent to watch.”

—Annette Blair,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Tulle Death Do Us Part

“Kimberly Frost makes a delightful debut with
Would-Be Witch
. It’s witty, sexy, and wildly imaginative. Great fun to read. A terrific new series from a wonderful new author.”

—Nancy Pickard, Agatha Award–winning author of
The Blue Corn Murders

“More magically delicious than Lucky Charms—Kimberly Frost’s
Would-Be Witch
is bewitchingly fantastic!”

—Dakota Cassidy, national bestselling author of the Accidental Werewolf novels

“A big, heaping helping of Southern-fried magical fun! If you like a lot of laughter with your paranormal fiction, you’ll love Frost’s series.”

—Alyssa Day,
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Cursed

“Hilarious start to the new Southern Witch series that will keep you laughing long into the night! . . . Ms. Frost is an author to watch for in the future.”


Fresh Fiction

“A wickedly funny romp . . . The story trips along at a perfect pace, keeping the reader guessing at the outcome, dropping clues here and there that might or might not pan out in the end. I highly recommend this debut and look forward with relish to the next installment in the Southern Witch series.”


Romance Junkies

“What a debut! This quirky Southern Witch tale of a magically uncoordinated witch with an appreciation of chocolate is likely to win over readers by the first page. Just when I think I need a break from the fantasy genre I read an author who reminds me why I fell in love with [it] in the first place.”


A Romance Review

“One heck of a debut from Kimberly Frost . . . This is definitely an excellent read, and for a debut, it’s nothing less than fantastic . . . I sure don’t want to miss what further misadventures Tammy Jo becomes involved in.”

—ParaNormalRomance.org

“Delightful, witty, and full of sass, this new series promises mega action, comedy, and romance. With this first Southern Witch novel, Kimberly Frost has made a fan of me.
Not
to be missed!”


Huntress’ Book Reviews

Berkley Sensation titles by Kimberly Frost

Southern Witch Series

WOULD-BE WITCH

BARELY BEWITCHED

HALFWAY HEXED

MAGICAL MISFIRE

(A Berkley Sensation Special)

SLIGHTLY SPELLBOUND

CASUALLY CURSED

Novels of the Etherlin

ALL THAT BLEEDS

ALL THAT FALLS

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

USA • Canada • UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • India • South Africa • China

penguin.com

A Penguin Random House Company

CASUALLY CURSED

A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author

Copyright © 2015 by Kimberly Chambers.

Excerpt from
Would-Be Witch
by Kimberly Frost copyright © 2009 by Kimberly Chambers.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.

BERKLEY SENSATION® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-62313-8

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / February 2015

Cover art by Tony Mauro.

Cover design by Rita Frangie.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Version_1

CONTENTS

Praise for Kimberly Frost

Berkley Sensation Titles by Kimberly Frost

Title Page

Copyright

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Epilogue

Special Excerpt from
Would-Be Witch

PROLOGUE

Eighteen Years Ago

FROM UNDER THE
brim of a large straw hat, Melanie Trask glanced at her sister, Marlee, who tackled the weeds in their flower beds like they were vermin that might attack the house at any moment. Mar might not be interested in botany, but she did her part to keep their supply of witch’s herbs healthy and flourishing.

“Tammy Jo, put your hat back on,” Marlee said without looking up.

“Momma, I’m doing something,” the little girl said, apparently oblivious to the blistering effects of the bright Texas sun, which was already blazing at nine in the morning.

“You can twirl around with your hat on,” Marlee said.

“No, what I’m doing is giving the sun a chance to paint me some freckles so I’ll be like a real redhead.”

Melanie cocked her head. Tammy Jo’s hair was the same flame-colored shade both she and Marlee had been born with. But Tammy Jo’s tan skin was something neither of them could claim. They always burned and freckled if they weren’t compulsive about hats and sunblock. It was a constant battle against nature to use creams to fade the light smattering of freckles, since freckles had never been “the thing” when they’d been growing up in England. When referring to red hair,
ginger
was a term applied with mild distaste or outright mocking.

“You don’t freckle, my darling,” Edie the family ghost said when she appeared. Their great-aunt Edie, who’d died in the 1920s, wore a dress with a sparkling Art Deco pattern and at least a foot of fringe on the bottom. Edie smiled when Tammy Jo clapped her hands and waved in excitement at her arrival. “Your skin goes from ivory to gold like Midas himself touched you.”

“Hi, Aunt Edie! Look what I can do!” Tammy Jo said. She twirled with her arms overhead and then bolted to the ash tree and shimmied up its trunk. She hung upside down from a branch.

“Careful!” Mel said, rising.

“The twirl was nice, biscuit, but what are you playing at now? Monkey life?” Edie asked.

Tammy Jo giggled, letting her arms dangle beside her hair. “Kiss it,” she said.

Melanie bent over and gave Tammy’s upside-down lips a kiss, then reached out to lift her down from the branch.

Before she caught her, however, Tammy Jo had released the limb. Melanie gasped and lunged to break her fall, but Tammy Jo flipped in midair to land in the dirt in a crouch, like a tiny wildcat.

“Ta-da!” she said, throwing her arms out.

“Oh, my God! Mar, did you see that?” Mel asked.

Marlee glanced at Tammy Jo and then at Melanie and gave a small nod.

“Who taught you to do that? You shouldn’t be flipping out of trees without someone to spot you,” Melanie said.

“She’s okay,” Marlee murmured.

Melanie raised a brow. Both she and Marlee were extremely protective of Tammy Jo. Marlee had been excessively worried about the child being abducted from the time she’d been born.
Paranoid
was the word Edie often used to describe Marlee’s constant concern.

“Aunt Mel, your kiss tasted like watermelon lip gloss. Do you got it in your pocket? Can I have me some of that for my lips?” Tammy Jo puckered her pink lips. She was so cute with her impish face and quirky mannerisms.

“It’s not ‘do you got it.’ It’s ‘do you have it,’” Melanie corrected. They might be raising the little girl in a small East Texas town, but she’d learn to speak the Queen’s English properly if Melanie had her way. “And
you
tasted like chocolate. Did you get into the Hershey’s Kisses? How did you find them? Were you spying on me when I hid the bag?”

Tammy Jo looked away guiltily and then charged into distraction tactics. “Um, you know what? You didn’t hear me right. I wasn’t asking for a kiss. I said Kissit ’cause I was telling you my faery name.”

Melanie froze. “Your what?”

“My name from the faeries. It’s how come I can flip so good. I learned it in fairyland. The trees taughted me. And know what else? Our trees like the new garden, but they don’t think you gotta be so mean about the little weeds. Those plants got a right to live, too.”

Melanie’s jaw dropped; then she jerked her head to look at Marlee and Edie.

“I told you this town has all the signs of fae infestation,” Edie said. “But you wouldn’t listen. Faeries love boisterous children. And our little girl runs and dances from sunrise to sunset.”

“Where did you see faeries, Tammy Jo? What did they say to you?” Melanie demanded.

“Um, I see them lots.”

“But you know that when you see a faery you’re supposed to pretend you don’t. Remember? Because faeries sometimes steal children,” Mel said.

“Yep, when I see them around town I pretend they’re not even there. Just like the game Momma plays when that Boone who wants to kiss her tries to talk to her in the grocery store and she acts like he’s not there.”

Edie snorted and then said, “They fall at Melanie’s feet and she scoops up the good-looking ones. When they fall at Marlee’s feet, she leaves them there.”

Marlee rolled her eyes at Edie and then looked at Tammy Jo. “If you haven’t talked to any of the faeries, why did they give you a nickname?” Marlee asked.

“Oh, that’s not from here. That’s my name from when I lived with the faeries. When I was real little.”

Marlee’s brows pinched together.

“You never lived with any faeries, honey. You’ve been with us the whole time,” Mel said.

Tammy Jo cocked her head. “Well, I lived there a few times in some dreams I had. That’s when I got a special name. But in the faery town, I don’t got no momma or aunties. I just live by myself with a big man who makes metal suits and horseshoes. Only he makes me nervous on account of he forgot how to smile.”

Mel’s stomach knotted. Were they just random dreams? Or had Tammy Jo’s consciousness actually traveled underhill? Had she perhaps crossed a fae path in bare feet and carried away its magic? Could it be clinging to her even now? “We should move,” Melanie said to Marlee.

“Move?” Tammy Jo cried. “We can’t move! I just got a real good kindergarten class!”

“We’re not moving,” Marlee said. “We’ll brew her a tea to suppress astral projection in case that’s what the dreams were. And we can give her some added protection against faeries. We’ll soak her and her clothes in a bath of oatmeal, Saint-John’s-wort, and four-leaf clovers.”

Melanie frowned. If her sister thought Tammy Jo needed triple protection against faeries, Marlee was worried, too.

“Mar,” Melanie said, her voice full of concern.

“Listen, Tammy Jo won’t be able to see them for much longer. Another year at most,” Marlee said, but Mel noticed the slight shift of Mar’s eyes. Did she believe that wholeheartedly? Or was she just trying to make Mel feel better?

“But this did turn out to be fae territory! We’re witches. We shouldn’t be living in the middle of a town with such a strong fae presence,” Melanie said. “Why were you so set on moving here? And staying here? It’s never made sense.”

“She’s been keeping a secret,” Edie said. “Haven’t you, Marlee?”

“The trees can hear. And so can little ears,” Marlee said. “We’ll talk about it later.”

“But we’re not moving, right?” Tammy Jo asked.

“No,” Mar said firmly. Melanie scowled.

“Hooray! It’s real hot. I’ll help,” Tammy Jo said, grabbing the hose and unspooling it.

The summer heat baked the ground, and Tammy Jo haphazardly watered the plants.

“You don’t have to water the stones,” Marlee said. “Rocks don’t get thirsty.”

“We like to hear the sizzle,” Tammy Jo said, glancing at the tree. “And it cools the dirt, too.”

“Dirt doesn’t need cooling,” Melanie said.

“The ground likes it,” Tammy countered, a twinkle in her eyes.

“Such unusual eyes. Most McKenna witches have green eyes. All three of us do,” Edie said. “Tammy’s eyes are hazel brown and golden. Like those of a great cat. Are you a little lioness?”

Tammy Jo roared.

“Tammy Jo, where are your garden clogs? Your feet are all dirty,” Mel said.

Tammy’s small feet sank into the muddy ground and she giggled. “My toes like it.”

The laughter was another giveaway, Melanie thought, of the truth they’d suspected, but that Marlee wouldn’t confirm. Even before the child started hearing the wind whisper and the brooks babble, Tammy’s laughter sometimes sounded like wind chimes, musical and pretty, and vaguely unnatural. It sent an electric shock down Melanie’s spine.

“Look at the mess you’re making. You’re dragging the hose right through the mud and getting it all over the cobbles. Hang that up, rinse your feet, and go inside. Edie will have a tea party with you,” Marlee said.

Edie pursed her phantom lips. She hated tea. Of course, as a ghost she wouldn’t actually be drinking it, but on principal she was disinclined to have tea parties. Tea reminded her of their time in England—the worst time in Edie’s life or afterlife, which was saying something, since her life in her father’s house had been no lollapalooza.

“Wanna have a tea party?” Tammy Jo asked, looking up at Edie hopefully.

A branch swayed toward the child, as if beckoning her closer. Edie narrowed her eyes jealously at the old ash tree.

“Yes, let’s go inside,” Edie said. Marlee had never said so, but Edie was certain Tammy Jo was half Seelie fae, likely the child of a warrior, from the hints Marlee had let slip about Tammy’s father. It was the only explanation for why Marlee wanted to live in Texas on top of an underhill Unseelie stronghold. Duvall was the one place into which the Seelie wouldn’t wander and discover Tammy Jo and recognize her as one of their own.

One of their own! Edie’s great-great-niece, a half fae! Edie’s lips curled in distaste. She almost couldn’t bear the thought, but when she looked at the child she felt nothing but love for her. Tammy Jo’s strange pointed features and vivacious urchin ways were appallingly irresistible.

She’s ours. She’s a McKenna witch
, Edie thought savagely.
I won’t share her with anyone, let alone the Folk.
Not that the fae would’ve been willing to share either. If they had known that a Halfling creature born of one of their knights lived with humans, they would have stolen her away. The Folk loved children and their juicy humanity. They also hated witches. How delicious would they find the theft of a bouncy little redheaded witch? Exceedingly so, Edie suspected. Oh, yes, the court would try to take her . . . if they knew.

Edie floated toward the sliding door with one last suspicious look at the ash tree.
That tree may know
, she thought bitterly.

None of them could understand treespeak. Only the fae and some young children could understand the oldest language of the Earth. Tammy Jo, who was both a faery and a child, heard the trees whisper. If Melanie and Marlee couldn’t suppress Tammy Jo’s fae abilities, Edie would convince the girls to burn the ash tree down.

Edie glanced over at Tammy’s dirt- and chocolate-smudged little face and the small hands that hung the hose on its hook and then began braiding a vibrant green vine through her flame-colored locks.

“Tammy Jo, take that dirty weed out of your hair,” Edie commanded. “Come and wash up. We’re going to have a great party.”

“With tea and red velvet cake?” Tammy Jo asked excitedly. “I love red velvet cake!”

“I know.”

“And I love carrot cake. And chocolate cake. And vanilla cake. And pancakes with syrup and biscuits with honey . . .”

“Yes, you love sweets.”
Just like the fae.
“Let’s go inside,” Edie repeated, and then lowered her voice to a whisper. “I know where the extra frosting is hidden.”

Tammy Jo beamed, her perfect white teeth offset by rose-petal lips.

“And you and I will throw a real party,” Edie added.

Tammy Jo clapped her hands excitedly, her golden brown eyes sparkling, and Edie couldn’t help but smile. The child really was as sweet as the ghastly cakes she favored so much.

*   *   *

THE BEADS KEPT
dangling over Tammy Jo’s eyes, which made her laugh. In fact, she was giggling so hard the table shook. Aunt Edie laughed, too, and motioned for Tammy Jo to fix the strap of her dress that had fallen off her shoulder again. It was a lady’s dress and much too big for her, but it sure was beautiful with its green and gold beads.

“I wore that dress to a party given by Tallulah Bankhead. A really wild affair. Do you know what she wore?”

Tammy Jo shook her head eagerly. She loved it when Aunt Edie smiled and laughed and told stories. Her stories were like faery tales, because everyone wore sparkly shoes and dresses, like Cinderella. Only the people in Aunt Edie’s stories didn’t end their parties at midnight. They ended only when the police came.

Folks in Duvall, Texas, Tammy Jo’s hometown, never wore beaded headbands or made one curl lie flat to their cheek like a little vine pointing up to the sky. And they sure didn’t live in buildings that scraped the sky. She wondered if the clouds got mad about all that scraping in New York City. The trees in Duvall sure got mad about the cement sidewalks blocking their roots.

“I’ll have another,” Edie said, tipping her fancy phantom glass toward Tammy Jo. Tammy pretended to pour some liquid into Edie’s glass and then did pour a little more into the Velveteen Rabbit’s glass and Winnie the Pooh’s. Pooh was having so much fun, he kept falling out of his yellow chair.

Tammy Jo sat him upright again and adjusted his bow tie and the black jacket she’d borrowed from Momma’s business suit. Momma didn’t work for the bank anymore, so Tammy Jo didn’t think it mattered that a little cranberry juice had gotten on it. Edie hadn’t scolded her when she’d dripped, so it must be okay.

“Tallulah wore a double strand of pearls, a pair of high heels, and nothing else.”

Tammy Jo choked a little. “Nudie Rudy?”

“Yes.”

Tammy Jo slapped a bejeweled hand over her mouth and giggled like mad. “You’re fibbing!”

“No. Flappers liked to be scandalous. We didn’t let anyone tell us what to do. There was power in doing whatever we wanted. Especially in coming down a grand staircase naked. Everyone stopped to watch. No one spoke. No one breathed.”

“They were so surprised, I bet. One time Georgia Sue’s brother ran into the living room naked. Our dolls were dancing, and they fell right over when he came out. They were that surprised. But then we laughed, ’cause he doesn’t know better. He’s two. But I guess your friend probably knew better.”

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