Read Hallowed Circle Online

Authors: Linda Robertson

Hallowed Circle

BOOK: Hallowed Circle
11.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“Right. That’s the worst-case scenario …
a bad high priestess.”

 

Nana stood, lifted her arms, and turned her face heavenward. “Crone, open their eyes!” When her arms dramatically fell limp at her sides, she faced Johnny. “The Lustrata cannot be beaten in a priestess Eximium. When Seph finally decides to share that she is the Lustrata with the council, they’ll scoff. And when she goes before the Elders as part of that competition—what if they realize she’s marked by a vampire?”

“Stained,” I corrected.

“It’s a mark, Persephone, a
mark
,” Nana insisted. “You know as well as I do that it would compromise you. Having the authority of a high priestess will only entice the vampire back to your door.”

I realized Johnny’s spine had stiffened.

I’d been outed!

Praise for Linda Robertson and
Vicious Circle

 

“Well-developed supernatural characters, mystery, and a touch of romance add up to an out-of-this world thriller.”

—Romantic Times

 

“Robertson blends tried-and-true supernatural elements with some fresh ideas of her own, creating an entertaining combination.
Vicious Circle
… takes readers on an adventure filled with strong characters and their tangled human emotions.”

—Darque Reviews

 

“A fun romp of a novel. … Seph acts as any of us would and it makes her endearing and easy for the reader to root for. … Completely entertaining.”

—Preternatural Reviews

 

Hallowed Circle
is also available as an eBook

 

Don’t miss the first Persephone Alcmedi book ...
Vicious Circle

HALLOWED
CIRCLE
 

LINDA
ROBERTSON

 

Pocket Books
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com

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

Copyright © 2010 by Linda Robertson

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or
portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information
address Pocket Books Subsidiary Rights Department,
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

First Juno Books/Pocket Books paperback edition January 2010

JUNO BOOKS and colophon are trademarks of Wildside Press LLC
used under license by Simon & Schuster, Inc., the publisher of this
work.

POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of
Simon & Schuster, Inc.

For information about special discounts for bulk purchases, please
contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-866-506-1949 or
[email protected]

The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors
to your live event. For more information or to book an event
contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at
1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at
www.simonspeakers.com
.

Cover design by John Vairo Jr.

Manufactured in the United States of America

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

ISBN 978-1-4391-5678-0
ISBN 978-1-4391-6657-4 (ebook)

This one is for Logan.
Because you do so much.

Acknowledgments

 

Java-n-Chocolate Thanks
as always to my writing group OWN: Ohio Writers
Network. Michelle, Laura, Melissa, Rachel, Emily, Faith,
Lisa, Tracy—for reading, honesty, and hanging out.

 

Margarita Thanks
to Paula Guran, my editor. Because she’s absolutely the
best
and editors work too hard not to be thanked profusely.

 

Tour du Jour Thanks
to Scollard, for being a knowledgeable research consultant
past, present, future.

 

High Frequency Thanks
to my friends Ed (at NRRRadio) and Colleen for all the
shout-outs.

 

Shreddin’ 7-string Guitar Thanks
to Jim Lewis, for being there
every
day. No matter what.
You made that guitar on the cover! Ain’t that the coolest???

 

Reverent Gratitude
for the Many-named Muse. You
rock.

 

It’s your decisions about what to focus on,
what things mean to you, and
what you’re going to do about them
that will determine your ultimate destiny.

—Anthony Robbins

 
CHAPTER ONE
 

“What do you mean, you nominated me?” I held my breath.

“Oh, dear. Shouldn’t I have?”

Lydia Whitmore, a dear old witch who lived about ten minutes from me, was on the other end of the phone line. I could imagine her startled expression. With her kindly smile and snowy hair, always secure in a precise bun, her looks epitomized those of the cookie-baking granny. She also cornered the local market on being the goody-goody, saccharine-sweet variety of witch—what society’s more mundane humans wanted all us witches to be.

She had called to inform me that the Witch Elders Council had announced their plans to find a replacement for Vivian Diamond, the Cleveland Coven’s high priestess who had mysteriously gone missing.

Not that it was a mystery to
me
: I’d handed Vivian over to the vampire she’d betrayed. Chances were she’d be missing a very long time.

To determine the new high priestess the Council was, according to Lydia, planning a formal competition called
the Eximium. Lydia had, incredibly, nominated me as a competitor.

“Lydia, I don’t want to be the high priestess.”

“Pshaw and gobbledygook!” Lydia said. “You’re perfect for it, Persephone! Knowledgeable, experienced, personable. And such a charming smile, dear. You’d make a fantastic high priestess.”

“I’m flattered,” I said, rubbing my brow, “but I can’t do it. I wouldn’t have time right now.”

“Oh, that’s right! You have the child, don’t you?”

“Yes,” I said. My new role as foster mother wasn’t the only reason I had no intention of getting involved with the Council, but maybe it would be enough of an excuse to dissuade Lydia.

It had only been three weeks since Lorrie Kordell, a wærewolf who used to kennel in my basement during full moons, was murdered. Her daughter, Beverley, ended up with me. We’d had the funeral a week and a half ago, and Beverley started school that following Monday. The legal gears and wheels to officially establish me as Beverley’s guardian had been set in motion and we were just starting to get a sense of what “normal” was going to be for us. Beverley needed stability and the security of a routine to ground her despite all that was new in her life. “I don’t want to start anything that will take more of my time from Beverley right now.”

“How’s she doing, poor thing?”

“She’s still grieving, and she will for a while, but she’s tough stuff. We’ll make it.” I truly cared for Beverley. When her mom got a job in the city and quit kenneling here, I’d missed more than just the popcorn and Disney
nights I’d shared with the kid. “So, Lydia,” I asked, intentionally changing the subject, “how’d you end up nominating entrants for this …
eggzemmyoom
thing anyway?”

“Because I’m the oldest!” Lydia laughed. “WEC wants savvy, smart, and pretty
young
women as covenheads nowadays, what with the internet and media always poking around the high-profile urban covens.” She pronounced the acronym for the Witch Elders Council as
weck,
like a kid who can’t make
R
sounds saying
wreck
. “They know I deserve the authority, but can’t keep up with the social scene. This is their way of coddling me for what I can’t do.”

Over the last few years I had become friends with Lydia, who happened to be the previous owner of my old saltbox-style farmhouse. She’d sold off pieces of her land and bought a double-wide, then stuck the
For Sale by Owner
sign in the front yard. We met shortly after I called the number written on the sign. One-level living suited her knees better, she’d said. The only downside, according to her, was “trading the charm and earthy smell of a root cellar for a sterile, wire-shelved pantry.” A kitchen witch, she canned the vegetables she grew in her garden and made the best black raspberry jelly I’d ever tasted, period. When she shared her scrumptious goodies, they always came with a little checkerboard gingham ribbon tied around the neck of the Mason jar. I was certain that fabric came from her worn-out dresses. She could’ve walked onto the set of
Little House on the Prairie
and assumed a place as an extra without being questioned. All she lacked was a sunbonnet.

“I tried to tell them from the start that Vivian was a no-good hustler,” she continued. “I tried to stop her from
being in Cleveland’s last Eximium, but my objections went unheard. After she reconfigured the membership into nothing more than a who’s-who list of wealthy local socialites, though, they understood.”

BOOK: Hallowed Circle
11.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

T*Witches: Don’t Think Twice by H.B. Gilmour, Randi Reisfeld
Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon
He's the One by Katie Price
Logan's Woman by Avery Duncan
Eternity's End by Jeffrey Carver
Playing the Maestro by Dionne, Aubrie
Little Blackbird by Jennifer Moorman
Colton Manor by Carroll, Francene