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Authors: Brittany Geragotelis

The Witch Is Back

BOOK: The Witch Is Back
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To anyone who's ever been judged, bullied, rejected, teased, ignored, or targeted . . . you are
extraordinary
and one day others will know it, too.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I owe so much thanks to those who had a hand in making this book happen.

To everyone at Simon & Schuster—Justin Chanda, Bernadette Cruz, Paul Crichton, Lucy Cummins, Catherine Laudone—thank you for making my publishing dreams come true. You've been incredible. Christian Trimmer: Your enthusiasm for this book has been unmatched. Thanks for all your editorial expertise!

I couldn't have done any of this without my wonderful team: Kevan Lyon at the Marsal Lyon Agency (Lit agent extraordinaire); Taryn Fagerness at the Taryn Fagerness Agency (Rockstar of the foreign market); Brandy Rivers at Gersh (Queen of Hollywood); Deborah Wolfe at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz (My legal bodyguards); Samantha Martin (PR maven), Sandy Han and Anna Osgoodby at Media Maison. I'm so grateful to have you all on my dream team.

Of course, my besties are the ones who keep me sane and happy in this often
insane
world. You're my biggest supporters. You make me laugh. And you pick me up when I'm down. Hugs and kisses to: Tammy West, Amanda Healy, Jessica Grant, Kate Chapman, Mary Eustace, Courtney McCabe, Darcey West, Rebecca Schuman, Alicia Chouinard, Sue Chouinard, Colleen Woodsmith and Siena Koncsol. Also, I have to say a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone at A.G., Wattpad and Pips Place NYC. I love you all!

Lastly, the love and support of my family has meant the world to me. Your advice, positivity, and encouragement has kept me going over the years. Thanks so much to: Mom, Dad, Jacey, Amy, Cody, Cash, my aunts and uncles (both related and not), Andrea, Price, Ryan, Katy, Chelle, and Maya. Thank you for always believing in me.
Matt—you are the reason all my dreams have come true. Thank you for loving me. You amaze me every single day.

June 4, 1692

The funny thing about betrayal is that by the time you know about it, the damage has already been done.

Bridget Bishop should know. Her life had been surrounded by it as of late.

And as if the betrayal itself weren't bad enough, when it came from your friends, family, and community members, it's an especially hard slap in the face. The realization that you were cared for so little that you deserved the public humiliation and heartache coming to you, was enough to send a person over the edge.

Luckily, Bridget still had the love and support of her only daughter, Christian, to keep her fighting for her life, otherwise she might have saved the executioners the trouble and done the job herself.

The others who'd been accused hadn't been blessed with this kind of loyalty from their families.

Bridget looked around her cell and then let her eyes sweep across the dungeon to those shackled to the floors and walls. Dozens of people filled the space, one more hopeless than the next. But Bridget felt as if she couldn't complain too much, given the fact that people like Tituba, Sarah Osborne, and Sarah Good had been confined to the prison much longer than she had.

And not everyone inhabiting the jail were witches.

That's not to say that most of them weren't. The majority were members of the Cleri, while others were members of other covens or simply innocent bystanders. Well,
innocent
might not have been the right word for some of those included in the trials, considering the darkness of their past actions, but they certainly weren't practicing witchcraft.

Bridget turned to the three women closest to her own cell. The two Sarahs and Tituba had been among the first accused and therefore had experienced the brunt of the initial backlash. Osborne was in there by mistake, having been shunned by the community because she'd stopped going to church. Of course, she'd only stopped attending because an illness had taken over her body, but nobody wanted to hear that fact. Still, church or no church, a witch she was not.

Good and Tituba, however, were both members of the coven Supre, and neither had ever hurt another living soul. That wasn't the purpose of the coven after all. Bridget knew this because the Cleri had convened with the Supre at annual gatherings. The sister coven had always been kind and otherwise harmless.

Lord knows why Tituba eventually confessed to practicing dark magic, saying that Good and Osborne had convinced her to sign her soul over to the Devil. Those of us who knew the women knew it wasn't true, but nothing could be done to convince her to change her story. Bridget could only guess that the pressure of being hated by the whole town had driven the woman mad.

Sarah Good, however, seemed to be taking things the hardest. She'd always been an outcast in Salem, but had managed to find a home with her fellow Supre members. They'd been the only ones to overlook the fact that she was homeless, often looked dirty and unkempt, and wasn't above going door-to-door to ask for charity. Given Good's already stunted relationship with the townspeople, the realization that they found her capable of doing harm to others shouldn't have been all too surprising.

But apparently it was that, coupled with Tituba's treachery and the fact that her husband and even her four-year-old daughter had testified against her in court, that had worn Good down until she was practically skin and bones.

When she bothered to talk—which was rare by this point—it was only to claim her innocence. It cut through Bridget every time she heard the woman sobbing in the dark at night.

“Visitors!” one of the guards announced as he opened the heavy wooden door and ushered a handful of people into the room.

Though Bridget recognized the four women, she'd never talked to them herself. She did, however, know their husbands, as they frequented the pub she owned before she'd been dragged into this god-awful place. Bridget had heard the men complaining about their nagging wives and therefore knew them to be judgmental gossipers who looked down at most others in the town.

Bridget had a growing suspicion that the women's visit wouldn't be pleasant.

The four walked over to the cell next to Bridget's and stopped to stare stone-faced at Tituba and the two Sarahs. The woman who took up the front of the pack placed her arms behind her back as if to keep herself from reaching out and getting too close to the accused.

“Disgusting pieces of filth you are,” the visitor whispered, squinting her eyes at the three women. “How dare you attempt to harm our children in your quest to do Satan's bidding.”

“Witches!” another shouted.

“Thieves!”

“Dismissing the
church
 . . . ,” the leader said to Sarah Osborne, “. . . a lowly
slave
 . . . ,” to Tituba, “. . . and a dirty, murderess
beggar
,” finally fixing her stare on Sarah Good. “I always knew you were the Devil's spawn, not worthy of our respect or company. Now the rest of the world knows it, too.”

Silence filled the room as the free stood before the prisoners. Finally, a voice broke through, surprising all of them.

“I have not done that which you accuse me of,” Sarah Good said quietly. Her eyes were swollen from so much crying, and though she was one of the youngest being held, she looked at least twenty years older than her time on Earth.

“Then why hath your own family forsaken you?” the woman spat back nastily. “God did not even find you worthy of motherhood and took your child away before you could do it harm as well.”

There was an audible gasp at this and Bridget wasn't sure whether it had come from the rest of the women in the room or from Sarah herself. Either way, everyone knew the woman had gone too far.

By now, it was common knowledge that Sarah had been pregnant at the time of her arrest, and despite the stress and horrible living conditions, had managed to give birth to a baby girl she'd named Mercy. No doubt a plea to the Lord to be set free. However, her plan hadn't worked and Sarah had watched desperately as her own kin perished in the jail. It was hard enough losing a child, but to then be told it was because of your own wickedness—that is a cross no one should have to bear.

“Ladies, it would be a good idea if you were to leave now,” Bridget warned, drawing the attention over to herself. The distraction worked and the group took a few steps toward her.

“Oh, Bridget . . .” The lady clucked her tongue as if she were scolding the aging woman. “I should think you are not in a position to be ordering anyone around. Besides, you are just as vile as she is.”

“You do not know what you say,” Bridget returned, sitting up a little straighter from her place on the floor.

“Oh, I think I do. But that does not matter, because God knows what you have done and He will punish you for your unholy atrocities,” the woman said, pointing her finger at Bridget and then at the other women locked up. “He will punish each and every one of you.”

Then, without a backward glance, the women turned and began to head back the way they came. Besides the sound of their shoes hitting the stone floor, the only other noise was the sobs coming from Sarah.

Bridget watched as they left, and promised herself that they would get what was coming to them.

They all would.

And then, with a hollow clanking sound loud enough to wake the dead, Bridget and the others were locked inside, their fates sealed along with the door.

Chapter One

As the door slammed on the women's fate, my eyes flew open with a start. I searched the room in a panicky attempt to figure out where I was. At the same time, I willed my hands to move, still feeling the weight of the shackles on my wrists. Relief washed over me as I was able to bring them up to my face and brush away the hair that was matted to my forehead.

It was just another dream.

Oh, who was I kidding? By now I knew enough to understand that the dreams I had were more like memories from the past—my ancestor's past to be more accurate. And as often as I'd had these little trips down memory lane, I still couldn't get used to the feeling of betrayal and fear that they left me saddled with. This, along with the fact that all the horrific things that I was seeing had actually happened—that my great-grandmother several times over, Bridget Bishop, had been the first person hanged during the Salem witch trials—and well, you can see why I couldn't count on getting acceptable beauty sleep.

Luckily, there was a spell for that.

Lately though, my dreams had branched out to include the lives of others accused during the trials. Sarah Good and Tituba, especially, had become regulars in my flashbacks, and disturbing as it was, I was beginning to feel connected to them in a way that only someone who'd lived through that awful time period could. Most people had to search ancestry.com to discover what was on their family trees. My relatives were hung from ours.

“Had!” a voice called, breaking through my thoughts and bringing me back to reality. “Breakfast in ten and then we'll go for that run?”

A glance over at my bedside clock showed that it was just a little past 8 a.m. I sighed heavily.

So much for sleeping in during the summer.

“Okay, Dad!” I shouted back. “I'll be there in a minute!”

As much as I longed to pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep, I flung them back dramatically and shimmied my way off the bed until my feet hit the floor. I couldn't exactly back out of our morning workout, since I'd been the one to suggest it the night before.

Ever since Mom had died at the hands of the evil coven, the Parrishables, I'd been putting more of an effort into spending time with my dad whenever possible. For a while, I'd thought I'd lost both of my parents in the fire that had killed most of the adults in the Cleri. But then Dad had shown up, untouched and alive. Not that Samuel Parris hadn't tried to do away with him, too. He'd just been luckier than Mom and the others when the Parrishables had finally hunted him down.

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