Excerpt – Bewitched


San Francisco
May 9, 1916

“It was simply a beautiful wedding,” Mrs. Landsberg gushed. “Melisande was radiant in that rose lace gown.”

Vithar Woodward took the lady’s hand and placed a kiss upon the aged skin. “Meli glowed, but no one can hold a candle to you, madam.” He flashed a roguish smile.

Mrs. Landsberg was the most prominent of his mother’s society friends and married to the owner of the Chronicle. An endorsement from her would elevate Melisande’s status and help with Fremont and his prospects for working at the newspaper.

“You are a charmer.” A calculated gleam entered her gaze, and she patted his hand. “Don’t you worry. We’ll find a nice girl for you, too.”

Icy dread, and a tiny flicker of hope, filled him. “Umm. Thank you.”

Slate gray clouds obscured the sun, and a strong breeze pushed the woman down a step from their front stoop. “My word, I wonder where this storm came from. It was supposed to be clear all night.”

“Let me help you.” He took her arm and placed his body between her and the worst of the wind. Then, he guided her down the stairs.

At the bottom, she placed a hat on her head and nodded to the private driver holding the car door. “Hurry back inside, young man, before it rains. Tell your mother I’ll call on her next week.”

The car chugged down the street, and he stood alone with his thoughts. He faced his parents’ house, a two-story Victorian with old silver colored siding and red roof tiles. It had been his home for nearly twenty-eight years.

Now it was a crowded shelter that reminded him how isolated his existence had become. The meeting of hearts that his parents possessed. What Fremont and Melisande declared today.

Love eluded him.

Storm clouds rolled across the sky, and a spike of lightning dazzled his eyes. Hurrying up the stairs, he closed the outside door and let his smile slip now that the guests were gone.

Meli had been the perfect bride; happiness radiated from her. She was like a bright pink daisy in the soft pink, flower-imbued lace dress. His brother had stood elegantly tall, but the bride was the center of attention, as it should be.

He was truly happy for his brother and sister-in-law. But a hungry longing existed in his heart. He coveted what his brother had.

Not Melisande.

But someone who complimented him.

Someone who could accept the closeness of his twin brother.

They had a tight bond—could read each other’s expressions and inexplicably sometimes even heard each other telepathically. Several of his previous girlfriends had complained they’d been shut out from his life. He’d not intended to exclude them, but Fremont was a part of his heart that a woman had to share. Many didn’t understand or appreciate that. They wanted Vithar’s exclusive attention and refused to understand his closeness with his brother.

The front door flung open. A bright flash of white splintered his sight, and a loud boom shook the house.

The wind whipped around him, and he had to fight to reclose the door and lock the deadbolt to keep it in place.

The house shimmied like in an earthquake, except energy crackled in the air. The picture frames on the foyer walls banged so hard that some turned askew, while others clattered to the floor. Shadows stretched across the floor like a grotesque cast of purple crabs. He fumbled with the catch, then shoved apart the panel doors and entered the living room.

Fremont stood at the bay window with his arm around Meli. Vithar heard their parents in the kitchen at the back of the house. His family appeared fine, yet a sense of impending doom suffocated him.

Another flash of lightning lit the space, and a second boom thundered loud enough to drown out his heartbeat. The sharp tang of ozone infiltrated the room.

“Aren’t you a lovely couple?” A deep, brassy voice sounded behind them.

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