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Totally captivating

Amazon reviewer

The rules have changed.

Reeling from the events that revealed other witches were behind the attack on Reuben and Caspian, the White Haven witches don’t know who to trust.

The search for those who betrayed them tests their resources and their abilities, and as the fallout shatters alliances, they draw on their friends for support.

But it’s not easy. The path they follow is dark and twisted and leads them in directions they can’t predict.

Knowing who to trust is the only thing that may save them.

Grab the ninth book in the White Haven Witches series now, but be warned, nothing is as it seems…

*Amazon links are Associate links #CommissionsEarned

Chapter One

Avery Hamilton admired Mariah’s cottage garden from the garden gate, wishing she was there under better circumstances.

It was a wild tangle of roses, dahlias, delphiniums, and other summer plants. A gardener’s paradise, there was order beneath the apparent chaos, and it surrounded a picture-perfect cottage. However, she pushed her admiration aside and assessed whether there were any magical traps hidden on the grounds.

“Well?” DI Newton asked, huffing impatiently at her side.

Avery looked at him, annoyed. “We just got here, Newton! Give me a moment.”

It was Saturday evening, and the sun was slanting in low over the garden, casting part of it in shadow. It was the day after their fight with Mariah, Zane, and the pirate spirits in the cave on Gull Island, and Avery had accompanied Newton to Mariah’s house in Looe. A Police Constable was guarding the property, and had been standing next to the rough-hewn wall all day, waiting patiently and silently.

Newton bristled with annoyance. “Mariah has been gone for almost twenty-four hours! We need to get in there.”

Avery ignored his tone, knowing he was frustrated because he’d been stuck on Gull Island for hours, and had needed to wait for one of the witches to accompany him. “A moment more.”

Avery took a few calming breaths to centre herself, then sent her magical awareness across the garden. She could feel Mariah’s magic in the garden, but nothing about it was threatening.

“Nothing to worry about out here, but I’ll check the house,” she said, satisfied. Avery opened the gate and walked down the path, Newton right behind her. “I take it you have no word on her yet?”

Newton cast a wary glance around the garden. “None, but I’m not surprised.” He looked tired, his suit rumpled. “She and Zane have obviously planned their escape well. I doubt very much she left any clue as to where she’s gone.”

They reached the porch, where Avery laid a restraining hand on Newton’s arm, and she nodded in agreement. “Unfortunately, I think you’re right, but this door is warded. Give me a moment.”

Unmistakable power resonated around the entrance, and Avery feared a pulse of magic would be released unless she could neutralise it. She tried a few spells, finally finding one that worked, and with a magical boom that only she could hear, Mariah’s ward collapsed. Avery used another spell to unlock the front door, and it swung open into a small hallway with a low ceiling.

Although Newton tried to enter first, Avery pushed him back. “Wait. There could be other traps.”

Avery took her time to investigate her surroundings, noting the slightly old-fashioned feel to the cottage, despite its modern furnishings. It was a warm, welcoming place, and Avery struggled to marry the image of frosty, aggressive Mariah with this little piece of heaven. She checked the sitting room to the right, then progressed through to the kitchen on the left that stretched the length of the house, with a dining area at the rear.

“It’s all safe down here,” she told Newton.

He shook his head. “It doesn’t look the house of a murderer, does it? But then again, I’ve learnt that people present many sides. Nothing remotely smuggling in nature here, though.”

“Upstairs, perhaps,” Avery said, already heading to the narrow stairs. But after spending a few minutes exploring the small but tidy bedrooms and bathroom, she found nothing there, either.

“Just half-empty wardrobes,” Newton mused, checking the drawers with his gloved hands. “Which means she’s not returning any time soon.”

Avery headed to the window that overlooked the garden behind the house, noting it was also well stocked and maintained with summer plants and shrubs. “She obviously loves this house. I can’t believe she abandoned it. Perhaps she’s hoping her magic will sustain the place while she’s gone.”

Newton gave a short laugh. “If she thinks she’s coming back after all that’s happened, she’s mad.”

“Or she has a plan that she has complete faith in,” Avery reasoned, fearing more violence. She repeated the concerns she’d had after speaking to Dan and Sally in Happenstance Books earlier that day. “There have been a lot of things that haven’t made sense. For example, why she or Zane couldn’t control the spriggans when we could. It suggests that they let them kill Miles and Jasmine—and that poor man with the dog. That’s the only explanation! And they must have been planning to double-cross Ethan all along.”

Newton raked his fingers through his short, dark hair, and up close Avery could see how bloodshot his eyes were. “They’ve got a hiding place.”

“And probably allies.”

“And a way of getting rid of the pirate gold they’ve already stolen.” Newton’s gaze was distant as he studied the garden, and then he focussed with a frown. “There’s a garden shed. We should check that.”

He turned and marched down the stairs, leaving Avery running after him, frustrated. “Let me assess it first!”

Once in the garden, he let her lead the way. “Perhaps she’s planned for a relative or friend to look after the place at some point,” Avery suggested to Newton when she finally reached the shed.

“We’re checking her family out now, but we need to know which of them are witches.”

“I can see if anyone in the Cornwall Coven would know, but let me focus for now.” She turned her attention to the rustic building, noting it was a decent size with two small windows. One half was a regular shed, the other side a greenhouse. Now that she was up close she felt it resonating with magic. “Step back, Newton.”

Avery scanned the building, noting that the magic felt stronger around the doors and windows. Runes were carved into the door with simple wards, but different to the ones used for the house. After trying a few spell combinations, she disabled the wards and opened the door. It swung open easily on well-oiled hinges. The smell of compost engulfed them, but as she stepped through the door, she saw an area at the other end that wasn’t filled with gardening equipment, but looked to have been both a spell room and planning space. Shelves lined the end wall, and although most had been cleared, a few jars of dried herbs remained.

“She’s taken herbs for spell work, too,” Avery said, studying the remaining bottles and musing on the mostly empty space. “The protection spells weren’t as strong as I expected, and I guess that’s because she had nothing worth hiding here.”

The workbench was clear, but there were a couple of dog-eared books about smuggling on the side. Avery idly searched them, finding nothing other than a few pencilled notes that added nothing to what they already knew.

“What about her coven member, Harry?” Avery had spoken to Genevieve earlier that day to update her and get the details. Understandably she had been furious, but also worried.

“He’s married with kids, but there’s no sign of him yet. A patrol car is keeping an eye on his place. We’ll go there next, if that’s okay?”

“Of course. You certainly can’t go alone. But although I’ve met him, I don’t know much about him,” Avery confessed. Like Mariah, Harry hadn’t been friendly towards her or the rest of the White Haven witches.

“That doesn’t matter right now.” Newton sighed. “And to be honest, all this is what I expected, but we’ll get the team in anyway to search it properly. Perhaps Moore and Briar will have better luck at Zane’s.”

“Are they there now?” Avery asked. She’d been wondering where Sergeant Moore was.

“Should be, but I’ll call him with our news.”


Briar Ashworth inspected Zane and Lowen’s utterly charmless living room while Moore talked on the phone. She had no idea that Zane and Lowen, the other Bodmin Coven member, were flatmates, and it seemed they didn’t bother too much to make their house anything more than serviceable. It was depressing. However, she sensed there was something else here they hadn’t found yet.

Moore ended his call and turned to face her. “That was Newton. Things are as we expected at Mariah’s. Clothes gone and the house spelled with protection. Just like here.”

Briar turned, her nose twitching. “I think I’m missing something, Moore. I feel it.”

“Magic?” Moore asked, his deep voice resonating around them.

He was a man of slight build with light red hair, and his rich voice was at odds with the rest of him. Briar knew why Newton relied on him, though. He was thorough and observant, and far more patient than Newton.

“Yes. But it’s not obvious. More of a prickle between my shoulder blades.”

They had already searched the whole house, and Briar found it a gloomy place. It was utilitarian, devoid of artwork or personality. Perhaps they had stripped it all in anticipation of leaving, but Briar doubted that. There were no tell-tale marks on the wall where paintings might have hung. And she found no sign of a spell room, either.

Briar suddenly remembered the creak of the floorboards in the pantry next to the kitchen. This house, although unwelcoming, was a character-filled property that could have been made to be much nicer. “This place is old enough to have a cellar, right?”

“Absolutely. Why?”

“Follow me.” Briar led the way back to the pantry where she stamped on the floor, eliciting a squeak. “Hear that? I’m wondering if anything is under here. Zane and Lowen are witches. They should have a spell room, and there’s no sign of one anywhere. And Zane’s an earth witch, like me.” She looked around, frustrated. “He should have plants, and lots of herbs!”

Moore smiled. “Excellent thinking. What kind of witch is Lowen?”

“I’m not sure,” she said, annoyed with herself for not checking prior, “but I’ll find out.”

He gestured to the floor. “Can you detect anything?”

“Not yet.” She frowned, perplexed. “And that’s odd. I can normally sense space beneath the earth when I focus.”

Moore crouched, prodding and pulling the floorboards with his gloved hands, but despite their squeaking, they seemed firmly in place. He looked up at her. “I can look for something to lever them up, or could you move them?”

Briar hesitated. She’d never used magic in front of Moore before…not obviously so, anyway. “Are you sure you’re okay with me using magic?”

“I’m fine. In fact, that’s an understatement. I’m itching to see you use it.” He winked. “Why should Newton have all the fun?”

She gave him a shy smile, suddenly self-conscious—which was ridiculous, considering how often she used magic. “Okay. You’d better stand back.”

They exited the pantry, and Briar eyed the worn, wooden floor. She raised her hands, and summoning her power, directed it down to the boards, feeling along their edges and below. She could have just blasted them away, but she hated unnecessary destruction, so she levered up the end of half a dozen planks.

And then power reared outward.

Just in time, she threw up a wall of protection around both of them as a wave of magic blasted out, lifting them off their feet and slamming them into the cabinets behind them.

“By the Goddess!” she exclaimed, both winded and very grateful that her magic had cushioned their landing. “Sneaky bastard! That was unexpected. Are you all right?”

Moore, like her, had hit the countertop, and he put his hand to his lower back. “I’m okay. That could have been worse. You were quick.”

“Fortunately.” She stared at the newly revealed hole in the pantry floor. “They disguised that well, which means something is down there.”

Briar threw a witch-light down the brick-lined steps and, spotting a light switch, flicked it on. The stairs lit up, illuminating the entry to a room below. Briar descended, still on full alert, with Moore hefting a powerful torch as a weapon in his hands. There was no scent of must or dampness, and when they reached the bottom, they entered a large, low-ceilinged cellar that stretched beneath the whole house.

“Oh wow!” Briar exclaimed. “So this is where they spent most of their time!”

Moore gave a low whistle next to her. “This is impressive!”

The space was comprised of perfectly dry brick walls and floor, and arches that split the place into areas, most of which were for spell work, but there was a comfortable sitting area and a TV with a gaming console. The air smelled of herbs and magic, and she made Moore wait while she felt for any more magical traps.

After a few moments, she sighed with relief. “We’re fine. The one at the top was it.”

Moore prowled around the space with interest. “They did have a personality, after all!”

“I’m relieved,” Briar confessed. “This is where they lived—all the time! I guess as an earth witch Zane must have liked being surrounded by it.” She headed to the spell room. “I personally like to see the daylight and my garden, but everyone is different.”

“Were they both single… Or a couple, together?” Moore asked.

“I have no idea.”

He nodded. “We’ll double-check all their relationships in the coming days. Today was spent on the cave and Ethan’s death.” He strode to a far corner and picked up something that twinkled in the light. “A guinea.” He grinned at Briar. “So, they stored some of the treasure here.”

“Makes sense. It’s very secure. But there’s nothing to tell us where they’ve gone.” Briar looked despondently at the obviously cleared out sections and missing magical paraphernalia.

Moore patted her shoulder. “Don’t worry. It might take some time, but we’ll find them eventually.”

“But there’s a big paranormal world out there, and they’re skilled witches.”

“But you have contacts, and so do we,” he reassured her. “We’ll be working with Maggie Milne on this. And we’ll be getting a new sergeant to help us.” His smile disappeared at that admission.

Briar hadn’t forgotten that Inez Walker had died when she was attacked by a spriggan, but it had been pushed to the back of her mind, and now she felt horribly guilty. “I’m sorry, Moore. Another death that is Zane and Mariah’s fault.”

“Which is why we will find them.” Moore’s stare was intense and determined. “They have a lot of blood on their hands.”

“Why did you become involved in paranormal policing?” she asked, aware she knew little to nothing about him.

“I have a strong sense of justice. Why should people with special powers get away with things? We may approach investigating them differently, but there has to be retribution of some sort. It’s not the Wild West! And besides,” he added, “it’s fascinating.”

“But you won’t be able to imprison a witch. Not easily, anyway.”

“Imprisonment is rarely an option for most of the paranormal creatures we face. As long as the victims obtain some justice, I don’t care too much how that happens.”

“True.” Briar considered the creatures they had faced. Most of those who caused death and destruction met an unpleasant death themselves—or found paranormal retribution. “But I think Newton struggles with the manner of justice sometimes.”

“Aye, he does that. And this case makes it more difficult than most. Witches are still people, after all.”

“I suppose one of the best ways to stop a dangerous witch is to bind their powers…but that’s hard.” She shuddered at the very idea. If anyone bound her magic, it would feel as if she’d died.

Moore nodded, a flash of sympathy in his eyes, as if he sensed her horror at the suggestion. “Perhaps that’s something you need to consider. Anyway, let’s check the garden next and make sure we haven’t missed anything.”