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It's a page turner and probably my favourite so far.

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When myths become real, danger stalks White Haven.

The Crossroads Circus has a reputation for bringing myths to life, but it also seems that where the circus goes, death follows. When the circus sets up on the castle grounds, Newton asks Avery and the witches to investigate.

This proves trickier than they expected when an unexpected encounter finds Avery bound to a power she can’t control.

Strange magic is making the myths a little too real.

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Chapter One

A fire blazed brightly at the centre of the clearing, and figures weaved a dance around it as they passed candles between them. The light cast a warm, gentle glow on the faces of the participants, many of whom were laughing as they trod the well-known path in the centre of the woods.

It was midnight at Imbolc, and the entire Cornwall Coven was celebrating the festival together.

Avery was there with the White Haven witches, all of whom had travelled together to Rasmus’s estate on the edge of Newquay. After the horrors of the vampire attacks before Christmas, they hadn’t seen the coven since, so it was a chance to celebrate the festival and their victory over Lupescu, the Romanian vampire who had caused so much destruction only weeks before.

However, it was freezing cold. Imbolc fell on the second of February, and frost lay thick upon the ground. When the coven completed the circle, they stopped and turned to watch Genevieve, their High Priestess, raise her hands to the sky. She invoked the Goddess, giving thanks and asking for protection for the months to come, and then she turned to kiss Rasmus gently on each cheek, and handed him a besom broom. Rasmus accepted it with a small bow, and then walked around the circle, brushing it along the ground as he did so, symbolically chasing away the old in a cleansing ritual. Once completed, he gave it back to Genevieve, who invited the others to join in, and then there was a frenzied few minutes as they all grabbed their own brooms and repeated the ritual.

Avery laughed as she furiously swept the ground. It was an old rite, but fun, and the symbolic cleansing really did feel as if they were getting rid of the toxic time they had all experienced. And at least the snow had gone, she reflected, as she swept past Reuben and laughed even harder. He looked so out of place with a broom in his hands, but he participated with good grace, even though he had moaned about it on the way over.

When they all finally stopped, they were breathless and hot. Genevieve clapped her hands, her smile beatific, and called a halt to the proceedings. She said a few final words before lifting a chalice of wine from the altar next to her. “And now, it’s time to eat and drink!” She gestured to the table on the far side of the clearing, filled with food, and with that the circle broke apart and they headed to fill their plates.

Avery fell into step next to Nate and Eve, the two witches who lived in St Ives on the north coast of Cornwall. Both were artistic and unconventional. Nate was dressed in scruffy combat trousers and an old flying jacket, and Eve had long dreads. “How have you been?” Avery asked them.

“Pretty good,” Nate said. “Better than you, by the sound of things.”

Avery shrugged. “At least I didn’t get a head injury like Eve. Are you better now?” she asked her.

“I’m fine, thank you,” Eve answered, with a rueful rub of her scalp. “It soon healed. It was scarier getting out of those tunnels surrounded by fire. I was more worried I’d burn us all. No more news of vampires though, I hope?”

They had all been worried that some vampires had escaped, but if they had, they’d been quiet, and there were no other disappearances or strange deaths that had been attributed to them. “No, fortunately, which is good because we now have a headstrong fey on our hands.”

They arrived at the long table, and Avery filled her plate as Nate frowned. “Ah yes, the survivor from the Wild Hunt. I’m intrigued.”

Avery laughed, or at least tried to laugh. “Her name is Shadow, and she’s driving us mad, the Nephilim included. She’s an absolute force of nature! She’s using Dan, who works in my shop, as her own personal myth-ometer.” She rolled her eyes. “He loves every minute of it. I guess it’s good that someone does!”

Nate studied her for a moment. “Eve mentioned her to me, but what’s Shadow trying to do? Get back to the Otherworld?”

“And treasure hunt at the same time. You know, find ancient artefacts and sell them for a high price.”

“And will the Nephilim help her?”

“I think so. They’re trying to find their way in our world, and to make money. They think this will be lucrative. And let’s face it, they’re supernatural creatures. They have a natural interest in this sort of thing.”

Nate looked troubled, and Eve said, “Nate’s worried, because he thinks she could find things that are best left hidden.”

“You’re probably right, Nate,” Avery said, worry stirring within her again. “But there’s little we can do to stop them. I think we’ll just have to manage the consequences.”

“But those consequences could be big,” he pointed out. “Any black market for art, drugs, or guns will always attract the worst kind of people. A market for mythical objects won’t be any different—except for maybe having supernatural buyers. She may even want to steal what’s already been found for her own uses.”

Avery had a sudden image of Shadow breaking into museums and raiding their displays. Nate was right. She could definitely see that happening.

“Although,” Eve countered, “the Nephilim and Shadow are very capable of looking after themselves. If you ask me, anyone who takes them on would be an idiot.”

Avery sighed. “True. An even better reason for us to remain on their good side.”

Avery spent the next hour or two mingling with the other witches, glad of the chance to talk to Ulysses and Oswald, and then Jasper, Claudia, and a few others. The fire was now blazing, and they sat around it on old deck chairs and logs in an effort to keep warm. They were nearly ready to return to the warmth of Rasmus’s house when Caspian arrived at her side. Caspian lived in Harecombe, the town next to White Haven, and like Avery was an elemental Air witch. His relationship with their coven had started badly, but over time things were improving.

“Avery,” he murmured, his dark eyes appraising her. “How are you?”

“Pretty good,” she replied. “How’s your wound?” She was referring to the deep cut on his chest caused by a vampire.

He rubbed it absently. “Better now, thanks to Briar. It felt like it had poison in it for a while—maybe it had. Let’s face it, we don’t know much even now about vampires, do we?”

“No, and if I’m honest, I’d like to keep it that way.” She remembered that Gabe was now working for Caspian. “How’s it going with the Nephilim as security guards?”

“Good, but I’m not surprised. Gabe has a strong work ethic, and they’re imposing. No one argues with them.”

Avery was curious. “Your company doesn’t work with occult goods, does it? Why did you want Gabe?”

“We hide enough of ourselves in everyday life, don’t we? I thought it would be good to have honest conversations with as many people as possible. Life can be lonely otherwise.” He held her gaze for a moment before returning back to the fire.

Avery knew Caspian seemed to have developed an interest in her, but she refused to be drawn in, instead deciding to tease him. “You need to find a girlfriend. You’re a catch, surely, with your wealth and big house. I’d have thought you’d be battling them away.”

“Is that all I am? Money?” he asked, his eyes narrowed.

Avery had been flippant, and certainly hadn’t meant to cause offence, but this was a topic she wanted to steer clear of. “No, of course not. And anyone who is interested in only that clearly isn’t worth your time.”

“You don’t care for money, do you?” he asked, watching her.

“Not particularly.” Avery started to get annoyed. He was being a flirt, and she didn’t like it. “And stop it, Caspian.”

“Stop what?”

“You know what. I’m with Alex. I love Alex.” As she said it, she glanced up and saw Alex across the fire, deep in conversation with Genevieve. As if he sensed her looking, he glanced her way and smiled, before turning away again.

Caspian stared at his feet. “I know.”

Immediately, Avery felt terrible, which annoyed her even more. “Maybe you should turn your attention to someone who’s free.”

“But where’s the fun in that?”

Now she knew he was baiting her. “I’ll stop talking to you if you keep this up.”

“Oh, please don’t, we have so much fun!”

She was about to say something unpleasant, when she felt a tap on her shoulder, and she turned to see Reuben’s large frame looming over her. “We’re heading back to the house, and then home. Coming?”

“Sure,” she said, grateful for the interruption, and swiftly rose to her feet. “See you soon, Caspian.”

He nodded and turned back to the fire, and Avery fell into step beside her coven, feeling Alex’s arm slide around her waist. Alex’s strength was spirit-based, and he was able to banish demons and ghouls, and use his intuitiveness to scry, spirit-walk, and communicate with ghosts. He was also skilled with elemental Fire, and as an added bonus for Avery, he loved her, despite all her quirks.

Reuben and El, both tall and fair-haired, walked just a few steps ahead. Reuben was an elemental Water witch, who was still coming to grips with his powers after neglecting them for years. It had taken the death of his brother, Gil, to bring him back to magic. El was skilled with fire and metal work, wore lots of jewellery, and like Reuben, had several tattoos. Briar, the fifth member of their coven, was petite, with long dark hair, and a natural affinity for Earth magic and healing. She was a caring, gentle soul, who had just started a relationship with Hunter, the wolf-shifter who lived in Cumbria, and she was keeping very quiet about it.

Being with them brought Avery more pleasure than she could describe. She had resisted joining a coven for so long, but now these four amazing people were family. They completed her. She smiled and nestled against Alex, feeling a sudden flash of guilt about Caspian’s behaviour, even though she hadn’t done anything wrong.

“What’s Caspian done?” he asked. It was as if he’d read her mind, and she loved him for it.

“Nothing, really. Just flirting, even though he knows it’s useless.”

A trace of annoyance flashed across Alex’s face. “Doesn’t stop him trying though, does it?”

Avery hugged him harder. “I ignore it, and so should you.”

“I try. Don’t worry, I’m not about to get violent.”

He pulled her to a halt and kissed her, and Reuben grimaced as he glanced at them. “Oh, you two, get a room.”

Alex flipped him off. “Sod off, Reuben.”

Reuben just laughed, and El punched his arm. “Stop being naughty.”

“You normally like it,” he teased, as he increased his pace.

The house came into view, as did Rasmus, greeting them on the broad patio that stretched across the back of his old home. His place wasn’t as old as Reuben’s, and it was made of faded red brick rather than mellow stone, but it was eccentric, just like he was.

Avery broke away from Alex and went to his side, hugging him. “Thanks, Rasmus. It was great to finally be here and celebrate Imbolc with you. You have an amazing home.”

Rasmus smiled, his old face dissolving into wrinkles. “Thank you, Avery. You’re welcome anytime. Are you sure you don’t want to stay? I have room.”

When she’d first met him, Avery had thought him gruff and quite scary, but now she was incredibly fond of Rasmus, especially knowing now what she did of his past. “No, it won’t take us long to get home. And besides, we all have to work in the morning.” Newquay was on the north coast of Cornwall, and their trip to White Haven on the south coast would only take about 45 minutes.

Briar hugged Rasmus, too. “I’m sure after having to put up with us all, you’ll be glad to have the place to yourself.”

“I wouldn’t offer if I didn’t mean it,” he remonstrated. He turned to Alex and gripped his proffered hand. “Alex, thank you. The White Haven witches have been a welcome addition to our coven.”

“And we’re glad to be part of it,” Alex replied.

While the others talked, Avery looked back towards the trees, noting the feeling of peace and gentle magic that came from them. Rasmus’s family and the Cornwall Coven had celebrated there for years, and the wood seemed to have absorbed the positive energy. A line of lanterns lit the way to the clearing, but the fire itself was lost to view. She was about to turn away when she felt a prickle run down her spine, as if she was being watched. She stared into the darkness and saw a figure standing a short distance away from the path, just at the edge of the wood. Avery blinked. She could have sworn the figure hadn’t been there a second before. She stared on, waiting for whoever it was to come fully into view. It must be one of the other witches; although, it was odd that they wouldn’t have followed the path. The undergrowth was thick in places.

The figure didn’t move. Whoever it was just stood there, watching her. Avery could see a pale face, but it was impossible to tell if it was male or female. And then, as quickly as the person had appeared, the voyeur went. Avery squinted and blinked again. Was she seeing things?

“Are you okay?” Briar said to her, following her eye line. “What are you looking at?”

“I could have sworn I saw someone at the edge of the trees, but they’ve just vanished!”

Briar frowned. “It’s dark, and the lanterns throw uneven light, or maybe it was one of the witches enjoying the solitude.”

“Maybe.” Avery finally turned away. “And it’s late and I’m probably overtired.”

But as they said their goodbyes and finally left, Avery couldn’t help but look over her shoulder again, convinced that someone had been silently watching them all.