SEASON OF THE WITCH
Ezrina’s Point of View
1692 Salem, Massachusetts
The bow father gave me last Christmas gleams in the light as I aim high to the uppermost bough of a Sycamore. A pale dove vies for my attention with her incessant cooing—her persistent ambition to disrupt the quiet of the forest around her. She juts her neck out and repositions herself to the distal tip of the branch, and I let my arrow fly before she bolts into the atmosphere.
I rest my weapon at my side and watch as the arrow sails past her, and she soars off into the dark afternoon sky, gray as her wings.
“There’s a first,” a baritone voice thunders from behind. “Ezrina MacHatter misses by a mile. Must have been a faulty bow.” He winks into his delusion.
“It was less than an inch, and if I were hungry she would have been mine.” I glance over at him.
Heathcliff O’Hare stands erect with his chest puffed with pride. His dark hair covers his head like a hat, and the stubble over his cheeks creates a shadow upon his comely features. His shirt lies opened down the front, most likely because he’s missing buttons. He’s unkempt that way.
“Aren’t you supposed to be off protecting Clara somewhere?” I take a deep breath and exhale, fascinated by the swirl of fog my lungs manage to yield. “You’re a scoundrel of the highest order.” Clara is my most obnoxious relation. She’s claimed Heathcliff for herself from the beginning, even threatened to cause me bodily harm if I so much as glanced in his direction. And here he is, staining the woods with his perfect effigy. My heart claps like thunder as he draws in close, and I try to circle around him.
“Off so quick?” He steps in my path and for a moment I’m mesmerized by those pale blue eyes, an exact representation of a clear summer morning. “I hear these woods are haunted. Why don’t I linger by your side and protect you from any unwanted entities.”
“An unwanted entity stands before me.” I withhold the smile begging to take over my lips.
His steely eyes narrow, his cheek depresses with pleasure as if my spite were somehow pleasing to him.
“’Tis the season of the witch.” His brows rise.
“Your people.” I’m quick to counter—accurate as the ocean is deep.
“Perhaps they are yours. It’s Celestra they’re crucifying at the trials.” He takes a bold step forward, and I can feel the heat emanating off his skin.
A breath gets trapped in my throat and instinctually I molest the knife strapped to my inner thigh with its newly sharpened blade. Although, something in me doesn’t want to cut him, or tear the rest of his shirt off just for show, something in me very much likes the special brand of attention he’s lording over me.
“I wonder what Clara would think if she knew you were so quick to protect another?”
“I’m not interested in Clara. I’m interested in you.” He doesn’t waver with his stare. The slight curve of a smile accentuates his features, and a fire rips through me from the inside out.
He comes in close and dips in toward me.
My lips part ready to greet him.
“You are a beautiful woman, Ezrina MacHatter.” He breathes the words over me like a blessing. “But you know that, don’t you?” His cheek rises on the side as he mocks me, and, yet, his devilish intent pulls me in even closer.
He’s going to do it. He’s going to kiss me, and Clara be damned, I just may impart one right back.
The thought of Clara’s unique brand of wrath cools my blood, and I pluck the blade from my thigh and slice the air between our noses.
“Shit.” He flinches back a good foot.
I hide my delight at his reaction and hurl the knife over his shoulder, aiming high into the boughs just beyond his frame.
A silver dove falls like lightning and lands with a thud near his feet.
“You took its head off,” he marvels.
“This time I was hungry.” I swipe off my blade on a bed of pine needles. “Imagine the things I could do to you.” I bleed a dry smile.
His mouth opens with delight and suddenly I find his abnormally handsome features, vexing in every capacity.“Yes.” His breath plumes, rife with seduction. “I do imagine the things you can do to me.”