Kiss of a Witch
Trapped in a spreading web of darkness, the power of an ancient book might be their only hope.
Mary Sparrow was cursed at birth, and the bawdy house is the only home she’s ever known. Like most of the girls, she dreams of escape. But when an old man drives her friend to madness, she swears she will have her revenge.
Toby Chyrche also hopes for a better future, away from the tailor’s shop where his fate seems set in stone. Then afateful meeting seems to promise freedom, until an ancient book of magic reveals chilling truths.
Ensnared in the spreading web of darkness, they turn to magic to protect themselves. But shadowy forces crave a sacrifice, and the spectre of death is beckoning. Can they wield the power of the book to protect those they love? Or will they pay for their courage with their lives?
Then Toby ducked through the low door from the street and her breath stopped short in her throat. She was on her feet in a moment, shoving the sewing back into the basket at the hearth, straightening her skirts, checking her hair and adjusting the neckline of her bodice, small breasts pushed up and on display to their best advantage. She waited by the hearth, a coy smile on her lips and her head tilted in invitation. He saw her straight away and made his way towards her, and the little light of hope inside burned brighter. He had come, not for any girl, but for her.
‘Ale, Rosalind,’ Mary ordered to the other girl, who still sat staring at the unlit fire. Rosalind turned towards her, frowning in question. ‘Get us ale,’ Mary told her again, and eventually the girl got to her feet and headed out the back to where the barrels were kept.
‘Master Chyrche.’ She dropped her best curtsey, and he returned it with a bow.
They sat at a small round table beside the fireplace, and he looked around the empty room. ‘Where is everyone?’
She shrugged. ‘Elsewhere.’
‘Then I’m glad,’ he replied. ‘Because it means I can have you all to myself.’
She laughed, taking pleasure in the pleasantry. ‘I am all yours, Master Chyrche.’
He took her left hand in his, and began to caress the extra finger, gaze intent on the movement of their hands. Then, looking up, his eyes fixed hers in question. ‘Are you truly cursed, Mary Sparrow?’ he asked. ‘Does the Devil suckle at night on this finger?’
She gave him an uncertain half-smile in answer. Why was he asking the same questions again? ‘I cannot rightly say,’ she murmured. ‘I hope not.’
Lifting her palm to his mouth, Toby kissed it, then briefly, discreetly, slid the extra finger between his lips, his tongue warm and moist as it curled around the tip. Her breath lifted in response, warmth in her gut. Then Rosalind returned with the jug of ale and Toby let her hand go. Mary poured for them both and she drank, unsure of him now. She had met men before who made a fetish of her fingers, but Toby’s sudden interest disconcerted her. She lowered her cup and looked at him. He was watching her closely, eyes grey and pale in the candlelight, and she was self-conscious under his scrutiny.
‘Perhaps I’m your Devil,’ he said.
‘Perhaps,’ she replied, but she had no understanding of his meaning. He must have seen the confusion in her eyes, though she tried her best to hide it, because then he gave her a smile that made her fall a little deeper.
S.G. Slade was born and raised in the historic city of Bristol in England, and now lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, son, and a very small dog called Livvy. She has worked variously as a secretary, a teacher, a shop assistant and a nurse, but lifelong obsessions with books, history, and magic have never waned. When she isn’t reading or writing (which isn’t often), you can find her either doing yoga, going for long walks, or watching old movies. Touch of a Witch is her first historical fantasy book.
She uses the pen name S.G. Slade for her fantasy books, and also writes Historical Fiction under the name Samantha Grosser.
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