~ Spaghetti Romances | BOOK 1 ~
“That’s it? That’s all you got? Remind me not to invite you over to help with my window boxes.” Zelda rested a hand on her hip and narrowed one lovely green eye at the pathetic stream of magic wafting from Jackie’s finger. “You’re kidding me. Are you sure you’re a witch?”
In Assjacket, West Virginia, standing in the perfectly manicured front yard of the up and coming Baba Yaga was not where Jackie Tortellani had planned to be today, or any day for that matter.
“Try again, but say the words with a little more pizzazz, more gusto, or something.” Zelda bit into a cupcake. “Hmm. Dad, these are to die for.”
“I’m glad you like them, sweetie.” Fabio, Zelda’s father, and obviously the originator of her red hair and green eyes, held a three-tiered tray of pink and blue cupcakes clearly decorated to celebrate the recent arrival of Zelda’s twin babies.
Grabbing another of the chocolate mini cakes, Zelda waved at the terra cotta pot filled with soil. “What are you waiting for? Let’s get this show on the road. Make a flower appear.”
“I can’t just make a flower appear,” Jackie said. “What should I say? Hocus Pocus. Alakazam. Make me a flower as fast as you can?” She yanked about forty black rubber bracelets from her wrist and the foolish giant bow holding back long dark curly hair.
This day could not get any worse. Waking up to find the most powerful witch in all the world standing in your bedroom never boded well. Having her magically dress you in a Desperately Seeking Susan costume was a clear indicator your life was shit.
Much to Jackie’s distress her day took one more bad turn when a brownish, reddish, grayish, toad-green streamer of magic wafted from the tip of her pinkie and slowly, very, very slowly wandered toward the pot.
Zelda ate another cupcake. “At this rate we may be able to have dinner and dessert, go to the movies, come back, have a snack and still not miss the finale of that spell.” She licked a glob of chocolate off her lip.
Jackie could feel her disappointment. Well, maybe Zelda wasn’t disappointed, but clearly the current Baba Yaga, chosen leader of all witches, was not pleased.
And, if Baba Yaga wasn’t pleased, no one was pleased.
“That is not all she’s got,” Baba Yaga said, glancing down at her uneven neon pink leg warmers that matched her leotard and coordinating teal and pink polka-dotted tights.
With a flick of her finger the most powerful witch in existence adjusted the leg warmers, bringing one up and one down just enough to make them bunch, then rest at mid-calf. “She, Jackie, you…” Baba Yaga leveled a stern look at the impotent witch to her left. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You are not trying. You’ve always denied your magic. You’re doing it now.”
A 1980s nightmare in the flesh, Baba Yagadabekiddingme lived in a terrible fashion time warp that somehow tweaked Jackie’s gag reflex. Jackie could never be sure if it was the platinum blonde ponytail that sometimes sat atop her head, though today shot out from the side like a bale of hay exploded beside her and lodged several loose blades into her scalp, or if it was every single outfit the woman wore.
Jackie stared at the pot, wishing something, anything would come out of it. Even a weed would be better than nothing.
Actually, she didn’t simply wish for some sign of life from the pot. She wished her magic moved a bit faster and that it wasn’t the color of shit. Maybe wishing for too many things at the same time was the problem.
Baba Yaga folded her arms over her chest and drummed garish red fingernails against her skin. “Young lady, if you do not move that magic along, you are going to be very, very sorry.”
“How am I supposed to move it any faster? It’s not like I’m trying to make it move in slow motion.” Jackie bent over and blew at the stream, hoping maybe a puff or two would set the action in motion.
But just as she bent over a movement above the pot caught her eye. It darted left, then right, then up and down, finally shooting straight toward her.
Jackie leapt to the right, bumping into Baba, who tumbled into Fabio, who tossed the cupcakes into the air and caught his beloved lover. Zelda caught the cupcakes, losing one to a fat cat that ate it before she could stop him.
In the tumult Jackie got caught up in her own stream of barely flowing magic, and when she gasped from the shock of seeing the stupid little hummingbird that had been following her around for years, she choked and sucked the stream of magic into her lungs.
“I thought you were dead,” she squeaked, her voice sounding as if she’d taken a hit from a helium balloon.
“Dead?” Baba Yaga’s voice boomed. “Why would you think Cricket was dead?”
“Easy Carol. She is your eighth cousin, twice removed on your father’s side,” Fabio said, thankfully not releasing the now wiggling Baba Yaga.
“Cousin or not I’m curious as to why she would think her familiar was dead.” She glared at Jackie. “What would your mother think if she knew about Vegas?”
Jackie tried not to flinch, but it was virtually impossible not to wince.
“Well, you know what they say. What happens in Vegas—” she started but was cut off by a brutal threat.
“Maybe she should be here. Maybe, if your mother were here, you could explain to her exactly why you thought your familiar was dead.” Baba Yagotnochanceinhellofavoidingmyquestion said.
It was not easy being a distant relation of any Baba Yaga. Not easy at all. There was no escaping her. She knew everything. Every time Jackie turned around it seemed like the woman was lurking in a corner.
Okay, that may have been an exaggeration, but the fact was when Baba Yaga asked a question, it was quite difficult to mislead her, especially when she had access to information a girl did not want her mother to know.
“Jackie, I want to know why you thought your familiar was dead?” Baba demanded.
“I’d like to know why she named a hummingbird after an insect.” Zelda burped. “Ooh, excuse me. That one came up by surprise.”
“A witch always knows when something tragic and horrific has happened to her familiar. Why would you thinkyour familiar was dead? And, why wouldn’t you mention it sooner?” Cousin Carol slid from Fabio’s arms, turning briefly to plant a kiss on his lips. This unfortunately gave a glimpse of her backside, which appeared to be eating her leotard.
A cloud of shitty-colored magic puffed from her lungs.
“Well, it appears to move faster if you throw it up. You might try projectile vomiting your spells.” Zelda plopped into a cushion-filled wicker chair and propped her feet on the opposite seat, then sat forward so quickly she nearly fell out of the seat. “Oh, quiet.” She held up a hand to signal for silence, and everyone stopped moving. “Did you hear something?”
Fabio leaned his ear toward the house and shook his head. “No. I think the twins are fine.”
Cousin Carol leaned the same way. “I don’t hear them either.”
“I’m sure you’re right, but I’ll just go check on them. Maybe someone wants to cuddle with Mommy.” Zelda grinned a grin that made Jackie forget about her stupid familiar.
“Nice to meet you, Jackie, and good luck,” Zelda called as she vanished through the front door. “Here comes Mommy.” Her happy voice trailed off as she moved further into the house.
“Here’s your punishment.” Cousin Carol, clearly having tossed aside the Cousin Carol hat for her Baba Yaga hat, spun to face Jackie. Super witch’s attention landed on Jackie in the same way a leopard set its sights on a gazelle.
Jackie took a step back and tripped over the planter, landing on her ass.
“You’re going home to Rhode Island. No more running. Back to town to help Daniel Ridgeback.”
“What?” Jackie jumped to her feet. “You can’t do that. You can’t send me back. And you can’t make me help him!” Clouds of shitty brown smoke puffed from her ears and nose and mouth, and all the shitty puffing made her cough.
Baba Yaga grinned. “Oh, but I can, and I am.”
“Wait! No! Baba Yaga, Cousin Carol, don’t!” But before the words even made it past her lips Jackie found herself standing at the end of a long driveway in Wolf Rock, Rhode Island, with a damn hummingbird buzzing at her ear.
“What the fuck?”
The tone of the voice coming from the woods sent a blazing chill down her spine.
“What are you doing here?”