What the Hex
Author: Jessica Clare
Release Date: April 4, 2023
Series: Hex #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Rom-Com
Taken from Chapter 4, this is the first time Penny and Willem meet.
A FEW HOURS later, I’ve sent home the cleaning staff early and I sit in my office, drumming my fingers on my desk as I wait for the apprentice to show up. I’ve been told that her name is Penny Roundtree (such a bourgeois name, but not entirely unexpected) and that she will be by before seven tonight. I set out a bottle of the finest white wine in my cellar, display the charcuterie board that my cook arranged for my guest, and change into a more sedate navy-blue jacket and slacks.
My nerves flare with anticipation when the perimeter spell around the house chimes, and I head for the door. Normally I’d let the housekeeping staff handle things, but since this is supposed to be top secret, I don’t want anyone asking questions. I race for the door like a breathless Schüler and open it wide before she can ring the bell.
The woman on the step is . . . not what I expected Ben Magnus to send over.
I’ve known Magnus for approximately 250 of my 270 years. The types of apprentices and witches he’s consorted with in the past have all been of a singular sort of personality—strong. Efficient. Understated. I suspect a lot of this is simply because Magnus himself doesn’t like attention, and he certainly doesn’t like explaining himself. I thought anyone he would send in my direction would be the sort of familiar he would take himself.
Instead, I find myself staring down at a tiny woman who can’t be more than five feet tall. She’s wearing an excessively pink-and-yellow dress with a round white collar, and her black hair is in an old-fashioned flip. She has a round face with a snub nose, and when she beams a smile in my direction, it’s so wide that her eyes practically disappear under her bangs.
“Oh em gee, hi there!”
It takes me a moment to realize she’s speaking English.
“I’m Penny! You must be Willem!” That face-swallowing smile of hers gets even wider, and she lifts her shoulders, as if she’s about to happily squirm on my porch like a puppy. “Can I come in?”
Wordless (and slightly aghast, if I’m honest), I step aside and let her in.
As she crosses the threshold into my house, I notice for the first time that not only is she dragging a garishly pink rolling suitcase behind her, but she has a large square birdcage in her other hand. It’s covered with an obnoxiously floral linen, and my nostrils flare in distaste at the realization that she’s brought a creature into my house. “Please tell me that’s not a bird.”
The woman laughs like a lunatic. “Of course not, silly. It’s a squirrel.”
About the Book:
Penny Roundtree wants nothing more than to be a familiar to a witch. She’s been a member of the Society of Familiars ever since she was old enough to join the Fam. There’s just a small problem–no one’s hiring. Witches and warlocks are so long-lived that there are far more familiars available than witches to train them. So when an unorthodox arrangement to apprentice under the table to a forbidden warlock presents itself, she takes it.
Willem Sauer is banned from having a familiar due to past transgressions, thereby limiting his magic-casting abilities. Unfortunately for the surly, Prussian warlock, he has no choice but to work with enthusiastic Penny as a familiar. They immediately clash like dried roan horsehair and honeycomb gathered by moonlight (it’s a terrible spell combination, ask anyone).
Casting spells has delightful perks Penny never could have dreamed of, but also greater dangers. Someone is targeting Penny. Willem and Penny must work together to catch their enemy, and if their ploy requires a little kissing on the side, who is to question the rules of magic?
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