Kim McDougall

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Hidden Coven Series, Book 3

Quinn is cursed. Bobbi’s a magical screw-up. Together they make a great pair.

Barely over the trauma of her father’s last attack that left her broken in body and spirit, Bobbi sees demons hiding in every shadow. But some shadows hold real threats.
Someone broke into her house and her shop. Is this new stalker one of Koro’s agents?

With no one else to turn to, she seeks an alliance with the Hidden Coven. But the witches don’t trust her. Why should they? Her ignorance nearly let a demon into their world.

Quinn’s polite manners tell her that he wants to keep his distance too, and his cold shoulder hurts more than anything.

Bobbi’s fate now lies in the hands of the Goddess, the coven, and a man whose heart she already broke twice. She’ll have to learn to master her unruly magic—and fast—if she and the coven are to survive.

Content Warning: click here for trigger warnings and heat levels.

Sneak Peek

The sky broke. Fat heavy raindrops pelted the roof of my car. Tired of spring, Mother Nature just wanted the job done. I turned off the engine and sat in my driveway.

To get soaked or not to get soaked?

Lightning reflected off the dark windows of my single-story house. The rain increased, and was that hail? Yep. Ice pellets pinged off my car as if daring me to break for the house. I closed my eyes and leaned against the headrest.

I’d been awake since before dawn helping my father at his Open Gate Farm Tour fundraiser. Now close to midnight, I needed sleep. Emmett wanted me to stay at the farm, but I had to work tomorrow. I wanted my bed for tonight and my bathroom and closet in the morning.

The hail stopped, giving me a small reprieve. I readied myself to dash for the door, wishing I knew a spell against weather.

Wind nearly ripped the door from my grip as I jumped from the car. Hail- stones crunched under my feet. Cold water dripped into my eyes and plastered my clothes to me by the time I reached the door.

Lightning crackled again. I froze. Something was wrong. I wasn’t proficient enough with wards to protect my entire house, but I’d set up a few magical trip wires around the perimeter. I should have felt a tingle of aether as I passed over them, but I didn’t.

The wards were gone. I unlocked the door and flicked on the light switch. Nothing. Just perfect. The storm knocked out the power. Or had it? I peered back

into the rain. Several porch lights glowed up and down both sides of the street. As a sensate, I could detect the presence of aether, a less useful talent than it sounded. All living beings gave off aether or life-magic and continually scanning for it was overwhelming. But in the aftermath of events from last fall, I’d practiced discerning useful information from all that noise.

My house felt off. Mentally, I picked through the familiar aether signatures. I’d started to think of these in connection to my other senses. The houseplants gave off their peculiar earth-scented aether. A faint orange tinge remained on the couch where the neighborhood cat slept on cold nights. And something else. A jittery aether, like the sound of cicadas buzzing in the summer heat. This aether was too fresh. The intruder still hid in the house.

A blast of cold air told me a window was open somewhere. With quiet steps, I headed into the kitchen. The storm raged overhead as lightning and thunder collided. Each flash ignited the room, then left me blind.

“Hello? Who’s here?” My voice rang too loud in the dark. I passed through the kitchen into the dining room. Rain blew in through the broken patio door, and shards of glass littered the floor. Lightning briefly illuminated my backyard, empty except for the patio furniture neatly piled under a tarp for the winter.

Turning back to the quiet house, I called up my aether ward, struggling to make the protective spell big enough to surround me. It wouldn’t deflect bullets, but like Kevlar, it would slow them down enough to keep me alive. And it would protect me from all but the strongest magic attacks.

I grabbed the phone a dialed 911. “What’s your emergency?”
“Someone’s in my house,” I whispered. “What’s your name, ma’am.”

“Bobbi Cole. Please send someone...”

Thunder clapped and lightning burst through the windows. I dropped the phone and heard the operator’s tinny voice from where it lay on the counter.

“Ma’am? Please get out of the house, if you can. Ma’am, are you still there? Bobbi?”

A crash came from my bedroom.

I slipped a knife from the rack, and wrapping my ward around me like a cloak, stepped toward the back of the house. Something loomed at the end of the hall. Lightning flashed, and I recognized the hanging stairs that led to my attic.

“The police are on the way!” I called into the gloom.

A ball of light struck me in the chest and exploded. Crackling energy raced across my skin, pain and heat in its wake. The ward took most of the hit, but the blast knocked me backward. I fell, dropping the knife and ward. My eyes burned with hot tears as the intruder rushed past me. I kicked out, trying to trip him. My foot glanced off his ankle. Another bolt of white-hot light ripped into the wall beside my head. I flattened myself to the floor.

He flung open the front door, and it slammed against the inside wall. Rain blew into the foyer. Lightning cracked, and behind the pealing thunder, I heard the wail of sirens.