Midway on our life’s journey, I found myself
In dark woods, the right road lost.
Dante, The Divine Comedy
Inferno
, canto I

Part I

Life’s Journey

1

I shouldn’t but I do it, anyway. That’s me, Abby Teller, a magician with a mind of her own. I used to worry about doing the right thing. Now I wonder what the right thing is.

He stands on the shoulder of the on-ramp, a string bean in his T and jeans beneath the sweltering September sun. A toothsome grin on his face, cowboy boots on his feet, and a cardboard sign in his hands:

BERKELEY

Whoa! I pull Hi-Ho Silver over, slam on the brakes. Four days of driving since I fled Buckeye Heights leaves me yearning for talk with more than my ‘65 Mustang. Conversation with a car tends to be one-sided. How about a man in cowboy boots?

I know, I know. It isn’t the sanest idea I’ve ever had in my life, picking up a hitchhiker on I-80 outside Sacramento. And me, Abby Teller, a lady alone. The most notorious bloodthirsty sorcerers in all the old stories always trick their victims into believing they’re foxy rogues.

I am nobody’s victim, but am I in danger? You never know when you’re on the run, on the road, and on your own.

He tears open the door, stows the sign and a backpack in the backseat, and slides into the bucket seat beside me, bringing with him the scent of male sweat and Florida Water cologne. The kind of cologne jailbirds and voodooists favor. Uh-oh.

What kind of man is he? A magician, a monster, or a mortal?

“Hey, thanks for stopping. I thought for sure the highway patrol would cruise by any minute and bust my ass.” He reaches over the gearshift and holds out his hand. “I’m Brand.”

“Brand?”

“Like the mark you burn on a heifer showing her who’s boss.”

“You a rancher?”

“Babe, I’m free range.”

My, my, he’s got an opinion of himself. I look him over one more time. Some ass Brand has. I mean, some grin. And Paul Newman eyes, an impossibly bright blue the color of Windex. From a distance, the vivid tattoos on his arms tell me twenties. Up close, the lines around his eyes and his mouth tell of sun-drenched days and high-life nights. Thirties, maybe? Forties?

Dangerous? Oh, yeah. He oozes the charm of a grifter, the shifty aura of a liar, the arrogance of a man who takes for granted what women do for him because women always do.

I’ve stopped for him, now haven’t I?

Why doesn’t an able-bodied man his age drive his own car? I consider the likely scenarios, none of them good, with the possible exception he’s a die-hard greenie. No consumption of fossil fuels unless absolutely necessary. Double up with someone already doing the consuming. A Greyhound bus would work, but I’m free.

I get a kick out of him, anyway, macho swagger and all. But there you go, that’s me, a daughter of Buckeye Heights where people still trust moneylenders, horse traders, grandstanders, and the foxy rogues of the world when they shouldn’t. They really, really shouldn’t.

I take the hand he offers in a knuckle-crushing grip, and a jolt ripples through my fingers, through palm and wrist, all the way up my arm like when you touch a live wire. Electric, electrifying. Black sparks follow the jolt, glittering over my skin.

The jolt reaches my shoulder; sparks cluster at my throat. The jolt, the sparks start pushing. Pushing in, trying to touch things inside me.

No, it’s not animal magnetism.

Not the alchemy of male and female hormones.

I’ve never shaken hands with anyone like Brand.

He’s got power. Crazy, wild power. Most likely not a monster; his skin is too hot for that. Some stripe of magician, then?

And me? I wouldn’t have glimpsed his power at all if I didn’t possess power of my own. I am vexed.

From The Garden of Abracadabra

Copyright © 2012 by Lisa Mason

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series is on Nook and Kindle with a print edition planned for late 2013.

 “So refreshing. . . .This is Stephanie Plum in the world of Harry Potter”

This just in from Goodreads! Alan writes: “I loved the writing style and am hungry for more.:D”
Fun and Enjoyable Urban Fantasy January 12, 2012
By D. Pflaster
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
This is a very entertaining novel- sort of a down-to-earth Harry Potter with a modern adult woman in the lead. Even as Abby has to deal with mundane concerns like college and running the apartment complex she works at, she is surrounded by supernatural elements and mysteries that she is more than capable of taking on. Although this book is just the first in a series, it ties up the first “episode” while still leaving some story threads for upcoming books. I’m looking forward to finding out more.

From the author of Summer of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on Nook and Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) on Kindle and Nook.

Visit me at http://www.lisamason.com for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more. And on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on my Facebook Author Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

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Coming soon! Celestial Girl: A Lily Modeska Mystery, Books I through 4. Romantic suspense.

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