One of the main bits of feedback I've gotten about my autumn equinox romance Remembering a Witch is that people wanted more of Fenella and Graham. Well, this Halloween, I'm here to grant that wish!
Want to know what happened after the two lovers went into the forest for answers? Here's a glimpse into their future: a happy Halloween bonus epilogue!
Remembering a Witch: Halloween Epilogue
The sound of my nickname jerks me out of a half sleep state. My head whips up so quickly that it takes my body with it, tilting my desk chair back ominously. Luckily, I shift my weight enough to have the legs slamming back down to the ground.
“I’m good! I’m awake!” Standing up, I straighten my scrubs and wipe the back of my hand against the corners of my mouth, making sure I didn’t drool during my not-nap. “What’s going on? Who needs me?”
It takes me a moment to realize that the person standing in the doorway to my office isn’t one of the nurses. Instead, I get an eyeful of sexy professor.
Graham leans casually, arms crossed over his chest, watching me. His lips tilt in a smile, but I catch a hint of worry in his eyes.
“You were supposed to be home two hours ago.” If he was accusatory, I might have gotten grumpy. But he only sounds curious.
“The surgery went long. And I had paperwork.” My fingers fiddle with the thick stack of papers on my desk. The exact ones that were putting me to sleep.
“Surgery going long makes sense, but you’re obviously wiped out. Leave the rest for another day.” He holds out a hand, beckoning me into the comfort of his arms. That space is even more appealing than thoughts of my mattress.
“I just wanted to have everything done before taking off tomorrow.” The last word comes out low and long, morphed into a different state because of a jaw-cracking yawn.
At the sight of my tiredness, Graham lets his hand drop and steps into my office. “You don’t have to feel guilty about taking a vacation day. You deserve a break.” He moves in close, reaching out to rub my upper arms, encouraging me to lean into him.
My tired body is obsessed with his and gives in easily.
“Everyone here deserves a break. Not just me,” I mutter against the cotton of his sweater. My head presses into his firm chest, and I wonder if I’ve mastered the skill of sleeping while standing yet.
“I know you’ve been understaffed, but didn’t you hire someone new?”
I sigh and nod, reluctant to admit that despite us dealing with our shortage of doctors this past week, I’m struggling with handing over the reigns.
I love my job.
I just wish functioning at it didn’t require a full night’s sleep.
“Okay. Executive decision being made. You are officially on vacation. No more work for two days.” Graham keeps one arm wrapped around my shoulders, probably the only thing keeping me upright, while he slings my purse over his shoulder and tugs my coat off its hanger.
My boyfriend doesn’t often take charge, but when he does I realize how nice it is to be taken care of.
“Do you need anything else before we blow this joint?”
Exhaustion brings on a small bout of giddiness, and all of a sudden I’m feeling frisky.
“What’s that?” His murky blue eyes catch mine, full of innocent questioning.
“Your lips.” My attempt at a serious tone is ruined when I feel a smile creep over my mouth.
Graham blinks in surprise, then practically blinds me with his grin.
“Of course. Can’t forget that.”
The next second his fingers tangle in my hair, and our mouths fit together in a kiss that is probably too hot for work. He tastes like earl grey tea and smells like book pages. At some point I started thinking of those sensations as home.
Who knew home could be so sexy?
Graham pulls away first, letting out a pained groan in the process. “We’re leaving. Now.
The sooner I get you to a bed, the better.”
“I’m not sure I’ll be able to stay awake in a bed.” While kissing, I snaked my arms around his neck, and now I fiddle with strands of his silky crimson hair.
“Then you’ll sleep. We can get back to the fun stuff when you wake up.” The firm pressure of his lips against my forehead seals the promise.
“I love you,” I announce. Not for any other reason than because I felt like saying it. For too long, I acted like a magpie guarding a treasure trove. Only, I wasn’t hoarding shiny objects, but rather words of affection. Before I told Graham about my magical heritage and the fact that we are reincarnations, I worried that falling for him was part of a plan I had no control over.
But now, I don’t care.
And so I hand out my love whenever I have even the slightest of urge. One day I’ll likely smother him in it.
His grip tightens around me, and I can feel the beat of his heart, strong and steady under his ribcage.
Smiling wide, I repeat myself. “I love you.”
“Hell. I’ll never get tired of hearing you say that.”
“You might. I plan on saying it a lot.”
Laughter shakes through him, and I enjoy the vibration rumbling against my body.
“You’re loopy from sleep deprivation. Let’s get you home.”
Home. My tired brain snags on the word, and suddenly I feel like crying.
Damn, I am exhausted.
If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t get the urge to turn weepy at the thought of how my home is different than his home.
We spend every night together anyway, I remind myself. But still. I want home to mean the same thing for both of us.
My boyfriend doesn’t seem to realize the way his words have affected me, and I do my best to tamp down my reaction.
It’s hard though, when the whole world seems to swim around me. A familiar unbalance mocks my already tired footsteps. The only steady thing is the solid arm wrapped around my shoulders.
“Hold me, Graham.” In a bid for self preservation, I lean hard into his side.
He smiles down at me as his fingers flick off the lights in my office. “I am.”
“No. I mean”--the floor tilts at a precarious angle--”hold me.”
Then I’m falling, only I’m not sure if it’s my body, or my mind.
Her balance returned along with her awareness. No longer was she leaning over a bush, plucking fresh blackberries. Instead, she had her back pressed to a tree while Henry’s worried face hovered just in front of hers.
“Bella? Are you ill? Should I call for you mother?”
She waved him off, disgruntled at the thought of him coming upon her in this state. That he came upon her at all. “Just dizzy. I am fine now.”
A grimace pulled at the corner of his mouth, making his beard scrunch up in a tempting way. She longed to reach up and scratch her fingers through the coarse ginger hair in the way that always made him growl.
But she couldn’t.
The time for those affectionate caresses were over. They never should have started in the first place. She had been selfish and naive.
Now she was paying for it.
“You get dizzy often.”
“Well, as I told you in my letter, it is not your concern any longer.”
His frown deepened into a full on scowl. Only, he tilted his head, so the angry expression redirected to the ground. She deserved his anger though. And he should call her horrible names. Like tease or seducer or harlot.
All would apply.
She knew she shouldn’t have lead him on. Only, at the time, it hadn’t feel like leading. It felt like falling. The both of them, together.
But she had hit the ground first, gazed around herself, and remembered her mere existence was dangerous. Too dangerous for any human to attach himself to her.
So she had written Henry a letter breaking off their association.
She thought it was quite well written, in fact. After thirty drafts, it had to be.
But apparently, the message hadn’t translated as she hoped. Because here he was, scowling at the ground by her feet.
However, Henry had never been good at holding on to anger for any length of time. Only a moment passed before his mouth smoothed and his eyes came back to hers.
“I called on you at home. Your mother told me where to find you.”
“She is meddlesome.” Images of scolding the older woman flitted through her mind.
“She’s also honest.”
Damn him. And damn her mother. “Well, I am glad you find her so.”
She wished he would stop crouching in front of her. In that pose his thighs were tight against his breeches, and she couldn’t help admiring them.
“Don’t you want to know why I think she is honest?”
“No.” She turned her head to the side and focused on her fingers as they fiddled with a stalk of grass.
“I read your letter.”
“I doubt that.”
“And why is that?”
“If you had, you wouldn’t be showing up to my house asking after me.”
“Really?” The man leaned in closer, and she was torn between reflecting the movement and trying to escape. “Because confronting you seemed like a perfectly reasonable reaction to me. Now, burning the letter may have been out of line, but I can’t very well reassemble ashes at this point, even if I wished to. Which I don not.”
“You burned it?”
Henry was passionate, but she’d never known him to be destructive.
“After reading it through three times. Yes. I burned it.”
“Because I hated every word on that piece of paper. Every sentence that told me I could not be with you for the rest of my life. That claimed there was no future for us to build together.”
“It is the truth,” She whispered fiercely, attempting to convince both him and herself.
If she expected him to retreat, to give up, she would have been disappointed.
“Bollocks.” Came his simple, yet still adamant, reply.
“It is not bullocks!” She rolled to her knees, hating how much she loved the sight of her horse breeder looming over her. Trying to fix the problem, she reached out to give his chest a firm shove. The man toppled back onto his rear, eyes wide at her assault.
Then he grinned up at her in the most infuriatingly handsome way. “Let me build a house for us. Let me put a ring on your finger.”
He was insane. “No! I cannot live with you! I cannot marry you!”
“Why not? What is keeping us apart?”
“I cannot tell you!” She dug her fingers into the coarse fabric of her skirts, trying to keep her hands from the exposed skin at his throat. She wasn’t sure if her touch would be a caress or strangulation.
“That you are a witch?”
Breath stuttered out from her lungs, and she jerked back so hard her skull connected with the tree. Henry winced in sympathy, leaning forward, his hand outstretched, as if he intended to comfort her.
But she flinched away.
“A witch? Why would you say that? You should not ever say that.” She hated the harsh notes in her voice, born of fear.
“It is true, though. You are a witch.”
“That is ridiculous!” She struggled to her feet, wondering in a frantic way if she could outrun his accusations. If her feet were swift enough, could she leave this all behind her?
“You are scared. I’m sorry, Bella. I did not mean to upset you.”
“Yes. Well. That is a dangerous slander. I hope you have no plans to spread it.” With a few quick brushes, most of the dirt and leaves fell from her skirts.
Henry rose to his feet, his faded blue eyes locked her in place. “It is only slander if it is untrue.”
“What is this?” She hissed. “Blackmail?”
His face went white as if she had slapped him. “Bella, no.”
“I am only trying to tell you that I love you.”
The conversation contained too many abrupt turns. Too many shocks. Her heart broke with the unfairness of them.
“You cannot!” She shoved his chest again, but as he was standing, he maintained perfect balance. She might as well have been pushing one of the oak trees that surrounded them.
Henry held his hands up in surrender, his gaze, so loving, never leaving her. “I can, and I do. I love you Marbella Henwood. Magic and all.”
He was saying what she wanted to hear.
And that is what scared her. It had to be a trick.
“How do you know?”
“That I love you? Simple. I just think of you and everything is right in the world and my future is clear.”
“I--” Oh goddess. It was almost too much to keep breathing after that declaration. “I meant the magic.”
Henry gave a rueful grin as a blush stained his cheeks.
“Ah. Yes. That. Your mother.” He shrugged. “I told you she was honest.”
“I cannot believe she would simply offer that information to you.” The older witch was a free spirit, but she knew to be cautious about her family’s safety.
“She said she saw us in a vision. Whatever it was made clear to her that I am safe. And I am Bella.” He stepped toward her, hands raised, eyes hopeful. “I do not fear your magic. I respect it.”
“You know nothing about it.”
“I know it is yours. And anything controlled by you can only be good.”
“Barely control it,” I mutter.
He huffed out a low chuckle, and took another step forward. When she made no move to flee, he finished crossing the distance, sweeping her into his unyielding embrace. Her arms wrapped around his waist, as if the decision was not even hers to make.
“You are magnificent. Even though I do not deserve you, I want you more than anything. I promise I will earn your love if you only do not push me away.”
A deep sigh billowed from her chest and she sunk into him. “Silly man. I wrote that letter because I love you. And you have it wrong. It is I who does not deserve you. You deserve a normal life with a normal girl. I will only ever be odd and dangerous.”
“That is all I deserve? Not the love of the woman I want most in the world?”
“You have it.”
“Then I shall take it and hoard it because I am a selfish man. And I will take any future I can have with you. If it be odd, then all the better.”
The fight left her. She gave in to his insistent affection by fully admitting the truth. “I love you.”
“Say it again.” His large palms framed her face, tilting her mouth up so he could watch her lips move. “Loud enough for the whole forest to hear.”
The vision ends abruptly.
My eyes blink rapidly, adjusting to the dim light. We’re still stand in my office. Well, more like we lean in my office. Graham has his back to the wall and me pulled into his chest. I hope my legs held at least a little bit of my weight during my episode, or else he just got an impromptu workout.
“I’m back,” I murmur, pushing off him to stand under my own willpower.
Graham keeps his hands on my waist, clearly worried my mind will slip away again.
“You were only out for a minute or so. Where did you go?”
“The past.” Some of the tension in his shoulders eases. He knows I prefer visions of what already occurred. There’s no sense that I have to do anything other than observe.
The rare times my mind creeps into the future, I turn into a bundle of nerves, constantly worried I’m meant to use the knowledge to do … something. I never know what though.
“Marbella and Henry?” At my nod, he pushes a little more. “What were they doing?”
I hesitate, but ever since the night of Mabon, when we shared our secrets, I’ve tried to be nothing but completely honest with Graham.
“They were planning for the future.”
Sadness drifts through his eyes, then he leans down to kiss my forehead. “We’re their future.”
I share his upset, knowing as he does that the two lovers I glimpse never got to live the long, happy life they hoped for.
Marbella loved Henry, and still she let him go.
I won’t make the same mistake. I’m not going to take their second chance for granted.
“If I had known earth elementals existed in the world, I would’ve sought one out for myself.” Fenella’s mother makes her announcement a moment after I open my trunk to reveal a wide variety of pumpkins.
I grin at the woman, preening under the approval.
My girlfriend joins us to admire the bounty pulled from my garden this morning.
“You should know,” Fenella says while stepping in close and slipping her hand under my flannel. “I’m only dating you for your gourds.” She keeps a serious tone, even as her fingers trace tantalizing swirls on the bare skin of my back.
This is a common habit of hers, and sometimes I like to pretend she’s drawing pentagrams or magical symbols on me, binding me to her for eternity.
I have to clear my throat before answering. “Just as I am only with you for your cupcakes. I think it is very mature of us to approach this relationship with complete honesty.”
For a moment, her nails dig in, as if reprimanding me for my cheeky response. I have to stifle a groan as I recall a similar sensation from last night.
Whatever was in that brief vision left Fenella with an almost frantic wakefulness. We were barely through my front door when she was tearing at my clothes.
We’re not usually the type of couple to approach sex in an animalistic manner. Normally we sink into it like a warm bath.
Not that I’m complaining.
In fact, I’m thinking of adding the experience to my birthday gift wishlist.
Fenella didn’t even wait for the bedroom. I was shoved down onto the living room couch and promptly mounted. My only issue was that the sight of her writhing above me, pairing the erotic image with a stream of words of love, destroyed the possiblity of me lasting for any length of time. I wish it could’ve gone on for hours.
Probably better that it hadn’t though, seeing as how seconds after she climaxed, Fenella passed out.
Her naked body sprawled over my chest was the stuff of daydreams. Long past the time she slipped into sleep, I was still trailing my touch over every inch of her that I could reach. Only when I noticed goosebumps rising on her bare skin did I bother to relocate us to the bed.
Now I wish we were back at my townhouse, free to repeat the experience. Instead we’ve driven to the outskirts of Roanoke, visiting Virginia Henwood for a day of Halloween decorating. Apparently All Hallows’ Eve is an important day for witches, and I’m lucky to be included in the festivities.
My thoughts turn to one pumpkin in particular, and admit that I have my own plans for the day that don’t involve staying in bed for the length of it.
“Let’s carry these in. I have the dining room set up.”
Fenella lets her hand drop away to follow her mother’s direction, and I mourn the loss of her touch.
While we make multiple trips to carry the pumpkins inside, Daisy dances around our legs as if looking for a way to help.
“Silly dog. You’ll have me on the ground with another broken ankle!” Virginia scolds the energetic pitbull after almost tripping over the dog’s wriggling body.
“Daisy,” I call, setting down the fat white pumpkin in my hands and pulling open the passenger’s side door. I always keep a tennis ball or two in my glove compartment now that I’m dating a woman with a rambunctious dog. I have one in hand, when I realize the front seat of the car is empty.
Horror bottoms out my gut, and I hurry around to the trunk of my car.
Daisy appears at my side, nose eagerly snuffling at my hand in a silent plea for me to throw her ball. Without thought or aim, I toss the ball, too focused on searching through the pumpkins for one small, perfectly shaped gourd.
It’s not here.
“Fenny?” I call out, trying to keep the frantic note out of my voice. Fenella appears in the doorway, eyebrows raised in question. “Did you take a pumpkin out of the front seat?”
“Yes. It’s in the dining room with the rest.”
“Okay.” The word is slightly strangled, and I clear my throat and try to appear casual as I walk past her into the house.
“Me? Yes. Perfect. Fine and dandy!” Shit. I’m being too bright and cheery.
I can tell by the dramatic dip in her brows that she knows something is off. Even though I want to race into the dining room and search for my missing gourd, I reroute my feet.
Before Fenella can use her intelligent, sharp mind to figure out what has me on edge, I sweep her into my arms and press my mouth to hers.
The kiss was meant to distract her, but as I tease my tongue past her surprised lips, I find my thoughts drifting away just as easily. She tastes like herself and at the same time almost spicy. Like spiked cider. My body gets drunk off her, and I sway us backward, bracing myself against the door frame.
Fenella’s hands find their way under my shirt again, and I’m just digging my fingers into the bottom of her sweater when a loud voice has me pausing.
“Really? In your childhood home? Desecrating my innocent abode!”
We both turn our heads to see Virginia standing just down the hall, fists on her hips, pretending to glare at us.
“Hussies, I say! The both of you! You have scarred Daisy for life. I doubt she’ll recover.”
We glance back outside where the pit bull is happily rolling in a pile of leaves.
Fenella snorts. “Oh, yes. She looks real broken up.”
When I glance back at Ms. Henwood, I catch a smile fighting to curve the corner of her mouth.
“It’s time for you two to put your canoodling on pause. We only have three hours until trick or treaters show up, and I plan on having some pumpkins on display.”
Pumpkins. My purpose returns with force.
“You’re right. No more canoodling. I apologize. You’re daughter has corrupted me, but I’ll try to fight the temptation.” I attempt to slide away, not entirely feigning my distress. I need to get into that dining room.
But I’m stopped short by a hand grasping the front of my shirt. When I glance down and meet Fenella’s beautiful hazel eyes, I’m treated to a smirk. “You can’t fight it. I’m a witch.”
I feel a firm pinch on my butt before she strolls back toward the car, hips swaying in the way she knows drives me to distraction.
With a head shake, I’m able to refocus.
In the dining room, the table is covered with newspapers and pumpkins. It takes me a matter of seconds to locate the one in particular I’m looking for. Briefly, I pick it up and press it to my forehead, checking that everything is as it should be.
Good to go.
When I hear footsteps, I hastily replace it amongst the others, and turn to smile at Fenella and her mother as they enter the room.
“All right. Here are the parameters. I want at least five pumpkins per side of the driveway …” Virgina Henwood proceeds to detail the amount of jack-o-lanterns we’re expected to create, and I take my spot at the table, accepting a set of carving implements.
As an hour passes, I try to maintain a lid on my jittery nerves. Normally, I’d be the one leading the conversation, but Fenella and her mother keep up a steady stream of bickering banter. I learn about all the years past that they’ve continued this tradition. And how I’m the first to be invited to join.
When I hear that, I can’t help a triumphant grin.
“Don’t get cocky.” Fenella flicks a pumpkin seed at me, and I'm half a second slow in dodging it, chuckling at this playful side of her.
She’s been stressed lately, coming home at midnight or later only to immediately collapse into bed. I have to hand feed her to make sure she gets enough to eat.
My hope is that the clinic hiring a new veterinarian will ease some of the pressure weighing on her shoulders.
I also hope that she’ll continue to let me be the one to help keep her happy and healthy.
Fenella finishes a skillful design of a hissing cat. Next to it, my lopsided vampire face is pathetic.
“How many do-over pumpkins do I get before you kick me out?”
Virginia circles the table to examine my juvenile carving. “I like it. Very Van Gough. And every pumpkin looks beautiful with a candle burning inside it. Just you wait.” She gives me a beautiful smile, just like the one her daughter flashes at me from time to time.
Out of the corner of my eye, I watch Fenella’s hands dance in the air as she clearly debates which pumpkin to pick next. Enough time has passed, and I think I’m ready.
Silently, I will her toward the perfectly shaped one, which I strategically placed within her reach, just to the left of her elbow. She glances down at it, even goes so far as to finger the stem.
I bite my the inside of my cheek, jittery with anticipation.
Then Fenella tilts her head at a warty monstrosity of a gourd, hand inching toward it.
Desperate, I snatch up the misshapen pumpkin just before she can. “Not this one!”
Both women pause to stare at me, and I realize I basically yelled at her. Plus I’m clutching the bumpy pumpkin against my chest as if I plan on running away with it.
“I--I have plans for this one.” I wrack my brain for some idea. “A troll. A warty troll.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Fenella stares at me and my vegetable armful, concern wrinkling her brow. All the while Virginia’s gaze darts between us, then over the table.
Suddenly, she freezes, and a hint of some emotion I can’t determine shimmers in her eyes.
“Give the boy a break. Let him make his warty troll. It’s his first time at a Henwood Halloween. He’s obviously just excited.” Fenella’s mother waves a hand that glitters with rings. “Pick another one.”
My girlfriend gives me curious look, then shrugs and scans the table again. When her touch settles on the pumpkin, I find I have trouble breathing.
While she cuts into the top, I steady my shaking hands by wrapping them around the warty gourd, pretending to examine its surface, as if considering how to carve it up. Yet, all the while, I’m aware of Fenella and her spoon, scooping out the gooey innards.
A minute passes, then another. Finally, she pauses, her brows dipping in confusion.
Dropping her spoon to the side, Fenella reaches inside the pumpkin with her bare hand.
When she pulls it back out, something small glitters in in her grasp even with a coating of pumpkin goo. Virginia gasps and claps happily, but doesn’t seem overly surprised, causing me to wonder if maybe the witch saw this coming.
As Fenella examines her find with wide eyes, I circle the table and drop to my knee beside her.
Her stare flicks between me and the diamond ring, her mouth going slack.
“I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life loving you. Will you marry me?”
Fenella still has a dazed look on her face when she answers. “How’d you get it in the pumpkin?”
I grin wide to cover up my nerves. “Just a little elemental magic.”
By that I mean sitting in my garden, ring in one hand, vine in the other, spending a good hour coaxing the two to meld together.
Silence descends once more, and I start to doubt what I was so sure of when I went into that jewelry store.
“Daisy!” Fenella’s voice reverberates through the house, shocking me. The dog trots into the dining room, tail wagging, and tongue lolling. She plops her butt down next to me, probably happy to have someone on her level.
“Look at her collar,” Fenella directs me, giving nothing of her emotions away.
I want to shake my head and demand she say yes, first. Instead, I locate the strip of leather around the pit bull’s fat neck then glance up at Fenella. With a jerk of her chin, she encourages me to keep looking. I slide my fingers around until the connect with the dog tags.
When I brush a thumb over the familiar bone-shaped metal, I realize the tag shines like new. That’s when I take a moment to read the information stamped onto it.
A familiar address is scrawled under the dog’s name. But it’s not Fenella’s.
“This is my house. My address.”
“You’re giving me Daisy?” The dog in question offers my hand a sloppy lick.
“What? No!” Fenella huffs, then she stares at me, where I crouch on the ground next to her familiar. All of a sudden, the widest smile I’ve ever seen on her face shines out, blinding me with its beauty. She drops to her knees in front of me, placing a hand on the pup’s square head. “I realized last night that I want my home to be with you. I was going to ask if we could move in with you. I’d invite you to live with us, but I don’t have a yard full of pumpkins.”
My breath comes back to me, shallow and rapid with excitement. “I can grow you pumpkins wherever you want.”
Fenella reaches up to cup my face, her hands still sticky from carving. Not that I care.
“You better. I’m only marrying you for your gourds.”
Thanks for reading! Have a happy Halloween!