Hexes & Hot Flashes by Lisa Manifold

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Six months ago, I lost my husband. Six hours ago, I learned that he had another family. Six minutes ago, I got a magical tattoo. I think I’m too old for this, but age is just a number, right? Especially when you’re possessed by an ancient oracle…

“It’s about time,” a man’s voice said. “Had I known it was your birthday, I would have baked you a cake.”

“What in the ever loving hell?” I shrieked, reaching into my purse once more and finding the small canister. The bag of food dropped to the porch. I’d always laughed about keeping my pepper spray in my purse, here in sleepy Oak Bluffs, and had done so to make Derek and the kids happy. But with one flick of my finger, I opened it and stuck out my hand, spraying the pepper spray into the hulking form that had his big ass feet on the railing of my porch.

“Ow!” he howled, loud enough to wake

the entire neighborhood.

“Help! Police!” I screamed.

He’s not a foe, I heard in my head. It was nothing like I’d ever heard before, and it scared the daylights out of me. One more thing to scare me to death tonight.

“What?” I shouted.

Not a foe. Not a friend. He is neutral, and he isn’t going to harm you, so no need to kill him. The voice was matter of fact, light and airy, as though we were discussing the weather.

“Who said that?” I shouted, whirling around with the pepper spray in my hand, ready to use again.

“Could you not spray that at me again, please?” The man sounded like he was in a lot of pain.

“Who are you?” I asked, backing up to the other side of the porch.

“My name is Logan Gentry, and I’ve come to ask for your help,” he said, rubbing his eyes. “Can I also ask for some water, for gods’ sake?”

“What do you want?” I asked.

“I need the help of the Oracle,” Logan Gentry said.

I heard it immediately, the way he said the word ‘Oracle’. It was capitalized, like a title.

“I think you have the wrong place, Mr. Gentry,” I said. “I’ve had one of the worst nights of my life, so if you’ll just get off my porch, that would be great. Otherwise, the cops will be here shortly,” I added.

“Because you sprayed me with pepper without provocation?” he snapped. “And I’m not leaving. I told you. I need your help. It’s taken a lot of effort for me to get here to see you.”

“What? You want some water? There’s a hose out in the yard,” I said, impatient. “And you’re trespassing.”
“Water would be great, like now, but no, that’s not it,” he said, his jaw clenched, his eyes screwed shut. “I told you, I need the help of the Oracle.”

I saw a light turn on across the street. Great. My shrieking had woken people up. I didn’t need this. I eyed Logan Gentry. He was huge, with dark hair a touch too long, a scar along one cheek, and cheekbones that could cut butter. He was quite attractive, if you took the whole creeping around on a woman’s porch aspect out of it.

Well, I could always spray him again. “Fine. You can come in and use the kitchen sprayer,” I said, not happy about it.

“Don’t kill yourself being gracious,” he snapped back, raising a hand to his face.

That’s what you get, I thought. Shouldn’t be hanging out in the dark waiting to scare innocent women.