Excerpt: How I Met Your Father

In the short story Family Feud in Episode 14, Wanda explains to Nancy how she met her father.

“But Dad helped with the shop. He helped me with arcane homework. He attended Guild events. What did he do that earned Nanna’s ire?”

“It’s what he didn’t do. He didn’t hold his tongue. He would never challenge anything directly in front of you kids. But after the two of you went to school or would go to bed…he would make his opinions known. He never supported lying to you about magic, but he was very adamant that the Colleges were too quick to teach magic to children before they were emotionally capable of understanding the consequences. He likened it to giving a toddler an assault rifle and then being surprised when someone got shot. He felt the obsession with rank and magical power was just as dangerous as being obsessed with money and mundane power. Hmm, he hated the word ‘mundane,’ too. Said it implied witches were superior.”

“And yet he married a Werlock woman anyway.”

“I never told you how your father and I met, did I?”

“You met in college at a homecoming game.”

“Well, that is when we met. But I never told you the how.”

“So it wasn’t just an ‘I saw this stud across a crowded stadium’?”[

Not exactly. Your father had a roommate in college, Ted Volker. They had been friends since sixth grade. Like brothers. Senior year of high school, Ted’s father had died from a heart attack. He didn’t take it well and fell into a depression. Eventually got hooked on drugs. Mark managed to get him cleaned up before it was too late to save him, or so he thought. But during that time, Ted had started to dabble in magic. Got his hands on an actual grimoire some mundane who didn’t know what they had sold at a flea market.”

“By Hecate, that was never going to end well.”

“No. Ted actually managed to summon an imp, but he lacked the will to control it. The imp, however, strung Ted along and would pretend to follow his commands. Ted got emboldened. Had the imp steal money for him, test answers, all sorts of nonsense. Eventually decided what he really wanted was the quarterback’s girlfriend, who was the head cheerleader. I noticed the thing sneaking around and put a stop to it quick enough, but not before it fled back to Ted’s dorm room. So I tracked it down to exorcise the little pest, but by then it had convinced Ted to let it ‘temporarily’ take control of his body to fight me off.”

I just shake my head. “Stupid and greedy is never a good combination.”

“I get to the dorm room and instead of confronting an imp, I’ve got a full-blown possession on my hands. And while I’m dealing with that, your father comes walking into the room, me straddled over Ted trying to perform an invocation while keeping him pinned down. You can imagine what it looked like.”

“I’m trying hard not to.”

“Nancy Clarice!”

“What?”

“Can I finish my story?”

“I wasn’t interrupting you!”

“Anyway, so your father pulls me off of Ted, thinking I’m the crazy one. But then he sees Ted’s eyes have gone completely black and he smells of sulfur. The imp starts trying to convince your father to help him dispose of me, promises power, money, blah blah blah.”

“What did Dad do?”

“He punched him square in the jaw and said ‘Get the Hell out of Ted!’ then stepped aside and let me finish my business.”

“Good for him!”

“I finally got the imp exorcised and managed to stabilize Ted. But now I’ve got this witness to the entire thing, but instead of freaking out about what just happened, he is yelling at Ted for being an idiot.”

“That definitely sounds like Dad.”

“Now here I am, listening to him go on at Ted and going through my head how to handle this situation when he finally turns to me and asks if the creature is gone for good. I tell him it is and that Ted will be fine. The possession was too short to cause any long-term damage, but he’ll need to rest for a while. Then he asks me if I want to go get pizza. Just like that.” 

“What did you do?”

I said yes.” Mom chuckles. “Your father was quite handsome, you know.”


Nancy’s Immediate Family:

Mark Townsend: Nancy’s father was a “mundane,” which meant that Nancy’s brother would never be a witch. Despite his strong feelings about the magical community, he supported Nancy’s arcane studies and helped run the shop. His marriage to Wanda, an open practicing pagan, caused his own family to disown him. In response, he legally changed his name to Werlock the year Nancy was born.

He died at the age of 46 from a heart attack while both children were still in in their teens. Nancy and Scott have no relationship with their paternal grandparents.

Scott Werlock: Nancy’s younger brother is a branch manager for a credit union. Like his father, he is a “mundane.” And like his father, he ended up marrying a witch. After his father’s death, he often felt isolated from his mother and sister because of his lack of magic, and he is uncomfortable with demonstrations of magic in general.

Laurie Werlock: Scott’s wife comes from a family of Transmuters, but she has chosen not to continue her magical training. She operates a day spa where she does employ some of her fleshcrafting talents under the guise of “Reiki” or massage therapy. However, both she and Scott have made a decision to keep their children away from magic as much as possible.

Megan Werlock: Scott and Laurie’s daughter. Megan is aware of magic and has seen her grandparents and mother cast spells, but has not yet shown an interest in learning magic herself…and her parents hope to keep it that way.

The Apprentice

April 28th

Ever since I left the family business to pursue my own career, I have lived under the deluded belief that the reason Mom never found another apprentice was that she was hoping I would eventually change my mind. I realize now that was not the case. The real reason, I now surmise, is that young witches today are…well…how do I explain?

Anastasia, whose birth name is Margaret but insists on being called by her Spiritual Name, is one of Mom’s regular customers. She’s sixteen years old. Everything Anastasia knows about magic she learned from watching reruns of Charmed and reading Silver Ravenwolf books. Most of her purchases over the last year have been crystals and jewelry making materials. She wears what she makes. Often all of it at the same time.

“My mom said I should try to find a summer job for the summer,” says Anastasia while browsing the collection of semi-precious and simulated gemstones during her weekly after-school visit. “Because I’ll be able to get my learner’s permit soon and I’ll need gas money.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” I reply while ringing up a female customer’s purchase of jasmine, vanilla, and sandalwood essential oils and a pair of diffusers. “I hope he appreciates it,” I say to the woman.

The woman blushes. “He damn well better,” she whispers and then giggles.

“Two-parts jasmine to each one-part vanilla and sandalwood,” I say as I tap her hand. “Do you have any grape seed oil?”

“No, why?”

“Makes an amazing carrier for massage oil.” The woman’s face lights up so I give her a free sample I have behind the counter. “Make sure to come back and tell me how it works out.”

Anastasia walked over to the counter with a small pewter unicorn figure in her hand. “What was that all about?” she asked as the door closed behind the woman.

“Get that smirk off your face. She’s planning a romantic evening with her husband.”

“Oh my God, how did you know that? Did you read her mind?”

“I read her purchase.”

“Oh, I didn’t see what she bought! Which oils did she buy? Is it for a love potion?”

“Not your business. And no. Just oils to set the mood. Is that all your getting?” I pointed at her hand.

Anastasia nodded and placed the figure on the counter. “You knew she was planning on getting freaky just by her purchase?”

I shook my head. “$4.29, Anastasia.” She handed me a $5 bill. “And she stopped at Victoria’s Secret before she came here.”

“How did you know that!?”

“You didn’t see the Victoria’s Secret bag she was carrying?” I handed her the change.

“Oh, no,” she laughed. I wrapped the figure in tissue paper before putting it in the bag. As I handed her the bag, she gave me an impish grin.

“So, how do you know it’s her husband?”

“She was wearing a wedding ring.”

“Yeah, but how do you know she isn’t planning a romantic evening with her boyfriend on the side.”

I shake my head. “Because she was still wearing her wedding ring.”

Anastasia shrugs and puts her purchase in her purse. “Are you going to hire anyone to help with the shop? Because, I’m, like, here all the time so I know where everything is already.”

“I’m not looking for summer help. I need someone full time.”

“But I could help out until you found someone!”

Keeping Three Wishes open, even on a reduced schedule, while also trying to maintain my clients has proven to be a burden. If it had been any other normal shop, I would have hired Anastasia for the summer. Stocking shelves and running a register is easy enough for a teenager. But there is an inventory of items that can only be handled by me or someone I could trust. How exactly would I explain to a sixteen-year-old why a customer needed a vial of goat’s semen? Hell, I still don’t exactly understand why a customer would need a vial of goat’s semen, but Mom’s supplier actually was promoting it in last month’s sales catalog as one of the “Hot Buys” of the season.

And considering how Anastasia carried on about something as simple as essential oils, I don’t think I want her handling orders for goat’s semen.

I chase Anastasia out of the shop and close up for the day. I have an evening session with the Breyers’ and still need to check my Help Wanted listing on WitchNet.

You won’t find WitchNet with a Google search for witches or magic or occult or stuff the average person would associate with the Craft. It doesn’t hotlink with other occult sites. In fact, the domain isn’t even WitchNet or anything close to that. The domain name is deliberately long and complicated to prevent people from accidentally stumbling across it. It is invitation only, with various levels of technological and mystical security protocols in place to protect the site.

You might wonder why all of the secrecy when witchcraft is so out in the open and accepted. The thing is, the Craft isn’t accepted. A watered-down illusion of the Craft is what people accept. The Craft is shielded under the combined ruses of religious freedom and pseudo-science. We don’t brew potions. It’s holistic healing or homeopathy. We don’t cast spells or rituals. We practice anthroposophical medicine. Most people think of witches as New Age hippie environmentalists. And we’re totally cool with that. Because if they actually understood the truth, it could get ugly.

See, the Inquisition didn’t finally end because mankind suddenly became enlightened. It ended because people stopped believing the supernatural was real. There is a scene in the original Men in Black when Kay says to Jay, “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.” This pretty much sums up the situation with the supernatural.

Can you imagine the panic if people realized that I could summon a Class Three Succubus? Not that I have any reason to. But I could. Or what if they knew that zombies were real? Granted, we aren’t talking Walking Dead zombies. Technically, those are ghouls, not zombies. Zombies are harmless. But that isn’t really the point. The point is, if the general population had any understanding of what was really going on around them, things would get very scary very quickly.

I log on to WitchNet to find another seventeen applications for the apprenticeship. This brings the total count to over seventy applications in just under a week. You’d think that out of that many applications I should be able to narrow it down to three or four of the best candidates and start interviewing. But the fact is there isn’t a single decent candidate in the whole bunch.

The first problem is that nobody read the requirements. I specified that this was an independent apprenticeship. Meaning it was for an adult student already educated in the Craft who was looking to specialize. Over half of the applications are parents trying to place their pre-teens in a residential apprenticeship. I didn’t officially become Mom’s apprentice until I was fourteen, and even then, it was only because I had been raised with a demonological education, so I already knew most of the risks. Most of these kids wouldn’t know a boggart from a pooka. More importantly, they are kids. I don’t want to raise someone else’s kids. I’m not running Hogwarts. I’m running a business.

About a third of the applications are what I like to refer to as Fairy Princesses. Your typical Fairy Princess is a witch between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four who spent most of her formative years studying enchantment or illusion. Kind of like Anastasia, only they actually know some incantations. The problem with Fairy Princesses is that they tend to be rather sheltered. They’ve never confronted anything truly dangerous. They have a romanticized notion of the Craft, which gets reinforced by their liberal use of mind-altering magic to make men fawn over them. Most Fairy Princesses don’t live pass the age of thirty, however, because eventually they try those stunts with some other witch’s husband or, worse, some shapeshifter, vampire, or incubus-possessed skin puppet.

The rest are either underqualified to pursue demonology or suspiciously overqualified. You have to worry why a Rank Two Transmuter or a Rank Three Necromancer would suddenly want to take up Demonology. Particularly in this economy. With gold selling at $2,000 an ounce, a Transmuter would never have to work again if he was careful and didn’t overplay his hand. And you might not think it, but necromancy is a rather lucrative profession, albeit a creepy one.

After skimming the newest batch of applications, I head over to the office for my appointment with the Breyers. Just as I get over the Ben Franklin Bridge, there is a detour because of a traffic accident.

Have you ever suffered the displeasure of driving in Philadelphia? It is not a driver-friendly city. It’s a spider web of one-way roads, often blocked due to double parking or oversized trucks, and highways that have off-ramps that creep off in all directions without any warning. Once you know a route, it isn’t a big deal. But a detour through Philadelphia just as well could be a detour through one of the upper levels of Hell.

The detour leads me right into a second detour, this one because two lanes are blocked off for construction. While stopped behind a Septa bus trying to navigate the single lane that was still open, I called the Breyers’ to let them know I was running late.

“Oh, I’m glad you called! Will forgot he was supposed to meet with his brother tonight, so we have to cancel,” says Ms. Breyers.

“I’m almost at the office. Can he just meet with his brother later? I don’t know when I’ll be able to reschedule.”

“He left already.”

“When did he leave?”

“About an hour ago.”

“So, you knew an hour ago you weren’t coming, and you are just now telling me? What have we been talking about the last three sessions? Haven’t we been talking about improving your channels of communication and recognizing the needs of others?”

“Um…oh…well, Will and I have opened up channels of communication! He apologized before he left and acknowledged my feelings! We’ve made real progress.”

The bus in front of me came to a complete stop. The car behind me did not.

“I’ll call you Friday to reschedule.” I hang up and put the car in park.

The guy who rear-ended me is already out of his vehicle, cursing about women drivers. The bus still hasn’t moved, and now the driver in the car behind the car that hit me insists on blaring his horn.

Have I mentioned how much I hate driving in Philadelphia?

“Do you not see the giant bus stopped in front of me?” I say as I step out of my vehicle.

“Why didn’t you just go around it?” the man slurs. Drunk and belligerent. Wonderful.

“Sure, next time I’ll go up on the sidewalk, so you can slam into the bus instead of me.” I step around to the back of my car and look at the bumper. There is a little chip in the paint, but no real damage. He has a small dent in his front bumper, but otherwise the vehicle is fine.

“Alright already!” we both yell at the guy who keeps leaning on his horn.

The drunk guy looks around and shakes his head vigorously. He looks at his car, looks at the bus, and then looks in his car. “Look, lady, I’m sorry. Been a long night just trying to get home you know?” He fumbles with his wallet and pulls out a pair of twenty-dollar bills. “Will this cover the damages no reason to call the cops or anything just paint right is this okay?”

The bus finally starts moving again. I wave off the drunk. “Just go home. That’s what I’m going to do.” I turn to get back in my car when the man grabs my arm. “Take the money!” He shoves the hand holding the money into my chest.

“I don’t want it!” I push his hand away.

“Leave her alone!” The drunk gets pulled away from me by another man. He pushed the drunk toward his car. The drunk turns around and makes a fist. The other man just stares into his eyes and says, “In your car. Now.” The drunk shakes his head again and gets in his car.

The man, who doesn’t look older than maybe eighteen or nineteen, approaches me. “You okay, Miss?”

“Yeah, thanks for that.” I put a hand to my face as the idiot with the horn starts leaning on it again. “I gotta get off this street. Holding up traffic.”

“Yeah, no problem,” he says as he touches my elbow. “We’ll talk later.” He turns and walks off before I can ask his name.

I finally got home just before 10 AM. As I step out of the shower, I feel an energy shift in the house. I wrap my robe around me and slowly open the bathroom door. I sniff the air. No sulfur smell. I quietly chant the Third Eye incantation and look around. No residue anywhere. I hear what sounds like wind chimes coming from downstairs.

Oh crap,” I think and try to sneak into my bedroom without alerting my unwanted guest.

If you think of each nether realm as its own continent, the astral realm would be the oceans that simultaneously connect and separate them all. Find the right route, and you can travel the astral plane from the Aether all the way to the lowest level of the Abyss. Not that I personally have ever traveled the Astral plane. Nor have I ever wanted to. I get frustrated enough when I have to fly across country for some conference. I can’t imagine trying to plan an itinerary for inter-realm travel.

The Astral realm isn’t exactly empty, however. It is home to all sorts of entities. Djinn, Daeva, Rakshasa, and a host of others. Unlike poltergeists and demons, these folks don’t need a host to enter the material plane. They don’t need to be summoned. They just need to find a tear in the Veil to slip through. Powerful entities don’t even need an existing tear. They just need the Veil to be thin enough to rip open. And unfortunately, one of the perils of Demonology is that our work tends to make the Veil in our immediate vicinity thin.

I pull out my pair of silver scissors from my nightstand. It’s been ten years since I’ve done any sort of binding or banishing. Please don’t be a Rakshasa, I kept saying to myself. I am too out of practice to be dealing with a Rakshasa at this hour. At least I have kept up my subscription to Demonology Today, so I was still in the loop with the most recent research. But reading the articles and practicing the rites are two different things.

I walk downstairs to find the astral form of my rescuer going through my mail.

“You have thirty seconds to explain yourself or I am gonna snip your cord!” I snap the scissors in front of me to show him I mean business.

He jumps and drops the mail. “Crap, she can see me!” he says.

“Of course I can see you!”

“Wait, you can hear me?” He seems genuinely surprised by this. He pushes his astral cord behind him with his foot.

“Who are you and why should I not cut your cord?”

The ability to just astrally project into any building unseen has a host of nefarious applications. The only thing that keeps the power from being abused is the fact that astral projectors are vulnerable to disembodiment. The astral cord connects the projector to his real body. If someone has the appropriate skill, and a properly enchanted pair of scissors, one snip severs the soul from the body and leaves the projector a ghost and his body a corpse. It’s far more complicated dealing with native entities of the astral plane, because their cord serves more as a conduit between the worlds. Severing the cord weakens them but won’t banish them outright.

“Houston,” he finally blurts out. “Houston Vaughn. You glow, so I followed you. I was gonna stop by maybe over the weekend to see if you might know anything about this but I needed to know where you lived first. And I couldn’t follow you on foot and you were in a hurry to get going earlier so I just tagged you and followed you.”

“What do you mean, ‘know anything’? And what tagging? You aren’t making sense.”

Houston pointed toward my arm. I looked down and realized that my elbow was glowing with a pale blue light. I couldn’t see it before the incantation, and after I had casted it I wasn’t paying attention to what was glowing on me because I was looking for an otherworldly intruder.

What kind of power is this? I think. Whatever it is, I don’t like it.

“Wait, wait, wait!” exclaims Houston as I approach with the scissors. “I’m sorry. I thought you would help me because you glow but not like the others.”

I stop. He looks like he’s about to cry. “What others? What do you mean by glowing?”

“Look, I was in a motorcycle accident last year. I was in a coma for a month. When I came out of it, I started to see things. I think ghosts, I guess. But real people, too. They glow with these weird lights. I don’t know. At first it was cool. But then I started floating out of my body. And then my mother showed up and she died when I was six. And now Aunt Ruth is flipping out because I asked her—”

“Stop,” I finally say. “I get it.” I start pacing. This guy manifested powers from a hit to the head? That didn’t make sense. “What was your mother’s name? Was she a witch?”

 “A witch? You mean like a real witch?”

“No, Houston. I mean like a fake one with a Halloween costume and a plastic wand with a little star on the tip.”

“Geesh, no need for the hostility.”

“It is almost 11 PM and I have an unwelcome astral intruder in my house. Be grateful all you are getting is hostility and not a snip.”

“Sorry.” Houston dropped his head and looked down at the ground. “Vivika. Vivika Marchan-Vaughn.”

“Wait, Vivika Marchan? Grande Madame Vivika Marchan?”

“Did you just call my mom a hooker?”

“Not that kind of madame! By the gods, did she not teach you anything?”

“She died when I was six. What was she supposed to teach me?”

Madame Vivika was one of the most powerful psions of the late twentieth century. Some might argue one of the most powerful psions of the last two hundred years. Her death was something of a scandal. Her first husband was convicted of killing her and her second husband as a crime of passion, but nobody in the occult community believed that. She would have sensed his intent from a hundred miles away. That’s how powerful her telepathy was rumored to be. Speculation ran the gamut from a disreputable rival to getting on the wrong side of one of The Nine to faking her own death and achieving Ascension.

And here was her son, or her son’s astral body, floating around in my living room and rummaging through my mail.

“Houston, we have a problem,” I say. “You shouldn’t be able to do this. You’re too old to start manifesting powers now and your mother was a woman.”

“Of course my mother was a woman. What else would she have been?”

“No, no, I mean, hereditary witchcraft is gender-specific. You shouldn’t have inherited your mom’s powers.”

“Wait, my mother was a witch? Witches aren’t real!”

“So says the guy floating in astral form!” I’m pacing at this point. Now less annoyed by his presence than challenged by the prospects of it. “Was your father a witch?”

“I didn’t even know my mom was! How would I know if dad was?”

“What about your Aunt Ruth?”

“I don’t know. I doubt it.”

“You’re too old to be manifesting hereditary powers. And you’re completely the wrong gender,” I say more to myself than Houston. “When did you last talk to your mother? You said you’ve seen her since this all started?”

“Yeah, I see her sometimes when I’m sleeping. She taught me the tagging thing and explained about my cord.”

“Okay, Houston, you need to go.”

“But—”

“Come by the shop tomorrow.”

“What shop?”

“Three Wishes. 113 Peach Street. I need to sleep and think and go through some of my books. I don’t know much about psionics. It’s not my field.”

“Okay. Cool. Um, I can stop by after work.”

Houston vanished. I sit on the bottom step and considered what had just transpired. I thought about summoning Mom, but I had just done that last week and while she hadn’t been mad at me, I knew I shouldn’t have done it so soon after the funeral. But we are talking about the son of Grande Madame Vivika. That’s some serious gossip to share with the rest of her new pals on the other side. But I still don’t have enough information to even know what questions to ask her. And she is still settling in to being dead. Best just to leave her alone for now.

April 29th

Houston walks into the shop around 6 PM. He’s dressed in heavy blue jeans, work boots, and a short sleeve shirt that says Hessman Construction. A couple of the ladies in the shop stop browsing the selections on the shelves and watch him walk over to the counter. I hadn’t taken a good look at him last night, because between the drunk driver and then Houston’s astral act, I wasn’t paying attention to his attractiveness.

His hair is light brown, but sun-bleached in places to a sandy blond. He hasn’t shaved today, and the stubble makes him look a few years older than he did last night. He would be carded if he walked into a liquor store, but at least he looks old enough to be out of high school. Still about ten years too young for me. But at least I don’t need to feel dirty from looking.

He wipes his cheek with the back of his hand to remove non-existent dirt as he looks around the shop. He accidentally makes eye contact with a customer, forces a smile, and looks away.

“Houston, you can just go wait in my office,” I say and point to the door.

A customer with a hand basket full of dried bundles of fenugreek, chicory, and dandelion root nods approvingly as he walks passed the counter and goes into the office. I ring up her purchase and try not to acknowledge her inference. After taking care of the last few customers, I lock up the shop and go into my office.

Houston sits on the corner of my desk, browsing through one of my wholesale occult supply catalogs. He flips through the pages, shaking his head in disbelief. “What’s a linworm and what do you do with its scales?”

“Oh, don’t worry about that. That’s the premium catalog. I only order from that if it is a special-order item.” I take the catalog from him and put it in the desk drawer.

“Why do I feel like I just walked into an episode of True Blood?” he says as he collapses into a chair.

“Did you get any sleep last night? You look exhausted.”

Houston puts his elbows on his knees and drops his head into his hands. “I got into a fight with Aunt Ruth this morning. I confronted her about Mom being a witch and she freaked out.”

“By the gods! Why would you do that?”

“You asked me all these questions last night and I realized that I know nothing about my parents except what Aunt Ruth and Uncle Harold told me. And everything they told me apparently is a lie.”

“Okay, look. My bad. I didn’t warn you. Rule one. We do not talk to mundanes about the Craft. Not in any real, meaningful way. We can play the religion card. We can talk around it by referencing things like aromatherapy or colorology or other faux scientific dribble. But we do not, cannot, tell people anything remotely close to the truth.”

“Yeah, too late now. She kicked me out of the house and said I could rot in Hell with my mom. And I’m pretty sure the only reason Uncle Harold hasn’t fired me yet is because we’ve got three guys on vacation this week.”

“Are they Catholic?”

“Evangelical Protestant.”

“Damn. Sorry.”

Contrary to popular belief, modern Catholics are rather mellow about the occult. I think it is because the Catholic Church itself is rather matter-of-fact about the whole thing. Miracles. Exorcisms. Stigmatas. Bleeding statues. They got plenty of their own mysticism going on. Not that they are warm and supportive of witches or magic. They just don’t find the concept all that alien. Evangelicals, on the other hand, get crazy at the mere thought of anything supernatural. You’re dealing with people who believe Earth is only 6,000 years old. Taking “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live” literally is not a big jump for them.

Houston looks up at me. His eyes are red and tearing up. I resist a sudden urge to rush around the desk and hug him. “What am I? Did you learn anything? How do I get rid of this?”

“You don’t get rid of it,” I say. “Look, I’m not an expert on psionics or anything. I’m a Demonologist. So—”

“You worship demons?” he asks with a look of horror.

“NO! Geesh, that isn’t what a demonologist does.”

“What exactly does a demonologist do, then?”

“First things first, not all demons are what you would call Christianized demons. Demons existed before the rise of Christianity. The Church just lumped all of the existing types in with the Fallen and mucked up the works in the process. Think of demons more like, like alien races. Only instead of living on other planets, they live on other planes of existence.”

“That doesn’t make me feel better.”

I take a deep breath. He’s wrapped his arms around himself and he’s rocking back and forth in the chair. He looks so vulnerable and adorable and…sexy.

“What…what was that just now?” he asks as he leans back in the chair.

“What was what?”

“What just happened? The glow around you changed. It went from silver to red.”

I blush. “What…um…shade red did you see?”

“I don’t know. Red. How many shades of red are there?”

I exhale in relief. He can see auras but doesn’t know how to interpret them yet. “Never mind. We can discuss that at another time.” I regain my composure. “You…can’t turn it off, can you?” Houston shakes his head.

For most witches, invoking any sort of power requires manipulating the energies around them through incantations. Think of it like a recipe. Mix two parts of this with one part of that to get the desired result. But for a lot of psions, their powers are always on and they have to learn how to manually shut them off.

“Houston, you’re a psion. A Psychic.”

“But how? You said last night that wasn’t possible.”

“I said it wasn’t possible for you to inherit your mother’s abilities. But I did some research into your family. Your accident occurred near the anniversary of your mother’s death. I think you had a near-death experience that tore the Veil and allowed your mother to Imprint on you.”

Houston closed his eyes and leaned back in the chair until his face looked to the ceiling. “I died on the operating table. That’s what the doctor’s said. I was dead for about three minutes, but they were able to revive me.”

“I’m guessing your mother has lingered around to protect you, and when the Veil tore, she took the opportunity to Imprint on you to pass on some of her power.”

“Like a Guardian Angel?” He looks back at me with those beautiful, tear-filled eyes.

“Kind of like that,” I say. Ye gods I want to rip your clothes off, I’m thinking.

“What did you say about my clothes?” He looks confused. He didn’t even realize it was a surface thought and not a spoken statement.

“Right. Psion. No off switch.” I utter the Iron Wall incantation to shut him out of my surface thoughts. Thank the gods his ability is so clouded. “Anyway, imprinting has been known to happen during near death experiences. It usually occurs from a demon or spirit that wants the recipient to achieve some goal, however. Sometimes poltergeists or specters will imprint on a person to avenge some wrong that happened to the spirit. Or a demon might imprint on a person to manipulate the person into helping it enter the material plane later. It’s very rare for a relative to imprint on a family member, but it is theoretically possible. And considering how powerful your mother was, it doesn’t really surprise me.”

Houston looks at me with his head tilted to the side, as if studying me. “You don’t glow anymore. How did you do that?”

“It’s an incantation. I figured my aura was distracting you, so I walled it off.”

“Can you teach me how to wall people off so I don’t see their auras?”

He’d make a great apprentice. I look around the room instinctively, though I don’t actually expect to see anyone. It’s a vaguely female voice, muffled by the Veil so it is only barely audible. I smile and shake my head. “You are just loving this, aren’t you?” I whisper.

“Who are you talking to?” asks Houston.

“My mother,” I reply. “So, how would you like to be my apprentice?”

“Apprentice? Like a sorcerer’s apprentice?”

“Like a demonologist’s apprentice. I can teach you the various incantations to control your powers. And you can help me around the store.”

“I don’t know. I guess I need to learn this stuff, but I need to find a job before Uncle Harold fires me.”

“An apprenticeship is a job,” I say. “It’s a full-time position with health benefits and all of that. Though it is an HMO and due to the unique nature of some metaphysical ailments you need to use healers in network. But they’re all specialists in the Restoration school.”

“This is all weird. okay. I guess I’m in. So, what do I call you? Master? Mistress? Archmage?”

“How about just Nancy.” I go over to the file cabinet and pull out the apprenticeship agreement and related employment forms. “Just fill all of these out and I can get you set up on WitchNet.”

“So, do I sign these in blood or something?”

“Oh, sorry.” I hand him a pen.

Houston starts to fill out the paperwork, but then pauses. “Hey, I don’t know when I’ll be able to start. I still have to find a place to stay.”

“Where are you staying now?”

“I just got a room at a motel right now. But I can’t stay there permanently.”

You have a spare room in the house.

“Enough, Mom!” Houston raises an eyebrow. “I have a spare room you can stay in until you find your own place.”

“You sure that’s okay?” The side of his mouth curls up into a smile. I don’t even think he realizes he’s smiling.

“It will be fine,” I lie.

From across the Veil, I hear a muffled laugh.

Excerpt Three from Nancy Werlock’s Diary (Episode One)

Homecoming

April 16th

“Ms. Warlock?”

“It’s Werlock,” I correct without looking up from the pile of paperwork on the counter. I thought I had locked the front door behind me when I came in. And even if it wasn’t locked, the bright red CLOSED sign in the window should have been a dead giveaway that the shop was, in fact, closed.

“I’m sorry. I’m looking for Wanda War…Werlock.”

I stop sorting Mom’s papers and turned to the woman. She is in her late-forties. Maybe fifty at the most. She isn’t wearing any make-up, but she has a tanning booth tan. You know, that unnaturally uniform color that you can only get from lying perfectly still in ten-minute intervals three times a week. She’s wearing an oversized, faded Cherry Hill Cougars sweatshirt and a pair of loose-fitting blue jeans. For some reason the thought of a middle age woman wearing a shirt with a picture of a cougar on it, even if it was the actual mascot for the little league team, makes me chuckle.

The woman just stares at me with that weird deer-in-headlights look some people get when they are confused. I take a deep breath and lean on the counter.

“You’re looking for my mother. She died last week.” My head drops as soon as the words leave my mouth. Gods, that sounded final, I think. She had only been fifty-five. Werlock women don’t die that young, not unless an exorcism goes wrong or something like that. But there had been nothing supernatural about Mom’s death. Just a drunk driver and her being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I shuffle some papers around to make myself look busy. I am busy. I have to do a full inventory of the store yet and get all of mom’s files in order before the meeting next Thursday with Mr. Harvey about the estate. And her files are a mess. The woman could prepare a Sigil of Greater Binding with laser precision but ask her to file her receipts in some sort of rational order and you would have thought you asked her to give up a lung.

“I’m sorry,” the woman says. “I didn’t know. My neighbor said she could help me. I guess she didn’t know, either.”

I know where the conversation is going to go, and I don’t want to go there. I open a drawer in the counter while trying to pretend I’m not paying attention. I guess I hope that if I look busy enough, she will just leave. Yeah, I know. My entire career involves getting people to communicate effectively with each other, and here I am engaging in confluent deflection behavior to avoid a confrontation.

I’ve opened the proverbial “junk drawer.” That drawer everyone has where you just throw stuff that you know you should keep but don’t know why you need to keep it. Sitting on top of a plastic coin holder full of pennies is an old metal keychain that says Wildwood on it in chipped blue and gold paint. You did this on purpose, I think.

 I performed my first exorcism at thirteen. Granted, it was only a class five imp in Mrs. McGulligan’s cat. And the cat was mean and spiteful already, so nobody really noticed a difference when the imp took over. If it had played its cards right, it might have enjoyed possessing its host for years. But the damn thing knocked over the hummingbird feeder in our herb garden and then it went after my dog Merlin. It just crossed a line it shouldn’t have crossed and needed to be stopped. You would have thought the cat would be grateful to me for getting the imp out of him without killing him. No, the damn thing scratched me when it was over.

Mom had been so proud that I identified the demon type correctly and was able to bind and exorcise it without help. Though I think she was prouder I actually bothered with the exorcism instead of just choking the damn cat. We went down to Wildwood that weekend to celebrate. We spent a whole day at Morey’s Pier, even though Mom hated water parks.

 Mom hated large bodies of water in general. Something about an incident with a marid when she was at summer camp as a teenager. I never got the full story. She tried to tell me once, but when she started by saying it happened at a placed called Crystal Lake, I just started laughing and she got mad and refused to say anything after that. Long story short, it was a pretty big deal that she agreed to go down to Morey’s Pier for my First Exorcism celebration.

We didn’t celebrate when I decided to go to college and study behavioral science instead of continuing with the Craft. We fought. She said I was abandoning my responsibilities as both her daughter and her apprentice. She was so furious that she threatened to conjure Nana Morri’s spirit just so I could tell my grandmother why I hated my family. Can you imagine? Summoning the spirit of my grandmother to guilt me into continuing the family business? It wasn’t like I was going to stop practicing the Craft altogether. I just wanted to explore other career options.

“Maybe you—”

“No,” I say as I slam the drawer shut. “I’m sorry. I can’t help you. I need to sort my mother’s things.”

“But I don’t know where else to go,” says the woman.

“You know, the Catholic Church still has exorcists on staff. They even provide services for non-Catholics. And they do free in-home consultations. Their rates aren’t bad, either. I think they even have payment plans. It might even be tax-deductible.”

“I already spoke with Father Bryant,” she says. She shuffles in place. “He came out to the house and said there was nothing. My husband thinks I’m just being difficult.”

For the last three years, I’ve had a private practice in Philadelphia as a marriage counselor. I know the sound of a lonely housewife when I hear one.

“Husband travels a lot?” I ask. She nods. “Let me guess. He thinks you’re seeing things on purpose to make him stay home.” She nods again.

“Sometimes he’s gone for days at a time,” she says. “Or when he has to go to California, he can be gone for a week or more. That’s when it starts…doing things.”

“What kind of things?”

“At night, when I’m trying to sleep, I hear the sound of footsteps in the hallway. I’ll put something down in one room, and when I come back later it is somewhere else. One minute the room will be cold and the next hot.”

I walk around the counter and mutter the Third Eye incantation under my breath. It’s one of the first incantations you learn in Demonology. It allows you to both read auras and detect paranormal residue. All living things radiate an energy field, called an aura. It fluctuates and changes colors based on a person’s psychological state. More importantly for a demonologist, it allows you to immediately identify if the subject is the victim of a possession or disguised by a glamour. I confess, I’ve also used it on more than one occasion in my counseling work. It really gives me an edge when dealing with couples that don’t want to tell me everything but expect me to fix their relationships.

Some otherworldly creatures like specters and demons have their own auras as well, but when they enter the material realm, it becomes charged and takes a tangible form. Kind of like Fairy Dust, only not visible to the naked eye and non-allergenic. The woman didn’t have any poltergeist or demon residue on her, which meant that Father Bryant was probably correct. Her house wasn’t haunted or possessed. But her aura indicated that she wasn’t lying, either. Whether or not the haunting was real was irrelevant. She thought it was real.

“I’m sorry. I’m Nancy,” I say and extend my hand.

“Nadine,” she replies. “Nadine Porter.” She shakes my hand with a weak handshake. “Does this mean you’ll help me?”

I look over my shoulder at the counter. “Mom would be upset if I left you out to dry.” I shrug my shoulders and force a smile. “I can come by tomorrow.”

April 17th

Mom never actually advertised that she was a demonologist. She promoted the shop, Three Wishes, as a new age bookstore/alternative medicine/arts and crafts establishment. Her clientele consisted of wannabe teen witches, “whole health” people, and grade school art teachers. But somehow word would get around to those that needed it that she also provided exorcisms, séances, and an assortment of other occult services. When I was her apprentice, I would assist with the exorcisms. Most of the time, we were really just offering a placebo. Of the dozen or so exorcisms we would do each year, only one or two ever had a real entity involved. And even if there was something, it tended to be a brownie or house sprite or something equally harmless. In those cases, Mom would just tell the fae to chill the Hell out and stop spooking the residents. No sense banishing the poor things back to the Aether over spilt milk or a broken light bulb.

It seemed odd at first performing exorcisms on houses that didn’t need them. It felt like stealing. But Mom said that in some cases, imaginary hauntings were more real to the victims than real ones. And the only way to help someone with an imaginary haunting was to validate their belief so they could confront whatever it was causing it.

It was a tactic I had learned to use in my counseling practice, too. I’ve learned that people often contrive problems to avoid dealing with real issues in a relationship. The husband might complain about the fact that his wife owns fifty pair of shoes instead of dealing with the fact that he’s stressed about work and is afraid he might get laid off. Or a wife might complain that her husband leaves his dirty socks on the bathroom floor instead of the fact that she’s afraid that he no longer finds her attractive. You have to work through the fake problems first as if they were real in order to get people to address the real ones.

I arrive at Nadine’s house carrying Mom’s house cleansing kit. I thought about using the exorcism kit but considering that there wasn’t actually a demon or ghost in the house that seemed a bit excessive. It wasn’t like Nadine would know the difference. At the very least, maybe removing some of the negative energies from the home would lighten Nadine’s mood enough for her to stop thinking that she was being haunted.

“You’re early,” says Nadine as she let me in through the kitchen door. A box of chocolate Chex cereal and a carton of Silk soy milk sat on the kitchenette next to a bowl.

“I have an appointment with a couple of clients at noon,” I say. “It was supposed to be later, but the husband’s work schedule got changed at the last minute and the wife accused him of volunteering for the new shift in order to avoid dealing with their relationship so he’s trying to get her off his case and—.” Nadine wraps her arms around herself and looks around. “I can come back if this is a bad time.”

“Nay, where’s my burgundy briefcase?” asks a voice coming from upstairs. As it doesn’t sound disembodied, I assume it is her husband.

“It should be next to your desk,” she yells back.

“It’s not here.”

“I’ll be right back,” she says as she leaves me in the kitchen in order to help her husband find his briefcase.

I wander into the living room and end up standing in front of a wall full of framed photos. There’s Nadine and her husband’s wedding picture. They made a good-looking couple in their day. I mean, red carpet movie premier good-looking. I’m trying to reconcile the stylish fashionista in the wedding portrait with Mrs. Frumpy who came into the shop. Nearby are photos of what I assume are their children. The most recent features the kids’ college graduation photos. Empty nesters, I think to myself.

“I’m sorry,” says Nadine as she comes back downstairs. “I swear sometimes men are blind on purpose.”

“Let me guess. Sitting next to his desk?”

Nadine laughs and nods. “Do you want a cup of coffee before you…I don’t even know what it is you exactly do.”

I sit my kit on the coffee table and open it up. “We’re going to chase the spirits away.” I pull a set of brass bells, a cymbal, and the incense burner from the kit. I reach for the dried sage. “You don’t have an infants or small children in the house, do you?”

“No.”

“You’re not pregnant, correct?”

The look on Nadine’s face makes me want to kick myself. It’s a standard question. Any first-year apprentice knows you don’t use sage around infants or pregnant women, so you have to ask. With modern fertility treatments, you can’t just assume a woman her age wasn’t pregnant or trying to get pregnant. I think about apologizing to her but anything I say at this point will just drawn out the awkwardness and make things worse. I go about setting up the incense burner instead.

“Nay, I should be home…who’s this?”

I look up to see Jason Porter standing on the stair landing. My jaw drops. He’s aged well. The single gal in me thinks, “Damnit, Nadine, what are you so miserable about?” while the marriage counselor in me realizes “Well, now I know why you’re so miserable.”

“This is Nancy,” say Nadine. “She’s an exorcist.”

“Um, not really,” I say. “I’m just filling in for my mom.” Jason raises an eyebrow at me. “She’s dead so she couldn’t be here.” Brilliant, I think. Way to make a first impression.

“I see,” he says. “Honey, can we talk for a minute? Would you excuse us Ms—”

“Warlock…Werlock. Nancy Werlock.”

“Riiiigght.” Jason leads his wife into the kitchen.

I sit on the loveseat and curse my good hearing. Jason isn’t exactly yelling at her. Not in an abusive husband sort of way (I am very familiar with that type of yelling in my line of work.) Nadine isn’t crying, but I can tell by the way her voice rises and falls that she wants to cry. This is a couple with serious communication problems.

“You know what, Nadine. Do what you want,” says Jason as he storms through the living room. “I gotta get to the office to finish up the reports and then I’m going straight to the airport.”

“You’re not coming home for dinner?” she says as she follows after him.

“Just…go.” He waves his hands toward me. “Do whatever it is you two are doing.”

As soon as he closes the front door, I jump out of my seat. “Nadine, wait here.” I follow Jason outside and run up to the car door before he closes it. “Mr. Porter, can I just have a minute before you go?”

He looks up at me and huffs. “Look, Ms. Warlock—”

Werlock.”

“Whatever your name is. I don’t know how much my wife is paying you for this sham. And I don’t even care. But my house is not haunted. There are no demons. There are no ghosts.”

“I know,” I interrupt him. “That’s not why I’m here.”

“Funny, my wife thinks you’re here to do an exorcism or some crap.” He tries to close the car door, but I put my hand in the way. The last time I did that, the husband slammed the door anyway and I ended up with two broken fingers. One of the hazards of being in the counseling profession with poor reflexes. Jason, however, opens the door wider and turns to face me instead.

“Mr. Porter, you are a very attractive man,” I say. He turns bright red and looked toward the steering wheel to avoid eye contact. “You’re an attractive man who spends far too much time on the road away from his wife.”

“You think I’m cheating on my wife?”

“No, cheaters don’t tend to get embarrassed when a woman calls them attractive.”

He takes a deep breath and sits back in his seat. “Nadine’s been acting strange ever since the kids moved out last year. I told her she should get a hobby. Volunteer somewhere. Maybe take a class or something at the community college.”

“Has she ever worked outside the home?”

“She worked while I got my Master’s degree. Then after things took off with my career, she stayed home to raise the girls.”

“Mr. Porter, your wife’s going through menopause. Or is about to.”

“Did she tell you that?”

 “She didn’t have to. She’s eating chocolate cereal with soy milk. My mom did the same thing when she went through the change-of-life.”

Actually, mom didn’t do quite the same thing. For her, it was milkshakes made with Kahlua and Soy Delicious Chocolate Obsession ice cream. But I didn’t want Jason to think my mom was some sort of post-menopausal alcoholic demon hunter.

“So all of this haunting or possession stuff? It’s in her head?”

“More like misinterpretation. The rooms aren’t getting hotter or colder. She’s getting hot flashes. She’s having trouble sleeping and she’s lonely, so her brain is hearing the normal house-settling sounds and making them out to be something else. Things aren’t being moved on her. She’s having brain farts from stress. Her handsome husband is off for days or weeks at a time doing gods-know-what and she’s home feeling frumpy and unattractive.”

“My wife is a beautiful woman, Ms. Werlock. There is no reason for her to feel that way.”

“When was the last time you told her that?”

Jason rubs his temples. “What am I supposed to do?”

“How about you call the office and see if someone else can do those pressing reports for you, and you can spend an hour helping us cleanse the spirits?”

“But you just admitted there are no ghosts in the house.”

“And what do you think your wife wants to hear? ‘I’m sorry, Nadine, but you’re just going through menopause so deal with it?’ or ‘See, your husband loves you so much he wants to help chase away the bad spirits bothering you?’”

Jason gets out of the car and pulls his cell phone out of his pocket. “You should be a marriage counselor, you know that?”

I pull a business card out of my purse and hand it to him. “Actually, I am. The shop was Mom’s thing. I’m just—”

“Filling in?”

“Yeah.”

“So, are you charging the exorcism rate or the counseling rate for this house call?”

“Neither,” I say. “This one’s on Mom.”

The “exorcism” went well. Nadine said she could feel the demon leave the house. Jason played along and said he felt something as well. As I was leaving, I caught him out of the corner of my eye as he kissed his wife on the cheek and whispered something to her. I got the distinct impression someone was going to be rescheduling his flight.

I go back to the shop after my last appointment of the day. I still have boxes of paperwork to go through. There is an entire folder of receipts from various dollar stores and flea markets that just say Item, Taxable and Item, Non-Taxable but no actual description of what the items were.

I go to the junk drawer and pull out the keychain. I sit on the floor behind the register and hold it between my hands while speaking the Through the Veil incantation. It’s not that I don’t know better. You’re not supposed to bother the dead for the first few months or so. Not until they have had time to acclimate to their new condition and all. But Mom is strong-willed and if she is in the middle of something she just wouldn’t answer. Like when she would check the Caller ID and not answer the phone because the finals of American Idol were on or something like that.

A breeze sneaks into the room, carrying the familiar scent of lavender.

“You set me up,” I say.

“Hello to you too, Ms. Sassy,” says Mom. “I’m dead one week and already you’ve lost your manners?”

“Sorry.”

“So what am I being blamed for this time?”

I tell Mom about Nadine and how I found the keychain.

“Werlocks are demonologists. Not psychics. I had no idea that woman would be coming in. It’s your own guilty conscience talking.”

“I miss you.”

“I know, honey.”

“Everything okay? You settling in okay and all that?”

“Oh, I’m fine. Your grandmother is helping me get comfortable.” Mom paused for a moment. “Oh, Nana says ‘Hello,’ honey.”

“Hey, Nana,” I answer back as a hint of honeysuckles drifted across the room. “Miss you, too.”

“You know you’re not supposed to call so soon,” says Mom. “And you didn’t call me to talk about the Porters…And Nana says that was nice of you to help them like that. It was very sweet.”

“Thanks, Nana.” I pull my knees up to my chest. “I’m sorry, Mom.”

“No worries, Honey. Not like I’m going to get in any trouble for talking the call.”

“No, I don’t mean calling you. I should have been here.” I’m trying hard not to start crying. It’s dangerous to release strong emotions while the Veil is open. Not everyone on the other side is content to be there, and some spirits can ride an emotion back to the material world. But they have to get pass both Mom and Nana, first. I just start bawling.

“Oh, Honey. It’s not your fault.”

“Yes, it is! If I had stayed, then you might not have been at that intersection. And you’d still be here. And—”

“Nancy Clarice Werlock! I’m as much for guilting my children into listening as the next mother, but you cannot blame yourself for this. You can’t know whether or not this would have happened otherwise. That man was going to get drunk regardless of whether you were a demonologist or a therapist or an acrobat or anything else. Kohl’s was going to have that sale regardless of whether you were here at the shop or in your office in Philly.” Mom paused again. “I know I should have just got it at Target but I wanted to comparison shop. It was 50% off all appliances.”

It takes me a minute to realize that last part was directed at Nana.

“I don’t know what to do, Mom. I’m sitting here packing up all of your stuff and it just hit me that…that it’s all going to be gone and there won’t be anything left.”

“Have you talked to your brother? I talked to him a couple of days before the accident and he told me Megan saw a pixie at school. She’s developing the Sight. Maybe—”

“It wasn’t a pixie, Mom. I talked to Scott the other day. It turned out to be a dragonfly. She caught it and brought it home.”

“Now how do you mistake a dragonfly for a pixie? She’s seen dragonflies before!”

“She’s only six, Mom. And it was a Flame Skimmer. You know, they aren’t a native species in Jersey.”

“Oh, well, there goes that idea.”

“I’m sorry!”

“Honey, I’m not mad at you!…We have to go.”

“Already?”

“I’m afraid so. We’ve got eavesdroppers and you’re attracting attention.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Nancy, stop apologizing. Your life is your own. Not mine. If it’s one thing I realize now more than ever, it’s that you need to live your life for you. You have a good heart. Follow it. You’ll be fine.”

Mom cuts off the connection. I sit there behind the register for what fells like an eternity. I decide that unless I intend to sleep on the floor that I should get up and go home. I walk around the shop several times first. I guess trying to work up the courage to leave. I had forgotten how comfortable it is here. How safe I always felt.

I can’t let the shop go. I know that now. But I can’t exactly close my private practice and leave all of my clients hanging, either. And I certainly can’t be in two places at the same time. Bilocation just isn’t a talent Werlocks possessed. I look at the keychain in my hand. There is only one alternative left.

I’m going to need to find an apprentice.

Excerpt Two from Nancy Werlock’s Diary (Episode One)

Dear Diary,

Dear Diary,

Dear Journal,

Oh, screw it.

Now I know why my clients look at me stupid when I suggest that they keep a journal of their thoughts. It’s therapeutic! It will help you resolve inner conflicts and conflicts with others without negative confrontation! It will help you reduce stress!

It’s ridiculous. I feel like I’m twelve.

Stop it, Nancy. You know better.

Mom gave me this journal two years ago as a Winter Solstice gift. One of her not-so-subtle hints regarding her disapproval about my career choice. It has this beautiful forest green goat leather cover with hand-sewn binding and a gold foil pentagram. It’s a bit over-the-top for your average diary, but it would have made a gorgeous grimoire.

Which was, of course, Mom’s point.

This thing has been sitting on my bookshelf since she gave it to me, right between my old Apprentice grimoire and Introduction to Behavior Sciences. That monster is almost five inches thick and cost me $60, used! The damn school bookstore was only going to give me a $10 trade-in for the thing when the semester was over. College textbooks are such a rip-off.

See, this is why I will suck at keeping a journal. I get off on tangents about unrelated stuff.

Not like anyone is ever going to read this thing, right?

Mom’s dead. My mother is dead and I’m complaining about an overpriced college textbook from over ten years ago.

What am I doing? I just ruined this grimoire journal. Just burned a page on nonsense and now it’s ruined. I guess now I have no excuse not to keep a journal, right? It’s keep a journal or admit I destroyed one of my mother’s gifts to me for no good reason.

I’ll come back to this later. I have to call my brother and make funeral arrangements.

Excerpt One from Nancy Werlock’s Diary (Episode One)