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Authors: Isobel Bird

Blue Moon

BOOK: Blue Moon
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7

Blue Moon

Isobel Bird

CHAPTER 1

“With this offering of extra crispy I officially call this Friday night meeting of the Beecher Falls witch

babies to order,” Annie said as she set the bucket of fried chicken on the floor where her friends were

sitting. “And for our vegetarian member we have a lovely carton of hot and spicy tofu,” she added as she

handed Cooper the bag she had just retrieved from the Dragon Dragon delivery guy.

Kate and Annie reached into the bucket of chicken and pulled out a leg and a breast, respectively, while

Cooper rummaged in the bag.

“I don’t know how you two can eat that stuff,” Cooper commented as she opened the chopsticks that

came with her order and dipped them into the carton of tofu. “It’s death food.”

“Yes,” said Kate as she peeled a length of golden batter-covered skin from her chicken and popped it

into her mouth. “But it’s
really
good, and I’m sure the chickens will forgive us. After all, it is sort of their

jobs, isn’t it?”

Cooper opened her mouth to begin her usual diatribe against her perceived cruelties of the meat

industry.

“I thought we agreed to not discuss our dietary philosophies on Friday nights,” Annie said before

Cooper could start, eyeing both Cooper and Kate sternly.

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“I’m just saying,” Cooper said innocently.

“Well, don’t,” Annie told her. “Just sit there and eat your bean curd.”

Cooper gave her a mock wounded look and continued to eat. Annie wiped her mouth with her napkin

and said, “Now that order has been restored, let’s talk business. This is the first meeting we’ve had since

class recessed. What is it we’re supposed to do exactly?”

She tried to remember what Sophia had told them at their last class. Sophia and many of the other

members of her coven and the Coven of the Green Wood were going to a Wiccan retreat for a couple of

weeks, and several other people were going on vacation, so they had decided to cancel classes for two

weeks. During that time the students had been instructed to continue their individual studies and, if

possible, to meet with one another to discuss their progress.

“The big thing is our projects,” Kate said, licking her fingers.

That was the other thing. Now that they were a third of the way through their year and a day of study,

they were each supposed to come up with an artistic way to express what they had experienced and

learned. They were going to use their first Tuesday night class back as a kind of talent show for everyone

to present their projects to the rest of the class. Annie had been dreading it ever since Sophia had told

them about it, and she had blocked it out of her mind.

“Right,” she said unenthusiastically. “That, too.”

“You don’t sound real thrilled about the whole project thing,” Cooper commented as she fished a chunk

of tofu out of her carton.

“No,” Annie said, trying to sound excited. “I’m looking forward to it. I just don’t know what I’m going

to do. What about you guys? What are you doing?”

Secretly, she was hoping that she would get some ideas for her own project by finding out what Kate

and Cooper were going to do. The truth was that she really had no idea what she could do that might be

interesting. She wasn’t particularly artistic, and she was having trouble coming up with anything at all.

“You know we’re not supposed to talk about it,” Kate reminded her. “It’s supposed to be a surprise.”

“I know,” Annie replied. “But you two have actual talent. I don’t. I could use a little help here.”

“You’ll be fine. And you are talented. You’re better at science and Tarot than either one of us,” Cooper

told her. “Don’t worry about it.”

“This isn’t like science or Tarot,” Annie responded. “I can’t just do an experiment or look at some

cards. I have to do something artsy, and I am
not
artsy. Kate sews. You play the guitar and write lyrics.

What do I do? I
think
. That’s not exactly going to hold an audience spellbound.”

“You made that hedgehog head for the Midsummer ritual,” Kate reminded her. Then she looked at

Cooper. “Sorry for bringing it up,” she said.

“It’s okay,” replied Cooper. “I’ve moved on.” Cooper’s experiences that Midsummer night in the

woods had been very disturbing, and she had briefly left the study group because of what had happened.

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Only recently had she returned, and Kate and Annie were still a little hesitant to mention the events for

fear of upsetting her again.

“One papier-mâché hedgehog head does not an artist make,” Annie said. “But I have time. Let’s talk

about something else. How about progress reports?”

“What is this, parent-teacher conferences?” joked Cooper.

“Sophia told us to talk about how we’re doing,” Annie said. “So let’s talk. We don’t see a whole lot of

each other these days. What have you guys been up to? Kate?”

Kate put down the bone from her chicken leg and sighed. “Let’s see,” she began. “Well, Aunt Netty

went home this week from the hospital and she’s doing better. Dr. Pedersen says her cancer has stopped

spreading and now they can concentrate on getting rid of what’s left.”

“Have your parents mentioned anything about the ritual?” Cooper asked, referring to the healing circle

the girls and their Wiccan friends had participated in a few weeks earlier in an attempt to help Kate’s

aunt in her battle against cancer.

“No,” Kate answered. “They haven’t said a word. It’s like this big topic that we’re all dancing around.

I’m not bringing it up and they’re not asking. As far as they know, it’s just the two of you who are

involved in all of this.”

Cooper and Annie exchanged a glance. When the time had come to tell Kate’s family about the

proposed ritual, she’d told them that the coven members were friends of Annie’s and Cooper’s, and that

she herself didn’t really know them. It had been an innocent lie, and Cooper and Annie understood why

she’d done it, but they both had a feeling that it was ultimately going to cause Kate more trouble than it

had saved her.

“And what have you told them about Tyler?” Cooper asked, referring to Kate’s Wiccan boyfriend.

“Nothing,” said Kate. “They don’t know he’s a witch. To tell the truth, I’m sort of keeping him away

from them. But he’s been so busy working with Thatcher at his construction sites that it hasn’t really been

a problem. Plus, my mother is really busy with this big wedding she’s catering, so there hasn’t been a lot

of time for question-and-answer sessions.”

“So we’ve got Kate hiding her witchiness from her family and trying to keep her boyfriend under

wraps,” Annie said. “Cooper, how about you? Any subterfuge and deceitfulness in your life?”

“Hey!” Kate protested. “That’s not fair.”

Cooper held up her hand. “You had your turn,” she said, grinning. “Now it’s all about me.”

Kate leaned against the bed and folded her arms across her chest, pretending to be put out while

Cooper spoke.

“Well, you already know I sort of have a boyfriend now,” Cooper said. “The band is kind of on hold for

the summer, but I’ve kind of been thinking about doing some open-mike nights, performing my own stuff.

There’s a little one tomorrow night that I’m going to try out. But I’m not sure it’s my thing.”

“Why not?” asked Kate. “You’d be great at that.”

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“Yeah,” said Annie. “You should go for it.”

“I don’t know,” Cooper said, shaking her head. “We’ll see.”

“That leaves you, Annie,” said Kate. “How have you been doing since Ben died?”

Annie instinctively looked to her dresser, where the picture of the elderly man she’d befriended at her

volunteer job at a nearby nursing home had sat since Ben’s unexpected death. “It’s been sort of hard,”

she said. “I’ve been thinking a lot about death and all of that, and that’s not all that much fun. I’m still

going to the home every day, and I like that, but I feel like what could have been a great friendship was

taken away from me before I could enjoy it.”

She was quiet for a minute, and the other two waited for her to speak. Annie had experienced more than

the usual share of death in her life, and talking about it was difficult for her. Since the deaths of her

parents in a fire nine years before, she’d been reluctant to get too close to people. Apart from Cooper

and Kate, Ben Rowe had been one of the only people she’d allowed herself to befriend since then, and

his death had shaken her deeply, reminding her that people could be gone in an instant and that

relationships could be wiped out before they’d even begun. She was still adjusting to the loss of Ben’s

friendship, and she wasn’t sure she could explain to her friends how knowing him, even for just a few

weeks, had been helping her get over losing her parents.

“It’s just hard sometimes,” she said. “But I’m okay.”

She wanted to change the subject suddenly, to stop them from talking about Ben and death. Then she

remembered something she wanted to tell her friends.

“Hey, what are we going to do for the blue moon?” she asked.

“The what moon?” Kate said, idly chewing on a chicken wing.

“The blue moon,” replied Annie. “It’s coming up on Sunday.”

“What exactly is it?” Cooper asked her.

“Any time there are two full moons in one month the second one is called the blue moon,” explained

Annie. “It doesn’t happen very often. You know, like ‘once in a blue moon’?”

“Do we have to do something?” asked Kate.

“Well, I guess we don’t
have
to,” Annie answered. “But it’s sort of a big deal. Blue moons are supposed

to be good for doing special spells. I just thought maybe we could do a ritual or something.”

“I don’t know,” Cooper said. “I think T.J. and I have plans for Sunday.”

“And I’ve got to help my mother with this catering job,” said Kate. “There’s a ton of stuff to do.

Besides, we did one full moon ritual already this month.”

Annie sighed. “Okay,” she said. “If you guys are busy we don’t have to do anything.”

“I’m sorry, Annie,” Kate told her. “It’s just that this catering job is really important.”

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“Who’s it for anyway?” asked Cooper. “You’re making it sound like it’s royalty or something.”

“Close,” Kate said. “Lily Winter is marrying Jack Pershing.”

“Lily Winter as in the daughter of Marshall Winter, director of the art museum?” said Annie, impressed.

“And Jack Pershing as in the son of Mayor Phyllis Pershing?” asked Cooper.

“That would be them,” Kate confirmed. “Mayor Pershing tasted my mom’s cooking at a party she went

to and then asked her if she’d cater the wedding. Mom is beside herself—the wedding is only two weeks

away. They’re holding it in the sculpture garden at the museum, and all these important people are going

to be there. Mom has hired a bunch of extra people to help her out, but it’s still driving her crazy.”

“I’ve met the Pershings,” said Cooper knowingly. “My father has done some work for the mayor. She’s

something else, all right.”

“I’m going to be working a lot these next two weeks,” lamented Kate. “So I’m not sure how much I’ll

even see you guys.”

“And you’re hanging out with T.J.,” Annie said as she turned to Cooper.

“He’s helping me work on some new material,” Cooper told her. “He’s really great for bouncing ideas

off of.”

“Okay, well, if nobody can do it I guess that’s okay,” said Annie. “There will be lots of other moons.”

Kate and Cooper went back to talking about the Winter-Pershing wedding and about Cooper’s first

open-mike performance. Annie listened and tried to add encouraging comments, but inside she was

thinking about other things. Mostly she was thinking about how much she’d been looking forward to

doing a blue moon ritual. It had seemed like a great opportunity for her and her friends to work some

magic by themselves, just the three of them. They hadn’t done that in a long time, and now that Cooper

was back it would have been a wonderful way to reaffirm their friendship and their magical commitments.

But now it looked like her friends had other things to do. Kate was busy with her mother, and Cooper

was preoccupied with her upcoming performance.
And they both have boyfriends to think about,

Annie reminded herself. She didn’t want that to bother her, but it did. Especially now that even Cooper

had a boyfriend. Before it had always been Kate who talked about guys and dating, and Annie and

Cooper had teased her about being boy crazy. They’d been sort of a team, the dateless ones picking on

their more romance oriented friend. But now that Cooper was dating T.J., Annie was the odd one out.

She’d never even been on a date.

And at this rate you never will,
she thought miserably. She didn’t even know where she would meet a

boy. Kate had met Tyler at a ritual, but there were no other guys their age who came to those. And

Cooper and T.J. had gotten together almost by accident. How was she ever supposed to get a guy? The

only ones she met were the old men at Shady Hills.

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