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An old woman’s gentle touch.

“Let not your blood be spilled—for the devil lives, he lives in all of us. Sometimes his name is Envy, and sometimes it is Greed. Let not the blood be spilled….”

It was everything she could do not to scream.

The vision faded into the night.

Jenna leaped from her bed and hurried into the kitchen. As she knew, Jamie always had a bottle of good Irish whiskey on hand.

She found the bottle and gulped down a burning shot.

And then she took another. She noted that the darkness of night was just beginning to break. Morning was coming. Sleep, just a few hours, brought on by the relaxing quality of the alcohol, would be great just about now.

At his office, Sam thanked God for the competency of Evan Richardson, legal assistant extraordinaire. Sam inspected the paperwork on the motions filed. The prosecution would fight many of his motions regarding what could and could not be brought into evidence. In defense of his client, Sam would make court appearances himself, but Evan was exceptional at keeping the legal paperwork moving at an expert rate. Since they were not going for an insanity plea, Sam had planned to deny the prosecution’s request for their expert psychiatrist’s opinion on Malachi’s mental stability.

“But what if you do have to switch over to a mental competency plea?” Evan asked worriedly.

Sam smiled. “At that point, we’ll allow them their expert. Not now.”

“All right. Are we moving to keep allegations regarding the other murders out?” Evan asked.

Sam shook his head. “No, because we have a discrepancy on that. If the prosecution wants to bring up the other murders—which I don’t believe they’re willing to risk at this time—we have witnesses that will cast the shadow of doubt, affecting their entire case.”

“Well, all right,” Evan said. He chewed on the nib of his pencil. “Sam, you’re taking a huge risk here, you know.”

“If it comes down to it, I won’t risk sending my client to prison. We’ll plead insanity,” Sam assured him.

Evan still looked glum.

“Cheer up, I’m not going down in an earthquake. I can win this, man. I won’t take you off a cliff with me.”

Evan still didn’t look convinced. Actually, he looked like a young man whose older mentor had gone entirely senile.

Sam had to wonder if he was crazy himself.

When Jenna walked into A Little Bit of Magic that morning, both Cecilia and Ivy were working. After allowing her to get reacquainted with Ivy, following Ivy’s massive, enthusiastic hug greeting, Cecilia finally asked the question it looked like she was dying to ask.

“Hey, how’s it going with Malachi?”

“Slowly,” Jenna admitted.

The shop was busy, but both the owners seemed to have the ability to have a conversation and keep an eye on their clientele, as well. Ivy hadn’t gone with the completely black look as Cecilia had done; her hair was still a shaggy mix of brown and blond, colors that complemented her hazel eyes.

“Well, if you are trying to prove his innocence, that’s going to be hard,” Ivy said, making it obvious that the two women had discussed the situation.

“Actually,” Jenna told them, “I came to ask you two a few questions about Wicca.”

The warmth left Ivy’s eyes. “If you’re trying to say that this is the result of witchcraft—”

“No, no, no! Not at all,” Jenna assured them quickly. “I know that—”

“Our beliefs aren’t so different!” Ivy said. “All gods and goddesses are part of the Source, and the source is like the one god of Christianity and Judaism and Islam. Catholics see saints—we see other gods and goddesses. Praying in itself is important, as is the goodness that we are supposed to practice in everyday life.”

“I know, I know—honestly, I know,” Jenna assured them. “But we all know that other people—in any time—can twist and contort what is supposed to be good and pure into other things, or try to make it appear that what is good—isn’t.”

They both stared at her blankly.

“There is a horned demon, right?” Jenna asked.

Ivy shook her head. “No demons. And no devils.”

“Ivy, there is a horned god,” Cecilia reminded her. “But he isn’t evil. He isn’t a devil. He is one of the oldest of gods. Many believe that his image has been drawn on walls by cavemen. He is…”

“He is the connection between us and the earth, the wind, the sky, the greenery,” Ivy finished, as though reading a pamphlet.

“Ah, but when you talk about people contorting things, he could easily be contorted,” Cecilia told her. “He is often connected with images of the Green Man, and he is seen sitting with immense arms, embracing the heavens and earth, with a very erect phallus. He is the cycle, fertility, birth and the sexuality that is essential for rebirth.

“And,” Cecilia added, “though as far as I can tell none of the Witch Trial victims was a pagan, I can see how the prim and so-called proper people of the day would try to make him into a devil or a demon. Oh, he’s considered the god of the underworld, so I suppose, in Christianity, that would make him the god of hell. You know—he is represented with cloven hoofs and horns and all that.” She shivered. “People were so…easily scared!”

Jenna smiled and agreed. “Well, there were Indian raids, babies died, there was so little light…and they’d been killing one another for decades and decades over religion on the Continent by the time the Pilgrims came here.”

“Why are you asking all this?” Cecilia asked curiously.

Jenna wasn’t about to explain to them that she’d seen one, in postcognition—murdering people. “I’ve seen one running around,” she said.

Ivy groaned. “Yeah, yeah! And you’ll see witches with warts on their noses, too. It’s Halloween. A holiday for one and all.”

“Hey, now, tolerance is what we need, and it’s what we’re all about,” Cecilia reminded her.

“Oh, yeah, and if I ran around dressed like Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary, people wouldn’t be pissed at me?” Ivy demanded.

Cecilia sighed. Before she could speak again, a woman walked politely up to them, excused herself, and asked about her psychic reading with Merlin.

“I’m sure he’ll be right out,” Ivy assured the woman. “Merlin is excellent at keeping his appointment times, but he’s very thorough. I know you’ll enjoy your time with him, and that he’ll be tremendously enlightening.”

As she spoke, the man Jenna assumed to be Merlin came out of the curtained-off area in the back, followed by a young woman who seemed to be glowing.

She had certainly enjoyed her reading.

The man came toward them. He had long, curling brown hair, and was wearing a cape covered in stars and moons against a deep blue velvet background.

As he came even closer, Jenna realized she knew him and smiled. “Tommy! Tommy Wainscott!”

He smiled as well and walked forward, giving her a hug and whispering, “Merlin, please, if you will, Irish!”

Tommy had gone to school with Cecilia and Ivy. They’d all been friends. On her many visits to Salem, he’d liked to tease Jenna a lot about the color of her hair.

“Merlin!” she said quickly.

“Merlin,” Ivy said, a dry edge to her voice. “Your next appointment is waiting.”

“I’d heard you were here,” Tommy said, brown eyes dancing as he looked at her. “Will I get to see you?”

“Sure,” Jenna said.

“Gotta go now! Business is good, but there’s competition in town,” he told her. He turned, thoughtfully rather than dramatically, to the young woman who was his next appointment. “If you will, please?” He indicated the back.

Jenna smiled. “So Tommy is a medium now?”

“He’s very good,” Ivy said.

“I believe you,” Jenna assured her.

“He can stand against any of them,” Cecilia said. “Even the new blood with the big boobs.”

“Who’s the new blood with the big boobs?”

“Samantha,” Cecilia said.

“Oh? Samantha Yeager—who wanted to buy the old Lexington place?” Jenna asked.

“The one and only,” Ivy said.

“She’s working at a shop down at the end of Essex Street. It’s right next to Winona’s Wine Bar. I think her people come in on the spirited side to begin with. Also, she gets lots of men who wouldn’t step foot in with a medium if their lives depended on it otherwise…”

“Ah. I’m curious about her,” Jenna said. “Maybe I’ll go for a reading.”

“Merlin is much better!” Cecilia assured her.

“Much!” Ivy added.

Ivy frowned. “You’re not into a different—lifestyle these days, are you? I mean, it’s absolutely fine with us. We love our friends no matter what their religion or whatever, including sexual likes.”

Jenna smiled. “No, no lifestyle change. Just curiosity.”

“She’s investigating stuff for the Lexington House murders, silly,” Cecilia reminded her. “But, hey, we’re curious as all get-out about Samantha, too! You’ve got to come back and tell us all about it.”

“Will do,” Jenna promised.

She left the shop and walked along the pedestrian mall. Haunted Happenings remained wonderfully in full swing. She noted a row of small buckets and saw that the town fathers had figured out how to have kids bob for apples in a more sanitary fashion than when she’d been a kid. One mouth in a tub—and then it was washed and refilled. The bobbing-for-apples crew—attired in pirate gear—was busy.

A medieval group had set up to sing and play a bit farther down, and one shop front boasted The Best Haunted House In All New England.

Still farther along, a busy group had children doing mock gravestone rubbings.