Witchtember is coming to a close! I’ve had a wonderful time promoting NASCENT WITCH by diving into all things witchy. As we creep ever closer to release day, I’ve decided to share the first chapter of the novel so you can have a taste of what this book is all about.
Without further ado, I give you:
by Melissa Bobe
“You know,” Sela Glaser said offhandedly to the woman ringing her up at the register, “you’d think guys would have better things to do than stalk a girl through a bookstore, but I guess not.”
The woman stopped typing, giving Sela an alarmed look. “Was he fortyish? Balding? Did you hear him undo his belt at all?”
“Um, no, no, and definitely no. Please tell me that’s not a regular you’ve just described?”
“Friday Night Pervert,” the woman confirmed as she started to bag up Sela’s things. “I was worried he might have added Wednesday morning to the schedule.”
“So, instead of sending dick pics to the unsuspecting women of Coffee Meets Bagel,” Sela went on, handing over a twenty, “this guy unleashes his charms on your…biography section?”
“Cooking and baking. Occasionally travel—he tries to be well-rounded.”
“Nothing is sacred.”
“Tell me about it.” The woman gave Sela her receipt and change. “Sorry for whoever was bothering you, though. Have a better day.”
Sela had been trying to “have a better day” since she’d finished college six years before. She glanced behind her as she left the store just to be safe, but the guy in the leather jacket was nowhere in sight. The only thing accompanying her was the gift for the baby shower she couldn’t attend of a coworker she wasn’t even close to who was going to have yet another baby that Sela would pretend to find cute.
“It’s not that I object to babies,” she remarked as she got into her car. “I just prefer cats.”
Her phone pinged a distinctive bell tone she’d assigned to reminders for short-term hustles. Anything babysitting, dog-sitting, or house-sitting got the bell. Jobs beyond sitting—secretarial, temping, and the like—got a trumpet. Interviews for full-time positions received a gong, marking them as the death-match they almost always were.
“Whatever it is, I’m on my way,” Sela sighed as she threw the gearstick into drive.
A split-second later, she slammed her foot on the brake as a grey-and-brown blur flew in front of her car.
“For fuck’s sake, I do not need to end this morning by killing a raccoon.” She pushed a mess of auburn waves out of her face, reminded herself that if she couldn’t afford a salon she needed to learn to trim her own hair, put the car in park, and got out fearing the worst.
“You can’t possibly have just said ‘raccoon,’” an agitated voice remarked.
Sela froze in her examination of the front of her car and looked around, worried that the creep who’d been following her through the bookshop had indeed stalked her outside. But there was no one nearby. A mother and her toddler were heading towards the parking lot, but for the moment, Sela was alone.
Checking under her wheels once more to make sure she hadn’t killed anything cute and fluffy, she started to get back in the car, telling herself, “You need to get a grip, Sela.”
“No argument here.” A grey-and-brown cat with amber eyes and—no denying it—a pissed-off expression on its face leapt onto the hood of her car. “A raccoon? Do I look remotely like a raccoon?”
She managed not to scream, though her feet brought her a good distance backwards without Sela even trying to move them.
The cat looked at her with more attitude, if that were possible. “Oh, I’m sorry—raccoon got your tongue?”
The talking cat was mocking her. Something in her wanted to sass it back, but then a different and more dominant part of her brain reminded Sela that, mocking or not, cats shouldn’t talk at all.
“You’re talking,” she managed.
“And you need a haircut. Are we done stating the obvious?”
She flushed, even as she realized on some level that it was ridiculous to be embarrassed about the state of her appearance in the presence of a talking cat.
“Okay, okay.” The cat gave an eye roll, which was astonishing to see on a non-human face. “I know I’m being rude. We can start over. I even forgive you for almost running me down with this…lovely…Toyota.”
Sela found her voice. “Are…are you judging my car, now?”
“Well, I’m sure you’re probably budgeting for something newer—”
“What the fuck is actually happening? I’m talking to a cat that doesn’t like my car?”
“Not a cat,” the cat countered. “A familiar. A witch’s familiar.”
“I’m sorry: what?”
“I’m not a cat.” His tail swished, a gesture Sela recognized as one of feline agitation. “I resemble a cat, but I belong to an entirely separate class of animal. Cats are relatively stupid and vain. And they vomit everywhere.”
“My cat doesn’t vomit everywhere,” she found herself arguing, though she was barely processing the ludicrousness of this conversation.
“Ugh, you have a cat?” He shook his head in a manner that was not even close to feline. “I’d really been hoping for a two-roommate situation.”
“Situation? Roommate?” Now Sela found the extent of her patience. “Dude, what are you talking about?”
The cat sighed. “You’re Sela Glaser, right?”
Disturbed that the talking cat knew her name, Sela nodded.
“And you’re about to turn twenty-eight, yes?”
She nodded again.
“Hi, Sela. I’m Sable. You’re a witch about to come into your powers, and I am your familiar.”
Now, instead of doubting her sanity further, Sela felt a tug at the back of her mind, a combination of memory and nostalgia that whispered triumphantly: I knew it. It was a flash of feeling that extended into her past, way back to high school, when she and her friends had spent evenings casting spells, trading crystals, reading tarot cards, and giggling over pots they’d taken from their parents’ kitchens to serve as makeshift cauldrons.
She pushed those memories aside. If temping for six years didn’t make a girl a skeptic, Sela didn’t know what did. “I’m sorry, are you sure you have the right person?”
The cat who had called himself Sable rolled his eyes again. “Are you serious? What, is my presence not magickal enough for you to believe that you’re a witch?”
She hesitated as she tried to focus not on a happy past, but what was until a few minutes ago her very dreary present. “Nothing special has happened to me recently. Or ever.”
“That’s why I said you’re about to come into your powers.” He seemed to regard her with less snark for the first time. “It’s not bullshit. I promise.”
“Okay,” Sela said after another minute of taking in this bizarre new reality, “so you’re Sable. One hundred percent familiar and…totally unfamiliar.”
“That’s me.” He jumped off the hood of the car, hopped in through the still-open door, and settled himself on her passenger seat. “So, where are we headed?”
That’s all for now! If you want to read on, NASCENT WITCH will be available in paperback on Tuesday, October 13.