Genre = Light Paranormal, Romantic Comedy, Humorous Fantasy, Romance
Game of Crones, Book 1
Written for the Magic and Mayhem Universe
**The Magic and Mayhem Universe is published through Draft2Digital which currently does not support Google.
LENGTH: 32,495 words
RELEASE DATE: June 22, 2022
Their Power of Three Isn’t What It Used To Be…
A witch hunter from Salem, one who was sent to The Place Between centuries ago, is back among the living and busy building the dark witch coven of his dreams. It’s up to Violet and her two coven witches, Listeria and Katherine, to find a way to kill him for good.
With her centuries-old coven of three from Salem, her nearly toothless smile, and her scarlet passion for avoiding melodrama, Violet will have to cross many spelled bridges before they can kill the witch hunter once and for all.
If you enjoyed the powerful witchy adventures of other books in the Mayhem and Mayhem Universe, you’ll be enthralled by the unique and captivating tale of Violet and her coven in Stone Cold Crone.
Violet sighed over the steady, annoying knock on her front door. It was equally annoying to know who her visitor was without even checking the peephole.
She hadn’t seen him in ten years and didn’t want to see him now. Since he’d once lived freely in her home, she couldn’t magically keep him out of it without doing actual harm.
Shaking her head, she headed to open it.
Not only was harming him against the magical oath she lived by, she also couldn’t bring herself to hurt him like he’d hurt her. She was not that kind of mother.
Bracing herself with a deep breath, Violet yanked open the door. The handsome man on her threshold blinked and then jumped back in shock. He’d inherited her mother’s energy, yet looked exactly like his father. The disparity drove her crazy. Alastair wasn’t much older than Sean when they’d first met.
“Great Hecate, Mother! What have you done to yourself?”
Just because her son had never seen her as a Crone didn’t mean that she had to tolerate his criticism of her appearance. Glaring, Violet slammed the door in her son’s face, and then calmly headed back to her kitchen to check on her dinner.
A black cat with a bloody shoulder bolted through the pet door she’d installed in the back exit for him long ago. Once inside the kitchen, he morphed into an attractive Egyptian male who looked twenty-five, but was in actuality way older than her.
Listeria and Katherine got normal cats as familiars. Their felines were sentient and intelligent, but completely animal. Only she could have drawn some ancient cat shifter to her. Her deal with Goddess Hecate had come with quite a few surprises over the centuries, but Jabari remained the biggest.
Before Hecate had taken him on, the foolish man Jabari had been had given up his humanity to Goddess Bastet. Why had he done that? Violet still wasn’t sure. Jabari changed his story about it too often for her to figure it out. All she knew for certain was that he’d begged Hecate to convert him, which meant he spent his time hacking up cat hairballs and dealing with the demands of his assigned witches—the latest being her.
Jabari crossed his arms and stared. “Sean is standing on the stoop and staring sadly at the front door. Did you refuse to let the poor boy come in? Shame on you.”
Violet huffed. “I didn’t say a word. Sean did all the talking—as usual.”
“Did you curse him silently?”
Violet rolled her eyes. “No, but it crossed my mind. My son doesn’t yet know I can do that. It wouldn’t have been fair.”
“When did you ever think in terms of magic being fair, Violet? Cursing my last girlfriend is what sped up your Crone process. You said nothing to me or to Tamela either, but her nose started growing the moment she spoke.”
Violet blinked innocently at the creature she too often thought of as another son. Jabari was older than her, but not any wiser than her own child. Her shifter familiar was double-dumb when it came to females. She would never let Jabari bring any other witch into her home again, especially not one who reeked of the dark arts.
“Did the Pinocchio snout I gave Tamela whenever she lied put you off between the sheets?”
Jabari sighed. “You were right to show me she was being deceitful, but no one deserves to go through life looking like she does now.”
Violet shrugged. “Why not? Now she looks like the wicked old witch she aspires to be. Ugly is a mild side effect for the dark power she’s playing with. Give her a few years and you won’t recognize her. She’ll look far worse than any Crone.”
Sighing, Jabari shook his head. “You have no compassion for the follies of youth.”
Violet lifted one corner of her mouth in a sneer. “When I was fourteen, my father gave me to a rich man who promised to finance his business. It took me a month to escape that man and another to weave the spell I punished him with for what he did to me while I was with him. But I didn’t immediately kill the man who bought me like I wanted to. I made him suffer until he took his own life. That’s as compassionate as I ever get with anyone.”
Jabari narrowed his eyes. “Don’t you have a greater compassion for your son, though? You married his father and performed all the rituals during Sean’s childhood to ensure his magic stayed. He’s nearly thirty years old, Violet. He’ll be getting his own familiar soon. Alastair hasn’t been able to convert him.”
Violet chuckled. “I didn’t kill the boy when he showed up today. Doesn’t letting him live count as compassion?”
Jabari crossed his arms. “Barely. Why is Sean here?”
Turning back to stir her stew, Violet shrugged. “No idea, but I know who sent him. Alastair didn’t dare come see me himself. He sent his mini-me to do his dirty work.”
“Alastair only wishes that were the case. Sean is not Alastair’s mini-me. Your son will be a powerful witch like you. Or rather, one like your mother. His magic leans towards calling the natural elements, but he has a dark side like all witches do.”
Violet snorted. “Yes, I know, but he doesn’t know what he can do. Or who he is. Or about his real magic.”
“And he never will unless you let him in and tell him.”
Violet rolled her eyes until she couldn’t see beyond the folds of her wrinkled eyelids. “Fine. Quit whining and go let my barely magical son inside. I can see you will not shut up until we both hear what Alastair wants me to know so badly.”
She sighed when Jabari left the kitchen without fussing back at her. One minute everything was peaceful and quiet. The next minute, her life turned shitty again. Salem’s witch trials were over centuries ago. Why did her destiny always circle around to bringing back the trauma of that terrible time?
All she wanted was to live quietly and practice her craft. And maybe die one day… if she got lucky.
She kept her back to her son even when Jabari cleared his throat to announce their return. “You both know fully well that I can feel you. This is me choosing to be rude to a son who doesn’t show any loyalty to his mother. It’s been ten years since you knocked on my door, Sean.”
Her son cleared his throat. “You’re right, Mom. I shouldn’t have stayed away for so long. Dad said I needed to not lean on your magic during my training. But I can see why you might be mad at me for just suddenly showing up like this.”
“Instead of training with me and developing what the Goddess wants you to have, you left and refused all contact with me. What gave you the idea that I’d be angry about that?”
Jabari looked at Sean and snorted. “Her Crone phase erases all her polite boundaries. Warn your father.”
She heard her son’s feet shuffling on the floor. She swung a glare his way. “Your grandmother didn’t sacrifice her magical legacy, and I didn’t perform a hundred rituals for you to grow up to be a wimp like your father. You’re my only child. Speak up and tell me what Alastair didn’t have the balls to come tell me himself.”
“Reverend Cotton Mather has been set free. No one knows how, but rumors are that he’s building his own coven. Dad wasn’t able to track down Listeria or Katherine to tell them. In the end, we thought it best that I come to deliver the news to you.”
Violet breathed out to keep from exploding in anger. She raised her hands, and suddenly, the wind blew around them in the kitchen. Irritated at herself for feeling the urge to destroy the room, she put her hands in her pockets to stop herself. “Only someone strong in the dark arts could have set that wicked man free. That person is our real problem. ”
Sean cleared his throat. “Our intel…”
Violet raised a hand to shut him up. It had always worked on her son—thank, Hecate. “Spare me your spy crap. Witches do not become spies. We do not need covert intelligence. We need to listen intuitively to our magic and do some proper scrying for answers. When a witch walks anywhere in this mortal world, they should never be afraid. Do you remember why that is, Sean?”
Her thirty-year-old son studied the floor before finally nodding. “Because they should be the most fearful thing they will ever encounter.” His gaze raised to hers. “But we’re not all like you, Mom. Some of us are less powerful. Some of us need help to figure things out.”
“When you speak, all I hear is your father spouting his nonsense about what he thinks is impossible,” Violet declared. She swiped her hand. “Nothing is impossible. Challenges are just varying degrees of a task being hard to accomplish. And you can do anything—once you learn to believe in yourself.”
Sean lifted a hand in surrender. “This is exactly why I didn’t visit you all these years. We would have fought the whole time about what I was learning.”
Violet stared at her estranged child. “Impossible is exactly what your father said when he learned my coven had magically imprisoned the infamous Cotton Mather. The dark magic devil he secretly worships didn’t help Mather back then, and neither did the town folk Mather so carefully led astray for his own purposes. We did what needed to be done. Nothing is impossible.”
Sighing, her son stared at her. “It’s not that Dad doesn’t believe in your power. He just worries.”
Violet looked around and then gave an exaggerated shrug. “You couldn’t prove it by me. If your father was really worried about me, he would insist I get you trained before I die. That’s something worth worrying about.”
Her son’s eyes widened at the news. “Are you dying? Is that why you look like a bony skeleton of death?”
Violet rolled her eyes and chuckled dryly. Her Crone appearance had really shocked him. He was so much like his father in that regard. “No, son. I’m not dying—not yet. This is simply what Crones look like in reality. Where do you think non-magicals got the idea that witches are old and ugly? If I put on my ceremonial robes and black hat, they’d think I was wearing an All Hallows Eve costume.”
She walked close enough for her son to count her wrinkles and pointed to her own face. “Being a Crone is why your father left me. It wasn’t because of our arguments about you. He didn’t want me to look like this ever again, but no one can hide from the truth forever. Not you. Not your father. Not me. That’s the way life works. And this is what I really am. Everything else is an illusion.”
Her son put his hands on her shoulders. His loving touch summoned all the memories of his childhood to the surface—memories she’d so carefully tucked away. She felt her child’s fear for her health, and suddenly, her determination to get even with her ex-husband for abandoning her also dissappeared. Sean shouldn’t be a pawn between them.
She covered her son’s hands with her wrinkled ones, pleased when the boy never flinched. He didn’t even blink when she smiled a mostly toothless smile.
“Relax, Sean. I’m nowhere close to dying. As part of Hecate’s promise, I grow old and wither when I spend a lot of magic. Without the Power of Three to sustain me, regenerating takes far longer, but it will happen. Even if I never saw Listeria and Katherine again, one day in the next couple of years I would revert to my normal fortyish, curvy self. When you see me like that again, you’ll forget all about ever seeing me like this.”
“Does this happen to the others too?”
Violet nodded. “Yes, but Listeria and Katherine also have their own magic, which sustains them differently. We three can practice magic without each other, just not as well as when we’re together. And to answer your next question—no, I haven’t told them I’ve gone Crone. They deserve the meager happiness they’ve found in their choices to live as non-magicals for a while. All witches deserve a break. Since I’ll need to be at my best before I go after Mather, I’ll do it sooner than later.”
Sean nodded and looked around. “Are you happy living alone?”
Violet shook her head. She felt no need to lie to her child. “No, but I’m doing what I must. Your father and I were together a long while, but looking back on it, I can see we always wanted different things from life.”
“I thought your break-up was mutual and peaceful.”
Violet shrugged. “What woman would want a man to stay with her who didn’t want to stay? That would be foolish of me… and I’m no fool.”
“How long have you been living as a Crone?”
“Since she cursed my last girlfriend for lying to me,” Jabari said, butting into their conversation.
Sean sighed as he squeezed his mother’s fragile shoulders. “I don’t like this appearance either.”
“Why not?” Violet demanded. “I like myself better when I’m not wearing the illusion of youth. I don’t regret my choices in life. Not with Hecate. Not with your father. And most certainly, I regret nothing about you. However—and listen closely here, Sean—if you don’t believe in the magic your Grandmother Tituba bequeathed to you, I will soon have to find someone who will wear her amulet proudly. I cannot allow my mother’s magic to fall into the wrong hands. Neither Listeria nor Katherine bore children. Hecate allowed me to have you because she didn’t want that, either.”
“Mom, you talk like you’re dying. Are you sure you’re not dying?”
Chuckling, Violet smirked at her son. “When you’ve lived for centuries, your brain understands that time is passing. You look in the mirror and expect to see signs of it on your face. When Hecate and I made our magical deal, the goddess never promised that I’d live forever, although I asked for that as a foolish young witch. She told me it was not in her power to grant immortality. Death chases me daily, Sean. Your father should know that better than anyone. That’s why I was hurt when he left me. I hid nothing about my life from him.”
“Does this state—being a Crone—lessen your magic?”
Violet pulled away to pace. “No, the Crone state makes my power greater. However, the temptation of that is that I could one day use too much all at once and that would be bad. Once stripped of all my magic, I could be as easily killed as any other old lady.”
“Mom…” Sean said with a chuckle. “You will never, ever be an old lady.”
Violet reached up and patted her son’s face. “That comment gives me hope your father hasn’t buried the best of you too deeply. You’re a generational witch, Sean. You’re not a self-made warlock like your father. You’re also not someone who bargained up her power like I did. The day you were born you had more potential than most witches ever have in life.”
Sean nodded. “I swear I never meant to turn down any magical training. I just… it’s hard to explain. Do you want me to move back home for a while?”
Violet cackled softly. “Sweet Hecate, no. I have enough trouble with Jabari sowing his wild oats all over my property. I do not need another male doing it. You need your own space, Sean.”
Sean grinned as he nodded. “That’s fair… and honest. So about Mather, what help do you need from me?”
Violet looked her son over. “None. You’re not strong enough to deal with him or his black arts fan club.”
“You can’t expect me to stand by and do nothing.”
Violet rolled her eyes at his protests. “Go back and learn all you can from your father. When that shit’s done, and you still feel that gaping hole inside you, then I’ll train you in your real magic. You were meant to wield Tituba’s power. I begged Hecate to help me save my mother because your Grandmother Tituba had told me I would one day have a child. The only surprise was to get a son when I had expected a witch daughter.”
Jaden frowned. “Were you disappointed?”
Violet shook her head. “Oh, goddess, no. I was honored. A witch son is a gift like no other. I was blessed twice by your birth. Before she died, your grandmother said she never wanted her energy to pass into a woman again. She wanted it to pass into a male that other males would fear. In you, she would have gotten her wish. Keep in mind, though, that during her life many males had kidnapped her, violated her, and controlled her. She wanted revenge, so you have to factor that into her dying wishes.”
Violet had her doubts, but went on with her explanation. “Her amulet is a guidance tool she created to help you. Her real magical energy resides in you naturally. I hope you accept that soon. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be around to help you learn about it, especially if you’re correct.”
Sean tilted his head. “Correct about what?”
“Mather,” Violet said, spitting out the name. “The dark reverend wants me dead. This time, I’m going to have to completely kill him. Listeria and I wanted to do that instead of imprisoning him, but Katherine wouldn’t let us. His corruption led to her father testifying that her mother was a witch. He and Mather both watched as the Salem folks hung her mother and killed both her brothers. No one in her family was the least bit magical.”
“You’d think she’d want him dead as well. Why would Katherine want him kept alive?”
“I don’t know. Katherine said she wanted Mather to suffer. We gave him smallpox to make sure he suffered, but Mather never died from it. Why Katherine insisted we spare him from death is something I have never understood. The man is pure evil.”
Sean sighed. “Would you consider letting Dad move back in with you until Mather is caught?”
Violet cackled loudly. Her laughter made both males wince. “Over my dead body.”
Sean looked at Jabari. “Sarcasm?”
“Buckets and buckets of it,” Jabari replied.
Violet glared at them both. “Alastair left me. I didn’t leave him. Why would I want that faithless male anywhere near me? I didn’t need him before I met him, and I don’t need him after a decade of being on my own again. To put it in perspective for you both, my relationship to him lasted twenty-three years, which is barely a blink of time in the centuries I’ve been alive.”
Sean sighed. “Okay, I can see there’s no hope. Will you call your coven for help?”
Blowing out a long-suffering breath, Violet reluctantly nodded. “I already said I would, and I have little choice. Mather hated all women, but especially ones that healed. Listeria and Katherine need to know Mather is free. It will take our combined powers to fight the dark forces Mather serves.”
What is the Magic and Mayhem Universe? Here’s what the author says…
Blast Off with us into the Magic and Mayhem Universe!
I’m Robyn Peterman, the creator of the Magic and Mayhem Series and I’d like to invite you to my Magic and Mayhem Universe. What is the Magic and Mayhem Universe, you may ask? Well, let me explain…
It’s basically authorized fan fiction written by some amazing authors that I stalked and blackmailed! KIDDING! I was lucky and blessed to have some brilliant authors say yes! They have written brand new stories using my world and some of my characters. And let me tell you… the results are hilarious!
So here it is! Blast off with us into the hilarious Magic and Mayhem Universe. Side-splitting books by fantabulous authors! Check out each and every one. You will laugh your way to a magical HEA!
For all the stories, go to https://magicandmayhemuniverse.com/. Grab your copy today!
Who is Robyn Peterman? So glad you want to know!
My life hasn’t been the same since I met Robyn Peterman in a writer’s group where we were the only two comedy writers and the only two authors writing paranormal. Now we’re critique partners and over our years of working together she’s taught me many, many, many new potty words. We’re thinking about making our own dictionary.
Check out Robyn’s original series that began the Magic and Mayhem Universe. CLICK HERE to visit the website.
Other Books You Might Enjoy