Chapter 1 Witchbotched in Westerham

The howling morning wind shrieked gleefully as it tore past me and Will as we made our way along the dirt path. I would’ve shivered in the near-zero temperature had we not just walked two miles. It wasn’t exactly the best time of year to be visiting the White Cliffs of Dover—unless you loved the cold—but with all the craziness of PIB work, and Millicent ready to give birth any day, we weren’t going to pass on a few hours to sightsee when the opportunity materialised. This place had been on my things-to-visit list, and Will was helping me tick them off one by one. Okay, so this was only about number three I’d covered since I’d gotten to the UK eight months ago, but it was better than nothing.

Will took my hand and led me closer to the cliff edge but stopped a respectable distance away, which could be measured in metres or a scale of “If Lily tripped and fell, how far would she fly and not go over the edge.” I was estimating it was about eight metres. Even then, I was careful not to move too much, except to remove my camera’s lens cap with gloved fingers and put it in my pocket. It may seem like overkill, but I’d hurt myself in way more innocuous circumstances, and with Regula Pythonissam after me, I’d come to expect the unexpected—Dana or one of her cronies could show up at any moment and push me over the edge, and then overkill would be less about exaggeration and more about me dying. Not cool.

I disentangled my fingers from Will’s, turned the camera on, and raised it to my face. “It’s absolutely gorgeous.” The gale snatched my words and scattered them into the fields beyond, but Will must have heard because he replied.

“It definitely is.”

I smiled when only the water, gradating from crystal-blue to dark, white-capped turquoise, showed through the lens. Seeing the past—including dead bodies—was an all-too-frequent event that still had the power to ruin my day. Having special witch talents wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

After clicking off some shots, Will and I kept walking towards the South Foreland Lighthouse and the quaint little café—Mrs Knott’s Tea Room. Another woman passed us, heading the way we’d come from, all rugged up with a scarf wrapped around her face so only her eyes were showing. I gave her a wave and smile, but she ignored me. Hmm, okay. Talk about unfriendly. I shook my head—nope, I wasn’t going to let a bit of unfriendliness ruin my day.

Will squeezed my hand. “You know the South Foreland Lighthouse was the first one to use an electric light?”

Good old Will, distracting me before I could get cranky about being snubbed. After all, the woman was just a stranger I would never know. Maybe she’d just had a fight with her husband, or maybe her best friend had just died, and she wasn’t in the mood to communicate with anyone. I squeezed his hand back. “I didn’t know that. What other titbits of information do you have to impart?”

“Well—” A chilling scream cut him off. We stopped and spun towards the cliff. Another couple stood there staring at the cliff edge. Will dropped my hand and ran to them. I was a bit slower—it wasn’t like there were snakes or anything around here. What could the emergency have been?

“Is everyone all right?” Will asked the couple. They looked to be fortyish and fit. I could imagine them doing rock climbing or marathons.

The man had put his arm around his partner, her face paler than you’d expect someone’s to be in the middle of an English winter. She kept staring at that one spot at the edge of the cliff. The man answered, his voice a pleasant Irish brogue. “We were walkin’ along, and this woman comes from over there.” He pointed back the way we’d come. “She just walks all determined-like to the edge and then just keeps on going.”