The Witch’s Handbook to Hunting Vampires

Andie Taylor is your average single mom. She’s got a beautiful toddler, a great job at the local preschool, a neurotic best friend and one huge secret—she used to hunt vampires. Now retired, Andie would much rather be wiping kid snot off her clothes than stalking the undead.

But after a meteor rips through her small town, strange things start happening—like the school janitor is found dead with fang marks in his neck.

Andie’s retired, it’s not her problem.

Until vampires attack Andie on her front lawn. Now she has to figure out who the head bloodsucker is and stop him from taking any more victims—all while juggling single motherhood, a crazy great aunt, and Andie’s own lust for a fallen angel. Can she solve the mystery before the vampires claim someone else? Or will she become the next target of the bloodsuckers?

Releases September 5, 2017

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Excerpt:
Chapter One
“Expect the unexpected, especially when it comes to relatives.”

My great aunt Dot decided to poof into my life at the exact same time I was talking my best friend down from the comet-pocalypse that was about to hit our town.

Literally—on both fronts.

I waved away a shimmering cloud of silver dust and came face to face with a pink-haired, feather jacket wearing seventy-year-old.

That’s right, I said feathers.

I placed a hand over the receiver. “I’ve told you a thousand times I don’t want magic worked in my house.”

“Andie, get off the phone. We’ve got bigger fish to fricassee.” Aunt Dot pulled off a pair of purple feather gloves and tossed them on a side table beside my trendy turquoise front door.

“I’m not getting off the phone, and keep it down, you’ll wake Gabby.”

Dot’s blue eyes sparkled. “Oh? Where is the little munchkin?”

I nodded toward the bedroom. “In there. Sound a sleep,” I wagged a finger at her.  “Don’t you change that.”

My newly acquired geriatric companion shuffled off to not wake my two-year-old daughter, who happened to be the love of my life. I sighed and put the phone back to my ear.

Kate panted into the line. “It’s the end of the world, Andie! I just know it.”

I grimaced. Kate McCall, my best friend and cohort in crime, pierced my eardrum with her shrieks of the apocalypse.

“It’s not the end of the world,” I said soothingly.

“Go look. Missy Burke’s already rode down my street calling it that. If she says it’s the end, then it probably is. That woman’s got her finger on the pulse of this town.”

“More like her nose up its rear end,” I said.

“Andie. Be nice.” Kate thought about that for a moment. “Nevermind. I love you snarky.”

I opened my front door and stepped out. Boards in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint creaked under my feet. “I don’t see anything. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

A shiny full sized Ford pickup truck grunted down Cedar street in my small hometown of Normal, Alabama. The driver bared down on the horn, threw her head out of the window and yelled, “It’s the end of the world, y’all! The Lord’s coming in a comet to set y’all straight.”

Missy Burke was nothing if not informative. Dark hair trailed behind her like snakes as the wind whipped across her face.

She pointed at me. “Say your prayers, Andie Taylor. The Lord sees you.”

I gave a friendly wave. “He sees you, too, scaring the good folks in this town half to death. You should be ashamed of yourself, Missy.”

Missy scrunched up her face and swatted at me as if I didn’t matter.

“Missy Burke just told me I was going to hell,” I said over the line.

“I’ll probably see you there,” Kate panted. “I don’t think I prayed enough, Andie. St. Peter’s going to tell me I need to turn right back around and go the other way.”

I laughed. “That’s not going to happen. You’re a great person. St. Peter’s going to be excited to have you.”

With Missy gone, the night had quieted but for a white light shining in the distance. It looked like a star except it was getting bigger by the moment. “It’s a comet. Nothing to worry about.”

“It’s pretty bright. It’s going to hit my house.”

“Listen, I’ll keep an eye on it. If it looks like it’s going to destroy your house, I’ll call you.”

“Thank you. Mwauah,” she kissed the phone. “You’re the greatest friend in all the world.”

“I try.”

We hung up and I went inside.

Dot entered the room. She started zipping up all the blinds.

“What are you doing?” I said.

“We’ve got to keep an eye on that comet. It’s not a natural phenomenon, Andie. It’s something magical.”

“It’s always about magic with you,” I mumbled. “Did you show up just to make my life complicated?”

Dot plumped her pink hair. “Of course not, but you’re a hunter and a witch. It beats me why you won’t use your powers.”

I crossed my arms and leaned against the front door. “Was a hunter. I’m not one anymore, and witchcraft causes more problems than it’s worth. I don’t need it and I don’t want it.”

Dot shrugged off her jacket and threw it on a chair.

“You’re not staying long, are you?” I said.

Please, don’t let her be staying long.

She plopped down on the couch and kicked up her feet. “I don’t know yet. Depends on what that comet brings.”

“How about some stardust and that’s it.”

My great aunt wagged a finger at me. “If your mother were here, she’d say I was right. I have the true instincts of a witch.”

I glared at her. “If my mother was here, she’d tell me to leave well enough alone.”

“Same thing,” Dot said. “Watch it, Andie. See what it does.”

At that moment, an eightball sailed into the room. That’s right. I didn’t stutter. A magic eightball.

Dot threw up her hands in glee. “Vordrid! Finally, someone with sense shows up.”

Vordrid sniffed. I know that as a magic eightball he didn’t technically have a nose but that didn’t stop him from making the sorts of sounds a person can only have with a head. “I’m a thousand years old. I should have some sense.”

Dot turned to me. “For someone who doesn’t like magic, I don’t understand why you keep Vordrid around.”

I shrugged. “He’s practically family and he doesn’t work magic. He ismagic. There’s a difference.”

“Right,” Dot said in disbelief.

Vordrid claimed he was older than Merlin, and that Merlin himself was a hack who stole most of his tricks from Vordrid. I wasn’t sure if I believed him because Vordrid had a bad habit of bragging.

The light outside brightened. Dot flew off the couch and to the window. “Quick! This is no ordinary comet.”

“As you’ve said a thousand times.” I caught my reflection in the mirror above the mantle. My thick honey and platinum colored hair lay in clumps over my shoulders and I had dark circles under each eye that even my cute fringe of bang couldn’t draw your attention away from. What I wouldn’t give for some stress release. Like a massage.

From a naked man.

Something I hadn’t seen in years and wasn’t likely to see anytime soon since Gabby took up all my free time.

Dot threw me a dark look. “There’s magic in the air. I can tell you that!”

I yawned. “Wake me when it’s over.”

Dot glanced at Vordrid. “You’re her mentor. Can’t you do anything with her?”

Vordrid settled himself down on the wooden coffee table. “What can I do with a witch who doesn’t want to be one?”

I smiled. “He’s pretty much right.”

Dot clasped her hands in frustration. “Andie, you must advocate for us. For your profession.”

“Dot, I’m a preschool teacher at Giving Trunk. I advocate for children everyday.”

Yes, it’s trunk, not tree. I think there was some sort of infringement thing that kept the place from being called Giving Tree.

Dot choked on something. By the sound of it, I think it was frustration. “You’re a witch.”

“Was a witch. I don’t practice.”

Vordrid pivoted toward Dot. “I haven’t been able to do anything with her for years. Not since that night.”

Dot shook her head and glanced back at the comet. “I don’t have time for your piddling, Andie. It’s coming.”

“It’s not like it’s the end of the world,” I said.

Vordrid hopped a bit. “It could be. You know that’s what killed the dinosaurs.”

“Vordrid, it’s not the end of the world.”

“Stranger things have happened.”

I nodded. “Exactly. Like me living with the spirit of a thousand-year-old wizard that happens to dwell inside a kid’s toy.”

Vordrid rattled his eightball shell. “As I said, stranger things, and I’m twelve hundred years. You forgot two centuries.”

“You’re the one who said a thousand.”

If he could’ve shrugged, Vordrid would have. “I left them out. Testing your knowledge.”

I rolled my eyes. “Thank you for reminding me. I’m going to check on Gabby.”

I padded into the small bedroom off the parlor and placed a hand in the crib. Gabby slept soundly. I pulled the covers down over her legs and made sure she was breathing.

Because that’s what all mothers do—we sporadically make sure that our children are still breathing because we’re a little mental that way.

The house started to shake. I went back into the living room. A couple of picture frames tumbled from their place on the mantle.

“Magic,” Dot whispered.

“Natural phenomenon,” I shot back.

“I feel a disturbance in the force,” Vordrid said.

What the? Seriously? Were they all against me?

I peeked out the window. Yellowish light filled the entire sky. People were coming out of their homes. The windows rattled and the walls shook as the comet flew over the street, scorching the tops of the trees.

A moment later, it sounded like the world had split in two. A quake rocked the house. Knicknacks fell off the shelves and to the floor. The shaking subsided as quickly as it started and the night retuned to peace and quiet.

Except for the twenty car alarms blaring down my street. I guess the rumbling had set them off.

Somehow, my child slept through the entire incident. I had a feeling Dot may have had something to do with that.

“I’m going to see what happened,” Vordrid said. His spirit lifted from the eightball. It looked like strips of white gossamer as it zipped out the window.

I thought things might get back to normal for the rest of the night.

Silly me. I realized that wasn’t going to happen when Dot grabbed me by the shoulders and spun me around. Sitting on my couch, licking its paw, sat what appeared to be a gray gargoyle.

“What the heck?” I screeched.

Dot pushed me forward. “It must’ve hitchhiked on my back when I came up from Patagonia.”

“Patagonia?” I said.

She wiggled her fingers. “I was there learning how to touch the sky. I must’ve touched something else instead.”

“Yeah, like a monster.”

The gargoyle stopped licking its paw. It opened leathery wings lined with veins, unhinged its mouth, and shot fire at us.

I ducked. “Oh, dear Lord!”

“Stop it, Andie,” Dot said, pushing me forward.

I tried to scramble back but she held me fast. “Why are you shoving me closer to it? Are you trying to fry me?”

Dot clasped my shoulders tightly. “You’re a hunter. Use your power!”

I pressed my heels into the rug, turned around and said. “Would you quit calling me that!”

Another spray of fire shot above our heads.

“Ah,” I screamed.

“You’re going to wake up Gabby,” Dot said, patting down her pink hair.

Holy crap on a stick. She was right. If I didn’t deal with this little turdball on my couch, the toddler would wake up and that would be a nightmare worse than my great aunt visiting me.

I glanced over my shoulder. The look of glee on Dot’s face made me stop. Something smelled funny and it wasn’t the streak of blackened ceiling that little monster had caused.

The gargoyle stared at me while I studied it. Instead of gathering my magic, I walked over to the creature and crossed my arms.

“Okay, how much did my aunt say she’d pay you for scaring me?”

The gargoyle frowned.

I rubbed my thumb over my fingers. “How much? Because what she didn’t tell you is that I’m going turn you into dust. I suggest you get out of here before that money, or gold, or whatever, seems like nothing because you have to sew yourself back together.”

The creature opened his mouth and screeched. He flapped his wings and half a second later, vanished in a purple cloud of magic.

I waved the air clear.

“You think you’re so smart,” Dot grumbled.

I grin. “You almost had me.” I pinched my fingers together. “So close, but you know, there’s a reason why I don’t invite you over often. Oh, and fix my ceiling.”

Dot snapped her fingers and the smudge disappeared. She clucked at me. “Your daughter needs to learn witchcraft.”

My nostrils flared. “Witchcraft killed my mother and it killed Dex. No thank you.”

Dot plucked her shirt from the waistband of her jeans. “It wasn’t the magic, per se.”

I shot her a dark look. “It was the magic and don’t you forget it.”

Dot clamped her lips shut.

Vordrid shot back into the house and twisted inside the eightball.

I rubbed at the headache that had sprouted in my temples. “What’d you see?”

He jumped up and down, making the knickknacks on the table jumble. “It wasn’t a regular comet.”

“See?” Dot said. “Told you so.”

“It’s really annoying when people use that phrase,” I said.

“We’re related. I can use it as much as I want.”

Vordrid kept jumping. “If it had been a comet I would’ve expected to see the meteor. But instead of a rock, there was an shape formed into the ground.”

I scratched the back of my head. “Really? A shape? That’s interesting.”

“It was interesting, Andie. Most interesting of all was the shape it had taken.”

“And what was that?” I said, half listening.

“The shape of a human.”

Dot plastered a smirk on her face. “I told you it wasn’t normal.”