MAGIC & MAYHEM SERIES
“Magically Delicious is “funny, fast-paced, and filled with laugh-out-loud dialogue. Robyn Peterman delivers a sidesplitting, sexy tale of powerful witches and magical delights. I devoured Magically Delicious in one sitting!”
~ ANN CHARLES, USA Today Bestselling Author of the Deadwood Humorous Mystery Series
Your Broom or Mine?
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What’s a Tree Sprite to do when she’s stumped?
Get to the root of the problem, of course.
Only I wood get stuck in a tree with the Warlock I love camped out next to it mea-culpa-ing for being a turdwaffle for the last decade.
What should I do about it?
Umm… stay in the tree and enjoy the show.
Location: Assjacket, West Virginia (Who in their right mind named this town?)
Mission: Get out of the tree and dropkick the Warlock who forgot to mention he was in love with me until I was stuck in a tree.
Obstacles: Just about everything… crazy foul mouthed witches, accident-prone shifters and a musical production of Jaws.
The Problem: A vicious Slug shifter who will do anything to ruin my future.
The Solution: With a little luck, a whole bunch of salt, a pinch of magic and the help of my certifiable new buddies, I might just survive long enough to put down some new roots.
And if the journey in the woods gets too crazy? Not a problem. I’ll just branch out and take the psycho-path.
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My stomach flipped. Then my stomach flopped.
It wasn’t just my stomach. It was my brain, my emotions and my magic. I was a hot mess and a possible arboreal disaster waiting to happen.
While I was tempted to yell timber, I wasn’t exactly falling, and I didn’t want to alarm the boys. They’d been so protective and kind. Not to mention, I wasn’t technically a tree.
With each passing day, it was getting more obvious that my body had healed from its near-death state and it was time to leaf, but I choked every time I tried to force the words from my lips.
And oh, my Goddess… the puns. I was speaking the language of my people. It wasn’t surprising, due to my leafly, umm… lovely surroundings, but I’d given Puntreelish up about ninety years ago when I was five—not that I looked ninety-five, thank the Goddess. Most dryads stopped aging around thirty give or take a few life rings… Crap. Years—give or take a few years.
Should I stay or should I go? The Clash wasn’t going to be able to help me with this one. Decisions were harsh. I hadn’t made one in what felt like ages, and it had been freaking fantastic.
Should I open my eyes or keep floating in the sparkling rainbow kaleidoscope? My stomach tingled with the sensation of riding a lightning-fast roller coaster. Magic was exquisite, delicate and ethereal. Simply staying still enabled my mind to travel to otherworldly places—safe places.
It also enabled me to avoid reality. Definitely not my normal MO. But reality was unknown and not very promising at the moment.
Done. The answer was to stay. I’d keep my eyes closed and defy gravity. Elphaba knew what she was talking about. Witches—even wicked ones—were delightful.
“Wakey, wakey, little dryad,” the huge oak whispered in a melodic tone. “Time to spruce up for the day ahead.”
I smiled and groaned. Trees were very punny.
Normally, being inside a tree was peaceful. It was second nature to my kind. However, being stuck inside of a tree for a month after nearly dying was a little a-tree-o-phying. Of course, the almost dying part wasn’t all that pleasant, either—more like a bloody vicious battle that visited me nightly in my dreams. The voodoo witch, Henrietta Smith, who went by Marie Laveau, had tried to destroy me with the darkest magic I’d ever come across. She’d almost succeeded. However, that was the past, and I was trying my best to leaf it there.
“Leaf me alone, Sponge Bob,” I said with an exaggerated yawn. “Need my beauty sleep.”
The huge tree chuckled. The vibration felt like a small tremor from an earthquake. It tickled all over and made me sigh with content.
“Sleep is not required for your beauty, little one. You are one of the most exquisite creatures on the Goddess’s green earth. However, your leaf of absence is coming to an end quite soon,” Sponge Bob said.
Like I said… punny.
And while I was all for a good tree pun or joke since I was a dryad, a month was a seriously long time to only be able to chat with gargantuan wooden oaks. Not that I was ungrateful. I wasn’t. I adored the trees. Plus, Sponge Bob and the boys had saved my life. Not only had they healed me, they’d rocked me back to sleep after every single nightmare. Repayment would be impossible, but I’d figure out something.
“So, it’s time for me to make like a tree and leaf.” A pit of despair formed in my stomach.
Sponge Bob’s warm spring-scented magic surrounded me and cuddled me like a baby. “Little Willow, you can’t hide forever. Your body is healed. It’s your spirit that needs help right now. There are many who mourn you. You leaf quite an impression on people.”
I was tempted to ask who mourned me, but I bit the words back. I had no clue if the warlock I pined for was alive or if Henrietta Smith had ended Zach like she’d tried to end me. And then there was also Zorro, my best friend who might have perished as well in the battle. Henrietta had collected rare magical creatures so she could drink their blood and harness their power. Zach had been the product of a powerful witch and warlock. It had made him particularly delectable to the evil crone. Zorro, a fainting goat Shifter, was basically a unicorn in the Shifter world. He was able to wield magic almost as well as any warlock, which made him a treasured find for the maniacal bitch. Zorro also fainted under pressure, which made him an easy target. Oh, Goddess, Zorro. I had a vague memory of him alive, and I held onto it for all I was worth. But Zach? I didn’t know what had happened to him and that figured prominently into my night terrors. Again, far easier to avoid physical existence and just live it up for the rest of my days in a tree.
“Soon,” I whispered.
Sponge Bob hugged me tighter. “As you wish, little one.”
“I have a pleasan-tree to share,” Grumpy announced.
“How pleasant?” Doc inquired suspiciously.
Not only had Sponge Bob sheltered me, his buddies had also aided in my healing. The five trees had taken me in without question and lovingly absorbed my barely alive body into their own massive wooden ones. Sponge Bob was the tree who had kept me cradled safely within. Sleepy, Doc, Sneezy and Grumpy had attached their branches to Sponge Bob to provide him with more magic. They were basically now one big-assed tree with five trunks.
For them to join together like this was unheard of and beautiful beyond imagination.
Grumpy cleared his throat and pondered aloud as he was wont to do. “I’m undeciduous about how pleasant my pleasan-tree is. It might be an oversimp-leaf-ication to say pleasant.”
“Does this pleasan-tree include potty words?” Sneezy asked. “Remember, we do have a guest.”
“Umm, guys,” I said with a laugh. “I’m cool with potty words. I use them. Often.”
“And you use them quite well,” Sponge Bob congratulated me. “However, I do have to concede that our witchy leader, Zelda of the Poopy Crap Mouth, has a way with the potty language that verges on poe-tree. She has a mouth like an illus-tree-ous sailor on a life-long bender. Very impressive.”
I grinned. It was an understatement. Zelda’s use of curse words was positively inspired. Zelda of the Poopy Crap Mouth was yet one more magnificent person to whom I owed my life. The trees were her minions, and she had brought me to them. She was also the twin sister of the warlock I loved and who I feared was dead.
So, I avoided thinking about him. It hurt a lot less than dealing with the truth.
“I’d like to hear your pleasan-tree, Grumpy,” I told my friend, buying more time.
“I’d be ex-tree-mely excited to share. What does a Christmas tree and a priest have in common?” Grumpy asked.
“I’m stumped,” Doc replied.
“Anyone?” Grumpy called out.
“Nope,” Sneezy said.
“No clue,” Sleepy said.
“Willow? Would you like to guess?” Grumpy asked cheerfully. He really was the complete antithesis of his name.
“Umm… no,” I said with a giggle. I was certain the answer would be fabulously knotty. While Grumpy wasn’t a grump at all, his pleasan-trees were slightly out-tree-geous for an oak.
“Their balls are just for decoration!” Grumpy shouted then burst into high-pitched squeaky laughter as the ground shook beneath us.
“Grumpy, that was quite shady and disgusting,” Sponge Bob admonished. “However, I can top it.”
“Tree-mendous,” Grumpy said, still chuckling. “Go for it.”
“What did the wind say to the palm tree?” Sponge Bob asked.
“Stumped again,” Doc said.
“Hold onto your nuts, this is no ordinary blow job,” Sponge Bob choked out as his entire root system jiggled.
I laughed right along with him. Sponge Bob had been such a gracious host. He and the four others had fussed over me and made me feel welcome the entire time I’d been their guest. I couldn’t have asked for a better arboreal home. But even I knew my time with the boys was coming to an end.
“Very punny—both of you,” I said as lime-green pops of glitter burst around my head-wreath. Inside the tree, my body was a blur of golden and bright green sparkles. Gravity had no hold on me in this state. I vibrated and shifted colors with the heartbeats of the trees. “I’ve got one. How do you know when a tree has had too much to drink?”
The boys were silent, but I could feel them rumble and snicker in anticipation.
“It won’t stop trunk-texting its ax,” I said, bracing myself so I didn’t get sucked up into a branch by accident. Occasionally, when the boys got giggly, I got tossed around. Trunks were far more comfortable than branches.
All five enormous oaks shrieked with laugher. The sound warmed my heart and calmed my soul. Ironically, for their size, you’d think that trees would have deep grumbling laughs. Nope, when trees laughed it sounded as if they’d swallowed a vat of helium. It was every kind of fabulous.
Although I couldn’t see a thing, I could hear the sound of their leaves shudder and hiss with delight. I knew if I opened my eyes and let my mind wander, I would discover what was happening outside the safety of Sponge Bob’s trunk, but I hadn’t felt exactly brave.
I’d never thought of myself as a coward. However, I worried that if I went back out into the world it would be more devastating than dying.
“I have another,” I said, needing their laughter. It was the best medicine. “Why couldn’t the evergreen land a date?”
“I guaran-tree I do not know the answer,” Sleepy announced grandly.
“That was sappy,” Sneezy pointed out.
“Take it or leaf it,” Sleepy said with a giggle. “Tell us the answer, lovely little Willow!”
I grinned. “It was so busy pining after an unavailable tree that it never really branched out.”
No one laughed.
My grin disappeared.
I’d hit a little too close to home with that one—my home. Crap. I’d pined for a man who didn’t think of me as more than a friend… and I’d never branched out to find someone who might love me back.
That was pathetic.
I was pathetic.
“What is it that you fear, Willow?” Sponge Bob asked kindly.
I hadn’t put words to my thoughts yet. Speaking my fears would make them real. Was I being ridiculous? Yes. Would my mother—Goddess rest her beautiful soul—have a fit that I’d lost my balls somewhere along the way? Absolutely. Would my handsome and brave father who’d perished along with my mother fifty years ago tell me to pull up my big girl panties and live my life to the fullest and bushiest? You bet. Were dryads known as wimps in the magical world? No.
Did a man define me?
Even the hottest warlock alive?
No. No. No. My forestration level was at an all-time high.
“My balls,” I said.
“I’m sorry, what?” Sponge Bob asked, clearly confused.
“As in tes-tree-cles?” Doc asked, perplexed.
“Umm… kind of,” I said with a laugh. “My metaphorical balls. I’ve lost them.”
Sleepy swayed in concentration. “While trees do have nuts, it’s a different kind of nut you’re referring to. Correct?”
“Correct,” I told him with a grin. I was going to miss these boys when I left.
Grumpy cleared his throat. “Speaking of metaphorical cojones, would any of you ever go on the acorn diet?”
“Does this pertain to the conversation?” Sponge Bob asked with a sigh.
“Not at all,” Grumpy said. “I just thought I’d add a little levity to the hairy sac chat.”
“I’d like to answer the query,” Sneezy volunteered.
“Fine,” Sponge Bob said. “And then no more jokes. We must discuss where Willow lost her nards.”
I was tempted to stop them, but I wanted to know the answer.
“I would never go on the acorn diet,” Sneezy said. “It’s NUTS!”
All five trees trembled with laughter. The jokes were just awful, but the company was perfect.
“Pipe down,” Sponge Bob told his buddies. “Although, I must say that was a good one, Grumpy. But back to our little dryad’s missing knotty bits… The only way to find your absen-tree jewels is to go back out into the world and search for them.”
The wise oak made an excellent point. I needed more advice. Following my own hadn’t gone too well.
“What would you think of a girl who’d loved a man who didn’t love her in return for an entire decade?” I asked, laying it all out.
“He’s nuts and not the metaphorical kind,” Grumpy grumbled.
“No. Maybe I’m nuts,” I said. “Maybe I should just let it go and move on.”
“Is that what you want, little dryad?” Sleepy asked.
“Nope. But Mick Jagger says you can’t always get what you want.”
“Does this Mick Jagger have balls?” Sponge Bob inquired.
I laughed. “Yes, and very tight spandex pants. He’s a Rolling Stone. Maybe I’ll take a page out of his book.”
Doc tsked. “Oh Willow, no, no, no. A rolling stone never settles in one place for long. You will never gather moss… or love or friends or a home… and spandex is so eighties.”
The thought was depressing—not the spandex part, that was accurate—but no more depressing than unrequited love. Dryads lived for many centuries. I’d bounced around many a forest in my time and there were more left to discover. A fresh start was what I needed. A rolling stone didn’t sound too bad. But I needed a few clarifications about my current friends and love of my life before I started spinning through my new life.
“Boys, can I ask a question?”
“Absolu-tree,” Sponge Bob replied.
“Is Zach alive or dead?”
The trees were silent and my stomach dropped to my toes.
“Open your eyes, Willow,” Sponge Bob urged. “Look and see for yourself. It’s the first step in finding your hairy magic beans.”
I sighed and silently agreed. The mighty oak was correct. However, the variety of nicknames for balls was astounding.
“You’re right. Can I come back and visit you some day?” I whispered, screwing up the courage to open my eyes and take a peek at the world I’d avoided for the past month.
“You always have a home in us. We have bonded and I am now your tree… a father of sorts,” Sponge Bob said with pride. “And as your wooden pappy, I must tell you if you truly want to locate your gonads, you must be brave and reenter the world beyond.”
“You’re my tree now?” I asked with wonder. It was rare for a dryad to bond with a tree. Contrary to popular belief, most of us went from tree to tree for centuries. To have a tree to call one’s own was an honor beyond honors. My mom and dad would have been elated for me and would have approved of Sponge Bob heartily. An orphaned dryad finally had a home of her own.
“Indeed, I am yours, child,” Sponge Bob said. “And I couldn’t be more tree-lighted.”
My smile was so wide it hurt my mouth. “I couldn’t be more tree-lighted either.”
“And by proxy, we are your uncles—or rela-tree-ives as I like to say,” Grumpy added.
“Yes, yes, yes,” Doc said with a high-pitched squeal of joy. “We’ve always wanted a little tree sprite of our own.”
“You’re a tree-mendous gift to us,” Sneezy said. “We are gra-tree-fied with our new anses-tree. You are loved, little Willow.”
“I love all of you too,” I whispered. The thought of having someplace that I truly belonged was magical.
“Back to your mission,” Sleepy reminded me. “You must find your wrinkled prunes. We are rooting for you.”
My arboreal family certainly had a way with words.
“I can do this,” I said, taking a deep breath.
“We have faith in you, little one,” Grumpy said. “Faith that you will indeed find your meat clackers and wear them well.”
“Thank you,” I said with a giggle. The intention was supportive. The wording was iffy. “Balls. I want my balls back. And I’m going to Mick Jagger my way through life until I find them.”
“Remember when your stones get tired of rolling, you have a place with us to rest your weary head and change your spandex pants,” Sponge Bob said. “We are your home now and can replenish your power with an embrace.”
Grumpy rustled his leaves. “You’re our little tree-hugger now.”
“Thank you. You have no idea how much that means to me,” I said, letting my magic open up and consume me.
“On three,” Doc said encouragingly. “Open your eyes on three.”
“One,” Sneezy said.
“Two,” Sleepy chimed in.
“Three,” I said, opening my eyes and gasping with joy. “Oh thank Goddess, Zach’s alive.”
Series: Magic & Mayhem Series, Book 8
Publisher: Robyn Peterman
Publication Date: September 14, 2020
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Romantic Comedy
Length: 212 pages