About Mind Behind the Mind:
The local Enforcers believe a witch is behind Jeremiah’s sickness, so they call Bastian to town. He’s a young witch hunter who normally has a knack for sniffing out witches. But when he runs into the striking Tessa, she scrambles his senses. He’s inexplicably drawn to her and abandons his usually cautious nature.
As Tessa and Bastian uncover clues about Jeremiah’s illness, Tessa has to face the possibility that another witch may have had a hand in the incident. And if Bastian learns she’s a witch, he may point his finger at her. Then her head will surely roll.
An O of surprise lit Betha’s face. “Miss Tessa?”
Tessa embraced the shorter woman, the stranger stiff in her arms. With lips close to Betha’s ear, she whispered, “Remember what I wrote in my letter.” She backed away and observed the streaks of gray in the woman’s curly black hair. “Cousin, I hardly recognize you. You’re so thin, a horse’s snort could knock you over.” Tessa smoothed out the wrinkles in her cotton dress, pausing mid-stroke when she recognized her act of nervousness.
“The years haven’t been good to me.” Betha averted her gaze. “If only I were your age again.” Her pale eyes grew distant.
“Come now. Perk up. Enough of the sadness.” Tessa hugged her again, but Betha still didn’t soften her body. This woman’s suffering struck Tessa’s heart. “Let’s go. I’m exhausted, and I’d like to see Jeremiah.”
Betha picked up one of the bags. “Of course, dear. I reserved a room for you at the inn. Sorry we don’t have space to keep you, but we abandoned the larger house a while back for something more suitable to our needs. The inn should be comfortable, though.”
Betha would rather not have a witch under her roof – any excuse would have done, even if the house was big enough. Tessa dismissed Betha’s words with a wave of her hand. “Don’t apologize. We must make do with what we have.” She picked up her other two bags. “Shall we?”
“Would you like to stop at the inn first?”
“I have a bag here I’d like to keep at your house. And besides, I can bear the burden of carrying my bags if it means seeing Jeremiah all the sooner.”
Betha led the way off the platform and onto the town’s main dirt road and turned right, heading away from town and toward the orchards and farmhouses. Tessa marveled at the thriving plants, awed at the knowledge used to irrigate this miracle at the edge of the desert. Her ancestors had created the irrigation system, as her lessons had told her, yet the making was lost to her generation. Tessa’s home, Haven, was an oasis – practically a paradise – unlike Sierka.
Silence fell between the two as they walked down the road, clouds of dust rising at their heels. Orchards and stone farmhouses surrounded them. The crimson sun, in the green-blue sky, beat down on ripening fruits and vegetables. A sweetness filled the air, promising the taste of pomegranates and golden desert glowras.
Tessa imagined what the orchards would look like if the irrigation failed. Twining fruitless branches stretching upward, imploring the sky to open and bring forth rain. She regarded the trees, envisioning their lifeless husks, and noticed a tree with two shadows.
One of the shadows shifted. Cold tendrils wove into her mind. The shadow shouldn’t have been there; it was wrong.
About Alexa Grave:
Alexa Grave loves to tell stories--it just so happens her characters occasionally take her on an unexpected ride. Most of what she writes is dark fantasy, but she enjoys her attempts at the humorous side of things. It's not odd to find romance within her fantasy as well.
She has an M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, and she is a member of Broad Universe.
Alexa's life isn't filled with writing alone. In her spare time, she enjoys gaming. And she has a supportive husband just as addicted to gaming as she is. Reading and thinking up large, impossible projects to work on top her list of fun things to do as well.
Most importantly, she has two beautiful daughters who don't give her much spare time to do any of the above.