If it were possible to die of embarrassment, I would be six feet under at this moment. Make that twenty-four. Grandam Morgana had come to pick me up for the holidays. But she had come decked out in holiday gear from the seventies, not good years for anyone, and especially not for someone with dyed orange hair. A large lime green witch's hat, floppy brim and all, was perched on top of the tangerine mane, with tacky sparkles. She also wore matching green lipstick and sunglasses (with ostentatious teal rhinestones, ugh!), to match the hat. A pumpkin orange tight dress made out of some kind of shiny material didn't help matters (Grandam is no bean pole), and the knee high violet and snot colored stockings made me simply want to hurl. Neon salmon saddles shoes completed this disaster.

Can we say fashion police? Not to mention, EW!

Oh, and my life is officially ruined.

"Is that your grandma, Tasia?"


"Tasia," Grandam yells, and starts motioning at me to bring my bags over to the car. Great. I smile at Ryan, grab my suitcases, hoping that maybe he won't notice where I'm going. No such luck, I turn my head back, and he's still staring at Grandam.

"See you next week!" Yeah, sure, now he thinks I'm a freak. Familial likeness and all. I went over to Grandam, more greatness; she'd brought the '79 Station Wagon. And even worse, her Persian, Sir Lancelot. More like Sir-irk-a-lot. I hated him, he hated me, it was a deep hate-hate relationship that had developed over many years.

"Tasia!" Grandam Morgana leans over to give me a kiss. I could hear Lancelot hiss in her arms, and then I feel the puke green lipstick cake onto my cheek. Yuck! Ick. Ew!

In the car, smushed between my bags, I couldn't wait until I got home to see Aunt Murgatroyd and my cousin Jestine. We were the same age, and always had a great time at Halloween together. Until this year she'd gone to a different private boarding school, St. Martha's Academy, and so hadn't been allowed breaks over Yuletide.

"So how has your year been so far, dear?"


"Learn any good man grabbing spells yet?"

"No, Grandam." I sigh, every year she asks me the same question; I knew she was looking for a date to the Harvest Ghoul Ball. Surprisingly she usually got one. This was the first year Jestine and I would be allowed to go, witches could attend at thirteen, and at sixteen, they could bring a guest. I hadn't wanted to go alone with Grandam and Aunt, so I waited until this year to bring Jestine along. From her letters I knew she was excited. I would rather stay home and have a nice, long date with Ben and Jerry's.

"I'm speeding into high gear." Grandam put the car into –EE- drive, extra emergency gear, and we were pulling into her driveway the next minute. Maybe I should mention her house is a good regular six days drive from my school.

"Grandam, that drive is for emergencies. Hence the name!"

"Stop whining at me Tasia, sometimes these things are needed. And rush hour traffic on 98 is an emergency. Anyway, home sweet home."

I look at the baby blue Victorian house with pastel pink and mauve gingerbread trimmings, and wonder how I will ever be a good 'inspiration to images of evil everywhere', as my black potions prospectus says, if I don't go home to a haunted castle, or at least something haunted. Instead, I have the Hansel and Gretel witches' house. And we all know she ended up inside an oven.

It is a lot of pressure to put on a girl.

When I got inside, Aunt Murgatroyd and Jestine were already there.

"Hey there, chum-ette!" Jestine looked up and smiled. Sometimes it is hard not to be jealous of her. She looks like an 'inspiration to images evil everywhere.' With sheets of rippling black-black hair and dark eyes, tall and confident, Jestine is the picture of a witch, someone who could win the 'Which witch?' contest at school as Snow White's queen.

Unfortunately, for her, and for me, I was the one with the powers. If I could look the part, maybe I could fix my family's rep at school. Teachers couldn't even make it through roll call without sniggering at least twice when they came to my name, even if they were nice, they just couldn't help themselves. Not that I blame them, you see. I was stuck with the Fairy genes, all from my dad's side of the family. Pale, yes, you could call it albino, and well, I prefer petite, but you would say short at a towering five one, with a lovely (not!) mess of fizzy ginger ringlets. And have I mentioned blue eyes? Not pretty, pale blue, but, the bane of my existence, bright electric blue. My mom used to joke that she'd had an affair with a traffic light gone wrong. Ha, ha.

See? I'm cursed.

"So how was the ride, dear?" Aunt Murgatroyd asks in her high, sweet wheezing tone. She and Grandam Morgana are total opposites; Aunt is as thin as a wire and always has a slightly spacey look in her china-blue gaze. At the moment, she has a purple iguana wrapped around her head like a turban, and is eating what looks like cereal and cottage cheese with coffee poured in it. She's wearing one house-slipper, and one shiny yellow rain boot.

She's slightly nutty.

Jestine answers for me, she says, "I'm sure it was just fine, Auntie." Aunt Murgatroyd nods, and wanders back into the other room. Grandam comes through the other door and proclaims,

"Well, Tasia, if you and Jestine are settled, I'm off to market. Got to get moving on a dish for the Ball!" With that, she sweeps out. Jestine immediately grabs my arms and fairly squeals,

"Tassi, you've got to meet my new boyfriend!"

I nearly fall over. Boyfriend?

"Since when?" I ask.

"A month ago. He's totally gorgeous!"

"Do I know him?"

"It's Tim."

"Coffee shop Tim?" I ask incredulously. She nods, smiling goofily, and I think back to last summer when he moved into town. I would not have defined him as 'gorgeous'. In fact, I would nameth him a nerd.

"Oh," I say, not sure what else there is to say. "Do Aunt and Grandam know about this?"

"Of course not, don't be stupid Tassi, he's not a 'fine standard of warlock whose name goes back in history records for centuries', he's just a really cute guy. They don't get it, though. Please don't tell them!"

Jestine looks down at me with pleading eyes, how can I say anything but yes? But I know if Grandam finds out about this, and that I know, my head is going to be the one on a platter. Julienned and fried.

"Alright, I'll meet him. But let's hurry."

Jestine is out the door in a second. I just hope we're back before Grandam.