A Modern Witch - By Debora Geary

Chapter 1

“I like the lingerie, Nell. Can I meet the woman it fits?”

“What?” Nell was trying to debug a couple of uncooperative lines of code, and her brother Jamie wasn’t making any sense.

“I’m standing beside a giant bra, available in eggplant, chocolate, and ruby. Says it’s size 34D, but either that’s a big underestimate, or you shrunk me. Go for the red, by the way—it’ll look good on you.”

“What? Oh, no.” Nell’s head snapped toward her second monitor. She had been testing programming code on one screen and shopping online for anniversary lingerie on the other. Sure enough, a five-inch tall version of Jamie was currently on screen two, ducking his head into the cup of a red lace bra.

He backed out and waved. “I’m impressed—nice magic trick. Nice bra, too. What are you working on?”

Nell was grateful he hadn’t noticed the matching garter belt and stockings already in her shopping cart. “Crap. Sorry. I’m working on the fetching spell for Witches’ Chat, the online witching community Sophie is adding to her site. The spell is supposed to locate witches as they browse the Internet and redirect them to our chat room.”

Jamie had climbed up the red-lace bra cup and made himself comfortable. “Looks like the locating part works fine, but I’m guessing this isn’t your chat room. If it is, I can guarantee you high attendance from the male witch population.”

“Get off the lingerie, Jamie—that’s just disturbing. Here.” Nell swiveled her two monitors toward each other so Jamie could read the spell code. “Any idea where it’s going wrong?”

Jamie squinted. “Hmm. So, first part, you identify witches as they move around online. That’s the tracking part, right?”

“Yes. Then we leave a sniffer cookie so we can find them again. When the fetching part of the spell is turned on, it should activate the sniffer cookie and pull our witch into chat. We’re triggering the fetching, but it’s obviously not pulling people to the right place.”

“I think I see your issue. You need to program Witches’ Chat as a fixed variable in line sixty-two. Right now it’s pulling people into your last known Internet location. Not that I mind.” Jamie had turned the bra straps into his own personal monkey bars.

“Dang. I see it now. Thanks for the help.”

“No problem. That’s a nice piece of spellcoding, by the way. Can you send me back? I was in the middle of lunch, and it was pretty good.”

“Oh, shit. You’re really in there?” Nell gave up on line sixty-two. Clearly they had bigger problems. “It’s just supposed to redirect you, not suck you into the net. I thought we’d just grabbed a virtual version of you.”

“Like I said, nice piece of magic. We could use it for the really advanced, witch-only levels of Enchanter’s Realm.” Jamie was always looking for a new coding challenge for their online-gaming world.

Nell knew even her spellcoding skills weren’t that good. “I don’t have enough power working alone to write a transporting spell. It must have piggybacked on your teleporting skills.”

Jamie pillowed his head on red lace. “Yeah, that could have upped the voltage. Let’s work on it, though—it could be a real jolt for Realm. In the meantime, do me a favor—can you click to the product photos of women wearing the bras? More fun for me while you work on getting me out. Take your time.”

“Fortunately,” Nell said dryly, “I have ample practice in reversing spell misfires.” She thought for a minute and typed a couple lines of code. Waving goodbye to Jamie, she reached for power.

“I ask the lines of power and spell,

Remember the steps you just now took.

Take this one you know so well,

Send him home to be and look.

As I will, so mote it be.”

Lauren paced back and forth in front of the entrance to one of Chicago’s hottest new condo addresses. She shot a distracted smile at the doorman and waved the real estate folder in her hand in his general direction. Thank goodness for cell phone ear buds, she thought ruefully. These days, talking to yourself on the street didn’t draw much attention. It could be her little secret that she carried on both parts of the conversation.

She was resigned about this particular showing. The clients were wonderful people, but they had a long list of demands. Truth be known, no condo in downtown Chicago was going to meet their expectations. However, it was her job to show them the loft, whether they were ready to be realistic or not. She