A Reckless Witch - By Debora Geary

Chapter 1

Sierra looked up and down the beach carefully before she walked out into the water. She didn’t want any stray tourists freaking out about her little swim.

Not that there were a lot of tourists on Oregon beaches in December. She tossed a light trickle of power up to the Heceta Head lighthouse. It was foggy enough today that she wouldn’t be able to see it from out in the water. This way she’d be able to come back—if she wanted to.

Maybe Momma just hadn’t wanted to come back.

Her ankles were freezing. Sierra activated the small spell that kept her warm even in the frigid winter ocean waters.

“I call on Air, I call on Fire,

Molecules dance and heat inspire.

Coat my skin with fire-warmed air,

Warmest summer waters wear.

A child of the ocean, swimming free

As I will, so mote it be.”

Her ankles warmed nicely, thanks to her magical wetsuit. Momma had shown her this trick when she was a little girl and even the much-warmer ocean waters of Hawaii turned her into a Popsicle.

She missed Hawaii almost as much as she missed Momma.

Gathering power one more time, Sierra dove into the surf and swam out into the ocean with long, sure strokes. In less than a minute, she’d cleared the protected waters of the Heceta Head bay and felt the playful pull of the riptide currents.

Careful, she murmured to the water. Not just yet. Let me get out past the rocks first.

She continued kicking out to sea in a steady freestyle. The riptides were strong today. They often were in midwinter—just one more reason to brave the chill waters.

Bubbles of laughter blew out of her lungs when she crossed the shoreline riptide and swam into the much larger one that would pull her out to sea. Want to play today, do you?

Excellent. She was in the mood to wrestle, and the heavy mists would hide them from prying eyes onshore.

She rolled onto her back, power streaming through her outstretched hands.

“I call on Water, friend to me

Curve and swirl, a tempest be.

I call on Air, sister of mine

Dip and whirl, a twisted line.

A storm of fun, we playful three

As I will, so mote it be."

Swells of water rose and fell under her back as energy gathered. Sierra opened her eyes just in time to see the ten-foot wave about to crash on her head. With a flip of her feet, she twisted and dove under the base of the wave, giggling. Play nice!

Surfacing, she threw a bolt of power at the backside of the wave, splitting it in two, and pulled nimbly onto her feet, surfing on the surge of water that charged up the middle.

Energy crackled from both the clouds overhead and her sizzling fingers. She toyed with making a real storm for a moment, and then dropped back into the water. Real storms required a decent breakfast if she didn’t want to run out of fuel and freeze on her swim back to shore.

She dove into another swell, spied a funnel of air and water forming to her left, and swam up into the tail. It was like riding a washing machine, round and round, a solid wall of water at her back. Sierra laid her head back and reveled in the speed.

Blood pounding in her ears, she reached out more gently now. The funnel slowed. Catching her bearings, she sent out a seeking finger of power, heading southwest. Hawaii wasn’t the closest source of warm-water currents, but the Gulf waters didn’t carry the same feel of welcome.

Her heart ached as the first trickles of Maui water came, bringing sunshine and time-faded memories. Foster-care budgets didn’t extend to plane tickets to Hawaii, no matter how often she asked.

If she found a job, maybe she could earn enough.

That was a big “if.” There weren’t a lot of jobs on the Oregon Coast in winter, and DHS only paid for her to go somewhere else if she already had a job.

Yeah—because people handed those out all the time to eighteen-year-old kids they didn’t know. Here, cuddled by the ocean waters of her birth, she could let loose some of her seething frustration with a system of unbending rules and soul-stealing piles of paper.

For the first twelve years of her life, she’d lived a life of utter freedom, being exactly the Sierra Brighton she’d wanted to be.

For the last six, she’d lived numb and dead, dumped into a world where no one cared who Sierra Brighton really was.

Oh, Momma, what happened to you?

Sierra let her