Social Medium (Hedgewitch for Hire #2) - Christine Pope


Getting the Gram

Josie Woodrow, Globe, Arizona’s most indefatigable real estate agent and purveyor of local gossip — and the instigator of more schemes, promotional and otherwise, than I could even begin to count — came sailing into my store, brandishing her gleaming iPhone 12 in one hand.

“I have it!” she announced, using the phone to punctuate her words with a flourish.

Although I’d only been living in the tiny Arizona town for a few months, by that point I already knew to be wary when Josie got that glint in her light blue eyes. “Have what?” I asked cautiously.

She waved the phone again. It had a red sequined case that was almost as bright as Josie’s short, spiky hair. “I’ve been racking my brains, trying to come up with some kind of event or attraction that would draw more tourists to the town. Yes, I managed to convince the elders of the San Ramon tribe to hold their poker tournament after all, but I honestly don’t think that will be enough to bring the kind of traffic we need.”

I’d been in the middle of restocking the rack that held various packets of incense sticks and cones when Josie entered the store. When I first opened Once in a Blue Moon, I honestly hadn’t known what to expect in terms of sales, since at first glance, Globe seemed like a very conservative little town, and not the sort of place where a shop that specialized in New Age and pagan books, clothing, and various esoteric supplies would necessarily do very well. And while I had to admit that the books were slower to move, I actually did a fairly brisk business in crystals, jewelry, essential oils, and incense.

Not that any of those sales would have necessarily made me rich…but I didn’t need them to. The unexpected inheritance I’d received from Lucien Dumond, late sorcerer and former head of the Greater Los Angeles Necromancer’s Guild — GLANG for short — had pretty much guaranteed that I wouldn’t have to worry about money for the rest of my life. No, the store had been sort of a vanity project, and so it cheered me to see how many people seemed to truly enjoy shopping there, bringing a little bit of magic into everyone’s lives.

Of course, I hadn’t kept all of the windfall from Lucien’s inheritance for myself. I would have felt positively guilty over being so selfish. No, I’d donated to the fund to build a new gym at the local high school, had written large checks for a variety of food banks and other charities, and had also been fairly lavish in giving to Josie’s pet project, the Old Globe Theater Group, which staged several productions each year. Even so, a fairly frightening amount of money remained in my various brokerage and savings accounts. I really had no idea how I’d ever manage to spend even a small percentage of it.

“Do you need me to sponsor another booth at the Fourth of July parade?” I asked, figuring doing so was certainly within my budget. Actually, my budget was big enough that I could probably sponsor the entire parade, the concert in the park afterward, and the fireworks show to follow and not even notice it, but I had a feeling that telling Josie about my seemingly bottomless funds wouldn’t be a very good idea. She was already creative enough when it came to inventing ways for other people to spend their money.

She shook her head. “Actually, we’re already full up. That’s a very good sign, considering we still have two weeks to go. No, I was talking about this. Have you ever heard of Instagram witches?”

And she unlocked her phone and handed it to me.

I took it from her with the same care as someone who’d just been handed a rattlesnake. It wasn’t that I was worried about dropping her expensive new phone. No, it was more that the phrase “Instagram witches” sent a worried pulse down my spine. I wanted to dismiss the sensation as a reaction to the mere thought of anything social media–related — I had a Facebook profile because I had a page for the store, and that was it — but my instincts told me the little shiver had probably been my psychic gifts reaching out into the universe and letting me know that Josie was about to bring some pretty crappy juju down on my head.

On the phone’s screen was the image of a woman maybe around twenty-nine,