Today's Theme is You are Always on My Mind. I had to laugh because I knew exactly which story I should post! This isn't the woman always on the man's mind snippet, this is a witch cursed to live in the body and mind of another woman. Her host is always on her mind! It's a wonderfully sexy and heartbreaking short story, should you choose to read the rest of it.
As punishment for using magic unwisely, Catherine Wein, ex-witch and totally cursed, is doomed to spend each year in a different woman's life. It's New Year's Eve and at the stroke of midnight she'll make the switch to another host's life. Catherine's determined to grab for as much happiness as she can with her remaining hours in Kindra Merlot's body. Enter sexy cop, Sam Cade.
Dumped by his girlfriend right after Christmas, Sam isn't in the mood to celebrate until he sees the willowy beauty, Kindra. Her sensuality and sexual aggressiveness revives his lagging spirits. Is she the one for him or is she another lying, cheating woman like his ex? Will he have more than tonight to find out?
“Don’t forget to check on her every day. She needs people, even if she says she doesn’t. Trust me on this.” Catherine moved through the eighteenth-floor studio apartment in the Hell’s Kitchen district of New York City, straightening paintings, fluffing the bright pillows she’d added to the couch and watering the plants she’d grown from clippings off Dolly’s huge collection of houseplants and herbs. Basically, she was delaying her descent to the building lobby for the annual tenants’ New Year’s Eve party.
I don’t need a babysitter. Kindra’s thought made her jump. So often lately, Kindra remained silent, preferring Catherine to handle everything in their shared existence.
“I’ll check on her.” Dolly stood by the door, a determined smile on her freckled face, although tears welled in her bright green eyes. “I can’t believe you won’t be here after tonight. I mean you will, but you won’t. Ah hell. I’ll miss you.”
“You promised me you wouldn’t get all mushy, so don’t go there.” Catherine spun away, refusing to give in to tears. Instead, she marched into the kitchen and yanked the refrigerator door open, snatching the bottle of Merlot from the sparkling clean shelves lined with healthy foods. All the groceries and cheerful decorations throughout the apartment would be her only legacy to Kindra to encourage her to maintain the healthy body Catherine had worked so hard to establish over the past year.
“I can’t believe it’s been a year since I met you.” Dolly took the bottle from Catherine and tucked it under her arm. “I still have a vivid memory of Kindra standing on the ledge outside that window as the clock struck midnight.” She nodded toward the tall window overlooking the bright lights of New York City. “If you hadn’t landed in her body at that exact minute, she’d be dead.”
You should have let me go. I only wanted peace.
“Peace my Aunt Fanny. You were sacrificing a perfectly good life and a boatload of talent. Think of all you’ve accomplished this year.”
I didn’t do it. You did. You’re the strong one.
“And you’re the one with all the talent. I can’t paint my way out of a shoebox.”
It’s not enough.
Dolly’s brows rose into the burnished copper curls brushing across her forehead. “You’re doing it again.”
Catherine’s gaze moved to Dolly and she took a moment to remember Dolly was physically the only other person in the room. “Sorry. Kindra and I were having a little discussion about talent and wasting it.”
Dolly stared at the paintings covering every free space on the walls of the apartment and some standing against the walls. “These are so beautiful. Why doesn’t she put them in a gallery and sell them?”
No! They’re not good enough!
“Kindra thinks they aren’t good enough.” Catherine shook her head. “Tell her, Dolly.”
“I’m glad I know about your little secret, otherwise I’d think you had that multiple personality disorder.” Dolly stared straight at Catherine and plunked her fist on one hip. “Kindra, get over it. These paintings are so stunning and full of emotion, they bring me to tears. The galleries will go wild over them. I have a buddy who works at a gallery down the street. I bet I can get them in there.”
Catherine shook with the force of Kindra’s fear. “Okay, okay. So you won’t take the paintings to the gallery. It’s okay. Dolly won’t make you do it.” She shrugged at Dolly. “You can’t force her.”
Dolly fingered the silver pentacle amulet around her neck, the sign of Wicca. “How do you do that? How can you stand to have two people in one mind?”
“I’m the guest. Kindra owns the body and soul. At midnight, I move on and Kindra is on her own again.” Though her words were flat and matter-of-fact, the closer she’d gotten to the midnight deadline, the more worried she’d been about Kindra. Could the young artist manage on her own? Would she try to commit suicide again?
“I think I would go nuts moving from body to body every year. How disconcerting to wake up in someone else’s life. You must have really pissed off the powers that be.”
Catherine’s jaw tightened. “Just heed my warning. Don’t use your powers for selfish reasons. Follow the Threefold Law to the letter.”
Dolly snorted. “Like I have powers.”
“We each have powers within us, we only have to learn to tap into them.”
“I’m only a play witch, you’re the real deal.”
“Was.” Ninety-nine years ago, she’d broken the Threefold Law of Wicca and used her magical powers to come between a man she thought she loved and the woman he truly loved. The cost for breaking the law was losing her powers and being cursed. And the curse couldn’t have been a simple wart on her nose. No. The Witches Council had to come up with something more elaborate and fitting the crime.
They cursed her to an endless existence of living each year in a different woman’s life. New Year’s Eve a hundred years ago, when the clock struck twelve, her body died and her soul drifted into the body of another woman. For an entire year, she lived in that woman’s life, in that woman’s body, sharing all her hopes, fears, trials and desires. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, she moved to another and so it had been for ninety-nine years.
As midnight approached, Catherine knew her time in this body had reached an end. Kindra Marshall, her current host, wouldn’t remember her when she’d gone, but she’d remember everything else from the past year and hopefully continue on where Catherine had left off.
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