Yokai Magic by Margaret L. Carter

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  • When Val unearths a Japanese scroll and a cat figurine inherited from her grandfather, magic invades her world. The statuette, actually a cat spirit named Yuki—a yokai—enchanted into that form for her own protection, comes to life. Over a century ago, an evil magician cast a curse on her, and a wolf-like demon conjured by the curse still hunts her. Because Val is the one who broke the protective spell, that dark magic endangers her, too. She must turn for help to the last person she wants to get involved with, her former high-school boyfriend, now an officer in the Navy. Together they search for a way to vanquish the threat from the spirit realm, while facing the attraction they thought they'd long since put behind them.

    Rating: Spicy
    Page Count: 133
    Word Count: 34870
    978-1-5092-2354-1 Digital

    Excerpt

    Dust and cobwebs coated the box marked “Granddad’s mementos from Korea.” Climbing onto a stepstool, Val swept away the mess with a broom before lifting the box down. It had probably sat undisturbed on the basement shelf since her family had bought the house, when she was twelve years old. She lugged her find upstairs and set it on a newspaper spread on the kitchen table. Her cat leaped onto the chair next to hers and stared as if supervising the job. With a paring knife, she slit the crumbling tape that barely sealed the box top.

    After pulling out handfuls of wadded-up packing paper, she came upon a pile of letters with exotic stamps and a military return address. A separately bound bundle of envelopes looked like her grandmother’s reply letters. Val squashed the temptation to start reading them on the spot. If what she needed wasn’t loose in the box, she would riffle through the envelopes. From another nest of paper, she dug out a porcelain figurine of a white, green-eyed Japanese good-luck cat wearing a red scarf around its neck. She set the statuette on the table. The next layer in the box revealed a cylindrical package swathed in more paper and bound with tape.

    What’s this? A picture of some kind? As she sliced open the wrapping, the knife slipped. The blade nicked her finger, and a drop of blood fell onto the package. That’ll teach me to use scissors next time. She dug a tissue out of her jeans pocket and wrapped her fingertip. For a second her vision blurred. What’s that about? Too long since lunch? The weird sensation faded, and she dismissed it from her mind.

    To her relief, when she stripped the wrapping off the package, she found only a barely visible bloodstain on the very edge of the object inside—a Japanese painted scroll. After shoving aside the heap of mail and the porcelain cat, she unrolled the scroll on the kitchen table. It portrayed a small, red building with a freestanding, rectangular arch in front and a peaked roof. Maybe a shrine? A slender, white cat wearing a red scarf that resembled the one on the figurine sat in a demure pose in front of the gate. In the background, next to a flowering cherry tree and a sketchy outline of a stream, hovered a misty figure of a woman in a lavender, floral-printed kimono. She wore a scarf like the cat’s around her neck and something black on her left hand—a ring? A column of Japanese characters ran down the upper right side of the picture.

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Yokai Magic

Yokai Magic

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