Witch Hunt: Of the Blood – Excerpt
Before I do that, I’d like to thank the bloggers who’ve graciously hosted us and helped spread the word! I’ll include all of the previous blog tour stops at the end of the excerpt if you’d like to check them out.
If you’d like the opportunity to ask questions or discuss the book with the authors–Devin O’Branagan, KL Schwengel, Krista Walsh, Suzanne Hayes Campbell, or myself–feel free to stop by Devin’s writing forum to Chat With the Authors.
My story, The Banishing, focuses on Miranda Hunter, daughter of Brady and Belinda Hunter. After completing her medical training, she begins her career in Philadelphia, facing the difficulties that come with being a young female physician in 1918.
Alice English. Fifty-five years old. No significant medical history. Miliary tuberculosis. Transferred from East Coast Sanatorium. Transferred from Crispin Sanatorium. Transferred from Hillcrest Sanatorium.
“My goodness,” Miranda muttered. “Four facilities in the last ten years? What is going on with you?”
She knocked on the door and peeked inside the room. “Hello?”
Most patients in the sanatorium shared rooms. Doctor English, however, had requested a private room for his mother and had taken steps to make it homey, setting up pictures beside the bed, flowers and replacing bland cotton drapes with lace curtains that brightened the room.
Tucking the chart beneath her arm, Miranda donned a mask from a table set against the wall and took cautious steps toward the bedside. The woman lying in the bed stared past her, eyes fixed, as if she’d been frozen in time.
Miranda glanced toward the door then sat down on the bed next to the patient. Bones peeked through a layer of skin, thinned and wrinkled like parchment, as she glided her fingers down the woman’s temple, pushing the silvery gray hair behind her ears. She rested a hand on the woman’s slightly damp forehead.
Alice’s impervious gaze shifted in her direction and came to life. The irregularity of her pupils shrunk into normal rounded black beads, allowing her blue irises to sparkle through. Her mouth formed an ‘O’ as she struggled for words.
Miranda smiled at her. “It’s all right. Take your time.”
“Where?” A cough ripped through Alice’s chest, jerking the woman’s small frame into a spasm.
Keeping her hand to Alice’s forehead, Miranda leaned in and pulled away her mask. “You’re in the hospital. I’m your Doctor. My name is Miranda.”
Which one? “He’s…just fine.” Miranda patted her hand.
“My son is in good health?”
“Yes, of course. From what I hear”—Miranda shrugged her shoulders—“I’m afraid I’ve not yet met Doctor Conrad Jr.”
Alice’s expression softened into a smile. “Conrad is such a good boy. He visits me.” A deep rasp overpowered the delicate voice fighting beneath.
Miranda nodded. “Here at the hospital from time to time.”
Dullness clouded the bright blue in Alice’s eyes. “I’m dying.” Her dark and grim expression stared back, a contrast to the stark white linens that surrounded her. There was a fearlessness about her words, unshaken, as if she’d done nothing but contemplate her fate in those moments of staring off out the window.
Miranda dropped her head. “Yes.” She met Alice’s eyes again. “It’s spread.”
Alice looked away toward the window. “You’re not concerned about your mask. Are you a witch?”
Miranda’s heart caught in her throat.
How did ... Adrenaline moved through her body in waves. “I’m sorry,”—she swallowed the lump in her throat—“I don’t know what you mean.”
Alice smirked and cast a glance out of the corner of her eye. “Call it a sixth sense.” Another cough sounded as if her lungs would burst through her ribs.
“If you’d prefer that I—” Miranda started to say.
“I feel cold sometimes. This … loneliness consumes me.” She turned to face Miranda. “Let’s suppose my sixth sense is correct. I’m ready if you have the power to send me off.”
Though her heart knew what the woman was asking of her, Miranda’s mind refused to entertain such a thing. “Send you?”
“My only son will never gain anything more than pain from me.” Another cough shook Alice’s body and Miranda set a hand against her shoulder to still it. “I have nothing more to offer this world. I wish to go on to the next.”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. English,” Miranda whispered. “I cannot do what you’re asking of me. I’m a healer. Not a murderer.”
Alice nodded and turned back toward the window. “I understand.” As if turned to stone, she lay motionless once more.
In case you missed it, here are the previous tour stops: