Stephenson Holt Author

Arranged Marriage.



BOOK BLURB - Monique sees herself as always second place to her cousin Skye. Neither feel comfortable hiding witch powers in a human world. Both seek love and affection but can see no way to attain it.


Then Silas, a witch and vampire, turns up at their door and explains to them that their destiny is to bring together the witch world with a vampire world that lies behind a gateway. Skye will be the main force with Monique advising and, once again, believing herself inferior.


Marriage to two princes sounds exciting to the girls but they have no idea that the princes are not alike in temperament. Arranged marriage, it seems, suits some young women but not others and a lot will depend on the man chosen.


Will Skye fulfil her dreams? Will Monique finally outdo her cousin any aspect of her life and are the rumours she has read about, regarding a vampire’s destiny of fulfilling his bride’s passions, turn out to be true?



A stand alone novel of love, hate, forced marriage and marriage jumped into. Skye is the daughter of Janice from “A Boy For Two Witch Girls” and Monique is the daughter of Shelagh from the same novel. Read this novel then delve into the history of how two witch families ended up living in the same remote cottage.


Early readers have described this novel as YA with adult themes, NA with a retrospective look back at youth and also as a love story for any age group.

This author, Stephenson Holt, was interviewed extensively about this novel in March 2021 by the excellent blogger Chrystal Rice Cooper, with discussion on writing space, alternate titles, an excerpt and the thoughts behind that excerpt. The full interview can be looked at by following the link HERE but be sure to return to this website to sample more novels after reading the interview.

Chapter One. Skye’s Limit.


The tingling sensation inside the bridge of Skye’s snub nose came from witch-receptors that alerted her to the approach of a testosterone filled boy. The odour wafted through the clean air of the upper-school yard and her inward smile manifested itself as a low purr in the depths of her throat that vibrated her core muscles. The pungency of his maleness showed the human boy to be nervous while trying to show to all of the others in the schoolyard, his coolness while approaching an older girl who’d been kept down a year.

The Earth’s volume knob turned down, in step with time slowing, or maybe, Skye thought, her senses were prioritising themselves. Hearing ability dropped while her sense of hormone-scenting moved up in importance readying her for battle.

Come into my parlour said the spider to the fly. This female spider’s bite is fatal.

She’d layed in her bed for three nights, using succubus powers to enter Peter’s dreams, to dream-squirm under him like a weak girl, entertaining him by writhing long legs and arms and moaning into quiet submission. He now felt that holding her naked body in real life was not only desired but necessary for his very survival.

You like to fight your target Peter, pin her down and relish the moment she yields to your touch and the fight stops as she surrenders to your charms. If you only knew the hours I spent at the stove, boiling down herbs, preparing creams and ointments, covering my skin to make it soft. You stand no chance of touching that soft skin with rough male skin.

A nosey group of bully-girls, known to Skye as the slag-wenches, shuffled across the yard towards her, holding each other for pack-safety, giggling.

Annoyingly, Skye’s concentration was halted by a strange, unwanted and distracting voice in her head.

How do you feel about arranged marriage Skye? Is this a good time to discuss?

That voice, of an unknown old man shouldn’t have been in her head, especially now.

Not now old man. Out of my head please I’m busy.

The human world closed in on Skye again as it seemed the whole school was watching and knew she would go out with Peter, simply because no girl had ever refused him. The air around her jelly-thickened and wobbled with anticipation, unseen by others but the tension in that time-space, real to her, showed her at the centre, in the eye of a storm of attention. Except that bloody, interfering old man annoyingly came back. How could his thought reading and mind-speak be so much stronger than her own?

But you have not a morsel of romance in you Skye, despite that borrowed novel in your hand and hate the idea of a human boy physically touching you outside a dream. Surely a marriage arrangement with a non-human would suit you?

She ignored the voice this time, didn’t want to have to agree with someone she didn’t know so carried on with her fun.

She felt as a solitary animal might feel on discovering it’s detached from its herd, a vulnerable target on the open plains, a delicate gazelle nibbling grass on the veldt, unaware of being stalked by a hungry carnivore. Her skin tingled, half knowing, half inviting the teeth of that carnivorous beast, approaching to overpower her.

Peter’s muscled bulk, compared to her own small body meant that animal claws could force her gazelle-like body down to the ground. The big cat teeth to her neck would stay there while her body spasmed, until she became paralysed, unable to refuse him and eventually forced to yield to his touch. It would be the touch of a rough male on her delicate, creamed, feminine skin, his hands controlling her, doing whatever he pleased until she realised, she wanted him, needed him, would beg for him.

Skye carried on half-reading her teenage-romance novel, too young for her in human terms, the top page, skimmed over now three times, held a splash stain. Her other hand held a lunchtime apple, juicy and splashing on each bite.

That unwanted old man’s voice interrupted her thoughts again.

Now you’ve spoiled your friend’s book. Neck bite to bring you to submission is your secret sexual fantasy then. Pretending to not want your mate but being overpowered and finally submitting. I believe I can arrange the perfect marriage for you Skye.

Skye’s idea was that if she didn’t answer the old man, he’d go away and take with him his knowledge of her inner thoughts and she decided the time may have come to be more obvious with Peter. Her feet parted slightly. She knew this allowed a visible parting of her mini-skirted thighs on the exceptional legs that every boy drooled over touching. It brought more giggles from the bullies, each of them silently jealous of the gap formed at the top of Skye’s legs where thighs no longer touched, unlike on their own, more normal legs.

Peter Morris’s wish, Skye could easily read, consisted of holding her thin, naked body in one strong arm, his other hand would be where it had been allowed in his dreams over the last three nights, purely, as far as Peter was concerned, readying her for his inevitable entry. Why else, in his world, would a girl need to be dampened other than to aid his entry.

His thought, she knew, of making her another physical notch on his bedpost, had an inevitable outcome for him. She would become another female pining after him once she’d been ditched, desperate for him to return to her, positive she could be the one, the only one, able to change his bad-boy ways and get him to settle down. Another female thrown on the monthly heap of those praying daily for their moon-blood to arrive.

Over on one high heel now as if my ankle is broken, and he's staring at it as if it’s a come-on, a damsel in distress who can’t walk, needs to be carried off in his strong arms, to the safety of his bedroom.

The novel’s page darkened as a shadow passed over it. Her slight head movement noticed the invasion of her space, the hunk’s large, white teeth shining towards her.

“Babe, I have tickets for the concert at the Town Hall on Saturday. You and me on a date. What do you reckon?”

Skye didn't have to look up to face him, as all his previous targets had, because her long legs plus non-school-allowed heels made her only a few inches shorter than the boy. False creases appeared on her usually smooth forehead, mascara-lengthened eyelashes fluttered as her eyes scrunched in confusion and her answer, shocked him. “Oh my God, you’re serious. For a minute then I thought… Did you call me babe? A date? Were you joking? Babe? You called me babe?”

She burst out laughing at the idea of being a ‘babe’ as she turned to leave, headed to edge around the side of the slag-wenches and then walked as she imagined a babe might.

Those legs looked even more striking to Peter. They marched away in disgust, the split at the rear of the tiny school skirt opened to show flashes of even more leg with each step. The long, model-like strides completed the illusion of the unattainable girl in flight.

Straight, natural, blond hair lifted in the breeze before it softly landed, half way down her back, on a crisp, white school blouse.

Spoiling her fun was that old man again, that bloody marriage maker.

Another boy humiliated. Another boy desperate for your love, unable to obtain it. Do you notch your bedpost like Peter does Skye? An arranged marriage to the boy that I know, might tame suppressed emotions and would be the answer to all your psychological problems, which are many. Someone to bite your neck, bring you to the ground and leave you no choice as to where his hands wander. It’s what you want in your dreams but fear in reality.

The battle being over with Peter, she decided to mentally answer the old man.

Does the future leader of the Council of Fifty, ruling over all the witches in this queendom, want to be spoiled by a human dick? No, and I used the word dick in both senses.

The old man refused to go.

Think Skye. A non-human but no

n-witch would be exotic for you, a vampire taming you. Someone to help you attain all your goals. Think of the power of your offspring. Kept down a year, you’re far too old for this school and you know it.

She shook her head, smiling, and walked towards the school building, the thought of a vampire touching her had produced a shudder since childhood and the old man seemed to be suggesting she willingly marry one. She wondered how much he’d been paid but agreed she needed to get out of school.

Peter watched her go. She looked like a tanned, Swedish super-model. Already tall enough to model, flat enough in the chest for the present modelling fashion and with a tiny bum, she looked good in anything she wore, even school uniform. Her natural skin colour looked like a permanent tan, brightening the whites surrounding deep blue eyes.

“Bitch,” Peter Morris shouted after her as he walked towards the slag-wench group.

Close Peter. Witch yes but that’s unknown to every one of you stupid humans, but bitch?

She bit into the apple again, enjoying now the stump as much as she had the outer flesh. She couldn’t stop a smile appearing on the cheeks of what had been, until then, a serious face.

Confusing for you, Peter, to say you hate a girl so much and wake up stiff from loving her. That groupie from the slag-wenches, she’ll do you for the evening, relieve your pent-up emotions, so to speak.

The red-bricked school building afforded Skye some relief, away from glares so that the glare-heat cooled from her body almost immediately in the darker corridor.

You’ll be discreet about having that slag-wench, for her sake but she’ll eventually let everyone know you’re a one-night wonder, making single mothers. We’ll see what that does to your reputation around school.

The drone of the bell for afternoon lessons told Skye that for the time being she was being ruled by adults and had to put up with it.

Here I am, destined to rule all the witches in the UK and a pigging bell rules over me. Nineteen, kept back in form three and more mature than some of the teachers.

The idea of physics all afternoon brought Skye down after her lunchtime amusement. She attended in body but not in mind so the lesson didn’t make any sense. The tall stools of the Physics Lab brought hungry stares from younger boys imagining a perfect peachy bottom, not realising how much her bum bones hurt on the flat timber. She felt like a lighthouse on a rock in the middle of the sea, not caring if others had to strain to see around her. Her nerve-jump came from not expecting the old man’s deep voice again.

He’s not discreet for the sake of his victims, you’ve got that wrong.

Skye had time now to think about the voice in her head that sounded old, grandfather-ish, if she even knew what that meant, not having ever had one.

He’s discreet to get more victims. Not just pupils either. At least two teachers and they’re aware of each other’s misdemeanours. No. No names. You won’t see them after today anyway but one sees him regularly as a home tutor, the other sees him in a school cupboard, for the added excitement. They see him as an adult body with a manipulatable child mind. You smile, not realising that a man teacher with a schoolgirl would not make you smile.

“Is that right, Miss Nubian?” The teacher, Skye forgot his name, twiddled with the face wart she’d childishly given him in form one, as he made Skye snap her attention away from a vision of the old man, that she now clearly saw as dressed in grey, with a grey hood to the rough material of a full-length costume.

“Yes sir, most definitely,” she attempted but the giggles from those that were following the lesson meant she’d guessed wrong. The teacher carried on, having given up on Skye years before and this allowed her to return to her daydream. The old man in grey walked in a wood, approaching her home.

Out of Skye’s mouth came a loud, “two point four, sir.” She had no idea where it came from or why.

“So, Skye Nubian does occasionally pay attention. Well done girl but put your hand up next time.”

Skye didn’t listen to the praise, but wondered what the question had been and found herself wondering which cupboard or hiding place the teacher had Peter in.

Hecate’s cat, am I jealous? Do I see him as mine to play with? Mine to discard or own?

Also, clearly in her head, the vision of the old man in grey laying on an earth floor, blood pouring from his stomach from a bullet wound and her being present, briefly, before running away.

Skye had an overwhelming desire to run away from Physics and from the shooting of the man in grey, to get home to the safety of the cottage where her two families lived under a protection spell. It seemed her attacker, the man chasing her after shooting the old man, had a boss of two point four metres high, but that made no sense, eight feet being two feet above ‘very tall.’

Eventually the final school buzzer sounded, it signalled home-time and time to get to the bike sheds where her annoyingly punctual second cousin, Monique, would be already waiting for her. Skye took the long, internal route, down the main corridor and easily sussed which two teachers were looking forward to Peter and she gave each of them a knowing smile while reading their thoughts.

She exited the corridor, ducked under the low, corrugated roof of the bike sheds and passed pushbikes where boys sat on the floor and pretended to struggle with bike locks, looking up her skirt as she purposely passed close to them. Monique looked pathetic, stood by the brickwork end-wall to the sheds, on the wall side of Skye’s Honda motorbike, as she’d repeatedly been instructed to, so that she didn’t screen Skye from her captive audience.

“Monique love, have you heard anything from an old man in grey today? Do you fancy an old man choosing who you marry? Have you got your helmet? Are you into a vampire husband?”

Monique didn't have to answer because her screwed up face relayed back the fact that she thought Skye was bonkers. Instead of replying to stupid questions, she put her helmet on and fastened the chin strap as she spoke. “You would have made a lovely couple Skye. Some reckon the best-looking boy and girl combination in the school and ready to be crowned at the prom. I’m talking Peter, not an old grey vampire man. Everyone in my form is talking about how you turned him down. Why Skye? He’s gorgeous and ticks nearly every box on my list. You only had to go out with him, nothing else.”

Skye’s own helmet slipped off the tall, monkey-hanger handlebars of the Honda, after the cable had been spell-unlocked, and then she unlocked the over-extended front forks of the bike with a human key, before replying. “I can think of a few nicer looking boys who are not in love with themselves, so forget him this minute girl. I said forget him Monique, lose the grin, and now. I’ll be in his head again tonight so if I find you there, it’s trouble for you miss. Stick to Bob, whoever he is.”

Monique loved her cousin’s concern, hated that her own sexual thoughts were so easily read and knew Skye’s aversion to male body parts in no way matched her own desires. Her wait for the rush of lust-staring, from seemingly-slow moving pushbike owners, was a short one. It came every school evening, as a rush that hit Monique’s witch brain bombarded her with lust-pulses that, annoyingly, were not directed at her, but the deflected pulses still stimulated her insides. It might have been a second-hand rush but she enjoyed it even though she knew that Skye revelled in the force and worked hard for it, but for no apparent reason other than the fact that she could do.

An annoyed Monique didn’t let the subject drop. “They say it happened very publicly and he’s taking Carole out tonight plus, dear cousin, I’m only a year younger than you and who knows, I may surprise you one day. It may turn out that I enjoy one-night stands with humans. I’m way over legal at eighteen, in human terms and can shag any boy I want, whatever you say, and with regards to someone choosing who I marry I need a bloke who will chase me, eventually catch my heart and do things inside me that the fumblers behind the gym try for and often score three out of ten on a good day. A vampire could be the one because I too find humans boring.”

Skye let her right leg swing up over the seat of the Honda so that her legs were almost in one, straight, gymnastic line. Her opened mini skirt allowed more than a flash of the plumpness under bright-white material that would fascinate any boy who might happen to look in that direction. She relished the lust-rush from seven boys, the same seven as usual. One boy alone looking would have been weak but seven at once gave Skye a rush that made her clench the bike’s seat when she came down onto it.

She kicked over the engine, knowing how much of a sexy sight it looked in black heels, flipped up the bike stand and sat, her right hand high above her on the bars, revving the engine while waiting for her second-cousin to get on behind her. The mini petrol tank, caressed with Skye’s free hand, felt long and thin, bulged at the far end, and she loved its yellow colour with red flames painted on it. It represented a broom for her, and later, on moving off down the road, the throbbing engine would try hard to replicate the feeling of a greased broom between her legs at the annual, mid-summer, Litha celebrations.

Her head, she tilted backwards, in order to speak above the engine noise to the still standing Monique. “If you know of an abortion clinic, you might tell this Carole girl because she’ll need one soon. Going bareback is stupid no matter how much you want to keep a guy. If you stay in school you might want to know Mrs. Perkins enjoys Peter in a stationery cupboard, bending over for him, enjoying it and wanting more.”

Three nights of Peter have shown me the value of his promises to withdraw in time and his lying face explaining he’d failed because he loved me so much. Those teachers are probably on the pill. I think Perkins is married.

Monique kicked down one of the bike’s foot rests and gently placed her left foot on it, straightened that leg, bent her right knee and gently eased her leg over the saddle in her ‘just above the knee’ skirt that she held down with one hand. She did not feel another rush of staring because the voyeuristic boys had already left and were cycling home. “Who do you fancy then Skye?” She eased herself onto the seat rest. “Don’t worry about me getting pregnant. I’m all dream-shagging and fingerbob at the moment.”

“I don’t fancy anybody in this school,” Skye told her and they accelerated, noisily, out of the school gates and stopped at the first junction for traffic, the weight of the bike plus two girls resting on one delicate heel. “Maybe someone in our Scottish Witch-College. I intend to get there early, leave this dump mid-term and this feels like my last day in this human pit. Anyway, when what happened today between me and Peter gets back to Polly Perkins and Gym-slag Jeffries, then I just flunked another two subjects.

I need to do something adventurous Monique, something off-the-wall and unexpected. Maybe I will shock everyone and be tamed by a biter, mix my dual heritage with a vamp. The old man in grey suggested it. That would cause a stir. Children that were vamp-witch-succubus. Imagine the power. Imagine the fun they could have if I followed that future. Anyway, why do you call it fingerbob?”

Monique shouted over the engine noise. “I don’t see witch-college in any of your futures Skye. If it’s adventure you seek though, I had better be dragged along. Promise? Bob Harris, from my year, dream-broke me for the first time to allow access to that heavenly place for my finger tip, not that he was aware it was anything but his dream. Every other boy since has believed they dampen me in their dreams and it’s nothing to do with my faithful fingerbob. You?”

“Broom at Litha,” Skye explained without embarrassment. “An hour of dancing the stones with a herb-greased broom between my legs made me find a bush to hide behind for the broom end to do its job before I shook myself to death, but who was in my head I don’t remember. Gareth maybe. Let’s get home. I need to sort out my future.”


Chapter Two.Heart to Heart.


The Honda travelled far too quickly for Monique’s liking as it zig-zagged down narrow lanes to their isolated country home. Skye threw the bike from side to side on each corner as Monique tried her hardest to stay at the same low angle as Skye achieved but she knew that school uniform gave no protection against sliding down tarmac on your backside.

Once home, she stepped down off the bike, onto the foot-spiky gravel of the yard and then waited for Skye to park in the gap between a chopped Harley and a standard Triumph while her heart came back to a slower rhythm. A nostalgic smile crossed Monique’s pretty little face looking at her mother's bike and Skye’s mother’s bike having been told the parts they’d played in the women’s past, but without knowing the detail.

When Monique looked up from the bikes, Skye had disappeared inside and she realised she’d been lost in a dream. She had to part the long, blue, wisteria flowers to get through the door, and vowed to cut the climbing plant back, maybe tomorrow because she had homework to do before the family’s evening meal.

Skye did not start her homework and didn’t even think about even having any. In the kitchen she found Shelagh, packing small herb plugs to be sent out, mail-order.

Skye moved to the sink. “Mother?” A one-word questioning greeting to Shelagh as Skye threw her school bag into a corner.

Shelagh ignored the childish bag throwing. “Greenhouse,” her answer, being used to one-word tennis with her cousin’s daughter. Shelagh spelled the cardboard herb enclosure into its complicated closed position with its unfathomable slits and tongues, making it secure for posting.

“Mood?” A lob from Skye to the back line of the one-word tennis court before she downed the glass of water.

“Good.” A winning shot from Shelagh that saw Skye leave the one-word tennis game, ignoring the winner she left behind.

She exited the rear door into the open porch, kicked off her heels to join a pile of other discarded shoes, breathed in the clean outside air, placed the balls of her feet on the first stone step and dropped her ankles a few times to wake and stretch her achilles tendons.

Skye walked slowly, barefoot across damp but warm grass, sucking in the energy of the flattened grass through the soles of her feet as the lawn hissed and tried to recover behind her. She drew that energy up into her core.

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower, drives my green age… she mumbled the first line of the only poem she’d ever learnt, the only one she’d ever liked, the only one that appeared to understand the old religion.

Finally, arriving at the large greenhouse, that filled the whole of the lower paddock, she found Janice seated at a table, under a grape vine and framed by hanging, ripe grapes.

“Janice, I’ve finally come to a decision about my future.” She plucked a couple of grapes, sucked the juice and crunched the skins and pips to a pulp, sending the pips down to become tube scraping roughage. “School stinks and is far too human. I need to get to witch’s college, but now, well, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.”

A watering can, that Janice had spelled to water a border of baby carrots in the greenhouse corner, some five metres away, had nearly finished its job and Janice carried on working while keeping half an eye on it. “Hello dear, how are you today and how was school?”

The very last of the collected grass energy passed up from Skye’s soles and along roadways in her long legs, and finally settled in Skye’s core muscles and felt exceedingly warm and comforting. Breathing out slowly supplied over-calm words.

“Hello Janice, I feel good but school was crap, typically human. Not one boy I came in contact with today saw me as a person that could possibly have a brain, someone to talk to and get to know, someone who might even have a personality. Every one of those small-minded human boys looked at me and imagined me on my back, naked, with my legs wrapped around their waist to hold them inside me, that obviously being my sole purpose in life. It seems human boys have brains that are incapable of thinking about anything other than being gripped on their bums by the feet of long legs that pull them into a girl harder. But, tell me, how are you today and how goes the hopefully, profitable herb business?”

The smile on Janice’s face masked the dread of remembering days gone by and her own schooldays. “That’s better dear, but you’ll find that witch men are no different to human men, they all want the same leg wrapping and socket plugging. It could be those belts you wear as pretend skirts having some sort of influence on their little brains. D’you think? Witch men can see the outline of your bum in the tight material and easily imagine you flying, high as a kite, at a ceremony and would want to remove your herb-greased broom from between your legs and replace it with their appendage, maybe on the central alter stone. A mother observes these things at Litha celebrations, watches the lust in men’s eyes and reads their over-active minds as they stare at your naked body, while you circle the stones.”

Skye’s calm voice reverted back to the fast outpouring of her mixed brain waves. “Dick mother, nobody says appendage for Hecate’s sake, not even in your ancient times. You keep moving the conversation away from witch-college. Would you rather me learn about the moment about a fulcrum? That’s the crap they’ve been filling my head with today, as if it will ever be needed in life and now two female teachers will hate me after a certain boy instructs them to, after he shags them in a stationery cupboard, so maths and geography are down the pan as well. Do you know any old men who dress like grey monks? He probably has a beard, might be a Grey Friar. Why would one teacher prefer to bend over for him and take him from behind? I’ll need to spell in the future, much more serious spells than I have at the moment but I’ve seen bits of futures and nowhere is there a me, looking at a rock and a plank, placing a fulcrum, that I happened to have in my pocket, under the plank and then working out what distance I need to be up the plank to lift the rock. It’s driving me crazy. Don’t start me on differentiation in maths.”

Two point four metres up the plank. The old guy told me that, I think. Surely, you’d just go up the plank until the stone moved without working it out first.

Janice carried on removing well-rooted plant plugs from seed trays. “Yes dear, I do move the conversation away from college and for good reason. I didn't go to witch-college but still became head witch, before handing real power to the Council of Fifty that is.”

Skye pulled a whiney, baby face. “But your mother went to college and then Maureen produced you as a potential head witch and before that, Morag, who went to college produced Shelagh as your sidekick. So, if I am to take over as head witch, I feel I need extra lessons and I don’t mean pigging Physics. Talking of family trees, grandmothers and things, I never knew either grandfather and I’ve been thinking about that lately and wondered whether one of them dressed in grey with a hood.”

Janice looked up sharply at the last words, took off a glove and spelled the watering can to stop. “Monique may go to witch-college dear, eventually, and would study hard, unlike you, if you’d ever gone. You are an immature nineteen-year-old and have a different route through life and a different destiny that you cannot see, or maybe refuse to see. It does not involve any more study you’ll be pleased to hear. It’s not a foregone conclusion that you will become head witch by inheritance, it may be that the Council of Fifty will decide to vote for a new figurehead, once I retire or die, and they may decide to pass on the Triad of Spell Books to another family.

Having those three books gives a woman more power than twenty years in college and I know you read them when I’m out because I allow you to do it behind my back. Be thankful because in the human world you wouldn’t have a chance of inheritance and would be passed over for the eldest son, your brother Petros. My biological father, by the way, your grandfather, happened to be someone that Maureen met at witch-college and he didn’t wear grey as far as I know. I had someone I called father after that, who brought me up, but he was only around for a while. Being human, he couldn’t keep up with Maureen’s needs and left. Daniel’s mother also had a pretend husband who ditched her. It seemed to be the norm back then.”

Skye’s huff showed her increasing frustration. “We don’t live in the stupid human world where males are seen as more important, simply because they have a dick and ugly, sweaty balls between their legs. Well, we do live there, but you know what I mean. What you just said shows how unreliable men are and why women rule our witch world. The Council is ninety-five percent women and is powerful because of that. We need to keep it that way and it needs a leader born of the last leader and someone who went to witch college. He hates that name by the way, Petros, what were you and Daniel thinking?”

Janice, listened while walking to the carrot patch. She refilled the watering can manually for next time and sat back down in her chair. “Your father, who has not drifted off and is loyal to his family, kept nagging his mother to find out her lover’s name. She’d never mentioned to him the name of the Incubus that entered her dreams and who made it so she’d submit to him in real life. It all happened on a Greek holiday, and the Incubus was called Petros, we in our country would say Peter. She never knew his surname so kept her old name of Nubian, the name she gave Daniel and he gave to me and we both gave to you. I think you know the name Peter from recent school events dear. Petros, not your brother but the other one, made Daniel a half incubus or a cambion as it’s called, and that has been passed to you making you full succubus, apparently, along with your Greek colouring that you also took from Daniel and his Greek father. Be thankful dear, you could have inherited my white skin and red hair.”

Janice looked, longingly at her daughter’s long blond hair and would have stroked it if she’d been able to reach. “I guess your blond hair is something to do with my red hair and Daniel’s black hair but Hecate only knows where those legs came from. My boobs, by the way, looked as non-existent as yours, at your age, until you came along to enlarge them with the milk you demanded every five bloody minutes.”

Skye put the trowel she’d been toying with back down on the table. “I’ve read The Sagas and know some of all that but there’s no mention in the book of me inheriting Daniel’s powers or a cambion producing a succubus.”

“No dear. It wasn't known then, or now really. Mathematically, I know you don’t like maths but stick with me, with me being whole witch and Daniel being half-incubus and half related to the Egyptian goddess Satis through his mother, you should be a quarter-incubus, quarter Satis and a half witch. I don’t know enough about how a male cambion produces a female succubus, but somehow you have been born with full succubus powers and also full witch powers but none of us know about Satis powers because it’s all tied up with lost laws of Ancient Egypt. Your succubus powers are still being developed, however, and you use them flippantly at the moment, being so immature, but you’ll become more serious as you move into your twenties and hopefully move towards a married life. Before you ask, there is no succubus college and I wouldn’t allow you to go there even if there was.”

Janice put her gloves back on, stood and moved back towards the bank of seed trays to collect another tray.

Skye though, wanted the conversation to continue. She’d never had a heart-to-heart with her mother and enjoyed being treated, in her eyes, a bit like an adult and as she thought a nineteen-year-old should be treated. “I know you feel the power within me, your daughter, and you know my traits, you even watched grass power travel up my legs earlier and knew the grass power came from ancient oak roots below the grass from our three boundary trees. That is natural for a mother, knowing her daughter so well. But what makes you think that I’m flippant with my Succubus powers?”

Skye hoped it was a guess but found her cheeks slowly redden as her mother started her reply.

“You tease human boys with no reason dear, as if for fun or for sport. What you did to the school hunk last night, in bed, very realistic as it happens and no doubt good practice for your life to come with a husband, pleased you, as well as him. Shouting ‘no’ only works after a relationship is formed though dear because on a first occasion it would be rape so you have to agree, but I think you know that and teased him by saying ‘no’ to make him think he struggled and may have been too big for you or you needed to be persuaded more. They do like that, makes them feel more masculine as if they are in charge. But, as you are aware from today's little school episode, things like that have consequences and that poor human girl will become pregnant tonight. Is that what you wanted, or is it just flippancy and hang the consequences?”

Skye replied to the table. “Practice, I guess, and a complete disregard for humans who seem such a stupid and meaningless race. They all look at me as if they know I’m different, know I’m witch or know I’m the only non-human in the school, bar Monique. How do you know about the hunk?” She looked up at last.

The chair nearly tipped as Janice leaned back in it. “This is the first time we’ve spoken like this Skye and, for reasons you cannot yet know, it may be my last chance so, at the start of this conversation I promised myself I’d be totally honest with you. Sometimes a daughter’s dreams are so powerful they wake the mother, as you will no doubt find out in the future. I should wake, detect that you are safe in your dream and then detach myself from your private thoughts. However, I find it a turn-on, in a voyeuristic sort of way, to watch you with young, naked men and when you finish, I often wake Daniel up and, well, you know. Let’s just say it reminds me of my youth and how active we were back then. We were physically active Skye and maybe you should be more active. I don’t mean get yourself pregnant, I mean have some physical fun instead of it all being in your head.”

Skye’s head tilted to one side in confused thought. “Well, if we are being open and honest with each other in a mother-daughter sort of way, can you answer me this? In our year there is a pretty looking boy with a girlie face. I fancied his cuteness, in a weird sort of way, maybe wanting the possibility of mothering him. I dreamed myself into his head for fun, about a week ago, to find Monique already there, mothering him against her comparatively large breasts that he seemed to be enjoying, as a baby would.”

“I know dear and you kindly left her there and got out straight away. Very kind of you. Shelagh told me about it and she watched over Monique to make sure she was okay, until the end. Monique, by the way, gets those breasts from Shelagh, always bigger than me.”

“Not my point Janice. How come Monique could even be there, as a product of Shelagh and Richard, both witches. I know of no spell that will do that for Monique but I think Monique feels she spells her way into boy’s dreams.”

Tumbleweed rolled down the length of the greenhouse for a full thirty seconds. Eventually Janice put her work down again, the gloves came off and she wiped her hands in her apron.

“You’ve read The Sagas Skye, but you don’t know what bits were left out to save people’s blushes.” She stood, put her arms around her daughter’s shoulders and they walked together towards the greenhouse exit.

“You know that when we adults came out of the vampire encampment, after our kidnap, at around your age now, Shelagh had only one arm and so did Richard, the other arms having been eaten away by hungry, cannibal vamps. They joked, at the time, Shelagh and Richard, about having to stay together to form a couple with two opposing arms. What wasn’t written about was the true fate of Richard.

This is purely between the head witch and her daughter and never to be repeated by you to anyone, especially the other children. Richard lost the bits that father a baby, although he is still able to please Shelagh with his appendage stiffness, sorry dear, his dick. Monique, with my total permission of it happening, is the product of your auntie Shelagh and your father.

Yes, I can see your question so please close your mouth again, the answer is all seven children here have been fathered by Daniel, your dad, who loves me very much but has always fancied both me and Shelagh, but for totally different reasons. All your second-cousins are half-brothers and half-sisters. It’s one of the reasons Shelagh and I look after dreams so carefully, because mixing of second cousins, although legal in the human world we inhabit, is not when they all have the same father.”

“Were you super-generous Janice, or maybe it all happened behind your back? Shit, I just realised my father was shagging my auntie while my mother was pregnant.”

Janice stared up through the greenhouse glass, as if remembering her past. “I knew every time they did their thing but ignored it by lying in bed, crying usually, but your father didn’t know that and assumed I slept and was always sleeping on his return. Most witches and even humans, you’ll find as you mature, have part of their brain that is steady and sensible and part of their brain that wants to do irrational things, without the embarrassment caused by the sensible brain half. It’s why the drug alcohol is used so much to depress the sensible part of the brain to explore the irrational side. My brain is mostly steady, always has been and all I wanted in life was a husband to love who loved me and wine enough to make me feel warm and open without becoming too silly. Shelagh, on the other hand, wanted adventure, in and out of bed, involving all sorts of ropes, handcuffs and whip things that I would never allow in my bedroom. She wanted and received that along with not only alcohol but other herbal drugs. Daniel, liked both types of woman. I wanted a family, Shelagh wanted a family, Richard had no way to give Shelagh a family. The solution seemed logical at that time, as we were all living together and life seemed freer and easier back in those days. I guess we thought ourselves to be cool, hip and modern. Hippy witches if you like. It’s why you all call us by our first names.”

“You and Richard?” Skye asked in a serious and concerned, adult way as they walked together through the greenhouse door, back onto the grass lawn.

Janice sniggered. “Tried, probably in some stupid form of retaliation against the other two and knowing I couldn’t get pregnant by him, but there was no love there, no meaning to it and we both agreed to stop as neither of us enjoyed sex just for the sake of it with no love, or at least I didn’t and Richard bowed to my feelings. Hopefully, all you children have enjoyed growing up together in this fine cottage that we’ve had to extend, to accommodate you all.”

Skye hugged her mother for the first time in years and the grass energy, that had reached Skye’s core for later use in her bedroom, transferred upward to her soul and then, as she willed it to, it passed to her mother’s soul.

Janice warmed to the Chi power and hugged her daughter back, tightly, as if afraid of losing her, or maybe afraid of losing the gift of chi that she looked forward to using later as it lowered from her soul, down to her core. “Thank you dear for your gift to me and also the gift to your father that I shall pass to him later.”

Skye smiled, saw her boring father in a different light and wished her mother happiness in what she saw as her mother's old age. Her thoughts, easily read by her mother, floated around her fear of physical touch by males, the fact that her strange family may be the reason for that fear and whether an arranged marriage might force her into a relationship she needed to be in before she would be able to take over the Council of Fifty and hand it on to her children.

Walking back, hand in hand, to the cottage, Janice spoke just before the pile of shoes, confident that it would be the last word.

“Witch college no, but your destiny will be fulfilled tonight Skye. I feel it in my right elbow and that arthritic elbow is never wrong.”

Chapter Three.Not Quite Monique.

Monique completed her homework in her room well before being called for the evening meal. Then she carefully checked it over, as the teachers had instructed that all pupils should do, just to make sure her verb endings were correct. As she descended the rear staircase, not having bothered to change out of school uniform, she found her mother in the kitchen. Bits of plants and crumbs of earth still littered the large, oak dining table and Shelagh had started to lay twelve place settings.

Monique’s frustrations and her need to moan at her mother about her position in life were exasperated by Daniel arriving in the kitchen shortly after she had, so Monique decided to moan on another day. The family rules, and there weren’t many, stated that at evening meal time, everyone sat together, ate and discussed their day in general terms, no private conversations, certainly not any food in bedrooms.

Cooking smells permeated the air. Meat, probably lamb if the smell of the herb rosemary was anything to go by, woke Monique’s taste buds. That lamb would be for Richard, Shelagh and most of their children including Monique and because Shelagh was cooking, it would be pink as Monique preferred. Vegetarian for Maureen, Janice and Daniel and a couple of their children, including Skye who’d become vegetarian not for any high, moral reasons, but because it kept her figure as she wanted it to stay. Daniel liked to keep both options open, in food choice as well as other things, so if it wasn’t his turn to cook, he allowed the chef of the day to choose for him. The table still lacked the younger members of the family who would only arrive once individually called, so Daniel gave his daily huff and announced he was heading out to do his roll call.

Shelagh didn’t have to stop what occupied her to realise that her daughter wasn’t happy. She looked up to her daughter’s face after positioning roughly each place setting in turn, after clearing an appropriate area of dirt. The negative vibes around her daughter’s head, easily read by mother-bond, were visible. Her green aura crackled at the edges while a few loose sparks ignited the gloom of the kitchen corners. Shelagh’s one-armed place settings became untidier as her eyes studied her daughter.

“Go on then love. What is it that’s bothering you? School? Difficult homework? Boys again? You do know I suppose that nobody in the world ever checked over their homework after completing it, except you, and also, every schoolgirl made to wear uniform, at least loosens their tie as soon as they are out of school and probably gets into something more casual as soon as they’re home.” She stood up straight and mother-knowing. “Or is it boys getting their pleasure but leaving you unsatisfied again?”

Monique, annoyed that her mother didn’t clean the whole table and then lay it, as she herself would have done, stayed sat on the bench seat, took in a deep breath, stared at the deep grain in the pine table and studied the words inside her mind ready to throw those words out.

She picked up, from the table, a twig of sage with a couple of leaves on it that hadn’t been cleared from her seating area. “School is okay, but not great. I’m almost top in every subject, but not quite top. Nearly always in the top five for each subject but never first. I’m nearly the oldest of all us kids, but not quite because Skye outshines me in every pigging department, especially looks, hair colour, her father’s skin colour, her thin legs. I can’t imagine having legs that long and so perfectly formed to be able to wear the skirts that she’s able to wear and to get the attention from boys that she does. I sit behind Skye on her Honda, my fat thighs hidden under a knee length skirt, and I’m behind her because I’m old enough to ride a bike legally, but not quite allowed one by my parents.” She took a deep breath in before carrying on with her list.

“She sleep-witches her way into human boy’s dreams and they are desperate to love her back in real life, even the sexiest boy in the whole school. I do it and they sort of want me, but not quite enough to ask me out after school, maybe because we live so far away from the town, at least that’s what I tell myself to stop going insane. So, I put up with a kiss and a grope at lunchtimes behind the gym building and then being told thank you and goodbye as they walk off with their desired erection, leaving me flat.

It seems to me that boys see me as an anonymous being with a good-sized pair of tits to manhandle but that’s about it. No boy wants to do homework with me, walk with me, talk to me about schoolwork, they just want to touch my boobs and move on to the next girl. Now, Skye tells me she’s going to witch-college.”

Monique, felt better about releasing her frustrations. She’d been staring at the stray sage leaf as if talking to it rather than her mother, because talking about boys feeling your tits had to be easier to say to a sage leaf. “I feel as if I’m not quite alive Shelagh, not quite here, not quite worth being on this planet, semi-transparent.” She decided to keep the leaf to chew after the meal to clean her teeth, after playing with it for a bit longer. She traced the stalk of the leaf through a growth ring in the oak table top, made deeper from decades of a weekly scrubbing of the table to clean it with a scrubbing brush and bleach.

Shelagh stopped clearing up bits from the table and came to sit with her daughter, then, before actually sitting, moved to the other side of her to be able to put her only arm around her. “You missed out darling, the fact that you came second in the mile race on sports-day in school last year, almost winning, but not quite. We all watched you run that race in shorts and nobody thought you had fat thighs, everyone wished they could run that far. One day you will realise that you have a curvaceous figure but lack the confidence to fully utilise it. Skye is a weird shape love. Great for modelling clothes, not so great for a man to hold and love, but she exudes confidence, and that’s the main difference between the two of you.” Her smile wasn’t returned. “Have you read The Sagas yet, like I suggested? Your great auntie Maureen, spent a lot of time writing them before and after interviewing all involved and I know you have a lot of school work to do but it would be worth you asking Maureen if you could borrow the book to read. Especially the chapter about skinny Janice and curvaceous me, in bikinis, on a beach with Daniel.”

Shelagh stood and carried on doing her one-armed place setting work, smirking at the memory. “Anyway, maybe everything you just told me are minor irritations and your real annoyance is because Skye dream-slept with the school hunk who doesn’t know you exist?”

Monique didn't bother looking up from the sage leaf. “Reading a book won’t help me understand my role in life.” She straightened the knife and fork that had been placed in front of her. “The school hunk, as you call him, would be okay as a one-night-stand, but would involve a lot of herbs to stop pregnancy. I wonder sometimes why I feel desperate to have a human boyfriend inside me but Skye never does. I made a list of my ideal man and the school hunk gets eighteen ticks against my list of thirty-seven points.”

Shelagh’s voice morphed into the soft voice of a concerned mother who knew that no man in the world could cover thirty-seven points and eighteen was probably a good score.

 “Look love, I know you don’t want to hear this but you’re at an age where all people wonder what their purpose in life is. For the vast majority of human eighteen-year-old girls their purpose in life is to leave school, work all week, enjoy the hell out of the weekend, usually by using alcohol as a government sponsored drug, enjoy life like that for a few years and then meet a partner who fulfils the majority of the points she’s looking for but not all of them, certainly not thirty-seven.

Then the couple settle down and increase the population, or keep it static by having just two kids. For other girls, like you because you are special, they have a real purpose and you are one of those with a purposeful time to come, in many of your possible futures. Maybe you will be a hero, maybe not quite. Maybe you will end up saving the world from a deadly invasion, maybe someone else will and you will help but not quite be cheered for it. Some have a role in life to do all the work and not take the glory. Like your mother here who helped Janice. Skye is upfront, in your face, an actress on a stage, but you, you are the brains of the family, the clever one, the one to guide the career of that actress, to get her to take the right jobs, to avoid the wrong men, to guide her in whatever her mission is to be.”

Monique looked up for the first time, expecting something more specific and her mother pointed her head at her to emphasise a point and left a gap between each word as adults sometimes do, just to be annoying.

“Read-the-Sagas-love.” Shelagh cleaned off a bit of stuck-on egg, from the edge of an otherwise clean plate using her fingernail and making one of those high-pitched scratching noises. “Your mother is in them, not always shown in the best light though, and things would be written slightly differently if it had been written by me. Yes, my cousin Janice became the hero and then Head-Witch and her time-stop spell got us out of the vampire encampment alive, albeit with one arm each as far as me and your father were concerned. But, if it hadn’t been for me, Janice would never have found the witch-college in the first place because my mother, Morag, had shown me the gateway, and so Janice would never have put the triad of spell books together. Daniel would never have had the gumption to have got us out of the vampire encampment if it hadn't been for the fact that he’d seen me in the very sexy bikini on the beach I just told you about and, being a young male, found it easy to be led by a woman’s sexuality, but you’ll understand that better, and in a lot more depth, if you just read the bloody book.

Janice, by the way, would have been kidnapped in Edinburgh and eventually sold into slavery as a drugged-up whore in Aberdeen, if it wasn’t for me intervening in, what she saw as, her clandestine kissing affair. Finally, she never would have married Daniel because she tried to push him away, for his own safety and protection, until I made her jealous by making a play for him. All my doing, affecting all of her futures and guiding her to victory, where she rid the human world of a group of rogue vampires and established the Council of Fifty.

Did everyone stand and applaud me? No, they applauded Janice and I faded into the background, still manipulating events. I sat on the top table when the Council of Fifty was formed but didn’t quite become its leader. Bridesmaid to Janice at her wedding but Richard has never asked me to marry him. Sometimes you have to recognise that a figurehead is a figurehead in name and the power behind that figurehead is the brains that keeps her there.

Believe me Monique, having power like me but not having the fame and the ability to be recognised, is a blessing. I can choose to go to witch ceremonies, or stay at home, it’s up to me. Janice, as head of the council, has to go or would be seen as neglecting her duties, and she has to study council views and comment on them. I have enjoyed my life to the full in the shadows and, to use a metaphor designed by you, would not have let a boy leave the back of the gym until I allowed him to leave, after I’d been equally pleasured.”

Shelagh expected something like ‘thanks mum for being so honest, I feel better now that I understand’ but instead got, “Can I go straight to witch-college then if you know how to get in?”

Shelagh wondered how much of her long speech Monique had taken in or whether her kids all had selective hearing. The pot of vegetables she brought to the table, had steam coming from it, a cloth between her hand and the pot handle. “Witch mothers are good at seeing the various futures of their children, especially their daughter’s. You have so many, it’s impossible to work out in which direction your future will go. If I had to take a guess, based on what I know about the characters involved, I would say that Skye is the type to get herself into deep trouble, you will need to be there to save her, much as I saved her mother on numerous occasions.”

“Hecate’s cat Shelagh. She’s on about maybe marrying a vampire, don’t tell me I’ll be following her.”

“Maybe.” The answer came too quickly. “In one of your more complicated futures, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility and it is something that has been discussed amongst the adults in this cottage. Whatever happens, Skye might get all the praise and you might not get any praise. On her return from her troubles, whatever they turn out to be, she should either inherit the Head Witch mantle or be voted into that position and you might well go to Witch-College then and return as the most powerful being around, able to defend Skye and her Council and advise her on specific matters. In many of your futures you are extremely powerful and your children more so, maybe them being witch and vampire combined would give them that power. Would that be exciting enough for you? Give you a purpose in life? It’s only a guess mind. Your futures and Skye’s futures are very complicated and diverse and rely, at every branch, on you existing alongside each other.”

“What’s for dinner?” Monique asked and looked up again, the sage leaf having lost her interest. She grabbed her mother’s head and kissed her cheek as Shelagh passed her with two dinner plates, that had obviously been missing in her display and were now precariously balanced in her one hand.

Monique stood and helped finish the table by adding cutlery where it had obviously been missed and that fact had been bugging her. She straightened everything as she moved around the table. Her next throwaway question was as she tidied. “So, do you think the rumours about their size are true?”

I may not have read The Sagas, as everyone wants me to, I have studied ancient books on vampires though, know about their ways, maybe their size if that’s not a myth, and their bite extension capabilities. Skye may see that route as more exciting, for me it may be my only route into a more interesting life. I don’t think a vampire would leave me frustrated behind the gym but there are none in our school. Around here they all live safely behind gateways.

“Size isn’t everything dear. It’s what men do with it that matters and, to be frank, if you excite a boy behind the gym to the point where he spoils his underpants then yes, he is going to walk off and leave you. Try promising him you need to come before you can truly concentrate on him. Worked for me every time.”

By the time the other family members started arriving for their meal it was almost ready, but not quite. Monique was almost resigned to being number two, but not quite. Her thoughts of having a vampire inside her, of being bitten, her skin penetrated, her orgasm extended, were luckily interrupted by hearing Daniel shouting names.

Daniel had spent his time summoning everyone down from their individual bedrooms. The large, country cottage had always been a six-bedroom affair but as both families had expanded to known figures, the new, rear extension had ensured that every child had the privacy of their own bedroom and a place to go when they wanted to be alone or to practice spells without the danger of harming a brother or sister. It became a tradition that Daniel couldn’t just shout “dinners ready,” but had to shout to each individual child, by name, to get them to come down and that each child wouldn’t move until they heard their name.

Skye and Janice arrived at the kitchen together as if they’d been away somewhere, conspiring Monique thought. Shelagh filled all the plates, placing pots on the table and dishing out from there, looking at who might be a meat eater and who not. “I thought tonight, a good meal, with red wine for the adults and then the living room for family tales, instead of everyone diving off to their rooms as usually happens.” She tilted her head back and sniffed the air. “It just feels like a family story night. Skye, Monique, red wine if you wish. Monique can you nip to the cellar and open two bottles of red please? You know how difficult it is for me to uncork unless Richard holds the bottle for me. We don’t want another smashed one.”

As she’d sniffed the air with her head back again, two of the youngsters swapped plates and tutted at Shelagh’s memory, then they groaned at their water cups when they saw them but knew they’d be allowed wine and water for storytelling, to help them sleep later without nightmares. The adults usually monitored the children’s drug levels to ensure their inhibition levels were not suppressed too much. When Maureen picked up her knife and fork, everyone started eating.

About half way through the meal, a loud and repeated rapping on the front door meant forks and spoons stopped in mid-air and everyone looked over their plates, with bowed heads and open mouths, at Maureen. It sounded like a stick had been used on the door rather than a hand but, either way, a knock on the cottage door was almost unheard of, especially at meal times. Nobody knew what to do.

Maureen broke the silence but, it seemed to Monique that she didn’t appear to be too puzzled. It was as if Maureen knew answers but kept them to herself and suppressed her thoughts on the matter. “Must be witch.” Maureen mostly spoke to the children, spooking them. “The protection is still on the cottage and holding fast. It must be witch but he’s spelled himself so I cannot see who it is. But it is a he, most definitely a male witch.” She seemed frustrated at her inability to see the visitor who had a cloaked identity but Monique’s suspicion made her look across the table, to Skye.

Skye too knew that Maureen had been aware of the stranger’s identity and didn’t, for some reason, want others to know that fact. Somehow, Skye knew that the next male to enter the room would be extremely old, like a grandfather, dressed in grey, and it would be the old man that had entered her head in school.

A chill went down Skye’s spine, from her brain to her core, where the chi had earlier left for her mother’s soul. The man, Skye’s brain told her spine, had come primarily for Maureen and they were long time lovers and that was the primary purpose of his visit. But Monique and Skye were also in his sights. Skye’s heart rate accelerated, almost beyond capacity as realisation dawned that thought-jousting with the man in grey might be one thing, but what he’d come for would change her life forever and completely.

This author, Stephenson Holt, was interviewed extensively about this novel in March 2021 by the excellent blogger Chrystal Rice Cooper, with discussion on writing space, alternate titles, an excerpt and the thoughts behind that excerpt. The full interview can be looked at by following the link HERE but be sure to return to this website to sample more novels after reading the interview.

Arranged Marriage

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