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Let me tell you what it looks like when two people are in love. Really, truly, brilliantly in love. People like me can see it right away, but if the sun is sitting just so in the sky and the angle of your left eye is a little bit crooked and all the stars are aligned in the heavens, anyone can see it.
There is a glow that surrounds them, fills them, utterly transforms them. To my eyes, the aura of love is peach; the softest apricot, with a touch of red blush flickering here and there, like a painter’s delicate brushstrokes on a canvas.
It’s the most impossibly beautiful thing you can imagine.
* * *
As grand-mère used to say, love begets beauty.
Or, to be exact, she’d say l’amour engendre la beauté. This was our family motto. And, believe me, grand-mère was beautiful, in the way that all French women are supposed to be beautiful; even when she was old, her white hair would shine pure glimmering silver rather than dull gray, and the wrinkles around her eyes seemed only to flatter her wide, mischievous blue eyes. Every Sunday, she’d fold her hair into a perfect chignon, don her pink Chanel suit and stroll down the Seine, casting her eyes over the young lovers sitting along the banks of the river.
Not what you were expecting when you think of witch, right? Well, grand-mère would never be caught dead in a pointy hat, and she preferred pretty pastels to black. Black is too severe, ma cherie, she’d said. Only mimes and politicians wear black.
Besides, the word witch sounds too English, too American, and she was proud of being French. If you had to, you could use la sorcière…meh, that still sounds kind of silly. If you had to call us something, maybe the best word en français would be l’enchanteresse.
Yes. Enchantress. That’s the right word.
It’s what all the women in my family are, stretching back thousands of years. Back to the times when magic was common, when fairies infested every garden and glen, when you couldn’t pass a river without being heckled by nymphs or cross a bridge without being pestered by a troll—that’s the origin of la famille Beaumont.
And I, Poppy Beaumont, sixteen years old, sophomore, am the last of that line.
* * *
I flicked open my silver compact. My reflection gazed back at me: neat brown bangs, dark brown eyes, freckles from the summer sun. Perfectly normal, perfectly acceptable. Nothing special. I could blend in anywhere.
Good, I thought to myself.
I adjusted my pearl earrings, and applied petal pink gloss to my lips. Mom had hired me to be the summer receptionist at her office, and I had to look professional. I’d been wearing the same high-bun-and-blouse-and-pencil-skirt outfit every day, to the point where I could probably get dressed in the morning without even opening my eyes.
Mom was Trinity’s best—well, only—certified marriage therapist. For the last three months, I’d been spending half of every day greeting her clients, filing their paperwork, and guiding them out the door. Trinity’s a small town, and you’d think she wouldn’t have much business, but mom…well, she’s a legend in her own right.
I heard a raised voice in the next room, and then the shattering of a glass. I jumped.
Here it comes, I thought to myself.
I snapped the compact shut and slipped it out of sight. The silver was scratched and burnished, but I always kept it safe in the bottom of my purse. It was an old heirloom from grand-mère, and my good luck charm.
That was probably the moment we’d been waiting for.
After all, love—whether new, old, mangled or whole—love was our very lifeblood.