Book cover of Wicked Dreams by MJ Scott. Shows a whoman's hace half turned on a dark background with yellow green glowing circuits

I thought finding out I’m a witch and being hunted by a demon was bad enough. Turns out the magical world has more surprises in store…

Maggie Lachlan thought she’d figured the TechWitch thing out. Navigating how to be a new witch and the girlfriend of one of the richest men on the planet—virtual reality genius Damon Riley—wasn’t exactly easy, but she was getting the job done.

But then the Fae decided to return to San Francisco to help guard the human realm and one of their oldest powers decided Maggie needed to learn to hunt demons their way.

She doesn’t need a warning from the Cestis—the witches who keep the magical peace—to understand the risks. Anyone who’s read a fairy tale knows the Fae realm is dangerous. But the chance to defeat the demons for good isn’t something she can pass up. Now she’s dating a billionaire and trying to learn both human and Fae magic. It’s a lot. Even before an old and deadly magic starts stalking San Francisco’s nights.

If she’s wants to survive, she’s going to have to master her powers, take all the help she can get from the Fae and the witches, and face down the darkness trying to turn her dreams to nightmares…

Chapter One

There’s nothing like a Fae dagger coming straight for your face to confirm that fairy tales should be read as warnings.

I dropped and rolled, heart pounding. The momentum carried me back to my feet, dagger at the ready and the first words of a shielding spell on my lips. The blade I’d dodged thumped into a tree behind me as the shield stuttered and failed. I swore.

“Better,” Cerridwen said. “But still too slow.” She lifted her hand, and the dagger flew back to her with a whoosh of air. She caught it without looking, her silver eyes fixed on me. Her long pale brown-and-green hair was braided, making the color less obvious, and she wore dark leather pants and a white linen shirt as a concession to the fact that we were training, but while I was sweaty and dirt-stained, she looked as pristine as she had when we’d started the lesson. No mistaking her for anything other than Fae.

I scowled and watched her, not lowering my dagger. I’d been Cerridwen’s student for six months now, and I still wasn’t fully convinced her offer to teach me the Fae ways of hunting demons wasn’t an elaborate plot to kill me.

I’d learned a lot, but the fact remained that I was human. I would never match Fae speed or, to be honest, be able to use most of their magic. Like the shielding spell. It was some kind of next-level ward, an actual physical barrier rather than just protections against magic or eavesdroppers or intruders as human wards were. Which was cool and highly useful in fighting magical monsters, but so far, I hadn’t mastered it. It worked about half the time—for short periods of time—in the realm. Back in the human world, I’d never managed to get it to work. Even in the realm, it took a lot out of me. Each lesson felt like running a marathon. I took a step forward, wincing as my hip twinged.

In a real fight, adrenaline carries you through the pain long enough to get through it. Fae training still made my heart race, but there wasn’t enough adrenaline in the world to stop the aches and pains that had become part of my life now. I’d thought Cerridwen’s offer would just involve learning what I could of Fae magic. But she insisted I also needed to become a better fighter all around.

I was in the best shape of my life. And the thing they don’t tell you about honing your body into a weapon is that it hurts like a son of a bitch to do it.

“Enough,” Cerridwen said, sheathing her dagger. She made a sharp gesture and the protective shield of magic surrounding our practice field dissolved. 

I tried not to look too relieved and shoved my dagger into the sheath on my thigh, bracing myself against the sensation of the Fae realm’s magic flaring around me now that she’d dropped the shield.

The first time I visited the realm, I hadn’t known how to sense Fae magic. Human magic users—witches—think of magic as manipulating the energy fields that surround everything. In our world, I saw that energy as an aura when I looked for it. But in the realm, that aura was cranked up to eleven, everything drenched in magic. And the effect, even six months later, could be overwhelming if I didn’t guard against it. That much magic was…intoxicating. 

Not in a good way. 

The tales of humans lost in Fae magic were all too easy to believe now. But I wouldn’t be one of them.

I summoned a psychic shield of my own, dulling the sense of magic pulsing around me so I could concentrate. Without the barrier that Cerridwen put up where we were practicing, the sounds of the forest were louder. Trees whispering in the breeze that carried the scent of earth and flowers and hints of other smells I didn’t recognize, along with the calls of birds and other creatures I didn’t know. Beyond the edges of the glade, the paths that led back into the trees vanished quickly, leaving only a sense of a huge wild space where anything could be lurking. 

Where I would only be a tasty snack if something wanted to take me. Even with six months of training, I had no illusions about my ability to fight off a Fae. Or any other magical creature that lived in the realm. Fairy stories were full of nasty things. The Fae had turned out to be real. So were demons. I had no reason to assume there weren’t other bad things in the Fae realm. Or even in the human world. 

So far I hadn’t asked about them. I slept badly enough without adding fresh fuel to my nightmares. 

A shiver ran down my spine as I tried to ignore the sensation of being watched. I shrugged it away, taking a step to mask the movement. A low dull throb of pain flared out from my hip and down my thigh, and I grimaced.

“Your hip is bothering you?” Cerridwen asked.

“Rolled over a rock,” I said, moving my leg carefully to see if I could ease the ache. Instead, the throb intensified. Damn.

The practice field was a semi-cleared glade. Which meant it had a few less trees and a bit more open ground than other parts of the forest, but Cerridwen, who could have changed the whole thing to look like a state-of-the-art gym if she wanted, apparently had no inclination to remove obstacles like fallen branches, rocks, and holes in the ground. Because, to quote, “Demons will not clear a path for you when they are trying to kill you.”

Hard to argue with that. Though, given I lived in San Francisco, I was probably more likely to fight a demon in the city than a forest. I’d refrained from pointing that out. I was sure she could conjure a streetscape for us to practice in if she wanted, and concrete is harder than earth. My bruises would be even worse if I had to practice landing on pavement. My hip twinged again, and I hissed out a breath.

“Come here.” She beckoned with an impatient crook of a finger.

I tried my best not to limp as I closed the distance between us. Cerridwen held her hand out and hovered it over my hip. 

Fae healing wasn’t exactly like the healing magic witches used. Faster and stronger, yes, but not as gentle. I yelped as the pain intensified, but then it vanished. I blew out a breath, waiting for my head to stop swimming.


“Thank you,” I said, smiling weakly.

She studied me, silver eyes inscrutable as always. “You have worked hard. You are almost ready for others to join our lessons.”

“Others?” I squeaked. She hadn’t mentioned anyone else joining in before. In fact, so far, she’d barely let us interact with any other Fae.

“You did not think I hunted demons alone, did you?”

I shot a look at Pinky Andretti, who was sitting on the other side of the clearing, watching my bout. She just raised her eyebrows at me, clearly not wanting to get involved in the conversation.

“Honestly, I hadn’t really thought about it,” I said to Cerridwen. “I guess I was assuming you did. I mean, your magic seems vast to me, Lady.”

One side of her mouth lifted. “In the realm, yes. But we do not fight the Greater Dark—demons—in here.”

Was that a slight stress on “demons”? Meaning there were plenty of other things to fight in the realm? Not a cheerful thought. Though not entirely surprising, given I often felt the crawl of eyes watching us train. I’d dismissed the sensation, but apparently I wasn’t just paranoid.

“In your world, our powers are constrained to a degree. There are some powers among us who might dare to take on a demon alone. But on the whole, it is better if they do not leave the realm. Their power might take more than demons. So when we must face the Greater Dark in your world, we do not do so alone.”

“I see,” I said slowly, mind racing. Every time I thought I was getting used to the Fae, I found out something new that made me realize I knew nothing at all. “And you want me to train with other Fae?”

“Now that you have some basic skills, yes.” 

Everything we’ve been busting our butts to learn for six months are only basic skills? I pressed my lips together, biting back a protest as nerves twined through me. More Fae? Cerridwen on her own was scary enough, and now we’d have to deal with others? I really hoped Cerridwen couldn’t read my dislike of the idea on my face.

Apparently not, because she just nodded and then flicked a hand in a gesture that included Pinky and me. “But you have a few things left to learn first. So, shall we try again?” she said.

“Maggie has to get back. She has an event with Damon tonight.” Pinky rose from the log she’d been sitting on, brushing the back of her purple running tights. They clashed with her lime-green top and current magenta hair. She liked bright colors in general, but the outfits she wore to the realm for training took that to a whole new level. I suspected she was doing it as a subtle form of protest. The Fae were big on elegance and beauty. Pinky seemed intent on making it clear she wasn’t one of them.

She held up the old-fashioned gold pocket watch she carried when we trained so Cerridwen could see the dial. Digital tech tended to die in the realm. After I’d fried two datapads, Damon had suggested we take mechanical watches with us as a reliable time source. He’d bought me the vintage Cartier watch on my wrist. Pinky had gone with the pocket watch. So far both worked, though I was sure Cerridwen could have messed with them if she wanted to.

Her irritated expression suggested she would like to now. I was half surprised the watch didn’t melt from the disapproval.

“We told you this,” Pinky said firmly, tucking the watch back into her backpack. “It was on the schedule.” She squared her shoulders, staring at her many-times-great-grandmother. “As agreed.”

Agreed. That was the key. The Fae, in general, kept their word. If the promise they made didn’t have loopholes they could exploit. Cassandra and the rest of the Cestis had negotiated the terms of our working with her very carefully. Given her way, Cerridwen probably would have had us training seven days a week. 

But Pinky was tanai fol. Her mom was half Fae. Her dad had been human. She was very careful when she negotiated with Cerridwen. After all, we both had jobs back in the human world and, you know, people who would be annoyed if we vanished into the Fae realms for a year or two.

Like Pinky’s wife, Ivy. And my boyfriend, Damon Riley. Tonight, he and I had a fundraiser to attend. Tech god billionaires did a lot of that kind of thing. And since Damon and I had gone public with our relationship six months ago, I did, too.

Given a choice, I’d have preferred a quiet night in. A long hot bath. Dinner. A movie. Some mind-blowing sex and then lots of sleep. Something actually fun. But even though getting dressed up and hobnobbing with people with more money than God wasn’t my cup of tea, I’d take it over another round with Cerridwen. 

She’d kicked my butt enough for one day. The faint tremor in my thighs and biceps proved that. If I was going to stay awake for my date with Damon, I needed to eat. And mainline a cup or two of his excellent real coffee. 

“Pinky’s right,” I said, trying not to look relieved. “We need to get back.” I didn’t think we were really in danger of going missing. If I didn’t make it home, Damon would probably just send Cassandra in after me. The Fae were mysterious and powerful and, honestly, more than half terrifying, but Cassandra Tallant was no slouch in the mysterious and powerful and terrifying department either. No one got to be the head of the Cestis—the magical equivalent of the police and the judicial system rolled into one—by being all sweetness and light. 

Besides, when the Fae decided to reconnect their realm to San Francisco, they’d negotiated with the Cestis. Not being one of the Cestis, I hadn’t been party to the discussions—just Cassandra’s latest and possibly most troublesome project. But there was no way on earth Cassandra would grant the Fae free rein to snatch humans into their realm. 

Maybe the rules would be different for Pinky, being tanai, but Ivy was a high-powered lawyer who took no shit of any kind. She’d probably sue the Fae if they tried to stake a claim on Pinky. The tanai who stayed when the Fae left San Francisco were more independent than usual, and from what Pinky had told me, so far the Fae weren’t pushing for the kind of relationship with the local tanai as they had elsewhere.

“Yes, we’ll be late if we don’t get going,” Pinky said when Cerridwen stayed silent.

Cerridwen looked like she wanted to argue, but apparently today was not the day she was going to choose to push things. She nodded and waved a hand. The training glade dissolved around us, replaced by the now-familiar wood-paneled entrance hall to the realm. It still kind of freaked me out every time she did that. I mean, I should have been used to transitioning back to reality. It wasn’t that much different to the change between virtual reality environments and the real world. But with that, at least, I understood the technology that made the change possible.

Moving around the Fae realm was some weird combination of magic, Fae being able to shape the realm to their will, and the realm itself changing through its own whims. You could hike for what felt like miles only to find you’d traveled a few feet. Or take a single step and find yourself miles away. Unsettling enough to think about, let alone experience. Even without the temptation of the magic.

But I’d gotten good at hiding my unease. Or at least, Cerridwen appreciated the effort I made and didn’t point it out. 

“Thank you, Lady,” Pinky said. “We’ll see you in three days.” 

Cerridwen nodded. “I look forward to it. Do not forget to practice.”

We both nodded, bowing our heads politely. Cerridwen vanished. Pinky hastily reached for the door handle. 

Unlike every other time we’d left the realm, the door didn’t immediately swing open.


Specific CW will be published when the book is completed. You can check the warnings on the other books to get a feel for this series.

You’ll get this closer to pub date! 

Series: TechWitch Book 4

Next book in series: Wicked Ways

Publisher: emscott enterprises

Publication date: 6 June 2023

ISBN eBook: 9780645294859

ISBN Paperback: 9780645556742

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