Novella that takes place between Bewitching Bedlam and Maudlin's Mayhem--simultaneously with Blood Vengeance. Available by itself or in the BEDLAM CALLING anthology!


When Sandy needs help rescuing her ward, she never dreams that she’ll end up with a tiger by the tail.

Sandy Clauson is Mad Maudlin’s best friend. When Sandy’s ward Jenna goes missing on Paulson’s Peak, Sandy must face the wrath of a major storm to find her. When weretiger Max Davenport—new to Bedlam—offers to help, Sandy finds that, not only does he guide her through the ice and snow, but he comes dangerously close to melting the walls that guard her heart.


Cover Artists:

Chapter 1

The phone belted out Highway to Hell at an alarmingly loud level. Startled, I yanked off my sleep mask and shot straight up in bed, grabbing my phone by sheer force of habit. I pressed the TALK button as I brought it to my ear.

“Unnh?” was the only word I could muster up.

“Cassandra Clauson?”

The voice was no-nonsense, registering as male through the hangover haze that had knocked me on my butt. Alex and I had polished off a blender full of daiquiris the night before and my head felt like it was stuffed full of dryer lint.


I squinted at the phone, holding it away from my ear. Without my contacts, the Caller ID was blurry, but I could just barely make out the letters. The moment I recognized the name—Neverfall Academy for Gifted Students—I leaned back against my pillows and tried for force some semblance of diplomacy into my voice, even though I wanted to ask them what the fuck they meant by calling so early. It could be bad news, so I needed to clear my head and listen.

“This is Sandy. Clauson. Is everything all right?”

“Ms. Clauson, tomorrow is the Seventh Term’s elemental nature hike. We still haven’t received your written permission for Jenna to accompany the class.”

Oh crap. Last night I kept thinking I had forgotten something, and now I knew what. Jenna was my ward—at least temporarily. Derry, a friend of mine, had undertaken a world tour that would last at least two years. She hadn’t wanted to drag her daughter all over Timbuktu and beyond, so I had agreed to oversee Jenna’s welfare. Jenna lived at the Neverfall Academy for Gifted Students, and I had temporary custody. I was still getting used to the Mom thing, though I doubted I’d ever win any accolades for mother-of-the-year. While Jenna lived at the academy, she would be staying with me on some weekends. I wasn’t sure exactly how it would work out, But Derry had chosen me and nobody else but me, so I was determined to return her daughter to her in one, happy, well-adjusted piece.

“Listen, as soon as I’m up for the day, I’ll fax over a permission slip. Email me the information you need, where they’re going, and I’ll get right on that when...” I paused to glance at the time. Fucking hell. Six AM?

Really? You are really calling me this early?” So much for diplomacy. Nobody ever called me before ten unless it was an emergency. Not even Maddy, my best friend.

“I’m sorry Ms. Clauson. We always call parents and guardians early when something like this comes up.”

“Fine...fine. Just send me the info. Thanks.” As soon as the line went dead, I slid the sleep mask over my eyes again and settled back under the covers. I was out like a light, before I could even ponder just how much this guardianship gig was going to affect my life.


Two hours later, I had showered and dressed. I had dressed for comfort—yoga pants, a gauzy peasant shirt, and a pair of Uggs—and I hurried toward the dining room, determined to get a clear-headed start on the day. As I passed Alex in the hall, he pressed a cup of coffee into my hand. He was swiping away on his phone.

“Here’s your coffee. Texting you your schedule for today. Your bear claw is on the table.” Alex pulled out a chair for me. “I also took the liberty of printing out the permission slip from Neverfall for Jenna’s hike tomorrow.” He slid the paper onto the table and handed me a pen. “Sign there, and there, and I’ll fax it right back to them.”

I sat down and, taking the pen, scribbled my name on the appropriate lines. “Where are they going?”

“The Wonderland Trail up on Paulson’s Peak. Elemental magic lesson—out in the wild, so to speak. How old is she again?” Alex hadn’t met Jenna yet.

“She’s thirteen and smart as a whip.”

I flipped open my tablet and, picking up the tongs, selected a bear claw, dropping it onto the waiting plate. The pastries were fresh, a yeasty, rich smell filled the room. My stomach rumbled. I loved bear claws, and cinnamon rolls, and anything else that had a thick layer of glaze on it. The coffee was Kona—deep, dark, and strong, just the way I liked it. I settled back with a satisfied sigh. “That hits the spot. Where’s Mr. Peabody?”

Mr. Peabody was my new pet. He was a skunk who had been de-scented by a previous owner, then abandoned to the wild. A few weeks ago, I had found him in a snow bank, as he desperately tried to scurry over to me. It quickly became apparent that Mr. Peabody had only ever known a domestic life, so I gathered him up and brought him home.

We got on well. He was an independent little guy, but we had our cuddles, and he was good at keeping away door-to-door salesmen. All I had to do was call him over when I answered the door, and the solicitors ran for the hills. My vet had given Mr. Peabody a clean bill of health, had microchipped and vaccinated him, and I decided to name him after one of my favorite cartoon characters. Since he’d been living with me, Mr. Peabody had developed a fondness for Alex and hung out with him during the day.

“Mr. Peabody is having his breakfast in the kitchen. His highness deigned to eat turkey gravy platter this morning. He’s decided that chicken liver pate no longer appeals to his palate.” Alex snorted. “Goofball. Anyway, as to your schedule, I’ve added a party tonight. I know you didn’t want to attend any more social events this week, but this sounded like one you really should make an appearance at.”

I wrinkled my nose. My schedule was meeting-heavy today. While I had money to burn, I wasn’t one to sit around idle. I was on the board of directors of the Sand Witches—a chain of upscale eateries my ex and I owned. We had opened them before he discovered his attraction to Robert, a twenty-two year old waiter. But as shocked as I had been, I knew better than to blame either one of us. After I had processed through the loss, I decided we might as well stay friends. We made good partners in business, and in my over three hundred years, I had learned a lot about human nature, and one thing I knew for sure: you don’t throw away people because they come late to an understanding about themselves.

Today, I had a meeting with the Sand Witches board of directors at eleven. Lunch at two with a potential benefactor for the hospital’s charity care association. At four, I was scheduled for a meeting of the Bedlam Library’s fundraising committee. Literacy was one of my favorite soapboxes.

I tapped the screen. “You forgot my hair and nails at five-thirty.” I paused. “So, a party? At eight...” I stared at the unfamiliar name. “Who is Max Davenport and why should I attend?”

Alex sat down across from me, biting into one of the doughnuts. We had been lovers for a brief time, but I wasn’t really looking for a long-term relationship, and neither was he, and before we got any more involved we decided to keep it at friendship without benefits.

“Max Davenport happens to be the owner of Time For A Change That new clothing shop on Main Street that caters to shifters.”

I had vaguely heard about the boutique. Privately, I thought Bedlam needed another clothing store as much as it needed Essie Vanderbilt, the Queen of the Pacific Northwest Vampire Nation. Which, in my opinion, was not at all. But nobody ever asked me.

“He new in town?” I paused to sip my coffee and take a bite of the Danish. The nutty, bitter taste of the coffee blended with the icing of the pastry to form an orgiastic burst of flavor in my mouth. “My gods, remind me to give you a raise for this.”

Alex laughed. “I know my pastries. And yes, Max is new, he’s single, and he’s a weretiger. He made the Hot-to-Trot column of PretCom Monthly last month.” He paused to tap the side of my plate. “You eat more than one bite of that bear claw. You can’t live on caffeine alone.”

“Tell that to my inner addict.” I studied the notes he’d provided me. Weretigers were a funny group. All shifters were odd, really, but weretigers could be volatile as hell. “So, a weretiger? And a successful one, at that, if he was featured in PM. They never mention anybody who isn’t either incredibly rich, or incredibly famous. Why do I need to meet him, again?”

“He’s going to be a power player in Bedlam. Trust me, I have a feeling.” Alex was an empathic witch, though he worked less with magic and more with divining the future and telling fortunes. He was also usually spot on in his assessment of people.

Trusting his assessment, I nodded. “All right. I take it the party is a meet-and-greet?”

“Aren’t all of Bjorn’s parties meet-and-greets?” Alex suppressed a laugh.

Bjorn Kitsa had a reputation for throwing as many parties as he could without really committing to a theme or any effort that took more than hiring a caterer. But everyone attended because he was so well liked.

I let out a chuckle. “A Bjorn affair? So I should be fabulously late and dress to the nines, or I’ll make a bad impression.”

“You nailed it.” Alex pushed himself away from the table. “I’m off to do the shopping now. Text me if you need anything.”

As the long, lean witch strode toward the door, I watched him go, a faintly wistful feeling creeping through my nether region. Alex had been yummy in bed, but our passion had run its course. No, we were right to end things before they flamed out or died in a sputtering heap of ashes. Shaking my head, I glanced back at my list of meetings, but my gaze kept roaming to the party. Weretigers were also notoriously arrogant, but if Max Davenport was set up to be a power player in Bedlam, it would do me good to be on a first-name basis.

Damn it, I thought. If Maddy hadn’t been in such a rush to take off on a winter vacation, maybe the party would be bearable. But she was off on a jaunty winter weekend with her lover Aegis, a smoking hot vampire, leaving me on my own.

Just then, Mr. Peabody toddled in and let out a snuffle at my feet. I picked him up, kissing him on the nose and he squeaked.

“Ah well.” I set him down again and gulped down the last of my coffee. “It could be worse, couldn’t it, Mr. Peabody? I could be the one stuck hosting the shindig. Or I could have to go on the hike with Jenna’s class.” Grateful for small favors, I wiped my hands, stuck my phone in the pocket of my skinny jeans, and tugged on a leather jacket.

As I stopped to glance at myself in the mirror, I thought, I cleaned up pretty nice.

“For being 347 years old, you don’t look a day over 30, Cassandra,” I said, laughing, as I pocketed my keys and headed out to my brand new custom pink Jeep.


The party was black-tie formal and boring as hell. I had chosen a pale sky blue dress that was old school in a glamour girl way. One shouldered, it flowed about me, draping like a Grecian toga. I had belted it at my waist with a golden chain. The color of the dress set off my hair. I slid on elbow-length opera gloves and tucked my wallet and phone into a beaded clutch. I had picked up the little number in a vintage shop. The purse had been handmade in 1928 for a famous dancer named Rhonda Renauld, who was both a witch and a stripper. Rhonda had died in a mysterious accident back in 1940, but her clothes and accessories fetched a pretty penny in retro shops and on Spell-Buy, the Pretcom version of E-Bay.

Bjorn Kitsa was sweeping in my direction, trundling a tall, burly guest by his side. It had to be the weretiger. Almost to a fault, male weretigers were all beefy hunks of man flesh, and I had to admit, this one was gorgeous. He was about five-ten, with wavy wheat-colored hair, and his eyes were the most luxurious brown I had ever seen. He was dressed in Calvin Klein, though he looked vaguely uncomfortable by the way he kept fingering his collar. A roguish scar was the only mark to mar his face. It was old—long healed, but it traced down from his left temple to almost touch his chin. But, as gorgeous as he was, he somehow managed to pale in comparison to Bjorn, who was wearing his signature white suit.

Bjorn was a kitsune, a lanky man with flaming red hair that cascaded down his back. The fox-shifter was also flaming gay, a wealthy realtor, and he happened to have a heart of gold beneath his oh-so bitchy exterior. He air-kissed me as we met and I returned the faux smooch, playing the game because Bjorn was my friend and I liked him.

“Darling, you look lovely. I don’t believe I’ve seen that dress before.” Bjorn’s smile was radiant. He might be a drama queen, but he was genuine in his appreciation for people and for things. He never gave a compliment he didn’t mean.

I laughed. “I love you too, Bjorn. And thank you, but you know full well this dress has seen a number of parties. I may be rich, but I’m not a spendthrift. Thank you for the invitation.” My gaze fluttered toward the weretiger. He was a lovely sight for the eyes.

Bjorn linked his arm through mine. “I want to introduce you to the newest resident of Bedlam. Sandy, meet Max Davenport. He’s the owner of Time For A Change—that gorgeous new boutique on Main Street. Max—may I present Sandy Clauson? She’s a member of the Moonrise Coven, and co-owner of the Sand Witch Delights Cafe chain. She’s also one of Bedlam’s most influential citizens, and throws a mean party. Much better than my affairs.”

I was an old hand by now. I knew when somebody was trying to set me up. Bjorn wasn’t subtle enough to cloak his intentions. “So, you’re new to Bedlam? What do you think of our little town?” I held out my hand.

Max smiled, and I swear, the room lit up. He took my fingers and gently squeezed them. Then, he made the mistake of opening his mouth. “So you’re a witch, huh? I bet you could really turn me into a tiger.” He winked, but it came out as a creepy leer and he immediately blushed.

I blinked. Lines like that had ceased to be amusing two hundred years ago. I paused, debating whether it was worthwhile to even bother with a come-back. Finally, I decided to be polite, given this was Bjorn’s fling, and cleared my throat.

“Welcome to Bedlam.” In the same moment, I turned to Bjorn. “Listen, love, I hate to greet and run, but I have an early appointment tomorrow morning that I can’t afford to miss. I’ll talk to you later.”

Bjorn gave me a long look that told me he knew exactly what kind of talk we’d be having. “Well, if you’re sure.”

“Oh, I’m sure. Trust me.” I gave Max an abrupt nod, then sought out the coat-check girl. As soon as I had my wrap, I hurried out before either one of the men could say another word.

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Tiger Tails