A STANDALONE BONNIE BENNETT BOOK IN THE VAMPIRE DIARIES / THE ORIGINALS UNIVERSE.
Bourbon, jazz, and streets soaked in magic. New Orleans is an infamous supernatural playground, and the perfect place for a witch to feel right at home.
When Bonnie Bennett travels to The Big Easy for some much needed rest and relaxation, she unexpectedly encounters a few familiar faces. Despite their violent history and her resulting efforts to steer clear of Mikaelson family drama, she soon finds herself agreeing to help Klaus when his brother Elijah goes missing. Assuming they could get a little aid from the local covens, they quickly realize the eldest original vampire isn’t the only mysterious disappearance in the Crescent City.
The clock is ticking. With the help of her unlikely ally and a handful of new friends from the French quarter, Bonnie must face off with a dark force fueled by vengeance and hell bent on wiping out every New Orleans witch in existence.
*Originally published as part of the Bennett Witch Chronicles series in the Amazon Vampire Diaries Kindle Worlds. With the dissolution of Amazon’s Kindle Worlds program, the author has made the story available as a FREE fanfiction ebook download.
I stood in the cool entry way waiting for the owner of the apartment I’d rented for the next few weeks. The woman had been incredibly pleasant on the phone, and she’d insisted upon meeting me in person with the key rather than leaving it under the welcome mat like most places.READ MORE
I checked my phone for about the hundredth time to see if I had any missed messages, but found nothing. I started to contemplate taking a walk to go find something to drink when the door swung open and a woman burst through. She was taller than me, which wasn’t exactly uncommon. Her wild chestnut hair framed her round face, her pale blue eyes a startling contrast to her cocoa skin. I was surprised to find she was much younger than she sounded over the phone. The apartment was prime real estate, and if I had to hazard a guess, she wasn’t a day over twenty-two. Color me impressed.
“Are you Bonnie?” she asked somewhat hesitantly.
“Oh thank god. You’re normal.”
She laughed lightly and shook her head before explaining. “Mardi Gras brings out the crazies. I wasn’t sure who I was renting to, and I learned my lesson the hard way that renting through a vacation site can be a bit of a nightmare. Come on, follow me.”
I did as she asked, grabbing the handle of my suitcase and hefting it off the ground. I silently reminded myself to learn to pack lighter on my next trip. She led me up a dark, narrow staircase to the second floor. The hallway was dim, the only light coming through the maroon lace curtains covering the window at the end of the hall. She stopped at the first door, a black metal A hanging just above the glass peephole, and began digging through her huge grey messenger bag.
“Sorry for being such a pain in the ass about the key. I had a frat boy rent the place last year and it ended up trashed. Like, apocalyptic kind of trashed. Someone used my sink as a toilet and used the bathtub as a barbeque pit. Can you believe that?! I’m lucky they didn’t burn the whole building to the ground. The cleaning deposit didn’t even come close to covering the disaster. When he rented the apartment, I was told it was just him and a friend. It turned out to be him and what I’m guessing was his entire frat house. Several thousand dollars in renovations later, I now come by personally to confirm the situation is what I agreed to.”
She finally produced a keyring with two keys on it.
“This one,” she said, holding the ring up by the larger of the two keys, “goes to the apartment. The one with the pink cover goes to a storage unit two blocks over. In the storage unit, there is a bicycle and a scooter. You’re welcome to use either one, just be sure to lock them up overnight.”
“I might use the bike, but I have no clue how to ride a scooter.”
“Oh, it’s super easy. My brother lives down the hall in apartment D. If you want to learn, just knock on his door. I’ll give him the heads up that you might be over.” The offer was sweet, but I immediately pushed it aside. The idea of taking time out of my trip to look like an idiot in front of a complete stranger wasn’t appealing.
“Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind,” I replied, being polite.
“Oh my goodness, where are my manners? My name is Cassidy, Cass for short.”
“Nice to meet you, Cass.”
I forced a smile, and as she looked back and made eye contact, I caught a familiar twinge deep in my gut. I wondered if she could tell I was a witch as easily as I picked it up from her. It could be a little sketchy running into witches I didn’t know. Some chose to keep their supernatural status a secret, a closely held secret, and they didn’t take kindly to anyone who might be perceived as a threat to their anonymity. Some simply took offense to the presence of outsiders. In my travels, I’d found sometimes it’s best to be upfront about it.
“Is it common for the witches around here to make side income renting out vacation properties?” Panic flooded the woman’s eyes. She didn’t go on the offensive, and she didn’t know I was a witch.
“Don't worry, your secret is safe with me. And I really am just here on vacation. If you’re part of a coven, feel free to give them my info. I doubt it will take them long to figure out who I am.”
“Who you are?” She looked at me questioningly, and then in the span of half a second, her expression shifted to one of recognition.
“Oh geez! Bonnie Bennett. From Mystic Falls, right? Yeah, you’re kind of famous. I have no clue why the name didn’t ring a bell before now. You’re sure this is just a trip for pleasure?” She shot me an almost accusatory glare.
“Oh yeah, I promise. I want to hear some good music, see some cool art, and do a whole lot of relaxing.”
“Well, on behalf of the witches of New Orleans, welcome. And if you get lonely while you’re here for the first week,” she paused, digging through her bag again, this time quickly producing a pad of paper and a pen, “here’s my number at the shop. Call me there or shoot me a text and we can meet up for drinks or something. I can show you the Crescent City.”
I’d traveled enough now that I was used to polite offers of company like this one. I thanked her for the offer, and while I didn’t really have any intention of taking her up on it, I tucked the card into my back pocket anyway.
“You have four friends coming in next week, right?”
“Three for sure, the fourth won't know until the last minute if he can get away from work.”
“Okay, good. There is plenty of room for everyone to sleep. Come on in, I’ll show you around.”
She opened the door and I followed her inside. The apartment was so dark, I could barely make anything out. Cass flipped a switch and a few overhead bulbs turned on, casting a soft yellow glow on the small hallway. Once my eyes adjusted, I could see the hallway came to an abrupt end just inside the door, making way for a small but gorgeous kitchen.
The area was just large enough for the black enamel appliances and sink, and was separated from the rest of the apartment by a bar with a built-in wine fridge and a glossy black marble top. In front of the bar on the living room side were two black leather high-back bar stools, and I took the opportunity to drop my bag onto the one closest to me.
Cass walked across the large room to a set of heavy curtains and whipped them open in two swift movements, bathing the space in light through a set of French doors. The decor consisted of rich, royal colors—blue, purple, and crimson—accented in a style she could only describe as gothic chic.
One of the walls was adorned with a huge mirror with a gilded frame. The patina of the frame suggested it had changed hands many times before settling into this particular home, and something about it gave me the creeps. I rubbed my arm, willing the goosebumps away as I turned my attention back to the rest of the room.
The furniture in the living room was large but simple, covered with thick cushions and plush, ornate throw pillows. I couldn’t wait for my first chance to curl up on one of them with a good book. Cass opened the French doors and stepped out on the balcony. I eagerly followed.
The ivy plants hanging from the awning gave way to a charming view of Bourbon Street. I was looking forward to the start of Mardi Gras and the spectacle it promised, but I made a mental note to schedule a trip back here in the off season. Maybe a girls only vacation with Caroline and the twins.
“What kind of shop do you run?”
“A magic shop, of course. The nice thing about this city is the tourists love the supernatural vibe. They buy trinkets and harmless charms for good fortune. Meanwhile, in the back room, we keep the witches in the Quarter supplied with any herbs or other ingredients they may need.”
I crinkled my brow in question.
“You’re not in Virginia anymore, Ms. Bennett. We’ve got all kinds of witches here. We’ve got the wannabes who just dabble. You know? Like, yoga moms trying to cast prosperity spells that almost never work. Then there are those who use the darker stuff. Everything from simple spells bound with blood to all-out sacrificial magic.”
With the exception of night I stopped the Hellfire in the Armory, nothing has ever scared me more than when my magic started to consume me from using Expression, a form of black magic that acted as a manifestation of your will. That kind of power is addicting, and before you know it, you’re not the one in control of the ship anymore.
“Yeah, I’m familiar.”
“It isn’t pretty, but it is powerful and therefore profitable, and they have to get their ingredients somewhere. I do have my limits, though. I won’t deal in any ingredients with a pulse. I love animals. I could never bring myself to knowingly send one to their death. Anyway, I’ll let you get settled. You have my numbers if you need anything. And, as I mentioned, my brother is right down the hall. He can help you out too.”
“Thanks. The place is beautiful. I’m sure I’ll love it here.”
As Cass made her way to the door, she kept firing off information. “There is a binder by the phone with all the local food and entertainment listed inside, including delivery joints. The fridge is stocked with some essentials, but there isn’t much there, so you’re going to want to hit a store soon.” She reached for the handle on the door and turned back to me before taking her leave. “Do you have any questions for me?”
“Nope, I’m sure I will be able to find my way around.”
She said her goodbyes and left, quietly closing the door behind her. I walked through the apartment, checking out the rooms without the pressure of the landlord standing right there. Down the hall was a bathroom, an office with no computer, and three bedrooms, the largest of which had its own private bathroom. I strolled over to the large four-poster bed and dropped myself onto it.
I laid there for a few minutes, willing the deafening silence to offer some form of comfort but finding none. I wasn’t sure which was worse these days: the loneliness that came when I was left with nothing but my thoughts, or the loneliness I felt in a crowded room filled with people, none of whom are Enzo. I decided that would be a worry for another day. I shimmied my way up to rest my head on the pillows and closed my eyes. I told myself I’d rest for a little while, then I would go out exploring the city. The last thing I remembered was the sound of a trumpet playing somewhere in the distance.