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Magic After Midlife: The Complete Series | Ebook

Magic After Midlife: The Complete Series | Ebook

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THROWING SHADE CHAPTER 1 LOOK INSIDE

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that angry women get shit done. On the Richter Scale of Midlife Simmering, I was a solid eight, meaning I’d already crossed twelve items off of my to-do list and it wasn’t even 10:30AM. 

As the librarian here at Chan Wilkins Shechtman LLP, I was researching some tedious historical legislation for one of the senior partners when my mojo was disrupted by Blake Cunningham, a husky blond Associate. He loomed over me like an inflatable tube man hawking discount cars, unleashing spittle and vitriol all over my desk as he informed me of a deadline I’d missed. 

I’d fulfilled his last request three days ago, so if he’d stop speaking over me every time I asked for clarification, we could get to the bottom of this.

While I kept my expression neutral, ever the consummate professional, I eyed the fat law dictionary that sat out of reach on my desk, next to the Book Wizard mug that Sadie had given me last year for Mother’s Day. Had I been an actual book wizard, I’d have telekinetically brained Blake with the heavy tome. 

Murder hadn’t been on my list for the day, but I’d been extraordinarily productive this morning, so I was willing to pencil it in. 

Alas, it was also a truth universally acknowledged that single moms wanting to keep their jobs didn’t engage in such acts, no matter how justified. The chances of getting an all-female jury who’d acquit the defendant with high-fives while singing Aretha Franklin’s “Think” were pretty much nonexistent.

Blake jabbed a finger in my face and I jerked my chair back, clenching my fists to keep from breaking the offending digit. My performance review was coming up and unlike some, I couldn’t shit on people and still expect a raise. My track record needed to be stellar and it was, but Blake was higher in the firm’s pecking order and matching his boorish behavior would cost me.

He finally took a breath and I jumped in.

“I’m unaware of any new assignment that you gave me. What are you referring to?”

“The email I sent you yesterday,” he said, wiping spit from his face. “I need that Law on Remoteness for the Santos trial. I won’t look bad because you can’t be bothered to do your job.”

I twisted my monitor around to show him my inbox. “I didn’t receive any email from you. Please don’t disparage my ability or work ethic.” 

He snorted. “You must have deleted it.”

I pried my fingers off the screen. “Excuse me?”

“You think that because Cecilia Chan hired you, you get a free pass? There isn’t a quota system for women here.” 

No, but there was one for assholes. To be fair, most of our lawyers were great, but every now and again, a toxic jackass showed up.

Someone knocked on my office door, and Blake opened it before I could to reveal an unfamiliar young woman.

Her cheerful smile indicated that her soul had yet to be sucked out by this industry, while her bright eyes denoted that she hadn’t yet started pulling longer hours than her male counterparts to prove herself.

“You’re new, aren’t you?” I said.

“Is it that obvious? Articling Student in the house.” She held up a stack of periodicals. “I wasn’t sure where you wanted these.”

“Put them on the cart out there, please,” I said, pointing into the library outside my office.

Blake ran a hand through his hair. “Hey, Addison. You know you can dump that on a paralegal, right?”

“It’s good to familiarize myself with all aspects of the firm,” she said. “Oh, Tamara was also wondering if the books she requested were in?”

My left eye twitched. I’d explained to the lawyer that the law volumes were on back order, but she persisted in asking constantly, like someone repeatedly hitting an elevator button to make it arrive faster. “Not yet. Still coming in on the same date.”

“Okay, I’ll drop these off then,” she said, backing out, her high ponytail bobbing.

“Thanks,” I said. “The procedures around here can take a while to get the hang of, but if you have any questions about the library, I’m happy to answer them.” 

“I appreciate that,” she said.

Blake kept his sleazy smile on full wattage until Addison left, at which point it dropped like a power outage. “Look, I can let the secondary sources slide until tomorrow if you need to take your extended coffee breaks or play solitaire or whatever you do when no one’s watching here, but get me that case law by end of day, Mara.”

Wait. What? 

Mara was the sixty-something administrative assistant who worked directly for Daniel Shechtman, and as the senior partner always joked, the real power around this place. Blake had been at this firm for six months. Were all women over a certain age an interchangeable blob to this douchenozzle? 

My skin was hot and itchy, my throat tight with a torrent of curses. 

“I’m Miriam,” I said, evenly. 

“Yeah, so?”

“You called me Mara. You sent the email to the wrong person.” I could just shove the law dictionary so far up his ass he tasted paper for a week. Or better still, follow the ancient Chinese practice of Lingchi, death by a thousand cuts. The classic tortures were the best.

Blake turned red and puffed out his chest like a blustering bagpipe. “Whatever. Get it done or I’ll take this to HR,” he said.

Chanting “performance review” like a mantra, I pasted a pleasant smile on my face. “You got it.”

I’d have to stay late to get everything accomplished, so I fired off a quick text to my kid, grateful she was sixteen and self-sufficient, and pulled relevant law books off the walnut bookcases. I wanted to throw something or stomp between the stacks, but the idea of damaging a book in my collection was anathema and my heels sank into the thick carpet that absorbed sound. 

Days like today, I felt like I was being absorbed, especially when, hours later, I had yet to see another person. 

By three o’clock, my eyes swam from reading small print, so I grabbed the Book Wizard mug and headed into the staff kitchen for a much-needed caffeine jolt.

“Miriam!” Fahim, a bright-eyed and eager recent hire, flagged me down. “I just sent you an email requesting you pull work safe standards on containing cast-in-place concrete on construction sites.”

“You mean, safety procedures for watching cement dry?”

He frowned. “Concrete and cement aren’t the same thing.”

Sighing, I cut him off before he could launch into an explanation. “I was kidding,” I said gently.

“Oh. Good one.” He sounded dubious.

I refrained from shaking my head. Law school had destroyed any sense of humor in our current batch of Associates. “I’ll get what you need.”

“Thank you.” 

The staff kitchen was fairly quiet, with only one person ahead of me for the cappuccino machine: Mara. 

The machine clicked twice and burst into a loud hum, firing two thin streams of espresso into the mug.

“A double?” I raised my eyebrows. “That kind of day?”

“Every day is that kind of day around here.” Mara patted a strand of gray hair back into her bun, watching the frothed milk dispense. “I blame my husband. If he hadn’t been so supportive of me going back to work after our sons were born, I’d have enjoyed a long and leisured career as a trophy wife.”

“Please. If you didn’t have all the lawyers to boss around on a regular basis, life wouldn’t have that same sparkle.” 

She rolled her eyes, then grinned. “How’s my favorite librarian?”

“Eh.” I took Mara’s place at the machine, setting my cup under the nozzle and hitting the selection for an Americano. “Did you hear? Poor Blake suffers from acute myopia. Except with age not distance. He chewed me out for failing to follow instructions in an email that he’d sent to you.”

“Ah. I wondered about that. Well, fair’s fair, I guess. All those youngsters look alike to my feeble old brain,” she said, with calculating shrewdness. “I hope I don’t confuse him with someone else the next time he needs to see Daniel.”

“That would be a pity.” I grabbed my coffee.

“Wouldn’t it, just?” Mara patted me on the shoulder. “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.

I laughed. “Fake phrase, but good sentiment. To you as well.” 

The caffeine put a spring in my step as I returned to the library, and my work smile reached my eyes when I saw the visitor in my office.

“I bring you glad tidings. And food crack,” my best friend, Judith Rachefsky, drawled in her Savannah Southern accent. She rubbed Vaseline on her red dry potter’s hands, avoiding the wrist brace she wore for her carpal tunnel. It was the major downside of working with clay, along with constant smudges of dust across her black T-shirts and jeans.

A familiar brown bakery bag sat on my desk.

I inhaled the heavenly scent of my favorite zucchini chocolate chip muffin. My stomach growled and I shoved a piece in my mouth, sighing blissfully. “Thank you, o dealer mine.” 

She squirted out more petroleum jelly with a farting noise. “If I’d have known you’d be this grateful, I’d have insisted on house cleaning in payment.”

“Always have a contract in place.” I tore off some more of the muffin. “Today has not been fun. One of our junior lawyers accused me of being incompetent, discharged a half gallon of spit on my sweater, and topped it off by calling me Mara.”

“Ouch.” Judith got comfortable in my desk chair, tucking the small tube of cream into the pocket of her jean jacket. Balancing one cowboy boot heel on the ground, she pawed through my drawer until she triumphantly waved a letter opener. “Here’s the plan. We lure him in to the men’s room before he leaves and…” She made stabbing motions. “Then we prop him in a stall. No one will look for him till tomorrow. We’ll have plenty of time to come back after hours to dispose of the body.” She tapped her wrist brace. “No one will suspect me and I’ll cover for you.”

I picked up the scarf that had slid from the chair onto the floor for the third time this afternoon. The rose print was beautiful, but the silk was a pain in the ass. “Not unless you’ve upped your lying game. Ten seconds of scowl from that border guard and you were confessing your two pairs of smuggled socks.”

Jude scrunched up the back of her curly red hair with her hand. “To be fair, those guys are pros.”

“Body disposal isn’t necessary. I snitched to Mara.”

Jude crossed herself, then stopped halfway through. “Oh, wait. I’m Jewish. So what’s your resident blowhard got you doing?”

“Researching the Law on Remoteness.”

She shuddered. “This is why you couldn’t pay me to work a corporate job anymore.” 

“Yes, but you envy my cornucopia of medical and dental benefits.” I pulled a paper napkin out of the bag and wiped my fingers.

“True.” She poked one of her teeth. “I swear this one is being held together by crazy glue and a prayer. In penance for that depressing reminder, you can be my mid-afternoon entertainment break. Hmm. Since I doubt you have pasties on under that wrap dress, you’ll have to amuse me some other way.” She snapped her fingers. “I know. Let’s check your dating profile.”

“Let’s not.”

“Come on, Miri. I could use a laugh.” She winked at me.

I twisted my shoulder-length dark hair up into a bun, and jammed a pen through it. “I deleted it, okay?” 

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have made fun of you. It’s hard putting yourself out there. Believe me, I know.”

“The emotional vulnerability of online dating in general is bad enough.” I shuddered and sat on the edge of my desk. “But this was a nightmare.”

“How so?”

“Two words for you, my friend: septuagenarian balls.” 

“Ewww.” Judith shook her head. “That’s so wrong on so many levels. You’re attractive, you have all your own teeth, you’re gainfully employed.”

“Intelligent, funny…”

She snorted. “The two most prized qualities on dating sites.”

I pushed up my boobs. “Great rack.”

“True. We’ll list that before the teeth.”

“It won’t help. The boob game out there is too strong. Plus, I’m forty-two and I have a kid. Thanks for playing.” I beheld my little kingdom of books, covering such heart-pounding topics as construction law and application fraud. “I was so excited to turn forty. Finally, I could give zero fucks, free of all the BS that dragged me down in my youth. And that’s true to an extent, but mostly I feel like I missed some Kafkaesque ceremony where I was presented with a pair of mom jeans, the number for the easy listening station on my FM dial, and the admonishment to ‘go gentle into that good night.’”

“Where’s the rage and rock ’n’ roll when you need it?” Jude said.

“Oh, there’s rage.” 

One of the paralegals waved at me from the library and I held up a finger, grabbing a memo off my printer to give to her.

“This should fix the login issues,” I said, “but let me know if you’re still having problems.”

The woman thanked me and left.

“Don’t give up. Forty is the new twenty,” Jude said from my office, once more rooting through my desk drawer.

I reshelved some more law books. “Tell that to the men on the dating site. And why the hell would I want to be twenty again?”

“No aches or sags.” 

“True, but I earned my body. I like my body. Though the one thing I do miss from that age? That life was in front of me and I could be anyone.” I tilted my head, lost in contemplation, the book in my hand momentarily forgotten. “Forty isn’t the new twenty, it’s a fast track to invisibility and irrelevancy.”

“You need a new game plan, honey. Quit your job and move to Spain.” Jude shook the bakery bag with the rest of my muffin at me.

“Packing and downsizing would be so much extra work,” I groused, putting the rest of the books away. “Honestly, it’s not so bad here. Most of the time no one micromanages me, plus I wouldn’t have that sweet, sweet health insurance to cover all the therapy my daughter would require for pulling her out of school. My little Hermione Granger does love her structured academic life.”

“Sadie’s adaptable and this job was only supposed to be temporary while you got on your feet after your divorce ten years ago. Go sling sangria.” She held up my tube of lip gloss with a questioning look.

Walking back into my office, I nodded for her to go ahead and use it. “You’re ludicrous. Maybe I just need a purpose. Oh. I could start volunteering.”

She uncapped the tube. “Volunteering is good, but I’m not sure it would fulfill you. You need something that makes you feel powerful.”

I ate the last piece of muffin, talking while chewing. “You mean empowered, and slinging sangria hardly fits the bill.”

“It’s a blurred line. You can’t take control of your life, whether it’s slinging sangria or running for Prime Minister, if you don’t feel like you have the power to do so.” 

“That’s free will. Choice.” I peered hopefully into the empty muffin bag, then threw it into the trash.

“And your choices are limited when you don’t think you have power. Thus limiting what you do and any further power you gain.” Judith sniffed the lip gloss and recoiled. “Bubble gum? What are you, twelve?”

“It’s Sadie’s.” I made a new to-do item on my phone to look into volunteering opportunities. 

“Like that girl would use any scent other than grape with undertones of smash the patriarchy,” Jude said.

I licked my lips. “Mmmm. Coffee and male tears.”

“Bubble gum lip gloss will not get you laid, my friend.”

“The lip gloss isn’t the cause. It’s been so long that my vagina took early retirement.”

Judith tossed the gloss back in the drawer. “Did she get a nice severance package?”

“Not really. I forgot to buy batteries.”

“That’s it. We’re going for drinks tonight. My treat. You can get loaded and I’ll be your designated.” Jude never drank if we went to the bar on Fridays, since it messed with her ability to wake up early on Saturday morning and get in some pottery time on her successful line of dishware, mugs, and teapots.

“Can’t,” I said. “I’ve got to finish up this research for Blake, then I should go home and spend quality time with my daughter.”

“Your sixteen-year-old won’t begrudge you a night out. Fun, Miri. Remember that?”

I pushed her out of my chair. “I have fun.”

“Is that what we’re calling putting everyone else in your life first and then ending up on the couch in your pjs exhausted from all your emotional labor?”

“Ah, but I chase it down with a lovely vintage.”

Jude scraped at some clay under her nails. “Fun isn’t a trendy abbreviation for functioning alcoholism.”

“Another time. I promise.”

Jude bit her lip, eyes troubled and downcast. 

“What?”

She sighed. “I wasn’t going to say anything but I’ve been having some health problems and I could use someone to talk to.”

I squeezed her hand. “What? Is it serious? Of course, I’ll go out with you and…” At her smirk, I brandished the law dictionary menacingly. “You lying cow.”

“A lying cow who is dead on in her assessment of you. Come on. Live a little.”

“Live a little, Adele.” My dad gave a lopsided grin and exaggerated hip wriggle as he beckoned Mom to come dance with him to Sinatra singing “Come Fly With Me.” Mom threw her bright yellow dish glove at his chest, laughing and saying the last time he used that line she lost a really nice bra. I shuddered and rolled my eyes with the heavy disdain that only a fifteen-year-old could. It would be the last time I ever did. 

I blotted my forehead with the back of my hand, the buzz of the air conditioning drilling into my temples. 

“Mir?” 

Blinking away the specter of the past, I smiled at Jude. “A drink sounds good.”

My friend stood up, refastening her wrist brace. “I have pieces to glaze at the studio so once you’ve finished your overtime, meet me at Chambers.” 

With something to look forward to, my task went a lot easier. Blake got his case law and even thanked me stiffly. I replied with equal enthusiasm and headed out for that drink.

The nearby bar on the waterfront that all the lawyers went to on Fridays after work wasn’t somewhere I’d frequent in my free time, but Chambers had one big plus: Jackie, the bartender, was generous in her pours. She said that I deserved the top up after dealing with some of my co-workers.

Sadly, Jackie wasn’t there tonight and Jude had yet to arrive. I politely waited my turn, fiddling with my sapphire engagement ring that I now wore on my right hand, but after ten minutes of being ignored by the new guy tending bar I got more forceful, waving and saying “excuse me” every time he got into my orbit.

Nothing.

I wrote my name in a spill of water from the pitcher on the bar, watching the letters dissipate, beyond done.

Life was like a night sky where every decision was a star winking into existence, some a faint pulse, others so beautifully luminous that we continually oriented ourselves by them even years later. Trying to order a drink was an ordinary action that I didn’t think twice about, barely visible in my personal constellation. Too bad I’d forgotten that even the most seemingly inconsequential choice could suddenly explode like a supernova, leaving you desperate to survive the blast.

Miriam Feldman is ditching her shapewear and finally letting her magic fly free.

When Miri­ was a teen, her parents were murdered by magic assassins. These days, her aggressively normal existence as a law librarian at a boring firm has excellent medical insurance and won’t get her daughter killed. 

But when her bestie, her ride-or-die, gets tangled up with some vampires and goes missing, Miriam unleashes the rare and powerful shadow magic she’s kept hidden.

It’s heady, liberating—and totally dangerous. 

Now in a race against time to save her friend, this single mom is descending into the spiderweb of the secret supernatural community where not knowing the rules is a fast-track to a painful end. 

Her guide? A grumpy French wolf shifter with a particular set of skills, a baffling drive to protect Miri at all costs, and the infuriating habit of constantly disagreeing with her. He may mock her To-Do lists, but he’s learned firsthand that her shadow magic literally packs a hell of a punch.

The tricky thing about shadows, though, is the past casts a long one, and if Miri isn’t careful, those magic assassins will come back for the one who got away­­­—­and she’ll lose everything.

Featuring a slow burn shifter romance and a smart older heroine, this clever mix of urban fantasy and mystery will take you on a wild ride.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “I was laughing so hard in places I felt like I couldn't breathe!” - Reviewer

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "I was a little worried going into this, I've loved all of Wilde's previous books and her characters have resonated with me as they've been my age (ish)... Would I relate so well to someone older with a child and responsibilities who would seemingly have it all together? Freakin' yeah I did!" - Melissa

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "OMG you guys!!! This book had me in stitches, in swoons, in happies and in frustrations and I LOVED it." – Eleanor

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MAGIC AFTER MIDLIFE: THE COMPLETE SERIES is exclusive to Deborah Wilde Books.

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Throwing Shade

When Miri­ was a teen, her parents were murdered by magic assassins. These days, her aggressively normal existence as a law librarian at a boring firm has excellent medical insurance and won’t get her daughter killed. 

But when her bestie, her ride-or-die, gets tangled up with some vampires and goes missing, Miriam unleashes the rare and powerful shadow magic she’s kept hidden. 

It’s heady, liberating—and totally dangerous. 

Now in a race against time to save her friend, this single mom is descending into the spiderweb of the secret supernatural community where not knowing the rules is a fast-track to a painful end. 

Her guide? A grumpy French wolf shifter with a particular set of skills, a baffling drive to protect Miri at all costs, and the infuriating habit of constantly disagreeing with her. He may mock her To-Do lists, but he’s learned firsthand that her shadow magic literally packs a hell of a punch. 

The tricky thing about shadows, though, is the past casts a long one, and if Miri isn’t careful, those magic assassins will come back for the one who got away­­­—­and she’ll lose everything.

Made in the Shade

Miriam Feldman’s got a murder to solve, a mouthy golem to corral, and her name to clear. Quite frankly, she’s swamped.

Her new gig as a fixer for the magic community is a lot like being a full-time mom to someone else’s kids… they get annoying faster but don’t respond to guilt trips. And sure, maybe she feels kind of grumpy and stabby about these irritating jobs, but that doesn’t mean she killed her latest client!

As far as the magic police are concerned, Miri and her wolf shifter friend Laurent might as well have “guilty of murder” tattooed on their foreheads. If they lose this fight, it’ll be a one-way trip to Deadman’s Island. Talk about a real buzzkill for their easy banter and deepening chemistry.

Even worse, the non-magic cops are also investigating the crime—and her ex-husband is the lead detective. This wasn’t how she meant to pop his cherry about the existence of magic, but the time for foreplay is over.

To unmask the real killer, she’ll have to navigate hidden agendas, lies, and the undead. But hey, she’s faced worse; she used to be on the PTA.

A Shade Too Far

When Miri steals a demon artifact for a client, she doesn't expect a magic curse. Failure to reverse it means the death of someone close to her, the end of her uneasy alliance with the head vampire, and open season on her family. So that sucks.

Meanwhile, her screw-up on a dangerous fact-finding mission may have kicked her sexual tension with the wolf shifter in the balls. At least she’s not obsessing over it, since fighting through a maze of mind games, tested loyalties, and secrets is consuming all her energy.

Glass half-full, right?

Now armed with her trusty to-do list, she’s determined to multitask her way to victory like a magic badass.

Yaas, Queen.

A Shade of Myself

Vanquisher of evil. Wrangler of offspring. Seriously in need of a coffee.

Miriam Feldman’s life is happily bobbing along. Her family and close friends support her magic and things are getting interesting with the wolf shifter. But smooth sailing turns to shark-infested waters when she plumbs the dark depths of her past to investigate her parents’ last con.

Being chum was never on her bucket list.

In comparison, Miri’s new assignment should be easy: track down a demon to check a necklace for dark magic. Of course, nothing about demons is simple and she finds herself forced to strike hard bargains with both demon hunters and an ancient vampire. Awesome.

The farther out she drifts seeking answers, the tighter she’s caught in a net of secrets, lies, and deadly revelations. And this time, she might not break free.

Just keep swimming…

The Shade of Things

Miriam Feldman’s life has become Running Man with a side of Squid Game when she’d much prefer The Great British Bake Off.

When Miri partners up with her detective ex-husband on an off-the-books magical missing persons operation, she expects buddy cop adventures galore. Instead, she gets more than she bargained for, starting with a mouthy golem who’s forced onto the team. Their mission? Crash a secret—and deadly—competition targeting non-magic humans to rescue the young woman at the heart of their case.

So, a regular Thursday nowadays.

If that funhouse of horrors wasn’t enough, she still must fulfill her oath to a master vamp by locating the artifact bound up with her parents’ murders almost thirty years ago. He refuses to say why he wants it, but all signs point to “Danger Danger Will Robinson.”

All of that leaves no time in her schedule for sexy times with a certain wolf shifter. Which is probably just as well, seeing as he doesn’t know she’s been forced to keep secrets from him, too.

Laugh? Cry? Coffee!

Bent Out of Shade

Miriam Feldman’s road to happiness is littered with potholes.

Between her search for a vampire’s missing fiancée and getting answers about a creepy amulet tied to her parents’ murders, Miri is making enemies across the whole supernatural spectrum. Fun! Meanwhile, her daughter is acting out, and teen attitude is sooo delightful when you throw magic into the mix.

Then there’s that business with the Leviathan, but she’s embracing positivity—even when it involves a sea monster. Her ascent up the ladder as a magic fixer is on track, and she’s got a first date with a certain sexy French wolf shifter to look forward to.

It’s pedal to the metal as she outruns and outplays deadly opponents set on revenge.

Ace of Shades

Gehenna isn’t on Google Maps and there’s no Angel Annihilation for Dummies. To Miriam Feldman, list lover extraordinaire, this is an irritating oversight.

It’s fine. She’s got this mission under control. Sure, her instructions are vague, and her team is trigger-happy, but she’s got plenty of motivation to carry them to victory.

Vengeance counts, right?

Plus, if ridding the world of celestial menaces doesn’t top up Miri’s karmic bank, then stopping a vampire contagion will definitely earn her some good will.

Unless it gets her killed. That’s a distinct possibility.

One which she refuses to worry about since she’s got her shiny new relationship with a sexy wolf shifter to enjoy. And honestly, his family dysfunction is making hers look pretty damn insignificant.

How’s that for positive thinking? She’s going to nail this.

Happily-ever-after, here she comes.