A Charming Deception
Book 13 in the Magical Cures Mystery Series
June Heal and Oscar Park are beyond thrilled with the upcoming arrival of their baby.
Cures and Trouble…
June’s pregnancy is turning out to more at risk than anticipated and she has to go to a specialist doctor outside of Whispering Falls where patients are nosey and hormones are raging, leaving the nurses and receptionist at their wits ends and bickering at each other.
Poor June is put on limited activity. The baby is proving to a little mischievous and magic before it’s even born and leaving the doctors a little miffed with all the different ultrasound shenanigans.
June’s hormones have messed with her intuition and spiritual gifts, leaving her unsure of things going on around her.On one of her many doctor appointments, June arrives a little early and find the receptionist strangled to death.
June can’t help herself and decides to put her amateur and magical sleuthing skills to the test to try to bring the killer to justice…or are her hormones deceiving her?
A Charming Deception
Book 13 in the Magical Cures Mystery Series
A Charming Deception
The list of June Heal’s charms and what they mean:
· Turtle Charm = Be Sure and Steady on Your Journey
· Silver Owl = Wisdom, Mysticism, Secrets
· Purple Stone in Mesh = Clarity and Awareness
· Angel Wing = Guidance from Above and Protection
· Dove Sitting on a Gold Circle = Devotion and Hopefulness
· Third Eye Charm = Peer Past Illusions
· Small Potion Bottle = Harm to None
· Brass Bell = Brass helps protect from falling for the evil eye, from evil spirits and any sort of spell cast against you.
· Spiral Shape = Be aware of your surroundings
· Leaf = Stay true to you; listen closely to your intuition
· Elephant = God of luck, fortune, and protection and is a blessing upon all new projects.
“Good morning. Faith Mortimer here with today’s Whispering Falls Gazette and your morning news.”
I stopped putting the mojo bags I’d made for today’s big summer sale for my shop on the display table to listen to today’s newspaper.
No. It wasn’t read out loud into our community over any loud speaker. It was carried in the light summer morning breeze that was only heard by the spiritualist who had subscribed to our local newspaper.
It was only fitting that Faith Mortimer was the editor in chief since she was a clairaudient. It was her spiritual ability to hear things that were inaudible. She was able to hear beyond the natural sense of hearing.
In mortal speak, she could hear from spirits or angels or just hear into the future in some sort of mystical way I didn’t understand since I didn’t have that spiritual gift.
“As you know, our very own June Heal, owner of A Charming Cure, is going to be having our newest addition, and we are having a town-wide baby shower for our newest spiritualist. At least, we hope the new addition will be a spiritualist. Regardless, on Saturday, which is four days from now, we will be meeting at the gathering rock at midnight during the peach moon phase to celebrate the arrival of Baby Heal… um… or will it be Baby Park? No matter. June and Oscar Park are registered at Potions, Wands, and Beyond, located on the Hidden Hills: A Spiritualist University campus located in the wheat fields behind the gathering rock.”
I rubbed my belly with one hand and Mr. Prince Charming with the other, grinning from ear to ear about our little arrival. Though we wouldn’t be sure until the Little One was well into his or her teen years whether there was some sort of spiritual gift, I would venture to say the baby was, only for the fact that both Oscar and I were spiritualist. With Oscar’s being a wizard and my being a homeopathic spiritualist along with my having a keen since of intuition and dreams, there was so much spiritual in our genes that there was no doubt our baby would also be.
But there was one negative factor on my side. Darla, my mom, wasn’t a spiritualist, and that little percentage could affect my baby’s chance.
I casually flipped through the journal Darla had left me with advice, potions, and recipes she had found helpful when she was trying to live in a spiritualist world. I’d been looking for anything to do with her being pregnant with me. The one thing I did find was how much she’d loved the star-and-moon baby mobile my dad had brought home for my crib. She’d even drawn a photo of it on the page. I wished she’d kept it, but Darla wasn’t about keeping things.
Darla was never one to keep any type of memories. She said that the best memories were the ones stored in your head and heart not on paper or photographs. Though I wouldn’t have minded a photograph or two of us, a crayon drawing from preschool, or even a report card that showed I was a straight A student. Or something from our time in Whispering Falls. But this drawing would have to do.
My heart sank as I wondered if I could find any sort of mobile at Potions, Wands, and Beyond.
Mr. Prince Charming was so good at hearing my thoughts. He rubbed his body and curled his tail as though he were giving me a slight hug to let me know not to worry.
“I can’t help it.” I gave him one last rub before he jumped off the counter of my shop, A Charming Cure, and darted for the door. It was his way of letting me know it was almost time to open for the day.
“This announcement is brought to you by Wicked Good Bakery, the hosts of the shower. If you have any questions, you can stop by Wicked Good and see me or my sister Raven.
In other news, we are having a summer sale for tourists starting this week. I hope everyone has made their sales signs and gotten their display windows already decorated for this morning’s opening. If you’ve not noticed, the streets are already packed with tourists.
Right now, we are also offering twenty-five percent off to any advertisers. Whisper to me in the air if you’d like some pricing.”
I walked through the shop, straightening all the red tablecloths neatly laid on all the display tables that dotted the inside of the shop, and made my way to the front to make sure my shop window was ready just as Faith had asked us to do for the summer sale.
“Meowl, meowl.” Mr. Prince Charming batted at the door.
“It’s too early to open.” I bent down and picked up a clump of his snow-white fur off the floor. “Are you feeling okay?” I gave him a good once-over when I saw the fur. “You never shed.”
It was an observation I’d made very early in my life when I was ten years old and Mr. Prince Charming showed up on my childhood doorstep in my hometown of Locust Grove. It was also a reason Darla, my mother, who only liked to be called by her first name, even by me, had let Mr. Prince Charming in the house.
Or that was what I’d thought. Now I bet she knew he was sent by the Order of Elders and the Whispering Falls town council to keep a spiritual eye on me so they could see if I had any of Otto’s, my father’s, spiritual traits.
I did. And I was sure little Park would too. I rubbed the fur over my belly.
“Oh my. I think Little One loves you already.” I beamed at Mr. Prince Charming when the baby’s foot followed the piece of his fur I’d dragged along my belly. “And to think I’m a little bit worried Little One won’t be a spiritualist.”
Mr. Prince Charming didn’t seem to care as he continued to look at me and meow at the door.
“I’d prefer you not go out since the sidewalk is so full.” I peeled back a corner of the display window that I hadn’t yet opened so the tourists could see my display. “There’s already a line.”
Mr. Prince Charming wasn’t going to settle down and let me get my work done so I could open up on time unless I let him out.
“Fine. But don’t get into any trouble,” I told him and opened the door just enough for him to slip out. “I hope you mind me better than he does.” I rubbed my belly, talking to Little One and walked over to the small table near the display window where I’d kept a small cauldron with warm tea for the customers to sip as well as a plate of cookies in the shape of my potion bottles I’d had especially made by Raven Mortimer from Wicked Good Bakery.
Even though I was a spiritualist, we were in the South, and we never forgot our Southern hospitality, especially since Whispering Falls wasn’t your typical Southern town. Of course, the tourists had no idea we were spiritualists. They only knew how good they felt after shopping here all day, which made them want to come back even more.
We’d opened a subdivision up for non-spiritualists to live, but they couldn’t open any stores here. We’d tried that once. Once.
With the tea-and-cookie station ready to go, I turned around to get a good look at my shop. All the display tables were filled with the various homeopathic cure bottles. Each side wall had display racks on the wall labeled with the various cures for what ailed them.
For instance, I had a display for gut health now that people were worried about health issues concerning their diets. The sleep display was by far my most popular. Everyone seemed to be sleep-deprived these days.
I rubbed my belly with a little smile, welcoming the nights Little One would have Oscar and me up.
I sucked in a deep breath, very satisfied with today’s specials, which were written on the chalkboard near the far left of the shop next to the checkout counter. I gave the photo of my parents that hung on the wall a silent blessing and nodded to them before I turned my attention to the display window.
I’d opted for a summer theme, as the town council had strongly encouraged, without telling us, to do. There was a red old-style bike with a nice vibrant white strip and a white padded seat along with a picnic theme.
The red-and-white-checkered tablecloth on the floor matched the bike. I’d gotten a small red grill to sit on the edge of the tablecloth along with a brown picnic basket. There were a few sport items in the basket of the bike, representing summer activities.
To tie in what my shop was about, I’d added some homeopathic bug spray, citronella candles infused with a special touch, along with some various vitamins for the summer heat as well as some lotions for those aching bones and muscles that weren’t used to being worked and overworked.
The final touch was the triangular banners made from various red and white patterned fabrics that hung all along the window. It was such a festive time of year for the mortals, and I wanted to capture the nostalgic feeling they seemed to have during these few months.
Even though I grew up as a mortal, summer was never my favorite time of the year. It was the fall—the early nights, the falling leaves, the moonlight skies, and of course, Halloween.
“It’s time, Little One.” I talked to my baby as though Little One was already here. “Here we go.”
I pulled the cord to open the shades of the display window. The customers who were already standing in line oohed and aahed, making me smile in delight.
Before I flipped the front door sign to Open, I walked back behind the counter and around the partition where I kept my super-secret.
It was my cauldron, where the magic happened away from any mortal eyes. There were going to be a lot of potions made today, and with the fifteen percent coupon on the total purchase I was handing out for the summer sale, I knew my cauldron needed to be nice and hot.
On my way toward the front door, I grabbed the white-and-red basket I’d found when I went to the flea market in Locust Grove after a doctor’s appointment because I knew it’d be perfect for the color scheme I’d created for the display window. Inside were the coupons I’d had printed to give out to the customers today.
I took a deep breath and ran my free hand over my black short-sleeved shirt, tugging at the hem so it would flow down past the waist of my black calf-length A-line skirt. It was a perfect outfit for any pregnant spiritualist. I’d been able to score the cutest pair of low-heeled black lace-up boots at Potions, Wands, and Beyond when I went to visit my aunt Helena at Hidden Hall, a spiritualist university where she was the dean.
“Here we go, Little One.” I tucked a piece of my short-bobbed black hair behind my ear and curled a smile on my face to give me the extra oomph to open the door. “Good morning,” I greeted them and propped open the front door. “Welcome to A Charming Cure.”
I gestured to the sign hanging in front of my small cottage shop.
“We’ve got plenty to go around and a sale coupon for you to use on your entire purchase today.” I turned around and invited them to walk under the purple-and-white wisteria vine that grew up and around the front door of the shop.
It was a touch Darla had done when she owned A Dose of Darla in this exact same spot when I was a toddler. I couldn’t wait to give Little One the same experience I had, only we would live in Whispering Falls our whole lives. Unlike me, Darla had to move after my father was killed in the line of duty as a police officer.
It was one of the spiritualist rules, and since Darla was not a spiritualist, only married to one and a mortal, she was unable to stay here. That was how she’d ended up opening the A Dose of Darla booth in the Locust Grove flea market.
“Welcome,” I greeted the customers at the door and held the basket for them to take a coupon. “We have some wonderful hot tea and delicious cookies for you to enjoy while you look around.”
My intuition keyed in on a young man. I could feel the itching inside of him. Though I hadn’t gotten a clear picture of just what he needed, I did know he was my first potion customer of the day.
“Can I interest you in a cookie?” I asked.
“Thank you.” He was probably in his midtwenties, and if I had to guess, I’d say he was with his grandmother.
“This is a fun one. Extra icing.” I handed him one of the cookies decorated as a potion bottle filled with green icing. “Are you playing chauffer today?” I asked when my fingertips barely touched his so I could get a sense of what he was all about.
“How did you know I was the chauffer to my great aunt today?” the young man asked and bit into the cookie.
“Great aunt.” My brow lifted at how wrong my senses of the grandmother figure was, though I knew she played a part in this situation somewhere.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of the empty potion tin tubes on the shelf begin to glow a faint green, letting me know that was the tin tube for this particular customer. For some reason, the tin tubes were mostly for the men, while the ornamental bottles generally lit up for the women.
“I’m guessing you aren’t here for bath products,” I teased when I noticed his great aunt checking out the bath bombs. “But I do have a line of men’s products that might interest you.”
The images of his hair line underneath his longer hair along his neck tapped into my intuition.
“I’m. . .” He casually shook his head no, but the green tin tube on the shelf lit up more, telling me yes.
“I have a lot of male customers who have very dry skin, kinda like eczema.” I knew it was part of his problem, but truthfully, it was his obsession with sodas that made the pop fizzle of my intuition spark. “Do you experience dry skin in areas?”
“Yeah.” His eyes popped open in a how-did-you-know kind of expression that I’d seen on a fairly regular basis when I was on the money about their ailments. “I get it in my hair line. My doctor gives me cream for it, but it rarely helps.”
“I’m sure your doctor knows what they are doing, but why not try this.” I had him follow me over to the men’s section, though it was the exact same stuff I had in the women’s section.
Men were so picky about that type of thing.
“Tell me if you like the feel of this cream. Too shiny? Too thick? Too sticky?” I grabbed the tin tube of cream off the shelf and unscrewed the lid. I put a dab of the cream on the back of his hand and waited for his reply.
I watched him rub it in and bring it up to his nose to smell. Another man thing was the perfume smell. What he didn’t know was the creams in my shop took on the smell of things they liked. In his case, I could have sworn it smelled just like burnt marshmallows.
“This is actually really nice.” He took the tin tube from my hand and looked at it. “Cream for Men. Huh.” His brows furrowed.
“How about I give you a sample to take home. If you like it, you know exactly where to find me.” I held up a finger. “I’ll be right back with your sample.”
The happy voices of other customers delighted my ears when I walked back to the counter to get the special lotion for the young man. I walked over to the shelf where the empty bottles and tubes were located and plucked his off the shelf.
“Do you have a question about the mojo bags?” I asked another customer when I noticed she was digging through them.
“Yes. I have some questions about them.” She had picked up one of the red bags, which was worn around the wrist to help with the halt of gossip.
“Why don’t you keep looking through them while I finish up with another customer. I’m sure we will be able to find the right bag for you,” I assured her and walked behind the counter and around the partition to add exactly what was needed to the young man’s cream.
Using my fingers, I carefully slid them up the tube and let the cream fall into the bubbling and murky contents of the cauldron. The cream swirled and mixed into the elixir. The steam pulsed up in ivory smoke as the smell of salt filled my lungs, leaving me with a taste of marshmallows and chocolate. Images of the young man sitting over a s’more maker across from a young woman popped like fireworks above the rim of the cauldron. Visions of him smiling, happy and exactly where he needed to be reflected inside of the mixture as it moved in circular motions.
I turned around and grabbed galanga root from the ingredient shelf on the wall behind me. With a little pinch, I knew the young man would be able to heat up the relationship he wanted with the woman in my visions.
“This should do the trick for his itching.” I took two laurel leaves and crushed them, using the cauldron stick to make sure they were coated in the mix, where they’d dissolve.
With a wave of my hand, I repeated the healing prayer twice. “Take care of his mind. Take care of his love. Take care of his emotions. Let life flow through him joyfully as he feels safe and relaxed.”
The caldron shut off, letting me know his potion was ready to go back into the tube. I held the empty tube, which glowed as he talked to me over the cauldron. I had no idea how it did it, nor did I ever question it. Without my even noticing, the cream inside the cauldron had been moved into the tube along with the perfect label and instructions.
“I feel better already.” The young man was standing at the register when I came out from behind the partition.
“I’m so glad.” I rang up his total and added the coupon before exchanging money and the tube. “You let me know if you have any questions. I put a business card in the bag with our phone number on it.”
“Thanks.” He dangled the bag in the air, his spirit much lighter than when he first walked in.
His great aunt came up to see what he’d gotten. “I bet this one will work,” she told him.
My intuition went off when I realized she needed a light of some sort, a light within her that I wouldn’t be able to provide with my shop, but I knew someone who could help her.
“Have you two been over to Mystic Lights?” I asked them about the lighting shop across the street, owned by my dear friend, Isadora Solstice.
They both shook their heads.
“I’m not sure if you’re looking for any sort of lamps or lights, but she has the most incredible ones that you can’t get anywhere else.” I gently reached over near the register and tapped on what appeared to be a round light, and there was a peaceful blue glow that sprang to life.
“A touch light?” The great aunt’s face came to life. “Is Mystic Lights having a sale?”
“Here.” I took one of the coupons from the basket. “You take this over there and tell Izzy that June sent you.”
He and his great aunt left without her buying anything from me, but that was how our magic worked. I knew she needed some internal work that I couldn’t give her with my spiritual gift, but with my intuition, I knew my friend Izzy could.
Like I mentioned, Izzy owned Mystic Lights, a light-fixture shop that was a cover for her spiritual gift of crystallomancy or as mortals would say, crystal ball gazing.
Izzy was able to use the art of future visions.
“Thank you.” I wanted to give credit to Madame Torres, my crystal ball, for lighting up for the great aunt when I tapped her.
Madame Torres was careful not to create much visual light, since it was how the mortals would see her. Since she was my crystal ball, only I could see her face or any sort of visions she might try to give me.
I wasn’t a future reader or crystal ball reader for others like Izzy. It didn’t work that way with the spiritual gift I had. In fact, Madame Torres had been waiting for me all her life until I’d walked into Mystic Lights for the first time several years ago, and when she appeared and I could see her, it was then that she knew I was her owner.
Sometimes I felt it was the other way around when she didn’t show up exactly how I needed her too. But today, she’d worked like a charm.
“I’m sorry that took a little longer than I thought.” I had gone back over to the customer with the red mojo bag. “I bet you just graduated from college.”
She gasped. “How did you know?”
“I can see the pride written all over your face.” I kept to myself the fact that I felt the tension knotted up in her about a job and that she was wondering if she was going to get the perfect one for her. That was why I decided to hand her the furculum mojo bag. “I would love you to have this.”
I opened the small pink velvet pouch and dumped the contents into her palm.
“Is that a gold wish bone charm?” she asked as the excitement escalated in her veins. The pulsing was banging in my ears.
The Little One used both hands to drum on my belly as the young woman’s excitement grew.
“It is.” I left out the fact that it was a small turkey wish bone that made wishes, hopes, and dreams come true. “Along with a small green candle to burn while you take a bath and sprinkle the white rose petals in your water.” I picked up the small vial of crushed petals. “I would suggest you head on over to my friend KJ. He owns Scented Swan Candle Company, the candle shop down on the left. He is giving away his specially made matches to any customer who receives a mojo bag.”
“How much?” She dug into her purse.
“It’s a graduation gift.” My head tilted to the side, and my smile grew. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Constance and Patience Karima scurrying to the side of the steps to let Mr. Prince Charming pass to enter my shop first.
The grey-haired older women were twins, and they were dressed in their usual house dresses. They looked around in unison until their eyes caught mine.
“Are you sure?” the young woman questioned me with tears in her eyes.
“Yes. I am sure.” I needed her to leave before the Karima sisters reached us, especially Patience. I could see she had something in her arms that appeared to be dressed in a baby’s dress.
We tried to keep the spiritual secret of our community on the down-low, and the Karimas were anything but down-low.
“Then I’ll take it.” The young woman smiled, and her tears began to dry.
“I know life can be challenging at your age, what with wondering whether you’re going to get your foothold in the world with a job and all the other things piling up and throwing you into adulthood.” I patted her arm, giving her a secret blessing. “I’m positive you’re going to land your dream job.”
I had no idea what her dream job was, but I when I touched her, my intuition lit up with the proof I needed to confirm she was definitely going to be just fine.
“June,” Constance Karima butted in between me and the customer. “June, have you decided who is going to babysit Little One?”
“Yes. Little One,” Patience repeated in a very eerie voice, hoisting a sack of flour that was dressed in a little-girl dress up onto her chest.
“I’m going to go now.” The customer was talking to me, but she was unable to take her eyes off the dressed flour.
“Please, let me know how it all works out for you.” I pointed around the Karimas to the little satchel. “There are directions inside for you to follow. And don’t hesitate to call the number on there if you have any questions.”
The young woman got Patience’s attention.
“What are you looking at?” Patience questioned then sniffed the young woman.
The poor girl did a little jerk before she scurried out the door.
“You can’t come in here and scare my customers or sniff them.” I moved them to the back of the shop, where I ushered them into the storage room behind the checkout counter. “Why don’t we sit down.”
The back walls of the storage room were lined with every ingredient that I had ever dreamed of. Bottle after bottle was in alphabetical order. The dried herbs hung from a clothesline around the room. There were burners, test tubes, melting pots, strainers, muslin cloths, cauldrons, and much more. There was a couch, a desk, and a minirefrigerator that I kept stocked for the late nights I worked and needed a quick rest.
Lately, I’d been staying later due to the fact that I was trying to get as many products made up as possible so when I did have Little One, I’d be able to take maternity leave.
“You stand,” Constance instructed Patience.
“Yes. Stand.” She bounced the flour close to her.
“As you can see, we’ve been taking the arrival of the Little One very seriously.” Constance pointed at Patience. “We’ve been carrying around the flour sack as though it were the Little One. Dressing it. Feeding it. Waking up in the middle of the night with it.”
“And how does one do that with a sack of flour?” I questioned.
“One of our customers was a teacher, and she said they would give fake babies to children in the class to learn to care for a child.” The Karima sisters owned Two Sisters and A Funeral, where they disguised their ghost whisperer spiritual gift.
“Your customer hasn’t crossed over?” I questioned, thinking it was odd since that was what the Karimas were supposed to help them do.
“We feel like it’s necessary for her to stay put until the Little One gets here.” Constance reached up from where she was sitting on the couch and patted the bottom of the flour like it was a baby’s bottom. “A little insurance so we know what we are to do when we watch the Little One.”
“Insurance.” Patience nodded with more bouncing force than needed. The seams of the flour sack were taut and made me worried it was going to explode all over my storage room.
“What type of insurance?” I asked, keeping an eye on the bag.
“We told her that she needed to help us learn to care for a baby, and then we’d let her know which door she needed to cross over into to make sure she sees her family that’s passed before her.”
Constance was blackmailing a ghost? I shook my head. “I don’t believe this is how the whole afterworld works.” I wasn’t sure, but I believed God had more of a say of when someone left this earthly world, but I wasn’t like everyone. “It seems you are blackmailing her.”
We all had different beliefs, and my beliefs had been formed when I was younger and went to church with Oscar and his uncle Jordan.
Darla didn’t take me to church. She was where I got my good spirit-filled soul and was taught about being good and doing good along with kindness and love.
I had rolled up all my beliefs in one and hoped for the best.
“Mm-hmm, blackmailing.” Patience patted harder.
“She wakes us up in the middle of the night so that we are trained to hear Little One. She screams for food every few hours and has a different scream tone for potty.” Constance spoke with conviction in her tone. “We are learning the ins and outs of being good caregivers for Little One, since we had no children of our own.”
“No.” Patience changed her patting to rocking back and forth on her thick-soled black shoes. “No children.”
“But Little One, dear sister.” Constance looked over at Patience with a smile.
“Yes, seester, Little One.” She grinned, pushing her glasses up a little farther on her nose.
“So we’d like to know. . .” Constance started to say.
“There you are.” Oscar Park, my husband, poked his head in the door. “Faith is out here, ready to take over. Hey, sisters.” He gave them that big bright smile, causing both the sisters to blush. He looked at his watch. “We are going to be late. Are you ready?”
“More than you know.” My eyes widened secretly, telling him just how much he’d saved me from making any sort of commitment to the Karima sisters about babysitting Little One.
“What you got there?” Oscar asked Patience.
“Little One.” She grinned and flung the sack onto her shoulder, tapping it like she was burping it.
“Oh.” Oscar’s eyes grew wider, shifting to the left to look at me. “Let’s go.”
“June, dear, we will revisit this later,” Constance called out to me after Oscar took me by the hand to drag me out of there.
“Close call,” I whispered and grabbed my purse, which was hanging on the back of the stool that was behind the counter, where Mr. Prince Charming was curled up and sleeping. “Are you going?” I asked him, but he barely looked up at me. “You can rest.” I ran my hand down his fur, trying to get a sense of what was going on with him, but nothing came through.
Faith was already working with a customer, and I didn’t disturb her. She glanced over with her big onyx eyes, making eye contact and smiling. Faith always worked for me when I had something that kept me away from working. Other than that, I loved being in A Charming Cure. She had her long blond hair pulled back at the nape of her neck with the apron tied across the back.
“I’m worried about Mr. Prince Charming,” I told Oscar on our way out of the shop. “He lost a clump of fur.”
Oscar had the green machine parked in front of the shop. He held the passenger door open for me. His hand brushed up against my belly, and Little One moved.
“Oh. Dance party.” I looked down and watched as my belly moved around. Oscar put his hand on my stomach. “Little One knows Daddy.”
“I love you so much.” Oscar had bent down and talked to my stomach like we’d learned from all the baby books we’d already devoured. He moved his mouth up to mine. “I love you so much too.”
Gingerly, he kissed me then lovingly stared into my eyes.
“You’re going to be a wonderful mother.” His words put a little electric shock to my heart, bringing up some deep-rooted fear I’d always had about being a mom.
When our relationship had turned to much more than a friendship and progressed to the stage where I knew we were going to be married, I let Oscar know I wasn’t sure I wanted to have children.
It wasn’t a selfish act. I knew how hard it was for Darla to raise me after my father had been killed in the line of duty. I remembered all the birthday cakes from the grocery that were a day old and had someone else’s name on them and weren’t picked up. And I remembered the manager-special meat that was a day old. Trust me, Darla kept me in secondhand clothes and food on the table, and she loved me unconditionally, and at the time, I had not been schooled on the ways of the world.
Not that I was resentful to her, but I knew Oscar’s job as a police officer wasn’t always safe, and I certainly didn’t want to have that kind of life repeated for my child. I believed all things happened for a reason.
When I found out I was pregnant and not with a constant flu, we were surprised and maybe shocked. But I knew this was the right path in our life, and we were very excited.
“How has your day been?” I asked Oscar and took in the beautiful backdrop of Whispering Falls.
The old El Camino crept down the main street. Almost everyone on the sidewalks took time to stop what they were doing and wave at us. The town was warm, welcoming, and charming. It was the perfect place to raise Little One.
Whispering Falls was carved into the side of a mountain. The moss-covered cottage shops were nestled deep in the woods and had the most beautiful entrances with their colorful awnings, displaying the shop names over the ornamental gated doors. It had a magical feel. And magic was how the town was built.
“It’s been good. No crime to report.” He kept both hands on the wheel and drove slowly around the curvy road, which normally took about twenty minutes to get to Locust Grove, but with his speed, it would take us double the time.
“You’d better hurry it up,” I groaned from the passenger seat and looked at the old wooden sign that marked the end of Whispering Falls.
“Welcome to Whispering Falls, a Charming Village,” read the old beat-up wooden sign. It took me back to the first time I’d ever seen it so many years ago.
“You know, I’m excited Little One will be growing up here and not in the mortal town.”
Oscar’s remark caught me off guard. “Oh yeah?” I questioned. “I think you and I had a wonderful time growing up next door to each other. I’m worried Little One won’t have any friends to play with.”
“I’ve been thinking.” Oscar glanced over at me. “Gosh, you’re glowing.” The love he had for me was written so deep in his eyes that it pierced my soul, making Little One go nuts.
“Our baby feels our love.” I put my hand on my stomach. “And we are curious to what has you thinking.”
“Well, your aunt Helena came to see me today.”
“And she didn’t stop by to see us?” I referred to Little One and me, thinking how unusual it was for her not to literally twirl in and out of nowhere.
“She felt like she needed to talk to me about childcare because she’s been hearing rumblings of how everyone is wanting to care for our Little One.”
He was right. Everyone had offered their services to keep the baby when no one had even asked if we had a plan.
“Let me guess. She has a plan.” I didn’t have to guess to know she did.
“She actually has a great plan.” Oscar and I had wondered what we were going to do but never really worried about it.
It wasn’t like I couldn’t take Little One to work with me in the beginning, but once Little One started to crawl or move around, it would not be safe in a shop with glass bottles everywhere.
“You know I don’t want to shield the baby from our life. I would like to make sure our spiritual world is always present. Not how I or you were raised.” My voice cracked. Immediately, I put my hand on my stomach when I felt nothing move.
“What’s wrong?” Oscar could always tell when something was not right with me.
“The baby has stopped moving.” I tried to blink away the worry. “The baby never stops moving.”
“I’m sure it’s all fine.” Oscar smiled. “We all get worn out. There’s not much more room in there for Little One to move around in.” He reached over and rubbed a hard palm across my stomach. “But you’re right. We don’t want our baby to grow up and not know our heritage.”
He slowed the car down as we passed our childhood homes in Locust Grove. We’d lived across the street from each other and relied on our friendship to get us through.
“That’s why I really like Aunt Helena’s suggestion.” He took his hand off my stomach and kept his eyes on the road as we made our way through the busy streets of Locust Grove to get to our doctor appointment in time. “She suggested using the childcare center located in Hidden Hall.”
“All the way over there?” My jaw dropped at the thought of Little One not being within a minute of me.
“June, let’s be reasonable and work this out.” I didn’t like his tone of voice.
“Reasonable?” I gasped. “I’m nothing but reasonable and when it comes to our baby. Common sense is above reasonable.”
“Then hear me out.” He had a point. “Honestly, it takes all of five to ten minutes to get to the wheat field where the portal for Hidden Hall is located. Then it’s a simple walk through the university to get to the daycare center where all the spiritualist teachers’ kids and some of the students’ kids go. Little One will be around children with different gifts and talents, unlike you and me, where we knew something was different about us and thought it was the sugary Ding Dong.” He pointed at the glove box.
“You didn’t.” My mouth started to water. I opened the glove box to find a few foiled Ding Dongs in there, waiting to be devoured.
“I knew you’d need one or three after I told you about how I thought Aunt Helena had a good suggestion.” He was pretty proud of his sneakiness to sweeten up the offer with my go-to stress reliever.
Ding Dongs, though sugary and chocolaty, were my favorite food group. They helped me escape into my thoughts with reason and calmness better than any potion I could make for myself.
While Oscar continued to make a case for Little One to go off to daycare, I enjoyed the mouthwatering treat.
“We don’t have a lot of time to make decisions.” Oscar had a countdown to the due date for Little One.
“Remember what the doctor said about how first-time moms generally go past their due date?” I had to keep referring back to the doctor and the basics of childbirth when it came to Oscar’s deadlines.
“You remember this isn’t just any baby.” He turned the green machine into the parking lot and pulled up to the front door of the doctor’s office then shoved the gear shift into park. He jumped out and went around the front of the car to open my door.
I took his offered hand to help me out.
“This is our baby,” he finished and hurried over to open the front door of the building. “I’ll meet you inside.”
I walked through the door and turned around to watch Oscar hop back into the car to find a parking space.
“You are in for it, kid.” I rubbed my belly and turned to walk down the hall. “If he’s this nuts about your safety while you’re in my belly, he’s going to drive himself crazy when you’re toddling around.”
“Your husband too?” a voice came out of nowhere.
“I’m sorry.” I laughed. “I seem to talk to myself a lot these days.”
“I totally do too.” The woman smiled and put her hand out. “Sylvia Long.”
“June. Nice to meet you.” I left off my last name. Even though I was legally a Park, with Oscar’s last name, I still went by Heal. “How far along are you?”
I didn’t see a noticeable baby bump like my big beach ball.
“I’m not sure if I’m pregnant or not.” She held her crossed fingers up in the air, sending my intuition off in a crazy direction.
The pain and anxious feelings coursing through her veins were like electricity running through my body. I could feel the tension of uncertainty and pricks of needles hitting me from all angles.
“I’m sorry.” The words left my mouth, and we gave each other knowing looks. “How many miscarriages?”
“Six if you count the four times the in vitro fertilization didn’t take.” Her brown eyes had a sadness deep in the hazel flecks. Her brown hair was curly and draped down her back, almost damp, as it was drying naturally. I got the notion that if she did dry her hair with a hair dryer, it would curl up even more. “Today we find out if the seventh IVG has taken.”
We walked into the office at the same time and headed straight for the clipboard, where we did the same ritual as all the other patients who came here. Sign in, then go pee in a cup, only to come back out and thumb through magazines from ten years ago and realize you’ve already looked at them the million other times you’ve been there.
This time, it was refreshing to go through the motions and have someone to talk to, even though I tried to keep it positive when talking to Sylvia after I knew she wasn’t with child.
“June Heal Park,” the receptionist called my name after opening the door.
“It was nice to meet you,” I told Sylvia and headed through the door. “My husband is still parking the car. Can you bring him back when you see him?”
“Of course.” The young receptionist smiled and had me follow her down the hall. “Room four. And your insurance is Intuitive?”
“Yes. Dr. Sebastian has the card on file.” I had no idea how Aunt Helena used spiritual insurance with mortal doctors, and I didn’t ask or care. As long as Little One was delivered safe and sound, it was all good.
“Yes. I bet he does.” She spoke with a sarcastic tone that set my intuition off like gongs.
I walked into room four, where she had me sit down and took my vital signs. I put her snide comment in the back of my head, chalking it up to crazy hormones that made me cry one minute and offended the next.
“The doctor and nurse will be right in.” She didn’t give any signs that my vitals were off, which didn’t set my intuition on fire, which was a much-welcomed thing right now because I was already exhausted, and I still had the entire day ahead of me. She only gave me the usual instructions on how to get ready for the doctor’s exam.
I pushed myself up to stand and walked over to the door to open it slightly so I could hear if Oscar was coming down the hall.
“Martha, did you give Dr. Sebastian the letter from the Sydney Institute?” I heard the receptionist ask the nurse, Martha Perkins.
I really liked Martha. She was an older woman who seemed to understand the mothering touch I was so craving lately. Instantly, I knew that was my current issue because Little One started to bounce around.
It was like we were already bonded or somehow in sync with our intuitions. This was a little secret I had kept from Oscar. I didn’t want him to feel left out of the bonding with Little One. It would hurt his feelings.
“I left it on his desk,” Martha responded to receptionist. “Don’t worry. I might not agree with the letter, but it’s what he wants to do. So you can stop policing me now. I’ve been here much longer than you.”
I started to follow the usual instructions to get ready for the exam as I kept a close ear to the door.
Martha’s tone was much different from how I’d ever heard it. There was a bit that was almost threatening to the receptionist, but we all had a job to do, and I’d known Martha to be on top of everything as my nurse.
“There you are.” Oscar hurried into the room, almost out of breath, and shut the door behind him. “What? Is something wrong? Did I miss the doctor?”
“No. I was sorta eavesdropping on a conversation that had nothing to do with me.” I wondered what it was about but quickly forgot it once Dr. Sebastian walked in.
I wrapped the piece of thin tissue blanket around me and sat down on the exam table.
“Good morning, June.” He had his eyes dead set on me and walked with confidence across the room with his arm extended for a handshake. “You are looking mighty good.”
He had well-kept salt-and-pepper hair, a tidy mustache, and bright white teeth to go with his tan complexion.
“In fact, I think you look just like Darla when she was along the same time as you.” The big smile never left his face. “You know, she was one of my first patients out of medical school.” He then turned to shake Oscar’s hand and greet him.
“I do know you were the one who delivered me.” I didn’t go into detail about how I knew only because Darla had left behind a journal and that was how I had found him. I’d really wanted to know why Darla hadn’t used a spiritualist doctor but had never read or found it in her journal.
Somehow, going to the same doctor made me feel like Darla was around me. When I’d first learned I was a spiritualist, I could feel her and my father’s presence. I’d even seen them twice since I’d found my gift.
But I’d felt nothing since I’d been pregnant, and I honestly thought I’d feel them more.
“Uh-oh, where did the happy face go?” Dr. Sebastian asked me as he hit the doorbell-looking button on the wall, which singled the nurse to come in so we could start my exam.
“She seems to be doing that a lot lately.” Oscar had stepped into the conversation, which I didn’t like.
Instead of biting Oscar’s head off, I took a few deep breaths and calmly tried to tell Dr. Sebastian everything I was feeling.
“Sometimes Little One isn’t moving around as much or not at all.” I lay back on the table as the nurse had suggested I do and put my feet up in those stirrups. “I can’t help but wonder if everything is okay.”
“I told June that there wasn’t much space to move around in there.” Oscar was doctoring the doctor while the doctor examined me.
Dr. Sebastian gave me a look like he understood what I was going through with Oscar, and in my gut, I knew he was telling me how all soon-to-be fathers acted this way. His gentle smile assured me it was normal soon-to-be-father banter.
“Still, if June has a concern, then we should check it out.” Dr. Sebastian’s response put my intuition into overdrive, making me crave a Ding Dong.
He pushed on my belly and nothing. Little One didn’t budge.
Dr. Sebastian grabbed the ultrasound machine while the nurse rubbed the gel over my belly.
“I think we’ll just get a few pictures today. Help put everyone at ease.” Dr. Sebastian had a confident smile on his face, but the depth of his eyes held some concern that only I could see.
I rested silently on the table with my head turned to see the monitor as the doctor rolled the ultrasound wand all over my belly.
“Look at Little One,” Oscar broke the uncomfortable silence in the room, “in frog position.”
“That’s different.” Dr. Sebastian noticed it too. “I’ve never seen a baby in this position before.” He flipped off the monitor after he pushed a few buttons on the keyboard, printing out the ultrasound.
The nurse wiped off my belly, and Dr. Sebastian put his hand out to help me sit up.
“June, the baby’s heartbeat is good. Strong. But I think you’re right about the movement.” He slid a glance at Oscar. “I think you’re right too. It’s tight quarters in there but still enough room for some movement. So what I’m going to do is have you come back in tomorrow morning for a scheduled ultrasound with movement.”
“What is that?” I asked, putting my hand out for Oscar to not ask any questions when I noticed his mouth flung open.
“It’s an ultrasound that we strap around the belly. You’ll be here for a couple of hours so we can monitor how many times the baby moves along with the heart rate. It’ll actually give us a good baseline on when we expect the baby will make an appearance into the world on its own or if we have to help a little.”
“Help?” Oscar blurted.
“You know, inducing labor is something we look at if June or the baby seems to be in any stress. Which would be fine if we had to induce, since the baby is already well developed.” The doctor gave me a much-needed reassuring smile. “You’re far enough long to where if you had the baby, everyone would be fine.”
I started to tear up. Oscar rushed over to my side. Dr. Sebastian and the nurse left. I could hear them talking behind the closed door, but it was too muffled to make out what they were saying.
“You’re going to be fine. Little One is going to be fine.” Oscar tried to say all the right words to make me feel better, but it didn’t help.
“You’re not worried, are you?” Oscar asked as soon as he got me into the car.
“I guess my silence gave it away.” I continued to knead on my belly to get Little One to move, but there was nothing.
“Like the doctor said, everything is probably fine, but you can have the baby anytime.” He reached over and took my hand. “Look at me.”
There was no hiding the tears along my lids that clouded his face when I looked over.
“Honey.” He slid across the bench seat and curled his arms around me, nestling my head into his neck. He stroked my hair. “Little One is going to be fine. What if the baby is as stubborn as you and me? Tired of getting poked and prodded? Has a great intuition like someone else I know and knew there was a doctor’s visit?” His words did put a smile on my face. “I don’t know a single kid or person who really enjoys going to the doctor. Do you?”
“You’re right.” I pushed back and wiped the tears from my cheeks. “I guess I could be like Sylvia and have lost seven babies.”
“Sylvia?” Oscar asked and scooted back across the seat so we could get out of there.
“She’s one of Dr. Sebastian’s patients who has been going through IVF.” I told Oscar about the conversation I’d had with her and how she’d put on a brave face through it all.
“Amazing.” Oscar shook his head and turned into one of the malls in Locust Grove. “We are lucky.”
“Yes, we are, and I forgot that until we got into the car. I know how I feel right now, thinking my fully developed baby is in danger when all Sylvia wants is to be pregnant.” My struggles seemed so trivial, but they were my struggles and diminished no less. “Where are we going?”
“I thought we’d stop by Baby Forever and check out the baby furniture.” Oscar was always full of surprises. “They have different baby things from Potions, Wands, and Beyond. You might like something here that we can take home today.”
“Oscar!” I let out a cry, and the tears started all over again.
“If I’d known I was going to make you cry, I wouldn’t’ve brought you here. It’s supposed to make you happy.” He had a confused look on his face.
“You do make me happy. These are happy tears.” I laughed, knowing he was unable to figure out my mood, which I couldn’t figure out, either, and didn’t expect him to. “Let’s go.”
He parked in one of the designated expecting-mothers spots in the parking lot.
“Do you think we can get you one of those fake pregnant bellies so that when we aren’t pregnant anymore, we can still score one of these spots?” he joked, but it was a great idea.
“We aren’t pregnant?” I questioned the “we.”
“Yeah. I’m also having a need for some ice cream after we leave too.” He winked and helped me out of the car.
Baby Forever was one of the national box stores that carried everything you could possibly want for a child. Of course, they had many more options than our little Potions, Wands, and Beyond. The real difference between the two, which made Oscar and me question items, was the fact that the items for Little One at Potions, Wands, and Beyond were blessed and smudged, and carried protection for the Little One.
The merchandise at Baby Forever was simply made, shipped, and bought without a care in the world. That included evil, and we didn’t need any evil drama in our life.
“Oscar.” I gasped and hurried over to the display cribs when I noticed one with a star and a moon. I had my hands rested on my belly. “It’s not exact, but it is similar.”
Little One kicked, knocking my charm bracelet around my wrist and making it jingle.
Oscar’s face had shock written on it, as he, too, had seen and heard the bracelet.
“It looks like Little One approves.” He put both hands on each side of my belly and bent down. “You are so loved.” He gently kissed my belly.
“Ahh.” There was a chuckle behind us. “First-time parents?”
We turned around and noticed an employee of Baby Forever had been watching our intimate moment.
“I guess you can tell.” I laughed.
“The moms always act like this with each pregnancy, but the dads get pretty emotional about the first one.” He put his hand out to shake Oscar’s. “Congrats, man.”
“Thank you.” Oscar was so full of pride. I’d not seen him like this since the day he’d graduated from the police academy. “We are a little excited to find a crib with this mobile.”
“Perfect choice,” the employee agreed. “Do we know what we are having? Boy? Girl?”
“No.” I shook my head and played with my charm bracelet. “We are going to wait to find out.”
While the man started to tell various stories about customers and the quality of the items, my mind wandered to when Little One had kicked my charm bracelet. I never took off my bracelet. In fact, it was filled with charms given to me by my fairy god cat, Mr. Prince Charming.
For some reason, it was Mr. Prince Charming’s spiritual duty to keep me safe or warn me from danger by giving me a charm.
I knew when he dropped a charm at my feet, I had to be extra cautious, and when Little One kicked my charm bracelet—not my arm, my hand, or my fingers but my charm bracelet—my intuition rang out within my soul like a gong.
It was one of those things between Little One and me that I would keep from Oscar. There were visible signs of stress on Oscar’s face from what the doctor had said and the upcoming testing tomorrow that there was no more need to worry him than I needed to.
Besides, I didn’t even understand it enough to know if Little One knew something or not. It was my spiritual gift that had me on edge.
“Do you want the furniture?” Oscar asked me, his eyes searching to see where my mind had wandered off to.
“I do think it’s lovely.” I looked at the white furniture the mobile came with and smiled when I read the poem etched on the end of the bed. “You are my sun, my moon, and all my stars.” I laughed out loud at the E.E. Cummings quote.
“Are you okay?” Oscar smiled. Gently, he put a hand on my stomach to see if it was Little One making me giggle.
“Can you excuse us for a minute?” I asked the employee.
When he was safely out of ear’s reach, I told Oscar, “It’s perfect. My dad used to read poetry to Darla.” I recalled the memory, which must’ve been buried deep in my mind. “I can remember him reading that to her. I think it’s a sign.”
“June.” Oscar was so emotional. He curled me back into his arms. He whispered, “Darla and Otto are really reaching out to you. This is a sign that everything is going to be fine.”
Oscar’s words put a bolt of electricity in my body. There was something not fine. It wasn’t about Little One. It was something else, something I couldn’t put a finger on, but I knew to keep alert.
When the employee came back, I told him, “We will take it,” as I played with the various charms dangling from my bracelet. “Is it in stock?”
“I’ll go check.” There was excitement in his voice. “Do you have a truck?”
“We will make it work.” Oscar was good at making things work with a touch of his wand, which made me tingly to watch.
There was nothing like seeing Oscar use his spiritual gift, especially when he used the wand.
With the purchase in the back of the El Camino and me belted in the seat, Oscar put the car in drive and sped back to Whispering Falls, where we were greeted by our friends, who had magically known we’d gotten the furniture.
They all stood outside of their shops to wave as we drove down the main street and up the hill to our little cottage that overlooked Whispering Falls. It had the best views in town and had belonged to my parents.
“Do you think we should be looking into buying a bigger house?” Oscar asked me once we were parked.
“I don’t think so. My parents had me here.” I wondered why Oscar would ask such a thing. “I don’t foresee us growing out of it just yet.”
I got out of the car and met Mr. Prince Charming at the door.
“Hey, buddy.” I rubbed him on his head as he did his signature figure eights around my ankles.
He stopped after I’d opened the door and darted in the little family room and jumped on the back of one of the couches.
The little cottage was a cozy home. The natural wood walls accented the vibrant-orange fabric on the chairs and couches, which created all the comfort we needed. The layout was a family room and kitchen in one and a hallway with a bedroom off to the left and a bathroom across it on the right.
Oscar and I both knew it was a little tight, but the baby would only need a little room, so Oscar and Colton Lance, the other wizard and officer with the Whispering Falls Police, had been framing a small addition to the cottage that was almost finished.
“So glad Colton got the finishing touches on the room done this morning.” Oscar came into the house. “We can just start setting up the furniture now.”
I eyeballed him, knowing the room had been nowhere near finished when I’d left for work that morning.
Oscar didn’t dare give me eye contact, so I knew he’d used his magic or had Colton use his to get the room ready. After I heard some rustling of the grass outside and looked out the kitchen window and saw Colton coming up the hill, it confirmed that Oscar had had Colton come up and do a little wand waving.
“Did you see it?” Oscar asked me.
“Did you?” I questioned to let him know I knew exactly what he was up to. “We will talk about this later.”
There was a warning tone to my voice because we’d agreed we would use as little magic as possible when it came to Little One. Oscar and I had both been raised with zero magic. We were able to function in the mortal world and the magical world, which none of our spiritual friends were capable of doing.
We wanted that for Little One, or I thought we’d agreed on that, including building the extra room. Apparently, he’d not been so up front with Colton, because by the time I walked back outside to the car then came back and put my purse on the kitchen counter. Oscar had already gotten all the boxes were out of the car, and the furniture had been magically all set up in the newly finished baby room with stars and moons galore.
“Too much?” Colton asked when he must’ve noticed the shock on my face. “We can take off a few stars and moons.”
The entire ceiling of the room looked as though it were covered with real stars and moons. The deep-blue backdrop had varying sizes of twinkling stars, and the moons were strategically placed as the lighting for the room.
“The moons have a dimmer switch too.” Colton didn’t bother using his hand to control them. He flicked the wand in this hand to do all the work.
I tried to say something to Colton about how Oscar and I didn’t want to use magic for Little One, but his big brown puppy dog eyes and messy blond hair made him look as excited about the baby’s arrival as Oscar was.
“Knock, knock.” I heard the familiar voice coming from the front of my cottage. “I’ve brought some treats.”
“Ophelia!” I was delighted to know it was her before I’d seen her. I hurried up the hall, where I found my dear friend, a pretty young woman with long red hair, standing next to Mr. Prince Charming. “Ophelia Biblio, are you giving him chocolate?”
“Why, yes, I am.” She grinned from ear to ear, knowing a mortal cat couldn’t eat any sort of chocolate, but a fairy god cat was entirely a different creature. “And I’m going to give you some too.”
“Hi, dear friend. Your partner and my spouse have really used a lot of magic today.” I shook my head and took a June’s Gem from the Wicked Good Bakery box she’d sat on the table. “I need to sit.” I eased down onto one of the kitchen table chairs and slumped my shoulders as I took a bite, and the stress melted away.
“You look stressed. I’m sorry.” She came over and sat down in the chair next to me. “I tried to tell Colton that you wanted Little One to be part spiritual and part mortal, but he said Oscar needed the room done now.”
“So much for bicoastal.” I let the idea go as I enjoyed every single morsel of the tasty treat Raven Mortimer had lovingly named after me and created due to my obsession with the Ding Dong. “You are going to love the baby’s furniture. The boys are wanding it together as we eat.”
“Oh, June.” Ophelia giggled and slipped a book from her satchel. “You have a wicked sense of humor that I hope Little One inherits.” She slid the book across the table. “I ordered this book for you. It was written by a spiritualist baby doctor, and since I know you are using a mortal doctor, I figured you could just read up on things that might seem out of the ordinary for you.”
I looked at the book.
“The doctor is from our village out west.” Ophelia and Colton had moved to our village from across the country, and she’d opened Ever After Books, and he became the police officer, making the village council come to a new age with new rules.
The number-one rule in the bylaws stated that spiritualists couldn’t read other spiritualists without their permission. That meant that I couldn’t use my intuition to tap into what Ophelia was feeling, and she couldn’t use her abilities as a witch to read me.
Though it was a rule, I couldn’t deny there were a few ways around this.
Rule number two was that you must live in Whispering Falls to own a shop here. This along with the fact that Darla wasn’t a spiritualist was why she couldn’t keep A Dose of Darla open, which had been located where my shop was today.
Bylaw three stated that there could be only one shop per spiritual family, and that included if you were dating, living with, or married to a spiritualist. One shop—which Darla was exempt from because she wasn’t a spiritualist.
That bylaw had quickly changed after Oscar and I had decided to get married, and for the greater good of the spiritual community, it was better for us to be here and love our community as we provided our gifts. In the case of Colton and Ophelia, they’d originally kept their relationship on the down-low, but all was good. Now, if a spiritual family moved in and would like to open two shops, a proposal was sent to the village council and was voted upon with the greater good of the community in the heart of the decision.
Rule number four was actually about committing or being accused of committing a crime. You couldn’t be arrested until it had been proven, but you also couldn’t leave the village until the crime was solved.
“I’m not sure what you need to know, other than the fact that when Little One has a glowing bowel movement, apparently it means they need to be smudged with something.” Ophelia’s body trembled as though the thought of baby poop meant something. “I don’t know. I guess if you saw glowing poo, you’d look it up, but I figured I’d give you a leg up on it.”
“Thank you.” I couldn’t help but be filled with gratitude, as my friends in the village had accepted my way of bringing up Little One. “It’s going to be difficult trying to teach both worlds.”
“I’m not going to tell you I think it’s going to be easy, but I will tell you that I believe you’ll find the perfect solution.” She drew her hand up and down, a little gold sparkle tailing her gesture. “Look at you. You’re a perfect example.”
“Speaking of being perfect people.” I eyed her, wanting to take the conversation off of me for a moment. “When are you two going to have a baby?”
“It just so happens we are going to go for a romantic getaway for a couple of nights tomorrow since Colton is off the next few days.” She looked so happy.
“Oh.” I rubbed my hands together vigorously in hopes they’d return with a new one on the way.
“I almost forgot.” Her eyes widened. “How did the doctor’s appointment go? Any birthing dates?”
“I’m a little worried, actually.” I leaned in and spoke in a low voice so Oscar couldn’t hear me. “The baby isn’t moving as much, and the doctor confirmed there was still some room in there to move about, so they are going to have me come back in the morning for some tests. But he did say. . .” I wanted to be clear that everything looked fine, because Ophelia was giving me that look that was a cross between empathy, shock and not knowing what to say or think. “The baby was growing healthily, and all Little One’s vitals were perfect.”
“Oh good.” She lifted her hands to her mouth in a prayer position, looking up. “Any idea on boy or girl?”
“Nope. I refuse to know.” It was kind of fun not knowing what Little One was going to be. No matter what, the baby was going to be loved beyond measure. The gender didn’t matter to us.
“That doesn’t help with the baby shower, which I’m sure you heard about in the newspaper this morning.” She and a couple of my other close spiritualist friends along with one of my mortal friends, Adeline, who knew about our little secret, were throwing me the shower at the gathering rock. “You know Bella. She’s all about the glitz and glamor. If she could pull the stars and moon down for you with pink sparkles for the shower, she would.”
Mr. Prince Charming jumped off the back of the couch and trotted over. He circled around my legs before he jumped up on his hind legs, batting at my charm bracelet.
“He loves to play,” Ophelia said in delight just as he spit something on the floor.
My heart sank. Mr. Prince Charming never played. The only time he batted at my bracelet was when he was trying to tell me I needed to have protection for something.
“What on earth?” Ophelia drew back in disgust, just like she’d done with the thought of glowing baby poo. Her nose curled, and her lips contorted.
“Speaking of Bella.” I picked up the silver elephant charm and knew Mr. Prince Charming had a message for me.
end of excerpt
A Charming Deception
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