A CHARMING FATALITY:
Book 7 in the Magical Cures Mystery Series
Bubble. . .Bubble. . .
Whispering Falls’ resident potion maker, June Heal, is the first witch in the magical village to make a big money deal with the Head To Toe Works, a national chain specializing in spa and natural products.
Cures and Trouble. . .
June is going to need to use her own stress relief potion she made especially for Head To Toe Works after she discovers the dead body of Burt Rossen, the co-owner of Head To Toe Works, on the belt of the assembly line of her stress free lotion product.
Magic Stirs. . .
A new baby is born in Whispering Falls and giving Oscar Park, June’s fiancé and Whispering Falls’ sheriff, the itch to get a wedding date set and gives June an ultimatum.
And Trouble Doubles. . .
June is forced to use her witchy ways to figure out who stole her secret potion after it turns up missing. Rumors are flying around like broomsticks that June is a witch and used a spell to murder Mr. Rossen. Someone wants her out of Head To Toe Works, but who? Will the killer get to June before she can walk down the aisle?
A CHARMING FATALITY:
Book 7 in the Magical Cures Mystery Series
A CHARMING FATALITY:
“Are you sure you have all of this under control?” Without making eye contact, I unscrewed the top off the Strychnos Nux-Vomica and held the bottle of the liquid substance over the boiling cauldron, silently counting one, two… ending in eight. I watched as the drops expanded into the mixture.
Immediately the substance began to bubble, turn murky and become a thin fluid turning rose in color.
Faith Mortimer stood next to me. Her onyx eyes focused on the cauldron. She brushed back her long blond hair behind her shoulder, her voice rose an octave, “Are you going to drink that for a stomachache?”
“I sure am.” The boiling subsided as I stirred the potion with my ladle.
“I think I’d just run over to The Gathering Grove and let Gerald fix me up something a little more appetizing.” There was a trace of laughter in her voice.
Only I wasn’t amused.
“Listen.” I set the ladle down next to the cauldron. I looked at Faith. My face grew still. “If you don’t think you are going to be able to handle running the store while I’m working the couple of days a week at Head To Toe Works headquarters, I’ll gladly find someone else to do it.”
“Not at all.” Faith stuck her head over top of the cauldron and took a nice long sniff of air. “Smells so good and looks delish!”
“You are so full of it.” The cauldron shut off, telling me my homemade potion for the case of the nerves was ready.
It was my first day at Head To Toe Works, a national chain owned by Tiffany and Burt Rossen. They had been tourists in the magical village of Whispering Falls, Kentucky where Tiffany stumbled into my shop, A Charming Cure, needing a special cure to deal with her mother-in-law over Christmas.
Homeopathic cures were my specialty in our special little village. We might as well call a spade a spade. I am a witch—spiritualist was really how I liked to refer to myself—and I made potions. To the customer, I referred to my potions as homeopathic cures so it wouldn’t scare them away. In fact, our whole village referred to each other as spiritualists and used our quaint shops to cover up our true witchy gifts.
“You are going to do awesome.” Faith clapped her hands together. Her eyes sparkled. “You are the first to ever go outside of our village to expand your product.”
“Yeah.” I dipped the ladle down into the cauldron and took my first sip.
Faith was right. I was the first spiritualist who was actually going to sell products nationally and if not done the right way, I could expose our heritage and secret to the world. Only the world wasn’t ready to know that real witches existed. They were content with reruns of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie.
It was such a big deal, the Village Council called the Order of Elders in to make sure the deal was legal and our heritage was kept a secret. To make things go smoother, I was going to give some of the profits back to Whispering Falls to help boost the economy. A lot was riding on my shoulders and the gurgle in my stomach let me know it.
Something had to calm my nerves and the Strychnos Nux-Vomica was just the herb I needed, along with the little extra dose of magic I had added to the cauldron. “That puts a lot of pressure on me.”
Meow, meow. Mr. Prince Charming, my fairy-god cat, or some would say, my familiar, dotted his tail in the air toward the clock on the wall.
My eyes slid down the wall and focused on the framed photo hanging beneath it. The photo inside the frame was the only photo I had of my parents holding me as a little child. It was the only photo I had of all three of us. Just looking at it made my stomach settle a little more. I was determined to make them proud, even from the great beyond. For a split second, I thought I saw my dad’s lip curl up into a big smile. I blinked, bringing my gaze back to the photo. Nope. No big smile. Just the smirk that was always there.
“Every bottle is filled and the shelves are stocked.” I moved from behind the partition at the counter where I kept my cauldron hidden from the customers. “All the bottles have clear labels on them, so you should be good for the day.”
I walked over to one of the many tables positioned around the shop floor, ran my hand over the red tablecloth and smoothed out a wrinkle.
“Make sure you. . .”
“Keep the tablecloths nice and make sure to fill up any empty spots on them with the bottles in the back room and those.” Faith pointed to the wall where there were shelves filled with more bottles. “Don’t forget about the shelves. Even though they aren’t in your face like the tables, they get picked over and need to be filled too. And sometimes the bottles get moved around and you like the labels faced out.”
“I’m glad to see you were listening.” I tugged on the edges of the black and white polka dot dress I had decided to wear for my first day. “Are sure you don’t need to get your work done first?” I asked, referring to her job as the editor of the Whispering Falls Gazette where she used her witchy gift of Clairaudience to communicate the news of the spirit world.
Clairaudience was the ability to hear things that are inaudible, making Faith the best candidate for the job. She could hear upcoming events in the whisper of a breeze or the rush behind a summer wind. She would then translate it and put it in the headlines of the Gazette.
“I have already recorded the paper for the day and it will go out around ten this morning.” She pushed her shoulders back. Her face gleamed with pride.
“I’ll let you know if I get it.” I couldn’t help but wonder if I would be able to hear the paper from the other side of Locust Grove, the town where I grew up, but also where the Head To Toe Works plant was located.
The Whispering Falls Gazette was not delivered in paper form. Only audible. Whoever subscribed to the Gazette got it delivered through sound, that way there was no trace of our little village secret to the rest of the world.
The knock at the door caused us both to look up. Bella Van Lou furiously waved from the other side of the window in the door. When our eyes caught, her lips parted into a big grin exposing the gap between her two front teeth. Her cheeks balled on each side, making her eyes squinty.
I rushed over and opened the door. The fresh smell of the summer wisteria vine that covered the front of my store wafted in, giving me a little extra calm to my stomach. The vine smelled especially potent today and I couldn’t help but think it was Darla, my mother, looking down on me. She had planted those many years ago and I made sure I took special care of them. It was one of the last things living I had that she created. The other was a vial filled with wisteria vine oil that I had never been able to extract, so I kept special care of it as it was the special ingredient in my Gentle June’s stress free lotion Head To Toe Works had contracted me to make for their national chain.
Other things, like some of the herbs she used when she owned A Dose of Darla, were still alive and well in the back of A Charming Cure. Those were my little secrets not to share with the world and I could duplicate those if I really needed to, unlike the wisteria vine oil.
Bella rushed in and I took one good deep inhale of the sweet fragrance before I shut the door behind her.
“I’m so glad I caught you!” Excitement filled her five-foot-two frame. A satisfied look came into her smoky eyes. “Here.” She stuck her hand out and uncurled her fist.
Nestled in the palm of her hand was a tiny glass charm shaped like a potion bottle. Mr. Prince Charming darted in and out and between my legs in the pattern of a figure eight. His white hair was falling out all over my black heeled shoes with each turn around my ankles.
“You stinker,” I said to him and took the charm out of Bella’s palm. I held it in the air to get a good look at the liquid inside. “Look at the tiny liquid.” I shook it and it filled with smoke. “What’s in it and what does it mean?”
“It’s my secret blend of Red Devil Smoking Hot incense, mugwort, myrrh, mandrake and witch hazel, a dash of bat blood and snake oil.” She tapped the small bottle I held between my fingers.
“All in this little bottle?” I asked.
She nodded. “Collectively it means harm to none.”
“How did you know what to put in there?” I questioned her ability to put together potions when her witchy gift was an astrologer.
Bella owned Bella’s Baubles, the only jewelry store in Whispering Falls. It was interesting how she interacted with customers. They might come in for a fancy diamond, but it would enhance their life if they owned a different gem, so she’d talk them into the right gem to enhance their life.
“Him.” She pointed her long finger down to Mr. Prince Charming.
He was sitting next to my feet, his tail swinging back and forth. I should’ve known. He showed up on my doorstep in Locust Grove on my tenth birthday. It was a dream come true. Darla and I didn’t have a lot of money and the cake she had gotten me from the deli of the Piggy Wiggly had HAPPY RETIREMENT written in icing because it was on sale (the manager’s special sticker was also a good indicator). Plus it took everything in Darla’s soul to get me a sugary treat since she lived a holistic life. A treat was a rare occasion.
Mr. Prince Charming was snow white. He had a turtle charm with one green gem eye and one missing that dangled from his collar. Years later, I found out that Mr. Prince Charming was actually my fairy-god cat or familiar, who was sent by the Village Council of Whispering Falls to keep me protected because I was a descendant of Otto Heal, my spiritualist father and the sheriff of Whispering Falls who was killed in the line of duty.
Darla was not a spiritualist. But she had this shop, A Dose of Darla because she was married to my father. After he passed, she moved me to Locust Grove, the city next to Whispering Falls, to protect me. She moved the shop to the local flea market. She concocted her homeopathic cures in a greenhouse in our backyard where she grew her herbs.
It wasn’t until long after my mom had died that the Village Council came looking for me, and told me about my past and how I belonged in the village of Whispering Falls where I could take full benefit from my heritage and create the real potions I was destined to create.
“Thanks, buddy.” I bent down and picked up Mr. Prince Charming. I ran my hand down his fur before he jumped out of my arms. “You always know just the right charm.”
“Yes he does.” Bella confirmed and grabbed my wrist. She unclasped my charm bracelet and took it over to the counter, attaching the new charm to it.
My bracelet was filled with charms Mr. Prince Charming had given me. When we first moved to Whispering Falls, Mr. Prince Charming had dropped an owl charm in front of me. I had thought he had stolen it from Bella’s shop. Only I found out that he and Bella had a little understanding that I didn’t understand, but it was their witchy thing and not mine. I just went with it. As long as it protected me, I was good.
“You especially need protection since you are leaving the boundaries of our village and taking Gentle June’s to a whole new level.” She clipped it back on my wrist. She wrapped her hand around my forearm and shook it.
The bracelet jingled. Nothing fell off so we were good. But my stomach rumbled. Everyone was counting on me.
Another knock at the door caused us to turn our attention back to the door. Gerald Regulia and his wife, Petunia Shrubwood, stood on the other side, their baby nestled in Petunia’s arms.
“Look at his hair!” I squealed, grabbing baby Orin and smothering his face with kisses.
“Tell me about that unruly mop.” Petunia’s eyes rolled. Her hair was in a peculiar array today. Most days she wore her hair up in a messy nest on the top of her head. Today it was half up and half down. Noticing me looking at it, she commented, “I just don’t have the energy to fix it.”
Petunia was the owner of Glorybee Pet Shop and her spiritual gift was talking to animals. Her husband, Gerald, owned The Gathering Grove Tea Shoppe. He was a tea leaf reader. They made a great couple and fantastic parents.
“I could give him a good buzz.” Chandra Shango pushed her plump body into the shop, nearly knocking Petunia over. Her finger pointed to baby Orin. Her fingernails were polished blue with tiny gold stars painted on them. Chandra owned A Cleansing Spirit Spa, which was a cover for her spiritual gift of palm reading.
She was dolled up in a pink cloak and matching pink turban with a big purple gemstone in the center. Sprigs of her short raspberry colored hair stuck out of the bottom of the turban. She was rarely seen without some sort of head covering.
A black butterfly flew out of Petunia’s hair and floated down to the ground after Chandra shoved her way through.
We stood in a circle around it in silence. We all knew what it meant without saying a word.
“I’m sure it means nothing,” Petunia said in a voice that seemed a long way off. “We must be going.” She took Orin from me.
“Yes.” Gerald cleared his throat and handed me a cardboard cup. “We wanted to wish you well on your adventures today.”
They rushed out, leaving the butterfly lying at my feet. Mr. Prince Charming batted it at, sending it close to the door.
Chandra didn’t say a word; she just rushed out behind them. With one swipe of his paw, Mr. Prince Charming knocked the butterfly out the door before Chandra slammed it behind her.
“Stop it.” Bella swatted the idea down that something bad was going to happen. “You go and have fun.” She reached out and grabbed both of my hands, giving them a good squeeze. “You have all the protection you need right here on your wrist.”
“Protection?” Oscar Park asked after he opened the door of the shop. “I’m all the protection she needs.”
A vague sense of light passed between us when our eyes met. He was the love of my life and my future husband.
“If I can only get her to set a date to marry me.” He peered at me intently. I saw the heart-rending tenderness in his gaze.
“I’ll make it soon,” I assured him. “Let me get this job started and see where it’s going before I add more stuff on my plate. You aren’t going anywhere are you?” I asked and brushed my bangs out of my eyes so I could take a nice long look at my handsome fiancé.
“You are stuck with me.” His blue eyes sparkled against his olive complexion. His black hair had the perfect amount of gel in it. He had on a grey tee-shirt and jeans. He stood there, devilishly handsome. The rich outlines of his shoulders strained against the fabric of his shirt.
“And I have you to protect me.” I batted my eyes, acting like a helpless lady, only they all knew better.
“You better get going.” Faith pointed to the clock. “I’m fine,” she assured me before I had the chance to ask.
“You are too.” Bella’s hands were clasped in front of her; she swayed back and forth.
“Okay.” I was about to take the next step in my life. “You ready?”
Meowwl, Mr. Prince Charming growled. It was in my contract that he could come to Head To Toe Works with me. I couldn’t go without him.
“And you?” I grabbed Madame Torres off the counter and grabbed my messenger bag.
“Are you kidding me?” Her face appeared in the center of the crystal ball. Her face pasty white, lips blood red, and her flaming red hair took up most of the ball. “It’s way too early for me to do anything.”
“Good. You can stay silent all day.” I stuck her in the depths of my bag and placed it across my shoulders. I picked up the suitcase where I had made a travel kit for things I might need on the job.
I was going to be sharing one particular potion with Tiffany and Burt’s company. A stress potion that was going to be turned into a lotion, so I had to have all the right ingredients.
Some of the contents included: an old scrying mirror, a black candle, black chalk, a box of matches, chunks of crystal and pyrite to enhance riches and psychic awareness, a vintage incense burner, a roll of charcoal tablets to burn incense, and of course, my secret blend of the stress potion Tiffany Rossen had fallen in love with during her snowed-in stay in Whispering Falls over Christmas. I also added photographic artwork and many magical vials, excluding the wisteria vine oil from Darla which I kept on the shelf behind the counter, and treasures for just in case I was in pinch situations. Though I didn’t foresee or rather, my intuition didn’t alert me of any danger.
“Are you sure you are going to be fine, because if you aren’t.” My hand gripped the handle of my little case. “Oscar will be right across the street.”
“I’m fine.” Faith assured me with a sweet smile. “And I’m going to be fine.”
“Right across the street,” I gestured over my shoulder at the Whispering Falls police department.
Oscar shared the sheriff’s position with Colton Lance. Both wizards. On the days he didn’t work in Whispering Falls, he was a deputy with the Locust Grove Police Department.
“Right across the street,” Oscar said with laughter, mocking me.
“Oh, hush.” I smacked him playfully before kissing his cheek. “I’ve never let someone actually work, work for me as in all day a few days a week.”
“But I’m always your fill-in, so this is no different. Go.” She rushed me out the door and onto the small porch of the shop. “Go put your magic all over the world. Make us proud.”
“The world,” I sighed knowing this was a big step for our little village. I was actually going to go out into the mortal world and deliberately perform magic in lotions for people to actually feel less stressed. This was a big step. No wonder my stomach hurt.
“Are you okay?” Oscar asked and put his arm around me. That wonderful smell of his circled around my nose and lifted my spirits.
“I’m great.” I smiled to myself as I spoke. Excitement started to stir in my heart. “I’m really great.”
“You are going to be great.” The warmth of his smile echoed in his voice. He pulled me to him and embraced me. “I’m so proud of you. So let’s set a wedding date so I can call you Mrs. Oscar Park.”
“No pressure.” I looked up at him and stared into his big blue eyes. His lips slowly descended onto mine.
My first day of work at Head To Toe Works headquarters was going to be fine. Just fine.