A Charming Misfortune
Book 12 in the Magical Cures Mystery Series
Summer in Whispering Falls is in full swing.
Cures and trouble…
When a local Audubon Society hears a very rare and nearly extinct bird species is seen in Whispering Falls, in Petunia Shrubwood’s head of hair of all places, the society comes to Whispering Falls bound and determined to find the rare bird.
Petunia will go to any lengths to keep her animals safe…after all, they are the lost souls of those who have passed.
The Karima sisters are haunted by a ghost that demands they help him cross to the other side, only the ghost’s human form is not dead…yet.
And troubles double…
After one of the Audubon Society members is found dead, Petunia Shrubwood becomes the number one suspect.
June Heal is going to have to use some very special magic if she’s going to get Petunia off the hook before another person in the Audubon Society becomes extinct…like the bird they are hunting.
A Charming Misfortune
Book 12 in the Magical Cures Mystery Series
A Charming Misfortune
“Why are you still out?”
The fireflies darted around Mr. Prince Charming and me as we made our way down the hill toward the town of Whispering Falls.
The light-orange tint of a hint of dawn illuminated over the hills that hid our little magical town from the real world.
“Shouldn’t you be going to bed?” I asked them, knowing they were the souls of the teenagers that’d left this world too early and came back in the form of the lighting bugs.
Really it made perfect sense if you sat down and truly thought about it. Teenagers loved to stay up all night and sleep all day, so it was perfect that they would come back to the earth in the form of the cute little nightly creatures who seemed to have a field day tormenting my fairy god-cat, Mr. Prince Charming.
Mewl! Mr. Prince Charming swatted a couple of fireflies before he darted down the hill faster than I was walking.
“Now see what you did,” I scolded the teens. “He’s going to be aggravated all day long. Shame on you.”
They whizzed behind me, heading toward the woods, lighting a long path with their tails. I turned around and watched them circle my house and disappear.
Coo-coo, coo-coo, said the faint voice from the bag I’d strapped across my shoulder.
Purple, pink, and orange lit up the bag so brightly that the light helped navigate a path through the grassy field and into the sidewalk on the cobblestone street.
“Yes. Teens can be a little odd,” I said to the light, knowing it was Madame Torres, my crystal ball. “We don’t have time for them.” A twinge hit my gut. I stopped. I looked both ways down the street to see if something there turned on my intuition. I sucked in a deep breath, lifted my shoulders to my ear, and then let it out. “Yes, Madame Torres, it’s going to be a busy day.”
Something in the air told me so, and it wasn’t the warm smell of cinnamon and sugar spilling out of Wicked Good Bakery or the mix of incense curling around Eloise Sandlewood.
“Early morning.” Eloise stopped in front of me. She continued to swing the light lantern with its special protection powers to and fro. Her short red hair really contrasted with the dark-green cloak draped over her shoulders. Her emerald eyes twinkled. “You are out early.”
Eloise was an Incense Spiritualist. Her job, in Whispering Falls, was to cleanse our magical town every morning before dawn. Her practice helped ward off any evil spirits and keep our secret community safe from the outside world.
Not that we were bad, but some people didn’t like our way of life. Like our ancestors before us, we’d be hung in the middle of town for telling the future or using our special “gifts,” as we liked to refer to our talents.
I, June Heal, was a homeopathic spiritualist. I created special potions to help customers in their daily lives.
“Oscar had to go to work early, so I thought I might as well get a jump on things.” I glanced around trying to look to see where Mr. Prince Charming had run off to, but the street lights weren’t bright enough for me to see too far in front of me.
“My nephew is always hard at work.” She smiled and swung the lantern toward the police department a little farther down the street.
Oscar Park, a wizard, was not only our town officer, but he was also my husband. He loved his job to keep law and order in our little town. Though Eloise and I might be biased, he was very good at his job.
“I must go.” Eloise glanced toward the mountains. “The dawn is yawning.”
It was always interesting for me to watch the other spiritualists in the community use their gifts. We were all different, which was what made our little town feel so magical to the tourists who loved to visit our shops.
Our town was a perfect place for friends to come and shop or even for a romantic vacation.
Coo-coo, coo-coo, Madame Torres chirped from the bag.
“Stop that,” I protested. “Eloise is not coo-coo. She’s amazing.”
Why on earth would Madame Torres say that? The question crossed my mind but floated away as soon as I saw Raven Mortimer tossing some dough in the air through the Wicked Good Bakery Window. The logo on the window made it hard for her to see me, and I did need to grab the June’s Gems for the day.
I gathered my cloak around my legs and darted across the street, exposing my laced-up black boots. The click of my heels echoed off the shops. Faith looked up and out the windows.
A smile curled on the edges of her lips, and her black eyes sparkled as she waved me in.
“Awww, just in time,” she greeted me with a cheerful voice. “I just took out the June’s Gems, but Faith could’ve brought them down for you.”
“Oscar had to work early, so I figured I’d get a jump on the day.”
Glancing around the charming confectionary, I couldn’t help but think how far our relationship had come. Faith and Raven were sisters. We’d met while attending Hidden Hall, a Spiritualist University. They were classmates in my intuition class.
Besides Raven’s amazing pastry talents, her spiritual gift as an Aleuromancer was what had customers coming back. Messages and answers came to her in the form of her baking. The dough formed itself into shapes unbeknownst to her while little messages for incoming customers stuck in the back of her head. Those customers always picked out the perfect pastry for them. Sometimes she could read like a medium, only the spirit wasn’t standing there as most mediums say they are.
Faith was a Clairaudient spiritualist. She heard things beyond the naked ear. She could hear spirits, guides, and angels, or simply see into the future in some sort of mystical way, which made her an excellent newspaper reporter.
“These turned out so great.” Raven crossed the black-and-white-checkered floor, wiping her hands down her pink Wicked Good apron before she grabbed one of the lime-green-and-pink-striped boxes with the Wicked Good logo on the top. “You have to have one right now,” she insisted and opened the box.
The chocolate treats, their white cream filling injected in the middle, and the chocolate glaze that spilled over the top made my mouth water. My eyes grew at the sight, and I picked out the one that appeared to be the biggest.
“Mmmmm…” Satisfaction poured out of me with the first bite. “Perfection.”
I never dreamed I’d have a dessert named after me.
“These are better than Ding Dongs.” It was hard for me even to say those words, seeing Ding Dongs were my favorite go-to snack. Especially when I had a stressful day.
“That’s why I named them after you.” Raven winked. She jerked her head toward the window like something had caught her attention.
I turned to look.
“Was that Mr. Prince Charming?” I asked when the hint of a white tail zoomed by the display window.
“I think so.” She drummed her fingers, her brows furrowed as though she was going to say something, but the kitchen timer sounded, and she hurried off. “I’ve got to get my day started,” she called from over her shoulder. “Watch out for birds today!”
“Birds?” I questioned and shrugged, heading back out the door with my box of June’s Gems in my hand.
Coo-coo, coo-coo. Madame Torres couldn’t resist.
“It’s gonna be a fine one.” Constance Karima saddled up to me when I stepped out of the bakery.
“Fine one,” Patience, Constance’s twin sister, repeated and settled in on the other side of me. “What’s in the box?”
“Happy morning, sisters.” I smiled and held the pastries close. “These are treats for my customers.”
“Customers.” Constance’s green eyes snapped at me. She leaned over and eyed Patience. “Did you hear that, sister?”
“Customers.” Patience gave a hard nod. The swoosh of their housedresses rubbed up against their legs as they tried to keep up to my pace.
When I stopped in front of the Gathering Grove Tea Shoppe, they nearly fell their feet.
“We have a customer.” Constance let out a nervous laugh and dug at the ends of her short grey hair.
“Mmmhmmmm. Dead one,” Patience dug at her short hair like her sister.
“Oh?” If they were trying to get my attention, it worked.
“Now you’re interested,” both said together.
“I did smell something funny in the air this morning.” I looked between them and used my free hand to gather the cloak around my neck when I felt an early-morning chill crawl along my spine, giving me a few goose bumps. “I’d not heard you had a client.”
The Karima sisters were ghost whisperers, and owning Two Sisters and a Funeral was a perfect cover-up for the real clients they helped in the spiritual world.
“We have a new spiritual client.” Constance put her hand on Patience when Patience was about to repeat her. Patience always did repeat most of what Constance said. “I think she came in with a tourist, and I need you to find out who it is.”
Just then, a bus full of tourists rolled down the street. They had their faces plastered to the windows.
“How exactly am I supposed to do that?” I asked and looked down at my watch. It was still a little early for a bus load of visitors, but that was okay. Eloise had smudged and cleansed Whispering Falls, so we were ready for anything.
“I’ve never been involved with ghosts or seeing them. I’m definitely not sure how to find someone among the living they were trying to connect to.” Instead of looking at the sisters, I watched the tourists file out one by one, six of them looking like the other.
Odd they were. They all wore wide-brimmed hats, multi-pocketed khaki vests, pants that zipped away at the knee, and pairs of ankle-type hiking shoes. They had hiking sticks in their hands and pairs of binoculars hanging from straps around their necks.
“I don’t know.” Constance shrugged. Patience mimicked. “Do whatever hivvie jivvie stuff you do.” She fluttered her fingers in the air.
“Yeah. Hivvie jivvies,” Patience mocked.
“What if I do this.” My brow rose. “What if I keep my keen senses open, and if I come across someone I’ll let you know.” I tapped my temple because they knew I had an innate intuition.
Of course I put any notion the Karima sisters had in the back of my head when the two sisters appeared to be happy with my suggestion because they turned to focus on someone else.
“Excuse me.” Constance stopped one of the tourists when she passed. “Do you recently have someone who died in your family?”
“Yes.” Patience took a couple of steps closer to the poor lady who looked frightened. Patience bent down and started at the lady’s mid-section, giving her a good long sniff. “Yes. You.”
“No.” The woman’s eyes grew big as she slowly shook her head back and forth.
“I’m sorry.” I winked at the woman, hoping she’d believe the Karima sisters had lost their minds. “My friends are a little odd.”
Coo-coo, coo-coo, chirp, chirp. Madame Torres made it sound like a bird was in my bag.
I pinched a smile and jerked my bag close to me, fighting off Patience as she tried to pry it from me to see what was inside.
“I’m so sorry,” I apologized again, giving the two sisters a hard look.
The woman scurried along with the rest of the group into the Gathering Grove Tea Shoppe.
“You two have got to stop this,” I warned them. “You know we can’t go around letting people know our spiritual gifts. Besides, it’s a rule.”
“Where in the rules would that be?” Constance called me out on it.
We had many rules to follow. The number-one rule was that we couldn’t read another spiritualist without their permission.
“The rule where you don’t go around scaring people.” I tsked, gave them the wonky eye, and darted across the street.
“Keep your intuition open, June!” Constance reminded me. She pinched Patience.
“Ouch!” Patience winced, rubbing her arm.
“No dilly-dallying.” Constance gestured them to keep moving. “We’ve got business to take care of.”
I shook my head at the sisters and then headed into the Gathering Grove to get the tea I served with the June’s Gems at A Charming Cure.
“I’m so sorry about the sisters.” I practically knocked into the woman they’d scared half to death. “They are harmless, and unless you’re using them for your funeral, I’m sure you’re not going to run into them again.”
“I hope not, then.” The lady smiled and stuck her hand out. “I’m Paris Rush. I’m here with the Audubon Bird Watching Society.”
“That explains all the gear.” Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Gerald briskly waving his hands over his head to get my attention. “Are you here for a specific species?”
I knew Whispering Falls had many special creatures, but most were unseen to the mortal eye.
“We are here to look for a bird.” She shrugged.
“Not just any bird,” another one of her friends chirped up. Both were dressed alike. “Lucia Bobb.”
I couldn’t see the top of her head because her hat covered it, but the ends of her hair were dyed a bright purple.
“June Heal.” I shook her hand and smiled. “Love the hair.”
“It’s in honor of the rare bird we are here to capture on film.” She patted her vest with excitement and hurried off to put in her coffee order.
“You’d think she was the new member of the group.” Paris rolled her eyes. “I tried to tell everyone not to get too excited about the supposed sighting of the rare bird because they aren’t known to be in the United States, much less Kentucky.” Her brow rose.
“June, I’m swamped and don’t have the tea ready.” Gerald must’ve gotten sick of trying to grab my attention, so he ran over. “When Petunia gets here, I’ll bring it over.”
“No problem,” I told him. I turned back to Paris. “If you have time to stop by A Charming Cure before you leave town, come see me. I’d love to know if you found the bird.”
“Wish us luck.” Paris smiled.
I looked around quickly to see if Mr. Prince Charming had come in to get a few treats from the customers. When I didn’t see him, I headed out the door.