SNEAK PEEK

A CHARMING DECEPTION

A Magical Cures Mystery Book 13

The Final Chapter

Chapter One

 

“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 loudspeaker. It was carried in the light summer morning breeze and was only heard by the spiritualists 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 sense 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, which 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 but hadn’t told us to do. There was a red old-style bike with a nice vibrant white stripe 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 moonlit 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.  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 chauffeur today?” I asked when my fingertips barely touched his so I could get a sense of what he was all about.