I'm beyond thrilled that GET WITCH OR DIE TRYING, book three in the Spies and Spells Mystery Series is released today! Get your copy now! http://amzn.to/2cQ9PyD
Get Witch or Die Trying
When an arrest goes wrong and the perp ends up dead, SKUL special agent Mick Jasper is under investigation and stripped of his badge. SKUL hires Maggie Park not only because of her ability to blend in with society when undercover but her uncanny ability to know things she shouldn't. Little does the agency know that Maggie is a witch and has special powers she uses to her advantage to clear special agent Jasper's name and hopefully bring the real killer to justice before the killer figures out who she really is.
Here is the first chapter! Enjoy!
I knew it wasn’t going to be a good thing.
As soon as Riule, my mom’s cat who also just so happened to be her familiar, jumped up on top of me to get me out of bed this morning, a deep-rooted feeling told me today was not going to go well. I didn’t need my witchy instincts to tell me that.
“You aren’t doing it right,” Mrs. Hubbard said in a dull and troubled voice. She hiked King, her Yorkie, up a little further up on her hip.
Her feisty mood was back, but this time it was on our turf—The Brew’s kitchen, our family’s retro diner in downtown Louisville, Kentucky—and not out on the green where our house sat across from Mrs. Hubbard’s, our very nosy neighbor.
The Brew only served breakfast and lunch, so I was praying the time would go by fast. Real fast.
“I am doing it right,” Auntie Meme’s voice grated harshly.
She stood over the stove actually using a whisk to stir the ingredients, which was awfully strange to me since Auntie never used a mortal utensil to cook. That alone told me it told me it wasn’t going to go well.
Mrs. Hubbard, along with King, stood over her shoulder, which meant that Auntie Meme couldn’t just snap her fingers and make everything good or make Mrs. Hubbard disappear, which I was pretty sure was rolling around in her hot-tempered head.
Auntie Meme turned around and came nose-to-nose with Mrs. Hubbard. King’s lip quivered as a low growl crept past his gnashed teeth. Auntie’s bright red hair stuck up on her head like a dog that was about to pounce on its prey—a stark contrast to Mrs. Hubbard’s neatly styled grey chin-length hair and pearls studs in her ears. They eyed each other. Auntie drummed her fingers together. It was only going to take one quick flick and both Mrs. Hubbard and King would go poof. Auntie turned back to the boiling pots on the stove.
I let out a little sigh, thankful that Auntie Meme had backed down. Something that was extremely rare.
Auntie Meme and Mrs. Hubbard have always had the neighbor feud thing going on. Our family diner, The Brew, had always been a safe haven away from our nosy neighbors—at least until I opened my big mouth.
A month or so ago when I was snooping around for Auntie Meme after she’d accused Mrs. Hubbard of stealing a package left by the mailman on our front porch, Mrs. Hubbard had invited me in for a cup of tea and her homemade carrot cake. I was enjoying her cake so much that I’d almost forgotten to look for the package.
This was where my big mouth got us in trouble. I had told my auntie and my mom that I didn’t see the package in Mrs. Hubbard’s house, but that she’d made the most spectacular little cakes that were so moist. In fact, I raved so much that I’d convinced Auntie Meme that she needed to feature the mini-carrot cakes in the diner for the fall and winter seasons. Mom thought it was a fantastic idea since she needed to keep the prying eyes of Mrs. Hubbard away while she decorated for the Belgravia Court Historic Homes Christmas Tour, which might be sped along by a little magic that might be unexplainable to the mortal eyes.
That brings us to today. Mrs. Hubbard was beyond thrilled to come to the diner and make her cakes with Auntie’s help. Plus, Mrs. Hubbard said that her house was falling down around her and she couldn’t afford the repairs. She was hoping the money she was going to make from the cake sales at the diner could help her pay for some of the repairs.
Belgravia Court was where we lived in Old Louisville, Kentucky. It’s its own quaint little pocket just far enough away from the city to feel like a village with old historic charm. Which was why Mom and Auntie moved our family here. Gosh, Auntie Meme was pushing two-hundred years old and who knew how old Mom was, so the old was just comfortable to them. Which brings me back to the 1890’s Victorian homes on Belgravia Court.
Belgravia Court ran for three blocks, with all of the Victorian houses facing each other with a green courtyard running through the middle. The backside of our houses led to an alley on each side where we had our own detached garages. It was truly a magnificent place to live with the charming, gaslight-lantern-lined pathway along the green. It was magical and we didn’t have to put a spell on it to make it that way.
Mrs. Hubbard lived across the green with King. Both very nosy and very loud. When Mom talked Auntie into letting Mrs. Hubbard come to The Brew to make her cakes, it was due to the fact that Mom needed a good day’s work to prepare the house for the upcoming Belgravia Court Historic Homes Christmas Tour that ran every weekend from the end of November to January. We were only a couple of weeks away and Mom had already been working on this for a month.
Only a few houses were chosen to be included in the exclusive tour and with a little wave of the hand, Mom made sure our house was picked. Mom was competitive and was pulling out all the magic she could muster up to make our house stand out above anyone else’s on the tour, which was very strange to me since we spent so much time trying to stay out of sight and blend in with the mortals.
One little problem, Mom didn’t have a Christmas decorating bone in her body. She was really good at the other holidays, but for some reason she just couldn’t pick one theme or even one century. She had what I called the Christmas flu and our house looked like she’d just vomited decorations everywhere. Yeah, it looks as lovely as it sounds.
Which brings me back to today. Here in the kitchen at The Brew where Auntie Meme was unable to use her magic to whip up her usual daily specials to keep Mrs. Hubbard off of Belgravia Court so Mom could use whatever means necessary to fix the decorated house.
“You need a little more flour, Meme.” Mrs. Hubbard was a ticking time bomb as she flinched behind Auntie Meme. King yipped alongside of Mrs. Hubbard.
“Gladys, you need to shut up. You and your ankle bitter are making me nervous.” Auntie threw her hands in the air and swiveled around. Her rosy red cheeks were redder than normal; her red hair that normally stuck straight up in the air was flattened with a layer of flour. I could see the spell that was on the tip of her eyelids as her black eyes assessed the situation.
Slowly I shook my head at her. She sucked in a deep breath and rolled her shoulders back.
“I’m sorry, Gladys.” It took a lot for Auntie Meme to swallow her witchy pride and not throw a spell on poor old Mrs. Hubbard like she’d done so many times before.
Harmless spells, but spells nonetheless.
“I sure could use some help filling up the salt shakers, Mrs. Hubbard.” I knew that if I got Mrs. Hubbard out of the kitchen for even a minute, all would be well and Auntie Meme could do her thing to the carrot cakes.
“Oh that’s a great idea.” Auntie planted a grip on each side of Mrs. Hubbard’s shoulders a little too close to where King was being held. He tried to nip at Auntie’s fingers, but quickly stopped after Auntie lifted a finger and sent a little shock to his system. “That way we can hurry up and open so the customers can get in here and taste these delicious treats.”
All three of us looked at the cakes just taken out of the oven. They were sunken in the middle. Definitely not fit to feed to a hog, much less a human, mortal or witch.
“I guess we could use a little break,” Mrs. Hubbard agreed.
She put King on the floor next to her and scuttled across the floor. She ripped the hairnet off of her grey head of hair. She’d insisted on wearing the hairnet since it was code for the health department, little did she know that the health department had never shown up here thanks to Auntie’s flip of the wrist.
She stopped shy of the door between the diner and kitchen. Her eyes darted between Auntie Meme and me as she fiddled with the string of pearls around her neck. She wore her usual uniform of black pants and cardigan. Today’s color choice was key-lime green. She tucked a strand of her chin-length hair behind her ear and disappeared into the diner.
I gave Auntie the bright-eyed, hurry-the-heck-up look before I followed Mrs. Hubbard into the dining area.
“Here you go,” I said to Mrs. Hubbard.
I reached under the counter and retrieved a refill caddy with all the condiments needed to refill the items on the table.
“Just fill up what you see needs to be done. I’ll start over in that corner.” I pointed to the window up front. “And work my way around until all the tables are ready to go.”
Both of us went in opposite directions.
“I’m glad you are featuring your cakes here. I can’t wait to have one.” I set the caddy on the retro dining table.
Auntie Meme had fond memories of that time in her life, so when she opened The Brew, she wanted a diner with a black and white tile floor, sparkly vinyl covered metal chairs, and the retro tables to go with it. There was no way I was going to wear the retro outfits she’d originally wanted, so we opted for aprons instead.
“It’s a trial run.” Mrs. Hubbard’s brows rose. “And by the taste of things and look of things, it’s only going to be today since she can’t seem to get it right.” She tsked, “How on Earth does she bake and cook all day long and not be able to get a simple cake right?”
“I think she’s just trying too hard to perfect your recipe,” I replied.
“Well, I was banking on that money to help fix up a few things in my house.” There was a worry in her tone that I hadn’t heard before.
I kept my head down so she couldn’t even try to read the look on my face because I was afraid she was right. If Auntie didn’t like how things went today, she wouldn’t let Mrs. Hubbard come back. I put a napkin, fork, spoon, knife, and frosted plastic cup in front of each chair at each table. My head jerked up when I noticed a shadow of a person cast into the diner from the outside morning sun just starting to peek over the buildings in downtown where the diner was located.
The person wore a black round-brim hat that covered the eyes. It must’ve been a customer looking to see if we were open because they took off when I looked up. I shrugged it off and went about my chores of filling up the items on the table, but when Vinnie whizzed by, I paused, rubbing my hand over my red dangling crystal necklace.
Vinnie is my 1964 AC Cobra and also my familiar. I know he’s not the regular familiar that mortals have gotten used to seeing in the movies and books, but that’s how little mortals really knew about the real witchy world.
Vinnie had a mind of his own and kept me safe. When he sped off from where he’d parked this morning it made my stomach curl. My necklace didn’t warm (the usual sign of danger) nor did I get any witchy sense that something was wrong.
The rattle of pans and a loud crash, sort of sounding like a mini-explosion, was followed up by a puff of flour bursting through the window between the kitchen and diner, leaving me with little time to think about Vinnie.
“Oh, lordy.” Mrs. Hubbard shook her head, her tongue heavy with sarcasm.
“Auntie Meme?” I called out. “Are you okay?”
The cloud of flour settled and she popped her head through the window. Her hair no longer had even a speck of white flour in it as it had when Mrs. Hubbard and I were in the kitchen with her, nor did she look ruffled.
“I’m happier than a puppy with two tails.” The smile on her face told me that she’d done a little magic while I’d occupied Mrs. Hubbard. Her hands lifted up a tray of the most beautiful little carrot cakes that looked exactly like Mrs. Hubbard’s.
“Knock me down and steal muh teeth!” Mrs. Hubbard’s eyes popped open at the sight of the cakes on the tray. “How on Earth did you get those baked so quickly?” Mrs. Hubbard giddy-upped on over to the window and peered at the cakes that were as pretty as a picture. “And you frosted them exactly how I do it,” she said.
Her tone set off alarm bells ringing in my head. Auntie Meme had to be really careful. Mrs. Hubbard was one smart old bird.
I walked over and took the plate of small cakes from Auntie and put them underneath the glass dome on the counter to display.
“Well? How did you do it so fast?” Mrs. Hubbard wasn’t going to be satisfied with the silence Auntie Meme had given her.
“You made me nervous looking over my shoulder.” Auntie Meme clicked the heels of her black boots and twirled around on the balls of her feet. Her shoes clicked against the black and white tile of the kitchen floor. “And that’s why I actually own and cook at my own diner,” Auntie Meme was both excited and aggravated.
“She is good.” I tucked a piece of my long black hair behind my ear as I tried to avoid Mrs. Hubbard’s eyes and smooth the less than believable explanation Auntie Meme had given her.
“Good?” Mrs. Hubbard questioned. “Something ain’t right. It takes at least a good hour to cool one of them small cakes and ice it. That doesn’t even include the baking time. There’s no way we’ve been out here for more than five minutes, much less an hour.” Mrs. Hubbard glanced back at the kitchen window before her eyes shifted back to me. She shook her finger at me. “I know something fishy is going on because I know your car wasn’t parked there when we walked out here.”
My eyes followed her finger. Vinnie’s alarm was going off.
“Auntie!” I screamed across the diner’s dining room.
“What?” Her head popped out of the kitchen window.
“I. . .” I pointed over my shoulder. Her eyes flew open.
“Go!” She gestured.
The red gem warmed against my skin. My gut dropped.
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