Authors: Tonya Kappes
“What?” There was a little bit of curiosity in his voice tied in with apprehension.
“When Colton and Ophelia moved here, his mom was with them. I can’t help but think that something in their past is keeping her and Colton apart, but I’m not sure what. I’m not even sure if Ophelia breaking up with Colton had anything to do with Patty’s death, but I do know there is something there.” I continued to talk as Oscar took a step back as if he was creating distance because he was about to shoot down my idea. “Hear me out before you say no.”
He crossed his arms across his chest. “Go on.”
“Alise is a big customer of mine and I have her address. If I take the express train to their village, I can ask her a few questions and bring up Patty. See what she says.” I put my hands together and begged, “Please? What do we have to lose? I will take someone besides Mr. Prince Charming with me.”
Mr. Prince Charming didn’t like that idea.
“You can go, but I’d take someone else, like. . .” I tried to think of someone on the spot that wouldn’t mind going before Oscar suggested someone I’d rather not take.
“Aunt Eloise?” Oscar asked.
“Yes.” I clapped my hands knowing if she would go, he’d be all over agreeing with me. Though I knew I didn’t need his approval, it was nice to have.
“If she will go with you, then I have no issues. In the meantime, I’m going to check on Patty’s autopsy and head on out to Broussert’s office.” He nodded.
“I’m going to go see if any of Faith’s photos show Patty talking to anyone that might be another suspect.” I tapped my stomach. “I just have a feeling we know who the killer is, but we just haven’t gotten the puzzle pieces to fit.”
I turned around and looked over the shops on Main Street. A dark cloud coming from the east blanketed the autumn day.
I was close. I could feel it.
“Me too.” Oscar gave me one last kiss before we parted ways.
Mr. Prince Charming got up from his bed of leaves and trotted up to Blue Moon Gallery.
“Oscar!” I yelled over to Two Sisters just as he disappeared into the funeral home.
, Mr. Prince Charming purred and looked up at me.
“I wanted to tell him about what Patience had said to Gerald about the voodoo thing, but I’m sure she’ll tell him while he’s there.” I put that in the back of my head and walked into the gallery.
Cherry Merry and Perry were both with customers so Mr. Prince Charming and I took advantage of the time and looked around. Unlike yesterday, there were big photos and painted canvases hanging from the ceiling at all different angles and lengths. There was only one that was taken at the pumpkin patch that’d been hung so far with photo credit going to Faith Mortimer. It was a perfect balance of light and color as Faith had zoomed in on a bright orange pumpkin.
There was a stack of framed photos up against the gallery wall that looked like they were next to be hung.
“Hi, June.” Perry walked over. “It’s fantastic. Faith has an eye for the bright and bold.”
“It is lovely.” I looked at Perry. “I’m here to see if there are any more she took from that night.”
“Plenty. So many that Cherry was having a hard time deciding what to put on the sales floor.” His eyes lit up. “We are going to make Faith our spotlight artist which means she’ll have her own showing with all her photos available.”
“That’s wonderful.” I was so happy for Faith. She’d come a long way from our days at Hidden Halls. Which reminded me to get in touch with Aunt Helena about Gene, which tickled my brain about Violet and a possible relationship with Patch.
“Excuse me.” Perry exited right when I was about to ask him if I could see some more of Faith’s photos. There were a ton of customers coming in and looking around.
As Mr. Prince Charming and I were about to walk out the door, Cherry called after me.
“I’m sorry we are so busy.” She greeted me by kissing each side of my face, which was strange to me, but I followed suit. “Will you be at the pottery class tonight?”
“I am.” I was actually looking forward to it.
“Great. We will catch up there.” She smiled before she returned to her waiting customer.
I grabbed the edges of my cloak and tightened them around my neck before we darted back down the hill toward the shops.
“Well, we didn’t get much out of that but at least I will be able to talk to her tonight,” I said to my fairy-god cat.
, he darted ahead of me and disappeared into The Gathering Grove, reminding me that I had to pick up my food.
After Faith and I ate our lunch, she left to go get some shots and articles together for the mortal paper version of the
Whispering Falls Gazette
. It lifted her spirits and gave her a passion I’d not seen in her for a long time and it warmed my heart.
The rest of my afternoon was spent restocking the shelves and helping out the customers. Mr. Prince Charming laid on the stool behind the counter and snoozed all afternoon.
Oscar had called and said that the autopsy was finished and the official cause of death was ingestion of boric acid. Ingestion. That made me want to throw my lunch up. I just couldn’t imagine a more painful death. From what I understood, boric acid affected your nerves and that was a painful death. No matter how mean Patty was, no one deserved to die or experience a death such as that.
We made plans to meet up after the pottery class at home. He promised a fire and a glass of wine so we could wind down from our crazy day.
Though I didn’t feel like I was any closer to helping him solve the murder, I was happy to get away for a few hours with my friends.
“Hi-do, June Heal.” Leah’s accent was so southern it nearly knocked me over. “You get on in here.” She bent down and patted Mr. Prince Charming on his head. “I bet I can guess exactly what it is you are gonna make. A Halloween cat.”
“We will see.” I smiled and walked up on the front porch of Crazy Crafty Chick.
“You go on in and take a gander at what we are going to paint and grab you a few snacks to tide you over.” She pointed the way.
Chandra, Faith, and Eloise were already hovered over the pottery items we could pick out to paint while I noticed the mortals had also come to paint.
“Hi,” I walked over to Jo Ellen, Tish, and Hazel. “I’m so glad to see you.”
“I don’t know how long we will be staying.” Tish sounded flustered. “Jo Ellen won’t keep her hands off anything.”
“Where is your kitty?” Jo Ellen asked with her big eyes wide open.
“I’m telling you that you need to get that girl a kitten.” Hazel chirped up before she moseyed on over to the snack table.
“Mrs. Jones sure is nosy.” Tish shook her head and reached over to move Jo Ellen’s hand off of a ceramic mug. “You should see her in the neighborhood. Have you seen the show
or are you too young for that?”
“Oh, I know it.” I grinned, I knew it in real life as well, but I kept that comment to myself.
“Remember her neighbor Mrs. Kravitz?” she asked and pointed over to Hazel. We both laughed.
“Well, I guess you could have worse neighbors.” I glanced out the window and saw Petunia and Oscar standing on the sidewalk along with Violet and Gene.
My heart flip-flopped as I saw Petunia hand baby Orin over to Oscar, strapping him on Oscar’s chest and Violet pushing Gene toward him as well.
“Jo Ellen,” I bent down, “would you like to go outside with Oscar and maybe help him out with baby Orin?”
“Can I Mommy?” Jo bounced on the balls of her feet. “Plllllleeeeease?” Her body swayed back and forth with her hands clasped behind her back.
“Sure,” Tish said with a giggle.
I reached for her hand and we trotted outside along with Mr. Prince Charming.
“How on Earth did I get wrangled into this?” Oscar asked. Fear in his eyes.
“Oh, you look like a pro.” I had to swallow the lump that’d formed in my throat. If I hadn’t, I might’ve started to cry because Oscar looked so cute and I suddenly imagined him as a father. Something I’d yet to do.
“I’m not.” He patted baby Orin on the hiney.
“Well, I bet you guys can go grab a treat from Wicked Good and if you are very good, I would bet that Oscar will walk you down to look at the kittens in the window of the pet shop.” My voice escalated to get them excited.
“Can we?” Gene and Jo Ellen asked at the same time.
“You are going to pay,” Oscar warned me.
“Promise?” I winked and kissed him before he shot out after the kids who’d already run across the street and into Wicked Good. That included Mr. Prince Charming too.
I stood there for a moment and watched as Oscar gathered them up and let them look at all the treats.
“Cute right?” Eloise joined me. “You two are going to make me the cutest grand-nephew and niece.”
“Both?” I asked with a nervous laugh.
“We shall see.” She grinned.
“I’m so glad you are here.” I tucked my arm in hers as we turned back around to make it back inside the craft shop. “I need to go visit a village in Ohio and Oscar doesn’t want me to go by myself.”
“You want me to go?” she asked and answered before I could answer. “I’d love to get away for a day. In fact, I might know some people I can visit while I’m there.”
“Great. I can’t go tomorrow, because I have some things to do,” I knew I wanted to go visit Patch and maybe have some of that tea Hazel Jones had offered me. If what Tish had said about Hazel’s nosy side was true, maybe she had seen something. “But what about the day after?”
“I’ll meet you at the sprinkle before dawn.” She patted my hand as we walked over to the snack table.
I filled my plate with some fruit, chocolates and a couple of finger sandwiches and mentally set my internal clock to meet her about fifteen minutes before the sun started to pop up.
“Is your husband going to kill us?” Tish asked as she, Violet and Petunia huddled near the window as they watched their children.
“No, but you might kill him after he shows them all of those cute kittens Petunia has in her shop window,” I said and popped a piece of fruit in my mouth.
“Aren’t they adorable?” Petunia gushed.
“Oh no,” Tish grumbled. “Jo Ellen has been driving me crazy about a cat ever since the pumpkin patch. I told her that not all cats acted like yours.”
“But these kittens are perfect.” Petunia pulled Tish aside and gave her the sales pitch about the kittens, leaving me with Violet.
“Is Gene excited about school?” I asked.
“Not really.” There was sadness in her voice. “He, or me, isn’t sure about the whole boarding school thing.”
“He will love it.” I took a bite of the sandwich. “My aunt is the dean and I went there. It’s safe and fun.”
“He’s never been away from me. Since birth, he’s lived on Tulip Island.” She looked out the window. Pride showed on her face as she watched Gene in the window of Wicked Good talking to Oscar.
“Have you heard from your father?” I asked about Victor Draper, the owner of Tulip Island. “And how’s Peter doing?”
. “He loves the island. Dad’s been so busy since it’s fall in the states. All the mortals want to do is get away from the cold. But Gene worries me. I feel like he needs something.”
“He needs a happy mom.” I patted her on the back. “You are just getting your feet wet in this crazy mortal world. Trying to use your spiritual gift for the first time. A new business owner and all while trying to give your son the best life.” I glanced out the window to see what she was smiling at.
Oscar had let Gene hold his wand. Since Gene didn’t have the special powers yet, he could wave it around without any spells accidently coming out.
“He will learn to use that wand and become a great member of our heritage.” I wasn’t sure what he’d become or even if he did have powers since he was part mortal from his father and part spiritualist from her, but my intuition did tell me that she needed to spread her wings. “While he is at school, you can test out the waters on your life. Grow your business.” I put my arm around her. “Grow friendship.” I squeezed. “Romance.”
That seemed to brighten her eyes.
“And you can visit Hidden Halls anytime you want. In fact, I’ll take you and him on his first day. Walk you around. Introduce you to people.” I knew that she was happy with what I was saying. It put her at ease.
Slowly she began to nod her head in agreement.
“Thank you, June.” She hugged me. “You are a true friend.”
I hugged back, only thoughts of my friend Ophelia popped into my head. I thought she was a true friend too.
“Okay, y’all! Listen up.” Leah tucked a piece of her long brown hair behind her ear. “Have you picked out what you want to paint?”
My questions about Violet and Patch were going to have to wait.
“Take your pottery over to a table and sit down. You will find a sponge, bowl of water, a couple of different paint brushes with different sized tips, paints and some rags.” She held up each item as she spoke. “You can paint your pottery however you want. If you don’t like a color, you can dip your sponge in the water and it will come right off.”
We all watched as she made a big blue streak down a pumpkin and wiped it clean.
“I’ll be walking around and checking things out.” She rocked back and forth on her cowboy boots. “If y’all have a question or need anything, give me a holler.”
There was a space between Petunia and Violet. I figured I’d sit there and see if Petunia offered up anything about the meeting with the developer.
I glanced around the room. Tish was seated next to Hazel and helping her with her piece of pottery which was a teapot, perfect for Hazel. Tish caught me looking at her and rolled her eyes.
It brought back memories of me growing up in Locust Grove. Being around those two made me feel more at home than in a spiritual community. I could see Petunia and the Order of Elders had done the right thing by opening up our community, even if it might bring some crime.
There wasn’t a city or town out there that didn’t have some sort of criminal activity, only ours happened to be a murder at the moment.