Authors: Tonya Kappes
“That’s a lot of sugar.” Raven plucked two of the pink and green to-go Wicked Good Bakery boxes and started to fill them up.
“I am going to take one to Hidden Treasures and,” I pointed in the direction of the new candle shop, “one to Scented Swan Candle Co. and you might as well throw in a few more for the other new businesses.”
I just added them to my schedule.
“What about that? Four new shops in a couple of days.” That was twice that I’d heard someone say comment on the new shops, which wouldn’t normally be strange, but it sent my intuition on high alert.
“I figure they are just in time for the All Hallows’ Eve celebration.” The thought of our annual night before Halloween festival made me giddy.
The shops handed out candy to tourists and their children who were dressed up and pretended to be well. . .us. Last year we’d added a small carnival and I was happy to see them back again this year. It was our favorite time of the year where we could actually dress the part without being judged.
“I hope you are right.” Raven did a little shimmy-shake when she handed me the boxes. My intuition went off a second time.
“I’ll take a couple of June’s Gems for myself.” I figured I’d better get my nerves under control and June’s Gems were the only thing that helped. I looked down when I felt something on my feet. “There you are,” I bent down and picked up Mr. Prince Charming, my fairy-god cat.
He jumped back, not letting me pick him up.
“Meow,” he purred softly as something dropped from his mouth. A sick feeling washed over me, it was the third time my intuition kicked in. Only this time, it nearly knocked me off my feet.
With my mouth stuffed full of a June’s Gem, the two boxes stuck under my armpit, the leaf charm Mr. Prince Charming had dropped at my feet now in my hand, and my fairy-god cat trotting next to me, I scurried across the street to Bella’s Baubles.
I smacked the ornamental gate not taking in the embedded gems that made crystal rainbows on the sidewalk like I normally did. I had to see Bella. It was of the utmost importance.
The pink wooden door to the cream cottage-style shop was propped open. A few leaves shuffled across the threshold from the light fall breeze. Mr. Prince Charming batted at them.
Bella sat behind the counter with the lope held tight in her scrunched up eye. She was looking at a gem.
“I’ve been expecting you.” She tossed her long blond hair behind her shoulder. She smiled, exposing the gap between her two front teeth. Her cheeks balled. “Our little friend brought you his present?”
“He did.” I uncurled my fist and held out the leaf charm. It seemed harmless, but I knew different. “Well?” I twisted my wrist around. The already full charm bracelet jingled as she unclasped it.
“This one is about the seasonal change. It's a season of transition, it embodies a culmination. It's nature's 'last hoorah' before retiring into winter's slumbering mood. This is a hustle-bustle-boogie down month as preparations are made and he is just making sure with the new shops and development in town that you keep focused.” Bella quickly added the charm to the others he’d given me.
“All of that sounds nice and flowery, but you and I both know that every charm on that bracelet came with a price. A price of protection when I needed it.” I reminded her how Mr. Prince Charming was my familiar and he gave me a charm when I needed protection the most.
“Just stay true to you and listen closely to your intuition.” She held the bracelet up and gestured for my wrist. A couple of tourists walked in. “Those smell divine.” She tapped the boxes from Wicked Good. “Excuse me.”
She got up from the chair behind the counter. She stood all of five feet, two inches, much short then me.
“Welcome to Bella’s Baubles,” she greeted the two women. “I’ve got a lovely jade pendant that will match your go-getter personality.”
“How did you know I was looking for a jade stone?” the woman gasped. Her eyes popped opened as they turned to her friend.
“I told you somehow all the shops have exactly what you need.” Both of them bounced on the balls of their feet in delight.
Joy filled up my troubled soul. Yes. The feeling of excitement that bubbled up in me had to do with All Hallows’ Eve.
My eyes lowered as I considered that Bella said something about a development.
“Excuse me,” I touched Bella’s arm after she showed the ladies the piece of jade. “Did you say development?”
“Yes. Isn’t it wonderful?” Her eyes sparkled from the insides. “New residents and new shops. It is a special time of year.”
Suddenly my intuition did it again. Something was going on that didn’t sit well with me. I rubbed my hand around my wrist and felt my charms. I needed to go visit these shops and see what was going on.
“Mewl!” Mr. Prince Charming stood on his hind legs and batted the dangling charms, then he darted out the open door right before it slammed shut.
The hustle and bustle on the sidewalk filled me with joy. I loved seeing all the tourists come and visit our magical village. I pulled the edges of my cape around my neck to ward off the slight fall breeze and took a deep breath of the clean autumn air letting it fill my lungs.
Slowly I exhaled and gazed above the horizon as a red-blood sun rose. The perfect weather for the All Hallows’ Eve celebration. The new wooden sign at the top of the street had Whispering Falls at the top with planks of wood attached with all the different shop names pointing their way.
I looked at the new shop next to Bella’s, Crazy Crafty Chick and thought it was a cute name. The cottage style shop was painted blue and had an adorable porch with a white fence around it. The wrought-iron gate had images of thread and needle, glass beads, and pottery tools.
“Good mornin’.” A woman walked out of the shop and put a basket of yarn on a display table on the porch with a Grand Opening Sale sign. “I’m Leah LeRoy, a clairsentience from Alabama.”
The friendly southern girl smiled. Her long brown hair was parted to the side and hung past her collarbone. She had a friendly face and sweet smile, or maybe it was the charming accent that made her so friendly. She had on a pair of jeans and simple white sweater with a monogram on the top left side.
“Hi, I’m June. . .” I walked up to the shop.
“June Heal.” Her brows lifted. “I know exactly who you are.” She nodded. Her blue eyes bright. “I made sure that I checked out all the shops and people before I decided to move here. My mama and daddy wouldn’t have wanted me to move all the way from home if I hadn’t done my homework.”
“Oh,” I chuckled and handed her a box of doughnuts. “Here is a welcome gift. I hope you enjoy it.”
“Thank you. Every time someone opens that door and the smell crosses the street, I gain a pound.” She winked. “I do hope you join me in some of my craft classes.”
“I’m not so crafty,” I said and pulled the cape closer to my body as the wind blew around my ankles.
Mr. Prince Charming walked over to Leah and looked up at her.
“Hi there.” She bent down and patted him on the head. “You are a cutie.”
He didn’t pay her much attention as the basket full of yarn had captured his eye. He darted up to the porch and stood on his hind legs, sniffing the basket before he jumped up in it.
“He will drive you nuts, so just shoo him back down to my shop when he does.” My eyes narrowed when I noticed him kneading the skeins before he curled up. “Mr. Prince Charming, now!”
He didn’t bother lifting his head.
“I’m so sorry.” I walked past Leah and walked up to get him out of the basket. “You are so naughty. People don’t want cat hair all over their new yarn.”
“He is adorable.” Leah reached out and scratched his head. He purred.
“I hope you are participating in the All Hallows’ Eve celebration.” I was excited to see all the new shops and new citizens. It was going to be a wonderful celebration.
Mr. Prince Charming smacked my bracelet before he jumped out of my arms and darted out the wrought-iron gate where he stopped and began to clean his front legs.
“Ornery cat. I better go.” I waved and joined him on the sidewalk, trying to decide which shop I should go to next.
“Hey there.” Oscar Park, my handsome husband walked up behind me. “You have something in there for me?” he asked when he noticed my handful of Wicked Good boxes.
“I have an extra June’s Gem in my bag, but these are for all the new shops.” I gave him a kiss on the lips before he dug into my black bag that was strapped across my body. “You might need two. You have a big day ahead of you.”
Mr. Prince Charming stood on his hind legs and batted at my bag. He loved June’s Gems and even though chocolate wasn’t good for mortal cats, it was fine for my fairy-god cat. I ignored him. He trotted in front of us with his tail pointing the way.
We walked down the street toward Two Sisters and a Funeral. My plan was to take Mr. Prince Charming’s lead and start at the end of town and work my way down until I needed to open my shop. Since he was my familiar and had given me the leaf charm, I figured he knew something and so I decided to follow him.
“It’s very exciting to have more citizens.” His blue eyes stilled. “Have you heard about Ophelia and Colton?”
“No.” I looked deep into his eyes. There was something funny in them.
“They split up.” He shook his head and took a big bite of the Gem.
Mr. Prince Charming ran back to us and did figure eights around my ankles and then Oscar’s. He and Oscar weren’t the best of friends, but he knew that I loved Oscar. It was his way of doing the infinity sign around our ankles, letting me know we are all okay.
His words wedged in my brain as I tried to process the shock.
“But they were. . .” I was too stunned to finish the sentence.
“I know.” He put his arm around me and guided me down the sidewalk because my legs had stopped working. “He was sleeping on the couch in the back room of the station. I was shocked to see him there. He’s a mess.”
“I have to go see her.” I turned, but Oscar grabbed my shoulders.
“She left town for a few days and closed her shop.” There was a deep sadness in his eyes. “Colton said she was the one who ended it. That she wasn’t in love with him anymore. That was it.”
“Oh, gosh.” I was so fond of them. They were young like us and we enjoyed doing things with them. “That hurts my heart. Maybe they will get back together.”
I looked over my shoulder at Ever After Books and wondered if I could go in and do a smudge, clear out the confusion that Ophelia was obviously feeling.
“I don’t like that look in your eyes,” Oscar said. “You can’t save them. You can’t do magic on them. No love potions.” He pulled out a paper from the file he was carrying. “By-laws state that you can’t perform magic on or read another spiritualist.”
“I know.” I was well aware of the rules and well aware that when I did break one, I paid for it. “It’s just so sad and shocking.”
“I know.” Oscar was always the voice of reason. That was one trait that made him a great cop. “We just need to be a friend to them and listen when they need a shoulder to lean on or ear to talk to.”
I nodded my head.
“I do have some news.” I lifted my wrist in the air and shook the bracelet.
“Oh no.” Oscar stuffed the last bit of Gem in his mouth.
“It’s a leaf charm.” I pointed it out and continued up the sidewalk. “According to Bella it just means seasonal change. With all the new citizens and shops, I think I need to incorporate them all in the smudging, welcome them.” I shrugged wanting to believe my words.
“Let’s hope so.” Oscar reached between us and took my hand in his. We snuggled together so the breeze couldn’t get through and worked our way through the tourists to the top of the hill.
Yeah, let’s hope so, my mind settled around the leaf and how change had already come as the fall wind whipped around. Ophelia and Colton’s break-up sat heavy on my heart. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were part of the seasonal change Bella talked about.
“Mornin’!” A woman’s voice trilled through the gallery and bounced off the glass walls as the bell over the door signaled our arrival. “I’m pleased to see you.”
A woman with curly black hair appeared from behind a big oil painting that was hanging from the ceiling. She maneuvered her way around the canvas and wiped her hands down her white apron with cherries all over it.
“Do you like?” she asked after she stood next to us. She put her hands on her plump hips and tilted her head to the left and then to the right.
Mr. Prince Charming said as if he approved.
“I’m so glad, sir.” She swooped down and bowed to him. “I’m Cherry Merry and that’s my brother Perry Merry.” She took a long look between Oscar and I. “You here are,” she scurried up to the painting and pointed to what looked like A Charming Cure, “June Heal.” Her homely face arranged itself into a smile. “And you here.” She pointed to the police station across the street from my shop. “I have to confess that your uniform gave it away and I had already heard from the sisters that you two were married.”
I chuckled. “For a minute I thought you had already checked us out.”
“Only if you call the Karimas telling me every single bit of information checking you out, then,” she threw her hands in the air, “guilty!”
Perry walked over and he shook Oscar’s hand.
“We are from a village out west and were so excited to hear about the new development.” She slid her eyes toward her brother. “A fresh start is always good.”
“Welcome.” I tried not to let my intuition go wild and tried to figure out what she meant by a fresh start.
“I’m beyond thrilled I could use my own shop designs and not conform to the cottage style on Main Street.”
Blue Moon Gallery was two floors of full glass walls. The staircase in the middle was even glass. I could look down on the main street and see all of it. When I looked to the right, I could see my house on the hill and to the left the mountains. Right next door was Two Sisters and a Funeral Home which also wasn’t like the shops on the main strip.