A Sprinkle of Magic (A Sugarcomb Lake Cozy Mystery Book 4)

BOOK: A Sprinkle of Magic (A Sugarcomb Lake Cozy Mystery Book 4)
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A SPRINKLE OF MAGIC

 

Alaine Allister

 

 

Copyright © 2016 A. Allister

 

 

This is a work of fiction.  All characters and events depicted are products of the author’s imagination.  The cover is for illustrative purposes only.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

A new donut shop is opening in Sugarcomb Lake!  Small town reporter Clarissa Spencer and her insatiable sweet tooth are thrilled.  But then the owner turns up dead. 

 

While the rest of the town gossips and speculates, Clarissa focuses on finding the killer.  At the same time she has to keep her long-distance relationship alive, try to develop her magic skills and go to battle with her infuriatingly bratty cat.   

 

No wonder she needs a sugar fix!

Chapter 01

“This is nice,” Parker Tweed remarked. 

“Mmhmm,” Clarissa Spencer murmured absentmindedly as she picked up the sugar canister and sprinkled a liberal amount into her steaming hot coffee. 

It was Tuesday evening in Sugarcomb Lake.  That meant…well, that meant life was as mundane and uneventful as ever.  But Clarissa didn’t mind.  How could she complain when Tuesday evening meant date night with her handsome, sweet, amazing boyfriend?

Sometimes she wished they had someplace a little more exciting to go than the local coffee shop. 

When Clarissa visited Parker in the city they were able to go to art galleries, poetry readings and concerts.  They tried out new restaurants and explored shops they had never been to before.  In the city, there was always a new adventure to be had.

But Clarissa hadn’t felt like making the drive to Green City. 

The small town news reporter was exhausted.  Work had been wearing her out lately – no surprise, considering she singlehandedly ran the only newspaper in town.  Last night had been year another all-nighter.

She had made her deadline (barely) but at a cost.  Clarissa could hardly keep her eyes open.  Driving to Green City had been a daunting thought.  She had been afraid she might fall asleep at the wheel…but she really hadn’t wanted to cancel date night with her boyfriend.

Thankfully, Parker had offered to come see her instead.

Now he was sitting across from her at the local coffee shop. 

It was so good to see him!  It felt like it had been far too long. 

Parker ran a hand through his short blonde hair and looked across the table at Clarissa.  His eyes were the bluest of blue and when they met Clarissa’s, her heart skipped a beat.  He smiled at her and she felt herself blush.  Sometimes she still couldn’t believe that gorgeous, brilliant, amazing Parker Tweed was
her
boyfriend!

“I like what they’ve done with the place,” Parker commented as he looked around.

“Yeah, the owner just finished remodeling,” Clarissa replied, glancing down at the brand new, shiny hardwood floors.  “I’ve heard her complaining that it cost a fortune!  But it looks good.  The lighter paint color on the walls makes it seem so much bigger in here, don’t you think?”

“Oh, definitely,” Parker nodded.  Then he leaned across the table and took Clarissa’s hand.  “I’ve missed you a lot lately,” he told her.  “I don’t get to see you nearly enough, you know that?  Getting together once or twice a week just isn’t cutting it.”

“I’ve missed you too,” Clarissa told him, giving his hand a squeeze.  “I understand now why everyone says long distance relationships are hard,” she sighed.  Then she quickly added, “I mean, don’t get me wrong – it’s worth it!  It’s so worth it!  I just wish you lived closer.”

“Me too,” Parker agreed.  Then he gave her a devious look.  “Are you
sure
I can’t convince you to move to Green City?  There are some great condos in my neighborhood that I’m sure you’d love.  Or you could rent!  I’ll go look at apartments with you!  Just think: no more yard work!”

Clarissa grinned.  “The thought of never having to weed the lawn ever again is pretty enticing,” she admitted.  “But I would miss my garden.  I’d miss my friends.  I’d miss the town and all the people…well,
most
of the people.  There’s a reason I moved back here after college, you know.”

“What reason is that?” Parker asked, feigning ignorance.

“I love it, silly!” Clarissa replied, swatting playfully at his arm.  “You know that.  And you know I don’t want to move.  As much as I like exploring the city with you, it isn’t home.  Sugarcomb Lake is home.  Maybe
you
should move
here
!” she suggested with a gleam in her eye.

“My father would kill me if I up and left,” Parker laughed.  “You know he’s planning to retire soon.  I’m set to take over his so-called media empire.  He lectures me constantly about how it’s up to me to make sure The Green City Chronicle thrives without him!”

Clarissa made a face.  “If you ask me,
everything
is better off without your father.”

Parker snickered.  “Now tell me how you really feel.”

“Hey, don’t make me out to be the bad guy,” Clarissa protested.  “You know I’m right.  Your father is a mean, rude, pretentious bully!  I don’t know how you put up with him, to be honest.  No offence,” she added, her face turning red as she realized she may have overstepped.

“None taken,” Parker assured her.  “Honestly?  The only thing that gets me through the day is the knowledge that he’ll retire soon.  Then I’ll be able to run the newspaper in peace.  Well, that and looking forward to seeing you.  That gets me through the day, too,” Parker said, leaning forward.

There was a twinkle in his eye.

Clarissa knew what that look meant.  Her heart began to flutter.

He was going to kiss her! 

When Clarissa realized that was Parker’s intention, celebratory fireworks started going off in her brain.  Excited, she puckered up in anticipation.  Then she leaned forward so that Parker could reach her.

Unfortunately, she was a bit klutzy.

When she leaned forward, Clarissa managed to knock the container of sugar over.  The lid must not have been on there very securely, because it fell off.  Sugar spilled everywhere – and in her surprise, Clarissa then managed to topple her cup of coffee.

The mug fell to the floor with a crash, shattering on impact.  Coffee went everywhere.  Oops!

Way to ruin a kiss!

 

Chapter 02

Mortified, Clarissa looked around to see who had witnessed her clumsiness.

Two middle aged women were staring at her disapprovingly. 

She recognized them immediately:  Barbara Norman and Patricia Porter. 

Those two histrionic busybodies were always getting worked up over something.  They acted like everything was the end of the world, and they took personal offence to things that had nothing to do with them.  In fact, Clarissa secretly referred to them as The Local Pearl Clutchers.

“Look at that,” Patricia said to Barbara loudly, looking distraught.  “She spilled coffee all over the brand new hardwood floor!  Have you ever seen such a mess?  Oh, it gives me heart palpitations just looking at it!”

“She really ought to have been more careful,” Barbara replied with a disapproving shake of her head.  She was acting all offended, as though Clarissa’s moment of clumsiness was a personal affront to her.  She clucked her tongue loudly, just to emphasize how wronged she felt.

Clarissa rolled her eyes and resisted the urge to tell the ladies to mind their own business. 

While it would be satisfying to tell the Pearl Clutchers off, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea.  Gossip traveled fast in a place the size of Sugarcomb Lake.  Sometimes it was best to just hold one’s tongue rather than to incite drama.

“I’ll get it,” Parker offered, reaching for the paper napkin dispenser on the table.

“It’s okay,” Clarissa told him as she reached into her gigantic handbag.

“What are you looking for?” Parker asked as she rummaged around.

“Oh, just a thing,” Clarissa replied vaguely.

After a moment, she located what she was after.  It was a small plastic container filled with a mixture of salt, cinnamon, coriander and nutmeg.  She pulled it, careful to keep it hidden under the table.  Then she unscrewed the lid.

“What is that?” Parker demanded curiously, leaning down so he could see.

Okay, so apparently being discreet wasn’t one of Clarissa’s strengths.  Whoops!  Thinking fast, she sprinkled a tiny bit of the mixture in her coffee.  That wasn’t what the concoction was actually for, of course…but Parker didn’t need to know that.

“Ah, something for your coffee,” Parker concluded, even though Clarissa hadn’t actually said that.  “That looks interesting.  What is it?  Can I try it?” he asked, holding out his hand.

“Um, I don’t think you’ll like it,” Clarissa told him hesitantly.

“Come on,” he urged.  “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

“Huh?”

“It’s just an expression my grandmother used to use sometimes,” he replied.  Then he began to chuckle.  “Are you really not going to share?  That means it must be really,
really
good!  I’m intrigued!”

“It isn’t that good,” Clarissa replied.

Parker extended his hand again.  “Please?” he asked with a dramatic, childish pout.

He was clearly in a silly, playful mood.  That was fine, except Clarissa didn’t know how to talk him out of sprinkling her strange blend into his coffee.    She tightened her grip on the plastic container so that Parker couldn’t snatch it out of her hand.

With an impish grin, Parker reached out and grabbed her coffee cup.  He gave Clarissa a playful wink, looking victorious.  Then, before she could stop him, he took a sip.

Clarissa grimaced and held her breath, waiting for her boyfriend’s reaction.  While the concoction wouldn’t harm Parker, technically it wasn’t intended for consumption.  She had another, much different use for it.  But she couldn’t tell him that.

“That…that is really not good,” Parker said once the flavor hit him.  “Yuck!”

“Serves you right,” Clarissa told him.  “Can I have my coffee back now, please?”

“Yes, take it!” Parker urged, shoving the mug toward her.  “I’m pretty sure it’s toxic waste!”

“You’re so dramatic,” Clarissa teased.  She glanced down at her wrist and found it bare.  She had forgotten to wear her watch.  “Can I see that for a sec?” she asked, nodding to Parker’s very high tech and expensive looking wristwatch.

Completely unassuming, Parker extended his arm toward Clarissa.  When he did, she dumped what was left in the plastic container all over his watch.  It was a strange – and rude – thing to do, yes.  But that was okay.  It wasn’t like he would remember it. 

A while back, Clarissa had been struck by lightning.  She hadn’t been injured, but something strange had happened to her.  She had developed magic powers – or, according to her aunt, she had rediscovered magic powers that had been supressed her entire life.

Clarissa was a witch. 

It was a strange thing to accept, but it was the truth.

With her aunt’s guidance, Clarissa had recently begun to dabble in witchcraft.  Casting spells was tricky business.  It was like learning to ride a bike.  At first she had been terrible at it and even now, she still needed training wheels.  But she was getting better. 

Thankfully, turning the clock back sixty seconds wasn’t a particularly complicated feat.  All Clarissa needed was the potion she carried in her purse and a working clock to throw it at.  Done and done!  It was always so satisfying when her spells did what they were supposed to.

“Atchoo!”  Clarissa sneezed suddenly.  “Atchooatchooatchoo!”

“You okay?” Parker asked once her violent sneezing fit had subsided.

She nodded.  The sneezing was probably just a side effect of her spell.  Magic, she had come to learn, had strings attached.  For every spell that was cast, there was a consequence.  The smaller the spell was, the smaller its cost. 

Having a sneezing fit was a little annoying, sure.  But that was a small price to pay for not having to clean up spilled coffee and fragments of shattered coffee mug! 

Once again, Parker reached for the paper napkin dispenser.  His hand hovered there in midair for a second, as though he was trying to remember what he had been about to do.  He looked rather confused. 

He glanced down at the floor, which was completely devoid of spilled coffee and mug remnants.

His expression of bewilderment intensified. 

With a shrug, he dropped his hand.

“Where were we?” Clarissa asked.  “Oh, I remember!”  She leaned across the table. 

This time she was careful not to knock over the sugar – or her coffee.  She was only able to use the spell that turned time back once every full moon.  She wasn’t sure who made the rules, but that was how it worked.

Apparently magic wasn’t bottomless like the cup of coffee in front of Clarissa.

When the kiss ended, Clarissa couldn’t help but sneak a peek at the Pearl Clutchers.

As was to be expected, Patricia and Barbara were watching intently.

They looked appalled at the chaste public display of affection.  Immediately, the two busybodies began whispering to each other, all the while glaring in Clarissa’s direction.  But she wasn’t bothered by it one bit. 

She had noticed how envious they had looked before they had remembered to act offended. 

How satisfying!

Clarissa met Barbara’s gaze and smiled sweetly.

Barbara’s upper lip contorted in a look of utter disgust.    Ha!

Suddenly Clarissa’s smug sense of satisfaction was interrupted.

Cathy Peterson, the coffee shop owner, was standing behind the counter by the cash register.  She was on the phone. And she had suddenly started screaming at whoever was on the other end.  A stunned hush fell over the café.  Everyone stopped what they were doing to stare at her.

“How
dare
you!” Cathy shrieked as she paced behind the counter, agitated.  “You can’t just swoop into town and steal all my customers, you vulture!  If you think you can open up a donut shop right across the street, you’re an idiot!  Mark my words:  I will make you live to regret the day you came to town!”

With a ferocious roar, Cathy threw her phone across the room.

It hit the wall with a sickening crack.

“Wow,” Parker whispered as they both tried not to gawk.  “Poor phone – it’s done for!”

“Poor Cathy,” Clarissa replied, stunned by the level of rage she had just witnessed.  “I have never, ever seen her lose her temper like that before.  Look at her.  She’s practically got steam coming out of her ears.”

“She does look pretty upset,” Parker agreed after sneaking a peek. 

“I can’t believe the way she yelled.  She sounded so angry!”

“I guess everyone’s entitled to an off day every now and then,” Parker shrugged.

“Did I hear we’re getting a new donut shop in town?” Clarissa asked, her mouth watering.

“Sounds like it.”

Clarissa lit up.  “Yummy!”

“I wouldn’t say that too loudly if I were you,” Parker cautioned, eyeing Cathy warily.  “You might get stabbed to death with a dessert fork if she overhears you,” he joked.  Sometimes he had a dark sense of humor, but that was just one of the many things Clarissa loved about him.

“Good point,” Clarissa replied, playing along.  “I don’t want to die before I get a chance to try the donuts.  Mmm, donuts!” she grinned.  “I love donuts.  Strawberry, the chocolate kind with sprinkles…they’re all so good!  Is it sad that I’m irrationally excited about the new donut shop?”

“Just a little,” Parker teased, his eyes twinkling with amusement.  “But it’s kind of cute, so I’ll let it slide.  I guess I have to take you to the donut shop when it opens, hmm?”

“Yes please!” Clarissa told him, practically bouncing up and down in the booth.  “I want one of every kind…for science!  Ooh, I wonder when the donut shop opens up.  I mean, don’t get me wrong…I feel bad for Cathy.  But donuts!” she concluded, clapping her hands in glee.

“You’re ridiculous,” Parker told her.

“But you love it,” she shot back.

“Yeah,” he grinned.  “I do.”

 

BOOK: A Sprinkle of Magic (A Sugarcomb Lake Cozy Mystery Book 4)
11.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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