Authors: tonya kappes
A Magical Cures Mystery Novella
The list of June Heal’s charms and what they mean:
“Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh!” Madame Torres sang, her crystal ball blinking red like the nose on Rudolph. “Get up! The first day of the winter bazaar isn’t going to pass us by!”
I pushed my hair back from my face and reached over to the empty spot next to me in the bed. My head came off the pillow and my heart sank when I noticed Oscar had already left for work and I wasn’t going to get to kiss him goodbye. I put my hand on Mr. Prince Charming, my fur ball fairy-god cat, who had taken advantage of Oscar’s spot. He was snug and curled up in a tight white ball on Oscar’s pillow, and as warm as a butter biscuit.
“Did you hear me?” Madame Torres happily chirped from inside her glass ball.
“I heard you.” I groaned not wanting to get out of my cozy bed. I pulled the covers up over my head.
“Better be good for goodness sake,” Madame Torres’s voice took a deep dip in tone before it sprang up an octave. Background music blared out like she was singing karaoke. “Santa Claus is coming to town!”
“I never imagined many spiritualists would get so excited about a holiday we have never celebrated here.” I sucked in a deep breath wondering how many customers I was going to have today at A Charming Cure, my homeopathic cure shop in our little magical town of Whispering Falls, Kentucky. I was excited to have a little Christmas spirit around town. There had been a dullness looming over the village and I had not been able to put my finger on the cause.
This time of the year could be so stressful for people. Presents, family, running around, not to mention the people who didn’t like the holidays due to the same things.
But the Village Council, which consisted of Petunia Shrubwood, Isadora Solstice, Gerald Regiula, and Chandra Shango, voted to host the First Annual Christmas Bazaar the entire month of December leading up to the big day of the jolly fellow.
“Toooooo town!” Madame Torres yelled at the end of her song with a big bang of fireworks display.
“Wrong holiday display,” I said referring to the red, white, and blue fireworks.
I threw the covers back and sat up, brushing the ends of my short black bob behind each ear. My eyes glanced over at Mr. Prince Charming. Madame Torres’s singing wasn’t bugging him any.
Madame Torres’s Christmas light show was over and her ball had a beautiful scene of snow falling down like a winter wonderland. I swung my feet over the side of the bed and tucked each foot in the fuzzy cream slippers.
“Santa Claus is coming,” I hummed skipping down the hall, letting the warm scent of the freshly brewed coffee lead the way, “to town.”
I wouldn’t tell her, because she’d never let me live it down, but Madame Torres and her sunny holiday disposition had put a little skip in my step. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all things Christmas and winter, but the idea of new customers and ways to bring in new business to our community made me happy. The Christmas spirit was catchy and I couldn’t wait to see how the holiday spirit touched our village.
All the shops in Whispering Falls had a magical feel. Of course I knew a lot of the magic was due to the fact that every shop owner had a spiritual gift, but Christmas gave an different bewitching, even spellbound, awareness that I couldn’t even put my finger on.
I’ll be working late. Don’t wait up for me. I love you, Oscar.
I ran my finger over the note left next to my purple and white striped mug Oscar must have pulled out of the cabinet for me.
He was one of two sheriffs in Whispering Falls. Colton Lance was the other. Both of them wizards and dangerous with a wand. Oscar Park and I had known each other all of our lives. Growing up in Locust Grove with him as a neighbor was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me. And moving together to Whispering Falls was a bonus. At the same time, both of us found out we were from spiritualist families. His parents were spiritualists and my father was one as well. We were considered Good-Siders. We brought happy and harmony to the world, not dark magic. We didn’t like to look at ourselves as “witches” because some people thought it had a negative connotation. So we called ourselves spiritualists.
In my shop, I used my wonderful gift of intuition. If someone came into A Charming Cure for homeopathic cure, I was able to add a little something to heal what was really ailing them. That was how I knew this time of the year my little shop would probably be really busy. Stress can come in all forms and I was ready.
I picked up Oscar’s note and reread it as I poured myself a nice cup of steaming coffee and leaned against the counter. The steam swirled up and around, tickling my nose and warming my soul. I looked out the window over the kitchen sink at the fresh fallen snow that had blanketed the sleeping town of Whispering Falls.
In the distance, Eloise Sandlewood, Oscar’s aunt, walked down the only street that ran through Whispering Falls, swinging her lantern full of incense and herbs, doing her morning ritual of cleansing the village. Her long green cloak dragged behind her, the fur around the collar sprinkled with snowflakes. Her short red hair curled around her pale face. Her painted red lips moved as she mumbled a cleansing chant, taking long deliberate and slow steps. Puffs of smoked filled the air, trailing along each swing of the lantern. The wonderful, festive smell of pine would soon be up the hill and around my little cottage.
Eloise was an Incense spiritualist and took her job very seriously. She never missed a morning cleanse.
Soon the sun would pop up over the mountains, lighting up the village in anticipation for the tourists and people passing through.
Mr. Prince Charming darted around my ankles in his signature figure eight. He was ready to get the day going.
“She got you up too?” I asked picking up my furry buddy, snuggling him close to my body. “I love you.” I kissed the fur between his ears before he could bat me away and put him back on the floor.
He danced his way back to the bedroom in front of me. It didn’t take me long to get my shower and put on makeup. I pulled out a pair of brown corduroy jeans and a black cowl-neck sweater along with my snow boots. The weather was fitting and it was comfortable. My gut told me I was going to be busy, so I might as well be comfortable. Before I knew it, I’d buttoned my cape around my shoulders, Madame Torres was tucked safely in the bottom of my bag and Mr. Prince Charming cleared a path down the hill. His white fur blended in with the snow, but his tail danced above the trail, leading the way. I snugged the collar of my cloak around my neck to ward off the chill, keeping my eye on the village as I got closer and closer to the street.
“Good morning, June!” Bella Van Lou, owner of Bella’s Baubles, chirped from the top of a ladder planted on the sidewalk in front of her shop. Her arms were lined with pine needle wreaths. The gap between her two front teeth glistened like the snow as her lips parted into a big smile.
Bella had the spiritual gift of Astrology, hence her jewelry shop and all the precious gems she sells all day.
“You look like a Christmas tree.” I giggled holding the ladder steady with both hands. My charm bracelet jingled. Mr. Prince Charming stood up on his hind legs, trying to extend his paws toward my wrist as he batted at the dangling charms.
Mr. Prince Charming had showed up on the front steps on my home in Locust Grove on my tenth birthday. He had a little turtle charm attached to his dingy collar. Little did I know the charm was to protect me and he was sent from the village. In fact, I didn’t know he was my fairy-god cat until a couple years ago when I moved to Whispering Falls. He has given me many charms for my charm bracelet since the turtle, each one bringing me protection and luck.
I always knew when either me or my “gift” was going to be tested. Mr. Prince Charming made it a habit of bringing me a protective charm to add to my bracelet.
But he was still a cat and couldn’t resist the opportunity to swipe his paw at dangling charms like a game.
“I’m in charge of putting up the wreaths and Arabella is in charge of decorating them.” She pushed a loose strand of her long blond hair behind her shoulder before she grasped the side of the ladder and slowly took each rung back down to the sidewalk.
“Your shop looks amazing,” I said.
The quaint cream cottage shop with a pink wood door adorned with different colored jewels was decorated for the month of the Christmas Bazaar. She had two pink Christmas trees nestled on each side of the shop door that was currently adorned with light greens, baby blues, and light pinks. Instead of white lights, Bella had used soft blue-tinted lights to circle the trees. There was evergreen swag hung around the door with decorations to match her trees.
“Thank you.” She fluffed the wreath. “I’m excited the Village Council decided to open the village to Christmas. Granted, a month long extravaganza is a lot of work, but I think it will help grow the economy.”
“The economy?” I asked.
“I went to the council meeting—which I didn’t see you at.” She looked down from the ladder, her brows raised. “Petunia said Gerald has been working on the village budget and the economy goes down every year at this time. People are going to the city to do their holiday shopping. We have never made Whispering Falls inviting for those shoppers.”
“Really?” I wondered why Oscar hadn’t told me about the meeting.
“I’m surprised Oscar didn’t tell you,” Bella said. She was right. I was surprised too.
“I’m coming.” Arabella Paxton walked down the sidewalk toward us with all sorts of red poinsettia leaves in her hand, along with long flowing red velour ribbons flapping behind her. “I wasn’t sure what type of ribbon to use, so I went with the traditional.” She set some poinsettia leaves and ribbon on the ground.
For a second I wanted to continue my conversation with Bella about the village meeting, but it wasn’t the time or the place. I hadn’t gone to a Village Council meeting since I stepped down as the Village President.
Bella and I held the ladder as Arabella tiptoed up the rungs with some floral items gripped in her hands, her knee-high red boots and a short mini-dress looked like something Santa’s mistress would wear. There was white fur lining the hems of the skirt, neck, and wrists. Before we could even mention her outfit, she had put the finishing touches on the wreath hanging on the lamppost and her feet were on the ground.
Arabella was a flower spiritualist. By the flowers people chose, she was able to tell a lot about them, or even their future. She was truly magical in every sense of the word.
“Do you like?” She did a princess bow. “Daddy isn’t going to like how short it is,” she referred to Gerald Regiula, her father and owner of The Gathering Grove Tea Shoppe. She stuck one of the poinsettia leaves in the tight bun that she had curled her long straight black hair into on the top of her head, making her high cheekbones seem even higher.
“I couldn’t pull if off, but you can.” I rubbed my hand around my wrist and looked down the street.
“Maybe he won’t notice since he and Petunia are fighting.” Arabella nodded toward The Gathering Grove Tea Shoppe. She twirled her long lean finger with the purple sparkly polish around her ear. “He’s losing it because Petunia is disagreeing with him. I’m glad to see her stand her ground.”
We all looked. Gerald and Petunia were standing on the sidewalk outside, both of their heads bobbling back and forth, teeth gritted. With each jerk of Petunia’s head, something fell out of her messy brown up-do, including a bird. Feathers flew around them in a wind tornado. A nip of cold air followed. Petunia stormed off in a huff toward Glorybee Pet Shop, her shop.
“She’s so mad the council agreed to do the bazaar.” Arabella shrugged.
Something felt funny, but I shook it off.
“Are you okay?” Bella put her hand on my arm.
“I’m great.” My shoulders drew up to my ears, my brows lifted. “Seeing these decorations definitely has my intuition off.” I smiled and pointed toward The Gathering Grove. “A nice large Pumpkin Spice latte is exactly what I need.”
What I really needed was to see what was going on around here. Gerald looked like the best place to start.
“I’ll stop by to see you later.” Arabella waved.
Arabella and Bella picked up the ladder and carried it over to the next carriage light. “We have to get all of these done today.” Arabella let out a loud sigh, looking down the sidewalk at the carriage lights lining the entire street—on both sides.