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Best Cosy Books

Spell It Out Large Print (PAPERBACK)

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Title

Large Print Paperback. Book 9 in the bestselling The Kitchen Witch series of fun cozy mysteries with magical elements.

For Amelia Spelled, it's another case of déjà brew when a man dies at a Tea Leaf Reading. Amelia and Camino are among the witnesses. Only trouble is, they were both asleep at the time. Luckily, Amelia is soon brewing up a solution, along with her trusty friends, who are out to prove there is a tea in team.
When the murderer draws a little too close for comfort, will the house come to the rescue, or is Amelia in for a steep shock? Alder has something on his mind, and this time, it's not solving the murder. Will he spell it out, or will Amelia be left guessing?

One thing's for sure, it's best not to chai this at home.  

LARGE PRINT PAPERBACK.  

 Paperback 368 pages
 Dimensions 6 x 0.83 x 9 inches (152 x 21.1 x 229 mm)
 ISBN 9781922595478
 Publication date December 27, 2021
 Publisher Best Cosy Books

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CHAPTER 1

I opened my door to see a large tree on my doorstep. It wasn’t tall, but it was wide. I blinked and took a second look. The tree’s arms moved towards me. I took a step backwards, terrified, remembering the Big Bad Banksia Men of my favourite childhood book, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.
“It’s me,” a muffled voice said from within the tree.
“Who is that?” I asked in alarm.
“Me, of course,” the voice said. The tree pushed past me and staggered into the house. I followed the tree into the living room where the tree attempted to sit on the sofa, but then fell awkwardly, its legs flung skywards.
I recognised the feet. Camino! And I figured the tree was her latest attempt at a onesie. I had seen some weird and wonderful onesies from Camino, but this took the cake.
“Are you all right?” I asked her. “Would you like me to help you get the tree off?”
A grunting sound emanated from the branches, so I took that as an affirmative.
Five minutes later, I had Camino out of the tree. Instead of thanking me, she said, “I’m excited, Amelia! This onesie has a commercial application.”
I dropped onto the comfortable armchair opposite her and rubbed my forehead, as both my cats, Willow and Hawthorn, leapt on my lap and demanded my attention. “Commercial application?” I said weakly. I took a deep breath, and then added, “Whatever do you mean?”
Camino held up the onesie proudly. “This is a tree, a banksia tree.”
I nodded. “I knew that. It brought back childhood memories.” And childhood nightmares, I added silently.
“This will be my Australian line,” Camino said. “A banksia is a good camouflage tree because the banksia flower spikes, the cones, are all brown and fuzzy.”
I nodded. That’s exactly what her onesie looked like, brown and fuzzy, and more than a little menacing.
“I’ve set up an Etsy store,” Camino announced. “I’m going to start small, but I have to find out how to contact the military. This clearly has a military application.”
I rubbed my forehead furiously. “How about I get the house to turn down the TV, and then you can tell me all about it. Grandmother, could you please turn off Lucifer? Just for a moment?”
The whole house shook. The house was given to binge watching TV, and its latest craze was watching Lucifer on Netflix.
“Lucifer?” Camino said. She got up and peered at the TV. “Is that guy Lucifer himself? He’s quite cute.”
I nodded. “It’s a TV show. Lucifer left hell. He’s come to earth, and he helps solve crimes.”
Camino looked utterly confused. I knew I was about to be confused when she explained her commercial application of onesies, so I felt I had evened the score.
“No matter.” Camino waved one hand at me. “I wanted to tell you about the military application.”
“I’m all ears,” I said dryly.
Camino’s face lit up with enthusiasm. “It’s for surveillance, of course.” She must have noticed my blank look because she hurried to explain. “Trees are perfect for surveillance. Someone can wear a tree onesie and keep concealed weapons in it. Even communication equipment, depending on the size of the onesie, and no one would be any the wiser. Then, if the criminal makes a run for it, the person simply has to throw off the onesie suit and chase after the criminal.”
I frowned. “What if the criminal escapes in a car?”
“That’s the military’s problem,” Camino said. “I can’t be expected to solve everything for them, now can I? Isn’t it enough that I provide them with excellent housing for surveillance equipment?”
I shut my eyes tightly and wished I was up to my elbows in cake batter or doing anything other than listening to a discourse on the commercial application of tree onesies.
Camino waved her arms. “I’m going to do a whole range, but I’m starting with Australian trees for the Australian government,” she said happily. “I sent the Australian government an email, but they didn’t reply.”
“Imagine that,” I muttered.
Undaunted, Camino pushed on. “I’m going to have bottlebrush onesies, wattle onesies, and more banksia onesies, and I think the best onesies will be the gumtree onesies,” she said enthusiastically. “A gumtree is quite big, so you could get a lot of automatic weapons in there. No one would notice a gumtree slowly sneaking up on them, would they?”
I had no idea how to respond to that. I simply said, “No.”
Camino nodded. “I’m going to put these tree onesies on Etsy for the general population, and when I hear back from the government, I’ll find out how to get a government contract.”
“What if they don’t reply?” I asked her, hoping she didn’t get her hopes up.
She shrugged one shoulder. “Then I’ll go to a local business enterprise centre and ask for their advice. Or maybe I could sell the tree camouflage onesies on one of those TV shopping channels to get the military’s attention. Or maybe I could wear one to the airport, and then they would have to search me. That way, I’d come to the attention of the military.”
“But in a bad way,” I said, raising my eyebrows. “You don’t want to attract the attention of the authorities in a bad way, do you?”
She looked deflated. “I suppose not, now that you mention it.”
“And you think the police would wear these on stake outs?” I asked to fill the awkward silence that ensued.
“Exactly,” she said. “And it’s not as if they’d have to get food through the tree, because the onesies would be big enough that plenty of food and drink could be hidden inside. Why, there could even be an iPad, so when they were bored, they could watch TV or google stuff.”
Camino held up the onesie once more. “See, it’s a clever design. The onesie sits on the ground so you can’t see someone’s feet, but if someone needed to edge closer to their targets, they would simply pick up the bottom of the onesie and edge forward. I’ve made it out of lightweight material. Would you like to try it on and see?”
“Maybe another time,” I said. “I have cakes in the oven.”
Camino leapt to her feet, a look of alarm on her face. “Let’s check on them now!” She took off down the hallway.
I was right on her heels. “You don’t need to worry anymore, Camino,” I called after her. “I haven’t set cakes on fire for a long time now.”
Camino looked doubtful. She turned on the oven light and peeked inside. “These actually look okay, Amelia.” Her tone was filled with disbelief. “I must say, your baking is improving. When was the last time you baked a cake that made a hole in the floor when you dropped it?”
“It’s been ages now,” I said happily, “ever since Ruprecht told me that I was a powerful witch and that’s why my cakes caught on fire. Since then, I’ve tried to channel my focus into successful baking.”
“And that’s helped?”
I pointed to the cakes. “It seems to have helped. They’re much lighter. My cakes haven’t squashed any cooling racks lately.”
Camino still looked doubtful. “Has anyone eaten one yet?”
My spirits fell. “No, not exactly. Would you like to taste one of these?”
A look of fear flashed across Camino’s face. “Maybe you should taste one first. It’s bad luck if the cook doesn’t taste a batch of cakes before everyone else.”
I was sure she was lying, but I wasn’t going to call her on it. “Would you like a cup of tea or coffee?”
She shook her head. “Maybe we should sit at the kitchen table and keep an eye on these cakes, Amelia.”
It was clear she had no confidence in my baking abilities, and who could blame her? “Okay.” I sat at the kitchen table, and Camino took a seat opposite me. She stared fixedly at the oven, clearly all thoughts of onesies gone from her mind. Presently, she spoke. “What’s happening with Alder?”
“Alder?” I echoed. “What do you mean?”
“Well, you told Thyme, who told Mint, who told her grandfather, Ruprecht, who told me, that you saw Alder with a ring box back around the time of Halloween.”
I pulled a face. I would have to scold Thyme later. “Yes,” I admitted.
“Do you think it was an engagement ring?”
“I have no idea. He certainly hasn’t proposed, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
Camino rocked backwards and forwards in her chair. “He will.”
“I wish I shared your confidence,” I said wistfully. I was crazily in love with Alder, and I was sure he felt the same about me, so why hadn’t he proposed? We had been dating for some time now, and I had seen the ring box.
“Maybe it was a pair of earrings.”
I looked up at Camino. “Sorry? What do you mean?”
She waved one finger at me. “Maybe it wasn’t a ring in the ring box. Maybe it was an earring box with earrings in it. Surely that would look about the same size, wouldn’t it?”
I bit one fingernail. “I suppose so.”
“Has he given you any earrings?”
I shook my head. “He hasn’t given me any jewellery at all.”
Camino was visibly shocked. “What? No jewellery? That’s not good. Hopefully, he’ll start soon. I don’t know—these young people of today have no sense of propriety. In my day, a young man would always shower his girlfriend with jewellery.”
I sighed, just as the blaring sound of the oven timer pierced the air. “I think I should get those cakes out of the oven now.”
“You should stick a cooking skewer in them first, to see if they’re ready,” she told me. “Remember, we’ve discussed this before. You insert the cooking skewer into the cake, and if it comes out with bits of uncooked cake stuck to it, you will know the cakes need longer.”
“The house hid the cooking skewer from me,” I told her.
Camino nodded slowly. “Maybe the house doesn’t want you to bake.”
I knew she was right. The house certainly didn’t like me baking. On occasion, the house turned on the overhead fire sprinklers when I was cooking something. It was a source of constant annoyance for me.
“I wonder if your grandmother was a good cook?” Camino said. “On reflection, I’m sure she was, because your aunt was a good cook. It’s interesting how your grandmother became this house, isn’t it?”
I pulled a face. Still, I supposed not everyone could say they were in a living house. It was good most of the time, except when the house insisted on watching television for hours at a time, the sound blaring into the middle of the night.
“I have to get these cakes out now, because I don’t want to burn them,” I said. “I’ll stick a knife in one of them.”
“If a knife is all you have, I suppose it’s better than nothing.”
I nodded. I went to the kitchen drawer and pulled out a knife. I opened the oven and stuck a knife in the nearest cupcake. As I pulled out the knife, the whole cake came with it. “That’s not supposed to happen.” I turned around to Camino, who was doing her best not to laugh.
“I thought you said your baking was improving, Amelia,” she said, and then clamped her hand over her mouth.
“At least it’s not burnt,” I said.
“Never mind, you can try again later. Now, do you need to get dressed, or are you wearing those clothes?”
“I’ll get dressed,” I said. “It will only take me a minute. You’re not going to wear the tree onesie, are you?” I added as an afterthought.
Camino was clearly affronted. “Do you think I’m mad? Of course I wouldn’t wear a onesie to a tea leaf reading session.” She tapped her chin. “Although it does sound like a good idea, now that you mention it. If only I’d thought of it earlier. Never mind; perhaps Mystical Maria will provide me with inspiration for another line of onesies.”
I chuckled. “Yes, perhaps one without a commercial military application.”
I was looking forward to having my tea leaves read, but I hoped it would not prove to be a portent of doom and gloom, and more murder. Bayberry Creek seemed to be Murder Central, at least since I had moved here. As I got out of my shorts and squashed myself into a pair of jeans, my stomach fluttered. What would those tea leaves foretell?