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Best Cosy Books

The Halloween Time Spell (PAPERBACK)

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Paperback. Book 16 in The Kitchen Witch paranormal cozy mystery series.

Yes, it's Halloween again, and Marina Mercer is back. It's never the right time for her spell requests, but this year is worse than most. Amelia is all wound up and needs a hand to solve a murder - but has it happened yet? 

Only time will tell.

PAPERBACK (paranormal cozy mystery)

 Paperback 226 pages
 Dimensions  5 x 0.51 x 8 inches (127 x 13.1 x 203mm)
 ISBN  9781922595379
 Publication date  April 30, 2021
 Publisher  Best Cosy Books 

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There was once a boy who spent his summer holidays in a garden, playing among the delphiniums, the hollyhocks, and the rambling roses. His name was Cecil Cabbage, and he dreamed of one day owning the bakery once owned by his grandmother, the very same grandmother who grew the delphiniums, the hollyhocks, and the rambling roses he loved.
Cecil stood on my front porch, wringing his hands. “It’s finally happening. I’m finishing my haunted gingerbread house!”
“I’m very happy for you, Cecil,” I said, sweat dripping down my brow. “But I have an awful lot to do today…”
“Quite right,” Cecil said. “I shall not waste a moment more of your time, Amelia. Truly.”
I had always liked Cecil. He was only young, maybe twenty-two, but he dressed like someone who was many decades older. He loved his oversized cardigans, his ties, and his comfortable brown shoes. It was only his hair which revealed his age. Thick and dark, his swooping locks would not look out of place in a boy band.
“That’s fine, Cecil. You said you needed some flour?”
He nodded. “For the competition. I went to the supermarket, but it’s closed for repairs. That was one crazy storm we had last night.”
“I have plenty of flour to spare. Why don’t you go into the kitchen and help yourself? Just down the hall. That’s right. To the left. Coming, Marina!”
I watched Cecil make his way to the kitchen, and then I hurried into the living room, where Marina Mercer was tapping her foot, waiting impatiently.
“Any more unexpected guests?” Her tone was terse.
“I hope not,” I said. “I’m so behind on putting the finishing touches on my haunted gingerbread house for the competition.”
“I want my yearly Halloween spell, Amelia,” Marina said. “No time for small talk.”
“Yes. Fine,” I said, waving my hand. “What do you want?”
“A child.”
“A what?”
“I want you to have a child.”
“I don’t need a spell to have a child.”
“Clearly, you do,” Marina said.
I did not have time to reply. Cecil had finished in the kitchen. “I’m off now, Amelia. Thanks so much for letting me raid your pantry.”
“One second,” I said to Marina.
“I don’t have the time for this, Amelia.”
“One second,” I repeated, this time a little more forcefully. “I need to see Cecil out.”
Stepping into the hallway, I led Cecil to the front door, where Gideon Gibson was standing with Jack Jenkins. Goodness, I was popular that morning!
“We both need to borrow some ingredients,” Jack said with a frown. Jack and I had a bit of a rivalry, seeing as he was an aspiring baker. It was one-sided, really. Jack liked to pretend I was a villain with a moustache and a swishy cape.
“It’s the blasted storm, Amelia,” Gideon said. “We would not ask if it could be helped. Hello, Silas. How are you?”
“Cecil,” he corrected Gideon.
Gideon was the local treat maker. In Australia, we called candy lollies, and that is what he made. Lolly making was a craft which had been in Gideon’s family for over a hundred years, when his American ancestors had arrived in Australia. I admired him, even if I could tell he found me somewhat eccentric.
“Head straight to the kitchen,” I told them both. I waited for them to do so, and then I turned to Cecil. “Mrs Cabbage was a very dear lady,” I said. “I hope you are one day able to buy back her bakery.”
Cecil’s eyes filled with hopeful tears, and he nodded. With a wave of his hand, he turned around and set off down the garden path, a packet of flour tucked beneath one arm.
I jumped. Marina was breathing down my neck. I wished she would have had the good grace to stay put, but then she never did like doing as she was asked.
“You and Alder have failed to deliver the heir who shall carry on the yearly Halloween spell.”
“You want me to have a child?”
“Of course, I want you to have a child. I need your descendants to continue to do the yearly Halloween spell for my descendants. Do a spell to give you a child.”
“No way! That’s ludicrous. I can’t believe you said that. Anyway, Alder and I have been trying.”
“Clearly, not hard enough!”
“There is no way I’m doing such a spell!”
“Then I want a spell that will give me a guarantee.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Marina, and I have a haunted gingerbread house to finish.”
“Just do the spell, Amelia. Your grandmother promised my grandmother that the yearly Halloween spell would stand for all time. Do a spell to guarantee that.”
I sighed and rubbed my forehead. “Okay. I’ll think of a spell.”
But before I could figure out what spell to do, there was a knock on the door. Relieved, I asked Marina to wait, and I hurried back to the front door.
It was Gladys Mosley.
“Sugar. Now. And don’t give me the runaround. I know you’ve got a pantry full of ingredients.”
“It’s so nice to see you again too, Gladys.”
“You need sugar?” I asked.
“I said so already, didn’t I?” She waved her walking stick at me.
“Certainly. Just help yourself. The kitchen is that way.”
I thought of my haunted gingerbread house. This year, the new mayor had decided there would be a baking competition at the Halloween fair in the park. Because the new mayor hated Halloween but loved Christmas, he asked us to bake gingerbread houses. After people expressed their annoyance, he conceded that it would be a haunted gingerbread house competition.
“I’ll go to another room and do the spell,” I told Marina.
I went to my bedroom and sat on the end of the bed next to a sleeping Willow and Hawthorn. I had no idea what sort of spell I could do. What was the desired outcome? What had Marina said? Something about time. Time spells were not a thing. I would have to make it up as I went along.
I crossed to my dresser and fetched a glass encased, orange Blockbuster candle. I lit the candle and focused on it. “My descendants, um, in turn,” I began, but then Gladys poked her head around the door.
“Oh, I thought this was the way out!” Her face flushed bright red.
I saw a huge bag under her arm, so I made to hurry after her. I remembered just in time that I was part way through the spell. I muttered something about time and Halloween to finish the spell and ran out of the room.
Gladys was already making her way through the front door. “You’re welcome,” I called after her as she hurried away. She was hauling along most of the sugar in my home. I wondered for a moment if she was trying to sabotage me, but then I remembered I’d already made the haunted gingerbread house. I just needed to finish decorating it.
I was about to shut the front door when a teenage girl appeared. She had hazel eyes and long brown hair. I wondered if her parents had never told her to wear sunscreen, because her entire face was covered in freckles. Hundreds of them, like a furious constellation spanning across her nose. Then again, some people freckle a lot more than others, and she was clearly one of them.
“Wow, it’s just like you said. Freaky! It really happened!”
I was perplexed. “Excuse me?”
“Arabella,” the girl said crisply.
“No,” I replied, “I’m Amelia. Are you lost?”
“No, I’m Arabella, and I’m not lost. I need some ginger, and I was told to ask you.”
“Oh,” I said. I felt a rush of warmth towards the teenage girl, and suddenly I found myself laughing. “Sure. It’s in the kitchen. I can show you, but I’m afraid I’m busy with a very annoyed guest.”
“I can find it,” Arabella said, as she pushed past me.
Still smiling, I turned to step back into the house, but Marina burst out of the living room. “Well, if you’re not going to do the spell…”
“I did the spell already,” I told her.
“Did it work?”
“No idea,” I replied truthfully. “I’m a bit absent-minded today.”
“Maybe you are finally pregnant,” Marina snapped.
“Maybe you should keep your nose out of other people’s wombs,” I replied tartly. “There’s the door.”
Before Marina could reply, young Arabella arrived from the kitchen, carrying her ginger.
“What’s this?” Marina said.
“A child,” I said. “The very thing you want me to have.”
Marina shuddered. “I never cared for children myself.”
“We don’t much care for you either,” Arabella replied. I bit back a smile.
“Thank you, um,” Arabella said. She was looking at me.
“Amelia,” I informed her.
“No, I know. Amelia. It’s just a bit weird, isn’t it?”
“Is it?” I asked, puzzled.
“Yes. Weird. You look really skinny by the way,” Arabella added. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
For a moment, Arabella became my favourite person in the whole entire world. Then it hit me—I had never met Arabella before. Who told her I wasn’t skinny? I mean, I wasn’t skinny, but still. I glared at Marina, but the two didn’t seem to know each other.
“See you tomorrow,” Arabella said. “I’ll be the one wearing the prize winning ribbon.”
“Second place is still a prize,” I replied, suddenly feeling competitive.
“Yes, which is why you should not feel bad for coming in second behind me,” Arabella said. She blew me a kiss and then skipped off through my garden and down the street.
One morning. Five visitors, four of whom had cleaned out my pantry. I needed some chocolate and a bubble bath, but I still had a haunted gingerbread house to finish.

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