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Best Cosy Books

Witches’ Cat (PAPERBACK)

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PAPERBACK. Book 7 of the Vampires and Wine paranormal cozy mystery series.

The mystery of Shifter cat Breena’s past is revealed, and it wasn’t something Pepper Jasper suspected.

A puzzling murder at Mugwort Manor throws suspicion onto Breena. 

With Lucas in danger and Aunt Agnes missing, can Pepper navigate her way through agents sent by The Other to reveal secrets that perhaps should be best left hidden?


 Paperback 174 pages
 Dimensions  6x 0.57 x 9 inches (127 x 14.6 x 203 mm)
 ISBN  9780648660125
 Publication date August 1, 2020
 Publisher  Best Cosy Books

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“His name is Cary,” Aunt Maude said as she held up the small Dachshund. “After Cary Grant.”
Aunt Agnes, Aunt Dorothy, and I exchanged glances, but Maude did not seem to notice. She was too taken with Cary, who was nuzzling her with his damp little nose.
“He’s a sausage dog,” I said, confused. I wondered what Breena, the shifter cat, would think of him. I opened my mouth to voice my concern, but Agnes and Maude shook their heads.
“A sausage dog named Cary,” Maude repeated. “He’s a rescue. I just bought him from the shelter.”
“We can talk about Maude’s new dog later, Valkyrie,” Aunt Maude whispered. “Maude has a date tonight.”
“I have a date too,” I replied, “with Lucas. I’m going to head to my cottage to check my make-up again.”
Maude shook her head. “You can’t go just yet. You have to stay with my sisters and see if this man is suitable. He’s quite a bit younger than I am.”
“How much younger?”
“He’s eighty-five.”
“Straight out of college then,” I said, which earned me a jab in the ribs from Agnes’s elbow. “What’s the guy’s name, and is he allergic to dogs, seeing as we apparently have a dog now?”
“His name is Pillsbury,” Maude said, and she blushed a little. “He’s—well, he still has all his hair.”
“So does my date,” I said as I tried to step from the room.
Agnes blocked my exit. “Valkyrie, please stay to give your opinion on Maude’s date.”
“He’s coming here,” Maude replied.
“Don’t tell me we have two new rescues instead of one.”
“He’s staying for dinner, Valkyrie. Not forever.”
“Of course, I support you, Aunt Maude. I just wish I could support you tomorrow. I don’t have much time left with Lucas until he needs to leave the country.”
“You don’t have to stay the whole time, Valkyrie, just long enough to give me your impression.”
So the aunts stood by the living room window, waiting for Pillsbury to appear. Cary lay on the antique chaise, dreaming his little Dachshund dreams. He didn’t even stir when Pillsbury’s car pulled up, and a little old man sprang from the driver’s seat, dressed in a suit that was perhaps popular in the seventies. He was wearing bell-bottoms and all.
I watched with growing intrigue as Pillsbury skipped down the driveway, a bouquet of daisies held firm in his right hand. With his left hand, he rang the doorbell.
Maude hissed at us to get away from the window. “Wait until I’m upstairs,” she instructed, “and then open the door.”
“But he’s your date,” Dorothy protested. “Don’t you want to say hello?”
“I will say hello, but only after I have descended the stairs like an elegant woman.”
Rolling her eyes, Dorothy waited for Maude to scurry up the stairs, and then she opened the door. “Hello, you must be Pillsbury. Maude is expecting you. My name is Dorothy.”
“Enchanted,” Pillsbury said, and he kissed Dorothy’s hand.
Agnes stepped forward. “I’m Agnes. Maude is our sister. And this is Valkyrie, our niece.”
“Surely neither of you are old enough to have a grown-up niece,” Pillsbury said.
Agnes and Dorothy giggled. I did my best not to groan.
I was getting ready to make my escape, but Pillsbury and Agnes pulled me into the kitchen. It turned out that Pillsbury and Maude planned to have their date at home, and as Pillsbury was going to cook for her, he needed help in the kitchen. He put a link of sausages on the kitchen counter.
“You ladies wouldn’t happen to have any alcohol, would you?” Pillsbury said, looking at us hopefully. “I don’t mean wine; I mean alcohol to start fires. I spent a lot of years as a stockman, so I’m more used to cooking over a campfire.”
“Err, not really,” I replied, confused. “I think we do have some rubbing alcohol.” I looked under the kitchen sink and found some.
Pillsbury nodded happily. “Perfect. Hand me the bottle.”
With a swoop of fear in my stomach, I handed Pillsbury the bottle of rubbing alcohol. I stood back as Pillsbury put one of the sausages on a plate, dosed it in rubbing alcohol, and set it on fire.
It was at this time Dorothy entered the room, still not wearing her glasses, asking if anyone had seen the sausage dog, Cary, who seemed to have disappeared. She took one look at the sausage engulfed with flames and started to scream.
“It’s just a sausage, Aunt Dorothy,” I said.
“His name,” Dorothy replied, “is Cary!”
She threw herself onto the kitchen counter, putting out the flames with her rather large bosom, which then caught fire. Pillsbury managed to put out these flames with his hands, which gave Maude quite a big shock when she walked into the kitchen.
“The fire was too large to ignore,” Pillsbury said to Maude, who raised an eyebrow.
“Yes, I am well acquainted with temptation, Pillsbury. I was once young myself, you know. But cheating on me before we are even together with my sister and in front of our niece is an absolutely horrific thing to do.”
“Aunt Maude,” I said then, “you’ve got Cary.”
Indeed, the sausage dog was snuggled up in Maude’s arms, wagging his little tail. “Yes,” Maude replied, “I took him outside so he could do his business with some dignity. Not that any of you would know about dignity.”
“Pillsbury set fire to his sausage,” Dorothy snapped. She did not know how to explain herself well, and she seemed offended that Maude could ever imagine she would make a move on one of her sister’s gentlemen callers.
“That is quite enough of that,” Pillsbury cried softly. “There is nothing wrong with my sausage.”
“Oh, for goodness’ sake!” I exclaimed. “Dorothy was not wearing her glasses and thought Pillsbury had set fire to Cary. She threw herself onto the sausage, putting out the fire with her bosom. Her bosom then caught on fire, and Pillsbury had to put it out with hands. See, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this madness.”
“Perfectly reasonable are not the words I would use,” Maude said as she placed Cary on the ground. He didn’t seem the least bit interested in the drama.
I dusted my hands. “Right. I have a hot date with Lucas. Goodbye.”
I hurried back to the cottage as the smell of burnt sausage was clinging to my silk dress. I would have to change now after Pillsbury’s little act with the sausage and the rubbing alcohol. Where did my aunts find these men? Actually, I did not want to know.
I slipped out of my dress before rummaging through the pile of laundry on my floor. It was clean laundry, pulled off my bed the night before because I could not be bothered sorting and folding and putting everything away. I tied on a halter-top dress, the kind which was popular in the nineties and was popular again now, and ran to the front door when I heard the knock.
It was Lucas. He was tall, dark, and late. “Did you try to cook me dinner?”
“Pillsbury set fire to his sausage.”
“Do I even want to know what that means?”
I laughed. “It means exactly what it says on the tin. Are we ready to go?”
“Don’t you want to grab a jacket?” Lucas said. He was wearing a black jacket, and I thought he looked very dashing indeed.
“If I wear a jacket, then I can’t wear your jacket.”
“Are you going to wear my jacket?”
“Of course,” I said, “because I am going to pretend I am very cold.”
“Fair enough.” Lucas placed his jacket over my shoulders now, perhaps to save time, and he led me with a firm hand on my back to his car.
It didn’t take long for us to arrive at the restaurant, which was part of a lighthouse on a cliff. Because the lighthouse only had so much room, the restaurant was booked weeks in advance. I wondered how Lucas had even managed to wrangle a reservation, as the lighthouse restaurant was exclusive.
We ordered our main meals. Lucas wanted a sand crab lasagne, which consisted of local sand crab finished with seafood bisque, while I ordered Pad Thai with peanuts and basil.
Lucas was clearly excited to bring me here on such a romantic date. “Should we pretend I don’t have to leave?” Lucas said in hushed tones before taking a sip of wine.
“Let’s pretend you don’t have to leave,” I said, “just for a little bit, at least. Should I tell you about the Dachshund disaster I experienced tonight? Maude is currently on a terrible first date.”
“I love terrible first date stories,” Lucas said. “I have about a million. What about you?”
“All forgotten now,” I said, and I felt a swoop of utter delight. I would never have to go on another tragic first date again.
After dinner, Lucas ordered the fruit plate for two. That was literally its name: The Fruit Plate For Two. I remembered all those years when I would see couples looking beautiful and sweet in a restaurant and fell a pang of jealousy that I was alone. Well, I wasn’t alone now. I had Lucas.
I took his hand. “I know you have to go, but I’m going to miss you.”
I wanted Lucas to take me into his arms and say, “Of course, I am not going anywhere. Where you are is the only place I want to be.” But he wouldn’t say that because Lucas had an important mission, a mission that I needed him to undertake. He had to escort my parents to safety. I had said my goodbyes to them only hours earlier.
After lunch, we returned to his cottage at Mugwort Manor, where Lucas finished packing his suitcase. I wanted to pack for him, but that was something a wife did, and I was not his wife. So, I sprawled on the coach and stress-ate his Tim Tams as he searched for that shirt and those jeans and just where had all his socks gone? I did a good job of not helping him look. Helping men emasculates them, Aunt Dorothy liked to say. I didn’t know if I believed this. I did know, however, that sprawling on the couch eating chocolate Tim Tams was way more fun than rummaging through a cupboard for a missing sock.
“I’ll just go sockless,” Lucas finally muttered.
“How naughty,” I replied. “If you were an olden day genteel lady, they would burn you as a witch.”
I escorted Lucas to the manor. Agnes and Dorothy were conspicuous by their absence, no doubt in order to give us some alone time. I had no idea where Maude and Pillsbury were. We slipped in the back door and headed for the secret room.
Lucas turned to say goodbye. He kissed me once on the forehead, then once on the tip of my nose, and then once more on my lips. Then he was gone, vanishing off into the gloom of the tunnel.
I waited for a while, and then turned away, sad. I would miss my parents and I would miss Lucas. I needed some cheering up, so went in search of my aunts and found them in the vegetable garden.
Before I could speak, Aunt Maude groaned. “Don’t look now—it’s Euphemia Jones.”
We all turned to look.
“I said not to look!” Maude complained.
The unpleasant woman stomped over to us, giving a good impression of a troll. She shook her meaty fist in my face. “You’ve given me food poisoning!” she exclaimed, clutching her stomach with her other hand. “I’m horribly ill and I have the most terrible stomach pains. I don’t know how I was able to walk here from my cottage!”
I wiped my hand across my forehead. “Food poisoning? What do you mean?”
“It must have been the cereal,” she began, but then she fell down dead.

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