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  • Witches’ Charms Paperback Paranormal cozy mystery
  • Witches’ Charms Paperback Paranormal cozy mystery
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Best Cosy Books

Witches’ Charms (PAPERBACK)

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Title

PAPERBACK. Book 3 of the Vampires and Wine paranormal cozy mystery series.

When Pepper finds the local internet provider representative washed up on the beach and sporting suspicious injures, another Cleaner arrives in town. Is Pepper in his sights? 

As Lucas does his best to keep Pepper out of harm’s way, she and the aunts sift though the suspects. The trouble is, there are too many—in a town full of poor internet connectivity, no one had a good word for the victim. 
Pepper is in for a wild ride as one secret after another is revealed.

PAPERBACK Paranormal cozy mystery with vampires.

 Paperback 194 pages
 Dimensions  6 x 0.57 x 9 inches (127 x 14.5 x 203mm)
 ISBN  9781925674101
 Publication date  August 1, 2020
 Publisher  Best Cosy Books

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CHAPTER 1

I was multitasking, trying to make my first cup of coffee for the morning while on hold to the internet company. It didn’t help that I was caffeine deficient. On my first attempt, I had forgotten to put the coffee in the machine. They really needed to make a first-thing-in-the-morning coffee machine for people who haven’t had coffee yet.
‘Press one if you want to buy a new product. Press two if you are calling about the delivery of a new product. Press three if you are calling about your mobile phone. Press four if you are calling about your home phone. Press five if you are calling about the internet. Press six if you are having technical difficulties. Press seven if you wish to hear these options again.’
I pressed six for technical difficulties, but I was cut off.
I went back to the menu and tried again, but I couldn’t find an option that would let me progress without an account number. After five minutes, I found an option that let me say what I wanted. Unfortunately, I was halfway through that, when the coffee machine turned on and the company’s voice recognition software bounced me back to the start of the menu.
I resisted the urge to throw my phone to the floor and jump on it. I was on my third cup of coffee before anyone answered.
“What is the number you are calling from?” the distant voice demanded.
“My phone isn’t with your company,” I said. “And I don’t know the account number. I can’t find it.”
“Is it broadband or NBN?” the voice asked.
“NBN isn’t here yet, so it must be broadband.”
“Is this for the number you are calling on now?”
I took a deep breath. “No. I told you, my phone is with a different company. I don’t know the account number here, but I can tell you the landline.”
“What is the phone number?”
I duly told her. “Let me check that number.” The line went dead.
I went through the whole process again. I had eaten five pieces of vegemite toast before I got a human again, yet I made the mistake of telling the voice that the phone belonged to my aunts.
“We can’t discuss any matters except with the account holder,” she said.
“I manage the business,” I said.
“I’m sorry, madam, but we need to speak to the account holder.”
I had a brainwave. “Here’s my aunt now. I’ll just put her on.” I did my best to imitate Aunt Maude’s voice. “Hello, this is Maude Jasper. I give my niece, Valkyrie Jasper, permission to speak for me. Here she is now.” I changed my voice again, and said, “Hello.”
“I need your account number,” the voice said.
“Can’t I give you the address?” I said in a pleading tone. “My aunts appear to have lost the account number.”
“I’ll have to transfer you to another department,” the voice said. Without further ado, she put me on hold, and then an automated voice said, “I’m sorry, this number is no longer in use. If you are phoning internally, check the new internal number log.” It disconnected me.
I wanted to scream with frustration. And where were the aunts when I needed them? They had been away overnight and hadn’t told me where they were going. The aunts made me nervous at the best of times, so surely any secret business couldn’t be a good thing. Besides, I was still recovering from my narrow escape from a murderer, and was supposed to be lying around the house, taking it easy.
I pulled out my laptop again and checked the internet. Nothing. One of the guests, Harry Friar, had already called me several times to complain about the lack of internet. At least I had 4G service on my phone and iPad, so I googled the internet companies that were available at Lighthouse Bay. There were five all up. Each one was more frustrating than the last to deal with. It was late morning before I realised I would have to call the original phone company back. Apparently, they owned all the lines in the area and wholesaled out to the other companies. What’s more, the other companies had all definitively told me that my aunts’ phone number was not one of theirs.
This time, I managed to speak to a human after only fifty minutes on hold. “Please don’t transfer me,” I said urgently. “I’ve been on hold for hours and I’ve spoken to every internet company in the area. I can only tell you the phone line—I don’t know the account number. This is a Bed and Breakfast business, and the guests are complaining that the internet is down. Can you help me?”
“We need to start with your account number,” the faraway voice said.
I clutched my head. Was I dreaming? Or was I going mad? “I already told you that I don’t have an account number, only a phone number. This is a business, and the internet has been down all day. This is urgent. I’ve called all the other internet companies and they all say they don’t hold the account. They were able to check with the phone number, so surely you can?”
“What is the phone number there?”
I told her, and then there was silence. For a moment I was terrified that I had been disconnected, yet again.
“I’m sorry, there is no phone number listed at that address.”
“I haven’t told you the address yet,” I said with frustration, “but it’s Mugwort Manor, Lighthouse Bay, New South Wales.”
“No, we have no records of a phone number at that address,” the voice said.
“Could I please speak to a supervisor? Every phone company has told me they don’t provide internet here, but I know that your company owns all the phone lines in the area, so I need to speak to a supervisor.”
“All right, madam, I’ll transfer you to a supervisor now. You might be on hold for a minute or so. Please do not hang up.”
With that, the line was disconnected. I sank into the nearest chair and took a deep breath.
I called the number again, but this time pressed one for the sales department. Miraculously, my call was answered immediately. “I know I’ve come through to the wrong department,” I said, “but I have literally been on the phone all morning. I mean, all morning. No one will help me, and every time someone transfers me, I’m disconnected.” I explained the situation at length before the man was able to speak again, and he proved quite helpful. He said he would pass it onto a supervisor, but he couldn’t tell me how long before the internet would come back on.
I went back to lie in the living room to try to stay calm. I figured I should listen to a guided meditation on my iPad. I had just drifted off to sleep when the aunts burst through the door. Their faces were flushed, and they smelt strongly of gin. “I hope you managed all right without us,” Aunt Dorothy said, looking slightly embarrassed.
I narrowed my eyes. They looked like they had been out for a night on the town, but still, who was I to question them? I was their niece, after all.
“I was fine, only there’s been a serious internet problem,” I explained. “What internet company are you with? I spent hours on the phone to all of them, and Ozfoneandnet’s going to look into it further.”
“We don’t know what internet company we use,” Aunt Dorothy said blithely.
“You must have an account,” I said. “I really must find your account number in case we have technical difficulties like this again.”
Aunt Maude shook her head. “We don’t have any technical difficulties.”
My day was getting stranger and stranger. “The internet is down, and Harry Friar has already complained about it more than once. I didn’t have your account number, so they don’t know how long it will take to fix. They need to have your account number so they can see what’s really happening with it.” I enunciated each word slowly and carefully.
“There’s nothing to worry about, Valkyrie,” Aunt Maude said. “We’ll just go and fix it now.”
“Fix it?” I said. “What do you mean? I couldn’t even find the modem to turn it on and off. Is that what you mean? That you will turn the modem on and off? Can you show me where the modem is?”
“What’s a modem?” Aunt Dorothy said, looking entirely perplexed.
Aunt Agnes shushed her. “You’re confusing the poor girl. Valkyrie, we don’t use an internet company. We use spells to get internet here. That’s why we don’t pay any bills.” The other two aunts nodded sagely as she said it.
It took me a while to process the information. “Let me see if I’ve got this right. You have somehow magically conjured up internet and you don’t pay an internet company?”
All the aunts nodded happily. “We do have to maintain it magically,” Aunt Agnes said, as if she was explaining something simple, “but with all the excitement lately, we forgot to do it.”
The three of them left the room smiling, leaving me there with my jaw hanging open. Magical internet? What next? Just when I thought things couldn’t get any stranger.
At that moment, there was a knock at the door. I struggled to my feet and looked around the corner into the foyer. There was no sign of the aunts—presumably they were doing whatever they had to do to get the internet back on. I opened the door to see a most officious looking man in a black suit holding a black briefcase. I figured he was the new guest. “Hello, you must be Scorpius Everyman. Welcome to Mugwort Manor.”
He scowled at me. “Valkyrie Jasper? You called Ozfoneandnet this morning and said your internet was down.”
I shook my head. “Thanks for coming, but it’s all fixed now.”
He took a step towards me. His face flushed red, and his cheeks puffed up like a cane toad’s. “Miss Jasper, there is no internet available out here. The phone lines here are very old copper wires. I checked the records, and the lines out here haven’t been serviced in years. They will not support ADSL.” He put down his briefcase and folded his arms over his chest. “I hasten to add, NBN is not available in this area yet, and as the only available internet in Lighthouse Bay is ADSL 1 or ADSL 2, and as both of those are dependent on a proper phone line, then there cannot possibly be any internet here.”
I tried to think on my feet. “No, you’re right. I was completely mixed up. I was talking about 4G, not broadband. We don’t have a landline here.”
At that gravely inopportune moment, the landline rang behind me.

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