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Best Cosy Books

Witches’ Spells (PAPERBACK)

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Title

PAPERBACK. Book 5 of the Vampires and Wine paranormal cozy mystery series.

Pepper discovers a discarded and unopened letter addressed to the aunts in the attic. To her shock, the letter holds the secret to her parents’ disappearance. Pepper can scarcely believe her luck, but the trail soon leads to murder. 

To make matters worse, Lucas is called away on mysterious business. 

But Pepper's cat is the biggest surprise of all...

PAPERBACK. 

 Paperback 248 pages
 Dimensions  5 x 0.56 x 8 inches (127 x 14.3 x 203 mm)
 ISBN  9781925674637
 Publication date August 1, 2020
 Publisher  Best Cosy Books

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CHAPTER 1

I was sitting with the aunts at Mugwort Manor, having breakfast on a pleasant morning. It wasn’t a wholly pleasant morning, because the aunts were bickering, but that was nothing new. The subject this time was Aunt Dorothy’s homemade arthritis medication.
“I tell you, it was right in this cupboard.” Aunt Dorothy drew herself up to her full height. The trouble was, Dorothy’s eyesight was somewhat lacking, and she was staring at the refrigerator.
Aunt Agnes wasted no time in pointing that out. “You haven’t taken your arthritis herbs in at least one hundred years,” Aunt Agnes added. “Why the sudden interest in them now?”
Aunt Dorothy folded her arms over her chest. “I’m getting twinges in my back and hips, so I want to take some. Does anyone know where that old recipe is?”
Aunt Agnes shook her head, but Aunt Maude spoke up. “It’s mainly cat’s claw, isn’t it?”
“Yes, cat’s claw and devil’s claw and I can’t remember what else,” Aunt Dorothy said. “It’s in that old herbal medications recipe book we had. Now where could that be?”
“I remember that book!” Aunt Maude exclaimed. “I think it’s in the attic.”
Aunt Agnes huffed. “Australian houses don’t have attics, Maude, as you well know.”
“What would you call it, Agnes? That dusty old room where we shove all our old junk and things we haven’t looked at in years?”
“A spare junk room,” Aunt Agnes said as quick as a flash. “Why don’t you go and look in there, Dorothy?”
I jumped to my feet. “I’ll go,” I offered. “What does this herbal recipe book look like?”
“It’s green,” all three aunts said in unison.
“And it has notes and drawings of herbs,” Aunt Dorothy added. “You can’t miss it. It’s about so big.” She demonstrated the size with her hands.
“You wouldn’t happen to have any werewolves chained up in cages in the attic?” I asked them. I was only half joking.
“They’re called Shifter wolves, Valkyrie, not werewolves,” Aunt Maude said.
I sighed and escaped from the room as fast as I could. I had only reached the doorway when I realised that I had no idea where this attic was. “Where is the attic?” I said as I spun around.
“It’s not an attic,” Aunt Agnes said. “It’s a junk room. You go straight past my bedroom and keep going down that hallway as far as you can. The last door on your left is the spare junk room.”
I hurried from the room, the aunts bickering behind me. I realised I hadn’t explored all of Mugwort Manor, which was why I had no idea this room existed. And why would I want to explore the place? It gave me the creeps, to be honest. I wasn’t one for antiques. Sure, a nice antique here or there, but when they were all overcrowded and on top of each other, it made me quite uncomfortable. And then there was the fact that Mugwort Manor itself was quite dark and gloomy. Whoever built it had never heard of passive solar. In fact, there was nothing about it that was light and airy.
It was with trepidation that I passed Aunt Agnes’s bedroom door and continued down the musty hallway. I had never been this far before, and I was a little concerned about what I might find. I flung open the door and reached for the light switch. I couldn’t find one, so I held up my phone to the walls on either side of the door. Still no light switch. I noticed a funny black cord hanging from the ceiling and remembered that electric lights in the early days sometimes had cords dangling from the ceiling instead of switches. I pulled the cord. To my relief, the light came on.
Heavy brocade curtains, in what was probably once a green colour, but had now faded to an unpleasant shade of beige, hung heavily over the two windows. I walked to the nearest window and tried to open the curtains with a flourish, but they didn’t budge. I found a rather complicated cord arrangement, and managed to open one curtain, but it only opened a short distance. I had the same problem with the curtains on the other window. I reached between the curtains and tried to open the old sash windows, but they were stuck.
I gave up and turned back to survey my surroundings. I had thought the living rooms downstairs were cluttered, but this was something else again. It looked as if someone was moving house and had put everything in the one room in readiness to move. Boxes were perched on top of boxes and some had tipped over, spilling their contents onto the floor.
A thick coat of dust clung to everything I could see, and the sunlight, now tentatively making its way through the windows, showcased the thick particles of dust. At first glance, I couldn’t see a recipe book, let alone a book of any kind. The items strewn on the floor were mainly vintage clothes.
I carefully stepped between a row of boxes to discover a heavy pump organ against a wall. I had no idea how anyone managed to carry that heavy item up the stairs. I also had no idea if it worked, but I hoped it didn’t. The last thing I needed was for my trip to the attic to prompt the aunts’ memory of the pump organ and for them to start playing it.
I didn’t want to stay in the dusty room too long, so stepped up my search. Most of the cartons were unsealed, so I peeped inside. So far, I had only come across clothes. While the room wasn’t big, it was crammed full. I figured I could get lost here for a day sorting through all the mess.
Five minutes later, I noticed a thin green book on top of the pump organ. At first, I had assumed it was sheet music, but perhaps it was the recipe book, after all.
As I reached for it, my foot caught on something which, as I was flying through the air, I managed to identify as a mummy’s head snow globe. My left hand fell heavily against the green book, dislodging it from the top of the pump organ.
I picked myself up and dusted myself down before retrieving the book from behind the pump organ. It was indeed the elusive herbal medication recipe book. Some dusty envelopes were stuck next to it, so I reached for them, hoping they weren’t harbouring any redback spiders.
There were five envelopes, all of which looked quite old. I turned them over one by one, trying to make out the postmarks, but most were too faded to read. One of the envelopes was addressed in a scrawl.
The envelope was addressed to the aunts, so I have no idea why I opened it. I just did so, automatically. I expected to find a letter, but there was simply a thick, white square card. I gasped. On it were the words:
I have urgent news about Dahlia and Baudelaire Jasper.
Come to
5555 West Giro Road,
Lighthouse Bay.
Burn immediately after reading.