It Takes a Witch: A Wishcraft Mystery

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9780451235527: It Takes a Witch: A Wishcraft Mystery

Darcy Merriweather has just discovered she hails from a long line of Wishcrafters-witches with the power to cast spells by making a wish. She's come to Enchanted Village to learn her trade but finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation...

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About the Author:

Heather Blake is a pseudonym of Heather Webber, the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including the Nina Quinn Mysteries and the Lucy Valentine books. Heather has been nominated twice for an Agatha Award. She currently lives in the Cincinnati area with her family.

AudioFile Earphones Award winner Coleen Marlo has earned numerous Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Awards and won an Audie Award for her narration of Snakewoman of Little Egypt by Robert Hellenga.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

DEAD AND GONE

“Has anyone seen Sylar?” Ve asked. “He was supposed to walk back with us.”

“He was here a minute ago,” Gayle said.

Ve looked toward the back door. “He probably stepped outside for a moment. He wants me to think he quit smoking, but I know he still sneaks a few cigarettes a day.”

“I’ll check for him,” I offered. I cut through the romance section and walked along a narrow hallway, past a restroom, a small kitchen, a storeroom, and an office.

I opened the back door and was surprised to find Sylar kneeling on the ground, an unlit cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Rain fell steadily.

Sylar’s glasses wobbled on his nose as he looked up at me, his face drained of color. Rain dripped off his chin. It was then that I noticed that he was kneeling over someone.

I stepped forward. Alexandra Shively lay on the ground. My breath caught when I spotted Ve’s beautiful turquoise scarf knotted tightly around Alexandra’s neck.

“We need to call the paramedics,” Sylar said in a small voice.

There was no use. Alexandra’s face was swollen, blood trickled from her nose, and her eyes were wide open and bulging, but not seeing anything at all.

She was very clearly dead.

It Takes a Witch

HEATHER BLAKE

AN OBSIDIAN MYSTERY

OBSIDIAN

Published by New American Library, a division of

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First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

First Printing, January 2012

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Copyright © Heather Webber, 2012

All rights reserved

OBSIDIAN and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Printed in the United States of America

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I am beyond thankful for the wonderful editorial guidance of Sandy Harding. She not only took a chance on me (and Darcy), but also helped me shape this book into something I am incredibly proud of. A big thank-you also goes to Elizabeth Bistrow and everyone at NAL who had a hand in seeing this book come to life.

Endless gratitude goes to Sharon Short, who spent hours with me at a local Panera helping me flesh out Wishcraft rules. I can only imagine what eavesdroppers may have been thinking. Next time, Sharon, the green tea is on me.

To my critique partners, who always know just what to say (even when I might not want to hear it): You’re the best friends a girl can have.

I’m so grateful for my family, who have always been incredibly supportive of me and my dreams. I couldn’t do this without you. Much love.

Finally, to my readers who enthusiastically follow me—and my characters—wherever my books take us ... I cannot express how grateful I am. Thank you.

Chapter One

Usually I’m not in the habit of tiptoeing through strange houses under the cover of darkness.

It was unsettling to say the least, and I felt completely out of sorts. My outfit only added to my discomfort. The flouncy, frilly pink satin bodysuit, tulle tutu, and pink ballet slippers were a far cry from my usual jeans and tee.

It didn’t help that my every move was being watched closely.

As I crept up the aged wooden stairs of a large house along the coast of Salem, Massachusetts, Amanda Goodwin followed behind me with her mother-­in-­law, Cherise, bringing up the rear. They’d ushered me straight upstairs as soon as I’d arrived, their eyes lit like they were two little girls sneaking a peek at Santa. At the top of the steps, a long hallway branched into four bedrooms, one of which had its door closed. Pink and black polka-­dotted block letters attached to the wood paneling declared it as my destination: Laurel Grace Goodwin’s bedroom.

“Have you done this before, Ms. Merriweather?” Amanda asked softly, tugging on my gossamer wings. “Played the tooth fairy?”

I had sized up Amanda immediately as a hip suburban soccer mom, in her designer jeans, beaded tank top, and Grecian-­inspired sandals. A natural blonde, she wore her hair long and straight, parted down the middle. Lots of lip gloss and mascara but not much else.

I smiled, trying to hide my nervousness. “Please call me Darcy, and this is my first time.” I truly hoped it would be my last. Tulle and I didn’t get along. My legs were itching something fierce, despite the thin protection of a pair of tights.

“Well”—­Cherise had the strong Boston accent of someone who had been born and bred in this area—­“your aunt Velma highly recommends you, and we trust her and As You Wish implicitly.”

I had been working at my aunt Ve’s business, As You Wish, for only two weeks. The company blended the tasks of a virtual personal assistant and a personal concierge service. Our clients’ requests were diverse, often challenging, and sometimes just plain strange. They ranged from administrative tasks to running errands, to shopping for a gift, to providing an extra pair of hands to clean up a messy house, and much, much more. As You Wish’s motto was that no request was too big or too small and no job ­impossible—­as was proven by the fact that I was standing before the Goodwins looking like a character from a fairy tale.

I transferred my velvet drawstring purse from one hand to the other and noticed I was leaving a trail of glitter behind me. It sparkled on the rich dark oak floors.

Short and pleasantly plump with chin-­length snow-­white hair, heavily layered and teased, Cherise wore a bit too much makeup, and overaccessorized with several ropes of beaded necklaces and heavy chandelier earrings. “I was glad to hear of you and your sister moving in with Velma. I imagine she’s been glad to share the family business with you?”

Ve had told me that she and Cherise were old friends, though they hadn’t spoken in a while. Even still, I wasn’t the least bit surprised Cherise knew of my arrival to the Enchanted Village, the unique Salem neighborhood where my aunt lived.

A new witch in town doesn’t go unnoticed in these parts.

And two new witches? Rumors were flying faster than some broomsticks.

Cherise either was fishing for a little gossip or was genuinely curious to know if my sister, Harper, and I were aware that the family business she referred to wasn’t the brick-­and-­mortar As You Wish, but the fact that we could actually grant wishes through a wishing spell.

It was a reasonable inquiry. Until three weeks ago, Harper and I were living in Ohio and dealing with lives that weren’t what we’d imagined. When we received a note from Aunt Ve asking if she could visit because she had something important to tell us, we had no idea how our lives would change. Within a week we had packed up what little we had and moved to the Enchanted Village.

“We’re glad to be here.” Well, I was. Harper was still adjusting.

Putting my (disastrous) divorce and my inability to find a decent job behind me and getting Harper out of Ohio before she caused any more trouble may have been the perfect incentive to move, but learning about our heritage of the Craft, or in my family’s case Wish craft, was now a priority. I was still learning the Wishcraft Laws, and all the ins and outs that came along with the revelation that I was a witch.

Thankfully some of the laws were easy to remember. Like the fact that I can’t wish death on anyone. Or prevent death. Or interfere with true love. Or that no Wishcrafter can grant her own wishes (or other Wishcrafters’ wishes). I also can’t solicit or refuse to grant a wish without severe consequence. However, the biggest rule of all was that I (or any Crafter for that matter) couldn’t reveal to any mortal the truth about my powers or I risked losing my wish-­granting abilities forever.

Unfortunately, some of the laws were a little fuzzy. Like the law about wishing for money—­granting that wish meant the money would have to be taken from someone else. To follow the Crafters’ basic principle of “Do no harm,” the Wishcrafter Laws also required that only wishes made with motives pure of heart would be granted. How that was actually determined was still a mystery to me.

Cherise pressed. “How do you enjoy working for As You Wish?”

The Goodwins were Curecrafters, healing witches, and were apparently quite nosy to boot. “It’s going well,” I said. “So far this week I’ve tracked down sold-­out tickets to tonight’s Boston Pops performance, created a gift basket for a basset hound recovering from surgery, searched online for an out-­of-­print romance novel, and now this.” I gestured to my costume. I didn’t mention anything about the Wishcrafting, and how I’d been able to use a spell to help a client get last-­minute tickets on a sold-­out flight to Paris so he could surprise his girlfriend with a weekend getaway.

As You Wish was both popular and highly successful. Most of the requests received were accomplished through hard work and sheer determination. However, sometimes... sometimes magic was needed to get the job done right. Often, because of the name of the shop, people simply made wishes—­which made our job a whole lot easier. Other times, seeking the help of other Crafters and their unique abilities gave us an edge.

But mortals, who were the majority of our clients, didn’t know about the magic. And though the average customer wouldn’t be surprised about something mystical happening in a place called the Enchanted Village, disclosing our family powers wasn’t a risk Aunt Ve was willing to take, especially after having an ancestor nearly burned at the stake.

“Well, you make a lovely tooth fairy,” Amanda said as a grandfather clock donged at the far end of the hallway.

It was nine. I had to hurry this along—­or I’d be late for the emergency village meeting that was due to start at nine thirty. Ve had insisted Harper and I attend. Our aunt was still introducing us around the village and was eager for us to get acclimated. She wanted nothing more than for us to put down solid roots among the other Crafters. Well, that and take over As You Wish when she retired.

“Do you mind if I tape this?” Cherise asked, holding up a small video camera. “For my son? He couldn’t be here tonight.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “We don’t allow videotaping of our services.” For good reason. Wishcrafters emitted a blinding glow, a white aura, on camera. Which explained, after all these years, why there weren’t any baby pictures of Harper and me, and why every picture we were in was always “overexposed.”

I was surprised Cherise had asked. Didn’t she know about the auras? I made a mental note to ask Ve how much Crafters knew about one another and their limitations. How secretive were Crafters with one another?

Cameras were definitely out. Not that I would even recognize myself right now, with all the costume makeup and glitter I was wearing. It took a lot of effort, and some amazing false eyelashes, to look fairylike.

“Dennis was welcome to be here tonight, Cherise.” Amanda’s cheeks flushed. “He declined. It’s his loss.”

“He’s stubborn,” Cherise said. “You know this.”

I tried to blend into the woodwork—­rather hard to do when one looked a lot like a giant glittery stick of pink cotton candy. The last thing I wanted was to get involved in the middle of a family dispute. Been there, done that.

Amanda must have sensed my unease. She said, “I’m sorry. My husband and I recently separated. I’m sure you don’t need all the gory details. Suffice it to say that he’s the one who moved out.”

My heart ached for her. I was much better off without my ex, but it had taken me two years to realize that.

Cherise’s eyebrow rose. “He’s very stubborn.”

Amanda flashed her an irritated look. “Besides, if you recall, it’s his fault we had to contact As You Wish in the first place.”

As You Wish had received a frantic call from Cherise this morning, needing to hire someone to play the tooth fairy. Amanda’s daughter, five-­year-­old Laurel Grace, had lost her first tooth, and had been excited for the tooth fairy to come—­until her father told her there was no such thing.

Aunt Ve, who had taken the call, had somehow deemed that this was the perfect job for me to take on. I had my doubts. Especially when I saw the gossamer wings and the pink tights. Not to mention the dreadful tulle.

Cherise looked pained. She explained, “He wasn’t thinking. Once he realized what he’d said, he tried to convince Laurel Grace he’d been kidding, but the damage had been done.”

“Not the first time,” Amanda murmured.

“I just wish...,” Cherise began.

I sucked in a breath, waiting. My every nerve was on alert, standing on end, prickling, getting ready to react. Adrenaline surged, flowed.

“I just wish...” She shook her head. “Never mind.”

I let out the breath I’d been holding.

Wringing her hands, Amanda said, “Five-­year-­olds shouldn’t have to...

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2012. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Darcy Merriweather has just discovered she hails from a long line of Wishcrafters-witches with the power to cast spells by making a wish. She s come to Enchanted Village to learn her trade but finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. Codice libro della libreria ABZ9780451235527

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2012. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Darcy Merriweather has just discovered she hails from a long line of Wishcrafters-witches with the power to cast spells by making a wish. She s come to Enchanted Village to learn her trade but finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. Codice libro della libreria ABZ9780451235527

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Descrizione libro Obsidian Mystery, New York, New York, 2012. Mass Market Paperback. Condizione libro: New. No Jacket. Later Printing. The book is stored in a Mylar bag. "Darcy Merriweather is Enchanted Village's newest resident Wishcrafter--a witch who can grant wishes for others. But as Darcy prepares a celebration for a magical florist, she discovers that every rose has its thorns. When magical florist Harriette Harkette decides to throw a lavish eightieth birthday party for herself, she hires Darcy's Aunt Ve's personal concierge service, As You Wish, to plan the soiree. But turning eighty isn't all Harriette is celebrating--the Floracrafter has recently created the midnight black Witching Hour rose, the first all-natural rose of that color. Darcy works hard on planning an extravagant celebration that will make Harriette feel like the belle of the ball. But when cake delivery boy Michael Healey--a former employee at Harriette's greenhouse--is found dead, the celebration takes a turn. Now Michael's ghost has imprinted on Darcy, meaning that they're bonded until she can untangle the thicket surrounding his murder--and what exactly it has to do with the Witching Hour rose.". Size: 6.75 x 4.19 in 1 lb. Codice libro della libreria 000740

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