Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Henbane and Halibut by E. R. Blackwell and Cass Blackwell #CozyMystery



Henbane and Halibut
The Seaglass Cove Mysteries 
Book 1
E. R. Blackwell and Cass Blackwell

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Date of Publication: July 3, 2023
Number of pages: 91
Word Count: 28,471
Cover Artist: Kimi Schaller

Tagline: Magic in every corner

Experience the captivating world of Wyllow Kincade with the first book of The Seaglass Cove Mysteries.

When Wyllow Kincaid returns to her quaint hometown with her daughter little does she know that their lives are about to take a thrilling turn. During a routine dog walk, Wyllow stumbles onto a horrifying discovery —a lifeless body, clutching a box from her mother's renowned herb farm.

Soon, chaos ensues as Wyllow's mother finds herself unjustly accused and detained. Determined to prove her mother's innocence, Wyllow embarks on an intricate quest to unravel the truth. As she delves deeper into the investigation, the charming town's residents become potential suspects, leaving Wyllow uncertain about whom to trust. Amidst the twists and turns, an unexpected reunion with an old friend adds a touch of nostalgia to her journey, while an unsettling sense of being observed keeps her on edge.

Strange incidents begin to occur, all pointing towards a sinister presence determined to divert attention from the actual perpetrator. Wyllow must navigate this treacherous path, unraveling secrets and untangling a web of deception to uncover the true identity of the killer.

Amazon


Chapter 1

It had been years since I’d been home to Seaglass Cove, probably since Waverly was three years old about eight years ago. After the divorce a couple of years ago, John, my ex-husband became deathly ill and passed, so there wasn’t any reason to stay in Medina, OH any longer.

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the sweaters but let’s face it, most of the time was sweater weather on an island off the coast of Nova Scotia, pumpkin spice everything and cozy fires.

At ten in the morning, I had already had been working for three hours on the newest book cover art I was hired to do. The cover was for a popular YA fantasy author who Waverly was crazy about-

Well, at least for now. It was time for coffee. I looked in the mirror. Pumpkin colored sweater, faded jeans, Ugg boots, and I was good. I pulled my brown hair up into a tight ponytail, put on light make up and I was ready for a walk on the green.

On my bed lay Piper, my Jack Russell Terrier. She looked like she was half Dalmatian with all her black spots on the white coat.

“You want to go for a walk?” I asked her. She picked her head up, cocked it to the side and wagged her stubby tail. I guess that was an enthusiastic yes.

I opened my door. The house had a beautiful hardwood oak floor. In the hall sat Moira, my mom’s ragdoll cat and like most cats, very judgmental. Piper immediately went to say hello to Moira but she wasn’t having any of it. Moira hissed, showed her claws and ran through the wall. Piper gave chase, hit the wall with her head, and looked confused. Did I forget to mention that our house was magical? It gave me a little excitement in my stomach every time I saw it.

“Where’s everyone?” I asked Moira, looking at the wall; I knew she could hear me.

Piper tore down the steps and I laughed. Moira walked out of the wall halfway down the steps and continued making her way down, just expecting me to follow. Cats.Sheesh. I found my sister, Sidney, in the kitchen, a beautiful, warm and cozy room. She was gathering her things; apparently she was late as usual. She worked as a librarian; she enjoyed being surrounded by books. My family was Hope Crafters, when someone say’s ‘I hope that’ we need to grant that hope. There were many types of crafters in the village I just didn’t know who they were.

“I’m late but the Mirror is having a special halibut dish tonight you want to go?” she asked.

“The library isn’t going anywhere and sure,” I answered. I loved my sister.

“I’ve never opened the library late and I don’t intend on starting,” she replied.

She nodded her head on the way out the door. I smiled, shaking my head. Somethings never change. I grabbed my tote, hooked Piper’s leash on and we followed her retreating form.

In mid-October off the coast of Nova Scotia it was a bit nippy. I walked with a purpose towards Voodoo Coffee shop. Piper didn’t pull on her leash but constantly had her nose to the ground. I took in a deep lungful of the Atlantic Ocean, the sweet scent of baked goods and something else I couldn’t put a name to. On my walk people milled across the green some window shopped and others walked their dogs. Piper, was happier here than back in Ohio.

As we reached the parking lot for the Magic Mirror restaurant, Piper starting whining and pulling me so I just followed her. She dragged me towards the open backdoor of the restaurant, and there on the floor lay Stephen Stewart, the Chef with an herb box from my mom’s herb farm lying next to him. Piper got close to the door but didn’t cross the threshold. His eyes were staring at nothing, and he was fully dressed in his chief uniform. I felt sick and my hands started to shake.

I got my cell phone out of my tote and dialed the police. It was 10:10, I noted. Why I needed to know that was beyond me. Sirens broke the silence and Piper sat down next to me. I squatted down next to her, rubbing her soft ears. The wind picked up and the sound of snapping twigs and crunching leaves came from behind me as if someone was walking in the woods. I got the heebie jeebies and Piper gave a warning bark.

My cousin, Kyle, was the first officer to show up. Navy cargo pants and pale yellow jacket is the uniform of our police department. Kyle was a few inches taller than me but who wasn’t? He gave me a big smile when he saw me.

“Sorry I didn’t get by to see you before this but no rest for the wicked,” Kyle said, walking towards the body.

“Do I stay or can I go?” I asked hoping it was the latter.

“You need to stay, sorry,” he apologized.

He gave a nod, walked over to a close stump and sat down. As if Piper didn’t want any part of the body, she followed close and even tripped me.

“I know; I don’t want anything of that body either but we have to wait,” I told Piper. She looked at me and I swear she stuck out her tongue. I shook my head and hoped we weren’t here too long.

I watched as more people arrived. A couple of the men put up something that looked like a tent, so now I didn’t have to look at the body, which was fine by me.

The one thing that I missed while I lived with my father in Medina was family. My parents were divorced so I only visited once in a while and then not at all. I had a life in Ohio and it wasn’t the best. I was lonely.

More sirens were on their way. The onlookers started showing up from the parking lot where a female officer was doing her best keep people back. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a figure. I turned around and about two feet away stood a man, making me give a little yip of surprise.

“I’m sorry for startling you,” he said.

He stood about six foot, with short wavy brown hair and piercing blue eyes. He wore the town police department uniform and wore it with authority.

“That’s okay,” I replied, looking at him.

His name tag on his coat said Chief of Police, and from Kyle I knew his name was Scott Sullivan. He asked me what I saw, I told him and it wasn’t much.

“Sorry that I couldn’t tell you more,” I said, standing up and hoping to just escape.

“If I have any other questions, can I get a hold of you at Nessa’s house?” Chief Sullivan asked.

“Yeah, we’re staying there until we find a house of our own,” I answered. My feet were frozen. I looked down at Piper and she was ready to go.

“Thank you for answering my questions,” he said, walking back to the tent opening.

Quietly I stood there observing for a couple more moments. “You ready to go?” I asked Piper. She woofed, which I took for yes.

Leaves crunched with every step we took walking away from the scene. I needed coffee now more than ever. The scent of fresh coffee in the air spurred me on. As we rounded the side of the building, I plowed into someone. Piper got her leash tangled around my legs, my arms flailed looking for something to grab onto and I found it. Someone was steadying me, I peered at the face and my heart thudded in my chest.

“I’m sorry,” I stated as I tried to get untangled.

People walked on the green, so it was like it was just me and him.

“No, it was my fault. I wasn’t paying attention,” he explained. He stood six foot, lean, yet you could tell that he worked out. Sandy, short hair and the most beautiful blue eyes I’d ever seen.

Why was I noticing this after a rough marriage and divorce? I’d put a wall around my heart and sworn off of men.

Finally, I got untangled and just stood there like a deer caught in headlights. “Sorry to bump into you,” I said again, trying to get around him to the door to the cafe. I mean really, he stood between me and my coffee.

He turned, going in the same direction, so when we got to Voodoo Coffee we both grabbed the handle at the same time. It was like a tingle went right up my arm. I jerked my hand away, looking at him and the problem was, he was staring at me too. We stood there until someone from inside tried to get out. We both stepped aside; I slid past the person coming out and finally made it to the counter.

The walls were painted a soft butter yellow, complementing the boysenberry purple couch and two overstuffed chairs. It was an odd combination but it worked. Beautiful photos of the village hung in silver frames on the walls.

Agnes stood behind the counter. Her short, gray hair was styled back over her head, her flawless skin the color of a good tan and her make-up was applied perfectly.

“It is good to see you and how have you been?” Agnes asked with a twinkle in her eyes.

“I’ve been doing okay, and you look great,” I said with a smile.

“I’m good. What can I get for you?” she asked.

“Pumpkin spice latte to go,” I answered, breathing in the scent of vanilla, pumpkin spice, apples and the best smell of all- fresh ground coffee beans. Instantly I felt calmer.

Agnes peered over the counter and saw Piper. “Can she have a homemade pumpkin dog biscuit?”

“Yes, and thanks,” I responded, watching her give Piper what I call a cookie. Piper took it so gently from Agnes’s hand I wondered if it was the same dog I knew. Piper munched it right down.

I paid and stepped aside to wait for my order so others could place theirs. Someone handed me a steaming paper cup and armed with fresh coffee and breathing in allspice, ginger and cinnamon, I was on my way back out the door.

“Thanks, Agnes and have a good day,” I called over my shoulder.

Experience had taught me to give my coffee a little time to cool down so I wouldn’t scorch my tongue. The green seemed to be bustling with people carrying pumpkins and long strands of garland of silk leaves in red and orange, even store owners were getting into the act. Shop windows were decorated with anything that represented fall. I’d only been back for only ten days or so, but I could feel myself tuning into the magic of the village.

I was going to drop off Piper at home and maybe look around for houses for sale. Strolling back to my mom’s house, I saw Ms. Coddington- affectionately known by everyone as Ms. C- walking along greeting people. She was the town’s self-proclaimed greeter. She was a logical choice. I mean, she does have a background in theater.

Piper started pulling, which brought me out of my thoughts. She was quite literally headed straight for the man that I had plowed into. I veered around him and walked towards Hocus Pocus Lane. Without incident I opened the gate, we went through, and I closed it. I let Piper off her leash; she tore around the yard and lay in the grass, a white butterfly landing on her nose. I was shocked and amazed that she just lay there and did not try to remove it. I stood there and watched her, then shook my head. It was the cutest thing.

“Piper, you’re silly,” I told her as I walked past her to the house. She got up and followed me.

I opened the door and Piper pranced to her water bowl. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman in eighteenth century skirts walking into the office. I stood there for a moment then went to investigate. Standing in the doorway, I looked all around the room and there was nothing. I mean there wasn’t even a closet to hide in. I shrugged my shoulders I had to check and make sure Piper had enough water. When I walked into the kitchen, Piper was nowhere to be found. I just assumed she went upstairs to my room to lie down on my bed. It was nap time for her.

I threw away my cup and was ready to head back out. I stopped at the door and looked back. “Be nice,” I said to the house and left.

Sidney, my sister, said that there was a house for sale by Prophecy Forest. I intended to walk a few of the side streets just to look for homes with sale signs. Back outside, the scent of dry leaves filled the air. The sun warmed my face and made all the fall colors more magnificent. I started walking looking for homes for sale; the first one didn’t hit any chords, so I continued. Some people were out raking leaves, decorating and just enjoying the weather. Some gave a wave or bobbed a nod. A few faces looked familiar but it had been too long to place names. I wasn’t used to such friendly people. Back in Medina everyone was in a big hurry to go about their lives.

At the other end of Hocus Pocus Lane stood another house and I stopped to study it. From what I could see it would need a lot of TLC. I took a picture of it with my cell and moved on. I cut through the field to get to the next street over. Alchemist Trail was a cul-de-sac. Some of the houses were pink, lavender, and pale yellow, and I loved all the colors.

The last house sat on a large lot maybe even a double lot with a fenced in yard and attached garage. This house called to me. It was a beautiful shade of teal with a purple door. The sight made me grin. In some traditions a purple door meant that a witch lived there. Goddess Moon Realty held the listing. Again I pulled out my cell from my tote, which held everything, and called the number on the sign.

“Goddess Moon Realty, Abby McKay speaking. How can I help you?”

“Abby it’s Wyllow.”

“Hi, Nate said you moved back,” she said.

“Yes, and I’m looking at a home right now that you have listed and I would like to see it,” I stated with butterflies in my stomach. I knew this was the house. “I would like to put a deposit on the house.”

John had left us a huge amount of money to make sure that we wouldn’t be scraping by.

“Okay, have your bank call me, I’ll set it up and call you back at this number,” Abby instructed.

I said a thank you to the Goddess and decided that I found this house. It was a bit big for only two but that was okay. I called the bank and gave them my instructions, then headed towards Bell, Book and Bakery to get a piece of Nate’s Key Lime Pie, my favorite at the moment.

About the Authors:

E. R. Blackwell is from a small town south of Cleveland, Ohio. She lives with Cass Blackwell, her young granddaughter, and Cass’s fianc√©. 

They have three cats: Cougar, Crissy, and Houdini.She loves her family more than anything. 

E. R. reads a lot of cozy mysteries, bird watches, and loves to bake with her granddaughter. She loves nighttime and the moon. When E. R. was young she wrote stories.

Cass Blackwell lives for her beautiful daughter. She loves to make soaps, lotions, and candles and will be opening an online shop in the near future. 

She loves family time. She also loves reading bedtime stories to her daughter every night. 










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