Authors: Morgana Best
Sit for a Spell
(The Kitchen Witch, Book 3)
Copyright © 2016 by Morgana Best.
All Rights Reserved.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should purchase your own copy from your favorite ebook retailer. Thank you for respecting the author’s hard work.
* * *
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The personal names have been invented by the author, and any likeness to the name of any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
This book may contain references to specific commercial products, process or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, specific brand-name products and/or trade names of products, which are trademarks or registered trademarks and/or trade names, and these are property of their respective owners. Morgana Best or her associates, have no association with any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, specific brand-name products and / or trade names of products.
By this act
And words of rhyme
These books of mine
With these words I now thee render
Candle burn and bad return
3 times stronger to its sender.
Table of Contents
“Stop that!” I yelled at the house. “I’ll never learn to bake if I can’t practice.” I pulled the cupcakes out of the oven and admired them. They were my best effort yet, only blackened on the bottom and up the sides. The sunken bit in the middle wasn’t burned at all. I beamed.
The house made a grumbling sound.
“Turn the electricity back on now. Please,” I added. I emptied the cupcakes onto a cooling rack. The cooling rack instantly broke.
The sprinkler system came on, drenching me and my cupcakes. “There was no fire this time!” I shouted. I didn’t even know that the house had a sprinkler system. The house had been annoying lately. It had stopped watching Mixed Martial Arts and now only wanted me to watch baking shows.
No matter how much I tried, I was still having trouble coming to terms with the fact that I had inherited a house with its own personality, a house that could change its rooms, turn on the TV, and terrify criminals by showing them the illusion that the walls were closing in on them. Still, that was no stranger than having to come to terms with the fact that I was a witch, a real live witch. When I found I had inherited the house and the cupcake store from my estranged Aunt Angelica, I had never imagined the strange things that were in store for me.
By the time I’d cleaned the kitchen, taken a shower, and was nicely dry, I had to tackle the problem of the cake. Camino, my elderly next-door neighbor and fellow witch, was having a Clue party that night and had asked everyone to bring a plate. The only trouble was that she expected something to be on the plate. And the way it was looking, my only hope was a No Bake Cake.
To my delight, the first recipe I found in my googling was a No Bake Fridge Cake. It looked simple enough, having only three ingredients. I simply had to soak chocolate chip cookies in sherry, cover them with whipped cream, line them up side by side on a plate, cover the entire thing with cream, and refrigerate for a couple hours.
What could go wrong?
I whipped the cream, remembering that Thyme, my best friend and also my employee at the cake store I had inherited from my aunt, had warned me not to whip cream too hard or it would turn to butter. I kept whipping. It hadn’t turned yellow yet, so that was a good sign.
I had abundant packets of chocolate chip cookies, so I opened one and put it on the countertop next to the bowl that was ready for me to pour in the sherry. I was a wine drinker, but I was pretty sure I had seen sherry in the pantry. I couldn’t find any, but there was a bottle of vodka left by Aunt Angelica. I’d never touched the stuff, but I figured it would make a good substitute. I read the label: ‘192-proof (96% alcohol).’ I shrugged. That didn’t mean anything to me. After all, I was a light wine drinker. It would have to do.
I soaked the chocolate chip cookies one by one in the vodka until they were about to dissolve, and then carefully moved them to the long, narrow plate where I coated them with whipped cream. I stood back to admire my handiwork. It had gone so well that I figured I should make two more cakes just like the first. After all, Camino had told me that the other witches—Thyme, Ruprecht and his granddaughter Mint—were coming, and also two of Camino’s friends. I wanted to make a good impression.
Ruprecht met me at Camino’s door and took the plates from me. “I have to go back for the third plate,” I informed him.
He leaned forward. “I’m not so sure this is a good idea.”
“But they’re No Bake Cakes,” I protested.
Ruprecht shook his head. “No, I mean playing Clue,” he whispered. “After all, there’ve been two murders here lately. I’ve had my fill of solving murders.”
I nodded. I had to admit that he had a point.
By the time I got back to the house with the third cake, everyone else had arrived. Camino made the introductions. I had not met her friends, Sue or Madison, before. Both ladies were somewhat younger than Camino. Everyone else I knew: Ruprecht, Mint, and Thyme. They were all seated at Camino’s round cedar pedestal dining table.
Camino was clearly keen to start. “Let’s start with cakes, and would anyone like a drink? Wine? Orange juice? Maybe a cup of tea?” She turned to me. “It looks like a nice cake that Amelia’s made.” Her voice held surprise and more than a hint of disbelief. “What sort of cake is it?”
“It’s a No Bake Cake,” I said.
“It looks lovely,” Sue exclaimed. “I’d like some of that now, please.”
I beamed. Camino set plates in front of everyone and I carefully distributed cake onto each plate. There were also cheese platters and a large plate of cookies, but everyone headed for my cake, much to my delight. No one had ever liked food I had made, and that is an understatement.
Between mouthfuls, Camino managed to speak. “Now that there are six of us here, we can play Clue.”
Ruprecht raised an eyebrow and motioned around the room. “But there are seven of us.”
“Oh,” Camino said. “That’s fine; I won’t play. After all, I’m the host!”
Ruprecht shrugged in resignation and took a seat. The rest of us followed, Camino bringing the Clue board and game pieces.
I played as Colonel Mustard (like I always did). Sue chose Miss Scarlett; Mint picked Mrs. White; Ruprecht was Mr. Green; Madison chose Professor Plum, and Thyme decided on Mrs. Peacock.
The game started smoothly enough. I had figured out where the murder took place, and was well on my way to finding out what the murder weapon was.
“Well, I think it was…” Mint paused. “Miss Scarlett in the dining room with the knife.”
Ruprecht was the first to fold, explaining he couldn’t refute it. I was next, and discreetly showed Mint my knife card. She jotted down some notes and giggled happily to herself. I would’ve thought it strange, but I was more concerned about how blurry she looked.
“What did you put in this cake?” Madison asked before taking another mouthful.
For some reason, I found it hard to concentrate. “I soaked the cookies in a bit of alcohol.”
“Alcohol?” Ruprecht said. “What sort of alcohol?”
“I only left them soaking for a short time,” I protested weakly. “And anyway, cooking removes alcohol from cakes.”
Ruprecht was apparently doing his best to maintain a level stare. “But aren’t these No Bake Cakes?”
“So?” I’d assumed that alcohol wouldn’t have an alcoholic effect if it was soaked into food and eaten, which made sense to my drunken mind, but also must have somehow made sense to my earlier sober one.
I was greeted by a combination of gasps and laughter, but nobody stopped eating, so I assumed they were happy with it.
“That’s a lovely bracelet, Sue,” I said.
She held up her wrist in front of me. “I only got it this morning. It’s from my sister, Barbara. Isn’t it gorgeous!”
Everyone leaned over to admire it. “Are those real sapphires?” Madison asked.
Sue shook her head. “I think the stones are turquoise. It’s antique, Victorian actually. Camino, may I have a glass of water, please? My throat’s so dry.”
We continued the game in peace, and it was several minutes before I realized that I had my notes all wrong. At some point, I’d confused my clues and now had every single murder weapon crossed out, meaning that there couldn’t be one, which was obviously wrong.
I sighed and placed my cards face down on the table. Everyone was laughing and having a huge amount of fun, far too much fun for a group of adults playing Clue. It was now becoming clear to me that I’d caused this by soaking those chocolate chip cookies in the vodka, as all of us were far more baked than any of my cakes.
Mrs. White—that is, Mint—had found her way to the observatory, where she saw fit to accuse Miss Scarlett—Sue—of murder by stabbing. While this wasn’t necessarily a nice thing to do, I felt as though Sue was overreacting when she clutched at her throat and then collapsed, falling face-first onto our Clue board, scattering cards and pieces in every direction. She then slowly slid from her chair to land face down on the floor.
In our drunken state, it was several long seconds before any of us had a reasonable reaction, with Camino being the first to run over and check on Sue. After several seconds of shaking her, we all realized that alcoholic cakes and our game of Clue were perhaps the least important matters to deal with.
I felt something other than cake stir in the pit of my stomach. Ruprecht pushed Camino aside and held his fingers to Sue’s throat, checking her pulse. He paused, concentrating, before turning to us. His expression was grim. “She’s dead,” he announced.
We all sat in stunned silence for what felt like hours, although had probably been just a minute or two. I stood up and stumbled unsteadily over to Sue, grabbing her by the shoulder. Ruprecht looked at me and raised an inquisitive eyebrow, which I dismissed with a wave. He stood back and I pushed, rolling Sue over onto her back.
Her eyes were closed, which was a small mercy. Her mouth was open, and I leaned in to smell her breath—nothing but alcohol. For a moment, I was afraid that my cakes had killed her, but remembered she’d eaten less than any of us. It could have been an allergic reaction, but that seemed unlikely. After all, she’d slumped over suddenly. She hadn’t complained of pain or anything similar, apart from a dry throat, and there was no knife sticking out of her back. Perhaps…
The sound of Mint screaming cut me off. It hadn’t occurred to me until now, but most of the people in this room weren’t used to seeing dead bodies. I, on the other hand, had seen two in as many months. Madison grabbed Mint by the shoulders and ushered her out of the room.
Thyme was calling the police. “We should leave,” Madison said, poking her head back around the door.
Ruprecht shook his head. “No, the police won’t be long. They’ll want to question all of us.”
Madison’s jaw fell open. “Why? It was natural causes, surely?”
Ruprecht replied to Madison, but I didn’t hear what he said as he stared back at the body.
She was most certainly dead. I didn’t need all my powers of deduction to tell that. I thought back to what had happened. We were playing Clue, and suddenly Sue had simply fallen. It was likely that was the moment when she had died, as she had not moved at any point afterward.
It seemed like an internal problem of some kind, possibly a heart attack or a stroke. The question was whether it had been induced or had occurred all on its own. Other than perhaps having had a bit too much cosmetic work done, her body seemed to be natural. I was fairly sure my cakes hadn’t killed her, as we had all eaten them. She hadn’t eaten anything else while she was here, so poison seemed unlikely. Maybe this really was just a natural, albeit sad, occurrence.
At that point, the door swung open.