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Charm McCall can solve a small-town murder, but can she figure out how to stop a man-stealing interloper?
A movie production company has come to town…and so has an old family friend of the town’s sexy new Mountie, Ace Collins. His “old pal” turns out to be a scheming long-legged blonde who throws Charm right off her game. Even Auntie T.J. playing the bagpipes down Main Street to drive the trespasser away doesn’t work.
Between catering for the world’s hungriest film crew, trying to solve the murder of the unit accountant who hired her and dealing with her new magical gifts, Charm’s a tad busy. But too bad, because she’s soon facing off against a bigger threat when more people become ill with suspected poisoning—and her own sister’s in the crosshairs. Charm’s left wondering if even Agatha Christie could have seen this one coming.
But with so much working against them—including the whole town being dead set against them consummating their relationship—do Charm and Ace stand a chance?
Read an Excerpt:
“Aren’t you listening to me? I said a serial killer uses arsenic to kill off characters. Where’s your mind this morning?”
Star interrupted her spiel to make a spinning twirl, her usual performance piece when she was over-the-moon excited. The phone rang and I hurried to answer it, hoping it was who I thought it was. Yes.
“Auntie T.J. What’s the scoop?” I normally had the common sense not to ask, but today was different. I needed intel.
Her voice came over the house phone, all wheezy and breathy. Land lines were the only reliable mode of communication in Snowy Lake, where cell phones were a crap shoot. “Jennifer Morgan. She’s a geologist with Altima Explorations. A graduate student from the University of Manitoba. Good grades, though not brilliant. She’s here with a small team looking for precious minerals. Mark my word, a big gold strike is imminent. She lives close to his parents’ duplex in Winnipeg—did you know they live side by side? Families are old friends. I’m waiting on more information that I should have shortly. I think her father and Ace’s mother both work at that virology lab in Winnipeg. Will have verification soon.” With that my aunt stopped to take a breath.
I kept a sharp lookout across the street. Fortunately, the telephone rested on the counter near the entrance where we sold all sorts of cookies and bakery goods alongside my favorite magical items, including the new Gilded Tarot by Ciro with its black and gold borders framing lyrical illustrations that whispered to me whenever I ventured nearby. The location was perfect, offering up a proper surveillance position. A stranger came into focus, drawing my full attention—he was so stiff-looking with his pressed beige chino pants, white shirt and black tie and an old-fashioned pocket protector lining up a series of identical pens. He was coming right towards the Tea & Tarot with a determined look on his pasty-white face. His short ginger hair was pressed into service with one section at the crown that wouldn’t commit to the status quo sticking up with military defiance.
“I gotta go. Call me later when you know more.”
“Roger that. Over and out.”
I slipped off the sunglasses just as the angels tinkled a discordant note, announcing the visitor. He gave a harried look around, as though he had no idea how to go about what he needed, but needed it done—and done yesterday.
“Can I help you?” I got to him first. Easy enough, when no one else looked remotely interested.
“Yes, I’m here to check on catering. Do you do that?”
“Catering? Sometimes. What for?”
“I’m with Blue Vest Studios, the company producing the movie Witches and Wolves, and we need reliable catering six days a week at the movie set. You know, sandwiches, soups, salads, vegetable trays, desserts, that kind of thing. And especially anything chocolate. Can you do that?” He hurried his words, looking about with eyes that shifted so much I was concerned for his well-being.
“Well, possibly. And we specialize in chocolate, so you’re in luck. You must try our death-by-chocolate slice. It’s worth dying for with its hooey-gooey center of chocolate ganache and liquid caramel.” I caught the gleam in his eye at my description. While I relished the idea of a catering job, I knew most of it would fall to Tulip and me as Star had a role and, no doubt, she’d play that up. Add her bi-weekly singing at the Boots & Lace Tavern and she’d work both excuses for the foreseeable future.
“Would you like to try a sample?” I asked.
“Yes, definitely.” The gleam in his eye was blinding now.
I laid a square of the slice on a small plate, added a fork and handed it to him.
He demolished it in two spectacular bites.
“You do love chocolate.” I smiled at his satiated expression. Illicit drugs couldn’t have given him more of a sense of being in Blissville. “How many people are we talking about?”
“About a hundred and fifty.”
“A hundred and fifty meals a day?” My horror must have shown on my face, because he twitched and his eyes spun around like cartwheels.
“Yes, but just simple meals. Nothing fancy. And we’d pay ten dollars a head. One meal will suffice, delivered around noon. Send enough and we can eat off the buffet for the rest of the day. We have refrigerators in most of the trailers. What do you say?”
Hmm. Ten dollars a head times one hundred and fifty meals. Sweet. But I would need to hire an extra hand or two. No way could we manage all that on top of our usual workload. I made some swift calculations.
“Make that eleven dollars a meal and we have a deal.”
“Ten dollars and twenty-five cents. Then we have a deal. I’m Howard Smith, by the way, the resident accountant.”
“Charm McCall. Ten-fifty. And I’ll even throw in our gluten-free dessert, Cake of a Thousand Faces.” The yummy cake was called by that quirky name because it could be dolled up any number of ways—its vanilla flavor went with just about everything else in existence. That, and we loved weird names that made people stand up and take notice. “A house speciality that substitutes almond meal for pastry flour. So, as long as the customer is not allergic to nuts, it works really well. Low-carb, high protein.”
“Nice. Okay, that’ll work,” he agreed with a curt nod.
I sucked up losing the extra fifty cents and nodded my acceptance. An accountant would be concerned about costs. I got that, being the one and only bookkeeper for our small business. Cutting costs was essential to survival. Still, it rankled. We’d do the town proud with our catering—I’d make sure of that—even if it ate into profits.
About the Author:
If you are looking for January Bain, you can find her hard at work every morning without fail in her office with her furry baby, Ling Ling. And, of course, she’s married to the most romantic man! Who once famously remarked to her inquiry about buying fresh flowers for their home every week, “Give me one good reason why not?” Leaving her speechless and knocking her head against the proverbial wall for being so darn foolish. She loves flowers.
If you wish to connect in the virtual world she is easily found on Facebook. Oh, and she loves to talk books…
Totally Bound: https://www.totallybound.com/book/movies-moonlight-and-magic
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