Welcome back to BWWP!! this week, Katherine Moore is sharing with us an excerpt from her book Bewitched: Books of Wonder #1!! So let's not keep you all waiting!!!
BEWITCHED: BOOKS OF WONDER #1
From the first chapter:
Bree had just left when I got the call about my Great Aunt Helen.
My stepdaughter had taken to doing her laundry at my house instead of at the home she shared with five housemates because she knew I always cooked for the rest of the week on Sunday so I could just heat something up for dinner and not have to worry about it. She also knew I always made extra for her because that’s what mothers do. Her own mother is a fan of frozen dinners and takeout and when I married her father, Bree reacted to my limited repertoire of home-cooked meals as if a Michelin-starred chef had moved into the home.
I remember she was particularly impressed with my macaroni and cheese because she’d only ever had the bright orange kind that came from a box. She’d never had a homemade birthday cake either, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I cheated and used boxed cake mixes, though I always made my own frosting because frosting is the best part of a birthday cake and frosting in a can just wasn’t festive enough for me.
She was on her last dryer cycle and finishing up a huge bowl of chili before she finally got around to bringing up the topic she wanted to talk to me about.
“So, Yuri’s birthday is next week and I was thinking of taking him to that Klimt exhibit up in Seattle,” she said casually, sprinkling some more shredded cheddar over the last bit of chili in her bowl and swirling it around to melt it.
Yuri, I thought.
I’d heard a lot about Yuri lately. He was one of Bree’s housemates, and also a classmate, studying for his nursing degree like she was.
“Yuri likes art?” I asked, trying not to sound too inquisitive. As far as I could tell from the few times I’d met him, Yuri didn’t like much of anything.
“He likes all things Belle Époque,” she said. “Did you know Klimt liked cats?”
And as if on cue, Stryper appeared and rubbed his big head against Bree’s leg. She bent down so she could pet him with her left hand while she finished up her chili.
“I didn’t know that,” I said. Just about the only thing I knew about my favorite artist’s life was that he was a victim of the so-called Spanish flu. Knowing Klimt was a cat lover just made me like him all the more.
“What do you think?” she asked.
“It’s a great exhibit,” I said. Melanie and I had gone to see it right after Christmas. Walking “through” the paintings in the immersive exhibit was mesmerizing. We had seen more than one person who had apparently decided the experience would be enhanced by a little THC in their bloodstream, and Melanie expressed her regret at being fresh out of weed so she could try it that way herself.
I haven’t smoked in ages, not since college when my boyfriend gave me some that had jimson weed mixed in it and I got really sick.
I was just lucky there wasn’t paraquat on it. That could really have messed me up permanently.
“That’s what I’ve heard,” Bree said happily. “I’ll get the tickets tomorrow.”
I refrained from asking her why Yuri was so interested in the Belle Époque but I couldn’t help but think about my new friend Peyton who had lived in Paris during that Gilded Age. Bree had met Peyton a few times and found him “intriguing,” but not, thank goodness, in any way that might lead to bedroom fantasies. After all, how would you process the concept that a man who looks like he’s in his late teens is actually a vampire who your middle-aged stepmother might be fantasizing about sleeping with as well?
Bree and I share a lot but we don’t share everything.
Anyway, the call about Aunt Helen was to tell me that she had died and that I was listed as the person to contact.
That’s weird, I thought. I had never seen much of my father’s aunt when I was a child and since I’d been back in Chickadee Falls, I’d seen her exactly once. Aunt Helen was dad’s only surviving relative but they hadn’t been close and she had rebuffed all my overtures and invitations. My father must have listed me as a contact when he and mom moved to Arizona.
The voice on the phone—a young woman by the sound of it—told me that I was named Helen’s sole heir and since Helen had taken care of everything before her death, the paperwork would be minimal and the time frame would be short.
“When can you come by and pick up the keys?” the woman asked me.
“Keys?” I asked, knowing I sounded completely clueless.
“For the house and the cars,” she said.
Cars? Multiple cars?
“I’m free tomorrow,” I said, which was an understatement. My days aren’t exactly packed.
“Excellent,” she said. “I’ll meet you at the house at ten a.m.” She asked me if I needed directions and I told her I didn’t. My aunt’s house was a huge Craftsman that badly needed repainting and refurbishing and probably everyone in town knew where it was because it dominated an intersection near the town’s best grocery store.
“I’ll see you then,” I said and ended the call. I immediately dialed my best friend, knowing that even though it was late, she’d be up watching a baking show or tending to her nasty flock of peacocks. Her ex-husband had acquired the creatures as part of a get-rich quick scheme and dumped them on her at the same time he took off with his investors’ money, leaving her to deal with the Feds when they came knocking on the door of the house that had belonged to her parents once upon a time when we were girls.
Even though the peacocks were evil tempered and tended to drag their feathers through their own filth, Melanie felt bad for them and refused to sell them. They’re beautiful birds and their chicks are adorable but they screech all the time and really, how many peacock feathers can you use as decoration? Melanie uses them in the craft items she sells on Etsy but even she can’t keep up with the feather fall. She sometimes bundles a bunch and puts them out at the curb with a sign that says Free.
In some places the birds are raised for meat, but the one time I suggested the possibility of cooking one, I thought Melanie was going to throw up. She’s a more sensitive soul than I am, although just as much of a carnivore.
I often wondered if peacock would taste like duck.
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