Authors: Dawn Eastman
Pall in the Family
“A tightly plotted, character-driven triumph of a mystery,
Pall in the Family
had me laughing out loud while feverishly turning pages to try and figure out whodunit. This novel sparkles with charmingly peculiar characters and a fascinating heroine, Clyde Fortune, who effortlessly shuffles the reader into her world like a card in a tarot deck. Eastman is fabulous!”
New York Times
bestselling author of the Library Lover’s Mysteries, the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries, and the Hat Shop Mysteries
“A kooky small town filled with eccentric characters, psychics, and murder make Eastman’s Family Fortune Mystery series a stellar launch. Add a dog-walking ex-cop paired with her old flame investigator, and it’s not hard to predict a brilliant future for this quirky new series!”
—Kari Lee Townsend, national bestselling author of the Fortune Teller Mysteries
“What emerges as most entertaining in this mystery by debut author Dawn Eastman is how well she slowly develops her characters and prevents them from being two-dimensional caricatures . . . The paranormal aspect is surprisingly realistic and matter-of-fact amongst the townspeople . . . Clyde proves to be a talented investigator herself with or without her ‘extra’ skills, and she is a very likable heroine with the humor to cope with her eccentric relatives.”
Kings River Life Magazine
“[An] entertaining read . . . The cast of characters is a lovable bunch of kooky psychics.”
RT Book Reviews
Berkley Prime Crime titles by Dawn Eastman
PALL IN THE FAMILY
WHAT YOU WITCH FOR
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
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BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WITCH FOR
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright © 2014 by Dawn Mooradian.
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eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-60750-3
Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / July 2014
Cover illustration by Daniel Craig; design element © iStockphoto/Thinkstock.
Cover design by Judith Lagerman.
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.
To my son, Jake, who inspired all the best parts of Seth.
Writing is a solitary pursuit, but the production of a novel is a group effort.
Thank you to the team at Berkley Prime Crime. I am fortunate to work with such a fantastic group. Special thanks to my editor, Andie Avila, whose attention to detail and love for the characters make each book better.
My agent, Sharon Bowers, will always have my deep gratitude for making a dream reality.
I would like to thank DP Lyle, MD, for sharing his medical expertise. And thanks to Ramona Valencia for (gleefully) helping to plot a murder and donating old EpiPens to the cause of research.
I’m grateful to my amazing writer’s group, Wendy Delsol, Kali VanBaale, Murl Pace, and Kim Stuart. Their support and encouragement are priceless.
Thank you to family members Ann and Bob Eastman, Jim and Alyce Mooradian, Barb Laughlin, Kristin Morton, and Barbara Morton who have tirelessly spread the word about the Family Fortune Mysteries.
To my webmaster brother, Brent Eastman, for help with all the technology.
And finally, to Steve, Jake, and Ellie, who make my life a hilarious adventure.
Black-robed figures circled the bonfire. Their chanting sent a shiver down my spine that had nothing to do with the cold. Hooded and lit only by the flickering flames and silver moonlight filtering through the naked branches overhead, they were nameless except for their leader, my best friend Diana.
I felt a sharp jab in my ribs.
“When’s the good stuff start?” Aunt Vi said, too loudly. Though a skeptic about Wicca she’d insisted on coming to the ceremony when she heard there would be fire
a cauldron. Her silver braid peeked out from under her borrowed robes and she gawked around the circle.
“Shhh!” I hissed. I felt uneasy anyway, but now several of the hooded figures had turned in our direction.
Deep in Greer’s Woods on Halloween, we were a good fifteen-minute hike from the road. Diana had trekked her supplies to this spot during the afternoon. Wiccans called this day “Samhain” and she planned to summon the spirits of the dead and the Goddess of Shadows to join us for the Wiccan New Year celebration. Putting a Wiccan in charge of the Fall Fun Fest meant the usual lineup of kids’ costume parade and applesauce-eating contest was joined by a midnight ceremony in the woods.
Vi tugged on my robe.
“Clytemnestra, you said we were going to see our future in the fire. I don’t see anything.”
“She just started—give her a minute,” I said through clenched teeth. Vi was purposely using my full name to irk me.
Nearing seventy, Vi had retained what might be politely called a “childlike enthusiasm” for all things paranormal.
Diana lit the black candles on the makeshift altar and called on the four elements to join the circle. I felt the heavy brown bread we’d shared earlier settle uncomfortably in my stomach. When she reached the part about the God of Darkness and Goddess of Shadows, I moved a little closer to Aunt Vi. Diana doesn’t scare me, but sometimes her ceremonies and spells do.
Until six months ago, I had been a police officer. I felt guns, criminals, and drunken idiots were business as usual. Magick, ghosts, and séances were another matter. We lived in Crystal Haven, a town known for its psychics and fortune-tellers, so I should have been used to it. But, hosting the Fall Fun Fest that included a Wiccan ceremony was new. In the midst of this spooky group with only a crescent moon and a bonfire for illumination, standing closer to Vi was only slightly reassuring. The flames cast dancing shadows on the trees, accentuating their gnarled branches. Sparks lifted up and disappeared in the darkness.
Another jab to the ribs. “Nothing’s happening. What about the cauldron?” Vi said, more quietly.
Just then Diana dropped a match into her cauldron and blue flames leaped out and glowed in the center of the circle.
“Oooh,” Vi breathed.
A burning stick of sage was passed around the circle. “Burn and blaze! Into the future we now gaze!” The group chanted, asking to see their future in the fire. Vi joined in with gusto. I thought longingly about séances and tarot cards. Those seemed tame and soothing compared to this.
Mesmerized by the flames, my mind wandered. Without meaning to, I stared deeply into the fire. I saw a vision of a house. The cottage was covered in vines and set back in a dense forest. I felt myself drawn to it, as if I’d been there before. The atmosphere of the ceremony and the chanting of the circle had breached my wall of protection. I habitually guarded against any messages from other realms. I shook my head to clear it of the smoky fog that had settled over me.
Vi squeezed my arm through my robe. “You saw something, didn’t you? What was it?” Vi was always on the lookout for any sign that my “gift” was active.
I shook my head again, although she wasn’t likely to get the signal in the dark, while I wore a hood. “Nothing, I—”
A scream cut through the chanting. One of the robed figures had fallen into the center of the circle, the face covered by the hood. The voices stopped and the inky figures blended together as they rushed to the crumpled form. Diana arrived first and pulled the hood back. It was Rafe Godwin. He clutched his throat, his face dark in the dim light of the clearing. His huge, terrified eyes made it look as if he were choking himself. Then, grabbing Diana’s wrist, he pointed to his throat with his other hand.
“Is he having a heart attack?” a hooded figure asked.
“His lips are swelling, it looks like an allergic reaction,” another voice volunteered.
“Call 911!” Diana said.
Gasps and concerned
ings made their way through the circle.
“Oh my,” said Vi, at my side again.
“Rafe, where is it?” Diana asked.
He wrestled with his robe and Diana began pawing through the folds.
“Diana, what are you doing?” I said. I knelt down to help her.
“He’s got an EpiPen in here somewhere. I think he’s going into shock.” She continued wrestling with his clothing and a few others knelt to do the same.
The group began muttering about bees and wasps. But at midnight in October the likelihood that an insect sting was involved seemed remote.
“Here it is!” Diana held a short tube the length of a pen over her head. She popped the injector out of its plastic holder and jabbed it into his thigh right through the robe.
Now that I stood closer, I saw the mottled dark color of his face, the swollen lips and eyelids. He fought to take weak raspy breaths.
The crowd got very quiet. I expected Rafe to take a deep breath, and for his eyes to return to normal size. Nothing happened. He stopped struggling, but otherwise I saw no change. Certainly not the miraculous recovery I had come to expect from watching television.
Diana shook his shoulders but he didn’t respond.
One of the people who had pushed through to the front of the crowd began CPR. Someone else announced that an ambulance had been dispatched. As we stood helplessly watching, I realized Rafe Godwin would not be seeing the future.