Home > Harvest Web (Moonshadow Bay #4)(8)

Harvest Web (Moonshadow Bay #4)(8)
Author: Yasmine Galenorn

I nodded. “Yes, actually, I am. My aunt Teran still lives in town. I don’t know if you ever met her.”

“Teran… What’s her last name?”

“Karns.” I was still trying to place the older woman. I wasn’t sure if I remembered her from my childhood, or if she just seemed familiar.

“Of course, Teran Karns. She teaches community classes on gardening, doesn’t she? I took one of her courses two years ago. And your mother used to belong to the guild. You should look into joining, too, if you’ve a mind to.” She held out her hand and I shook it. “Would you like to come in for a cup of tea?”

“I’m not much of a tea drinker, but I’d love some ice water.” I had learned long ago that it was useful to have neighborhood allies, and Alicia seemed pleasant enough.

She opened the gate and I entered her yard. The lawn was thriving, green and lush, though her house was weathered around the edges. It needed a good paint job, and the windows looked streaked, but the walkway was free of weeds and the mums to either side had been lovingly tended. They were a riot of burgundy, rust, orange, and butterscotch, huge and spilling over to the sidewalk, but trimmed back enough so that they didn’t impede walking.

The rest of the yard was as well cared for. The rose bushes were trimmed back, the Chinese lanterns were ablaze, spreading beneath one tree, and an herb garden surrounded by marigolds was still flush with plants. I could smell the mint from here.

“Your yard is gorgeous,” I said, glancing around as she led me up on the porch.

The screen door squeaked when she opened it, and she ushered me into a tiny cubicle of a living room. The room was tidy. The floor was clean, the throws on the sofa were folded neatly, and while there were some pretty knickknacks scattered around, none of them were dusty, and there weren’t enough to make it feel claustrophobic.

“Have a seat, dear. I’ll get you some water. Or would you prefer lemonade?”

“Lemonade would be wonderful, thank you.” I settled down on the sofa, sussing out the feel of the room. There was a gentleness here, but it was a thin veneer over strength. Whatever magical powers Alicia had, they were strong, but tempered with what felt like common sense and grace.

She bustled out of the room as a puffy ball of fluff came waddling my way. At first I wasn’t sure if it was a dog or some other odd creature, but then it sniffed my leg and let out a very loud yap, then wiggled its butt and panted at me.

“Well, hello…” I paused, not sure what to call it. “You. Dog.”

“Her name is Vivi, and she’s overdue for her grooming. She just turns into a pile of fluff if I don’t get her down to the groomers once every two weeks, and it’s been a month.” Alicia carried in a tray with a pitcher of lemonade, two glasses, and a plate of cookies on it. “Are you allergic to peanuts? I brought out peanut butter cookies without even thinking about it.”

I laughed, shaking my head. “No, and I’m very grateful that I’m not. They look delicious.” I accepted the glass from her and took a cookie, settling back with my paper bag by my side. I didn’t want to chance the moppet getting in the bag and poking her eye out or eating my toadstools. “So, you knew my mother?”

“Oh yes,” Alicia said. “As I mentioned, we were in a magical guild together—the Moonshadow Bay Guild of Spell Spinners. I’m so sorry about her and your father. We all were.”

I worried my lip. I was just recently been able to talk about them without bursting into tears. “Thank you. I miss them so much.”

“Your mother adored you. I remember she used to tell us all about your success with the magazine you started, and how thrilled she was. She also shared some of the articles you wrote with us. I hope you don’t mind. She’d bring them to the meetings and pass them around.” Coming from Alicia, that sounded like strong praise.

“I’m glad she did. It makes me feel like I made her proud. My mother never let me want for praise, but I had to earn it.” I realized that my mother had never really said a disparaging word to me—about anything. Oh, she had yelled at me when I made a misstep, but she was wonderful about acknowledging the things I succeeded at.

Alicia gave me a kindly smile. “Would you be interested in joining the guild? I can tell you inherited a lot of your mother’s powers.”

“My father’s too,” I added without thinking. I really needed to talk to Rowan about our relationship. Now that I knew she was my grandmother, I wanted to be free to mention it. Even though she could be scary and stubborn, I really liked Rowan.

“I’m afraid I didn’t get to know him very well,” Alicia said. “Anyway, if you’re interested in the guild, I’d be glad to take you in as a guest so you can get a feel for our circle. We talk all things magical, hold community events, do a lot of charity drives…things of that nature.”

She had piqued my curiosity, so I gave her my number and then headed out, after thanking her for the lemonade and cookies. The meeting had been brief, but it felt important, and I had learned to trust my instincts.

Killian texted me as I got home. go ahead and eat without me. an emergency case just came in—a golden retriever was hit by a car and needs emergency surgery. it may take me all evening—there was a lot of damage, but i think i can pull her through. i’ll text if i’m going to be really late.

don’t worry about it—take the time you need. i have to make some wards tonight anyway, so i’ll probably head straight to bed afterward. i managed to get most of the unpacking done. everything’s good.

I added a kiss emoji and then set my phone on the dining room table—which was now where the door used to be. I was still getting used to coming in on the other side of the living room, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the layout. And a coat rack took the place of the closet that had been there.

I set the paper bag on the table next to my phone, then wandered into the kitchen.

I stopped.

Every cupboard door and drawer was open. I eased my way into the kitchen. I hadn’t left it this way, and no earthquake could account for it. The house had been locked up tight, and the cats sure couldn’t open up the cupboards.

“Is anybody here?” I paused, first thinking someone was playing a joke on me.

But then I remembered the box being pushed off the counter the night before. Had I somehow attracted a poltergeist? It seemed unlikely, considering how strong I kept my wards, but the possibility was there. I retrieved my phone and took several pictures of the kitchen.

As I stood there, I heard a faint mew coming from the hall bath. I darted out of the kitchen and down the hall, skidding to a halt by the bathroom door. I peeked in and saw Xi and Klaus huddled together, in the tub, behind the shower curtain. They looked up at me, and I could feel the fear coming off of Xi in waves.

“Oh baby, I’m sorry—”

A crash in the kitchen cut me short. I shut the bathroom door behind me to keep them in there, and raced back to the kitchen. Every drawer and door was shut again. Once again, I took a few pictures before standing in the center of the room.

“Whoever you are, knock it off, you asshole.” Hands on my hips, I glared around the room. “Get the hell out of my house before I blast you a good one.”

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