Hexes and Vexes is an urban fantasy mystery packed with wandcraft, mages, shifters and more! It's on pre-order for just 99 cents! (Limited time pricing, it'll be going up in price after release week!)
About the Excerpt
Copyright 2019 Arizona Tape & Laura Greenwood. This is an unedited excerpt and is subject to change.
The first day of autumn was ruined by a heavy man with a moustache that looked somewhat like a dead mouse.
“I want to exchange this wand!” he bellowed, waving one of my finest wands in front of my nose. His grubby hand was coiled so tight around it, I was surprised he hadn’t snapped it yet.
I took a deep breath to calm myself and used my best customer service voice. “Due to the personal nature of wands, I can’t take allow an exchange. We discussed this upon purchase and you can see it here on your ticket. I’m sorry.”
“Nonsense! My son barely used it.” He slammed the wand down on my counter, rattling the jars with gems and crystals. “Just give me my money back, witch.”
“Sir, there’s no need to raise your voice.”
“Just gave me my money back!” His moustache quivered with every word and his face was slowly turning a suspiciously red shade of red.
I blinked slowly. “As you can see on your receipt, there are no refunds after fourteen days.”
“Rubbish! I want to speak to the manager!” He slammed his fist down on the counter and his spittle flew all in my face.
“Sir, there’s no manager in this place. I’m the owner of Amethyst’s Wand Shop.”
“Aha! So you admit you’re responsible for these terrible wands then?”
“No, I just said this is my store.” Despite my best efforts, I could feel myself become agitated. It wasn’t every day I was accused of making a bad wand, let alone being threatened and intimidated in my own shop.
While I sympathised with his cause and wished that the wand better suited his son, I remembered recommending he brought his kid in before purchasing an item from my collection. It was always better that way and lead to less incompatible matches. If he had listened to me, we wouldn’t be here.
His moustache danced on his lip. “Listen to me, give me my money back or I’ll report you to the CWC.”
The Centre of Wand Control? How dared he.
I grabbed a couple of bills from the register and slapped it on the counter. “Fine. Here’s your refund. Now, leave the wand and get the hell out of my shop!”
My sudden outburst seemed to startle the man. “W-What?”
“That’s what you wanted, right?” I grabbed the broom from the corner and swept the ground in front of his feet. Most people assumed witches used these things for flying, but I found them to be excellent for cleaning and chasing rude customers out of my shop. “Out! Out!”
“Jeez, what’s wrong with you, lady!” The man hurried to the exit, his hand clenched tightly around the money he so desired.
“Haven’t you heard?” I called after him, startling some innocent passersby. “I’m crazy!”
With that sorted, I slammed the glass door shut and flicked the OPEN sign to CLOSED. That was enough peopling for today, especially if they were going to ruin my favourite day of the year.
I knew I shouldn’t have opened the store today. Instead, I should’ve gone for a walk in the park, admired the first orange leaves, and drank hot tea while making my grandmother’s famous pumpkin soup.
I could still do that.
“I’ll just be upstairs, Herbert,” I said, patting the stone cat next to the till. “Behave, alright?”
The cat didn’t react, but that didn’t mean he hadn’t understood. He gave me his usual look and I nodded.
“You’re right, I did forget to close the door. What did I do with my keys?”
Before I could shut the shop, the little bell rang, and I looked up to see a well-dressed man striding towards me. A gust of wind sent his scent towards me. I frowned. What was a mage doing in my wand shop? They didn't believe in the same system of magic we used.
“I’m closed,” I said, gesturing to the sign on the door. “Closed.”
“Oh really? Didn’t see the sign.”
"I, but… Fine… What can I help you with?" I asked, trying to treat him just like I would any other customer, and finding that I failed. I planned to blame it on the stunned feeling that was taking up most of my attention right now.
"Are you Amethyst from the Gemstone Coven?" he asked gruffly. Not a dislikable voice, but not the best one either. It struck me as the kind of voice that would grow on someone.
"Yes. But you know that already," I pointed out. He'd just walked into my wand shop, and I was the only person here. "But I prefer Amy."
"Fine. I'm Detective Ambrose, Paranormal Police Department."
I raised an eyebrow. "So?"
"I need your help."
"Finding a wand?"
Annoyance flitted through his eyes and a tick started on his jaw. Oops. It might not have been my best move to go straight for the elephant in the room.
"I find my staff is far more effective."
"I'm sure it is." I let a wry smile spread over my lips, but he didn't respond. Great. I'd gotten one of those mages who didn't appreciate comments about his staff. "What can I do for you, Detective?"
Despite knowing I hadn't done anything wrong, a flutter of guilt settled in my stomach. At this rate, I was going to end up confessing to a murder I'd never even dreamed of.
"I said. I need your help."
I sighed dramatically. "Just saying you need my help isn't going to get the clean, concise kind of answer you're looking for," I pointed out. "Why don't we start with a subject? I'll guess, you can tell me if I'm right."
Ambrose growled. Huh, the books were right, that sound was kind of sexy on a man.
"I'd say the whereabouts of my sister, but Topaz lives to her own rules, I haven't seen her in months," I mused, tapping a pen against my chin. "Now wandcraft, that'd be my real area of expertise."
Bingo. That was just what he wanted me for. The real question was why.
“So… Detective Ambrose from the Paranormal Police Department. What could a mage like you possibly want from a wandmaker like me?”
“Help with a case. There are life’s at stake.”
“It’s classified. I can’t tell you until you agree to consult.”
The same annoyance bubbled up in me. “Riiiight… So you want my help, but you can’t tell me what it is until I agree to help you.”
He nodded. “Correct. I’ll need you to sign a waiver and a non-disclosure agreement before I can tell you more.”
While the PPD was run by all types of paranormals, my family and coven preferred to stay clear of law enforcement. It was best not to get mixed up with them, even if it was to help…
It did sound exciting. Consulting with the police, maybe catching murders and thieves, a whole new adventure away from sculpting wands for snooty customers.
I turned to the cat, seeking his opinion. “What do you think, Herb?”
“Are you... talking to a statue?” Detective Ambrose asked, sounding bemused.
“Herbert helps me think.”
“It’s a stone cat…” he said slowly.
“Wow, that’s rude of you.” I cupped Herbert’s ears. “Don’t listen to the mean man.”
“You’re crazy.” Ambrose frowned until his two eyebrows met in the middle of his face. “Are you serious?”
“I wasn’t talking to you,” I deflected, turning my back to him so I could consult with Herbert alone. “What do you think? Should I do this?”
The stone cat shot me a disapproving look that reminded me of my grandmother, but then again, what did he know? He never left the shop.
Besides, this consulting thing sounded fun and with the season change, there was always room for new and exciting adventures.
I ignored the cat’s advice and turned back to face the detective. “I’ll do it, but on one condition.”
“You’ll find you’re in no position to make conditions, Miss Amethyst.”
“Tut.” I held up a finger to silence him. “I’ll help you, after you apologise to Herbert.”Detective Ambrose’s face fell. “You… You want me to apologise to your statue?”
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