Cupcakes curses and spir.., p.1
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       Cupcakes, Curses, and Spirits, p.1

         Part #3 of Blue Moon Bay series by Jovee Winters
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Cupcakes, Curses, and Spirits


  Table of Contents

  Cupcakes, Curses, and Spirits

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Epilogue

  Zinnia’s Killer Cupcake

  Prep Time

  Cook Time

  Total Time

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  Cupcakes, Curses, and Spirits

  ZINNIA ROSE THORNE is just a simple hearth witch. She's fallen in love with a perfectly nerdy, human professor Zane Huntington the third. His kid is pretty darn epic. Business is thriving. Life is great. Until that is, a stranger passing through her cursed little town eats one of Zinnia's cupcakes and falls quite dead inside of her Golden Goose Diner. Zinnia didn't curse those cupcakes, so who did, and why are they trying to frame Zinnia for this crime?

  A banshee sings. A child screams. And soon a dark secret will be exposed that will rock Zinnia to her core and shatter everything she ever thought she knew...

  Copyright 2018 Jovee Winters

  Cover Art by Janet Holmes

  Formatted by D2D

  My super seekrit hangout!

  This is a work of fiction. All characters, places, and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons living or dead, events, or places is purely coincidental.

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher, Jovee Winters, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in the context of reviews.

  This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.

  Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Jovee Winters.

  Unauthorized or restricted use in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.

  The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patent Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.

  Published in 2018 by Jovee Winters, United States of America

  But the child’s sob curses deeper in the silence

  than the strong man in his wrath—

  Elizabeth Barrett Browning

  Prologue

  The Book

  1716 AD

  “The night was long, and the moon was at its peak in the sky—a velvety shade of misty blue. Fog rolled in from the still waters surrounding them. The girl held the hands of her lover, knowing if she let go, they would never find their way back to one another again.

  How had he found her? She’d been so careful. So very, very careful.

  “Ye think I would allow this?”

  “Da, please,” she pleaded, her voice cracking as magick, her magick, curled tight from her fingers. “I... I love him.”

  Her father snarled, and the heavens quaked.

  The world whipped with the source of the life giver’s fury. Her father, normally so jovial and gregarious with eyes that burned like silver frost and a face more handsome than any mortal’s, glowered at his daughter with a look that sent chills straight through her veins.

  “Say goodbye, Bláth.” His voice rolled like thunder, and the ground at their feet trembled. Giant cracks of lightning rent the night, causing her to shiver as needles of ice and rain suddenly pelted her face.

  She looked over at him—her lover, her friend, her everything.

  Long, wavy black hair framed his beloved face. His eyes were a rich shade of indigo, glittered with the jewels of a thousand stars, and his skin was as dark as freshly tilled earth. He lifted a hand and tenderly drew his finger down the side of her face.

  She shuddered, and her skin breathed with the light of her people—glowing like an ivory pearl in the darkness and lighting up all of the woods.

  “Do not be afraid,” he said, his voice deep and powerful.

  Bás, as he was called to the kin, was a devastating and wrecking force of nature that had only ever held her in reverence and tenderness.

  She tried to memorize the handsome lines of his face through her tears, but he was little more than a vague blur of light and shadows. “I am afeared,” she whispered. “I canna—”

  He shook his head, causing his waves of hair to feather around his sinisterly handsome features. Sharp, slashing lines made up the whole of him. His looks were severe, harsh, and stern, as if he’d been cut from granite. But his heart was what had driven Bláth to him. What he looked like was not who he was. He was kind and gentle, patient and so very tender. And he had the voice of an angel when he sang. His rich timbre had never failed to elicit tears in her.

  He was death until he sang, then he brought life to everything he touched.

  “Ye can, and ye will. Take care of the bairn.” He palmed her stomach with his large powerful hand.

  She shivered. Barely even two months along, she hardly even showed. But the bairn was the evidence of their unyielding love for one another.

  Her father’s growl of disapproval rocked the land beneath their feet, causing her to sway and cry out. But Bás was there to hold her and to right her—her helpmate, her beloved. How could she leave him? How could she bear it?

  Fingers trembling, she clasped his jaw, memorizing every inch of him all over again and committing him completely to her heart so that whenever she closed her eyes, he would be there, never to be taken away again.

  His long, dark, frost-tipped lashes fluttered when she touched him. She felt the blade piercing his chest, his soul, and his heart. They were no longer two, but one, connected soul to soul. Their love was forged in the bonds of the deeply forbidden passion they shared. His pain was hers, and hers was his.

  “The bairn will not be ours to keep.” Her father’s terrible words cut through their moment like a sword thrust through her body.

  She cried out and hugged her flat belly. “Ye canna mean ta—”

  “I can. And I will.” The king snarled, his handsome visage twisting into the stuff of nightmares. “When the bairn is born, I will toss it into this world.”

  Bás shoved her behind him, his powerful body quivering like a tightly wound bow string as he glared at her father. There wasn’t anyone as powerful as her Da, not even Bás. But he was a man in love, a man desperate to save that which he loved most.

  It was anathema to her father that Bás had committed the ultimate act of betrayal against him. Bás had been created as a weapon, a force of destruction born of fire and stars, created not to have a soul, not even a heart.

  But Bláth had been instantly drawn to the sad, lonely man with star-flecked eyes. She shouldn’t have done it, but she couldn’t help herself. She’d touched him. And in that one touch, she’d saved him. She’d birthed something new, something infinitely more powerful.

  They’d both known they couldn’t escape the wrath of the all-seeing king for long, but she would cherish the few months they’d had together all the days of her lonely life. Even if it was death that awaited her, she could not regret what she’d known for only a brief moment in time.

  Their child breathed within her. She wrapped an arm around her middle. Bás held her free hand in his, so careful to never harm her. He brought her knuckles to his mouth and tenderly dropped a warm kiss onto it, nuzzling her skin with the tip of his long nose and breathing her in like a fine mead. She felt alive, enflamed by his touch and devastated to her very core that never again would she
know his caresses. Never again would she awaken to find him over her, bearing his body into hers and imprinting himself as hers. And only ever hers.

  “I will guard our kin, Bláth. Worry not. I will keep the babe from harm, always. That is my vow to you, and may I be struck dead if I do not.”

  A sharp wind whistled through the trees from the whispered oath. The night had sealed his pledge.

  Bláth cried out, “Dinna make such a pledge. It is—”

  “Too late,” her father rumbled deeply, causing the land to roll and sway beneath them.

  Her heart hurt because she knew her father would harm their bairn, somehow, some way.

  “Ye wouldn’t,” she pleaded with him.

  But hellfire burned through his silver-eyed gaze, and she felt the coiling of his deadly resolve.

  Bás hugged her tight, whispering for her ears alone. “I promise, Bláth. With all my heart, I’ll be what ye need me to be. I’ll keep the babe safe. Always. I promise. I vow it.”

  She felt the scraping of his thumbs upon her cheeks, and only then realized that she’d begun to sob. Wherever her tears fell, life sprang up, beautiful blood red blooms that burst with the perfume of roses.

  “I love you,” she whispered.

  “Bláth, come!” Her father and king roared. The sound shifted the land, ripping her out of Bás’s arms.

  “No! NO!” she screamed, reaching for her lover, begging her father to stop this. But her cries went unheeded. When she looked at the spanning gulf between her and Bás and saw the sadness piercing through his eyes and the visceral pain leeching from them, she cried out, “I love ye, Bás, for always. Forever. I’ll always love ye.”

  He called back to her, long arm extended toward her, his fingers curled and clenching over and over. He roared from his heart, words she could not understand but that she knew could be naught other than eternal devotion.

  Then she was cast into darkness, and with the passage of time, she was soon disremembered by all. Left in the world of gray smoke and shadows, she forgot who she was, who she’d been, and even what she would be.

  When the babe was born, Bás stood, gazing down upon the wee squealing thing, and wondered whose it was, but it didn’t matter. Whoever it belonged to, they would come back for it. So she walked away. Bás was nothing now but a memory, a wraith doomed to walk the endless corridors of Illusion’s pathways, changing bit by bit, until soon she was nothing at all as she’d once been. In fact, she’d become something else entirely.

  The truth of the birth was kept hidden, even from the all-seeing king, by a friend, known to none, but ever present and always watchful. The king would eventually learn of the baby’s birth, but by then, there would be nothing the king could do.

  But the child was unwell, sickly, twisted, and cursed. And when the all-seeing king finally found him, it was too late. It was far too late.

  Zane Huntington the III

  I FINISHED MY READING and took the last sip of cold coffee from my mug before looking up at Zinnia, who was sitting across from me in the booth at her diner—The Golden Goose.

  The place was a charming retro turn-of-the-nineteenth-century revival, only it wasn’t. Because my girlfriend was actually an antique herself.

  Good thing I’d always been into history, and there was the fact that she was pretty easy on the eyes, not to mention she was an amazing, fascinating woman who I was wild about. And by some quirk of fate, she seemed just as crazy about me and my boy.

  Always dressed in her string of pearls, with her hair done up in the sleek styles of the 1920s, Zinnia wore her attractive dresses, stockings, heels, and bright-red lips. She was the kind of woman one just didn’t find anymore.

  Always smelling like sweet glazed honey, and with skin as fine as seamless bone china, she made my heart skip a beat whenever I was around her. I smiled at her, feeling like I had to be the luckiest guy in the world. But she didn’t notice, because she was distracted again.

  A recurring issue for her lately, and one that was beginning to make me worry a little. I studied her with a worried frown.

  She shoved a loose auburn curl out of her face, her glass-green eyes staring at the tabletop with a tired expression. She’d not gotten much sleep lately, if any, actually. At night, she was a superwoman, but during the day, she was a newt—my newt, my favorite reptile in the whole wide world. I was a herpetologist by trade, not so much now that I’d decided to plant down roots in Blue Moon Bay. I was still trying to figure things out, but so long as Zinnia and I were together, I figured I had time for the rest of it.

  She traced an invisible pattern on the table with her long red fingernail, looking deep in thought. I wasn’t sure if it was the exhaustion of not getting enough sleep that’d made Zinny seem somewhere faraway for the past week, but every day she seemed just a little bit more preoccupied than the day before.

  The diner was still just as busy as it’d been from the moment the doors had opened, always smelling like bacon and flapjacks, fluffy scrambled eggs, and freshly brewed coffee. It was no wonder business was booming. But then Zinnia was a hearth witch and could cook food that tasted like manna from heaven. It was so addictive. She worked like a dog to keep her patrons happy, and they loved her back, but I was selfish and glad to have her all to myself for at least one hour out of her busy workday.

  The diner’s namesake who sat in her extremely large nest before the frosted glass-paned windows honked loudly, flapping her wings as she laid yet another golden egg to the delight of those around her. Several of the children clapped, and even a few of the guests oohed and aahed over the perfect, gold-looking shell gleaming beneath the stage lights.

  Most of them probably thought Gwenny was some sort of prop or, at the bare minimum, that her eggs were.

  But in fact, Gwendolyn was the golden goose of legend. And only a few of us in the diner actually knew that. Most of the patrons were just passing through Blue Moon Bay now that the curse on the town had been temporarily lifted. The truth of Blue Moon was steeped in secrets and mysteries. And apart from the townsfolk and people like me who chose to stay here, few knew the real truth of this charming coastal town sitting smack dab in the middle of Nowheresville, USA.

  Zinnia yawned big then took another slow sip of her tea. Her eyes were bloodshot, their glass-green color slightly dimmer than usual, and her normally kempt appearance was frazzled around the edges. She had powdered sugar on the tip of her nose, which I found to be endearing. Maybe I would kiss it off before I left.

  She gave herself a little shake, blinking and looking around as though suddenly recalling where she was. She glanced at me and smiled contentedly. “Oh, you stopped reading.” She smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes.

  I thinned my lips. “Stopped a bit ago, sweetheart.”

  “Oh,” she gave a soft, self-effacing laugh. “Well, did you like the book?”

  My heart sank a little. But I didn’t want to worry her with my worries, whatever was on Zinny’s mind it was completely consuming her at the moment. So I nodded and pretended that I wasn’t as concerned as I actually was. “Of course. These stories are so different from the others.”

  “A little darker,” she said softly. “I know. I used to beg Aunty Vi to read them to me before bedtime when I was a little girl.”

  I grinned. “Subject matter’s a bit—”

  “Morbid?” she supplied and shrugged. “Maybe, I guess. But to me as a ten-year-old girl, it was so romantic. Bás and Bláth, life and death. I wanted to find that kind of love someday too.”

  I chuckled. “The cursed kind?”

  She laughed. The sound was light and airy but full of exhaustion. Today had been a long shift, and we’d made it a habit of spending time together whenever and wherever we could. For now, we met at the diner since all Zinnia’s nights were spent there and her days were spent traipsing through the forest on her adorable little red-bellied newty toes.

  “Well, not that part, obviously.”

  “So you say most
of these stories are true, but not all of them?” I frowned, holding the book in hand and waving it at her.

  Rubbing at the back of her neck with her long, delicate fingers, she sighed. “That’s what Aunty Prim always said anyway. That the truth sometimes gets blurred by legend, but that in each tale, there is a grain of fact. The skill comes in sussing out fact from fiction.”

  I sat the book down and eyed her. She was looking into her teacup, a sleepy look in her eyes. She was tired. I felt bad about it, but every time I asked her to take a day off, she wouldn’t. She worked harder than anyone I knew, and she was a grown woman able to make her own decisions in life. But that didn’t mean that I didn’t care about her, which was why I’d decided to implement our daily “break” times together. She’d balked at first, panicked that the diner would burn down around her dainty little feet if she wasn’t up and overseeing everything, but she’d begun to relax recently, and for that, I was grateful.

  For the past many, days Zinny and I had been reading from her aunty Prim’s book of folklore. The nerd in me was ceaselessly fascinated by all the stories of Big Foots, zombies—of which I happened to count one as a personal acquaintance—shifters, faery people, and especially the witches. Of course, anyone who was anyone knew the stories of the old Hollywood legends and the characters of Grimm, but the stories and the truth weren’t always so black and white. There were infinite shades of gray. I liked to keep the scarier books out of Edward’s hands, but he had a curious mind, much like my own, and had taken to this enchanting place as if he’d always belonged.

  He was enrolled in school, the only boy in a classroom of twenty students, and was rather fawned over because of it. The whole boy-girl thing was a result of the curse that had been placed on the township more than three hundred years ago. The town didn’t have boys. No one knew exactly why, other than they simply couldn’t seem to bear any child of the xy persuasion.

  We’d been living in Blue Moon almost four weeks, and though I’d read a lot, there was still so much I didn’t know.

 
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