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Parakeets & Pentagrams: Paranormal Cozy Mystery

Parakeets & Pentagrams: Paranormal Cozy Mystery

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Parakeets & Pentagrams: Paranormal Cozy Mystery

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179 página
4 horas
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Lançado em:
Feb 8, 2019
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Livro

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Wildlife-rehabbing witch Tabitha Tapscott’s life among the mortals of Dove’s Creek, Virginia is just the way she likes it—until she finds a body on her property.
Though the mortals write the killing off as a wild animal attack, Tabitha’s convinced there’s foul play at work because the body reeks of malevolent magic.
When a mysterious paranormal detective swoops in and pins the blame on an innocent griffin, Tabitha has no choice but to investigate the murder herself.
But as she uncovers secrets that change the way she sees the town she loves, Tabitha realizes an innocent griffin isn’t her only concern—because all of Dove’s Creek is at risk.
With help from her feathered familiars, can Tabitha clip the killer’s wings?
Parakeets and Pentagrams is the first book starring Tabitha Tapscott, wildlife rehabber, witch, and amateur sleuth. Discover the secrets and mysteries of Dove's Creek with Tabitha and her feathered and furred friends in this debut novel from an enchanting new series!

Editora:
Lançado em:
Feb 8, 2019
Formato:
Livro

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Parakeets & Pentagrams - Hazel Reed

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1

Most birds aren’t gossips.

But some are.

And these three outside my window currently prevented me from sleeping. What they were talking about was just too interesting for me to drift back into the realm of dreams.

Mmhm, they got a divorce.

A divorce? What’s that?

It’s when human mates break up. You know they try to stick together for life, not just one season.

Whatever for?

Chirp if I know. But it’s a big deal. The humans in town are all a-flutter.

Ah, these are the humans who just had the celebration at the old peach orchard a couple months ago, added a third voice. With the sunflower seed ornaments?

Yes, that’s right, those seeds were delicious. That celebration was called a wedding, and it’s important to them.

So they do at least have a courtship ceremony.

Sort of, said the first bird. It’s an announcement that they’re paired off.

I see.

How do you know it’s a divorce, though? asked the third bird. You can hardly read.

There was a big kerfuffle on Front Street. A public fight between the two humans, plus a third larger one, who punched the other male in the face. Very ugly. I heard one squawk ‘divorce,’ and then the female threw some papers on the ground.

On the ground? What use are they to anyone there? Humans aren’t ground-feeders. said the second bird.

I don’t know. But the other humans seem to think it’s very strange, considering the gathering at the orchard.

But why is it strange? It’s late summer. Surely they must have mated and had chicks already,

The other two birds laughed.

The second bird didn’t seem to have a good grasp of human behavior, and I couldn’t blame him. I hardly understood it myself.

I pushed the blanket off of me and sat up, stretching as the golden rays of dawn filtered in through my bedroom window.

As I walked to the bathroom, I thought about the divorce. If the birds were to be believed—and they usually were—then Shelley and Peter Greenley had indeed split up.

Though it didn’t affect me much, I found it interesting for the same reason other people watched TV dramas and reality shows. I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t intrigued, especially after several decades of living on a farm.

Being an immortal was dull at times.

I made my way down the stairs to pour my morning cup of tea. The parakeets, Charlotte and Charlie, immediately flew to their regular perch beside the vintage grass green kettle and bowed their saffron-colored heads. I obliged and scratched them while waiting for the water to boil.

Did you hear about the divorce? I asked them.

Charlotte tilted her little head. Divorce? What’s that?

I laughed. Very few animals, even familiars, had interest in humans, and fewer had knowledge about their mysterious customs. I just heard the sparrows talking about some events in town. Maybe you’ve heard about them?

Charlie laughed. The sparrows are silly little things. I don’t pay much attention to them.

Charlotte gave him a look. Excuse me? Did I not catch you eavesdropping on them just last week? You’re worse than they are.

Charlie bent his head a little, bashful. "Some of what they say is worth hearing."

Well, they were talking about the divorce between Shelley and Peter Greenley, I said. Apparently they had a messy, public break up. The sparrows said a man punched another man—not sure who the third person was—and then Shelley threw papers at his feet.

Wow, said Charlie, engrossed. Charlotte was right; he loved to soak up drama.

Not much happens here, does it? said Charlotte with a chuckle.

It’s the most exciting thing that’s happened all summer, I agreed.

A clacking on the back window echoed through my kitchen, like someone was tapping the glass with a stick.

The parakeets perked up, instantly alert. Even though they were familiars, and thus immortal, they still had their prey animal instincts.

Sassy, a border collie mix who helped me out with the farm, went to check the door first. She wasn’t tall enough to see out the window, so she sniffed all around the sides of the door.

I walked over and undid the lock, then opened it.

A massive griffin stared me down.

She was huge—easily larger than the largest draft horse I’d ever seen, with broad wings like those of a small airplane, brown and gold in the morning sunlight. Her golden eagle plumage seamlessly met the pelt of a big cat, maybe a mountain lion.

While the griffin had enormous claws and a fierce beak—several times larger than those of a real eagle—I didn’t get the sense she wanted to harm me.

My name’s Esme, she said, bowing deeply. I’m passing through and thought I’d stop by to introduce myself, as I’d like to stay on your territory for a while.

Of course, I said, my awe wearing off. I’m Tabitha Tapscott.

You can call her Tab, chirped Charlotte.

Or Tibby, Charlie added, snickering. She loves that.

I do not, I said, but Charlie had already fluttered back to the kitchen.

Tabitha, said Esme. It’s lovely to meet you. I hope I’m not intruding? I heard from some other creatures that your farm was a good place to stay while traveling.

I don’t mind having you at all, I said. I’m actually a wildlife rehabilitator, so I’m used to having all kinds of guests here.

I didn’t think eagles could smile, not with that harsh expression, but Esme managed, her tufted feather ears perking up. I’m glad to hear it. I, uh, won’t prey on your guests.

I laughed. There’s plenty of deer in the forest.

Good. I also wanted to deliver two things.

She nudged a bundle of fabric toward me with a claw, and when I picked it up, I realized there were animals inside, soft and wiggling.

Baby rabbits whose mother died, Esme said. I heard you care for wild animals…?

I do. I would have expected you to eat these guys, though. I’ve known dragons who might’ve.

Esme scoffed. There is no honor for griffins in preying upon the weak, she said haughtily.

That’s a good rule, I said, holding the bundle close. I placed it on the ground next to Sassy, who started to daintily sniff the bundle.

Esme nodded, then reached over to an envelope lying on the ground, picking it up between two claws and handing it to me.

I took the envelope from her. Her talons were nearly as large as hubcaps.

What is it? I asked, looking down at the address. It only had my name and the name of my farm so it was definitely magical mail. The return address was on the back, but the sender was simply the Dragon’s Crest Insurance Company. No one I knew.

Not sure, said Esme. It was outside the shed near the treeline. I suppose it got a little lost.

Well, thanks for bringing it, I said, pocketing the envelope. An ominous feeling struck me, but I wasn’t sure why.

Glad to aid you, said Esme. I should get myself some breakfast now. I shall try to stay out of your way.

Don’t worry about it. Stop by anytime, I said quickly, glad to have the griffin around. They were rare creatures, fascinating to talk to because of their knowledge of ancient civilizations and treasures. I hoped she’d visit more so I could pick her brain.

Esme bowed again, and then turned and leaped up, her massive wings carrying her into the air and then up the mountain until I lost sight of her.

Sassy looked up at me, pleased she’d been helpful. I reached down to pet her head, and she stuck her tongue out, her tail thumping the floor.

I wished I could speak with Sassy, but she wasn’t magical. My empathy for animals only went so far. I often wondered what she and the other non-magical animals I ran into thought about, or what they wanted to say, but so far, that was one problem my magic hadn’t been able to solve. I could understand birds through my affinity to my familiars, but other animals were a mystery.

Animal linguistics was one of many fields I promised myself I’d explore, when I got a free minute. But as a wildlife rehabber, I never had a free minute.

I finished preparing my tea, finding I had to microwave it, and prepared a bagel with fried eggs—fresh from my own chickens. I only had a little while before I’d have to start feeding and caring for my patients.

But first, I had to see what the letter Esme found was about.

I hesitated to open it, but I had to. As soon as I put the empty envelope on the table, the two parakeets starting chewing on and tussling over it. I ignored the noise and unfolded the letter.

Dear Tabitha Tapscott,

It has come to our attention that your insurance coverage expired on July 31st for your property at Sixteen Tapscott Lane. Please visit our office at your earliest convenience to restart your coverage. Our address is 18 Sapphire, and our hours are sunrise to noon.

Best wishes,

The Dragon’s Crest Insurance Company

Magical insurance renewal happened only once every century or two, so I wasn’t surprised I’d forgotten about it. My parents had probably set it up when they’d purchased the farm, and it must have run out this year.

Regardless, it explained the feeling of dread I’d felt. I had to visit the insurance company’s office to start coverage again, and I didn’t want to dawdle for too long. All kinds of magical catastrophes could happen, and this farm was one of the most valuable and meaningful things I owned. What would I do without it?

Of course, their office was in the other realms. Nothing was ever easy over there, especially for those of us living in the mundane realm.

As much as I avoided spending time in the other realms, this time I didn’t have a choice.

Your insurance lapsed? Charlotte chirped loudly in my ear. I hadn’t noticed she’d climbed onto my shoulder. She pressed her feathered body against my cheek as she peered down at the letter.

Apparently, I said. I have to go to the other realms to renew it, but I don’t know how to find the insurance company’s office. The address is vague.

Perhaps the Phoenix knows, said Charlotte.

Maybe, I said, but I didn’t want to trouble her with mundane details like insurance. She was above all that.

In any case, I had my duties to attend to first. I headed out to the garage, which was where I kept the animals.

The automatic lights had already turned on, and sunlight now poured in through the windows. That meant all the animals had woken up.

A chorus of chirps and chitters greeted me as the animals watched me come in. A lot of other wildlife rehabbers—non-magical humans—told me I had a way with animals, that they listened to me and understood me. Rehabbers were generally compassionate, empathic people, but even then, they sent me some of their more difficult cases.

It was part magic and part natural ability. I had perfected my repertoire of calming and healing spells and potions, which I used to great effect with the animals.

Charlotte and Charlie had followed me in, but I didn’t mind. As childish as they could be, they were excellent helpers and not only behaved themselves, but calmed down the other animals or distracted them while I had a task to do.

As I worked, I thought about the griffin and what I wanted to ask her. She looked like she was native to the North American continent, given her resemblance to a bald eagle, so I imagined she’d know about the Native American civilizations that had once flourished here. Even when I was born, in 1729, the Dogue people with whom I shared some heritage were nearly extinct.

The yelp of a young fox startled me out of my thoughts. Charlotte jumped around in front of him to distract him from the bandages I had to change. He was engrossed, and I was able to hold his leg to wrap the gauze around it.

He whimpered, and my heart sank, feeling his pain. It was hard to see little animals in distress. And this one had been orphaned, too.

I closed my eyes and placed a hand on his side, willing my healing energy to flow through him. I had plenty of it to spare, since I’d just woken up. I also sent a suggestion that he should sleep along with my magic, and his eyes drifted closed.

Soon enough, he was fast asleep—and if my healing magic had worked, no longer in pain.

I gently carried him back to his cage and placed him in a nest of old tea towels.

There was more feeding to do after that, mostly of some late summer songbirds, like goldfinches, that had fallen out of their nests. I was the only wildlife rehabber in this town, so everyone brought their finds to me, though I networked with others in the region.

I wished I could somehow share my magic with them, but I didn’t think offering them a mysterious colored liquid in a bottle and passing it off as a legitimate medicine would go over well.

After finishing my chores with the rehab animals, it was time to take care of my own pets. Charlotte and Charlie didn’t need to eat—though they were constantly on the lookout for treats to steal—but Sassy, the chickens, and Maple the nanny goat needed food and water. The two cats, Oscar

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