Listen to Your Art (EBOOK)

Wendy Meadows Paranormal Cozy Mystery Listen to Your Art (EBOOK)

Listen to Your Art (EBOOK)

Witch of Wickrock Bay Book 2
Regular price $2.99 Sale price $1.99 Save 33%
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Art is in the eye of the beholder – until they end up in the gutter.

 

After an ominous figure appeared telling her of a secret wizarding organization running in the town, Mimi can’t seem to settle. Only her friend Sara knows Mimi’s powers, but she can offer no help as they set up a Wine and Art night with pictures. Mimi knows who harbors an eye for treasure from selling all sorts of antiques from all eras around the globe in her shop and makes sure they are on the guestlist. Bank President Samantha Hamilton sweeps in demanding to see the pictures before the other guests – storming off in a huff when Mimi and Sara refuse.

Nothing sours a party more than murder.

Hours later, the party in full swing but Samantha remains absent -- until Samantha’s corpse is discovered in the gutter outside Mimi’s apartment. Chief Rod Thompson is immediately dispatched to conduct a murder investigation, rounding those at the party for questioning.

While Mimi pursues leads to help bring the murderer to justice; she is approaching some unsavory suspects who are filled with rage, motive, shaky alibis, and Blackstone hearts. Mimi isn’t the only one on the hunt – someone is watching her from afar, and she’ll have to steel her spine if the shadow appears at her door with a warning.

Art is in the eye of the beholder – until they end up in the gutter.

After an ominous figure appeared telling her of a secret wizarding organization running in the town, Mimi can’t seem to settle. Only her friend Sara knows Mimi’s powers, but she can offer no help as they set up a Wine and Art night with pictures. Mimi knows who harbors an eye for treasure from selling all sorts of antiques from all eras around the globe in her shop and makes sure they are on the guestlist. Bank President Samantha Hamilton sweeps in demanding to see the pictures before the other guests – storming off in a huff when Mimi and Sara refuse.

Nothing sours a party more than murder.

Hours later, the party in full swing but Samantha remains absent -- until Samantha’s corpse is discovered in the gutter outside Mimi’s apartment. Chief Rod Thompson is immediately dispatched to conduct a murder investigation, rounding those at the party for questioning.

While Mimi pursues leads to help bring the murderer to justice; she is approaching some unsavory suspects who are filled with rage, motive, shaky alibis, and Blackstone hearts. Mimi isn’t the only one on the hunt – someone is watching her from afar, and she’ll have to steel her spine if the shadow appears at her door with a warning.

Chapter One

Mimi Knotley scanned the main room of her antiques shop, Surprises: Rare and Wonderful Antiques. 

“I think now there’s enough space to fit twelve workstations, isn’t there?” she asked her friend Sara Domico.

Sara narrowed her eyes and moved her gaze from the front window of the shop to the door leading to the back room. 

“That’s three people more than the last time. Are you sure?” Sara made a few exaggerated steps, sending the little copper pots on the nearby shelf tinkling. Even Baxter, Mimi’s pug, lifted his head from his favorite green chair to watch her.

 “Yeah, that’s enough space for about ten tables, twelve if you’re lucky,” Sara said, stopping at the other end of the room. “You should really measure it properly so you can find the optimal setup for all the tables.”

Mimi suppressed an eye roll. Sara was an awesome friend, but her perfectionism could be trying at times. 

“It’s just a regular wine and art class, not an art exposition. These are local ladies, all down to earth and pragmatic, who come here to have a little fun,” Mimi fired back. “The room needs to be warm, well lit, and inviting, with just enough space for everyone to fit in.”

Sara shot her a disapproving look. “I’m sure they appreciate the beauty of a well-organized workspace. Some of those ladies are frequent customers of mine and I know they can be fussy. They’re rich and influential and they think they deserve it all. You don’t want Samantha Hamilton telling everyone that your shop is not up to scratch.” Sara paused, her gray eyes piercing Mimi. “She is coming, isn’t she?” Sara’s voice echoed in the shop. 

Baxter growled quietly. Mimi tensed her shoulders. 

“Oh, snickerdoodle! Don’t jinx it, Sara,” Mimi gasped. “She is coming, I think, I just hope she doesn’t show up early, like she always does...”

Sara crossed her arms. 

“Come on, Mimi, do you honestly think Mrs. Hamilton will change her habits? You’ve hosted those painting evenings for a while, has she ever not come early?”

Mimi blew out her cheeks. Her nose was itching. Sara had an uncanny talent for seeing through people’s defenses and calling a spade a spade. “I know it’s silly, but I can still hope, can’t I?” She looked around her shop, the shelves freshly replenished with weird and wonderful artifacts after her recent trip to Ireland. Of course, like any business owner she wanted her shop to prosper, but her reluctance to sell the best findings to one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Wickrock Bay was palpable today.

Mimi pursed her lips. “I just don’t like when someone is so greedy,” she mumbled. “And I don’t like the way she weasels into places, using her power or her money, and pushes her own agenda or gets her hands on the best deals.”

Sara nodded slowly. “I agree with you on Samantha Hamilton. And, to be honest, I push back whenever I can when she demands special treatment at my shop. I don’t approve of this behavior either, but going back to the initial issue, let’s get on with setting up the tables. The sooner we start, the sooner we’ll know if there is enough room for twelve workstations.”

Mimi rolled her shoulders a couple of times, welcoming the change of subject. Even though Mimi didn’t have problems being assertive, Samantha Hamilton made her uncomfortable. “Okay, let’s get on with it.” She ducked into the back room to bring out the chairs. When she emerged, Sara was pushing a large, heavily decorated chest out of the back corner. 

Mimi’s heart flipped. “Eek, what are you doing?” 

“If we put the chest in front of those shelves, there will be room over there to put the drinks and nibbles table and the center will be less crowded.”

Mimi inhaled sharply. She’d pushed the chest deep into that corner after the murder of her neighbor, Daniel George, trying very hard to forget about that grim affair. 

Sara glanced at her. “Oh, yikes, I forgot,” she said. “Sorry, I didn’t realize you—”

“No, you’re right.” Mimi waved her hand. She had to face it one day. “The little table will fit in perfectly in that corner,” she went on. “Of course, I miss Daniel and his coffee, but life goes on. It’s not like we’ll have any more murders any time soon,” Mimi added, trying for a lighter tone, but somehow it sounded hollow. “Come on, I’ll help you. Now I need a distraction.” 

Mimi left the chairs in the middle of the room and grabbed one of the cast iron handles on the chest. The women got busy moving various pieces of furniture.

“It looks much better, don’t you think?” Sara asked, wiping her forehead with the back of her hand. 

Mimi leaned against the wall and took the shop in slowly. Even with only six workstations arranged in the middle of the room for now, she could see the difference. 

“No doubt you were right, girl,” she said. “Thank you for pushing me to do it. And what do you think, Baxter?” Mimi turned her head toward the window.

The little pug lifted his head and gave a sharp bark. 

“Approved!” Sara clapped her hands and laughed. “Now you just need to move some of those pots and pans on that shelf, so people can still see them from across the room.”

“Which ones?” Mimi asked.

“The flowery set.”

Mimi located the set on the shelf. “Do you think moving the little one slightly to the left and then pushing the big one to the back would help?” she said, imagining the moves.

The pots wobbled. The large one slid back. A shiver went down Mimi’s spine. It happened again! She needed to learn to control it.

She gulped and glanced at Sara. 

“What?” Sara stared back at her.

“Did you... uh... see it?”

Sara narrowed her eyes. Her face paled. 

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about,” she said, a little stiffly. 

Mimi licked her lips. What a relief. Sara’s myopia and her reluctance to wear glasses came to her rescue. Mimi was tempted to share her secret with her friend, but how? Despite Sara’s strong intuition, she was also one of the most pragmatic people Mimi knew. Maybe she could still wriggle her way out if this.

“Never mind.” Mimi waved her hand. “Just wondering about your ability to see how something would look in your mind.”

Sara moved her gaze back to the shelf. She squinted. “Hang on, Mimi. Those pots…” She strode across the room and stood by the shelf, staring at it. “That’s exactly what I thought of doing,” she added slowly. “Wait. How on earth did you...” Sara turned back, hands on her hips, and paused. 

Mimi gulped again. Baxter barked. He jumped off the chair and sat watching her.

Two staring glances, clearly expecting her to do or say something. Mimi’s face burned. 

“All right, the two of you,” she blurted. Baxter was somehow involved in it, too, she would swear. “I wasn’t too keen on sharing it, because it’s a bit... unusual.” She stopped to swallow. Her throat was dry like the duster she used to practice her powers on. Baxter’s tail hit the floor a couple of times, as if he was hurrying her. Mimi bit her lip, pushing aside the urge to stick her tongue out at him. 

“Last month, the day of Daniel George’s murder, I discovered…well, I know it sounds bizarre, but I can…move things without touching them,” she explained. Her voice trembled a little. 

Sara trotted back toward her. 

“Are you kidding?” she asked cautiously.

“No, I’m completely serious. Look.” Mimi imagined the little pot moving to the left, just as Sara had described it earlier. 

The object obliged. Baxter tapped his tail on the floor. Was he applauding her or what? Mimi gave him a look she hoped conveyed suspicion, but her pug’s doggy face remained impenetrable. 

Sara rushed back to the shelf. “Oh, I didn’t see,” she moaned. “But the pots are rearranged again, I think. How did you do that?”

“No idea. It just started that day.”

“This is unbelievable. Have you done anything about it? Talked to anyone?” Sara’s voice took on a raspy tone. “This is highly unusual.”

“I know.” Mimi sighed. “That’s why you’re the first one I told about it.”

Baxter growled. 

“Huh?” Mimi stared at him. Her pug tilted his head, keeping his round brown eyes on hers. The golden speckles in his irises glittered. 

“Ah, no!” Mimi exclaimed, suddenly remembering the strange encounter on the evening of Daniel’s murderer’s arrest. “I lied. There was this strange man who came to my shop, claiming he was from an organization.” She paused. Retelling the experience made it even more unreal. 

“What organization?” Sara pushed.

“Don’t know. They monitor the Internet for searches on... how do I put it? Unusual powers.”

Sara’s mouth dropped open. She closed it promptly and glared at Mimi. 

“What have you been searching for?”

A hot wave spread over Mimi’s neck and face. Her nose was beginning to tingle. She’d better keep her irritation under control. “Just trying to find out about people moving objects, that’s all,” she explained as calmly as she could. 

“Nothing illegal?” Sara asked with an urgent edge in her voice.

“No. Don’t be silly. I could always say it was something to do with my antique findings. An unusual artifact, that’s all,” she added, quite pleased with her improvised pretext. 

“What did you tell him?” Sara clearly wasn’t going to let Mimi off the hook.

“I told him to go away,” Mimi replied, hoping her cheeks weren’t betraying she felt a little embarrassed about the way she did that. 

“Has he been back? Do you think he would know that you’ve just moved these pots on your shelf? What are you going to do if he does turn up again?” Sara looked around the shop, her nervousness apparent. 

Mimi waved her hands. “Whoa! I’ve no idea. What would you do if you were in my place?”

Sara shrugged. “I’m sorry, I can’t help. I have no idea what the risks may entail. But—” She paused and giggled. “Would you mind showing me again how you can move some objects? I didn’t see it actually happening.”

“I told you that you should wear your glasses,” Mimi replied. She’d been bugging her friend about it for a year. “It’s your health, Sara. Look after it.”

“I do wear my glasses,” Sara fired back, crossing her arms on her chest.

“As an accessory. On your head. I mean wearing your glasses on your nose, so you can see properly.” This was a great opportunity to try and convert her friend to using her spectacles for what they’d been prescribed for. 

“I look too bookish in them. My customers don’t want a bookworm helping them choose modern jewelry. I’d be unconvincing.”

“Come on, Sara. You’re being too stereotypical. Lots of modern, dynamic fashion icons wear glasses.”

“Like who?”

“Like...” Mimi flinched. Her head was empty. She should have prepared for this argument. She would look it up for sure, as soon as possible, in case this topic came up again, as it would, but for now... “Never mind,” Mimi said lightly. “Do you want to see me do it again?” she asked.

Sara clasped her hands. “Of course, show me—”

The entrance door flung opened, hitting the wall.

Mimi jumped. Baxter uttered a long, low growl. 

“Evening, ladies.” The crisp, energetic voice vibrated in the room. Mimi didn’t have to look to know who was speaking. She would have recognized the person in the thickest darkness.

“Hello, Samantha, you’re early,” Mimi said calmly, ignoring the heavy sensation in her stomach. What was this woman doing here? “The event starts in two hours.”

“I know, darling,” Samantha Hamilton replied. “But if I didn’t turn up early for events and work, I wouldn’t have been where I am now,” she added in a clipped voice, which, in Mimi’s opinion, brimmed with condescension. 

“Isn’t the Wine and Art evening for enjoyment rather than work?” Sara joined in. “You don’t have to come early. Besides, the shop isn’t prepared yet.”

“I can see that,” Samantha said, sweeping her gaze across the room. Disapprovingly didn’t even come close to describing it. 

Mimi cleared her throat. Samantha Hamilton might be the richest and most powerful woman in Wickrock Bay, but she had no authority in her shop. 

“Anyway, the shop is closed, Samantha, and the evening starts in two hours. We are in the middle or organizing the space. I need to ask you to leave,” she said as calmly as she could. The tingling sensation reappeared. This time, Mimi had little incentive to keep it under control too much if Samantha didn’t obey. 

Samantha scrunched her snub nose and lowered the collar of her expensive-looking dark, shiny coat. 

“You don’t need to be rude, Mimi. I’m smart enough to read between the lines,” she replied. “I just wanted to have a look at the pictures we have for tonight.” She shrugged and craned her short neck. “Where are they?” 

Mimi stepped forward and stood akimbo in front of the unexpected guest. 

“I’m sorry, but Lacy isn’t here yet and I’m not authorized to let anyone near the gear for this evening before it opens,” she said firmly, pulling her eyebrows together for enhanced effect. 

Samantha took in huffing breath. “One shouldn’t stay where one is not welcomed,” she hissed. “I hope you know what you’re doing,” she added, still glued to her spot.

Surprise, surprise, a comment designed to browbeat her into changing her mind, Mimi thought. She tensed her back. Baxter barked at her foot and growled, baring his teeth—an unusual sight. 

Samantha turned on her heels. “I’m off, but I’ll be back later for the evening, of course,” she replied, pulling the collar of her fancy coat up again. “I shall hope the ambience is more welcoming,” she threw over her shoulder.

Mimi’s neck pulsed. She tightened her grasp on her hips. It hurt, but at least it distracted her for the crucial few seconds it took Samantha to cross the shop floor back to the door and outside. 

Mimi checked the handle and turned the key, locking the door from the inside. 

“In case she comes back. We still have work to do,” she commented. 

“You handled her quite well,” Sara said. 

“I was angry with her. Still am, I think,” she added rubbing her burning cheeks with both hands. “She thinks she can have everything she wants just because she is Samantha Hamilton. But that was strange behavior even for her, don’t you think?” 

Sara looked away, furrowing her brow. 

“Now you said that, I agree,” Sara said after a moment. “Do you think she was drunk or something?”

“I didn’t smell alcohol on her breath,” Mimi replied. “But I wasn’t standing too close, just in case.”

“Baxter was ready to protect you,” Sara laughed. “He’s a great dog, isn’t he?” she added and bent to give the pug a rub behind his ears. 

“I thought you were a cat person,” Mimi observed.

“I am. I just happen to like your dog. Let’s get on with the rest of these chairs and tables, shall we?”

Mimi jumped and trotted back toward the pile of furniture items brought in earlier by Lacy Strumbottom, the Wine and Art events coordinator. 

“You’re right as always, Sara, oh my favorite voice of reason,” Mimi called out from behind the chairs. “I won’t think about Samantha Hamilton until I see her again. But I don’t want her to spoil my evening.” 

The friends continued arranging the shop interior to welcome the local art lovers. Mimi indeed managed to forget the unpleasant incident and enjoyed chatting with the other ladies, the local gossip, the vibrant colors on the pictures, and even the smell of the paints. One or two of the regulars even commented how great it was to pick the picture to paint without being bullied by others into choosing something they didn’t like. Everyone seemed particularly relaxed and happy that night. Much more than during the previous Wine and Art Night Mimi had hosted.

“It’s turned out to be quite all right,” Mimi whispered to Sara who was standing by one of the painting ladies, Amanda Potter, admiring her work.

“Do you mean my work?” Amanda asked, looking up at Mimi.

Mimi’s face burst into flames. 

“No, I meant the evening. But your painting is lovely too,” she rushed to add. “These little flowers are so cute. I love the texture you gave them.”

“I’ve wanted to try this technique for a while, but you have to have the right picture to paint,” Amanda explained. “We’re really lucky Samantha Hamilton is not here tonight. She would have never chosen this.” She pointed to the image. 

Mimi frowned. She’d been wondering all evening why Samantha Hamilton wasn’t there. Had she taken offense at Mimi’s behavior earlier and decided to not come back?

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