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Sue Hollowell Books

Chapters and Charms (PREORDER EBOOK)

Chapters and Charms (PREORDER EBOOK)

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Regular price Sale price $5.99 USD
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PREORDER - EBOOK. Chapters and Charms is book #2 in the Magical Bookstore series.

Arabella's tranquil life is shattered when her spectral grandmother makes an urgent appearance with a harrowing tale: her bones have been mysteriously stolen, and if they're not retrieved quickly, she will disappear forever. 

As Arabella visits the family graveyard, she finds her grandmother's grave seemingly undisturbed, but the cemetery manager dismisses her concerns, and the local police deem her story too fantastical. Arabella, feeling increasingly isolated in her quest, sees her grandmother becoming more transparent with each passing hour, heightening the stakes of her mission.

With the crucial 48-hour mark approaching, her grandmother's disappearance appears imminent. Just when the investigation seems futile, a startling revelation about her grandmother’s past in her Coven adds a new layer to the enigma. 

Can Arabella unravel the tangled web of her grandmother's past in time to prevent her from fading away forever?

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CHAPTER 1

“Somebody stole my bones.”

Gigi burst into the foyer like a whirlwind just as Marcel and I stepped across the threshold. Her words hit us like a thunderclap, revealing a secret so shocking it sent ripples through the air. The house itself seemed to groan and shudder, echoing the turmoil of the revelation. Overwhelmed, I collapsed onto the couch, my mind a whirlpool of confusion. As if sensing my distress, Marcel nuzzled against me, his gentle licks on my hand a quiet reassurance in the storm. Instinctively, I reached out, my fingers finding solace in the rhythmic stroking of his soft fur.

As I slumped onto the couch, the absurdity of it all hit me. “Bones stolen, ghosts, and magic... just a typical Tuesday,” I muttered to myself. Marcel let out a soft ‘woof’ beside me, almost as if he agreed. I couldn’t help but smirk. “You’re right, Marcel. At least it’s not Monday.”

It might surprise people that Marcel only became my dog recently. His previous owner passed away, and her brother, Delmer, who I met at the farmer’s market, realized we had an instant connection. One day, Delmer simply brought Marcel, along with luggage full of his stylish accessories, right to my doorstep.

Yes, you read that correctly, luggage. This Frenchie was styled more than I was.

“Arabella, are you listening? You’re going to have to find who stole my bones. Your magic is the only way, or I’ll disappear forever.” Gigi’s spirit flitted around the room.

I already solved one mystery today, forcing me to dip a toe into the magical world I promised never to be a part of again. The situation had my head in a tailspin, but now, another crime needed to be solved. How was I going to avoid magic this time? Losing my Gigi wasn’t an option.

As I watched Gigi move near the couch, I wondered if she would fade away and become invisible, but I saw no signs of it. She could appear and disappear whenever she wanted. I had never seen her become so see through that I could look right through her. And I darn sure wasn’t ready for that to happen. We couldn’t touch, so I wouldn’t miss that, but the thought of not being able to see or talk to her anymore really bothered me. I was also worried about where she might go if she disappeared. Would she stop existing, go to heaven, return to where she came from, or something else? I didn’t know.

Marcel moved around and pushed his body harder against my thigh as he patted his paw against my hand, as if trying to console me. Glancing at his bow tie, I teased, “You know, with your fashion sense, you should be leading this investigation, not me.” He wagged his tail proudly, clearly pleased with his attire. “Too bad ‘best dressed’ doesn’t solve mysteries, huh, Marcel?” He had more bow ties than I had underwear, and one suitable for every occasion.

As time went by, I grew to be more thankful for Delmar and his gift of Marcel. I wasn’t one to have many friends, or any, really. To have this little pooch turned out to be a blessing.

“Arabella, you’re not answering me. Shouldn’t you be out investigating now?” Gigi asked.

Shaking my head, I looked at Gigi and asked, “Are you sure your bones were taken? Are you positive you’ll disappear? How do you know?” The questions spouted off without me having to think about them. They were logical questions, but my grandmother looked at me like I had turned myself into a toad and gave an exasperated sigh.

Gigi lifted her hand, and in a blink of an eye, she flickered. It was subtle, but not anything she had done before. “My bones anchor me to the mortal realm. There’s a restlessness in my soul. I know my bones are missing. It’s impossible for me not to know when my grave has been disturbed. It’s like you would know if you broke your arm,” she said.

Never once in my life had I ever seen my grandmother shaken, even when she arrived as a ghost for the first time. She showed up in style like she just came from an episode of Bewitched and spouted out Ta-Da. I jumped a mile high and let out the squeakiest of screams when she appeared behind me in the kitchen after I had eaten a whole chocolate bundt cake with caramel glaze. Losing my grandmother had been hard, and I didn’t expect her to materialize like a ghost. I thought for sure I was going to be alone. My parents only came for the day. And left as soon as they appeared briefly at the house where I hosted a get-together after the funeral. I didn’t want to host one, and I didn’t like people in the house. The house didn’t either. It was extremely cranky that day, making a lot of strange noises.

The other witches were unfazed by the noises, while those unaware of our witchcraft practices hurried away. Since I wasn’t part of any coven, the witches also departed swiftly. I was left to grieve and mourn my grandmother by myself, but her unexpected return filled me with immense excitement. Now, observing the faint flickering, I grew fearful of the possibility of losing her permanently.

“Grandchild, please, I need you to restore the peace to my spirit,” Gigi said.

No dramatics or fanfare, Gigi implored and pleaded, and it was the hardest and strangest situation to be in.

Of course, I’d do anything for her, but I had to grapple with my fears and doubts of my abilities. Sure, I used magic, and everybody I cared for was still alive. And, well, luckily, the house didn’t burn down this time. But it didn’t mean it was like a light switch. I couldn’t be flicked instantly into accepting my witchy powers.

“Gigi, I assure you, I will locate your remains and restore peace to your soul.” I got up and approached her, but my concerns grew as the faint flickering became more noticeable now that I was aware of it.

A smile formed on Gigi’s face, and she lifted her hand to cup my cheek but hesitated, knowing it was a wasted form of affection. “Thank you, dear. This may be the catalyst for you to start accepting your destiny and embrace your powers.” A spark lit up my grandmother’s eyes, and I shook my head firmly.

“No, don’t get your hopes up about any of that. This is only to help you and correct the injustice of it,” I said firmly.

Gigi had always tried to persuade me to accept my true self and embrace my heritage, but I just couldn’t. The trauma from my childhood, caused by my inability to control my powers, never subsided. My parents had distanced themselves from me because of it, and the fear of harming others haunted me. I was so inexperienced, practicing magic in my bedroom by myself. How was I to know the power I had would catch the place on fire?

For a short while, I actually found magic to be not so terrible and even enjoyed using it a bit. However, logic soon prevailed, and I was prepared to suppress it once more. Facing it because of the serious consequences overwhelmed me. This intensified my guilt over past actions and increased my anxiety about what might happen if I tried to prevent my grandmother’s spirit from completely crossing over.

Marcel leaped off the couch, walked over to Gigi, and began sniffing around her. He had always been adorable, especially with his one drooping ear, which seemed to express melancholy. While I had no concrete evidence, I believed his drooping ear was his way of communicating with me. He was attuned to magic, misdeeds, and more. I quickly learned to heed his actions because he had never led me astray. His sole purpose seemed to be looking after and supporting me. It might sound odd, but I sensed this from him. Our bond was strong, and I had complete trust in him.

Seeing my new friend distressed made me want to assist not just my grandmother but also my little companion. Marcel gazed up at me, tilting his head slightly and displaying his lower teeth. His stare lingered as if he were silently reproaching me for causing Gigi to doubt my willingness to help her.

With a heavy sigh, I looked back at Gigi and asked, “Do you have any idea who could have done this?”

Gigi lifted her hand and fiddled with her bottom lip. Worry oozed from her as she slowly paced the room, and then quickly, she turned toward me and clapped her hands together.

“Granddaughter, get a pen and paper,” she said.

I hurried to the desk, grabbed what I needed, and sat on the couch. Gigi reeled off name after name. My hand cramped at how ferociously I had to write. Shaking my head, I swore my eyes bugged out a few times as she continued.

I eyed the long list of names. “Well, Marcel, where do we start with this?” I asked, half-expecting an answer. He simply tilted his head, eyeing the list. “I was hoping for a more specific suggestion, but I guess ‘look cute and confused’ is your strategy,” I chuckled.

How could one person in such a small town have so many enemies, frenemies, and potential threats? It was ridiculous.

“Well, now I think that’s all of them. Should we begin with people who have moved away?” she asked.

There was no controlling myself. I dropped my jaw, stared at Gigi, and looked at the list. All the names were astounding, containing about ninety-five percent of Port Havenwood. I couldn’t imagine how much more extensive the list was about to get.

“You’re joking, right, Gigi?”

Gigi lifted her head and stood a little taller as she smoothed out the many unwrinkles on her dress and stated, “This is not a joking matter, dear. I lived a life and made no apologies for it. If I ruffled a few feathers, well then, they had to be ruffled. Some people are just plain idiots and needed a reality check from time to time.” She huffed with her nose lifted in the air.

Marcel glanced back and forth between Gigi and me, and even he had an exasperated look of agreeing with me. He rolled his eyes and sighed loudly as he settled on the couch and laid his head on a pillow. I struggled to contain my amusement at his antics, because Gigi wouldn’t appreciate it.

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