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Sue Hollowell Books

Prologues and Potions (PREORDER EBOOK)

Prologues and Potions (PREORDER EBOOK)

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PREORDER - EBOOK. Prologues and Potions is book #3 in the Magical Bookstore series.

In a single, fateful night, Arabella's life as a novice witch is shattered when she becomes the chief suspect in a haunting murder. She is jolted by the discovery that the murder involved her grandmother's bones, setting off whispers about a curse from the depths of witchcraft lore.

Her world unfolds into a mysterious domain of dark magic and coven secrets as she confronts the perplexing reality of her grandmother's cryptic involvement and an unshakable alibi she dares not disclose.

Arabella's quest for the truth reveals startling suspects, each harboring a grave motive. As she delves into the shadowy history of the victim, she stumbles upon an eerie revelation. With her freedom on the line, it's up to Arabella to piece together a puzzle that spans generations, where every secret unearthed is more dangerous than the last.

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CHAPTER 1

The pounding at my door had ripped me from my sleep, an abrupt intrusion into the predawn silence. Glancing at the clock, I noted it was only five-thirty in the morning, an hour when even the sun hesitated to rise, leaving the world outside my windows in an eerie twilight. Shadows danced just beyond my sight, playing tricks on my half-awake mind, as I struggled to orient myself amidst the clamor.

“Who could possibly need me at this hour?” I murmured, more to myself than anyone else.

Marcel shared my sentiment, voicing his displeasure with a huff as he attempted to return to his dreams. It seemed we both agreed it was far too early for any unexpected disturbances.

As the banging persisted, I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I crawled out of bed, and Marcel, sensing my resignation, jumped down too, barking his annoyance at being woken up. “I know, it’s early,” I assured him, though I doubted he cared much for my words over his own grievances.

Wrapped in my terry-cloth robe, I made my way downstairs, each step met with an increase in the banging urgency. “All right, I’m coming,” I called out, though I doubted the person on the other side could hear me over their own racket.

The house itself seemed to groan in protest, its ancient floorboards creaking beneath my feet, walls sighing with a whisper that felt almost sentient. I couldn’t help but recall the childhood rumors of the house’s appetite for unwelcome visitors, a thought that amused me now given the circumstances. The house, with its peculiar history and rumors of hauntings, suddenly didn’t seem so benign.

Opening the door, I was greeted by the sight of Detective Derek Reed, his appearance disheveled, yet somehow still sending my heart into a flutter despite the early hour. His question caught me off guard, plunging me into a mixture of nerves and embarrassment as I struggled to compose myself.

“Where were you last night?” His gruff, no-nonsense voice shocked me, and I shook my head as if I could make some sense of it.

“Huh?” was all I managed at first, my mind racing to process his presence and question simultaneously.

“Come on, Arabella, it’s a simple question. Where were you last night?” His exasperated voice rattled my nerves, and I was too discombobulated to keep myself in check.

His insistence on knowing my whereabouts the previous night only added to my disorientation. I couldn’t help but feel defensive, especially with Marcel by my side, offering his own form of support.

“I’ve been home all night,” I finally managed, recalling my visit to the cemetery but realizing quickly that it wouldn’t serve as a suitable alibi. Marcel, picking up on the tension, let out a protective growl, as if to shield me from the detective’s probing gaze.

“Can anyone verify that?”

I looked at Marcel again, but that wouldn’t do, and I couldn’t use Gigi, since she couldn’t be my alibi. That would be a fascinating police report if I said so myself.

“No, I don’t. As you can see, I live alone with my dog. What’s going on, Detective?”

Derek sighed, wiped his hand down his face, and stared at me. “Bennie has been found. He’s dead.”

The news that Bennie had been found dead, with Derek hinting at the house’s involvement in the mystery, sent a chill down my spine.

Shock and disbelief froze me in place as I processed what the Detective said.

Bennie’s dead. How is that possible? What possibly could have happened after I left the cemetery? He was in the police’s custody.

Marcel moved further before me to keep his little body between the Detective and me and narrowed his eyes at Derek. The house’s energy became a powerful force, and I felt it at my back like a comforting arm around my shoulders.

Derek studied me closely as I stammered my way through morning brain fog. His intensity, as if he were trying to get some answers by sheer will of sight, forced some reasoning into me and back to the conversation.

“How? How did he die?”

The silence built between us as Derek rolled his tongue around in his mouth as he played over the idea of telling me or not. After a long pause, he eased his stance but crossed his arms in front of his chest and said, “Blunt force trauma, but that’s not definite. We’re still investigating, and forensic is still collecting evidence.”

The way he continued to study me closely with narrowed eyes and set shoulders, there’s no doubt in my mind now that he thought I might have done this heinous crime since I was at the cemetery the day before. I had a significant issue with Bennie since he stole my Gigi’s bones, but I hate how he constantly thinks I could be the person to do all these crimes.

I screwed my mouth shut and stood a little taller, as if shielding and protecting myself from the Detective’s accusations.

Marcel noticed the instant shift in the air as the realization dawned on my addled brain. He barked at the Detective, moved close to my leg, and leaned against it.

“I need you to come to the station to talk.”

I dropped my jaw but snapped it closed quickly. I didn’t want him to see how much he affected me with his accusations, but accepting that he was just doing his job was difficult. It felt personal, like he had something against me since it always seemed I was his first stop on any new crime happening in this town. It hurt, but I didn’t want him to know that.

“Since Bennie had removed the bones of your deceased grandmother, it gives you a reason to be upset with him. I need to ask some questions.”

The stone set of his face made it impossible for me to read if he thought I murdered somebody again. I liked to think that I repeatedly proved that I wasn’t a horrible person, but he’d play a mean game of poker because there was nothing on his face or his body language to read.

I tugged my robe tighter around my body and kept my arms crossed in front of my chest as if I could block off anything negative and hurtful coming directly at me. My new stance had Detective Reed loosening his arms at his side as he observed me with his penetrating gaze, and I nodded softly.

“I know you’re right. I’ll come down to the station. But, I have to work today. I promise I’ll come first thing tomorrow.” Would that be sufficient? Or would he haul me off right now?

Detective Reed watched me closely for a few more moments, but I tried my best to put up a mask of nothing like he did daily. Our eyes locked, and even though I couldn’t decipher what he thought of me, my body still betrayed me as my attraction to him warmed my heart. I didn’t want it. I wanted to be unaffected by him like he was unaffected by me, but I couldn’t control it, which made me feel defeated.

With a nod and no other words said between us, the Detective turned on his heel and left without a glance back or anything. He just got in his car and drove off.

Flustered, hurt, and tired, I shut the door, and the house locked it for good measure, as its frustration with the Detective’s insinuation annoyed it. I gave a sad smile out of the house’s devotion to me.

Marcel jumped on his hind legs and rested his front paws on my leg. I reached over and picked him up, and he nuzzled my neck and licked my jaw as he comforted me.

“Oh, Marcel. When will this all end?”

He snorted and nuzzled tighter, giving me a warm hug to soothe me, which he always did.

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