When Brighton Longfield discovers her treasured protection amulet is missing, she knows there is big trouble brewing. Not only does she not have the money to replace the expensive charms used to make it, she finds a note in its place from Langoria Skeenbauer telling her that Tuttlesmiths are not welcome in Coventry.
Brighton confronts the woman in the town square with a crowd of Coventry’s residents watching. Of course, Langoria Skeenbauer is one of the town’s most upstanding citizens, so people assume she’s innocent and Brighton is nuts. When Langoria is found dead in the cemetery across from Hangman’s House, Brighton becomes a suspect.
Brighton is the one who discovers the body, and even Thorn is suspicious. But Brighton’s not the only one in town who wanted Langoria dead—While Langoria was seen as a model citizen by many, she’d actually been cruel to many of the witches in Coventry who don’t bear the Skeenbauer name. There are quite a few human residents who aren’t a big fan either. To clear her name, Brighton’s going to need to sweep away all of the lies and misunderstandings that surround the suspicious death.
With her best friend Annika and her familiar Meri on her side, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to catch the real murderer. She’s desperate to clear her name and fix her relationship with Thorn, but will her quest lead her right into a killer’s snare?
Brighton is always waking to strange noises in Hangman’s House, sometimes it’s just the house and others, like tonight, an intruder. Hearing the hall closet close and then the back door slam she hurries downstairs. She’s too late to see the intruder she can’t even tell if it was a man or a woman. Discovering her protection amulet gone and a threatening note from Langoria Skeenbauer she calls Thorn.
Thorn seems to downplay this event and it annoys her, but he’s been ghosting her so she shouldn’t be surprised. She’s been spending a lot of time with Remy investigating the cemetery she found across from her house. Thorn takes issue with that as well even though Remy is best qualified to help with that since he takes care of the courthouse archives.
She decides to confront Langoria as she heads into work the next morning. Of course, she doesn’t get the reaction she wants instead she gets the threat of a tax lien on Hangman’s House. A lien of ten thousand dollars. She doesn’t understand how that’s possible since her family has promised to take care of that for Maude.
Brighton waits a bit before entering the courthouse herself, she doesn’t want to be accused of stalking Langoria. In the archives she finds Remy where he has a contract for her. The Historical Society is offering it to restore the old cemetery. The amount to do so ten thousand dollars plus two thousand for equipment and materials. She doesn’t have to worry about the taxes now and Remy offers his help with that as well as determine if Langoria actually left the note for her.
Since it’s still early for dinner, Meri suggests she take pictures of the cemetery to get an idea of the scope of the work and make plans. Arriving back home and about to start dinner Brighton sees a specter of Langoria she assumes is an astral projection since it faded quickly once Meri hissed at it.
Remy comes by after work, and she has his favorite dinner ready, when he burns his hand on the pan of garlic bread Meri talks her through healing him. After dinner the two of them go over to the cemetery to begin work and find Langoria dead. Remy is shaken by the discovery and even after Thorn arrives, he doesn’t come back to Hangman House. Of course, now she’s the prime suspect in the case, even though she has proof that Langoria wasn’t in the cemetery when she was there earlier.
Thorn continues to be a bit of a jerk, but he does kiss her, and when Remy shows up later, he says he’s had a vision about them. That isn’t the reason he came by with pizza and wine though. He wants to tell her about his relationship to Langoria.
This is a favorite scene.
While he was gone, I couldn’t help but contemplate what he’d told me. Why had he had a vision of Thorn kissing me? Were we that connected already? Did the universe have some reason for showing him?
“I don’t know why we are so connected, Brighton,” he said as he walked back into the living room.
“Did you just hear what I said in my head?”
“Not so much. I could just feel what you were thinking.”
“Are you using some sort of spell to do this?” I asked.
“No, and I wouldn’t do that. I used magic to teach you the witch language, but I would never use it to interfere with your free will,” he said and sat down on the sofa next to me. “But I saw something else, and I feel like I have to tell you.”
“What is it?”
“You’re going to choose him, Brighton. I missed my chance to stop that by abandoning you the other day. You’re going to choose to be with him, but it’s not going to go well. You won’t believe me. You already don’t, but I’ll be here for you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I saw you coming home one night in tears. I was sitting on your front steps waiting for you.”
“That’s a pretty big leap to go from that to I’m going to choose Thorn and he’s going to break my heart. Is that what you came here to talk to me about?”
“No. I came here to talk to you about Langoria,” he said. “I have a secret, and I need to share it with someone. You’re the only one I feel like I can talk to about this.”
Thoughts that he had killed her flooded my mind, and I grabbed a glass of the chocolate wine and moved to one of the wingback chairs. Is that why he’d looked so stricken when we found her? Perhaps he had some sort of serious remorse for killing her. But why would he have murdered his aunt?
“I don’t blame you for being startled. I guess what I said did sound pretty cryptic, but, Brighton, I’d hope you know me better than to think I killed her.”
“If the secret isn’t that you killed her, then what is it?”
“Brighton,” He took a deep breath which he exhaled through his nose. “Langoria wasn’t my aunt. She was my biological mother.”
“Oh, my,” I said and took a huge gulp of the chocolatey wine. “Oh, my.”
The rest of the story went that Langoria had never wanted a child, so she’d given Remy to her sister when he was born. Remy’s adoptive mother had loved him from the start, and the rest of the family approved of the adoption since it was within the family.
Langoria moved on as if she’d never had a child, and in fact, had always treated Remy with a sort of aloof contempt. She married when Remy was in elementary school, he remembered being forced to attend the wedding, but never had any more children.
“They think I don’t know, Brighton,” Remy said as he ran his hands through his thick mop of chestnut hair. “I do know, though. I found the letter giving my mother legal guardianship of me when she accidently left it out in a stack of papers. She was registering me for high school and had to show it again. I tucked it back away and never said anything about it. No one knows that I know.”
“You’ve carried that around with you since high school?” I asked softly. “You never told anyone? Not even Annika?”
“I didn’t want to cause any trouble. I feel like it would cause a rift between Annika and her mother and Amelda if she knew. She wouldn’t like that they’d kept it a secret. She really wouldn’t like it that they’d just let Langoria give me away like an unwanted puppy. My mother was amazing to me even if she is kind of the black sheep of the family now. She doesn’t support the feud or keeping other witches out of Coventry, and because of that, I think I’m a better person. I can’t imagine what I’d be like if I was raised by Langoria.”
“You know that you’re not, right?”
“Just an unwanted puppy,” I said. “I feel like you probably think that even though the mother that raised you loved you very much.”
“I guess you’re probably right. I mean, I know on an intellectual level that it’s not true, but it has shaped who I am. It’s probably why I took the job hidden away in the archives, and why I left when we found her dead.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Part of it was that it hit me like a train that she was never going to come apologize for just giving me away. She never cared about me even a little bit. That much was obvious. I guess I’d always thought she’d at least try to make amends for that. Maybe she’d come to me one day and say it was her weakness that caused her to abandon me and not mine. When we found her, I knew that was never going to happen. That was only half of it, though. The other half was the terror I felt that it would come out she was my mother. You’d know, and you’d see me as someone disposable. You’d know that I wasn’t worth all the time and affection you’ve given me.”
“Remy,” I said. I stood up from my seat and crossed back to the sofa. After I’d set my wine glass down, I took him by the hands and pulled him off the sofa and into my arms.
It was just a hug, but we stood there in that embrace. He cried for a few minutes, and I just kept my arms around him until he quieted again. I listened to his heart beating while his arms stayed wrapped around my shoulders.
After a while, he took a step back and looked into my eyes. “Thank you for that, Brighton.”
“You know that I could never think that about you? I would never see you as disposable. You are worth all of the time and affection I’ve had to give.”
“You’re amazing,” he said and tucked a lock of my hair behind my ear. “If Langoria’s death hadn’t happened, I would have fought so hard for you. But I hope that you’ll understand someday that this has put me in a place where I’m not ready for what you need. I need some time.”
“Who says I can’t give you time?” I asked, and he took a half step back.
“I say,” he said. “I don’t know how long it will take me to recover from this, and you are ready for love now. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
“But you said I was going to get my heart broken.”
“I’ll always be here for you,” he said and kissed my forehead.
Bourgeois, Sara. Wicked Witches of Coventry: Books One – Eleven. Kindle Locations (2087-2131). Kindle Edition.
Things go downhill with Remy after Annika guesses his secret, but Remy thinks Brighton broke her promise to him.
The investigation into Langoria’s death takes a turn when they find a sting on her, seems a scorpion bit her. The coroner recognized it having seen it in South America. However, it doesn’t belong here in Coventry.
There are lots of ups and downs in this one, with both Thorn and Remy running hot and cold. A few more suspects but the actual killer is definitely a surprise.
Intrigue, Suspense, Romance and More!
As I’m reading the boxset I am already devouring the next book.
5 Contented Purrs for Sara!
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Sara Bourgeois is a Midwesterner through and through. She spends her time writing, reading, herding cats, and standing in her driveway during tornado warnings. (You can’t see them from the basement.)