A best friend on the mend, a love triangle that just might be a square, and a dead college co-ed – there’s never a dull moment in Coventry. But, can Brighton’s powers save her from a serial killer’s snare?
In the last book, Annika became a victim of Janet, and it took the Aunties and Meri to bring her back. The witches also used their justice on her as well. This is something Thorn is going to have to come to terms with as some things can’t be dealt with by humans. Annika is now recuperating at Amelda’s and she’s not allowed visitors.
As this book opens, a contractor, Grey Bane, is hammering outside Hangman’s House at an ungodly hour. Brighton gets dressed and confronts him only to find he’s honoring a contract made by his grandfather to her Aunt Maude. Apparently, a glitch in the banking system had waylaid the payment and on a revamp of the system the payment went through. So, Brighton is getting a garage for a price set thirty years prior.
For some reason the house has emptied the refrigerator again, so Brighton has to go get groceries, unfortunately when she arrives at Mann’s, she finds a body by the gas pumps. She calls Thorn and pounds on the store door, hoping Bob Mann would answer quickly.
Couple of unexpected things happen here, first is the FBI is going to take control of the case since the victim fits the profile of a serial killer’s prey. Second, Brighton’s brother Brody shows up at the scene, and it seems he was the victim’s fiancé.
Brody and Brighton haven’t been close since her mother was always fueling animosity between them. Now they are going to get the chance to know each other under very different circumstances.
This is a favorite scene.
“I’m making fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and grilled corn,” I said.
“You don’t know how to make fried chicken,” Meri countered.
“I’m going to use magic to help me,” I said. “I figure it’s not for personal gain since I’m doing it for Thorn and Brody. It’s Brody’s favorite. He was always asking for it when he was little, but my mother had no idea how to make it. We’d get take-out fried chicken for his birthday every year, but it’s just not the same.”
“I suppose that wouldn’t be for personal gain.” Meri swished his tail. “At least you better hope not or you might burn the kitchen down.”
“You can send demonic entities screaming into the night, but you can’t deal with a little kitchen fire?” I teased.
“Of course, I can,” Meri huffed.
“Well then, I have nothing to worry about.”
With that, I set to work making the chicken. Even though I was using magic to make the process run more smoothly, I still had to use a recipe. I’d thought about looking it up on the internet, but when I got into the cabinet to get the flour for the coating, I found my Aunt Maude’s recipe box.
That was the recipe card I pulled from the box. Despite the name, it was a recipe for fried chicken. The name seemed a little creepy at first, but there was a note at the bottom under the instructions.
“For bringing together new friends and old. Additionally, serve to anyone, and they will be your best friend from that day forward,” I read the note to Meri.
“That sounds like black magic. You can’t interfere with people’s will,” Meri said.
“I think it would be gray magic at best. Not entirely black, but besides that point, I believe it’s because the chicken is so good. It’s not a spell.”
“Whatever,” Meri said. “I’ll wait here to put the fire out.”
Making the chicken wasn’t as difficult as I’d expected, and I didn’t need to use nearly as much magic as I’d anticipated. Though being able to use magic to mash the potatoes did come in handy while I ensured the chicken didn’t burn.
I grilled the corn on the barbeque grill I’d purchased with the money from the cemetery job. Lawrence at Nailed It had even given me a nice discount.
Thankfully, I wasn’t using any magic when Brody ambled into the kitchen half asleep. Apparently, the sleeping magic Meri had used on him wasn’t as strong as my familiar believed. Perhaps it was that Brody was already becoming a powerful witch. That would make things awkward if I didn’t tell him soon.
“You’re making fried chicken?” he asked as he slid into a chair at the kitchen table.
“Is it still your favorite?”
“Yes,” he said quietly. “They have it in the cafeteria at school. It’s all right.”
“Well, I hope this is better.”
“I can’t believe you took the time to make it for me.”
“It’s your favorite,” was my response. “But we are having another guest for dinner.”
“Who is that?”
“The sheriff from earlier. He’s… He’s my boyfriend, Brody. I invited him to dinner with us.”
“To prove that I’m not a murderer,” Brody said.
“I don’t know that I’d put it that way. I want him to get to know you. I want to get to know you,” I said.
“We haven’t been close,” Brody said more to himself than to me.
“But we can fix that,” I said hopefully. “There’s no reason we can’t.”
“You know, when we were younger, I was always angry with you, but I don’t know why. It just always seemed to be there hanging in the air, and it got worse when you left home. But when I went away to college, it started to makes less and less sense,” Brody said and stood up. “Let me help you by setting the table.”
I knew why he was always angry at me. It was my mother whispering in his ear. That’s why it stopped making sense when he got away from her, but I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to tell him that. I didn’t know if he’d believe it, or if he’d get angry at me in defense of our mother.
“I’m glad you’re here now,” I said. “And I would greatly appreciate it if you set the table.”
Brody seemed to know where everything was, so he put out the dishes and silverware without any directions from me. I finished the food and put it in serving dishes. We could have just filled our plates at the kitchen counter right from the cooking pots and pans, but I was trying to make the dinner something special.
As I set the tray with the grilled corn on it down on the table, the doorbell rang. “That will be Thorn,” I said. “Go ahead and sit down to eat, Brody. Or grab yourself a drink from the fridge. I imagine Thorn will want a beer.”
“That sounds good to me as well, what about you, Brighton?”
“I’ll just have a diet soda.”
It was Thorn at the door, and when I opened it to let him enter, he surprised me by pulling me into his arms and kissing me. He held me there for a long moment before reluctantly letting me go.
“I’m so sorry, Brighton,” he said. “I stepped out of line with the things I said this morning. Please forgive me.”
“There’s nothing to forgive, Thorn. You said what you said because you care about me. It was me that was out of line. I was too harsh.”
“No, you weren’t. It wasn’t right of me to question your brother the way I did. He’s your family.”
“It’s okay, really,” I said. “Please come in. Dinner is ready. We can have a nice meal, and all get to know each other better.”
“So we’re not going to have the talk tonight?”
“I told you earlier that we weren’t,” I said and kissed him again quickly. “I meant that.”
“I’ve been worried,” he said softly.
“You don’t need to worry about that, Thorn. Whatever happens between us, we can work it out.”
“It’s good to hear you say that,” Thorn said. “Now that’s enough of you spending your energy soothing my insecurity. Dinner smells delicious.”
“Thank you. I just finished cooking. Please, come eat.”
I’d expected there to be more conversation at first, but apparently both Thorn and Brody were starving. They devoured firsts and then seconds while I just sat and watched in awe at how much food they consumed in a short period of time.
I ate too, but not with as much gusto as my boyfriend and my brother. The chicken was better than I expected, but the mashed potatoes and corn were my favorite. I left the majority of the chicken to the men and ate my fill of the vegetables.
“So, Brody, what are you studying?” Thorn asked when he came up for air.
“I’m getting a master’s degree in history. I’d planned on getting a PhD after so I could teach at the university level,” Brody said.
“You planned on getting a PhD?” I asked. “What happened?”
“I think that I still might,” Brody said. “But I was considering changing my course to a more research-based trajectory. I just don’t know if I want to teach anymore.”
“Is that something you were thinking about before today?” I asked.
“Are you asking if I am saying crazy things because of Brittany’s death?” Brody asked. “No, Brighton, it’s not because of her. I’d been thinking about this for a year. In fact, it’s one of the reasons Brittany and I argued.”
“You argued because you wanted to do research?” Thorn asked, and I could tell he was trying not to sound too much like the sheriff.
“She didn’t like the idea of me making even less money than I would as a professor,” Brody said. “A research job wouldn’t pay as well, and Brittany had expectations. She was… I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but she was high-maintenance. It didn’t help that her father is a surgeon and her mother inherited money. She was used to a lifestyle that I would not be able to provide. It caused friction between us.”
I hadn’t expected Brody to be so open and forthcoming about his private life, but he seemed like a weight had been lifted from him when he finished speaking. Thorn tensed up, and I knew Brody’s story made him even more of a suspect, but I watched as he took a deep breath and relaxed.
“I understand,” Thorn said. “I was married to a woman who wasn’t happy with the life I provided.”
“Oh, yeah,” I said. “Well, I was married to a man who was never happy. So I guess we’re three peas in a sad little pod.”
“I’m glad the two of you made me stay,” Brody said. “This has to be better than going home and stewing in my little apartment.”
Bourgeois, Sara. Wicked Witches of Coventry: Books One – Eleven. Kindle Locations (3836-3899). Kindle Edition.
Brighton confesses to Thorn about discussing with Remy telling Brody of his heritage and what being in Coventry means. Thorn is more understanding than she expected and she’s grateful for that.
Of course, Brighton’s not going to stay out of the investigation. She regains Annika as her accomplice and adds Brody to the mix.
We take some pretty convoluted twists to get to the bottom of this murder. Once we know the culprit, I could see the hints that were staring me in the face.
The Epilogue also throws a major twist. So glad I am reading the boxset so I can just keep reading.
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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.)