Brighton throws the biggest Halloween party that Coventry has seen in ages. The only problem arises when a dead body shows up in the middle of the festivities, and it’s not a costume. The worst part… Someone very close to Brighton is a possible suspect!
After briefly managing the Inn in the last book, Brighton decides to turn Hangman’s House into a bed and breakfast. The house doesn’t like this idea and neither does Meri. However, before she can even think about it, they need to take care of the demons that keep turning up in the basement.
If you recall, there are many tunnels under the town and Meri found the one that contains the thinned veil, but he needs Brighton’s help to close it. This was almost a very spectacular failure, almost being the key word here.
Then the house itself begins to rebel against the idea of a bed and breakfast all kinds of problems springing up around plumbing and electric, not to mention food disappearing. Remy comes up with a solution though. Bungalows behind the house instead of using the house itself. Brighton’s idea is to do breakfast from seven to ten every morning, followed by a tour of the house. After that the house would be closed to guests.
Remy magically built the bungalows with Brighton helping augment his power when she could. Still, he was exhausted and agrees to stay in one of the guest rooms that night. Brighton couldn’t sleep so she went to look at the bungalows to plan out decorating them. Unfortunately, she wasn’t alone out there, and Meri has to banish yet another demon but gets hurt in the process. As if that isn’t enough two people wander out of the woods after that. They’d been camping and gotten lost. Joanna and Finn Regan had been without water for two days.
Remy calls county dispatch for the sheriff and paramedics, and they bring the couple inside to start getting the hydrated. Gunner finds they are missing persons and contact family to meet them at the hospital.
The opening of the bed and breakfast is a spectacular Halloween party. Well, that is until Annika and Brighton go inside to get more appetizers. Brighton hears something upstairs where no one should be.
This is a favorite scene.
No one was supposed to be up there. I’d put a rope and a sign across the stairs, but that probably wasn’t enough of a deterrent after all.
“I thought I heard someone upstairs,” I said as we set our last round of trays down.
“It was probably just Meri,” Annika said.
“Nope, he’s over there,” I said and pointed to his lookout spot behind the garage.
“Well, just send him up to check it out,” she said.
“No, it’s okay. I’ll just go up and take a look. Probably just someone who couldn’t resist a closer look at the inside of Hangman’s House.”
“I’ll go with you,” Annika said.
“No, it’s okay. Go enjoy the party with Gunner.”
“You sure?” she asked.
I heard the noises upstairs again as soon as I walked through the back door. Only then, they’d become louder. It sounded like multiple feet shuffling on the floor above me.
And then a scream. I raced up the stairs, and I couldn’t believe the scene in front of me. It was the campers and Remy, only something was seriously wrong. I could only guess that they’d heard about the party and decided to drop in. It was the only reason I could think of why they would be back.
Finn was lying on the floor in a pool of blood, and Remy stood over him with a knife. Joanna was backed into a corner with her arms wrapped around her knees.
“Remy, what the heck?” My mind raced as it tried to wrap around what it was seeing.
“It’s not what you think,” he said, and I was ashamed to admit, for a moment, it did make him sound guilty.
Other people must have heard the scream because I could hear them coming into the house and up the stairs. I wanted to check to see if Finn was alive, but I was afraid to move. If he was dead, then it was a crime scene.
“I’m going to drop the knife,” Remy said.
“I think that’s a good idea.”
As soon as he did, Joanna came to life. She started to scramble across the floor to get it. “You didn’t have to kill him,” she hissed.
“Stop there,” I said with a twist of my hand in the air She froze in place, and a look of sheer terror washed over her. I shouldn’t have used magic that way, but what else could I do? She was going for the knife.
“Everybody freeze,” Gunner said when he walked into the room.
The difference when he said it was that he wasn’t a witch, so nobody froze. I let go of the magic that was holding Joanna in place, but since Gunner was there, she didn’t make another move toward the knife.
He didn’t have his service weapon on him, and he’d been drinking. So, it was nothing more than his presence and commanding tone of voice that kept her from trying to get the weapon. That and there were more witnesses.
A few seconds later, a deputy entered the room. Deputy Hallie Lowenthal surveyed the scene.
“Is he breathing?” she was the first person to ask out loud.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I didn’t check in case it was a crime scene.”
“Go ahead,” she said. “I’m going to call in for an ambulance just in case.”
I thought she would check to see if he was alive herself, but when I turned to look in her direction, I saw why she hadn’t. Hallie had drawn her gun. Possibly because despite not going for it, Joanna was still eyeing the knife.
“I’m going to need everyone behind me to back out of the room and clear the premises. I need everyone in the room besides Brighton to back up against the wall.”
“He’s alive,” I said. “Barely, but he is alive.”
I didn’t know what was going on or what Finn had done to end up the way he had, and it wasn’t my place to judge. I used what healing magic I could to keep him from slipping away. He was about to cross over, but I gave him a chance. I couldn’t heal him more than that with all of the witnesses, but I didn’t have to let him die. I also eased his pain. Looking at him, I knew that if he was even close to consciousness, he had to be in agony.
“Does he need CPR?” Hallie asked.
“No, he’s breathing, and he’s got a weak pulse. I do need to keep pressure on these wounds. Two of them are bleeding badly.”
They weren’t bleeding as badly because of my spell, but I knew Hallie wanted me to back against the wall. I couldn’t leave him there like that. I didn’t know Finn at all, but I was too much of an empath to just leave him alone and bleeding until the paramedics got there.
The wait for the ambulance felt like an eternity. Everyone stood there silently, and the tension hung in the air like a bad smell. I assumed the other deputies were clearing out the party, and I wondered if my bed and breakfast guests had gone back to their bungalows. Or had they left too?
We all stood back and watched as the paramedics stabilized Finn as best they could. From inside the spare bedroom, I could hear them struggling down the stairs with the gurney.
“Who am I supposed to arrest here, Chief?” Hallie asked once the ambulance pulled away.
“I can’t tell you that,” Gunner said. “I’ve had a couple of beers, and I cannot make official decisions at this time.”
“Well, could you maybe give me a hint?” Hallie asked.
Gunner looked at me. “Brighton, what’s going on here?”
“I don’t know exactly. I got here moments before you did,” I said because the last thing I wanted to do was have my fiancé arrested the night of the grand opening we’d worked so hard on over the last few weeks.
“Who had the weapon when you came in?” Gunner’s voice had an edge to it. He knew I was withholding information.
“It was me,” Remy said, saving me from having to point the finger at him. “I had it.”
“Do you want to tell us why?” Hallie asked.
“I took it from Joanna,” he said. “I heard a commotion. I came up here, and I found her stabbing him. I took the knife away, and that’s when Brighton walked in.”
“That’s not true,” Joanna finally spoke. “I walked in and he was stabbing Finn. I tried to fight him off. Look,” Joanna said and held up her hand.
She held her hand out and showed us the cuts crisscrossing her palm. My heart sank because they looked like defensive wounds.
“I don’t know,” Hallie said with a sigh. “I’m going to take them both in. Brighton, I need you to leave the room.”
I stood in the living room and watched as Hallie and another deputy led Remy and Joanna out of the house in handcuffs. I couldn’t believe what was happening.
Annika stood next to me, and Gunner came down from upstairs to join us. “You should stay somewhere else tonight, Brighton.”
“She can stay with me,” Annika said.
“I can’t just leave. I have the guests out in the bungalows, and I have to clean up after the party.”
“Brighton, honey, they’re gone. The guests all left,” Annika said.
“Oh,” I said. “I guess I expected that. Well, I can stay in one of the bungalows, then. Meri and I can stay out in the main bungalow.”
“I’ll stay out there with you,” Annika said.
I just sort of stood there for a few seconds until Annika gently guided me to the back door. Meri followed behind us. When the cool night air hit my face, I snapped out of my stupor. I’d been in a bit of a shock.
“We’ve got to clean up all of this food,” I said and stopped on the back patio.
“Let’s just get to the bungalow,” Annika said and pulled me away from the tables. “We’ll come back and take care of this when everyone is gone.”
Bourgeois, Sara. Wicked Witches of Coventry: Books One – Eleven. Kindle Locations (10492-10546). Kindle Edition.
With both Remy and Joanna arrested, Annika stays with Brighton. Needless to say, Brighton isn’t going to stay out of this investigation.
The first clue she finds is a purse in one of the spare rooms. The wallet inside contains Joanna’s wallet, and several credit cards all with the first name Joanna but different last names. All that is pretty suspicious all on its own.
A lot of things happen that next day, Brighton decides not to continue with the bed and breakfast, Remy comes home, and Gunner informs her that Finn had died. Finn’s death could be suspicious since there is some evidence of a struggle, and the local police didn’t set a guard as they said they would.
There’s plenty going on in this book, and every page throws something else into the fray.
Once again, I’m glad I’m reading the boxset so I can continue with the next book without a break.
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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.)