by Sharon Pape and Kym Roberts
It always amazes me when I approached an author I don’t know with a hairbrained idea, and she actually says, “Yes!” Yet the writing community is that way: adventure seekers to the core. My guest today is one of those brave souls who didn’t hesitate to jump on board this crazy ride between her fictional characters and mine.
Sharon Pape, author of the fabulous Abracadabra Mystery series, has co-written today’s blog with me. It started out as an interview between characters, but ended up as a short story we hope you’ll enjoy. Without further ado, here’s Magick in the Barn!
I looked around and my knees nearly buckled. I closed my eyes, said a silent prayer to anyone listening. “Please, let this be a dream.” I slowly peaked out my left eye. No one in the heavens heard a thing I said. We were standing in the middle of what appeared to be a magick shoppe from 17th century England. There were beakers and bottles and antique fixtures my daddy would absolutely love. Princess nudged my leg and the breath I’d been holding so tight in my chest escaped through my lips. I sounded like a cow snorting.
“We’re not in Texas anymore, Princess.”
My pet armadillo looked up at me. The expression on Princess’s face was as plain as the package on the shelf in front of me printed, Eye of Newt. I swore she rolled her eyes and said, No kidding, Sherlock. Except Princess would have replaced “kidding” with a four-letter word; she was that kind of girl.
Someone cleared her throat behind us and I’m not sure who jumped higher, me or Princess as we spun around. We found ourselves staring back at a young woman who was almost as surprised to see us as we were her–almost. But her expression was more like, oh no, not again.
“Don’t be afraid,” she said. “There’s definitely nothing to fear.” She was trying to smile, but not having great success with it.
What fearsome things didn’t she want us to fear? Judging by our surroundings, dragons were a distinct possibility. Princess and I were both pretty brave, but dragons?
I must have said it out loud, because she laughed. “There are no dragons, unless Merlin misbehaves and that almost never happens anymore. There’s just my Sashkatu sleeping on his tufted window ledge over there. He’s a spoiled old curmudgeon, but harmless. I’m Kailyn Wilde by the way.” She stuck out her hand.
Sure enough, a black cat lounged on a cushion in front of the window. I grasped Kailyn’s hand. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Charli Rae Warren and this is Princess.” Princess huffed and then brushed against Kailyn’s leg in greeting causing our host to stiffen. “That’s the way she says hello to people she likes,” I explained. “Think of a cat with a hard shell, and you’ve got my armadillo.”
Kailyn reached down and hesitantly ran her hand along Princess’s shell. The first time someone came into contact with my pet was always interesting to watch. Kids tended to tap on her shell like a glass fish tank, adults were more tentative. Kailyn scratched behind Princess’s ears, and my pet was in heaven.
“Can you tell us where we are and how we got here?” I asked. Outside the window I could tell we weren’t in Hazel Rock. The trees were taller than the front porch, there were no tumble weeds in the street and not one building looked like the old southwest architecture of my hometown.
“The first part is easy,” Kailyn said, “You’re in New Camel, New York. This shop has been here since the 1600s. Over the years, the town grew up around it.The how is a little trickier. Maybe we should go next door to Tea and Empathy, my aunt Tilly’s shop. She’s off today, but we’ll be a lot more comfortable there. Its even got a little kitchen so I can offer you and Princess something to drink. If we’re lucky, there may be some baked goods left from yesterday’s high tea.”
New York and tea. That did not sound as promising as my mama’s southern sweet tea, but Kailyn didn’t seem evil, and her cat didn’t appear to feel any malevolence toward Princess as they stared at each other. Of course that could change at any moment. My pet had an ornery side that could try anyone’s patience, and if magick brought us here, did that mean Kailyn was a witch and Shashkatu her familiar?
Kailyn showed us the way to her aunt’s tea shop and I was surprised at how much it felt like the tearoom in the Book Barn back home. It didn’t have antlers for coat hooks, or mix-matched china or small milk bottles filled with lights in the middle of the tables, but the two shops both had lace and a warm inviting atmosphere that made guests feel at home.
Sashkatu followed us into Tilly’s shop. He was keeping tabs on Princess, probably trying to figure out what sort of creature she was. Kailyn asked me to have a seat at any of the small tables while she foraged in her aunt’s fridge. She was back before we were beamed up into another dimension with a pitcher of iced tea and a plate of buttery cookies with raspberry filling she called Linzer tarts.
“These won’t make us grow smaller or larger, will they?” I asked, thinking of Alice in Wonderland. Kailyn assured us they weren’t magickal in any way and after Princess and I shared one, we were instant fans. But we needed to get back to business. “So…you were going to explain how Princess and I wound up halfway across the country in the blink of an eye?”
“Right – it was magick, or to put a finer point on it, the problem with my magick.” She winced a little as she said it as if she was worried about my reaction.
The way I saw it, the words problem and magick should never be in the same sentence. I managed to maintain a calm, cool expression, but my insides were racing around screaming, the sky is falling, the sky is falling! Princess couldn’t care less, she had a shop to explore and a cat to bore. Shashkatu’s interest had waned, he’d obviously experienced more bizarre things than a pink armadillo in a tea shop.
“The first time this happened, I was summoning a new familiar at the same time Merlin was casting a spell to find mushrooms for his dinner. Somehow or other our magick got tangled and he was transported here.”
“Is he still here?” I asked, pretty sure my Chicken Little insides were beginning to show on my face and in my voice. My mama’s words rang through my head, You’re a strong Texan. Stand up tall when faced with adversity.
“I’m working on sending him back, but your case isn’t nearly as complicated. It was just a quirk in my magic that plucked you out of Texas and deposited you here, not two different streams of magick like in Merlin’s case. And there isn’t a temporal element involved with you. I should be able to send you back with some simple teleporting,” she said cheerfully.
Her explanation didn’t make me feel any better about my situation. Teleporting couldn’t be that simple. I liked Kailyn, but I wasn’t ready to entrust our lives to her quirky magick. “Maybe we can just take the bus,” I said. “It’ll be nice. We’ve never seen this part of the country.”
I reached for my purse, but it wasn’t on my shoulder. When Kailyn had beamed us up, we’d been standing in the middle of the Barn and I’d just asked Princess if she was ready for dinner. My purse was under the store counter back in Texas and I was pretty sure I only had a couple bucks in my pocket.
“Really, I can do this.” Kailyn assured me.
I wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince my or herself. Either way, I was going to have to rely on her magick, and the powers that be. Fuzz buckets. As if sensing my discomfort, Sashkatu rubbed my leg and I suddenly felt all the confidence in the world with Kailyn’s ability to get the job done, and get it done right.
“Princess, it’s time to go home, girl.” My pet looked at Sashkatu twining between my legs and bee-lined for my side. She snorted in the cat’s direction, but Sashkatu didn’t back down. Instead the two went nose to nose and I couldn’t help but wonder if a cat could damage my armadillo. He wasn’t your ordinary house cat–he was a magickal feline. Then Shaskatu did something completely unexpected. He rubbed against Princess’s shell just as he had my leg, and it was as if he had a magickal ability to soothe her nerves as well. Whatever it was, it definitely worked for both of us.
I picked up my pet and said, “It’s been nice to meet you and Sashkatu. Y’all are more than welcome to pop in at the Book Barn any time, but I think we’d like this to be our very last popping experience, if you don’t mind. Next time we meet, we’ll use our old fashioned mode of transportation and drive my daddy’s pickup.”
Kailyn smiled. “I understand. Ready?” she asked.
I nodded, not sure how my voice would sound now that Princess and I were on the brink of possible disaster.
Kailyn closed her eyes and I followed her lead. After a minute she started reciting what sounded like an incantation:
“From here and now to there and then
Attract not change, nor harm allow.
Safe passage guarantee to souls
As well as lesser, mindless things.”
Princess squeaked in my arms, and I took a deep breath before daring to open my eyes. The scent of my daddy’s Columbian coffee beans filled the air. I couldn’t hold back my smile as I scanned our environment. To my complete joy, we were surrounded by books and western decor. I turned my gaze upward, not sure if I’d see stars, a witch on a broom with a black cat, or Merlin himself waving a magickal wand. What I saw, however, made my heartbeat steady. A chandelier in the shape of a tiara lit up the loft in the Barn. “There is definitely no place like Texas, Princess.”
Kailyn opened her eyes about the same time and was relieved to find herself alone with Sashkatu. He was back on his window ledge, looking at her with an expression that clearly said, You need to be practicing a lot more!
“Careful Sashki,” she said, “or I might just summon an armadillo as my new familiar.”
Sharon and I hope you enjoyed a little bit of Magick in the Barn. To find out what kind of trouble Kailyn and Charli can really stir up, check out our new releases, MAGICK RUN AMOK and LETHAL LITERATURE.
One lucky reader will be chosen at random to win an e-copy of Magick Run Amok and Lethal Literature. Good luck and until next time, get cozy and read on!
About Sharon Pape
Back in the dark ages, before computers were in every household, Sharon Pape had three paranormal books published. Her first novel was the first paperback original ever to be condensed by Redbook Magazine. This time around, Sharon is writing cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist. MAGIC RUN AMOK is the third book in her latest series, Abracadabra Mysteries. Visit Sharon on the web at sharonpaper.com or friend her on Facebook @Sharon Pape and on Twitter @spape.
Kym Roberts is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes. She can be found on the web at kymroberts.com, on Facebook at @KymRoberts911author and on Twitter @kymroberts911. You can also listen to her new podcast Romance Book Chat with Kym and Misty on iTunes, Stitcher & more. Kym’s latest Book Barn Mystery, LETHAL LITERATURE, is available now!