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Wedding Cake & Werewolves
Read the first two chapters for free!

Chapter 1: Cold and Catty

“It should be against the law for Broomstick Bay to get this cold,” I sang, pulling the collar of my black puffer jacket tight around my neck. A wave littered with ice ambled onto the sand, creeping near my booted feet. 

Val and I were walking along the beach, enjoying the exercise despite the frigid weather. It was a little after noon, but with the clouds blocking the sun, it could’ve been evening. And it was cold. Colder than I ever remembered it getting in our small town.

“You want me to call Sheriff Lance Wolfton, don’t you? So you can pretend to file a complaint against the cold.” Val snickered. “Because what you really want is to see his tall and well-muscled form as well as his ruggedly handsome face as he fills out the paperwork.” 

“Do not,” I said, glancing at my best friend of more than twenty years. “From the sound of it, you have a crush on him.” 

“Psssshhhh. I’m married, not dead. There’s nothing wrong with admiring.” She tucked one arm through mine. 

“Fine. He is handsome, but I’m still mending my broken heart after Chase cheated on me.” That was only partially true. I’d been back home for six months. In that time, I’d been accused of murder, broke my promise to never do magic, which triggered my ability to turn into a cat, and nearly died by falling off a cliff. I’d also helped the Sheriff in my cat-shaped sleuthing guise a couple of times with cases involving minor burglary crimes. It’d been fun spending time with the gruff and quiet man. Just as it'd been in high school, we fit together nicely. He was a great listener and easy to talk to. But he also hadn’t called in over a month. Nor had he visited the bakery. It was like he fell off the face of the Earth. 

“He’s been gone, you know?” She eyed me curiously. Probably to gauge whether I knew this bit of gossip or not.  

“I didn’t. Where did he go?” He hadn’t said he was leaving.

She shrugged. “Some sort of emergency.” She shrugged again. “According to Piper, he only said he needed her to step in as temporary sheriff while he went out of town. But he didn’t give her any details.” 

“Wow,” I said, my heart picking up speed. “Piper has a lot on her plate now that she’s running her sister’s mortuary too.” A stab of pain twisted my gut. “How’s she been since, you know, her sister died?” The only reason I wasn’t dead was that, when necessary, I had claws. 

“She’s managing.” Val leaned on my shoulder as we walked. Then lifted her head. “You should go see her. She’d probably appreciate a conversation about what happened from your point of view.” 

“I gave my statement to the police. She can read it,” I whispered, moving to chew on my nail before I stopped myself. Confrontation wasn’t something I looked forward to. And while I hadn’t killed Pippy, I’d been there. That night in the thunderstorm still haunted my dreams.

“Ruby, it’s okay. Piper doesn’t blame you.” She wrapped an arm around my waist and pulled me against her. 

“I’m glad,” I said, but that didn’t change the fact that I blamed myself. We were nearing the cliff where the horrible incident had happened all those weeks ago, and I turned around. Sometimes when I got too close to where Pippy fell to her death, I swore I heard moaning. As though her ghost was haunting the watery grave. 

Val sighed. She knew what I thought about getting too close. But didn’t say anything. Instead focusing on the gulls diving into the water for food. 

Despite my fear of the creatures swimming beneath the churning ocean, I could spend hours walking along the edge while the waves crested and the surf crept up the sand. There was something special about Broomstick Bay. Sure, it was the birthplace of magic, but it was more than that. Being back had healed my heart more than I cared to admit.

“My lunch break is almost over. We should get back. Mom wants me to magic the flowers on Heath and Fern’s wedding cake.”

Her eyes widened. “Is that a good idea?” 

I couldn’t help but chuckle because she was right. Sure, I could change into a cat and had the power to make things happen without using a spell—my witch song or whatever. But I was no closer to understanding how either worked than when I first got them. My parents didn’t have any ideas. Stella, the town’s coven leader, had helped with breathing techniques, and Grandy and I did small spells together in Dad’s herb shed. But the big stuff? Like calling forth the witch song or changing into a cat at will was still hit or miss.

“Mom thinks the pressure will help me so that I don’t color the flowers wrong or, worse, blow the whole cake up.” I swallowed back my nerves. The tingle—the one that made me sneeze before turning into a cat—fizzled up my nose. Not today, kitty cat! I held my breath to keep the sneeze from happening.

“What was Fern thinking anyway, asking for a neon pink cake? That thing will be visible from space. It’s so bright it’ll blind the guests before they can eat any.” Val started up the wooden steps leading to the parking lot and her car. 

I went along with her, enjoying the light breeze. Val wasn’t wrong about the cake color. Mom and Lilah had already put the magical frosting on all three tiers. And it was glaringly vivid. 

“And Heath?” Val went on. “He can’t be okay with such an atrocity.” 

“I don’t know,” I said, thinking I knew little about Heath. Since that night in his office when I heard him and a woman talking, I’d done a little snooping to find out what Heath was planning. But I hadn’t found anything. And then he’d been elected mayor. Everyone loved him. So, even though I knew he was up to something, I kept it to myself. Not even revealing what I’d heard to Lance. 

“Ruby,” Val said, interrupting my thoughts. 

“I mean, it’s her cake—” I began but stopped when I heard rustling in the bushes to my right. 

“What?” Val asked, shoving her hands in her coat pockets. 

I held up a finger, telling her to wait. 

Doing the breathing exercises Stella had taught me, I searched inward for my cat, or at least her ability to hear better than me. I waited several long seconds, but the tingle wasn’t cooperating. 

“Never mind,” I said, biting back my frustration over my lack of control. “I thought I heard something.”

“Probably a snake,” she said.

“Probably,” I agreed, even though it was way too cold for snakes.

We were nearing the top of the steps. My thighs burned at the effort. It didn’t matter that Val and I walked during my lunch hour every day. I still hadn’t built the muscles necessary to get to the top without aching quads. But my heart rate was up, and my lungs were full of frigid ocean air, which made me feel more alive than I ever did in the city. 

 “When is Lance getting back?” I asked, hoping Val had more information about the man I didn’t like for more than a friend. 

“No one knows. He didn’t say. You should call him and ask. He’d tell you.” She waggled her eyebrows before sliding into the driver’s seat.

I shook my head and got in beside her. “That isn’t my place. He doesn’t owe me anything, and I don’t want to pry.” 

“It isn’t prying if you have a reason for the call. Make something up.” She tapped her nose in thought. “The other day, I swear I saw a pack of wolves running through the neighborhood. Tell him about that,” she said as she pulled onto the road and headed toward the bakery. 

“Fern’s family are werewolves, and hers and Heath’s wedding is in two days. That isn’t news.” 

“I suppose you’re right.”

Broomstick Bay was a quaint yet brilliantly colorful town, and the shops on Ghouligan Avenue were no exception. Evie’s Spells, Potions, and Enchantments was the darkest building in the row, a shimmering ocean blue. Next up was Bella’s Book Nook, which shone a bright butter yellow. Nothing was better than losing one’s self in a dusty store filled with well-worn books. I needed to stop in sometime soon and explore for something delicious to read. Up ahead was Broomstick Bay’s Bakery, or BB’s for short. 

My family had owned the place for many years. It stood tall, with a pointy-pitched roof covered in asphalt shingles. At the tippy top was a lightning rod, complete with a witch on her broomstick on one side and a crescent moon on the other. The salmon-colored wood siding was slightly worn, giving the bakery a warm and cozy feel. 

“I’ll think about calling,” I began but stopped. “What is that?” I asked, leaning forward and pointing. There was something in the middle of the road. 

“A bear?” She was confused, and so was I. It looked like clothing and hair … but not fur like on a bear. Besides, there had never been a bear sighting in Broomstick Bay. 

Chapter 2: Murder In The Street

As we went, people began spilling out of the shops on either side of Ghouligan Avenue. They moved as one toward whatever was on the road. Before there were too many pedestrians to block my view, I noticed the front window of BB’s had been smashed to pieces. Glass littered the sidewalk and street. My dad appeared, carefully opening the wooden door. Followed by my mom. Then Becca and Lilah, our employees. 

I rolled down my window. “Dad,” I shouted. “What happened?”

“Didn’t you see them?” he asked, rushing over. His eyes were wild with worry, and he looked to be in a little shock. 

“See who?” I asked, glancing over at Val before focusing again on my dad. 

“The werewolves,” he replied, his eyes wide with ferocious fright. 

“They tore through the shop, destroying all the goods, including the wedding cake,” Mom whined, coming to stand beside my dad. 

“No, I didn’t see anything.” 

“I didn’t either, Mr. and Mrs. Crosswell,” Val added. 

“What did they leave in the road?” I asked, trying to see around all the people milling about. 

“It’s Valda Dreary.” Dad shook his head. “What is it with the lawyers in this town?” 

The question was rhetorical. Heath Banner had been the town lawyer before he became mayor. And Valda, much to my dismay, had been promoted to the position. “Are you saying she’s dead?” My skin trembled as a shot of anxiety went straight into my heart. Not another dead body and from the same high school class as me. People might start to believe I was the reason they were dying. 

“I’m not one hundred percent sure, but it isn’t looking good, Ruby.” Dad patted my arm. 

Valerie gasped beside me. Neither she nor I liked the woman. But Val spent more time with her than I did since her husband and Valda worked together. Not to mention that death was so permanent, especially among supernaturals. 

“Her poor husband,” I said, feeling sick. “How?” 

“Probably a werewolf,” Dad supplied. “Several of the werewolves were chasing another one. Becca called the police. They should be here soon and can verify whether she’s alive, but it doesn’t look good.” 

I nodded. “We’ll park and help clean up.” 

Mom shook her head. “That won’t do. BB’s is a crime scene!” She wrung her hands. “I don’t know what we’ll do about our custom orders, including the mayor’s wedding cake.” 

I took her hand. “It’ll be okay, Mom. If necessary, we can bake the goods at the house.” 

She nodded bleakly. 

Behind us, the peal of sirens sounded and headed toward us.

Val maneuvered her car over to the side of the road and parked. Usually, patrons didn’t park on Ghouligan Avenue. Instead parking behind the shops. This was an extenuating circumstance, though, so no one would mind. 

As soon as Val rolled up the windows and turned off the car, a police cruiser drove by. At the sight of Lance’s vehicle, my pulse quickened. It didn’t matter how often I lied to myself or Val. The truth was I had feelings for Sheriff Lance Wolfton. 

“He’s back, I guess,” Val said, exiting the car. 

I joined her. “And it looks like he brought someone with him,” I added, shoving my hands in my coat pockets so I wouldn’t chew on any nails. 

From down the street, I saw Grandy doing her best to run toward the bakery. Her long white braid bounced against her shoulder, held in place by her bright yellow cap, which matched her bright yellow boots. She also wore a purple coat that went past her shins, so there wasn’t much of her that could be seen. Had I not known what Grandy wore regularly, I wouldn’t have guessed it was her.

“I’m going to call Reese. He’ll want to know.” Valerie pulled out her phone.  

“I’ll meet you at the bakery,” I said, pointing toward my parents and Grandy. 

She nodded, then spoke into the phone. 

Reese was Valerie’s husband. And also a lawyer. He and Valda worked together in a small office in the city building. Despite how rude Valda was to me, Valerie met with her, Reese, and Valda’s husband, Tom, for drinks after work a few days a week at the local tavern. Valerie and Valda weren’t friends, but they were cordial acquaintances. Their husbands called them the V-Twins, which Val hated with a passion as bright as the sun.  

“What happened?” someone asked. 

“Ruby probably did it. She’s knocking off her rivals one by one.” 

I gasped at the accusation but didn’t stop to stand up for myself. Since Katie had died, there had been rumors flying around town faster than Grandy on her broomstick. It was one of the reasons I’d kept to myself since moving back. 

“I heard Valda quarreling with Stella Weaver the other night at the coven meeting,” another person said. 

“I saw a … thing … a werewolf hovering over Valda’s body,” a woman said.

That gave me pause, as did the comment about Stella. I hadn’t been to any coven meetings since the night of the zombies. Instead, I spent time working on my magic with Stella one-on-one. But I would store that information in my brain for later when I wasn’t fluffing freaking out about Valda’s possible death.

A man stepped in front of me at the last second, his back to me, and I could not maneuver out of the way fast enough. “Oof. Sorry about that,” I said apologetically as I ran into him.

“No worries,” he replied, even though he’d bumped into me. He turned, his eyes studying my face. He looked no older than eighteen to twenty. I wracked my brain, trying to determine if he was someone I babysat while in junior high. For a couple of years, I had quite the business going. But this guy didn’t look familiar. “Do I know you?” I asked anyway, trying to be friendly.

“Nah, I’m not from around here.” He shook his head. “Why is it always the small, unassuming towns that have the most mayhem?” He clucked his tongue as though he were disgusted. Ran a hand through his wavy blond hair and quickly added, “Is she dead? She looks dead.” He didn’t wait for my response before rushing by me. 

“I’m not sure,” I called after him, thinking he wasn’t wrong about his first question. Broomstick Bay had been quiet and unassuming. Until I returned. A quick glance back at Val revealed she was still on the phone, probably talking to Reese about their kids. Valda and her husband hadn’t had any children, but they did have two dogs—Riley and Ricky—and Val’s kids loved playing with them. Death was never an easy subject. It was still weird to watch Valerie as a wife and a mother. She was good at both, no question. But I sometimes only saw her as my boy-crazy best friend from high school. 

When I reached Mom, Dad, and Grandy, the pain in my chest lessened slightly. While kooky and somewhat overprotective, these people were my favorite witches in the world. I took Grandy’s hand while Mom and Dad told her the news. As I heard the tale, relief washed over me. Because yeah, the bakery was a wreck, but at least everyone was safe. 

Well, except Valda Dreary. It was sad. I hoped she was alive but had a sixth sense that she wasn’t. Things in Broomstick Bay were about to get exciting, and not in a good way. At that thought, my cat senses tingled. 

“Excuse me,” a gruff voice said from behind me.

I looked over my shoulder and came face-to-face with Lance, the town sheriff and my one-time boyfriend. He looked the same—immensely tall, broad as a semi-truck, shaggy dark hair, and a five o’clock shadow that seemed permanent to his face. I immediately noticed his usually aqua-blue eyes were darker than normal, like the ocean after a rough storm. He was tired, and I couldn’t help wondering what he’d been up to. 

“Hey,” I said, my gaze landing on his lips. 

Lance crossed his arms. “Another dead body, and you’re nearby,” he growled. 

So Valda had died, which was awful. But why was the Sheriff looking at me like I had anything to do with it. Immediately, I was on the defensive. “I wasn’t around when it happened. Ask Val. Ask my parents. Ask anyone.” I threw my hands in the air out of frustration. The man had some nerve. He’d been back all of five minutes, and he was already accusing me of murder. Was this going to be a thing with us? 

“Ruby is right,” my dad said. “She had nothing to do with it.”

“Sheriff, I have a cause of death,” Piper called. She was kneeling beside the body several feet away. 

“Already?” Lance grunted, glancing at me before meeting my father’s gaze. 

“I’ll do a full exam when I get her on the table, but it seems pretty obvious. Have a look,” Piper said. Her eyes flicked toward me but immediately shifted back to Lance. 

“I’ll be right there,” he said. Then to me, he added, “Don’t go anywhere, Ruby Crosswell,” he said and started away. A beat later, he looked back. “You know the drill, and I have questions that need answering.” 

What was his problem?

“That man has it bad,” Grandy said, wrapping an arm around my waist and winking at me. 

I shook my head, watching him go. “He’s got something bad, all right. Why am I his first suspect?” 

“Probably because you’re always on his mind,” Grandy replied, squeezing my hand. 

“Don’t worry about a thing.” Mom shook her head. “We are all witnesses to the fact that you didn’t do it. He’ll come around soon enough.” Was that a wisp of a smile curling her lips? She liked the idea of Lance and me together. Always had. Even when we were dating in high school. 

“Do you know who killed Valda?” My eyes widened. Had my parents seen what happened?

“No,” Dad said. “But if I had to guess, it wasn’t a who but a what.”

“Oh?” I was shocked. 

“I did see one of the werewolves who came through the bakery standing over her,” Mom added. “That’s the murderer.” She clucked her tongue. “You might turn into a cat, but you’re no dog.” She crunched her face like she’d tasted a bad cherry. 

“Thanks, Mom.” I appreciated her support, even if she had a funny way of saying it. 

“Should we go back into the bakery?” Becca asked. She was a slight young woman with light brown eyes, at least five years younger than me. 

“Probably not a good idea,” Dad said. “BB isn’t happy about what happened to her. The building might shake us to kingdom come if we go back inside.” 

“I’ll go comfort her,” I said. 

“Good idea,” Mom replied, wrapping me in one of her warm blanket hugs. 

I inhaled, enjoying the scent of lemon and vanilla clinging to her clothes before moving away. “I’ll be right back.”

Glass shards covered the brick sidewalk. I did my best to avoid the stuff, but it was impossible. Thankfully, the boots I wore protected my feet. When I reached BB’s door,” I patted her lightly. “It’s going to be all right. We’ll get you fixed up in no time. I promise.” 

In response, the bell over the door jingled lightly. 

The bakery sounded sad. 

“Your window will be shinier than ever, and I’ll paint a lovely cupcake-inspired ocean scape on it, I promise.” All sorts of ideas came to mind, including hermit crabs with cupcakes for shells. Seagulls wearing cupcake hats and two dolphins playing catch with a cupcake. It would be sweet, frothy, and very colorful, just as BB liked. 

I leaned against the wood siding, closing my eyes as I did my best to comfort her. 

The siding rippled into me, and I knew she felt a little better. 

“Talking to the building, mija. Now I’ve seen everything.” 

I gasped in surprise at the nearness of his voice and opened my eyes. The stranger wasn’t quite as tall as Lance, but he was wider, with shoulders like a football player. He had shoulder-length black hair that was wavy at the ends. His thick brows and sculpted beard were dark, while his eyes were hazel, albeit more brown than green or blue.

“She is scared after what happened to her. I needed to help her feel better,” I said, pushing away and standing directly before the man. I probably should’ve been embarrassed, but I wasn’t. Talking to my family buildings, whether it was the house or the bakery, was a part of life in our magical town. “I haven’t seen you around here before.” Not that I knew everyone in Broomstick Bay. Sure, I’d been back a while, but it wasn’t like I went door to door and re-introduced myself to the population. Still, if he’d been living here, I would’ve remembered. He was good-looking enough to have modeled for any of the lumberjack brands. His deeply bronzed skin looked silky smooth, and his hands were rough like he used them often. 

“Just arrived with Lance Wolfton, the town’s sheriff.”

“Oh, I know him,” I quickly responded, holding back a retort I might regret. That explained why I hadn’t seen him before. The man had a barely-there accent when he spoke, but it worked magic on my ears. Each word sounded like he was flirting. “Are you two related?” 

He let out a deep rumble of a laugh. “In a way, I guess.” 

I felt my eyebrows crunch together. “Either you are, or you aren’t. Which is it?” My hands went to my hips, and I thought I might look like my mom when she scolded me as a child. 

“Easy, tiger! We belong to the same—”

“Orion, stop irritating the residents. I thought you were going to stay in the vehicle,” Lance barked. He made his way over like a bull in a figurine shop. Fortunately, those in his path saw him coming and gave him plenty of room, or he might’ve run them over. 


You can preorder Wedding Cake & Werewolves HERE. 

Available: 6/23/23. 

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