Enchanted Notions

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Description:
There is an eclectic little store in Milford, Ohio that caters to the enchanted.  It's called Enchanted Moments, and you can go there any time you like, it's a real place, and the setting for this work.   Many of the characters are based on real people and the goods and services at the store are available every day but Sunday, so you can visit there and get a Tarot reading or a Reiki healing.

Enchanted Notions is urban fantasy so there are a few things added under the surface that aren't real--powers that we all wish we could have.   Circumstances have heated up to the point of pitched battle with dark forces and evil men.  A team of good guys, men and women with awesome power, are required to return balance to the world. 

Killer romance, killer action, and good guys with awesome powers--balls of fire, silver needles, earth, wind, fire, and water--to dispatch bad guys.  Oh yeah...

I love urban fantasy, but when the hero loses his wand at the very moment he needs it? Gah! And I really don't like that good powers are so limited at the crucial point. When it's needed most, the heroine's power abandons her to her simple, weak humanity. Most of the time, only dumb luck carries wizards and witches to their next adventure, but not in my story.

Why do the bad guys get the cool stuff, and the unlimited power, while the good guys always drop their gun down the well? No more, I say. Let the good guys kick butt, and wield cool, powerful tools that don't depend on dodgy ring batteries or on how much salt is in the water.

What if our heroes and heroines had mystical superpowers without so many limitations, either physical or moral? You'd have some serious action, and that's what I've written. This story is my favorite and it turned out better than hoped, awesome! Just finished the third in-depth edit. I can't wait to read it again, and I'm the one who wrote it!

This one is published!  Buy it at Amazon.com and the Kindle Store.  

Here is a sample:


Jason cruised down Main Street in his little red ‘67 Corvette with a white top, not too worried about traffic, not since the bypass passed.  Most traffic ran into the valley around the East Fork of the Little Miami River where there used to be farms.  The big-box stores were out there now and Main had suffered the consequences.

Where is this place? Jason thought. I know it’s in the middle of this block, on the west side, and I heard they like purple.

At 6’4” his rough styled but parted short blond hair brushed the inside of the convertible top, but he was comfortable enough as he drove north on what people used to call 50.  The first U.S. route to span the entire country had crossed the Little Miami at the ford, where the gristmill used to be, hence, the name Milford.  Nobody paid attention to the route number anymore, now it was just Main Street, pretty much the same street in every other mid-west town like Milford, Ohio.  All the main streets were populated by hundred-year-old two story red brick buildings with store fronts on the sidewalk and apartments or office space or storage above.  Clapboard constructions were mixed in here and there, but as they had burned up in days past, the wood buildings were replaced with brick.

The old stores had failed one-by-one when the US routes turned into interstates that passed them by.  Sad really, but nostalgia still attracted a smattering of customers to the quaint old storefronts.

Maybe the old Woolworth’s had become an antique mall, the former hardware store--another antique mall.  Maybe the renovated old bank on the corner had struggled through four different restaurants in turn and is now a pizza parlor or a fancy cupcake shop, or an antique mall.  The same thing had happened on all the old main streets where stores evolved into the assorted mix required to lure curious, sentimental shoppers.  The new stores relied on charming, historic ambiance to pull clientele away from Wal-Mart and Target.

Prices on Main are high out of necessity, due to the low foot traffic, and products must be different enough to attract a more discerning crowd.

Only the historical society senior citizens remember the original stores and the new owners don’t really care, all they want is more customers, updated plumbing, updated wiring, a non-leaky roof and a fresh coat of paint.  The buildings have remained the same for more than a century; only the use of them has changed.

Jason craned his neck to peek under the leafy pear trees, Cleveland Select pear trees to be exact, that lined the street and he checked his mirrors often, to make sure he didn’t block another motorist, but there were no other cars on a Thursday morning.  Trees obscured the sign, but he noticed a flash of purple in the display windows and the purple awnings of a store as he passed.

Enchanted Notions is a gift store, but a very special kind that sells an eclectic mix of items that range from crystal healing stones to porcelain fairies, through books, essential oils, decorated hats and other unique clothing. In addition to the myriad products, a patron might enjoy services that include Tarot reading, Palmistry, Reiki, tuning fork healing, Astrology, or Chakra balancing, as well as every other metaphysical technique practiced since ageless time.

Jason knew one of the owners, Robin, from high school, but hadn’t seen her since their ten year reunion a couple of years before.  After graduation he had entered Ohio State University and popped out as a brand new veterinarian eight years later.  He had married a girl from Loveland and made his home there, close to the in-laws, and built his business in an up-scale strip mall just a couple miles down the street.  His new bride took only three years to trade up to a real doctor; her own 45 year-old Gynecologist on his third try at matrimony.

Jason didn’t suffer from guilt; the breakup was no fault of his own.  Perhaps he claimed a bit of responsibility when he searched hard enough, because he was too generous when it came to employees or anybody who approached him with a sob story.  His wife turned out to be a simple gold digger, and she figured he’d never afford the kind of lifestyle she envisioned.  The divorce hit him hard, in terms of personal failure and a setback to his ego, but he was happy with the settlement because she left with her clothes, makeup, a Mercedes SUV, iPhone, her Shih Tzu, and that was it. He was free and clear in a material sense, and with his rugged good looks, he felt like his prospects were pretty good if he wanted to find somebody new.

Loveland had become a progressive community with lots of upward moving professionals, the perfect place for a vet, since the mini-dog toting, Barbie doll wives could afford a $250 fee every time Snuggles got the sniffles.  Jason had been unattached for a year and his ex still expected him to tend to her little dog for free.  He thought the ex looked ridiculous, horribly off balance, with her new double d’s.  Perhaps she’d leave the Gynecologist for the younger Plastic Surgeon?  Nothing would surprise him less.

Jason drove around the block and retraced Main back to Enchanted Notions where he parallel parked in the first open spot a couple of spaces past the entrance.  He wanted a good luck charm for his ‘baby’ sister, Honore, now in her late-twenties, for her trip to Mount Everest where she intended to scale the highest peak on the planet.

There was a bit more method to his madness, but he couldn’t really put his finger on why.  He was just drawn to the shop from the moment he’d first heard about it from classmates that he’d kept in touch with.  A magnetic pull had tugged at him to investigate the strange shop, but he never could put together a reasonable excuse to drop in, not until he thought of the idea of a good luck charm for his sister.

Jason noticed a calico cat in the left side display window and thought the animal was stuffed, a child’s doll, until the tail twitched and the head turned with his passing while the eyes pierced him as if he were a sparrow, or a mouse.  He reached for the doorknob and read a hand written sign at eye level, “Don’t let the cats out!”

The cat in the window still stared and he figured that particular one was no factor but the sign was plural, and a black one sat on the floor just inside the full-length glassed door.  This cat stared just as hard as the calico and Jason wasn’t sure how to enter, or sure he wanted to, not with the cats making eyes at him like he was lunch.

Have I worked on these cats, he wondered?  Maybe they didn’t have too good an experience and they’re after some payback.

He peered around the sign and tapped on the glass. Somewhere within he heard a muffled voice, “Come on Pye, here kitty, kitty, kitty,” and the black trotted away.  Jason opened the door and stepped in while he transferred the knob behind his back to shut it before any unnoticed cats darted out between his legs.

He looked up and saw two women behind a counter dead ahead that extended out into the middle of the store from the left side wall.   One woman sported short-dishwater blond hair piled on top with chopsticks to hold it together, and the other was a taller, chestnut brunette with a French bob.  The women stopped what they were doing and stared at him, just like the cats had.  The hair on his neck stood up and he hesitated, a decision worked inside his brain, and just before he stepped back out he heard a sultry voice call his name.

“Jason, my old friend, I’m so glad you stopped by,” Robin said as she slipped with feline grace out from an aisle of goods to stand at the end of the checkout counter.  Jason studied his friend, not recognizing her for a second because his attention snapped to her black top hat adorned with a silver buckle medallion on a field of pheasant feathers.  Her blond hair was up, probably under the hat, Jason reasoned, since he remembered longish hair.  She was already tall at five nine, and the hat made her look seven feet, Stunning, he thought.   His eyes slid down to take in the whole picture and he was shocked that Robin appeared so young and trim.  She wore a full length slinky black dress with long sleeves that ended in multi-tipped tapers that extended beyond her long fingers, fingers that were adorned with blood colored nails.  She sported an earthy stone necklace that drew his eye down to a subtle curve of breast that peeked out of the v-shaped neckline.  Not too much, not too deep, just enough to be spicy but not slutty, not off balance at all, not like his ex-wife’s new breasts.  The hem of the dress tickled her ankles in the same way her sleeves were cut, but the dress sported multiple layers that overlapped at the hem in long tapered points, or was the layering an illusion because of the way the dress hugged her figure and spilled around her feet that modeled spiked heels the color of her fingernails?  Jason didn’t know about the layers, but wanted to find out.  Stop that, he said in his mind.

Her waist was belted in black felt with a silver buckle that matched the medallion on her hat.  The dress hung smooth on her curves, which were evident, but tasteful.  She placed one hand on the counter and one hand at her slender waist and waited until Jason had finished his gawk.  She was used to it and enjoyed it if the man wasn’t too obvious, and this one was just right.

She beckoned with a wave and Jason somnambulated in her direction.  He stuck out his hand to shake but she wrapped him up in a big hug, “I don’t shake with my old classmates, I hug.  I hope you don’t mind?”

“No, no, it’s fine,” he said and returned the hug.  “I’m so glad to see you Robin, you look great.  I love the hat,” he said, and withdrew to arm’s length.

“Monica, this is my old friend and high school classmate, Jason,” Robin nodded to the chestnut with the bob.

Monica owned the shop with Robin and she continued to stare like one of the cats.  She smiled and stuck out her hand, “We’ll have to get to know each other a little better before we exchange hugs, but don’t worry, it won’t take too long, I imagine.”

Jason took her hand; she sucked in a breath and gripped his hand tighter and stared wide eyed into his eyes, her mouth turned to an O shape while her left hand rose to cover her chest just below her throat.  A chill shivered down his spine before he said, “Pleased to meet you Monica,” and she continued to hold his hand.

Monica’s eyes relaxed, a smile stretched across her face, “A seventh son,” she said, and let go.

“What?”

“Jason, you naughty boy, you never mentioned you were a seventh son,” Robin said as three other women converged on them, unseen by Jason.

“I knew it when he walked in the door,” startled him from behind.  “Hi, I’m Sara,” she said as Jason turned to greet her.  She was the dishwater blond that he’d spied when he first entered, now she stood on his side of the counter.  Short and stout, she took his hand in both of hers and stared up into his eyes, “We could set the circle now.”

“Hey Jason, it’s good to see you,” came from behind him again.  He unclamped his hands from Sara and turned to meet this new voice that seemed familiar, as she wedged in next to Robin.

He recognized her immediately, “Oh, hello Susan,” he said.  “I didn’t know you worked here, or maybe you’re a customer.”

“No, no, I work here.  I’m a Reiki Master, and Robin’s cousin.  I bet you didn’t know that either.”

“Cousins, wow, what a small world,” he said.  Susan had been a classmate as well.  “You’re right, I never knew that.”

“Aren’t you going to introduce me,” sideswiped him again as another woman entered from Sara’s side in the now crowded aisle in front of the counter.  He turned again, where are they all coming from?  This one was tall, like Robin, with long, straight blond hair that reached to her slender waist.

“Of course I’ll introduce you.  Jason, this is Francine, she’s Tarot, Palms, and Reiki,” Robin said.

Francine took his hand in both of hers, just like Sara had done, and stared into his eyes.  “Yes, I see, a seventh son.  I’m so pleased to meet you.”

Nothing happened for a few pregnant seconds while Francine gazed into Jason’s eyes like she was searching for something inside his skull.

“Let him go Francy,” Robin chided.

“Sorry.”

“No problem, I’m happy to be surrounded by beautiful women, but what’s the big deal about me being a seventh son?”

“Where are all your big brothers, Jason?  I don’t remember them at school,” Robin asked and Jason spun like a top to address her.

“We moved here just before our junior year and my brothers were gone by then, in college or married with their own families all around the country.”

“Mind if I ask about your father’s family?” Monica inquired.

“Ok, I guess, what do you want to know?” He answered as he revolved.

“How many brothers did he have?” Robin jumped in.

“Same as me, six.”

“And where was he in the mix?” Susan asked as Jason swiveled to face each question.

“Same as me, tail-end-Charlie; well, as far as brothers go, I have a younger sister, so I guess she’s really the tail end.”

“A seventh son of a seventh son, excellent!” Monica added and Jason swirled.

“I’ve heard something about old wives tales and seventh sons but what does it mean?  I’m no different from anybody else.”

“Oh, you’re different all right.  You have healing powers, among other things, probably,” Monica answered.  “What do you do for a living?”

“He’s a vet,” Robin answered for him.

“See,” Sara said.  “You’re a healer.”

“Cats and dogs, and there’s nothing mystical about it. They come in sick or hurt and I give ‘em shots and pills and casts, nothing too inspirational about that.”  Just then, Jason noticed three cats sitting erect and attentive on the counter between him and Monica; the black in the middle, and the calico from before on the right with a big fluffy gray to the left.   All three stared at him and all three cocked their heads.  The black raised a paw as if to shake and Jason took the paw between his thumb and forefinger, shook it a couple times and let it go, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to shake hands with a cat.

“Excellent,” Monica said again.  “This is Pyewhacket.  The cats like you, Jason, and as a rule they don’t like strangers.  Do you realize that you just shook hands with a cat?”

“Um, yeah, I guess.  Seemed like the right thing to do at the time.”

“Oh, believe me, that was the right thing to do,” Francine said.

“See?  Seventh son of a seventh son; you have power you don’t even know about,” Sara added.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves ladies,” Robin said.  “What can we do for you Jason?” Susan asked.

“Well, you know my little sister Honore, right?”

“Yes, she was a class or two behind us,” Robin answered.

“That’s right.  She’s been living in the Seattle area since college and she’s gaga about mountain climbing.  She works as a guide for a group up there that takes fat cats on climbs up Mount Rainier, and all over the west really, all the way up to McKinley in Alaska, and some in Europe too.”

“Wow, sounds scary,” Francine interrupted.

“Right, I know, that’s why I wanted to get her a good luck charm.  She’s headed off to Mount Everest in a couple weeks for her first try at that one.  She wants to summit so she can use that experience to get into the big money guide business.  Did you know it costs something like eighty thousand bucks to do a guided climb on Everest?”

“You’re kidding?” Monica asked.

“Honest to God,” Jason added.

“Is she tall and blond and beautiful too, like you?” Sara asked.

“Yes! Oh, my, gosh is she ever,” Susan answered for him as he turned a light shade of scarlet.  “She’s blue-eyed and over six feet tall.  She was a star volleyball player and a track star too.  Set the state record in the pole vault, high jump, and long jump, if you can believe that.  She earned herself a scholarship to UCLA for volleyball, if I remember correctly. She could have been a movie star for sure.”

“Yep, you got it.  That’s my little sister,” Jason affirmed and tapped the tip of his nose.

“Ok, Jason, we’re gonna’ fix you right up,” Robin assured him.

“First we need to take him next door,” Monica added.

“. . .and?” Robin asked, wondering where her partner was headed with this.

“Jason, are you up for an adventure, something you never dreamed of doing?” Monica asked.

“As long as it’s not dangerous, illegal, immoral, or unethical, I guess.”

“It’s none of those things, well, depending on your definition of moral, but certainly not something to be afraid of, and you’ll have an amulet like none in the world, because you’ll be making it yourself,” Monica continued.

“You mean like a craft project or something?”

“Yes, something like that,” Monica answered. “Sara, would you go out first and provide security for us please?”

“My pleasure,” Sara replied and moved to the front door.

Robin knew exactly where they were headed now and took the bewildered man by the elbow before he could ask the obvious question about the need for security.  They followed Sara to the door where Robin hesitated until Sara looked around and then nodded her head toward the door. Francine and Susan turned the other way and strode deeper into the store.

The cats all jumped down but Monica admonished them, “Not you three.  You can wait in the window if you want.”  The cats meowed and jumped into the display window where Jason had seen the calico when he first entered the shop.

Monica followed the others out where Jason watched Sara turn over a rock in the grass verge that served as a planter around one of the pear trees in front of the store.  Robin turned him left and guided him to a storefront that was actually the third door to the north, where the windows were painted over with a starry night scene that incorporated a big silver crescent moon.

A vertical banner hung on the door:

Enchanted Notions
Spiritual Wellness
and
Healing Studio

Robin produced a key from somewhere that made Jason wonder, . . .did she get that from a pocket or up her sleeve, or where?

Robin led him in, flipped a light switch and held the door for Monica.  Jason noticed that there was nothing in the room but a long folding-leg table surrounded by chairs, also the folding kind, and next to the wall another table that looked like one of those portable massage platforms he’d seen set up in malls occasionally.

“I expected a display of charms,” Jason started, but he was interrupted by Robin.

“Don’t worry sweetie, you’re not in any danger.  We’re just gonna’ make the very best good luck charm in the whole world.  Sit down, please.”

Jason sat at the end of the table but before he asked how he could make a charm when there were no supplies in sight, the door opened and Francine entered with Susan.

“We picked these out, you can choose the one you want,” Francine said as she laid more than a dozen pendant necklaces on the table.  All of them were carved out of stone with leather thongs or hempen rope either tied directly through holes in the stone for the larger ones, or affixed with a wrapping and small ring of silver.  They ranged from donut shaped, to a naked, well endowed, headless female body.

“Francy, this is a fertility charm,” Robin said and held up the naked woman.

“Well, it could be a strong woman charm when he gets done with it.  You know, the unconquerable feminine divine, he could cast to that, or something,” she replied.

“No, I don’t think so,” Monica admonished and Robin disappeared the trinket into an invisible pocket.

“What do you mean, ‘when he’s done with it’?” Jason asked. “These all look like they’re finished already.”

“Don’t worry honey,” Francine comforted. “All will be made clear in a minute. The less you know now, the better.”

The door opened again and Sara entered, “All clear, and I have a worm.”  She held her hand out to Jason, “Here, hold this worm in your left hand, the heart hand.”

“What!  I will do no such thing.”

“You want a charm that will be guaranteed to protect your sister, don’t you?” Susan asked.

“Guaranteed?  What do you mean?  If she dies on the mountain I get my money back?”

“No, of course not, she’ll be guaranteed to come back perfectly healthy, having suffered no ill effects at all,” Monica replied. “And we’re not gonna’ charge you for the charm, so you won’t get your money back.  It’s not that kind of guarantee.”

“Listen, I. . .”

“Oh hold the worm you pansy,” Sara chided. “It won’t bite and we’ll let you wash your hands after.  What’ve you got to lose?”

No man likes to be called a pansy, so Jason took the worm between thumb and forefinger as he wondered; what the hell have I gotten into?

“Not like that.  It has to be in your palm,” Sara directed and shook her head.

“Wait a minute,” Robin said, “Let’s think about this for a second.  We don’t want to take this dark.  We have a seventh son.  There’s no need to use a worm.  Besides, we only use a worm for protection if it’s needed, and we’ve never actually needed one, not even during the attack last Hallows Eve.”

“Robin, she’s going to climb Mount Everest. Ev-er-rest!” Sara argued.

Monica jumped in, “Robin’s right.  We don’t do that unless absolutely necessary, and since there are five of us, plus Jason, the cost will be negligible spread over all of us. I don’t think we’ll need it.  We’ll cast without it and see what happens.  We can always do it again and add the worm--how’s that?”

“Fine, so we’re takin’ the cost, no problem,” Sara repeated and carried the worm back out to its rock.

“I don’t understand any of this,” Jason said.  “What do you mean ‘cost,’ and what about the worm, and what about me making an amulet when they’re done already, and what kind of attack, and you said it would be free, but now you’re talking about cost for cryin’ out loud.  I just wanted a good luck charm like you get in one of those bubble gum prize machines, that’s all.”

“Jason, you didn’t come to us for a bubble gum charm, I’m pretty sure.  It’s all right honey.  Please trust me and it will all be perfectly evident when we’re done.  You are in no danger at all,” Robin’s calming voice took effect and Jason relaxed in his chair; waited as Sara re-entered the room.

“Don’t worry Jason, we’ll accept the cost when we get to that part,” Monica added.

Jason started another question about cost, but Robin stopped him mid breath, “We’ll all join for the cost, it’s not a big deal,” she said and the others agreed in turn.

“Don’t think about economics right now, Jason,” Monica said before he could form another word.  “We’ve got it covered.  Just quiet your mind and think about the amulet.  Give me your hand.”

He did.