Chapter One of A PINK POTION GONE WRONG
An unlucky witch. A talking pink iguana. A frustrated ghost needing to know who killed him.
Welcome back to Witch’s Cove where the people—with the exception of a few random law breakers—are friendly and the sun always shines. If you want to talk to a dead relative, learn about your future, or need a spell created just for you, you’ve come to the right place.
Hi, I’m Glinda Goodall, and after fourteen years of hearing my iguana complain about how my spell turned his green skin pink, I finally have a chance to help him. The problem? I’m either the worst witch in Florida or the unluckiest. At the store where I buy my potions, the owner happened to be out of town. No worries. Why shouldn’t I trust the ancient substitute who is hard of hearing and doesn’t see well?
Long story short, she mixed in the wrong ingredient, and instead of turning Iggy back to green, I ended up seeing ghosts! Just my luck, the first semi-translucent figure I ran into was recently murdered and wants my help to figure out who did it. Never one to turn down a soul in need, I agree.
If you want to tag along, please do. You’ll find me at the Tiki Hut Grill most days serving breakfast and smiles. Oh, yeah. I found a talking cat too!
“I’m on strike,” my cute, pink iguana said as he whipped his tail back and forth, digging his claws into the rattan stool he was perched upon. “I’m not helping you with any more cases.”
I ignored Iggy, mostly because he was being silly. I’d only been involved in one murder case in my life. But when my familiar was in a bad mood, the best thing to do was give him space to cool down.
To be fair, these last few weeks had been hard on both of us. Me, because I had to help prove that my best male friend’s brother didn’t kill our not-so-beloved deputy. Iggy had been excited to help solve the crime, but now that the real criminal had been brought to justice, he felt left out. Iggy liked the action.
So why would an adrenaline junkie threaten to boycott the chance to sleuth in the future? I had no idea didn’t have a clue, but knowing him, he’d reveal his motives eventually.
Just to be clear, this level of frustration wasn’t new to him. Iggy was often in a state of despair, mostly because he was pink (long story how that came about). And by a long story, I mean about fourteen years long.
The short of it was that I had conjured him from the Hendrian National Forest when I was only twelve. Considering my inexperience, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I failed to get the black cat I was trying for. Instead, Iggy showed up—and I turned him pink by mistake. Whoops.
For sure, Iggy got the raw end of the deal. I was a terrible witch back then—still am—because I’m bad at doing spells. It was why I tried try to limit doing them as much as possible.
“Don’t you want to know why I won’t help you anymore?” he said, his nose pressed against the picture window that faced the Gulf of Mexico.
I already knew. At least I think I did. He’d complained about being pink almost every day. “No.”
“Have you ever asked for help regarding my problem?” he asked.
Clearly, my familiar wasn’t going to let it go. I finished my tea, set it down on the coffee table, and leaned back against the sofa. “If you want to have a discussion, come over here so we can talk face to face.”
Claws scraped along the rattan and then along the wood floor. Iggy climbed up on the coffee table and faced me. “I’ve been begging you to go to the Hex and Bones Apothecary store forever, but you never do. I’ve heard Mrs. Murdoch is a genius when it comes to finding the right spell. She’ll know just what to do to change me back to green.”
I had tried to find a solution to his problem, but perhaps I hadn’t tried hard enough in Iggy’s eyes. “She probably does. Bertha Murdoch supplies all of the witches with their herbs and stuff.” She also had a library of spells, but either I had convinced myself I was too busy to spend hours looking through them all, or else I feared I would mess up again. “What if I change you to some other color, like purple or blue and orange striped? You know my last few spells haven’t been raging successes.” More like disasters.
“Any color is better than pink. I know your track record isn’t the best, but I’m willing to take the chance. I refuse to stay pink any longer.” He closed his eyes in rebellion.
Iggy was being particularly anxious, and his bad vibes were beginning to rub off on me. “Why are you bringing this up now?” I held up a hand. “I realize it’s on your mind a lot, but many of our town visitors come to the Tiki Hut Grill just to see a pink iguana.” I loved him just the way he was.
Iggy opened his eyes and lifted his head. “Tell them to go to the Galapagos.”
“You’re being childish, though someday I would like to see a real pink iguana.”
“A real pink iguana? What, I’m a fake?” Iggy bobbed his head.
“Watch it, buddy. Aggression is not tolerated in this household. Tell me what’s really going on.”
He stretched out onto his stomach and grunted. “It’s bad enough that I feel useless around here, but Aimee made fun of me yesterday for being pink.”
“Who the heck is Aimee?” I didn’t like anyone bullying my familiar.
He looked away. “My girlfriend.”
I had to work hard not to laugh, even though there was nothing funny about romance. “You have a girlfriend?” Iggy had never mentioned he had any interest in the opposite sex.
“Yes.” He lifted his head. “Do you have a problem with that?”
“Ah, no, but why haven’t I heard about her before now?”
“Do you tell me about your boyfriends?”
I laughed. “What boyfriends?”
Iggy lifted a leg for a moment as if to reach for me. “Okay, your boyfriend. Singular. I know you like Sheriff Rocker.”
He was trying to change the subject. “I do not like Sheriff Rocker. Okay, I don’t dislike him either, but I don’t have any romantic notions about him.” Even if I did, I wouldn’t tell blabbermouth here.
“I know you think he’s hot. I overheard you talking to Penny about him.”
Penny was my best girlfriend, who worked with me at the Tiki Hut Grill, and we often chatted about those things. Apparently, I wasn’t aware Iggy was close enough to hear us. “I might have mentioned it once or twice. That’s all.” I needed to get back to Aimee. “Is your girlfriend an iguana?”
“No, she’s a cat—the most beautiful black cat I’ve ever seen.”
Ah, so that was the reason for the sudden desire to be green again. “How long have you known her?”
A week wasn’t a long time, but maybe animals were different when it came to love. “Who is her owner?”
“She doesn’t have one.”
I crossed my arms over my chest. “You’re dating an ordinary cat?”
“No! She’s special. Like me. She can talk.”
Iggy was losing it. “Tell me this. Can you talk to Toto—an ordinary dog?” That was my mother’s dog, who had no magical powers whatsoever. Don’t worry, I know that animals communicate in different ways.
Iggy’s mouth opened. “You know I can’t. Toto is just a dog, but Aimee can really talk.”
This was going nowhere. If Aimee could talk, then she was someone’s familiar, which meant she had an owner. “Maybe you can ask her over so I can get to know her.”
He shook his head. “When you invite the cute sheriff over here, I’ll let you meet Aimee.”
I hated when Iggy turned stubborn. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll go over to Hex and Bones Apothecary right now and see if there is a spell to turn a pink iguana into a green one. How does that sound?”
“Fine.” He turned around, his tail swishing at me.
“What? Just fine? I thought you’d be more excited. What else is bugging you?”
He looked over his shoulder. “Like I said, I had so much fun solving Cliff’s murder, and now I have nothing to do.”
He hadn’t actually solved the case. Many people helped bring down the killer, but ever since the case had closed, Iggy had been experiencing this feeling of emptiness. I had to admit, I was too. “You had plenty to do before you helped investigate Cliff’s murder.”
“Now that I have, I want more.”
I sighed. “I get why you feel useless.” I snapped my fingers. “Hey, I know. Why don’t you apply for a job at the sheriff’s department to be a detective?”
I might have been a bit sarcastic there, but it wasn’t as if murders happened all that often in Witch’s Cove, Florida. We were a small town on the west coast that catered to tourists. Not only did they come for our sandy beaches and endless sunshine, they enjoyed our amazing array of occult services. I have some talents in the witch department, but there weren’t any that I might be paid for. For the sake of the town, that was a good thing. I couldn’t tell the future or talk to the dead like my mother could.
“If Sheriff Rocker and I could communicate, that would be great, but we can’t,” Iggy said in his pouty voice. It wasn’t attractive.
“There is that.” Only witches could talk to other familiars, and Sheriff Rocker didn’t qualify. Heck, he barely believed in witches or magic. “Have you ever tried to talk to him? The man could be a closet warlock.” I almost laughed out loud at that thought.
“Funny, funny. We both know he’s not.”
“I just thought maybe I’d misjudged him.” Sometimes Iggy figured things out before I did.
My familiar faced me once more and lifted the upper half of his body, looking like a sentry. “I thought you said you were going.”
It was important that I show him that he was really important to me, and that I cared for his mental well-being. “I am.”
I stood, shoved my credit card in my pocket and headed downstairs. Instead of leaving by the side entrance that ran through the Tiki Hut Grill gift store, I passed through the main restaurant.
Was I being crazy for attempting this spell? Some spells I’d tried had been fairly innocuous, so if I messed up, it was no big deal. Others, however, would have dire consequences if I’d failed—like the spell I did to find Iggy.
It was my day off from waitressing, so I had the time to ask Bertha about the ins and outs of this spell.
“Glinda, is everything okay?” Aunt Fern asked as I rushed by the checkout counter she was manning. “You look worried.”
I never could fool my aunt. I stopped and backed up. After glancing around and then waving to Penny, I returned my focus to her. “Not really. Iggy is in a funk.”
She set down her wand—or rather her pencil that looked like a wand. “Because he feels useless?”
“He told you?”
She tapped the side of her fairy godmother crown. “I know how hard it is when people need you, and then they don’t.”
Was she talking about Iggy or herself? I didn’t need to get into that discussion at the moment.
“Yes, he’s upset that he can no longer play detective, but he’s also upset because his new girlfriend prefers him to be green instead of pink.”
Really? “Is there anything you don’t know?” While there was no such thing as mental telepathy—or so I believed—I wouldn’t be surprised if Iggy and she and Iggy communicated that way.
My aunt smiled. “I’m sure there is. Where are you headed in such a hurry?”
“I’m going to Hex and Bones Apothecary.”
Aunt Fern grinned. “How exciting. Are you going to return to your witchy ways?” She wiggled her eyebrows.
I huffed out a laugh. “I have no witchy ways. Any magical abilities I possess have gone haywire too often to even call me a real witch.”
“Nonsense. Bertha will not steer you wrong. Just follow her directions, and I’m sure Iggy will be green in no time.”
My shoulders slumped. “For his sake, I want him to be green, but to be honest, I like him pink. It’s what makes him unique.”
My aunt shook her head. “You have to think what’s best for him.”
“I know. It’s why I finally agreed to find a solution after all this time.”
My aunt patted my hand. “You’re doing the right thing.”
“I hope so. How’s Uncle Harold today, by the way?” I didn’t ask often enough, but truth be told, he’d died over two years ago.
Aunt Fern claimed his ghostly body appeared most days to talk to her. I personally didn’t believe in ghosts, mainly because I’d never seen one, but if she said he could communicate with her, then maybe ghosts did exist.
“He’s weak. It takes energy to materialize enough for me to see him. He said he needed to rest for a few days.”
My stomach cramped. “Oh, no.” I couldn’t ask if his condition was terminal, because he was already dead. “I probably should have asked before, but does this happen often?”
Aunt Fern tilted her head once more and smiled. When her fairy godmother hat slipped, she righted it. “Oh, yes, but don’t worry. He’ll be right as rain soon.”
I never did understand how rain could be right or wrong, but I let it drop. “I’ll let you know how the spell for Iggy goes.”
“You do that.”
Contrary to popular opinion, just because she wore a fairy godmother outfit most days to work, she was not crazy. The ghost part? Maybe, but all employees—and owner as was the case with my aunt—at the Tiki Hut Grill wore a costume. The tourists loved it. I always dressed up as Glinda the Good Witch of the South, because I am a witch (albeit a fairly unsuccessful one), and I live in the south.
Aunt Fern occasionally alternated her costume, depending on her mood, but the godmother one was her favorite. I swear she chose this one because so many people spilled their deepest, darkest secrets to her just because of how she looked—sweet and trusting.
I stepped outside and immediately wilted. It was a hot June day. The silver lining was that there were enough clouds to keep me from sweating too much on the short walk to the Hex and Bones store down the road. I crossed the street and walked past the sheriff’s department, working hard not to look inside. Once Steve Rocker had become the new sheriff, after Sheriff Duncan had retired—or rather had been forced to step down—I hadn’t seen much of him.
According to some of our second shift servers, the new sheriff usually came into the Tiki Hut for dinner, but since I had the breakfast and lunch shift, I rarely saw him.
I suppose I could have gone over to see how he was settling into the town, but I felt it would look a little suspicious. When Cliff Duncan had been murdered, Steve Rocker and I crossed paths many times—sometimes on friendly terms and at other times, not so much. While he was skeptical that I could detect how a person died, he had started to come around to my way of thinking just when he—or rather we—solved Cliff’s murder.
Refocusing on the task at hand, I hurried to the apothecary shop. Once inside, I was immediately assaulted with what smelled like a combination of dust, coriander, and some other strong odor. Because the tourists expected it, there was a table with jars of bones and skulls of all shapes and sizes just inside the main entrance—all plastic knock offs, of course. Besides the usual witchy trinkets, the shop had a wall of herbs and spices, all in different sized colored containers. Each one was numbered and labeled.
Stars, moons, and ancient symbols that meant nothing to me, hung by colored threads from the ceiling. Most were swaying since the air conditioner was at full blast. While some things in the store were a bit too touristy for me, the ambience of the place oozed the occult.
The catchy store’s name made it ripe to sell clothing apparel with the Hex and Bones logo. Even though it was months before Halloween, the store always kept a section dedicated to dressing as a witch—or what the world thought a witch should look like. They had black hats, striped stockings, wands, and even a few black gowns. And yes, an assortment of brooms. I always got a kick out of that.
Next to that section was the candle display. I loved candles, but Bertha’s were rather expensive since they were handmade. Along one side wall, sat tables with ancient looking, leather bound books on them. These books contained spells and folklore. According to the owner, everything in them was authentic. It was where I might have beenbe able to find the spell to help Iggy.
“May I help you?” said a wobbly voice behind me that wobbled.
I spun around, expecting to see Bertha. Instead, Hazel Silas, an ancient witch, was standing there, her shoulders hunched. I waited for her to recognize me, but when she didn’t, I introduced myself. “I’m Glinda Goodall, Fern’s niece.” I didn’t ask if she remembered me since I didn’t want to embarrass her in case she didn’t. We had met a few times.
“Oh, yes. You work at the Tiki Hut.”
Good. She did remember. “I do.” I scanned the store once more. “I’m looking for Bertha.”
“I’m sorry, dear, Bertha is visiting her ill sister in Atlanta.”
“That’s terrible—about her sister being sick, that is. When will she be back?” I wasn’t sure how long Iggy would be willing to wait.
“She doesn’t know. It could be days. It could be weeks.”
Decisions, decisions. If I had the ingredients in hand, it might put off Iggy for a while. “Maybe you can help me then.
I need to do a spell.”
Hazel’s smile faltered. “Oh? What kind of spell?”
“I need to turn my pink iguana back to green.”