Monthly Chapter: August 2022: Tansy Stays a Spell

On the first of the month a new chapter is posted from an as yet to be released book. The current book is Tansy Stays a Spell. This is the second book of the upcoming Oak Hill Series. Sorry this one was just a little bit late.

Chapter 3

Tansy stared at the two rings gleaming in the lights from the bathroom.  She placed the open sachet back on the closet shelf and sat down on the side of the tub.  The rings felt oddly heavy.  Tansy picked one up and held it to the light.  The amber stone gleamed in the same way as her own necklace.  Tansy pulled her necklace from her shirt and held the stone of the ring next to her bumblebee. 

“The same,” she decided.  Both of the stones in the rings looked as though they all came from the same block of stone.  The metal of her bumblebee holding the stone in place was lighter, the gold thinned out.  The rings were chunky and heavy and were sized for men’s fingers. 

There was patterned scrollwork on the metal, one of the rings featuring swoops and curves while the other had geometric designs.  If the designs meant something, Tansy couldn’t discern it.  There were no coats of arms, family crests or even initials, just swirling curves on one and geometric shapes on the other. 

Tansy stood back up and for lack of any other place to put them, slipped them back into the herb filled sachet. There was no note with them, no explanation as to why Eunice left them there for her.

‘Maybe she didn’t leave them here for me,’ Tansy thought as she shoved them deep underneath the remaining towels.  ‘Eunice didn’t know I’d be coming back.’

She doubted that her Aunt planned to die at the court house. It was either an accident or murder, but it wasn’t what Eunice planned.  ‘And she made sure I didn’t come back for a while.’ 

It had been well over a year since Tansy returned to the house.  Eunice stopped by her apartment in the city to visit her periodically and to go out to dinner on occasion, but Tansy hadn’t been back to the house.  Every time Tansy made plans to visit, Eunice would have something come up and have to cancel them. It became so routine Tansy joked about it with Eunice asking why she wanted her to stay away.  Eunice denied the charge, saying that things just seemed to come up.  Tansy took it at face value then, but after Eunice died she wondered if she wasn’t being kept deliberately away. 

Tansy shook the thought away, closed the linen cabinet door and locked the bathroom door.  She then began to undress for her shower. ‘So Eunice wasn’t putting them there for me, she was just putting them in a place it was little likely anyone would look.’

As Tansy turned on the shower and let the water warm up she wondered if it was still a safe place.  ‘After all I accepted the magic so maybe now keeping them close to me might be a bad idea.’

The water warmed and Tansy stepped into the spray, rinsing all of the dust from her foray into Eunice’s workshop off of her skin.  She kept the water as hot as she could stand it hoping to steam the dust from her pores. 

‘It’s doubtful anyone would think I had anything,’ she decided as she lathered up her hair with shampoo.  ‘After all I am new to the community and still don’t know much about magic so it is doubtful anyone would expect me to have collected the rings, especially if they are so powerful.’

Tansy frowned as she rinsed off the lather and reached for the conditioner.  The rings hadn’t felt powerful.  They felt like heavy old rings made with a solid chunk of stone and a lot of metal. ‘But they didn’t feel magical.’

Tansy applied conditioner to her hair and let it sit while she shaved her legs.  Franklin’s ring hadn’t felt powerful and neither did her bumble bee. She rinsed the razor under the spray and set it aside before beginning to rinse out the conditioner. 

‘There are seven families, so there are seven rings,’ she thought trying to organize facts in her head.  If three of them are here and one is with Franklin then four are accounted for and three are not.’  Her hair washing complete, Tansy began washing her body with the shower gel and her mesh scrubbie.

‘I’m guessing the Weathersbys have one,’ she thought.  She couldn’t see Roderick ever letting anything that might have a glimmer of power out of his sight.  ‘Unless he inherited a copy and somehow the original was lost before it was his turn with it.’ 

Tansy couldn’t see him being that happy with a copy.  ‘I could see him wearing the copy and letting everyone think it was the real thing though. And I could see him wanting to try to get the original back.’

Tansy frowned.  Rodrick and Margret Weathersby had been trying to break into the house since Eunice’s death.  ‘They could think that she had the ring that was for their family.’  Tansy nodded as she rinsed the last of the suds from her body.  She could see Roderick justifying the break ins then and wondered if he would use that defense when the time came to explain why his family was trying to kill Tansy. 

‘Of course if he has his family ring, then he could either be trying to get our family ring or think that Eunice has other rings. Which might mean he is collecting them.’

Franklin said there were some who believed the rings could be united.  She didn’t know if the power was released somehow or simply granted to whoever owned them. ‘Franklin said it wasn’t possible but Roderick might believe it.’

Now clean, Tansy turned off the water and pulled the shower curtain to the side.  She squeezed as much water out of her hair as she could and then wrapped a towel around her head as she dried off her body and began to dress in the clean clothes she brought with her.  She made certain the bumble bee neckless went under her shirt, tucked safe against her skin.

Roderick wanting power was no surprise.  ‘And I doubt he would stop just because Franklin told him to.’

Tansy glanced at the closed linen closet.  She wasn’t entirely sure what to do about the rings.  For now leaving them where they were seemed like an okay idea because she doubted anyone would think to look in the linen closet, but it didn’t really seem like a plan.  She gathered her dirty clothes and placed them in the laundry basket.  In the end there were really only two options.  She could either forget about Eunice’s search and let things lie where they were, or she could continue the search for the missing rings.

There were benefits and drawbacks to both.  The search for the rings might have been what led to Eunice’s death so Tansy could see the danger.  ‘But it might tell me more about what happened to Eunice.’

That was a big lure.  If Tansy took up the search she could find out if Eunice’s accident was an accident and if the Weathersbys were involved.  She knew they had been coming after her. ‘But there is no reason they were the ones who caused the accident at the courthouse.’

Tansy shook her head and unlocked the bathroom door, moving back into her bedroom.  ‘It’s not a conspiracy,’ she reminded herself.  ‘Let’s not get crazy.’

The danger was a good reason to let the search go, but at the same time letting it go would be easier.  ‘But if others are looking and think Eunice had the rings then forgetting about it might not be an option.’

Tansy moved barefoot across the room to her chest of drawers.  She took out a pair of thick socks and sat down on the bed to put them on.  ‘I’d need to know more about the rings before I decide,” she realized.  She just wasn’t entirely certain how to go about finding out more without looking like she was starting a search. 

“And then there are those strange women who came by the back door,” she recalled.  There had been something off about them as well.  “So I should probably find out more about them.”

Now clad in clean warm clothes, Tansy let her bedroom.  On the landing she paused and tried to decide whether to go into Eunice’s room or downstairs.  There might be more about the rings in the books in Eunice’s work room.  All of the copious piles of paperwork in Eunice’s bedroom dealt with hunting down the rings, not what they were, their history or what Eunice would believe happened when they came together.

She was saved from making a decision by the ringing of the doorbell. “Temporary reprieve,” Tansy decided.  She took it and headed downstairs.  She reached the front door and after a moment’s hesitation, where she thought about Roderick’s attempt to throw a glowing green ball of fire at the house, Tansy opened the door. 

“Ms. Petra?” Tansy had never seen her Great Aunt’s best friend use the front door let alone ring the door bell.  Usually she walked over from her house using the winding pathways in the back.  It was the pedestrian superhighway and kept Eunice connected to all of her friends. “You didn’t drive did you?”

Petra shook her head.  The older woman’ hair was clipped short in a style Tansy knew was designed to replicate the look of Elizabeth Taylor.  Her earrings were large electric pink tassels that looked more as though they had been stolen from a curtain tie than actual earrings.  Her leggings were the customary leopard print spandex and today’s t-shirt had, ‘I’m here for the wine.’ Spelled out in rhinestones across a shirt just as electric yellow as the earrings.

“Of course I didn’t drive, they took my license years ago. You remember, after …the incident.”  Petra dropped her voice when saying the incident. 

The incident, as Tansy remembered it, involved a very hot day and heavy, faux gemstone encrusted  glasses that slipped off Petra’s nose. She was turning her head side to side to look at both sides of the street.  There had been some sort of side walk sale going on and Petra was distracted by the racks placed on the sidewalk.  The glasses flew off as she tried to get a look at a marabou feather encrusted coat and Petra ended up taking out a lamp post.  It was one of the old wrought iron ones in the historic district and while the damage to the car, and Petra’s reputation as a competent driver, was permanent, the post simply needed a quick weld and a bit of paint to be as good as new.

“Of course,” Tansy said.  “Why didn’t you come to the back door then?” Petra not only came to the back door but had let herself into the house for years, calling out as she arrived rather than knocking.

“Because it is your house now not Eunice’s,” Petra told her. Tansy stared at her.  Petra smiled.  “The house knows I’m not an enemy so I was allowed on the porch, but you have to allow me to enter,” she clarified.

“Oh, of course.  Won’t you come in?” Tansy stepped to the side.  Petra stepped forward and shuttered a little as she crossed the threshold.

“I hadn’t felt that in a while,” she said as she stepped into the house and Tansy closed the front door.  “That’s the third time you know.”  Petra glanced into the stiff formal parlor that hadn’t really changed much for several generations. “Kitchen?” she asked.

Tansy nodded and they both walked back towards the kitchen.  “Third time?” Tansy asked as she moved to put on a fresh pot of coffee. 

“Oh yes,” Petra said.  She settled herself at the kitchen table as Tansy filled the carafe.  “Old Mr. MacDughal had to let me in the first time I visited with Eunice.  That was her father you know,” Petra said.  Tansy brought a box of cookies she picked up at the store to the table and set it down. Petra took one.

“It made my hair fairly stand on end when I crossed the threshold,’ Petra admitted. 

Tansy smiled and resisted looking at Petra’s hair which was teased up and sprayed into a more or less standing up position. She took a cookie for herself instead of commenting.

“I had been to Penny Woodward’s a few weeks prior for the first time so I thought I knew what to expect since her folks had to do the same thing.”  Petra took a bite of the cookie, chewed and swallowed.  She shook her head.  “It wasn’t the same thing at all.  Now, I’d think of Penny’s place as like a cell phone set on vibrate, although at the time we didn’t exactly have cell phones. Crossing here was like standing an inch away from a lightning strike.”

Petra chuckled and shook her head.  “I thought it would be less when it came to be Eunice’s turn to invite me in, but it wasn’t.  And now it was your turn, and you my dear would set even old Mr. MacDougal’s hair on end. Of course I knew you would.”

“You did?” Tansy said.  She wondered if there was something about her that showed.

Petra snorted.  “That anklet you made.”

Tansy stuck her leg out and lifted her jeans exposing it.  It was a knotted friendship bracelet.  The instructions listed it as beginner protection.  Aside from the exploding painted sheep and getting a goat in a magazine advertisement to move it was the only piece of magic she had done deliberately. She looked at the pink and gray string, still damp from the shower.

“It said it was for beginners and protection so I thought it would work,” she said.  “What’s wrong with it?”

“Absolutely nothing is wrong with it,” Petra said.  “It works perfectly.  And beginners can cast the spell on the knot it is a very simple one.  However most beginners can only cast it on one or two of the knots.  They would have the strength to push through more than that.”  Petra gestured to the ankle as Tansy let the leg of her jeans slide back into place.  “How many of the knots in that thing did you cast the spell on?”

Tansy shrugged.  “All of them,” she said.

“And it didn’t wipe you out?”

“The last one was really hard,” Tansy recalled.  She remembered the words feeling thick and heavy as she cast the last of the spells on the knot she used to tie the anklet around her ankle.  Her throat was dry and felt scraped raw.  Pushing that last spell out felt like coughing up a jagged edged stone.

Again Petra snorted.  “I’ll bet. There are easily a couple of hundred knots that went into making that bracelet.  It could probably stop a charging grizzly bear at twenty paces.”

“It through Chris across the parking lot,” Tansy said.  “I thought he was struck by lightning.  When I turned to look at him his hair and sneakers were smoking and he looked wide eyed.”

Petra let out a laugh that sounded a bit like a cackle.  “That I would have loved to see.  Never could abide that boy, even as a child.  I know you are supposed to like all children and see them all as budding angles that just need guidance, but some children are rotten all the way through and he was one of them. He kicked Herman.”

“No,” Tansy said.  Herman had been one of the dogs in the many line of dogs that Petra kept.  She’d have one and when it died she would swear never to get another one.  Then a few weeks later another one would be taken into her home and heart.  Herman had been her dog of choice when Tansy was little.  He was a bit of a mix of everything in the world of dog.  He had the bandy legs of a bull dog, a head that was more golden retriever than anything else, a coat that thick and curly and a stump of a tail that never stopped wagging.  He tended to list sideways when he walked which always made Tansy think the room was slightly tilted.  He had been a mess but he had been the sweetest and most lovable dog in Petr’s doggy line up. She cried when he died and was buried in Petra’s back yard.

“I can’t believe anyone would kick Herman,” Tansy said.  “That’s just evil.”

“Exactly,” Petra said.

Tansy shook her head and seeing that the coffee was ready she went to fetch two mugs.  She filled them and brought them to the table. “I’m glad I sent him flying across the parking lot then.” She went to get the creamer from the fridge and brought it to the table.  She sat down a Petra doctored her coffee.

“So,” Petra said.  “What are we going to do about finding out exactly what happened to Eunice?”


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