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Secret of the Holiday Traveler - A Whispering Pines Short Mystery (EBOOK)

Secret of the Holiday Traveler - A Whispering Pines Short Mystery (EBOOK)

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Ornaments made from twigs, feathers found on the forest floor, and antlers dropped by a generous buck. Lucy O’Shea’s Yule tree is almost done. She just needs to add dried orange slices and the popcorn-and-cranberry garland. Perfection. Then comes a knock at her door and she finds a half-frozen young woman in a threadbare coat standing on the other side.

Deja Isaac’s car broke down and she’d like to borrow Lucy’s phone to call for service. A situation that could happen to anyone. Except Whispering Pines tends to summon people . . . especially when their lives are missing something.

What does Deja need? Other than a mechanic. And why did the village bring her to Lucy’s doorstep? Maybe this time the village brought someone to help Lucy remember what’s missing from her life?


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Chapter 1
THE BIG MAN WITH THE full snow-white beard and heavy leather leggings, buttery soft from years of use, pulled the pine tree through the snowdrifts in my front yard with ease. He made it look more like a branch that had fallen during a windstorm than the ten-foot-tall, unwieldy thing that it was.
“Where do you want it this year, Lucy?” Willie asked when we got to the front door.
“Same place as always,” I answered. “By the window wall. The stand is ready and waiting for it.”
“You could try a different spot.” He amended his statement a half-second later, “But then you wouldn’t be able to see your tree and your lake at the same time.”
He knew me well. We knew each other well. After fifty years of friendship, we should.
Willie tamped the base of the perfectly shaped pine on the ground to “knock off the snow and any hitchhiking critters,” as he said every year. Five or six years ago, two tiny chipmunks hopped out when we were decorating that year’s tree. It took us all night to wrangle the pair he called Chip and Dale, so now he always made sure we were clear of “rodents” before bringing it inside. While he held the tree upright, I removed some of the lower boughs with my tiny chainsaw. I’d use them to decorate the mantel and other areas of the house.
“Got to let the branches warm up and settle into place,” Willie noted, securing the trunk into the stand and then centering the tree inside a twenty-four-inch square galvanized tub. The same one we always used. “Something bothering you, Lucy? You’re quiet and don’t seem like your usual chipper self. Yule tree day has always been one of your favorites.”
I stared out at my lake and pine forest as though an answer to that question different from the one in my head would appear there. No such luck. “Effie had a vision.”
Willie paused and looked at me as he positioned the stepladder next to the tree, ready to string the lights when the branches were ready for them. “What was this one?”
Along with being located in one of the most beautiful spots in a state full of beautiful places, Whispering Pines was loaded with unique people. Most of the folks here followed Wicca. There were also fifty or so carnies, I’d lost count of the exact total, who ran a circus in the northeast quadrant. And then there was the small band of fortune tellers. Effie Crane was not only a teller, she was one of the first people I’d let move here—an Original—and became one of my dearest friends.
“Change is coming,” I intoned, mimicking her voice.
Willie set the lights on the ladder and faced me. “What kind of change?”
I couldn’t answer.
“Someone’s going to die.”

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