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Secret of the Yuletide Crafter - A Whispering Pines Short Mystery (EBOOK)

Secret of the Yuletide Crafter - A Whispering Pines Short Mystery (EBOOK)

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Eighteen-year-old kitchen witch Reeva Long doesn’t like breaking rules. Doing so can lead to big trouble. Not following the carefully laid out steps of a recipe, for example, could mean the difference between a perfect quiche and a plate of scrambled eggs.

So it goes against Reeva’s rule-following nature when crocheted ornaments in traditional Christmas shades of red, white, and green show up on the community Yule trees. Those trees are supposed to be decorated with things from nature like pinecones, holly sprigs, or cranberry garlands, not yarn and pipe cleaners.

Reeva is determined to figure out who the anonymous crafter is, but also realizes worse things could happen. It’s not like anyone died, after all. Then she overhears her sister, Flavia, casting a threat against another villager and fears a dead body is the next thing they’ll find tucked among the Yule trees.


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Chapter 1
YULE 1978
MORE? I COULDN’T BELIEVE THERE were more of these things. Who was doing this?
My eyes drifted from the crocheted Granny Square ornament done up in festive red and green, to the Santa Claus head of red and white, to the striped bell in red, white, and green. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with putting up holiday decorations. It was specifically these that had been showing up all over the forest and had now made their way to our pentacle-shaped garden at the heart of the village.
Whispering Pines was a community of primarily Wiccans, so we celebrated Yule. At least that’s how it was until the fortune tellers moved here. They followed something closer to Christianity. When Effie Grace and Cybil Crain moved here with their kids Rae and Gabe, respectively, Lucy O’Shea, our leader, decided everyone had a right to their beliefs and announced we would alter our celebrations a bit so the tellers wouldn’t feel excluded. Still, Wicca was our prime religion, and that meant natural decorations on our Yule trees. Small pentacles made from twigs, cranberry garland, and dried orange slices. Mistletoe clusters, shed deer antlers, and tiny wreaths woven from grasses or willow. Items found in nature, not these gaudy manmade things.
Maybe Effie and Cybil were responsible for these things. In addition to fortune telling, they earned an income by making and selling prairie dresses and other handmade items from their vardos, aka wagons, at craft fairs.
“Can’t make much of a living by telling people what’s coming around the corner,” Cybil complained, “or connecting them with their passed-away loved ones. Folks want to leave the fairs with something they can hold, not a fuzzy feeling.”
“Effie and Cybil,” I murmured out loud to the Santa head. “I might be onto something. What do they make with yarn?”
Afghans. Effie was especially talented. She always had a skein of yarn with her and was knitting or crocheting something every time I saw her.
“And if she can crochet a whole afghan,” I reasoned, “she could easily make dozens of ornaments. Mystery solved! It’s the tellers. The next question is, why are they doing this?”
I spun around to see a pretty brunette peeking at me from the other side of a Yule tree positioned in the pentacle point one over from where I stood investigating the new “decorations.” Since a pentacle was a five-pointed star, the village garden had five trees on display.
“Hi, Priscilla. What’s up?”
She clutched her bookbag to her chest like she was cold. Understandable. It was especially chilly today. Winter didn’t take its time coming to northern Wisconsin this year. I didn’t think Priscilla’s school supplies were for warmth, though. The way she held it, it looked more like a shield. What was she protecting herself from?

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