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A Hillendale Novel




Karla Brandenburg

Copyright 2020 © Karla Lang

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereinafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locations is entirely coincidental.

This is a work of fiction.

For questions and comments about the quality of this book, please contact Karla@KarlaBrandenburg.com

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Arms folded, I stood on my front porch admiring my mailbox, feeling ridiculously excited about the adhesive script lettering I’d added to the blank space—Brynn Taylor. My own house. No one could kick me out of my own house. A chilly wind swirled the dusting of snow on the sidewalks. I shivered and ducked inside.

In my workroom, the late October sun streamed through the windows. The construction smells of wood and drywall and paint hadn’t yet been overtaken by the essential oils processing in the still and the crockpots. An underlying trace of smoke remained. The one thing that had survived the fire was the cupboard in the corner. Protected inside were the botanical recipe books—the grimoires that had been handed down for generations.

Those plants that wintered inside sat in pots on shelves by the windows. Window boxes held an array of herbs.

Aunt Nora was coming for a visit today, as she often did on a Sunday, but today was Halloween. She’d hinted at a surprise for me. I had a surprise for her, too. In the short time since she’d moved away, I’d made a conscious effort to utilize the gifts she and I had inherited. Instead of rattling objects with my moods, I was able to channel my telekinesis.

I walked to the kitchen, made a pot of coffee, and practiced my skill. With a few moments of concentration, plates and cups moved—seemingly by themselves—to the dining table beside the bay window overlooking the backyard. Look Ma, no hands. Quite pleased with myself, I carried the banana bread I’d baked yesterday, along with a tub of butter.

The first night I’d spent in this house I’d wondered if Nora was a witch. The table had magically seemed to be set and dinner had been ready before she could have known she would have a guest.

She was a witch, of course, and so was I.

The great room was largely as she’d left it. The dining table fit naturally beside the bay window. Across from the table, the sofa marked the middle of the room. A hooked rug hung on the living room wall over a bookshelf with a television. Wooden beams lined the white-painted ceiling. In time, I’d add my own touches, like I had with the mailbox.

When I looked out the kitchen window, Nora’s little black car jackrabbited into the driveway. I opened the door to find her tracing the letters on my mailbox.

“I won’t even know the place before long,” she said. “Everything looks great, Brynn.”

I hugged her tight, the one family member who had shown me true affection. She’d become like a second mother to me. “There’s only so much I can do, but the little things do make me feel more like the house is mine.”

She shrugged out of her cape, uncovering a flowing tunic over palazzo pants. Married life hadn’t changed her style. Her clothes flapped behind her like a bird as she moved through the kitchen to the dining table where we’d spent so many hours together.

“So, tell me what’s going on in Hillendale,” she said, settling in. “Have you met the neighbors across the street?”

As much as I wanted to tell her, I restrained myself. I fought a smile, careful to veil my thoughts so as not to spoil the surprise. I brought the pot of coffee to the table and sat across from her. “I’ve invited him to join us for dinner later so you’ll have a chance to meet him.” I hadn’t told her Kyle Jakes had bought the house, or that he and I had started dating again. I figured he and I could share the news together.

“Do I know him?” she asked.

“You’ll have to wait and see.”

She poured herself a cup of coffee. “Tease.”

I waited to share my latest accomplishment until I had her full attention. She took a sip of her coffee and tilted her head, sensing my excitement.

“I’ve learned how to control my telekinesis,” I gushed.

“Aren’t you the clever one.” She buttered a piece of bread and set it on her plate. “Funny you should mention it. Now that you’ve embraced your legacy, there’s one more thing I want to show you, after we’ve had a chance to catch up.” She reached for me and stroked a strand of my hair. “Your hair is so pretty. It’s getting quite long, isn’t it?”

Reflexively, I gathered a handful, scowling at the mousy brown color and tossed it behind my shoulder. “I was thinking of cutting it, but I’ll probably wait until spring now. Winter wool.”

She fluffed her salt-and-pepper curls, restrained with butterfly clips. “How you wear your hair is up to you, but I do like it long. It looks so shiny and healthy, not like when you first showed up in Hillendale.”

Not surprising. After my accident on the Wisconsin County highway three years ago, I’d been the very definition of a waif—lost, alone, with nowhere to go. Nora had changed my life in more

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