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A Hillendale Novel




Karla Brandenburg

Copyright 2021 © 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 1

“Excuse me, are you Brynn Taylor?”

I set the basket of roses I’d cut on the ground, wiped the sweat from my forehead and tightened my ponytail.

The young woman standing beside my garden couldn’t be much older than I was, not thirty yet by my guess. She looked harmless enough. Dark brown hair curled around her neck, and her light brown eyes looked almost hazel. She was an inch or two shorter than my five foot seven. Jeans and a Green Bay Packers T-shirt identified her as a fellow Wisconsinite. A hazy yellowish-gray aura hung around her like smoke. Until I knew what she wanted from me, I wasn’t offering any information. I’d had my share of unpleasant surprise visitors.

“I didn’t mean to startle you,” she said.

“You didn’t.” Although people often said my eyes gave that appearance. I’d also been told they glowed like amber, which frightened some away. I straightened and brushed the dirt from my hands.

“I knocked on the door, but no one answered. Then I saw you in the garden. You are Brynn Taylor, aren’t you?”

I didn’t question the forces that brought people to me. In fact, I generally had special orders waiting for customers before I knew they would want them—potions or herbs or scents mixed from the flowers and plants I grew. When I’d considered closing the family shop in town, my aunt had told me people would show up at my home. The magic hadn’t provided me anything for my unexpected visitor—yet. “How can I help you?”

She glanced at my chimney, at the triquetra someone undoubtedly told her to look for. I covered the bracelet my mother had given me, the repeating pattern of triquetras—what some people called Celtic knots.

“My name is Daria Buckley. I found your website, and when I saw you were local, I thought I’d stop into your shop. The woman at Windfall suggested I talk to you.”

She must have made a good case if my business partner had sent her to find me, and yet I hesitated to engage.

“Your website said something about restoring balance using herbal recipes and scents.” She rubbed her forehead and scrunched her face. “I’m not even sure why I thought you might be able to help me. Maybe I’m desperate. I’m sorry to have bothered you.” She started to walk away.


When she turned to me once more, her expression was forlorn.

“Tell me why you came,” I said.

The wariness returned to her eyes. “One of the customers in the shop told me you’re a witch. I have to be honest with you, I don’t want to make a bad situation worse.”

Yeah, I got that a lot, and still people showed up at the boutique or knocked on my door asking for help. “And yet here you are.”

She seemed to consider her position, then narrowed her eyes. “Are you a witch?”

In my experience, she didn’t want a straight answer to that question. “I’m an ethnobotanist. Nature often provides restorative ingredients. The recipes I use can be construed as magical to someone who hasn’t learned to mix them properly.” Or someone without the gift of alchemy. I motioned to the patio furniture. “Have a seat. There’s a reason you came looking for me.” I lifted the roses onto the patio tabletop and sat.

A strong breeze stirred the trees in the woods at the edge of my backyard and a cloud passed momentarily over the sun. The leaves turned over, displaying the lighter green of their undersides.

“My mother always said when the leaves turn upside down, a storm is brewing,” Daria said.

So, she was superstitious. “Yes. An old wives’ tale. I’m familiar with it,” I said.

Tension pinched her brow. “Here’s the thing. I feel like there’s a dark cloud hanging over me. I lost my job. Then someone stole my credit card and maxed it out. Then my car was stolen. Yesterday, I was drying my hair and the blow dryer flew out of my hand and broke the mirror. On my way over here, I tripped on every curb I crossed.”

“Oh, my. You have had a run of bad luck.” I pursed my lips, considering. “You do know the broken mirror is another old wives’ tale, though, right?”

“Seven years of bad luck. At least that means it will end.”

Likely, her string of accidents would end, as well. “Sometimes bad luck has to run its course.”

Daria sighed. “Never mind. It sounds stupid saying it out loud.”

“No, you’re here. We might as well figure out if there’s a problem.” I patted the basket of roses. “The solution could be as simple as giving you rose essence.” Which would relieve psychosomatic symptoms.

She glanced at my chimney once more. “Isn’t that a witch’s symbol?”

I followed her gaze, scanning the other chimney charms in the neighborhood, one of the things that made Hillendale unique—the owl across the street, masonry daisies trailing down the side of the house next door, Neptune holding a trident a couple houses down. “The symbol on my chimney is called a triquetra. It

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