Please enjoy this scene from the comic mystery novel RED HOT LIBERTY. Real estate agent Molly O'Malley's sexy new assistant is an Englishman named Robin who has a psychic gift inherited from his mother. His gift led him to rescue a cat abandoned in a foreclosed home. Angelina is Molly's daughter. Rowan is Robin's sister.
Robin pulled up in front of a small animal hospital, parked, and collected the bundle from Molly's arms. "As soon as I get Tyler checked in, I'll ring a glass company to go repair the damage I did. Why don't you two wait for me at my sister's shop?" He gestured to a huge Victorian home on the corner. A sign on the front said PAGAN PLACE. "Her name's Rowan. Tell her what's happened." With that, he was gone.
"I want to go with them," Angelina said.
"Robin asked us to wait with his sister." If the vet's assessment was grim, she didn't want Angelina there.
They locked Robin's car and walked to the house on the corner. A sign on the door said it was a metaphysical book store and curio shop. When Molly opened the door, she and Angelina were welcomed by fragile fingers of incense that smelled remarkably like the pine and musk cologne Robin wore. Two cats sat on a high bookshelf like bookends and greeted them with musical meows. A lovely young woman sitting behind the counter said, "Hello." Her accent was British.
"I'm Molly O'Malley, and this is my daughter Angelina Castillo. Robin asked us to wait for him here."
The young woman smiled and waved them in. "I'm Rowan. Come, make yourself at home." Rowan was tiny and delicate, with a creamy complexion and long, pale blond hair captured in a huge braid that draped over her shoulder. She wore a lavender chiffon caftan and several fresh flowers in her hair.
Molly stepped in and closed the door behind them. "Robin's at the animal hospital next door. He found a cat that's in pretty dire shape."
Rowan's green eyes flashed. "A Snowshoe?"
Molly shook her head. "Excuse me?"
"Part Siamese? With blue eyes and a white triangle on his forehead?"
"Wow," Angelina said. "How did you know?"
"It's a gift. Got it from my mum."
Molly looked around the shop at the metaphysical books, jars of herbs, and a glass case full of magical charms. Understanding began to dawn.
Rowan gestured to her two cats. "My girls, Rhiannon and Bronwyn, told me he was coming. They're eager for a boy to play with."
"His name's Tyler," Angelina said.
"That's a good name," Rowan said.
"You understand what your cats say?" Angelina asked, her eyes wide with wonder.
"Of course. Don't you understand your dog?"
Angelina shrugged. "Well, yeah, I guess I do."
"There you are."
Molly noticed that the shop was very small, given the size of the home. "Do you live here too?"
"I have a boarding house. I live here, Robin lives here. A number of others do as well."
Pagan Place. Molly wondered about the nature of her boarders.
"Robin likes working for you," Rowan said.
Angelina sniffed. "Mom's going to fire him."
Rowan cocked her head and looked at Molly with curiosity.
"No…no I'm not. We had a disagreement, but he was right."
"He usually is." Rowan gestured to a steaming tea pot on the counter. "I just brewed some strawberry leaf tea. Would you fancy some?"
"Smells good." Angelina scrambled up onto a stool in front of the counter. "Talisman, my dog, has a sister named Strawberry. They call her Berry. And another one named Sassyfras who they call Sassy."
"What great names. Are they red dogs?"
Angelina nodded. "What they call red merle. Tali is a blue merle. They're Australian Shepherds."
"Lovely dogs, Aussies. They're psychic you know."
"Really?" Angelina nodded. "That sure explains a lot."
Rowan filled a tea cup, added a spoonful of honey, and handed it to her.
Angelina took a sip. "Yum."
Molly politely accepted a cup. "Does your mother live here as well?"
"Mum's passed over. It's just me and Robin now."
"I'm sorry," Molly said.
"She was a good old gal. We miss her, but we get on."
"Does Robin have a girlfriend?" Angelina asked.
Molly smiled. Angelina definitely had her first crush.
"Not at the moment." Rowan winked at Angelina. "Why? You interested?"
Angelina dissolved into uncontrollable giggles.
Rowan opened a nearby display case, removed a small pink satin drawstring bag, and handed it to Angelina. "Here's an old English love charm. It's filled with special herbs designed to someday attract your true love to you. Put it under your mattress, and you'll dream of him so you'll know him when you meet."
Angelina inhaled deeply and then stuck it in Molly's face for her to smell.
It was a delightful bouquet that smelled like violet, rose, lavender, and vanilla. "Very nice," Molly said.
Rowan handed Molly a small purple satin drawstring bag. "Why don't you take this one?"
Molly looked at the bag and then at Rowan's face. She was startled by the sudden seriousness of her expression.
"I don't need a love spell," Molly said.
"It's not a love spell."
Molly sniffed the bag and noticed that the scents weren't flowery, but sharp: cloves, dill, nettle, bay laurel. "What's it for?"
"Protection. You're in strong need of protection. Trust me. It's a gift."
Molly thought she heard Marina Night's whine, and her eyes flew to where Rhiannan and Bronwyn sat. Their fur was fluffed up, as if they had heard it too.
Molly tucked the charm into her pocket. Right now, she would take all the help she could get.