The Enchanted Garden CafÃ©
South Side Stories
Genre: Womenâs Fiction
Publisher: Kindle Press
Date of Publication: May 1, 2018
Number of pages: 272
Word Count: 89,000
Cover Artist: Najla Qamber
Tagline: Something magical is happening in the garden.
For her sixth birthday, Fiona Campbellâs mother, Claire, made her a peace sign piÃ±ata filled with wishes for a better planet instead of candy. When she got her period, her mother held a womanhood ceremony at their cafÃ© and invited the neighborhood. On her sixteenth birthday, they celebrated with a drum circle.
Fiona grew up trying to keep the impulsive Claire in check, and their struggling cafÃ© afloat. She plans to move out, but first must find a way to stop a big corporation from tearing down their business and destroying her motherâs livelihood.
Claire thinks karma will solve their financial and legal problems. Fiona prefers a spreadsheet and a solid business plan. The last thing she has time for is Matthew Monroe, a handsome complication who walks through their door with a guitar on his back and a naughty gleam in his eye. But when disaster strikes, and Fionaâs forced to turn to him for help, will she learn to open her heart and find she can believe in something magical after all?
Falling in love is like baking.
Results may vary with experience.
I opened the box and stepped back, tripping over a pile of Himalayan wind chimes Iâd left lying behind me on the floor of the shop. They clanked in a discordant melody as I untangled them from my feet.
âWhat the heck?â I asked, ignoring the chimes and focusing on the parcel that had arrived in the mail earlier that morning. Tiny stone phalluses in various shades of gray filled the container to the brim. Checking the return address, I noticed the shipping cost and wanted to cry. Most of our inventory budget for the entire month had been used to mail this one small box halfway around the world.
âMom, what exactly did you order from Inuyama, Japan?â
My mother popped her head around the corner, a bright smile on her face. âDid they finally arrive, Fiona? Iâve been waiting for ages.â
âFor stone penises?â
Why was I even surprised? This wasnât the first time something like this had happened, and it probably wouldnât be the last. My mother, Claire de Lune Campbell, had never been the master of impulse control, and she had a history of making very poor decisions. Sheâd been born Claire Campbell and added the âde Luneâ in, what I can only guess, was a moment of pot-induced inspiration. The pot no longer played a part in her life, but the total inability to make common-sense decisions remained.
Mom picked up one of the stone penises, a happy twinkle in her eye. âArenât they lovely?â
On the outside, Mom and I looked alike. The same blonde hair, the same blue eyes, the same stubborn tilt to our chins, but there the resemblance ended. Mom was as happy and bright as a butterfly landing on a flower, and she had the same level of fiscal responsibility. I stressed about everything, especially money, but I had good cause.
My mom owned and operated the Enchanted Garden CafÃ©, where we served food, coffee, and specially blended teas and sold unusual items in our small gift shop. Nestled in the middle of the South Side, the funky hippie district of Pittsburgh, it was the perfect spot for my mom but a constant source of anxiety for me.
I wiped sweat from my face and brushed off my clothing. Dust covered my T-shirt and shorts, and some kind of stone powder had fallen out of the box from Inuyama onto my tennis shoes. Mom, glowing in a dress made from recycled saris, didnât have a speck of dust on her, but she hadnât handled the phalluses.
Kate, the girl who worked behind the counter, came over to us, her blue eyes alight with curiosity. âI want to see them,â she said. Mom handed her one, and she studied it closely, peering at it through the thick black frames of her retro hipster glasses. Her ebony hair was pulled off to the side in a low ponytail, and her colorful tattoos peeked through the crocheted black cardigan covering her pale skin. âAt least they are anatomically correct. Look at those veins.â
My cheeks grew warm, and Mom smiled, putting a cool hand against my face. âAww, Fiona is blushing.â
âNo, Iâm not. Itâs hot in here.â
âOf course it is,â she said, making me feel twelve instead of twenty-five, but it was hot for early June, and the air-conditioning was broken. Again. Even with all the windows open, it still felt stuffy.
I ignored her and picked up a penis. âWhat are these things anyway?â
She beamed at me with pure, unfiltered happiness. âFertility charms from a little shrine in the mountains of Japan. They have a big festival there every year. I went once.â
She sighed, most likely remembering happy times at the fertility festival, and went back to the kitchen. I looked at Kate and rolled my eyes, making her snicker, before getting back to work. The fertility charms came in all sizes and seemed handmade. I just wasnât sure how to sell them or where to display them in our shop.
A Victorian eyesore, the cafÃ© was painted on the outside in what once had been a mix of bright pink and various shades of green. The pink had faded to a dull rose, and the green looked like the color of old limes just before they rotted. It needed work and a fresh coat of paint, but instead of doing so, we spent our money on phalluses from Japan. That was how things worked with my mother. No planning. No rhyme or reason. No logic. No rational thought.
The bell above the door tinkled, and I turned, a penis in each hand, as a stranger walked into the shop. I couldnât see his face at first because the sun was at his back, but he carried a guitar case. A sure sign of trouble.
âHello,â he said as he came closer.
He had straight dark hair that brushed his shoulders, brown eyes, and a goatee. He reminded me of a sexy, naughty French pirate, and I knew his kind well. Close to my age, he was definitely one of the artsy, flighty types who always hung out around my mom. I could spot them a mile away.
âHoly guacamole, if he were any hotter, Iâd need new underwear,â whispered Kate, taking off to the back of the shop and leaving me alone to greet the stranger.
About the Author:
Abigail Drake is the award-winning author of twelve novels, including three young adult books under the name Wende Dikec. She has spent her life traveling the world, and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and International Economics in college and worked in import/export and as an ESL teacher before she committed herself full time to writing. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, and fun.
Abigail is a trekkie, a book hoarder, the master of the Nespresso machine, a red wine addict, and the mother of three boys (probably the main reason for her red wine addiction). A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.
She is a member of Pennwriters, RWA, Three Rivers Romance Writers, Mindful Writers, Women's Fiction Writers, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She teaches writing to children, and her non-fiction article about the life of a child in Istanbul was published in Faces Magazine (an imprint of Cricket Magazine) in February 2016.