Book Burgling Blood-Magic
Jas Bond Book 3
by Gretchen S.B.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
The last thing I need, is the book everybody wants…
When a volume eight of Geysers Journals falls into my lap I'm left with a conundrum. Do I hold onto it and try to get the most money out of it I possibly can, shoring up my finances for at least a year? Or do I get rid of it as quickly as possible in an effort to avoid any more attempts on my life? To me, the choice is obvious. But what am I supposed to do when the buyer isn't who they seem, and I end up getting stiffed? Then I get a frantic call about my dog. Cheat me out of a heck of a lot of money and I'll angrily grumble but come after Bailey and you and I have a problem.
Some books bring a heck of a lot of trouble. See what’s in store in Book Burgling Blood-Magic.
The bell above the door goes off for the millionth time today and I look up with my small professional smile and am surprised when it's Mr. Rogers and Pebbles coming through my door.
Mr. Rogers is a thin, healthy man somewhere in his seventies. He is a retired engineer from Boeing who now considers himself a picker. I see him and his chug Pebbles once a month. Since Mr. Rogers is a run-of-the-mill human, he doesn't know when he manages to pick up some magic or supernatural-related artifacts. I'm certainly not about to tell him why I pick the items I do, so he tends to come in with all sorts of random stuff and a curious expression on his face to see what I buy from him this time.
Nails skittering over the floor announce Bailey’s arrival before she launches herself out of her bed and shoots out from behind the counter to leap about Pebbles in an exuberant circle. She weighs about six times what he does, yet she has never stepped on him or crushed him. The two of them are the best of friends and prance around together every time Pebbles comes into the store.
I stand up from the stool I’m using to rest my leg and smile at Mr. Rogers as he approaches the counter with two large reusable bags.
"Afternoon, James." Mr. Rogers bobs his head in greeting, a warm smile on his face.
"How are you doing, Mr. Rogers?"
"Not too bad; Pebbles and I got some interesting finds in an old barn in Eastern Washington this past weekend. I wanted to come to you first because out of all the places we visit, you seem to have the most eclectic array of books."
He begins emptying the two sacks. The first had various cutlery including a very wicked looking dagger, slightly rusted and if I’m not mistaken stains on the blade. For all intents and purposes, it looks magical but when I touch the ring on my right hand and place my fingers on the counter near it there is no warm or buzzing effect letting me know there is some innate magic in the object.
I don't recognize anything he slides onto the counter, but I touch or put my hands near each of them just in case and my ring proves my instincts correct.
"Any of that interest you today, James?"
Shaking my head, I lift my hand, palm up, to motion to the second bag. "Not today, but I am curious about the books."
Mr. Rogers raises an eyebrow at me and motions to one of the spoons. "Not even this ornate serving spoon? If memory serves, last month you took one that looked similar to it."
The spoon he is talking about was an antique dwarven spoon. I recognized the patterns from some of the items Sven fixed over the years. It was worth a fortune and I sold it for the equivalent of two months’ worth of rent for the Italian restaurant next door to my shop. The spoon he is motioning to now though is just a regular, run-of-the-mill human spoon.
"Not this week, thanks for double-checking."
He eyes me a second, his hands on the second bag. Mr. Rogers is trying desperately to find out what to sell me to maximize his profits and I don't blame him. To him, I collect a random smattering of his objects and I am not about to tell him what I am actually looking for. I don't have a death wish and as a magic-less son of a witch I don't have enough clout to weather the storm that would hit if the supernatural world found out I was telling humans about their existence.
Mr. Rogers makes a noncommittal noise before opening the bag and begins setting books out on the counter in a stack. The first two books are part of a children's collection and I plaster my customer service smile on my face. I always hate when Mr. Rogers comes in with nothing of interest. I feel horrible and sometimes buy a trinket or two just to not feel like a jerk. This is turning out to be one of those situations.
When he pulls the fourth book out and sets it on the stack, my body goes cold. I recognize the filigree on the bottom and before his hands return to the bag to get the next book, I lift the volume off the stack and flip it open to double check my suspicions. It is the eighth volume of Geyser’s Journals. The tome that caused so much strife for my shop in the last month is sitting here unassumingly in my hands and came from a human collector no less. Sweat pops up along my back and forehead. This book is worth a fortune but with recent events could endanger me by simply being here.
Spectacle Stealing Supernatural
Jas Bond Book 2
Magical break-ins abound…
The two nearby stores owned by supernaturals are broken into. The Fix 'n' Find, my store, is not. What I have instead are suspicious magical handprints on the front windows. Combine that with a weird set of glasses that let the wearer see every type of magic and we have a serious conundrum. Luckily, my ex-fiancé Violetta, is a powerful witch and willing to help me figure out what could possibly be going on.
Find out what some magical items and good old-fashioned spell work can uncover in the Spectacle Stealing Supernatural
The brownie makes her way from the book section, toward the front counter as Sven makes his way over to me. Her pace is sedate as if she doesn't have a care in the world.
Once Sven is close enough, I give him one nod before speaking. "She tells me these glasses see witch’s spells. At least that's what she thinks they do since she doesn't have a lot of experience with magic and she wants to sell them to the shop." I tap the glasses case when Sven is close enough to see it from around the tall display case on the edge of the counter.
As he stops and folds his arms, I watch his frown increase; he too is running through all the possibilities of what can go wrong with the glasses and his expression smooths out as he comes to the conclusion it makes sense for him to be standing there.
I wait until the brownie is across the counter again, the same pleasant smile on her face, before I open the glasses case. They look similar to glasses worn by the Beatles in the 1960s, nothing special, simply dated.
I pick them up gingerly, being careful to only touch the sides and not the actual lenses, using only my thumbs and forefingers. I then close my eyes as I set them onto my face.
When I open them again, my neck jolts back and I blink a few times. Sure enough, I can see sigils and symbols of spells varying in age. One set is the same green as healthy grass, the other, newer set is close to a teal. I know from my childhood it was my grandmother and mother's magic, respectively. I'd known they put all sorts of wards on the shop, and the buildings, to a lesser degree, in the shopping center. There'd been a time or two when I was a child, they would bespell me so I could see their magic at work. They knew I'd never be able to work the magic myself, but they wanted me to know what it looks like. I never understood the inclination until this very moment.
As I continue to scan the shop, my gaze hits the floor where the green goo, vomited up by the poisoned goblin, was. There is pale discoloration to the floor without the glasses. With them on the discoloration glows.
"Great, I have no idea how to get that out," I mumble to myself.
As I am about to take them off and make an offer, I scan up from where the green goo was and stop. There are three sets of pale gold handprints on the outside of the windows. I do a double take; once my brain registers what they are I look away. I don't want to draw attention to them. Since I don't know how they got there, I am not about to tell a stranger about them. If it was active magic Bailey would alert me, since one of her skills is to notice that kind of thing.
I close my eyes and remove the glasses. Taking my time to put them back in the case, I don't make eye contact with the brownie again until the top of the case snaps shut.
"How much are you hoping for them?" I open.
Her smile grows again, this time showing me that the extra sharp teeth go all the way back in her mouth. If I hadn't already known what brownies look like, it probably would've given me nightmares.
"So, they work," she asks.
"They do, and you appear to be right about them seeing witch’s magic."
Clapping, she bounces on the heels of her feet with excitement. "I knew it. How about one hundred and fifty dollars? I can put together a nice dinner for my kids and grandkids with one hundred and fifty dollars."
I want to take her up on it and I know a lot of less-reputable beings who deal in magical items, would. But Fix ‘n’ Find’s good reputation is partially due to our honesty; we don't believe in cheating people.
Glasses that see magic can be worth a pretty penny to those who can't see it. While one hundred and fifty dollars would give me a huge profit, I wouldn't feel right about it. If these glasses only showed one type of magic, one-fifty would've been fair. These differentiate between users as well as showing different types of magic. That is labor-intensive. Even if you enchant an object to see magic, there is usually a time limit or it can only see magic performed by the person who did the spell or someone whose magic is similar. Any more complicated and you really need more serious mojo.
"I can't give you that," I respond, holding my hands on the counter.
For the first time since she entered the shop the brownie’s smile falls. "Are you sure?"
"I'm positive. To make an honest deal, we’d have to do six times that."
The brownie’s mouth drops open to form an O and her eyes go wide. One of her hands flutters to her chest. "Oh my, oh my goodness, that is quite a lot of money, young man. Are you sure?" Head shaking as she speaks, her disbelief is plain on her face.
"I'm absolutely positive. The amount of work which goes into creating an enchanted item of this caliber is worth a lot more than one-fifty. You're more than welcome to take it to one of the lesser-known magic shops, where I am sure they will be thrilled to give you one-fifty for it. I'm telling you it's worth about ten times that from what I can see, even after only a few seconds. It's up to you." I push the case closer to her side of the counter in case she doesn't take me up on it.
She blinks at me for several seconds before letting out a musical laugh. "Oh my, this is drastically more than I expected. I had no idea they were worth so much. If you're sure, I’ll definitely take the nine hundred. It will leave you room to make money on your end." She steps forward and lifts her hand to shake mine across the counter.
I reach out and shake it, giving her my best business smile. I calmly write up all of the paperwork, fill out all of the proper forms, of which there are more than a mundane antique shop would have, as the transference of magical items has a lot of red tape. She pleasantly chats with me, only after she tries to engage Sven. It’s all polite and shallow. Fifteen minutes later, she is out the door with a huge smile on her face, ready to set about planning an in-state weekend trip for her entire family.
Sven continues to stand there, arms crossed until the brownie’s town car pulls out of the parking lot. He then steps over to the glasses case, snaps it open, and pulls them out, holding them delicately between his right thumb and forefinger as I had done earlier.
"These must have some major magic for you to have put a heavy price tag on them," he comments, not looking away from them and instead inspecting every inch before sliding them on.
He doesn't react as strongly as I probably did. Instead, Sven blinks several times as he scans the store.
"Look at the front door and the windows." I tilt my head toward the front of the store as I speak.
Sven stops his scan to do as I ask and frowns. He takes four quick steps which puts him even with the endcaps of the front three aisles and leans his neck forward, frowning again. He stares at where I'd seen the handprints for several moments before reaching up, removing the glasses, and walking back to return them to their case.
"I don't know that magic. I don't recognize it. It doesn't appear to be actual spell work; it’s just handprints. It can’t be from the goblin from last week as it's on the new pane of glass too." Sven’s frown deepens as he looks toward the door, almost as if he expects to see the handprints without the glasses. "It might be worth your while to bring in a witch to look at those."
I nod along with Sven’s words. "Especially considering Blake tells me there have been break-ins of shops owned by supernatural beings. Two of which have been in our complex.”
Sven slowly turns his head to look at me. "But not here." His tone is bland.
"But not here," I repeat.
"Yes, it would definitely be in your best interest to call a witch." Sven turns slowly and strides back to his office in the back of the shop. Strangely, I don't hear his office door close, letting me know something about those handprints makes him uncomfortable enough he wants his door open just in case. That, more than anything else worries me. If the near-unshakable Sven thinks there might be a problem, then what on Earth does that mean for me?
Green Goo Goblin
Jas Bond Book 1
My life is one giant cycle of group deniability…
As a magic-less son of a witch owning a store full magical objects isn't easy. But with my unhelpful rottweiler Bailey and a handful of supernatural staff, we've sold everything from elfin wedding china to a life-size dwarven statue we don't like to talk about. Everything is going smoothly until a goblin customer starts coughing up a disgusting green goo. Little did I know as I watch that liquid spew from his mouth that his presence and that goo was going to send my life into a tailspin, leaving me in the crosshairs of a murder.
Check out the goblin and the goo he produces in Green Goo Goblin.
Letting a couple of magic dowsers in here to comb through things and prove you don't have anything that can make a goblin sick could go a long way."
Anger and frustration flash through me. Even in my mid-thirties, my temper still flashes when the supernatural world looks down on me simply because I was born without magic. Knowing Blake is not to blame for this prejudicial thinking, I divert my frustration. "Are you kidding me? Dousers leave the biggest mess out of the entire supernatural police department. They go through everything and get their grubby hands everywhere. Last time they checked anything of mine, I spent weeks trying to find everything, let alone clean everything they touched. And that's not counting the half a dozen items that went missing because they have doubts or because you-know-who is a sticky-fingered dwarf, we all know he has a theft problem." My voice begins growing louder.
"Yeah, but he is the best at his job."
I glower at Blake, quickly thinking through the possible scenarios here.
I let the dowsers into the shop to rummage around and clear me as the prime suspect in a goblin murder or I deal with higher-ups in the supernatural police department who are hellbent on pinning this on me simply because as a male child of a witch I must have a large chip on my shoulder and therefore want to murder supernatural beings.
Sighing heavily, I pull out the walkie-talkie and click the button a few times to get Sven’s attention. "Sven, got some bad news. I'm being accused of killing that goblin earlier and now some of the magical dowsers have to come to check out the store."
There is crackling over the line as Sven let out some very explicit and physically impossible Dwarfen curses. "If they don't keep their hands away from the stuff in my office, I am going to rip Red Beard's fingers, one by one, from his palms."
Looking up from the walkie-talkie I make eye contact with Blake and give him a fake smile. "Well, I think that's the all-clear to let the dowsers in."
Blake looks at me warily, and a little relieved. "Do you need me here to help protect Red Beard from Sven?"
"I mean, only if you care about dwarf-on-dwarf violence,” I say with a shrug.
"I’ll call it in and get them out here. But I'm getting you a containment crew first, because that crap freaking smells to high heaven.” Blake pivots and walks straight out of the store.
"Red Beard’s not allowed in here unless I'm watching him like a hawk."
I jump, startled by the sound of Sven's voice right behind me. The man needs a bell. He is incredibly stout and appears to the world, thanks to his glamour, like a short, plump, heavily wrinkled man in his seventies
The rest of the time he has long, white-gray hair and a matching pointed beard, a large wart above the right corner of his mouth and only about half as many wrinkles as his human-looking counterpart does. He is also stouter and healthier looking than the glamour would let people believe.
"I'll be here too, as will Blake." I try to sound nonchalant as if he didn’t just scare me out of my wits.
Sven starts muttering something under his breath about no one being able to watch a dwarf as well as a dwarf as he turns around and heads back toward his office.
"This is shaping up to be a fun afternoon," I complain to no one in particular.
Gretchen spawned in the Puget Sound region. After some wandering she returned there and now lives with her husband and the daintiest Rottweiler on the planet. When not drowning herself in coffee, as is custom in the Greater Seattle Area, Gretchen can be found at her day job or sitting at her desk in the home office, flailing her arms as she dictates to her computer.