Hexed Hair Day
Once Upon A Witch Mystery Series, Book 4
In this retelling of the beloved tale of Rapunzel, a beauty witch must use her hair to rescue herself, as well as stop a thief from ruining her hometown’s Christmas.
My hair is the envy of every woman, the long, silky mane of fairytale renown directly tied to my beauty magick. I’m no damsel in distress, though, and the only tower I’m hiding in is one of my own making. Heartbreak over a prince who left me on Christmas Eve years ago—so NOT princely—has my emotions in a knotted mess.
When a thief steals the angel topper from our town’s Christmas wishing tree, it’s up to me to ferret him out. As luck would have it, my unprincely-prince returns for the holidays…and he’s determined to help.
No potion or spell will heal my heart, (believe me, I’ve tried), but perhaps working side-by-side with him will. Untangling our complicated relationship may be as difficult as unknotting my heart, but that must take a backseat to catching our thief. Can I leave my tower of safety and return the angel to the tree before Christmas morning? Or will my hair tie me—and my prince—up in a fatal end?
As midnight approaches, silence wraps around the Enchanted shop. The house, too, is quiet, except for Elvis crooning Blue Christmas in the background, as the candy cane soap I’ve made hardens in a bright red mold.
It’s the happiest time of the year, according to most people. For me? Not so much. Don’t get me wrong—I have a terrific family, I love my dual jobs here at the candle and soap company, as well as the salon, and I enjoy a good life. I’m luckier than many, but I don’t have two very important things I desperately long for—my parents, and the man I love.
My phone dings on the work table and I catch the notification that I have four matches on Fairytale Love, the dating app I use for distraction. I’ve set up multiple accounts, each with their own profile, and none that state I’m a beauty witch, or that my hair grows six feet a day.
The local bachelors all know me and most swipe left, passing me by, regardless of my glowing hair and smiling profile photos. I’ve already dated the single men in town anyway. The fact there are four who’ve swiped right today means they’re desperate for a date to an office Christmas party or just plain lonely.
I sympathize. It’s hard to be single during the holidays. “Sing it, King,” I tell Elvis, as he insists the red and green decorations aren’t the same without his love to share them with.
The guy I fell for in middle school is long gone. I haven’t heard from him in nearly four years.
And while my sisters miss our parents, the gap left by their deaths is a raw hole of emotion that I fall down every year when autumn comes around. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas…those special days never seem right without them here.
Christmas is also the time of the year that reminds me of Sawyer the most. Before he and I broke up on Christmas Eve, we both loved the season with its trees, lights, and songs. It really was the happiest time of year for me then. Now, I can’t look at a decoration or wrapping paper without thinking of him.
Of course, I have to keep all of this from my sisters, pretending everything is great, and that I’m as excited as they are about the season. My twin, Belle, especially loves it, and this one is extra special for her. Because she does such a great job with the fall book fair every year, the Chamber of Commerce has asked her to also handle the downtown Christmas festival.
Luckily, the candle and soap business is so busy with holiday shoppers, I barely have time to catch my breath. We each have our responsibilities running Enchanted, and mine is the sales floor three afternoons a week. I also fill online orders. Along with the hours here, my stylist skills are in high demand. I’m booked with hair and makeup appointments through to the new year.
Cinder, the oldest, has recently installed a small but efficient commercial kitchen as part of a remodel project we’re doing. By opening up our backroom and rearranging the work and storage areas, we now have more square footage for merchandise and this upgraded kitchen.
While the pretty new quartz countertops come in handy when we’re creating products, this space is Ruby’s domain. She’s second age-wise, and is a fabulous cook and healer. Her line of candies are sold all over town and have gained a near-cult following. Both Story Cove residents, as well as our growing tourist population, order larger and larger quantities every week. I personally love the hot cocoa truffles with peppermint chips on top.
Recently, I’ve been using the kitchen as much as she has. I’m a terrible cook, but I’m a decent witch. Once she’s in bed, I experiment with our grandmother Eunice’s spell books and potions, searching for one to mend my broken heart.
Our fourth great-grandmother built Enchanted, and kept recipes of every type of soap, candle, and lotion she created and sold. She also wrote about her daily life in journals. We recently discovered a treasure trove of these documents hidden in a secret room in the mansion’s turret.
She was kind of obsessive with her collection of books and her day-by-day diaries, but I’m glad for their contents. While Ruby’s enjoyed reading her journals and a pile of love letters between her and Ezra, our grandfather, Belle has dived into the editions on local history and magick. For me, I’ve been studying them for medicinal brews, tinctures, and tonics. Along with keeping her dream alive, the four of us Sherwood sisters inherited her love for white magick.
Elvis fades off and Bing takes his place, assuring me he’ll be home for Christmas. My father’s favorite song. I imagine him standing here at the stove with me, booming out the words, and teasing me about my love life. He always believed I’d have a dozen suitors one day.
I scan the four potentials, sighing at the familiar names. Yep, office parties and loneliness for the win.
I’ve dated plenty of guys since Sawyer left, even throwing myself into this find-true-love app, determined to do just that, but it hasn’t worked. My heart was stolen when I was eleven, and I never got it back.
After I’m done cooking this potion to help me get over him once and for all, maybe I’ll watch White Christmas and keep pretending Dad is here. He and Mom always sang along to all the movie’s tunes, and I’d give anything to hear their voices once more.
I hum along with Bing as I gather the last of the ingredients and stir. In the overhead light, the strand of Sawyer’s hair is midnight black as I hold it up to examine it. I discovered it two days ago on a scarf buried in a drawer. His grandmother sewed the garment for me, the fabric covered in cartoonish ferrets. My ferret familiar, Rumpelstiltskin, plays with a toy in the corner of the room, his thin, furry body as supple and fluid as an acrobat’s.
I drop the strand into the bubbling potion and watch the liquid change from a translucent yellow to a mint green. Eunice’s spell claims the concoction needs to cook for twenty minutes, then cool for twenty-four hours, before I drink it.
Twenty-four hours. Will my heart finally be healed before Christmas?
I jump at the sound of Ruby’s voice, and wheel around to find her yawning as she enters the room. Her familiar, a raven named Lenore, flies in and perches on the chair in the corner. My sister doesn’t wait for an answer as she eyes the loaf of candy cane soap. “I love the sparkle effect on top. Is it set?”
The playlist switches to a modern rendition of Silent Night. Sure isn’t one for me. Hastily, I close the book and try to block the pot from her sight with my body. “Should be. I’ll cut it before I go to bed.”
“I can do it.” She turns the product out of the form and onto the table before she grabs the slicer. “I put the kettle on for tea, if you want to talk about anything.”
The red and white striped loaf falls into neat rectangle-shaped bars as she cuts. A few flakes of glitter scatter over the countertop. “What’s to talk about?” I fiddle with the end of my braid. “Sometimes I can’t sleep, it’s no big deal. You really should go back to bed. I need to hit the sack, too. Big day tomorrow with the Stevenson wedding.”
“Zelle?” Ruby gives me a funny look as she sets down the cutter. “What’s up with your hair?”
A rainbow of colors play across her face, like LED lights. Lenore caws, her tiny head turning from side to side as she stares at me.
My tresses are directly tied to my magick, and tonight, I’ve wrapped the thick plait twice around my waist, and the tip still drags the ground. I glance down to see it glowing brightly. Colors flow down the tendrils in waves—blue, purple, green, yellow, orange, and red. A fresh kaleidoscope follows on the heels of the last. This time, it’s a monotone of pinks, from raspberry to the palest pastel.
I can change the color at will, which I love doing, but I’m not causing this display. “Holy highlights,” I whisper. “I don’t know.”