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Two amazing men. A serial killer. A Christmas to remember.
Tessa Lamar is dreading her first Christmas without her beloved grandfather. They say the holiday season brings out the best and the worst in people. This year, it’s brought out a serial killer, who chooses his victims based on the carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
As Tessa comes to terms with her life as a Nunnehi, the Cherokee equivalent to fairy, she finds herself in cahoots with a ghost to stop the Christmas Killer before he strikes again. She must wrangle her magic, manage family responsibilities, juggle the men in her life, and discover the person she was meant to be, in order to save…
Seven Swans a Swimming - Eight Maids a Milking - Nine Ladies Dancing - Ten Lords a Leaping - Eleven Pipers Piping - Twelve Drummers Drumming.
Twelve Spirits of Christmas is the second of the Tessa Lamar Novels, Paranormal Romances with a Southern twist. If you like Southern humor, supernatural creatures, and a healthy dose of romance, then you'll love this series. Be sure to check out Kindle Scout winner, The Spirit Tree, to read the beginning of Tessa’s journey.
The pressure in my chest started the day after Halloween. Nothing major, just a sense of dread that accompanied the holiday season. It happened every fall, though it seemed to start earlier and earlier each year. I navigated my cart through the seasonal aisle, expecting discounted candy and mismatched costume pieces. Instead, I found candy canes and marshmallow Santas.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with Christmas in and of itself, but this time of year brought family obligations. While I don’t think I’m the only person on the planet with a screwed up family, I know for certain I’ve cornered the market on crazy mothers.
My name is Tessa, or Tessa Marie when I’ve done something foolish. I’m a licensed mental health counselor, though not currently practicing. My career came to a crashing halt when the fact that I’m a psychic medium made national news. These days, the only clients I see are victims of violent crimes at the Orange County Police Department or members of the local Cherokee tribe coming for a spell or potion at the medicine shop. Working two jobs is stressful, and my coping mechanism of choice is chocolate.
I turned the corner and hit pay dirt, an end-cap of left-over, semi-melted, and mostly damaged bags of Halloween candy. I tossed three into my cart and glanced at my watch. I’d left the house with a short shopping list over an hour ago. Less than half the items were crossed off, but my buggy was almost full.
My phone rang, and I cringed. My great-grandmother had a way of calling the moment I did something naughty. “Hi, Gram.”
“Tessa, are you still at the Walmart?”
“Could you pick up two bottles of my fiber mix? It’s on BOGO this week. Oh, and two boxes of tea bags.” She paused to speak to someone in the room. “You might want to get some more ribs and stop for a bottle of whiskey on the way home.”
“We have two racks thawing. Are we having company?” I held my breath, praying she hadn’t invited anyone awful to dinner.
“Darlene and her new beau stopped by. Hurry home, and don’t you dare buy Halloween candy.” She laughed and disconnected.
Gram Mae hadn’t invited someone awful to dinner. She’d invited the queen of awful—my mother. I didn’t worry about the latest in Darlene’s flavor of the month club. The new boyfriend wouldn’t be around long enough to remember his name. I added another bag of candy to the cart and my phone rang again.
“Tessa, where are you? I have five of the elders’ wives waiting to see you.” Bryson spoke in a hushed tone.
“I’m at Walmart. Can you help them?” I had to prepare myself for dinner, take a couple of shots, and chase them with a pound of chocolate. The last thing I wanted to do was rush back to the medicine shop to make love charms.
“They asked to see you,” Bryson whispered. “Hurry. I don’t like the way Mrs. Matthews is looking at me.”
The playfulness in his voice curled my toes. I was pretty sure I was in love with him, but we’d decided to take things slow. The lack of toe-curling activities did nothing to relieve my stress. I added another bag of candy to the cart. “I’m only half done with my list.”
“If I’m there in five to finish the shopping, can you come here and take care of the women?”
“That’ll work.” I slid my phone into my purse and frowned at the candy. He wouldn’t judge me, however, standing next to his toned body would take the enjoyment out of hoarding sweets.
Bryson had a way of making me smile despite whatever catastrophe was going on in my life. The man ate like a machine and rarely touched processed sugar. He’d also given up coffee, two strikes against him in my book. We were quasi-engaged, but our relationship was complicated. We’d worked together as medicine man and woman for the local members of the Cherokee tribe since Charlie, my grandfather, passed away.
I rounded the corner to the health and beauty department when the phone rang again. “Hi, Aaron.”
“Tessa, we have a case. Can you meet me in Winter Park in an hour?”
I stopped in the middle of the aisle and hung my head. I considered Aaron one of my best friends, but I didn’t have time for police work today. “I’m at the store. What kind of case is it?”
“Suicide from the sound of it. The deceased’s partner found him hanging from a tree in the backyard.” Aaron’s voice lacked its usual humor. He’d either had a late night or rough day, maybe both.
“Sure. Text me the address. What’s the victim’s name?” I had no idea what I would do with the room full of people waiting for me at the medicine shop, but skipping out on dinner with Darlene made me happy. Plus, working the case would give me the opportunity to check up on Aaron. I hadn’t seen him in almost a week.
“Thanks, Tessa. You’re a doll. Partridge. The deceased’s name is Partridge.”
I glanced around to make sure no one was watching before I loaded two containers of Mae’s fiber mix into the cart. “What kind of tree was it?”
“Orange tree, why?”
It was probably a sin to laugh at the dead, but I couldn’t help it. “We have a Partridge in an orange tree.”
Aaron groaned. “I’ll send the address. Try to hurry.”
“No problem.” I continued to push the cart up and down the aisles, adding items as I went.
I knew Bryson stood behind me before I laid eyes on him. Because of our weird metaphysical connection, his hand on my shoulder woke my magic, and his warmth made me smile. He leaned his six feet three-inch frame in to inspect the contents of the buggy and shook his head. To his credit, he didn’t comment on my stash of individually wrapped hip expanders.
I turned and faced him. “When did it become okay to start the holiday season on the first of November?”
“I love Christmas.” Bryson grinned as he moved his hand to the small of my back. Dimples formed from the corners of his mouth to his cheekbones, causing a woman in our aisle to swoon. Full-blooded Native American, and ridiculously sexy, he received no shortage of female adoration.
As much as I wanted to grouse about the nightmare to come, the twinkle in his eye made me bite my tongue. Of course, he loved Christmas. He was a morning person after all. Morning people had a certain outlook on life that night owls didn’t.
I raised on tiptoe to kiss his cheek and handed him the list. “Mae needs you to stop by the liquor store on the way home for two bottles of whiskey.”
“Will do.” He slid his arm around my waist and brushed his lips across mine. “Any reason she needs extra?”
“Darlene is bringing a new man to dinner.” I lingered in his embrace, enjoying the unexpected public affection. “You’re awful friendly for the middle of Walmart.”
“I’m happy to see you.” Bryson took a step back but kept his hand on my waist.
“Are you? Or does this have something to do with me bailing you out of a houseful of women?”
A lady beside us choked back laughter, staring at Bryson as if she had nothing else to do but wait for his reply.
He chuckled. “Both.”
“You owe me one.” I slung my purse over my shoulder. “Grocery shopping is my only me time.”
“You can collect later.”
His flirting left me tongue-tied and blushing. Bryson didn’t show this side of himself often.
He gave me a peck on the cheek. “You better hurry. Those women looked desperate.”
If one more person told me to hurry, I’d curl into a ball and refuse to move. “I have to meet Aaron at three o’clock. We have a case.”
Bryson frowned as he pushed my hair behind my ear, the gentle touch igniting sparks that warmed me. “Tell them to focus on their problem. Do a chant with them. Use some generic herbs or totems and send them home. I’m pretty sure they are all looking for something to get their husbands’ attention. Nothing too urgent.”
“I’d like a date and some attention.” I procrastinated, but I couldn’t resist a few minutes of alone time with him, even if we were standing in the middle of the store.
“I’ll take you out tonight.” He winked and pushed the cart down the aisle.