From A Witch Called Wanda
After stumbling over the second box on her way out the door,
Maeve O’Dare paused for a moment to catch her breath. Her
move to Wisteria Pines had been rather impulsive, but when her
fiancé, Frank, had stormed out of her life, and after all the trouble
she’d been having in Hollywood, she’d needed a change.
She’d packed up her minimal belongings and headed north,
driving until she’d found this charming small town. She’d stopped at
the local truck stop to eat and befriended a woman, Gracie, who’d had
a lead on an apartment. One thing had led to another, and before
Maeve knew it, she’d signed a rental agreement.
Then Gracie’d mentioned a vacant commercial building she’d
owned smack in the heart of the small town, and another dream
reignited in Maeve’s soul. If she could get Gracie to agree to lease it to
her, she would open the small café that she’d been envisioning since
she’d been a little girl. The café would feature all her passions: vinyl,
live music, art, and vintage record players.
Maeve had been in Wisteria Pines less than a month, and things
seemed to be working out so well that it made her feel a bit charmed.
“Keys …” she muttered to herself, looking around the apartment.
“Boxes,” she said. “Boxes everywhere!” She scolded herself for not
being more organized, but after a few minutes of scavenging, she
managed to unearth the keys from beneath a stack of Hollywood
gossip magazines. Keys in hand, she raced out the door and jumped
into her beloved purple Volkswagen Beetle.
When Maeve pulled into the parking lot, she spotted a familiar red
Chevy truck parked in front of the abandoned building. She smiled
when she saw Gracie sitting on the tailgate along with her nine-year-old
niece, Penny. Maeve took a breath, trying to quell the excitement
that quivered through her belly. She hopped out of her car and threw
her purse over her shoulder, trying to emanate a confidence she didn’t
As Maeve approached the red truck, Gracie’s face lit up with a
smile that Maeve was already growing accustomed to. Gracie was tall
and slender. She helped her little niece down from the tailgate in one
smooth, graceful movement.
“Morning, sunshine,” Gracie sang. “I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve had
to beat potential renters away with a stick all week.”
A nervous energy danced in Maeve’s veins.
I’ve got to land this deal, Maeve thought.
“I’m glad you waited for me,” Maeve said. “I’ve got a good feeling
about this place.”
Gracie nodded. “I hope you won’t be disappointed. The building’s
not up to Hollywood standards.”
Maeve laughed. “Hollywood is not up to Hollywood standards.”
“What does that mean?” Penny asked.
Gracie ruffled Penny’s hair. “Never mind. It’s just a joke.” She
turned to Maeve. “You ready to check out the inside?”
“I can’t wait,” Maeve said, locking her car doors before following
Gracie toward the run-down building. “So, what did this place used
“It used to be my grandfather’s shop. He sold a bunch of souvenirs
and cheesy little collectables is all. Basically, it was one step away from
becoming a junkyard,” Gracie said as she dug a pair of keys out of her
Gracie opened the door to a slew of cobwebs clinging from one
end of the door frame to the other.
“Yuck!” Penny said.
Gracie swiped at the dust. “Yeah, I know this place needs a good
cleaning.” She leveled a gaze at Penny. “Any volunteers?”
“Not me,” Penny said, giggling and skipping inside the building.
Gracie exchanged a look with Maeve. “Kids today!” She crossed to
the windows and opened the blinds to let in the sunlight.
Maeve looked around at what could very well be her future café. She
whistled and put her hands on her hips. Already her creative mind went
to work as she began to envision all the potential. She couldn’t help but
speak out loud, letting her one friend in Wisteria Pines in on her
creative genius. “Picture this,” she said, holding out both hands as she
waved her arms in the direction of the far wall. “A barista station right
over here.” She turned. “I’ll add a couch—a nice relaxing area here—“
“Maybe some bookshelves for a book exchange location?” Gracie
“Oh yes, definitely,” Maeve said. “I’ll add some chairs here … A
window seat would look amazing in this bay window. For the walls—
some dark purple and blues to give it a sort of intimate look … We
can build some booths.”
“Booths?” asked Gracie.
“Yeah, listening booths. You know, like back in the ‘60s when
people used to go to a record store and listen to vinyl in a booth. I can
set up private jukeboxes. Totally old school.”
“That sounds amazing,” Gracie said.
“What’s a jukebox?” Penny asked.
“Like an iPod before there were iPods,” Gracie said, and Maeve
“And, you know, if people don’t want to listen to music, they can
listen to each other and have a good old-fashioned heart-to-heart
over an espresso macchiato,” Maeve said.
“I love it,” Gracie said. “It sounds magical.”
Maeve crossed the room. “We can build a stage right here. I’ve got
to have live performances, and the acoustics?” Maeve belted out a bar,
testing out the sound. “Ah, listen to that. The acoustics are perfect.
Ooh! And over here, all over this back wall, I’m going to cover it
“Cover it with vinyl,” Gracie said, excitedly clapping her hands.
“You know it!” Maeve agreed, suddenly feeling grateful that this
woman she’d met only a few weeks prior understood her vision.
“I don’t know,” Penny said, wrinkling her nose. “It sounds boring.
What about cake? And pops and cookies and brownies?”
Maeve laughed. “Oh, we’ll have all that stuff. I have a great choco‐
late chip cookie recipe.” The little girl’s eyes lit up and Maeve didn’t
dare mention the cookies were gluten free, for fear of getting another
“yuk” out of her.
Instead, the girl said, “If you’re going to make this place into a
coffee shop, you need to dust.”
Maeve looked cautiously from Penny to Gracie. She knew that
Gracie likely had other offers on the space, and from her limited
search around town, it seemed like this was the only place anywhere
near the town square available at the moment. She chewed on her
lower lip and asked, “Will you rent me the space?”
Gracie scratched nervously at her forehead. “Gosh, you love it,
huh? Even with all the elbow grease it’ll take to get it up and
“I’ve never been afraid of hard work,” Maeve said.
“Let me show you the back rooms,” Gracie said as she walked
toward the rear of the building. Penny trailed behind her, and Maeve
followed. She couldn’t help feeling apprehensive that Gracie hadn’t
answered her question.
Is she evading me? Maeve thought.
They viewed the two small back storage rooms, complete with
shelving and wire racks that would be ideal for cooling baked goods.
Maeve’s head spun with possibilities.
“To tell you the truth, Maeve,” Gracie said, “I already have an
Maeve’s stomach dropped, and she felt nauseous. If she didn’t get
the space, what would she do in town?
She’d been counting on this little venture to get her mind off
Frank and Hollywood. Now, the thought of sitting in her small apart‐
ment with nothing to do except dissect her rotten luck over the past
few months fueled her gumption. There was no way she was going to
let this opportunity pass her by. She needed to hit reboot on her life,
and she needed it now.
“What’s the other offer? I’m sure I can match it,” she said.
“Well, she’s looking at this place because she wants to turn it into a
sub shop. Honestly, I’d much rather have your café in my town than
another deli, but …” Gracie made her way back to the front of the
shop and Maeve followed her, feeling like she was in hot pursuit.
“I can match the offer,” Maeve blurted. “My place will make a great
community hang out. You’ll love it.”
Gracie smiled and settled down at one of the dusty tables. Maeve
sat across from her, desperate to find a way to get the lease. Penny
continued wandering around, scraping up dust and dirt with her little
“I’m sure I would love it,” Gracie said. “Do you have a name picked
“Listen: It’s Old Fashioned,” Maeve said proudly.
Gracie smiled. “I’m listening.”
Maeve laughed. “No, that’s the name. Listen: It’s Old Fashioned.”
Gracie chuckled, not in the least self-conscious about the misun‐
derstanding. “That’s great. It’s so charming.”
“When can we sign the contracts?” Maeve said.
Gracie held up a hand. “I’m sorry, Maeve. I like your idea better,
but the final decision’s not mine. I have to do what’s best for my fami‐
ly.” She gave a sideways glance in Penny’s direction.
“Who’s my competition anyway?”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Fast-paced and fun. I love these mysteires!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
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