Legend has it that my hometown of Beaver Falls was founded by a coven of witches hundreds of years ago. Their descendants supposedly have witch’s blood running through their veins. If you asked me, that was nothing more than some silly tale. Something made up to make Beaver Falls sound like a more interesting place than it actually was, because nothing exciting ever happened in the small upstate New York town that I’d lived in practically my entire life.
Until the invitations started arriving.
“You will never guess what came in the mail today,” I said, stepping into the kitchen.
My father stood in front of the oven, stirring the contents of a saucepan in front of him. Whatever he was making smelled so heavenly it made my mouth water. He looked over his shoulder at me and his eyes widened. “Is that what I think it is?”
“Yup.” I slid my finger under the seal of the envelope and pulled out the card.
My father came to stand beside me, peering over my shoulder as I read.
Please join the the Korzha family
for an evening
of cocktails and dinner
May 15, 6 PM sharp
Formal attire requested – You may bring one guest
“Are you going?” my father asked.
“Are you kidding me? Of course I am.”
The invitation came from the castle up on the hill. Ever since I was a child, I’d imagined what it looked like on the inside, wondering if it was anything like those medieval European castles with secret passageways and hidden rooms.
For almost two years, the reclusive brothers who lived in that castle had been inviting the residents of Beaver Falls to join them for cocktails and dinner. Nobody had any idea how they decided who to invite or why they’d all of a sudden decided to open their home to complete strangers. Week after week, I checked my mail hoping to find a fancy white envelope waiting for me or my father in the box. It finally happened.
My father turned his attention back to his cooking. “Who are you bringing?”
I put my hands on my hips. “You, of course.”
“You don’t have to invite your old man, you know. I won’t be offended if you go with Peter.”
Dad wasn’t fooling me. He was just as curious about that old castle as I was. I could hear it in his voice every time he mentioned it.
“Peter will just have to wait for his own invitation. Because I’m not going without you.”
My father smiled. “You’re too good to me, Willow.”
Of his four children, I was the only one still living in Beaver Falls. My three older brothers, Finn, Owen, and Riley had moved away years ago, desperate for an from escape small-town life. One of them lived in Syracuse, one in Buffalo, and the other on Long Island. No matter how badly I wanted to follow in their footsteps, I just couldn’t. I’d left Beaver Falls for four years to go to college, but as soon as I graduated, I came back. I didn’t want my father to be all by himself. He was still in fairly good health, but he wasn’t getting any younger, and I worried about who’d take care of him when the time came that he would need the help.
I kissed my dad’s forehead. “You’re going to have to dig up one of your suits.”
“Hmm, maybe it’s better if I skip it then.” He hated getting dressed up, but I knew he was only kidding. I hadn’t missed the way his eyes lit up when I’d said I was bringing him instead of Peter.
“You will not.”
“I haven’t worn a suit in years. The only one I have is probably covered with moth holes.”
“Then we’ll buy you another,” I said. “Because you’re coming with me. I’m not taking no for an answer.”
“Okay, but if this winds up causing problems between you and Peter, I want to know.”
“It won’t. Don’t worry about it.”
I wasn’t actually certain that was true. Peter was devilishly handsome and romantic in that old-fashioned way you hardly heard about anymore, but lately a jealous streak I’d never noticed before had started to surface. The brothers who lived in that castle were rumored to be handsome—and single. I doubted Peter would be happy that I was going to spend time around them without him at my side, but he was my boyfriend, not my husband, so he’d just have to get over it.
“How was work today?” my father asked. He pulled two plates out of one of the cabinets.
“Slow, as usual.” The small accounting firm where I worked got slammed right after the first of the year, but come the end of April, there wasn’t much to do. Since May had only just begun, it would be months before we hit our busy season. In bigger cities, there was more for accountants like me to do during the off-season, but in Beaver Falls, life moved at a different pace.
I brought silverware to the table and helped my dad finish setting it. “What’s for dinner tonight?” I asked.
“Lamb chops and roasted asparagus.”
No wonder I was salivating. “Mmm, sounds amazing.” My dad was a retired chef so one of the advantages of still living at home with him was that he did most of the cooking. Everything he made was delicious.
I opened the refrigerator, hoping my dad had put a bottle of white wine in there to chill. I was in a celebratory mood for some reason. Maybe it was the invitation. All I knew was that I felt a strange hum of excitement running through me. Like I was on the brink of an adventure.