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Accidental Magic, Page 2

P. C. Cast


  “Do you think you could take a spin through the graveyard and keep your eyes open for my broom? I must have forgotten it in all the excitement that night, between Genevieve scampering off into the woods with Hunter—whose eyes, by the way, were glowing bright red—and my Romeo morphing from wolf to man rather unexpectedly. Anyway, if you see it would you please grab it before somebody flies off with it? You know a good broom is hard to find.”

  “Yeah, sure. If I see it, I’ll get it for you. But wait, isn’t Hunter Knight supposed to be dead?” Candice said.

  “Well, kinda. Actually, he’s a little undead.”

  “Isn’t that like being a little pregnant?”

  “Don’t be a smart-ass. It’s embarrassing enough for me to admit that my sister’s getting some vampire action. God, I wish the girl had better taste in men, alive or dead.”

  Candice sighed. “Hey—don’t be such a prude. If I’d chosen one of the undead I might not be unmarried.”

  “Candice, honey, I love you, but you are a hopeless piece of work. Now be a doll and go find my broom. Bye.”

  Godiva hung up the phone and sat tapping her chin with one long, slender finger. Candy was getting old before her time. Goddess knew, she really did need a lover. A young lover. A young werewolf lover. A hot, naughty affair would be the perfect thing to keep her from moving to Denver. Her fingers itched to swirl up a little love spell, but magic wouldn’t work on her friend. Godiva’s eyes widened and her full, pink lips tilted up. Magic wouldn’t work on Candy, but it definitely would work on a werewolf.…


  Candice would never get this damn assignment done.

  “You’d think after teaching for almost twenty years I wouldn’t have any problem doing homework.” She grumbled at herself and ran a frustrated hand through her thick blonde hair. “Poetry themes…poetry themes…poetry themes…” Death, time, love, heartbreak, the soul, happiness, sex…“Sex,” she muttered, chewing the end of her well-sharpened #2 pencil. “That’s one I can’t write about. Like I’ve had sex in—”

  She clamped her lips shut, refusing to speak aloud the ridiculous amount of time it had been since the last time she’d been laid. As if the last time even counted. Ex-husband number five had been, in politically correct terms, penis impaired. Spoken plainly, he’d had a pathetically small dick, and an incredibly large wallet. Unfortunately, one did not make up for the other. Candice grimaced. Quite frankly, women who said size didn’t count had clearly never been with a man with a small dick. And, as if their, well, lack of substance wasn’t bad enough, SDM (small-dicked men) had the same problems short men had. They were mad at the world. Like it helped to make up for said unfortunate shortage by being a jerk? Sometimes men just didn’t make sense.

  “Theme!” she said, forcing her thoughts back to the blank notebook page. She wanted to create poetry that would dazzle her professor, replete with complex symbolism, witty phrasing, and possibly even a few clever slant rhymes. What she had come up with was exactly—she glanced at the naked page—nothing.

  She was, indeed, screwed (figuratively speaking).

  “Okay, so write something…anything…write what you know.…”

  What the hell did she know? She knew she was sick of teaching the Fighting Fairies and she knew she would never get married again. Well, she certainly didn’t want to write about high school, which left…

  “What the hell. At least it’ll get me writing.”

  She drew a deep breath and let her pencil begin moving across the blank page.

  Keep your Errol Flynns, Paul Newmans, Mel Gibsons

  all puppets—empty masquerades.

  She blinked and reread the first two lines. Not Shakespeare, but it did have a certain ring to it. Candice grinned and continued.

  Tom, Dick, and Harry, too

  the boy next door

  I want no more.

  Wasn’t that the truth! Her pencil, with a mind of its own, kept moving.

  You ask, what now?


  And the self-propelled pencil stubbornly stopped. What now? What now? What now? She jumped as the clock in her study chimed seven times. Seven o’clock already? How long had she been on the phone with Godiva? Now she’d have to hurry to get in her five-mile jog, complete with graveyard detour, before the sun set. Crap! She absolutely didn’t want to be outside alone after dusk. Weird things had been going on around town lately—and it took some doing for anything to be classified as “weird” by a Mysteria native. Candice put down her pencil and began pulling on her running shoes.

  The beat of her shoes against the blacktop road was a seductive lure. The sound beckoned to him. He’d heard it while he was still deep in the woods. It had called him away from the young thing he was still licking. She snarled after him, disgruntled and unsatisfied at his premature departure. He called a hasty apology and promised to meet her and her twin sister later. Right now he had to follow the beat of her running feet, even though it was unlike him to leave such a delicious tidbit. He prided himself on his ability to satisfy. Like a modern Don Juan, his lovers could count on him for romancing as well as consistent orgasming, but the steady slapping sound seemed to somehow have gotten into his body. It pulled him away from his lover with an incredibly powerful singularity in thought.

  You (beat) need (beat) her (beat). You (beat) can’t (beat) stay (beat) away (beat).

  The rhythmic lure thrummed with his pulse…his heartbeat…it pounded through his loins, making them feel hot and heavy. He scented the warm evening breeze. Woman…hot, sweaty, and ripe. And not far ahead of him. He wanted her with a single-minded intensity that he hadn’t felt for anything or anyone in years. Growling deep in his throat, he hurried to catch her.

  Jeesh, gross. Candice kept glancing nervously from side to side as she sprinted through the graveyard, totally annoyed that she’d promised Godiva she’d look for her broom. Not slowing down, she gritted her teeth and peered into the creepy shadows that flitted past the edge of her vision. Nope. No broom. Also no walking corpses, trolls, goblins, or fairies (whom she disliked with an intensity she knew was unreasonable—they hadn’t asked to be made the school mascot and she shouldn’t hold it against them, but she did). Nothing untoward at all. Just lots of spooky graves and silence. Thank God. Sometimes it was damn disconcerting to be normal in a town filled with abnormals. She shivered and increased her pace, wanting to leave the graveyard and (hopefully) anything that wasn’t 100 percent human behind her.

  Lengthening her stride, Candice thought that the burn in her muscles actually felt good. Godiva had been right about one thing—she did have a killer body. Sure, she’d like to lose a few pounds. Who wouldn’t? But thanks to her lifelong love of jogging, her legs were long and strong. She also still had excellent boobs. No, they weren’t as perky as they had been a few years ago, but they were full and womanly, without boulder-hard, anatomically impossible enhancements. And—best of all—she had seriously big blonde hair that was light enough to hide the encroaching gray without requiring too many touch-ups.

  With a burst of speed, she shot out of the graveyard and pounded down the empty blacktop road that would eventually circle around and lead back to her house, which had been built, log-cabin style, at the edge of town. Maybe she could keep up this pace the rest of the way home. Hell, she might even run an extra mile or so!

  Which was a lovely thought until the cramp hit her right calf.

  “Shit!” She pulled up. Hobbling like Quasimodo she looked around for anything that might resemble sanctuary. Breathing a sigh of relief, she realized that the little rise in the road was the bridge that covered Wolf Creek. She could sit on the bank and rub her calf back into working order. So much for sprinting home.

  She had just pulled off her shoe and thick athletic sock when she heard the growl. Low and deep it drifted to her on the breeze, tickling up her spine. It sounded too big to be a dog. It was probably a werewolf. Sometimes the damn things were thick as ra
bbits in the mountains around Mysteria. Candice rubbed harder at the cramp. She wasn’t actually afraid. Werewolves were rarely more than annoying. They tended to come and go in packs—unerringly drawn to the town’s preternatural nature, but except for a couple of gainfully employed families (surprisingly, werewolves tended to be excellent restaurateurs—must have something to do with the whole pack mentality and their love of meat or whatever) they usually didn’t stick around long, and didn’t interact with Mysteria residents, especially while they were in their wolf forms. They certainly didn’t pose a danger, unless one was made nervous by big dogs. Candice didn’t mind big dogs (as evidenced by her choice in ex-husbands one and two).

  “Did you hurt yourself?”

  His voice was deep, with a rough, husky sound that was very much man, not wolf. She swiveled around in time to see him step from the edge of the pine trees. And her mouth flopped unattractively open. He was easily six-foot-four and probably 230 pounds. At least. Broad shoulders seemed to stretch on forever, and a wide, scrumptious chest tapered down to a well-defined waist. And those legs…even through the relaxed jeans she could see that they were lean and muscular. His face was in shadow, so all of her attention focused on his body and the way he stalked toward her with a strong, feral grace that made her breath catch and her mouth go dry.

  Then, as if he’d walked into an invisible tree, he stopped. He hesitated, and seemed almost confused. She could see him run his hand through his hair. He wore it long and loose and it framed his shadowy face as if he was an ancient warrior god that had only partially materialized in the modern world.

  “Ms. Cox?”

  “Yes!” she said on a burst of breath, totally surprised that the warrior god knew her name.

  “It’s me, Justin.”

  He started toward her again, and she blinked up at him as his face emerged from the shadows. And what a face it was! Strong, well-defined cheekbones and a rugged, masculine chin. His sand-colored hair was thick, with a sexy, mussed curl. His eyes…his eyes were an unusual shade of amber and were almost as inviting as his beautiful mouth.

  “Justin Woods. You know…” He hesitated, then flashed an endearingly warm smile that was just the right mixture of mischievous and nervous. “…I had you for sophomore English.”

  She mentally recoiled. What the hell had he just said? An ex-student! So the warrior god was really a fucking Fighting Fairy. Didn’t it just figure? Candice frowned, trying to pull her thoughts from the bedroom into the classroom.

  “Oh, that’s right. Wow. Time sure flies,” she said with forced levity, feeling suddenly old and as out of date as an eight-track tape. She looked up at him, shielding her eyes from the setting sun with her hand. Yep. She vaguely recognized the echo of the gawky teenager within the man. “What was that, five years ago?”

  “More like ten.” He crouched next to her and nodded at her bare leg. “Did you hurt yourself?” he repeated.

  “Oh, no. It’s nothing. Just a cramp.” He was so close to her that she could feel the heat of his body and smell him—young and virile and masculine. Holy shit, he was one wickedly sexy young man!

  “I can fix that,” he said. “I like to jog and I’m prone to leg cramps, especially when it’s hot out like this. I know just what to do to make it go away.”

  Without waiting for her to respond he took her foot and propped it in his lap. Then he began to massage her cramping calf. His hands were strong and his touch was warm and experienced.

  “Lie back. Relax.” His voice had dropped to the deep, throaty tone he’d used when he’d first come into the clearing. “Let me take care of you.”

  She stared at him. She should tell him to take her foot out of his crotch and take his hands off her leg. But his touch was doing the most amazing things to her body. His fingers were sending little ripples of shock from her calf up the inside of her thigh and directly to her crotch, filling her with an unexpected rush of heat and wetness.

  “Don’t fight it. There’s no reason to. It’s just me,” he said. His breath had deepened and his eyes kept traveling from her mouth to her breasts. She glanced down at herself and saw that her aroused nipples were clearly visible through her damp T-shirt and sheer white sports bra.

  What would it hurt? It had been years since a beautiful young man had rubbed anything on her body. Years…

  The thought of realistically just how many years it had been since a man this young had touched her had Candice sitting straight up and pulling her tingling leg from his warm hands. She flexed her foot and refused to meet his eyes as she pulled on her sock.

  “Thanks!” she said with considerably more perkiness than she felt. “That’s fine. Good as new.”

  “Well, at least now I know how you stay in such great shape.”

  “Yeah, that’s me. Miss Great Shape.” She cringed. Miss Great Shape? What the hell was she saying?

  “I had a huge crush on you in high school,” he murmured.

  Her eyes widened with surprise and finally lifted to meet his. He had leaned back on his elbow and he was watching her with an intent expression that was anything but boylike.

  “I thought you were the sexiest woman I’d ever seen,” he said.

  Candice was trapped by his frank, masculine appraisal, and the fact that he clearly liked what he saw. Her mouth felt dry and she couldn’t seem to find her voice.

  “You’re still the sexiest woman I’ve ever seen.”

  She felt excitement slither low and hot through her belly. Lord, he was delicious! Her gaze slid from his beautiful eyes to his lips. He smiled, confident and handsome and just a little bit teasingly.

  Candice blinked. Reality, girl! Snap the fuck out of it!

  “You shouldn’t say things like that,” she said in her best teacher voice, forcing her gaze from his lips and pulling on her shoe.

  “Why not?”

  “Because you’re my ex-student!” she blurted.

  He flashed the smile again and scooted forward. Brushing her hands gently aside, he began slowly tying her shoe.

  “I’m of age. Well of age. I’m twenty-six.”

  “Twenty-six!” Her voice sounded shrill. “I thought you were twenty-seven.” As if one year actually made a difference. He was an infant! Practically a teenager.

  “I’ll be twenty-seven if you want me to be,” he added huskily.

  “Uh, no. A year really doesn’t make that much difference.” Thank God, he was done tying her shoe. Candice started to stand, only to feel his strong hands under her elbows as he helped her to her feet.

  “I agree with you. A few years don’t make much dif-ference.”

  He kept his hands on her arms, holding her close to him. He smelled so damned good. She could feel his thumbs rubbing slow, soft circles above her elbows. That simple caress spread electric sensation from her arms all the way down to her crotch. He was wearing a plain gray T-shirt, worn thin and soft by many washings. The outline of his chest was clearly visible beneath it. He was strong and firm and deliciously big. She wanted to lean into him and lick him through the damn shirt. And then bite him. Yeah, she’d like to nibble her way down his body.

  What the fuck am I thinking? She stumbled back out of the seductive cocoon of his arms.

  “Our age difference is more than a few years, Justin.” She tried for her teacher voice again. Unfortunately she sounded more like a breathless Marilyn Monroe.

  He shrugged broad shoulders and grinned at her. “You’re really cute about that.”

  “About what?” Her mind didn’t seem to be processing correctly, and she inanely added, “And I’m not cute.”

  “About our age difference. And you are cute about this one thing. Other than that you’re sexy and beautiful.” He brushed a strand of thick blonde hair that had escaped from her ponytail out of her face. “May I walk you home?”

  Candice batted at his hand. “No, you may not.”

  “Why not? And don’t say it’s because I’m too young. My age should work for me when it
comes to walking.” He grinned and added, “Or jogging. I don’t imagine many older men can keep up with you.”

  “Actually, they can’t,” she said. Despite herself she was thoroughly enjoying their flirty banter.

  “Just as I thought! So there’s no reason why I can’t walk you home.”

  “Yes, there is. I’ve sworn off men,” she said firmly.

  He threw his head back and laughed, a sound that was as seductively masculine as it was youthfully exuberant.

  “That’s perfect, because I’m not a man.”

  “Exactly the problem,” she countered, finding that she was unable to keep herself from smiling in response. “You’re a boy, and I don’t go out walking with boys.”