Under magical house arrest in her great-grandmother’s suburban cottage, college graduate and reluctant earth mage Shelley Dupree whiles away most mornings spying on the warlock next door. Though erotic daydreams offer some distraction, she faces long working hours, cash flow problems, and a repeat burglar. On Valentine’s Day, she sets a trap for the mysterious intruder, intent on ending his crime streak once and for all. But her scheming cat familiar foils her best-laid plans, and, with a little help from Madame Eve’s 1-Night Stand service, she discovers a far more dangerous species of magical feline.
After moving in next to a ramshackle building on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., pastry chef Adrien Chatdurois is plagued by repeat sexual fantasies starring the same curvy brunette. In a state of constant arousal, he devotes his early mornings to grueling exercise and spends the rest of his day handcrafting the city’s best chocolates. When his younger brother stirs up trouble on the shop’s busiest day, the frustrated shifter is forced to pay a surprise visit on his reclusive neighbor. He soon learns not all witches are wart-covered hags, and one in particular might prove the most delicious of desserts.
Her doorbell rang.
An ominous crack followed the box’s impact with her yellowed kitchen floor. Sweat dampened the back of her neck. She must have imagined the sound. Her doorbell had been broken for weeks—months even. She’d taped a scribbled sign telling food delivery people to leave items on the porch. No one other than her family ever visited.
Everything, including the array of curiosities in front of her, must be part of a hallucination brought on by prolonged celibacy. Sweets wouldn’t dare sic Madame Eve’s service on her. Everyone Shelley knew who’d used it had—
Okay, she could fix this. She’d meet the guy and tell him to scram. No way could the matchmaker’s mojo work in less than five seconds.
Muttering curses under her breath, she marched past the counter, through her makeshift office, and across the small living space, to stop in front of the thick wood barrier. Peepholes hadn’t been in vogue back when this place had been built. Since she hadn’t bothered to switch out the bulbs after the porch lights died, she couldn’t have discerned more than shadowy shapes regardless.
Pulling her shoulders back, she summoned her inner bitch. She had to run the guy off. Failure would end in disaster. Acting rude and obnoxious was a matter of determination, persistence, and effort.
She swung the door open.
The warlock next door stared back at her.
Her next breath erupted as a cough. “F—udge cakes.”
As opening lines to Shelley Channeling the Shrew went, she could have done better. She blamed her parents. No matter how many times she’d thought, read, and heard four-letter expletives, she couldn’t shake the ingrained childhood habit of modifying them for polite company.
It didn’t help that the man had a brown cake box sandwiched between his waist and left arm. Responding to the stimuli, her stomach had short-circuited her brain and demanded sustenance—ideally, in the form of fudge cake. Her gaze dropped to the bottle clasped in his hand. She’d had a champagne craving since this morning.
Her hunky neighbor’s green eyes had widened to a comical degree. Perspiration beaded his forehead. His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down. When his mouth opened, no sound came out.
What did he have to be shocked about?
Of course, only now did it occur to her she could have pretended not to be home. Just because someone rang the doorbell didn’t mean she had to answer.
It would be so rude not to, her goody-two-shoes inner voice who sounded suspiciously like her mother countered. I raised you better.
As she contemplated slamming the door, an act that met with immeasurable resistance from the metaphorical angel on her shoulder, her neighbor croaked, “It’s you.”
As first exchanges between potential soul mates went, this might be one for the books.
At least the guy came with more than one bribe. A covered plate of chocolate-dipped strawberries balanced precariously on his other palm. Her gaze drifted over his bare forearm and along tensed biceps. The short sleeve of his red T-shirt accentuated his muscle definition.
Her mouth watered. Her gluttonous heart did a little flip. She couldn’t settle on what tempted her more—the food or the warlock.