Wiccan Owen Rhys inherits a house outside a small town, where he hopes the solitude will help with his music. But a zealously religious neighbor is convinced he’s a devil worshiper, and her gossip causes the townspeople to view Owen with suspicion. A series of pranks ensues, including dead animals left on his porch, threatening the feral cats living on Owen’s property.
Though a bit out of practice, Owen casts a spell to summon a protector -- someone to convince the town the gossip is false and prevent the pranks from escalating. He confidently waits for his champion to arrive.
Marc Elias is the town’s animal control officer and veterinarian. He considers himself a rational man who trusts in science and most certainly does not believe in magic. So when he receives a complaint that Owen is bewitching and torturing cats, he dismisses it as her imagination but goes to investigate.
Owen is certain Marc is the protector summoned by the spell. But Marc sees Owen’s altar and hears desperate howling, and he has to put aside any attraction he may feel towards the young Wiccan to do his job. Will a little magic be all it takes for both men to get what they want?
Owen’s eyes widened in surprise. He’d certainly misread the situation. “You want to rent the house?”
“Well, not the whole house. How about the garage to start with? I could pay you to store my car for the winter. And then, if you think it would be okay, I could rent that back bedroom once the cats are moved out. I have to tell you, I’m so tired of eating at the diner, I’d just about kill to have access to a kitchen again. And I’m not a bad cook -- my brothers and I always pitched in for family dinners.”
The wistful look on Marc’s face struck a chord in Owen.
Marc smiled ruefully and continued, “But I have to warn you, I work odd hours. I get called out for emergencies in the middle of the night a lot.”
“That wouldn’t be an issue -- I’m up at odd hours myself.” Owen bit his lower lip. This would solve so many problems as well as keeping him in close contact with the delectable vet. But sharing a house? He got up and poured himself some more tea while he considered it. The whole purpose of moving here was to have solitude for composing. Yeah -- and just how well was that working? So why not take a chance? Owen faced Marc and smiled. “Well, I think we could give it a try. But as you can see, this place is in dire need of repairs. You certainly wouldn’t be as comfortable living here as you would be in town.”
Marc moved around the table and took a couple steps closer to Owen. Those warm, brown eyes were glowing as they raked up and down Owen’s body. “Oh, I think there are other comforts here that would make up for it. That is, if the landlord were willing.”
Under that bold gaze, Owen felt a surge of warmth rising from his groin. He cleared his throat and stammered, “Um, that ... that might just work.” Oh, hell yes, that would work.
“And I can do a lot of the repairs myself,” Marc added proudly. He looked slowly around the room, nodding and flexing those talented hands.
Owen almost laughed as he watched the growing mental list of repairs, tools and materials being written in Marc’s head. “Well, I wouldn’t expect you to be the live-in handyman, but it would be nice to winterize the house before it gets much colder. It’s not quite November, and already I’m huddled in bed under a mound of blankets at night.”
Marc abruptly stopped his survey and refocused on Owen. In a husky voice, he said, “I think I can help warm your bed.”
Oh, yes, most definitely. The air crackled with sexual tension, just like at their first meeting. Only now, there were no secret agendas standing between them. Owen found himself moving forward, finally certain of his welcome. Eyes locked with Marc’s, but bodies still not touching, Owen stood so close he could feel the heat blazing between them.
When Marc reached up and let his fingers sift through Owen’s hair, the delicate movement sent shivers down Owen’s spine. He leaned in, and their lips met, softly at first, just light teasing caresses. Then Owen opened his mouth in invitation.
Marc wasted no time in accepting. His arms wrapped around Owen, pulled him close, and deepened the kiss.
Their tongues met in a slick, unhurried dance of exploration. Owen savored the flavors of apple, spicy tea, and Marc. So delicious. Owen’s head was spinning in delight, and his cock was begging for more attention. He shifted his stance to rub closer against Marc’s hip. Ah, that was better. The small groan from Marc’s throat said he agreed. And to think they’d come so close to missing this.
Breaking the kiss, Owen laid his head on Marc’s shoulder and took a shuddering breath. Gods, this was so much more than he had expected. “I never imagined I’d get someone so wonderful when I cast that spell.”
Marc’s hands paused in their rhythmic stroking of Owen’s back. “Spell? You cast a spell on me?” Marc took a step back from Owen. The man’s smile looked a little strained as he asked, “What’s that all about?”
“It’s nothing bad. And it wasn’t directed specifically at you -- it was to summon whoever could help me. You’re just the one who responded.” Seeking that lovely heat again, Owen tried to snuggle back against Marc’s chest, which was inexplicably taut. “If I’d known it would be you, I’d have done the spell a long time ago.”
Marc pulled away again and put his hands on Owen’s shoulders, holding him at arm’s length. “You don’t really believe in all that nonsense, do you?”