Self-proclaimed sorceress Kora wishes she could concentrate on making her new-age business a success. But between a colony-wide strike of public works spearheaded by the disgruntled Were community and dear ol’ Mum Hecate’s “favors,” Kora will be lucky to get to work on time let alone maintain an unblemished immortal soul.
Mom’s latest task has Kora running afoul of the magical community’s most powerful figures on their home turf. This time cleaning up after a rogue witch lands Kora in the furious clutches of beautiful, high priest Desmond. If that weren’t bad enough, past actions come back to haunt Kora, leaving her with much to answer for, one Hades of a common cold, and no one left on her side.
A line of cars stretched as far as the eye could see wasn’t a novel experience for me. At least, it hadn’t been during my California grad school days. Here in Wipuk? I hadn’t realized this many people existed in the magically hidden colony, let alone vehicle-owning people.
I tapped the dash on my used Nissan, frowning as the black on amber number flicked to 11:46 a.m. Six was my least favorite number, but it also highlighted a problem—my shop opened in less than fifteen minutes. I hadn’t missed an opening of Rarities since day one seven weeks ago.
Rolling the window down, I stuck my head out, trying to peer around the red taillights on the SUV in front of me. Dry heat licked my skin, pulling a drop of moisture between my bony shoulders. Gods. If I’d been able to choose where I’d settled, Arizona wouldn’t have been first on my list.
“Couldn’t the witches who hid this place have added a cooling effect to the spell?”
I jerked in surprise at the deep voice that answered my rhetorical question. The sudden motion meant I wasn’t able to stop my skull from slamming into the car door. My temple throbbed more than the headache I’d been developing. I rubbed the spot, fingers tangling in the spiky cerulean hair just above my ear.
“That looked like it hurt.”
The voice was closer now—just outside the door instead of at the rear of my sedan.
I pried open wincing eyes and nodded. “Yeah.” And then I stopped breathing.
The white tank top taut across the guy’s chest barely hid rippling abs and V-cut hips. Muscles like I’d never seen in person bulged beneath his ribbed shoulder straps. My gaze continued up with a mind of its own.
A body built for rough work wasn’t all the guy could claim. He had the chiseled jaw, straight nose, and high cheekbones of a Viking in the flesh. Eyes, moss green and sparkling with amusement, glimmered at me.
Hopping Hera, just what I needed—another hot male to drool over. But…I didn’t actually have any hot males any longer. I’d dumped my on-again, off-again undead boyfriend for cheating on me with his vampire Senator boss. My lifelong nemesis had retreated to the Greek underworld because I’d failed to dump my corpse of a boyfriend when he’d demanded it. And the head of the Water witches I’d slowly been befriending now hated me.
I’d earned each of those consequences. That didn’t mean I was happy about any of them. In fact, I hadn’t been this depressed in years. Which was probably why I didn’t bother smiling back at the guy who leaned his thick thigh against my sky blue car.
“What’s going on up there?” I asked, pointing past the SUV blocking my view.
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes because that was abundantly clear. “But why? This is Wipuk. There are like…a hundred people living here.”
“Twenty-five hundred, actually. And I don’t know what’s going on up there. All I can see are cars stopped clear past the intersection.”
The crossroads at the town hall and Wipuk Hills Road was most likely the intersection he referenced. If the jam stretched to that point, then I had no hope of getting to work on time if I sat in the car waiting.
“I’m pulling over.” I put the car in drive, waiting for him to stand up.
He leaned into the window. “What’s your hurry? You’ve got a perfect excuse to be late—a rare Wipuk traffic jam.”
“I’m a business owner,” I said. “If I’m not there, then the shop won’t open.”
Unless my employee Nell had made it in before cars clogged up the road. Was the problem only on my side of the colony? Or would she have problems getting in from swanky Wipuk Hills, too?
But…Nell might have been with her werewolf boyfriend Ali Mac instead of at her mom’s house. I had no idea where he called home, but I’d bet it was somewhere on my side of the colony. If that buzzing in my pocket were any indication, Nell had probably had no better luck than I had.
“You own that store,” the guy leaning against my car said. “The one no one will go to, don’t you?”
I frowned at the reminder of my retail troubles, watching the dust kick up in a small breeze that barely cut through the sweltering Arizona heat. “Plenty of people shop at Rarities. They’re just…not witches. It’s the big ticket items upstairs no one shops for.”
“Right.” He nodded with long motions that were almost condescending. And then he went over the edge into definitely condescending. “I heard you sell weaves.”
I lifted my gaze, gray glare locking with his green orbs. Not only was he delaying me, he was also insulting me with that tired rumor. “I don’t sell weaves. My magical items don’t require a witch to sacrifice anything.”
He lifted a chestnut eyebrow, mouth breaking into a half grin despite my sour tone. “Got anything to fight fleas in animal form?”
A question stalled on my tongue. Now that I inhaled through my nose, I could sense the answer. A note of animal clung to him. Were…something or other. Perhaps wolf. It was too early in the day for me to be on my A-game.