Title: Boy Meets Witch
Author: G.A. Rael
Hosted by: Ultimate Fantasy Book Tours
Blurb: Harper Adams is a witch on the run--from her past as a faith healer turned accidental arsonist, and from the power she's kept locked away her whole life. She thinks she's finally found a place she can settle down and call home in the picturesque town of Cold Creek, Vermont, but a mysterious white cat who may or may not be bent on taking the curvaceous witch's soul has other plans. Harper's compassion gets the best of her and earns her an unwanted reputation as the town miracle worker as well as the ire of sexy veterinarian and militant atheist, Darren St. Clair. Cold Creek's residents have a few supernatural secrets of their own, and Harper will have to face the destiny that led her to the last place a witch in hiding needs to be--that is, if Darren doesn't have her chased out of town with a pitchfork-wielding mob before she gets the chance.
The voice was much too soft and not nearly low enough to be Darren's. Harper spun around but not before the intruder had unzipped her dress halfway. She clutched her slipping bodice to her chest and stared at the white-haired man in shock. "Get out of here!"
He watched her, smirking. "You and your unlocked doors, silly girl. I take it from the fact that you're home alone on a Friday evening that there's trouble in paradise?"
Harper adjusted and re-zipped her dress as best as she could with trembling hands. "You had no right to just walk into my apartment."
"But I thought we were friends," he crooned. "I told you I'm free to walk the earth on full moons. You should have known I'd pay my favorite little witch bitch a visit."
Harper thought of arguing with his use of the term but decided it was a moot point and flopped down on her bed. She didn't trust the magician at all, but at the same time, she couldn't see him as a threat. Her intuition hardly ever seemed logical, and yet she couldn't point to a time when it had been wrong.
Then again, there was a first time for everything.
"If you're going to break into my apartment, I think you at least owe me a name," she said once she had caught her breath.
"That's fair," he said, pulling up a chair across from her. He crossed his long legs and lounged at her table in the most elegant fashion. Harper had to wonder whether he was a man who lived as a cat or vice versa. "My name is Locke."
"Locke?" she asked doubtfully. "Is that your first or your last name?"
"Well, Locke, I wasn't expecting you until the equinox."
"I thought I'd check in and see if you'd given any thought to my offer," he said, raising his eyebrows. "Have you?"
"I've thought about it, yes," she admitted. "You would raise my mother and brother from the dead and, in return, you'd become my familiar and get to be a human whenever you like."
"That's the long and short of it," he said patiently, folding his hands in his lap. "And your answer?"
He blinked slowly, as if offended. "And here I thought it was a compelling offer. Generous, even."
"It was. That's why I have to turn it down. There are a lot of things about my upbringing that I know now were wrong, but one of the thing that's stuck with me is the knowledge that if something seems too good to be true, it is. I also know that familiar is just another word for demon."
His mouth lilted into that crooked little smile that would have been enticing if it weren't so damn menacing. "So there is a limit to your naiveté. I'm relieved."
"You knew what my answer would be," she realized aloud. "Why did you bother coming here?"
He shrugged. "I was in the neighborhood. I caught the tail end of your fight with the curmudgeonly yet dreamy doctor and thought you might need someone to talk to. Plus, it never hurts to ask a second time."
Harper watched him for a long while. "For some odd reason, I actually believe you."
He smiled. "I might be a self-serving entity, Harper, but I'm not malicious. Unlike some," he said with an accusatory glance at the ceiling. "Believe it or not, I've grown attached to you."
"Why should I believe that? I met you barely two months ago." At least he wasn't still calling her Alyssa.
"As I said when we met, you may not know me, but I've been watching over you since you were young," he said coolly, examining his painted white nails. "Even a creature like me is capable of forming an attachment over time. I chose you carefully, after all."
"Excuse me for not being flattered, but if you're trying to impress me by claiming to be my guardian angel, you've done a pretty poor job."
Rather than the cutting retort she expected, he gave her a strange, almost sad smile. "Like you said, familiar is another word for demon. While I make no apologies for what I am, I can promise that I'll never lie to you."
"And why should I believe you?"
"You shouldn't," he replied, taking a step forward, "but you do. Way deep down inside that precious little heart of yours, past the God-shaped hole and the quaint little dream of being the doctor's wife, you feel it. The connection. The kinship. The fact that, no matter how many years you spent on your knees, you have more in common with a thing like me than with all those saints who burned in your father's tent."
Harper flinched as Locke touched her face, but his nimble fingers dug into her flesh with surprising strength. "You can lie to yourself, little witch, but I never will," he purred, gentling in tone and touch as he caressed her cheek. "I'm not like the other men in your life. I won't exploit you or force you to be anything you're not."
"Darren isn't like that," she said, jerking away. "He loves me the way I am."
"Does he?" Locke challenged, propping his cheek on his hand. "Or does he just see you as a poor, brainwashed soul to covert? The sermon changes, but preachers are all the same."
Harper cringed internally as Locke echoed Darren's words. "My love life is none of your business."
He laughed loudly. "Oh, honey, if your love life was a business, you couldn't give away the shares. I'm just concerned about you, that's all. I'd hate to see you escape one hot-headed egoist only to fall into the arms of another on the opposite end of the spectrum."
"That's awfully kind for someone who leaves me threatening phone calls," she muttered. "And I know you were the one who tipped my father off."
Locke frowned in confusion. "The phone call I'll take credit for. Sometimes my associates get a bit zealous when it comes time to close a deal, but I didn't say anything to your father. Why, did he show up here?"
Harper eyed him warily, struggling to decide whether he was being sincere or not. His words struck her as genuine, which was something that didn't seem to come easily to him. "You didn't know?"
He stood up straight and raised a hand to his forehead. "Scout's honor. What did he do?"
Harper frowned. "Nothing. It doesn't matter. Look, if you want me to believe you actually give a damn about me, then back off and tell your 'associates' to do the same."
"Ooh," Locke said with a low whistle. "The choir girl needs to put a nickel in the swear jar. That vet really must have hurt your feelings."
"It's nothing," she said tersely. "Please just go. It's been a rough night as it is and I don't have the energy to keep up with the witty banter or fend off your advances on my soul."
"Alright," he said, holding his hands up. "Would you let me stay if I promised no more shop talk?"
She hesitated, doubtful of the fact that she actually had a choice in the matter. "Fine," she said, digging through her dresser for a nightgown, "but you're sleeping on the floor."
"Even if I look like this?"
By the time Harper turned around, there was a wide-eyed white cat in a pile of clothes on the floor. It sauntered over to her, trilling as it rubbed against her legs. Harper groaned, tossing a blanket over the cat so she could change in privacy. She was too tired to argue with a feline.
Hi there! I'm a practicing witch and author of paranormal romance, fantasy and magical realism. I'm also a firm believer that the things that go bump in the night deserve their happily ever afters, too! When I'm not writing, you can find me watching campy horror films with my husband and our menagerie and hiking in the woods in beautiful New England! Want updates when I publish a book? Join The Coven (PNR & Fantasy Newsletter.) http://eepurl.com/ckWYMv
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