Something bewitching…

Here’s a sample of something I worked on a while back. Enjoy!

Chapter 1

“I already fed you, Artemis,” Krystal whispered to the long haired – and slightly pudgy – Siamese cat that brushed in and out between her legs. The cat meowed loudly and looked up to his owner with crystalline blue eyes as she inspected her hair in the hall mirror.
Krystal plucked at her black bangs to even out the strands, even though she knew the autumn winds outside would toss them to one side or the other. She shushed the greedy cat again and stepped over him once she was somewhat satisfied. Her sister, Sierra, was still asleep in one of the upstairs bedrooms and the walls in this old house weren’t exactly soundproof. And Krystal knew how grumpy her sister became when she was woken up too early.
It was a good thing that Krystal was a morning person, otherwise waking up at five o’clock every day might have been rather detestable. Apart from the fact that she had to practically tiptoe across the hardwood floors, Krystal enjoyed taking her time to fix her breakfast, have her first cup of generic brand coffee, and read a little, before stepping out onto their front porch.
Artemis could care less about silence or food rations, and Krystal was sure that Sierra was sneaking the fat cat treats and extra helpings after she left for the coffee shop each morning.
Krystal checked the time on her phone. She was running right on schedule, as always. She fled from the begging cat to sit on the antique mahogany hall butler bench and slipped on her knee-high black boots that accented her creamy heavy woven skirt well. Artemis thought he was awfully clever when he hopped up onto the other side of the bench and pranced down to rub against her elbow.
“I told you no,” she hissed and snatched up her canvas coat from the hook above her head.
Artemis gave her a displeased look, and watched Krystal grab her purse as she hurried toward the door. Krystal knew something would get peed on during the course of the day; that is if Sierra didn’t dish out the cat’s second breakfast before he grew too impatient.
Krystal exited the house and locked the intricately carved set of doors behind her. The house, almost a century and a half old, was the jewel of the Goldcrest Cove historical society. The sign that was permanently fixed in front of their house was a testament to that. It had been passed down through her family for generations, and it was her and her sister’s turn to take care of it.
Sometimes that meant calling a specialist carpenter all the way from Boston, nearly an hour’s drive away, to fix some of the resin details on the staircase balusters. It also meant paying an arm and a leg for carefully done repair work on the electric wiring that had been installed throughout the house long after it was first built.
Krystal made her way to the sidewalk and looked up at her beloved home. No matter the cost of the maintenance, it was worth it to keep this precious piece of her heritage alive. If only her older sister felt the same.
The sun hadn’t risen just yet, but the night was slowly being chased away by the coming dawn. Krystal loved this time of the morning when the sky wasn’t black, but a light, smoky blue. Birds that hadn’t flown south for the winter already, could be heard chirping and twittering in the nearby trees that lined the street leading into town. Otherwise, Pinkerton Street was peaceful and quiet.
The Perfect Books and Brews Coffee Shop wasn’t far from her home, just five blocks and nestled on one of the main thoroughfares that snaked around the center of town. Johnson Avenue and the south side of Goldcrest Cove was the picture of small town America. The gardens lined the front walkways that lead up to Victorian style homes, and the independently owned shops and restaurants that keep tourists flocking here for decades.
Nestled on the north Massachusetts shore, Goldcrest Cove attracted people from all over the northeast – and some from the south – with its seaside harbor and marina. It was a quaint retreat from the bigger cities. Krystal was glad for that, not only because it meant Goldcrest Cove was considered a haven for the weary and exhausted businessmen from Boston and New York, but because it would also mean her coffee shop would never go out of business. Someone has to serve tourists their caffeine.
Krystal stepped up to her glass-paned shop door and already there were some motorists making their way up the avenue. She looked down the sidewalk and saw the lights in McRae’s Morsels flicker to life. She and the old woman who ran the shop made an agreement long ago that as long as Krystal didn’t sell pastries, Mrs. McRae wouldn’t serve coffee. That was the kind of “help-thy-neighbor” attitude that she loved about this town. With luck, it would never change.
She unlocked the door and stepped inside to hear the tinkling of the little brass bell above her head. The inside was dark, but the overhead lights behind the counter were still on from the night before and helped her maneuver her way through the maze of café tables that were spread out across the floor.
Krystal stopped when she bumped her hip into one of the sharp table corners, and silently berated herself. “Lights on,” she sighed with a flick of her hand toward the backroom where the main switch was located. Instantly, the overhead can lights popped on and she could see her way around even better. A lot of good her powers did if she didn’t use them every once and a while.
Floor to ceiling bookcases consumed the far wall of the coffee shop, every shelf filled with novels and reference books that were available to her patrons to browse through or buy. Krystal first got the idea to open a bookstore-slash-coffee shop when she was a senior in high school. Her and her two best friends, Alex Boyer and Valerie Lloyd, decided that as soon as they were able, they would open the shop together. The community needed a casual meetup place besides restaurants and gas stations.
Five years ago, they did it, and life had never been better. Sure, it was a little rocky at first, but Alexa’s knack for numbers came in handy. She had even earned her degree in accounting at the community college once the three of them found out that running a business wasn’t going to be all sunshine and roses.
While Alexa served as the bookkeeper, Valerie set to designing the interior. It was her idea to lay real bricks against the sheet rock walls to give it that vintage, cozy feel. She even picked out the distressed oak flooring that almost matched the countertops and tables. She didn’t go to school for design, but they all agreed that she had an eye for matching colors and finding out what looked warm and inviting.
That was what they wanted this coffee shop to be. Warm and inviting. Krystal wanted it to be a home away from home for loyal customers. It became that and so much more. Like the historical landmarks and statues on Main Street just a couple of blocks to the north, Perfect Books and Brews had become part of the community. A live and breathing piece of their community culture.
She wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Krystal was the one who came up with the personal touches that made Perfect Books and Brews so appealing. She hung her coat on the driftwood plank coatrack just beside the sales counter, where every guest was offered a hook if one was available. Behind the counter were several shelves where personalized coffee mugs sat, waiting for their owner to come in and use them. They had a mug for the police chief and his officers, the mayor, some of the other shop owners on Johnson Avenue, and many other citizens like teachers, lawyers, single moms, doctors, construction works, and anyone else who came here to take a break from their everyday lives.
Krystal picked up her mug, a beautifully crafted piece she bought at a craft fair years ago with a shiny, green and blue glaze. The images of leaves and vines encircled the body of the mug and wound around the handle.
After starting up the coffee grinder on the far back counter of their brewing station, Krystal set to making her own drink for the morning. The coffee she kept at home was fine, but she couldn’t really start her workday without her chai tea latte.
Just as she was sprinkling the bits of cinnamon on top of the white foam, the shop door opened, and the bell heralded the arrival of Valerie.
Krystal glanced up as her friend shuffled across the floor and her hip bumped into a corner of one of the tables. Ironically, it was the same one Krystal had pumped into just a couple of minutes ago.
Valerie let out a whimper and continued on her zombie-like walk toward the sales counter.
“Want me to make your café mocha?” Krystal asked as she pulled back her long, straight black hair into a high ponytail, leaving her bangs to tickle the tops of her brows.
Valerie let out a grown and blindly grabbed for her simple black mug from the shelf behind the counter. She dropped her equally black messenger bag on the floor and deftly set to work on her own morning wakeup juice.
“At least you’re on time,” Krystal remarked as she turned and sipped on her latte. Perfection.
Valerie ran her fingers through her short brown hair and in this light, Krystal could see the streaks of dark red stand out. Sierra, another entrepreneur of Johnson Avenue, had dyed Valerie’s hair dozens of times, trying out new and exciting colors that her friend would have never been able to get away with at other jobs.
“Shane was playing videogames all night,” she grumbled.
Shane Stokes was a history teacher and a roommate of Valerie’s since she moved out of her aunt’s house just a year or two after high school. He was at least five years older than the girls, but you would never guess it, judging by the way he behaved like a kid at times.
“And the noise kept you up all night?” Krystal guessed.
Valerie turned around and leaned against the counter. Dark circles hung under her heavily eye lined green eyes. “No, I was playing co-op with him,” she replied. “I didn’t even realize what time it was until I checked the clock and saw it was two in the morning.”
Krystal winced. “You better put some espresso in that mocha then.”
“Blessed be!” a cry came from the door, preceding the brass bell alarm. Krystal didn’t need to turn to know that it was Alexa who came skipping between the tables, her loose blonde curls bouncing against her shoulders.
Valerie rolled her eyes and slumped a little, but Krystal couldn’t help but smile. Alexa had enough energy for all of them, and probably enough to power the whole city. If only they could find a way to bottle it and sell it with their house blend coffee grounds.
Alexa hung up her white cashmere coat and stowed away her designer purse under the counter with Krystal’s. “And how are you two lovely witches this morning?”
If they weren’t alone, Krystal would have shushed her friend. Since they were alone, she let it slide. The shop didn’t open for another few minutes and they were free to talk all they wanted about witches, magic, and their charm goals for the day.
“Val’s sleepy,” Krystal said with a sympathetic flavoring to her words.
Alexa snatched up her bright purple fairy mug so she could make her usual caramel macchiato.
Like she needed any caffeine.
“Sleepy is an understatement,” Valerie corrected as she pumped chocolate into her coffee. Krystal wondered if she realized she just put in twice the usual amount, but she wasn’t going to question it.
“Okay, Val’s running on fumes,” Krystal said with a shrug.
Alexa set her mug down and skittered over to her tired friend. “Here, let me help.”
Valerie quickly edged away and lifted her coffee out of reach from the petite blonde. “No way,” she barked. “The last time you charmed my coffee too early in the morning, I was shitting glitter for a week.”
Krystal laughed, remembering that time when Alexa snuck a quick joy charm into Valerie’s drink.
Granted, she was being a general grouch that day and Alexa was just trying to help. Yet, being only a
half-blooded witch, many of her charms didn’t go exactly according to plan. Some could have nasty side effects, which was why Krystal and Valerie were in charge of charming the coffee while Alexa served the customers. With her peppy attitude, it was a good fit.
Alexa crossed her arms over her chest and pouted. “How am I supposed to get better at charms if you guys won’t let me practice?”
“You can’t practice on the customers,” Krystal countered. “And we do let you try sometimes.”
Alexa rolled her pretty blue eyes. “Yeah, only the really basic ones. I’m ready to move on from charisma charms.”
They had been working with Alexa for almost all her life and she still struggled with the simplest of spells and charms.
Krystal, Valerie, and Alexa were witches and had been since birth. Krystal was older just by a few months, but they been the best of friends since they could walk. Krystal’s parents encouraged the playdates, especially when Valerie’s parents died and Alexa’s single mom became busy working long nightshifts.
Out of them all, Krystal was the most fortunate. She had come from a long line of witches and warlocks and her family had always been supportive and helpful in her training. Her two friends were not so lucky and they clung together, somewhat out of necessity. Despite the obvious and drastic differences in their personalities, the three of them got along surprisingly well even from the beginning.
When Krystal confessed her motives for opening the coffee shop, she wasn’t too shy to tell them the truth. The cardinal rule of their witchcraft order was that they could never use their powers on non-magic folk. Krystal never agreed with that. What good was having these miraculous powers if they couldn’t heal and help people?
The coffee shop would change all of that. If a customer came in with a problem, anything from their hair falling out to a disagreeable impending divorce, the girls helped in what way their magic would let them. They charmed the drinks with exactly what the customer needed, whether it was a little confidence to finally ask their secret crush out on a date or a financial blessing that would help them get through a rough patch in the month. It was their way to give back to the community, to pay it forward and use their powers for unselfish reasons. Valerie and Alexa were totally on board as soon as Krystal was done explaining her plan.
At first, they were a little reckless with their charms and helped everyone who came in with the tiniest of problems, so Krystal had to set a quota limit for them each day. They would only pick the most desperate customers, the ones who were diagnosed with cancer or at risk of losing a job that was helping to feed their family of five. They had to carefully choose who would benefit from their powers that day.
Five became a fairly comfortable number, so Krystal had set up a little chalkboard by the counter and they would keep a daily tally. She took up the board and used the rag to wipe it clean for a new day.
“We can work on different charms on your day off,” Krystal told Alexa as she hung the small chalkboard back on the hook.
“You mean half-day off,” Alexa quipped as she turned back to working on her macchiato.
To Krystal’s chagrin, she was right. There were plenty of perks to being a witch running a coffee shop, but one major downside was that they could only hire magic folk for help. There was no shortage of them in Goldcrest Cove, but they all had stable jobs of their own.
Sierra owned a salon down the avenue, Amber McCain ran her own bed and breakfast on the outskirts of the town, and Taylor Morrow had her plant nursery just a little farther south of Krystal’s home. Unless another witch came to town looking for work, the three girls were slap out of luck. And with the holidays just right around the corner, Krystal may have to beg and plead her friends to take extra shifts to handle the hours.
However, Thanksgiving was still a month away and the annual Fall Harvest Festival was in the forefront of Krystal’s mind. They had a lot to do to prepare for Samhain and Halloween this year, including making sure that they were well stocked on everything they would need for their hot chocolate booth on Main Street.

***

“Walking two blocks to this coffee place is worth it?” Devin complained after his new partner, Aaron tried to convince him that braving the task of finding a parking spot along the curb of Johnson Avenue was well worth the effort.
“Totally,” the cop replied as they passed by an older couple on the street, both holding to-go coffee cups with the Perfect Books and Brews logo printed on the sides. “It’s the only coffee shop in town and I want you to get a taste of what real, small town coffee tastes like.”
Devin’s mouth quirked in a disbelieving grin. “Seriously? Coffee in Boston is nothing special and the coffee at this place won’t be either.”
Aaron held up a cautionary finger. “You haven’t had an espresso brewed by these girls. I don’t know what they put in it, but it’s nothing like any I’ve had before.”
Devin shrugged and hooked his thumbs into his uniform pockets. “Again, an espresso is an espresso. Just don’t be disappointed when I’m not impressed.”
They passed by a donut shop that boasted a relatively long line on the inside. Devin peered through the bay window and saw some of the customers eating their breakfast pastries and treats at the little café tables on the inside.
“Why not get coffee there?” he asked. “They’ve got bagels.”
Aaron was now a little farther ahead of him and didn’t even seem to notice the scent of deep fried dough and powdered sugar. “Mrs. McRae’s doesn’t sell coffee.”
Devin’s brows shot up as he hustled to catch up. “A donut place doesn’t sell coffee?”
A chilling breeze blew down the street, another sign that autumn was in full swing for Massachusetts. Devin was glad for the warm uniform shirt and jacket that the department issued for the coming winter season. The light windbreaker with the police department logo on the chest and upper arm was warm enough to fight off the cold, but when winter fully set in, he knew he would need something a little heavier.
Aaron ran his fingers through his blonde hair to push aside a strand that had fallen in his face. “That’s right,” he replied. “McRae’s doesn’t sell coffee and Perfect Books and Brews doesn’t sell pastries.”
“That seems a little counter intuitive for business, don’t you think?”
Aaron chuckled just as the bright gold and blue sign of the coffee shop came into view. “Not at all. It’s actually a pretty good setup. No competition.”
Devin looked ahead and somehow, he had hoped that the line of customers that were been standing outside on the walkway didn’t belong to the coffee shop. Upon Aaron’s insistence, he hadn’t had any of his usual coffee that morning, and though he’d already been awake for a few hours, he was ready to crawl back into his wrought iron bed and call it a day. It wasn’t even nine o’clock yet.
“Did they just open?” he asked as they stepped up to the end of the line that was straddling the curve. Devin cast a glance down either end of the street and saw how the line of parallel parked cars seemed to stretch on indefinitely. The same went for the other side of the narrow, two-way street lined with thick manicured bushes and towering trees that were beginning to lose their leaves. He imagined spring in Goldcrest Cove would be absolutely beautiful, especially on Johnson Avenue.
“They’ve been open for probably five years,” Aaron answered.
Though he was impressed that such a business was doing so well, even after five years, Devin shook his head. “No, I mean did they just open a little while ago? The line seems pretty long.”
Aaron checked his watch. “They open at seven in the morning.”
“And they’re still this crowded?”
Aaron slapped a hand on Devin’s shoulder. “Come on, man. Just be patient. It’ll all be worth it.”
That’s what he kept saying, but Devin still had his doubts. The line moved surprisingly fast and once they were inside the warm lobby, Devin stole a glance toward the front counter. His brows furrowed in confusion. There were only three women working the morning shift. That didn’t seem right for the kind of customer flow they were having to handle. These kinds of lines warranted at least five, maybe six baristas running around filling coffee cups and taking orders. There was only one cash register open. For being in business for five years, he imagined they should have been more efficient than that.
That didn’t improve his first impression of the place, but the interior certainly did. He could see why people loved to come here. The space was a little dark, but not too dark since the sunlight streamed through the expansive windows at the front of the shop. The air was warm and saturated with the strong, savory smells of coffee and herbs. Neither was it too loud, despite the fact that he couldn’t see an open table anywhere.
It was hard to miss the bookcases that lined one of the long walls of the shop. That’s when he noticed that several customers were busily reading while they sipped on their drinks. A couple of college kids were huddled around a bigger table, tapping away on their laptops. A few people were reading that morning’s newspaper, and couples were enjoying each other’s company while their hands wrapped around their steaming mugs.
“They’ve got real mugs,” Devin commented quietly to his partner.
He nodded. “Yeah, that’s another cool thing about the place. The customers who come in almost every day bring their own mugs, or have the girls keep their mugs here so they can just fill it up whenever they come in. Less waste that way.”
Devin also nodded in approval. “I assume you’ve got a mug?”
“Yep,” he announced proudly as they neared the front counter. “I snitched a mug from the station and told them to keep it here for me. It’s bigger than the other mugs I have at home.”
“Remind me to tell Chief Nickels that you stole department property.”
Aaron shot him a devious look. “Chief Nickels has his own mug here too. It’s the one with the basset hound on it.”
Devin shrugged, admitting defeat.
He heard the bubbly laugh of the barista manning the counter and leaned around the portly businessman in front of him to take a peek. The blouse the women wore sported billowy, long sleeves that were pulled up around her elbows by pull cords that scrunched up the grey-blue fabric. Her long ponytail of shiny black hair draped over her shoulder, and her brown eyes danced with genuine delight that made Devin stare a little longer than he normally would have.
She certainly was beautiful with her slender nose and high cheekbones. His heart thrummed hard in his chest as the line moved forward. Soon, he’d be the focus of those brilliant eyes that were offset by her dark bangs that curtained over her forehead. The shop lights caught the tiny fragments of gold in her irises and one corner of his mouth twitched into a smile.
“Do you know what you want?” Aaron asked, snapping Devin out of his daze for a moment.
Yeah, he knew exactly what he wanted, but it wasn’t anything that could be poured into a mug.
He finally looked up to the huge menu board above the barista station and blinked at the wide variety of choices. Their selection was just as varied as any big name coffee shop like Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. There were coffees, teas, and other drinks like hot chocolate and smoothies.
“Don’t they just have regular black coffee?” he mumbled as his eyes poured over the options.
“Sure, but you’ll probably get a weird look from Krystal.”
“Is that the girl at the front counter?” Devin hastily asked, hoping his partner wouldn’t pick up on his obvious interest. The last thing he wanted was an earful of ribbing in the squad car while they patrolled the town.
Aaron slid him a knowing glance. “Yeah. The blonde is Alexa and Valerie’s the one with the red streaks in her hair. Don’t cross her on a bad day or she might put something in your coffee.”
“You speak from experience,” Devin chuckled, watching the way the taller girl with short brown hair fixed the mixed hot drinks with such speed that he couldn’t begin to figure out what she was doing.
Aaron laughed. “Oh, yeah. One time, I made some crack about a piece of studded jewelry she was wearing. After I left with my coffee, I had gas all day. And not the good kind.”
Devin held his lips tight so he wouldn’t laugh out loud, because they were next in line.
When the businessman paid for his highly modified and customized espresso, the two cops stepped up to the counter. Krystal didn’t look at him right away, but turned to Aaron first.
“Good morning, Aaron!” she said with just about the prettiest smile he ever saw, then turned to fetch his Goldcrest Cove Police Department mug off the shelf.
“Good morning, Krystal,” he returned. “You girls are a little busy this morning.”
“Tell me about it,” said the little blonde barista, Alexa, as she came forward with two cardboard drink holders loaded down with to-go coffee cups. She delivered the order to another lady waiting near the counter wearing a black polo and pair of faded jeans. The logo on her left lapel told that she worked for a furniture store just down the road. She must have been sent to get the company their coffee.
When Krystal came back to the register after handing off Aaron’s mug to Valerie, she finally looked up to Devin. He gave her his best, friendly smile and he could see the faint pink color rising to her cheeks. At least he knew he was making a good impression already.
“You must be that new cop from Boston,” she said.
“How did you guess?” he asked, his smile faltering a bit. Did news of what happened on his previous job reach all the way to this little coastal town?
Krystal leaned against the counter and he saw the way she popped her hip out just a little. Her navy blue apron covered much of her front, but he could tell she had a nice set of curves underneath.
“You’re a new face,” she replied. “The entire department has come in here at least once or twice, but I’ve never seen you before. I hope you’ll come around more often.”
Devin wanted to think something in the way her gaze roamed over his torso made her say that, but it was far more likely she just wanted his business.
“If Aaron has his way, I’ll be here every morning,” he half-way promised.
“I guess we’ll get to see a lot of each other, then.” There was a little glimmer in her eyes that he couldn’t ignore. A hungry, flirty look that made his pants feel a little tighter. What the hell?
“You having the usual, Aaron?” she asked his partner.
Aaron shot her that corny finger-gun gesture and winked. “You got it.”
Krystal glanced over her shoulder to Valerie, but before she could call out the order, her coworker waved her off.
“Yeah, yeah, I know. Double espresso with coconut.”
Devin looked to Aaron in utter disgust. “Coconut?”
“And what can I get you, mister…”
He immediately snapped back to Krystal. “Devin. Devin Daniels.”
Almost out of reflex, he offered out his hand to her over the countertop. He had gotten so used to shaking everyone’s hand nowadays that it had grown into a weird sort of habit.
Krystal didn’t seem bothered and shook it in return. He loved the way her hand felt so warm in his. More than that, he admired her strong grip. “Krystal Hayden. Owner.”
“Yeah, Aaron was telling me how you and your friends run this place. Impressive.”
She shrugged one slender shoulder up in a shrug of modesty. “We try.”
It was then he realized they were still shaking hands and he finally let go, though he would have loved to keep touching her skin all day long. “And I’ll just have coffee. Black.”
Krystal seemed pleasantly surprised. “We can make anything your Boston coffee shops can make,” she said. “No need to go plain on us.”
Devin slid his hand into his back pocket to fish out his wallet. “I got black coffee in Boston too.
I’ve just never been one for all these fancy drinks.”
Krystal nodded and passed the order onto Alexa as she came back around the counter. “Well, I think you’ll like our house blend. It’s a dark roast and I’ve been told it has a hint of nutmeg. Totally unintentional, but it’s pretty popular.”
She took their money, but Devin kept his eye on Krystal, studying the way she moved and typed in the orders on her register screen. Everything about her was absolutely entrancing, from the way her lips moved when she formed her words to the slight scent of flowery perfume that seemed to fight its way past the overwhelming aroma of coffee grounds.
She handed Devin’s credit card back to him and their fingertips brushed. His lungs nearly seized at the slight twinge of shock that passed along his skin when they touched by accident. He looked up and saw that there had to be something just on the tip of her tongue. She had that look like some people did when they were ready to confess something, but didn’t know how to quite say it.
Aaron moved to the side to wait for his order, but Devin didn’t move.
“You were going to say something?” he questioned as he slipped his wallet away. He was well aware that there were customers waiting in line behind him, but he didn’t care. Probably the only reason they weren’t throwing a fit about tying up the barista’s time was because he was a cop. He normally wasn’t the kind of misuse his authority, but he’d take full advantage of it if it meant he could talk with Krystal a little longer.
She seemed surprised, but spoke anyway. “I’m usually pretty good at judging someone based off of their choice of coffee.”
“Oh?” he asked and leaned his elbows against the high counter so he could talk more intimately with her. No reason that anyone else needed to hear this conversation. “And what does my coffee say about me?”
Krystal mimicked his pose and grinned. “That you’re a realist,” she said softly, just loud enough for him to hear. “You don’t like your reality watered down or sugar coated. You want to experience every bitter and bold moment that comes your way. So, naturally you appreciate honesty and justice, which is probably why you’re a cop, right?”
Devin prided himself on his poker face. He had to use it a lot in the last few months while he gathered up the sharp, broken pieces of his life so he could move on from what happened in Boston. He didn’t want to use it on Krystal, but for the sake of his image, he had to. If he let his face do what it wanted, she would have seen the look of utter shock that mirrored what slithered down his spine when she pegged him so unerringly.
“Well, I’d say you do have a knack for judging people,” he replied and then reverted the conversation right back to her. “And what does your coffee say about you?”
The tip of her hair grazed the polished wooden countertop. “I like the chai tea latte with a little cinnamon on top. Have you tried that before?”
Devin shook his head, staring into her dazzling, almost hypnotic eyes.
“You should try it sometime. I like to say it’s like a holiday craft store exploding in your mouth. It reminds me of when my mom would take me shopping with her when she needed to get more yarn or beads for her little projects. I add the cinnamon on top because I love the added flavor.”
If he wasn’t completely enraptured by her before, he was now. “I’ll certainly have to try one of those sometime,” he said through a grin. “Sounds like I could get to know you pretty well just by sipping on a drink like that.”
That coquettish glint in her eye reemerged. “There are plenty of other ways you can get to know me, but I will definitely make you a chai tea latte whenever you’re ready to try it. On the house.”
Oh, yeah. His pants were definitely getting a little tighter around his crotch. He nodded. “I’d like that.”
Valerie broke into their discussion when she came up with a to-go cup in one hand and Aaron’s mug in the other. “You mind wrapping that up?” she quipped as she blew a strand of her hair out of her face. “We do have other customers.”
Devin laughed, took the drinks and thanked her. “I guess I’ll see you around,” he said to Krystal as he began to move out of the way so the lady behind him could step up.
“You know where to find me,” she replied before turning to her next customer.

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About Sheritta Bitikofer

Sheritta Bitikofer is an author of eclectic tastes. When she's not writing her next paranormal or urban fantasy novel, she can be found volunteering at her local animal shelter, shooting archery at a medieval reenactment event, doing Zumba, watching a historical documentary, or having coffee with her husband at their favorite café. A wife and fur-mama to two rescue dogs, she makes time to write engaging and moving stories about shifters, vampires, and magic that enthrall readers from cover to cover.
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