Bewitching Brews (continued)

Here’s chapter 2 of my witchy romance, Bewitching Fire. Chapter 1 can be found further down in the blogs.

Chapter 2

From the moment Aaron and his new partner stepped into the coffee shop, Krystal could feel a disturbance in the air, as if it had been electrified. That same energy pulsed through her skin, seeping into her bloodstream. When she looked to the front door and realized the strange force was wafting off the unfamiliar, hot cop standing next to Aaron, Krystal was ready to vault over the counter to tackle him.
Damn he was fine. The police department jacket he wore did little to hide his strong, built frame beneath. His arms alone bulged against his sleeves and she nearly salivated at the way his button-down black uniform shirt hugged his trim waist. His square jaw was covered in a layer of dark scruff that must have broken some kind of police department dress code. All of their other cops were clean shaven, including Aaron. His short black hair looked soft and Krystal wished she could run her fingers through it.
She wasn’t so sure she could keep her composure when he stepped up to the counter. Those blue eyes were so easy to get lost in that she completely forgot her hands had been shaking up until that moment. Talking to him came easier than she anticipated, and a warmth spread across her body whenever he gave her that smoldering look.
He looked every inch a cop, but talked just like any other regular guy. She loved that. With Aaron being an exception, some cops came into the shop with poles up their asses when they were on duty, like they weren’t allowed to socialize like a normal human just because they were wearing a badge. Though she was a serious kind of girl, she hated when people took themselves too seriously.
She couldn’t deny that something happened while they exchanged their banter about coffee. Something deep within her seemed to awaken, and a whole new woman came out. She was on the clock with a long line of waiting customers to attend to, but it might as well have been like the whole world didn’t exist as long as Devin was gazing at her like that, so intense and fixated.
Long after the two cops left, Krystal could still feel that fire burn in her chest, threatening to consume every bit of logical reasoning she possessed. She had never been so drawn to a man before, never craved his company like she did with Devin. If they still weren’t in the middle of the morning rush, she would have thrown her apron at her two friends and ran out the door to chase after him. What she would do when she caught him inspired a whole new level of excitement.
The moment Krystal could take a break from taking orders, she took a long, cold drink of water to douse the blaze Devin had ignited. They were still in the middle of their morning rush and if Krystal didn’t cool off, she might have needed to run home and grab a change of panties. That’s how much Devin drove her crazy. And they didn’t even know each other that well.
Things finally began to slow down around eleven that morning and Krystal turned to see her two friends fixing themselves another cup of coffee.
“How many did you do today?” she asked with a serious drop in her tone as she folded her arms. She knew that both Valerie and Alexa could hear the customers as Krystal greeted them. She knew some had expressed their personal issues, but she had never given them the cue to whip up a special cup.
Alexa slipped a furtive glance to Valerie. “Nothing for me.”
Valerie didn’t look sheepish at all about it. “I did three,” she proclaimed as she claimed the honors of picking up the chalk board and scoring the first tick marks of the day. “Mrs. Gregory said her carpal tunnel was acting up again and Doctor Jones was panicking over a new surgery technique he had to learn for a patient next Friday. The last one was Maggie and you heard her talking about how freaked out she was over her dog going missing. I slipped her a tiny charm just to calm her nerves.”
Krystal crooked any eyebrow. “Your memory is impeccable, but you do realize we still have half a day left to go.”
Valerie lifted her chin defiantly. “That means we have two charms for the rest of the day. I say that’s good enough.”
It was only a couple of days ago that she told them she would rather keep the morning charms down to one or two, knowing that customers usually brought their problems into the shop toward the end of the day after everything went all to hell during their work hours. Alexa probably sensed the storm coming and stepped in, gripping her mug between her dainty hands. The painted image of the glittering fairy was obscured by her fingers.
“The new cop’s a hotty,” she nearly squealed. The coffee shop was about half empty, so she wasn’t all that concerned about her friend causing a disturbance.
“I wouldn’t mind be arrested by that tight ass,” Valerie quipped from the corner of her mouth as she turned to add the finishing touches on her second café mocha of the day.
Krystal bit her lips together, refusing to openly agree with either of them. Though, they were completely right. She checked out Devin’s behind when he left, and it was definitely a delicious sight.
“Think he always carries a pair of handcuffs?” Alexa offered with a sly grin.
Valerie brought her coffee over and the three of them congregated behind the register. “I love a man who comes prepared.”
Alexa’s gaze went a little distant. No doubt she was thinking of some erotic fantasy involving
Devin and those handcuffs. “I wonder how comfortable the back of a squad car would be?”
“I wonder if his favorite form of foreplay is reading me my rights.” Now it was Valerie’s turn to smile and nibble on her bottom lip.
“Ma’am,” Alexa began in a deep voice, “you have the right to remain sexy and naked.”
Krystal held up her hands. “I’m cutting you two off. No more caffeine today.” If they kept going, she knew for a fact she’d have to go get a change of underwear. Imagining Devin in that way was only going to make things worse. How could she possibly take his coffee order again, knowing that such images had been conjured in her mind? Though, she was achingly curious to see what was under that uniform.
Alexa reached out and flipped Krystal’s black ponytail playfully. “We’re just having a bit of fun.
You were making goo-goo eyes at him too.”
She rolled her eyes. “I was not making goo-goo eyes. I was just being friendly.”
Valerie nearly snorted coffee out of her nose. “Excuse me? You were totally flirting with him.” “And it looked like he was flirting back,” Alexa nearly sang and wiggled her hips eagerly.
Krystal couldn’t deny that. “So what if I was flirting? Doesn’t mean anything. He’ll come in here for his coffee with Aaron every morning and that’s it. Ten second interaction and we’re done for the day. I don’t plan on getting arrested anytime soon.”
Alexa gasped and grabbed Valerie’s arm, nearly making her spill her mocha. “Oh! What about sex on a jail bed?”
Valerie made a face. “I still think the squad car would be more comfortable.”
“You two are impossible,” Krystal laughed. “Why come up with these things when you know they’re never going to happen?”
Alexa shot her an impatient look. “It’s just a little fun. You know, that thing that people like to have when they’re not working. Oh, wait, you always work.”
Krystal sighed and cast her gaze to the ceiling. “I don’t always work.”
“I drove by the other night around eleven o’clock and you were still here,” Valerie stated.
“We close at eight,” Alexa added.
She shrugged. “I had some extra paperwork to do, that’s all.”
Krystal wasn’t about to say it out loud, but they were right. Again. She worked all the time, making sure this place ran as smoothly as possible. If that meant spending a few extra hours sorting through receipts and researching new marketing strategies, she was all for it.
Alexa held up a hand in surrender. “All I’m saying is that you need to take some time for yourself every once and a while. Go home, pet your cat, cook something, I don’t know.”
The recipe board on Krystal’s Pinterest account was getting pretty full. Each night before going to bed, she would browse the app and pick out new dishes she wanted to try whenever she had the free time – which was proving so elusive nowadays.
“If I go home, I’m just going to see all the things I need to repair and clean, and I won’t get to relax at all. And Artemis doesn’t like too much attention, you know that.”
“Maybe you need someone with you when you go home to distract you from all the stuff you feel you have to do,” Valerie proposed, giving her a furtive glance from behind the rim of her mug.
Krystal shook her head. “I’m not going to invite a guy over to my house just because you two think I need a diversion from life.”
Valerie looked away. “Who said anything about inviting a guy over? I only said you needed someone with you when you go home. He could invite himself in.”
Alexa giggled. “Could Devin get a search warrant or something? Then he could come in without having to be invited.”
Krystal took a deep breath and untied her apron. “That’s it,” she said. “I’m going to Taylor’s early to get that cocoa mix. You two are driving me nuts.”
Valerie and Alexa laughed together, something that rarely ever happened.
“You go get that cocoa mix, then,” Alexa said once she could take a breath. “We’ll hold down the fort.”
Krystal didn’t exactly need her permission to leave, but when she was just on the other side of the counter, it occurred to her the long walk she would have to take to get to Taylor’s nursery. It was nearly double the distance she had to walk this morning to get to work and she didn’t want to be gone for that long. That, and the box Taylor would have for her might very well be more than she could comfortably carry back.
She turned to Alexa. “Can I borrow your car?”
“Sure!” Alexa reached down to grab her keys from her purse and tossed the tiny bundle to Krystal. Alexa’s keychain probably only had a couple of real keys on its rings. The rest were a confusing myriad of trinkets and charms she had collected over the years, some dating back to high school.
Krystal hurried out and found the Volkswagen bug parked across the street. It was hard to miss that bright yellow car, even in a snow storm. Since she lived so close to work, Krystal never bothered to drive. She enjoyed getting the fresh air and admiring the morning anyway.
As soon as she revved up the engine, peppy pop music blared through the speakers. Without thinking, Krystal cringed and flicked her fingers to mute the audio without ever touching the radio on the dash. Ever since she learned the simple rules of magic, Krystal had a bad habit of using it reflexively. Whenever she needed something quick, she just did it with her magic without thinking. At least she was getting better at controlling those impulses.
She let out a breath and pulled away from the curb.
It was probably only a five minute drive, if that at all, but Krystal found herself zoning out as she traveled down the long residential streets. Mostly, she thought of Devin.
Rumors had been floating around town ever since Aaron’s first partner, Mr. Kenny, retired after serving on Goldcrest Cove’s police force for nearly forty years. The old man wasn’t as spry as he used to be, and now that his wife – who had been the elementary school principal for just about as long – was retired too, he was eager to stay at home during the day.
Goldcrest Cove wasn’t a dangerous place by any means. They could have transferred Aaron to a desk job if they wanted and the place wouldn’t have been any less safe for one less patrol car out on the town. Yet, Chief Nickels thought Aaron needed a new partner.
When she heard customers talking about the new cop from Boston, she had been mildly intrigued, but wasn’t about to go poking around for details. Whoever the new cop was, she just wished that he would be a good fit for the town and for Aaron.
Seeing Devin interact with his partner this morning, Krystal was sure that they would get along just fine. They were about the same age, which was in his favor. That had been a bit of a barrier between Aaron and Mr. Kenny over the last six months since they were paired together.
As for whether Devin would be a good fit for the town, she wasn’t sure. The few minutes they spent talking across the counter at the coffee shop wasn’t really enough for her to gauge whether he would be one of those stuck-up city folk who needed their organic produce and exciting clubs. He already admitted that he didn’t like fancy coffee, which might have been a good sign.
Right on the corner of Lavender Lane and Kellie Drive, Krystal finally looked in her rearview mirror and saw a cop car coming up behind her. Its lights weren’t on, and she couldn’t help but strain her eyes to see through the tinted window. Maybe it was Devin and Aaron’s car.
She stopped at the stop sign and waited an extra second longer than she normally would before proceeding through the intersection and taking a right turn.
Then, the red and blue lights started flashing.
She groaned and pleaded with the Fates that it would be someone she knew and they would let her slide without a ticket. Honestly, she didn’t even know what she had done wrong.
Either way, she pulled along the curve in front of the two story blue house that used to belong to one of the lawyers in town, and shut off her engine. It was only then that she realized she had completely forgotten her purse in the mad dash to escape her two dirty-minded friends at the shop. She didn’t have her driver’s license at all.
She groaned aloud. All she could go was wait, receive her ticket, and she’d have to go down to the court house on her half-day off to pay the fee. Her hands gripped the fuzzy steering wheel cover and she waited for the cop.
She glanced in her side mirror and swallowed back the lump in her throat when she saw Devin angle out of the driver’s seat. Without realizing she did it, she squeezed her legs together a little tighter as she watched him swagger up to her side of the car. She might have to swing by the house to grab that extra pair of panties if this traffic stop went the way she thought it would.
When they locked eyes, a slow smile spread across his face. “Fancy seeing you here,” he said as he leaned down and crossed his arms over the car door so his face was level with hers.
Krystal stammered for a moment, her heart hammering against her ribcage. Up close like this, he smelled good enough to eat. “I was just going to pick up something from my friend’s house. This isn’t even my car.”
Why she admitted that, Krystal would never know. Maybe it was the way those blue eyes danced at the sight of her, or the way his pearly white teeth seemed to gleam in the morning sun.
Devin looked around the interior of the car. “I should have guessed this wasn’t yours,” he said.
“Seems a little too… extra for someone like you.”
She wasn’t sure exactly what that was supposed to mean, but “extra” definitely described Alexa.
“I can’t imagine why you’d pull me over, though.”
Devin jerked his thumb toward the tailgate. “The driver’s side break light is out,” he informed her. “I’m actually kind of glad because we’ve been bored stiff all morning.”
Krystal could have extrapolated out exactly why he was glad for a break from the monotony of patrol duty. Some of the cops had come into the coffee shop complaining that they hadn’t made their quota for tickets written that month. If Devin was looking for an easy traffic stop, he certainly found it.
There was no way she was coming out of this without the little pink slip of paper.
Then again, maybe he was just happy to see her. Everything in the way he looked at her and how he was standing now, so engaged and totally against regulation, told her that he was glad to have pulled her over. In all honesty, she was thrilled that he was the one to be giving her the ticket. It meant she could see him one more time before the following morning.
“Since this isn’t your car, can I at least see your driver’s license?”
Krystal wasn’t sure why she would even get the idea that she could flirt her way out of this ticket, but she tried it anyway. “Why? Trying to find out where I live?”
Devin smirked. “I’m sure I could find that out without your driver’s license. I know your name and I’m sure there isn’t another Krystal Hayden in a town this small. So, I can just look you up in our system.”
“Something tells me you’re not the stalker type, though,” she said, easing back against her seat and letting her hands drop to her lap.
“You’re right,” he replied with a nod. “I’m not, but you might just convince me to do something like that.”
Krystal bowed her head and felt heat plume through her body again like it had at the coffee shop. Hopefully, he didn’t see her blush. “Well, you just might have to, because unfortunately, I don’t have my driver’s license either.”
Devin made a displeased, clucking sound with his tongue and she couldn’t help but think of all the nasty little ideas Alexa and Valerie had planted in her head when he said, “That’s a shame. I may have to take you into the station now.”
Krystal’s eyes went wide and Devin let out a hearty laugh when he saw her shock. His hands lifted in capitulation. “No, no. Don’t worry. I won’t take you in.”
She let out the breath she had been holding, though she was tempted to be furious with him for joking that way.
“I will, however, have to give you a ticket for not having your license. And you’ll need to tell the owner of the car that they have a break light out so I don’t have to pull them over too.”
Krystal peered at him. “I’ve never heard of anyone getting a ticket just for not having their license.”
“You have twenty-four hours to bring it to the station and the fee is waived.” He held up a finger. “However, I think I can work my way around the system.”
Krystal felt the corners of her lips spread into a new smile, despite her circumstances. “Oh?”
“Yep. See, if you go out to dinner with me tonight and show up with your driver’s license, I don’t think a ticket would be necessary. Since you came and showed it to me, I think that’s good enough.”
She wanted to burst out into a fit of giggles. It wasn’t exactly the direct way to ask her out on a date, but it was definitely unique. Who could resist an offer like that? No ticket and she would get to go on a date with quite possibly the hottest guy in town. He certainly was the hottest cop in town. Aaron was cute and all, but she didn’t go for blonde guys. Good thing Devin had hair as black as a starless night sky.
Krystal’s face wrinkled when she remembered it was Thursday. “I have to work this evening.” “How late?”
“The shop closes at eight,” she replied, wishing he had pulled her over the next day instead when she could get off at four in the afternoon.”
“That should work fine. Most places don’t close until midnight, right?”
Oh, the ignorance of city folk. “I’ll let you know now that a lot of places close at nine or sooner. I think the only place that’s open later is the grocery store on the north side of town. And I don’t think you can eat dinner there.”
Devin turned pensive for a minute.
“We can go to dinner tomorrow night?” she offered with a shrug.
“Nah, that won’t work. You wouldn’t have shown your license to me soon enough.”
Krystal wasn’t sure how serious he was about the license thing. She thought that was just an excuse, but now he’s making it sound like it’s damn near a requirement. “Well, then I guess you better write me the ticket.”
“Do you think Alexa and Valerie can close up shop for you?” he asked and she could hear a little feathering of desperation in his voice. “It doesn’t take three girls, does it? I mean, who’s going to be getting coffee at eight o’clock at night?”
“Cops who are working the night shift.”
Devin nodded in agreement. “Okay, you got my there. But, seriously, you’re one of the owners. Can’t you make an exception for a new guy in town? I don’t know where would be a good place to eat anyway. You should show me around.”
Krystal smiled. “I’m sure Aaron can show you around. Besides, I may be one of the owners, but that means more than just my signature on a lease. I have a responsibility to my business.”
All of the sudden, the words of her friends came back to her. Maybe she was taking everything too seriously. Here she was, with a handsome cop who was obviously interested in her, and she was turning him down just because she had to work hours that were fairly flexible, especially in the evening. There was no way she was going to make Valerie cover her shift, not after the way she dragged her tired ass in that morning. She needed her rest, and though Krystal totally trusted Alexa to do a good job of cleaning up the store, the little nagging voice in the back of her mind told her that she needed to do it herself rather than leaving all of the work to her friend.
Yet, her heart and that tender spot between her legs were screaming different orders at her. Devin was handsome, and absolutely interesting. She wanted to know all about his life in Boston, and especially what would bring him nearly fifty miles north to Goldcrest Cove – of all places. There was something more behind those pretty blue eyes and she needed to know what it was.
Just when Devin looked to be losing hope, Krystal shifted a bit in her seat. “But, what the hell. I’ll have dinner with you.”
Devin flashed her another smile. “Excellent. How does six sound?”
Krystal nodded. “Sounds just fine.”
“Where should I meet you?”
It didn’t take her long to figure out where she wanted to have her first date with Devin. “There’s a little Italian place down the street from the coffee shop called, Mama Pazzini’s. I know the couple who owns it. Have Aaron show you where it is and I’ll meet you there.”
Devin straightened. “I love Italian food, so that works perfect. Don’t forget to bring your license.”
With that, he tapped his hand on the hood of the car to dismiss her, and turned to walk back to his squad car. Krystal watched him in the side mirror and licked her lips. Damn he was fine.
She let Aaron and Devin drive away first, and then Krystal pulled out onto the street again to drive slowly – and carefully – toward Taylor’s nursery. All the way, she asked herself why she was so willing to throw away her unspoken code of business ethics just for a guy. Devin might have been worth it, but how could she tell until she got to know him better? For the past five years, she had practically slaved to make sure Perfect Books and Brews was the go-to meeting place for coffee.
So far, she had done all of that. One night on the town wasn’t going to undo years of planning and hard work. Right?
First thing’s first. She needed to take care of that break light. At the next stop sign, Krystal stuck her head out the open window and flicked her finger toward the tailgate. “Work,” she commanded, and she faintly saw the driver’s side break light blink to life, and then beam a strong red.

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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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