Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Cupcake Coven by Ashlyn Chase Excerpt

The Cupcake Coven by Ashlyn Chase

Pretty Wiccan Rebecca Colby borrowed money from her father to start her bakery, and now he’s calling the loan due. When she learns he fell off the gambling wagon and owes big money to some scary people, she has to start making a profit—quickly—and hope the loan shark takes payment plans before anyone has an “accident.”

Hot Cowboy Dru Tanner is looking for his missing sister who left Texas to explore their New England Wiccan roots. She’s the only family he has left and losing her is not an option. Dru has to hide the fact that he’s not Wiccan long enough to infiltrate a Portsmouth, NH coven, which is the only lead he has.

Dru needs a job and a place to stay. Rebecca needs cheap help, and he’s willing to work for nothing. Perhaps he can pick her brain about Wicca and she can learn how to run a business from a ranch foreman—if lust doesn’t drive them crazy first.


“Dammit!” Rebecca banged her fist on the industrial kitchen counter. The floor rumbled under their feet and the lights flickered on and off. Dru’s mouth went dry. “Did you do that?”
“I—I don’t know.”
I think my little witch has more power than she realizes. “Maybe you should try sendin’ them to Timbuktu. You can’t just let them take everything you’ve worked for away and put you on the street.”
Rebecca looked like she was thinking.
“I could bind them.”
“Honey, you’ve got guts, but don’t be foolish. We’re gonna need help if you want to tie up that big guy. Hell, I can probably take ‘em by myself one at a time, but not both.”
She chuckled.
“What’s so funny?”
“I’m not talking about tying them up. Binding is something I can do magically.”
“Oh. So, one little witch and a lot of magic can…what exactly?”
“As it turns out, it’s not just good for the witch. If you do it right, it’s also good for the person you bind. Maybe they’ll see the error of their ways and try to change. I’d show you, but I can’t close the bakery and be upstairs at odd times. I don’t want to get a reputation for being unreliable.”
“I’ll hold the fort. You go do what you gotta do,” Dru said.
“I’m not quite ready. It takes a bit of preparation to do a spell right. I doubt they’ll come back right away.”
“Okay. What kind of preparation do you need to do?”
“I need a couple of black wax figures. I can get those at Myranda’s shop. I could also use some black thread, small mirrors…” She tapped her lower lip and began to pace.
“Why don’t you write down whatever you need and I’ll go get it for you.”
Rebecca smiled. “I’ll just dash upstairs and find the spell in my Book of Shadows. Then I’ll be sure to have everything.”
“Off you go, then.” Dru gave her a soft pat on the ass.
She jumped, but giggled and dashed upstairs.
He strolled out to the display cases to see what else might be needed for the day. He was plenty freaked out about the danger, but he was getting used to hearing magical solutions. She believed magic could take care of her…and maybe it could. If not, he was determined to be there, protecting her.
There were plenty of pies and cookies. Scones and turnovers for the breakfast crowd. He was surprised she didn’t have more muffins, but she explained the giant muffins had gone out of style since so many people were health conscious, and normal sized ones could be bought anywhere. It looked like all she needed were croissants and lemon bars.
In a few minutes, she reappeared with a list and tucked it into his pocket. “You don’t mind walking all the way to Myranda’s?”
“Of course not. If you want, I can pass out samples along the way.”
Rebecca threw her arms around him. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Then she backed away slowly. “I mean—what I will do without you when you leave.”
“You may not have to find out. I hear I’m about to lose my job at the ranch.”
She sucked in a deep breath. “What? Why?”
“I wasn’t supposed to be gone this long. I thought with the police helpin’, it might take a week or two to find Shasta and bring her home. Unfortunately, they’ve been no help at all. The pagan community has helped much more.”
Rebecca quieted, but he could practically see the thoughts churning in her brain.
“What are you thinkin’?”
“I wonder if you should go home and rescue your job. The coven can keep an eye out for Shasta. I’ll take her picture to the next ritual.”
He hugged her. “That’s mighty selfless of you, but I ain’t leavin’ New England without Shasta and I ain’t leavin’ you alone when you’re in danger.”
Rebecca smiled. “Talk about selfless…”
Dru leaned over and kissed her. He didn’t mean for it to be a passionate kiss, but Rebecca responded to him readily. Her body melded to his, and she made a little sound like an inward sigh. He pulled her tight and sought entrance to her mouth. She opened to him and their tongues met and tangled.
The little bells sounded over the door and a male laugh was followed by, “Not again!”
They broke apart to see Ethan grinning at them.
“I don’t know when you have time to bake, Rebecca. Not with this guy constantly groping you.”
She chuckled. “He’s not doing anything I don’t want him to do. So there.” She stuck her tongue out at him.
“Save that tongue for better things. I just came in to pick up some coffee and bear claws.”
“No bear claws for a while, I’m afraid,” Rebecca said. “They go stale too quickly, so I’ve stopped making them until business picks up.”
“You’re still struggling to get customers?”
“Not like before. It’s a lot better. Now I’m concentrating on finding another baker.”
Ethan pointed at Dru. “Teach this guy—if you can keep your hands off him long enough.” He smirked at both of them.
Rebecca threw her hands in the air and returned to the kitchen.
Dru strolled over to Ethan and lowered his voice so Rebecca couldn’t hear. “I’m worried about her. I don’t want to say why, or she might crack my skull with a saucepan.”
Ethan seemed to follow. He whispered, “Is there anything I can do?”
“Yeah. Maybe show up at lunchtime when you can? That way she won’t be alone when I’m passing out samples. Is that something you can do? I don’t know how busy you are.”
Ethan smiled. “I’m always on call. Twenty four-seven. Fortunately, there’s free time between jobs, and from here I can get to the dock in five minutes.”
“So you might be able to hang around some days while I’m out?”
“Sure. But can you tell me why in general terms?”
Dru hesitated and bit his lower lip. Then he thought of a comfortable way to explain without giving up any specific information. “Yeah. Women shouldn’t be left all alone in a city full of people—some good and some not so good.”
Ethan leaned away and scrutinized him for a moment. Then he nodded. “Yeah. That could be dangerous. But some people have Wiccan ways to protect themselves.”
“True. But it would be good if people didn’t have to rely on that completely.”
Ethan narrowed his eyes, but before he could ask anything more specific, Dru hurried behind the display case. “So, what can I get you?”
He paused and scanned the items. “What tastes like a bear claw?”

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