QSFer E.J. Russell has a new MM paranormal romantic comedy out: “Witch Under Wraps.”
When supernatural secrets collide, it’ll take more than coffee to brew the perfect love.
When Ky Hernández bonded with his familiar, Zuri, his life changed forever. Their connection turned him into a practicing witch and led him to his calling as a medimagical professional. However, it totally tanked his love life—what guy would settle for eternal second place behind a parrot? So Ky keeps his witchy nature under wraps and sticks to hookups with humans, which can never go anywhere. But the mouthwatering barista at the coffee shop next door makes him thirst for more than a caffeine fix.
The charms Ewan Jones uses to appear human are inconvenient, disorienting, and . . . necessary. Ewan and his siblings are achubyddion, metaphysical healers whose powers are coveted by unscrupulous supernatural beings. And let’s face it: all supes are unscrupulous, given the right incentive. He’s grateful for the protections that hide his little family, and for the barista job that keeps them housed and fed. He’s just so lonely. And his regular, Ky, the super-hot, commitment-averse EMT, seems like the perfect candidate for a one-night shot at intimacy. After all, humans are no threat.
It takes a clumsy coffee shop intern, a mysterious werewolf epidemic, and one snarky parrot to unravel their pasts—and give them a chance at a future.
Ky led Wash past the wide front windows of Wonderful Mug. Its neon logo—a purple mug with steam wreathing the suggestion of a hooded eye—was bright in the gray morning. He held the door, but Wash stopped, studying the sign and the crowd inside.
“Seems popular. But what has it got that the cafeteria doesn’t?”
“Shut up and get inside.”
Wash strolled in, and Ky followed, although he paused at the door to make sure his collar was straight and to smooth his hands along the sides of his high-top fade. Then he took his place in the order line, unable to prevent an appreciative grin.
Wash glanced between Ky and the counter, and his expression morphed into one of unholy glee. “Oho! This is why the princess was busting your balls. It’s got nothing to do with the coffee.” He snickered. “Well, not the end product anyway. Guess you’re more of a process person.”
“She doesn’t know about him.” And I’m keeping it that way for now.
Wash snorted. “Keep telling yourself that. She knows everything. She’s your familiar.”
“Keep it down, asshole,” Ky muttered. “Yeah, she’s my familiar, not my father. Neither are you, by the way, so back off.”
“Somebody has to call you on your shit. You’re pissing off Zuri so you could flirt with a barista.” He leaned closer and whispered, “And another human? Goddess bless, Ky, are you insane?”
Ky kept his gaze fixed straight-ahead, although it wasn’t because he didn’t want to look at Wash—at least not much. But given the choice between glaring at his brother and feasting his eyes on Ewan, the beautiful man behind the espresso machine, there was no contest. “That’s a very insensitive comment coming from a healthcare professional.”
“Don’t try to deflect. Two minutes ago, you were moaning about being unable to form a long-term relationship. So why start up something that you know can’t go anywhere? It’s like you want to fail. Or at least want to blame the Secrecy Pact for your pathetic track record.”
Ky sighed. “I’m getting a cup of coffee, Wash, not declaring my undying devotion to anyone.”
“Not yet, anyway,” Wash murmured. He narrowed his eyes, his head tilted to one side. “He’s cute, I’ll give you that. Although he doesn’t hold a candle to AJ.”
At that moment, Ewan glanced up and met Ky’s gaze, his breathtaking smile dawning even as he filled another customer’s order. Ky’s insides did a little jig. Goddess, that mouth.
“Earth to Ky. I what?”
He focused on Wash with difficulty. “You, uh, don’t think anybody holds a candle to AJ.”
“Well, they don’t,” Wash said, matter-of-factly.
“So you didn’t mind moving out of your apartment—which you waited for over a year to get, I might add—into one that’s less convenient and frankly ugly to swap the gas stove for an electric one?” AJ, for some reason best known to his demon progenitor, couldn’t work with fire. At all.
“It’s worth it,” Wash said simply. “He’s worth way more than a change of address or appliances. Someday, you’ll get it.”
“Yeah, right,” Ky scoffed as their line inched forward.
“Last time you flirted with a guy—number eighty bazillion in your string of humans, wasn’t he?—he dumped your ass cold because your version of dating was too freaking painful. What was it he said?” Wash squinted up at the ceiling, tapping his chin. “Oh yes. That you were a closed-off, commitment-averse asshole who couldn’t sustain a relationship in an iron lung.” Wash grinned. “The guys before him said much the same, but I gave that one props for the medical reference.”
“It would have ended anyway. You know my reasons.” Ky shuffled another step closer to the counter.
“Yeah, yeah. The familiar bond precludes all others, blah blah blah, natural consequences, blah blah blah.” He poked Ky’s ribs with a sharp elbow. “I’m telling you, that logic doesn’t apply once you figure out what you’re willing to give up.”
Ky scowled. “I’d never give up Zuri.”
“Of course not. But you could stand to give up using her as an excuse.”
“Whatever,” Ky muttered.
When they were two customers from the front of the line, Ewan met Ky’s gaze again through a haze of steam. He grinned, those killer dimples popping in his lean cheeks.
“Morning, Kentucky. The usual, I presume?”
“Right as usual, Ewan. Plus a triple espresso for Pete.”
Wash whispered out of the side of his mouth. “You told him your real name?”
Ky didn’t stop smiling at Ewan, because that would have been an impossibility. “It’s my Mug name. Everyone has one.”
As if to underscore Ky’s point, Ewan set a cup on the counter and called, “Thor, caramel macchiato.”
Wash’s expression was the definition of skeptical. “Yeah, but I doubt that guy’s name is actually Thor. You never tell anyone your real name, especially not your human hookups. Which may be the only reason the coven council hasn’t sanctioned your ass. None of your dates can find you afterward.”
Wash . . . might have a point, but Ky wasn’t ready to admit it yet. “Based on your one-star review of my performance, why would any of them try?”
“Goddess knows I wouldn’t if I were them. You sabotage every relationship before it even starts. I’m amazed you actually let one real thing slip. Watch out.” He grinned evilly. “Someone might catch you this time.”
E.J. Russell–grace, mother of three, recovering actor–writes romance in a rainbow of flavors. Count on high snark, low angst and happy endings.
Reality? Eh, not so much.
She’s married to Curmudgeonly Husband, a man who cares even less about sports than she does. Luckily, C.H. also loves to cook, or all three of their children (Lovely Daughter and Darling Sons A and B) would have survived on nothing but Cheerios, beef jerky, and Satsuma mandarins (the extent of E.J.’s culinary skill set).
E.J. lives in rural Oregon, enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.