Warning: This novel contains excessive humor, action, excitement, adventure, magic, romance, and bodies. Proceed with caution.
What do you get when you mix gorgons, an incubus, and the Calamity Queen? Trouble, and lots of it.
Working as the only human barista at a coffee shop catering to the magical is a tough gig on a good day. Bailey Gardener has few options. She can either keep spiking drinks with pixie dust to keep the locals happy, or spend the rest of her life cleaning up the world’s nastiest magical substances.
Unfortunately for her, Faery Fortunes is located in the heart of Manhattan Island, not far from where Police Chief Samuel Quinn works. If she’d been smart, she never would have agreed to help the man find his wife.
Bailey found her, all right—in the absolutely worst way possible.
One divorce and several years later, Bailey is once again entangled in Chief Quinn’s personal affairs, and he has good reason to hate her. Without her, he wouldn’t be Manhattan’s Most Wanted Bachelor, something he loathes. Without her, he’d still be married.
If only she’d said no when he asked her help, she might have had a chance with him. While her magic worked well, it came with a price: misfortune. Hers.
When Quinn’s former brother-in-law comes to her for help, he leaves her with a cell phone and seventy-five thousand reasons to put her magic to the test. However, when she discovers Quinn’s ex-wife is angling for revenge, Bailey’s tossed in the deep end along with her sexiest enemy.
No one in their right mind would ever license me as a private investigator, but that didn't stop people from coming to me when they needed something found. Fortunately, I liked my job as the only human barista at Faery Fortunes Coffee and Book Shop. Most came for a cup of joe and left too buzzed to read a thing, but who was I to complain? People paid top dollar for their pixie dust infused latte, and they tipped me well not to judge them.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t so fond of Chief Quinn. When he walked through the door, bad things usually happened to someone—me. For him to come in five minutes after opening, long before the sun even thought about rising, he needed something, and it wasn’t a cup of coffee. Why couldn’t he want coffee? I could deal with making him a drink, and I’d double his dose of pixie dust to keep him happy.
I gave the espresso machine a defiant swipe of my cleaning cloth before stepping to the counter to deal with Manhattan’s Most Wanted Bachelor. Without my help, he’d still be married, too.
What a way to start the day.
And to think people wondered why I refused to help find anything for anyone anymore. The reason stood across the counter from me. Chief Samuel Quinn, aged thirty, hotter than sin, and my heaven and hell rolled together in one smoking tall, dark, and handsome package, hated me for good reason. It was his fault, too. He had been the one to ask me for help finding his wife. I had found her all right, right in the middle of teaching a college stud the nuances of the reverse cowgirl.
If no one asked me to find something or someone again for the rest of my life, I’d be a very happy woman.
“Chief Quinn, what a pleasant surprise,” I lied. “Can I get you something? A dark roast, cream, no sugar, light on the dust?”
Why couldn’t I have been blessed with forgetfulness? I knew my worst nightmare’s favorite drink, and I had to make it for him first thing in the morning. Of course I knew it. He came in at least three times a week to torment me. Screw it. Who was I kidding? Instead of the coffee, he could take me instead. If I had to put up with the hassle of dealing with him, why couldn’t I enjoy it, too?
“Cream, no dust, and make it a large, Bailey.”
Alarm bells tinkled in my head. Since when did Chief Quinn address me by my first name? On a good day, he snapped my last name like he worried it would contaminate him. “Of course, sir.”
The faster I made his coffee, the sooner he’d go away. I’d love every second I spent watching him go. In less than a minute, I had his drink ready, and to lower the risk of him spending any extra time with me, I chirped, “It’s on me today, Chief Quinn. Have yourself a nice morning.”
If it meant we parted without incident, it’d be well worth the five bucks.
He saluted me with his cup, flashed a hint of a smile, and walked out the door. Facing him was hell, but I glimpsed the heavens when he left, and if my panties hadn’t caught on fire under my jeans, I’d be very, very surprised.
“You’re drooling, Gardener,” my boss squeaked. The moth fairy, with just enough pixie heritage to dust glitter when she wanted, fluttered over my shoulder, her tiny arms crossed over her chest. “Reverse cowgirl.”
“Stop reminding me!” I wailed, slumping over the counter. “He hates me. Worse, all I think about when he struts in is taking off my clothes and giving him my panties. I think they caught on fire this time, Mary. Why couldn’t he have had one of his cops find his wife instead?”
“You just want to indulge in some guilt-free fantasizing like every other hot-blooded American woman in the city.”
“Exactly. This is why no one in their right mind asks me for help. I ruin everything.”
“Except my coffee, which is a miracle. Now that we’ve had our daily dose of excitement, can you handle the shop on your own for an hour? We’ll call it even on the coffee.”
Was she serious? Alone for an hour on a Monday morning forty minutes before rush hour? If she thought I’d be all right alone, she was completely cracked. I could already hear her if I dared to complain about my shift. What could possibly go wrong in an hour? Didn’t I like my job? The list went on and on and on. I smiled so I wouldn’t cry. “Sure, Mary. I can last an hour.”
“You’ve gotten better at lying. Your smile didn’t even slip that time. Try not to die while I’m gone. Good humans are so hard to find.” Mary zipped out of the shop through the pixie door and dove through the window of an idling sports car.
Sports car? Red, convertible, top up despite the nice summer morning? I leaned over the counter and squinted. Yep. My boss had just ditched me for a ride in Chief Quinn’s car. Sometimes life really wasn’t fair.
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About the Author
RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.
When she isn't playing pretend, she likes to think she's a cartographer and a sumi-e painter.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.