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Earth Magic & Hot Water

Casual Magic Book 2

Earth Magic DIGITAL cover.jpg

Her first hate and first love are back in town. Things are about to get heated…

Cat Byrne seems sweet, but she’s hiding a volcanic temper. Her anger-fueled fire magic can melt tires off cars. Then her ex-best friend moves back to town, and the guy keeps popping up in inconvenient places, making sure she’s running at a constant simmer.

Rafael Aguado hopes to calm the waters between him and Cat, but that’s hard to do when she’d rather see him boil alive. Maybe the water elemental could cool her off with time, but he has romantic competition. Rafael lost Cat to a handsome earth elemental years ago, and he refuses to let his rival win again. Even if it means kissing the hell out of the magical man to throw him off balance.

Aspen Baumann’s last relationship taught him an important lesson: never settle for less. Determined to have both the people he wants in his bed, the earth elemental attempts to regrow the bond between the estranged pair–with him rooted directly in the middle.

Hopefully, enough indecently steamy encounters can wash away past mistakes…

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He's back in town ...


Cat Byrne is in the place where I work.

Is she here to see me?

Her fleeing toward the exit points to not likely.

“No,” she had said. Was that a no to me saying her name—or maybe, No, don’t talk to me.
Could be, No, I’m not your former best friend, and you’ve just conjured a ghost of her to torture yourself, because all you want is to find her and make up for the wrongs you did.

I chase after Cat, navigating the many rooms that make up Saltwater Oasis. The idea of letting her go leaks out of a convenient hole in my brain, left as a forgotten puddle on the floor behind me. 

Two months in town, and I’ve only run into her once. A few weeks ago, my friend, Damien, held a barbecue at his house. The guy hosts them regularly for our kind, elementals—people able to manipulate water, fire, earth, metal, or air with natural-born magic. We even have affectionate—if slightly insulting—nicknames for each group: Squids, Pyros, Petal Pushers, Stoners, and Airheads. And among the collection of magic wielders, there she was, standing beside the pool, so familiar yet so different from the girl I knew in high school. I wanted to hug her and find out if her body fit against mine the same. If there was still a subtle scent of hot roses in her hair.

Cat—on the other end of the greeting spectrum—wanted to shove me into the pool. She promptly followed through on that urge, then ran. Just like she’s doing now.
The sun shines painfully bright when I push through the front doors. Phoenix midday is no joke. I shade my eyes and spot her powerwalking across the parking lot, then pick up my pace, worried that if she leaves now, I’ll never see her again.

I have no way to get in touch with her. No one, not even my best friend, Sammy, will give me Cat’s phone number. To be fair, he said he’s pretty sure she gave him a fake one, but still. Seems I’m on my own when it comes to fixing this decade-long mistake.

“Cat, wait!” The heat of the day has me sweating by time I reach her. “Please.”

“Leave me alone.” She pulls the driver’s side door of a Prius open and chucks her purse across the console. The angry movement sends her short black bob swinging around her cheeks, one of the many changes my hungry eyes catalogue.
My old friend looks the same in some respects, with her white, lightly freckled skin, short, sharp nose, and expressive mocha eyes. But there are new, if subtle, curves to her figure, a plushness to her lips, and a generally mature sculpt to her face.

When I grip the open door, she pauses long enough to glare at my tense knuckles as if she wants to break each one. Or burn them to cinders, more like.

“I want to apologize,” I press. The words are long overdue.

“No need. I’m over it,” she says, the fury gone from her voice, replaced by an eerie calm. Cat’s breathing is weird, her chest expanding and staying that way for longer than normal before slowly deflating. Like a dragon taking deep, threatening inhales, all in preparation to release a fiery breath that will incinerate the presumptuous knight who waltzed into her lair.

I should back away, hands raised in surrender.

But I’ve only ever wanted to get closer to Cat.

“You don’t sound like you’re over it,” I say.

Her head turns toward me slowly, and I flinch when she offers me a creepy doll smile. Too wide, emotionless eyes, obviously plotting my death.

“It’s been twelve years. Of course I’m over it.”

I’m tempted to point out that knowing the exact amount of time since our falling out might be proof that she’s not over it, but I’m smart enough to keep from correcting her. 

“Okay. You’re over it.” I offer my own smile, but not a scary one. “And since you’re over it, we can be friends.”

Irrefutable logic. I mentally pat myself on the back.

Far too soon.

Cat’s haunted happy face wipes away, leaving a scowl. “We tried friends. It didn’t work out for me.”

“See!” Triumph has me grinning wide. “You’re not over it. So, let’s hash this out.” Taking a chance, I step back from the car, spreading my arms wide in case she wants to throw a few fists. I’m ready to act the punching bag, if that’s what Cat needs to move on from how big of an asshole teenage me was. “You can yell at me as much as you want.”

Cat shoves away from her car, getting into my face.

“I don’t want to yell at you!” Her shout sends a few parking lot pigeons into flight. At the sight of their flapping wings her face only gets redder, and she starts up with the heavy dragon breathing again.

“That felt good…right?” I usually find shouting cathartic. But the woman looks like I struck a match and lit her fuse. As sweat trickles down my sides, dampening my shirt, I realize that the Arizona sun might not be entirely to blame.

Maybe I’ve been living around humans for too long. I’ve forgotten how hot fighting with a fire elemental can get. 


Her magic rolls off her body, boiling the air between us.

Another tactic. Try something else before you lose her again. Or she sets your pants on fire.
Of course, whatever inferno she starts, I can immediately put out with my own abilities to manipulate water. But I like these pants. And I need them, so I don’t get fired from my job for indecent exposure.
In another life, Cat used to love compliments. If she wore a new pair of shoes or painted her nails a fun color, I would make a huge deal, waxing poetic about the alteration. My words would get so flowery that, eventually, she’d end up rolling on the floor, clutching her stomach, giggling hard from my ridiculous adulation.

Gods, what I wouldn’t give to hear the sounds of her amusement again.

My attention catches on the dark strands surrounding her furious face.

“I love your hair. Did you just get it done? So gorgeous. Like a raven’s wing. Or a bat’s!” Cat always thought bats were adorable with their little squeaks. At least, she used to. “Such a dark, lustrous—”

“Oh, shut up!” Cat digs her fingers into the hair I was applauding and rips the entire mass off her head.
Well, there goes that plan.

Her familiar, fiery locks sit in a short muss I want to run my fingers through and fix for her. Then, I want her to let my hands linger against her skin, teasing and touching. More than a decade might have passed, but I want her just as badly as I did when I was sixteen.

“What can I do?” The question spills in a desperate groan from my lips, all urge to tease and charm her replaced by raw need. But she’s already turning away.

“You can leave me alone.” Cat tosses the faux hair into the car next to her bag. “I’m over it. You wanted me out of your life? Fine.” She hits me with molten eyes, the brown shifting to golden with the heat of her anger. Hot magic continues to roast the air. “I grew up without you. I’m not looking to get you back.”

Pain crashes into my heart, a massive wave battering the organ against sharp rocks. The hurt keeps me immobile, watching as Cat climbs into her car and pulls away. Leaving me behind.

Paying me back for the way I drove her off in the first place.

When Cat’s bumper disappears around the corner, I find a way to breathe again and remind myself that it’s the middle of the workday. An aching heart doesn’t mean I can pause the rest of my life. I’m supposed to be meeting with my boss in—I check my watch—five minutes ago.


Problem is, when I try to dejectedly trudge back to the aquarium, my feet stay still. And not because misery drained all the strength from my body.

I’m stuck in place because, at some point during my argument with the beautiful Pyro, she melted the soles of my shoes, leaving them adhered to the pavement...


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