Fire Magic & Ice Cream
Casual Magic Book 1
When she gets hot and bothered, things go up in flames.
Quinn Byrne’s fire powers showed up with puberty, and the overheated magic has been giving her hell ever since. Flames randomly sprouting from her skin would be inconvenient in most circumstances, but Quinn is rare even among fire elementals, with her powers hard-wired into her arousal. She can’t touch herself without setting the sheets ablaze. With an incendiary sex drive, Quinn’s dating life is dryer than the desert that surrounds her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. The fiery accountant would give anything to have a normal romantic relationship, even settle for a water elemental with a frat boy personality. But she knows one thing for sure: human men are off limits. No exceptions.
Can he cool her down?
August Nord built his business on a product that needs to stay cold. His whole life has been a lonely, icy stretch until a smoldering redhead saunters into his ice cream shop. Quinn entices August with her freckled cheeks and take-no-shit attitude. Plus, she’s the hottest accountant he’s ever met, and a small business owner would be shortsighted not to hire a professional to review their finances, right? Even though the ice cream maker has a secret that should keep him far away from the intriguing woman, temptation overwhelms both of their good senses.
As the two approach their attraction with wary steps, the sparks flying between them are all too real. Quinn struggles to keep her supernatural incendiaries from hurting the first man she’s let herself lust over in years, all while August doubts his ability to build anything long lasting after so many failed attempts in his past.
When fire meets ice cream, will passion turn into a melted mess or dessert flambé?
The first meeting ...
“This is a horrible idea.”
I shouldn’t have gotten out of the car, but I realized where we were too late. Harley already pressed the button to lock the doors.
“It’s my idea, which means it’s genius. This is exactly what you need, fireball.” Harley saunters across the steaming parking lot.
With another mighty tug, I try heaving open the car door. My effort is futile.
Cat hovers, dancing from foot to foot. “You told me you wanted to try this place.”
Sometimes, I wish my little sister had more evil in her, like Harley. Then, I could give her a proper glare for outing my secret longing.
“I said I wanted to try it, but that I can’t. It’s too much of a risk.”
“Stop being so dramatic. It’s not like you’re walking into an ammo store, about to set off all the gunpowder,” Harley growls at me, already at the front door. “It’s an ice cream shop, for goddess’s sake.”
I know exactly what it is. Land of Ice Cream and Snow. The newest addition to the strip mall where I get my biweekly pedicures. Every time I hobble out of Tulips Nails with my fresh coat of polish, the acid smell of acrylics clears from my nose, and I get hit with the most delicious scent imaginable.
Even though it’s torture, I tend to take a roundabout route to my car, just so I can glance in the windows. Not that I ever see much. The interior is dimmer than the blazing Arizona sun.
The easy solution would be to walk into the shop, but I’ve never done it. Not once.
“I can’t go in there!” I lean back on the car, arms crossed.
“Why not?” Harley glares, fists on her hips.
“You know why! The second I step through that door, I’ll melt their entire stock. I’m a menace!”
“Oh, Quinn. You’re not a menace.” The distress in Cat’s voice almost makes me take the description back. Just to keep from upsetting her.
Harley stalks across the parking lot, coming to stand in front of me. “Listen here, little miss firecracker. You might not be able to control your powers yet, but I can. You start to spark, I’ll shut you down. Now, get your apple bottom in gear because I’m practically orgasming from the smell of that place, and I’m not about to rush through eating because you’re pouting in the car.”
We meet scowl for scowl, but I give up first. Probably because this ice cream shop has been taunting me for months.
“You really think you can keep my heat in check?”
My big sister loses her annoyance at my hesitant question, replacing her glower with a saucy grin. “Hell yeah, I can. Could help you out other times, too, if you weren’t such a prude.”
“Gross! I don’t care how kinky your job is. We are not that kind of family.”
She rolls her eyes. “I’m not asking to be in the room with you like some poorly written porno. I could sit outside your door, read a magazine or something, and make sure you don’t burn the house down.” Harley tilts her head as she looks me over. “Are you super loud or something?”
“Gah!” I cover my ears and sprint for the front of the shop. “Stay the hell away from me and my sexy times!”
Through the earmuffs I’ve created with my hands, I pick up my sisters’ laughter. Ignoring them, I take the step I’ve been holding back from ever since Land of Ice Cream and Snow flipped on their Open sign.
I grab the handle and slide in through the front door.
What greets me steals all words from my throat. My nose was already full of sweet scents when I stepped inside, but before my eyes can scan the room, my entire body focuses on the feel of the place.
The sensation skitters over my skin, prickling tiny goose bumps and eliciting a shiver.
Shivers and goose bumps aren’t for people like me with a constant fire sitting just below the surface of my skin. But here, in this ice cream shop, I experience the sensation of being chilly for the first time in my life.
The bell chiming over my head alerts me to my sisters’ arrival.
I whirl around to clutch Harley’s shoulders. “This is amazing! I didn’t think you could control the fire this much!” I’m so moved that I rise on my toes to press a kiss to her cheek.
She stares at me with eyebrows scrunched together and her lips pursed in a confused smile. “What?”
“Oh my gosh. I’ve never … this place is so cool!” Cat’s exclamation as she dodges around us breaks into my out-of-character thank-you.
Moving past my first experience with the sensation of cold, I finally take in my surroundings. No wonder I was never able to spy much from outside the window.
Most ice cream parlors are all bright colors and delicate furniture. Cute little shops that bring to mind quirky sprinkles or fragile ice sculptures.
Land of Ice Cream and Snow crushes the idea of delicacy under the heel of its heavy boot. This place resembles the homestead of some rugged mountain man or the headquarters of a Viking clan. Solid wooden furniture stretches the length of each wall, and the floor is dark oak. Lights hang from the ceiling, giving off a low glow—small areas of warmth in the stark terrain of the shop. I’m not even sure shop is the right word.
More like cabin. A cabin that sells ice cream.
A handful of people sit, talking and eating. I expect, if we came a couple of hours later, after dinnertime, this place would be overrun with sugar hungry customers. A granite slab serves as a counter in the back of the shop, next to it the one familiar item all ice cream parlors possess—a glass container to view the offered flavors.
I take a single step before realizing the danger behind the counter.
But not just a man. This man is … well … a man.
I think I’ve found the Viking who pillaged and plundered and built this cabin of a shop with his bare hands. A black T-shirt stretches over shoulders wide enough for me to perch on one side and Cat on the other. His strong, ivory face belongs in a superhero movie. Sculpted cheekbones, square jaw, and enough golden stubble to leave a delicious burn on the inside of my thighs.
The wonderful cold sensation drifts away as my inner fire senses a rising lust. Heat trails just underneath my skin, pulsing with a life of its own.
“I was right. This is a horrible idea.”
But, as I turn back toward the door, Harley wraps an arm around my waist. To onlookers, the embrace probably appears friendly and innocent. But, in truth, her hold is stronger than steel as she drags me to my doom.
“Focus on the ice cream. Ignore the beautiful man.”
“Ignore him? By gouging out my eyes?” I mutter, fighting an onslaught of lust and panic.
The ice cream god steps forward, his frosty gaze locked on the three of us. I watch with fascination as he slips a blue apron, the same shade of his eyes, over his head. The muscles in his biceps flex as he reaches to tie the strings behind his back.
At the display of his glorious muscles, I brace myself for another surge of heat. Instead, my fire remains stoked. The embers are there, teasing me, but they don’t burst forth, causing mass chaos.
I guess Harley is as good as her word.
“How can I help you?” The ice cream god’s words rumble out like tires across gravel as he watches us.
Not us, I realize. Me.
Being the middle child, I’ve often silently longed for a little bit more attention. But, right now, I’m considering hiding behind my curvy older sister or picking up Cat to use as a human shield. All in the name of self-preservation.
As if sensing my cowardly plans, Harley gives me a shove forward, so I end up stumbling into the granite counter. My hands land flat on the surface to steady myself.
Cold shocks through my palms, racing over my skin, practically extinguishing my fire, if not my lust. To my utter embarrassment, my nipples tighten with a shiver, and my bralette does nothing to hide the reaction.
When ice cream god’s eyes drop to my chest, I’m torn between crossing my arms over my boobs and attempting another escape or ripping my shirt off and asking if he has a bed in the back room.
I settle on the happy medium of staring up at his gorgeous face and losing the ability to form a coherent sentence.
Maybe, if he were a creepy perv, I’d be able to collect myself. Unfortunately, ice cream god almost immediately removes his stare from my overly excited nipples to look me in the eye again.
“Do you know what flavor you’d like?”
I begin to thaw with a shake of my head. The Viking man turns his back. Steady again, I drag my hands off the frigid counter, rubbing my palms on the sides of my jean shorts.
Not that I mind the cold. In fact, I find the sensation fascinating.
I’m never cold. I was beginning to think I’d have to be dropped in glacial waters or launched into space to truly experience such a low temperature.
But, apparently, I just needed my big sister to crave ice cream. Despite her borderline bitchiness earlier, I throw a grateful smile over my shoulder.
In classic Harley fashion, she pokes me in the back. “Stop ogling the man candy and figure out what you want.”
Feeling less generous, I stick my tongue out at her and then glance forward, attempting to kick my brain into gear, so I can remember what flavors I like.
But I’m thrown off track again when I find a mini wooden spoon in my face.
“Flavor of the day: blueberry pie.” Grumbly-voiced ice cream god holds out the offering.
On pure instinct, I reach for the spoon. The tip of my finger brushes the edge of his thumb.
At the brief contact with the gorgeous man, I fully expect the utensil to burst into flames, forcing me to pretend I’m a street magician and my sisters are my camera crew and that everything has a weird but still plausible explanation.
But, instead of heat, there’s another trickle of coolness.
Harley is going to be exhausted after tamping me down. She’ll probably pass out in the car on the way home.
Ice cream god continues to watch me, and I realize I’m just standing, holding the sample, and staring at his expansive chest. To my amazement, the sample hasn’t melted. However, it’s headed in that direction with one and then two drips falling from the spoon onto the counter.
Desperate not to reveal my detrimental effect on frozen treats, I shove the flavor of the day into my mouth.
When I smelled waffle cones outside the shop, I kept my composure. When I set sights on the mountain of sexy behind the counter, I had a brief internal freak-out, but overall, I held it together. When cold visited my nerve endings for the first time, I kept my reactions on lock.
But this? It’s too much.
“Oh, fuck me,” I groan, not caring if there are children around, being corrupted by my involuntary reaction. In my opinion, no one under eighteen should be allowed in this shop. This ice cream is too sinful for young innocents.
I want to fashion a man out of this ice cream, marry him, and then devour him for as long as we both shall live.
The Viking ice cream man clears his throat in a glorious deep rumble as he crosses his arms over his chest, all the while watching me. The pressure of his eyes sits cool and heavy like the chilled treat currently melting on my tongue.
Would he taste just as delicious?