Aaron has come to Fairview to find his ex’s teenage sister, who went missing in the city. As a witch both rich and powerful, Aaron follows a trail that leads him to a bar frequented by supernaturals and to a bartender who attracts Aaron’s attention — and not just because the bartender is keeping something from Aaron. When Aaron runs out of leads, he follows the mysterious and pretty bartender, and the next thing Aaron knows, he’s foiling an attempted abduction.
Ilya has built a quiet life in Fairview mixing drinks and flying under the radar. He is a banshee, and the psychic ability and mild telepathy that comes with that makes Ilya a sought-after commodity. That carefully constructed life Ilya built for himself breaks into a thousand pieces when a handsome witch starts asking questions and becomes Ilya’s rescuer mere hours after they meet.
The witch, Aaron, vows to protect Ilya and to keep his secret. Now Ilya has to decide whether he will give Aaron his trust and risk a lonely but safe life as a night bartender in a wintry city in which people disappear only to then turn up murdered.
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Copyright ©2021 Alexa Piper
Aaron buried his hands in his coat pockets and gave the bleak Fairview midday sky a hard look. Not that the sky gave much of a damn. It was late November, just after the Thanksgiving weekend, and for most of the morning, it had sleeted in a way Aaron had never before experienced in his life. It was like a hot shower, except the cold, freezing water got all the way through to your skin and passed the cold to every inch of your body.
“Damn city just might be cursed with bad weather,” Aaron mumbled as he walked along a street in the Old Town, which should lead him to a bar friendly to the not-quite-human clientele if his online research skills hadn’t failed him. A deep black cloud caught his attention. It zapped across the horizon as if blown by a particularly vicious breeze. Aaron frowned before he picked up his pace. The sooner I’m done here, the sooner I can go back to Morrowvale where November doesn’t suck so bad your balls want to freeze off in surrender, he thought.
In all honesty, Fairview wasn’t a bad place. The city itself was nice enough. The parks and trees here littered the streets with the bones of leaves turning to sludge in the puddles left from the earlier sleet showers, and the people, while ignoring both other people and the suck-tastic weather, dressed a little nicer than the average Morrowvaler. Aaron had also never had Japanese food as good as he’d had an hour ago in a small, unassuming place he’d accidentally walked into, at least not outside Japan. That counted for something, at least in Aaron’s book.
Traffic was in what passed for a bit of a midday lull in Fairview. The honking had ebbed to a not-eardrum-shattering noise, and Aaron managed to cross the street without it feeling like he was gambling with his life.
The Ragdoll was a basement bar, and if Aaron hadn’t been looking for it, he probably would have missed the small neon sign that was either broken or just off this early in the day. A wrought-iron fence further hid the sign and the door, which lay at the bottom of a flight of stairs. This could be a private gambling den or the hideout of a bunch of Russian spies, Aaron thought.
He walked down the stairs and pulled the door open just as another sleet shower was getting ready to wash the streets and everyone walking outside with icy wetness. Aaron shivered as he crossed the threshold and blinked into the softly lit bar.
Last week’s Thanksgiving paper turkeys and fall-colored garlands were still up, though a busboy collected the decorations into a cardboard box labeled “Turkey Day” in black sharpie. There were no Russian spies and no gambling going on here.
Surprisingly, there were several patrons in the bar this early in the day. Aaron spotted a handful starting their day’s drinking early, but most nursed mugs of coffee or were digging into sandwiches which, admittedly, looked better than was right in a basement bar. Judging by their business suits, those were just office workers who knew where the good sandwiches were at. The music was pop, playing just loud enough to offer background noise without becoming obnoxious. This place, despite the outward appearance, looked hip, trendy even. Fucking Fairview. This city is as confusing as a clown at a dinner party, Aaron thought.
Aaron’s fingers closed around the talisman in his pocket. With his touch and the smallest pinch of magic, he felt the worked metal coin activate and the spell bound to it sizzle to life. Three people, including the strawberry-blonde girl behind the bar, whipped their head around to look at him. So, this place really is supernatural friendly, Aaron thought. The talisman heated rapidly in his pocket. And Dora definitely was here before she disappeared.
That confirmed, he let go of the talisman and walked straight to the bartender. The other two patrons who’d noticed his magic had gone back to ignoring him like the good Fairviewers they were.
“Hi,” Aaron said, giving the strawberry blonde his best winning smile. “What’s good here?”
She shrugged. “Depends on whether it’s drink-o’clock in your world or not. If not, the pumpkin spice latte kills. If yes, you look like a Macallan kind of guy.”
Aaron grinned at her. “You’d be right about the whiskey, but I think I’ll go with the latte,” he told her.
He was doing his best with the charming vibes, which usually worked even if he turned it on women, but the bartender just nodded and went about preparing his coffee. Aaron watched her, more interested in the fact that she was making coffee at a bar decked out with an impressive assortment of liquor than anything else. The coffee machine was one of those intimidating ones that took up some primo counter real estate, and from the looks of it, it saw some use.
When she was done, she brought the latte over to him and puffed a dash of cinnamon over the foamy top right in front of him. The warm scent of the spice immediately made Aaron feel just a little more optimistic about everything. The mug was the cutesy kind with a grinning, red-nosed reindeer on the side.
“There you go,” she said with little enthusiasm, though not exactly unfriendly.
“Thanks, miss,” Aaron said. Before she could walk away again, he focused on her instead of the latte. “Could I ask you something?”
“I’m guessing I’m not your type, so go right ahead,” she said.
Aaron’s eyes widened, and it was the girl’s turn to chuckle. “Half-succubus,” she said on a whisper. “The gay-dar is practically built-in.”
He nodded, fighting the color rising to his cheeks. “Right. Makes sense.” Aaron cleared his throat. “I was wondering if you’ve seen this girl,” he said and pulled the photo Patrick had given him from his pocket. It showed Dora smiling, her blond hair shimmering in the sun.
The half-succubus took a look, then shook her head. “No, sorry. Friend of yours?”
“My ex’s sister, believe it or not,” Aaron said. “She went missing, and I tracked her first to Fairview, and now here.” Aaron had the cellphone gods to thank for that. It made using his magic almost unnecessary, although Aaron still liked to confirm the actual person had been to a place, not just their phone, hence his talisman.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexa Piper writes steamy romance that ranges from light to dark, from straight to queer. She’s also a coffee addict. Alexa loves writing stories that make her readers laugh and fall in love with the characters in them. Connect with Alexa on Facebook or Instagram, follow her on Twitter or TikTok, and subscribe to her newsletter!
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