Author Charlie Richards
A non-erotic m/f feel-good tale.
“The answer is no!”
She glared, blue eyes flashing.
His charming grin did little to abate her irritation. The man wouldn’t listen. “Then you won’t marry me?”
Kassandra pointed at the door, mentally chanting. I will not use magic. I will not use… “Please leave,” she said, gritting her teeth.
Simon grabbed her outstretched arm. Pulling her to him, he kissed her hard. The unexpected move threw her off balance, and Kassandra grabbed his shirt to steady herself. For several seconds, her brain shut down. She felt his lips on hers, the warm pressure, the slow thorough mastery. His arms tightened around her as he deepened the kiss. Heat irrupted from her belly with the force of an exploding volcano. The violent reaction acted like a splash of cold water on her face. She jerked out of his arms.
He reached for her again, but she slipped away.
“We have chemistry. You can’t deny it. I love you. What’s wrong?”
The pain in his brown eyes filled her with sadness. “It’s a love potion, Simon. It’ll wear off.” She tried to explain. “We seen each other a handful of times in the last year, hardly know each other, and yet you proposed on our first date. You’re my brother’s friend from college and spent four years in a dorm with Paul. You know he’s a warlock. My dad is, too, and must have slipped you a love potion. There’s no other explanation.”
Simon shook his head, taking a step back. “It’s not, Kessy.”
She’d loved Simon from afar ever since Paul had brought him home for Christmas that first year of college. She bit back tears. It hadn’t taken him long to start using the pet name her brother had given her. Kassandra hated how much she loved hearing it from Simon’s lips, wishing the man’s proposal was real. She shook her head, not trusting herself to speak. To her surprise, a small smile curved Simon’s lips. Curse him for being so damn handsome! I wish it were real.
“I can wait. If time is the proof you need, then you’ll have it.”
She watched him leave, her heart aching. Shoving the sadness aside, her eyes narrowed. Stalking down the hall, she banged open the door to her father’s study.
A mild look of amusement filled his eyes. “Did Simon leave already, Kessy?”
Her glare charred the edges of the pages he worked on. “This isn’t funny, father. Stop it now!”
“Calm down, Kassandra.” The man waved a hand over the papers, returning them to perfection. He rose and rounded the desk. The tall, slender man leaned against it, blocking his paperwork and stopping any more inadvertent damage. “I thought you liked Simon.”
That’s the problem. Why hadn’t he chosen someone easy to resist? Someone she didn’t care about? “Then why’d you slip him a love potion? When it wears off, he’ll hate me!”
“A love potion? What?”
She couldn’t believe it. “You could at least admit it!” she screeched, anger coursing through her. “You’ve been interfering in my life for years. Increasing grades. Fixing problems with teachers. Why do you think I went to college three states away?!?”
“I’m your father. It’s my job to take care of you.” He glared. “You like Simon,” he repeated, poking a finger at her. “He’ll take good care of you. He’s accepted our…differences. He’s a perfect match!”
She threw her hands into the air. “It should be his choice!” Huffing, she stormed out of the room. “Of course, he wouldn’t understand.” Reaching her room, she exercised restraint to keep from slamming the door. The last time she’d done that, she’d been seven, and it had burst into flames. “Mom would have understood,” she whispered.
Losing her eight years ago had been a serious blow to the family. Each had grieved in their own way, ranging from Paul’s petty thefts, her obsession with piercings, and her father’s temporary withdrawal from the world. She remembered her shock two years ago when he’d called her at college and told her he had a date.
Then her eyes widened, a grin lighting her face. “Kessy, you’re brilliant!” she squealed. “I’ll show him what it’s like.” Crossing to her dresser, she pulled out a book. Running fingertips over the gold letters of the leather volume, she quickly flipped through the heavy pages of ancient, curvy script, stopping near the end. “The love potion.”
Knowing her father had a lady friend coming tomorrow, and that the potion needed ten hours to simmer, Kassandra worked fast. She pulled jars filled with dragonfly feelers, butterfly wings, snake scales, and crushed beetle shells from a shelf. “Rose petals and lavender buds. That figures. Gotta take a trip to the florists.”
Since she couldn’t use the pot in the kitchen without raising her father’s suspicion, she pulled out a small copper kettle and a Bunsen burner. Ten minutes later, water simmered. She tossed in seven dragonfly feelers and twelve butterfly wings. In three hours, she’d put in two lavender buds, one snake scale, and one teaspoon crushed beetle shell. The rose petals would be added ten minutes before finishing the potion.
She opened the door, greeting the woman. “Hi, Em. Dad’s just finishing. Can I get you something to drink? Soda? Tea?” Her smile widened as she took the woman’s coat. “Wine?”
Emily laughed. “You know me so well. Anything red.”
“Coming right up.” In the kitchen, she poured a glass of cabernet sauvignon and stared at the vial of potion she’d pulled from her pocket. She felt bad using the woman this way but needed to convince her dad to lift the spell on Simon. The potion bubbled slightly. She’d felt shocked when she’d tossed the petals into the pot and the dark liquid had lightened to green. So much for red and pink.
She poured the potion into the wine, praying it didn’t have a flavor. She hadn’t had the courage to taste it. Heading back to the living room, she handed Emily the glass. “I’ll check on my father,” she said, watching her take a sip. After stopping in the office and telling him Emily had arrived, she disappeared upstairs.
Two hour later, Kassandra crept down the steps. To her shock, the two were arguing about Yankees pitchers! She returned to her room and stared at the potion. What did I do wrong?
It took her two days to think up an excuse. She knocked on the study door. When her father called out, she slipped inside the room. Fighting back nerves, she said, “First, I’d like to apologize for the other day. I was out of line.”
“Accepted.” Then he grinned. “But I’m sure that’s not why you’re here.”
She had the decency to flush. “I want to borrow your book.”
A brow rose. “My book?”
Rolling her eyes, she nodded. “Your book. Mine has a smudged page, and I need to verify an ingredient to reduce wrinkles.”
“My spellbook? Why didn’t you say so?” He stared at her. She felt sure he knew she lied, but a second later he tossed a leather bound volume to her. “I don’t see why you pussy foot around it. We’re the only ones here.” He chuckled. “So we’re warlocks and witches. Get over it, Kessy.”
Rolling her eyes, she turned away. “Whatever. Thanks, dad.”
She’d checked and double checked, certain she’d done it right. This time the potion had turned blue. What the hell? Shrugging, she poured it into a vial and tucked it into her bra. Her father had said Julia planned to visit that evening.
She hesitated over the woman’s beer. She liked Julia. Last year, she’d hoped her father would propose to her, but she’d turned into a football buddy instead. Oh, well. There’s no hope for it. She poured the potion into the woman’s drink.
Heading into the living room, she handed her the bottle, watching as Julia took a long pull. “Oh, that’s a little more bitter than usual. It must be the peanuts I ate.” She wrinkled her cute nose.
Three hours later, the game finished. The Vikings had bulldozed the Bears. Julia kissed her father’s cheek. “It’s always a hoot with you, Charles. See you next week!” She waved and disappeared out the door.
Staring after the woman, confusion filling her, a thought struck her. I didn’t do anything wrong!
Her father touched her shoulder. “Are you all right?”
She nodded, smiling. “Yeah. I need to run an errand.”
She stared at the door, nerves making her hand tremble as she pushed the doorbell. What if… she banished the thought. Faintly hearing the chime ring through the house, she listened for footsteps.
The door opened. “Kessy!” Simon grinned. “What are you doing here?”
She stared up into his brown eyes. “Yes.”
At first, a confused frown creased his face. Fear hit her. Then understanding shot through his eyes, and his grin returned. “Yes?”
Her fiancé wrapped her in his arms and kissed her nearly senseless. When he came up for air, he asked, “What changed your mind?”
Kassandra smiled up at him, her eyes shining. “There’s no such thing as a love potion.”