“Something I can do for you, darlin’?” she asked in a smoky drawl.
Pleased, she watched his pupils widen and his breath catch. He liked her voice. She liked it when he licked those lips, the sight making her tingly and achy all at once.
Then he had to go and ruin it. His raw appraisal of her halted when he moved his gaze from her to the walls. The sexy study became calculating.
“Yeah, what are you doing with runes on your walls?” he asked in a low, hoarse voice. It should have been scratchy but it was like suede. Still, he asked it like a prick.
Her eyebrows shot up and her hands rested on her hips. “You doing a survey?” she shot back in the same terse fashion that he’d asked.
He couldn’t hold back a smile. “Sorry, didn’t mean to sound short. Just curious. I don’t see them often.”
She looked at him closer and saw his forearms bore a rune each. “Except when you look in the mirror?”
“Well, so you can see why I’d be curious.”
“I’m a witch.” She shrugged. “They’re protective runes, as you know.”
He took a few steps forward. She cocked her head and looked him up and down. He couldn’t’ help but feel like she was looking into him as well as at him. He found himself unable to resist moving to her. He needed to be close to her.
When he stopped just a few steps from her, her scent washed over him. She smelled of sultry nights and flowers on the air. He had to stop himself from leaning in and inhaling her. Damn it, he had better self-control than this! He looked into her eyes and felt himself sink. They were golden eyes, the color of the smoky scotch he liked to drink. Somehow they went with the miles of olive-toned skin and the hair that was so shiny he was sure it would feel like silk between his fingers, against the bare skin of his chest. Whoa, where did that thought come from? He couldn’t stop himself from laughing at that internal question. He knew where it came from—he’d wanted to be naked with this siren since he’d seen her the first time. But a witch?
“What kind of witch?”
“You sure ask a lot of questions for a man who hasn’t bothered to introduce himself yet. Is that how the men up North act?”
Ah, haughty. He liked that. Clearly this woman took no guff. “You’re right, of course.” He bowed slightly and took her hand, kissing the knuckles and trying to ignore the fact that her scent intoxicated him.
“I’m Kael Gardener. I’m here in New Orleans for a few months on vacation. We’re renting that house across the way, just down from the cafÃ©.” He pointed and she looked around him and nodded. She’d noticed that the rental signs had come down and that someone had moved in but hadn’t had the time to check any further.
We? If he had a wife she’d be so pissed off. “Well Kael, I’m Simone Charvez. New Orleans born and raised. I just opened up the shop last week. Would you like a glass of lemonade or tea?” She turned as she asked, reaching for the glasses she kept near the insulated containers of refreshments for her customers.
He watched the hem of her dress inch up, exposing her thigh, and a shiver worked up his spine. She looked soft and yet firm. He realized she’d turned back and was waiting for an answer. He cleared his throat. “Uh, lemonade would be great.”
She smiled and poured him a glass and handed it his way. Their fingers brushed and they both let out a muted gasp at the electricity of contact.
She cleared her throat and tried to ignore the flush working up her neck. “How long are you and your wife here for? You said a few months? Just for fun?” Yeah, so obvious!
He grinned, she knew he’d realized she was fishing. “No wife. Just my friends and family. We’re on the road a lot so we’re taking a well-earned rest for a bit. Until the fall.”
Relief coursed through her and she smiled. “Ah, well. It’s hot here this time of year but you couldn’t have picked a better city to rest in. Lots of fun stuff to do. Good people.” She moved to lean against the desk. “So, you wanted to know what kind of witch I am. Are you asking if I’m an evil witch making potions in a cast-iron cauldron and have warts in unnameable places?”
Surprised again by her sense of humor, he laughed. “No. I just, I, uh, don’t know much about witches or witchcraft. I was wondering why you’d need runes on the walls. I know that several of them,” he pointed to the ones around the windows and doors, “are to ward off evil. Not just danger but those who mean to do you harm with dark magic.”