In the little town of Loving, everyone can find their prince or princess once a year. At least, for a little while. Miriam Eilish is the proprietress of the Eilish House bed and breakfast just inside the town’s limits. She’s had it with love, locking herself away for this year’s magic matchmaking festival with no interest in participating in it ever again.
Enter Kavion Martin at the last possible minute. He’s in town on his own mission that has nothing to do with the festival and everything to do with finding his missing brother.
The match has been made, the magic set, plunging Miri and Kavion head over heels in love with each other and into dangers untold and hardships unnumbered.
I stopped as a knock fell at my door and closed my eyes and sighed. I ran a bed and breakfast out of the house for a regular income and did pretty well. Usually I made a killing during the festival, but I was done with it and had closed this year.
I looked at the clock and chewed my bottom lip. It was seven-fifty-four, almost show time. I went to the door and opened it a crack, and said bluntly, “I’m sorry, we’re closed.”
I blinked in surprise when I found myself staring at a strong chest covered in a grey Louisiana State University sweatshirt.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I wasn’t looking to stay, my car just quit on me out on the road and my phone’s almost dead. I was looking to see if I could charge it.”
His voice was pleasant to the ear, as rich and dark as he was. I looked up into his deep brown eyes, set in an equally dark face. His shoulder-length, pencil-thin dreadlocks were pulled halfway up, out of his face, except for a few escapees that hung almost artfully in front of his forehead.
“You, uh, you’re the first person to answer their door,” he said, when I’d stared a moment too long and hadn’t said anything.
“Right, that’s because they’re all at the festival, in the heart of town.”
“Festival?” he asked. I blinked in surprise for a second time. How could he not know about the festival? It was literally the reason all the people who didn’t already live here were here. The rest did live here full time, and didn’t much have a say in the matter unless they found someplace else to be, like I was trying to do.
“The matchmaking festival,” I said, frowning, trying to figure out if he were pulling my leg or not. “Never heard of it,” he said, and he was very convincing at looking like he was dead serious. Still, I couldn’t be sure…
“Is it cool if I borrow some juice so I can make a call? Or have you got a phone I can use?”
“Sure, there’s an outlet right there,” I said, pointing along the outside wall to where he would find it. “Help yourself,” I said, quickly shutting and locking the door.
“Okay… thanks…” I heard, muffled through the wood. I closed my eyes and rested my forehead against the door, sighing. I hated sounding or feeling like I was being rude but it was almost time. I jumped, nearly hitting the ceiling when he knocked on the door again. I checked the grandfather clock by the door: Seven fifty-eight. Shit.
I opened the door, and he looked apologetic. “Your outlet out here doesn’t seem to be working. I don’t have to come in, you know… If you could just plug it in for me and I can sit out here…”
“You’re going to be out here a while,” I said.
“Um, that’s okay. It’s a nice night and I can’t exactly go anywhere else.”
“It’s just, the magic is about to start, and I want no part of it,” I tried to explain.
He laughed a bit nervously and shifted his weight on his feet and said, “Magic?”
He really didn’t know? How could he not know? Our town wouldn’t even be on a map if it weren’t for its magic.
“Um, the matchmaking festival,” I started to explain again, repeating myself. I was flustered a bit, closed my eyes and shook my head. “You know what, never mind, just give it here and I’ll plug it in for you.”
I unlatched the heavy screen door and reached a hand through. He smiled at me and wound the cable between his hands and handed me the phone, cable, and the little brick to plug it all in with, around the door. I felt a tingling rush and closed my eyes, but I knew that wouldn’t stop it. His hand brushed mine and I cursed, silently, to myself.
It wasn’t his fault; it wasn’t mine either… It just was what it was.
“What is that?” he asked, his voice strangled.
“It’s eight o’clock,” I murmured and opened my eyes. His face, while handsome, took on a completely different quality as I felt my already-broken heart break a little more, just before the sweep and rush of arousal swept through me. It was followed by the devastating crash of emotion that everyone came here for, some to experience at least once in their lifetimes – but I already had. I already had, and losing it had lain waste to my very soul. It had left me devastated, and I never wanted to feel that ever again.
A moment of what looked like fear flashed through the stranger’s eyes and I opened the screen wider, my heart going out to him.
“It’s okay, it’s just a spell,” I whispered.
“Are you doing this?” he asked.
“No,” I answered simply and he reached for me, then struggled to drop his hand.
“It’s okay, we won’t be able to stop. I won’t want you to stop.”
“I don’t understand,” he said, and his breath quickened. He was trying so hard not to give in, to fight it.
“What’s your name?” I asked softly, because if this were going to happen, I at least wanted to know his name. “Kavion,” he said. “Kavion Martin.”
“Miriam Eilish,” I said. “My friends call me Miri. You can, too.”
“Now what, Miri?” he asked, drifting nearer.
I fitted myself against him as if drawn by strings, wanting him with all that I was in this moment, losing my ability to reason, to see this for what it was, nothing more than a spell.
“Kiss me,” I whispered, but his mouth was already descending towards mine.