Rachel's secret would have Cotton Mather rolling over in his grave. She's been raised from an early age to use magic for good, despite her temptation to cast a spell against Phil the bully who can't stop teasing her.
Joe thinks Rachel is cool, especially when she weaves her healing magic spells on him, but he's got his own problems. It's not easy keeping Rachel safe from Phil's constant threats.
When Phil poisons Rachel, can love and little young witchcraft bring Rachel and Joe together or have years of Phil's bullying ruined their relationship for good?
ENJOY THIS EXCERPT:
"I'll walk you home." Joe flashed Rachel his charming smile.
"Sure. I need to get my backpack. It's back in the gym."
He escorted her. "How was your first day of cheer?" His voice betrayed his curiosity.
"Just okay? You couldn't stop talking about it before you joined."
They entered the gym and she picked up her backpack. "It wasn't what I expected."
"Want to tell me?"
They proceeded down the empty hall toward the front door. Rachel pulled her sweater out of her pack and slid her arms into it. The sun was close to the horizon and the temperature had dropped.
"You can tell me anything." Joe jammed his hands into his pockets.
"I know. It's just not easy to discuss."
"I got letters for Boston College, Ohio State, and Stanford. Florida even offered me a full scholarship to play football."
"That's great, Joe." Her heart sunk lower. They continued down the sidewalk. The breeze chilled suddenly.
"You don't sound too thrilled."
"I am – really. You have a lot of opportunities."
She stopped and hung her shoulders. Tears welled up in her eyes. A sob wracked her throat.
"Hey, hey, don't cry." Joe placed his hands on her shoulders.
She tensed. "I'm sorry. I can't help it..."
He reached for her hand, using a gentleness he rarely displayed, and led them to the wall near the main quad. He sat her down and took the spot next to her. She wiped her tears on her sleeve.
Joe reached into the front pocket of her backpack and pulled out some tissues. Rachel's fingers brushed against his, sending comforting warmth though her arm. It helped to settle her frazzled nerves. She blew her nose. Her eyes were still moist, but the tears had stopped.
"Hey, I'll play football locally. B.C. isn't that far away." "Joe, don't pick Boston because of me—"
"You're the best reason to go to Boston."
"I don't want them if I can't share them with you."
She drew in a breath and slid her hand over his. "You can do anything. Don't let me hold you back."
"Nope. I don't want to do it unless you're there." "But you have a talent—"
"No, I'm awkward. Heck, I couldn't tie my shoes until seventh grade and you taught me. I can barely sign my name on a check. I still cover my ears when the crowd gets too loud at games. And don't ask me to sit still in English class." He paused. "Look, you're talented, too. You're kind and caring. You'd make a great nurse or even a doctor and you have the smarts for it."
"I'm just as awkward as you. At least you don't mind being touched."
"Well, I can't stand using shaving cream. Scraping my face with a razor is too intense for me. I don't know if you noticed."
"Yes, I've noticed." She flashed him a small grin.
Silence grew between them. The knots in Rachel's stomach relaxed. Joe could always bring her spirits up, especially when the world weighed down her shoulders. Knowing that he wanted to be close to her after high school warmed her soul. She took in a breath and drew on her courage. "Three girls made fun of me at practice. One of them was a witch, too. Anna stuck up for me."
"That sucks. I'm glad Anna was there for you." He hesitated. "Phil tried to hide my shoulder pads before practice but they're too big and he's too stupid to find a good spot."
"You keep cheering and don't let those nasty girls get you down. You're stronger than that. If I can play football, you can cheer."
"Thanks, Joe." She squeezed hand. The urge to kiss him filled her heart.
His long, slender build enveloped her, filling her entire body with an unusual warmth and courage she hadn't known before. Joe was willing to sacrifice his opportunities for her. Rachel pulled away and gazed into his beautiful green-malachite eyes. Kiss him.
She cupped his cheek, unable to turn away. His lips parted. He leaned close. She leaned closer. A warm wind wiped around them like a sweet cocoon. Their mouths skirted each other. His breath hinted at citrus. They met in a mutual tender kiss. She trembled next to him, anxious, happy, and eager all at once.
Joe's body tensed. He parted, leaving her breathless. She ran her fingernails over his cheek and stubble along his jaw. He reached for her hand and clasped her wrist. "Wow," he whispered.