Broke in Magic, Book 1

Broke in Magic by Winnie Winkle ©2019 All right reserved.
Released June 18, 2019.
Books in this series:
1) Broke in Magic
2) Harpy Gumbo
3) Romer’s Candle (coming Nov 2021)

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If she killed him, it’d be worth it.

After his car breaks down in Magic, New Mexico, Jasper touches Melia’s fingertips… and she knocks him out cold. He awakens in a red, raging lust, determined to get with her. There’s one little snag, but it’s a doozy. His demon daddy plans to turn him darker than Hades. Holding the line with Jasper are his two best friends, who think running is the answer.

Melia, a gorgeous, ethereal Muse and a badass balancer of evil, is equally struck by lust’s lightning. She’ll take Jasper out, but in her heart, she’d rather be taken by this sexy, clueless warlock. If Jasper explodes from the protections his witch mother cast to hide him from his magic, Melia has no choice but to kill him. Used to working alone, she makes an unlikely alliance, desperate to keep Jasper in the light, in her life, and take him as her fated forever lover.

Will Big Daddy and his demon minions prevail, forcing Melia to shred her own heart and kill the man she believes is her one true love? Can Jasper survive his birthright fate? A raging chase across the New Mexican desert turns into a good vs evil free-for-all, forcing each to respond to the internal questions of balance, darkness, and love’s light.

Broke in Magic by Winnie Winkle ©2019 All right reserved.

Reviews

Broke in Magic by Winnie Winkle review 2019

Review on Goodreads

Rated 5 Stars

If you’ve ever wondered if somewhere deep inside you have superpowers, Broke In Magic is an entreé to dream while you’re awake and relish this fantasy (or is it?), while amidst the reverie of a voracious and insatiable combination of love and lust. Couldn’t put it down until I read it cover to cover.

Excerpt:

Drool crept in thick rivulets down the glass, cutting through the fog left by the wolf’s steaming breath. On the other side of the windshield, Jasper, Romer, and Wellie sucked air, incredulous.

“Holy c-c-crap,” Romer stuttered as a second wolf landed on the roof, bouncing the car. It peered, an upside-down snarling nightmare, through the front window. Hot slobber splattered, smearing the terror, puddling on the wipers.

Four more circled the Taurus, their howls running up the spines of the three men trapped inside.

“This is so not good,” Wellie muttered from the backseat, watching them circle, before front paws smashed onto the side windows, fangs snapping inches from his face. His window flexed under the weight, and he shuddered. “Not good at all. Wish I had a mojo bag right about now, Bon Amis.”

The Taurus rocked. Two hairy bodies leaped onto the hood, claws scratching the paint. Jasper and Romer stared at the dripping maws as huge paws dug at the windshield. A third wolf launched against the glass with a ferocious thud.

“They break that, we’re dead,” Jasper murmured, watching claws scrabble, intent on digging them out. On the ground, the rest of the pack howled, their horrifying glee skittering across the skin of the trapped men. A tiny snick announced the birth of a crack; three pairs of eyes glued to the slow snaking line traveling along the windshield with each ferocious bounce. The wolves, sensing terror, circled with increasing intent.

“It’s like they know to break the glass. How the hell could they know?” Romer’s voice cracked high in panic.

Behind them, headlights grew. The largest wolves exchanged a glance, and the pack faded until the darkness claimed them.

Crunching gravel sounds floated through the closed windows of the beat-up Taurus as the pickup eased to a stop. Six brown eyes flicked throughout the car.

“Hide the weed,” Jasper hissed, sliding the pipe under his seat.

“Already did,” Romer replied, turning his head to watch the truck. A door squeaked in protest, the New Mexican dust grinding in the hinges as the driver pushed it open and slid out, boots making a gritty thud as they connected.  

“We should warn him.”

Jasper nodded and cracked the window. “Get back! There were wolves here a minute ago!”

The figure cocked his head, shook it at the darkness and kept walking. Seriously, Simon? You sanctioned this? Freaking werewolves and their moon-mush minds.

“Big guy,” Wellie muttered as heavy steps made their way along the driver’s side.

“Evening,” a deep voice drawled, as a pair of ice-blue eyes bent to window height and scanned the interior. “You stuck?”

“Car died. Is there a garage around here?”

“You’re about three miles from the town of Magic. Jancy’s garage is there. I’ll give you a lift. Grab your gear and hop in the back of the truck. You don’t want to be out here at night. This area has mountain lions. Wolf packs, too.” A long finger tapped the crack on the windshield. What the actual hell. This got way out of hand.

In a scramble, Jasper, Wellie, and Romer threw their backpacks over the side and swung up into the pickup bed, scanning the darkness for returning wolves.

“I’m Theo Bravian, the Sheriff of Magic.”

Crap. Did he smell the weed? “I’m Jasper Jones, this is Romer, er, Romeo Carson, and he’s Wellington Williams. Goes by Wellie. We were up in Albuquerque, headed home to El Paso.”

Jeez, they reek. Bet they were up at the 420 Festival. Lucky for them I’m not that kind of law. Let’s get their non-magical butts fixed and rolling down the road, out of our hair.

Theo scanned the darkness, eyes narrowing at the wolves, who spun and ran toward the moon. We’ll be talking tomorrow, Simon. This stunt is publicity we don’t need. A little grin played at the corners of his mouth. Can’t blame that Romer guy for changing his name. Who the hell names their kid Romeo?

Theo grunted and opened the truck door, climbed in, and turned the key. They headed toward a group of lights in the distance, bumping along the rough desert road before turning into a smoother side street. He crunched to a halt at the garage run by Jancy, one of the dwarfs.

“Gimme a sec,” Theo’s tone was no-nonsense, and the men settled back in the truck bed. A far away howl punctuated the sheriff’s walk into the garage’s office.

“Hey, Jancy, I’ve got three non-magical stoners in my pickup. They need their car towed in and fixed. Mind if I use your phone?”

With a chuckle, Jancy replied, “Lost yours again, huh? The perils of shifting. Go ahead, Theo. I’ll take the tow truck out and grab it. Back in fifteen.” The little man headed for the rear door.

“Obliged.” Theo punched a number. “Egan, I’ve a bunch of non-magicals over at Jancy’s. Can you get Topper to drop in here for me?”

“Lemme check the map… and yup, message sent.”

Theo hung up to a faint popping sound, and turned around to take a lazy look at Topper. Green hair today, old jeans that swung on her hips when she walked and a white cotton shirt. She was fifty-something but looked forty. She was, if pressed on it, his best friend. I wondered about more, but things didn’t work out. Still, flirting is fun.

“What’s up, Theo? Who’s in your truck?”

“Three non-magicals broke down a few miles out. Jancy’s gone to get their car. Can you smooth everything over and make it pretty?”

She ran a fingertip along his arm, laughing. “I can, but it might cost you.”

His eyes crinkled as his long forefinger tapped her nose. “I’ll be in your debt, Ma’am.”

Theo opened the door, stuck his head out, and hollered, “Come on!”

They swung out of Theo’s truck with ease and headed toward the office. Topper smiled. All late twenties, strong and fit, two had messy hair pulled up in loose buns, and one had a head full of crazy red curls. They crowded into the little reception space, and she paused, sensing the air. How odd. That’s not non-magical. I’m intrigued.

“Which of you is the owner of the car?” she inquired.

One of the dark-haired men answered. “Me. Jasper Jones, Ma’am.”

“Everyone ‘round here calls me Topper, Jasper. Jancy headed out to pick up your car, and he’ll look it over and have an estimate for you tomorrow morning. I rent rooms in my house if you are interested. Otherwise, there’s a decent place downtown that has a few, too.”

“Is, er, well, how much for a room?” Romer, the other dark-haired one asked. “We’re coming back from a weekend in Albuquerque and we’re kinda tapped.”

Topper’s violet eyes twinkled. “Twenty bucks?”

“That’d be great, Topper. Wow. Thank you.”

The redhead, Wellie, gave her a crooked little grin.

That one, without a doubt, has a magical signature. Color me curious. I’m interested in their stories.

Jancy rumbled into the lot, his truck dwarf-made and unusual. Topper waved her hand, and the three saw what appeared to be an ordinary tow truck. Jancy walked in, chinned himself up onto a tall stool and sat, staring at them.

“It’s called oil. If you hadn’t overheated, you’d be looking at a blown motor. But, I don’t think you did. I should have you on your way by mid-morning.”

“I had the oil changed last week. Crap, did the plug come loose?” Jasper’s bummed tone matched his face

“I’ll throw it up and know more tomorrow. If it’s just an oil replacement, won’t take long, won’t cost much.”

“Theo, can you drive us back to my place?” Topper’s eyes caught Theo’s, holding longer than necessary.

“Yup. Let’s go.” What’s that about? Something’s up.

The headlights played across the front of the house with its colorful paint and wild art hanging on a wide porch crammed with bright furniture. Wellie whistled. “Turn up.”

Theo slid out of the cab and headed to open Topper’s door.

“Handle still sticking?”

“Nope.” His lazy grin flipped her gut, and she gave him a poke as they walked to her steps.

Behave, Lawman.

“I know you don’t need help, but if you want me to stick around?” Theo’s voice lifted in question.  

“I’m fine.” She tipped her face up, giving him a considering look. “Let’s talk in the morning?”

He nodded, spinning in the dust, headed toward the truck.

~~~

Topper ladled chili and passed it down the counter, watching her guests as they doctored their bowls with cheese, onions, and hot sauce. No fear of heat with these three. Ghost pepper in every dish. Interesting.

They stood around her kitchen island, munching in comfortable silence. Topper broke it. “So, where’s home?”

“El Paso,” Romer answered. “We all went to high school there.”

“I was born and raised in New Orleans,” Wellie piped up. “Mom moved out to El Paso freshman year.”

Hmmm. That fits.

Jasper inspected his chili. His dark eyes looked up, and he shrugged. “We bumped around a lot. One night I crashed in El Paso and the next morning I woke up in an empty house. Guess they decided I was too much to feed.” He slapped his belly with a grin full of sass; his eyes held the pain.

Topper gave him a cryptic glance. “Families aren’t like the storybooks. Well, they are, but some stories are dark.”

“I met Romer, and his mom was great, she saved my ass. Let me live with them and somehow kept me out of the foster system. We graduated ten years ago, and got AAs, but we make better money tending bar. Romer works at The Chunk Pub and I sling at Cajun Cowboy’s.”

“I’m the chef there,” Wellie added. “Saw the place, tried the food, and it sucked. Found the manager and convinced him to let me cook for him. I made him gumbo so good he cried.”

She leaned back. “Magic isn’t on the way to El Paso. What drew you here?”

The three exchanged looks.

“Magic calls many people.” She gave them a sassy little grin. I can pass this off as being an eccentric, but dammit, I think they heard the call, and I want to know the answer.

Jasper rubbed his temple. “We thought it sounded cool.”

Topper laughed and let it slide. He’s lying. They’re all in on it, too. Fair enough. I’m a patient witch.

She led them upstairs, stopping at each door. Her waves behind their backs were unnoticed as she added on-the-fly customization and tucked a book into each one. “I don’t have television out here, but at least you aren’t sleeping in the car tonight!”

Jasper looked around his room, simple, with a red bedspread, reading chair and lamp, and a big wooden trunk resting at the foot of the bed. “This is great, Topper. Thank you.”

She waved away the thanks and headed down the hall. “This one is yours, Wellie,” she motioned to a room with a dark-blue spread, another lamp and chair, and a black lacquer box with odd designs that sat on the floor.

At the third room, she turned to Romer. “Here you go. I’ll see you at breakfast and we’ll check on the car repair with Jancy. Good night.”

Romer looked at the neat bed with a green quilt, brown rocker and stained glass lamp. This is peaceful. It’s like the woods. Feels grounded. Topper’s cool, too. We got a good bounce.

In each room, a young man glanced around, picked up the book, and sat. The light flowed over the words; the reader sunk into a seat that seemed made for him. Down in the kitchen, Topper sipped a lavender tea and smiled.