Portals and Puppy Dogs - Amy Lane Page 0,1

yeah. Staying in the house alone was… not fun. Jordan used to room with the two of them, so once upon a time it wouldn’t have been a problem, but the thing that had started the witchcraft was Jordan being asked to take care of the little witch’s cottage at the entrance to the cul-de-sac. The rest of the cul-de-sac was populated by Jordan’s friends. Jordan’s father was a contractor, and he’d built the development—all but the witch’s cottage—and he’d gotten them a steal on rent. They’d all taken one look at Helen’s colorful library, her impressive herb garden, and her collection of essential oils, and had been hooked. With Jordan to lead the way, they’d taken to the witchcraft with the same zeal with which they’d done everything together since Jordan had taken them on their first bug walk in college.

It didn’t matter what they were doing. What mattered was that they were doing it as a group.

But the price had been that Jordan had needed to live in the cottage.

Dante and Cully, Alex and Bartholomew, and Josh and Kate—the other members of their coven—all lived in the three identical two-bedroom stucco ranch-style houses, with vaulted ceilings, open kitchen/dining room/living room floor plans, and very average front yards. Jordan lived in Helen’s tiny haunted cottage on the corner, because if he didn’t live there, the cat familiars who also lived there got… unruly.

That was the word for it.


But that meant when Bartholomew went out and tried to have a life, Alex was stuck there in the house, without Jordan—or he slept on Jordan’s heinously uncomfortable couch.

Either way, the haunted quotient went up by a factor of ten when Alex was in the house alone.

“Maybe Kate and Josh will stay with me,” he said weakly, hating himself for not taking it all in stride.

“Lachlan and I can stay,” Bartholomew said hastily. “Never mind. I’ll walk Glinda. It’s okay, Alex, we don’t need to leave you alone. It’s fine. No worries. I’ll have Lachlan run home this afternoon and get more clothes and stuff—”

“No!” Alex said, his back straight with resolve. “We’ll do the thing, the neighborhood will be fine, and I’ll walk the dog. Don’t worry about me, Barty. I’ll be fine, okay?”

“If you’re sure….” Alex could picture his roommate, with his longish sand-colored hair and enormous gray eyes. He’d be biting his lower lip right now, looking adorable and worried, and while Alex had never harbored romantic feelings for Bartholomew Baker, he was pretty sure the guy made the sweetest roommate ever.

“I’m sure,” Alex comforted him. “Now I gotta go. I need to get these figures in to Simon before lunch. Don’t worry about it. You get home at sunset, and I’ll walk the damned dog.”

“Thanks, Alex,” Bartholomew said. “Gotta go crunch my own numbers. Bye!”

Alex moved his hand to his ear to hang up just as he heard the voice behind him.

“What happens at sunset? Does your boyfriend turn into a pumpkin?”

“Simon!” Alex whirled in his chair, knocking his headset off as he moved. “Dammit!”

“Calm down, calm down.” Simon Reddick laughed, tucking a strand of his long, shiny black hair behind his ears. The sound rolled out of him, larger than life, like everything Simon did. “I was just kidding about the pumpkin!”

“He’s not my boyfriend,” Alex mumbled, scrambling to his knees to pick up the headset. He bounced back up, coming to his full five foot eight inches, and smiled, trying to keep the expression professional.

It was damned hard.

Simon Reddick was six feet two inches of wide-chested, black-haired, brown-eyed prime-of-his-life male, and Alex had been thirsting for him since he’d started working for the firm.

But it was an impossible crush and a stupid one. Simon was not just older—thirty-five to Alex’s twenty-six—but he was also rich, handsome, successful, and, hey, hello, Alex’s boss. A thing Alex had needed to remind himself of every day for the past three years.

It was getting so he couldn’t have a normal, everyday interaction with Simon without sweating in all of the embarrassing places—neck, armpits, buttcrack—and Alex was so damned over the crush that he’d actually initiated drastic action to get himself the hell out of this branch of Reddick, Lockhart, and Baldwin. The next branch may have been miles farther down the road, but hey, Alex was a bike commuter. He had calves of solid steel. What was an extra five or seven or nine more miles of road, both ways?

“Oh?” Simon said, dark eyebrow winging up. “Not your boyfriend?” There