Full Moon in Leo
Publication date: October 1st 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance
Small-town magic, two heavy hearts—one unforgettable winter solstice
Cole Morrison left Jewel’s snow-covered fir trees ten years ago. But after a disastrous family Thanksgiving, Jewel seems like the only place left to go. When a run-in with a gorgeous stranger leaves him with debt to pay, Cole’s escape from his past turns out to be much more than a lonely Christmas vacation.
Jesse Carroway, the local Jewel witch, has been running his family’s successful, small-town Apothecary ever since his grandmother passed away. When Cole stumbles into his shop and accidentally wrecks a good portion of his inventory, Jesse does the only thing he can possibly think of—offers Cole a job and himself some help for the upcoming holiday rush.
Cole’s clumsy with candles and doesn’t trust easily, but soon Jesse gets a peek at the guy behind his bad-boy reputation. As the nights lengthen toward Yule, Jesse wonders if magic is to blame or if Cole might’ve fallen into his life for a reason…
Cole looked closely, searching for another hint of familiarity, and came away with none. Finely sculpted bones pressed against the stranger’s skin, carving a sharp jaw into a heart-shaped face. Dark hair was swept back, sheared close to the skin on the sides and kept longer on top. A high-necked sweater clung to his lean frame, the sleeves bundled in his palms. Cole hadn’t realized he’d been staring until he met wide eyes looking back at him from behind silver reading glasses.
“Jesse, do you want soy or almond milk?” Tara said.
Once Jesse turned his gaze to the floor, Cole cleared his throat.
“Who’s that?” Jesse’s voice came out hushed, but The Crow’s Nest was too small for privacy.
“Oh, that’s Cole.” Tara swiveled around the glass case to look at him. “Hey!” Cole immediately whipped toward the window, pretending to busy himself with birds or trees, something, anything else. “Cole, come on, don’t be like that.”
Fucking hell. He turned to face them and forced a pained smile. “Yeah, hi. It’s—I’m Cole.” He braved a longer look at Jesse, whose freckled cheeks were tinged pink.
Tara pointed at him with her pen. Her grin widened again. “He’s an out-of-towner. Old friend of mine; we used to hang out when we were kids.”
“Oh.” Jesse’s throat bobbed when he swallowed. “That’s—”
“It’s been a while, ten years, honestly. He could be a serial killer for all I know.”
Cole rolled his eyes, but a laugh snorted out of him anyway. “Tara.”
“Great, awesome, thank you for making this interaction entirely too awkward to deal with,” Jesse hissed, bashful smile masked by a nervous adjustment of his glasses. He grabbed the hydroflask from the counter and darted out the door. “See you around!”
Cole watched him through the window, how he walked with his shoulders back, his profile crisp and pronounced. Jesse tipped his chin and met Cole’s eyes for a fleeting moment, mouth twisted into a crooked smile, before he stepped past the window and was gone.
“Wait, Jesse!” Tara held a paper bag in one hand, craning over the desk. A group of customers arrived and she paused, biting her lip before she narrowed her eyes at Cole. “C’mere.”
Cole frowned. “No.”
“Come on, I need a favor!” She flashed a smile at the customers. Hi, yes, oh are you visiting? Welcome to Jewel. What can I get for you today? Another pointed glare at Cole. Her lips formed silent words. Please, come on.
Cole shook his head.
Once Tara finished taking orders, she shook the bag at him. “You’ve ghosted me for a decade. You owe me.”
“So, you are mad.” Reluctantly, Cole walked to the counter.
“Of course, I’m mad. Are you kidding me? Ten years, asshole?” She chuckled under her breath. “Not, like, mad mad.”
“Mad enough to extort me for it.”
“Emotional extortion.” She gestured to the bag. “Can you take this to Jesse? He runs the apothecary next door.”
“The guy you just royally embarrassed me in front of? No, Tara, come on—”
“Excuse me, but my best friend vanished into thin air ten years ago and I still bought him breakfast,” Tara said matter-of-factly. She rushed around the barista station, steaming this and pouring that. “He’s real sweet, okay? Just a little skittish.”
“And he runs an… an apothecary? He’s—”
“Cute? Yeah, I know. He makes wreathes, candles, lotions, potions, all of it. Local witch, local sweetheart, local bachelor.” She set her palms on the counter and tilted her head, blowing a strand of hair off her brow. “In case you were wondering.”
Cole didn’t know what to say to something like that. He blinked, surprised, and scoffed. “Still playing matchmaker, Foster?”
Tara scoffed back at him. “Maybe. You scared of a cute guy, Morrison?”
Cole rolled his eyes.
“I’ll sweeten the deal. I’m making almond muffins tomorrow.”
“Another free breakfast?” He shook his head, trying and failing to suppress a grin. Some things never changed, and Tara, thank fucking god, was who she’d always been. Haughty and confident and strong in every way Cole never could be.
But this tasted like forgiveness. Like beginnings, maybe. An olive branch he could actually hold onto.
Tara balanced mugs on a black tray. “Free breakfast and a free latte. Deal?”
Cole snatched the paper bag off the counter. “Deal.”
Brooklyn Ray (they/them) is an award-winning author of Queer Paranormal Romance and Erotica. They’re a fan of fresh brewed tea, long walks through the woods, and evenings spent reading sexy books. They write about witches, necromancers, and other magical creatures, and moonlight as a tarot and palm reader in the Pacific Northwest. Find them on Instagram @brooklynrayauthor