Outfoxed by Jasmine Aherne
Spellbound Treasure series
Sensual/lightly erotic paranormal romance novella (approx 39000 words)
Cover Art by Winterheart Design
Meet Colin. A zoologist. Dedicated to his work. Crap at meeting women. He’d like to meet the girl of his dreams, but he never imagines she’ll be hidden in … a statue?
Rhoswen longs to bond with Colin and be part of his human world. She’s wanted him for so long, and that fact he thinks she’s a fake hurts. So she sets out to prove to him that just because he can’t see or touch love, it’s a force to be reckoned with all the same…
“What are you looking for?” Rhoswen asked Colin after a few minutes. “The machine is very clever. This picture is what I look like inside, is that right?”
“Yes.” Her presence beside him, her strawberry scent, distracted him, and he wanted to give into the urge to touch and kiss her. “I’m trying to see how you’re different from a human. How you can shift into animal form.”
Her brows furrowed. “Do you want to learn to do it yourself?”
“No, of course not. I just.... I want to understand. Rhoswen, if you saw someone else... doing magic in the Faewild, wouldn’t you want to understand how they did it?”
She looked at him for a long time. Then she took the MRI scan and put it aside on the desk. “Colin, is a magic trick not more magical because it is not understood? If an old man pulls a rabbit out of a hat for a child, what is gained by showing the child the hat’s false bottom? The trick is no longer so special.”
“I know what you’re saying, but....” He closed his eyes, frustrated. “I love science, and science is about learning and understanding how things work. And using that gained knowledge to help others.”
She touched his face. “You said before that you want me. Do you understand how that works?”
He nodded. “Of course. Chemical reactions. Pheromones. Chemicals in the body,” he amended when she looked at him askance.
“But that one word doesn’t explain everything you feel,” she countered. “How can it? Sometimes words are not enough. I cannot explain why my heart soared when I first saw you. I cannot explain why I want you with my heart and soul, but I do. Is that not another kind of magic?” She stroked her hand over his cheek. “It seems to me, and forgive me if this is wrong, but it seems that you are looking for reasons to delay deciding if we can be together.”
Her words made his heart jump, and he leaned forward, resting his forehead against hers. “I’ve never made a decision as big as this in my life, Rhoswen. I don’t know how to start.”
“You mentioned taking me out to dinner – is that what you called it? We could start there.”
Colin stood and left the office with her, marvelling at this Fae woman and her wisdom, patience and kindness.
If I let her go, I’m a fool.
He wouldn’t, he promised himself. He just needed more time to appreciate the gravity of spending his life with her, as delicious as that prospect was.
Colin chose a restaurant in an entertainment plaza near the canal. He figured that Rhoswen probably hadn’t tried Indian food before. She drew admiring glances as they were seated from the other diners. She’s with me. His earlier thoughts were right. He’d be stupid to let her slip through his fingers just because he was waiting for a revelation.
But you’re still waiting. He could leave the restaurant with her now, take her to bed and claim her. Nothing’s stopping you. But it didn’t feel quite right.
He remembered something his mother had said a long time ago. Colin had been thinking about asking a girl at his University out on a date, but was biding his time waiting for the right moment.
“Don’t wait,” his mother had advised him. “There will never be a time as perfect as right now.”
He’d waited. And the next week, she’d been asked out by someone else in his class.
Colin had cursed himself then. And you didn’t learn, did you? You’re waiting now.
But dating someone was so very different to essentially marrying them. Promising to love them for their whole lives.
But aren’t you already starting to love her? A little voice inside his head asked.
Each time they kissed the tiny beginnings of those precious three words crowded on his tongue.
Too young to be said.
“This food is delicious,” Rhoswen said as she sampled her chicken korma. “You have so many wonderful kinds of food here.” She looked at her plate thoughtfully. “Perhaps one day we can go to the Faewild together to see my family. You can taste my father’s spiced honey lamb.”
“You have lamb?”
“And cows and sheep.” Her smiled showed her amusement. “I think our worlds are similar in some ways.”
“I want to see your world.”
“Before we are Realmbound? I don’t know if the other Fae would tolerate that.” As they talked, Indian music filled the air around them. At the back of the restaurant, a water feature filled the far wall. “And besides, what if the magic linking us, which is weak before the Realmbinding process, failed? After we are Realmbound, we can visit as often as you like. But I would not wish to take you to the Faewild only to have you... stuck there.”
But I so badly want to see it. I could gather so many wildlife and plant specimens.
He didn’t know how to voice what he wanted. He did not want to be stuck in another world with no way home. But oh, how he wanted to see another world with his own eyes. All is research would be validated! Think of the papers he could publish! He could bring new species of plants and animals back. The human world could marvel at what he found. Think of what I could see and do.
“I understand,” he said at length, “but I would love to see your home. Understand more about where you come from. I’ve dreamed of seeing another world for so long.”
“I’d like to show it to you.” Her gaze softened. “I knew you were the right choice, Colin. I started reading your book, and-”
Rhoswen stopped talking abruptly as someone approached their table. Someone Colin recognised immediately.
“Sorry to interrupt,” she said. Her business-like tone altered Colin to a problem immediately. He held on to Rhoswen’s hand, afraid that Lil had come to take her away from him.
“What is it?”
Lil looked at Rhoswen and spoke without preamble. “You need to come back to the Faewild. Your father has fallen ill. Come now.”