Chapter One

 

“WITCHES BURNED at the stake!” Killian Barth looked out over the eager students who crowded the lecture hall. Okay, that got their attention. Nearly one hundred pairs of young, bright eyes stared at his face. “No one is certain how many people, mostly female, were murdered during the three-plus centuries of the witch trials that we’ll be covering in this course.”

“Jeez.” The soft voice came from somewhere near the front.

“Jeez, indeed. Sadly, they were all murdered in the name of God.”

The girl shuddered. Good for her. This might be one of the most popular classes at the university, but all his students had different reasons for being here. Some were serious historians; others were looking for titillation or an easy A. Then there were the girls who wanted to marry him or at least fuck him. What had the girl said? Jeez.

Marriage was a particularly sore subject at the moment.

Okay, concentrate. He flipped his long hair over his shoulder and got a giggle from a couple of the girls. Professor Killian Barth, sex symbol. What a joke. He input a command on his laptop, and the projector began to flash a series of images onto the big wall screen behind him. “While churches have been trying to cover up the actual numbers for centuries, moderate estimates say one hundred thousand individuals were killed in the time between the fourteen hundreds and seventeen hundreds. Women’s groups and modern-day witch covens maintain the number is far higher.”

A male voice called out from somewhere in the crowd. “Why would anybody believe someone who claimed they were a witch?”

Killian turned slowly. The kids shifted in their seats. He tried not to smile. The speaker hadn’t gotten the unwritten memo. “Will the person who spoke stand, please?”

A tall, handsome boy with dark brown hair stood slowly. He didn’t look anxious to be embarrassed or thrown out of the class. Good. It gave Killian the chance to do his required speech early.

“Mister…?”

The boy shrugged. “Janx. Jimmy Janx.”

“Yes, Mr. Janx. I want you and the entire class to know that I welcome all sincere questions relating to the subject of witchcraft, the history of the witch trials, or related issues. But note that I said ‘sincere.’ I do not teach this class as a joke or to give any of you an ‘easy A.’ If you’ve done your homework, you should already know that this class is anything but easy and that I expect you to take the death of somewhere between thousands and millions of people very seriously indeed. Especially since it impacted the future of the entire Western world.” He smiled slightly. No sense in being too hard on the kid. “Now, Mr. Janx, would you like to rephrase your question?”

“Yes, sir. Why would modern-day people still believe in witches? Is there any reason to think such people aren’t crazy?”

Killian smiled. The front row sighed again. “Ah, that is the question. Well done, Mr. Janx.” The bell sounded, and students began gathering their papers. “We’ll address your question in a future session.”

As the class filed out, Killian turned his back and packed his briefcase. Normally he’d linger and encourage their questions, but his impending dinner with his mother to discuss her marriage agenda was driving him crazy. Soon he’d meet Lavender Karonoff, his mother’s choice—no, everyone’s choice—for his bride. Everyone’s choice but his. He sighed. Power was no substitute for love, no matter what anybody said—and he ought to know.

He needed to get home and prepare.

“I meant no disrespect, sir.”

Killian turned to see Jimmy Janx standing at the foot of the dais. “None taken.”

“I’m really looking forward to this class.”

Killian looked at the boy’s open face and felt his energy. Yes, he was the type. Probably having strange psychic or out-of-body experiences he couldn’t explain that scared him witless. Many people did. No wonder the young man seemed spooked. “I hope the class is very worthwhile for you, Mr. Janx.”

“Thanks, Professor.” The boy hurried to catch up with his friends. Had to give him points for being willing to address the terrifying teacher. Killian’s presence could be formidable to someone with psychic sensitivity like this kid.

Okay, home. He packed his laptop into the briefcase, then gathered the fall of hair from his lower back and wrapped it into a queue at his neck. A clip from his jacket pocket held the hair in place. He snatched up his motorcycle helmet from the chair and started toward the door.

Halfway across the room, he stopped. Who’s that? Holy fucking gorgeous, as his students would say. Standing in the doorway was the most breathtaking creature he’d ever seen. Tall—probably a couple of inches over six feet—and slim, with longish, unkempt brown hair and bright eyes that gazed out from behind dark-framed glasses. Jeans and a long-sleeved shirt—professor-style for sure.

Killian reached out with his feelings. Smart, almost scary smart, and viscerally passionate. His favorites. Well, they would have been his favorites if he’d been allowed to have such a thing. He swallowed so hard the guy probably heard it from several feet away. Damn. Why can’t I learn to be cool?

The man’s shaggy head cocked. “Sorry to bother you, but I’m new here. Can you tell me how to get to the physics building?”

Physics. Not my best subject. But right now he needed mechanics to keep his cock from rising. This man seemed to radiate heat even from several feet away, and it lit a fire in places Killian hardly recognized. Standing there with a rapidly rising hard-on came nowhere near cool. “Uh, I, uh, believe it’s directly across the street from here.”

The guy flashed dimples at Killian. “Damn. You’re not the first to say that. I’m not usually so bad at directions. Can you tell me which street? I’ve already been across a couple of streets.”

“The side street, Templeton.”

“Oh.” The stranger produced a wide smile. “Wouldn’t you know I’d choose every street but that one?” He paused as if he was searching for a new topic. “Quite a group I saw leaving here. What’s your subject?”

“Witchcraft.”

The laugh burst out explosively. “You’re joking?”

Gorgeous, but rude. “Not even slightly. I teach the history of witchcraft, among other things.”

“Sorry. Guess that was impolite.”

“Yes, I guess it was.”

The guy cocked his head and peered at Killian over the tops of the black rims. There was a lot of mischief in that handsome face. “Since I’m on a roll with being insulting, I think I’ll go all the way. I hope you won’t think I’m a stalker, but I stood here and watched while your class filed out. You’re about the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen. Is there the slightest chance you’re single—and gay?” He ducked and held up his hands as if to deflect a blow, but he never stopped smiling.

Killian arched an eyebrow. A lot of people assumed he was gay because of his long hair and pretty face, but he never confirmed or denied. “Who wants to know?”

The paragon thrust out a slim hand. “Blaine Genneau. New professor of quantum physics.” He grinned wickedly. “Gay professor of quantum physics.”

Killian took that hand and got a flash of heat straight to his balls. Like lightning streaked through the window into his jeans. Extraordinary. He pulled his hand back. Maybe the lightning loosened his tongue. “Killian Barth, professor of history. Gay professor of history.”

He gazed into those eyes. Deep green like ancient Chinese jade. A carved mouth. Just the type he imagined wrapped around his cock in his daydreams. But with one big difference. Killian sighed so deeply, it felt like his heart cracked. Yes, this man was gorgeous. Yes, Killian was gay. In truth, he was dying for a real relationship with a partner who both attracted him and fulfilled him, and if he’d ever been allowed to discover the type of partner he wanted, he knew Blaine Genneau would have fit every parameter—every parameter but one.

He tucked the helmet under his arm. “Good to meet you, Blaine.” He walked past the man and out into the sunshine toward his motorcycle. He couldn’t stay. He couldn’t find out what he’d been missing. Because no matter how perfect this man might be, Killian Barth didn’t do physics professors. In fact, he didn’t do humans. Sex with humans stole his energy and depleted his community, and that wasn’t allowed, because he was the most powerful male witch in ten generations, and he was expected to reproduce.

 

 

JIMMY STOPPED just inside the coffee shop door. His skin buzzed like somebody had put a little vibrator under it. Felt weird, but it happened more and more. Crap, what’s wrong with me? Get a grip. He looked around and spied his three friends in a back booth. This wasn’t his favorite coffee place. There was another one a few blocks from here where he always felt more at home, but his friends picked this one four out of five times. They said the other one was lame and reeked of professor smell.

He walked over to the booth, tossed his backpack into the pile with his friends’, and pushed onto the bench seat beside Sammy. “Hey, bro.”

Sammy adjusted his skinny ass on the seat, bumped Jimmy’s fist, and returned to a lively discussion of the new babe who had occupied a prominent front-row seat in Witchcraft today.

Were these idiots really arguing over whether the girl was, indeed, a double-D or merely a single? Time for a new subject. “That Professor Barth’s totally intense, isn’t he?”

Alvish looked annoyed. He had no interests of any kind beyond girls. “I think he’s weird.”

Chen hit the side of Alvish’s head, just missing the big ear that had turned his name from Alvin to Alvish. “You think everybody minus a rack the size of Kansas is weird.” He looked at Jimmy. “Yeah, he’s intense, but kind of interesting, don’t you think? Sure seems to know his stuff.”

Alvish shrugged. “Anybody who’d specialize in teaching witchcraft is weird. I rest my case.”

Jimmy frowned. Sometimes the dude bugged him. “You’re taking the course; isn’t that weird?”

“Hell, no. I take it to bag the babes in the front row when they find out their beloved, beautiful, weirdo teacher is gay as a bag of jelly beans.”

“Who the fuck told you that?”

“Nobody had to. Give me a break. Waist-length hair. Pretty as a damned picture. Not married.”

“How do you know that, Alvish?”

“No ring.”

Chen shrugged. “My father doesn’t wear a wedding ring. But I gotta confess, I think the guy probably is gay.”

Jimmy poured some iced tea from a pitcher on the table. “You’re just jealous of the fact that all the gorgeous women pass out over him.”

Chen grinned. “Not all of us can be as lucky with the ladies as you, Janx.”

Alvish thrust out his slightly receding chin. “How do we even know Janx’s so-called girlfriend exists, huh? None of us has ever seen her except from a distance. Maybe that chick was just his cousin or somebody.”

Sammy reached over and smacked Alvish’s head hard this time. Out of the group, those two had the rockiest relationship. “Because Jimmy doesn’t lie, that’s why, asshole.”

“Just sayin’.”

Jimmy shrugged. He didn’t really want to talk about it. “Cut it out, you two. My girlfriend’s real.” He sighed and sipped some more tea. “But none of you may ever get to see her.”

Alvish brayed, “See. Told ya.”

Sammy turned a shoulder to the big-eared antagonist and looked at Jimmy. “How come, bro?”

“Because her father hates my bony ass. He doesn’t want her seeing me at all.” His chest hurt just saying it. Jesus, half the crappy time he wanted to die, and the other half he could kill somebody.

“But you said you thought she was the one.”

That twisted the knife. “Yeah.”

Alvish leaned forward on the table. “So which is it? Is she ‘the one’ or not? As if there’s ever just one anyway.”

Try not to hit him. “Yes, asshole, she is the one, and I would do anything and be anything to have her, and I may have to give up everything in my life to do it, but I intend to make her mine no matter what her frigging father says. Would you like to find some other ways to be totally obnoxious, or is that absolutely clear?”

Alvish stared at him with huge and surprisingly beautiful brown eyes. “Crystal.”

 

 

KILLIAN LEANED against the wall of the shower stall. He loved his vintage bathroom with its subway tile floor and pedestal sink. The shower was the one modern indulgence in the room. All four showerheads focused on his overheated body. He needed to get dressed for his dinner with his mother, but higher priorities called. That lightning still sizzled through him, and it had to be released or, at best, he’d go nuts. At worst—well, better to release it. He’d positioned his body so that one of the heads pounded its spray directly on his hard cock. Gods, feels good. Some Master Witch he was. Couldn’t even find a good partner to do this for him.

He leaned his head against the cool tiles of the wall and closed his eyes. A partner. Someone to love and to wipe out his loneliness. A partner he could appreciate and respect and have sex with. Oh yes, regular sex would be wonderful—in a big bed, with crisp white sheets, and a breeze blowing in from a window. He’d snuggle into his partner’s arms and look up into his green eyes. Killian flexed his fingers. He could feel that shaggy brown hair—damn! His eyelids flipped open. Stop. Enough with the human. Focus on the business at hand. He grinned. Exactly in hand.

A bit of lube in the hand, please. Heat filled his forehead, and slick fluid appeared in his hand from what he thought of as the “great lube bottle in the sky.” He reached down and started stroking. The foreskin was sensitive, and he loved the feeling of pulling it back as he pumped. Slow, and one hand over the other—the motion he liked best.

With just a thought, he made the water spray begin a pulsing rhythm. He opened his hands at the top of the upward stroke to let the water pulse onto the sensitive head. Oh, Powers, he needed to come. He was going to come—soon, yes, very soon. His hips jerked, and his hands flew faster and faster as he felt the juice pulsing in his balls. Come on. Come on. He needed this. If he couldn’t find a good man, at least he could get himself off. Come on, dammit! Why couldn’t he come?

He squeezed his eyes shut. A good fantasy—that’s what he needed. Something that really did it for him. Okay, there. He smiled, then yelled as hot semen began to pulse out of his cock as hard as the shower spray beat down. Jet after jet of cum hit the shower wall. He should control himself, but he couldn’t. His body shook, and heat flowed through every cell. He leaned against the wall again, gasping for breath. Gods, what was wrong with him? In the vast wide world of witchery, the only thing that did it for him was a clear image of the human physics professor sucking his cock.