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Chapter 1

Khiara. That was a great class.”

Thanks, Matt.” The high priestess turned from snuffing the rose-scented candles along the top of the mantle to smile at her student. Khiara Haley dimpled at the compliment, her hazel eyes crinkling at the corners. She knew people found it difficult to look away from her eyes, which were a warm shade of gold that matched her honey blonde hair. “Have a great evening, and let me know if you have any questions about this week’s lesson work.”

Matt nodded and hesitated by the door. “I was wondering if you… It’s so nice tonight.” He drummed his fingers against the doorknob, and then gave it a twist as his next words came out in a rush. “Would you like to come downtown for ice cream with me?”

Oh, I don’t date,” she answered with a shake of her head, a rueful note in her voice. “I’m sorry.”

Of course. It makes sense. I’m your student, you’re the teacher. It wouldn’t be ethical or something like that.” The young man fiddled with the deadbolt and Khiara sighed.

It’s not a teacher/student thing, Matt. It’s that I don’t date anyone.” By now, at the age of twenty-five, she was accustomed to giving the same excuses, the same apologies. “Between running the shop and teaching classes, there just aren’t enough hours in the day, but thank you very much for thinking of me.”

Anytime,” he said. While his expression didn’t betray his disappointment, she could hear him making an effort to sound nonchalant. Matt finally opened the door and backed out with a nod. “See you next week, then.”

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