Spice & Thyme Series - Book cover

Spice & Thyme Series

Raven Lee

Age Rating


The dreamy fantasy man you created for your midnight pleasure walks through your door. Do you turn to your spellcasting abilities to lure him to your bed, or is it possible you have enough personal charm to seduce him the old-fashioned way? Ginger Rose is not even sure the cocky, arrogant brother of her good friend is worth getting to know beyond the confines of her fantasy. So why can’t she stop thinking about him? As the owner of Spice & Thyme, a magical herbal shop, Ginny spends her days manipulating the love affairs of her customers with a dash of this herb, a sprinkle of that oil, and chants to solidify the love or lust spell. Should she dare to do the same for herself?

Age Rating: 18+

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Chapter 1

Book 1: Ginny Rose


I flipped the sign to “CLOSED” and double-locked the door.

Eighteen love spells today. Twenty-two yesterday. I was a regular love guru. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the absurdity. Me? A love guru. I couldn’t even keep my boyfriend of three years faithful.

The mere thought of Jason knocked the chuckle right out of me. Yeah, a love guru, my ass.

I lowered the blinds, leaned against the door, and took a deep sigh of relief. Fuck Jason. It had been a busy day with no help, and I didn’t want to spend an ounce of energy thinking about him.

My one day off was looming and I badly needed it. My right-hand helper, Miley, was in Pensacola with throngs of other college partygoers for a week of sun, hookups, and frozen cocktails.

Although the hundreds of pictures she posted to her social media accounts depicted a nasty sunburn and a multitude of beer cans, the hookups were plenty.

I had sent her off with my special oil concoction simply known as Lust. She was indeed having a merry old time. I should have taken her advice and gone with her.

But been there, done that—nearly ten years ago. A hookup sounded great, but at this point in my life, I was aware that a trip to Florida wasn’t the only place to have secret affairs.

As the local “love guru,” I was privy to a lot of secrets. It came with the territory of being a psychic witch. I sighed again, feeling the energy of the day subside.

Miley was due back on Tuesday after her morning classes. Maybe I would take the afternoon off and recover. It had been a long week.

Jason intruded into my thoughts again. Yes, he said he was sorry and promised to never cheat on me again, but truth be told, I was glad it happened.

For the better part of half our relationship, I’d been questioning us. The chemistry had quickly faded, and I had found myself losing my identity.

If your man feels the need to coach you on how to wear makeup when your idea of makeup includes a tube of lip gloss and a good moisturizer, there’s a problem.

All the things about me he had once admired and adored had become issues he felt the need to fix.

Even though six months had passed since I walked out on him, he called or texted on a weekly basis. Sex was on his mind. Mine too—just not with him.

I pushed off the door, lamenting the sad state of my love life, and said, “Come on, Persephone, let’s get your supper going.”

The long-haired tabby was crouched in her usual corner seven feet off the ground at the top of one of the spice displays.

She would stay there all day observing my customers, only coming down to say hello to a select few.

She ignored my invitation for food. A most peculiar reaction considering eating was one of her favorite pastimes.

“Come on,” I encouraged her with a wave of my hand. Her resistance was explained by a loud knock at the door.

Some psychic I was. I didn’t even sense anyone coming up the stairs, let alone just on the other side of the door.

I gave Persephone an exasperated look, like maybe it was her fault another customer was at the door after hours.

“We’re closed,” I hollered, and headed to the back of the store where a single door separated my shop from my living quarters.

It was already over half an hour past my closing time, and my PJs were calling my name. Tomorrow morning, I could sleep in, and a ten-hour horizontal stretch was in my near future.

“I know you’re closed. That’s why I knocked.” The voice was male with an air of arrogance.

“We’ll be open again on Tuesday morning,” I called out to the mystery man. I grabbed the doorknob to my home, thankful for the one-second commute to work.

Normally, I would welcome a customer, even after hours, but I was done for the day—the week, really.

“Alisha Stryker sent me,” he responded.

Letting out another sigh, I lowered my hand from the knob. I trudged back toward the shop door, head drooped in disappointment. I shifted the blinds.

The porch light was on, triggered by the waning sun. A breathtaking young man with deep-chocolate eyes and a thick head of tousled hair to complement them peered back at me.

I quickly let go of the blinds and took a deep breath. Matt. THE Matt. Alisha’s twin brother. My fantasy man, late at night when I was trying to fall asleep.

I had only seen pictures of him, but those had been enough to transform him into my midnight mystery lover.

Shit. Never in a million years did I think I would ever meet him face to face.

“Can I come in?” he asked.

I inhaled deeply to slow my pounding heart before unlocking the door.

Once opened, I could see he was dressed in a gray suit jacket over a crisp white dress shirt paired perfectly with dark denims and black motorcycle boots. His left fingers clasped a helmet through the face and chin guard.

I hadn’t even heard a motorcycle pull into the small parking lot out front.

“Ginny?” he said and held out his hand. “I’m Matt. Alisha’s brother.”

I took his hand in mine, determined to give a solid handshake, but I felt like pudding, and the touch of his skin lit a spark in me. Good God Almighty, I prayed I could keep my shit together.

Focus. Focus. Focus.

“Is Alisha okay?” I summoned my business persona.

“Yep, just being a prima donna.”

“Prima donna? That doesn’t sound like her.” For a split second, I forgot fantasy man was in front of me. Nobody called my friend a prima donna.

I instantly felt protective of Alisha. Not only was she one of my best customers, but we had become very close friends in the past six months since the shop opened.

“You know her as a customer. I know her as a sister. Believe me, she can be a princess when she wants.”

Sex god or not, he was on the verge of really pissing me off.

I hovered at the door. “So, she’s okay?”

“Yeah,” he snipped. “She wants me to pick up an order she called in. Can I come in?” He lifted his free hand in an annoyed gesture.

“I didn’t get an order from her.”

“Soooo…” Now his helmet rose in the same gesture of annoyance.

I cut him off with a wave of my hand when the corners of his lips turned to a smirk. I didn’t want to hear another snide remark about my friend.

I stepped back and opened the door wide for him, his helmet, and his ego to come through.

Seriously, what was with the helmet? Mister Cool rides a motorcycle. So what? Leave it on the bike. Who cared if I secretly thought it was sexy he drove a motorcycle? No need to flaunt it.

“Let me check my voicemails. Maybe I missed her call.”

He reluctantly came through the door with exaggerated footsteps. “What’s that smell?” he asked and crinkled his nose, which would have been cute were he not so damn cocky.

“Herbs and incense.” I was used to the smell and loved it.

“Smells like a hippie crackhouse,” he responded, and looked around in the darkening space.

I flipped on the overhead light switch and shut the door behind him. “Take a look around my private crackhouse while I check the messages.” I gestured toward the shop area as I went to the counter.

I could feel him looking at me, sizing me up. I could give attitude the same as he could.

Alisha was one of my most loyal customers and a complete love. She had a rare blood disorder that could wipe her out for days at a time, but on her good days, she was full of energy and joy.

She never felt sorry for herself although most of my sick customers acted as if they were the only people on the planet with problems.

And it was for that reason that I even allowed Matt in after hours. I cared about Alisha, and if she needed something, I wanted to help.

Matt looked around the shop like a kid at Disney World for the first time. I pretended to be focused on the phone but watched him out of the corner of my eye.

The man was exquisite. I only could recall a couple of times when I was caught off guard by a man’s physical being. This was one of those times.

He traced his fingers across the spines of shelved books, and I could imagine his fingers running along the bumps of my own spine.

“I just got into town, and she begged me to come by and get an order from you.” He looked up from the rows of books to face me.

I peeled my eyes away from the top of his well-developed pectoral muscles where the top two buttons of his shirt were opened, and quickly diverted my attention to the phone on the back counter.

I started around the cashier counter and slammed my hip when I cut the curve too fast. I grimaced both at the pain and my not-so-slick move and gave a quick, hard rub at the injured spot.

That was going to bruise tomorrow for sure.

“Are you okay?” he asked, sounding quite sincere.

I didn’t dare look at him again. My face must have been as red as the blinking light on the phone, indicating a message.

Only then did I remember I had ignored a call earlier while I waited on customers in front of me.

“It was a busy day. Let me see what she needs.”

He veered to the right, browsing the shelves that ran perpendicular to the wall-lined shelves and hutches filled with amber and black glass jars, each labeled with the contents’ English and Latin names.

I punched in the pin code to access the voicemail and snuck a peek at Matt as he slowly perused the jars.

In his cross-attire of a tailor-fitted jacket and jeans that accentuated his muscular thighs and perfectly rounded butt, he was an oddity in a store of oddities.

Not that he was odd-looking by any means. He just didn’t fit in.

He poked through some of the drawers in the massive apothecary that took up half the wall.

The drawers were labeled as well and I watched as his eyebrows arched at some of the names—Alligator Claws, Blue Balls, Black Cat Bones, and on and on the drawers announced their bizarre contents.

He turned at the sound of his sister’s voice coming through the phone’s speaker. She spoke clearly and requested her special blend A and tonic E.

A long time ago we had nicknamed her usual products. Like I said, she was a regular. Her message also relayed that she was sending her brother over to pick them up.

I continued to look at him, but his eyes were glazed like he was watching something in his mind.

If only I had listened to the message earlier, I could have prepared myself for a face to face with my fantasy man.

I was about to disconnect the voicemail when Alisha rushed out her last words. “Also, if you have time, read his tea leaves. I think he needs a reading.” Click.

The call ended without so much as a thank you or goodbye.

The whole thing reminded me of being a young teenager too frightened to talk to Scott Milligan when he called me, so I hung up in a storm of confused hormones and embarrassment without even saying hi.

Alisha’s last bit brought Matt’s attention back. He looked from the phone to me.

“Whoa! I don’t need my tea leaves read.” He raised his hands in protest. His helmet barely missed conking him in the head.

I noticed his aura light up around his entire body. He thought he was above getting his fortune read. To him, it was something the desperate and stupid did.

I could read people’s tea leaves and their auras the same as a profiler could detail a killer’s past. No hard evidence, but the unseen still told a story.

I didn’t respond and he returned to browsing the shelves. I busied myself with the ingredients to make Alisha’s special blend A and tonic E, neither of which were products she used for her ailment.

What was Alisha up to? Her first request was simply raspberry-based tea with a hint of rose for a vitamin C boost, and her tonic E was one I sold on the floor for an energy lift.

Between her voice sounding strong and healthy and her benign order, it was easy to figure out that she was being sneaky.

I guessed that she was surprised by her brother’s visit and needed an excuse to get him out of the house. I stifled a laugh thinking about Alisha kicking Liam out of her bed before Matt returned.

Alisha’s parents and Matt all treated her like she was a fragile porcelain doll. If only they knew the real Alisha.

“What’s this?” Matt asked, drawing my attention away from the funny scene playing in my mind.

Without looking up, I said, “Horny Goat Weed.”

“How did you know? You didn’t even look up.”

“Everyone new to the store asks the same question.”

“So, you’re not like a psychic or anything?”

“It’s used in place of pharmo-generated little blue pills.”

“That was my next question.”

“You mean that’s the answer to your next question.”

I heard the snippy tone in my own voice. Snippy because I was tired, or because his kind always joked about my life simply because they didn’t understand nor bother to understand?

I had become weary of people who assumed, even the sexy ones.

Besides, I was self-aware enough to know I didn't want to look like a bumbling girl with a crush, which I would if I didn't layer my words with a bit of hostility.

“Exactly.” He meandered to the counter where I used a marble mortar and pestle to grind the dried herbs into a semi-fine tea. “You read tea leaves, huh?”


I couldn’t bring myself to look at him. There was an overlay to his aura. He had come in with the overlay, which was fairly common in young men.

Sex was always on their minds even when it wasn’t in their conscious thoughts. But his aura had started to pulsate, ever so slightly.

Either he was getting aroused from the shop’s atmosphere, which made a lot of people connect with their base desires, or someone was turning him on. And that someone could not be me, I told myself.

He and I were in different leagues.

His was built on perceived image. I played in the league where the natural elements ruled. Usually, people like him looked at people like me as the weirdos of the world.

Plus, I had a solid five years on him. He and Alisha were twenty-five and I was turning thirty later in the summer.

Besides, the man was outrageously gorgeous. On my best days, I was attractive. On my usual days, I looked like I had been caught in a windstorm after a yoga class.

He casually drummed his fingers on the counter and turned to face the store. “Interesting place. Is it yours or do you just work here?”

“It’s mine.” I loved saying those words. Nearly six months it had been mine.

When my grandparents moved to a warmer climate, they gave me the old colonial farmhouse. I had spent several months converting the front living room and formal dining room into my shop, Spice & Thyme.

I’d ripped out blueboard and studs to reveal the outer timber walls and lifted the finished flooring down to the old wide-plank subfloor. I kept the ceiling joists exposed from which dried herbs now hung.

I was proud not only of the shop I had built but also of my single-hand labor creating the physical business.

All displays were reclaimed from salvage stores or street-side disposals. It was amazing to me how people could throw out furniture in near-perfect condition.

There was a lot of pride wrapped up in the shop, especially since it represented my freedom, both in my professional life and my personal life.

Jason had thought I was wasting time and money on the shop and never lifted a hand to help rebuild the property.

I’d offered to let him buy my condo, but with a lot of begging on his part, he was buying it in monthly installments.

Probably just another way to keep tabs on me. But I didn't care. The payments were on time and supported me while the business grew.

My warm inner admiration expected to be met with a compliment, but instead, Matt said, “I can’t imagine you get enough customers to keep you afloat.

“Is this like a hobby for you? What do you do for work when you’re not here?”

When I didn’t respond, he turned back to me. How could such a beautiful mouth with perfect lips and teeth say such bullshit? What a waste.

I stopped grinding the herbs and stared at him. Those perfect chocolate eyes to go with that perfect chocolate hair.

Maybe if I could duct tape his mouth, he might be more handsome, because his sex appeal was dwindling the more he talked. He was ruining my fantasy man.

Once he realized I wasn’t going to entertain his obnoxious question, he said, “I offered to go to the pharmacy for her, but she made me come here.

“Did you go to school to learn this stuff? Where do you even go to school for this kind of stuff? Is there a Voodoo University?”

“I’ll have you know, I probably make more money in a year than you do, Mr. Executive VP.” Oh boy! My Leo pride was clawing its way out of hibernation. Stretch the truth much?

“Ah, you know I am an executive vice president. What else do you know about me?” Again with that charming smirk.

His aura overlay was getting deeper in color and spanned a little further out. Self-conceited? Was he getting turned on talking about himself?

Did he think I was like one of the many bunnies he kept at arm’s length and called to them every time he wanted to play? Did I dare tell him the things I knew about him?

I wouldn’t want him to think his sister had shared those thoughts with me. Nope. I was an old-fashioned stalker. Okay, stalker was a bit extreme.

I’d peeked at his social media accounts, purely out of curiosity. Alisha made her twin sound like an absolute catch. He may have all the physical charm of a GQ actor playing his role, but I knew better.

Jason had been fairly hot in his own way too, but it didn’t stop him from being a supreme, philandering asshole.

I never shared my thoughts with Alisha about her brother. I didn’t want to break her heart. But men with his looks, physique, and money could afford to be playboys. Playboys had a type, and I wasn’t it.

“I know you haven’t seen your sister in almost eighteen months.” I resumed grinding the herbs although they were fine enough for the tea. I just needed to keep my hands busy.

I didn’t know if I wanted to smack the smirk off his face or grab him by the hair and show him a thing or two his uptight, plastic-doll girlfriends would never do. God forbid they messed up their lipstick.

“Ouch. Was that a dig?”

“Did it feel like one? Because I was only stating a fact.”

“You don’t like me much, do you?” He leaned into the counter, closer to me, daring me to answer. He was used to women groveling at his feet.

“I don’t know you enough to say one way or another. I usually give people the benefit of the doubt.”

“Was it the hobby comment?”

“You have a right to your opinion. You’re here doing a nice thing for your sister even though it’s obvious you don’t believe in natural remedies.”

I dumped the herbs into a double-lined small brown bag and folded down the top.

I was determined to maintain my decorum. No way was I going to let him take any pleasure in demeaning me.

“I believe in natural remedies. I take vitamins every day.” He pushed away from the counter in a casual disinterest.

“Just because the label has the word ‘nature’ on it doesn’t make it so. Besides, you’re paying too much for the pretty packages.”

I slapped a label on the brown bag of tea to seal it and slid it to him across the counter.

“Is that it?” he asked.

“No,” I said, and came around the counter to a display of bottled tonics. He followed me as I picked one from the top and handed it to him.

“And what is this?” He turned the bottle to read the very short list of ingredients. He must have read them a second time because it took him five seconds to read all three ingredients.

“What does she do with this?”

“Alisha knows what to do with it.”

“I’m asking for me.”

I wanted to say, “Why?” Instead, I said, “She puts a drop or two under her tongue. Keeps her energy level up. She probably wants to make sure she’s up for a nice visit with her brother.”

I wanted to sound sincere, but even I could hear the sneer in my tone.

“Oh,” he said, and bounced the bottle in his hand like he had just won a prize at a dollar carnival game. His nonchalant smile complimented his attitude.

“How much do I owe you?” he asked as he strode back to the register.

“Two hundred,” I said without thinking.

The only thing on my mind was wondering what his ass looked like when he wasn’t wearing jeans. This was one of those times I had to wonder if the jeans made the ass or the ass made the jeans.

“Are you crazy?” He whipped around to look at me and I prayed he didn’t notice that I was watching him walk.

Women checked out fine physiques same as men. We’re just more polite about it. Lady-like manners and all.

Crazy or not, he still pulled his wallet from the inside pocket of his jacket and slid a credit card across the black marble countertop just as I came around.

“My sister can’t afford to pay these prices. You’re taking advantage of her. Just because unsuspecting people believe this crap, you think it’s okay? No wonder you make more money than I do.”

I processed his credit card and let him continue his rant. Served him right for being a jerk.

Although I wasn’t convinced that he was actually a jerk. It almost felt like he was teasing me. But teasing was too close to flirting. So nah, not teasing. Just a jerk.

I ripped the receipt from the credit card machine and held it out to him with a pen. “Please sign.”

He dropped the helmet on the counter like Thor’s hammer and snatched the paper and pen. He signed even before looking at the total on the receipt.


He hovered over the receipt for a few seconds and twisted his jaw before saying, “Why did you let me carry on? Or did my complaining guilt you into charging the amount you should charge?”

“You didn’t guilt me into anything.” I snatched the receipt back but let him keep the pen.

He shook his head, either in humor or annoyance—I couldn’t say because his facial expression was one of confoundment.

Either way, it was nice watching his flipped hair at the back of his neck float with the gesture. Very luxurious hair.

I imagined for the briefest of seconds that it would be nice to run my fingers up the nape of his neck and through the strands of thick hair. A little sensuous reiki would do that man some good.

His body flinched like a chill passed through him. I stopped imagining. Sometimes I forgot how strong my abilities to manifest were.

After a few seconds of him watching me, he shook his head again and looked down. “You’re one weird, but interesting, person.”

Not exactly a compliment, but what did I expect? He brought out a less-than-charming version of me.

He lowered the pen to the counter and took his purchases in hand before looking up again. “Can I ask you a serious question?’

“Shoot,” I answered, feeling just the tiniest bit of excitement.

In my experience, after a row of teasing or flirting, when a man asks if he can ask a serious question, it is usually followed by an invitation to coffee or drinks or dinner.

But didn't I just decide he was neither teasing nor flirting? My brain was all over the map.

“How do you think my sister is doing?”

That threw me for a loop, which would explain why I said, “I’ve seen some marked improvements in the past few months,” rather than what I should have said—or not said, to be specific.

It was a rule I lived by. I didn’t share information about my customers other than in general terms.

I’d had way too many readings in which a customer wants me to pry into the affairs of another, as if their happiness had a direct link to their child’s or ex-lover’s life.

“Have you read her tea leaves?” He seemed genuinely curious.

“You should ask her,” I said, recovered from my earlier lapse.

“I will, but I’m asking you.”

“It’s late, Matt, and I’ve had a long day. Please give my best to Alisha and I hope you two have a great visit.”

When he didn’t budge, I came around the counter and walked to the entrance. I turned to find him watching me. No lady-like manners for him; he didn’t care that he was staring.

I suppose the moment could have been awkward, but I told myself he wasn’t actually staring at me to stare but was lost in thought.

“Are you okay, Matt?” I asked, breaking his stare.

“Yes, I’m sorry. I was just admiring your…” He dropped the merchandise to the counter and raised a hand at my legs and went up toward my neck. “Your outfit. It’s…”

“Weird?” I offered. I personally liked the side-split, wispy, white harem pants and matching V-neck button-up tunic with embellished bell-sleeves so sheer I needed a camisole.

I didn’t dress the part. I lived and breathed the part.

“No. Not weird. Breezy.”

“Breezy? I like it. Describes it perfectly.” I guess breezy was better than weird. I put on my business smile, the one I used when I wasn’t feeling it naturally. “Have a good night, Matt.”

I unlocked the door and opened it. Any thoughts of there being chemistry between us were obviously my thoughts and my thoughts alone.

He smiled back but I could tell it was just as forced as mine was. He snatched up the bag and the helmet and came toward me.

The air between us was thick and filled with an oppressive heat. It was like our own private rainforest.

He hesitated at the door as if he wanted to say something more. He drew a long breath and said, “Thank you for opening up and taking care of my sister.”

I nodded. I didn’t dare open my mouth to suggest that there was an unspoken allure between us. It most certainly was in my mind, fed by many nights of carving him into my fantasy man.

“Good night, Ginny.” He lowered his head as he walked by me, and I could see that his ears were a shocking pink. Embarrassed? Maybe. Hopefully.

I shut and locked the door as he bounded down the steps away from the porch. I peered through the blinds and watched as he straddled his cruiser bike and pulled the helmet over his head.

I replayed him saying good night to me and it struck me just how sexy my name sounded rolling off his tongue.

I let the blinds slip from my fingers, and this time, I turned off all the interior lights. It was quite dark, but I knew my way around the entire shop, even if I were blindfolded.

Once again, I sighed, but this time it wasn’t from exhaustion. I was both horny and pissed that I was horny.

How could there be electricity between us when he was so obviously a self-absorbed asshole? But damn, had he asked me to take off my clothes, I most certainly would have.

I shook my head. Reality bites.

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