Kiss Me Forever - M.J. O'Shea

A Sneak Peek of A Little Taste of Magic

The dreams were getting weirder. Every night Avery woke up, sweating and out of breath, with the intense feeling that someone was watching him.

He dreamed of ghouls and spirits and things that went bump in the night, always at the edge of his vision even though it was like he knew they were there just on the other side of the darkness. Like he could feel them.

But there was something else in his dreams, something he wanted, yearned for, something he felt like he always reached for and never found. Whatever it was left him jerking out of an uneasy sleep for the third time that night when his phone alarm finally went off.

The feeling was there, slipping through his fingers with the ghosts and the glowing eyes. But he wanted it. He wanted to hold on and never let go. It felt like he knew there was something out there that he just had to find.

Don’t be a goddamn idiot.

It was work. That was all. Work was... getting to him. Right? Definitely.

Still, Avery lay there for a long time and let his pulse calm down. He had to get up and be Professor Cook soon. No time for nightmares so realistic he felt like he’d lived them. Absolutely no time for a yearning so real and so visceral, his belly still burned at the memory of it.

The air in his house was sticky and warm, barely pushed around by his sluggish ceiling fan—and a glance outside his big bay window told him it might rain soon, which always made his commute to campus a pain in the ass.

Avery thought for a moment about dragging his car out from the garage where he kept it stored for the few times a month he needed it. But it was also a huge pain to drive through the cramped streets of the Quarter. Easier to bring a change of clothes just in case he got wet.

It was close to Halloween but still sticky and warm, something his Midwestern ass had never quite gotten used to, even if it had been nearly six years since he moved to New Orleans. Eighty degree heat and Halloween decorations felt weird to him still.

He stretched and stared at his ceiling fan for a little while longer before he turned and dragged his cell off the nightstand to check the time. It had been a while since the thing went off. Aaand he had about ten seconds flat to get ready. Fantastic.

Of course.

Avery rarely left himself a big grace window, and that morning hadn’t been an exception. Because it took him so long to shake off the night, he had literally ten minutes to get his ass on his bike or he’d be sprinting to the college and probably be late for his first lecture. Of course it was a popular one. Nothing like strolling in sweaty and breathless to a lecture hall packed to the rafters with a few hundred eager students.

He vaulted out of bed and into the quickest shower of his school year so far. Then he put on khakis and a button- up shirt, pocketed his phone, slid on shoes, and grabbed his messenger bag and bike helmet on the way out the door.

At least he’d had the forethought to pack up his papers the night before or he’d be monumentally screwed.

Another Monday, another week... and the unit he was famous for on campus was starting in less than an hour.

Local paranormal history.

It was the reason his Origins of Myth and Legend class filled up at lightning speed during registration— creepy tales of local urban legends and the truth behind them, ghost stories, neighborhood tours at night. The kids ate it up, especially the out-of-state ones hoping to soak in some of their surroundings before they went back to whatever soulless cookie-cutter suburb they came from.

It was the university’s most popular humanities course and the reason Tulane had come calling when he’d graduated from his PhD program six years ago with a newly published book and a bit more ego than he’d deserved to have.

Avery unlocked his bike and carried it down the short set of stairs to his gate right on Royal Street. It was the quiet side of the Quarter, past the bustle of the touristy blocks. There were no galleries, no street bands, just his neighbors and a few passing tours here and there.

He clipped on his helmet and wheeled his bike through