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Crystal Magic - Starfall Grove Book 1

Copyright © Sheri Dwyer 2023

Chapter Eight:

(Please keep in mind this is not the final version, so is subject to change and may contain small errors.)

Jasper took his first easy breath when Caspian, his mother’s lawyer, was shown into the room. He’d done his best to hide his anxiousness but was sure his sexy, badass detective mate—who’d almost made him cum in his jeans when he’d put those handcuffs on him, then left him high and dry before shoving him into the back of a police car—had picked up on it. His gaze strayed to the man in question and was caught by those piercing eyes that always seemed to reach into his soul. Jasper, annoyed by Gabe’s refusal to believe he wasn’t a criminal and more than a little hurt that Gabe didn’t even realize he was Jasper’s mate, wanted to look away. But he was nothing if not stubborn—thanks Grandma Clarissa—so was determined to win this next battle of wills between them like he’d won the others.

But the longer he held Gabe’s eyes, the more Jasper thought he could see some hesitancy in them. Along with confusion. And was that regret? Eh, maybe not. But whatever he was seeing, it gave Jasper hope that deep down—like really freaking deep—Gabe knew he wasn’t a liar or the type of person who would break the law to get ahead.

Even if surface Gabe still did.

When Caspian pulled out the chair next to him and sat, placing his briefcase on the floor between them, Jasper finally looked away, letting out a slow breath at being out from under the intensity of that blue-eyed stare. Then quickly looked up, almost certain he’d heard Gabe let out a breath as well, but was only met with a steady gaze and hard expression.

Caspian touched his arm, drawing Jasper’s attention. Giving him a confident look that promised he had nothing to worry about, Caspian turned to the other two men. “Shall we get started, Detectives? I told my wife I’d be home in time for dinner.”


After two hours, Caspian put his files back in his briefcase and pressed the locks closed. “You have nothing on my client.”

“That’s not true,” Gabe said, his eyes flicking to Jasper. “We caught him at the scene and—”

“You found him on the stairs leading to the roof, for which we have a witness who verified he was going up. The fireworks and the timers were purchased using a credit card that does not match the one you currently have in custody and that my client says he never signed up for. So unless you can prove it was my client who entered into a contract with the creditor and purchased the explosives, I’ll have your evidence dismissed before we ever make it to court.”

Jasper’s fingers twitched when Gabe held up the evidence bag containing his leather wrap, wanting to snatch it away so he could cleanse it of the imprint of whoever had taken it from his workbench.

“We have this, which is your client’s, and places him directly at the scene.”

“As my client has previously stated,” Caspian said, exasperation coloring his words, “the last time he saw his bracelet was yesterday morning when he left it in his workroom for repair. You have nothing, Detectives.”

“We only have his word for that.”

“True. But as you can’t prove someone didn’t break into his shop and take it, what you have is circumstantial at best.” Caspian leaned forward. “Seriously, Detectives. You’ve seen my client’s mediocre security system. Any enterprising twelve-year-old would have no trouble getting past it.” Caspian sat back and gave Jasper a withering look.

“I have someone coming to replace it tomorrow.”

“Good. That will make your mother happy.” Turning back to the detectives, Caspian said, “All you have is a suspicion of guilt with no hard evidence to back it up; therefore, you have no grounds to hold my client.”

Gabe’s jaw flexed, but he didn’t argue.

Caspian stood. “I believe we’re done here, Detectives. When can I expect my client to be released?”

“We’ll need a few minutes to process his paperwork, then he’ll be free to leave,” Detective Trewitt said.

“We’ll wait out front while you take care of that. Let’s go, Jasper,” Caspian said, walking to the door.

Jasper stood, then hesitated, looking at Detective Trewitt. “Is it…can I ask what’s going on with my stalker case?”

“We’re still investigating.”

“Okay. Did you find out who slashed my tires?”

“Unfortunately, no. Video surveillance didn’t show anyone near your vehicle from the time you arrived in the morning until you returned to it that night.”

Jasper frowned. “That doesn’t make any sense. There has to have been something.”

“There wasn’t.”

“Maybe another business has a different view of the parking lot.”

“We obtained the security footage from every business that had cameras on that lot. There was nothing on any of the feeds.”

“What about the night my mural was painted over? Did you find something for that?” Somehow, Jasper wasn’t surprised when Detective Trewitt shook his head.

“The cameras on that side of the building were offline that night.”

“All of them? For every business?”

Detective Trewitt nodded.

“Doesn’t that seem suspicious to you?”

“It does seem highly irregular, but there was no indication that they were tampered with.”

“Someone obviously hacked them.”

Detective Trewitt inclined his head, like maybe he agreed. “That is a possibility, but as I said, there was no indication of foul play.”

Which meant they weren’t going to do anything. “Did you talk to Lucas? Because I’m sure he knows who hacked the news station. They might be the same person who messed with the security cameras.”

Detective Trewitt hesitated, then slowly nodded. “We did.”


“Mr. Johnson advised us that he doesn’t have the technical skills that would have enabled him to hack into either the news station or the digital billboard.”

“But he knows someone who does.”

“He told us he didn’t.”

“And you believed him?”

“We have no reason not to.”

“What about the security cameras? Did you ask him about those?”

“We did. Mr. Johnson denied all knowledge of them and had an alibi for both times in question.”

“So there’s nothing then.”

“No. Not at this time.”

Jasper sighed. “Did Lucas at least tell you something that could help identify who’s doing this to me?”

Detective Trewitt hesitated again, giving Jasper a look that had him tensing.

Son of a bitch. Jasper had a really bad feeling about what his jackass ex-boyfriend had told them.

Before he could ask, Gabe leaned forward in his chair, those hard eyes locking on him. “Your ex thinks you hired someone to hack the news station and billboard.”

Jasper clenched his teeth. He fucking knew it. “I didn’t hire anyone. I have no idea why Lucas would say I did.”

“He told us you did it for attention,” Gabe said, watching him with an intensity that was more than a bit unnerving. “According to him you’re needy for it. He says you always want to be at the center of everything.”

Jasper huffed out a breath. “And I suppose you believed him.”

“What I believe or not isn’t relevant at this time.”

“Sure it’s not,” Jasper muttered, wishing Lucas was there so he could strangle him for being a lying dick. He’d fed right into Gabe’s suspicions of Jasper. And Gabe’s next words proved Lucas’ lies had found fertile ground.

“But what with your new business opening up.” Gabe shrugged. “You can’t deny you’ve gotten a lot of publicity out of it.”

“None of which I asked for.”

“Doesn’t change the facts.”

“No, I guess it doesn’t,” Jasper said, holding Gabe’s gaze. He tried to see any signs of give in his mate, a hint that he believed Jasper, but Gabe’s closed expression gave nothing away. Jasper looked a bit longer, then not finding what he was hoping for, glanced away, so disappointed in Gabe for believing Lucas over him he could barely breathe. Turning to Caspian, he said, “I’m ready to leave now.”

“If you’ll give me a couple of minutes, I’ll meet you out front and get everything wrapped up so you can go,” Detective Trewitt, giving him a gentle smile, as though knowing how close to breaking Jasper was.

Jasper nodded, then followed his lawyer from the room.

“You need to watch yourself,” Caspian muttered as they walked down the hallway. “That detective is quite fixated on you.”

“I know. He’s convinced I’m staging everything that’s happened for the publicity,” Jasper said, the words hurting his heart more than he’d expected. And Lucas’ lies, added to Gabe’s own suspicions, meant he might never believe Jasper was innocent.

“Hmmm. I’m not sure that’s entirely correct,” Caspian said.

Jasper looked over at him, but Caspian didn’t offer anything else. Then they were in the busy front area. By the time they’d finished dealing with all the paperwork involved with getting him released, Jasper had forgotten to ask him for an explanation.


“So?” Emerson asked when the door closed behind Jasper and his lawyer.

“Fuck,” Gabe groaned, flopping back in his chair. “I’m such an idiot.”

Emerson snorted. “I take it you saw him as he really is this time?”

“Yeah,” Gabe said, rubbing his eyes. He’d used every sense he had to read Jasper as deeply as he could. Then he’d pushed him and looked some more. And what he’d found had proven he’d made a huge mistake. Oh, there’d been something there, something he hadn’t quite got a handle on yet, but it didn’t feel wrong. And Gabe had no doubts he’d unravel that mystery soon. But as far as everything else, he really had been seeing Jasper through the cloud of Robbie’s betrayal. “I don’t know how I could have ever thought he was devious enough to set up his own stalking. He’s too upfront and honest.”

“And feisty. And kind. He also has the patience of a saint to put up with your idiocy.”

“Yes. All of that.” Gabe looked at his partner. “But most of all he’s innocent. And whoever’s targeting him is stepping up their game.”

Emerson nodded. “I know. I have a feeling that things are going to escalate quickly.”

So was Gabe. Which worried the hell out of him. “We need to press harder on the ex-boyfriend. Force him to tell us what he knows.”

“Agreed. I’ll clear it with the Captain.”

“Tell him to be prepared for some complaints because I’m going to go hard on Johnson. With the way this fucking stalker is able to erase all signs of their actions—”

“Your boy could be in a lot of danger.”

Gabe’s eyes shot to Emerson. “My boy?”

“Do you deny it?”

Gabe opened his mouth to do just that.

“Don’t even bother,” Emerson said, holding up his hand. “I’ve seen what’s been going on between the two of you. You want him. And for more than just a quick hook up. And he wants you too.” Then he snorted. “Or at least, he did. Right now he mostly wants to push you off a cliff.”

Gabe made a face, knowing Em was right. “Doesn’t matter what I want. He’s an active case and off limits.”

“Only until we catch whoever’s after him.”

There was that.

And with his head out of his ass, it shouldn’t take him and Emerson more than a few days to find whoever was stalking Jasper and put them behind bars where they belonged. With any luck, Jasper wouldn’t still want to push him off a cliff by the time they solved the case. And if he did, well, then Gabe would make sure Jasper came with him.

If he was going to fall, he wasn’t going alone.


Jasper blew out a breath of exasperation and squatted, stretching his arm as far as he could, but his fingertips just brushed over the front of the glass jar. Seriously? Was nothing going to go his way today? From being arrested at the crack of dawn for the fireworks display that had left black scorch marks on the roof and sides of his building, to Gabe being a pigheaded fool, then not being able to find Lucas so he could kick his lying ass, and now the damn jar of nacho cheese he wanted was at the back of the shelf where he couldn’t fucking reach it, there wasn’t much left that could go wrong.

After hearing about his day, Spencer had declared they were going to have a night of cheesy action movies, bad food, and imported beer. And he’d told Jasper he could bitch at him for as long as he wanted…or until the food ran out. So Jasper needed to make sure there was enough food to feed Spencer for a long time because he had a lot of bitching to do to blow off the craptastic day he’d just had.

Hence why he needed the jar of nacho cheese. It was the perfect indulgent, bad-for-you-but-oh-so-good accompaniment for his legendary chili nachos. Jasper tried again to grab the jar, but when his fingers kept brushing across the front of it, but not quite enough to push it to where he could get a hold of it, he finally just dropped to the ground and slid under the shelf to get it.

Backing out with the coveted jar in hand, Jasper immediately realized two things. One, his day hadn’t stopped screwing with him, and two, Gabe had really big feet.

Pushing himself off the ground, Jasper took his time brushing off his jeans and shirt, making sure to get rid of every tiny speck of dust before looking up at the glowering, yet still mouthwatering man looming over him. “Something I can help you with, Detective?”

Gabe just stared at him with those searing blue eyes and didn’t answer.

“You know,” Jasper said conversationally, dropping the jar of cheese into his cart before turning back to Gabe, “a suspicious man would think you’re following him.”

Gabe gave no response other than a tightening of his jaw.

“But since I’m not a suspicious man, unlike some people…” He paused for a beat, smiling at the scowl he got. “I’m sure you have a good reason for being here.”

Gabe just kept looking at Jasper, not saying anything.

After a few more seconds, Jasper shrugged. “Well, Detective, if that’s everything, I’d better get going. Big plans tonight.”

Gabe growled and crowded Jasper against the shelves.

His magic went haywire, shooting through him like wildfire, bursts of energy that ran along his veins sparking every nerve ending and leaving him lightheaded. The black tourmaline ring on his finger started to glow and the loose crystals in his pockets began sending out little zings of power that made the hair on his legs stand up. Then his magic reached for Gabe, wanting to connect with him, sending Jasper into a panic. Shit. Gabe would never forgive Jasper if he bound them without his consent.

Jasper put his hands on Gabe’s chest to shove him away before his magic could irrevocably tie them together, then let out a small, “Oh,” when he felt the harness under his palms. Having absolutely no control over his fingers, he watched as they flexed, digging into that muscular chest, kneading those firm muscles. Jasper told himself to let the detective go, but his hands had a mind of their own and squeezed again. The nipples under his palms hardened, drawing another breathy sound from him.

Then Gabe leaned in, blocking out the light.

Or that might have been Jasper closing his eyes.

Overwhelmed by the heat radiating off that hot, muscular body and pushed on by the magic that was rocketing through him, Jasper, having obviously lost his mind, slid his hands up that hard masculine chest and locked them behind Gabe’s thick neck. Hardly daring to breathe, he tipped his head back and lifted his eyelids, and was immediately trapped by searing blue.

And Gabe still didn’t say a word.

As the silence went on, Jasper’s body wound tighter and tighter until he felt like he was going to explode. Desperately needing to break the tension before he actually did, Jasper breathed, “Gabe, what—”

Then his mouth was taken in the hottest, most explosive kiss he’d ever experienced. Clutching tight to broad shoulders when his knees buckled, Jasper held on, trying to stay afloat as his lips were ravaged, the ferociousness of Gabe’s mouth on his beating down of his defenses, stripping him bare. He groaned when Gabe wrapped his arms around him, surrounding his body in heat, and took the kiss deeper until Jasper was sinking, falling so fast and so hard he didn’t know if he’d survive the landing.

Then, as suddenly as he’d appeared, Gabe was gone.

Jasper grabbed onto the shelves to keep from falling, panting as he drew air into his lungs, wondering if that had actually happened. But his bruised lips and the hard-on from hell trying to push its way through his jeans told him it had.

Holy fuck could Gabe ever kiss.

And how soon could Jasper get him to do that again?

“My, oh my,” Mrs. Phife said, walking up to him. “That was quite the kiss that young man laid on you.”

Jasper turned to her. “Wh-what?”

She smiled kindly at him. “Give yourself a minute, dearie. A kiss like that can scramble the brain.”

Jasper nodded. It certainly could. And had.

Mrs. Phife leaned in. “Take some advice from someone who’s seen it all and done even more. Don’t let that man get away. Passion like that is almost impossible to come by, so when you find it, you need to hold tight with everything you’ve got.”

“I-I will.”

“Good.” She looked him over, then giggled. “Yes, you really must not let that young man get away.” Then she patted his arm, sending a zing through him as her magic touched his, and tottered off, chuckling to herself as she pushed a shopping cart filled so high with groceries it was almost taller than she was.

Jasper stared after her. He’d never been able to figure out what Mrs. Phife was, and it was rude to ask. He only knew that she was incredibly powerful and had lived in Starfall Grove back when it had been Cherry Grove. Though it wouldn’t surprise him if she’d been there even before that.

When Mrs. Phife turned left at the end of the aisle, Jasper collapsed against the shelves, then slid down until he was sitting on the floor, his mind still reeling from the kiss—such a tame word for the fiery explosion of hunger and need that had rocked his world. Which is when he realized his hard-on was still straining the front of his jeans. And that there was no way Mrs. Phife could have missed seeing it.

Which explained her laughter.

He closed his eyes and let his head fall back. Fuuuuuuck. Would this day ever stop screwing with him?