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Crystal Magic - Starfall Grove Book 1

Copyright © Sheri Dwyer 2023

Chapter Thirteen:

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

Spencer was waiting for him on his porch, pizza in hand, when the Uber dropped Jasper off at his house. Grabbing his shopping bags from the seat next to him, he wished the driver a good night, then got out of the car and joined his friend.

“So, how come you were arrested?” Spencer asked, moving to the side so Jasper could get to the door. Then he squinted. “Was it Detective Dickhead?”

Jasper snorted as he shoved his key in the lock, thinking he should probably tell Spencer to stop calling Gabe that. “Sort of. He—”

“What the fuck, J? What kind of asshole sleeps with you and then arrests you?”

“It wasn’t like that. Gabe—”

“It was exactly like that. Don’t try to defend him.”

“I’m not.” Jasper pushed the door open and motioned for Spencer to go in. “And he didn’t arrest me. He just ordered for me to be brought in.”

“Which is the same thing,” Spencer said, dropping the pizza on the kitchen island. “What a fuckhead.”

“He’s really not,” Jasper said, setting his bags next to the pizza.

“He really is. But your mind’s too messed up by the hot cop sex to see it.”

Jasper laughed. “No, it’s not.” Which was mostly true. “There’s just some stuff going on that you don’t know about.”

“Then why don’t you tell me and I’ll let you know if he’s a fuckhead or not.”

Jasper laughed again. “Fair enough. It started with…” He stopped. Then, taking a lesson from his mother, he unhooked the shard from around his neck and set it in the center of the island.

Spencer gasped. “That’s your mother’s—”

“Wait,” Jasper said, holding up his hand. “Give me a second first.”

And though his eyes were full of questions, Spencer nodded and pressed his lips together.

Smiling his thanks, Jasper rested his fingers on the shard and pushed a trickle of magic into it. But not having his mother’s finesse or familiarity in working with the shard, he accidentally pushed out too much. The stone flared to life, returning his magic to him along with its own, the combined force of the power that flooded Jasper strong enough to take his legs out from under him.

“Fuck,” Jasper shouted as he grabbed onto the island. “Too much. Too much.”

The tenor of the flow changed, causing a buzzing in his ears that made his teeth hurt, but the power flooding him didn’t lessen in intensity.

Dragging himself up, Jasper locked his knees and fought to stay upright as power continued to pour into him. Reaching a trembling hand to the shard, he rested his fingers on it and mentally sent it a message asking it to pull back on its power. The flow rushing through him decreased, then slowed a bit more until the loud buzzing faded into a soft murmur of white noise. Jasper collapsed against the counter, panting as he grabbed for one of the tall stools tucked under the island. When his fumbling fingers found it, he tugged it out, then sat—more like fell—on it. Then he buried his face in his arms and tried to catch his breath.

“Can I talk now?” Spencer asked quietly.

“Yes,” Jasper mumbled, not lifting his head.

“So, uhm, that’s your mother’s shard.”

Looking up at him, Jasper nodded.

Spencer rubbed his arms as his eyes moved from Jasper to the shard and back. “That was a lot of power you just used.”

“It was.”

“What did you just do with it?”

Sitting up straight, Jasper blew out a breath, then said, “Shielded the room so no one could overhear us.”

Spencer’s eyebrows shot up. “It’s that bad?”

“It’s worse.” Jasper pulled out the stool next to him. “Have a seat. I’ll tell you all about it.”

Looking at the shard again, Spencer murmured, “I think we’re going to need beer for this.”

Jasper nodded. “So much beer.” He handed Spencer the bags on the island. “I picked some up on the way home, but there should still be some cold ones in the fridge.”

Spencer took the bags from him and put the two six-packs of craft beer Jasper had picked up into the fridge and grabbed a couple of bottles from the pack sitting on the shelf, then sat down on the stool and slid one of the bottles over to him.

Jasper cracked it open and took a long drink. Then another. After a third, and feeling more like himself, he flipped open the pizza box lid and grabbed a slice. Suddenly ravenous, he shoved most of it into his mouth—jail time sure made a guy hungry—then washed it down with another mouthful of beer, motioning for Spencer to help himself. Waiting until his friend had taken a large bite of pizza, Jasper casually said, “Did I mention I was arrested for attempted murder today?”

He snorted when Spencer choked. Taking another long pull from his beer, Jasper finished off the slice of pizza in his hand, then lifted another from the box, highly entertained by the hacking noises coming from his friend. He was licking sauce off his fingers when Spencer finally stopped coughing long enough to ask him a question.

“Did you say…murder?”

“Attempted murder. Gabe got called out to investigate a body, so after he unlocked me from the bed—”

He stopped and took another drink from his bottle as he waited for Spencer to stop choking on his beer.

Thirty minutes later…

Jasper looked at his friend in concern. Spencer was frozen with his empty beer bottle halfway to the table. After a bit, when he still hadn’t said anything, Jasper removed the bottle from his hand and replaced it with his own half-finished one. Spencer quickly guzzled it down. Realizing that wasn’t going to be enough, Jasper went to the fridge and grabbed two more bottles. Twisting the cap off of one, he handed it to Spencer then climbed back onto his stool. When Spencer had finished that bottle, Jasper asked, “You going to be okay?”

“Not sure,” Spencer said, his voice sounding hoarse as he held out his hand.

Snorting, Jasper handed over his beer, watching in amusement as Spencer drained that one as well.

When he was done, Spencer set the empty down, swiped his hand across his mouth and let out a loud burp. After clearing his throat, he said, “So, uh, framing you for murder is a long way from slashing your tires or putting your sex face on TV.”

“It is.”

“I guess since Lucas was the one who was almost killed, we can rule him out now.”

Jasper nodded. “Yep.”

“And since this person has no problem with killing, we can only assume they’ll try to kill you next.”

“That’s the working theory.” And one that worried the hell out of Gabe, no matter that Jasper and his mother had reassured him that he’d be fine.

“So, what are you going to do?”

“Other than let them come after me?”

“Yeah. Other than that. Which is fucking crazy if you ask me.”

“You know they won’t be able to hurt me.”

“Doesn’t make it any less crazy to agree to be bait.”

Jasper shrugged. “Maybe not. But it’s the best way to find this asshole before they can hurt anyone else.”

“True,” Spencer said, nodding. He tipped his bottle at Jasper. “You want any help?”

“I was counting on it.” Sliding off his stool, Jasper went over to the refrigerator and pulled a can out of his freezer.

“What are you doing now?”

“Making you coffee. We’re going to need you sober for this.”

Spencer let out another belch. “Good idea.”


Swaying only slightly on his stool, the third, or was it the fourth, beer finally kicking in, Spencer held his cup in both hands and took a sip. “So what have the police come up with so far?”

“Not very much,” Jasper said, looking at the pad of paper he was making notes on. “We know this person is a technical wizard, has magical powers on par with my mother, is screwing around with dark magic, and knows a hell of a lot about me.” Including having naked pictures of him that Jasper still hadn’t figured out how they’d gotten.

“That’s not a lot to go on.”


“Can you think of anyone who hates you?”

“Other than Lucas?” Jasper shook his head. “Not a clue.”

“Do you have any unsatisfied customers who might want to get back at you?”

Jasper thought about it, then shook his head again. “Not that I can think of.”

“What about your charms? Could someone have bought one and the person they used it on is mad and blaming you for whatever they had to do?”

“None of my charms can make anyone do anything they don’t want to do. All they do is open them up to the possibility.”

“So no forcing someone to fall in love with them.”


“Guess we can rule that out as well.” Spencer rubbed his chin. “What about someone from school? Was there anyone who hated you? Or maybe it was someone who moved away who’s come back recently and might still be holding a grudge?”

Jasper tapped his pencil on the pad of paper. “I can’t think of anyone right off, but it might be worth looking into.” He jotted down a note to ask his mother about it. She’d know if anyone had recently moved back to Starfall Grove. “Anything else you can think of?”

Spencer shook his head, then frowned. “Actually, I might have an idea.” Setting his cup down to the side, he crossed his arms on the table and leaned forward. “Do you remember Forrest’s older brother Elwood?”

“Skinny guy who likes to wear a bow tie and suspenders.”

“That’s the one.”

“Vaguely. I was never really friends with him. Why?”

“Forrest mentioned something the other day about Elwood taking some online computer courses. It sounded like it’s just basic stuff, but he might be able to help us.”

Jasper shook his head. “I don’t know, Spence. Whoever’s stalking me has a lot more than basic skills. Not sure how Elwood can help.”

“He probably can’t on the hacking stuff, but he may have some ideas of where to find someone with those kinds of skills. Or even who we could ask about it. At worst, he’ll be able to tell us what questions to ask.” Spencer shrugged. “It couldn’t hurt to talk to him.”

“I guess not.” Jasper wrote it down even though he thought it would be a waste of time. But then again, it might not be. And as Spencer said, what could it hurt to ask?


At the knock on his back door, Jasper looked out the kitchen window, then rushed to open the door, smiling at Gabe when he came in. The smile dropped from his face when Gabe brushed past him without saying a word and sat at the island. After a second, he grabbed Jasper’s beer and drained it, then got up from his stool and went to the fridge and grabbed another. And while Jasper was happy Gabe felt comfortable enough in his house to make himself at home, he was worried about how tired and defeated he looked.

Quietly closing the door, Jasper asked, “Are you okay?”

Gabe nodded as he twisted off the cap, but from the way he guzzled back half the bottle, Jasper didn’t believe him.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” Gabe said, going back to the island and retaking his seat. “Just a long, frustrating day that started with an attempted murder and ended with the Captain kicking my ass for getting involved with you.”

“Oh.” Jasper bit his lip, then asked, “How much trouble are you in?”

“No more than I expected. And less than I’d have been in somewhere else.”

“Okay. That’s good, I guess.”

“I still have my job, so yeah, it’s good.” Gabe took another drink of his beer, then looked at the pad on the island. Setting his bottle down, he picked it up. Then frowned. “What’s this?”

“Spencer and I were making notes to try to figure out who might be stalking me.”

Gabe dropped the pad and scowled at Jasper. “You talked to him about the case?”

“Uh, huh,” Jasper said, going over to the fridge to find something to make for Gabe. He had to be starving by now.

“The Captain said not to discuss it with anyone.”

Jasper nodded and pulled out some sandwich meat and lettuce that didn’t look too wilted. “I know. But I’m sure he didn’t mean Spencer.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

Jasper closed the fridge and turned to him. “What?”

“You were told not to discuss the case with anyone.”

“I didn’t discuss it with anyone. I discussed it with Spencer.” He set the meat and lettuce on the island counter and then went to grab some bread from the pantry.

“Would you fucking stop and listen to me?”

Jasper stopped and turned to him. “I don’t understand why you’re so upset”

“Because you were supposed to keep your mouth shut. Why the fuck did you tell Spencer?”

Jasper shrugged. “He’s my best friend. I tell him everything.” When that didn’t seem to help, Jasper said, “I trust him.”

“For fuck’s sake. You can’t trust anyone,” Gabe said, sliding off his stool and walking over to him. “Especially not someone who has this kind of access to your life. Do you have any idea how often someone is killed by a trusted friend or family member?”

“Spencer wouldn’t—”

Gabe grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him. “You have to be smarter than this or you’re going to get yourself killed.”

“It’s okay,” Jasper said, patting his chest. “You’re worrying over nothing. I’ve known Spencer since we were kids. I trust him with my life.”

“You’d better fucking hope he’s not the one stalking you, or you’ve just handed it to him on a silver platter.” He moved Jasper to the side and went to the door, “And you better not have fucked up this case or I might just kill you myself.”

Oh shit. Gabe was angrier than he’d thought. Jasper hurried after him, stopping in surprise when Gabe flipped the lock. “Oh. I thought you were leaving.”

Gabe turned away from the door “I am. I have to go to the station to let Em and the Captain know that you’ve compromised the case.”

Jasper winced. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it would be a problem. I’m just used to telling Spencer everything.”

“Sorry isn’t going to cut it when the Captain throws your ass in jail,” Gabe said, coming back and tossing Jasper over his shoulder.

Jasper grabbed onto the back of his jacket. “What are you doing?”

“Taking you to bed first. If I can fuck my anger out, I might not want to kill you.”

Which worked for Jasper. He’d take angry sex with Gabe any day of the week.


Back in the kitchen after Gabe had left, slamming the door behind him with a warning for Jasper to keep his mouth shut from now on—which hadn’t been as forceful as he’d probably intended since Gabe had done as promised and fucked his anger out, leaving him a mellow, if grumbly mess—Jasper guzzled half the glass of water he’d just poured then held the cool glass to his overheated face. He had no idea how Gabe had enough energy to slam doors after the marathon of angry sex they’d just had. Jasper’s legs were shaking so hard he could barely stand and Gabe had done most of the work.

He grinned thinking of how much work his detective had done.

A few seconds later he heard the angry rumble of Gabe’s muscle car as it started up then roared off down the street. He drank the rest of his water snickering to himself when he realized Gabe’s vehicle had the same temperament as him.

He was looking around his messy kitchen trying to decide if he had enough energy left to clean it up then or just leave it for the morning when there was a quiet knock on his back door before Spencer stuck his head in. “Is it safe to come in?”

Jasper grinned. “Yes. The big, scary detective is gone.”

“Thank fuck,” Spencer said as he came in, closing the door behind him. “You alright?”

Jasper’s grin got bigger. “Never better.”

Spencer snorted. “So, I see.” He looked away, then back. “So, uhm, the detective, he’s uh, he’s pretty intense, huh?”

Jasper nodded. “Yep. He’s also kind of pissed at me right now.”

Spencer nodded, looking everywhere but at Jasper. “I heard. I think the whole neighborhood heard.”

Hopefully, they hadn’t heard what Jasper had been yelling during sex or he’d never be able to look his neighbors in the face again. He squinted. Kind of like how Spencer was avoiding his eyes right now. “How much did you hear?”

“Not much,” Spencer said, shrugging. Then he looked at Jasper, his eyes full of laughter. “Just a few fuck me’s and harder, harder.” He snorted. “I might also have heard a couple of spank me, officer, I’ve been a bad boy.”

Jasper laughed. “I gotta tell you, it adds a little something to the spanking when the one doing it is actually a cop.” His butt cheeks were still burning.

Spencer snickered and shook his head. “I’m not sure I’d have been brave enough to let him do that, not with how pissed he was.”

Jasper figured he probably shouldn’t mention he’d been in handcuffs at the time.

Spencer sat at the island. “So what was Detective Dickhead so angry about?”

Jasper sobered, thinking about what Gabe had said to him just before he left, that by Jasper talking and getting Spencer involved, he could have put a target on his friend’s back. “He was angry about me telling you what was going on.”


“Because it’s confidential information about an active case and might have compromised it. So, we, uh, maybe shouldn’t try to find who’s stalking me.”

“You don’t want to look for them anymore?”

Jasper hesitated, then shook his head.

Spencer’s eyes narrowed. “What else did your detective say?”


“Try again.”

Jasper sighed. His friend knew him too well. “Just that you knowing what’s going on could have put you in danger. I don’t want you to get hurt, Spencer.”

“So you’re calling it off because you’re worried about me?”

Jasper nodded.

“Well, I’m worried about you too, dummy, so we’re going to do this.”


“No,” Spencer said, holding up his hand. “I get that you’re worried. And I understand Gabe doesn’t want us ruining his investigation. So we’ll be careful and we’ll try not to get in his way, but I’m not going to let some asshole keep taking shots at you.”

Which is about what Jasper had expected because he’d have said the same thing if Spencer had been in trouble. Glancing at the back door Gabe had gone through, Jasper bit his lip, then turned back to Spencer. “Okay. We’ll do it together. But we’re not going to take any unnecessary risks or do anything that’ll mess up Gabe’s case.”


“And we can’t let him know what we’re doing.”

“He’ll never suspect a thing.”

Jasper hoped not. If Gabe had been mad enough to kill him for only talking to Spencer, he didn’t want to think about how livid he’d be if he found out they were investigating on their own.

There was no way his butt could take angry sex at that level of furious.

At least…he didn’t think so.

But maybe…

Damn. Now Jasper didn’t know if he wanted Gabe to find out what he and Spencer were up to or not.