Irons In The Fire is $0.99 for a limited time.If you haven't read it yet, now's the time to download your copy at https://amzn.com/B0112J0KIE
The book was a nominee for the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Small Press Paranormal. It is a contemporary paranormal romance in which Irish legends revolve around a contemporary plot set along the Jersey shore. The heroine, Catherine, has been told she is a descendant of fairies but without her uncle’s ancient book of spells, she cannot harness her powers and though she can foresee the future, she can do nothing to change it. But when her uncle is murdered, she must depend upon Britt Jenkins, her uncle's neighbor, to help her solve the murder.
In the following scene, Britt and Catherine are returning to his house after being questioned by the police.
Jenkins' sports car had a stick shift, a clutch, and very little room. When he shifted gears, his hand brushed Catherine's thigh and set off a tremor inside her. She edged closer to the door of the sleek vehicle and sought to blot out the vision she had just endured.
With him as a distraction, eliminating the illusion wasn't as difficult as she thought it would be. The engine roared and the strong, callused hand on the gearshift slid along her thigh again, creating another earthquake in her system. She swallowed hard, turning to gaze out of the window as they sped along Main Street.
She recognized the small business district of Gull Haven. A crowd had gathered on the street outside of one of the pubs. As the car cruised past, a fight broke out on the sidewalk. She flinched when one drunken man slammed another with his fist.
“Did you see that?” she gasped.
“Yeah. Another fight at the ‘Happy Sailor.’ That's a nightly ritual.”
She frowned at his lack of concern. The light from a street lamp illuminated the grim set to his mouth. She supposed exhaustion weighed as heavily on him as it did on her, but she didn't doubt he was furious with her as well. She had told the detective about that slip of paper. While she didn't regret it, because she knew her uncle's scrawl contained an important clue, she didn't enjoy causing a rift between them. He had, after all, saved her life.
The car rolled by another pub that had at least twenty motorcycles parked outside. Catherine knew the nightlife in Gull Haven left a lot to be desired. If any residents wished for something more cultured than beer and pretzels for an evening out, they went to Rivershire, over the bridge on the mainland.
They left the business district behind and headed north. The rest of the town was quiet. Too quiet. With the solid rock wall on the right, dark houses on the left, and her mysterious, unpredictable companion, loneliness crept over her.
The Taylors’ brooding gothic came into view and served only to make her more uneasy. The thought of staying in that house by herself gave her the creeps.
He turned the car into his driveway. “So where's your aunt?”
She started at his curt tone. “I don’t know. At some spa, I think. We don't—I mean, we've never really been close.” A deep stab of pain shot through her heart. The loss of her uncle could only make the situation with her aunt worse.
“What about Mike's stepson, Drew?”
“He had a sailing race this weekend in Maryland.” Catherine's throat tightened. Drew had always gotten along well with Mike. He would be as devastated as she was at the loss. Although Drew wouldn't be back until tomorrow, perhaps she could share her grief with him and patch up the old animosities.
Her companion stared at her for a minute, his eyes as hot and piercing as a laser. Then he got out of the car.
She slid out and followed him as he stalked into his house. Inside the back door, he flipped the switch to turn on the lights. She covered her eyes until they could adjust to the blinding gleam. Dangling from the ceiling, a bare bulb sent glaring rays bouncing off the stark white ceiling and walls.
It had been a long, terrible day and her tongue turned acerbic. “This reminds me of a blizzard I attended once,” she said.
He stopped pulling the plastic drop cloth off his refrigerator to scowl. “You don't like it?”
“It's dazzling.” She smiled as he glowered. Not only was he egotistical, he was monochromatic.
“Now wait a minute, Mullaney.” He wagged a finger at her.
“You may call me Miss Mullaney or Ms. Mullaney or even Catherine, but I'm not one of your old chums from the pub, Jenkins.”
His eyes widened in surprise and then narrowed threateningly. “I'll call you anything I please.” His voice took on a menacing edge.
Catherine rolled her eyes. Where did this fellow come from? The Stone Age? He could keep his pizza. “Look, I'm grateful you saved my life today, but I'm totally exhausted. Thanks for offering to feed me, but I can take care of myself.” She didn't feel hungry, anyway.
She spun, snagged her foot in the plastic drop cloth, and let out a startled cry as she pitched toward the floor. With lightning reflexes, he caught her before she connected with the solid tile. The strong grip on her shoulders set her heart racing. His face hovered over hers and her knees went weak.
“You are going to sit on my couch and you are going to eat my pizza, because I am not going to be responsible for you fainting in my kitchen.”
His cold tone acted like a bracing splash of water, bringing her to her senses. “I wasn’t going to faint. I simply tripped.”
“It looked like fainting to me.” He searched her face with his scorching gaze. His breath fanned her skin, sending a tingling sensation over her limbs. She decided she really would faint if he came any closer. She closed her eyes as she felt the flush blooming on her cheeks.
He freed one of her arms and passed his hand across her brow. “Are you feverish?”
Terrific. What could she say to him? No, I'm just blushing because you are sending these crazy shivers up and down my spine. She didn't say anything.
“All right. Come into the living room.” He ushered her to the sofa. “Put your feet up. I'll get a blanket. How about a glass of wine?”
She tried to shake off his solicitous hands. “There's nothing wrong with me. I'm fine.”
“You've had a shock. Maybe I should call an ambulance,” he muttered.
“I'm okay,” she protested.
Ignoring her attempt at bravery, he swung her feet up on the couch, covered her with a blanket, and handed her a glass of wine. Then he busied himself zapping pizza in his microwave.
She soon regretted her comment about his kitchen. After a few sips of wine, she suggested it would be perfect if he added some plants and a collection of plates, perhaps, or old copper molds. She complimented the living room with its gleaming oak floor. After several more sips of wine, she even volunteered to help him choose his furnishings.
He handed her a personal-size pizza and refilled her wineglass, then sat cross-legged on the floor and munched on his own meal.
“So you think the house has possibilities?” he asked.
“It's charming,” she reassured him. “With the right touches, it would be a real showpiece.”
He shook his head. “Your uncle told me the same thing.”
For a few minutes she had put all the day's events out of her mind, but his words brought it all back. Determined not to cry, she swallowed against the ache in her throat and listened as he told her how her uncle sold him the house, gave him advice on repairs, and bought him a set of tools. Reclining against the pillow, she enjoyed the rich timbre of his voice and watched as the softer side of her rescuer took shape. The words he chose made him seem quite intelligent, she decided. And when he wasn't glaring at her, he presented a rather handsome appearance.
Taking another sip of wine, she closed her eyes, just for a minute. She wouldn't fall asleep on him. No, she just felt delightfully warm and safe. She wished she didn't have to go back to Aunt Evelyn’s house.
Oblivious to the late hour, her rescuer droned on, describing how to spackle sheet rock and strip old wood. Her head nodded and she fell asleep.
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