Okay, I promised you an excerpt from my upcoming Samhain release, The Matchmakers...and here it is!
Nick didn’t remember going to bed. He barely remembered inspecting his truck by flashlight and finding his cell phone on the floor under the passenger seat, then running his hands along the paint job as he looked for the scratches and dents that couldn’t have disappeared without a trace. He vaguely recalled his third beer and the four times he’d picked up the phone to report his wingless, green-eyed faerie to the police. Now, it all seemed like a dream that could be easily forgotten.
During those first few minutes of partial amnesia after he’d pried his leaden eyelids open, he thought again about leaving town. He’d been in Bayerville for eight months. That was longer than he’d stayed anywhere since he’d left home about twenty minutes after he turned eighteen. Twelve years of roaming the country, seeing the world, had taken him as far south as Acapulco and as far north as Nova Scotia. There were dozens of places he’d promised to return to and hundreds he’d vowed to stay away from.
Bayerville, Pennsylvania was a pretty little place that presented itself at a time when he needed a break. He’d found a furnished apartment with a month-to-month lease and started taking carpentry jobs to pay the rent. He’d gotten comfortable.
He’d begun to think “comfortable” might be a good place to be for a while, and that made him nervous.
Settling down meant it wouldn’t be so easy to pack up and leave when things got sticky—and they always got sticky eventually. When the wanderlust hit him, he might be torn up about leaving certain things, or certain people, behind, and that was something he definitely didn’t want.
That thought chased away the pleasant blur of sleep, and the events of the previous night settled in his conscious mind like a lead blanket.
He had a stalker. Or maybe a real faerie. Come on. She had to be a magician of some sort. There must be a reasonable explanation for everything he’d seen last night.
“Matchmaker. Right.” He laughed as he rolled out of bed and drew up the window shade on a cool, breezy Friday morning. All that crap about true love. There was no such thing. Love came and went. He’d been in love once or twice. At seventeen he’d been desperately in love with a girl in his twelfth grade homeroom. Sandy something. She’d had the bluest eyes he’d ever seen, and kissing her made him feel like Superman. At the prom, he’d suggested they sneak out to the parking lot and spend a little time in the back seat of his dad’s car. He’d brought a blanket and a fresh box of rubbers just in case.
She’d slapped him and called him a worthless, horny dick. Not surprisingly, that desperate feeling of love had faded before final exams were over. The next girl, to whom he’d made a similar suggestion, thought it was a great idea, and he’d never given Sandy what’s-her-name a second thought.
At twenty-five, he’d met Clair Bainbridge in Tallahassee, Florida and spent four months high on endorphins. The aspiring dolphin trainer had the body of a sea goddess and she could swim like a mermaid. Hell, maybe she was a mermaid for all he knew. She sang like a siren and made love like it mattered. She was the girl of his dreams, and he’d walked away forever after she asked him to move in with her.
That desperate feeling went away again in the months that followed, and Nick never questioned why. Love faded. That was a fact. The newness wore off after a while. None of it was real or “true”. He’d made damn sure all the women who had come after Claire knew that.
Tinkerbell was crazy. Nick had nothing to lose. Life without having to worry about falling in love didn’t seem like a punishment at all.
When the doorbell rang, he shot a nervous glance at the bedside clock. He hadn’t planned on sleeping until ten-thirty, but since he had nowhere in particular to go this morning…what if she’d come back early?
Damn. He’d planned to be long gone by noon. Now he’d have to make up some new excuse to get rid of her. He grabbed a t-shirt from the bureau and slid into yesterday’s jeans. Raking his fingers through his hair, he headed for the living room but stopped to snag a piece of cinnamon gum from the nightstand before he left.
At least this time she’d rung the bell.
He opened the door a cautious crack, and Miranda threw herself into his arms. “Nicky!”
He backed up, clamping one arm around her waist to steady her, then swung her around and deposited her on her feet in the middle of the living room. He kicked the door shut as he let go of her.
“Hey…there, Miranda. How are you?”
She thrust one curvaceous hip forward and gave him the look he knew so well. That dark, mysterious, brown-eyed come-on that said, “What, me married?”
It had been his undoing three weeks ago when she’d hired him to build her new pool house. Now it just made him miss the open road.
“Skip and I are separated.” The announcement came with a triumphant smile, which faded a bit when Nick didn’t immediately respond in kind. “Aren’t you happy? He moved out last night. He’s on his way back to Boston right now. He’s got some little bimbo there, I just know it. But I don’t care. What’s wrong, Nick? You look like you have something caught in your throat.”
“I just—I’m surprised he left. From the way things sounded last night, I figured you’d be the one moving out.”
She shrugged, did a pirouette and plopped on the couch. “I just reminded him that our pre-nup requires proof of infidelity, and he’s got nothing on me. I’ve got copies of his cell phone bills and his credit card receipts from all his business trips this year. He wasn’t on the phone with the Boston office fifteen times a day, and the firm isn’t sending him to Pompano to get three-hour massages and shop at Victoria’s Secret. If the slut in Boston finds out about the slut in Pompano, I might just end up a wealthy widow.”
Nick had that tight feeling in his chest again that came whenever he felt a female net starting to close around him. Miranda jumped up and sidled into his embrace. She ran her fingers over his chest and up to the stubble on his lower jaw. Her dark hair tickled his chin.
“I’m writing the checks now, and I’ve got a lot of projects for you, Nick. Come finish the pool house, and then we can pick up where we left off last night.” Her lips, painted a sugary shade of pink, drew into her trademark pout.
Sex on a pile of two-by-fours suddenly didn’t appeal to Nick. He put his hands on Miranda’s shoulders and pushed her back just an inch or so. Her sweet pout flattened into a frown.
“What’sa matter, Nick? I promise Skip won’t be back.” Her fingers moved over the skin around his eye, which he just realized didn’t hurt a bit. “He must’ve pulled his punch. You don’t even have a bruise.”
“Miranda, it’s not…I don’t? Oh…uh, if you want me to finish the pool house, I will, but…”
But what? Yesterday, she’d told him she loved him. Why was that knowledge such a turn off? It wasn’t that he didn’t find her attractive anymore, he just—
“Nick, baby, aren’t you coming back to bed?”
The familiar voice had a sexy, sleepy purr to it that sent Nick’s blood rushing to his extremities. All of them. He backed up a full four steps away from Miranda.
He turned and saw Calliope sauntering out of his bedroom, and his heart thumped once, hovering on the precipice of the next beat. She wore one of his work shirts, open to the third button. The tails of the plaid flannel swayed around her bare thighs as she yawned and blinked languorously at him.
Jesus! His bedroom windows were locked. Where the hell had she come from?
Miranda’s gaze turned to ice cold daggers, and she came at him, fists balled. “Who the hell is she?”
He caught Miranda’s wrists and held her while she showered him with a mix of Italian and English expletives.
“I…just met her.” That didn’t come out right, but he couldn’t take it back.
“You picked her up on the way home from my place?” Miranda struggled against his grip. She kicked his right shin, but he held her off despite the pain.
“Well, actually, yes.” Calliope winked at Miranda, then leaned on the doorframe and stretched. The movement raised the hem of her borrowed shirt barely an inch, but the distraction cost him. Miranda broke loose and cracked him across the jaw with her open palm. It stung, but not as much as Skip’s punch had.
“Miranda, she’s a stranger—some girl who followed me home. She’s crazy!”
“Mmm, that’s right, lover. Tell her how crrrazy I am! Meow!” Calliope did a sexy shimmy and clawed the air.
Miranda growled. “I can’t believe you! You said we—I thought you—” Miranda sputtered at him, obviously at a loss to pin any promises on him.
Nick gaped as Calliope turned and glided back into the bedroom. “When you’re finished out here, cowboy, I’ll be waiting for another ride.”