Join authors Cecilia Randell, Joely Sue Burkhart, Tabitha Barret, Serena Lindahl and C.A. Storm as they take you through tales of Irish love and folklore for St. Patrick’s day. There will be gods, immortals, gargoyles, creepy castles, ancient legends and, of course, a leprechaun or two.
My contribution is The Treasurekeeper. I've included a teaser below and I'm also running a giveaway on my Facebook page. Prizes include a Celtic-themed set of nail art from Color Street and three signed copies from Their Vampire Queen series.
Her Irish Treasures
In hindsight, partying my way through a string of bars to celebrate my divorce was probably not my smartest decision. In fact, it ranked up there with marrying the asshole in the first place.
Bleary eyed, I rolled over in bed and cracked my head on something. Fuck. My head already pounded. Rubbing the bump, I blinked furiously, trying to make my eyes focus long enough to figure out what, exactly, was lying on the pillow next to me. Sadly, it wasn’t the bartender who’d been flirting with me last night. Somehow, I’d ended up in bed with a statue. A very ugly statue.
A two-foot tall gargoyle leered up at me.
He had a huge, crooked nose, elongated arms, and massive hulking shoulders. His features were harsh and mean. Everything was too pronounced and overdrawn, from a heavy brow down to large clawed feet.
I picked him up, wincing at how heavy he was, and set the statue on the nightstand. “Where the fuck did you come from?”
I vaguely remembered seeing the statue behind one of the bars last night. Did I steal the fucking thing? I couldn’t even remember the name of the bar to take it back. Something Irish, I thought. Lucky’s. No, but it did have something to do with a clover.
Shamrocked. Yeah, that was it.
I slid out of bed and made my way to the bathroom, concentrating so I didn’t stagger. My back itched as I walked across the floor, imagining the gargoyle’s stare. I wasn’t naked, but I still think he enjoyed the view of me in my tank-top and undies.
Stop it. I told myself with a firm glare in the mirror. It’s just a statue.
But I still dressed in the bathroom, dragging on a pair of sweats and a T-shirt out of the dirty clothes hamper.
Without sparing a second glance at the gargoyle, even though that meant not grabbing my glasses on the nightstand, I headed down the hallway to the kitchen. My best friend, Viviana, stood at the coffee pot, immaculate in an expensive berry-colored pencil skirt and knee-high leather boots. I couldn’t pull boots off like that. Not with my thick calves. But she was practically a giant at six feet tall and model thin, so she looked drop-dead gorgeous in everything. Her flaming red hair and perfect complexion only added to her appeal.
“Oh, honey.” She laughed softly as she handed me a cup of coffee. “You’re looking worse for wear today.”
I grunted beneath my breath and took a long drink, even though it was scalding hot. “I should have left when you did. Then maybe I wouldn’t feel like death warmed over.”
“Are you doing okay? With everything?”
Everything—which described what my ex-husband had taken. Without her, I wouldn’t have a roof over my head. Hell, who was I kidding? If she hadn’t let me move in with her almost a year ago, I’d be dead. I wouldn’t have been able to survive another month in that toxic environment. “I might be penniless, but I’m free. As long as you don’t mind a moocher for a few more months until I get a nest egg built up, or I sell a nice commission or two.”
“You’re welcome indefinitely. I love having you here and I hate living alone.” Headed toward the door, she paused to give me a quick hug. “I mean it, Riann. Stay as long as you want. You’re the sister I never had and I’ve got plenty of room. I love seeing you stretch your wings, so thank you for letting me watch your art grow and expand with new adventures.”
My eyes burned, my throat constricted, and all I could do was bob my head and lean against her. But after nearly twenty years of friendship, she knew exactly how moved I was, even if I couldn’t say it. She kissed the top of my head and grabbed a leather portfolio on the counter. “Boss man will be in court all this week on a big trial, so don’t wait up for me.”
“I’ll sneak in a few hours at the diner this evening, but I’ll try to have something for dinner around nine or so. Does that work for you?”
“You don’t have to cook or clean or do anything.” She gave me a firm glare. “You’re my guest. I’ll eat at work so don’t worry about me, and don’t work crappy hours at the diner when you could be here, creating something beautiful.” Her phone dinged and she sighed. “That’s the car. I really need to go.”
“Have a great day, and don’t let boss man run you around too much.”
Shrugging on a long wool coat, she laughed. “Oh, don’t worry about me. I’ve got his balls in a vise and he knows it. He couldn’t manage to take a shit without me, let alone get to trial on time.”
She breezed outside and I watched from the window as the driver got out of the sleek silver sedan that screamed money, and lots of it, to open her door. She waved, slid inside, and in moments, she was gone. I turned around, propped my butt against the counter, and took a long sip of my coffee. With each swallow, I felt a little more human. In fact, the familiar itch started in the back of my brain that warned a new idea was coming in hard and fast. My favorite kind of inspiration.
If I’d still been married, I would have squashed that feeling and tried to smother it. I didn’t have time to indulge in a hobby, as my ex called it. I had to work and keep the house in shape and get his dinner on the table by six o’clock. Just remembering pissed me off, and I wasn’t mad at him.
I was mad at myself for putting up with that bullshit for so long.
I’d allowed him to clip my wings and slip blinders on so all I saw was the safe little house, the boring corporate job, and the debits and credits on our balance sheet. None of which I cared about in the slightest. I didn’t care if we had a nest egg that would let us retire when we were forty. I’d hated my cubicle and the neat green patches of yard framed by invisible picket fences. I’d hated watching my imagination wither and die. I’d always loved painting, and while he’d never explicitly tried to forbid me from indulging in my art, he would make passive-aggressive comments that made me feel guilty.
Yeah, I was obsessive. I got lost in my art sometimes. Hours might pass before I came up for air.
No, I wasn’t a professional artist, but only because I didn’t have the time to work. When I started a new painting, I wanted to finish it. I might work hours and hours on it. I might stay up all night, or burn dinner, or, God forbid, not even start dinner.
Evidently his arms were broken and he couldn’t manage to help with dinner even one lousy night.
I slammed the cup down too hard on the counter and stomped back toward the room Viviana had given me. If I wanted to paint all day and all night, then that was exactly what I was going to do.
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