New Release!!! Love Charm for Fiona
I’m proud to release the sixth in my Love Charm Series.
Here’s the blurb for Love Charm for Fiona:
If you wish upon a star…
Fiona flees to the East Coast to escape the agony of losing her West Coast Marine fiancé in war. She needs to put a world of space between herself and all things military if she’s going to successfully resume her career as a painter.
Her new friend on Cape Cod, a mysterious fortuneteller, gives her a love charm. Even though Fiona doesn’t believe in fairy tales, a flicker of hope is rekindled in her heart. Perhaps magic can bring her fiancé back to life…he’s the only love she wants.
But a love charm has its own magic.
What Fiona gets is a surprise in the form of a Navy SEAL, exactly the type of man who has almost destroyed her once. Jack is the type of military special forces operator women love to lionize. But his job doesn’t allow for commitment. He has no choice but to be the ‘Hit it and Quit it’ kind of guy.
Fiona won’t have any trouble leaving him on the shore…unless fairy tales really do come true.
Despite the mild weather, October was off-season on Cape Cod, and Fiona had the beach to herself tonight. Well, there was one other car in the parking lot, a large black SUV, but she didn’t see any people. She wanted to walk barefoot but there was too much seaweed strewn over the sand. She strolled over to the windsurfing side of the beach and let the wind grab her hair and the skirt she was still wearing from her day at the fair.
The moon shone a gleaming path on the black ocean and she stared, unseeing, thinking about the path of her life. Or, rather the lack of a path in her life. She had no direction since she’d become unmoored with Andy’s death.
Until tonight, that aimlessness had always been fine with her. Who cared where she was going when she didn’t have anyone by her side? As an art teacher, she could more or less work anywhere. Her painting was a compulsion, a way for her to forget her loneliness, and a way to measure out her days. She wanted to sell professionally so she could give up her day job. At the same time, she suspected it was good for her to have to go to the schoolhouse five mornings a week. Otherwise, she might turn into a complete recluse.
Her skirt blew up suddenly, and she clamped down on it and was reminded of Zara’s gift in her pocket.
A love charm. What was the use of that when the only love she wanted was dead?
And then the idea hit her. Not that she believed in spells, but what did she have to lose? Why not follow Zara’s directions, throw the charm into the ocean, and wish for Andy to come back to her?
It wouldn’t work. She knew that. But she wouldn’t have lost anything.
If it did—no, she wouldn’t even entertain that hope. It would only set her up for disappointment, and it was a stupid hope. How could she believe in magical spells?
Without any further thought, she grabbed the silk packet, held it for a moment while its heat warmed her cold hand—then flung it as far as she could into the murmuring sea.
Bring my true love to me, she whispered into the night wind.
A shiver ran over her, and she gasped when a triangular black silhouette, like a ghostly sail from the past, scudded across the path of the moon. A half-hope sparked within her for a nanosecond. That dark silhouette could have been dragged from the grave.
Except—was that a man bowed alongside the sail?
For another moment, transcendent joy mixed with sheer terror as she thought of the love charm she’d just cast. She knew Andy was never coming back, but the promise of magic had given her that one unguarded moment of hope that Zara’s spell might have achieved the impossible. Even that spark was dimmed by the knowledge of the desolation she would feel when she was forced to realize that there was no magic that could return the dead to life.
She’d have to experience that crushing disappointment again, as she’d experienced it every day for months after he died. Every time she woke up, she had to re-learn the fact of his death. The unending grief all day long wasn’t bad enough.
No, when you finally achieved a measure of oblivion through sleep, you had to pay the price for that peace by awakening and remembering the horrible fact again.
The sail moved out of the direct path of the moon, and she saw the man framed against the night, his wetsuit darker than the moonlit sky.
Ah. A windsurfer.
The expected grief struck her like a physical blow. No, that was not Andy, restored to her from some alchemy of magic. It was just a fool on the water at night. Someone who didn’t understand how quickly life could be extinguished, or how deadly the elements could be.
Her taut nerves settled a bit as she recognized what she was seeing. Although it was hard to believe anyone was foolish enough to be out there on the ocean swells in the dark and alone. Well, it was none of her business, but she was a bit annoyed. Now she wouldn’t be able to leave the beach until he came in. She didn’t want to spend all night worrying about him.
Really, his behavior was not only foolhardy, but inconsiderate as well. She tromped up and down the beach, trying not to watch the fool on the water. But she soon found her gaze trapped by his almost balletic motions. She didn’t know a lot about windsurfing, but he was clearly an expert, skimming over the water with the grace and natural skill of a large seabird.
After an hour or so, she’d walked off her frustrations, and was debating whether or not to leave him anyway. After all, it had been his choice to expose himself to the twin risks of enjoying his sport, not only in the dark, but also without a companion. She felt confident now that he knew what he was doing and if an accident befell him, it wasn’t her responsibility.
She’d never been one to shirk responsibility. Despite his expertise, he could slip and fall off the board. He could knock himself unconscious, his mast could break…the list went on of all the ways he could injure himself or even die.
She wrapped her arms around herself in a vain attempt to warm up. With the wind blowing in directly off the ocean, she was chilled. Finally, she saw he was coming in. She wanted to turn away, but something held her gaze.
She watched him drop the sail, jump off the board, and wade onto the beach.
Oh my. She wasn’t interested in sex and therefore, there was no point in gawking at the bounty with which Mother Nature had gifted him. But there was no denying one fact – a wet suit didn’t give a man any privacy with respect to the parts that made him a man.
Not that this man was shy. He handled his board with casual confidence, and his stride was long. If he knew that the wetsuit outlined his bounteous parts like a lover’s caress, he gave no sign of it. Fiona sighed. If she ever were going to give up her self-imposed celibacy, she wouldn’t mind picking someone like him.
With a surprising amount of reluctance, she turned away before he got close enough so they’d be forced to speak. She’d enjoyed the view, but she didn’t want to engage with him. Her celibacy was something she guarded like the most devout nun.
He must have been moving more quickly than she’d realized. She’d only gone a few steps when she heard his voice.
She jerked around. How did the guy know her name? She didn’t know any windsurfers, or any men at all for that matter, here on the Cape.
But he was facing her now, his face highlighted by the full moon, and she recognized him instantly. Her heart gave a funny thump. She remembered how he’d looked moving over the water, powerful, graceful even, and she had a sudden visual of that body moving over her.
She banished the thought. If she were ever to get involved with a man again, she’d be looking for this guy’s opposite. The alpha guy might feature in a fantasy or two but in real life, she didn’t want a guy who embraced risk and adventurousness. She knew where that ended.
Speaking of which—”That was dumb to be out windsurfing alone at night,” she said to Jack, her lion of the fair. She knew the words would annoy him because he was the type who thought the world was his personal toy and he was immune from harm.
“I’m a pretty good swimmer,” he said, his tone mild. “What are you doing out here?”
“I came for a short walk, but then I got stuck making sure you didn’t have a stupid accident.”
“I appreciate the thought.” He’d reached her by now and came to a stop, holding the board casually under one arm. “Even though I didn’t ask for your help.”
“Yeah, well, too bad for me, I have a conscience.” She resumed walking. “Now that we’ve gotten that sorted out, I’ll say good night.”
His long strides kept him easily at her side. “Would you like to go for a drink?”
She glanced at him. “Not with a man who looks like a lame movie version of a frogman.”
Something sparked in his eyes, but she couldn’t read the expression in the dark.
“I’m staying nearby,” he said. “I could get cleaned up real fast and meet you somewhere.”
She had to give him points for persistence, and for good humor. No matter what she said, he didn’t seem to take offense. She supposed with his size and general air of competence, he didn’t have a lot to prove. He could afford to let things slide off his back. Or maybe he simply had an easygoing personality.
But something about him gave her the idea that he wasn’t as laidback as he tried to appear. Still, even though she was tempted, she wasn’t going to give in. She had her own psyche to worry about. “I don’t date,” she said.
“Anyone?” He raised his brows.
She shook her head.
“Because then they become nosy,” she snapped, “and think they are owed answers to every lame ass question they can pester me with.”
They’d reached his SUV and he popped the trunk. “Can you help me with the board?” he asked.
She frowned at him. “You are perfectly able to handle that thing.”
He laid the windsurfing board on the end of the trunk. “Just make sure the top doesn’t scratch the leather when I slide it in,” he said. “This is all rental equipment. I want to be careful of it.”
“So you’re vacationing here?” She bit off the last word, annoyed with herself for asking. Why did she care what he was doing?
“Visiting my sister,” he said cheerfully. He glanced over the board, making sure everything was in place, and then stepped back and closed the trunk. “I have just one more question for you.”
She leaned back against the SUV. Somehow, he’d managed to get in front of her so she was trapped, with his big body on one side of her, and the truck on the other. She didn’t feel threatened though, because she was enjoying his sea-tinged scent too much and she wanted to breathe it in for just another moment.
He was close enough that she had to look up to see his face, and her gaze got snagged on his wide shoulders that blocked out the moon, enclosing her in a small space that suddenly seemed all man, all Jack. He leaned in a bit and she caught her breath as her body revved up another notch from its already heightened state.
“What’s your question?” she asked, merely to avoid thinking about the electrified awareness that was sparking between them. She had to be imagining that sizzling electricity because she wasn’t going to be attracted to him.
No matter what.
Even though her traitorous mind was wondering why those chiseled lips were calling to her with that half-smile he seemed to have perfected.
“There’s some kind of chemistry between us, Fiona,” he said. “Don’t you feel it?”
“No,” she lied. “I don’t want to get involved with anyone.” That last bit, at least, was the truth.
He began to lower his head. “Can I just kiss you then?”
She pressed back against the truck as excitement sparked through her.
“That would be an involvement.” Her words were faint, and even she heard the invitation laced through them.
“No.” His mouth hovered over hers, so close she could breathe in his warm essence, could smell the sea, the night, the man. “It would be just a kiss.”