Length: Short Story
Word Count: 4,575
Available formats: : PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Jenny Dixon, April 2011
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
“I wish I could have stayed out of this wedding.” Dismayed, Willow O’Brien bit her lip and peered at the groom, whom she secretly loved, waltzing with his bride, who happened to be her best friend.
“So what were you going to do?” Kitty Flynn asked. “Refuse to come to your best friend’s wedding?”
“No, I was hoping something would happen to keep me in the States, like a broken ankle or a bad case of the flu.” A physical injury or illness would have been less painful than actually seeing Seamus marry another woman.
Ironically, Willow was the one who’d introduced Seamus Sullivan to Colleen Donovan a few days after his firm sent him from Ireland to Boston to work in the American branch of their crystal manufacturing company. Willow worked there, too, and she and Seamus became friends.
But the moment she introduced him to Colleen, any hope of a future with him ended. So now, here she was in Galway, Ireland, where the couple had decided to marry and live, watching them dancing and gazing into each other’s eyes.
Willow assessed Colleen’s assets. The woman wasn’t particularly gorgeous, brilliant, or talented, so why did he fall in love with her and not me? Maybe Seamus preferred blondes to redheads, she thought looking at the reflection of her carrot-colored curls in the mirror on the wall.
Ashamed to admit she was jealous of Colleen, she said, “This trip has made a major train wreck of my budget. I’ll take me years to recover the loss. And this is the thirteenth wedding I’ve been to in two years. This bridesmaid thing is getting old.”
“I know. This is my tenth,” Kitty commiserated. “I’ve got a closet full of ugly dresses I’ll never wear again, not to mention paying a bundle for them. But I figured, I’ll be in Ireland. Maybe some of the Gaelic magic would rub off on me.”
“Gaelic magic.” Willow leveled a skeptical look at Kitty.
“Yeah, my great grandmother said Gaelic magic brought my grandfather to her. She was walking home on a misty night, and she wished really hard for her own true love, and she found my great grandfather near the gate to her farm. He had hired a car and was touring Ireland and his timing belt broke. Well, she invited him in. It took three days for the timing belt to arrive from Dublin, and the rest is history.”
“I hate to burst your bubble, but what happened with your great grandparents was a coincidence. Wishes! Give me a break!” If wishes came true, Sean would have married her instead of Colleen.
“Well, I believe in magic,” Kitty persevered.
“So do I.” A tall, auburn-haired hunk approached them, a twinkle in his green eyes. “Would you be wantin’ to dance by any chance, so I can look into the magic of your eyes?”
Talk about blarney, Willow thought, rolling her eyes.
Still, Kitty looked absolutely smitten. She answered his question with a smile as bright as a klieg light, and she and the hunk walked to the dance floor.
“I’ve had it,” Willow mumbled. “I’m out of here.”
She collected her wrap and walked out into the cool mist the fine spring evening. She had every reason to believe that Kitty would probably spend the night with Mr. Irish Charm. So Willow slid into her rented vehicle and headed toward the cottage she and Kitty had taken for the week.
The fog grew thicker as she drove along, making it so she could barely see a foot in front of the hood, and the headlights weren’t much help. More depressed than ever, she slowed her speed.
From now on, Willow resolved to refuse to take part in anyone else’s wedding.
She would save her money and spend it on things that made her happy instead of going to weddings she didn’t want to attend and ending up with a collection of hideous gowns. Instead, she’d travel across Europe on the Orient Express, cruise into the fjords of Norway, visit the tulip fields in Holland, climb the Swiss Alps, and party at the Carnival of Venice.
If she couldn’t have love, she’d settle for adventure.
A second later, a bright light blinded her. She jammed on her breaks, but her car skidded then did a nosedive into a ditch. Miraculously, she didn’t feel any pain. Shaking, she opened the door and moved out of the small vehicle.
“You really should wear a seat belt, you know.”
Willow started and turned. Holding an old-fashioned lantern, a huge man stood beside the car, wearing a balloon- sleeved shirt and knee britches, He looked liked he just stepped out of the eighteen century. He’d probably been to a costume party.
He also had the blackest wavy hair, which fell to his shoulders, and the bluest eyes she’d ever seen. There was good looking, and then there was knock-your-socks-off, drop-dead-in-your tracks handsome, but this guy blew every man she’d ever seen out of the water in the looks department, and that included all the movie stars. His baritone voice, with its lilting Irish brogue, was sexier than sin.
“And you should be careful when you drive in the fog,” he added. “You could have killed me. You hit me pretty hard.”
“I hit you?”
“That, you did now.”
“If I’d hit that hard, you’d be covered with blood and dead as last Friday’s mackerel. But you don’t have a scratch on you. What I hit was a rock or something else you put in the road when you flashed some kind of laser in my eyes.”
“Rock and lasers, did you say? And where would they be now?”
“It probably rolled into that ditch. Look, buddy, I know your scheme. You hoped I’d be knocked unconscious so you could rob me, or maybe sue me for bodily injuries.”
He smiled. “You’re an American, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, want to make something out of it?”
“Only an American could be so suspicious or have such a litigious mind.”
“Really? So the Irish don’t sue people or like money?”
“I don’t want your money.”
“So what do you want?’
“What do you want, Ms. Willow O’Brien?”
A cold chill of fear slithered down her spine. “How do you know my name?”
“I know all about you.”
“You do? Like what?”
“How is this for starters? You had your first sexual encounter the night of your senior prom. You and Mike Reilly were good friends. You trusted him, so you asked him to initiate you, so to speak. Of course, he was more than happy to, uh, shall we say accommodate you?” He sent her a suggestive smile. “You told him his performance was superlative, but you really didn’t enjoy it that much. Later, you regretted not waiting until you met someone you really loved.”
Willow felt weak in the knees. She’d never even written about that night in her diary. “How do you know that?”
“I can see the past, and sometimes under special circumstance the future. Now you’re madly in love with Seamus O’Rourke--or you think you are.”
He had this twinkle in his cobalt-blue eyes that enchanted yet maddened her at the same time.
“What do you mean, I think I am? I know my own mind.”
“You also thought you were in love with the others, too, all five of them. You may think you know what’s in your mind, but you don’t know what’s in your heart.” He moved closer, towering over her. The fog around him brighten, but not from the light from the lantern. He had an aura around him, one that glowed silvery blue. The closer she got to the aura, the more drawn she felt to him.
But handsome men had burned her in the past. Badly! She refused to rush into another relationship … no matter how handsome and super sexy this guy was or how hot he made her feel.
If he is a guy and not some figment of her imagination.
“Just who are you?” she asked, retreating a step.
“My name is Connor McCullough.” His aura turned ruby red, and he moved closer.
“I guess I should have asked what you are,” she said, fighting his potent allure.
“Ah, I thought you’d never ask. I’m a leprechaun.”
“No, you’re not.”
“I am,” he insisted.
“Look, pal, I may be American, but my parents were Irish. I grew up on stories about leprechauns, and you aren’t one of them. They’re little people. You’re at least six three.”
“Six four, to be exact.”
“They have red hair and pointed ears. They also wear green suits.”
He shook his head. “That unfortunate image of us became famous several hundred years ago, so we humor people and appear that way sometimes. But in our natural state we look human, although we’re better looking.”
“So you can morph into another shape?”
“Show me. Turn yourself into an Irish wolfhound.”
“I’d have preferred an Irish setter.” He fingered the stray curl at her temple. I like red hair like yours better.”
His animal magnetism was so strong that her nipples puckered, and she lost her breath, but she fought it. “Oh?” She raised a brow. “My request too tough for you?”
In a flash, the gorgeous man disappeared, replaced by a gorgeous white dog. Willow gasped. Then the dog dematerialized, replaced by the gorgeous man or leprechaun.
“Convinced?” He beamed his mesmerizing smile at her.
“Yeah.” She nodded, trembling like a leaf. “Convinced I’m going nuts.”
He shook his head. “You’re not daft, Willow.”
“Okay, so let’s cut to the chase. What do you want from me?”
“To grant you three wishes.”
“I thought that only happened when a human captured one of you guys, and you tried to buy your freedom.”
“That’s the usual procedure, but the powers that be feel you’ve been through a lot, growing up in that orphanage without any family, working your way through college, and then getting dumped three times. They think you deserve a break.”
He moved closer, and the heat of sexual desire swept over her like a conflagration. And when his fingers caressed her cheek, her knees went weak. If he saw the past, he knew she hadn’t had sex in months, which was an unfair advantage. Still, she wondered how his big body would feel pressed against hers or how his lips would feel on hers. So when his palm slid down her neck, she didn’t retreat. After all, it couldn’t hurt to satisfy her curiosity. What was one kiss?
Willow leaned toward him. His aura deepened from scarlet to crimson. His eyes sparkled, reminding her of sunlight on the sea. Oh, she needed him to kiss her so badly she could barely endure it.
Connor put his other hand on the small of her back and closed the space between them, while nudging up her chin with his gentle fingers. His arms enfolded her, and his lips hovered above hers, making her long for their touch. Then he claimed them.
Every nerve ending in her body tingled with sexual excitement. Willow groaned, parting her lips to his entreating tongue, letting it swirl with hers, as her arms tightened around his lean, hard middle. She anticipated that his kiss would be extraordinary, but just how extraordinary, she never imagined. She felt dizzy, breathless, intoxicated, as if she’d drunk a whole bottle of sparkling champagne.
But somewhere in the back of her mind, it occurred to her that someone had slipped some drug into her drink; that he was nothing but a hallucination that could turn into a bad trip. And she’d end up in a mental hospital. That scared her. She wanted out of here. “Thank the powers, but tell them I’ll pass on the wishes.”
“You’re sure you don’t want a billion dollars or to be immortal?”
“Right now, I’m not sure of anything, except that I want to go back to the cottage and sleep off the effects of whatever someone slipped into my ale.”
“No one slipped anything into your drink,” he assured her.
“I still want to go to my place.”
“All right. I tried.” He looked upward, as if addressing some unseen higher power. “That will have to count as a wish.”
“That’s okay by me.”
“Take this coin.” He took her hand and placed the silver piece in her palm. “If you should change your mind, just hold this in your hand and wish to see me. And even if you don’t want to see me, you still have just two more wishes.” His touch caused the most delicious current of sexual heat to course through her. She was about to reconsider her wish, but he disappeared.
She suddenly felt a terrible sense of loss. Overcome with grief, she began to cry. Then everything went black.
“Wake up, Willow. Wake up!” someone said, and she felt something shaking beneath her.
She jolted upright, finding herself in bed, gasping. Bright light shone through the cottage window, and Kitty stood over her, dressed in jeans and a lavender turtleneck, staring at her.
“You were crying, Willow.”
“I-I guess I was dreaming. Oh, my God, the car. I had an accident, and it’s in a ditch.”
“What are you talking about? It’s parked right outside.”
“And it wasn’t damaged?”
“No. See for yourself.” Kitty motioned to the window.
Willow leapt from the bed. The vehicle looked shiny and new in the brilliant morning sunshine.
“What’s the matter with you, Willow?” Kitty demanded. “You left last night without a word to me. Liam and I looked for you.”
“I thought you and Liam would be otherwise occupied.”
Kitty blushed. “We were after we drove by here and saw the car. I figured you were asleep.” Kitty frowned. “But you don’t seem like yourself.”
“I think someone slipped something into that half pint of ale, I drank. The last thing I remember is driving home. I must have made it, but then I had the craziest dream that I wrecked the car and .…”
“I met a leprechaun. It was so real.”
“You may have.” Kitty smiled. “This is Ireland, and we drank those pints together and no one came near our ale.”
She didn’t want to argue with Kitty, but Willow reasoned she’d had a dream.
“Look, Liam and I have a date.” Kitty glanced at her watch. “He’ll be here in a few minutes, and we’re supposed to go to stay with his parent in the Dingle Peninsular for a few days.”
“You don’t think you’re rushing things a little?” Willow asked. “I mean you just met this guy.”
“Still, the cautious Willow. It’s a chance, but life is full of risks. Some you win. Some you don’t, but I don’t want to leave you like this. You look like you’re really shaken. I can put him off for a day.”
“I’m fine.” Willow waved her hand, dismissing Kitty’s concern. “Look, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll see if I can get an early flight to Boston. I’ve had enough of Ireland, weddings, and crazy dreams.”
“I don’t mind, but are you sure?” Kitty looked concerned.
“Positive. Ireland is gorgeous, but I want to go home.”
Willow heard the sound of tires crunching on the gravel path outside. “Must be Liam.” She smiled. “Have a great time. See you back in Boston.”
“Right. I left you some tea and muffins, and you can turn the car in at the airport. Liam will see me to the airport when it’s time to go home … if I get to go home.” She bobbed her brows. “I may just decide to stay forever.”
They hugged and Kitty dashed out.
Willow stepped into her slippers and schlepped into the front room to the pot of tea and a plate of muffins Kitty had left on the table in front of the fireplace. Removing the tea cozy, she poured the still-steaming brew into a huge mug and added milk. By the time she’d wolfed two muffins with butter, downed two huge mugs of tea, she felt normal.
Yep, last night she’d had a dream—nothing but a dream. Once she got on the plane, Ireland would be a memory.
What she couldn’t forget was the way that tall, handsome man, or rather leprechaun, had made her feel. Just thinking about him made had her so hot. She’d never experience anything remotely like that with any man she’d known. Well, maybe that was because she didn’t really love them. And the leprechaun was a fantasy. Everything was better in a fantasy, right?
Connor had asked her if she knew her own heart. Oh, geeze! She was thinking about him as if he was a real person. She had to get back home.
After a hot shower, she went into the bedroom. A glint on the nightstand shone into her eyes and made her blink. She dashed to it and found the coin Connor had given her! He hadn’t been a hallucination!
She snatched it tightly, holding it to her heart. Oh, how she wished she could just feel his touch again and have her whole body quivering with excitement.
The room brightened with a flash of lightning, and he stood before her, a rakish grin on his face.
“How?” She stared, entranced by him.
“I told you that all you have to do was hold the coin and wish for me. I do have to remind you, you have one wish left. You better be careful, though. You could squander it.”
“Seeing you again wasn’t squandering a wish.” She’d never wanted anything so much in her life—except to have him make love to her.
He stroked her face. “I was hoping you’d ask to see me again.”
“Yes, I volunteered for this assignment,” he informed her, running his fingers through her hair, making her knees buckle with need.
“The powers ask for volunteers when they want to give a special person a gift. They showed you to me and told me your story.”
“The gift being the three wishes,” she ventured.
“Suppose I asked for true love?”
“You’d get it.” His aura flared emerald green this time, drawing her in like a magnet, and she had never wanted any man the way she wanted him. Willow never dreamed this kind of deep, unrelenting desire existed.
“But true love has risks with it, like a trial or sacrifice that always goes with it.”
“If you’re the person, uh, creature I find it with, I may risk it.”
“It would be your third wish.”
“I know. I’m willing to risk it.”
“Are you sure, Willow? There is no turning back once you make the wish.”
At the moment, she wanted him so much she didn’t care what the risk was. The way his hand was caressing her neck made her breathless and wet.
“Yes, I want true love with you forever.”
He smiled. “I wanted you to say that.”
She pulled at his shirt, but he broke the kiss. “Not here,” he whispered. “He swept her into his arms, and she closed her eyes, snuggling close. For a nanosecond, she had the sensation of flying. Then she opened her eyes. They were in a forest, and a waterfall fell like a bride’s veil from a cliff above into an emerald green pool. Its mist formed a rainbow.
Connor set her on her feet by the water’s edge and kissed her. Every time their lips touched something magical happened. Without breaking away, she tugged at his shirt, pulling it from the waistband of his breeches, but he stilled her hands and stepped back.
“Not necessary,” he whispered, and as his hot breath teased her ear, his clothes magically appeared on the ground.
Willow stared in awe at his magnificent body. His biceps bulged. Wide shoulders tapered to a narrow waist, lean hips, muscular thighs, and well-formed legs. And his huge manhood stood at attention. Every cell in her body fired with hot, relentless lust. Her breasts ached, and her body throbbed with need. The muscles above her pelvis contracted, and moisture bathed her thighs.
He stepped forward and slipped her robe from shoulders. Then he pulled her close. Her aching breasts flattened against his hard chest, and she felt his erect phallus against her abdomen.
Then he urged her down on the soft jade-colored moss under the towering oak. He claimed her lips in a deep, soul-searing contact and then left a trail of feather-light kisses down her neck and to the cleft between her breasts. He took one hard nipple into his mouth and suckled. Her body responded with deep spasms in her belly, and more moisture bathed her folds.
Willow whimpered with need, and Connor continued his siege, paying tribute to her other breast. Then he kissed his way south, charting a course to her fold. She gasped as his tongue swept over her again and again. Her heart pounded, and her breath quickened as her need increased.
“Connor,” she shouted, as she reached her zenith, and her body convulsed with pleasure. Yet…she’d wanted them to come together. But before the pleasure ebbed completely, he kissed her lips and knelt between her knees. His fingers found her nether lips, and he stoked her fires to new heights.
Willow moaned and her hips writhed. When she couldn’t take anymore, he entered her slowly, millimeter by millimeter, teasing her until he filled her completely, and she reveled in the fullness of him inside of her wet cleft. Connor drew back almost all the way and slid forward, and the indescribable sensation took her break away. He repeated the maneuver again and again, each time taking her closer to the pinnacle. Then he put his hands beneath her buttocks, lifting them and changing the angle, so the friction became even more intense. Connor increased his tempo. They were gasping and yelling, striving toward the ecstasy of fulfillment until the rapture exploded. Blinding light burst behind her lids, and heat pulsed from her core in ever widening waves of pleasure.
He collapsed on her, his manhood still deep within her, her sheath throbbing round it. They lay, basking in the afterglow, and then he withdrew, spooning behind her.
“I never knew it could be so intense, so all consuming,” she said.
“Neither did I,” he said, kissing her shoulder.
“And our love will really last forever.”
“It will. That was your third wish.”
“And another one you squandered, you stupid mortal.”
Connor and Willow jolted up. A hideous old man with a long gray beard and hair walked toward them, his red eyes glowing like embers, his black robe flowing in the winds.
“Get out, Fergus!” Connor roared, jumping in front of Willow.
“Your hours are numbered, leprechaun.”
“Connor!” Willow grabbed her robe to her. “What does he mean? You said the powers would grant my wishes.”
“Your love with live forever, but you won’t.” Fergus sneered. “You’re a mortal. You’ll die but, before you do, you’ll live a long, miserable life with the memory of Connor’s death always with you.”
“I thought you were an immortal,” she said to Connor.
“I have the power to kill an immortal,” Fergus said with scorn, “if I take his manhood.”
“No!” she screamed.
“I’ve already taken the phallus of each eldest male in your miserable family for the past five hundred years,” Fergus said, glaring at Connor.
“Why does he wish you harm?” Willow asked.
“He wishes everyone harm,” Connor said. “He’s an evil spirit, but he hates me most of all because one of my forebears rescued a princess he was holding prisoner. Since then, he’s taken his revenge on our family.”
“Get out your sword,” Fergus snarled.
This was the trial, the sacrifice that Connor had warned her about.
“Wait!” Willow put up her hand. “What can I do to save him, Fergus?”
“What are you willing to do?” the evil spirit asked
“Are you sure?” Fergus asked, pointing his gnarled finger at her.
“Then you agree to die in his place?”
“No!” Connor bellowed. “I’d rather die than see you hurt.”
“Ah, true love,” Fergus said. “How touching.”
“Listen to me, Willow. I can best him,” Connor said.
“I don’t mind dying, knowing you’re alive, Connor. Life will be empty without you, and I’ll die anyway.”
“But I can win, I tell you. Have faith in me, Willow.”
“I’m willing to take the risk, but I can’t unless you give me permission,” he said.
“But you’ll live if I take your place, Connor.”
“It won’t be a life without you.” He caressed her cheek. “Being immortal without having love will be a sad existence.”
The pleading look in his eyes touched her heart. “All right,” she said and nodded. “If that is what you want to do.”
Connor pulled a broadsword from the air, and it’s fine blade shone like a mirror in the sun. The two combatants circled, weapons raised. Fergus advanced. His blade hit Connor’s, and the lightning flashed and thunder boomed.
Willow’s heart sped into gallop, and she stifled screams every time Fergus charged.
The two grappled in mortal combat for what seemed like forever, until Connor stumbled back and fell back and dropped his sword.
Fergus held his sword at Connor’s throat. “Prepare to die, leprechaun.”
“No!” Willow cried.
“You took a chance and lost, woman.”
She lunged at Fergus, but it was too late. Connor pulled a dagger from his belt and it found its mark. Conjuring an ax, he severed Fergus’ head. It and the old man’s body disintegrated.
“That old bastard won’t harm anyone again,” Connor promised.
Willow ran into his arms, sobbing in relief. “Oh, Connor, I was so frightened that I’d lose you.”
“I was afraid I would lose you, love,”
“So what happens now, Connor?”
“We live happily ever after, of course.”
“No more crazies, like Fergus who can kill you?”
“But you said your life would be lonely and empty when I died.”
“Fergus didn’t count on my gift to you. I anticipated the mortality problem, so I petitioned the power. You’re now an immortal if you want to be.”
“All I know is that I never want to leave you.”
“Then you’re immortal.” He kissed her, waking her desire anew.
When they surfaced, she asked, “Where will we live? Here or in Boston?”
“I can live anywhere. Do you have ties in the States?”
“Just a nowhere job in an accounting firm and a group of girlfriends who only want me when they have a crisis or a wedding they want me to be in.”
He smiled. “I think you’ll like my world a lot better.”
“I do too. What about children?”
“We can get started on that as soon as you want.”
He pulled her into his arms and kissed her, and Willow understood the power of Gaelic Magic.