Sneak Peek Kate’s Hero
1969. Love was free, man walked on the moon, and Sherry and Lorena found the loves of their lives. Sherry shared a kiss that dreams were made of, with a stranger on the tube in London. And ran away. Lorena found the love of her life in Los Angeles and married him.
2014. Sherry’s a successful businesswoman with two grown sons. Lorena’s an actress on a popular sitcom. Sherry’s husband dumped her for a younger woman eighteen years ago. Lorena’s husband died of cancer. Sherry wants a second chance at Love. Lorena
doesn't believe that's possible. But when a glitch in a Virtual Reality
Adventure game sends them back to the real 1969, anything can happen.
Now available from Amazon eBook/Audiobook/Print Book
Read the first five chapters
Time and Forever
“Birthdays bite,” Sherry muttered.
“Hey, in two more years you’ll be sixty-five.” Lorena raised her glass. “Here’s to Medicare. The best present ever.”
“Cute.” Sherry stabbed Mr. Chow’s chicken satay with an ebony chopstick. “Do you ever feel like something’s missing in your life?”
“All the time.” Lorena expertly chopsticked a mixed water dumpling. “This morning I found my car keys in the fridge under the cottage cheese.”
“I’m not talking about senior moments. Heaven knows I have enough of them. I meant do you ever feel you should be taking another path?”
Lorena glanced around the celebrity-filled restaurant. “Jen Aniston’s waving at you. She probably wants to know why Now and Then is closed.”
Sherry returned Jen’s finger wave. “Halloween tapped us out. We have to restock.”
Lorena smiled back at Meg Ryan. “Ever since that piece on Entertainment Tonight you and your vintage clothing store are more popular than me, and I’m the celebrity.” She offered Sherry a dumpling. “Why would you take another path? You’re rich, thin, and you’ve got a great business. What else do you need?”
“Someone to share it with. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone.”
For a moment Lorena’s eyes looked empty. She blinked and the mask returned. “There’s a lot to be said for being alone. You get to eat crackers in bed and you have total control of the remote. If you’re lonely, get a dog.”
“I feel like there has to be more.” Sherry cursed herself for making Lorena think of David and changed the subject. “I got a birthday card from Brittany and Bill.”
Lorena’s eyes frosted over. “How are the Bimbo and the Bore? Still wildly in love with each other.”
“Yeah,” Sherry said morosely. “They want to get together for dinner.”
“Sherry, I get you staying on good terms with Bill for the boys’ sake, but dinner à trois is going way beyond the call of duty. Tell them you have a date with George Clooney and you’re too busy to bother.”
“Yeah. Right.” Sherry inhaled the marzipan aroma of her Almond champagne. Normally she never had a second glass, but it was her birthday and she loved the feel of the bubbles tickling down her throat and forming a pool of liquid courage in her stomach. “You know what? I’m tired of having the only male companionship in my life come from daydreams and romance novels. I want to be loved by a real person. I’m thinking of trying online dating.”
“Are you crazy?”
Sherry rolled her eyes. “I knew you’d say that.”
Lorena's sharp tone attracted the attention of the diners at the next table. “Look! It’s Marley, the secretary on Looking for Love,” the woman informed her companion. She beamed at Lorena. “Hi, Marley.”
Lorena flipped back her streaked blonde bob, and gave the tourists her trademark ditzy smile.
Both women lifted their phones for a picture.
Lorena turned back to Sherry and continued in a lower voice. “You just cued the horror movie music in my head. When it comes to clichés, online dating is right up there with the let’s investigate moment where the heroine takes the flashlight and runs around the creepy house in the dark.”
“That’s ridiculous.” Sherry tried to lift one eyebrow and failed. “Lots of people are finding great matches online.”
Lorena shuddered. “Lots of people are not you. Honey, look at yourself. You’ve got lollipop green eyes and a sweet smile that says Take me. I’m vulnerable. You’d be Little Red Riding Hood inviting in the Wolf.”
“Stop that!” Sherry hated fairytale comparisons. She’d been dealing with them her whole life. “You’re putting me off and I want to be encouraged. I want a chance at true love.”
Lorena passed her hands over her glass. “I am looking into the future and I see . . . You and a Corgi. It’s a perfect match.”
“I don’t want a dog, I want a human,” Sherry retorted.
“I don’t get it. You’ve gone twenty years without anyone. Why now.”
“I was okay alone when I still had the boys at home, but now . . .” Sherry’s smile wobbled. “Now there’s no one to hug me anymore. I miss being touched.” She saw the echo of pain in Lorena’s eyes. Damn! She’d done it again. Sherry downed the rest of her champagne. “The kids are off having their adventures. It’s time I had an adventure of my own.”
“Why don’t you start with a little adventure? One which doesn’t involve the risk of coming home in a body bag.” Lorena pulled out her iPhone. “There’s this place Darien, my trainer, told me about called, The Castle. They’ve got themed restaurants, but their specialty is virtual reality adventures.”
Sherry shook her head. “I’m not into video games.”
Lorena called for the check. “Me neither, but Darien says this is different. It’s a virtual world. And while you’re in it, you have the ability to walk around, eat food, buy stuff, and do pretty much anything you would do in your actual life.” She looked at the email on her iPhone. “A world that seems so real, you won’t believe it’s virtual,” she quoted.
“What kind of world?”
“Whatever you want, I guess. Darien said he and Carl picked Los Angeles in the eighties.”
“Now that’s just gross. Nobody in their right mind would revisit the eighties.” Sherry took the iPhone and studied the email on the screen. “Any era? You know where I’d love to go? London,1969.”
“It was my first adventure. I had a job with the Marketing Exchange for six months. London was so alive and I loved the clothes and the music, and . . .”
Lorena leaned forward. “How ‘bout the people? Any special person?”
Sherry felt her face flush. She couldn’t tell Lorena about Jeremy. What would she say? I once kissed a total stranger on the tube. And it was magical. “There almost was, but it didn’t come to anything.” She handed the phone back to Lorena. “I’m in. Let’s go to the sixties.” A bubble of fun coursed through her. Or was it the champagne? “Two grown women going on a VR adventure. You think this is the first sign of second childhood?”
“Honey, I never finished with my first.” Lorena scribbled her autograph on the check. “Come on, let’s go.”
Lorena turned into a driveway lined with derelict sound stages near the Burbank airport.
“You’re kidding right?” Sherry looked around, disbelieving. “Let’s go to my house and check out eHarmony.”
“Patience, my little chicken.”
The driveway curved around to the rear. The back wall of the sound stage was faced in crenellated stone and looked like the entrance to a castle.
“This is amazing. You’d never guess from the front . . . Wait . . .” Sherry stared at the beautiful woman dressed in 1940s Dior coming out of the front door. “Isn’t that Scarlett Johansen?”
“Probably. It’s one of those in secrets. It’s not listed and they don’t advertise.” Lorena handed her keys to the valet. “You have to know someone to get the number. Darien gave it to me in exchange for an introduction to my agent. Lord knows how he got it.”
The red uniformed doorman opened the massive wooden door and bowed them into the front room. The scent of tuberoses from the huge flower arrangement reminded Sherry of the Bel Air Hotel lobby. Except for the red Chinese wallpaper.
“It looks like the entry to Disney’s Haunted Mansion,” Lorena said.
Two large rooms opened off the main hall. One resembled a Victorian restaurant. A Strauss waltz wove through the buzz of conversation and the clink of silverware.
The other room was Art Deco with a sleek modern bar. A Charlie Chaplin film played on a flat screen TV. The voice of Billie Holliday crooned, “What Is This Thing Called Love?”
The tuxedoed Concierge came forward. “Good evening. Two for dinner?”
Lorena flashed her Marley smile. “I was told you specialize in VR adventures.”
“Of course. Right this way, Marley.” His fair skin reddened. “Ah . . . Sorry. Ms. Anderson.” He led them through a hallway lit with faux candles and opened a door with an ornate sign: Choose Your Adventure. “You start here. Enjoy!”
“This room looks like a warehouse,” Lorena said, pitching her voice to be heard over the machines thrumming in the background. Framed travel posters relieved the starkness of the institutional green walls. “It sounds like War Games in here.”
The surfer boy behind the desk looked up and grinned at them. “Yeah. It takes a huge computer to handle this program. Hi, I’m Eric.” He pointed to the menu on the wall. “Where would you like to go?”
Sherry didn’t bother to look at the menu. “Can we do London in 1969?”
Eric’s fingers flew over the keyboard. “May I please see your credit cards?”
Sherry opened her purse.
Lorena put her hand over Sherry’s. “My treat. Happy Birthday.” She handed Eric her American Express.
He inserted it into a white box attached to the computer. It lit up and spat out two plastic cards and a sheaf of paper. He stapled several together and handed a thick packet to Lorena. “Here you go.”
Sherry peered over Lorena’s shoulder. “Those look like the travelers checks I bought when I went to London.”
Eric nodded. “That’s the way you use them.”
“Nice touch,” Lorena commented. “Makes you feel like you’re going back in time.”
Eric smiled and pointed at another door. “Follow the floor lights and be kind to the natives.”
Sherry stepped inside the darkened hallway. “Interesting ambiance.” Pink neon daisies danced a pattern on the floor, blinking on and off to the throbbing, whisper filled music. “I know this song, but I can’t remember the name of it.”
Lorena hummed a couple of bars. “Time of The Season by The Zombies. I had an old boyfriend who loved it. That’s one of the reasons we broke up.”
“Do I want to know the other reasons?”
“No. You don’t.”
They followed the daisies. Dim sounds came from behind unmarked doors lining the hallway. “It's the time of the season when the love runs high . . .” echoed and danced to the daisies. The daisy lights stopped at one of the unmarked doors and wove a pattern over it.
Sherry spotted a card slot and inserted her ticket. “Here goes nothing.” The slot blinked green. The door opened into a dimly lit, narrow walled room with a second door at the far end.
A pleasant computer voice greeted them. “Please enter. There will be a brief wait while your experience is programmed.”
Lorena looked at Sherry and shrugged. “Nothing ventured . . . Come on.”
Sherry followed Lorena. The door swung closed. A blue light traveled up and down their bodies. The light snapped with a bright flash, followed by a stomach churning sensation like an elevator dropping too fast.
“Oh my god, what was that?” Sherry clung to Lorena. “An earthquake?”
“Don’t think so. I never felt dizzy in an earthquake. My head feels weird.” Lorena sounded spooked. “Let’s get out of here."
A second door swung open. They stepped through it.
They appeared to be on a street in London. Young men in Teddy suits sported Beatle haircuts. Girls with long straight hair strode along in knee high boots. A blast from a horn broke the thrum of traffic as a whizzing Vespa cut off a red double decker bus.
Lorena stopped in the doorway. “Darien was right. Virtual Reality’s come a long way,”
“It certainly looks like 1969.” Sherry took a deep breath. The smells. Sausages and chestnuts. Autumn air and petrol. “How do they do this?”
“Darien thought it was derived from a military platform used for pre-Iraq training.” Lorena scrutinized the passersby. “I’m guessing they use actors. He said the merchandise and the food were definitely real.”
Sherry turned to Lorena and froze. “Lorena?” The girl in front of her had Lorena’s eyes, but her face! No wrinkles. No sags. Firm girl flesh filmed with translucent base make-up. Her lips shone frosty pink. Honey blonde hair curled in disarray past the shoulders of Lorena’s Hound’s-tooth Prada jacket.
Lorena stared back at Sherry. Her mouth opened, but no words came out. She gripped Sherry’s hand and tugged her across the street through the stalled traffic to a plate glass window. The reflection of two beautiful girls shone dimly in the lamplight.
“It’s an Avatar image,” Sherry said. It was all she could think of. “Lots of John’s and Michael’s video games had them. It’s a hologram of who you are in this world.” She touched her hair, which in the mirror fell like black rain past her shoulders. Her fingers caressed its silky length. “An avatar you can feel?” Sherry whispered. “How can they do that?”
“I don’t know. But I’m officially weirded out.” Lorena’s voice shook. “This is exactly what I looked like at twenty. How did the computer know that?”
“Those blue lights in that little room?” Sherry said. “Maybe they were some kind of memory scan.” She looked at Lorena uncertainly. “Is it too weird for you? Do you want to go back?”
Lorena hesitated. She shook her head. “No. Whatever it is, it feels wonderful. We came for an adventure. Let’s have it.” She pointed at the mannequin in the next window. “Look. Costumes. Let’s go dress the part.”
Sherry approved of the mannequin’s orange gold metallic mini-dress with long flowing pirate sleeves. “She looks like Twiggy.”
“I want that dress,” Lorena said. She walked into the shop.
Sherry stopped inside the doorway, overwhelmed by the smell of incense and the blaring Pink Floyd music. A framed neon poster of Pink Floyd’s 1966 concert jostled the Beatles Abbey Road poster and The Stones poster, with its trademark big lips. A black and white Herman’s Hermit portrait hung above the counter. Dresses filled circular displays with a jewel-whirl of color. Shoe shelves filled one wall. Pointy shoes, spike heel shoes, platform shoes, shoes with ties, shoes with flirty bows, metallic red, rainbow, neon, and vinyl boots. Joy bubbled through her. She was in vintage heaven.
The sales girl wore a skintight black jersey with an almost invisible black miniskirt. Long false eyelashes and kohl liner gave her eyes a sultry look worthy of Elizabeth Taylor. Lorena peered at her nametag. “Hi, Jane. Do you take American Express?”
Jane smiled. “Americans, are you? We call them Traveler’s Cheques. And yes, we do.”
“Excellent.” Lorena rifled through the racks until she found the dress from the window. She selected a pair of gold stack heels with outrageous buckles. “I’ll try these on.” She disappeared into the red woven curtains at the back of the store.
Sherry prowled the dress racks. This was better than her store because it was all new. She fondled a red silk-tiered mini, then moved on to a mint green mini overlaid in feathers. She sneezed. No feathers, she decided regretfully. Selecting a long sleeved green maxi with a demure lace collar, she held it up to herself in the mirror. She couldn’t stop smiling. How wonderful to look as young as she felt.
Lorena came out wearing the dress and shoes. “I’ll take these,” she announced.
Jane joined Sherry at the mirror. “That dress will look a treat on you. The green matches your eyes. Would you like to try it on?”
Sherry nodded, and headed to the changing room.
Lorena fumbled in her purse for the travelers’ checks. “How much?”
“That will be twenty-five pounds, ten.”
Lorena took Sherry’s place at the mirror. She grinned at her reflection. “Fabulous!”
Sherry came out of the dressing room wearing the maxi dress and carrying their clothes.
“I’ll pay for hers too.” She took the clothes from Sherry. “Twenty-five pounds, ten. What’s that in American?” she whispered.
“In 1969 it was about eighty-five dollars.”
Lorena’s mouth dropped open. “Seriously? This is cheaper than Nordstrom’s Rack.” She scanned the shop and grabbed a fringed wool shawl which complimented her dress. “I’ll have this as well.”
Jane totted up their purchases. She wrapped their old clothes in silver tissue and popped them into a bag that said Kate’s on Carnaby.
“This is supposed to be Carnaby Street?”
Jane looked uncomfortable. “Oh, well. It’s not really Carnaby Street. I mean, that’s two blocks up. But it sounds posh, don nit?”
Sherry stood in front of the mirror still processing their altered appearances.
Jane accepted two travelers’ checks and counted out the change. “You both look spiffy. Got dates for tonight?”
Lorena turned over the unfamiliar money. “I can’t remember what a date feels like.”
Sherry nodded a rueful agreement.
“Right now food would be wonderful.” Lorena turned to Jane. “Where do you recommend?”
“Depends on what you are in the mood for,” Jane replied. “Shakespeare’s does a smashing bacon and egg pie and the ale’s good. Of course if you are feeling flush, there is Cromaniere’s.” She bowed her head reverently. “It’s French.”
“Shakespeare’s it is,” Lorena said. “I always wanted to visit a real English pub.”
They said goodbye and stepped back on the street. A chill wind had sprung up.
Sherry shivered. “Weird. My body feels as young as my face looks. No twinges.”
Lorena nodded. “Yeah. Feels like I had a body transplant.”
“The boys used to be scared of Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland when they were young. They said it was too real. Now I know how they felt.”
Lorena reached up and stroked her firm smooth cheek. “If I didn’t know this was a game, I’d think we time traveled.”
“Never mind. Let’s eat.”
The pub’s few small round tables were all occupied and the room buzzed with conversations broken by the thump of darts and an occasional crack of laughter.
Sherry breathed in the warm smoky air laced with the scent of bangers and bacon and egg pies. “Oh yes. I remember this.” She maneuvered through the small crowd surrounding the darts players and found an empty space at the tall mahogany bar.
The barkeeper caught sight of Sherry and snapped to attention. “What’ll it be, luv? And what are you doing after closing? I get off in an hour.”
He had to be all of twenty-five and he was flirting with her? She couldn’t remember the last time a man gave her that kind of look. This was fun. “I’m a bit old for you, but thanks for the compliment. I’ll have two of everything you’ve got and a couple of ginger beers.”
He slapped two plates on the table. He put a bacon and egg pie and a scotch egg on each. “Steak and kidney too?” he asked.
“Absolutely.” Sherry fluttered her eyelashes.
Lorena rolled her eyes.
“Where are the bangers?” Sherry sniffed the air. “I know I smell them.”
He pointed toward the kitchen. “They’ll come separate. You want beans with those?”
He pushed the plates toward them. “American, are you?”
“Yeah.” Lorena looked suspiciously at the cold pie. She took a small bite. Her eyes widened. “Not bad, but that may be my hunger talking.”
Sherry grabbed the other plate and the ginger beers and angled toward the only unoccupied bench.
Lorena started to follow. “That’ll be one pound, six and ten,” the barkeep said.
Lorena turned back and got out her wallet. She chose the largest of the bills Jane had given her in change. “I’m not up on your money. Will this cover it?”
“That’ll do it.” He took the bill and gave her back three smaller ones and some coins. “Here you go.”
Lorena picked up her plate and followed Sherry. “I need a lesson in British currency. It all looks like play money to me.”
“I take back everything I thought about VR games. This is wonderful.” Sherry gestured toward the empty chair. “Sit. Eat. Drink.” She took a sip of the ginger beer and hummed rapturously.
Lorena took a sip of her drink and almost spat it out. “What is this stuff? It’s disgusting!”
Lorena curled her lip. “Those two words should not be in the same sentence, much less in the same glass.”
“I didn’t drink when I lived here,” Sherry defended, “not alcohol anyway. Couldn’t afford it and didn’t like it much.”
Lorena shoved her ginger beer toward Sherry. “I am so not drinking that. Do you suppose they have any wine?”
“Don’t know. You could try the porter. I’m told it’s good.”
“Porter? As in person who carries your bags?”
Sherry snorted. “No! Porter as in dark brown ale.”
Lorena walked back to the bar. “What’s your name?” she asked the bar keep.
“Andrew,” he shouted over the sudden burst of cheering from the corner darts game.
“Well, Andrew, my friend said I should try the porter. Can you give me a little taste?” Lorena fluttered her own lashes. No response. Was she losing it?
Andrew built a pint and offered it to her.
“Hmmm.” She licked her lips clear of foam. “Not bad. I’ll take one.”
Lorena wove her way back to Sherry and sat down gracefully. “The porter’s rather good. I feel very British.” She took a sip of porter, reached into her purse, and pulled out a pack of cigarettes.
“I thought you’d given up smoking.”
“That was yesterday. I’ve changed my mind.” Lorena lit up—inhaled–and started coughing. “Yech.” She stubbed it out. “That’s weird. It tastes terrible. I guess this body is younger than twenty-seven. That’s when I started smoking.”
Sherry grinned. “Now that’s just excellent.”
“Bangers up,” Andrew called.
Sherry went to retrieve them.
Lorena stood up and peered out the window, tapping her fingers on the pane. The blue veins in her hands were gone. The whole damn thing felt so real. Wait . . . She returned to the table. “Aha! The game designers slipped up.” She waved at the lamp lit night. “No fog. Remember that song, Foggy Day in London Town . . .? They got it wrong!”
Sherry disagreed. “No, they got it right. When I first got to London, I thought there was something missing, but I couldn’t think what it was. Then I remembered the foggy day song. I asked my flatmate. She said they banished the smog in the late fifties with something called the Clean Air Act.”
“That sucks. I wanted to see the fog. All the books and movies I read talk about it.”
“Oscar Wilde said there was no fog in London until the artist William Turner began painting it. After Turner, novelists began to write about fog in London.” Sherry drained her ginger beer and reached for Lorena’s. “There was no fog in London in Shakespeare or Ben Johnson’s writings, but there was a lot of it in Dickens’s and Doyle’s stories and . . .”
Lorena put her finger to Sherry’s lips. “You’re chatting inanely. You know that, right?”
Sherry nodded. “Inane chat helps me deal with the sense of bizarreness I’m feeling.”
“Makes sense.” Lorena downed half her glass of porter. “So where’s the swinging part of London?”
“I don’t have a clue.”
“But you lived here. You must have some idea.”
“Lorena, in 1969 my idea of swinging was browsing the shops in Bond Street and an occasional trip to the Royal Ballet.” What had she been so afraid of? Sherry smiled ruefully. “The one chance I had at adventure sent me running in the opposite direction.”
“Last call, Ladies and Gents.” There was a rush to the bar.
“Keep the table,” Sherry said. “I’ll get us a last round.”
She joined the throng at the bar stepping back a bit to keep some air space between her and the fragrant man in front of her who obviously didn’t believe in deodorant. She stepped on a foot and turned around to apologize.
Hands rested on her shoulders steadying her. “Sorry about that, luv. I’m being pressed from behind.”
She looked up into sea blue eyes warm with amusement. Her pulse kicked up. He could have posed for an ad in Vogue. Six foot two with chestnut hair curling down to the collar of his gray three piece suit. She inhaled the orangey, clove odor of his aftershave. There was something about him. Her mouth dropped open as a memory bloomed from a long ago hot August day in London . . .
Sherry glanced around with a frown. Why did the tube have to be crowded? Not an empty strap to be had. She stood in the center of the car concentrating on keeping her balance, her arms slightly out, thoughts turned inward, gaze unfocussed to protect her privacy.
A sudden lurch of the train threw her up against another freestanding passenger. She looked up at him to murmur an automatic apology. His equally automatic response was interrupted by the opening of the tube door . . .
The man looked down at her with a puzzled flicker of recognition “I know you . . .”
She could only stare at him and remember . . .
Twenty or thirty more people pushed into the car. They were all shoved together like trash in a compacter. Her distaste for this invasion of personal space was mirrored in the incredibly handsome face of the stranger now pressed against her. He glanced down at her. His sea blue eyes widened and he smiled.
Sherry’s irritation vanished. She grinned back.
They both melted into laughter. The laughter stopped and became something else. Tightly pressed together, their eyes quested for and found . . . He bent down. She reached up. They exchanged a gentle soft recognizing kiss.
“What’s your name?” he asked, bringing her back to the present.
“Sherry,” she said, in a trance. “Sherry Southerland and you’re . . .”
“Jeremy.” He touched her cheek lightly with the back of his fingers. “Jeremy Smythe.”
Jeremy Smythe. The name echoed in her mind. They hadn’t known each other, but for that one brief moment, they’d been one.
At the next stop, the train emptied out. Stepping back, they resumed their own spaces.
Can I see you again?” he asked.
What had she done? "No. This was perfect. Let’s leave it that way."
He smiled and agreed. Had there been a shadow in his eyes?
They exchanged one more soft kiss and Sherry left the train. They’d made a magical moment she’d never forgotten and always regretted. Why hadn’t she said yes?
Jeremy’s eyes lit up. “You’re the girl on the tube. We met . . .” he paused, “almost three months ago. August, wasn’t it?”
Sherry nodded wordlessly. August. 1969. Her brain spun in dizzying circles. How could this man from her past be in a VR game? It wasn’t possible.
Jeremy smoothed away the frown she hadn’t been aware of wearing. “Looks like we’ve intersected again,”
Maybe this really is 1969, she thought wildly. Should I believe in second chances?
“When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be the truth,” she said aloud.
“Aha, a fellow Sherlock Holmes fan, I see.”
The bar crowd pressed them up against each other.
“History repeats itself.” Jeremy bent down and brought his lips to hers. Sweetly, gently. It was like coming home.
Sherry felt a sharp pinch on her arm. “Ow!” She broke away from Jeremy and turned to find the pincher.
“Excuse me.” Lorena stood there tapping her foot. She didn’t look happy.
Jeremy reached for Sherry’s hand. She could feel the warmth of his clasp tingling up her arm. “Lorena, this is Jeremy. He’s uh . . . an old friend.”
Lorena eyed Jeremy suspiciously. “Good friend by the looks of it.”
“Jeremy and I met by chance in . . .”
“August. On the tube.” Jeremy smiled. “We became close.”
“Excuse us for a minute.” Lorena pulled Sherry aside. “You shouldn’t be too friendly with the actors in the game. Believe me, you don’t want to date an actor.”
“I don’t think he’s an actor,” Sherry whispered. “I met Jeremy in 1969. I know it’s not possible. But this is Jeremy. I never forgot that meeting.”
Lorena froze. “Are you saying this is really 1969?”
Sherry nodded. “Think about it. That weird dizzy feeling in the room. Our changed bodies. She took a deep breath and quoted. ‘When you eliminate the impossible . . .’”
“Whatever remains, however improbably must be the truth,” finished Lorena. “Casebook of Sherlock Holmes.” She gripped Sherry’s arm. “Okay. Time to go home.”
Sherry resisted. “Not yet.” The same magic she’d felt that day on the train shimmered in the air. “Lorena, I need to follow this. I know it.”
Lorena looked unnerved. “If this is time travel, we don’t know the rules. All I remember from my reading is you can’t stay and you shouldn’t change anything. I think we’d better leave.”
“I’m not talking about staying a long time. I know that would change things . . .”
“Yeah,” Lorena interrupted, “like the existence of our children. You have to meet Bill and I have to meet Dave.”
“But we could stay for a while. A week maybe?”
“Think of the history,” Sherry wheedled. “Think of the shopping.”
Jeremy joined them. “Are you visiting from America this time? Where are you staying?”
Sherry looked at Lorena pleadingly.
Lorena shrugged in defeat. “Our luggage got lost and we haven’t picked a hotel yet,” she improvised.[S1] Can you recommend a good one?”
If Jeremy thought that was odd, he concealed it well. “The Cadogan is good. It’s on Sloane Street in Knightsbridge. It’s got nice rooms and it’s rather historical. Do you like that kind of thing? Lily Langtry, the actress, used to live there.”
Lorena looked intrigued. “I liked Lily Langtry. I mean I didn’t know her personally, but I like her style.”
“Can I drive you there? I’ve got my car.”
“Yes, please,” Sherry said. She turned and whispered to Lorena, “If you don’t have a passport, we may be in trouble.”
“Since The Homeland Security Act, I always carry it,” Lorena replied. “It makes life a lot easier.”
“Excellent,” Sherry said. “Now as long as they don’t check the date . . .”
Lorena took a deep breath. “Here goes nothing.”
Jeremy ushered them to a silver 1965 Aston Martin.
Lorena’s mouth dropped open. “Holy cow, it’s the James Bond car. I love it!”
“It’s my car, actually,” Jeremy said with a straight face. “I loan it to James for special occasions.” He opened the door for them.
“Oh, right.” Lorena sniffed. “Make fun of the American.” She squirmed her way into the back seat.
Sherry inhaled the rich scent of leather. As Jeremy helped her into the front seat, the warmth of his hand burned through her dress. She shivered.
“What’s this homeland security act I heard you mention?” Jeremy expertly navigated through the press of traffic. “Something to do with Vietnam?”
Sherry couldn’t think of anything to say that wouldn’t sound crazy. She kept silent.
Lorena broke in, “So Jeremy, what do you do for a living?”
“I run a small magazine called Twenty Eight.”
Lorena leaned forward. “What type of articles do you print?”
Jeremy glanced over his shoulder at her. “I run the kind of magazine where if someone calls me up and says their goldfish is talking to them, I don't talk about hot baths and soothing drinks. I say, 'Put the goldfish on the phone'.”
Lorena snorted. “You’re kidding. Right?”
“I would never make sport of a goldfish,” Jeremy said gravely. He stopped in front of The Cadogan, got out and opened the doors for Sherry and Lorena.
Lorena squared her shoulders and walked toward the pillared entryway.
Jeremy pulled Sherry around to face him. “Listen, I thought you might like a walk or something. We still haven’t talked.” He brushed a stray hair off her cheek. “Don’t run away this time,” he whispered.
Sherry caught her breath. “Yes. Wait for me. I won’t be long.”
Potted palms changed groups of chairs into oases. Lorena paused to study the two oil paintings glowing on the walnut paneled walls of the reception area. “That’s Lily Langtry,” she whispered to Sherry. “And I think the other one is her lover, Edward Prince of Wales. He’s wearing Royal Orders. I already love this place.”
They walked up to the mahogany grill. The man behind it had no nametag. His suit and bearing said he was an important person. He smiled an austere welcome. “Good evening. May I look up your reservation?”
“We don’t have one,” Lorena replied. She pulled out her travelers checks and handed them to him. “We’d like a double suite please.”
His expression brightened as he flipped through the sheaf. “Of course, madam. The Langtry Suite is available.” He pulled off four checks and presented them for her signature. “I’ll have your bags sent up.” He looked for their non-existent luggage and frowned. “If I might see your identification?”
“The airline lost our bags,” Lorena explained. She flipped open her passport so he couldn’t see the cover. “We will be shopping in the morning.”
The maroon uniformed elevator operator pulled the lever to close the door. The elevator moved upward with the ponderous grace of an old dowager. “Not very busy this time of night,” he said. “I’ll see you to your room.”
He unlocked the carved rosewood door.
“Wow. I feel like I’ve walked onto the set of a Noel Coward play.” Lorena took in the embossed silver leaf wallpaper and heavy jade drapes. She arranged herself à la film star on the aqua damask sofa. “I need a slipper satin evening dress and a cigarette holder to fit in.”
A Queen Anne table held a bowl of fresh fruit, four Waterford goblets, and a crystal decanter filled with amber liquid. “What’s in the decanter?” Lorena asked.
“Brandy, Madam.” He bowed. “If you need anything at all, ring the front desk. The door closed behind him with a soft snick.
Lorena kicked off her shoes and curled her legs under her. “You know, I always thought that heaven was a really good hotel.”
“Let’s see the bedroom and then I’m going out. I have to talk to Jeremy.”
The bedroom was sumptuous. Peach silk draperies over arched windows. A jade brocade bedspread covered the four-poster bed. Lorena fingered the ivory satin puff folded at the foot of the chaise lounge. “I’d like to take this home with me.”
The rococo table beside the chaise held an old-fashioned radio, a reading lamp, and a pile of magazines. Sherry picked up the Vogue magazine that topped the pile. The cover picture was titled, Englishwoman 1969, and featured a wide-eyed beauty wearing a tall fur hat.
Lorena opened the tall white Louis XIV style wardrobe that dominated one wall. It held a twenty-inch Zenith television. The television had a dial to change channels. There was no remote. “Dare I hope it’s color?”
“I didn’t have color TV in 1969. I think it existed though.”
The fitted drawer of the bedside table revealed an elaborate maroon and gold booklet with an extensive room service menu.
“Excellent. Go meet your Jeremy.” Lorena sprawled in the middle of the bed. “I’m going to draw a bath and find some music on the radio and call room service.”
“Are you sure you don’t mind?”
Lorena clasped her hands behind her head. “I’ve decided to enjoy the moment. Although I’m still not sure this is real. Maybe Mr. Chow’s served us spiked dumplings and tomorrow we’ll wake up in our own beds.”
“I hope not.” Sherry couldn’t think past Jeremy’s kiss. One thing she knew for certain. This time she didn’t want to run.
Jeremy looked at ease lounging against the Aston Martin.
Sherry’s nerves hummed. Her mind was still processing the fact that they’d gone back in time and the man she’d never stopped dreaming about was there in front of her. Breathe, she reminded herself. She took a calming breath and exhaled. Her breath floated out in a cloud of vapor.
“Not the best night for a walk.” Jeremy took off his suit jacket and fitted it around her shoulders. His hands lingered, thumbs stroking a trail of heat down her neck.
Sherry fingered the fine weave of the jacket. Who knew the scent of warm wool could be an aphrodisiac. Well that and the faint tangy aroma of Jeremy’s aftershave. Her pulse quickened.
“Pity the pubs are all closed.” He tucked her hand through his arm as they turned onto Sloan Street.
Sherry tried to think of something witty to say, but her brain was stuck on stupid.
Jeremy broke the silence. “I’m trying to think of something clever to say, but my mind’s gone to Bristol.” The warm, amused look in his eyes, invited her to share the joke.
“If I knew where Bristol was, I’d say my mind was there playing with yours.” She dropped her eyes. Oh no, did that sound like a come on?
They turned into a park. The mellow glow from the globed streetlights cast their shadows before them. The dew damp shrubbery added to the chill in the air.
“This used to be the London Botanic Gardens a long time ago. It’s beautiful in the daylight and—” He scowled. “You’re shivering. This is daft.”
Jeremy enfolded her icy hands in his warm grasp. “Let me take you to my flat.”
“Said the spider to the fly.” Sherry tensed her jaw to keep her teeth from chattering.
“This isn’t a come-on. I promise.” He turned their steps back to the hotel. “I make a mean cup of tea. I’ll light up the gas fireplace and we’ll have a warm chat.” He halted and looked down at her. “That didn’t come out quite right, did it? I meant we’ll chat and our bodies will warm up.”
Sherry laughed at the look on his face.
Jeremy’s lips curved. “You’d never think I read English at Oxford, would you? I’m usually quite well spoken, but when I look at you, my brain feels like it’s . . .”
“Somewhere else?” she offered. Sherry had a pretty good idea of where his brain had gone. Hers was drifting in that direction too.
“Oh, hell.” He dropped his forehead to hers. “I’ll be very circumspect,” he whispered.
I’m not sure how circumspect I want you to be. She resisted the temptation to run her fingers over the angled planes of his face.
“Come with me, Sherry. I want to show you where I live.”
Sherry nodded and slipped into the car. She reached for the nonexistent seat belt, then hastily folded her hands in her lap, hoping Jeremy hadn’t noticed. “You’ve no idea how strange this feels.”
“That it is.” Jeremy engaged the car and zipped out into the busy lane. “What are the odds of the two people being pressed together twice in a city the size of London? I think it’s the Octopus of Fate.”
Sherry turned to him in incredulous delight. “You read Phoebe Atwood Taylor? I adore Leonidas Witherall.”
“How could you not love a man who looks like Shakespeare’s identical twin and carries a Lady Baltimore cake for the length of an entire novel?” Jeremy pulled to a stop in front of a Georgian townhouse.
“Well,” Sherry drew a quick breath, willing herself to appear calm. “You live very close to the Cadogan.”
“That’s why I recommended it,” Jeremy admitted. “I wanted you nearby.” He came round the car, opened the passenger door, and offered his hand to her. Sherry took it, letting the heat of his palm envelop hers. The evening air had begun to mist, giving a cloudy dreamlike look to the light from the lantern fixture by the door. Unlocking the front door of the townhouse, he ushered her inside.
Sherry glanced around curiously, her body relaxing in the interior warmth. Electric candle sconces flanked the two doors on either side of the hallway. A red stair runner in a Turkish design climbed the mahogany dark steps to a second floor. Jeremy led her into the sitting room and switched on the lights.
She clapped her hands. “I love it!” Was that her voice? Ick. She sounded like a teenager.
Fat Wedgewood lamps cast golden shadows on the dark wood paneling. A television in a walnut cabinet sat to the left of a gas fireplace. Shelves to the right of the fireplace contained a stereo system and a huge selection of LPs.
She opened her mouth to comment on him having kept his record collection when she remembered when she was. Was she going to give herself away? Probably. She focused on the oil painting above the fireplace. A fragile clipper ship cresting impossibly blue waves.
“That ship reminds me of Keats.”
Jeremy nodded. “Magic casements, opening on the foam of perilous seas in fairy lands forlorn.’” That’s why I bought it.”
He knew Keats. She’d always dreamed of a man who could quote poetry. Everything about Jeremy drew her in. Why hadn’t she said yes that day in the tube? But then, John and Michael wouldn’t exist. Everything comes with a price.
“What’s wrong?” Jeremy’s eyes filled with concern. “You look like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.”
How about the weight of sixty-three years?
“If you want to talk about it, I’m a good listener. Maybe I could help.”
How to begin? How about I’m a little freaked out because I’m a time traveler and I’ve no idea how to tell you that?
“Nothing’s wrong.” Avoiding his eyes, she crossed over to the floor to ceiling bookshelves lining the right hand wall. Sherry caressed the smooth book spines. “You have all my favorites. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis.” She moved on, running her fingers along the mystery titles. “Christie, Allingham, Tey, Rex Stout, and here’s Leonidas Witherall.” She smiled at him. “I’m glad you read Americans as well as the English writers.”
“I see we are fellow bookaholics.” Jeremy quirked an eyebrow. “I’ll brew us a pot of tea and we can have a meeting.”
“Bookaholics? I like that.” She fought the urge to reach up and smooth his eyebrows and followed him through the dining room into the kitchen.
Jeremy crossed to the double sink, filled the teapot, and lit the red Aga.
Sherry willed herself to concentrate on the ambience rather than Jeremy. She liked how the red of the stove repeated in the knobs of the white enameled cupboards, and the diamond shaped insets in the black tile floor.
The matching tile countertop held a row of china canisters made like whimsical animals.
“Where did you get those amazing canisters?”
Jeremy reddened. “An old girlfriend.” He reached into the dancing elephant and brought out a box of Cadbury’s Chocolate fingers. “She was into pottery. She made them.”
Sherry leaned against the counter, enjoying his look of embarrassment. “What happened? Why aren’t you together anymore?”
“She moved out in September. Said I was getting boring. She said I was a bit distracted.”
He gave a half nod, arranging the biscuits on a white stoneware plate. “Well, the magazine was going through a rough patch, and there was this girl I met on the tube . . .”
“I broke you up?” Sherry asked disbelieving.
Jeremy laughed. “Well the memory of you might have, but the truth is there was this guitar player she fancied. He looked a lot like Paul McCartney. She moved in with him.” He proffered the plate. “Biscuit?”
She bit into one of the fingers, savoring the smooth rich chocolate. “I might have been tempted by Paul McCartney.”
Jeremy brought her hand to his mouth and took a bite of her chocolate. “If I was Paul McCartney, would you have given me your number?”
“Maybe.” Sherry caught her breath. She wanted to taste him.
He raised one eyebrow.
Jeremy turned to the panda canister and spooned tea into a plain brown pot.
“I would have known who Paul McCartney was,” Sherry defended. “You were simply this incredibly good looking man who kissed like . . .” She felt her body grow warm. “You could have been Jack the Ripper for all I knew.”
“I could see it felt a bit daft to you, kissing a total stranger. But you didn’t feel like a stranger to me.” Jeremy hesitated. He smiled crookedly. “It sounds stupid when I put it into words. You felt more like a friend I had been waiting to find.” He leaned against the counter and crossed his arms. “I tried to find your name on the exchange. I thought perhaps I didn’t spell it properly.”
“I didn’t have a phone. I was staying at Hyde House YWCA.” She was mesmerized by a tiny crumb of chocolate at the corner of his mouth.
“Pity. I was going to find someone to introduce us properly. I had my godmother in mind. She reeks of respectability.” He picked up a teaspoon and used it as a lorgnette. “Miss Southerland, this is my godson, Jeremy,” he said in a falsetto voice, pruning his mouth like an old lady’s. “He’s the editor of an up and coming magazine called Twenty Eight and has no incurable bad habits. May I present him to you as an eligible suitor?”
Sherry stifled a bubble of laughter. “Someone’s been reading Georgette Heyer.”
“My sister reads her all the time. I may have picked up one she left lying around.” He bowed gravely and reached for her hand. “I’m delighted to make your acquaintance, Miss Southerland.”
Sherry curtsied demurely. “Enchanted, Mr. Smythe.” She reached up and brushed away the crumb from his mouth.
Jeremy caught her hand and sucked her finger.
Sherry felt a tingle which started in her toes and trickled up to her brain. He’s the one. This is what I’ve been waiting for.
With a gentle tug, he clasped his hands behind her back.
Sherry lifted her face to meet his gaze. His kiss was soft. Slow at first . . .
Sherry freed her hands and wove her fingers through his crisp chestnut curls, drawing him closer. The delicate ridges clung and wrapped around her fingertips. The kiss deepened into a dance of tongues. All thoughts slipped from her mind. There was nothing but feeling. Their bodies molded together, missing pieces of a puzzle long separated, and melted to the floor.
The whistle of the teakettle sounded sharp and piercing.
A voice from the doorway interrupted them. “Ooh, tea. Exactly what I wanted.”
One four leaf clover.
Two stubborn People.
A leprechaun with a mission.
What could possibly go wrong.
Hanford House wants its advance back.
A six word death text. Couldn’t her agent have added a smiley face to soften the blow? Or used email? Then she wouldn’t have gotten the bad news till her Last-Day-as-a-Bookkeeper picnic was over.
Kate couldn’t force the rest of her double chocolate espresso celebration brownie past the lump of terror blocking her throat. Batten Barston and Dumbleford had already replaced her. She’d spent the last of her savings on the ticket to Ireland.
She fisted a handful of grass for comfort, her eyes fixed on the triangular point of the Flatiron Building barely visible through Madison Square Park’s tree line, praying for inspiration. None came. Yeah. That had been happening a lot lately. That’s what the trip to Ireland was supposed to change.
Advance spent, Kate texted back. Stall them.
You broke contract. Revisions due last month.
Almost done. Just one thing to fix.
One major thing. Her hero was a complete ass. The ghost of her ex-fiancée tainted Lord Rotherham’s every word. Kate twiddled broken blades of grass between her thumb and forefinger.
One fell free. A four leaf clover. Her first ever. In the middle of New York City?
Kate picked it up carefully. True love might be a dead issue, but there was still the hope of real magic. “Please. Send me the perfect hero.”
* * * *
Bradley Flynn, CEO of Abbey Public Relations propped his feet on the windowsill of his fortieth floor office, feeling master of all he surveyed. He loved New York. In seven years he achieved more than he thought possible. The only thing he needed now was . . .
The intercom buzzed. “Brad, a Mr. McPhee is on line two. He says he has a contract with you.”
Brad’s size-eight Bruno Magli’s hit the floor with a bang. He swiveled his chair to face the desk. Icicles clog-danced on his spine. “Tell him I’m out.”
The Wearing of the Green blared from his cell phone. McPhee’s signature ring. He tried to stare it into silence. The picture on his monitor pixilated; re-forming into the face he least wanted to see. “You’re up.”
“I can’t be. It hasn’t been . . .”
“The woman used a clover.” The monitor view reformed again, showing a woman with closed eyes speaking into her cupped hands. She was possibly stunning. Difficult to tell. Red hair skewered up with a pencil.
“She wants a hero.”
There might be a nice figure under her shapeless NYU sweatshirt. “I suppose I could manage that.” At least he could teach her how to dress.
“You’re not what she has in mind. Find her a hero. And remember. No magic.”
The screen went dark. He glared at the two pages his printer spat out. Kate Carnahan. His wish client. Name, address, and pertinent history. How in the name of Finn was he supposed to provide her with a hero without magic?
Perhaps a little help. Asking a favor didn’t count as magic. He scrolled through his contact list till he found the name he wanted.
Kate stared up at the huge banner posted by the arrival gates, her perfect trip plan shattered. Bus Eireann would like to apologize for any inconvenience caused to customers due to this industrial action.
A bus strike. Of course. Everything about this trip had gone topsy-turvy.
After her agent’s text, she’d tried to return her ticket to Ireland, only to be informed she’d been upgraded to first class and given a companion fare. Then Bradley Flynn appeared. That part was still fuzzy.
“Now we’ll have to rent a car.”
Brad’s I told you so smirk flicked her last nerve. The rat. How on earth had she ever let him horn in on her trip?
Brad tapped her arm. A soothing warmth spread upward from his fingers to her brain.
Kate blinked. When had Brad become her best friend? Best friend or not . . . “What part of budget don’t you understand? No. Car.” Did Ireland have subways? She didn’t think so. Maybe there’s a train.”
“I’ll check,” Brad offered and strolled toward the uniformed officer at the customs entrance.
Kate willed back tears of frustration. They’d probably have to hike into Dublin. She believed in holding her head up high, but this was ridiculous. She stepped forward to the next open customs window.
* * *
Dr. Michael Walsh handed Nessie back her passport, using the opportunity to unobtrusively check his friend’s pulse. Still a bit rapid. “Bus Strike, huh?” He turned her wheelchair towards the crowded concourse. “It’s a good thing I reserved a car.”
Nessie’s blue veined hands gripped her purse as a child might grip a teddy bear. “Indeed it is. I have a promise to keep and no way to do it without transport.”
“I’m going to find a place for you to sit while I deal with the luggage.” Michael followed the signs promoting The Loop.
“You’re a dear man to come with me. I don’t know how I’d have managed on my own.”
“I’m grateful to you for the excuse to get away. I needed a vacation.”
The series of glass walled stores looked like a high-end shopping mall. Outside of Starbucks were floor to ceiling windows looking out at the landing field and a series of upholstered armchairs meant for enjoying the view. He transferred her to one, lifting her swollen feet onto his REI duffle bag. It made a perfect footstool. Michael felt the tension in Nessie’s slight body lessen. He watched her eyes dart from side to side, trying, no doubt, to absorb everything at once.
The series of glass walled stores looked like a high-end shopping mall. Outside of Starbucks were floor to ceiling windows looking out at the landing field and a series of upholstered armchairs meant for enjoying the view. He transferred her to one, lifting her swollen feet onto his REI duffle bag. It made a perfect footstool. Michael felt the tension in Nessie’s slight body lessen. He watched her eyes dart from side to side, trying, no doubt, to absorb everything at once.
“They’ve fancied the place up since I left Ireland. I never thought to see a Starbucks in Dublin. It’s kind of them to provide such comfortable seating.”
“I’ll get you a cup of tea. And you can finish that romance I see sticking out of your purse.”
“I wouldn’t mind a drop of tea,” Nessie admitted.
The musical Irish cadence of the baristas kept him entertained as the line inched forward. Nessie was doing much better than he expected after a twelve hour flight. Of course she’d slept most of the way. Michael added a scone to the order since she’d barely touched the meal they served on the plane.
He set the paper tray down on the table next to her. “I put an extra spoonful of sugar in the tea. I’ll be back for you as soon as I’ve got the luggage.”
“I’ll be fine, Michael. Take your time.”
He strode toward the baggage claim. Turning for one more look at Nessie, he bumped into a couple arguing in low voices. Something clattered to the floor. A hair clip thingy with teeth.
“Well, drat.” The woman bent down to retrieve it, and tripped over his foot.
“I’m sorry.” Michael’s hands went out to steady her. Energy tingled between them. The woman looked like a cranky mermaid. She stared up at him through a tangle of auburn hair with eyes as green as the North Sea. His heart lurched. Obviously too little sleep was catching up with him. Why was she staring at him like that? She looked like someone had hit her in the head.
Her short red-headed companion’s face reminded him of someone. Oh yeah. Ron Weasley. He’d always had a soft spot for Harry Potter’s sidekick.
The man’s appraising stare would have been insulting except for the twinkle in his eyes. He turned to his companion. “Is this what you were looking for, Kate? Want me to round him up for you?”
“Shut up, Brad.” The woman certainly could blush.
“You said you wanted a hero. He looks just the type. Dark brown hair a bit longer than fashionable, dangerous brown eyes. I can picture him on your cover.” The man’s eyes narrowed. “Wait. I think I have seen him on a cover. Aren’t you . . .?”
“No. I’m not.” Michael strode on. That damned picture in the tabloids. He didn’t think it would haunt him in Ireland.
He retrieved Nessie’s three large bags from the carousel, and loaded them onto a luggage cart. It felt it she’d put the fruited cakes he knew she packed for her brother and sister into cast iron pots. What other goodies were in there?
The line for Europcar snaked halfway around the terminal. A harried man wearing a Europcar blazer walked down the line. “We are sorry for the inconvenience, but I am afraid we will not be able to accommodate all of you. We’re having cars transferred from other sites. Will all those with reservations, please step to the left?”
Michael joined the line to the left, averting his eyes from the envious stares of those in the longer queue. Once he had the keys, he trundled the luggage back to Nessie. She’d fallen asleep in the comfortable chair. He hated to wake her but . . .
“Need a hand?”
Ron Weasley. Sans Mermaid.
Michael looked from Nessie to the luggage. “I could use one.”
“You take care of your grandmother and I’ll wheel the luggage.” The man eyed the three large cases dwarfing the duffle bag and Michael’s backpack. “I’m betting those are hers,” he said. “My grandmother always travelled as though she were on procession with the queen.” He stuck out his hand. “Brad Flynn.”
“Michael Walshe. Where’s your friend?”
Brad nodded toward the bookstore. “Kate wanted to check out the books. Couldn’t wait for town. I opted for coffee.”
Michael shook Nessie gently.
Her eyes fluttered open and fastened on Brad “Saint’s preserve us. You found the leprechaun.”
Brad bowed to her. “Indeed he has, and it’s happy I am to be of service to you both.”
Nessie looked like a guilty child. “It’s sorry I am to have called you a leprechaun. I was dreaming of Ballyban hill.”
“Brad, look what I found.” The mermaid raced towards Brad, waving a book. “The Legends of Ballmorag Castle.” When she noticed Michael, she froze.
“Ah look,” Nessie said. “The leprechaun’s brought you the Queen of the Fairies.”
The mermaid smiled down at Nessie. “You believe in the wee folk? So do I.”
Michael lifted Nessie into the wheelchair. “This gentleman offered to help me get our things to the car.”
“You‘ve got a car? Fortune smiled on you then,” Brad said. “I don’t suppose you’d give us a lift into Dublin?”
“No. We don’t want to impose,” the mermaid said. She glared at her companion. A very imperious glare. Maybe Queen of the Fairies was a better term for her.
“There’s no train, Kate. I checked. There are taxis, but it will be a long wait.”
“I’ll be happy to give you a ride.” Michael looked at their two modest suitcases “I got a wagon because I thought I’d need it for Nessie’s luggage. With the overhead rack, I think we can make it.”
“Great,” Brad added their suitcases to the luggage cart. He turned to Nessie. “I’m Bradley Flynn and this is my friend, Kate Carnahan. We’re both pleased to meet you, Nessie O’Callaghan.
Michael blinked. How had Brad known Nessie’s last name?