Laid off from her job at the bank, Carla turns to her friends for support only to find they’re more concerned about their jobs. The one person she can count on is local bartender Murphy, but what kind of example is that to set for her daughters? Having learned the hard way, Carla’s not depending on any man, even if he is cute, charming, very kind, and some kind of leprechaun? Murphy is used to sneers. Clurichauns are the redheaded stepchildren of the leprechaun world and then there are the late-night throw-downs at his bar. What he wants, however, is to protect the dainty little mom who ogles him when she thinks no one’s looking. He knows she’s fighting overwhelming odds, but she’ll need more than bravery when the conflict between the King and Queen of the Fairies becomes outright civil war!
The door to Murphy’s bar burst open and several men ran out, yelling. One older guy circled to the front of the car and flapped his arms, his mouth open but apparently unable to find the words to express his shock. The guy who yanked open my door and hauled me out had no such problem. Words poured from him in a furious tirade that was odd because Murphy was not a talkative man. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? Are you completely daft? This isn’t a speedway.”
Murphy, the owner, or at least chief bartender, shook me with every syllable, so my head flopped back and forth. He had the broad shoulders and long arms of a seasoned fighter, but stood quite a bit taller than me. I came up to his shoulders, which probably put him somewhere around six feet, maybe middle weight instead of heavy weight. It was hard to tell because I was short compared to everybody and because of those broad shoulders.
I had a problem with Murphy and not just that I crashed in his parking lot. Murphy reduced me to every bit of the giggly teenager my own child wasn’t, a tongue-tied, stammering mess. It was ridiculous, but seriously, you’d have to be dead not to notice Murphy. He was a damn fine man. He had a broad face with a high forehead and square jaw that was a perfect frame for a fine wisp of mustache over a thin upper lip and a full bottom lip. Usually he was solemn, but every once in a while, he smiled, a slow grin that lit up his entire face.
Not at the moment, though. At the moment, he looked like he was gearing up for one of the regular dust-ups held in the bar’s parking lot, glaring at me angrily from beneath brows drawn tightly together and jaw clenched. I couldn’t help but notice the dark-blond stubble that decorated it. And yes, I’d just spent a good ten minutes itemizing every feature of this man’s face. Maybe I could claim I bumped my head.
“You could have been killed driving like that,” Murphy shouted. “You, you, you . . .” Words failed him, but he did stop shaking me. He didn’t let go though, his fingers flexing around my upper arms.
“Here now.” The older man who’d been waving his arms in front of the car earlier recovered his voice. “Let go, Murphy. You’re going to hurt the lady.”
Murphy stepped back, his nostrils flaring. He took a deep breath and dropped his hands. “I’m sorry,” he said, not quite looking at me. “Are you all right?”
“Oh sure,” I mumbled. “I just T-boned my car in front of the cutest guy in town, no problem.” I then realized what I’d said and winced. Obviously I had a concussion.
There was a moment’s silence. Then Murphy quirked one eyebrow and peered at me intently. “What did you say?”
The older man’s glance bounced between us and I could feel my face redden. “Nothing?” I suggested.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kathy Bryson knew she wanted to be a writer when she finished reading through her school and local children’s libraries. She honed her writing skills on marketing brochures, websites, and several unfinished manuscripts before going into teaching and finishing award-winning books with all the stuff she enjoys most – from coffee to love to Shakespeare! Kathy lives in Florida where she caters to the whims of spoiled cats and wonders what possessed her to put in 75 feet of flower beds.