Kerry O’Neill bumped into the Leprechaun when she turned around from hanging the sign announcing the latest sale. He caught her before she fell, his strong hands on her shoulders, and she clutched his arms to regain her balance. Her eyes swept over him. She’d seen any number of Leprechaun costumes since the first of March, but this one was the worst yet. Aside from his eyes, which were the color of tender spring shoots flecked with gold, he wasn’t wearing a speck of green.
He wore brown leather half-boots, tan leggings, and a maroon tunic laced over a billowy sleeved shirt cinched in with a brown belt. His long ash-blond hair fell in thick waves below his shoulders, random strands in tiny braids decorated with beads and feathers. He reminded Kerry of the elf in the Lord of the Rings movies…except that his rugged face, height, and breadth were more than any elf could ever hope for.
“Are you all right?” He spoke with a slight English accent in a deep, resonant baritone.
“Fine, thanks.” Kerry found her balance, removed her hands, and backed away, shrugging off his hands. There was something achingly familiar about his touch, as if she belonged in his arms and he belonged in hers. But she was certain she’d never seen him before in her life.
“You’re at the wrong place,” she told him, kneeling to replace the hammer in her tool box. “The Leprechaun costume contest is across the street at Sir Plantsalot.”
His gaze followed hers to the medieval themed garden nursery on the other side of the thoroughfare. The false front was shaped and painted like a castle complete with a turret at each end. The enter and exit driveways were drawbridges over the drainage ditch “moat”. Strands of colorful pennants ran from the tops of the turrets to the ground. Larger pennants fluttered in the breeze from poles in the cone-shaped tower roofs.
“I’m not a—” he began.
Kerry slammed the tool box shut, drowning out whatever he was saying. She didn’t care what he was or wasn’t. “They stole my idea. Somehow, they caught wind of the Leprechaun costume contest I was planning for St. Patrick’s Day, and they stole it.”
Kerry picked up the tool box and brushed past him, once again all too aware of his physical presence. She couldn’t understand her reaction, why her body was responding to him as if they were lovers.
Shaking her head, she pushed through the gate that led to the lawn and garden ornaments. The tool shed was in the back. When she reached it, she opened the door, but the darkness within was like a black abyss just waiting to swallow her up and crush her. She flipped the switch a couple of times, but no flare of light filled the small shed. The damn bulb had blown again. Sweat broke out on her upper lip, and she set the tool box just inside the threshold, pushing it farther in with her foot. Shutting the door, she turned around—only to collide with the Leprechaun again.
Once more she found herself in his embrace, and her body immediately switched from unnatural fear to natural arousal. Her heart raced and blood pounded through her. She didn’t know why she was having such a disturbing physical reaction to him. Her hormones didn’t normally go off the chart over every good-looking man she encountered.
Maybe because it had been too long since she’d been with a man, but she didn’t have time to deal with it. Ever since Sir Plantsalot moved in across the street six months ago, with its extravagant display and double the space of her own nursery, she’d been concentrating on trying to keep her business afloat. She extricated herself from his arms.
“I told you, the contest is over there.” She backed away from him with a toss of her head, then looked him up and down again. “Tell you the truth, I don’t think you have a very good chance of winning. You don’t look like a Leprechaun. You’re not wearing green.”
“But I’m not—”
Kerry didn’t wait to hear his response. She strode off toward the greenhouse. She had too much work to do without getting involved with a badly dressed Leprechaun…no matter how attracted to him she was.
* * * * *
“…a Leprechaun,” Myghal finished to empty air.
He frowned as he watched her hurry down the path toward the transparent building filled with all kinds of plants. He’d never considered that his heart mate could possibly be in the Other Realm, the dimension where humans lived. It had been a long time since he walked among humans. Their world was too noisy and flashy, their air too dirty. They were always rushing, yet seemed to accomplish little.
And how was he supposed to carry a human woman back into Pixieland in the Faerie Realm when he was out of dust and wasn’t sure he could get back himself?
He found his gaze drawn to the way her hips swayed in the tight blue leggings she wore. No, they were called jeans, he suddenly remembered. He liked everything about her, from her red-gold hair to her crystal blue eyes to the sprinkling of freckles across her upturned nose. Twice, she had slammed into him, and twice, her generous breasts had pressed against his chest. He’d seen her nipples tighten under the form-fitting blouse she wore—T-shirt, it was called.
A dull ache began in his balls as his cock responded to…her. He didn’t even know her name.
She didn’t seem to want anything to do with him, and that went against what the dust was supposed to do. His heart mate was supposed to instantly recognize him as her mate, as well. But she seemed to have other things on her mind. Like the contest across the street.
She disappeared through the door, and Myghal’s gaze drifted over the statuary inside the fence. An army of garden gnomes—from small ones only as tall as a handspan to two in the back that were about the right size for Gnomes—was spread out over most of the area, along with bird baths, small benches, and flower pots. Too bad the Gnomes weren’t real.