MAMMOTH BOOK OF
January 1, 2011
by Annette Blair
matchmaking fairy of Kissingate,
brings a pair who hesitates,
meant to be.
the shape shifting fairy of Kissingate
an intractable young prelate
lost what he could never see straight:
meant to be.
Lockhart, hidden in the midnight shadows, fixed her hungry gaze on
Gabriel Macgregor, the most formidable of the ghosts she had come home
the guarded—named for the bright angel, when he should have been named
for the dark—lowered his head to avoid an old oak barn beam, the hint of
a smile in his eyes . . . until he saw her.
knave stepped back, stretched to his full towering height, and squared
his shoulders to a stunning span—Lucifer, face carved in unforgiving
her resolve, Jacey wanted to catch the next train back to Essex, though
she couldn’t seem to move.
stood the father of her child, and firm between them, the lie she told
denying it. In one stroke, she’d saved and destroyed him.
shuffled in its stall, freeing hay musk into the air, breaking the
silence, hazing the past, and allowing her to breathe.
forbidding as her nemesis appeared in lantern light, dressed entirely in
black, the tiny white lamb tucked into his frockcoat humanized him, the
contrast bringing his cleric’s collar into conspicuous relief. A
rogue’s heart, a Vicar’s trappings, and no one seemed to know, save her.
face, lined and bronzed by age and parish responsibility, gave him a
mature, patrician air. His hair, a tumble of sooty waves, thick and
lush, showed gray at the temples. No ghost, but the bane of her
existence in the flesh, more vitally masculine than ever.
always been proud, even when they were children—he, a poor Vicar’s son,
she, the heir to a fortune. But she’d reversed their roles. Now, a
disinherited outcast, she stood, once again, before the boy who adored
her, then hated her, with all his heart. “Gabriel,” she said, wishing
her voice didn’t tremble and her body didn’t remember.
wondered if the sum and substance of all his dreams, good and bad, could
hear his stone cold heart knocking against his ribs. “Jace,” he said,
his rasp awkward.
cleared his throat, but Suttie stepped up and kissed him on the cheek.
Suttie, the ageless puppeteer whose gypsy wagon they’d once chased
giggling down High Street. “Welcome, both of you,” Gabe said, his voice
working, again, hope suddenly alive.
beamed. “I see you found the surprise I brought.”
He thought. He couldn’t take his eyes off her.
Gabriel, I’ve come home. I’ll stay in Suttie’s wagon.”
chest ached for hiding his joy. “You’ll both stay at Kirk Cottage. No
beamed; Jacey looked terrified.
“Please, Lady Lockhart?” Gabe begged in the way Jace once commanded, for
a piece of butterscotch pie, but the words evoked her fall from grace.
“I apologize,” he said. “That was thoughtless.”
it was.” Jace turned to Suttie. “Can I stay in your gypsy
wagon? I’ll take the morning train back. I shouldn’t have come.”
gave the lamb to Suttie, placed his hand against Jacey’s back to propel
her toward the vicarage, her body heat curling like a spiral around his
she stepped from his touch. “I won’t stay. I cannot.”
left again, she’d never come back. The thought of losing her forever
cut deep. Gabe turned to build up the fire in the hearth to chase the
damp, warm the lamb, and gather his wits.
here, in his house, where he pictured her nearly every day.
Jacey. As beautiful as ever. More.
his. Never again. That was past.
a vicar now, in control, unemotional, his passion a vice overcome.
Long-buried. Dead. He turned to his guests. “Mackenzie’s asleep, so
I’ll ready your rooms.”
lamb bleated. “She’s hungry,” Jace said.
planned to fix a bottle.” He felt big, clumsy beside Jace and
remembered a time it didn’t matter.
her mother die?” she asked.
took the lamb like a shield. “She’s a twin and a runt.” He stroked its
neck and the mite closed its eyes in ecstasy.
watched transfixed, yearning in her emerald eyes. Seeing it, he might
once have lowered her to the grass and—
fire snapped. They stepped back, released by the sound.