Genre: Paranormal Romance
Length: 60 pages
Heat Level: 1
eBook Price: $.99
Print Book: $4.99
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Length: 60 pages
Heat Level: 1
eBook Price: $.99
Print Book: $4.99
A collection of thirteen mixed genre short stories based on the well-known Magpie Rhyme.
One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
And four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret never to be told
Eight for a wish
Nine for a kiss
Ten a surprise you should not miss
Eleven for health
Twelve for wealth
Thirteen beware of the devil himself.
The gift lay on the passenger seat. Small, oblong, and beautifully wrapped in bright red foil paper with a large red bow on the front.
Front? Jim mused. Or top? He shrugged, shifted down a gear when a black cat shot from his right to his left across the road ahead of him and disappeared into a line of trees on the verge.
Not a person normally prone to superstition, he found himself hoping the black cat prophesied good luck.
He’d never smiled so much as he had since Jenny came into his life and felt another splitting his face. Jenny, his Jenny would know the origin of that superstition and whether the cat represented good or bad luck. Also who believed which version and why. His smile faded.
He was ready to make the commitment, and the more ready he felt, the more Jenny slipped away from him. And yet when he thought about it, he couldn’t put his finger on why or how he knew that was so.
They'd met at a conference in London nine months ago, clicked immediately, and left together early, uncaring that they’d be missed by their respective employers.
The next day they attended every meeting, only to escape in the evening to be together for as long as possible, before they parted the following morning.
She to return north, and he to travel south west to Cornwall.
Two days later she’d emailed him.
I’ve been given my notice she’d written. They cited downsizing, but my superior couldn’t wait to tell me the head of the company turned up for the meeting we skipped and noticed my absence.
Incensed by the unfairness, and riddled with guilt — after all, he’d persuaded Jenny to skip that session — he’d searched the papers until he found what he hoped would turn out to be a suitable job for her.
Three interviews and a month later, Jenny had moved in with him. And until a few weeks ago, nothing had come between them. To all intent and purpose, everything remained the same, but something, something so tenuous Jim couldn’t put his finger on it, was pulling them apart.
Not everyone believes a black cat is lucky. Where had that thought come from. A vague memory of a work colleague going on about his American friend’s unhealthy obsession with the belief that black cats were unlucky and wouldn’t go anywhere near one. The man even refused to allow his children to bring a black cat home from the sanctuary.
And what about the Germans? Why was he even giving these thoughts headroom? Jim thumped his hand on the steering wheel as a snazzy white sports car shot past him and vanished around a sharp bend in the road ahead.
Automatically, he reduced his speed, unsurprised when he rounded the corner to find the sports car, its roof sheared off, stuck beneath a long trailer being pulled by a farm tractor.
He braked to a halt, hauled in a deep breath, and eased out of his car. Shock had drained all colour from the farmer’s face, where he leaned against the huge back wheel of the tractor. Another man was puking at the curb-side and another, his shoulders heaving, stood with his hands clamped to what had been an open front window.
Jim didn’t want to know but couldn’t fight the urge of his gut instinct that told him he needed to know. Without conscious thought, he dug out his mobile and dialled 999. He doubted anyone else had, unless others had stayed in the cars queuing up on the other side of the pile-up had done so. With an unreal sense of detachment enveloping him, Jim looked back, noted several cars had pulled up behind his vehicle, and that no one had attempted to get out.
He couldn’t blame them. They, unlike himself, would have no reason. They hadn’t seen the car shoot past him, hadn’t recognised it, didn’t know the female driver.
Swallowing against the bile threatening to choke him, Jim closed the distance and looked into the wrecked car. The passenger had ducked, but not far enough. And the driver— Well Jim could only pray she hadn’t had time to know what was coming before the car hit the trailer.
Unable to do anything for the people in the car, he grasped the arm of the man still gripping the door and pulled him away to the side of the road. Not sure if he would fall down, Jim pushed him down to sit on the damp grass. He reckoned a wet arse would be the least of the man’s worries right then. The other, having recovered, Jim suggested he watch out for the rescue services and went back to see what he could do for the tractor driver.
“There was nothing I could do,” he said in a broken voice. “They came out of nowhere.” He looked up and shook his head. “And the speed… the idiot was driving like a maniac.”
He cast a glance at the shattered vehicle. “If they’d survived, I’d have taken a shotgun to them.”
Jim recognised shock when he heard it and fought to control and beat back his own.
He’d known. Hadn’t he just been contemplating the situation? Hadn’t he been trying to work out the defining moment when Jenny started to move away from him? Hadn’t he been hoping that his engagement ring would mend whatever was wrong between them?
He thought of the package still sitting on the seat in his car. A matching necklace to go with his ring. Emeralds, deep and sparkling when he’d studied at them in the shop. He looked at his watch. Ninety minutes ago.
Ninety minutes ago, he’d hoped to put his world right and start a new life with the woman he loved. And now…
He looked at the car, and at the torn and jagged, sheared off roof laying yards behind the vehicle and only inches in front of where he’d pulled up.
The farmer’s retching jerked Jim out of his thoughts, out of his own confusion and rising anger. He knew the passenger in the car, and fought against the double betrayal and total waste of two lives.
He loved Jen, loved her more than anything else in the world and had wanted her happiness. Yes, he’d wanted to be the one to give it to her, but if they’d only come to him, he’d have stepped away. Stepped back. Then she’d still be alive, as would his twin brother.
The sound of approaching sirens cut through his cauldron of rising emotions, and he looked into the bewildered eyes of the farmer.
“It wasn’t your fault.” Resting his hand on the man’s shoulder, he gripped hard, not sure who he was trying to reassure, himself or the other man.
Movement on the other side of the trailer blocking the road caught his attention, and Jim watched the two uniformed men climb over the linkage between tractor and trailer to join them.
Another siren heralded the arrival of an ambulance. Two figures jumped out and ran towards them. Even from where he stood, Jim saw them evaluating the situation, and with almost silent communication, divide up the tasks between them, while one was talking on his phone, Jim presumed, for backup.
“Best move away, sir,” the first policeman to join them said after one glance at the carnage. “Apart from the farmer.” The second officer looked around. “Do you know if there were any other witnesses?”
“Yes and no,” Jim said, noting the tightening of the officer’s mouth and raised his hand palm out. “The car passed me seconds before… before… before the impact.” He didn’t miss the officer’s glance at the bend in the road or the vehicles disappearing from view behind his own car.
“Do I understand the driver of the…” The officer gestured towards the remains of the sports car. “Are you saying the driver passed you on a blind bend?”
What could he do? Jim nodded, unable to get any words passed his now frozen vocal cords. Rage ripped through him, sharp as a sword. Neither of them deserved to be shielded from their own stupidity. They might not have survived, but why should he, the living victim of their betrayal, shield them from the truth of their own stupid and senseless actions?
“Yes.” Just one word. He felt like a traitor and yet still rocked by betrayal.
A medic came up and wrapped a blanket over his shoulders. Automatically he drew it around himself. The slight warmth it offered highlighted the cold that had seeped right into his bones. One part of his brain acknowledged it was reaction: shock. The other accepted a greater part of it was due to the rage still coursing through him and the need to remain and sound rational while in the company of the people there to help those involved.
He dug his free hand into his pocket and touched the small square box.
So many dreams encompassed there, but never had he anticipated they would include shattered dreams.
“Are you hurt?” The question came from somewhere far away, and Jim struggled to focus on the source. A figure in front of him swam into view.
“Not physically,” he uttered in a voice devoid of emotion. Some part of his brain registered he’d gone from hope to shock to fury and now blessed numbness.
“Shock.” Someone nearby confirmed his own assessment and hands on his shoulders encouraged him to move. He didn’t want to leave them.
Bestselling author Sherry Gloag is a transplanted Scot now living in the beautiful coastal countryside of Norfolk, England. She considers the surrounding countryside an extension of her own garden, to which she escapes when she needs “thinking time” and solitude to work out the plots for her next novel. While out walking, she enjoys talking to her characters, as long as there are no other walkers close by.
Apart from writing, Sherry enjoys gardening, walking, reading, and cheerfully admits her books tend to take over most of the shelf and floor space in her workroom-cum-office. She also finds crystal craft work therapeutic.