Good morning everybody!
It's Tuesday, and that means teaser time! Immortal Protector is just around the corner! For those of you just stopping by today, this is the companion novella in The Curse of the Templars that falls between Immortal Surrender and Immortal Trust (Mar 26).
We're catching up where we left off on Chapter One last week. Catch Up Here
The Curse of the Templars, Companion Novella
March 12, 2013
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“Catherine Grady.” Catherine answered the officer’s inquiry as confidently as she could and passed him her driver’s license. But the devastatingly handsome man to her left made confidence almost impossible. He was so big, so there, her skin tingled with awareness. A feeling she hadn’t experienced in a good four years or more. And the way he’d stepped in to protect her made her heart do all kinds of flip-flops.
Iain. Iain Donnelly. His introduction played through her mind, distracting her from the embarrassing position of having to confess to this cop that the convoluted city streets confused her and she’d caused a serious accident. It also kept her from dwelling on how she was going to break this news to the sisters at Mount Saint Scholastica. Her novitiate director wouldn’t hesitate to point out this would be God’s way of handling her refusal to part with her car, the last tangible memory of the only family who’d ever loved her. On the heels of that reminder would come the piercing stare and the remark she’d heard one too many times lately: Perhaps your calling is with children, not the community.
Catherine took her driver’s license back from the officer and nervously stuffed it into her purse. The last time she’d gotten a ticket for anything, she’d been sixteen. After that DUI, she lost her license, lost her freedom, and had only regained the right to drive three years ago.
“And the man who collided with your vehicle, you say he assaulted you?” The officer changed the direction of his questioning with a severe frown.
Catherine glanced at Iain. “Not . . . exactly.”
Officer Martinez’s frown deepened as he cocked his head and squinted at Iain. “I thought—”
“We really aren’t certain what his intentions were,” Catherine rushed to explain. “He grabbed at me. He didn’t touch me physically.” Fidgeting once more, she twined her hands together at her waist. “It’s really nothing. He’s just angry. I have insurance—I’m sure it will smooth over.”
The cop scrutinized her for a moment, then offered a slow, reluctant nod. “If anything happens—”
“’Twill not,” Iain interjected. His firm, unyielding tone sent an unexplainable thrill rolling down Catherine’s spine.
“Yeah, well,” Officer Martinez continued, “If it does, you contact me. Okay?” He gave Catherine a pointed look.
“Yes, of course.”
“You have a towing company you prefer? Or are you good with these guys?” He jerked his thumb over his shoulder at the tow truck parked at the corner, waiting to hook on at first opportunity.
It didn’t really matter in the scheme of things. Her adoptive father’s car was toast. Insurance wouldn’t touch it. She sighed inwardly. At least she could put whatever money she received toward the classroom. For six months now, she’d been trying to persuade the school board to invest in new textbooks next fall.
“They’re fine,” she answered with a forlorn look at the destroyed convertible.
Before he wandered across the street to join his partner, Martinez waved at the driver, and in seconds the tow truck’s engine purred to life. Beeps echoed down the clogged street as it backed toward the lamppost where Catherine stood.
Iain clasped her by the elbow, pulling her gently away from the wreckage. “’Twould be my pleasure to offer you a ride, Catherine. Surely you were headed somewhere?”
Criminy, one simple touch and her head swam with newfound sensations. Tingles zinged down to her toes. Warmth flooded her veins, making her oddly dizzy. And looking him in the eye—good grief, she’d faint, she was certain of it.
Instead, she glanced at her sandals. “I was on my way back to the school where I teach.” No way would she ask this stranger to drive an hour to her home. He seemed safe enough, but that was foolish. Besides, it would be rude. Grabbing for a smile, she braved meeting his warm brown eyes. “I’ll call someone to come get me.”
Iain chuckled. “You would arrive sooner if you did not have to wait to be retrieved.” He beckoned her to follow. “Come. I must deliver this sofa to the teens’ shelter. Perhaps you could tell me how to get there, in exchange for a ride.”
Not smart—this wasn’t smart at all. She’d learned this lesson the hard way. But that stranger wasn’t anything like Iain. Not once had he seemed helpful. Certainly not in the way any normal human being would define the word.
Catherine’s gaze strayed across the street at the man whose car she’d inadvertently destroyed. Evidently too good for the first-arrival towing companies, he waited beside his Jeep—which now sat near the opposite curb—glowering at her.
That malicious stare was enough to make up her mind. She’d rather chance a ride with the man who’d prevented whatever that jerk had in store, than stand here while he was still around.
“Okay.” She blew out a hard breath. “I need to go to Atchison, though.”
“Atchison? I was there three days past.”
Catherine grinned. “It’s quaint. I like it a lot.” Falling into step behind him, she crossed the street.
Iain opened the passenger door of his silver pickup truck and gestured for her to climb inside. “You are a teacher then.” It wasn’t really a question, more a reaffirmation of what she’d already said.
“Yeah.” It was true . . . for the most part. She did teach. She held a specialist’s degree in secondary education with a specific emphasis in the needs of special circumstance children. Teens and tweens who, for whatever reason, lacked stable home environments, and in some cases, homes at all. But for some unexplainable reason, Catherine couldn’t bring herself to voice the first response that came to mind: No, actually I’m a nun.