Home > Midlife Mojo (Not Too Late #3)

Midlife Mojo (Not Too Late #3)
Author: Victoria Danann

 

PROLOGUE

 


I was sure I would never again experience anything more wonderful than Yule in Hallow Hill. It turns out the ancient pagans and Druids of the British Isles adopted the traditions of greenery, red ribbons and ornaments, and an attitude of you-can’t-have-too-many-candles from the fae. Of course, in modern times humans substitute electric lights for candles, partly because it’s convenient and pretty in its own way and, partly, because fae can control things like fire. We can’t. They can also cause fully grown evergreen trees to appear, rooted to whatever spot they choose. Again, we go for a cut tree or a faux tree.

Hallow Hill spares no expense when it comes to celebrating seasonal milestones. Overnight, literally, multitudes of little twinkling lights lent the community the luster of midday. Storefronts and houses were decked with boughs of holly, grapevine, magnolia leaves (now that’s magic), and so many pine branches that the entire village was fragrant.

It’s magic that defies description.

That doesn’t mean my life is problem free.

 

My fully human, fully clueless daughter’s college break will dovetail the Solstice Court Meet. I don’t mean clueless in the sense of dumb. Quite the opposite. Evie may be one of the smartest cookies on the orb. I mean she thinks I’m a mild-mannered shopkeeper in a sleepy little English village. Only three words in that sentence can claim kin to reality; little English village. When it comes to what I’m really up to, she’s ignorant as the day she was born.

 

And I want to keep it that way.

 

If all goes well, I’ll be out of magistrate robes in time to meet the plane and residents of Hallow Hill will behave themselves long enough for her to head back to the states thinking I live in a pretty little English village with nice, but possibly quirky neighbors.

 

Of course, that’s not all. I also have a psychotic kelpie on the loose, intent on taking me for a one-way ride. That’s not the reason why I’m stalling making a formal commitment to Keir, who has his heart set on a spring handfasting. I don’t know why I’m hesitating. After all, he’s everything a woman could want and way more.

My chief distraction is finalizing the docket for Solstice Court with a lot more insight now that I’ve survived my first court meet.

 

I’m sure you want to know how things turned out with the young and amoral, power hungry Irish fae prince, Niall, and his gorgeous older brother, Diarmuid. Well, after a conversation with Queen Enya of the Scotia fae, who more or less owed me a favor, I made Niall her ward for a year and a day. During that time, Enya’s brethren, a hale and hardy bunch of wildhaired Scots, will show Niall the meaning of tough love. One might argue that they’re an odd choice for role models, but my intuition told me that, if there was a kernel of redemptive quality in Niall, the Scots would find it and try to smelt it into something worthwhile.

At the very least, a year’s loss of freedom could only do him good.

The fact that neither Maeve nor Diarmuid objected to my ruling, in any way, tells its own story. Perhaps they’re hoping for something like Scotia fae bootcamp and the miraculous return of a kid who doesn’t embarrass his presitigious family. I’m mildly optimistic. Mildly because I fear Niall had the sort of psyche that won’t be easily untwisted.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE Jersey Devil, Part Deux

 


Keir wasn’t the sort to move around the house in silence. When he was up and about, I knew it. Unless I’d ended the night before with too much Bailey’s.

As one of the dual natured, he might’ve had some noiseless cat traits, but in human form he was as rambunctious as a teenage jock.

Do not misconstrue this as complaining, even though that’s how it sounds. I was eager for his company and not just for the usual reasons. I needed his help to make sense of the previous night’s strange occurrence.

I was sitting by the kitchen fire with my laptop and a cup of ginger tea, still in my pretty pink and gray silky pajamas, when he appeared wearing nothing but drawstring pants.

He looked scrumptious as could be with his towel-dried mane of tawny hair, and I knew that, if I planted my face in his abs, I’d be treated to the heady scent of sephalian freshly washed with sheep’s wool soap. Locally milled, of course.

He saw that my eyes were fixed on his midsection. After glancing down, his mouth formed one of my favorite expressions, the sexy, cocky smirk. Those pants had a way of accentuating his happy trail so that it drew the eye like a neon arrow.

“Like something you see?”

My moment of being transfixed was broken by his teasing. “I guess by now you’d know I was lying if I said no. So. Yeah. I like what I see.”

His smile faded. “But something’s wrong.”

He looked around like he thought it might be something external. His eyes landed on the large pink crystal sitting on the table in front of me then shifted to the screen on my laptop. I had just typed my email password and the “SHOW” feature was turned on. It wouldn’t have made any difference if he was human, but Keir’s eyesight was phenomenal. He had no trouble reading an eight-point font from across a room.

“Mojomom?” It was a goodnatured heckle, but I wasn’t feeling goodnatured.

“Stop reading my screen. You’re invading my privacy.” He waited. “And what’s wrong with ‘Mojomom’?”

“Nothing at all. I just don’t usually think of you as a mum. I know you have offspring and all…”

“I don’t have offspring. I have one, um, spring.” It was just about then that I recognized I was blithering. Again. “Just one daughter.” I trailed off.

He shook his head like he thought I’d been into the magic mushrooms. “Rita. Your password is up to you. I think it’s cute.”

“Damn right!”

He turned slowly and repeated his question with a firmness that wasn’t there before. “What. Is. Wrong?”

I slumped and sighed. “Grab a spot of tea. I have a story to tell.”

“Is it a good story?”

“I’ll let you decide. After you hear it.” With an enigmatic departing look he headed toward the kettle on bare feet that were unjustly beautiful on a male; perfectly formed minus the myriad flaws that’re customary with feet. “Aren’t you cold?”

His back was to me, but I plainly heard the chuckle. “I don’t get cold, love.”

“Then why are you such a good snuggler at night?”

With steaming cup in hand, he joined me by the fire. Not, apparently, because he craved the warmth.

“I wouldn’t think of myself as proficient at snuggling in general. I snuggle with you because I like it. Not because I need it. And, if you think I’m good at it, eye of the beholder and all that.”

“Huh.”

He smiled into his cup just before blowing across the hot liquid, took a sip, then said, “But the pleasure of it is something we share in common.”

An involuntary sigh erupted making me sound more vulnerable than I’d ever intended to be. Again. In the beginning there’d been a brief time when Cole looked at me adoringly and said lovely things.

“Storytime?” he prompted, seeing that I’d been carried into a reverie.

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