“You want to come to Ireland?”


“The Kerrigans helped fast-track my passport application process by way of a goodwill gesture,” he said. “Don’t worry. They used bribery, not magic.”

I gasped, bouncing a little in his hold. “You’ll love it there. If we try hard enough, we might find someone who knows about shifters. And you could meet my family, which isn’t so much a selling point as a disclaimer.”

They would love him, I was sure, because he loved me. And he wasn’t Stephen, which would be enough for Penny.

“It would be nice if we had a more normal ‘meeting’ story to tell them, though. I mean, even when we did meet without all of the paranormal claptrap, there was a possum involved, so that can’t be typical. I’m going to catch hell from my aunts for the possum bit; they’ll laugh for months.”

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“You want something normal?”

“I would love a little normal,” I confessed.

He grinned, set me on my feet, and kissed the tip of my nose. “I’ll be right back.”

A few minutes later, he came to the door in a pressed plaid work shirt. He bobbled a foil-wrapped pan and a much bigger spray of hydrangeas while he knocked on the screen.

“Jed, what are you doing?”

“You don’t know me,” he insisted. “We’ve never met before. I’m your new neighbor, and I’m comin’ by to introduce myself.”

“Oh,” I said, a naughty grin spreading across my lips. “Hello, handsome stranger.”

“This isn’t a porn.”

I frowned. “Hello, annoying person I may not want to meet after all.”

“Hello, new neighbor. I’m Jed Trudeau. I live next door, and I wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood with lasagna and flowers.”

“That’s very sweet of you, Mr. Trudeau. I’m Nola Leary. I just moved here to the Hollow with absolutely no agenda whatsoever.”

“Really, well, I happen to have no agenda myself. But I do have some issues with body image.”

“Meaning your body’s image changes at a moment’s notice?”

“Yep,” he said brightly. “So do you have anythin’ planned for this afternoon?”

“Oh, the usual, a little cleaning, maybe some laundry, stripping my new neighbor down to nothing and demonstrating various positions I found in some of Jane’s more obscure antique marital guides.”

His eyes popped in surprise, but he quickly schooled his features back into blithe indifference. “Sounds very normal.”

I nodded. “A new guy just moved in two houses down. Good-looking, really flexible. I think he’s into yoga.”

His face fell into a dark expression. “That’s not funny.”

“It’s a little funny.”

“Well, you’re going to have to cancel on the yoga guy, because you’re going to be busy. We have just enough time for that naked demonstration thing before I have to pack.”


“I just got an invitation to Ireland.”

“So you’re coming with me?” I squeaked, throwing my arms around his neck.

He nodded. “Someone has to keep an eye on me while I figure out how to control my skin. Havin’ my own personal nurse seems like a good idea. You know, for watchin’ my vital signs . . . and sponge baths.” I bit his ear again, making him hiss. “I’m going to pay for the sponge-bath thing later in some small way, huh?”

“Not in a small way, no.” I shook my head before kissing him deeply. “Let’s get you packed.”

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