Peggy McDermott studied the tray of soda bread sandwiches and tarts. “I’m hoping this is the last of them, Prudie. I didn’t expect to serve up so many.”
The kitchen maid wiped her sweaty face with a corner of her apron and grinned. “Who would expect it? An O’Brien wake at Meirliun turning the whole of County Clare into respectful mourners.”
Peggy snorted. “Respectful mourners hoping to get a taste of whiskey skin tea and a bite of lunch, maybe?”
“Well, it’s a grand salute to Mistress Margaret.” Quickly, Prudie crossed herself. “She looks like an angel, in that white shroud with her hands bound forever in prayer by her rosary, and the bell hooked over her thumbs.”
“You dressed her, then?”
“Aye, Sarah and I washed and dressed her before we laid her in the bier. Livy was useless, wailing in the arms of the master long after her mum passed.”
“Ah, the poor little thing. Her mum was taken too young for an heiress, and that one so near to coming out. Is she doing her duty upstairs?”
“Last tray I took up, she was sitting beside the coffin, looking like a caged raven in her chair—her ginger hair covered in black and pale as the corpse she was, taking condolences with grace and more gravity than even her da.”
“The master grieves in his own way, Pru. Clay pipes and tobacco are laid out in the library for the male tenants and staff. Angus is minding the liquor cabinet. Every puff and toast will protect the mistress’s soul in the hereafter, or so he says.”
“Did Sarah open the parlor window to allow her spirit to escape?”
“Aye, the housekeeper stopped the clocks, covered the mirrors and set the candles at the head and foot of the bier. Her Robbie and my Lewy are dressed as footmen, ushering guests, and standing watch at each end til burial on the morrow.”
Prudie sucked in her grin. The two gloved lads in green coats with white gloves? Both had unusual run of the manor for sons of servants, but the master always took a liking to them. Chinwag at Meirliun claimed he even charged them to look after Livy when she tagged after the boys when she was younger. The mistress was said to be mortified, knowing her little heiress was hanging with low boys. But Livy was willful and even sending her to a Dublin finishing school couldn’t smooth the wrinkles in the highborn lass.
Peggy smirked when she heard the clatter on the steps. “That’ll be me own dear footman. Lewy’s come for the tray.”
Tall and tanned, with his collar askew and no gloves, Lewy snatched one of the sandwiches and popped it into his mouth before his mother could slap his hand. When he kissed her after a swallowed gulp, she baffled the air with her hand. “Tell me you weren’t samplin’ the master’s jug, now.”
“Da gave me a go, Mum. Standing watch like a statue surrounded by death and roses works on the throat.”
“Is Robbie partaking as well?”
“Not with his mum supervising, but he looks like he needs a swill. He’s stunned as Livy watching the bell in her mother’s hands.”
“Tis an old custom, favoring hope of life by the sound of a ringing bell, but I think the mistress is gone for good.” Crossing herself, she wiped a tear from her eye with the back of her hand. “Even St. Patrick himself could not heal the break in her heart.”
Lewy wondered if his mother knew—the common chinwag he had heard . . .about Robbie and Livy.
About the Book
He was lost in time…found by love.
Jessica Brewster is being watched…and things go missing from the remote Wyoming home she shares with her toddler. In a freak accident, she shoots the grizzled thief stalking her before she recognizes the mesmerizing green eyes that belong to the only man she ever loved. Has Mitch bridged time to find her? In a race to save his life and change hers forever, she takes him into her home and heart. But his memory loss and puzzling clues curry doubt and danger.
Is he truly her son’s father or an irresistible stranger in her arms?’
I screamed as the gun exploded in my hand and fell to the ground. The bear moving toward Scout dropped, and I raced to scoop up my son before he toppled into the icy stream. Cradling my whimpering child, I ventured closer and could see at once that it was no bear I shot. A man in a bearskin poncho lay on his side. A mass of dark matted hair covered the side of his face that wasn’t blooming with blood,
running down his cheek, pooling in his ear and staining his thick beard.
“Is he, is he dead?” I whispered.
Chuck fumbled for a pulse and we all started when the man groaned and his eyes fluttered open.
Green! His eyes were green. The fear in them registered with me as he searched our faces. When his eyes met mine, his jaw twitched. A flash of memories washed over me and my heart began to thump wildly. I set Scout down when my knees began to buckle and I thought I was going to be sick as I reached out to staunch the blood.
So red against the white snow. His eyes, so…green. Every shade in a spectrum of emotion raced through me. I knew only one man who owned those eyes. Had he come back to me?
Did I shoot the only man I ever loved?
About the Author
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, CJ Fosdick has freelanced for over 30 years, writing stories and articles for local and national publications, including the Post Bulletin and Rochester Women. Stories are published in three anthologies, including Minnesota’s Blossoms & Blizzards and a Prentice-Hall H.S. Literature Textbook. Her novel series debuted in 2015 with The Accidental Wife, voted a Golden Quill finalist for Best First Novel and a top 10 finisher for Best Author and Best Romance in the 2015 Preditors & Editors Poll. She pursues her novel dreams on a wooded country hilltop in Rochester, MN, with husband, family, and a menagerie of well-fed wild and domestic animals.