Abigail O’Malley wants to find true love…which is about as easy as catching a leprechaun.
Michael McKnight heard Abby’s plea, felt the waves of magic radiating out to him from the fairy charms she’d acquired, and the instant she asked and put that door at the base of the grand live oak he bent time and space to get to her. Banished for the last ten years for the misuse of his magic—and for hoarding gold—he had spent a life apart from her, one that had literally been a living hell.
But I’ve paid my debt, and nothing will keep me from her now.
She rounded the tree, screamed, and dropped in her tracks.
Panic seized him. He tossed away his tiny green hat and dove for her, catching her head in his small arms before she hit the dirt. She’d crashed. Totally passed out. Dusted the fallen leaves with her golden-red locks. Good God, she’s not breathing!
“Abby? Abby! Wake up, Abby!” His frantic voice filled the woods. He’d scared the precious thing to death. “What have I done? Damn it, Abby, don’t do this to me! Come on, sweetheart, wake up!” No. He couldn’t lose her now that she’d called for him. “Please! Abby, come back to me!”
Getting caught by a human was end-game for any leprechaun, but Michael wanted her to catch him. He’d loved her since they were children, and sometimes he thought he’d dreamed her into life. She’d never recognize him now—penance for his sins included the curse of living in this ridiculously tiny body with the green felt hat and shoes. But he didn’t care. Whatever she needed, he’d be sure to see she got. If he could. There were limits to magic, of course.
He shook her, his chest crushing in on itself as he willed her awake. Then a breath escaped her lips and she gasped, and Michael froze.
“Praise God Almighty, she’s alive.”
His eyes roved every inch of her, seeking injuries. His trembling hands felt her scalp and neck. No bumps. No blood. The tension in his chest eased. She’d merely fainted at the sight of him. That could be good or bad. He chose to go with good.
“Ah, lass, you’re overcome with the sight of me.” He stared at her and smiled, hugged her close in his arms and drew in a deep breath. He cradled her head, her angelic face graced by those waving locks of long ginger hair. And freckles. Everywhere. Michael chuckled. My lassie, Irish through and through.
He reached out and reverently touched her face. When they’d played together as children he’d wanted to kiss her. Now he pulled her close and drew in a breath. Peaches and cream. She smelled like heaven. Her ample chest rose and fell underneath a navy blouse that set off the color of her porcelain skin and hundreds—no, thousands—of freckles. Long legs stretched out from underneath her sleeping frame. She’d grown up during the years he was kept away.
He peeked down the length of those denim-covered legs, and his face blew wide with a smile when he saw her bare feet. A work of art, her toes were painted red and perfectly pedicured. The shoes she wore lay askew from her fall, and he scrambled over to assess them. Professional curiosity. One of the heels had snapped clean off.
His face fell. Three-inch heels? No wonder she’d fallen. Who wore such beautiful things outside to plant fairy charms? But his Abigail had always fancied her shoes, and he’d yearned to make her a pair for well over a decade.
He inspected her feet. The arch was perfect, her toes a wonder, and her bare feet drew him in. A desire to give her a foot rub almost overcame him, but he forced his eyes back up her body to her face. To her lips. One simple kiss and he would die a happy man. He’d lived for this, watching her, using his magic and gold to pay the fairies to dance for her when they were both so young….
He took his chance while she lay there unaware. Leaning in, he pressed his lips to hers and stole his kiss. She stirred. Unable to control himself, Michael kissed her again. Then he eased back as her red-blonde lashes fluttered open to reveal sapphire eyes. His heart raced as for a second he glimpsed his future, and that future was good.
Then Abby’s eyes flew wide, she screamed and seized him in her hands. “For the love of God, you’re a leprechaun!”
Folklore about these little men swam in Abby’s clouded head as she reared up, the creature’s lapels in her grasp. Leprechauns were a sort of fairy without wings. But also… “Gold! Good God! Leprechauns are magic fairies who own gold!”
He narrowed his eyes. “That’s the best you can do?”
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