Hola everyone! It’s time to salt up your margarita glass or down a Cuban coffee as it is Valentino Brother o’clock. I’ve got an excerpt here from a couple of chapters in. There has already been a “meet” between our hero (Santiago) and heroine (Saoirse – pronounced Seer-shuh)….but only during work hours.
The action has moved to local Miami Cantina, Mad Ron’s where things are a bit more relaxed…or are they? (I think I might’e messed up the spacing on this so apologies in advance!)
“Here you are, mija.”
Saoirse reached out both hands to take the iced glass, loaded to the brim with a freshly whizzed margarita. With salt. It was a take-no-prisoners cocktail and about as well deserved as end-of-day drinks got.
“Your parents named you well, Ángel!” She gave the bartender a grateful smile. It had been a lo-o-o-ng day. New Year’s Day celebrations seemed to have lasted two weeks in Miami. One of their patients had only been adorned in a swirl of glittery tinsel. Didn’t he know it was bad luck to leave his decorations up so long? Or take quite so many little “magic” pills? It was one way to start the New Year with a bang. His girlfriend had looked exhausted.
She looked up, scanning the growing crowd, eyes eventually landing on her friend Amanda waving to her from the entryway to the patio, arm crooking in a get your booty over here now arc. She took a huge glug of the margarita, convincing herself it was to make sure the drink didn’t spill as she wove her way through Mad Ron’s Cantina to the picnic-table-filled, blue-tiled garden area already overflowing with well-wishers for Joe. She’d been lucky when she’d landed him as a mentor in her work-study program. The guy had seen it all. Not to mention the fact that, forty years on, an ambulance had helped him accrue a vast pool of friends. The place was heaving.
“Hey, girl! What took you so long?” Amanda gave her one of those American half hug things she was growing to like. Irish people weren’t huggy like this, but after the day… No. Make that the year she’d had? The blossoming friendship was a much-needed soul salve.
“I wanted to stop by the hospital to check on a patient.”
“Oh? Bit of a hottie, was he?”
Saoirse snorted. Mostly to cover up the fact it had been the roadside stranger she’d been hoping to see, not the tattoo-covered vet they’d saved.
“Not so much. But he’d been out a long time—cardiac arrest—and I wanted to see what his recovery was like. Curiosity. Never seen a guy make it through who’d had over twenty minutes of compressions.”
“You did that? Twenty minutes?” She blew on her fingers in a color-me-impressed move.
“Don’t be mad!” Saoirse waved away the suggestion, trying to shake the “the mental image of Mr. Mysterioso’s very fine forearms as she did. She had a thing for forearms and his had launched straight to Number One on the Forearms of the Week list. Not that she actually kept a list or anything. She blinked away the image and forced herself to focus on Amanda. “No mad compressions for me. I would’ve stuck my magic electric shockers on him straight away.” She made her best crazed-scientist face to prove it was true.
“You’re such a diligent little paramedic, aren’t you?” The verbal gibe was accompanied by an elbow in the ribs.
Saoirse jabbed her back and laughed. “Hey! Don’t be shortist!”
“As long as you promise not to be tallist!”
They clinked glasses with a satisfying guffaw. Amanda towered over Saoirse and rarely missed a moment to comment on her friend’s diminutive stature. Just about the only person in the world who could.
A swift jab of pain shot through her heart at the memory of her fiancé—ex! Ex, ex, ex! Ex-fiancé resting his head on top of hers. To think it had made her feel safe! What a sucker. She shook off the scowl the memory elicited and replaced it with a goofy smile when she saw Amanda’s questioning look. The woman had laser vision right into her soul. “Wouldn’t it just be my luck to come across the lippiest desk nurse in the whole of Miami?”
“Not everyone’s prepared to take all your blarney, Murph. Fess up. Why were you really at the hospital? Don’t tell me you’re a margarita behind the rest of us just because of quizzical interest. You got exams coming up or something“?
Saoirse avoided the light-saber gaze her friend was shooting at her and took another thirst-quenching glug, a shiver juddering through her as the ice hit her system.
“Oh. My. Word.” Amanda’s eyes were well and truly cemented across the heaving garden. Saoirse’s shoulders dropped. Phew. Dodged a bullet. Looked like eye candy had saved the day.
“Three o’clock,” Amanda murmured. “Tall, dark and too freakin’ sexy for the word sexy. I’m going to get a cavity in my eye from the sweetness of this man. Murph—what’s better than sexy?”
Mr. Mysterioso popped into her head and quite a few words jostled for pole position. “Edible? Scrumptious? Lip-lickingly perfect? Luscious?”
Hmm…there was a bit of a food theme going on here. Couldn’t have anything to do with the perfect caramel color of the knight in shining motorcycle gear’s forearms, could it?
“Luscious,” Amanda repeated, her voice all soft and swoony. Was she remembering she was happily married?
“Three o’clock?” Saoirse had to at least take a glimpse. Looking never hurt, right? It was the feeling part that hurt—and she wouldn’t go down that stupid, heart-crushing path again.
Her eyes flitted from face to face, none of them fitting into the knee-weakening territory Amanda’s stranger clearly dominated. “I can’t see him!”
“Get up on the picnic bench, then.” Amanda didn’t wait for Saoirse to protest, all but lifting her up and aiming her toward the entryway. “You’ve got to get a look. This guy could fill up a calendar all by his lonesome. Then they’d have to make up some more months just for fun… Can you imagine it? Mr Yes-Ma’am-uary!” She gave a military salute before giving Saoirse an additional prod to hurry her up on her quest to steady herself on the bench seat.
“For crying out loud, Amanda. Quit your pushing, will you? I can get on the bench by myself—Oh…”
They said lightning never struck twice. But that had been disproved. And today was blasting another hole in the theory.
“You see what I mean?”
Did she ever? And when Saoirse’s eyes connected with the object of their evaluation…she needed to get down from the bench. Quick smart.
“He’s all right. I’ve seen better.” Saoirse jumped down and took another spine-juddering slurp of her icy drink. Her jets needed cooling. Big time.
“You’ve gone mental.” Amanda’s jaw all but dropped in disbelief. “The man rocks it!”
“Rocks what exactly?” Saoirse went for a dismissive snort and ended up cough-choking. Awesomely sexy. Not.
Okay. So she didn’t really need to ask the question because she knew exactly what he rocked. And it wasn’t just her boat. He was rocking her tummy. Which was currently doing some sort of loopy ribbon-twirling fest thing with the half of margarita it had inside it. He was rocking her heart. Which seemed to have kicked up a notch—or seventeen—in the pace department. Her entire nervous system was experiencing a takeover as if he were playing a goose-bump xylophone along her arms…then down her back and in a sort of heated swirl around her—
“Uh.” Amanda pressed a hand to her friend’s forehead. “Are you sure you weren’t at the hospital to make sure you aren’t going clinically insane?” She drew out the last word just to make super sure Saoirse knew her friend thought she was nuts. “How on earth are we ever going to find you a hot boyfriend to marry in the next two months if your taste in men is so weird as to not find that amazing specimen of a man…?” Her hand shot out in a pointy gesture and made contact. With a chest. A chest Saoirse had already had the good fortune to stare at for some length of time earlier that day.
Amanda’s jaw dropped again.
“Miss Murphy. We meet again.”
“YOU KNOW HIM?
That’s what Amanda’s wide-eyed look said. And then she said it out loud for good measure.
“Ha!” Saoirse barked. “No.”
Saoirse’s eyes darted between her friend and Mr. Mysterioso. This was awkward. Why wasn’t the earth being kindly for once and swallowing her up in a freak sinkhole incident? Now would be a pretty good time for Mother Nature to intervene if she was ever going to show her largesse. She hadn’t bothered when her fiancé had left her standing at the altar like a complete and utter ninny in a ridiculous meringue of a dress… Well…it had rained a lot so it had masked the tears, but Hop to it Mummy Nature—now’s your chance to make things right!
He stretched his hand forward toward Saoirse, who ignored it, and then to Amanda, who—after exclaiming how fun it was that he was a lefty—took it, gave it a stroke with her other hand to check for a ring and shook it in slow motion, all the while mouthing to Saoirse “You know him?”
“Santi, if Santiago’s too much of a mouthful.”
The comment was aimed directly at her. And elicited some images that would’ve sent a nun straight to the burning flames place.
Saoirse drained her glass. It wasn’t ladylike and rocketed a brain freeze straight to the neurotransmitters that would’ve helped her with witty rebuttals, but…tough. Mr. Created-for-Calendars here had made an impact and she’d been working long and hard on the impenetrable fortress built around her heart, not to mention her—ahem—golden triangle. Or whatever it was called these days. ”
Excerpt From: Annie O’Neil. “Santiago’s Convenient Fiancée.” iBooks.