by Lynda Simmons
Fast-paced, funny and incurably romantic.
Rachel Banks has never believed in magic or moonlight, but if she’d thought that putting a piece of wedding cake under her pillow would conjure up a nightmare in the form of blue-eyed charmer Mark Robison, she’d have stuffed that cake into her mouth instead! Mark is only in Madeira Beach for some much needed R&R and his new neighbour is not the kind of woman made for vacation memories. But there’s something about the incurable romantic that just keeps drawing him back.
Jennifer Crusie. Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Lynda Simmons? Oh, yeah!
Good Works – A Serialized Novella
By Lynda Simmons
“I need you to keep her company to the first stop,” Finn said as the two of us ran to the fence.
“Why not just go with her yourself?”
“Because any second now, Hassan is either going to take off his head-phones and hear his wife screaming, or she’s going to get up enough nerve to disturb him while he’s playing video games. Once that happens, they’ll head out here to find Aisha, and it will be my job to slow them down. Hopefully give her a bit of a head start.”
I didn’t want to know what ‘slowing them down’ entailed so I said, “Fair enough,” and when he linked his fingers together as he had for Aisha, I put my foot in his hands instead of his face this time.
“What’s your name?” he asked when I threw my leg over the lattice.
“Rebecca Sandhurst.” I paused before facing the drop on the other side. “Is your name really Finn?”
He smiled, a nice smile that I didn’t want to find attractive. “Afraid so. Full name Finn Priest. I’ll tell you all about it over a drink later.”
“Maybe, but I’m curious now. How do you know I won’t call the police? Turn her in?”
His smile dimmed. “I don’t. But you have a nice face. Gives me hope.”
“Fool,” I said and threw my other leg over the lattice. Faced the drop. What on earth was I thinking?
“And just for the record,” he said, “stealing your bike was never part of the plan.”
“Good to know,” I said and looked back, but he was already running back to the dumpster.
“Stupid cow,” a man I assumed to be the ever-popular Hassan, shouted inside AK Framing and Shoe Repair. And I pushed off the fence just as the back door of the shop crashed open.
“Zara,” Hassan shouted. “Exactly how long ago did you see her?”
I missed the answer as I dropped with an ankle-jarring thud into a magazine-perfect urban oasis. Mature lindens, immaculate shrubs and flowers, and a winding flagstone walk leading to a multi-level deck and a narrow Victorian house.
The only sign of life was a cat sitting in an upstairs window, watching a squirrel jump from branch to branch above our heads. Chances were good no one was home, but Aisha had positioned herself and the backpack behind one of the Lindens anyway, out of sight of the house. Clever girl, but Finn had been right about her dedication to the escape being shaky. Her face was pale, her breathing shallow and when Hassan spoke again, she wrapped her arms around herself and stared, wide-eyed, at the fence.
“Where did you see her?” Hassan continued.
I knew we should get out of there now, but curiosity got the best of me. I had to see this Hassan in the flesh, understand what we were up against. I held up a finger to Aisha – give me one minute – and crept closer to the fence. Put my eye to a crack.
I couldn’t see much, just Finn hiding behind a dumpster, and a young man I assumed was Hassan, pacing back and forth, coming dangerously close to discovering that he wasn’t alone.
“Did you recognize the people with her?” he asked.
Zara, the informer in blue, came into view. “No. But I’d know them again if I saw them.”
“Did they have a car?”
“Just a bike. But it’s gone.”
Now that I had a better view it was obvious that Zara was older than Aisha. Taller too with the fair skin and freckles of a redhead. She was also pregnant and due any day by the look of her. Hassan’s red haired wife – a convert no doubt. A woman with much to prove.
For his part, Hassan could only be described as breath-taking. Broad shoulders, sculpted features. Too bad about the gun.
As firearms went, his was small, designed for concealed carry, and he’d almost succeeded in hiding it up the sleeve of his shirt. In another time, another place, I would have had a weapon of my own, equally small, equally handy, but after Nathan’s death, I’d put all of that behind me. Wanted nothing more to do with guns or the people who carried them. Yet I did breathe a little easier when Finn slowly and quietly drew one of his own. A good guy with a gun and all of that, even if he was a bike thief.
“I’ll get the car,” Hassan said, and when he ran off, Zara took a long, slow look around. Her face calm, impassive as her gaze moved from quadrant to quadrant. Like a robot assessing, logging, evaluating. When she started walking toward the fence, I knew I’d seen enough.
I eased away from the crack and motioned Aisha to follow me along the winding path to the house.
“I’m sorry Finn dragged you into this,” she whispered when we reached the deck. “You don’t have to come with me if you don’t want to. I’ll understand completely.”
“I’m happy to help,” I said and headed around the deck, searching for a gate.
Happy probably wasn’t the right word. Perhaps I was amenable to helping, or even resigned to helping. Or as Nathan would have said, called to helping. Besides, as he always liked to remind me, every new experience gave me something new to write about. And tomorrow’s column would definitely guarantee more venom. Babble on Mrs. Sandhurst. You-know-who is watching.
So let Him watch. Right now, I had other things to worry about. Like how to open the childproof latch on this gate.
“For the record,” Aisha said while I tried to figure out which part went up and which went down, and what on earth did the little flappy thing did. “Stealing your bike was never part of the plan.”
“So I’ve heard.” I took a break from the lock and the flappy thing and glanced back at her. “So what exactly was the original plan?”
Lynda Simmons is a writer by day, college instructor by night and a late sleeper on weekends. She grew up in Toronto reading Greek mythology, bringing home stray cats and making up stories about bodies in the basement. From an early age, her family knew she would either end up as a writer or the old lady with a hundred cats. As luck would have it, she married a man with allergies so writing it was.
With two daughters to raise, Lynda and her husband moved into a lovely two storey mortgage in Burlington, a small city on the water just outside Toronto. While the girls are grown and gone, Lynda and her husband are still there. And yes, there is a cat – a beautiful, if spoiled, Birman.
When she’s not writing or teaching, Lynda gives serious thought to using the treadmill in her basement. Fortunately, she’s found that if she waits long enough, something urgent will pop up and save her – like a phone call or an e-mail or a whistling kettle. Or even that cat just looking for a little more attention!
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Lynda-Simmons/e/B001KI3Z4O
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