“You can’t be fecking serious,” Ian cursed and threw the papers on the desk. “They can’t be transferring him.” The man sitting on the other side of his desk sighed and leaned forward.
“No one is happy about this, Ian,” Kenneth explained. One of the founding partners of the Shannon Law Associates, Kenneth had usually been the one that would side with Ian on most things.
“Why the bloody hell would they be?” Ian shouted. “The man is a violent rapist, a serial murder! He deserves to be in the darkest pit of the most well secured prison we have, not in a bloody psychiatric hospital.”
“The judge signed the appeal, Ian,” Kenneth answered in a tired voice. “His decision is final.”
“His decision is fecking wrong,” Ian growled and stood to look out the window. Shannon was hidden behind a thick grey rain. It matched his mood. “Why wasn’t I allowed to argue?”
“The other partners thought this case was too personal for you to be able to argue successfully.”
“Well the lot of you didn’t do any better, did you?” Kenneth clenched his jaw but sighed.
“I’m sorry, Ian. We didn’t get the ruling we wanted, but we can’t change it now. He’s being transferred tomorrow.”
“This is a mistake,” Ian whispered.
“You don’t know that.”
“Aye,” Ian sighed and looked back at his partner. “I do.”
He took the rest of the day off. At least it was Friday and he wouldn’t be missing much. He had to get out of his office, away from his desk that was covered with the files of a murderer and his victims. He wanted to go home, back to the quiet beauty of the cliffs, back to his family.
He threw his briefcase in the lorry trunk and slammed it shut. The world was never fair. It was a lesson he had learned too early in life. And the truth, as powerful as it was, did nothing to change it.
It took a few hours to drive home. Thankfully, since he had left early, the traffic was light, mainly tourists on their way to see the Cliffs of Moher for the weekend.
He didn’t phone Brigid, though he could feel her faint connection to his mind. She would know he was hurting but would not call. She knew him well and would wait until he was ready to talk. He nearly cursed their connection and her ability to know when he was in pain. Since birth, they had shared a link like no other. Even from huge distances, they could connect with each other. He shook his head. There was no denying the gift he shared with his twin. Like the truth, denial wouldn’t change anything.
He briefly considered stopping at the pub to have a pint with his dad. But it was still the lunch hour, and Jamie would be busy serving fish, chips, and Guinness to the tourists. He wasn’t ready to see his father yet anyway. Raw wounds usually gave way to raw emotions and he didn’t want his father being on the receiving end of his present mood.
He pulled up to his cottage and parked. He could smell the saltwater from the ocean as soon as he opened the lorry door. Much as he had avoided coming home the last five years, he loved the way it smelled.
He threw his briefcase onto the table and noticed a pot of tea steeping in the kitchen. Steam was still wafting from the spout. Brigid must have gotten it ready before he’d arrived. He smiled. No doubt, the tea was infused with some of her many herbs to make his troubles lessen. He didn’t want tea just yet. What he wanted was a hot shower to soothe his aching muscles.
He kicked his shoes off and began unbuttoning his shirt as he walked to the bedroom. It smelled different since the last time he had been home, like pine, and something else he couldn’t place. Brigid must have brought over some new oils while he had been gone. He threw his shirt onto the bed and slipped his pants off by the bathroom door. When he opened the door, the steam hit his naked chest and he faltered.
This wasn’t right at all. Brigid wouldn’t have started a shower for him. There certainly would not be someone humming from behind the curtain, and there most definitely would not be a lacy bra hanging from the doorknob.
Someone was in his house. And not just someone, but a woman. He debated on going back to the kitchen and phoning the Garda but decided against it. This was his house, and he could certainly deal with a vagabond woman that had decided to use his home as a rest stop.
“I’ll have to ask you to leave this house immediately,” Ian shouted over the water, trying to sound as professional as possible. The humming stopped. There was no screaming, for which Ian was extremely thankful. But then again, maybe that was a bad thing. If the woman wasn’t scared, maybe she was going to come out fighting. The water shut off.
Ian swallowed, wishing he had just phoned the Garda in the first place. The curtain slid open slightly and the woman looked out with a lifted eyebrow. Her black, wavy hair was heavy with water and lay across the front of her shoulders. Her eyebrows winged up in contempt and her full lips were pursed.
“Pardon me?” her voice, thick with a Russian accent, was deep and lyrical, and not at all afraid. “You have some balls walking in on a woman taking a shower.” Ian swallowed. This was quickly becoming a more complicated situation.
“You are trespassing on private property and I must ask that you leave,” he ordered. “Immediately.” The woman’s eyebrows rose even higher and she tossed the shower curtain to the side. “Shit,” Ian swore as he averted his eyes, but not before he saw her in all her naked glory, glistening with droplets of water. This situation was worsening by the second.
The woman, at least what he had seen of her, was absolutely gorgeous. Long legs, fit, yet curvy waist, large breasts barely covered by her long hair. Ian scrunched his eyes shut, reaching blindly for a towel. He grabbed one and held it out to her. He thought about opening his eyes to see why she wasn’t taking it but thought better of it.
“Cover yourself, please,” he ordered. He heard the woman sigh as she took the towel.
“You can open your eyes now,” she said.
“You’re decent?” Ian asked.
“Da,” her voice was full of frustration. Ian opened his eyes and her face was only a few centimeters from his own. Her eyes, an extraordinary mix of deep brown and emerald green, were full of anger. “What are you doing in here?”
“What am I doing in here?” Ian spluttered. “What are you doing in here?”
“I was invited,” she answered.
“You most certainly were not invited,” he protested as she reached for another towel and began to dry her hair. “You must leave immediately or I will be forced to phone the Garda.”
The woman looked at him and chuckled. Actually chuckled. Then she walked past him back into the bedroom, dropping her towel as she went. This time Ian was too shocked to close his eyes. The woman was just as curvy and fit from this angle, but a multitude of fresh scars marred her back. She reached for the suitcase, that Ian hadn’t noticed when he had walked in, and grabbed some undergarments. She turned, still glorious, in her bra and knickers, and put her hands on her hips.
“You will stop blushing now, da?” she complained.
“Blushing?” Ian choked on the word. This woman was insane. “You are naked in my house!” The woman chuckled... again. Ian could feel his blood pressure rising.
“Only half naked now,” she pointed out. “You must be Ian then.” Ian found he could no longer speak. This whole situation was ludicrous. He must be dreaming. “I am not bothered by lack of clothing, as you seem to be. When naked, no one can hide the truth behind clothes. I like to see the truth.”
“Who the bloody hell are you?” Ian finally shouted. The woman smiled, making Ian’s heart skip awkwardly in his chest.
“I am Erin Tatyana Whitney,” she answered. “And you are Ian James MacQuill.”
“How the hell do you know my name?”
“Your sister told me,” she answered.
“Da,” Erin answered, rolling her eyes. “She told me you would not be coming home until next month and I could stay at your cottage instead of paying for a hotel.”
“My sister said that?” Ian walked over to the bed and sat down. His legs felt like jelly. This could not be real. This gorgeous Russian woman, who apparently had nothing to hide, could not really be standing in his bedroom, half-naked.
“I can see that you are surprised enough to lose your tongue,” she replied sitting down next to him. He flinched. Her gorgeously long legs were brushing up against his. That was when he realized he wasn’t wearing any pants. He jumped off the bed like he’d been shocked and hastily pulled his pants on with one hand while he pulled his shirt out from under her with the other. He tried not to hyperventilate as he hastily buttoned it.
Erin sighed. This Irish man was nothing but nerves. It was a bit sad to see him dressing in such a hurry, as he had a very nice body. Compact, well-muscled, the perfect sprinkling of hair. He was quite interesting to look at. But he was nervous and, at least, seemed to be calming as he dressed. His dark green eyes had lost some of their panic. Erin crossed her legs and gestured for him to sit again.
“I think I’ll stand, thank you,” he replied, running a hand through his disheveled blonde hair.
“I am Maggie’s friend,” Erin told him as he paced the bedroom.
“Da,” Erin answered. “She invited me to visit. I was going to stay at the bed and breakfast in Doolin but Maggie insisted on staying with her. I refused because she needs as much rest as she can get. Brigid was there checking on her, and suggested staying here. She assured me that you never came home and not to worry. Apparently, she was wrong.”
“Not wrong, exactly,” Ian muttered. “I have an apartment in Shannon and usually stay there. I had a bad day though and wanted to come home...” he trailed off, not liking how intently the woman was starting at him. It made him feel like he hadn’t put his clothes back on.
“I can leave,” she smiled as she joked. “You don’t have to phone the Garda.” Ian managed a smile at her teasing.
“No, no,” he interrupted. “Stay, please. I should have called Brigid before I left. She was right to invite you.”
“You do not mind?”
“No, I don’t,” he answered. “I’m sorry, it’s been a bloody mess of a day, and I wasn’t expecting to find a woman in my shower.” He chuckled. “I’ll go stay with Da at the pub.”
“It would not be right for me to push a man out of his own home.” Erin’s eyes darkened. “Is there not two bedrooms in this house?”
“Two? Aye, there is,” Ian answered. “But I can’t stay here with you.”
“It isn’t proper,” he stuttered, nervous again. “You’re a woman...”
“And you are a man,” she finished. “We don’t have to sleep together, Ian.” She teased and smiled when he blushed. She kept it to herself that her last statement may change. When his blush deepened her smile widened.
So, this was what Morgan had been referring to when she said Ian had talents for finding the truth in people. He had read her mind, involuntarily she guessed, by the way he was turning red. How very interesting.
“I don’t think it would be right,” Ian finally answered. “I don’t know you.”
“You don’t know me yet,” Erin corrected. “I do not feel right pushing you from your home.”
“Nonsense,” he answered, shaking off his nerves. “You should be close to Maggie and her house is just down the lane. Da has an extra bedroom and would more than likely enjoy the company.” He smiled, trying to avoid looking at her breasts that curved nicely over the lacy bra. “I’ll just pack a quick bag and leave you alone to finish dressing.”
Erin chuckled and watched as he went to the closet and pulled a small suitcase from the shelf. Reluctantly, she finished getting dressed as he packed. She did not want to make him any more nervous than he already was. Apparently, he was not used to seeing a woman without her clothes. Either that or he was gay. She saw his body jerk in surprise as she pondered. Very interesting. She walked him to the door and apologized again for taking over his house.
“Tis fine, Erin,” he assured her as he grabbed his briefcase. “Enjoy your visit.”
“I just might,” she purred, looking him over. He really was quite handsome. She saw the spark of desire in his eyes before he blushed and walked to his car. Definitely not gay. He faltered again and she smiled. That would teach him for listening to someone’s private thoughts. She waved as he drove down the lane. Ian MacQuill was a puzzle that she would have to figure out if she was to get any work done, and thankfully, Erin loved puzzles.
When writing a story, it helps to have a visual of what your characters look like. Having an actual picture of someone to base your character on helps you keep track of even the most minor details.
Ian MacQuill is haunted by his past. He's closed off but still loyal, fair, and strong. Karl Urban was the perfect muse for the heartsick Ian.