I wish everyone the very merriest of Christmases, or Happy Tuesday, whichever applies to you.
I have a very merry Christmas because I have a new book releasing today.
The Harp and the Fiddle is a contemporary romance set in Ireland, where I’m spending my holidays. It’s a beautiful, haunting tale of love and redemption set against the backdrop of a haunted castle in Ireland.
Caera Cassidy has spent two years building the historic—and haunted—Glenncailty Castle into one of the most sought-after hotels and performance venues in Ireland. But she can’t say it’s her dream. She lost that years ago when what she thought was love led her to a dark place not even her music could reach.
Once in a while, though, it’s safe to pretend. And that’s what she’s doing when she plays her harp on the empty stage in the castle’s theater.
When American folk musician Tim Wilcox spots the mysterious woman at the front of the theater, he’s enraptured. Not only by her virtuoso skill and ethereal voice, but by her dark beauty—and the shadows in her blue eyes when she insists she’s no musician.
Wary of repeating the mistakes of her past, Caera tells herself she can indulge in the pleasure of Tim’s company, his touch, without risking her heart. But she hadn’t counted on Tim’s determination to convince her she’s worthy of her gifts. Or on lingering souls who live in the castle, who are growing restless, ready to warn her that deadly mistakes are not meant to be repeated…
And here’s a yummy excerpt:
Copyright © 2012 Lila Dubois
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
As he stood in the soaking rain, he decided his day officially couldn’t get any weirder. It had started yesterday in JFK airport. Since then he’d traveled, he’d talked, he’d played beautiful music with a beautiful woman who disappeared the moment his back was turned. He’d followed an unknown feeling into an unused part of a castle, only to find a foreboding bricked over doorway that seeped cold air and activated his fight-or-flight response.
And now he was chasing a dark-haired angel into the rain.
Yep, it couldn’t get any weirder.
The exterior lights of the castle didn’t illuminate more than a few feet of the wet ground. In her dark sweater she was nearly invisible, but Tim heard the crunch of her feet on stone. He had no idea where he was. She’d gone out the rear door of the pub, exiting into what he assumed were the gardens at the back of the castle.
Squinting at the ground, he could make out the texture of the crushed stone path and carefully followed it as it curved.
“It’s raining, you should go inside.”
Tim jumped. “Holy crap! You surprised me.”
Her voice had come from his right, off the path. He took a tentative step that direction. The rain pounding down on his shoulders and skull was gone, replaced by the occasional fat drop. He stretched a hand up, touched a leaf of the tree they stood under.
“‘Holy crap’? That’s quite a thing to say.” Her soft lilt seemed right for the dark, rainy night.
“I’ve had quite the day.”
“I think I encountered a ghost in your castle.”
“You went to the west wing?”
“So it is a ghost. I thought maybe Sorcha was playing for atmosphere or something. Do you all know about the cold, the ghost?”
“You don’t live for years at Glenncailty without an encounter at the walled room.”
“Is Ireland really like this, all mysterious women and old haunted castles?”
As they spoke, Tim had been inching his way towards her, using her voice to guide him. Her breathy question came from directly in front of him, so close he thought he could feel the words, cold on the wet skin of his neck.
“Yes, I met a beautiful woman playing a harp, but when I turned around she was gone.”
“I had work to do.”
“You didn’t introduce yourself.”
The swish of wind and rain cocooned them, filling the space between his comment and her eventual reply.
“There was no reason for me to be playing. I didn’t know how to introduce myself after you’d caught me where I shouldn’t be.” Her sigh was loud enough to be heard over the rain. “With a hotel full of fine musicians, I had no place on that stage.”
Tim laughed. He couldn’t help it. He threw back his head as the mirth rumbled out of him. “You’re kidding, right? You’re genius on the harp. I’ve never heard anyone jam on a harp before today, and you’re saying you don’t think you’re good enough? That’s just nuts. Plus, you sing like an angel. You had the whole bar eating out of your hand. It was magical.”
“You shouldn’t say things like that.” Caera’s words cracked like a whip, catching Tim by surprise.
“What? Why?” Had no one ever told her how musically gifted she was? It seemed impossible that she wouldn’t know how special she was. A person could have all the technical musical skill in the world, but if they didn’t have that certain presence, that real understanding of what music was, the technical skill kept them stuck in a studio. Caera belonged in front of an audience.
“Don’t say things like that,” she demanded, her tone both angry and almost…afraid.
Her anger sparked his. “Why wouldn’t I? It’s the truth.”
“I don’t play for anyone but myself; it doesn’t matter if I’m good.”
“Of course it does. You should be playing and singing with us tomorrow night, not selling the tickets.”
Her hand pressed against his chest, as if to push him away. Tim caught her wrist, holding her palm flat against him. When his fingers touched her bare skin, awareness sparked to life between them.
He searched for and found her waist with his free hand and drew her forward. Now he could see her, just the outline of her body—dark against the gray shadows. Her sweater was damp and heavy under his hand, making him aware of how wet and cold he was.
She drew in a breath, one of those soft girl sounds. Tim tightened his hand on her hip. Her frustrating denial of her music was forgotten under the pressing need to kiss her.
“Was that your boyfriend you ate dinner with?” Tim’s voice was husky. The rain felt like shield, protecting them from the night, from other people, from reality.
“Rory? No, he works with me.”
“Good.” Tim drew her captured hand up to his face. Her fingers brushed his cheek as they curled into her palm, her hand fisting to avoid contact.
In reply, Tim kissed her closed fingers. They were cold, wet against his lips. Under the warmth of his kiss, they opened, her hand cupping his cheek.
“May I kiss you, Caera Cassidy?”
Tim had never asked a woman if he could kiss her. He’d always just gone in for the kiss or been the kissee, but in the dark, rain-filled Irish night, it felt right to ask this woman who seemed as wild and untamed as the rain itself.
“If I say no?” Her fingertips pressed into his cheek, her body swayed forward into his, their hips pressed together.
Tim cupped the back of her head with both hands and kissed her.