The characters populating this story took off on their own and gave me some surprises. I’ve learned that when my characters do unexpected things that don’t fit the storyline or their backgrounds, it’s usually because they know something I don’t. And they did!
Jim Croce, American singer and songwriter, whose gentle love songs are the legacy of the Seventies, wrote Time In A Bottle in 1971 in honor of his yet-unborn son. It reached the top of the charts in December 1973, several months after Croce’s tragic death in a plane crash while he was on tour. Croce’s heart-felt songs have always been among my favorites. I didn’t know until I wrote this story that he and his family had moved to San Diego (where I live) in 1973, where his wife opened, and still operates, a restaurant in his honor.
If Mona believed wishes could come true, hers would be modest and simple. A job in her field of expertise…and to be left alone. But Mona has a secret, and it’s about to be revealed.
Rated - Adult - Appropriate for ages 18 and over only
Genre - Paranormal / Contemporary
Heat Level - Sensual
Genre - Paranormal / Contemporary
Heat Level - Sensual
Time In A Bottle
By R. Ann Siracusa
By R. Ann Siracusa
At four o’clock Saturday afternoon, the UPS man delivered a package to the doorstep of my recently occupied apartment in an older, less-than-luxurious fourplex. A much smaller place than my three-bedroom condo which I’d had to rent out for economic reasons, as in being laid off.
Exhausted from the move and still trying to clean up, I flopped onto the couch and tore off the outside wrapping, opened the card and read it aloud.
“Happy Birthday, Mona. Just a little something I picked up on my trip to the Middle East. The shopkeeper insisted this had been buried for thousands of years in an ancient tomb recently discovered out in the desert somewhere. I rather doubt it, but I had to have it for you. Love, your sister Grace.”
Pithy, to say the least, but at least she had remembered. I peeled off the expensive wrapping paper and lifted the lid off the box.
My shoulders slumped. “Another darned bottle?”
With a resigned sigh, I freed the stoppered vase from a plethora of Styrofoam peanuts, which scattered all over my recently vacuumed carpet, and placed it on the dining table beside two cardboard cartons of decorative bottles still waiting to be unpacked. “What in the world was I thinking?”
What possessed me to start collecting bottles, I couldn’t say, but after ten years of purchasing them everywhere I traveled and receiving another zillion as gifts ― every size, shape and color imaginable ― I’d realized what an impetuous, rotten decision it had been.
Now, with a quarter of the space I’d had in my condo, I couldn’t get rid of them fast enough.
I stared at the glass vessel and ran a fingertip over the smooth surface. With no cracks or chips, the antique ― if it really was one ― appeared to be in perfect condition. Standing about eighteen inches tall, the curve of the vase bowed outward from a three-inch diameter base to a ten-inch bowl, then narrowed and tapered upward. Very graceful. Metallic blue with silver designs ― definitely Middle Eastern ― and an onion-dome stopper.
Totally out of sync with the inexpensive early-miscellaneous décor of my rental, but lovely like most of the bottles my sister collected for me from all over the world. No doubt she had spent far too much for this one.
“It is beautiful.” I’d have to find a home for it instead of shipping it off to the Goodwill with old bath towels and household goods broken during the move. “I wonder where it was made…” I turned it over but there was no label on the bottom. “…and what it was used for?”
On impulse, I tried to remove the stopper so I could take a whiff, fully expecting the stench of wine-turned-to-vinegar or perhaps ancient embalming fluid, but it wouldn’t budge. Determined, I fetched a screwdriver out of the junk drawer in the kitchen and went to work prying up the bung.
After a few frustrating minutes it seemed to loosen. I worked harder, but with great care. I didn’t have any place to put another bottle, but I didn’t want to break it, either.
“Ah, here it comes.”
Scorching heat shot through my fingers.
“Ouch.” I dropped the screwdriver and shook my hand. It burned as though I’d placed my open palm on a hot burner of the stove. “What the ―”
Wham. A shock wave, like an earthquake, rocked the apartment. The dishes in the cupboards rattled. The fan wavered on its rod above the table and threatened to pull out of the ceiling. The walls creaked and moaned.
“Holy sh ―”
Shlupp. An intense vortex, accompanied by a sound like the toilet flushing on an airplane, sucked me against the counter, bruising my ribs and forcing the air from my lungs. I bounced backward and hit the floor on my butt. My head lurched back and whanged against the refrigerator.
The inside of my skull exploded in pain. Fireworks danced behind my eyelids, and then my world turned black.
I couldn’t have been out for more than a second or two. When I opened my eyes, I was on my back on the kitchen floor, my head throbbing, my heart beating like machine gun fire, and totally surrounded by gray smoke.
Shit! Somehow I’d set the kitchen on fire. I didn’t even remember cooking. My new landlord would have a hissy fit. If he evicted me, where would I go? Panic stricken, I urged my flaccid limbs into motion.
A large hand reached through the haze, grasped my arm, and lifted. I rose to my feet without being aware of using my own muscles. Teetering, I scrunched my lids together, the hand still steadying me, and gathered in several deep breaths of smoldering oxygen, then opened my eyes.
“Are you injured?” A deep velvety voice with an under-thread of steel slipped over me like a silken scarf, wrapping me in a gentle caress.
Startled, I strained to see the owner of the voice, but everything looked insubstantial, without defined edges.
I’d been cooking with a man in my kitchen? When did that happen?
Maybe I’d been out longer than I thought. Or maybe this was a dream.
“I’m okay…I think.” I flexed my shoulders, shaking myself to get rid of the wooziness, my mind opting for the dream. My eyes cleared and focused on the form of a tall, bronzed and very male body standing in front of me.
Yowza! My voice froze in my throat.
Broad shoulders knobbed with muscles, lightly-haired chest, tight hard abs and narrow waist.
He let go of my arm and crossed muscular arms over his bare chest, his intense dark eyes considering me from above high cheekbones. The man’s square chin jutted just a bit, proclaiming an eastern heritage and a stubborn streak.
As the smoke-laden haze swirling around and through him began to dissipate into the ceiling vent, I gaped at the figure before me.
His thick dark brows pulled together in a frown beneath a lock of dark wavy hair that had escaped from beneath the turban on his head. The rich aroma of cardamom and his furnace-like heat infused the air, heating my blood and making me tremble.
He took a step forward, his nostrils flaring as though assessing my scent.
Stifling a cry of surprise — mixed with a small dose of fear — I hopped back, my hands behind me, and bumped against the counter. My fingers brushed against the glass bottle. I tossed it a backward glance. It lay on its side with the stopper beside it, vestiges of gray mist rising from its open mouth.
“Wh—who are you? How did you get in my kitchen?”
“I do not know.” His low tone, a dying rumble like distant thunder, set off another round of shivers down my spine and a tingle in my belly.
“Which?” My chest rose and fell with ragged breaths. “You don’t know who you are? Or you don’t know how you got here?”
He shot me a disdainful glance, which I thought a bit cheeky considering he was trespassing in my kitchen.
“My name is JaNaA Jinn. You may call me Jinn.”
“Not Jim.” He shook his head. “Jinn. With two Ns. But how I came to be here, I don’t know. Give me a moment to remember.”
“Sure. Take your time.” He could take forever, as long as I could ogle him ― and he didn’t move. He stood. I ogled. Nice eye candy. Strange clothes, what little there were.
As my brain began to function, my taut muscles loosened. Well, of course. “Are…are you by any chance a…genie?”
His forehead creased into a frown, and he narrowed his eyes as though perplexed by my question. “I don’t know. Why do you ask?”
He didn’t know? Great.
“Well, that’s what Jinn means, and I believe you came out of that bottle over there.” I pointed to the still-smoking vase tipped over on the sink. “You’re wearing baggy pants tight at the ankle and, ah, you’re” ― nice abs, and the rest of him wasn’t bad either ― “well, all bare-chested. But I think it’s the turban that gave me that idea. It’s only a guess.”
He touched the turban with one hand and palmed his chin with the other as though wracking his brain for some long-buried memory. “Ah, you mean my umamah.” He skewered me with an intense gaze. “And who are you?”
A surge of electricity flowed along my thighs. I shrank back and crossed by arms over my chest in a gesture of self-protection. “I, ah, I’m…Mona.” His unwavering appraisal made me uneasy, as though I’d forgotten to put on any clothes. “With one N.”
“Hmm, yes.” He pursed his lips and murmured under his breath. “Mona. To Desire. To Wish.”
Wishes? Ah ha! Then he was a genie. “You didn’t answer my question.”
He rolled his dark eyes and lifted his shoulders slightly. “I might be a genie, although I seem to have been out of touch for a long time.”
“And how long might that be?
Jinn — with two Ns — glanced around the apartment with his nose scrunched, taking in his surroundings, apparently in contact with some genie Ethernet, then nailed me with his penetrating gaze.
“I’d say it’s been several millennium. Styles have changed a lot. I like what you’re wearing. Covered, but revealing.” He leered hungrily at my T-shirt as though he saw right through it. “I vaguely remember dying, though.”
Forgetting to be indignant about the leer, I chewed at my upper lip and considered the implications. The ghost of a genie? A genie once removed? That didn’t sound promising.
“I remember now,” he said slowly in a low silken voice. “It was a slight altercation with a jealous husband. A thrust of a scimitar between the ribs and through the lungs. The last thing I recall is being in a dark place.” He lifted his shoulders in an insouciant shrug. “Perhaps that’s why I thought I’d died.”
“Looks like you thought wrong.” Planting my fists on my hips, my arms bowed out like the handles on a cooking pot, I bestowed him with a watery smile. “This is a little out of my area of expertise, Jinn, so help me out here. I thought genies were supposed to be spirits of free will made from pure energy. How could someone kill you?”
“Well, I’d have to be a sila, a shape shifter, but Jinn in human form are, well, human. They can be injured or killed like anyone else.” He looked down at his abs, a puzzled frown on his gorgeous face. “Ah, there it is.”
“There what is?” I inched closer to get a better look at his ribs. The man…well, the dream man…was totally ripped. Yum. My insides turned mushy with desire, a sensation I hadn’t experienced in a long time.
Of course, he couldn’t be real. In my experience, real people didn’t pop out of bottles or materialize from smoke. Only imaginary beings did that. Besides, human men never looked like this. Not up close and personal.
Maybe I’d been drinking and just didn’t remember. I couldn’t help wondering what else I — we — might have been doing.
“The scar. Right there.” He took my hand and pressed it to his side.
The touch of his flesh against my palm sent an unexpected shock of need — and surprise — rippling through my body. Warm flesh, real skin. He was not a figment of my overactive imagination.
I pulled away and put some space between us.
“Oh, yeah. I see it now. I hadn’t noticed.” Actually, my gaze had wandered southward, but now that I’d forced my eyes up and turned my attention to his abdomen, I saw the scar…a good eight inches long and nasty looking. At least, it had been. I could easily imagine someone dying from a wound like that, even in this age of modern medicine. And he’d said millennium. “So, what happened?”
“The husband was drunk and irrational, you understand. There was no reason for him to be jealous and —”
Apparently, males hadn’t changed over the millennium. “I asked you what happened, not why?”
I rest my case. “Whatever. It doesn’t matter, as long as you can still grant my wish?”
Oh, man. Now, he said the word as though he’d never heard it before. Just my luck. I finally get a genie, and he’s one who’s been out of commission for way too long.
“You know. Aren’t genies in bottles supposed to grant the wishes to those who free them. Like, I’m your master until you do.”
“My master? Hmm.” Jinn compressed his lips thoughtfully, as though he rather liked the idea. I didn’t miss the slight tweak at the corner of his mouth. “I don’t know if I can grant wishes anymore. It’s been a long time. I feel the force within me, but I’d have to experiment to find out for sure. Do you want me to try?”
I forced a smile and gritted my teeth. “Can you do it without my input?”
Just in case he could, I didn’t want to waste a perfectly good wish on an experiment.
Not that I would ask for much. One wish would be good enough. Just a job that I liked in my field of expertise. One that paid enough for me to afford to live in my condo…and maybe he’d throw in an honest employer who wasn’t stealing from his own company and forcing it into bankruptcy. That wouldn’t be too hard, even for a rusty genie, would it?
He shook his head ruefully. “I’m not sure that will work. I’ve been out of action for at least three thousand years. My power levels need re-energizing.”
A tremor slithered along my arms and down my torso. “What does it take to —”
In an instant, so fast I didn’t see him move, he hovered over me, his arm draped around my waist and his face bent over mine. His scent of exotic spices and male pheromones flooded though my pores like a drug.
Overwhelmed by nearly forgotten desires, fire stirred at my core. My pulse raced. My mind ordered me to pull away. My body fought against the mental reaction to terminate contact, against the fear of being close to someone again.
But this isn’t real, my body argued with my intellect. It’s your imagination, a hallucination. A dream can’t hurt you. Why not enjoy the fantasy?
Why not? With a moan, I leaned into him and snaked my arms around his neck, pulling his lips down to mine. Warm, firm, gentle, yet demanding. When his tongue pressed for entrance, a wave of abandon rushed over me and I opened my mouth. Rational thought departed. He tasted of exotic spices, of clean air and fresh earth and sea breeze. In that tender moment, I knew he would never hurt or deny me. He tasted of home and heaven. He tasted of forever.
His hand moved lower to the base of my spine and cupped my buttocks, drawing me tight against him, his hard thickness pressing against my belly.
He groaned with pleasure. “My Mona. My wish. I have found you at last.”
He eased his hold and seemed to study my face, assessing the sincerity of my plea, his eyes blazing with the same desire burning inside me. Then he swept me off my feet and carried me down the hall, nuzzling my neck and covering my mouth with ravenous kisses.
In the bedroom, he placed me on the bed and settled his body half over mine, aligning our hips, pressing his hardness into my thighs.
I tried to sift my fingers through his hair and dislodged the turban. “Will you take this off?”
He ran the tip of his tongue along my jaw, lingering at my mouth. “I will…in exchange for you taking this off.” He lifted my T-shirt slowly, his warm hands sliding up my sides, long fingers pulling the garment over my head and tossing it to the floor. I arched my back and unfastened my bra.
His breath caught. Murmuring words in a language I didn’t understand, his hands cupped my breasts, testing their weight, brushing his palms over the hard nubs, teasing them until I wanted to scream for more. And when his mouth closed over the taut bud, spiraling need flamed out of control.
I pushed his hands lower. They trailed over the mound of my belly and around the waist of my jeans.
“I have searched for so long to find you, my desire. You will be mine for eternity.”
The euphoria dropped from me, sloughed off like a handbag in the grip of a purse-snatcher.
Gone. Just like that.
“Stop.” I could barely force out the word. I didn’t want him to.
He pulled back. “Stop?”
“I do not understand.” His deep voice trembled with hurt. “Do you not want me? Do you not wish this?”
With a gut wrenching sob, I buried my face against his shoulder, a world of regret burning behind my eyes. “Oh, yes. I do want you. I do want this, for now and for eternity.” My voice shook. “Not just the sex, but you. Everything. The gentleness and caring. Someone I can love who loves me, someone to be there for me when I need him, someone I can care for and nurture. Yes, I want you. With all my heart.” I sucked in oxygen. “But this is a dream. A dream that can’t come true. This isn’t real. You aren’t real.”
He studied me, his eyes burning with an undefined emotion I couldn’t read. Not just desire. Much more. “Why do you believe your dream can’t come true? Why do you believe I am not real?”
“You’re a genie, remember? A human doesn’t cool his heels in a bottle for millennium, waiting for someone to pop the cork. I’m probably prostrate on my kitchen floor with my head cracked open, hallucinating.” Irrational, inexplicable anger welled, and I couldn’t hold back the sarcasm. “Besides, even if you were real, this is too much, too fast. I don’t know you. I can’t take the chance.”
Why did I say that? Consumed by regret, I buried my face in my hands and tried to keep my body from shaking.
He lifted my hands away gently and cupped my face, forcing me to meet his gaze. His dark eyes beneath a frown seemed to flash with anger. “Who hurt you so much? What happened to you?” he asked in a husky whisper.
I’d asked him the same thing. I drew in another long breath and let it out slowly between clenched teeth. “A slight altercation with a drunk, irrational husband who had no reason to be jealous. A punch in the mouth, a kick in the stomach, a miscarriage, a divorce.” I sobbed once, then shoved the emotions back into their dark hole and stifled them. “Now, all I want is to be able to support myself.”
He stared at me, his face void of expression. Without a word, he rose, retrieved from the floor the long length of cloth that had been wound into the turban, and walked down the hall to the kitchen, the ribbon of white trailing behind him.
I leaped off the bed, snatched up my T-shirt and raced after him.
“Jinn, wait!” I struggled to pull my top over my head without bumping into the
walls. “Where are you going? I didn’t say you had to leave.”
I dashed into the kitchen in time to see a whirlwind of smoke envelope him, spinning and swirling, the end of the umamah flapping from the center of the pool of current.
“What about my wish? I never got to tell you my wish.”
His voice boomed from the twirling smoke as the funnel entered the bottle on the counter. “I know.”
I waved my hands frantically, palms up. “No! No, you don’t.” The vessel began to vibrate and shake, the glass tinkling against the tile, harder and louder, as it sucked the smoke inward. “Listen to me. All I want is a job with a decent salary. Not a lot. Just enough to —” Shlupp. “Survive. Darn!”
Whipping up the bottle, I turned it upside down and pounded my palm on the bottom, as though trying to coax thick catsup to pour out.
“Come back here. You didn’t let me finish.” A puff of gray smoke burped out of the neck. “That’s not funny. I’m your master, remember. You have to obey me.”
Another smaller belch of mist spewed forth.
Holding the bottle to my face, I pressed my eye to the side of the bottle, so close my lashes brushed the glass. A dark eye seemed to stare back at me from inside.
With a long sigh of frustration, I placed the vessel on the counter. I don’t know how long I sat in front of it, staring at the blue and silver glass and wondering what it might be like to live in a bottle. If I could save time in a bottle. The lyrics of the old song drifted through my consciousness.
The eye never blinked.
Overactive imagination, I kept telling myself. You made up the entire episode. Finally, I dragged my weary body off the chair, went into the bedroom and threw myself face down on the bed without undressing…and wept.
I hadn’t cried before, not even when I lost the baby. Then, I’d convinced myself it was better that way and managed to hold back the tears.
Six years and I hadn’t shed a single tear. Now, I couldn’t contain the flood. The ache of incredible loss tore at my insides until I felt as though my innards had been scooped out with a trowel. I had found, and lost, the most precious treasure anyone could ever have, all in the space of a few hours.
Real or only a figment of my imagination, Jinn had stirred in me emotions I’d thought I could never experience again for the rest of my life. And now that they had surfaced, those emotions wouldn’t leave me alone.
I hadn’t been happy, but I had reached an accommodation with my past. Now, I didn’t have even that.
Sleep evaded me. At four in the morning, I rose. Still wearing the rumpled clothes I hadn’t had the energy to shed the night before, without showering or changing, I simply went to work. Humming in spite of the weariness and depression that weighed on me like a heavy blanket, I opened the rest of the moving boxes. The tune from the night before ran through my mind like a never-ending wheel as I put things away or repacked them to be picked up by Goodwill.
Anything to keep my mind busy and my eyes off Jinn’s bottle.
Had he been real or had I imagined the whole thing? The back of my head had a bump, so I knew I’d fallen. I remembered hitting my skull against the refrigerator. That had to be it.
But it couldn’t be. My heart ached too much. My body cried out for his touch, my mind yearned for his love.
At some point I sank down onto one of the chairs at the counter and stared at the bottle, hoping to see a puff of smoke at its mouth.
Hours later, I was still sitting there when the doorbell rang, startling me out of my reverie. I straightened, realizing my head rested on the cool tile surface of the counter and pounded with the headache from hell.
I yawned and stretched. Who the heck? I glanced at my watch and let my head drop down again. Screw them. I didn’t want to see anyone right now.
Then I remembered I hadn’t given this address to anyone except my sister Grace. She certainly wouldn’t have flown in from New York to be at my door at seven o’clock on a Sunday morning.
Filled with dread and chewing at my lower lip, I levered myself out of the chair and stomped to the door, gearing up to ream my caller a new one…unless it turned out to be someone from the FBI investigating my ex-boss.
Without looking through the peephole, I yanked open the door…and hopped back, almost tripping over my own feet.
A man stood on my threshold. Broad shoulders knobbed with muscle bulged under the short sleeves of a Trent Reznor T-shirt tucked into tight jeans. Intense dark eyes considering me from above high cheekbones. Square chin, bronzed complexion, dark wavy hair.
My heart hammered against my ribs, my mouth dried and my chin dropped.
“Jinn?” I stammered holding up an open palm as if warding off an evil spirit.
Smiling, he grasped my hand and pumped it enthusiastically. “Right. I’ll bet our landlord tipped you off.” His eyes twinkled. “I’m Jim. Jim Jana.”
“Not Jinn, Jim. With one M.” Still holding my hand, he winked at me and shot me an irresistible Cheshire grin. “I’m your next door neighbor. I thought I’d drop by to introduce myself and see if I can give you hand with the move.”
“Jim?” I shook myself and blinked. He didn’t disappear. “Oh, yes, sorry.” I’m still asleep. I’m dreaming. But his hand feels so warm, hard and real. I can feel the tiny ridges in his finger tips. Slowly, I drew my hand from his grasp. “I’m —”
“You’re Mona, right? Also with one M.” He grinned again. “You’re the only one in the complex who doesn’t know. I wanted to tell you myself. May I come in?”
His words sent prickles of panic over my scalp and through my body to my feet, making my toenails curl.
“Know?” Stunned and fearing the worst, I stepped back and opened the door wider. He strode into the living-dining room — tall, broad, solid and absolutely to-die-for — overwhelming the modest space the same way he overwhelmed me. “Sure, come in. Ah, what is it that I don’t know?”
He considered me through narrowed eyes, then curled his lips in a slow sexy smile. “I’m your new landlord. I just bought the fourplex.”
Alarmed, I sucked in a gasp of air.
“Oh, don’t worry. I’m not making any changes. I just wanted you to know.”
Relief swept through me, but the tension stringing me out didn’t diminish. I could scarcely breathe, and my heart pounded so loud I thought he would hear it.
“Oh, well, yes. I’m glad to know that, and I’m pleased to meet you, Mr. Jana.” Jim Jana. JaNaA Jinn. Too unbelievable to accept as a coincidence. But impossible. “Ah, hmm, so then, I take it you’re in real estate?”
Lame, I know, but I hadn’t regained my equilibrium from seeing a Jinn-look-alike on my doorstep.
He shook his head. “No, actually I work out of my apartment. I’m an import-export broker. I specialize in ceramic pottery and glass.”
I blinked. “Cookware?” I never would have dreamed.
“Oh, no. Art works. I buy and sell for museums and private collectors all over the world.” He glanced around the room, his appreciative gaze skimming over the array of bottles, decanters, and flasks I’d unpacked, coming to rest on the blue and silver one still on the counter.
“Now, that is a magnificent piece.” He crossed the room in two long strides, picked up Jinn’s home, and turned it over and over, examining all parts of it with great care. “I’m impressed. This is an authentic historic artifact, extremely old and in perfect condition. Where did you get it? There are a dozen museums and collectors who would pay a fortune for this.”
“No!” I almost lunged for the bottle, but restrained myself from snatching it out of his hands. Instead, I clenched and unclenched my fists at my sides until one of my fingernails pierced my skin. “It was a gift. It’s not for sale — not at any price.” I’d become homeless, but I would never give it up.
The corner of his mouth twitched slightly. He slid onto one of the bar stools at the counter and set the bottle in front of him, then captured my gaze.
His exotic dark looks mesmerized me. I couldn’t keep from gaping at him. I wiped my hands on my thighs. “Ah, I was about to make some coffee. Would you like some?”
“Sure. From the looks of your collection, I’d wager you’re in the art business, too."
I busied myself searching through the cupboards for the can of coffee I’d purchased the day before and stowed away with my kitchen accouterments. Anything to keep my gaze off him.
“Not really. I’m actually the foreign affairs manager for a large international shipping company. I travel everywhere negotiating major transportation contracts and overseeing the packing of valuable items. Well, that is, I did. The company just filed for Chapter Eleven, and I’ve been laid off.” I ran a finger across my throat in a slashing motion. “I have to finish up here today, so bright and early Monday I can start beating the bushes for a new job.” I took the coffee container from the shelf and closed the door.
He sprang off the chair, came around to the side of the counter where I was fussing with the lid, and leaned close. The heady scent of cardamom wafted around me. I felt the same heat from him as before, and again I trembled with desire.
“Listen, Mona.” His lips caressed my name as he spoke it, sending more tremors of desire skittering to the base of my spine. “I have an idea. My business has grown so rapidly, I’ve been thinking about taking in a partner. Would you be interested?”
My heart lurched. Butterflies took up tap dancing in my stomach. I backed away a step or two. “That sounds phenomenal, Jinn…Jim…but we don’t even known each other.”
He cast me a knee-melting smile. “I know, but I’m a good judge of people. And I have the feeling we’d be a perfect fit.”
Heat crept up my neck. “Maybe, but I don’t have the cash for investing in a business. I wish I did.”
He shook his head. “I don’t need cash. Money’s not an issue. I need expertise and experience, and you’ve got just what I need.” He shot me another sexy smile that implied he needed more than just business expertise.
When I didn’t answer, he cleared his throat. “Look, Mona, I don’t want to rush you. Time isn’t an issue, either.” He took the plastic container from me and set it aside. “Let’s forget the coffee. Let me take you out for breakfast. We can talk about it, and get to know each other. You can take all the time you need. Eternity, if you want it.” He took my hand and squeezed it reassuringly. “You know, it is possible for wishes to come true.”
Stunned, I stood silent for a moment, afraid to believe. Then my heart leaped with joy. “I’ll get my purse.”
On the way out to his car, my happiness overflowed.
Jim tucked my arm through his. “What’s that tune you’re humming.”
“Oh, it’s an old favorite of mine by Jim Croce, called Time In A Bottle.”
He smiled and my heart melted into a puddle. “I haven’t heard it before, but I like it.”
“So do I.”
R. Ann Siracusa is involved in many activities, but her two favorite are traveling the world and writing fiction. This talented author combines those passions into novels which transport readers to exotic settings, immerse them in romance, intrigue, and foreign cultures, and make them laugh.
Today, she is retired from a career in architecture and urban planning where she was multi-published in professional non-fiction categories. She lives in San Diego, California, and writes full time. Her first novel, a mafia thriller, was published in 2008, and since then, seven additional works have been published by Sapphire Blue Publishing and an eighth scheduled for release this month.
For more information about her humorous romantic suspense series, Tour Director Extraordinaire series, visit her website at http://www.rannsiracusa.com
The Tour Director Extraordinaire Series
Harriet Ruby, a well-balanced young woman whose life has been good but ordinary and predictable, wants some excitement before she settles down to career and family.
She takes a position in Europe as a tour director. In Morocco, conducting her first solo tour, one of her tourists dies. Will Talbot, a handsome stranger and Europol spy in disguise, offers to help her smuggle the body out of Morocco. At that moment, Harriet’s once-predictable life turns upside down.
Little does she know that getting out of Morocco is only the beginning. Together they experience hilarious misadventures, great sex, and life-threatening journeys in pursuit of murderers, smugglers, terrorists and a once-in-a-lifetime love.