Authors: Sally Clements
Catch Me A Catch
By Sally Clements
Catch Me A Catch
By Sally Clements
Copyright © 2010 Sally Clements
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Be sure to check out
these other great romances also by Sally Clements.
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For my wonderful,
Charlie, Davy, Holly
and Jenny, and of course, Sam.
words whipped away from him in the storm’s din. Needles of cold rain lashed his
face and his biceps burned with the effort of turning the yacht’s stainless
steel wheel to keep the keel even, as the waves tossed the little craft from
side to side. A blast of freezing water doused him, and his jaw muscles
twitched. Jack clenched his teeth so hard it hurt. Lightning flashed, lighting
the mast in a shower of sparks. He stared at his radar screen. Nothing. The
image was gone.
Salt wet hair
smacked into his narrowed eyes. He peered across storm tossed waves to
flickering lights in the mist, hovering before the faint outline of mountains
against darkened clouds. Land at last! But with his electronics fried, he
wouldn’t make it around the coast to Dun Laoghaire without repairs.
watercolor outline sharpened at his approach. He’d never visited the country
his parents had fled, and yet, with its green lushness within sight, a wave of
relief broke over him. There was a jetty ahead and he carefully steered towards
it and docked. He was finally home.
The wind fell,
but the sky was still grey with threatening clouds. He stripped off his soaked
oilskins and pulled on a pair of jeans and a tee shirt. Then he sat at his
computer, opened his email, and typed.
Part one of
hellish journey completed. Have made Ireland.
repair. Call you later.
send, closed the laptop, and shoved his wallet full of credit cards into his
barely lift his exhausted arms to tie his yacht to the jetty. His legs’ abused
muscles tightened in pain as he staggered onto the wooden planks. The lights of
The Maiden’s Arms,
I’d love to
be in some maiden’s arms right now
. But before he could settle down with a
pint and a plate of hot food he had to see to his boat. Salt-reddened eyes
scanned the row of buildings facing the ocean, searching for a chandler.
large, battered and faded sign,
swung from iron
brackets in the wind. Jack strode towards it.
window was stacked with neat rows of ships supplies. His hands cupped his eyes
to peer inside. Good. Well-stocked shelves in the back carried the bigger
items. He pushed at the door and cursed when it failed to budge.
A man hurrying
The Maiden’s Arms
slowed as he drew closer. He pointed.
“Devine’ll be up in the pub.” The stranger clutched his raincoat closer to keep
out the biting wind. “What with the festival an’ all.”
followed him. It looked like he’d be getting a pint sooner than he thought.
shifted on the uncomfortable wooden chair, and flicked through the heavy book
in front of her. It had been a desperate morning. Three men in a row peppered
her with cheesy chat-up lines. It was only just lunchtime and already
exhaustion draped around her like a cloak. She sighed. There were thirteen more
long days to endure before the matchmaking festival was over, before she could
escape her childhood home, and flee back to Dublin. Annie took off the heavy
tortoiseshell frames, and pinched the grooves they’d dug into the top of her
Annie?” The barman offered from behind the bar.
Niall. I need to keep my head clear.”
Niall swiped a
beer towel over the counter. “Your dad usually has one around lunchtime during
the festival, and another just before dinner. After the attention you were
getting from Liam Mackey, I reckon you deserve one.”
“Ah, okay, I’m
stopping for lunch now anyway.” She closed the book. “I’ll have a Cinzano and
He turned away to clink ice cubes into a tall glass.
happened in Durna except for the annual matchmaking festival. Forty years ago,
a group of lonely fishermen started the tradition. They’d advertised in the
Dublin newspapers that Durna was holding a two-week festival where serious
singles could come to meet a mate. Annie’s grandfather was the first
matchmaker. Her father the current one. For the first two weeks in September,
her grandfather devoted himself to love. He wrote down details of the local
bachelors in his large black book, had private meetings with single ladies who
wanted to become married ones, and organized dates for potential couples. Each
meeting was carefully logged in the book in his copperplate hand. During the
festival, dances were held throughout the day, where couples could socialize.
It was an innocent remnant of times gone by. One still relevant today, if the
numbers that swelled Durna each festival season were anything to go by.
Bull, had inherited his father’s talent. A book full of successful matches
proved it. Today, people came from far and wide to be matched. The first thing
they did was find the matchmaker’s table in the pub. Her father handled it from
there. Bull’s illness couldn’t have come at a worst time. For his only child,
and matchmaking heir, anyway.
A dark shadow,
cast by a tall figure in the pub’s doorway, blocked the murky sunlight. Annie’s
gaze locked on the stranger, his darkened features in shadow though sunlight
outlined his tall, rangy frame. He walked straight up to Niall.
for Devine.” His deep voice was husky, like he hadn’t used it for a while.
prickled, the hairs on her arms standing to attention. Blond highlights
streaked his tousled brown hair. Highlights that nature, not nurture, had put
there. It was too long for him to be a businessman, and his skin was too
tanned. This time of year, Durna got its fair share of surfers coming to
prostrate themselves on the waves pounding Ireland’s west coast, but this guy
was no surfer. She’d lay money on it.
cheekbones emphasized a long, straight nose. An air of authority flowed from
him. Whoever he was, he wasn’t to be messed with. The way he carried himself
was reminiscent of a gunslinger striding into the saloon looking for someone to
matter with me?
She couldn’t avert her gaze. It was as if he were painted
in color while everyone else was sketched in black and white. In the past few
months of meticulous, almost obsessive application to her business plan, her
attention hadn’t wavered for a second. Right now, she couldn’t even remember
her hair back with nervous fingers. It must just be the circumstances.
Masquerading as town matchmaker during the festival will do that to a girl.
is.” Niall gestured Annie’s direction. “Can I get you something?”
“I’ll bring it
strode towards her. He scanned her head to toe with appreciative sapphire blue
eyes. Her body responded to his quick appraisal as if scorched.
Devine?” He had a husky, American drawl. His tee-shirt barely contained broad
shoulders, and he topped Niall by a good five inches. “Sorry, I guess I was
expecting a man.”
Devine. I get that a lot. People expect a man, and normally they get one.”
normally my father, Bull Devine, would be here. He’s run the business forever.”
She bit her
bottom lip, mortified by her inane rambling. She never babbled. Usually, when
matchmaking, she was tongue-tied. Her gaze darted away from his piercing blue
eyes, and fixed on his mouth, which twitched, and then stretched into a grin.
Oh damn it!
This was so not the way to talk to a client!
He stared at
her mouth, and she fiddled with her glasses, breathing in a sigh of relief as
Niall approached with a tray.
Niall.” He placed the drinks in front of them.
Tiny beads of
water frosted the outside of the glass. The stranger lifted it reverently and
swallowed a long mouthful.
that.” Teeth flashed white in his tanned face. “I haven’t had a drink for
story. He was enjoying the pint too much to be teetotal. He was even licking
the foam off his top lip in a disturbingly sexy way.
raised her glass and drank deep, ice clinking against her front teeth.
Eventually, her scattered thoughts regrouped.
sick, so I’m taking over for the next few days.”
involves sitting in the pub?” He eyed her lazily, and swallowed more of his
“Yes, I stay
here until five o’clock.” She opened the heavy black book, slipped her glasses back
on, and uncapped her pen. “So, now, what’s your name?”
She wrote it carefully on a pristine white page. “Is this necessary? I just
need your father’s help.”
“I know. I can
tell.” Her cheeks heated in a blush. After five minutes she’d already managed
to insult him.
he asked slowly. “Are you psychic?”
Annie bit down
on her tongue to stop from snapping back at him.
What was it
her father had said? Male pride?
“You came into
the bar looking for him, that’s how. There’s no mystery to it.” She scanned him
with a professional eye. He was a very good-looking man. Thick brown hair swept
back from a tanned face with killer cheekbones most women would find
attractive. She certainly did. His square chin was covered in dark stubble. He was
a knockout. Or could be. If he made even the slightest attempt to make himself
God, I hate this part of the job.
“I’m not my
father, but I’ll be working closely with him. I know I can give you the help
you need.” She squared her shoulders pretending a bravery she didn’t feel. “I
need to find out a bit about you, and then I can help you.”
picked up the glass and drank. “What do you need to know?”
closer. Annie’s heart thumped an irregular rhythm. Her mouth was suddenly
parched, as though she’d been dragging herself through the desert. She pulled
her bottom lip in, worrying it with her teeth. When his mouth stretched in a
predatory grin, a shiver started somewhere in her solar plexus, moving
inexorably downwards. Her response to him was ridiculous. She’d had men
swarming around her all day. Her stupid body was reacting like she hadn’t had
any male attention in years.
men looking for love need encouragement. They need reassurance. God, he’s good
“Well, I need
to know what you’re looking for in a woman.” Annie fiddled with the corner of
the book. She’d said the phrase a dozen times today already. This time was
different. Embarrassment lit her face like an emergency beacon.
like a pirate, and then leaned back and crossed muscular forearms over his
impressive chest. “I’m flattered, Honey.” He covered her hand with his large
brown one. “But I’ve just arrived. I’m hungry and tired after the trip, and
I’ve things to take care of. You’re gorgeous, but this’ll have to wait.” Her
heart thudded in her chest.
Of all the