Laura Browning 

Teacher. Editor. Author.

The Silkie's Salvation

Excerpt

Ciaran couldn’t remember when he’d been so livid. He glared at his cook and considered the urge to put his
hands around her skinny little neck. It would be easy enough to do since she wasn’t much bigger than a kid.
She stared at him with angry green eyes like some demon faerie. The warm, faintly spicy scent of her filled his
nostrils and he growled low in his throat, a sudden surge of desire making him all the angrier because he
already fantasized about her all too often. He took a step toward her and tripped over the garbage can. What the hell? Where had that come from? He tried to catch himself as he fell, but then his foot slipped on
something gooey and he slammed down onto the tile floor, turning his head just in time so only his cheekbone
​ cracked against the stone tiles. “Damn it!” Before he could scramble to his feet, Keeley backed away holding a meat cleaver in her right hand. “Don’t you dare come near me!” she snapped, her green eyes narrowed and watchful. A meat cleaver? Did she really think he would hurt her? Confusion warred with anger as he jumped up, brushing refuse from his silk shirt and low slung dress slacks. “Come near you? I have no intention of getting anywhere around you. In fact Miss— whatever your name is—you’re fired!” She advanced on him with eyes that burned with a green fire. Ciaran wondered whether he was the one who might really be in danger when she slapped the cleaver on the counter. “My name is Keeley Ann McNamara, you arrogant ass. I’ve worked for you for two years, and you can’t fire me because I quit!” He knew her name, just as he was conscious of every single time she set foot in his house, but damned if he’d let her know. For two years he’d been on the receiving end of her prim, disapproving looks. Ciaran stalked to the hall door and spun around to glare at her one more time. “Well I guess I’m just damned lucky you haven’t poisoned anyone before now! When I get back from checking on Francine and changing out of this mess, I want you gone.” “Oh don’t worry about that. Nothing is worth having to put up with an employer who acts like an alley cat and has the manners of a wallowing pig!” Alley cat? Wallowing pig? Who was she to criticize him but a human, and an undersized one at that? He was a Silkie, a sea faerie, not some earthbound animal. But you are just like a human. It’s your punishment. Fists clenched, he spun on his heel and left. Now was so not the time for his conscience to suddenly find a voice. The door swung shut behind him. She was alone. Keeley realized she was trembling. Stupid man. Two years and he didn’t even know her name? Idly she reached behind her, scooped a finger full of the gateau, and tasted it. “Phht!” She spit it into the sink and closed her eyes in mortification. Oh Lord, she’d been so distracted over Granddad she used salt instead of sugar. She stared at the closed door. She should apologize. Keeley closed her eyes and dropped her head forward, and then a moment later jerked it back again. Damned if she would apologize to that pig! She could work as a sous chef at the Yacht Club or cook at one of the restaurants, someplace where they knew her name at least. Let him just try to replace her! With a sigh, she looked at the mess on the floor and the counter. After righting the garbage pail, she found the broom and swept everything into the dustpan before dumping it back in the can. She cleaned up the broken plate and the remains of the fouled up gateau and disposed of them as well. When she was finished, the kitchen was once again spotless. She didn’t do it for Mr. Clifton; she did it for Mary, the maid. Keeley stared around the kitchen—her domain the past two years—for one last time. With its granite countertops, oak cabinets and stainless steel appliances, she knew she would never work in surroundings as pleasant and plush. She stripped her chef’s jacket off with a small sigh and folded it over the back of a kitchen chair. It was time to go home.