MacQuire Women, Book 5
Talented and witty portrait artist Serena MacQuire is successful in everything but love. Her gift for capturing people on canvas is rivalled only by her fiery and legendary temper. A tragedy from the past keeps her heart securely locked away, preventing any man from getting close enough to claim it.
But Seamus Cleary isn’t just any man. After he left his professional football career to become a veterinarian, his bitter wife ended their marriage. Now, as he starts his life over in a new town, love is the last thing he's looking for. The more he tends to Serena’s horses, though, the more he realizes her own heart needs tender care and healing as well.
Will he be the man who finally unlocks and claims her heart?
Page Count: 294
Word Count: 71705
With a hip resting against the tabletop, he browsed through her paints and brushes, lifting one color pot, then another. “So. You’re an artist.”
“What do you paint?”
As he opened and closed the pots, Serena observed his hands, silently assessing the length and width of his fingers. Her mind registered the dexterous movements of each action, the deliberate, steady way his hands performed each task. “Portraits, mostly.”
“This is pretty big equipment for a portrait. Where do your pictures hang? In castles?”
“Three do,” she told him, charmed when his neck reddened. “But this stuff will be for a mural I’ve been commissioned to do for a hospital.”
His eyebrows lifted. “Impressive. You must be good.”
Allowing a smidgeon of playfulness to creep into her voice, Serena gave him a shrug that rivaled his own. “Better than some. Not as good as others.”
He returned the smile.
Her heart giddyapped. “Can I ask you something?” She licked her lips and came toward him, arms crossed over her chest.
The skin around his eyes tightened.
“Would you ever consider artistic modeling? You have a great face and body.”
His unfettered and immediate laugh shook through the room.
“I’m serious,” she said, mildly piqued at his response. “You’ve got the kind of looks most artists dream about. Your facial features are all defined and chiseled. Your shoulders are broad, and you look pretty fit. Do you work out? Play some kind of sport?”
His eyes went blank. “Sometimes.”
Serena nodded, still appraising him. “Your height’s good. You have a nice smile. You’re tall, but not too much. Solid leg musculature.” She approached him, her eyes narrowed to slits. “You’d do well. The pay’s not bad, either. You can’t make much doing what you do.” Her eyes widened, and she snapped her fingers. “I’ll bet the college art school would be interested, too. The chairman of the department is a family friend. I could call him, set up an introduction for you.”
The sensation of being small and dainty shot through her again the closer she came to him. She hadn’t decided yet if he was handsome, but his face was intriguing, and it fascinated her to look at it. For a reason she couldn’t decipher, she wanted to reach out and caress the scar, follow the curve of it down from his mouth to his jaw with the tip of her finger.
Standing less than a foot from him, she grew warm, drenched in the natural heat rolling from his body. The subtle aroma of clean, fresh soap reached through her nose, and as if drawn by an unseen magnetic field, she moved closer still.
An unexpected tickling in her stomach, like a thousand butterflies dancing, darted through her. His gaze took hers prisoner, the warmth radiating from his eyes holding her a willing captive.
From his vantage point, leaning back against the table, they were almost eye level.
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