I fingered the embossed gold letters on the business card in my hand. Dropping by Tara Hall to visit Ireland’s Deputy Head of State, Her Royal Highness, Taillte Rosaleen Boru, is always a treat. Her efficient assistant, a pleasant man named Denis, let me into her office, where I waited before her antique desk while she finished signing a stack of papers. Seconds later, she jumped up and hurried toward me, bejeweled fingers extended in greeting. We exchanged a firm handshake and embraced like old friends. The Crown Princess had insisted years ago that I address her as Talty. As I did so today, the dynamic young heir to the Irish throne led me to a circle of black leather chairs before the fireplace. Her ready smile and unfailing good humor made our meeting, as always, a delight.
Not at all. I’m glad for the break. My father has me running about like a hen on a hot griddle. Do this Talty, don’t do that, Talty. It’s enough to send a saint to the nearest pub.Your schedule does seem more hectic than usual lately. I’ve been trying to get an appointment with you for weeks. Has something changed at Tara Hall?
Only temporarily. We’re preparing for a state visit from the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and everyone is in a dither over protocol. I don’t mind telling you, Pat, I’m a tad peeved at you for sending me to Japan in A Band of Roses. My mother wants me to do the Japanese tea ceremony at the banquet for the Emperor this Friday night. I haven’t done one for a while, and I have no time to practice. I’ll tell you, my knickers are in knots!I’d never guess. Sorry for the trouble, but I wouldn’t have a story if you didn’t get into mischief. In fact, I’m here today to run a few ideas by you for the next scene.
Oh, I’ll just bet. You think nothing of twisting hay around here. Sending me to Japan wasn’t bad enough. I had to go through that silly dimensional thingy and mess about with Vikings!You’re a warrior, Talty. You can look after yourself. Besides, I threw in a little romance for you.
Right. With a nice enough lad, but not the one I really want. Neil is such a handsome fella, the only one who isn’t afraid to knock me on my duff when we spar.Sounds like true love to me. Do you see him often?
I saw him this morning. We practiced unarmed combat in the gym downstairs. I do love it when he, well . . . I broke a nail, and I have to attend a dinner tonight at the Spanish Embassy.Life is full of problems. Sounds like you’re ready for another escape from Tara Hall.
Is there foam on a pint of stout? Do me an obligement and send Neil with me this time.You know very well that only you and your ISF teammates can go through the Peregrine Portal.
The devil wouldn’t go through that thing unless he was drunk. Listen, Pat. You’re the author. I’m the princess. I’m sure we can work something out. We don’t need the Peregrine Portal. Neil is a fine pilot. Have him fly me somewhere quiet. And private.Neil isn’t ready for a commitment. I’m thinking of sending you to a desert this time. I thought you’d enjoy a fling with a handsome sheik’s son.
Oh? Well. Maybe. Just this once. Oh, all right. Will you stay for lunch and help me practice the Japanese tea ceremony?Is there gold at the end of the rainbow?
Book One in the Band of Roses Trilogy