"When Time Stood Still" is part of an e-anthology featuring my story and 18 other beautiful sweet romances. Buy One Touch, One Glance today!
by Kathleen MacIver
Matthew Garlinn sat on a stone wall under a sign that read Alec MacCoinneach, Swordsmith, and shook his head. Once upon a time, he would have laughed to think he’d one day find himself sitting in a place like this.
He was, of course, outside the shop because the door was locked and his key inside. But even that wouldn’t have stopped him a few years ago. As it was, only his determination not to fall back into his old ways kept him from undoing the very easy-to-pick lock that guarded the back door.
No, what he found ironic was that he was not in the good old USA, not in a city, and not using either his wits or his tae kwon do skills to make a living. Instead, he was in the Scottish Highlands, staying in a village no bigger than one LA neighborhood, and learning the ancient art of swordsmithing. Definitely not where he thought he’d end up.
But what surprised him most was how he liked the life here. The mountains were harsh and unyielding, but beautiful. The people were friendly.
And there was her. The woman whose song haunted his dreams. Whose face had placed her in danger. Who had fled when he’d rescued her.
Maybe tonight, if he hung around the grocery store long enough, she’d come back and he’d see her again. If his boss would show up so they could get the day’s work done.
He glanced at his watch and wondered what had happened. Alec was the kind of guy a person could depend on. Not the kind of boss to tell you to be at the shop at eleven to start work on a new sword, and then leave you sitting outside on a stone wall for an hour.
He got out his knife and whittled on a scrap of wood. He walked half a mile down the road and back again. He sat down on the wall again and made a list of all the repairs needed in the little old house he rented.
Finally, he hopped off the wall, wiped his hands on his jeans, and sauntered around back. There was no point in waiting any longer to open the old door. It wasn’t like he was breaking in. He had been given a key, and Alec probably assumed he’d been smart enough to put it on his keychain.
The lock stared up at him stubbornly, and a closer look told him that it might not be quite as easy to spring as he’d thought. For one thing, it was rusted shut. For another thing, it was old…far older than any lock he’d ever picked before.
The rust slowly fell away, and he put his past experience to work until it finally gave way. He allowed himself a small smile and started to open the door, only to find an arm wound around his neck and his wrist pinned behind him.
Matthew hesitated only a moment. That wasn’t Alec’s voice, and no one else had the right to tackle him here.
A shift in weight and a spin freed his arms, but his second spin failed to knock his assailant off his feet. Kicks that usually sent his opponents flying backwards met solid blocks. His fastest blows were returned, one by one.
Reluctant admiration filled him. Whoever this guy was, he knew tae kwon do as well. And was quite good at it.
But admiration wasn’t going to make this guy leave him alone. Perhaps a few moves that were more of the street fighting variety might work. His determination rose, and with it, his speed…until he found a sword at his throat.
Yes, this was a swordsmith shop, and there were dozens of swords inside. But that didn’t explain why the guy holding the other end of this one looked so comfortable pointing it at people. No doubt he knew how to do other things with it as well. Things that he, Matthew, should obviously have learned before now.
("When Time Stood Still" is the second-to-last story.)
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