“That will cost ye.”
Teri’s gaze shot up from the gurgling spring and he gaped at the figure sitting not two paces from him. A man, but something more, a beautiful, terrible presence.
“Who are you?” he managed to whisper, fear clutching his throat. His heart slammed against his ribs. The guy was breathtaking, but he hadn’t been sitting there seconds ago.
“Answer me question first. Ye are…”
Teri wanted to answer, but the wicked mischief dancing in the brilliant green eyes distracted him. He forgot how to form words. Heat flushed through him, equal parts embarrassment and attraction as the full lips lifted in a sensual smile.
“Ye been following me rainbow all day. Now ye drink from me spring. Will ye be after me pot o’ gold next?”
“Gold?” Teri ran a hand over his face. Had he been bewitched? Was the water enchanted? Yes, he had been following the rainbow, but it didn’t—
Dazzling color flashed in the sky behind the creature, the rainbow’s end. Teri scrambled to his feet and the man rose also, standing much too close for his comfort. Heat from its body wrapped around Teri and he felt suddenly, deliciously trapped.
“It’s me lucky day,” the man drawled, and bent to whisper in Teri’s ear, his voice a caress. “I’ve caught ye and now ye must grant me wish.”
Teri’s mind raced. He tried to recall everything he’d read about leprechauns. “That’s not quite right. You owe me three wishes.”
A warm breath feathered against his cheek. “Wrong, me darlin’. Ye didn’t catch me. Yield to me. Grant me wish.”
Teri swallowed, mouth gone dry. “What is it?”
The creature dropped his bright gaze. “See, it’s me shoes…”
“What?” Teri looked down. The man wore a pair of sturdy leather boots, slightly scuffed. “They look fine to me.”
The leprechaun shook his head, his expression woeful. His shoulders slumped. “No. They’re terrible dangerous. Soles come loose and I’ve lost me wee hammer to fix them. “He slid a glance at Teri, a gleam in the green eyes. “If ye could be seeing your way to loaning me your boots… I can go find me tool. Won’t be going further than yonder hill.”
Teri glanced over the glen to the hillock he’d crossed earlier. It wasn’t very far, and yet… He looked back quickly at the leprechaun. The man met his gaze with wide, guileless eyes, framed by the thickest lashes, scraps of lace against the lightly freckled skin. The green gems blinked, captivating Teri. Warning bells sounded in his head, muffled by the pounding of his heart. Surely one so beautiful couldn’t mean him harm?
“No Faery tricks?” he asked, giving in with a sigh when the leprechaun looked offended. Heat flooded his face when the creature knelt and undid the laces, pulling off Teri’s boots.
Quick as a wink, his own were off and he stomped into Teri’s, a delighted smile touching his full lips. “Perfect fit! Thank ye, darlin’.”
Teri watched, nonplussed, as the leprechaun sauntered off with his boots.
“You’ll come back?” he called after the retreating figure. The leprechaun lifted a hand. Teri watched the lowering sun with trepidation. Shadows crawled across the glen, and when dusk settled its blanket across the sky without the creature’s return, he sighed and pulled on the leprechaun’s boots. Just his luck, they fit like a second skin.
But then the world gave a funny lurch under him. Colors burst around him, everything becoming sharper, brighter. He smelled moss and damp earth and the heather on the far side of the glen. Crickets chirped, a bee buzzed lazily, the air tasted crisp and pure. The world tilted. Dizzy, Teri swayed, stomach rolling, senses overwhelmed. What did it mean?
His ears popped and the world righted itself around him. A rainbow painted the sky, touched by the last rays of the setting sun.
“Oh yes, me pot o’ gold!” he said with a smile, and trotted towards the hillock, the end of the rainbow. He crested the hill, grinning when the rainbow touched ground. An owl hooted in the distance and a vague unease touched his thoughts. Wasn’t there something else he should be doing? Somewhere else he should be…
A stray sunbeam glinted on a bit of silver in the grass. “Ah, me wee hammer!” he cried out. Sitting, he set to work on his boots, pleased with his good fortune.
Artwork by One Good Eye Photography