The Gael and the Goddess
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Copyright ©2014 J.S. Wayne
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Liam reeled in the nets and watched as they emptied their take into the cargo hold. He'd caught a few good-sized salmon, but not nearly enough to cover his fuel expenditures for the day. With bitter disappointment he secured the nets, grumbling to himself as he worked.
"If I don't get a decent haul in the next few days, I don't know how I'll pay Inna. Damn the luck, anyway... ye'd think the least the salmon could do is t' be where I'm about tryin' to catch 'em!"
He knew the answer to his question. If it got right down to it, Inna would work for no pay until he got a catch big enough to settle accounts. She'd done it before, never complaining for a moment to a soul about the loss. She knew him well enough to know if it came down to cases, he'd go hungry for a day or two or live off his own catch to make sure she got what she was owed. Still and all, it rankled at him to have to treat her so shabbily, economic factors or not. She was a fine woman and deserved a damn sight better than that!
He growled and snarled and cursed his luck, the fish, the sea and the sky as he put everything to rights and in sailing trim. In only a few minutes, he was back on the bridge, hauling at the wheel to bring the Moira about. Once the compass showed he was aimed true, he engaged the throttle and set the autopilot. With a huff he collapsed into the captain's chair and picked up the paperback novel again.
"At least I have something decent to read," he muttered, pulling out the bookmark and locating his place on the page.
* * *
The last half hour of the voyage was always the most hair-raising, for his money. No matter how many times he piloted the Moira through the rocks, his palms always began to sweat as he neared the coast of Malin Head. He knew too many veteran seamen who'd let their swagger get ahead of their sense and wound up hulling their vessels on the jagged edges lurking just beneath the waves. That was all right for them, the bloody morons, but by God, Liam McGrue wouldn't be caught napping on his way into port!
With the ease of years of practice, he steered into the gap and held the wheel steady. The cross-currents tugged at the hull, nudging it one direction and then the other, but he kept a firm grip and muscled his way past the worst of it. As his depth indicator signaled the drop-off into the harbor, he let go with one hand and reached up to blow the horn in salute.
The navigation buoys brightened and dimmed twice in acknowledgment, and he aimed for the space between them. In less than ten minutes, he'd be at the dock. The stevedores would tie the Moira off and set about unloading, little enough of that there was to do. Then he'd collect his meager day's wages and trundle himself to bed to get up and do it all over the next morning, just like clockwork.
A flash of scarlet from the tiny, rocky arm thrusting into the harbor caught his eye, and he turned to get a better look. Aside from the navigation lights, there was little color to be seen on the coast. The rocks were a uniform greenish gray, slick with moss and spray, pretty enough to look at in the sunset, to be sure, but certainly nothing of that particular color was usually present.
He frowned as he got a good look, and blinked. Thinking his eyes must be sporting him, he picked up the binoculars from their perch beside the wheel. Quickly he turned the thumbscrew to adjust the focus. The apparition blurred for a moment and then reappeared in sharp, clear definition.
His jaw dropped.
He'd never seen the likes of the woman about town before, he'd gladly swear to that in the village church. More to the point, he'd never seen a woman pacing placidly along the small promontory wearing only what attire God saw fit to send her into the world in, striding along like she hadn't a care in the world about what anyone might think.
Oh, she was a pretty one, right enough. Her proudly erect carriage bespoke a woman who had nothing to be ashamed of, a fact Liam could appreciate in more ways than one. Her breasts jutted out, just full and round enough without being too much of a good thing, and her belly offered the exact right amount of curve to look like she'd be right pleasant to curl up with on a chilly Irish night. Her buttocks and hips flared enough to give a man ideas, and her legs looked strong enough to wrap around a man and hold on until he begged her for mercy. A belt of gold interlinked with some silvery metal crested in stylized waves about the top of her hips, and the jewel hanging down in front drew his eye downward whether he willed it or not. The small stripe of hair at the top and center of her thighs drove the moisture from his mouth, wishing he could only stroke it, never mind what lay beneath. Topping her luscious body, a wavy mass of vibrant red hair flowed behind her like a queen's banner, adding to her proud but not haughty carriage.
"Bloody hell," he breathed, whispering a prayer of thanks to Jesus for making him a man and then putting him in this place, at this time, to see this stunning, staggering woman.
She turned, and for a moment he could have sworn she looked right through the lenses of binoculars, through his eyes, and right into his soul. The details of her face, each one exquisite in its own right, paled to insignificance next to the force of her gaze. Her eyes glowed brightly with an inner light to put amethysts to shame. She smiled, and it was as glorious and uncomplicated an expression as he'd ever laid eyes on, a grin of pure, free-spirited delight.
With a regal tilt of her head and a wicked wink of her eye, she turned away and kept walking, her pace unhurried and calm, as if she had all eternity and beyond to get wherever she might be bound.
What on earth was that lovely creature doing here? Now that he'd seen her face clearly, he was more certain than ever he'd never seen her about Malin Head. If he had, he'd have knocked over many a strong man and stormed the gates of heaven and hell alike just for the pleasure of sharing her table for an hour.
He didn't even dare consider what sharing a bed with such a woman might be like. His pants had tightened uncomfortably just from seeing her. Laying with her, in the Biblical sense, might be just the thing to send a man to heaven in the most literal way possible.
From somewhere deep in his brain, a sober, responsible voice piped up. She might be in trouble, or hurt. She certainly shouldn't be walking about the shore starkers. Wouldn't it make just a wee bit of sense to, er, call someone, ye sad, daft, desperately horny man?
He growled a bit at his inner voice, but couldn't argue the undeniably valid point. Without taking his eyes off the tiny, ravishing figure, he groped for the handset for the radio.
"Moira calling Cionn Malhanna."
"Go ahead, Moira, this is Cionn Malhanna. Calling in a wee bit late, aren't we, Liam?"
He recognized the voice as belonging to Detective Sergeant James O'Grady of the local Garda detachment. The copper was a good sort, hardworking and hard-drinking as you please, with a good head for humor but no patience for nonsense. If he could be said to be friends with the law, O'Grady was about as close as he came to it.
At the moment, O'Grady was wearing his other hat as the local port official. It enabled him to draw two paychecks off the government purse and helped him while away the hours, not that there was ever much to see or do in the town. The last real excitement they'd had had been two years earlier, when that lovely Yank came to town and was staying with the town lesbians. Aside from that, the best one could expect was Brian Diurmuid getting in his cups and making a prize arse of himself, which was admittedly entertaining in its own right but could pall quickly.
"Aye, James, I guess I am at that," Liam admitted. "Say, have a shifty out your window, tell me what ye see, like."
"Are ye serious?" the Garda officer demanded.
"No, James, I always call in three minutes from docking t' brighten yer day," he growled, every word dripping sarcasm.
O'Grady mumbled something about copulating with sheep as he stood. "I was all nice and comfy, like, about to have a cuppa an' what the bloody feck!"
"If ye can figure that out, I'd be that obliged if ye'd explain it t' me," Liam retorted.