Confessions of the Cleaning Lady
Click on image to enlarge.
by Miriam Newman
Description: Stowed away in the trunk of a pharmaceutical representative from Killarney, a band of feisty Irish faeries is released in the outlying suburbs of Philadelphia, where Malachi McCurdy sets up bachelor housekeeping. In need of a housekeeper, he is introduced to Shawna Egan, unaware that "his" faeries have taken up residence in her oak tree. Shawna, who was raised with tales of the Fair Folk but never realized she can see them, learns it the hard way when she cuts down the tree in which they made a home. She gives them another and faeries always repay their debts. But Shawna has secrets, and although she knows Mal is what she is seeking, will he want her after he has heard the confessions of the cleaning lady? If so, he will need help from the Fae, for the dragons he must slay for his lady live in her mind.
eBook Publisher: DCL Publications LLC, 2008 Australia
eBookwise Release Date: September 2008
6 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [359 KB]
Reading time: 221-309 min.
On Thursday, the faeries went on strike and Shawna should have seen it coming. Then again, seeing was part of the problem. Great-granddaughter of a couple who had fled starving Ireland, Shawna could See faeries. It was not a visual seeing, but something that happened in the ancestral recesses of the mind: a subliminal perception of the fast flit of a wing or the shimmer of a gossamer body or the mosquito-like hum of a tiny voice not heard with the ear. But Shawna found herself living not in Ireland, as her genes supposed, but forty-five miles northwest of Philadelphia where Seeing faeries usually resulted in the administration of medication. She had made up her rational twenty-first century mind never to See anything.
It almost worked.
The day before, her friend Dorothy's significant other, Tom, had brought the Mexican laborers he supervised for a landscaper to moonlight in the pasture behind Shawna's ramshackle barn. The men had agreed to take down a lightning-struck oak for fifty dollars each and all the beer they could drink, which made it a concern that she and they were uninsured. Her homeowners' insurance had lapsed--a fact she was trying to keep from the mortgage company--and those men were not working on company time, with workman's comp.
When they got the tree on the ground and sawed into firewood without anyone being maimed, Shawna thought the worst danger had been averted.
That didn't work.
On Thursday morning, she was pleased to see the oak in a pile on the leeward side of her barn. It would not do for firewood that winter, but she hoped to need it the following year, when it should be aged enough to feed the basement woodstove. It would have to heat the house if she couldn't pay her electric bill. If she still had the house, she had the wood. If she didn't have the house ... well, she wouldn't permit her mind to travel in that direction any more than she would let it See faeries. Apparently, though, they saw her.
She was sure that the shimmer at the base of her wood pile was the sun, poking rays through a canopy of oaks starting to rain their cacophony of September acorns onto the metal roof of the barn. But the shimmer grew and seemed to be moving. Curious, she squelched through muck and shoots of grass nurtured by droppings from the days when she had not yet fenced in the chicken run, before the Zoning Officer had informed her in less than polite language that she needed one. The hens were behind bars now, metaphorically speaking, and she acquired less white and smelly stuff on her shoes than she might have done as she walked to the barn, but she was conscious of their beady-eyed looks. She knew they burned for the freedom to scratch for crickets and other tasty treats.
Burning, that was it ... something must be burning. Yet that glow wasn't smoke, and it wasn't fire. It wasn't anything she had ever seen. That was when Shawna Egan realized that there was seeing and Seeing. She Saw them: swirling, tumbling, agitated-looking little creatures dipping and darting at such speed that the dappled sunlight glinting on their pulsating wings gave off a glow. She thought at first that the high-pitched whispery sounds she half-heard were the beat-beat-beat of those tiny wings, but they weren't.
They were shouting at her.