House Calls:Callaghan Brothers, Book 3

By: Abbie Zanders

Callaghan Brothers, Volume 3




Acknowledgements


Special thanks to Aubrey Rose Cover Designs for this amazing cover!

Special thanks also go to Deb, Cindy, and Shelly (and a few of you who prefer to remain unnamed – you know who you are) for reading the first draft and making invaluable suggestions. I could not have done this without your unending patience, support, and encouragement.





Chapter One




“Come on, Mags, it’ll be fun,” Sherri pleaded, her big blue eyes wide and pathetic. She sat at the massive walnut table, sipping Irish coffee and munching on the thin, delectable buttery sugar cookies. “And you so have to teach me the secret of making these. I can never get mine this thin. Makes all the difference in the world.”

Maggie Flynn paused with the coffee mug halfway to her lips. Sherri was the closest thing she had to a best friend, but she was also the first one to admit that she was definitely not the reincarnate of Betty Crocker or Sara Lee. No, Sherri’s skills definitely lay outside the kitchen. The last time Maggie tried to teach her how to make something from scratch she spent the next week cleaning batter out of the most unlikely spaces. They’d decided then that it was best if Maggie did the baking while Sherri brought her up to speed on everything happening out there in the real world.

“You cannot be serious.”

“About the cookies? Of course not. I’ll stick to the Pillsbury tubes – you know, premade and pre-sliced.” Maggie wrinkled her nose in distaste. “But about the dancing? Absolutely. You do all that Zumba and belly dancing and crap. You’ll be awesome.”

Maggie looked at her as if she were insane. “I do all that crap in the privacy of my own home for exercise,” she said, trying to remain calm. “Not in front of a bunch of horny men for profit.”

“These guys aren’t like that,” Sherri confided. “I’ve danced for them before. Complete gentlemen, I’m telling you, although the way they look, I wish they weren’t.” Sherri got that dreamy look in her eyes, the one she always got whenever she regaled Maggie with stories of the men at the Irish Pub. Maggie herself had never actually been to the Pub, but from Sherri’s graphic, detailed descriptions she felt she had a pretty clear picture of exactly what it was that drew Sherri’s repeated interest.

“No.” Maggie stood up and carried her mug to the sink, rinsing it out and placing it in the rack to the side. She would reuse it later. No point in dirtying another or wasting hot water and soap washing it now when a simple rinse would do. Maggie was very practical that way.

“Maggie.” Sherri’s tone softened a little. “Don’t you ever want to – you know – get out there and live a little?”

“I live just fine,” Maggie said defensively, wiping her hands on her apron. It was an old-fashioned, full-frontal coverage style hand-stitched from a faded pink and white gingham print that her great-grandmother had once worn in this very same kitchen more than half a century ago.

“You live alone,” Sherri pointed out. “And you rarely go anywhere anymore.”

“I get out,” she countered. Three times in the past week alone, to be exact, delivering herbal teas and wraps to some of the older folks around Pine Ridge that could no longer make the trip up to her farm; the same ones her grandma had taken care of for years before she passed.

“And I am not alone. I have George.” She glanced fondly at the aging Bassett hound sleeping peacefully next to the old-fashioned radiator, no doubt a result of a major sugar crash caused by all the cookies Sherri had slipped him under the table. “I am perfectly content.”

“Remember when we used to go out? God, we had so much fun.”

“You had fun, Sherri,” Maggie corrected with a wry smile. “You always left with the hot guy and I got left behind with the wingman.” Which wasn’t always a bad thing, she had to admit. She’d met some very interesting people that way. Men who were like her – guilted into going out with their hot-looking friends so they wouldn’t have to go out alone. In general, wingmen tended to be more down to earth and more interesting than the gods and goddesses, as Maggie called them.

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