Constance O'Day-Flannery is back, and better than ever with this new tale of magic and love.
Maggie O'Shea knows that because of her dark past, there's no place for love in her life. She owns a successful store in Philadelphia, where she uses her special gifts to help the people she meets. Though this doesn't fulfill her, she is content. Most of the time.
Entrepreneur Julian McDonald runs an empire. He's rich, cynical, bored-and not interested in relationships. He was in love, once, but since her death, there's been no space in his heart for anyone else.
Maggie knows as soon as she meets Julian that she could fall in love with him. But a secret society devoted to bringing the world back into balance has a mysterious agenda for Julian-and doesn't care about the heart's wish of a vulnerable shapeshifter...
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
|Publisher:||Tom Doherty Associates|
|File size:||1 MB|
About the Author
Constance O'Day-Flannery is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen works of romantic fiction. Her popular works include Once in a Lifetime, a New York Times bestseller, and Second Chances, for which she received the Best Contemporary Fantasy Romance Award from the Romantic Times BookClub Magazine. SHIFTING LOVE is O'Day-Flannery's first book after a three year hiatus spent in Ireland, recharging her creative energies. She lives in Pennsylvania.
Constance O'Day-Flannery is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who revolutionized the genre of paranormal romance with her stunning time travel novels in the 1990s. Best Laid Plans is the beginning of a trilogy about three remarkable women, at three different stages of life -- and the remarkable men who love them. She lives and writes in Pennsylvania.
Read an Excerpt
By Constance O'Day-Flannery, Anna Genoese
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2004 Constance O'Day-Flannery
All rights reserved.
"I love this place, Maggie. I don't know ... I just always feel good when I'm here." Tammy Kline slid a twenty-dollar bill across the counter to pay for the latest mystery paperback to hit the best-seller list, along with a large caramel skim milk latte. "What kind of magic do you have to keep this place so busy?"
"You ask that question every time you're here," Maggie said, grinning as she rang up the sale. "And I keep telling you that envy is one of the seven deadly sins. Be happy I'm so busy, Tammy. You're my stockbroker. If I make money, you make money."
"Speaking of investments, we need to go over your portfolio." Tammy dropped her change into her Bvlgari purse, a perfect match to her dark gray Armani suit. "What about dinner next week?"
"Sounds great," Maggie answered, placing the book into a shiny white shopping bag with white corded handles. "How about Fidel's? We'll mix business with a little Cuban food?"
"Right. And I'll watch as you fight off all those Latin types you attract like honey to a queen bee."
"Tammy, it's the drones who bring the pollen for the honey to the queen. I happen to think drones are highly underrated. They're actually quite beautiful. The queen couldn't survive without them."
Tammy shook her blond curls as she stared across the counter. "Honestly, the way you get so passionate about animals and creepy crawly things and you don't even own a dog." Sipping her latte, she waved. "I'd better get back to the office. I'll call later in the week and we'll set a date."
Maggie nodded and then smiled at her next customer, who was placing three CDs, a hardcover book on owning and managing time that had been touted on Oprah, and four scented candles onto the counter. "I don't think I need to ask if there's anything else. It looks like you're ready to claim some downtime."
The middle-aged woman grinned, almost self-consciously. "About time too. Thought I could do it all. Motherhood. Working. Now the kids are in college and I'm exhausted." She picked up a hyacinth-scented candle Maggie had already scanned and sniffed before adding, "My friend told me about this store and I thought I'd just browse, but it's hard to leave a place like this without buying something. It wasn't until I was sitting down with a cup of your delicious coffee that I thought it was time to take care of me for a change." Holding her wallet, waiting for the total cost, she said in a strong voice, "I'm going to light the candles, run a bath, listen to music I like for a change, and read that book."
"Well, good for you," Maggie answered from the cash register. "You've done your job, and now it's your turn again. I hope you enjoy everything."
The woman paid for her purchases, thanking Maggie while vowing to come back.
Staring after the woman as she joined the pedestrian traffic on Chestnut Street, Maggie experienced a rush of satisfaction. It wasn't unusual for people to bare their souls to her. She couldn't claim magic. It was the effect of the place. All her hard work of the last few years was paying off.
Soul Provisions was the kind of store you didn't want to leave.
The front door opened to a delight of the senses. A customer first encountered the scents of frangipani, lavender, narcissus, lemongrass, and hydrangea before coming to the fruitier candles of apple, ginger spice, and honeydew melon. Then glass display cases dazzled the eye with unique jewelry for women and men. A few feet beyond that began the book section followed by display racks of CDs, music that soothed the soul while the taste buds were aroused by exotic coffees and a tempting arrangement of muffins and pastries, ranging from walnut raisin oat cakes to homemade Milano cookies. Tables and chairs were provided for the customer who wanted to read a book, newspaper, or magazine while munching. And plenty of them did, though it was rare for anyone to be satisfied with simply coffee. Maggie O'Shea had created a space amid the high-powered office buildings on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia for people to regain their breath, to stop the frantic rushing and blood-pounding speed of their days and experience a few moments out of time. A sanctuary.
Perhaps people felt free to tell parts of their own story because while they had been browsing, little signs an artist friend had designed would pop up in the most unusual places:
STUDY MEN, NOT HISTORIANS.
ACCEPTING WHAT YOU ARE IS CONTENTMENT, AND THERE IS NO WEALTH TO COMPARE WITH CONTENTMENT.
IF YOU SPEND YOUR LIFE WITH YOUR NOSE TO THE GRINDSTONE ALL YOU'LL END UP WITH IS A FLAT SORE NOSE.
REAL FRIENDS ARE THOSE WHO, WHEN YOU'VE MADE A FOOL OF YOURSELF, DON'T FEEL THAT YOU'VE DONE A PERMANENT JOB.
IF YOU STILL DON'T BELIEVE IN MIRACLES, CONSIDER YOUR MIND.
These bits of wisdom, over thirty of them, were tucked into all sections of the store and every now and then Maggie would hear someone laugh out loud and her own heart would lighten along with the reader's.
Soul Provisions was the kind of place she had always wanted to find. When she couldn't, she created it for herself. She spent the next half hour at the register and then handed over that responsibility to one of her assistants when a customer wanted to see a piece of jewelry. She unlocked the case and brought out a moonstone pendant with a teardrop tanzanite stone atop the gold setting.
"Oh, it's so beautiful," the young woman breathed as she held out her hand.
Maggie placed the piece onto the woman's palm and smiled. "The tanzanite almost matches your eyes."
The woman looked up from her hand and smiled back. "I've been looking at this for weeks and trying to talk myself into it."
"Well, you're the only one who knows if you can afford it and if you feel you deserve it. All I can do is offer what attracts you."
The young woman appeared almost startled for a moment. "How did you know that's what I've been struggling with? If I deserve it?" She looked down to the pendant and murmured, "I broke up with my boyfriend of three years and ... I don't know ... I don't even know why I'm telling you."
Maggie's smile softened as the customer's voice broke with emotion. "This won't heal a broken heart, but I do know of a book that might help. Why don't we put this back on the shelf and I'll show you the book?" Maggie replaced the pendant inside the glass case. Locking it, she said, "Maybe after you take a look at the book you can come back and see if it still attracts you, okay?" She grinned at the younger woman and gestured with her head toward the back of the store. "C'mon, it's now in paperback, so it's a lot cheaper than the pendant," she said, as they walked through the aisles of books. "Besides, if that piece is really meant for you it will be here when you're ready."
"Excuse me, Maggie. There's a phone call for you."
Maggie had just handed the book to the woman when Mark, who worked the stockroom, came up behind her.
"Can you take a message?"
"They said it was important."
Turning back to her customer, she nodded to the last section of the store. "Why don't you have a cup of coffee and read a few pages? I'll be back in a couple of minutes."
Heading for the stockroom, Maggie figured she just might have talked herself out of a two-hundred-dollar sale, but she couldn't resist the pain in that woman's eyes. No piece of jewelry was going to fill the gaping wound in her soul. A long time ago Maggie learned the answer wasn't a Band-Aid, even one as pretty as that pendant. The only way to heal that wound was to go inside ... and not everyone had the courage to do it. She wondered if her customer would go for the ride into her soul or give herself a temporary fix with a glittering jewel. Soul Provisions offered both.
She picked up the phone on the desk and punched the blinking light on line one. "Hello, Maggie O'Shea."
"It's good to hear your voice again, Magdalene."
It was as though a cold wash of energy descended onto her shoulders, pushing her down onto the chair in front of the desk. Her eyes scanned the many invoices in front of her, yet she wasn't really seeing them. Instead her mind pictured a tall, dark, and painfully handsome man.
"Marcus." She said his name in a whisper, more to herself than in acknowledgment of him. "Where are you?"
"Right here in the City of Brotherly Love," he answered in his slightly accented voice that was a deep baritone ... low, sexy, and feral, winding its way from her ear to travel down her body. "And I'm inviting you to lunch with me this afternoon. I'm staying at the Four Seasons. I had dinner in my room last night when I arrived and the service and food are quite good."
"I can't," she answered automatically. "I have plans."
"As much as I love spending time in your company, cara mia, I am here to discuss something of importance with you."
She knew what it was. "Perhaps tomorrow."
"Perhaps you can change your plans. Mine are not flexible, I'm afraid."
She hated that a part of her wanted to flee the city to get away from him and yet another part was irresistibly drawn to him. This man had been her teacher, her mentor, her lover, and she could feel his presence over the ten city blocks that separated them. "I'll meet you in the restaurant," she said, trying to bring strength into her voice.
"Do you not trust yourself to dine in my suite?"
She could hear the amusement in his voice. "I don't have time for this, Marcus. I will see you at one o'clock in the hotel's restaurant. You can have one hour and then I must get back. I have a business to run."
"Ah, yes ... Soul Provisions. It is doing well?"
"You know it is." He always seemed to know everything about her. She wouldn't be surprised if he'd seen her tax returns and her bank statements. "I take it this lunch is because you have an assignment for me."
"You always were intuitive, Magdalene, even when you didn't know what you were doing. I think that is why you have made such a good student." He paused. "So, yes ... I have your next assignment."
"Then let's forego this trip down memory lane, Marcus. I have to get back to work. One o'clock." She hung up the phone without saying good-bye. Somehow, some way, she had to stay one step ahead of his magnetic charm.
Staring at the papers on her desk, Maggie tried to calm down, to slow the slamming of her heartbeat against her rib cage. She had foolishly hoped she would be free of him, that her obligations were fulfilled. It had been two years since she'd seen Marcus, at least in his human form, though he probably had been spying on her during that whole time whenever his curiosity got the better of him. That last time, though, as she'd left him sleeping after a night of exquisite lovemaking, she had vowed to break free of him and the power he held over her. She could still picture that mass of dark curls falling away from a face that was classically beautiful ... deep brown eyes that easily scanned the soul, a fine sculpted nose, and full lips that spoke of a profound sensuality. His body was lean and hard and he could use it with elegant grace or an animal's captivating power. But Maggie knew it wasn't his dramatic good looks. He could be short, fat, and balding and still women would spend a few moments in his presence and be charmed into his arms. Marcus Bocelli had true charisma.
At least she had never told him that she loved him.
She could hold on to that small measure of power.
At exactly one o'clock she walked into the restaurant and bar at the Four Seasons Hotel. Dressed in an Yves Saint Laurent white blouse and chocolate brown slacks, Maggie felt casually chic enough for the upscale locale. She had refused to go upstairs to her apartment over the store and change into something better, although she did borrow a gold omega necklace with a large amber pendant from the jewelry case. And she did carefully reapply her makeup and fluff out the auburn wisps that framed her face. Looking into the bathroom mirror and staring into her blue eyes, she had tried to tell herself any woman facing lunch with an ex-lover would do the same. Unfortunately, there was this small part of her that still wanted to appear attractive to Marcus, and it was that traitorous piece she needed to keep under control.
She took off her sunglasses and scanned the restaurant while wondering who the hell she thought she was, giving out advice to customers about healing wounds when she was obviously still picking at scar tissue. Heal thyself echoed inside her head as the maître d' approached her.
"Good afternoon, madam."
She smiled politely. "Good afternoon. I'm meeting one of your guests for lunch. Mr. Bocelli?"
The man looked down at his podium and scanned his list. "Ah, yes. You must be Miss O'Shea."
"I am," she confirmed. How like Marcus to give her name.
"If you'll follow me, I'll show you to his table."
Walking through the elegant restaurant with its lunchtime diners in business suits, Maggie squared her shoulders and lifted her chin as she spied Marcus at a corner table sipping a glass of red wine while perusing the leather-bound menu. As though sensing her, he looked up and held her gaze as she came to him, before breaking into a smile as the maître d' approached.
"Magdalene, how good to see you," he said, smoothly rising from the table and holding out his hand.
It seemed automatic that she would place hers in his and watch those sensuous lips barely graze over the skin below her knuckles. "Marcus. You're looking well," she answered, pulling her hand away and smiling at the maître d', who was holding out her chair. Seated, she picked up the crisp white napkin off the table and carefully placed it on her lap before looking up to the man across from her. How did he do it? He ate whatever he wanted. She'd never seen him exercise beyond lovemaking and yet in all the years she had known him, he never seemed to age.
His smile was warm and inviting and she steeled herself against it.
"It is you who are looking well. Beyond well, cara mia. You look beautiful." He poured her a glass of wine and then sat back surveying her closely. "Were you conscious of how many men were watching you as you came to me? Your aura draws them and they cannot help but notice you. Cool. Detached. Classically lovely and innately sensual. Even now they cast envious glances in my direction." His smile deepened. "I wonder how many would make the connection if they knew your given name. Or would they hear Magdalene and think of a courtesan?"
She wasn't about to let him take her down that road. "I'm not a courtesan, which is merely your polite way of saying whore, even if I am here to discuss my next assignment. So let's get to it, shall we? Who is he? What's his story?"
Shaking his head slightly, Marcus' expression appeared filled with sadness and regret. "Never would I use such a term and you should never allow it to cross your lips. What you give of yourself is repaid with the healing of another. Mary Magdalene wasn't a whore, though she has been labeled one for thousands of years by those who envied her intelligence, her powers, her closeness to the One who —"
"Save the history lesson, Marcus," Maggie interrupted, opening her menu. "I learned it years ago."
"Then you will remember she descended from the royal House of Benjamin. Your namesake was a high priestess, the most honored student, and a great teacher of unconditional love. You should feel privileged to carry her name."
"I do," she answered, just as a waiter came to their table. Before he could recite any house specials, she smiled and handed him the menu. "Hello. I'm in a bit of rush. I'll have the baby spinach salad and the salmon." She looked at Marcus. "You must have decided, since you were studying the menu when I arrived."
He stared into her eyes for just a moment before opening his menu and giving his selections.
"Can I interest you in appetizers? The chef has prepared several new offerings and —"
"I'm sorry," Maggie interrupted with another apologetic smile. "This is a business lunch so we won't have time."
Thankfully, the waiter seemed to understand and made a quick exit.
"That bordered on rude," Marcus observed dryly, picking up his glass of wine.
"I was trying to make a point."
"You made it."
"And I thought I was very polite. Now, let's move on, shall we? Who do I have to research, and why?" She lifted her glass and sat back in the good reproduction of a Louis XIV armchair.
"Again, to the point, I see."
"Exactly. That is the reason I'm here, after all."
Marcus leaned in to the table and stared at her. "Why are you insisting on putting distance between us, Magdalene? Why can we not enjoy each other? It's been two years since I've seen you."
Staring out the window to the city below, she tried to come up with an appropriate answer. "I know how long it's been, Marcus."
"I like the new haircut."
"It's just a haircut."
"You have grown into the fullness of your beauty and wear it with grace." He paused for a moment. "And I have missed you."
Despite her resolve, Maggie relaxed and shook her head. "You never give up, do you?"
"Not with you, cara mia. Never with you."
She would not let his words past the barrier of her mind. She couldn't allow it again. "So who is he? I really do have to get back to the store."
Excerpted from Shifting Love by Constance O'Day-Flannery, Anna Genoese. Copyright © 2004 Constance O'Day-Flannery. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In Philadelphia, shapeshifter Maggie O¿Shea would prefer to avoid lunch with her former lover and mentor Marcus Bocelli, but she knows her commitment to his Foundation forces her to leaves the comfort of her Soul Provisions shop to meet with him. She thinks back to how the charismatic Marcus trained her in using her ability to mend broken hearts through the purity of love. Marcus informs Maggie that the Foundation needs her to heal management consultant Julian McDonald still mourning the deaths of his wife and their young child in a Colorado plane crash nine years ago. Though she demands to know why him, Marcus fails to respond. Still she goes on the mission only to find he heals her loneliness as much as she teaches him that he still has the capacity to love others. As they fall in love, Maggie and Julian must make decisions; he feels the guilt of the survivor moving on and she doubts anyone can truly love a person like her.--- Paranormal romance readers have plenty to cheer about as Tor opens up a new line with the great Constance O¿Day-Flannery returning to the fold after taking a breather. SHIFTING LOVE is a terrific tale due to the characters making the otherworldly elements and themselves seems authentic. Maggie and Julian are fabulous protagonists with both having qualms that could easily derail their relationship before it can fully forge on top of the foundation of love. Marcus is an intriguing enigmatic leader who fans will want more appearances by him. Welcome back Ms. O¿Day-Flannery and welcome to the sub-genre Tor for if this collaboration is any indication, fans are the winners.--- Harriet Klausner
Turned out to be my favorite! I didn't put it down. I couldn't, it's just that good. I hope & pray there'll be more!! It's soo good. Rhop18