Under Your Spell

Marley glanced in the direction of the closed door. No footsteps. Nothing. Hoping the circulation in her toes would return, she eased off the painful pumps and flexed her sore arches. Moving the ladder securely against the wall, she tossed another furtive look in the direction of the door before mounting the first rung and hoisting herself up to reach the book with a bright blue jacket.

Why had she not heard of Jamal Ali? The title of Atlantis Regained was definitely catchy. Her grip tightened around the hard cover as she flipped through photos of what had to be lesser-known Caribbean Islands. If only she had time to read his book. Maybe after she secured her job. She snapped the book shut and impulsively flipped it over, searching for a head-shot of the author.

Not to be disappointed, she stared into gold-flecked brown eyes. Waist-length dreadlocks lent an exotic touch to an angular face so vulnerable that, though his lips were stretched into a smile, she literally felt his pain. Somewhere in the back of Marley's mind it registered that Jamal Ali's skin was the color of coffee with just the tiniest dab of cream added. How did she explain this instant connection? Why her heart actually skipped a beat? How could a man she'd never met touch her soul? Instinctively she was drawn to him, felt as if she'd known him a lifetime and in the most intimate way. She loved all that unruly hair.

"Can I help you find something?" A rich, masculine voice came from behind her.

Marley jumped. The ladder tilted precariously as she craned her neck in the direction of the inquiry.

"Oh. . . God! You startled me!" He had. The photo on the book's back cover had come alive.