Home > Mad for a Mate (BeWere My Heart #3)

Mad for a Mate (BeWere My Heart #3)
Author: MaryJanice Davidson


Chapter 1

   Someone had dumped another body in the garden.

   Magnus Berne swallowed a sigh with his coffee, one of the things Americans did better than anyone else. Oh, aye, arguments could be made for café au lait and chicory and espresso, for café breve and affogato, for the long black and the flat white, but in terms of turning a bitter beverage into a lush dessert it was socially acceptable to gulp down at 8:00 a.m., no one beat the Yanks.

   Besides, it was too early for hard cider. He had today’s bottles all lined up in the icebox: Hoppet and Cran Dry from Thor’s Hard Cider.

   He trudged out the back door and through the yard, heading for the property line. His loathsome seasonal allergies had kicked in and the wind was going the wrong way, so he wasn’t getting much in the way of a scent, but he was betting this new body would be like the others. Limbs strewn about, a bad wig, or no wig, faceup, and looking at the sky with the frozen “look at this, aren’t I elegant?” expression of the store mannequin.

   Why someone kept pitching mannequins into his yard, he hadn’t a clue. Was it malice? Or affection, the way cats laid mice on pillows? Was it a game? Or a mistake? A courting ritual? A dare? An environmental protest? He knew he should be taking some sort of action, but it was such a weird, ridiculous problem. He had the vague hope it would resolve itself but didn’t especially care if it did.

   It took effort to care about much since Sue Smalls had been foully murdered.

   He tried to wrench his mind back to a relevant track—the dummy pileup—but it was hard to find the motivation to come up with a plan. Set up motion detectors? Stay up all night guarding the yard with a shotgun across his knees like a rancher worried about poachers? Let the bodies pile up into some sort of macabre structure, as opposed to hopping in the boat and lugging them to the dump?

   Was it a neighborhood thing? Specifically, a new-neighbor thing? A deeply fucked-up welcome wagon thing? A Stable thing? He didn’t know. He couldn’t know. They didn’t do this shite in Scotland. They did entirely different shite in Scotland.

   Regardless, it was past time he took steps. He might be too puzzled to come up with a strategy, but he could still do what anyone would when they discovered a body in their back yard: call an accountant.

   He blew his nose on a wad of Kleenex, stuffed them back in his robe pocket

   (fucking allergies)

   and then pulled his phone out as he reached the dummy, dumped on its front and abandoned like trash. Pale as a pearl, short, with slender limbs and shoulder-length dark-red hair so wet it looked like black cherry soda with a healthy shot of grenadine. He gently prodded a toe into her ribs, and nearly screamed when she flopped over on her back and her eyes popped open. Shrieking wasn’t remotely dignified, but damn.

   He dropped the phone. On her face.


   “You’re not a store mannequin!” he blurted, wondering how he could have missed something so patently obvious.

   Her rebuttal was swift: “Idiot!”

   Fucking allergies.



Chapter 2

   She clambered to her feet (nudely!) and slapped his hand away (also nudely) when he tried to help her up. “Jesus. Get one of the smaller phones, pal, that one felt like an Etch A Sketch when it nailed me on the forehead.”

   “I like the bigger screen,” he said, already shrugging out of his robe and doing his damnedest not to notice her sweet, plum-sized breasts. Her head came to his Adam’s apple; if he pulled her into his arms, she would fit perfectly.

   “So if someone asks you for a wake-up call, do you just whip your phone at their face?”

   “Almost never,” he replied deadpan.

   “Ha! Okay, that was—” Whack! “Stop trying to help me up. I don’t need your help and also, I’m up.”

   “This is amazing. You don’t have a bad wig. You’re not bald!”

   Given her expression, he could have been trying to hand her a pile of dead snakes instead of a robe. “Did you just tell me I’m not bald?”

   Magnus ground his teeth. He loathed the “did you just say something I definitely heard you say?” question, which wasn’t a question at all. Her American accent was nice, though. The midland patois always sounded friendly to him. “Are you all right? What are you doing here? Did the dummies foretell your coming?”

   “Dummies. Jesus.”

   “Did your boat sink? Or were you trying to get away from someone? Should I call nine-nine-nine?”

   “Knock yourself out, but I don’t think it’ll help. We don’t call nine-nine-nine in America, you British weirdo.”

   The naked mannequin thinks I’m the weirdo? “Scottish weirdo,” he corrected. “Would you like to come in for tea? Or coffee? I think the last owner left a bag of beans.”

   “Hot water run through old, abandoned beans does sound tempting.” Her pale brow furrowed. “What time is it? I didn’t get a chance to check your phone as it careened into my forehead.”

   “It’s seven thirty a.m.”

   “What? Did you just tell me it’s seven thirty?”

   “Yes,” he replied through gritted teeth. What came out was Yzz.

   “Shit on toast, I’m late!” She batted his robe-laden hand away again and dashed away like a pretty, profane White Rabbit.

   “Wait! Where are you going?” He had to raise his voice as she widened the distance between them. “I have a boat! You don’t have to swim away!”

   Nope. Gone. He had a last glimpse of a pert bottom before she splashed into the bay.

   His phone squawked at him. “—nus? Magnus? Hello? You okay, big guy?”

   In a few strokes, she was just a bobbing head, far out and getting farther. Reaching land meant a swim of about three kilometers; thank God it was a calm, sunny day. She’d be exhausted by the time she hit the shore. Especially if she’d swum round trip.

   His phone let out a demanding “Maaaaaaaaaagnus!”

   “A beautiful dummy just came to life and swam away,” he blurted.

   “Uh. What?”

   “What is happening?”

   “Excellent question.”

   “I don’t understand what’s going on.”

   “Me neither! Magnus, you called me.”

   “It was some sort of bizarre Alice-in-Wonderland situation,” he explained. “If Alice were naked. And a grown woman. And an utter nutter.”

   “Uh. That doesn’t sound—are you okay?”

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