Martin's a reknowned restauranteur with sandy blonde hair and green eyes that notice, perhaps, a little too much. He plays classical piano, loves to jump horses through his Irish fields, and ladies, he even owns a castle. Need protection? Look no further, he'd die for those he loves in a heartbeat. And--
Martin: Almost did too.
Martin, really, I wasn't done with introducing you.
Martin: Yeah, yeah. Tate's been working on my ego. Let's not revert, or there will be hell to pay. Get to the interview. (He winks, his smile devastatingly charming.)
Okay, okay! So tell these other gals -- who is Tate?
Martin: Tate is...my soul mate. Don't laugh, I know it sounds corny. But when we met several years ago, there was an instantaneous connection that couldn't be explained. If she had been single then, I'd have married her that first day. Honest!
So, you're old friends?
Martin looks at me like I've lost my marbles. "Uh... Oh! The interview. Right. They don't know."
Martin: She was my attorney's wife. We met when I stayed with them for a while in California. Tottally innocent, mind you!
Yes, I know, you're too noble to get caught up in an affair.
Martin: Damned tempting though. Anyway, hardest thing I did was leave without asking her to leave with me. Then a few weeks ago, she turned up in Ireland. Only... she looked nothing like herself. I mean nothing. Just her turquoise-rimmed eyes.
And things didn't turn out quite as expected right? You convinced this lady to go to dinner with you, never knowing what was about to happen.
Martin: Pretty much. Let's just say when I started to recognize she was hiding something, by then it was a little late to turn back. I couldn't have walked away.
But you tried.
Martin: Sheer moment of weakness. Stupid weakness. I wasn't in my head then.
What's your favorite thing about Tate?
Martin: One? You expect me to name just one? (He chews on this thoughtfully.) She's incredibly strong, but behind all that strength is a vulnerability that calls to me like a siren. And she makes me laugh. I don't know, Claire--she's just part of me. Always has been.
You brought it up, you almost did die. Is there anything you want to tell us about that?
Martin: Well...when I finally put all the pieces together and figured out someone wasn't just trying to intimidate her, but truly meant her harm, there was no thinking about it. I'd have done whatever I had to that day, and I did. It gave me perspective, I'd say, in hindsight. It's been a long time since I've been afraid. I'm not embarrassed to say I was then. But not for me. I was damned terrified for her and the idea of losing her.
You're so sweet. What do you hear from Felicia and Casey these days?
Martin: Casey is working on another book. Felicia? I don't really have cause to see her much. I think she's in New York still. (He shrugs.)
Well, Martin, hate to do this, but I've got to cut it short. Thanks for dropping in on my friends today.
Ladies, that's Martin. I hope you've enjoyed meeting him a little bit. To get a better idea about Tate, and the lengths he'll go to for her -- and she's a really fascinating woman, by the way -- check out The Heart's Stronghold. It's $2.99 on Kindle, Nook, or Kobo!