A Sprint to His Heart
By Lyla Bardan
Genre: New Adult Romance
Bailey Meyers doesn’t have time for distractions, much less a boyfriend, so why does she agree to date the drop-dead sexy Fae artist who loves to watch her race? Because for once, she’d like to take a risk off the racecourse, even after her coach’s reminder of his no dating policy. A policy that puts her racing career in jeopardy when she’s kicked off the team, as if a concussion from a crash and an accusation of doping with dark Fae blood wasn’t enough.
She can’t stay away from the enchanting Piran of Sava…until she discovers he’s not who she thought he was. Can their love stay on course when Bailey joins a cycling team a thousand miles away and Piran is promised to a Fae princess?
“Just got back from Spain where I spent the last six weeks racing with the pros. I competed in the amateur men’s race this morning just for fun. Blew those puppies away.”
“Asshat,” I said under my breath. The conceit in his voice made me want to smother him with a pillow. I sure hadn’t missed seeing him on the Midwest racing circuit.
A volunteer handed me my registration packet, while Jose continued to brag to his teammates while they hung out with—or in Jose’s case, drooled over—the female cyclists. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Circling back to the parking lot, I noticed Kelsi talking with…no way.
The Guardian Fae.
Rarely had I’d been up close and personal with a Guardian. Although many of the more human-like dark Fae had joined our societies, the more dominant Guardians seemed to have a harder time integrating. Maybe because for millennia they’d held themselves in such high regard. Without our knowledge, they had intervened on our behalf whenever dark Fae stepped over the line. Something about a sense of honor and duty.
Kelsi waved me over. Well, I wasn’t about to ignore my own sister. Sucking in a breath, I walked my bike to her, removed my helmet, and hung it from my handlebars.
“Bailey, this is my friend, Piran of Sava. He’s a fellow student at the Chicago Art University.” She turned to him. “Piran, this is my sister, the soon-to-be professional bike racer.”
They knew each other. Of course. Resisting the urge to run and hide, I plastered a polite smile on my face.
Piran dropped his considerable height to one knee, and I resisted the urge to giggle. I’d never been completely comfortable with the Fae greeting custom. So chivalrous. He rose again, and I gazed into twinkling blue eyes. I couldn’t stop staring. Rumor had it the Guardian Fae could hypnotize with their stare, and I idly wondered if I’d suddenly start barking like a dog.
He leaned down toward me, the corner of his mouth rising slightly. “A dog? No. Perhaps a clucking chicken.”
His rich, warm voice highlighted his delicious Fae accent—an indescribable blend of eastern European and smooth French, with maybe a touch of Irish lilt. Unlike some people, I didn’t really mind the intrusion, but I diverted my thoughts before I inadvertently revealed how I’d love to hear that voice in different circumstances.
While in college, Lyla joined a sci-fi/fantasy acting group, where she and others made puppets and produced plays for fellow students. Her favorite part was not creating the overly detailed and ornate puppets of fairies, demons, and dragons, but writing romance bits into every script.
It wasn’t until years into an unfulfilling scientific research career that Lyla came back to her roots of writing. Reaching into her dreams and fantasies, she left the research behind and now stays busy writing from the comfort of her home office, overlooking her well-maintained fairy garden, fruit bearing trees, and a number of birdhouses. There she can relax and remember that it was two birds that originally sparked her interest in love stories just begging to be told.
Note: Bits of this fascinating biography (written by Lyla’s daughter) are actually true!
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I spent twelve years as an avian wildlife rehabilitator for our local wildlife sanctuary. Along with my husband and kids, our home was a haven to orphaned and injured wild birds. Two incubators for hatchlings, several smaller cages for nestlings, large cages for pre-fledglings learning to hop, and an outdoor screened aviary with natural branches so they could spread their wings and fly.
My specialty was insectivorous birds such as swallows, swifts, vireos, nuthatches, and woodpeckers. These birds eat a lot of insects. Every spring, we’d purchase thousands of mealworms of different sizes, waxworms, and fly larvae from an insect supply house. In the early years, we also raised crickets, but the noise and the escapees got to be too much, so we switched to canned crickets. Yes, you can buy canned cooked insects!
While exhilarating, life as a bird rehabber can be tiring and messy. Birds get up before dawn, and little ones are fed every twenty to forty minutes depending on age. And after every meal they expel what seems their entire meal in poop! With several birds of various ages, my days were non-stop feeding and cleaning. But the reward of releasing a healthy, strong, fully-fledged bird, whose life would have ended because a homeowner cut down a tree with a cavity of nestlings, made the sacrifices worthwhile.
But eventually, all good things must end. When my kids, er…fledged, I couldn’t imagine continuing without their immense help. My son was particularly gifted with feeding chimney swifts and my daughter could syringe-feed hatchlings in her sleep. Plus, I needed more time for other endeavors—such as writing! But I have many memories, videos, and pictures of a time in my life where I didn’t blink an eye harvesting flies from larva to feed barn swallows and I placed nestlings in my bra to keep them warm so I could watch my kid’s dance recital.