Beers, hens, and irishmen (warbler's point series)

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Beers, Hens and Irishmen

Book One of the Warbles Point Series

Meghan Quinn

 

Chapter 1

             Fiona woke up to a muscular arm draped across her stomach and an obnoxious pounding in her head. Flashes of the previous night swam around in her head as she tried to cope with what caused her such pain this morning. The grip around her back tightened as a giant man pulled her in closer. At that moment she realized she was in bed with her ex, Murphy Ryan.              

Groaning from the pain radiating through her brain, she tried to sit up to comprehend exactly what happened. She lifted Murph’s arm off of herbody as she attempted to sit up. She looked around her room and tried to focus on one solid thing, but the task at hand was proving to be difficult. Everything was blurry and it felt like the room was spinning one hundred miles per hour. Giving up on her investigation of last night she laid her head back down on her pillow and let the unfortunately gorgeous man envelope her into his embrace again.

The last thing she neededin her life right now was to be hooking up with Murphy once again. She blamed it on the booze…and her weak heart. The man was impossible to say no to. All he had to do was lay on his thick Irish brogue and she was putty in his hands. They ended their relationship a year ago due to the fact that they had absolutely nothing in common besides their Irish heritage, well and sex. Their entire two year relationship was just pure sex. They never really talked or got too intimate with each other on an emotional level. No they just had sex, whenever they could, wherever they could. Even though the sex was amazing, she wanted more in her life. She wanted to get out of her small Vermont town, she wanted to get away from her over-bearing family and she wanted to explore the world through the lens of her camera.

Leaving Warblers Point was pretty much an impossible feat. Her parents controlled every aspect of their children’s life and there was no way they would allow their children to live out of a twenty mile radiusof their little town. She grew up in Warblers Point, population one thousand. Mostly known for its ski resort, Warblers Peak, Fiona lived in a one season town populated by tourists during the winter and deserted by humans during the off-season.

It was difficult to maintain a love life in such a small town because everyone was in each other’s business. The dating pool was reduced to limited pickings since the only new people who came around stayed for a couple of weeks and then returned to their more lavish habitats. That was why she was lying in bed, once again with Murph, naked and with a pounding headache.

Images of the night before flashed through her head. Lots and lots of beer was consumed by her, followed by a game of darts against Murph where they placed a bet. That’s right, she lost and she was the prize. Why did she play him? She lost every time, the man could play with his eyes closed and still win.

She looked over at the man who consumed her life for two years. He was pretty much anything a girl could ask for: Irish accent, tall, muscular, brown hair and dark green eyes that penetrated your soul. Even though he was the epitome of any man her over-bearing mother could dream up for Fiona to marry, she just couldn’t let herself commit to a man she had no emotional connection with. The physical stuff was great, but how long could that really last? Two years…and then some, apparently.

She rolled to her side and reached for her robe. She felt the bed move on the other side. She looked over and saw the gorgeous man stretching, sheets nowhere to be found as her gaze zeroed in on his massive erection. Groaning again she wrapped the robe around her and got out of bed.

His voice startled her when he asked, “Where ya goin’ lassie?” Patting the bed he said, “Why don’t ya lay back down with me and participate in a wee bit of mornin’ lovin’.”

Rolling her eyes she responded, “Last night was a mistake Murph. You know we shouldn’t have done that.”

“Aw come on lassie, how much longer are ya goin’ to put off what’s goin’ on between us? We got something good.”

“Yea, and all it is, is sex.”

“Nothin’ wrong with that” he said with a sly grin. “Are ya going to let me wang down? It’s lookin’ for round five.”

              Round five? Ugh, she couldn’t believe she had sex with Murph four times last night. Was she some kind of sex-crazed animal? No, she just couldn’t behave herself around him, that was all. He was too tempting. She picked up his jeans and threw them at him.

             “Get dressed, I’ll go brew some coffee.”

             “You’re breakin’ me heart old girl.” He said, while cupping his chest with his hands.

             Striding out of her room as fast as she could before her body threw itself at him again, she shut the door and leaned against it. She hated that she was so affected by the guy. She wiped the stray hair that fell across her face and put it behind her ear. She synched her robe tighter and walked to her kitchen where she ran head on into another masculine chest.

             “Watch where ya going there lass.”

             Her body went instantly still as she came face to face, well face to chest with her second oldest brother Finn. All her brothers picked up their parents Irish charm, fitting in their own kind of Irish brogue when they got a chance. They always said it helped with the ladies. She agreed when she thought about Murph’s accent. She shook off those thoughts and brought her attention back to Finn. If he knew Murph was here he would never let her live it down. She needed to get him out of her apartment and fast.

             What was he doing here in the first place? Fiona and her three brothers owned an Irish pub, O’Leary’s, and above it were two apartments. Fiona lived in one and Finn lived in the other. Her oldest brother Liam lived with his wife and daughter Catherine, in a cottage not too far from their parents. Bradon, her third oldest brother, took up residence in one of the cabins on the property of their parents’ bed and breakfast, The Sleeping Potato.

             She looked up at her brother’s scruffy face and asked, “What are you doing here, Finn? Don’t you have a place of your own?”

             “Yes, I do but your oldest brother decided to occupy it last night, kicking me out of me own place.”

             “You know, there are no girls around here to pick up, you can drop the brogue.”

             “You’re just jealous you lack an Irish charm.”

             “I’m really not.” She said while blowing by him to the coffee machine. She was in desperate need for a pick me up as well as a massive amount of ibuprofen. She added, “Why did Liam kick you out?”

             Pulling up a stool at her kitchen bar he said, “He’s having problems with Neala. Apparently they have been fighting for quite some time and she kicked him out last night. He was on the phone all night talking to her and since he didn’t want me to hear their conversation he made me leave.”

             Fiona took in the information Finn delivered to her while she was making coffee and then stopped in mid scoop. How long had her brother been in her apartment? Did he hear her and Murph?  A wave of heat soared through her body at the thought of Finn hearing her have sex with Murph. She felt her temples begin to sweat. She poured the rest of the grounds in the machine and turned the machine on.

             She turned around to see her brother grinning. In an instant she knew, he knew. Murph decided on that moment to come strolling out of her bedroom wearing only his jeans, unbuttoned and a gigantic smile on his face.

             “Finn! What are ya doin’ here this fine mornin’?” Murph said while shaking Finn’s hand.

             “Murph, it’s good to see you. Always fancy running into you…especially at my sister’s place.”

             Fiona buried her head in the fridge to cool off her embarrassment. She hated how well her brothers and Murph got along. It was annoying actually. When her brothers first met Murph they instantly clicked and started planning out a wedding between Fiona and Murphy, so did her ma. Her brothers still try to drop hints to her about starting things back up with Murph but she never considered them... until last night apparently. Damn beer!

             She felt strong hands grasp her waist and pull her out of the fridge. Murph wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her in tight. She tried to free herself from his embrace but his grasp was so tight her attempt of freedom was pretty much impossible.

             “Tis little lady asked me to come on over for a wee bit of re-kindlin’ last night” Murph said while nuzzling his nose in her hair.

             She whacked his head away and tore herself from his grasp. “That is not what happened. I lost a bet and I never retract on my bets.”

             “Say what ya want Fiona me love but we both know I wasn’t pullin ye leg to come home with ya last night.”

             Finn was still sitting at the kitchen bar, shaking his head and laughing at her expense. Fiona walked by her brother and punched his arm sending him the message that she was not happy with his humor. She went to go into her bathroom to straighten herself up and get away from the testosterone in the room when Liam, her oldest brother barged through her apartment.

             All her brothers looked the same, tall with dark hair and scruffy faces. They all had a muscular build like their father. Liam and Bradon shared the same eye color as their da, a piercing ice blue color and her and Finn shared whiskey colored eyes, the same as their ma’s. Although, Finn deciphered himself from the group by wearing thick black rimmed glasses. Finn and Fiona were extremely close whereas Liam and Bradon shared a special bond, being the oldes and youngest of the family.

             Liam was the most responsible out of all of them, kind and extremely loyal so when he walked in her apartment and saw Murph, topless in her kitchen drinking coffee, his brotherly defenses went up.

             “What’s he doing here?” Liam asked while pointing at Murphy.

             Finn unfortunately answered for her. “Murph was just cashing in on a bet he made with our dear little sister last night.” Finn wiggled his eyebrows.

             Embarrassment crept through Finoa’s body. Why was her family so nosey and why were they in her apartment right now? Out of all mornings they decided to bombard her place, they had to choose the morning after she had sex with Murph to make themselves at home in her place. Giving up, she flopped herself on her couch.

             “Is that true Fiona? You willingly had Murphy over?”

             Fiona watched her brother Liam try to process the information as if it was the equation that cured cancer. He was a standup guy and she knew he was trying to be protective since breaking up with Murph wasn’t the easiest thing she ever did. She just nodded to his question and she saw him relax.

             “Well, then how are you Murph?” Liam asked patting the man Finoa was starting to really despise, on the back.

             “Great now” Murph said with a wink toward her direction. Finoa just rolled her eyes and pouted on the couch while her brothers joked around with Murphy, as if her and Murphy never broke up.

             “How’s the ski business fairing Murph? You getting ready for the season?” Finn asked.

             Murphy owned a ski shop on the main strip in Warblers point. He offered ski lessons and gear at a more discounted rate than the ski mountain, Warblers Peak. He made a very decent amount of money during the peak season as well as met a lot of woman to keep him warm on those cold winter nights which was another reason why Fiona broke off their relationship. She couldn’t stand the constant questioning if he was being loyal to her or not. Too many woman flaunted themselves at him and she couldn’t blame them, he was one unbearably sexy man.

             “Fairin’ just fine, thanks chap. Already have some lessons booked up for the season. It’s lookin’ promisin’. Are ya gearin’ up for the tourists?”

             “Of course, we just stocked up on the necessities…Guinness and Whiskey.”

             Laughing Murph said, “That’s all ya will find in me fridge.”

             The guys continued to laugh and tell stories about recent drunks they have seen around town when Bradon came barging in her apartment looking like he had one rough night. He was the ladies’ man of her three brothers and occasionally got himself into a bit of trouble when he was plastered. He was wearing sweat pants that were rolled to his knees, sandals, a plain white t-shirt and aviators. To Fiona he looked absolutely ridiculous but most likely to every other girl in town he was drop dead gorgeous.

             He spotted Murphy in the kitchen, screamed his name and flung his body into Murph’s arms. Murph and Bradon were always so overly affectionate with each other. Out of all her brothers, Bradon took her breakup with Murphy the hardest. Murphy and Bradon formed a bit of a bro-mance that frankly was scary sometimes.


Page 2

             “How’s me boy!” Bradon exclaimed. Fiona noticed whenever her brothers were around Murphy their Irish accent seemed to pick up all of a sudden, just adding to her annoyance.

             “Great, thanks. How ya been laddie? I haven’t seen ya busted face in a while.”

             “I know, I’ve been busy at The Sleeping Potato helping my parents, plus I met a girl that has been fantastic up until last night.”

             “Kelly, right?” Finn asked.

             “Yea, man she was so fine, huge tits and had the tightest arse I ever laid me eyes on.”

             “Uh hello, can you not see me over here?” Finoa asked, disgusted with her brothers and  their love for her ex.

             “I see you, but when has you being in a room ever stopped us from talking about our fine little lassies.”

             Never, she thought. Instead of saying anything she just waved her hand in dismissal at her brothers. Pigs.

             Bradon continued, “So I’ve been fooling around with Kelly for quite some time but we have always skipped over third base.”

             “Third base? That’s the best base.” Liam said.

             “It’s right up there with a homerun.” Finn agreed.

             “I know” replied Bradon. “I have been dying for her to get down there so last night we had half a bottle of whiskey which we all know makes the lassie’s feel frisky and she started un-doing my pants. Of course I instantly got hard as a board.” The guys start laughing as Bradon continued. “I threw my head back in pleasure when she released me from my pants and started stroking me.”

             “Jesus.” Fiona muttered under her breath. Not wanting to hear any of this but also slightly intrigued by what disgusted her brother so much. 

             “Would ya rather me talk about what we did last night, lass?” Murph asked. All her brothers looked at her in question.

             Fiona shot him a warning look and he threw his hands up in defense and told Bradon to continue.

             “Well, she closes in around me and I swear to you the way she was sucking me had me so damn hard, I thought I was going to lose it. I had no clue what she was doing differently than any other girl but I thought I was falling instantly in love with her.” Bradon was poking her brothers while he said, “ I had never had a blow job like that. Of course in a matter of minutes I exploded in her mouth, I couldn’t even warn her it happened so fast. When I finally gained the will to open my eyes, I looked down at her and that was when I realized our relationship was over.”

             “Why?” asked Liam. “I thought it was the best you ever had, what could possibly be so bad that you can’t see her anymore. So bad that it eclipses the best blow job you ever had?”

             “Did you cum on her face?” Murph asked.

             “Did she spit it back up on you?” Finn inquired.

             “Did she throw up?” Fiona threw in.

             The boys all looked at her with their eyebrows raised. She just shrugged off her comment. Bradon grabbed their attention and silenced them all. Silence descended and Fiona thought about how she hated she was intrigued to hear why the masterful blow job magician was let go.

             Bradon cleared his throat, put on a big show for them and said, “She looked up at me and said, ‘Kiss me, I’m Irish too’ and then proceeded to smile a very toothless grin. I looked to the side and her fucking teeth were on the table next to me, staring straight at me.”

             The whole room erupted with laughter as the guys proceeded to slap him on the back.

             “Oh you really know how to pick them Bradon boy” said Liam. “That made my crappy morning. I didn’t know you were into grannies.”

             “She is not a granny.” Bradon protested. “If you saw her you would have fell for her the same way. Back me up on this Finn. You met her.”

             “She’s hot. But didn’t you feel her teeth moving about when you were sucking face?”

             “Bradon, I didn’t think you would be the first one to get a granny blow out of all of us.” Liam added.

             Annoyed with the whole conversation now, Fiona got up and started ushering her brothers out of her apartment. She told them she would join them down at the bar in a little bit for some breakfast. She watched them all shake hands with Murphy and head out the door. When the door finally clicked shut she turned and saw Murphy eyeing her up and down.

             “You need to leave too.” Fiona said.

             He sauntered over to her in two steps and had her pinned against the door with his incredibly large and muscular body. Heat started to creep up her body with his closeness. She could smell the coffee on his breath and his very masculine cologne he wore every day that filled her senses with pleasure. Parts of her started to throb just with his closeness. Damn her treacherous body. She kept repeating in her head why they were not a good couple. It was all physical, there was absolutely no emotional connection and she wanted more. She needed that emotional connection.

             He had one hand against the door and his other hand was against her stomach thumbing the knot of her robe. He very lightly untied the knot and let the two sides fall open. She couldn’t even move, her brain and her heart were screaming no but her body stood completely still. She lost her voice, unable to vocalize her concerns about what was taking place.

             “Do you really want me to leave lass?”

             She nodded, still unable to talk. He didn’t accept that as his answer because he removed her robe from her shoulders letting it drop to the floor. Damn it. She kept telling herself to stop what was happening but once again her body rendered completely still. He moved his mouth across her collarbone, tracing kisses up her neck till he moved his lips across hers. She gulped trying to hold back the pleasure he was delivering. She didn’t want to give into him, but technically she was already was since she hadn’t stopped what was happening.

             “I’ve missed you lass. I want to see you again. Will ya give me another chance?” he asked while trailing kisses up and down her body.

             She felt herself go weak in the knees and as she was about to fall he scooped her up in his arms and brought her to her bed. He pulled his pants down, revealing the most impressive erection she had ever seen as he stretched his body across hers. He cupped her breast with his huge hand and kneaded it relentlessly.

             “Give me a chance lass, please let me prove to you the kind of man ya need.”

             Damn it all to hell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

             Booker watched as the third random girl he had over this week, gather her clothes, take one of his figurines off his shelves and leave. Whenever he had a girl over, they always seemed to grab something from his house, he figured it was some kind of constellation prize or memorabilia for sleeping with the great Booker James. He heard one of his buddies once call it a fuck-enier. Until then, he just assumed every girl he brought home was a kleptomaniac.

             He loved his job but his life was one big cluster fuck of people using and abusing his fame. After he won his first Oscar for directing his life changed from simple and easy to fast and chaotic. Everyone wanted a piece of him. Even when he just wanted to release some tension and try to get in a good fuck, girls stole from him.              

             Shaking his head at what his life had come to, he got out of bed and went to his kitchen for a drink. It was early in the morning but it was never too early for a martini. As he walked to his kitchen he stopped at the hall mirror and looked at his reflection. Before his Oscar win, it was pretty much impossible for him to score a date, not that he was a bad looking man. He just didn’t show off his features. He liked to be incognito, not much help there now. He stroked his long golden beard and ran a hand threw his long tousled locks. He never wore any styled clothes or bothered to do his hair, he usually wore a fisherman cap in place of hair gel. He worked out every day but never showed off his muscles like the other guys in Los Angeles.

             He continued toward the kitchen and made himself a drink pondering about what his life had become. He couldn’t go anywhere without someone recognizing him or the paparazzi hounding him. He didn’t understand the fascination. Was it because he lived like a hermit that he was like a science project to the masses? He had a great deal of success and was currently Hollywood’s sought after director but he thought people like the Beckhams or the Pitt-Jolie’s were more fascinating than him. Why couldn’t everyone just leave him the hell alone?

             It’s not like he was some sort of anti-social nerd. He actually got along with people and was out-going when he wanted to be but by living in Hollywood he couldn’t tell who was sincere and who was being fake just to get ahead. The whole city drove him crazy with the bleach blondes, fake tits and gold-digging hussies. Weren’t there any genuine people in the world anymore?

             He thought about how he just needed a break, a break from the fame-whoring world he lived in. He needed to go somewhere simple, where people were kind just to be kind and didn’t want anything from him but friendship. He grabbed his phone and dialed his sister’s number, the only true person he could count on. After a couple of rings, she answered.

             “Hello?” Blaire said in a groggy voice.

             “Blaire, sweetheart. I’m sorry, did I wake you?”

             “Uh, yeah. It’s six in the morning. What are you doing up?”

             He heard her rustling around most likely positioning her pillow so she could sit up in bed.

             “I couldn’t sleep. Another girl stole from me this morning.”

             “Ugh, Booker how many times have I told you not to bring girl’s back to your place, always go back to their place. What was it this time?”

             “Paper weight from my shelf. I think she thought it cost a lot but little does she know it was from Target.”

             “At least it wasn’t anything sentimental. So what’s going on? Why are you waking me up when you know I work twelve hour shifts at the hospital.”

             Booker felt bad for his sister. She was a nurse at the hospital in LA and was run ragged every day she went to work. He told her he had plenty of money to support the both of them but she said she could never leave her patients. Whenever he brought up the topic she just got mad at him and threatened to leave him, which he didn’t want because she was the one decent person in his life.

             “Sorry sweetie, I just wanted to run something by you and see what you thought.”

             “And this couldn’t wait?”

             “No, is there any chance you can come over later today so we can talk?”

             Booker could hear worry in her voice. “Is everything ok, Book?”

             “Everything is fine, I just need a change. You have today off, right?”

             “Yes, today and tomorrow.”

             “Great. Can you do me a favor before you come over?”

             “Sure what do you need?”

             “Can you do a little shopping for me?” He added quickly, “Before you say no, I don’t mean grocery shopping, I learned my lesson last time.”


Page 3

             Booker asked Blaire to do some grocery shopping for him when he was too lazy to do it himself, blaming the crowds and fame for not wanting to go out. She came to his house with bags full of peanut butter and jelly, bread and spam. Not the kind of high class cooking he was looking for.

             “What kind of shopping?” she asked hesitantly.

             “Clothes shopping. I’m working on a new image and I need you to style me up.”

             He heard her voice brighten. “You mean you are going to let me pick out clothes for you? No more linen pants, denim shirts and fisherman caps?”

             “Nope those days are over. I need to look like a completely different man, I need some style in my life. I’m going to text you my measurements. I need jeans, shoes shirts, suits and some warm apparel. The whole works. I plan on going on a trip to a colder climate.”

             “Alright, oh this is going to be fun.”

             “Hey listen, nothing too…flamboyant. You hear me?”

             “Oh damn, so no rhinestone studded leather jacket?”

             “No! Just use the card I gave you for emergencies. I don’t care about prices, just make me look good. Also, while you are out, treat yourself to a couple of new outfits as well.”

             “Booker you know I can’t do that.”

             “Yes you can, it’s my payment for your help…please Blaire.”

             “Alright. There is this new pair of boots I’ve been eyeing. Well I better get up and going. I will be by your place a little after noon. I think that will give me plenty of time.”

             “Great, thanks oh and Blaire, don’t forget your scissors.”

             “Scissors?” She asked.

             “Yea, your salon scissors. I’m finally cashing in on that haircut you have been begging me to get.”

             “Booker, this just might be the greatest day of my life. I will see you in a bit.”

             He hung up the phone and was already starting to feel better. Now he just had to figure out where to go. He pulled out his laptop and looked up a map of the United States. He had been almost everywhere in the country and traveled quite a bit around the world. He didn’t want to leave the U.S so he looked at the states he had yet to visit. Alabama and Mississippi were not an option. It was going to be winter soon and he wanted to experience a white Christmas. That left Vermont and New Hampshire.

             He studied both states and found that Vermont was the place to go for the whole winter experience. He wanted to be gone for at least a couple of months, that would help him detox. He wanted a simple town but with activities to keep him busy. He never skied which seemed to be extremely popular in the state of Vermont so he looked up the best ski mountains and came across a little mountain named Warblers Peak. The name caught his attention because when his mom was still alive she was a bird watcher and always talked about the yellow warbler, it’s bright coloring and beautiful singing.

             In honor of his mother he chose the town Warblers Point and signed up for ski lessons at Ryan’s Ski Shop, after reading great reviews about the owner’s instruction. Now all he needed was a place to stay. There weren’t many hotels in the area, he found there were only little bed and breakfasts or motels. He was not a motel kind of guy, especially for a couple of months. Maybe a bed and breakfast would be nice since they provided meals.

             A couple of hours later, he had a plane ticket purchased, rental car reserved and found a quaint little bed and breakfast that offered mini cabins to stay in that had a fridge and minimum kitchen supplies which he found accommodating so he didn’t have to eat out every meal. He didn’t realize what time it was until his sister came barging through the door carrying armfuls of shopping bags.

             Hopping off the sofa he ran to go help her out. “I guess when I tell you to shop, you really shop.”

             “I couldn’t help myself. You can return some stuff if you want but I really wanted to give you a change. I channeled Justin Timberlake when I was shopping.”

             Booker cringed at the mention of a boy band member. “Justin in the late 90’s or Justin now?”

             “What you don’t like a full on Denim Tuxedo?” she joked.

             “Not really.”

             “Don’t worry, Book. I got you some sexy stuff. But first things first. What kind of trim are we talking here?”

             “Everything.”

             Booker watched his sister’s mouth drop open in astonishment. “Everything? This really might be my best day. Ok, go grab a towel and wet your hair. We will start with that, then we are chopping that massive beard off. No one is even going to be able to recognize you.”

             He smiled at his sister. “That’s the plan.”

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Finn cooked up some scrambled eggs, sausage and roasted some potatoes for breakfast. He made a little extra in case Murphy was staying for breakfast. He shook his head in amusement thinking about the predicament his sister put herself in. She could never resist that man and he couldn’t blame her. Finn and his brothers all had a man crush on Murphy, it was hard not to the guy was so damn charming. When Murphy and Fiona broke up, their parents were devastated because they would want nothing more than their only daughter to marry a true Irishman. FInn and his brothers were upset because they grew awfully close with the man. He hoped Fiona knew what she was exposing herself too by sleeping with Murphy again. If she wasn’t careful she was going to get everyone’s hopes up, even poor Bradon’s.

             Finally, Fiona and Murphy came down from the apartment, just in time to break into the hot breakfast he prepared for everyone. Bradon set up a table for all of them while Liam went over expenses and bills for the pub.

             “Ah, you decided to finally grace us with your presence.” Finn said with a grin.

             “Shut up” Fiona said with a go-to-hell stare.

             “Well, this looks mighty delicious, chap.” Murphy added. “Thanks for having me, tis morning.”

             “Anytime” chimed in Bradon as he sat next to Murphy. Finn laughed to himself. Out of all the boys, Bradon was the closest to Murphy and tried to keep his loyalty to Fiona when they broke up but everyone knew it was hard on him.

             “So what ya got goin’ on?” asked Murphy. “All-Hallows eve is comin’ up and I know ye O’Leary’s always have something fun planned.”

             Finn finished chewing his eggs, passed some juice over to Fiona and said, “We actually have a costume party planned as well as our traditional apple peel game for the ladies led by our one and only Fiona and then Liam has been heading up a trivia game, men versus women, banshees versus pookas.”

             “Aye, count me in. Sounds like it will be a merry old time.”

             “What were you planning on dressing as?” Finn asked Murphy.

             Finn watched his sister squirm in her seat, fidgeting with anything she could get her hands on. He could tell she was extremely uncomfortable and Murphy was not making it any easier on her. Finn found that quite amusing.

             Murphy put his arm around Fiona and said, “It’s up to tis old girl.”

             Bradon made kissing faces toward them and said, “Ooooo, couples costumes. How cute Fiona.”

             Fiona glared at Bradon, whispering death threats with her eyes. “We are not doing couples costumes.”

             “Aye, lassie we are. I’ve already got it planned. Ya can pick your costume up at the shop.”

             “Is that so? And what do you have planned for us?” Fiona asked sarcastically.

             Finn was glad Murphy was back in their lives because he really kept Fiona on her toes. He watched the exchange between them in delight. A part of him felt a little empty that he did not have anybody to spar with. Then again, did he really want to make a commitment to anyone? Liam seemed to be having a hard time making his marriage work. Bradon was a little too slutty for Finn’s liking. Something in between he thought would be nice but once again living in Warblers Point limited the options of the female selection. Maybe he will meet someone at the Halloween party, he thought.

             “That’s for me to know and for ya to find out.” Murphy got out of his chair, kissed Fiona on the head and thanked the guys for breakfast. Finn watched his sister watch Murphy exit the pub and then exhale a very long breath.

             “You got it bad, sis.” Finn said.

             “No I don’t” she said with a glare. “Ugh, why did I do that last night.” She put her head in her hands that rested on the table. “I’m so stupid. I really don’t want to start anything with him. He is not what I need.”

             “What’s there to need he doesn’t have.” Bradon advocated. “He’s handsome, Irish, a proprietor, and we all love him.”

             “Then why don’t you marry him?” Fiona lashed out and left, slamming her chair into the table. Finn’s brothers looked at him confused. He just waved them off and went after her.

             He caught up to her when she was in the stairway headed up to their apartments.

             “Fiona, wait!”

             She turned around to face him with tears in her eyes. He wrapped his arms around her, rubbing her back trying to sooth her.

             “What’s going on sis?”

             “I can’t go through another relationship with that man. The first one was hard enough, I couldn’t do it again.”

             “I know, I know. But maybe this time it will last. He seems like he is really interested.”

             “All he wants is sex.”

             Thinking about his little sister having a sex craved relationship made him cringe. Hearing them last night was almost deafening. He was closest with Fiona and knew the main reason she broke it off with Murphy was because they didn’t have an emotional connection and that was important to her.

             “Maybe not this time. Maybe you can play it by ear and see what happens. Just be very cautious, don’t throw your heart in it quite yet.”

             “It’s hard not to. You’ve seen the work he does. He can charm the pants off da and that is not an easy feat.”

             Finn nodded his head in agreement thinking about the first time Fiona brought Murphy to a family function. Their da instantly took a liking to him and treated him just like the other O’Leary boys.

Finn led her back up to her apartment. Pushing the dooropen, he led her to her couch and made her sit down.

             “Listen, right now, take it one day at a time. Give him a chance, you never know something great might come of it.”

             “One day at a time? I can do that.” She blew out another breath. “Thanks Finn.”

             “Anytime lass. So what did he say you two were going to be for All-Hallows Eve? I drifted off when you two were talking about it.”

             She rolled her eyes and said, “A Yager-bomb.”

             Laughing Finn replied, “A Yager-bomb? I can’t wait to see what he has planned.”             

             “Some short number for me, I’m sure. What are you three boys going to be?”

              “Bradon came up with it. How did he put it? Um sexy Alvin and the chipmunks. Guess who gets to be Theadore?”

             Fiona busted out laughing, a little too hard for his liking. When Bradon came up with the idea, Liam and Finn just laughed at him but as he explained the costumes it didn’t seem like too bad of an idea. They got to wear tight shirts to show off their muscles and what girl didn’t like a guy wearing chipmunk ears.

             “Please tell me you are wearing a fat suit.” Fiona asked still in hysterics.

             “Very funny.” Finn got up and slammed a pillow down on his giggling sister and left her to herself. He didn’t have to put up with her ridicule.


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Chapter 3

 

              Booker stepped off the little puddle jumper he took to the small airport located near Warblers Point. He breathed in the fresh, crisp, fall air which was completely different than the smog infested air back in LA. He felt like an entirely different person. His face felt completely naked and his hair was much lighter, he didn’t feel like his head was being weighted down. Booker had to give credit to Blaire for her shopping and haircut. He looked like one of the actors that could star in his movie, rather than the frumpy director.

             He found the jeans she bought him a little tight in the legs but comfortable, the shirts also tailored but he still had room to maneuver and the bomber jacket she got him was his favorite article of clothing. He grabbed his suitcases that were placed under the plane and went to go pick up his rental car.

             The people seemed much nicer in Vermont than LA, more accommodating. He requested an SUV since he never drove in the snow before and ended up with a nice Jeep Grand Cherokee. After gathering all the papers he needed and inspecting the car, he was on his way. He plugged the address in for the bed and breakfast he was staying at in the GPS, thankfully he requested one for the car.

             Even though he arrived at the end of the fall foliage spectacular, he still found the scenery and foliage breath taking. All different hues of red, orange and yellow painted the landscape as he drove down the country roads. He passed a sign that said “Welcome to Warblers Point” and was impressed with the little town. It was a strip of road that gradually went up a hill with little antique stores, restaurants and ski shops occupying either side of the road. He passed the general store which looked like something out of a western movie and a very intriguing Irish pub. He made a mental note to check out the establishment later since it seemed like the only bar on the strip.

             He made a quick turn off the main street that eventually led up to Warblers Peak and found the bed and breakfast tucked away in the woods. It was a quaint deep green colonial style house with rocking chairs on a white wrap around porch where an Irish flag flew. Well that could explain the name The Sleeping Potato he thought.

             Grabbing his bags and locking up his car, he headed for the front door. He assumed the cabins were in the back, behind the house. As he walked in what almost seemed like a mini mansion, the atmosphere made him think of his grandparent’s house. It was cozy with a fire place in the living room in full force, quilts and handmade specialties scattered amongst the décor and an aroma that smelled like fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

             A little, red headed lady with the smoothest whiskey colored eyes he had ever seen appeared at the entry way. She was wearing what looked like a dress form the 1900s and a white frill apron over it.

             “Well, come on in laddie and have ya self a seat. My goodness ya must be chilled to the bone. Here, here sit next to the fire to warm ya up.”

             He wasn’t too cold actually, but he wasn’t about to argue with the lady, she seemed like a fiery little red head that could hold her own if put to the test.

             “Thank you.” He said politely as she shoved a cup of hot chocolate in his hand as well as three fresh baked cookies on a plate.

             “There ya go laddie, just sit back and enjoy. Tis a cold one out today. I’m Mary Margaret O’Leary, I run tis here establishment with my husband Carlin who is out and about toolin’ around with something. That man won’t stop fiddlin with things’. Now you must be Booker?”

             “That’s correct ma’am.”

             “Oh laddie no need to call me ma’am, Mary Margaret is to me likin’. Now, did I say your name right? Book-er?

             “That’s correct.” He chuckled to himself from her attempt at pronunciation.

             He watched her ponder his name and try to understand it. “Well, if it’s not Irish, it’s hard for me to understand.” She said with a chuckle. “Now, ya will be staying with us for quite some time. The longest stay a guest has ever had in tease parts.”

             He just nodded, not wanting to give a reason. He didn’t want people sniffing around his personal life too much. He just wanted to get away without being recognized, which so far was working out great. Not one person had recognized him. He didn’t want to change his name because lying wasn’t one of his favorite things and he was afraid he would slip up and not recognize his fake name. So instead of going by Booker James, his director name, he went by Booker Hall his given name. Well his full name was Booker James Hall, so he technically wasn’t lying to anyone, just cutting out certain parts of his name.

             Topping off the hot chocolate and last cookie he set the plate and the cup down and handed her his credit card for payment.

             “We reserved the nicest cabin for ya since ya will be stayin’ for such a long duration with us. It has one bedroom with a pull out sofa, in case ya have any guests, a fire place in the living room, a wee little kitchenette and bathroom. Linens and towels are provided as well as a daily cleaning service. If ya wish to not have ya room cleaned then just put the little pass on the door knob when ya leave so we don’t bother ya. We serve breakfast every morning from six to nine and here is a calendar of our dinner schedule. If ya’re ever hungry let us know and we will fix ya something up right nice. Any questions?”

             Booker shook his head as he tried to remember the information overload she just delivered. She gathered his suitcases and said, “Follow me, laddie.”

             Feeling bad he tried to grab the suitcases since she was clearly struggling with them but she insisted on carrying them herself.

             “It’s part of the full service we provide laddie.” She said in a strangled voice.

             “I appreciate the service, but please let me help you. I over packed and don’t want you to hurt yourself.”

             She stopped, looked him up and down and said, “Well ya’re a strappin’ young lad, I suppose you could carry this larger one.”

             After taking the suitcase from her that nearly broke her back, he followed her to a little green cabin with black trim that looked across a pond. He instantly fell in love when she led him in. There was a sliding glass door that led out to the pond and gave a picture perfect view. The cabin was quite small but would be perfect for what he needed. He started to think that taking this little trip to Warblers Point was one of the best decisions he ever made.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

Fiona was three hours into her shift at the pub and was already tired and not in the mood to deal with the usual drunks. She adored working at the pub with her brothers, but she was itching for more out of her life. She really wished she could travel the world and take pictures, refine her photography skills. The only scenery she was able to take pictures of was the Vermont foliage which actually helped her sell a couple of photos to local travel agencies and magazines, but it wasn’t enough for her. She wanted more.

Fiona was in charge of bartending and waiting tables, she loved interacting with the local crowd. Liam was the chef of the bunch, thanks to spending long days in the kitchen with their ma and Finn dabbled in cooking, serving and bartending. He was the Jack of all Trades. Bradon helped out occasionally when he could free himself from the bed and breakfast. Being the youngest boy he got sucked into helping their da with daily duties around the bed and breakfast. Bradon didn’t mind much because when their parents passed, he hoped to take over the business.

Fiona had tables tonight, while Finn was bartending and like always Liam was in the kitchen. They had their regulars mixed in with a few tourists who must be in town for the holiday weekend.Warblers Point put on an exciting Halloween weekend, full of hay rides, haunted houses and parties. The biggest party was at their pub of course. It got to the point where they had to start handing out tickets to be allowed in because it became too crowded over the years. They only had a few tickets left so they were looking at a full house this Saturday night.

Finn tapped her shoulder and pointed to a guy who just sat down in a booth next to her favorite stain glass window of a Celtic cross. The bar was simply decorated. They had a few stain glass windows in the front, deep mahogany woodwork with Irish green walls and twinkle lights lining the ceiling. They had booths set up along the walls and bar height tables in the middle of the floor. Their bar was a huge wrap around bar that spanned the establishment with liquor lined up behind, separated by type. On the two big walls in the back of the pub were photographic murals she took of some sheep in meadowlands. Everyone always raved about the Irish atmosphere they bestowed upon their pub, they were all very proud of what they accomplished together.

She walked over to the man in the booth and as she got closer she noticed her body heat started to rise. He was one gorgeous man. He filled the booth with his height and strong build, not too muscular, just right. He had short blonde hair, styled in a messy but perfected way and he had piercing blue eyes that shot right through her soul. She turned off her libido so she could focus and not embarrass herself.

“Hello, welcome to O’Leary’s, can I get you a drink?”

“Uh, yea.” He said while looking at a menu. “Can I get a martini, stirred please?”

Fiona cringed at the order because she knew exactly what was going to happen when she put the order in. Maybe she should just make it herself, to spare the man embarrassment.

              She was about to turn around when he said, “Your eyes, they are impeccable.”

             Impeccable? Was he serious? She had plain old brown eyes, thanks to her ma. Her and Finn both were stuck with brown eyes whereas Liam and Bradon lucked out with their da’s bright blue eyes.

             “They are just brown, but thanks.”

             She went to run his order when he placed his hand on her arm and said, “No they’re not, they’re the color of whiskey with gold flecks.” He studied her a little longer and said, “Are you related to the owners of The Sleeping Potato?’

             Shocked that he made the connection she said, “Yes, they are my parents.”

             “I knew it.” He slapped the table with his palm. “You look just like your mother, minus the white ruffle apron.” He smiled an incredibly gorgeous smile at her.

             All of a sudden feeling shy, she replied, “Yea, I get that a lot. My hair is a little darker than hers though.” Fiona refrained from fidgeting in place.

             He just sat there and studied her. She was starting to feel uncomfortable so she told him she would get his drink and be right back for his order.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Booker felt like an idiot for just staring at the waitress but he couldn’t help himself, she was breathtaking. She was nothing like the blonde bimbos back home, she was pure and natural. She had the creamiest white skin, not fake tan leather skin and her hair was a beautiful auburn color and those eyes mesmerized him. He couldn’t look away, they spoke to him. She was shorter than normal girls, but then again she wasn’t wearing heels like all the other girls he had been with.

             He watched her interact with the bar tender and wondered if they were related, they looked like each other and had a sibling connection about them. Remembering she was going to come back to take his order, he tore his eyes off her and looked at his menu. The wording was something he was not used to, all Irish food. Thankfully there were descriptions that accompanied the odd names. Deciding on a traditional fish and chips meal, he was just about to put the menu down when from the corner of his eye he saw the bartender get on top of the bar and start shaking a bell that was hanging from the wall.

             “Attention all ya buckled block heads, we have a Sheila in the house. That’s right lads and lassies, we have a certified Sheila amongst us.”


Page 5

             Looking around the pub, Booker felt incredibly confused. The bar patrons hooted and hollered. Booker scanned the crowd and looked for someone who might resemble a Sheila, whatever that was. When he was scanning the crowd he made eye contact with his waitress and saw sympathy in her eyes and that’s when he realized, he must be the Sheila.

             “Where?” a drunk man shouted.

             “What did he order?” another one added.

             “Tis here Sheila, is a pretty one folks. He ordered an extremely pretty drink to match his Sheila appearance. So he only deserves the prettiest of chapeaus, don’t you all agree?”

             The pub erupted with agreement. The bar tender went under the bar and pulled out a very flamboyant bonnet, with pink feathers coming off the side and glitter encrusted on the fabric. The bar tender walked around the room and then stopped right in front of him, placing the bonnet on Booker’s head.

             “Tis, young Lad ordered a Martini.” The pub booed. “What do we say to that?”

             The pub erupted in unison saying, “Don’t be a Sheila, order a brew!”

             Booker just nodded his head in agreement and lifted the bonnet out of his eye sight. Looking at the bartender he said, “I will take a Guinness.”

             The bartender slapped him on the back and said, “That a boy.” He shook his hand and went back to his duties, filling humans with alcoholic content.

             The waitress came back with his Guinness and placed it in front of him on a small white napkin.

             “You could have warned me, you know.” He said with a smile.

             “And where’s the fun in that?”

             “That your brother?” He nodded toward the bartender.

             “Yea, that’s Finn. He loves pulling people’s legs.”

             “He does a good job at it. So how do I look?” He fiddled with the bonnet on his head.

             “Pink is very becoming of you.”

             He liked the twinkle he saw in her eye when she was joking around with him. She seemed serious at first when she came up to his table but he could tell she had a light spirit about her, a free spirit. He found it very attractive, he found her very attractive.

             “Well thank you.” He held out his hand. “Booker Hall.”

             She took it, sending waves of pleasure up his arm. Her hand was so small in his, but soft and inviting. Good God, he needed to control himself, it was just a hand!

             “Fiona O’Leary. Nice to meet you.”

             “Same to you. Fiona is a beautiful name.”

             “Thank you, Irish of course.” Pausing for a second she said, “What can I get you?”

             “I think I will have the fish and chips.”

             “Good choice. I will put that in for you, in the meantime enjoy the atmosphere.”

             He couldn’t help himself, he had to ask. “Hey, do you go on a break soon?”

             She eyed him suspiciously and said, “I have a fifteen minute one coming up.”

             “Would you mind sitting with me? I will share my food.” He tried to give his most devilish grin. He really wanted to spend some more time getting to know this girl. She was very intriguing, well and gorgeous.

             “I don’t know if that’s a good idea.”

             Slightly upset he was about to say that’s ok when she added, “But you are here by yourself and what kind of host would I be if I let you sit all alone?”

             He felt his smile stretch from cheek to cheek. “Fantastic.”

 

                                                                                    ***

             

              What the hell was she thinking? She chastised herself when she was in the kitchen giving Liam the order. She couldn’t help herself, he had bright blue puppy dog eyes that called out to her and by God he was handsome, almost pretty, which startled her. She never was attracted to pretty boys, always the ruggedly handsome type like Murphy. Ugh, Murphy. What was she doing talking to this random guy when she should be focusing on her relationship with Murphy? But it’s not like they were completely exclusive or really talked about their relationship. No they just had sex, like always. So it was ok to talk to a random stranger. It’s not like she was sleeping with him or anything, no she was just being a polite hostess.

             She waited in the kitchen while Liam put together Booker’s meal. What kind of name was Booker anyway? Definitely not Irish. She giggled over the fact of what her parents would say if she brought home a man named Booker. She could see the quizzical look in her ma’s eyes now.That was crazy thinking thought because it wasn’t like she would bring him home anyway, she was getting way ahead of herself. If only he wasn’t so damn charming and good looking. He even looked good in that stupid bonnet Finn made him wear. Damn good bone structure, blonde hair and blue eyes.

             Liam put Booker’s plate under the warmer and she told him she was taking a break, she already informed Finn. She grabbed a water for herself, she didn’t like drinking on the job and headed for Booker’s table. He finally took the bonnet off and had it sitting next to him in the booth. He looked up, found her eyes and smiled. Her insides melted as if she just met her high school crush for the first time. This was not a good idea.

             “Here you are, careful its hot.” She placed the plate in front of Booker and took the seat from across him.

             “Thanks. I don’t want to be called a Sheila again or anything so is it alright to use ketchup?”

             Chuckling, she nodded. He was too cute for his own good.

             “So where are you from?” she asked.

             She saw a moment of weakness slip past his put together exterior but it was gone in a flash. He looked up at her, smiled with that heart breaking grin and said, “California, what about you?”

             “I’m jealous. I have always wanted to go there. Born and raised right her in Warblers Point.”

             “A native, huh? Well Vermont has done you well.” He said looking her up and down.

             Feeling uncomfortable from his gaze, she tried to change the subject but he beat her to it. “California is beautiful, but expensive as hell to live in. This is my first time to Vermont, I like it a lot.”

             “You came a week or two late, you missed all the fall foliage.”

             “So I heard.” He said, while taking a bite of a fry. She helped herself and grabbed a fry off his plate causing him to flash that sexy grin of his again. “So tell me, where have you been if you haven’t been to California?”

             He was going to think she was a total loser, but he was a stranger so in reality it probably didn’t matter what he thought since he would be leaving in a week or two anyway.

             “I really haven’t ventured out of Vermont. I have been to New York briefly and New Hampshire once but that’s about it.”             

             She saw his jaw drop in surprise but he quickly retracted it. Heat flushed her face and she felt embarrassed. She always wanted to travel but growing up her parents didn’t have the means for it and now she ran a business with her brothers that barely gave her time to do anything.

             He cleared his throat, took a sip of his beer and said, “Well, we will have to change that won’t we?”

             We? Alright, this was getting a little strange. Her break was about over anyway, time to say her good byes.

             She went to get up when he put his hand on her arm. “I didn’t upset you, did I?”

             She just shook her head in embarrassment. “What is it?” he asked.

             She let out a long breath of air. “You are going to think I’m some country bumpkin, which I guess I am but I just never had the means to travel even though it’s my dream to travel around the world and photograph my adventures. I love photography and would love for it to be my job but it’s just not practical. Anyway, it will never happen. Maybe I will go to a place here and there but being a photographer for a living is a pipe dream.” She shook her head. “That’s too much information, sorry.” She got up and brushed off her pants. “The meal’s on the house. Come back again.”

             She got out of his booth and turned toward the bar but was grabbed by the shoulder and turned around. She looked straight up into Booker’s caring and kind eyes. She almost lost it. Why was she so emotional right now?

             “Fiona, can I please see you again?”

             Uh, oh. This was exactly what she didn’t need right now. Things were already complicated with Murphy and the last thing she needed was to fall for some tourist who was going to leave in a couple of weeks because she could see herself falling for Booker, falling for him hard.

             “I don’t think that’s a good idea Booker. You won’t be here very long.”

             “That’s not true, I’m here for a couple of months and I don’t know anyone. Please, just as friends. When do you get off tonight?”

             She thought about his offer. Just friends? She could do that, who didn’t want to be friends with an extremely attractive man? Something in the back of her mind was telling her to walk away but she turned that feeling off and agreed to meet up with him after her shift. That would give her time to prepare herself, pull herself together and be a good friend. A neighbor, a helpful hand to a new person in town, that’s all it was.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Finn watched Fiona carefully from the bar when she was talking to the Sheila of the night. The guy looked like trouble and he didn’t like it. He was too good looking, like Hollywood good looking and he didn’t want his sister falling for a guy that would only be in town for a couple of weeks and then leave her with a broken heart. No he needed to make sure she concentrated on tying things together with Murphy.

             He went into the kitchen where Liam was slaving over a potato stew. The smells permeated his senses and made his stomach growl with need. Liam was always the better chef out of the two of them. He had their ma’s talents.

             “Damn, that smells good.”

             Startled, Liam turned around and said, “You scared me. Thanks.” Liam adjusted his apron and regained his composure. “How’s it going out there tonight?”

             “Things are winding down. Our sister made herself a friend.”

             Liam turned around wiping his hands on a dish towel and said, “What kind of friend?”

             “A male friend.”

             Liam quirked an eyebrow. “I don’t like the sounds of that. Who is he?” Liam poked his head out the swinging door trying to get a glimpse of the new guy.

             “He was the Sheila.”

             “No shit. Has our sister completely gone bollocks? What about Murphy?”

             “I don’t know, but I don’t trust the guy. He’s too good looking.”

             Liam continued to check the man out and nodded in agreement. “He is defiantly too good looking. I mean we are good looking men, but he is like a model. We don’t get many of them in these parts.”

             “Aye. I think we need to keep an eye on him.”

             “Agreed, tell Bradon. With our luck, he will be staying at The Sleeping Potato.”

             “That would be convenient. Let’s not let Fiona know our feelings about him because she will just fight us tooth and nail. I say we keep our distance but do some background work. There just is something about him I don’t trust. I can’t put my finger on it.”

             “I think it’s his clothes, fancy shit that lad is wearing.”

             “Too fancy.” Changing the subject Finn asked, “How’s Neala? Should I expect another sleepover tonight?”


Page 6

             Liam shook his head. “No, we didn’t completely work out our problems but I can’t stay away from her for that long. I love her, we just had a disagreement .”

             “About what?”

             “She doesn’t want any more kids and I do.”

             “But she’s Irish catholic. How could she not want more kids?”

             “Beats the hell out of me. Something about being her own woman and wanting to be a writer. She said she needs time to herself to write, not chasing around kids and changing dirty diapers.”

             Finn tasted the stew Liam was slaving over put quickly put the spoon down because the moment the stew his mouth it burnt the hell out of his tongue. Liam chuckled and Finn continued their conversation. “Maybe let her pursue her writing for a while and then offer up the idea of kids again.”

             “I thought about that.” Liam pushed his hand through his hair. “But I’m not getting any younger. I don’t want to be sixty when my kids are graduating from high school, you know?”

             “Don’t you mean eighty. Your, what? Fifty now?” Finn enjoyed making fun of Liam’s age since he was the oldest out of the four of them. Mid thirties wasn’t old but Finn never let Liam forget he was the oldest.

             “Fuck off.” Liam said while flicking a towel at Finn’s leg. Finn grabbed the towel at the right time and returned the snap of the towel on Liam’s arm.

             “Son of a bitch.” Liam screamed. That did it, Liam ripped the towel from Finn’s hands and pulled him into a headlock while putting his leg behind Finn’s causing him to fall backward. Liam landed on top of Finn causing all of the air to exit his lungs. They wrestled around on the ground throwing in cheap shots to the ribs when they got a chance. They heard the swing of the kitchen door and the tapping of a foot on the floor.

             “You two are idiots.”

             Fiona stood above them with a disgusted look on her face and her arms folded across her body.

             “When you two are done being Neanderthals, you can close up? Our last patron left and I finished cleaning up the tables a few minutes ago. Finn, run up the register and Liam clean up the kitchen. I will see you two tomorrow.”

             Finn and Liam looked at each other confused. “Who put you in charge?” asked Liam.

             “Someone has to be while you two are acting like morons rolling around on the floor. Now I’m meeting someone, I will see you later.”

             With that announcement they both sprang off the floor and followed her out of the kitchen into the dining area where she grabbed her coat and scarf. There was a car outside the pub with its lights on, idling. Most likely the Sheila.

             “Where are you going?” Asked Finn.

             “None of your business. Get to work or you will be here all night.”

             “When will you be home.”

             She scowled at both of them and then left the pub without saying a word. Damn.

             “She is with the Sheila.” Exclaimed Finn while thrusting his arm in the air.

             Liam chuckled and said, “We better watch out for her, I can see her getting herself into some trouble.”

             Finn and Liam finished cleaning up the pub and packed it up for the night. As he ran the register he was thankful for another successful night. Their business was really starting to boom and with the upcoming Halloween weekend, things were going to start to look even better. Maybe they would be able to hire someone else so he could take that much needed vacation. Possibly meet a gorgeous blonde on a beach somewhere and roll around naked in the sand. A man could dream.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Booker waited in his car for a what seemed like hours. He started to get a little nervous that Fiona might have changed her mind until he saw her pop out of the pub door wearing a bright blue wool coat with attached hood, a yellow scarf and a cute yellow knitted hat that hung off the back of her head. He felt himself starting to lose control again and he needed to reign himself back in.

             He had the heater on blast so when she got in he watched her sink into the heat of the car.

             “It feels so good in here. Even though I have lived here all my life I will never get used to the cold. I can’t imagine how you’re fairing.”

             He looked into her eyes and said, “I’m fairing quite well right now actually.”

             He watched a blush creep over her face before she turned away to grab her seat belt. “Where to?” He asked.

             “Stop over at the gas station first and then I will tell you where to go.”

             Intrigued, he drove in the direction of the gas station, she got out and was back in a matter of minutes carrying a bag and two cups of hot liquid.

             “Alright lets go.”

             She lead him through some back roads until they came up to a parking area that looked over a pond, the pond that was the backyard to the cabin he was staying at. She got out of the car, so instinctively he followed her. There was an old picnic table right next to the pond that she sat on top of. When he sat down next to her she handed him a cup of what smelled like cider and then opened up the beg which carried two donuts.

             She handed him one and said, “Here, every person who comes to Vermont in the fall must have hot cider and cider donuts.”

             He smiled and took the donut. The cider was a little too hot still but the donut was delicious. They ate in silence as they watched the fog roll off the crest of the pond. The moon bounced off the ponds reflection producing enough light where he could see her facial features and beautiful eyes.

             She broke the silence. “This is one of my favorite places to go. My parents bed and breakfast is on the other side of the pond and when I was young I would walk over here to fish. I would get the most bites here. My da built this picnic table for me so I had somewhere to eat my lunch and put my tackle box.”

             The thought of a little bright eyed Fiona carrying a tackle box and fishing rod around the pond made his heart melt instantly. What a simple life she had. He was envious. She grew up in the country enjoying the land God created and he lived in a city full of smog and practically impossible standards to live up to.

             “I can see why this is your favorite place, it’s so beautiful and serene. I envy you. This was your backyard. I can see why you want to travel and capture such perfection in your lenses. How could you not, when your back yard looks like this. My backyard was the size of a hallway. Our neighbors were so close we could pretty much pass soap to each other through the window while we were showering?”

             She shoved him with her shoulder. “That’s not true.”

             “Pretty close to the truth. Look at this though” He spread his arms out gesturing to the landscape sitting in front of him. “God you were lucky.”

             “I guess so.” She said sheepishly while taking another sip of her cider.

             Silence passed between them. He wanted to know more about her, ask about her childhood, find out all her likes and dislikes but he didn’t want to press too hard. She barely agreed with seeing him tonight.

             She startled him when she asked, “Why are you here, Booker?”

             The million dollar question, he decided to be honest with her. “Running away.”

             “From what?”

             “Life.” He took another sip of his cider and sighed. “It’s complicated.”

             “I’m a good listener.” She placed her glove covered hand on his.

             Looking down at her hand connecting with his and then back up at her eyes he had an urge to kiss her. It was a powerful urge that almost over took his body but he contained himself. No, he would  not kiss her, he didn’t want to scare her away.

             “I don’t really want to talk about it.”

             She retracted her hand and said ok. Crap. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings by not confiding in her but he also didn’t want to give away who he was, not right now at least. He just got to Vermont, he just got away and he just met her. It was too early.

             “Sorry, I’m still trying to deal with everything but basically life wasn’t as cracked up as it was supposed to be in LA and I needed a break, I needed a change.”

             “I know what you mean.” She was sitting cross legged staring at her shoes, playing with her shoelaces. He tipped her chin up so she was looking at him.

             “What do you mean? It seems like you have such a nice life here.” He asked softly.

             “I might have a nice life, but I want more. I want to see more and experience more.”

             “Me too.” He said with a sigh.

             “I thought you have been to a bunch of different places.”

             “I have but not really for pleasure, always for work. I want to be that crazy tourist who carries around a camera taking pictures of everything, wearing a fanny pack and a Hawaiian shirt. I want to ask people to take my picture in front of some crazy huge ball of yarn or a statue of a beaver someone thought was necessary to place on the side of a road. I want to experience the world through different eyes.”

             When he looked up she was looking directly into his eyes and he felt his mouth go dry. She was so beautiful and charming it made him want to be a better man. She made him think about things and dream of things he never thought was possible for him to have. He lived in such a world where people used him that he forgot how genuine a human could be, oh lovely and intriguing a member of the opposite sex could be.              

             She licked her lips gently and that was all the invitation he needed. He caressed her cheek with his thumb and ran his hand down her neck till he cupped her nape. He urged her closer and she showed no resistance. He looked into her eyes searching for some kind of warning to tell him to back off but when she looked down at his lips, he knew she wanted him just as much as he wanted her. He brought her in all the way and lightly kissed her lips with his.

             Her hand slipped up his arm and buried itself into his hair. Her gloved hand felt funny but comforting at the same time. He continued to deliver light kisses across her lips until she pulled him closer and parted her lips for him. Waves of pleasure rolled through his body and he felt his jeans starting to get tighter. His tongue met hers and they danced in each other’s mouths. A low moan released from the back of her throat as he pulled her even closer to his body.

             He needed to be closer, he needed to feel her skin on his but their jackets, gloves and scarfs were in the way. Damn this cold weather. His body temperature kept rising as she pushed herself closer toward him closing the gap even farther till there was nothing between them besides clothes. He never thought a kiss could be so erotic. When she kissed, she kissed with her soul. She touched him in places he had never been touched before and he felt the cold blackness that surrounded his heart slowly start to melt away.

             He placed his hand on her thigh and slowly moved it up her leg. She froze and pulled away. He instantly felt cold creep over him again. She rubbed her lips with her hand and looked at him with a shocked expression. Please don’t say it, he thought.

             “Oh my God, I don’t know what came over me. I’m sorry that was a mistake.

             Damn, not what he wanted to hear. She got off the table, gathered their trash and headed for his car. She waited on her side for him to unlock the door. Instead of unlocking it he went over to her and pressed her against the car. He towered over her, lifting her chin up he made her look at him.

             “That was not a mistake, at least not for me. That was one of the best kisses I have ever experienced.” He cupped her face and stroked her face with his thumbs. “You turn me on, Fiona. More than any other woman and you are wearing more clothes than the normally skimpy clad women that throw themselves at me.”


Page 7

             “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to lead you into thinking something was going to happen tonight.”

             He put a finger over her lips to quiet her. “I just wanted to hang out with you and get to know you better. I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable in any way by kissing you.”

             Shaking her head she said, “You weren’t the only person who was kissing and I wasn’t uncomfortable, I was the exact opposite.”

             Her confession brightened his whole outlook for the evening. Confident with himself again he kissed her forehead and opened her car door for her. He helped her in and snapped in her seat belt for her. On his way back up he caressed her cheek again and placed a very gentle kiss on her lips. She tasted so sweet he couldn’t help himself and she didn’t pull away so that was a plus for him.

             As he drove her back to her place he thought about how in just one day he met what seemed like the girl of his dreams and already was starting to find some inner peace he hadn’t had in quite some time. Things were looking up for him.

             

             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4

 

              What was Fiona thinking last night? She chastised herself the entire night after Booker dropped her off at her apartment. When she started to get out of his car, he stopped her and pulled her in close. He gave her a light kiss on the lips as a good bye but her raging hormones turned it into a five minute make-out session. What was wrong with her?

             Yes he was extremely attractive, even with the Sheila bonnet on. He had one of the sexiest smiles she had ever seen with little dimples she wanted to dig her fingers into. Last night, while trying to get some sleep she thought about how Booker’s best friend must be a dentist because who honestly had a smile that good, teeth polar white and perfectly even? Why was a simple smile turning her into a teenage girl with no boundaries?

             It wasn’t just the smile. It was his aspirations. They shared the same desire to explore the world and she could see herself in him. His eyes read the same story hers did. Trapped in a life that was not quite meant for her but dealing with it to appease other people. Last night she felt their souls connecting, something she never experienced with a man, definitely not Murphy. The only thing connecting between her and Murphy were their private parts.

             She shook her head thinking of Murphy, what a nightmare. Her family was on the Murphy train, destination wedding bells for Fiona. She liked Murphy and good God was he hot but that was pretty much it. She found him extremely sexy and his brogue was to die for but it wasn’t enough for her. She wanted more. She needed more. She wasn’t going to settle, like she had settled the rest of her life.

             She had to stop by his shop to pick up her costume he got for her, Lord knows it would be something skimpy. What would Booker think if he saw them together at the party? Would he try to take out Murphy and defend her honor? Would he try to claim her as his? Wishful thinking. Anyway, he wouldn’t be attending the Halloween party because they ran out of tickets at the pub yesterday so hopefully he didn’t get one. Not that is should matter if he was there or not or if either one of them saw her with a different man. She hadn’t made any commitment to either man.

             She slipped out of her apartment as quietly as possible. There was no way she wanted to face her brothers this morning and answer their questions about her outing with the Sheila. Booker would never live that name down, that is if they ever became involved. If they became involved? She needed to slow her thinking down, there was no way they could become involved, unless she wanted her heart to be broken. Rule number one about living in a tourist town: Don’t get involved with the tourists, they will leave eventually. Maybe she should give Murphy a better chance, he at least is a local, a sexy local.

             She pulled up to his shop and popped in. He had the best snow shop in Warblers Point. He offered the best equipment at a reasonable price as well as great instruction. She looked around trying to spot Murphy. He must have just re-stocked for the season because there were skis lined up on every shelf, snow boards hanging from the ceiling and plenty of outerwear to keep anyone person warm. She enjoyed perusing the winter clothes, he always carried a trendy variety that didn’t make you feel like a blimp trying to stay warm.

             She was thumbing a fleece jacket when a strong arm wrapped around her waist and pulled her into a very masculine chest.

             “There’s me girl.” Murphy said while planting his lips on hers. She fell into his embrace and enjoyed his tongue work magic in her mouth. What was wrong with her? She was doing the same exact thing a couple of hours ago with another man. She pulled away quickly.

             “Hey…um, my costume.” She wiped her mouth, thinking it would wipe away what just transpired between them. He gave her a questioning look but then wrapped his hand around hers and pulled her into his office.

             He reached behind the door and produced a garment bag. He was grinning like a fool and her belly flipped from the look he was giving her. Yup, she had it bad for him, but did they actually have anything other than sex?

             “That’s my costume?” Fiona asked while nodding toward the bag.

             “Tis’ it is Lassie. I think ya should look quite fine in it.”

             He unzipped the bag and pulled out a red corset and the shortest red skirt she had ever seen. She stared at him confused.

             “I thought we were going to be a Jager-bomb. How does me dressed up in a red prostitute’s outfit make me a Jager-bomb?

             “Aye, you wear these.” He pulled out a headband with bulls horns on them. “You are the red bull and I’m the Jagermeister. Together we are a Jager-bomb.”

             She shook her head at his creativity. “I’m not wearing that.”

             “Aw, come on lass.” He wrapped his arms around her waist and pushed her against his door skimming his lips across hers. “I think ya will look sexy as hell.”

             Yea and her brothers would have a heart attack. “That skirt won’t even cover my rump.”

             “There are stockings that go with it.” He continued to kiss her, up her neck, across her lips. She felt herself conceding from the numbness he was spreading across her body. She wrapped her hands around his neck and brought him closer. She took his lips with hers and matched his intensity. He pressed his core against hers and she felt his excitement, his very hard excitement. Gulping back the want she had for him she began to pull away remembering the reason why she couldn’t do this with Murphy, she didn’t want just physical in a relationship.

             She was just about to end their mini make out session when she heard someone clear their throat. They stopped and looked toward the front of the store. Standing in tight jeans, a blue sweater and matching scarf was Booker.

             Crap. She instantly removed herself from Murphy but he unfortunately didn’t remove his grip.

             “Hello there, sorry about the public display of affection. Sometimes when I see me old girl here I can’t help me-self. What can I do ya for?” Murphy asked while grabbing Fiona’s hand and escorting her out into the shop.

             Embarrassment and guilt crawled up her body causing her whole face to heat up. It’s not like she was really involved with Booker, but she knew they made a connection with him last night, emotionally and physically. Thoughts of their physical connection made her face turn from hot to inferno. Despite her bodies reactions she felt bad, she didn’t want him thinking she was some kind of hussy who went around kissing men. Wait, she was a hussy! She pulled herself away from Murphy and went to grab her costume.

             She heard Booker clear his throat. “Uh, yea I’m here to get some skiing gear. I signed up for lessons online and I thought I would get a head start.

             “Aye, well ya came to the right place.” Murphy stretched out his hand and said, “I’m Murphy Ryan, the owner of this fine establishment and instructor. You must be Booker Hall from California, I printed out your sign up the other day.”

             “That’s right.”

             Booker looked so uncomfortable, Fiona felt terrible. She decided to just leave without causing any complications since it seemed like Murphy had everything under control. With her outfit under her arm, she shimmied her way past Murphy but not right before he grabbed her arm.

             “How rude of me. Booker, this here is me girl, Fiona O’Leary.”

             Shock registered on both her face and Booker’s. She wanted to shout out that she was not his girl, unfortunately just a very good fuck buddy but that probably wouldn’t go over well either. Booker just gave her a nod and said, “We met last night at the pub.”

             “Ah, isn’t she the best little server ya ever did see?”

             “Yes she is.” Booker said while scraping his shoe on the floor. He didn’t even look at her. He looked completely dejected and it was all her fault. She hurt his feelings and she felt terrible about it. She should never have gone out to the pond with him last night. In that case, if she was laying out regrets, she should never have made that stupid bet with Murphy the other night because her terrible decision while slightly intoxicated is now causing her to dress up as a bull prostitute.

             “Well, I’m going to get going. See you later.” Fiona tried to take off, but Murphy told Booker to hold on a second while he walked her out to her car. She tried to avoid him and just get in her car but of course he was not going to let that happen. He instead pinned her against her car door.

             “What’s crawled up your britches tis mornin’.” He asked

             “Nothing, I’m just busy.”

             He leaned in closer, he smelled like heaven. His cologne was one of the deadly reasons she found it impossible to resist him. He was a breath away from her mouth, leaning in so close she could taste him.

             “Can I see ya tonight?”

             “I don’t think that’s the best idea Murph.”

             “Why’s that Lass?”

             Why was that? Because she didn’t want to get involved with Murphy since there was nothing of substance between them. Maybe because she met someone last night who held more interests with her, who intrigued her. Booker wasn’t an option though, he was going to leave just as fast as he came in. No, thinking about Booker was not a good idea, that was only going to lead to trouble and possible heart break like every other relationship she had. She just needed to focus on herself.

             “Murph, I know you want to try things out again but I just don’t think I’m ready. I really need to focus on myself right now and what I want.” There, that seemed reasonable she thought.

             He trailed his finger along her jaw and over her lips causing her insides to boil and her body to heat up. She felt her center start to melt with his gentle caress. Damn. She needed to leave and she needed to leave now.

             “Your body is telling me differently lass. I will give ya a couple of days. You’re me date on Saturday, until then I hope me body floods ya dreams all hours of the night.” He leaned in and kissed her lightly on the lips leaving her treacherous body begging for more.

             Why did she have a libido of a fourteen year old boy?

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Booker stood in the ski shop staring out the door watching the shop owner, Murphy hang all over Fiona. Walking in on them making out felt like a canon launched into his stomach from only a couple of feet in front of him. It hurt, it hurt big time. Not because he owned her or that she was his woman, it was the fact that she led him on, led him to believe that she was available and interested.

             Shaking out the disappointment in his head, he decided to push past the deceit and focus on why he came to Warblers Point, for some rest, relaxation and to get away from the fake life he was living.


Page 8

             He was trying on a navy blue ski jacket when Murphy came walking back in.

             “Sorry about that lad, how can I help ya tis beautiful mornin’?”

             Booker pulled his hand from the jacket he was touching. “Not a problem. I was looking for some gear for the winter season and wanted to find out when we can start lessons.”

             Murphy slapped him on the shoulder and said, “Ya came to the right place lad, I can fix ya up with some fine apparel but lessons will have to wait till we get some white on the ground.”

             “Makes sense.” Booker said.

             It took an hour of trying on clothes, boots, gloves, goggles, hats and much more until he found the right combination. He got a pair of grey snow pants, a navy blue jacket, a matching knitted snow cap with ear flaps and the best skis money could buy. He looked pretty good if he didn’t say so himself.

             Even though he wanted to hate Murphy Ryan because of his nearness with the lovely…err, just regular Fiona, he couldn’t help but like the guy. Booker understood why Fiona must like the guy, he was charming, friendly and even though Booker was a guy he could appreciate good looks when he saw them. Damn. But it didn’t matter, he was not going to focus on Fiona, he wasn’t going to think about how she was a breath of fresh air he had been dreaming of, or her perfectly round whiskey colored eyes or long auburn hair, or curves that he dreamed of running his hands over or her sweet intoxicating kisses. Nope, he was not going to think about her at all.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Liam sat on his couch waiting for his wife to return home from dropping Catherine, their daughter, off at his wife’s parents. They were taking her for a couple of days to spend some quality Halloween time with her. They planned on going to a pumpkin farm and planned on carving pumpkins as well as taking her trick or treating on Halloween, thankfully since Liam had to work. A part of his heart hurt because he was going to miss trick or treating with his little girl but Liam thought the alone time was much needed for him and his wife.

             He heard Neala come through the door and set her keys on the shelf in the entry way. She came into the living room where he sat. He noticed she had heavy bags under her eyes and she looked a little thinner than usual. When did she lose weight? Was he that busy at the pub that he wasn’t able to notice? She wore sweatpants that hung low on her hips and a thermal long sleeve shirt that hugged her figure tightly.

             “Hey babe. Did Catherine take off alright?”

             “Yea, she was really excited. She practically ripped herself out of her car seat and ran for my parents. You would think we torture the poor kid.”

             Liam smiled at her and as she started to walk by him but he grabbed her hand and pulled her down onto his lap. Even though they had been married for six years, feelings between them felt awkward. He couldn’t pinpoint why though, was it because of their fight? He didn’t think it was that bad of a fight to make them feel like strangers.

             She started to get up when he held tighter. “What’s wrong?” he asked while caressing her face.

             She stopped his hand and said, “Please don’t Liam?”

             “I’m your husband Neala, I should be able to caress your face.”

             “I know you’re my husband, I don’t need a reminder every day.”

             Struck by her harsh tone he asked, “What is that supposed to mean?”

             She got up from his lap and went into the kitchen. He stormed after her, she was not getting out of this conversation that easily, she had some explaining to do. He had about enough of this tip toing around each other. He was going to get to the bottom of the awkwardness between them.

             “What the hell is going on? Is this because I want more kids? I can wait until your ready…”

             “That’s not it Liam.”

             “Then what’s the problem.”

             She was gripping onto the kitchen sink and staring out the window. She didn’t answer at first and he thought she wasn’t going to until she broke the silence.

             “I want a divorce.”

             She might as well have run him over with a hay baler. Where the hell did that declaration come from? He was so shocked by her statement that he didn’t even know how to respond. She started washing the dishes as Liam just stared at her in shock. When did his marriage turn so sour? He knew they had their differences but a divorce? Was that really necessary?

             He stormed toward the sink, ripped the dish she was cleaning out of her hand, turned off the water and made her face him. He looked into her eyes and they were completely lifeless. There was no warmth for him, no love, they were just cold and bitter. He took a step back, trying to detach himself from her cold cold stare.

             “Explain, right now Neala.” Liam gritted out.

             She sighed and tugged on her sleeves, avoiding eye contact. “I can’t live with a man who’s bar comes before me, who wants me only as his wife who takes care of the house and his child. I’m more than that Liam and you fail to realize it, you have for years.”

             “So you are just going to leave me? You are not even going to give me a chance to prove you wrong? Don’t you want to work this out?”

             “Why would I do that if I know you don’t love me anymore?”

             Liam literally had to shake his head from her foolish statement. “What the hell are you talking about? I love you more than anything. Where is this coming from?”

             She jabbed her finger in his chest and said, “You know exactly where this is coming from and don’t you dare lie to me. I see how you look at her, I have seen your text messages. You love her, not me.”

             Liam’s stomach dropped to his shoes. He never ever would cheat on Neala, that was not his style, he was the most loyal man in town. But he knew exactly who Neala was talking about. He knew where her sour feelings were stemming from. Sophie Michaels. Shit!

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Fiona was picking up some groceries from the small and only general store in Warblers Point since she thought it would be good to actually have some food at her apartment for once. Her shift at the pub didn’t start for a couple of hours so she wanted to get some things done before hand, like laundry, grocery shopping, oh and making out with her ex in front of a guy she previously made out with the night before. Wanting to slap herself in the head with a can of kidney beans she just cursed herself for her stupidity.

             Where was her self-control? Did she lose it when she played that darts game with Murphy the other night? She needed to stop falling at men’s feet and start focusing on what she needed. And she didn’t need some hunky Irish man driving her mad with his burning kisses and stinging touches. Nope, she definitely did not need him.

             She was grabbing apples for the event they were having at the pub on Halloween when she picked the wrong apple causing the pyramid of fruit to start tumbling over its display and fall to the floor. Damn it. If she actually was paying attention to what she was doing instead of day dreaming about two gorgeous men this wouldn’t have happened. She struggled to catch the apples as they fell but only managed to save two from hitting the ground.

             She was on her hands and knees cleaning up the apples when a very nice looking loafer found its way near her hand. She swallowed hard knowing the loafer probably belonged to an extremely attractive blonde male on vacation. She traveled her gaze upward, following the jean clad leg up to the tight crotch where she saw an impressive bulge and then the man squatted, relinquishing her fantastic view. When she looked up she came face to face with Booker. Just what she needed.

             “Didn’t anyone ever tell you to not pick at the bottom of the pyramid?” Booker said with a grin while holding up one of the apple escapees.

             She didn’t know what to say. Why was he being nice to her? Shouldn’t he be mad at her, not that they were dating but if she was in his place she would be mad. Interesting, was that because she liked him? Well of course she liked him, how could she not. He was refined, traveled, and beyond handsome. Plus he was soft spoken, sweet and caring.

             “Uh…thanks.” Was all that squeaked out of her mouth as she gathered up the apples and just shoved them in her cart.

             “Do you need help putting those in a bag?”

             She looked back at him and shook her head no, trying to get away from him. God she looked like such an idiot right now. She needed to remove herself from his presence immediately and not make their encounter any worse than it was. As she turned to smile at him and give him a nice wave, she started to move her cart and ran directly into a box of pumpkins that occupied part of the vegetable aisle. The impact of the heavy box of pumpkins knocked her flat on her ass. She lowered her head in frustration. Real smooth.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Booker watched Fiona as she struggled with being uncomfortable around him. He thought if he ever ran into her again it would be extremely awkward but seeing her in the general store fumbling with apples only made his heart open up for her again. Damn it! He was going to forget about her, let her go but now seeing her flat on her ass with probably twelve dozen loose apples in her cart made him yearn for her even more. How did that make sense? He was used to woman throwing themselves at him wearing practically nothing and gyrating their bodies, not wearing jeans a heavy sweater and scarf running into cartons of pumpkins and spilling apples everywhere.

             He went over to her where she was just sitting on the floor picking at her scarf swearing quietly to herself. He squatted down next to her and put his hand out to help her up. She just looked at him with those huge whiskey colored eyes that burned through his soul. At that moment he knew, he was not going to be able to get over her, she already took up residence in his heart.

             She grabbed his hand sending a warm feeling through his arm that zinged through his body straight to his heart. Her hand felt so tiny in his but perfect, like they were meant to hold hands for the rest of their lives.

             He helped her up and when she stood she was mere inches from him. She smelled like fresh laundry and flowers, making his heart beat even faster.

             “Now what are you trying to do to those pumpkins with that deadly cart of yours?”

             She laughed softly while continuing to hold his hand, sending blood rushing directly to his southern area. If she was any closer she would be able to feel the affect she had on him.

             He shouldn’t be flirting with her right now. He should be accusing her for using him when clearly she was involved with someone else. He should be chastising her for leading him on and building up false hope, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t say anything mean to her, yell at her or make her feel bad. No he wanted to make her smile, he wanted to make her feel comfortable, he wanted to show her the world she so desperately wanted to see.

             She interrupted his thoughts when she said, “Thanks for the help up.”

             He just looked at her, studying her every feature. She was such a beauty. Her skin was so creamy and soft, her hair was a gorgeous auburn color that filled her head and cascaded over her shoulders. Her eyes were devastating to any man and her smile could stop a person in their tracks.

             He caught himself staring when he saw her starting to get uncomfortable, so pulled herself away.

             “Uh, yea no problem.” She started to brush off her butt when he said, “What are you doing tomorrow night?”

             He knew she was probably hanging with her Irish stud muffin but he couldn’t give up that easily on her, especially after the way she kissed him the night before.

             She looked at him with a bit of shock on her face. “I’m working tomorrow night, I work almost every night.”

             “What are you doing after?”


Page 9

             She pulled herself away and started to pull her cart from the pumpkin crate. “I don’t think whatever you’re thinking is a good idea.”

             “You clearly don’t know me.” He said while pulling himself closer to her and trapping her between him and her cart. “I’m full of great ideas.”

             “You know what I mean.” She brushed some hair out of her face. He leant a hand to help her and lingered on her cheek.

             “Is this because you have a boyfriend?”

             “I do not have a boyfriend.” She practically spat out each word clearly so he got the picture.

             “You don’t, so do you just happen to kiss every man you happen to run into?” He knew it was none of his business what she did, but he had to know what kind of relationship she had with Murphy. He needed to know her status so he could pursue her properly.

             “How dare you.” She accused him.

             Damn, not the right way to push her buttons, she tried to loosen his grip but he held still. She was not getting away that easily.

             “Listen, I like you Fiona, I want to get to know you better but I just wanted to make sure you were not attached to someone else.” He leaned in closer, practically whispering in her ear. “Now that I know you are not involved, technically, will you give me the opportunity to get to know you better?”

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Fiona stood inches away from Booker, he smelled like heaven, like those teenage stores you walk by that blare music and bleed out their signature scent. But his was more masculine, it ate her up and made her weak in the knees.

             He liked her? What guy just comes out and says what they are thinking especially when earlier in the morning he caught her making out with another man? One thing she knew was for sure, Booker had balls, balls of steal. The vision of his balls in her head made her thoughts linger in his southern area and how great his tight jeans looked on him…

             “What do you say, Fiona?”

             Realizing she hadn’t answered him yet she looked into his crystal clear blue eyes. She saw lust and yearning. He was serious about her. She had no clue why. She was some lonely pub waitress and he was a gorgeous man who had traveled the world, why would he want anything to do with her? Remembering that he was a tourist, she answered back. “What’s the point Booker? You are only here for what? A couple of weeks? You are just going to end up leaving.”

             He brushed a stray tear away from her eye she didn’t know was there. Why was she crying? God she was a mess.

             “That is not true. I’m here for as long as I want to be.”

             “Until you get bored. I can’t allow myself to get attached to tourists, especially someone like you, it’s the number one rule when you live in a touristy town.”

             “Believe me, I won’t get bored.” He continued to stroke her face which she started to get accustomed to. “Please Fiona, just give me a chance. Take it one step at a time.”

             He rubbed his thumb pad along her jaw as he studied her face. Murphy never looked at her the way Booker did. It was like she was a book and he was reading her, engrossed in her. He understood her, Murphy saw her for her looks and that was it.

             She knew she was making a huge mistake and a voice in the back of her head was screaming at her to say no and walk away but her brain tuned that voice out.

             “One night, that’s all I can give you for now.”

             “That’s enough for me. I will pick you up after work tomorrow.” He leaned in and planted a very soft kiss on her lips, pulled away, gave her a wink and walked away.

             She was standing next to a dented pumpkin cart, swaying to and fro from the magical spell Booker casted her under. She felt dazed and slightly confused. What just happened? Oh yes she agreed to one night with Booker, one night that she knew was going to blow her away and ruin her forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5

 

             Liam didn’t know where else to go, that’s why he found himself at the front of Sophie Michaels’ door. He shouldn’t be here, he kept repeating those words over and over in his head as he walked up her front steps. She was the reason why his wife wanted a divorce, she was the reason why his family was getting ripped apart. Nothing ever happened between him and Sophie but Liam knew how Neala must feel given his past with Sophie. That was why he had to see her, to clear some things up. 

             In a distant past, Sophie and Liam were high school sweethearts. They grew up together in Warblers Point, suffered the crazy winter tourist traffic and relaxed together in the abandoned summer nights. At first they were best friends, then in middle school they shared their first kiss together at his parent’s pond, high school rolled around and they were inseparable. It wasn’t until she went off to college and met someone else when their love affair came to a grinding halt. She ended up marrying some idiot straight out of college, crushing any kind of hopes or dreams Liam had for them in the future. It wasn’t until recently that she returned to Warblers Point, opened a bakery trying to make a new life for herself since her nasty divorce. They renewed their friendship, hung out a couple of times but being friends was as far as their relationship went. Sophie respected the fact that Liam was married and had a child. When Sophie met Neala, she found her pleasant and they seemed to get along.

             Liam knocked on Sophie’s door and waited for her to answer. She took a minute too long and he started to get cold feet as he reconsidered if seeing her would be the right thing, especially since Neala practically kicked him out of his own house. He knew he shouldn’t be there. He closed her screen door and headed for his car. He was about to open his door when he heard Sophie call his name from her house.

             He turned around and saw her standing in her doorway with a concerned look on her face. She was five foot nothing with long black hair and light grey eyes that spoke her words for her. She was wearing an apron that was caked with flour and in her hand was a wooden spoon. He couldn’t just leave now since she spotted him so he headed over to her door, stopping right in front of her steps.

             “What’s wrong Liam?” She could always read him so well, he appreciated how they were always so in tune with each other.

             He shook his head in disappointment and said, “Neala told me she wants a divorce this morning. I didn’t know where else to go.”

             Sophie flew off her steps and wrapped him in one of her classic hugs, full of warmth…and love.

             “Oh Liam, I’m so sorry. Come in and tell me everything.”

             Sophie escorted him into her house that smelled like oatmeal raisin cookies and vanilla. She had a little cottage type house, where she had a fire blazing in her living room and candles burning throughout her house almost at all times. She was a strong believer in candles, she always said they soothed her soul. She pulled her apron off and placed it on her kitchen table along with her wooden spoon, pulled some cookies out of the oven, turned it off and pulled him into her living room on the couch for a chat session.

             She held his hand and said, “What happened?”

             He looked into those grey eyes of hers and lost himself. He had to tell her the truth.

             “She thinks I’m in love with you.”

             She went rigid and dropped his hand. Instantly the warmth he was starting to feel from her presence left his body. At the same time she started to move away from him shaking her head.

             “You don’t love me Liam, not like that. Doesn’t she know we are just friends?”

             “That’s what I told her but she doesn’t believe me. She handed me the papers today. I don’t know what to do.”

             “Fight for her!” Sophie practically shouted.

             “I tried. She wants nothing to do with me. She said she doesn’t want to be married to someone who is in love with someone else.”

             As she looked at him with concern there was a slight pain in the pit of his stomach that was starting to make him nauseous. He was looking at Sophie, watching her eyes worry with concern, her perfect lips part with shock and her silky black hair flow over her shoulders and that was when he realized, maybe a part of him was still in love with his Sophie.

             He instantly stood up and told her he had to leave. He could not be in her house with her, with candles burning and her soft warm touches. Nope that was one of the worst ideas he ever had. He hadn’t felt anything for her since she left him for college but the instant he was surrounded by her in her house, her warm and welcoming environment, every emotion and feeling he ever had for her came rushing back.

             He was about to leave her house when he felt her little hand grab his arm. “Where are you going? Did I say something wrong?”

             He looked back at her, panic flooding her eyes as well as tears. Damn it. He pulled her into his embrace and said, “No Soph, you didn’t do anything wrong. I’m the idiot.”

             He kissed the top of her head and left.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Booker woke up the next day at The Sleeping Potato, energized and ready to go. He was going to blow Fiona’s socks off and he knew just how to do it. He took a shower, got dressed, made his bed and grabbed his jacket before heading to the main house for breakfast. He was really enjoying his stay at the quaint bed and breakfast. The owners, Fiona’s parents, were attentive and kind while his little cabin was perfect for his stay. He had his privacy but still felt taken care of.

             He walked along the red brick path and watched the morning fog lift off the pond. The scenery Vermont had to offer was sheer elegance according to Booker. Everything was so natural, even the buildings and paths he walked on.

A man started walking along the same path as Booker was walking. Feeling awkward, Booker looked toward the man and stopped in his tracks. He looked just like a little Irish bombshell he knew but with blue eyes.

              “Are you an O’Leary too?” Booker asked the man walking next to him.

             The man stopped and smiled. “Is it that obvious?”

             “You look just like your sister.”

             The man chuckled. “I should deck you for insinuating that I look like a lady.”

             Booker threw his hands up jokingly. “Hey she’s gorgeous so you have nothing to be mad about.”

             The man gave him a funny look and said, “Well, now I do. You getting sweet on my sister?”

             Great, another brotherly threat to deal with. Didn’t she say she had three? She was not making it easy on him, that was for sure.

             “No, no, just stating the obvious.” He held his hand out. “Booker.”

             The man took his hand skeptically at first while scoping Booker out and said, “Bradon, you must be the Sheila. You know my sister is spoken for, right?”

             Was he ever going to live being the whole Sheila down? The nickname was starting to get irritating but being called the Sheila was not what was irritating him the most, Fiona’s attachment to the hunky Irishman, Murphy, was. Why would Bradon say Fiona was spoken for? Just yesterday she told him she was not dating anyone and there was no way she would have agreed to tonight if she was with someone. Was her brother trying to trick him so he wouldn’t date his sister? If Booker was in Bradon’s shoes and Blair was the girl in question, he would do the same thing, especially if it was a guy he didn’t know.


Page 10

             Booker decided to change the subject. “Do you work at the pub too?”

             Bradon eyed him for a second and continued to walk down the path with Booker. “I do occasionally. I mainly work here for my parents. They are getting older and can’t do as much around the inn so I help them out. Plus I get to meet a lot of willing and eager tourists.” Bradon wiggled his eyebrows.

             Booker laughed. “Well I hope you’re not talking about me.”

             “Aye, Laddie. Tis are a pretty boy but not me type.” Bradon said in a thick Irish brogue.

             Continuing to laugh, Booker agreed. “You’re not my type either man. You heading in for breakfast?”

             “Of course, I never miss out on my bangers, brown bread and eggs.”

             “Bangers?”

             Bradon patted Booker’s back while he continued practicing his Irish inflection. “Aye Sheila, don’t tell me ya don’t know what bangers are? Don’t tell me we have an eejit in these parts.”

             “Eejit?” Booker felt so confused with the Irish slang being thrown around and the thick accent Bradon was able to nail without a stammer. Booker thought the man probably scored big time when he turned on the charm.

             Bradon laughed. “Yup, we definitely have an eejit.”

             Bradon opened the door to the main house for Booker and ushered him in. The smell of breakfast overwhelmed him when he walked in. The house was dressed in a dark green on the walls and gold fixtures everywhere. He felt like he was in Ireland when he stepped in the main house, especially with the little red-headed lady wiping her hands on her frilly apron heading his way.

             “Why Mr. Hall, aren’t we glad to see ya tis fine mornin’.” She leaned over and planted a kiss on Bradon’s cheek pulling him down. “Mornin’ son. I’m glad to see ya weren’t with ya brothers last night, they got absolutely buckled. Fiona called me this morning sayin’ how she had to carry their sorry arses up the stairs.”

             Booker’s senses faired with the mention of Fiona’s name. Instead of sitting down for breakfast, Booker felt himself intruding on the little family conversation between Bradon and his mom but he couldn’t help himself since Fiona was already mentioned in conversation. He couldn’t help but wonder if she would be mentioned again, any kind of clue into her life was like gold to him.

             “Damn, I wish I was there last night. I had a date though.”

             “Ah, with that Kelly gal?”

             “Uh, no.” Bradon pushed back his hair with his hand. “We are no longer seeing each other.”

             Mary Margaret frowned and tapped her foot on the floor at a rapidly impressive pace. “And why not?”

             Booker watched Bradon squirm in his shoes. “Well, I found out she, uh has dentures and it freaked me out.”

             Booker busted out in laughter, he couldn’t contain himself. Bradon was a young attractive guy who could most likely get any girl he wanted and there he was, dating someone with dentures.

             Bradon and Mary Margaret both looked at Booker with annoyance in their eyes. He realized he was over-staying his welcome in the little family conversation. He excused himself and headed for the dining area. Filling up his plate with what seemed like sausage, some eggs and some thick sliced bread he headed for the table.

             He sat next to an older looking man, slightly balding brown hair and piercing blue eyes. The man was reading the paper and didn’t seem to see Booker sit down until Booker set his orange juice on the table and accidently knocked it over, soaking the man’s newspaper so it was unreadable.

             “Jesus.” Shouted the man in another Irish accent.

             Damn. The man had to be Fiona’s dad, there was no doubt about that now. Booker mentally patted himself on the back for a job well done in irritating the intimidating man first chance her got. He tried to soak up the orange juice before it made things even worse while avoiding eye contact with Fiona’s fuming father.

             “I’m so sorry, it was an accident.” Booker said while fumbling around feeling the heat from the man’s gaze.

             “Carlin Patrick O’Leary!” Mary Margaret shouted. “Now is that how ya treat one of our guests? Get your arse up and help the poor lad.” The shocked look on Carlin’s face was almost comical. Apparently no one messed with Mary Margaret, she may be small but she was a little fire ball of a woman.

             Carlin looked at Booker with apologetic eyes. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle ya like that. I was so engrossed in me paper that the juice scared me.”

             Booker just continued to wipe up the juice and smile. Carlin took the napkins from this hand and wiped himself. The man was tall, just like the O’Leary boys. Booker sized himself up next to the man and knew that if he ever got himself in trouble with Fiona, he would be in for a serious bruising. Booker knew he stood no chance against the four men in Fiona’s life so he made a mental note not to screw anything up with Fiona or else he might as well start digging his own grave.              

             “Sit down lad, we can take care of the mess.” Mary Margaret came over with some cleaning spray and a towel. Carlin grabbed another orange juice and set it down next to Booker…away from Carlin’s seat.

             “Sorry about that.” Booker said. “Apparently I should be drinking coffee, I guess I’m not quite awake enough.”

             “I’m glad, ya went for the juice, coffee would have burnt me old balls off.” Carlin gestured to his pants that had juice all over them. Booker was kicking himself under the table for his clumsiness.

             Mary Margaret smacked her husband in the arm. “Don’t say ‘me balls’ in front of our guests ya old coot. Where are ye manners?” She turned her attention back to Booker. “Would you like some coffee?” The change in her attitude when she was yelling at her husband and then talking to her guests bordered bi-polar.

             “No, no the juice is fine, thank you.” Booker didn’t want to start any more trouble for Carlin so he accepted the juice the man gave him and kept his mouth shut.

             Once the mess was clean Bradon sat next to him and his father as Carlin finally reached over to introduce himself to Booker.

             “Carlin O’Leary. You must be Booker, the lad from California me wife has been blabbin’ on about.”

             “That would be me. Nice to meet you.”

             Bradon chimed in with a mouth full of food. “He’s the Sheila da.”

             Mary Margaret slapped Bradon in the back of the head. “Don’t talk with ya mouth full ya muppet.”

             “Muppet? Eejit? Bangers? Do you sell an Irish dictionary in your gift shop?” Booker asked.

             “Now whose been calling ya an eejit?” Mary Margaret asked, eyeing Bradon suspiciously.

             Bradon tried to get Booker’s attention but Booker enjoyed watching him squirm. “Oh I learned it on the way in from Bradon.”

             Mary Margaret smacked Bradon on the head again. “You callin’ our guests eejits?”

             “Just trying to have some fun ma?” Bradon rubbed the back of his head and gave Booker the your-going-to-pay-for-this glare. Booker wasn’t too shaken up, he could take Bradon, he was a pretty boy. It was the other three O’Leary men Booker didn’t want to cross and Mary Margaret for that matter after seeing her bring her husband and son down a peg or two in a short few minutes.

             “Oh its fine Mrs. O’Leary. I just want in on the language so I know what I’m up against.”

             Carlin laughed. “Well laddie, eejit means idiot of fool, muppet is used when you are callin someone a uh, dumbarse and bangers, well that’s what ya eatin’ right now. Its sausage. Stick with me boy and ya’ll learn.”

             “Sounds like a deal to me. If I pitch in with some work around here will you teach me the Irish way?”

             Mary Margaret chimed in before Carlin could get a word in. “Ya’ll not be helpin’ around this here house. Y’are guest, let’s keep it that way.” She spoke her mind while wiping down one of the buffets with her apron.

             “Thank you Mrs. O’Leary but I will be here for a while and I would love to help out around the place and learn about your culture.”

             “I could use some help on the fence before it gets too cold.” Carlin said to his wife slightly wincing, knowing if he crossed the lady she would blow a gasket. Booker already learned that Mary Margaret was a firecracker and you do what she said. She just rolled her eyes and moved to the another buffet to refill the juice jars.

             “I’m free tomorrow. Shall I meet you here for breakfast again and then we can get to work?”

             “Sounds perfect.” Booker shook Carlin’s hand and headed to the kitchen with his plate when he heard Carlin say, “Bradon, let your brothers know the plan.”

             Booker’s whole body went rigid. All of Fiona’s brothers were going to be there? Building a fence together? Great! Just what he needed, to be surrounded by men who would do anything to protect the girl he was after. He needed to watch himself and make sure none of them found out about what he had planned for his date with Fiona because if they did, he didn’t think they would be using wood for building the fence, he could see his body parts being used as posts instead.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Sophie had to run to the general store for some more eggs, she was annoyed she had to stop what she was doing and go to the store because she miscalculated her baking supply needs. Sophie realized, that’s when having a husband was convenient because she could just send him out real quick while she could continue baking. That was probably the only thing she missed about being married.

             She made a list in her phone of items she would need to stock up on just in case, she didn’t want to run out again. She still was in shock from seeing Liam at her front door the other day. She could not believe Neala wanted to get a divorce. She had never seen Liam look so distraught and unhappy. She hated seeing him like that, it pulled at her heart strings knowing that such a kind and caring man was going through such a difficult time. Nothing happened between Sophie and Liam and she would never do anything to get in between a marriage and break up a family. She was not that kind of person. Instead, she was the victim of that kind of behavior. Her divorce with Greg was still taking a toll on her. His lawyer practically took everything from her, so she had to make a life for herself which she was slowly getting back to where she wanted her life to be. The only thing missing was love.

             People would think that after having her husband cheat on her and spending the last year fighting over a bank account and possessions, she would devoid herself of any kind of love, let alone a relationship. Nope, not her. She was a hopeless romantic. She wanted to find that one person who lit her on fire, who made her melt and devoted themselves, solely to her.

             She returned to Warblers Point because that is where she grew up and she wanted to be in a place that was familiar and comforting. She had no clue Liam was still going to be living in Warblers Point as well as own a successful pub with his siblings. She always loved hanging out with the O’Leary’s. She was an only child so having so many people to play with was a dream to her. They took her in and treated her as family. Seeing Liam again brought back all those feelings of comfort and family, as well as deep down feelings of passion and yearning. But she didn’t know if the passion she felt was for Liam or just memories of what a passionate relationship felt like.

             She didn’t like to admit it but when Liam showed up at her door with the news of his impending divorce a part of her deep down inside was dancing with glee. She would never admit that because what kind of person is excited when their friend tells them about a divorce? She felt guilty for being happy but then again she couldn’t help herself. She never got over Liam, and maybe that was a reason why her husband cheated on her. No, that was not her fault. She had to keep telling herself that, Greg made his decision.

             Still, Liam always held a piece of her heart, no matter who she dated…or married. Now that he was going to be single…hopefully, she would have her chance to maybe re-kindle what they lost years ago. Maybe she could finally have the happily ever after she always wanted.


Page 11

             She found herself practically skipping and humming through the aisles of the general store with her basket. She was looking down at the list on her phone when she ran smack into someone in the dairy section, thank God she didn’t have her eggs yet because the impact with the other human made her drop her basket, scattering her grocery contents all over the floor.

             She looked up and started to apologize until she realized she ran smack into Neala. Fire was blazing in Neala’s eyes and a slight vein was popping in her neck. Sophie noticed that Neala was holding a cup of coffee that was now taking up residence all over her silk shirt. Sophie felt her mouth drop open in shock.

             “Oh my God, Neala, I’m so sorry…”

             “Don’t touch me you bitch.” Sophie was grabbing for napkins to help wipe Neala off but stilled mid-air when Neala’s words slipped out of her mouth.

             “Pardon me?” Sophie always prided herself in not swearing, some may say she was a goody two shoes but she just considered herself a true lady.

             “I said, don’t touch me bitch.”

             Shocked by Neala’s animosity towards her, especially since Sophie did nothing to deserve it she said, “You don’t have to be so rude.”

             “Rude? I’m the rude one? Oh I’m sorry, I’m not the whore breaking up marriages and families. You know we have a little girl, right? She is going to have to split time between her parents and holidays now. I hope you’re happy.”

             Sophie couldn’t believe the words coming out of Neala’s mouth. What kind of crazy fantasy world was she living in?

             “I’m sorry Neala that you and Liam are having some problems but by no means am I to blame for them and I resent the fact that you think that low of me.”

             “Don’t bullshit me you little tart. I know you’ve been seeing my husband and fucking him when I’m not around.” Neala’s voice was slowly starting to escalate in volume and Sophie could feel herself blushing from embarrassment especially since every word dripping from Neala’s mouth was a bold faced lie.

             “I have not been f…I have not been doing anything with your husband. I don’t know where you’ve been getting the idea that I have but I would never break up a family because that is what happened to me. I would never subject another woman to that pain so I would appreciate it if you would lower your voice and stop spreading lies about me and your husband.”

             Apparently Neala didn’t care what Sophie said because Neala did the exact opposite and escalated her voice to a higher decimal and said, “Lies? Lies? The only lie around here is your denial in sharing your sexual slip and slide with my husband.” Neala pushed Sophie against the little snack shelves, sending metal into her shoulder blades. “You are nothing more than a little two faced home wrecker.” Neala pushed her again, sending snacks scattering all over the aisle. “You act like you are some little innocent bug eyed prim and proper girl but you really go around fucking people’s husbands and destroying their family life.” Neala went to go shove her again when she was stopped by very large hands.

             “Neala, what the fuck are you doing?”

             Sophie hadn’t seen him in a while but she would recognize Finn anywhere. His looks were always so classic. He looked like Liam but younger with beautiful light brown eyes that were always covered by his trendy thick rimmed black glasses. He filled his body out with pure muscle and grew up to be a man. She was shocked by how instantly attracted she was to him, especially since he was currently standing so close to her she could smell his intoxicating male scent. She couldn’t help but admire him, he was attractive, beyond what she ever remembered.

             He grabbed Sophie’s hand and helped her out of the shelving that she was sucked into. Thank God he came in at the last minute because one more push and she would have been shelf life for sure. Sophie looked at Neala who was crying now holding her head in her hands. Sophie should be pissed and wanting to pummel the girl but that was not her type of personality. Instead, Sophie wrapped her arms around Neala and tried to comfort her. Wrong move.

             Neala took her hands and slammed them into Sophie’s chest once again sending her flying into the shelf knocking them all down and causing a piece of metal to whip into her head. Sophie’s brain went instantly dizzy. She touched her head to assess the damage and felt a warm liquid up by her hair line when she looked at her hand there was blood trickling down her fingers. Great!

             Finn grabbed Neala and shook her. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

             “Let go of me, Finn. She deserves everything she gets.”

             Finn looked at Sophie in confusion and before he could ask what Neala meant, Neala beat him to it. “She has been fucking your older brother behind my back. She will deny it, but I know what I’m talking about.” She shook herself from Finn’s grip. “I’m getting out of here, tell your brother my lawyer will be contacting him about the divorce papers and don’t worry I won’t go after your precious little pub even though I have all the right to. I just want out of this Podunk town and away from you Irish assholes.”

             She stormed off kicking Sophie’s groceries that were on the floor across the aisle making one of her packages of flour explode from her pointy shoes. Sophie just held her head where it was bleeding, trying to apply pressure, trying to ignore the fact that Neala was in fact a raving lunatic.

             She looked up at Finn who seemed to be fuming, instead of helping her up this time he just stared at her with disgust.

             “You going to explain yourself?” He asked.

             Out of all Liam’s siblings, she was closest with Finn, maybe because of their ages but whenever Liam and her were fighting Finn was always there to talk to her and help her through her problems. He was like the brother she never had and even when she left for college and got married, she still wrote to Finn occasionally to catch up. He was the only O’Leary she stayed in contact with, even though he wasn’t the one she was in love with, well used to be in love with. Now looking at Finn, being in his adult presence confused her. She erased the thoughts of her and Finn, blaming it on the shelf whipping her in the head.

             “Are you even going to believe me when I talk or are you going to just listen to what she has to say?” Sophie said with a nod toward Neala’s direction.

             Finn waved his hand in front of him gesturing for her to proceed with her story. “By all means, enlighten me.” Sophie wanted to throw eggs at Finn for accusing her of the worst already, before even listening to her side of the story.

             “I’m not having an affair with Liam. I’ve seen him a handful of times since I’ve come back and most of those time Neala was present. I would never do anything to break up a family and you know that because of what I went through myself. I would never be that woman.” She started crying, damn it. “You know I would never do that Finn, don’t you?”

             Finn ran his hand through his hair and pulled her into his chest for a hug. He placed a kiss on the top of her head and said, “I believe you Soph.”

             His confidence in her made her break down and cry even more. Being wrapped up in his embrace also confused her, she didn’t think she could enjoy being this close to Finn, ever. “I have no clue what she is talking about Finn and I don’t want her going around town spreading lies about me when I’m trying to run a business here. I don’t want to be known as the uh…town…you know…” She practically whispered, “…skank.”

             Finn chuckled slightly at her embarrassment of using a filthy word. “Anyone who has been in this town long enough, which is mostly everyone, will know that you are not the town skank. Everything will be ok don’t worry.”

             Finn pulled her in even closer and held her tight until she felt him go stiff. He was instantly shoved out of the way and she was flung to the side, landing next to her good friend, the snack shelf.

             “What the fuck are you doing Finn?”

             Liam.

             He continued, “I heard something was happening down here with Neala but instead I find you groping Sophie.”

             Finn being the smart ass and Instigator he was said, “What’s it to you? You shouldn’t care since you’re married, unless marriage means nothing to you and you are sleeping around like Neala says.”

             Sophie winced at Finn’s word. That did it. Liam flew at Finn and tackled him to the ground. They were both throwing shots at each other, wrestling around, grunting and trying to gain the upper hand in their dairy aisle brawl. They were both a match in size and muscle mass the only thing really different was Finn was slightly younger. Sophie tried to pull them apart but that was a loss cause since she was barely tall enough to reach their shoulders when she stood next to them. Instead she gathered her items on the floor and called for a manager in the dairy section. 

             This was not how she wanted to kick off her new start in Warblers Point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6

             

Fiona had about thirty minutes left of her shift at the pub. Her night flew by which was annoying because it was the only time she actually wanted her shift to drag on. What was she thinking agreeing to going out with Booker tonight? She made a fool of herself at the grocery store, spilling apples, staring at Booker’s package and then running into a crate of pumpkins causing her to fall flat on her ass. But he still wanted to take her out. Maybe that was why she said yes, if he was willing to still go out with a mess like her maybe she should humor him.

             Liam was cleaning up the kitchen early tonight, something happened between him and Neala but she wasn’t quite sure exactly what, no one was divulging information. Something went down in the general store earlier though between Liam and Finn because Liam had a black eye and Bradon was working the bar for Finn. Apparently he didn’t want to be anywhere near Liam at the current moment and since Neala and Liam were having problems that left Liam shacking up at Fiona’s place for the night rather than Finns. Lucky her. She didn’t mind having her brother stay over, but not when she was supposed to go out with a man tonight. Lord knows Liam would be waiting up for her, sticking his nose in her business where it didn’t belong.

             She was wiping down a table when Booker entered the bar. Her hand stilled on the surface she was cleaning and took in the beautiful sight of the native Californian. God he was gorgeous, men like him didn’t hang around in places like Warblers Point. There were a lot of good looking men in Warblers Point, like Murphy but they were all the rugged type. Booker was different; he stepped straight out of GQ, muscles and all. She didn’t realize she was staring until he was sitting at the bar just waving at her. Embarrassed she shook her head and finished wiping up the table.

             She went over to the bar where he was and leaned over the top. “You shouldn’t be here, I will meet you outside.”

             Booker gave her a confused and somewhat hurt look. She felt bad so she added, “My brother’s won’t think too kindly of me going out with a Sheila.” She tacked on a smile at the end of her sentence.

             He matched her smile but his could melt her socks and shoes off if she let it. “Alright, meet me outside, where something warm, we will be outside tonight.”

             Intrigued about what the night would bring she swatted him with the towel she was holding as she ushered him out. He faked a hurt look from her towel swipe and flashed another heart devouring grin at her before the door closed behind him. Damn him!

             Fiona thought about their date, they were going to be outside? What did he have planned? Whatever it was, she knew it was going to be interesting. Booker seemed like a very creative kind of guy. A very creative and very sexy kind of guy. Alright she needed to get a hold of herself before she got in his car. If she kept letting her hormones rage like they have been lately they wouldn’t get past the pubs parking lot before she viciously attacked him with her lips and tongue.

             She made a silent promise to herself that she was not going to have any make out sessions with him, she was not going to think about him taking her to bed and she was definitely not going to stare at his skin tight jeans and where they perfectly cupped his crotch.

             The pub was winding down at the moment and she didn’t anticipate it picking up, plus Liam closed the kitchen so there was not much need for her so she headed to the back to find Liam. He was hunched over the sink finishing up some wash.

             “Hey Liam, I think I’m going to head out.”

             He didn’t even turn to look at her. “Alright.”

             Fiona cringed from the hurt in his voice. She could tell he was going through a really rough time, if only he would talk to her about it but she knew if she pushed the subject he would just shut her out like everyone else.

             She placed her hand on his shoulder and said, “You know Liam, if you ever need…”

             He interrupted her sharply. “Drop it Fiona.”

             Startled she stepped back and watched her brother scrub the hell out of one of the pots putting all his frustrations into removing a crusted spot.

             “Ok, you have a key to my apartment, right?”

             That’s when he turned around and looked at her. His face looked raged, not just from the fight he had with Finn earlier but from what looked like lack of sleep. His eyelids were lined in red and he had bags under his eyes as if he hadn’t slept in months. His posture was completely dejected and it looked like someone just ran over his brand new puppy right in front of him. She so desperately wanted to reach out to her oldest brother.

             “You aren’t going to be there tonight?”

             “No, I told you that. I’m going out tonight.”

             “With who?”

             “That’s none of your business.”

             Her brothers were always so nosey. No wonder she wasn’t in a serious relationship, the poor guy would never be able to get past her brothers. Then she thought of Murphy, damn him and his Irish heritage. The only reason her brothers liked him so much was because they idolized him, they thought he was the epitome of every Irish man. He was handsome though, No! She was not going to do this. Murphy was out of the picture, all he wanted was sex.

             “It sure as hell is my business when it deals with my little sister when she is going to be out late.”

             She started to walk away because she was not going to get in a fight with Liam when she knew he was only projecting his anger at her. She turned around to address him in the best way she could, given his current state of mind.

             “Liam, I know you are hurting right now but I’m not going to stand here and let you berate me while I know you are just projecting your anger onto me. I will be home later. There is some pie in the fridge, help yourself and I will see you when I get home. If you want you can take the bed and I will sleep on the couch so I don’t wake you if you are asleep.”

             “What time will you be home?”

             “Not sure.” She blew a kiss in his direction. “Love you big brother.”

             He shook his head and turned back around to the stubbornly crusted pot mumbling something about her sleeping on the couch will only happen when pigs fly.

             She ran up to her apartment, quickly ran a comb through her hair, thankfully it still looked full. She used some hairspray to fluff and freshen her hair, added some more mascara and sprayed herself with her perfume. She put on a pair of skinny jeans, a navy blue sweater that had white stripes going across the chest and threw on her brown boots. She looked good but not too dressed up. She added a yellow scarf and grabbed her white wool coat and matching knitted hat that extended itself down her head. She took a quick look in the mirror and was pleased with her transformation. Now all she had to do was to sneak out without her brothers seeing her.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Booker was playing on his phone when he finally saw Fiona come outside as she approached his car from the back of the pub. He almost forgot to breathe. She looked so damn adorable in her white wool coat and hat. The jeans she wore hugged her legs like they were made for her and those boots gave him ideas about taking her in his bed…

             He was startled out of his thoughts when she opened the door and smiled at him as she hopped in.

             “Hey, all ready to go. Now where are you taking me?”

             He grabbed her glove covered hand and placed a kiss on it.

             “Hey gorgeous, you will just have to wait and see.”

             He caught himself staring at her because she poked him and said, “Alright, well we aren’t going anywhere unless you put the car in drive.”

             He shook his head. “Sorry, you are just so damn pretty.”

             She made a gagging noise mocking him. “Oh come on Booker, you can do better than that. I actually expect more from you than a cheesy line.”

             “You know you are right.” He said while putting his car in drive and starting toward their destination. “I promise to be more creative next time.”

             “That’s more like it. So how was your day? Did you happen to do anything fun today in good old Warblers Point?”

             He chuckled. “Just relaxed. How was work?”

             “Oh you know, served the town drunks, got hit on by a couple of tourists, some cute ones actually.”

             Booker’s grip on the steering wheel tightened. He knew he had no claim over Fiona at all especially since he was pretty sure she was seeing Murphy Ryan from the ski shop but the fact that there were other guys hitting on her made his blood boil. He didn’t like sharing, it was bad enough he had to compete with a full on Irish man, he didn’t need other men in the mix.

             “They didn’t hurt you did they?” It was the only thing he could think to say that wasn’t going to make him look like a total jealous idiot.

             She laughed. “No they were harmless, plus if anything happened my brothers would have thrown them out themselves. They don’t technically believe in the phrase, ‘The customer is always right.’ And since we are the only really good pub in town, we can afford to throw people out.”

             Booker eased up a bit realizing that in fact if any man got fresh on Fiona, her brothers would be right there to pummel the guy’s ass who tried to take advantage of her. He would not want to face those three guys together. Bradon he thought he could take, but Liam and Finn were at least twenty pounds heavier than him and where they were lacking in fat they  made up with muscle.

             “Are there any other bars in town?” He didn’t remember seeing any.

             “Well there are some in restaurants around town and then there’s Glitter.”

             “Glitter?”

             “Yes it’s the local gay bar around here. I love our pub to death but I would take a night at Glitter over O’Leary’s any night and if you try to quote me on that I will deny ever saying it.” She lit up his car with a sparkling smile.

             He laughed. “Why is Glitter better?”

             “Seriously? You’re talking about a glitter-ized establishment that sells liquor and has a disco ball and a dance floor with lights that shoot out of the floor. I have had many a drunk nights dancing there having the time of my life.” She swatted his shoulder. “Hey, a Sheila like you would fit in perfectly!”

             “Ha, ha” he mocked. “Am I ever going to live that down? It’s not like a martini is all that bad, James Bond drinks them.” He stated while pulling into their destination.

             “I don’t think so…Hey, why are we at my parents bed and breakfast?” She turned in her seat so fast and stilled the steering wheel with her hand the only reaction he could think of was to abruptly stop the car.

             “What’s going on?” he asked.

             “Why are we here Booker? If you think that I’m going to sleep with you…”

             He placed his hand over her mouth. “Before you say something you are going to immediately regret, don’t say a word and trust me. I’m not about to take advantage of you at your parents bed and breakfast.”

             “I can’t be seen here with you.”

             She was really good at not hiding her feelings, feelings that every time she expressed herself cut his heart in half. He hated that she didn’t want to be seen with him and he knew the one reason why, Murphy. Should he even continue on with the date? Or should he just give up because it was a hopeless cause.


Page 12

             He looked down at the steering wheel and removed her hand. “You know what, I’ll just drive you back, you clearly don’t want to be out with me.” He was putting the car in reverse when her hand stopped his over the gear shift. He felt a bolt of electricity fly up his arm as he looked into her eyes, her hopeful eyes.

             “Please don’t.”

             “I don’t know what you want Fiona. I want to hang out with you, get to know you better but clearly you don’t. You are too ashamed to be seen with me.”

             He went to reverse when her hand turned his head to look at her. Her hand was so soft on his jaw that was lined with stubble he almost made the mistake of lifting her on his lap and taking from her what he so desperately needed.

             “I’m not ashamed Booker, not at all. It’s just…my family is always in my business and for once I just want to do things on my own…you know? Without pesky older brothers sticking their noses where they don’t belong.”

             Booker could relate of people always being in his business, that was how the press was and people who wanted him just because of his fame. It was like the media was his family, constantly nagging him for updates on his sex life and trying to catch him in incomparable positions.

             He shook his head in agreement and proceeded forward. “I promise you your family won’t see you. I have one of the private cabins in the back and mine is one of the most secluded ones so there is no chance your family will see us unless they are snooping around in the dark.”

             “I wouldn’t put it past them.”

             He smiled at her. “Just trust me you are going to have a great night.”

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Liam sat on Fiona’s couch stewing over the events of one of the crappiest days of his life. He never thought he would find himself shacking up on his baby sister’s couch while his wife spread lies about him and his ex-girlfriend around town. He barely had even seen Sophie since she moved back so why Neala had the notion that he was cheating on her with Sophie was beyond him. He tried calling Neala quite a few times throughout the day but she wouldn’t answer her phone. He went back to their house only to find the locks changed and some suitcases with his clothes in them with a note saying he should start looking for another place to live, which didn’t make sense to him since she was the one who wanted to get out Warblers Point. He genuinely started to consider the idea that his soon to be ex-wife had gone completely bat-shit crazy.

             He took a sip of whiskey from his glass. The hard liquor usually sent a burning feeling down his throat to the pit of his stomach but tonight he couldn’t feel anything. He was completely numb. After the manager and some workers at the general store broke him and Finn up he went straight to the pub. He knew he was out of line attacking Finn when he was most likely just trying to help Sophie but he was always jealous of the connection Finn and Sophie had.

             When he was dating Sophie, Finn was the one she went to when they were having problems or if she needed advice. Liam hated that and he always thought Finn was one of the reasons why him and Sophie never made it, Liam always thought Finn was getting in the way. Seeing Finn and Sophie together again in the general store just brought back all those empty feelings. He knew he shouldn’t have reacted the way he did, especially since it looked bad on his part but he couldn’t help himself. He was too damn jealous.

             Topping off his glass with more whiskey he thought about what the hell he was going to do with his life. His crazy psycho wife wouldn’t talk to him, lord knew she was going to take his daughter away and possibly the pub. Life as he knew it was falling apart for him.

             He stared at his phone wishing it to ring so he could talk to Neala, at least for a couple of minutes so he could understand where she was coming from. He wanted nothing more than to solve the problems they were having. He knew things between them were tense, but he didn’t think they were so tense that they needed to get a divorce or that his wife needed to lose her mind and start dreaming up reasons why he was such an asshole.

             Now that he thought about it, he was an asshole. Poor Sophie. The last thing she needed in a small town where she was trying to establish herself was for people to think she was the town harlot. This was his entire fault. When Sophie came back to town, he should have never have said anything to her. He should have just ignored her but he couldn’t. They had so much history how could he just let her move back to their hometown and not reach out to her? Even if they were just friends.

             He stared at his phone and took the last swig of his drink. He picked it up and dialed Sophie’s number. He should at least see how she was doing after everything that happened this morning. He got a brief description from the store manager of what went down and how Sophie did get hurt in the process. The thought of Sophie being hurt, being dragged into this mess, made his fist want to go through a wall.

             He listened to her phone ring while he begged for her to pick up. He needed to talk to her, desperately.

             “Hello?” she asked in a hoarse voice. Liam looked at the time, it was eleven at night. Damn it. Of course she was asleep.

             “Hey Soph, its Liam. I’m sorry I called so late.”

             She didn’t answer him at first he thought she might have hung up. “Uh Soph, are you there?”

             He heard her clear her throat. “Yea, I’m here. Liam I don’t think it’s a good idea that you are calling me right now.”

             Panic zipped through his chest. Did she have someone there with her right now? Not that he had any right to be mad or jealous especially since he was married and trying to find out what was happening between him and his wife but all that didn’t stop him from wanting to march over to her place and rip whatever man she had in her bed out and beat him until he was out of her house.

             “Sorry, I didn’t know you were with someone.”

             “I’m not.” Liam felt the tension slowly release from his body from learning that Sophie was by herself. “It’s just with what happened today, I don’t think you should give Neala any more ammo, not that she has any.”

             “I don’t care about that right now. I just want to make sure you’re ok. I want to know what happened today.”

             “I would rather not re-visit today’s events.”

             “Please Soph, I need to know. Neala changed the locks on me today and kicked me out. She is having divorce lawyers talk about our assets right now. I need to know what she said to you.”

             Liam spent the next twenty minutes listening to Sophie tell him about how Neala attacked her in the dairy aisle, how Neala pushed her repeatedly into a shelf and then how Sophie had to go to the urgent care in town to get stitches from where a metal shelf cut her forehead. Liam’s stomach was tied up in knots as he listened to her. Sophie was one of the sweetest, kindest girls he had ever met. She would never do anything to hurt anybody and the fact that she was pushed around by Neala, hurt by her for no reason, made him physically ill.

             “Damn it Sophie. I’m so sorry. I’m so damn sorry. You shouldn’t be a part of this. I don’t even know how it got to this point. We didn’t do anything.”

             “I don’t know either Liam but us talking right now sure as hell isn’t going to help our case.”

             “I don’t think anything can save this situation right now. I just want to know where she got the idea that we’ve been having an affair.”

             There was silence on the phone and then she spoke up. “Don’t be so naïve Liam.”

             Naïve? He wasn’t being naïve. “What do you mean?”

             “Come on Liam, anytime we have been around each other since I’ve been back there has been an unspoken tension between us, to an outsider it might seem like something sexual might be going on but we both knows it has to deal with the fact that I left for college and never returned. We never talked about how things ended between us, we never got closure. I can see how Neala might misinterpret that tension.”

             Liam remembered the day that Sophie told him she was leaving and that it was best they didn’t see each other anymore. It was as if she reached into his chest, ripped out his heart and used it as her own punching bag. He didn’t hear from her after she left. The only reason he knew what was happening in her life was because she stayed in contact with Finn. Finn was the one who broke the news about her getting married which was also one of the crappiest days of his life. He got black out drunk that night.

             He brought his focus back to the present and thought about the encounters he had with Sophie while she was back in town. It was tense between the two of them, she was right. They had unsolved business, unsolved business that led to the demise of his marriage.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Fiona was happy to see that her parents gave Booker the most secluded cabin at the bed and breakfast. He was right, no one was going to see them at all unless they actually came up to his place.

             She got out of the car and was headed to the front door when he stopped her by pulling her hand in a different direction.

             “Where are we going?”

             “Can’t a guy just surprise a girl without an interrogation?”

             She chuckled. “Sorry, lead me away.”

             Booker gave her another one of those melt your panties off smiles and led her to the back of the cabin. It was extremely dark so she found herself gathering up closer to Booker, being someone who was always afraid of the dark, she didn’t want to feel like she was alone. That was the excuse she told herself as she strapped herself to Booker’s muscular arm. She was surprised to find that his arm was so strong and surrounded by a nice amount of muscle that she knew would do wonders in the bedroom…

             Her thoughts were stripped away when they turned the corner of the cabin. Sitting behind it were two chairs, what seemed like a projector, a little space heater and camping light. There was a thermos and some kind of tin sitting on a table next to the projector, and what seemed like a computer. Fiona was extremely confused as to what he had planned.

             He brought her over to one of the chairs, had her sit down and then placed a blanket over her lap and turned on the space heater. He was so cute fiddling around with everything making sure she was comfortable. She had never been treated like this in her life. He made her feel so important, this was not good. She couldn’t get herself attached to him like this, not so quickly.

             He handed her a steaming cup of hot chocolate and busted open the tin that was sitting on the table which held an assortment of cookies. Oh God, her heart was slowly melting into a puddle.

             “Alright, can I get you anything else? Are you warm enough? I wish we could have done this inside but there wasn’t enough room in my cabin…”

             She stopped him. “Booker, this is perfect. I’m warm and I have everything I need. I know I shouldn’t ask but what are we doing here?”

             “Well, last time we hung out you told me about how your dream is to travel the world. Well, I have been quite a few places and I thought I would share them with you.”

             That was when he turned the projector on and it projected its picture up against the white wall of the cabin, making it a perfect screen for his pictures. The first slide said “A Quick Trip Around the World for Fiona.” The idea almost made her cry but she held herself together. She didn’t need to embarrass herself in front of him.

             “This is so sweet of you Booker. I can’t believe you did this.”

             “Wait until the end, you might not be singing the same song after you see my vacation slides.” He said with a chuckle.

             She didn’t care if they were his vacation slides or random pictures from the internet, just the mere thought made her insides tingle…she was in trouble.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Booker knew it was lame showing some of the very few pictures he was able to take while on different locations with his movies but he knew if anyone would appreciate them, Fiona would. The look on her face when she saw the first slide would be forever engrained in his head. She was so sweet and pure, it was so refreshing to finally be near someone who appreciated the little things and was not after him for his money or connections. She just simply wanted to be around him because he intrigued her.


Page 13

             She looked so damn adorable wrapped up in her blankets and drinking hot chocolate it took every ounce of energy to continue with the slides and not just stare at her soaking all her energy up.

             “Before we really get going I just wanted to remind you that I have been quite a few places but like I said before I never really got to experience them like a tourist because of work but there were a couple of days here and there when I was able to sneak out for an hour or two to take a look around and really soak in the sights. That’s when I took these pictures.”

             “I can’t wait.” Fiona replied in excitement.

             Booker started with his stint in Africa where he spent time in Egypt filming a movie about a missing pyramid, not one of his better movies, but Egypt was beautiful.

             “This is the Nile.” Booker said while displaying a picture of the longest river in the world.

             “Oh my God, it’s beautiful. Is it true that the river flows north?”

             “Yes, it is. This picture was actually taken at the Blue Nile Falls. I have only seen one thing more beautiful than this. It’s like a little oasis, a little paradise in the middle of a dessert. I swear you could find Timone and Pumba from The Lion King living here.”

             That sprang a little chuckle from Fiona. “What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen.”

             Booker just stared at Fiona, implying it was her. She made a gagging noise and nailed him in the head with a cookie. “Don’t be corny.”

             Booker rubbed his head and laughed. “It’s true!”

             “Please! We all know that I am second best to the Nile.” She finished her sentence with a teasing smile.

             “Alight, alright, I will give you that one.”

             Booker continued to take Fiona around the world stopping in England, China, Australia, Alaska and to top it off…Ireland. That was what really caught her attention, he knew it would. He only had one picture, but it was one of his favorite pictures.

             “Ok, this is the last stop and honestly my favorite place. This picture is actually my wallpaper on my computer.”

             He clicked to the next slide and watched Fiona take the picture in. Her eyes were wide and started to fill with water. He couldn’t help but watch her pure face absorb every last inch of the picture. It was a picture looking over the Cliffs of Moher. The green of the cliffs were a stark contrast next to the deep blue of the ocean with the sun setting in the background. The picture could have easily been on a number of different post cards and displayed in multiple coffee table books.

             “This was taken…”

             She interrupted him and said, “The Cliffs of Moher.” She sounded almost breathless.

             “Yes, how did you know?”

             “It’s my parents’ favorite place. They used to talk about it all the time. My da proposed to my ma on the cliffs. I can’t believe you have been there and took this picture. It’s gorgeous.”

             “Thanks.” They just sat there in silence as she took in the picture. He didn’t know what to say so he just let her study it. Finally after what seemed like forever she started to get up and fold her blanket, confusing the hell out of him.

             “What are you doing?” He asked.

             “I should probably get home, it’s getting late.”

             Completely thrown off by her sudden change in attitude, he stopped her and made her look at him. “Did I do something wrong?”

             She shook herself from him and looked in his eyes. “No you did nothing wrong. It’s just, you have been so many places and have experienced so many things. I don’t know why you want to hang out with a girl like me who has barely been out of her own state she was born in.”

             “Fiona, I could care less where you have been or haven’t been. That doesn’t matter to me.”

             “We are different people Booker. I don’t know exactly what you do for a job but it’s not wait tables at a family pub. You are part of a different class, you are with the glamorous crowd and God just look at you, you are practically perfect with your I-did-my-hair look but it really doesn’t look like you did and those stupid tight jeans and damn it, you have the perfect amount of stubble on your face making you so damn sexy…” She clamped her hand over her mouth and shook her head then proceeded to leave him behind his cabin alone.

             She liked his jeans? She thought he was sexy? He had to remember to thank Blaire for the jean purchase. Well this night kept getting better and better at least he thought it did until he noticed she took off when he was day dreaming about what she said. He ran around the cabin and saw her walking toward the service road. He ran to catch up to her.

             Pulling her arm so she was facing him he asked, “Where do you think you’re going?”

             “I’m walking home.” She continued to walk but he stopped her again.

             “You can’t just walk home, its dark and it’s too far and it’s freezing out.”

             “I have walked home from here too many times than I can count. I’m a big girl I can handle myself.” She yanked her arm out of his grasp and started walking again. Irritated now, he grabbed her again.

             “Fiona please stop. I don’t know what’s going on but I thought we were having a good night.”

             “We were, until I realized I’m way out of my league here and whatever is going on between us is only going to lead to disappointment on my side. I truly appreciate what you did for me tonight and I will always remember it but I think it’s best if we just went our separate ways.”

             She was not going to get off that easy. Just because she worked at a pub and he traveled around the world did not mean she was out of his league. There was no league to even compete in. He just wanted to be with her for who she was.

             “Fiona, I could care less about what you do for a living or the fact that you have barely left Vermont. That crap doesn’t matter to me. I like you, you are fun, sweet, feisty and so damn intriguing it’s keeping me up at night just trying to figure you out. I showed you those pictures tonight because I wanted to show you a little piece of what I was able to experience. I’m so sorry if it upset you, that was not my intention.”

 

              Well now Fiona felt like crap. The last thing she wanted was for Booker to be apologizing for what he did for her tonight. No one had ever done anything so special and heartwarming for her. It was such a simple thing, but it was way more than an expensive dinner at the fanciest restaurant in Burlington, it was classic romance.

             She wanted nothing more than to attach herself to Booker and let him show her everything he knew but she knew that he was not in the same class as her. Little pub girls didn’t get to be with world travelers like Booker or sexy GQ men like Booker. No, little pub girls ended up with the local drunk who started balding early or the local hunk who only saw her for her body and when they finally got sick of her tossed her to the trash.

             She couldn’t let herself get too attached to Booker because it was too much of a risk. She knew she told herself that she would take things with Booker one day at a time but this one day was too much for her. If she let herself go any further with him she was only going to end up broken hearted. Just from the two encounters she had with him she knew she could fall hard for him and given the fact that he was a tourist and out of her league she couldn’t let herself get caught up in the whirlwind that was Booker.

             Although, looking into those crystal blue eyes had her knees trembling. She couldn’t be rude to him since he set up such a beautiful night for her. She was being ungrateful right now storming off like some petulant child. No, she was going to be grateful and give herself this one night to enjoy Booker for everything he was and everything he was giving her. Then she was going to cut him off. It would be for her own good and for his.

             “I’m sorry I ruined the night.” She finally said.

             He pulled her into his large muscular chest and wrapped her in his warm embrace. His arms were firm vices wrapping around her small frame instilling warmth throughout her body. Since she decided she would give herself this one night, she wrapped her arms around him and rested her head on his chest. He placed his chin on the top of her head and kissed her hair.

             “You didn’t ruin anything. Come on, I will take you home.”

             But she didn’t want to go home, not yet at least. She wanted to be selfish for once. If this was going to be the last time she was going to allow herself to be with Booker, she was going to make it count.

             He walked her back to his car but instead of letting him open the car door she brought him to the front of his cabin. He looked at her with a confused look on her face and she decided to just go for it. She leaned in, wrapped her hands around his neck and pulled his mouth down to hers.

Instantly it was like a bolt of electricity zapped between the two of them. She parted her lips for him and he took what she wanted him totake. She never felt anything so good in her life. His tongue swirled around with hers and his kisses turned not only to want but they turned into need. He pushed her up against the door and deepened his kisses. Every part of her body was now tingling and she felt a dull throb starting to take place between her thighs. Suddenly her coat was too much for her, her entire body was starting to overheat.

“Open the door.” She said in between kisses.

 

                                                                     ***

 

Booker couldn’t believe what was happening, for a moment he thought he was going to be walking Fiona home but instead he was making out with her and inviting her into his cabin. Well he didn’t quite invite her, she invited herself which he frankly didn’t have a problem with.

When they got into the cabin he led her to the bed while stripping off each other’s jackets. Damn cold weather. It felt like it took forever to remove everything, zippers and gloves getting in the way. Finally he had her just in her jeans and sweater and damn did she look good.

He worked his mouth from her luscious lips down the column or her neck to the little slope of her shoulder devouring every last inch of her. She nipped at his earlobe sending a bolt of pleasure straight to his cock. He was already hard but that little nibble caused him pain since he was straining against the zipper of his jeans. They needed to get undressed and quickly.

Forgetting about his ability to be a gentleman, he stopped her and looked into her eyes. He wanted to make sure she actually wanted this and was not going to have sex with him just because she felt bad about the way the night turned.

“Are you sure you want to do this Fiona?”

Breathlessly and moving towards his lips she said, “More than anything.” Then she took a hold of his mouth once again, devouring him like he was the last scoop of ice cream in the world.

She reached for the hem of his shirt and pulled it over his head. The whip of cold air stunned him for a second until she took her tiny little hands and spanned them across his chest, exploring every last inch of him. The feel of her hands against his naked skin warmed his insides and only made him harder, which he didn’t think was possible. He heard a little groan come from her throat.

“Everything ok?”

“Yea.” She said placing a kiss on his chest. “How does a guy like you end up in Warblers Point? You’re so damn perfect.” She continued to explore his chest and then worked her hands to his belt and pants. She pushed past his waistline and cupped his balls and cock. She looked up at him in shock when she felt him. Her beautiful huge eyes were full of surprise. The shock made his pride surge. She was too damn cute.

She swallowed hard and said, “You’re huge…and practically hairless.”

That made a deep chuckle come from his chest. “Thank you babe. I keep up on my man-scaping.”

“I have never been with a man…who, uh was practically bald…down there.”

Laughing again he said, “Just wait, it will rock your world.”

She gave him a little squeeze, making him buckle over and lose control. He took her sweater and pulled it over her head and started to undo her pants. When he looked up he finally noticed what he was finally privileged to see. Fiona had the most gorgeous breasts he had ever seen and they were still in her bra.


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“Jesus.” He muttered. She was wearing a black and lilac demi-bra almost exposing her nipples. She was still cupping him and slightly stroking him with the pad of her thumb sending mini surges of pleasure through his body, while he took in the beautiful sight standing before him.

He noticed her bra was a front clasped and took advantage of it right away freeing her beasts. They were not huge by any means but damn if they were not perky and perfect. He thought the bra was giving her a little lift but nope that was just her. Her nipples pebbled in the cold air and all he could think about was getting his mouth on them.

He lowered himself so he could take one of her breasts in his mouth and started licking her nipple causing her to arch back and moan.

“Damn you are so responsive.” He said in between licks. After licking her tender breasts for a couple of minutes  and listening to her pleas he finally took her full breast into his mouth and sucked on the pebbled peaked center while his hand worked the other breast. He had never felt something so good, so perfect in his life. He had been with his fair share of woman, mostly big breasted because he was kind of a boob guy but Fiona’s breasts were entirely different than anything he had ever experienced.

They were so real and so in tune with what he wasdoing. He felt her hips send little thrusts toward his pelvis. She wanted him, and he wanted her. He worked his mouth back up to hers and listened to her desperation as he left her wet soaked nipples touch the cold air.

“You are so damn beautiful.”He stared into her eyes that looked like melted caramel.

“Booker, please. I can’t wait much longer.”

With that, he moved his hands down to her hips and tore her pants off. He took a second to take in the matching panties she was wearing. He felt himself swallow hard at the goddess that was lying before him. She buried herself so far into his world already, there was no way he could turn back to lfie before he met Fiona. Man was he in trouble.

He shed the rest of his clothes and straddled her. He watched her eyes grow wide while she took his whole body in. He had never been a shy guy and was always proud of what he had to offer but watching Fiona soak his entire body in while licking her lips made him feel slightly exposed but sent a thrill through like him he never experienced before.

“You like what you see, babe?”

All she did was nod while continuing tostare. Her ability to not worry what he thought of her gawking made him chuckle to himself. She didn’t care what people thought of her, if she wanted to stare at his massive erection and lick her lips that was exactly what she was going to do.

He grabbed her panties between his fingers and yanked them down her legs flinging them across the room. There she was, naked, and damn it if she wasn’t the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He took her mouth in his again, biting along her lips, matching his tongue strokes with hers and he slowly moved his hand down to her throbbing center. He moved his fingers inside and felt the desire she had for him. She was completely wet and ready to go. He moved his thumb around the little nub of pleasure nerves and stroked it. Her cries of pleasure were muffled by his kisses and he enjoyed every last bit of it.

He felt her body start to tense up and that was when he inserted his fingers deep into her hole, relishing on the tight wet walls. God she felt so good. He felt himself starting to tighten up as well just from the pleasure he was giving her.

“Booker, please…”

He thrust his fingers again while continuing to rub her with his thumb and that was all it took. Her entire body convulsed as she screamed his name in ecstasy. Listening to her cries of pleasure almost had him coming as well but he held onto whatever self-restraint he had left. He leaned over to his nightstand, grabbed a condom and rolled it over himself while he watched a small smile creep over Fiona’s pleasure ridden face.

She was still in a post-climax fog when he hovered over her and teased her entrance with the tip of his cock. She grabbed his head and brought it down to her face kissing him like it was the first time their lips met.He could easily get lost in her kisses if he wasn’t careful. She sent her hips in the air, begging for him. That was his cue.

Slowly he worked himself in, inch by inch relishing in the thick, tight walls surrounding his erection. Nothing felt thisgood, nothing in his life had ever been this amazing. She felt so right, so perfect. Finally when he was all the way in her he looked down and saw her big brown eyes staring up at him.

“You make me feel so full. You feel so good inside of me Booker.”She rubbed his face with her delicate hand and traced his lips with her index finger. It was a gentle, soul shattering touch.

“Same here babe.”Was all he could grit out because he was about to lose it.

She wrapped her legs around his waist burying him further inside and started to rock her hips. He needed to take control of what was happening so he stilled her hips with his hands and started his own pace. Only, his own pace was going to be the death of him. Either way he was ready to fly off the edge in two seconds but he wanted to hold out for her. He reached down to suck on her breast.

When he brought the pink tip into his mouth and rubbed her clit with his thumb again she cried out in bliss and he felt her contracting around him, milking him for all he was worth. A couple of thrusts and he was a goner as well. His entire body went numb with pleasure as he came inside of her. He swore he lost all feeling in his body from the orgasm that took over his life. He exploded so hard and so fast he didn’t think he would ever float back down from the journey Fiona just took him on.

As he recoveredfrom the little aftershocks of his orgasm he noticed he was lying right on top of Fiona. He shifted so he was on his side and she was resting on his chest. He kissed the top of her head and rubbed her back. They didn’t say anything to each other. They didn’t need to because there was an unspoken feeling floating between them. What they just experienced was beyond words. They just rested and enjoyed being wrapped up in each other’s arms.

He laid there with Fiona, his dream girl, in his arms thinking about what just conspired between the two of them. Did he really just make love with Fiona? He didn’t fuck her, no he made love to her that was the only way of describing what happened. He kissed the top of her head and whispered a silent thank you to whoever brought this amazing woman to him. He didn’t think life could get any better than what he was experiencing right now. He could die a happy man with Fiona in his arms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 7

 

             Liam woke up, sore, pissed off and worried. Fiona never came home last night and he knew he shouldn’t worry because most likely she was out with Murphy especially after seeing him in her apartment shirtless the other morning but he still worried. She was his baby sister, his only sister. He knew she was old enough to have sex and do whatever she wanted but it still irked him that his baby sister who he taught how to ride a bike and build Lego buildings was out on the prowl, sleeping with men. Now that he thought about her staying out all night more, he didn’t like it at all.

             He went to the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. It was still really early in the morning but since he couldn’t sleep from thinking about what his life had become he decided to get an early start of his day. His ribs were sore from where Finn punched him and he had a nice black eye that only made him look like an idiot.

             He had gotten into his fair share of fights with his siblings, more brawls than he could count but this one was unwarranted on his part. He owed Finn an apology but he was too damn stubborn to walk across the hall, knock on his brother’s door and apologize. He was still fuming about what he saw transpiring between Finn and Sophie, even though he knew deep down nothing would happen between them, it still bothered him seeing them together.

             What bothered him even more was Sophie’s revelation that the reason his marriage failed was because him and Sophie had unfinished business. Not only now was he mad at Sophie for the way she ended things between them but now he was furious at her because she was the main reason his marriage had failed. Neala didn’t even stand a chance with Sophie back in town. It only brought back all the hurt and un-resolved feelings he had for her. He didn’t know it at the time but now that he looked back, he had been very distant with Neala and out of it lately. He never put two and two together though. He was a dumbass.

             When Sophie came moved back to town, he was nothing but excited for her to start her life over again, at least that’s how he thought he felt. Apparently he had been lying to himself and to his wife. No wonder she thought he was having an affair. He needed to clear that lie up right away, not only for Neala’s sanity but for his image and unfortunately Sophie’s image as well. News spread around in Warblers Point like wild fire, especially dramatic news, so the last thing he needed was for all the town patrons to think he was some kind of lying adulterer.

             He thought about his day and was irritated about having to go help his dad out with the fence for the bed and breakfast. The last thing he wanted to do was participate in some physical labor when he was sore as hell and confront Finn so early in the morning, in front of his family. Gulping down some more coffee he figured he might as well talk to Finn before he went over to The Sleeping Potato.

             Realizing it was still too early and not wanting to wake Finn, especially since he was the worst morning person out of all his siblings he decided to take a nice long hot shower and let the warm water refuel his muscles for what he could only imagine being another rough day ahead of him.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Fiona felt a beam of light starting to shine down on her face but she refused to open her eyes. She was so warm and comfortable in her bed. She had never felt this comfortable. Then it hit her, she wasn’t in her bed, she was in Booker’s and his big strong arms were wrapped around her waist while his thumb stroked circles around her belly button. Crap! She was supposed to sneak out last night but she fell asleep. But how could she not after Booker and her tangled up the sheets on three different occasions last night? She told herself she would just be with him one time, but that led into a second and then a third causing her to pass out. She wanted to punch herself in the face for such a stupid mistake.

             She felt Booker’s sweet lips press kisses along her shoulder and up her neck. “Good morning gorgeous.” He mumbled in between feather like nips.

             She felt herself sinking into his touch which was the last thing she needed, she needed to get out of bed and out of his cabin before her parents saw her. Reluctantly he dragged herself away to look at him and said, “I have to get going.”

             Booker didn’t hear her apparently because he pushed her back down on the bed and started kissing up her neck and around her jaw. She couldn’t be doing this, she needed to turn off her libido and turn her brain back on.

             She pressed her hand on Booker’s chest and said, “Listen, I don’t know what I was thinking. This was a mistake.”

             Instantly Booker went still and those beautiful crystal blue eyes turned into thunder clouds. His jaw tightened as his face stared back at her completely devoid of the happiness she woke up to. She was nervous about what his next move was going to be.

             “Last night was not a mistake and I refuse to have you think that. Last night was one of the best nights I have ever had, and I know you had a good time too. So please do no disrespect me by belittling what happened between us and tell me that it was a mistake, I deserve better than that and so do you.”

             Fiona never thought Booker could be a person that made her feel like crap, but in those couple of sentences he accomplished just that. She felt awful. Last night did mean something to her, more than he would ever know but she couldn’t lead him on, she couldn’t lead herself on. He was an out of towner, he wasn’t staying which meant he was only going to end up breaking her heart. She needed to keep reminding herself that. But she couldn’t leave Booker like this, like he was going to throw his fist through a wall.


Page 15

             She conceded. “You’re right Booker, last night wasn’t a mistake. I’m sorry I said that. One thing you do need to know is that last night was a one-time thing.”

             “It was actually a three time thing…” he said with a smile.

             “I’m serious Booker.”

             “I’m serious too Fiona. I want more. I’m not going to settle for just last night.”

             “Well I’m sorry but that’s all I can offer.” She got out of bed and started throwing on her clothes as quickly as possible. Where were her damn underpants? She didn’t care, she threw on her jeans and sweater, and shoes, grabbed her jacket scarf and hat and headed for the door while Booker grabbed his jeans and threw them on. She tried to overt her eyes from his gorgeous body but when she was zipping up her jacket she caught herself staring for a second. Damn her! Damn him!

             She was just about to leave when he caught her arm.

             “This isn’t over you know.” He said with a cocky grin. “I’m not going to just let you call the shots and tell me this, whatever is between us, is over before it got a chance to begin.”

             “That’s exactly what’s happening. I’m sorry if I led you to believe there was more going on here but there isn’t.”

             “Bullshit. I can see it all over your face and the way you stare at me. You’re holding back and I’m making it my personal goal to crack that wall you just put up.” He grabbed her by the shoulders and planted a kiss on her so fierce she thought her lips were going to come off. She lost herself once again in him, matching his kisses and tongue thrusts. Then he pulled away just as fast as he kissed her. “You can count on it Fiona, you will be mine soon enough.”

             As Fiona was walking around to the other side of the pond via the service road to avoid any sighting by her family she thought about his last words. He was going to make her his? What kind of cave-like man says that? She didn’t pin Booker for such a territorial guy but there were a lot of things she didn’t know about him. They almost got in a wrestling match when she was trying to get out the door, he didn’t want her walking home, he was grabbing clothes to put on and drive her home but she wasn’t going to have any of that so while he was putting on his shirt she sprinted out the door leaving him in the dust. She heard him swearing in the distance but she didn’t care. She needed to get out of there before he started making headway on his promise of making her his. Whatever that meant.

             

                                                                                    ***

 

Booker was fuming. What turned out to be one of the most amazing nights of his life was instantly washed away by a couple of sentences uttered by that beautiful mouth of hers. He didn’t understand why she was so resistant about starting something with him. Yes he was just visiting Warblers Point but it wasn’t like she didn’t want to travel the world. It wasn’t like she was grounded to her hometown. She even told him her dream was to travel the world and work on improving her photography. If she gave him a shot in the future he might be able to give her the world.

He already felt such a strong connection with her, a connection he never felt before with any other woman so the fact that she was pushing him away when he knew she felt it too was driving him insane. Unfortunately ever since he became famous he always got what he wanted and he became accustomed to it. People dropped what they were doing to make sure he had everything his heart desired and now his heart desired the pretty little auburn haired waitress with the large whiskey colored eyes so he was going to do everything possible to please his damn heart.

He decided to stop worrying about the fortress Fiona threw up between them once she got out of bed and started focusing on how he was going to slowly over take that fortress. He was going to win her over if he had to spend a year in Warblers Point. He needed to get to know Fiona better to see if what he felt for her was real and make sure it wasn’t just lust.

He got in the shower and got ready for the day. He had to help out the O’Learys with the fence today which was going to be hard because flashes of the youngest O’Leary naked in his bed, hair spread out over his pillow kept popping up in his mind. He hoped he could hold it together until they were done with the fence. He knew if he let the fact that he was casually seeing Fiona slip while working with her family that would be by far the nail in the coffin of whatever was blooming between him and Fiona.

He threw on a pair of jeans, a thermal shirt and a puffy vest. Instead of doing is hair he opted for a hat figuring if he did his hair the guys would most likely make fun of him. Once he was set he locked up his cabin and headed for the breakfast area. Walking up to the main house his stomach growled, he could already smell the bangers, begging to be eaten.

When he walked into the dining area he was surprised to already see all three O’Leary boys feasting on breakfast while their mother watched over them, refilling their juices and giving them more helpings of bangers and potatoes. Spoiled, all three of them, spoiled rotten.

He grabbed a plate for himself and headed for the table.

“Why top of the mornin’ to ya, laddie.” Mrs. O’Leary headed his way, always wearing her white ruffled apron and sporting a smile, a smile that was all too familiar. Just the sight of Fiona’s mom had his mind spinning in all different directions. How was he going to make it through today without shouting out, “I screwed your daughter and it was the best I have ever had!” to everyone?

“Good morning Mrs. O’Leary. You are looking lovely this morning.”

“Oh hog’s wash but thank ya for the flattery. Come sit by me boys. Bradon, Finn scoot ya arses down and make room for this here fine young man.”

The O’Leary boys looked up and eyed Booker making him feel uneasy. Did they know about him and Fiona already? Were they spying on his cabin? No, he needed to stop being paranoid.

“Why is the Sheila sitting with us?” Finn teased.

“Finn O’Leary, don’t ya dare insult our guest.” Mrs. O’Leary walked over to Finn and smacked him in the head causing him to drop his fork and rub the swatted area.

“Gee ma, I was only kidding. Isn’t that right…uh…”

“Booker.” Booker said helping Finn out.

“Yea that’s right, Booker. Hey, did anyone ever tell you, you look like that director who’s also named Booker?” Finn asked.

Booker went completely still and felt his stomach hit rock bottom. The last thing he needed right now when he was trying to win Fiona over was for the cat to be let out of the bag about his real identity. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to hide such information from Fiona but he sure as hell didn’t want to tell her right now. He had a fear that if she found out who he truly was, she would want to be with him because of his fame, not because of who he wasas a person. He liked people getting to know him for who he was as a person not for what he accomplished in his professional career. He needed to divert the attention away from him and quickly.

“Uh, yea but that guy is a total hippy. So when are we getting started on the fence?”

Finn and Liam who were both sporting matching shiners on their faces whipped around to Bradon and both said in unison while pointing their thumbs in Booker’s direction, “He’s helping?”

They said it as if Booker had some kind of contagious incurable disease. He felt slightly insulted. He had been nothing but nice to the guys, whatever little interaction he had with them. Plus he was an easy going guy, he got along with pretty much anyone, they shouldn’t have a problem with him helping them out with the fence.

“He told da yesterday that he would help out. Said he wants to, of course da jumped right on having the extra help.” Bradon said while rolling his eyes.

Liam shook his head. “You would think three strapping young men would be good enough, nope have to add on a Sheila to help too.”He scooped up a forkful of potatoes and shoved them in his mouth while continuing to shake his head.

“Hey let up a little. He’s a good guy.” Bradon defended Booker, as if he was not sitting right there with all of them.Booker was a little shocked that Bradon stuck up for him.

Liam just grunted and shoved more potatoes in his mouth. Then said, “Hey speaking of da, I should get this out before he gets here, Lord knows he shouldn’t hear this but Fiona never came home last night.”

Bradon and Finn’s face both shot up from their plates and looked at Liam. Booker’s stomach sank for the second time that morning. Holy hell it wasn’t even nine in the morning yet and he was already considering this an awful day. They wouldn’t figure it out he prayed. Therewas no reason why Fiona’s brothers would know about the two of them. Sweat started to form at his brown so he pulled his hat down a little more so the guys didn’t see him sweating.

“What do you mean she didn’t come home?” Finn asked.

“What the hell do you think it means, she didn’t come home dumbass.” Liam replied.

“Where the hell did she go last night? Did she have a date?” Bradon asked.

Liam confirmed, “Yea, she had a date but wouldn’t give me any details. Apparently it went well, which doesn’t make me too happy. I don’t like knowing that my baby sister is out there whoring around.”Booker almost spit out the orange juice he was swallowing.

“Takes one to know one.”Finn said under his breath but not quite low enough because Liam heard him and pounded the table with his fist in outrage. Booker almost jumped out of his chair. He was so damn nervous about Fiona’s brother’s finding out about last night that any slight movement spooked him. Why was he being such a…Sheila! He shouldn’t be so scared of these Irish men.

Booker looked at Liam who was fuming.“I fucking told you nothing happened between me and Sophie.”

“What? You and Sophie? What happened with Neala, your wife? And what about Fiona.” Bradon asked confused.

“Shall I fill him in or do you want to?”

“It’s no one’s business Finn so drop it. And most likely Fiona was out with Murph last night.”

That comment made Booker’s blood pressure sky rocket. The thought of that hunky Irishman snuggling up close to Fiona, kissing her, holding her, making her cry out in pleasure only made Booker want to do violent things to people he didn’t know. Knowing Murphy was still slightly in the picture for Fiona made him mad. He wanted to be the only guy she thought of, not some tall dark and handsome Irish speaking man.

“Yea, she was most likely with Murph. I really hope it works out for them this time. They are good together. Plus who wouldn’t want Murph as a brother-in-law?” Bradon said.

Liam and Finn both agreed and then continued to talk about how great of a guy Murphy Ryan was and how he made their sister happy. He was getting sick of the homage to Murphy so he left the table because if he didn’t he was going to end up saying something he didn’t mean which would only lead to suspicion. Suspicion he needed to currently avoid.

He grabbed his plate and scraped off the left over bites he couldn’t stomach, thanks to the Murphy talk and rinsed his plate in the sink. He was supposed to put his plate in a dirty dish bucket but he felt badmaking Mary Margaret clean after him. He planned on staying at The Sleeping Potato for a while and it didn’t hurt to help out around the house, especially if it meant winning over Fiona’s parents. He would take any kind of praise he could get.

Mr. O’Leary walked in wearing a flannel red and black checkered shirt and a pair of very worn overalls. He was also sporting a baseball hat just like Booker’s, but Mr. O’Leary’s had seen better days.

Booker shook his hand. “Mr. O’Leary, good to see you this morning. I’m all ready to help when you are ready to go. Did you have some breakfast?”

“Aye laddie, thank ya. I had me breakfast earlier tis mornin’. And please call me Carlin, none of that mister blarney. I’m ready when ya’re. Boys quit bickerin’ over there and get your arses movin’. We don’t have all day.”

After the boys put their plates in the sink and cleaned up their spots they headed toward Booker and their da and that’s when Carlin noticed the black eyes on Finn and Liam.

“What the hell happened to ya two muppets?”

Finn looked at Liam with a smug grin but Liam beat him to it. “Don’t worry about it da, nothing a slab of steak on the eye can’t cure.”

“Ya two been fightin’ again?” Carlin looked serious, like he was about to knock his sons around for fighting, which didn’t make much sense.

“Look da, we just had a misunderstanding, everything is fine now.”

“That’s funny you say that because I never got an apology.” Finn added.Booker pegged Finn as a well-established instigator, to the highest degree after watching him interact with his brothers.

Liam gave Finn the death stare sending secret signals to shut the fuck up, but they weren’t so secret because Carlin clued in on what was happening.

“Outside…now!” Carlin said with a glare that could kill.


Page 16

Booker didn’t know what to do. Clearly this was a family matter but he was also supposed to help with the fence that was clearly outside. Did he go out there with them and intrude on their family matter or did he stay in the house to help Mrs. O’Leary with the dishes? Booker chose the latter and started to head for the kitchen when Carlin shouted out, “Where do ya think ya’re goin’? Get your arse outside too.”

Booker was a little shocked by the man’s abruptness but kind of flattered since Carlin was treating him just likeone of his sons. It felt good. He strode outside with the other guys and watched Liam eye Finn down with pure hatred. Bradon unfortunately was stuck between the two of them probably just hoping that when Liam lost it, he only took down Finn and not himself.

“What the hell is going on?” Carlin asked in a rough tone that made Booker wonder what it would have been like being an O’Leary boy when they were younger getting yelled at by their dad. Booker saw the way Carlin’s jaw twitched as he put the wrath of God in his sons’ souls and Booker came to the conclusion that he would had been scared shitless if he had to grow up with Carlin O’Leary. Yup, scared completely shitless.

Liam took the lead. “Things between Neala and I are a bit raw at the current moment…”

Finn cut in. “I wouldn’t call a divorce raw…”

Carlin’s eyes lit upwith fury. “Divorce? What is wrong with ya? Ya ma is going to die when she hears about this, just die.” Carlin lifted his hat off his head and ran his hand through his hair.

“I’m working on it da, it kind of came out of nowhere.”

“Well how does tis little information include knocking ya brother around?”

Liam then went into what happened yesterday, apparently there was a high school sweet heart involved, lies and cheating. It seemed all a little too dramatic for Booker but he was intrigued none the less. He studied Finn while Liam was telling the story and noticed Finn’s anger starting to grow more intensely as the story progressed. If Booker didn’t know any better he would have thought Finn had a little thing for Sophie. Interesting.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Fiona made it back to her apartment easily avoiding her family…and Booker. She flopped her body on her bed and scorned herself for what she did last night. Now how was she supposed to walk away from Booker after everything she experienced last night? Murphy was one hell of a guy in bed, kind of domineering in a way but he knew how to please a woman and until Booker, Murphy was by far the best she had ever had but Booker topped the charts last night. He was rough at times but also so gentle and caring. He knew exactly what she wanted and when she wanted it, as if they were meant for each other.

             No, she couldn’t think like that. Last night was a onetime thing that was never going to happen again. She exhaled sharply and tried to slow her wildly beating heart. The only way she could accomplish such a task of forgetting about Booker was avoiding him completely. If she didn’t give him a chance to see her then there wouldn’t be any slip ups on her part, perfect!

             She grabbed a quick shower, threw on some yoga pants and one of her tight fitting long sleeve shirts, threw her hair in a bun and went to go meet her friend Tipper Burnett at Sophie’s bakery to catch up.

             Fiona grew up with Tipper in Warblers Point. They went through everything together, the first time they shaved their legs, getting their periods, break ups and hook ups. They knew each other better than anyone else and since Fiona had not seen Tipper in a while, they were due for a catch up.

Tipper lived outside of Warblers Point, she owned an antique shop that fared quite well. Fiona loved going in there because Tipper always had new inventory and it wasn’t one of those pretentious antique stores that had everything locked upbehind glass. Tipper’s shop was an old house and every room was dressed up in antiques according to each room. The kitchen was Fiona’s favorite room because she loved looking at all the old utensils, jars and plates that were used back in the day, it was so fascinating to her.

             Fiona pulled up to Sophie’ bakery and noticed Tipper wasn’t there yet but she decided to go in and catch up with Sophie. Sophie and her were friends, not good friends but they were friends and talked to each other since Sophie dated her brother for so long. Fiona walked into Sophie’s bakery and was instantly hit with the fragrance of baked goods and brewing coffee. It smelled like heaven. Fiona could already feel her waistline starting to expand from the smell of all the confectionary marvels in the enclosed cases.

             Fiona spotted Sophie and was greeted with a warm welcome and a wave.

             “Hey Fiona, come over here.”

             Fiona walked over to the counter by the register and took up a seat on one of the bar height chairs. Sophie’s bakery was so charming, decorated in pastel colors, it had a bit of a shabby chic feel to it.

             “Hey how’s it… Oh  my gosh, what happened to your head?” Sophie had a bandage across her head that was very hard to miss.

             She touched the bandage with her hand and said, “Oh, I got attacked by a shelf yesterday…knocked over by Neala.”

             “Neala? As in Liam’s wife?”

             “Soon to be ex-wife.” Sophie said while placing Fiona’s favorite scone in front of her and a cup of coffee.

             “Wait hold on a minute.” Fiona held up her hand, trying to comprehend what Sophie just said. “Ex-wife? How do you know more about my brother than I do?”

             Sophie chuckled and said, “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Sophie continued to tell Fiona everything that transpired yesterday while she was busy hanging out with Booker. Apparently her brother’s life was going to hell and quickly. Fiona knew something was going on in Liam’s life but not to the extent of a divorce. She was too caught up in herself and selfish to realize how bad things actually escalated between Liam and Neala. She knew he was going through a rough time, but not a divorce. No wonder why he was so pissed at the pub last night. She should have forced him to tell her what was going on, if she knew she never would have went out with Booker. Damn it, she should have spent the night helping Liam because then she could have avoided Booker all together and she wouldn’t have this empty hole in the pit of her stomach this morning or constant flash backs of his love making. Plus she would have been there for Liam, like he was always there for her. She tried to shut off her brain and turned her attention toward Sophie.

             “I can’t believe Neala attacked you. Are you ok?”

             Sophie just shrugged. “At least now I have a reason to get those bangs I always wanted. I have an appointment later to get my hair cut. The doctor said I would probably have a nasty scar so I’m taking early precautions.” Sophie said with a small smile.

             Fiona felt bad for Sophie, she knew Sophie was just trying to brush off her encounter with Neala as not a big deal but Fiona could tell it was. She watched Sophie move around and noticed she lost some of the spark she usually had. She was not bouncing around her bakery with pep and her usual friendliness.

             “Soph?” Sophie turned around to look at Fiona. “You still love Liam, don’t you?”

             Fiona watched a single tear fall down Sophie’s cheek but she frantically wiped it away. Fiona helped herself around the counter and pulled Sophie into a big hug.

             “It’s ok Sophie.”

             Sophie pushed her away. “No, it’s not. I don’t know how I feel about Liam. Then there is this other guy too that I think I have feelings for, but that’s beside the point. Don’t you see? I broke up Neala and Liam.”

             Fiona was taken back for a second. “Did you and Liam have an affair. And what about this other guy?” Fiona prayed silently that Liam didn’t have an affair. She could never look at her brother the same if he had. He was always the responsible, upstanding, loyal one out of all of her brothers and for him to have an affair would be like telling a child there was no Santa Clause.

             Sophie gasped and said, “Of course not. I would never do that to a marriage especially after how my marriage ended. And the other guy, well I don’t know. I think I’m just confused.”

             Fiona was grateful but thoroughly confused. “So if you didn’t have an affair then how did you break Liam and Neala up?”

              Sophie grabbed a towel hanging from a knob and started wiping down the counters. Fiona took her seat back in front of the counter and listened to Sophie.

             “When I left for college, I never really truly ended it with Liam. I just left him in the dark. The only person I stayed in contact with was Finn and that was because we were such good friends. I felt awful leaving Liam but I didn’t want him to follow me, he needed to establish his own future, not fall into mine. So I left, thinking breaking it off was a good idea. It wasn’t until I came back here, opened my bakery and saw Liam a couple of times that I noticed we might have unfinished business. Neala mistook the tension between Liam and I as an affair rather than what it actually was.”

             “So what was it actually?”

             Sophie refilled Fiona’s cup and tossed some cream and sugar her way. “It’s about high school sweethearts never getting the closure they needed. Liam, even though he didn’t know it at the time was still so mad at me for leaving and not giving him an explanation.”

             At that moment the bell over Sophie’s door chimed and Tipper walked in…sporting a ridiculously cute new haircut. Tipper was always the out-going cheerleader. Everyone loved her and she was the gorgeous one between the two of them. She had a body to kill, boobs any girl would dream of and a bubbly personality that could win any person over. She always had a sun-kissed look about her, even though they lived in Vermont and now she was sporting a multiple layered bob with bangs. Fiona was always jealous of her friend’s blonde locks, but now she was even more jealous of her hair cut. It fit her personality perfectly.

             “My Fiona, how are you sweetie?” Tipper grabbed Fiona in a huge hug and planted a very wet kiss on Fiona’s cheek. Noticing the Barbie pink lipstick on her friend’s lips, Fiona grabbed a napkin and started wiping.

             “Hey Tip, I’m so glad to see you, it’s been way too long.”

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Finn was tired, sweaty even though it was cold out, and sick of looking at his older brother’s face. The fence was taking too damn long and he couldn’t stand to be around Liam one more minute. Their da was enamored with the Sheila so they were no help and Bradon was too caught up texting another one of his random girls about their plans later so that left Liam and Finn working together.

             Instead of waiting around and listening to Liam’s sorry excuse for being a husband, Finn took off and started moving wood around to get the process of building the fence moving faster. He didn’t want to be at The Sleeping Potato all day especially since he had to work tonight. When the other guys stopped gabbing, their da took Booker which left Finn with Bradon and Liam. Thanks to Bradon being completely useless, Finn was on the verge of punching Liam because he couldn’t stand working next to him any longer.

             “Pass me the drill.” Liam grunted.

             Finn tossed it in Liam’s direction accidently hitting Liam’s shin, causing Liam to drop the board he was holding up which then landed on Bradon’s foot making Bradon howl like a girl. Liam looked at Finn and charged at him, Bradon followed right after.

             Finn found himself on the ground wrestling around with his brothers. Liam had Finn in some sort of choke hold while Bradon was wrestling Liam to the ground. Finn kicked Liam in the thigh while Bradon punched Finn in the stomach. He wasn’t ready for the impact of his brother’s fist so he lost some air out of his lungs. In retaliation Finn kicked Bradon where it counted and then elbowed Liam in the side which gave him enough room to wiggle out of the choke hold. He got to his feet and held up his fists ready for Liam to make the first move. Bradon was on the ground wallowing in pain.

             Finn didn’t notice his da and Booker watching until Carlin cleared his throat. “Ya done kickin’ each other’s arses? Ya look like a bunch of langers beatin’ up on each other.”

             Finn dropped his fists and sat down on a rock. Liam sat down on a bench while Bradon was still sprawled out on the ground cradling his crotch. Booker looked like he wanted to leave desperately but got the hint that if he tried Carlin was going to yell at him and make him stay anyway.


Page 17

             “Finn and Liam g’over to the fire pit area and solve ya problems while we finish the fence. If I see ya fightin again I’m tellin ye ma and ya can deal with her.” Their da was filthy mad and whenever he got like that, you did what he told you even if it was the last thing you wanted to do.

             Finn walked over to the fire pit and pulled up a chair while Liam did the same. Finn was not going to say a word until Liam did. All this was Liam’s fault and he was the one who had some apologizing to do. They sat in silence for ten minutes and then were interrupted by their da.

             “I’m about 5 seconds from gettin’ ye ma involved. Start talkin’. If I don’t see ya two langers talkin’ in the next couple of second I swear to the heavens I will get Mary Margaret.” Then he strode back to the fence where Bradon was recovering and Booker looked helpless.

             Finn shook his head and looked at his brother. He looked like he got run over by a train. Damn him. He couldn’t stand to see any of his family look like that, even when one of them was acting like a giant ass.

             Finn broke. “Liam what’s going on?”

             Liam stopped looking at his hands and looked up at Finn. He exhaled sharply and ran a hand through his hair. “Jesus, Finn, I’m sorry. What I did yesterday was stupid and I acted like a jealous idiot. Neala has me so tense that when I saw you with Sophie yesterday, hugging her, I lost it. I always thought there was something going on between the two of you and seeing that brought back a bunch of those sour feelings.”

             “Liam, you know we have been nothing but friends. Nothing else. I wouldn’t do that to you.”

             “I know, I just always felt you had more of a connection with Sophie than I did.”

             Finn shook his head and waved his hand in protest at his brother. “That is ridiculous and you know it. She was in love with you, man. We were nothing but friends.”

             Liam just nodded in agreement. “Listen, Liam. You know I’m here for you. If you need to talk about what is going on with Neala and if you need a place to stay, you know you are always welcome at my place.”

             “Thank you Finn. That means a lot to me.”

             “So what’s your next move?”

             “I have to talk to Neala and convince her that nothing is going on between me and Soph. I can’t have her thinking that I had an affair and I can’t have her spreading false rumors around this small God forsaken town and ruining my reputation and Sophie’s.”

             “That sounds like a good plan. What are you going to do about Sophie?”

             Liam leaned back in his chair. “Can’t really do anything. I need to focus on Neala and fixing my family. I’m sure you can take care of Sophie and make sure everything is ok with her, right?”

             “Of course.”

             Liam got up and shook Finn’s hand. Finn went to go hug Liam but was hit in the head with a rotten apple and then Liam was hit. They both looked over at Bradon who was sitting by the apple tree with a shit-face grin, tossing an apple in the air. He was dead!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 8

 

             Once all the pleasantries and catching up were over Tipper dove right into to the good stuff, instantly making Fiona uncomfortable. They were able to convince Sophie to take a break and enjoy some coffee and catch up with them but now Fiona wished she had an excuse or prior engagement to go to because she didn’t want to talk about her love life to Tipper and Sophie. If Fiona couldn’t understand her own love life how were they going to understand it?

             “So, give it up Fi, I want to know everything. Who are you seeing?”

             Fiona knew she was going to have to talk because Tipper knew Fiona too well, she knew something was up and she was not going to let it go until Fiona spilled.

             “I’m not seeing anyone right now.” That was not a lie. It was the truth. She wasn’t technically seeing anyone, she just slept with both Murphy and Booker in the same week. Ugh, she was the town harlot.

             “Bullshit, I can see it all over your face.”

             Sophie piped in. “It does seem like something has been going on with you.”

             Fiona exhaled. “Fine.”

             “I knew it.” Tipper exclaimed while fist pumping the air.

             Sophie gave Tipper a high five. “Give us all the details.” This coming from the girl who was completely silent a couple of seconds ago and wanting to get back to work. Fiona raised an eyebrow at her. “What?” she asked while shrugging her shoulders and then brushed it off. “If it’s not about me and my messed up life then I’m ready for some juicy details.”

             “I will get you back for this.” Fiona joked.

             “Just spill it already.” Tipper said annoyed.

             “Well, Murphy seems to think that we are back together.”

             “Ooo, that fine ass Irishman. I would love to test him out. Why does he think you are back together.” Tipper asked.

             “Because I might have slept with him the other night.” Fiona bit down on her lip.

             Sophie gasped. “Might? Oh you most defiantly did, you can tell by the color of red your face changed to.”

             Damn her Irish heritage. “We definitely slept together.” Both of the girls smiled at her.

             Tipper sipped her coffee and leaned in. “How was it?” She wiggled her eyebrows at her.

             Fiona rolled her eyes. “You know how it was.” The girls kept staring at her so she caved ang divulged more details. “It was great, it always is with Murphy. He is so animalistic in the bedroom and for some odd reason that turns me on.”

             “Every girl likes to be dominated on occasion.” Sophie said.

             “Please don’t tell me you are talking about my brother.”

             “Come on Fiona, I haven’t been with your brother in years, I can barely remember what it was like. Plus we were practically children, it was more fumbling then…”

             “La, la, la, la…I’m not listening.” Fiona said while covering her ears. Both the girls laughed and asked her to proceed.

             “The thing is, I don’t want to be with Murphy because all our relationship consists of is sex, hot hot sex.”

             Tipper acted shocked. “And there is something wrong with that because…?”

             “I want more Tip and you know that. I want to connect on an emotional level and that is where Booker comes in.”

             Both girls asked in unison, “Who’s Booker?”

             Here went nothing. “Booker Hall, he’s visiting Warblers Point…”

             “Stop right there.” Tipper interrupted holding her hand up. “He’s visiting? What ever happened to our pact that we don’t date tourists? You know it just leads to heartbreak. No one stays here, it’s just fun for them to visit.”

             “I know, I know. I keep telling myself that but I lost control for a short period of time but it’s over now.” Fiona thought about Booker and his gorgeous blue eyes, blond scruffy hair and tight jeans that formed to every inch of his body. In her head it was over but in her heart she knew her feelings for him just started to begin.

             “I can tell it’s over.” Sophie said mocking her. “By the looks of it sweetheart, you are just starting.”

             “This is not a good idea Fi, you know better than this.”

             “I don’t need a lecture Tip. It’s not going anywhere. I cut it off this morning.”

             “This morning? Meaning…”

             “Meaning, yes I slept with him last night.”

             “Fiona!” Sophie exclaimed.

             “I couldn’t help myself I just needed one night. And God was he amazing. Murphy is good, but with Booker it was like we were meant to be with each other. I had never felt so good, so free in my life. It was like when we made love, he took me to another part of the world”

             “When we made love? You definitely sound like a girl who ended it with the tourist.” Tipped said sarcastically.

             “I did. I promised myself.”

             “I hope so because I don’t want to go through another Steve the math teacher situation.”

             “Who’s Steve the Math teacher?” Sophie asked.

             Tipper answered before Fiona could even open her mouth. She wished Tipper would just shut her pie hole. Fiona was not going to do another Steve the math teacher. She learned her lesson, regretfully from him when he left.

             “Steve was a math teacher from New York city who was visiting for his winter break with a bunch of friends. He flirted like crazy with our little Fiona over here and won her heart. Fiona fell for him hard only to find out that he was leaving. He lied to her and told her that he was staying, going to move to Warblers Point and Fiona fell for every line. Two weeks later he was all packed up and heading back down to the city while laughing in her face exclaiming how he would never live in a little hick town like Warblers Point, let alone date a…what did he say…ah yes, a bar maid.”

             Even though Fiona knew the story and lived it, Tipper’s recital of the less then pleasurable events brought back every raw emotion she pushed back years ago. She felt so stupid that she actually fell for Steve’s lines, saying how he was moving to town and how much he liked her and how he thought he was falling in love with her. After Steve broke her heart Fiona pinky swore with Tipper that they would never date tourists for the mere fact that they never had any intention in moving to Warblers Point. Warblers Point was merely a fun destination get-a-way for tourists during the winter times.

             “Thank you for that.” Fiona added once Tipper was done airing out her embarrassing past.

             Tipper grabbed a hold of her hand. “Sweetie, you know I love you. I just want to make sure you know what you’re doing. I don’t want to see you get hurt again. Maybe you can work things out with Murphy.”

             Fiona shrugged. “Maybe.”

             But deep down Fiona knew things with Murphy were not going to work, especially since she was able to experience what Booker had to offer. Murphy was a great guy and cared about her but now that she felt such a strong connection with Booker, she knew nothing was ever going to compare to that. She was doomed. She should have stayed away when she had a chance. Maybe she should just give Murphy the benefit of the doubt and throw herself completely into a relationship with him. If she postponed all physical contact with him and tried spending more intellectual time, maybe they could form a bond that her and Booker formed in a matter of seconds.

 

                                                                                    ***

             

              An afternoon with the O’Leary men was definitely one of the most interesting times he had ever experienced. One minute they were beating the crap out of each other and then the next minute they were hugging and drinking beers. He never had a brother so he didn’t quite understand the kind of relationship they all shared. He only had Blaire, his sister, and whenever they fought he just pushed her down and that was it, well when they were young. He never really got a chance to brawl like the O’Learys did. It seemed kind of cathartic to be able to just punch your brother when you felt like it. If only he could have punched Blaire in the face when they were younger whenever she tried to embarrass one of his girlfriends or dump all of his cologne, shampoo and conditioner on his bed, he would have felt so much better. She was a girl though but Lord knew she deserved a good brawl once in a while when she pulled her antics.

             Thankfully now he was close with his sister. He wished she was here right now. He could use some help with Fiona. He never met such a stubborn woman. He knew she wanted to be with him, he could see it in her eyes and the way her body reacted to him but she just wouldn’t give in to his charms. He wasn’t giving up, instead he was actually going to step up his game. He had plans for him and Fiona and they didn’t consist of her ignoring him.


Page 18

             He made himself a quick burger and took a shower. He was going to catch the tail end of Fiona’s shift tonight and drop off a present. Once he toweled off he threw on some boxer briefs, the tight jeans she liked and a V-neck sweater with white shirt underneath.

             When he arrived at the pub it was actually quite busy, busier than normal. There was a flyer on the bar door promoting the pubs Halloween party Saturday night. Then he remembered the costume Fiona was carrying when he went to Murphy Ryan’s ski shop. Looks like he needed to get himself a costume because there was no way in hell he would miss out on seeing her in the sexy get up Murphy picked out for her.

             He spotted Fiona dusting off her pants and removing her apron near the bar. Right on time, Booker thought. She slipped past the bar and was headed to a door marked employees only. Booker caught up to her right before she entered and grabbed her arm twisting her so she was facing him.

             “What the hell?” She looked up at Booker and then lowered her voice. “Booker, what are you doing here.” She looked over where Finn was watching their interaction. She gave him a quick smile and turned Booker away so he was out of eye sight.

             He just smiled at her. “I came to give you this.” He handed her a little gift bag.

             She looked down at it as if it was poison. “I don’t want your gift. I told you this was over Booker.”

             He should have felt defeated and walked away with his tail between his legs but he felt more invigorated by the way her face flushed and her breathing picked up.

             “Just open it.”

             She rolled her eyes and opened the bag. She started to pull out what was inside until she saw what was inside and quickly shoved the object back in the bag while scowling at him.

             “You left some personal affects at my place and I thought I would return them. Although, I was quite fond of the demi-bra and thong but I thought they would look better on you rather than me.” He chased his comment with a grin.

             She pointed her finger at his chest and said, “How dare you come to my place of work and give me my underwear where anyone could have seen. What is wrong with you?”

             Booker liked it when she got mad, she was very feisty. “I thought I was doing you a favor.” He threw his hands up in defense. She stormed off and went through the employees only door. He followed her.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Finn watched the Sheila follow Fiona up the stairs that lead to their apartment. She didn’t look too happy with him but he knew she could handle herself…hopefully because he didn’t have time to go check on her. The pub was busier than ever. Liam and Bradon were in the kitchen tonight taking orders. Fiona was off now but she probably should have stayed on a little longer. Finn was going to ask her to but he noticed she was having a bad night so he decided to lay off.

             Was the Sheila the reason why she was having a bad night? Was something going on between them? There better not be he thought because she was supposed to be seeing Murphy, at least that’s what he last thought as well as his brothers.

             Bradon came out to the bar and helped restock glasses that Finn was running low on.

             “Jesus, my balls still hurt from your kick earlier today. I owe you an un-guarded blow to the nuts one of these days.”

             “You owe me nothing, if I can remember you were punching me just as hard in the ribs. It was purely self-defense.”

             “You broke the man code, bro. Never go for a guy’s junk, especially when they are supposed to score with a hot blonde later tonight.” Finn watched Bradon eye Tipper, Fiona’s best friend.

             “Tipper?” Finn questioned.

             “Jesus, no. Does it look like I have a death sentence attached to me? I wouldn’t touch that girl with a ten foot pole. She drives me fucking insane.”

             Fin laughed. Tipper and Bradon were always at each other’s necks growing up. They never got along, even till this day they hated each other. It was one of the longest running grudges he ever witnessed.

             “She’s hot though, you have to admit.”

             “She’s the devil. Definitely not Tipper. The blonde next to her, uh I think her name is Stephanie. I don’t quite remember.”

             “You might want to figure it out by the end of the night you know.”

             “No need, all I have to do is replace her name with baby and she will be putty in my hands.” Bradon said while nudging Finn.

             Finn just shook his head at his little whore of a brother. “You know you are going to start to run out of girls to fuck in this town.”

             “Brother, are you kidding me? We live in a tourist town. It’s a constant rotation of pussies here and they are all ripe for the picking.”

             “You have problems you know that?”

             Bradon just shrugged and continued to reload the glasses. “Hey, where’s Fiona. This place is busy. We could use her help, did she take off already?”

             “Yea, she seemed like she was having a rough night.”

             “You think something is going on between her and Murph? Last time I knew they were a happy little couple.”

             Finn thought of what he saw a few minutes ago. Booker and Fiona going up to her apartment, with a gift bag. It didn’t seem like Murphy and Fiona existed at the moment. He was going to keep what he saw to himself because if he informed Liam and Bradon Lord knows they would shut the pub down instantly and march right up the stairs dragging Booker out of her apartment by his California blonde hair.

             “How about we try to stay out of Fiona’s personal life. She’s old enough now to handle herself.”

             Bradon scoffed at him. “Who are you kidding? When have we ever stayed out of her life? The reason why she is still as pure as she is, is because we interfered with her personal life. Could you imagine how fucked up she would be if we didn’t?”

             Finn couldn’t argue with that, but maybe Fiona hadn’t found love yet because of their interfering. Or maybe she still was waiting tables at the pub because they were too protective and trapping her in this small town instead of letting her live her life. A horrible thought hit him. Were they holding Fiona back? If they were, Finn would never forgive himself. He was going to have to have a talk with Fiona at some point.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Fiona made it up her stairs and then realized Booker was right on her tail following her. At first, she didn’t realize he was behind her because she was stomping up the stairs like some kind of petulant child. She was so mad at Booker all she wanted to do was slap him across the face and then pull his head down and match her lips to his until her legs were wobbly with need. What was wrong with her?

             She twisted around so fast she smacked right into his chest, his hard muscular chest.

             “Get out of here. You are not allowed up here.”

             Booker just smiled down at her which annoyed her even more.

             “What the hell are you smiling for?”

             “You’re so cute when you get all mad. I kind of like it.”

             “You are disturbing.” She turned to let herself in her apartment and felt him right behind her. Before she opened her door and he let herself in she turned to face him again.

             “Booker, please go. I don’t want you here.”

             “You might be saying that but your eyes are telling me a different story. Why do you keep denying what’s going on between us Fiona. We have something good here, why not ride it out and see where it takes us.”

             She pressed her finger against his chest and said, “You want to know why? Because once you have had your jollies with me and find yourself bored in this small town you are going to just up and leave, leaving me behind to pick up the pieces of my heart that you broke. I refuse to let that happen.”

             “How do you know I’m going to leave?”

             Fiona laughed. “Who are you kidding Booker? You have some cushy job in California where you get to travel the world. Why the hell would you leave that for some small town pub girl like me? No, you wouldn’t so please don’t drag me down in your holiday fantasies of hooking up with some girl while you get your rest away from your hectic life. Spare me, please.”

             Fiona watched Booker, it looked like he had rage in his eyes but also what seemed like understanding. She knew she was right about him. He would never want to stay in such a small town with her when he had the world at his feet. It made no sense.

             “You know Fiona, you are so quick to judge people. Maybe instead of grouping all of us ‘tourists’ together in a pile, maybe you should actually get to know us individually. You might be surprised to find that my life in fact isn’t as cushy as you would think and actually I’ve been absolutely miserable for the last couple of years. This past week has been one of the best weeks of my life, I have never felt so free and I have never met such kind and caring people. At least who I thought were kind and caring. So before you get up on your high horse, maybe you should get to know a person before you are so quick to judge them and turn them away.”

             With that Booker left her in her hallway to think about what a jerk she was. She let herself in her apartment and went straight to her bedroom, she didn’t care to take off her clothes. She just flung herself on her bed and cried herself to sleep in her pillow. What the hell was she supposed to do now? How was she supposed to protect her heart when she knew that starting up something with Booker was only going to lead to heartbreak for her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 9

 

             Booker had not seen or heard from Fiona since he went to the bar, threw a temper tantrum in her hallway and stormed off. He raked his hand over his face. What was going on with him? He acted like such a child but damn that girl for burying herself under his skin. She was like a tic in his heart, there was no way of getting her out. He didn’t understand what was wrong with her, why she just couldn’t take a chance with him.

             It sounded like she was burned before by a tourist, which made sense why she wouldn’t want to get involved with him but Booker thought he made it quite clear that he had no intentions of leaving and if he had to he would easily be able to come back. He had more money in his bank account then he could spend in a lifetime so if he wanted to fly coast to coast every day, he could.

             He thought about that for a second. He was getting way ahead of himself. He was acting like they were engaged or something, flying coast to coast? He shook his head. He needed to focus on scoring another date right now, not figuring out some kind of long distance relationship because right now their relationship consisted of an amazing one night stand.

             Tonight was the Halloween party at the pub, he already talked to Mary Margaret and Carlin about the party and they pretty much didn’t take no for an answer when he decided he didn’t want to go. He was going to go at first to be closer to Fiona but after what happened the other night and remembering that she was dressing up as with Murphy, the visual helped him change his mind to not going. The O’Learys could care less though so now he found himself looking at the pirate outfit Mary Margaret gave him to wear. He was going to look ridiculous.


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             He thought about sneaking out of town for the night before Mary Margaret and Carlin could catch him but then facing them the next morning wouldn’t be on the top of his list of fun things to do so he decided to stick it out. Plus a part of him had to see Fiona, he had to see her in her costume just so he could torture himself. Who knows, maybe he will meet another girl, someone better than Fiona…fat chance. Fiona ruined him, he would never be able to look at another girl the same way again.

             He was about to hop in the shower when his phone started to ring. He looked at the caller ID and noticed his sister was calling him.

             “Hey B.”

             “Hey Book, how’s it going out there in good old Warblers Point?” It was so good to hear her voice. He felt like all the tension that he had been carrying around lately was slowly oozing out of his body.

             “Eh, it’s alright, it was great a couple of nights ago.”

             “Uh oh, trouble in paradise?”

             Laughing he said, “I wouldn’t exactly call this paradise, sis. More like the arctic tundra, minus the snow.”

             “Is it really that cold?”

             “It is for my California bones.”

             “What’s the temperature?”

             Booker thought about it for a second. “I think it was forty degrees today.” He heard Blaire laughing on the other end of the phone. “What’s so funny? That’s cold, compared to eighty and sunny every day.”

             “Book, wait till it gets to be about ten degrees with a wind chill. That’s when I expect your little vacation will end. You aren’t very manly when it comes to cold weather.”

             “What constitutes as being manly?”

             “Not complaining about forty degree weather.”

             Booker was irritated with her little snarky comment but knew she was just pulling his leg. Still after the sting of Fiona’s words he felt a little more sensitive at the current moment. Crap, maybe he was starting to lose his man card. Damn Fiona!

             “Are you calling just to get a rise out of me or is there a purpose for this phone call?”

             Blaire chuckled on the other line. “Can’t a girl just call her brother and see how he’s doing? How his new look is working out?”

             Booker didn’t like the tone of her voice, she wanted something and he knew it. He was going to go along with her little questions though, even though he knew she had a motive for contacting him.

             “The look is working quite well for me, except for that fact that Fiona’s brother almost recognized me. I side-stepped that accusation.”

             “Fiona?”

             Booker didn’t really want to get into it but he knew if he didn’t fill Blaire in she would hassle him until he did. So he proceeded to tell her everything from being called the Sheila of the town, to hanging out with Fiona, to the Irish hunk to the debacle in the hallway. He was worn out after replaying everything that transpired since he’d been to Warblers Point. He did leave out the details of his lovemaking with Fiona, he thought his sister probably didn’t need to know how he was able to fully satisfy a woman.

             “Wow, you have been busy. So what are you going to do about Fiona? Are you serious about her?”

             “I am.” He went to grab a water bottle from his mini fridge because all of a sudden his mouth started to feel incredibly dry. “I know this is going to sound crazy but I can’t stop thinking about her, Blaire. No girl has ever affected me like she has, she’s gotten under my skin and I can’t seem to fish her out even though she turns me down every time I try to get close.”

             “Are you sure this isn’t just a reaction to a girl who for once in your life doesn’t fall at your feet?”

             “What’s that supposed to mean?”

             There was a pause on the phone then he heard her exhale. “Come one Booker, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Ever since I can remember you have charmed the socks off of every girl that has walked in your path. Having a woman in your life has always come easy to you and now that Fiona isn’t graveling at your feet you have these deep feelings for her? Are you sure it’s not just because she is playing hard to get? You’re not mixing up your feelings are you?”

             Booker had to think about his sister’s comment for a second. Woman always were at his door step when he wanted them to be, he never had a hard time finding a date, even when he was a hairy hippy. Was he just attracted to Fiona because she wasn’t giving in to his charms? He thought back to the first time he met her, at the pub, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. Then when they went out to the lake and they talked about their dreams and aspirations, he never met anyone so inspiring, kind, and just lovely. No, her denying him had nothing to do with his feelings. He liked Fiona for who she was as a person.

             “Uh, hello…earth to Booker.”

             Booker cleared his throat. “Sorry, sis, I was just thinking. I’m afraid to say my feelings toward Fiona have nothing to do with trying to get the un-gettable get. I very much like her for who she is, she’s sweet, kind, beautiful and she makes me feel good. I’ve been so happy this past week.”

             “I’m happy for you then. So what are you going to do?”

             “I’m not sure but I do know I have to attend the Halloween party tonight that’s going on at her pub. I’m going as a pirate.”

             Booker had to remove the phone away from his ear because her laughter was so loud. When she finished he asked, “Are you done?”

             In between chuckles she said, “I can’t imagine you as a pirate. Arg, are ye walking the plank tonight matey?”

             “Shut up, I think I actually might look kind of dashing…in a Captain Hook sort of way.”

             “I think you would be better off in tights flying around as Peter Pan.”

             “A little support would be great.”

             “Sorry, you might be able to pull it off. Don’t wear a hat, open up the top couple of buttons on your shirt to show off your chest and whatever you do, don’t wear a hook. You need your hands available!”

             “Good advice. So why did you really call? What’s going on?”

             There was a long pause which made Booker nervous. Blaire was always very well put together, she never asked him for anything and never used his fame to further her life, something he loved about her. That was why he tried to spoil her any chance he got. They had a rough childhood growing up, losing their parents so young and being raised by their grandparents who they lost when they were in their twenties. They were all each other had.

             “How do you know there is something going on?”

             “I can tell in your voice, there is something up. Now get on with it, I don’t have all day I need to don my eye patch and scurvy on my way.”

             “That doesn’t make sense.”

             Booker exhaled sharply. “Just get on with it, B.”

             “This is kind of hard, but I uh…sort of got fired today.”

             Booker sat straight up in his bed and almost choked on the water he was drinking. Blaire was the hardest working person he knew and took her job seriously. There was no way the hospital would want to fire her unless they were making budget cuts.

             “What? What happened?”

             “That creep, Pete that I dated for a couple of months became the new head of medicine and decided to do a little house cleaning with the staff. I made the cut of being swept out.”

             Booker’s blood started to boil. “How the hell did that happen? You are the hardest working nurse in that damn hospital. I’m going to call my lawyer and we are going to sue his ass.” Booker got up from his bed and grabbed his computer, firing it up so he could send an e-mail out to his attorney. He was not going to let Pete, the creep, get away with firing his sister. She didn’t deserve that kind of treatment.

             “Booker, please don’t. I don’t want to cause any trouble. The medicine field is a small world around these parts, I can’t stir up any trouble with Pete, he knows people and if I want a chance at getting another job in these parts I need to accept my fate and move on.”

             “This is bullshit you know. Damn it, Blaire please let me help you. He should not get away with this. You work too hard.”

             “That’s the point Booker, I work too hard and I think Pete letting me go might have been a blessing. I’m going to take a much needed break. I have some money saved up so I will be ok for a little bit…”

             Booker interrupted her. “Don’t worry about money, I will take care of your bills.”

             “I can handle my bills, Book, but thank you. I was wondering though if you could give me an early Christmas present?”

             Booker was all ears. “Yes, of course. What would you like?”

             “Would it be alright if I came out to Warblers Point and enjoy the snow with you? We can have our own little Thanksgiving and then possibly celebrate Christmas on the slopes. What do you think?”

             A vacation with his sister? Why not? She could help him with cementing a relationship with Fiona plus it would be good to spend some quality time with Blaire. Her schedule was pretty much impossible and then combined with his schedule, he barely got any quality time with her. This would be good actually, a little rekindling.

             “I would love that, B. I will make arrangements for you and talk to the O’Learys at The Sleeping Potato, they must have another cabin available. You will love it here, real down to earth kind of people. It will be good for your soul, plus it will be good for your lungs to get away from all that toxic smog.”

             “Sounds great, Book. Thank you for everything.”

             “Don’t thank me yet, no until you actually have been here for a little bit. It takes some getting used to but I know you will love it.”

             They exchanged some more pleasantries before saying good bye and Booker promising to have her in Warblers Point in no time. Booker called over to the main house and made a reservation for Blaire in one of the cabins near the lake, just like his. After booking her flight and rental car, he sent her all the information she needed and then hopped in the shower. He had a party to get to.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Fiona felt absolutely ridiculous in the costume Murphy picked out for her. Not only was her cleavage busting out of her top, thanks to the corset, but her skirt was so short it barely covered the bottom of her butt. Thank god for the stockings Murphy provided, not that they were really doing much. She decided to curl her hair and put on heavier makeup than usual. When she looked in the mirror all she saw was a prostitute, a very sexy prostitute but none the less, a prostitute. Great!

             She and the boys spent all morning and afternoon getting ready for the party, decorating the bar, making food and stocking up on their mind altering liquids. They sold out on tickets once again this year, making that the third year in a row. Their pub was the place to be on Halloween in Warblers Point and if you didn’t have a ticket you were a nobody. It made her proud to think that her and her brothers were able to open up a business in a small town, establish a good rapport and flourish. Tonight was an example of that, especially since they were also able to throw some of the heritage into such a big evening like tonight.

             She was putting some final lip gloss on her lips when there was a knock on her door. She smacked her lips together to spread the gloss and walked over to the door to find Murphy standing outside waiting to be let in. Reluctantly she opened the door, took in the sight that stood before her and started laughing.

             “Not the kind of welcome I was lookin’ for.” He said while frowning.

             She couldn’t help herself. Murphy was standing in front of her wearing a box over his chest with what she assumed was his attempt at making a bottle of Jagermeister. He looked ridiculous.


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             “I’m sorry.” She said in between chuckles. “You look ridiculous.”

             “I thought you might think that.” She stopped laughing when he pulled the box off leaving him wearing only a pair of brown pants. He wore no shirt exposing his spectacular chest which was lightly dusted with dark chest hair and for the finale he plopped a pair of antlers on his head.

             She swallowed quickly to avoid any kind of drool mishap. Damn him!

             “I can tell from ye expression tis much better.”

             She gulped and squeaked out, “How are you Jagermeitser?”

             “I’m the deer on the front, y’are the bull so therefore we are a bloody Jager-bomb.”

             It made since but all Fiona could think of was that he was making this an opportunity to wear as little clothes as possible in public with her. She should never had agreed to this. This whole idea was bound to take a turn for the worst. She didn’t notice he was working his way closer to her until his hands settled on her hips. She looked up in those beautiful green eyes of his and tried not to sigh like some love sick teenager. She kept telling herself that he was wrong for her, all there was between them was pure physical attraction. What woman wouldn’t be attracted to Murphy?

             “Fiona, ya look sexy as hell.” He was still holding her hips when he scanned her body up and down. She felt a wave of heat spread through her body settling between her legs. Good lord, tonight wasn’t going to be good. She knew she looked like a hooker but she didn’t have anything else to wear, this was it. She hoped Booker wasn’t going to be present, she didn’t need him seeing her like this.

             All of a sudden the thought of Booker un-doing her corset and running his strong hands all over her body ventured in her head making her feel more turned on then having almost naked Murphy standing inches from her. For fucks sake!

             She replied to Murphy and removed his hands. “Uh, thanks. Are you sure your costume is appropriate? Don’t you think you should have a shirt on or something?”

             “Nah, tis quite an outfit, got to keep me lady interested.”

             His lady? Little did he know.

             “Murphy, I know you think we are dating but I just don’t think I’m ready for that.”

             “All in good time, me dear.” He kissed her forehead, grasped her hand in his and led her out of her apartment where they ran right into Finn…as Theodore, one of the chipmunks. Murphy barked out in laughter as Finn stood there with a green turtleneck on, painted nose, buck tooth and chipmunk ears.

             Finn punched Murphy in the arm and said, “Shut the hell up, at least I don’t look like some creepy centaur or whatever the hell you are. Put on a shirt man!”

             “I’m Jagermeister.” Murphy wrapped his arm around Fiona, who Finn just noticed because it looked like his eyes were setting on fire with rage from her scandalous outfit. “And she’s me little red bull. We’re a Jager-bomb together.” Murphy tacked on a smile at the end of his sentence.

             “That makes absolutely no sense. Did you pick out this outfit Murph?”

             “Of course, with me own eyes. She looks sexy, don’t she?”

             Finn went to grab Murphy’s shirt which was non-existent, so he grabbed Murphy by the shoulders instead and pushed him up against the wall.

             “Are you dating my sister?”

             Fiona’s heart dropped, what was Finn doing? She didn’t need her brother getting in another fight so shortly after the grocery store incident and the building-a-fence incident. Plus she didn’t need her brother getting in her business, Fiona could handle herself. She stepped in between the two, or at least tried to.

             “Finn, knock it off.”

             He turned his gaze over at her and asked, “Are you two dating? That’s the only reason I can see this get-up being ok. You look like a fucking prostitute. My sister is not going to be seen in public like this. Your boob is going to pop out any second.”

             Furious at her brother now for being a pig-headed over-protective arrogant dick hole, she did her best to jab her finger in his ribs causing him to temporary let go of his grip on Murphy so she could step between them.

             “Finn, it’s about high time you realize I’m a big girl and I can do whatever the hell I want. Stop butting in my business. If I want to look like a prostitute then I will look like a prostitute, damn it! I didn’t ask for your opinion so keep it to yourself.” She poked him one last time, grabbed Murphy’s hand and escorted him down to the pub. Her brothers made her so mad some times, she was sick and tired of them being so protective. She could hold her own, it was about time they realized it.

             She was just about to walk through the pub when Murphy stopped her and spun her around so her hands landed straight on his chest.

             “Thanks lassie for defendin’ me.”

             She was also irritated with Murphy, he was the reason she was in this stupid outfit to begin with and she was irritated with his ability to turn her into mush whenever he was around. Which technically was her problem, not his but she decided to blame him anyway.

             “I wasn’t doing it for you Murphy Ryan.” She poked his chest too. She was in a poking mood. “Get this through your head, we might be dressed up together tonight but that by no means insinuates that we are together. It won’t ever work between us and I think it’s about time you realize that.”

             There she said it. God she felt much better. She was finally sticking up for herself and she never felt better. She told herself it was going to be a good night.

             “Keep telling ya’self that lass. We were meant for each other and you can damn well better believe I’m going to make that happen.”

             He leaned in to kiss her to seal the deal but before he could she slapped him across the face. “Don’t even think about it.” Then she stalked off, leaving Murphy in the hallway rubbing his cheek in astonishment.

             The nerve of the men in her life. Murphy thought he could force her to be with him, so did Booker. What the hell was with them? Was she giving off some kind of come-claim-me kind of vibe? She adjusted her corset and perked her breasts out even more just to piss off her brothers as well as make Murphy sweat.

             She stepped out into the pub and was instantly greeted by her brothers who were laying out the food. They looked at her as if she had lost her mind. Before they could even say anything she held out her hands to silence them.

             “Don’t say one fucking word, you can talk to Finn about it but I’m doing what I want these days you three idiots can mind your own damn business and shut the hell up about it.”

             There, that set them straight. She started to gather apples for the peeling game she would be playing with the ladies later on when Liam came up from behind her.

             “So I take it you won’t be changing.”

             “That’s correct.”

             She could sense his displeasure but she didn’t care…at all.

             “You know ma and da will be here tonight.”

             “I’m well aware of their plans to attend tonight’s shindig.” But she didn’t let him know that she forgot they would be here. She felt a bead of sweat start to roll down her back. Damn it all to hell. In her fit of independence she completely forgot about her parents. She couldn’t turn back now. “They will just have to deal with it, like you and the other chipmunks. Lame costumes by the way, you all look like idiots.”

             “At least we don’t look like we are looking for business at the corner of the street.”

             Fiona flipped him the bird and walked off. Men!

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Finn waited on party goers now that the party was in full swing. His brothers came up to him earlier on and questioned him about Fiona’s appearance and asked why he didn’t do anything about it. He told him he tried but frankly, she was right. If she wanted to get herself into trouble with showing off her girly bits then let her learn the hard way.

             There were a lot of woman dressed up like hookers. Halloween always seemed like a holiday for people to patrol the streets in as little clothing as possible and get away with it. Not that he was complaining much since there were a lot of barely dressed woman leaning over the bar giving him a great view of what they had to offer.

             He needed to find a woman to take home soon or he thought his dick might fall off soon. It had been way too long since he had been with a woman and tonight might just be the night he actually got lucky. There were a lot of available woman at the party and they were all getting loose.

Finn watched Fiona work the tables like she always did while Bradon helped her tonight since they had a full house. Liam was at the bar with him since they already put out food he wasn’t needed in the kitchen. Finn noticed Bradon taking a break in the corner and eyeing a bunch of women. One in particular. Finn worked his way over to Bradon.

             “Who you eyeing over there?” Apparently Bradon was too engrossed with who he was staring at because Finn nearly made him jump out of his Alvin turtleneck.

             “Jesus, you scared the crap out of me.”

             Finn looked over to where Bradon was staring and noticed a pretty blonde in a skin tight cat woman costume that allowed for a massive amount of cleavage to show.

             “Who’s the fine ass blonde over there?”

             “I can’t tell because she has a mask on but by God I’m going to try to take her home tonight.”

             “How can you be so sure of yourself?”

             “Please, no woman can resist this.” Bradon said as he gestured toward his body. Finn just rolled his eyes. They both eyed the blonde and saw Fiona walk up to her and strike up a conversation.

             “You can always ask that whore of a sister we have to hook you up. Seems like she is quite chummy with the blonde vixen.”

             They both watched the interaction between the two woman and Bradon said, “You have to admit our little sister has grown up and seems to be holding her own with Murphy. I thought they were dating. What happened?”

             Finn saw Murphy at a table with a couple of his skiing buddies eyeing every move Fiona made. Finn and his brothers all loved Murphy but for some reason Finn noticed that Murphy was becoming more possessive every day where his sister was concerned and it wasn’t settling well with him. He shouldn’t be so concerned with his sister’s life but he always felt like he had to protect her from everything, especially after her mistake with Steve the math teacher. He didn’t want to ever see his sister get hurt like that again.

             “I’m not sure what’s going on between Murph and Fiona but I don’t think it’s to Murphy’s liking. Look at how he’s just staring at her. He kind of looks crazy.”

             Bradon took a hard look at Murphy. “No he doesn’t, he just looks like he loves her.”

             “That’s not love, that’s psycho killer.”

             “Who’s a psycho killer?”

             Both Finn and Bradon startled from Fiona’s question. Bradon said nobody but Finn wasn’t playing games anymore.

             “Murphy seems to be rather attached to you.”

             “What happened to butting out of my business?”

             Finn exhaled and said, “I’m not butting in I’m just wondering why he has been watching every move you have make tonight.” Fiona looked toward Murphy and he gave her a quick wave.

             Fiona turned toward Finn and Bradon and said, “He thinks he has a shot at being with me.”

             “Wait, are you saying you don’t want to be with Murphy?” Bradon asked almost heart broken.

             “No, it’s not working out for us. It’s all physical.”

             Finn and Bradon both put their hands over their ears. “We don’t want to hear about that kind of shit. I have been scarred ever since I had to sleep on your couch the other night.”


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             Fiona set some empty glasses that were on her tray into the sink to be cleaned. “That’s not my problem that you came into my apartment without asking. Oh and Bradon, Tipper asked me to tell you to stop staring at her. She is starting to get creeped out.”

             “Why the hell would I stare at her? I would rather wash my eyes out with acid.” Bradon looked around the room. “I don’t even know where she is.”

             “Yes you do, you have been drooling over her all night.”

             “I would never do that. I can’t stand Tipper. Where is she…so I can avoid her stupid ass.” Bradon scanned the room again.

             Fiona pointed over to the group of girls Bradon was eyeing earlier. “Tipper is cat woman.”

             Bradon started coughing and choking on what Finn could only imagine was saliva.

             “There is no fucking way that’s Tipper. No my eyes would never betray me like that. Whoever that is, is way too damn hot to be Tipper.”

             “That’s Tipper if you want to believe it or not.”

             “Shit.” Bradon rubbed his face. “Well that’s done it for me. I have lost all the will to take home a girl now. My libido is shot.”

             Finn laughed at his brother as he walked away to collect more empty glasses. Finn didn’t quite understand his hatred for Tipper but if he could get past whatever they hated each other for they might actually be quite good for each other. God, why was he so interested in his siblings love lives, he needed to get one of his own.

             The pub door flew open and in walked the Sheila followed by his parents. Finn noticed Fiona stiffen drastically as she whispered under her breath, “What the hell is he doing here.” Hmm. Maybe his suspicions about Fiona and the Sheila were correct. Was she getting herself into another relationship with a tourist? Was that why she wasn’t starting anything back up with Murphy? Didn’t she learn from her last relationship with Steve that dating an out of towner can only lead to trouble?

             He pulled her to the side. “Fiona, I know you don’t want me butting in, but I’m concerned. Is anything going on between you and the Sheila…I mean Booker.”

             Fiona’s eyes widened. “That is none of your concern. Stay out of my personal life, Finn.”

             That was not a no, damn it. “Fiona, don’t forget about what happened with Steve.”

             She got real close to him and lowered her voice. “I will never forget about Steve so don’t you dare throw that in my face. I know what the hell I’m doing. Why don’t you worry about yourself and try to get a woman to cure those blue balls you have acquired over the last couple of months.”

             Ouch, low blow…literally. Well if that was what she wanted, then that was what she was going to get. If she was seeing the Sheila and things took a turn for the worse he was not going to be the one that picked up the pieces to her broken heart. He warned her, what she did now was her own problem. Now he needed to find a girl to cure his blue balls that his baby sister so eloquently pointed out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 10

 

             Fiona watched Booker walk in with her parents and she couldn’t take her eyes off of him. He was dressed as a pirate but the sexiest pirate she had ever seen. He was wearing amazingly tight pants that were cut off right below his knees, a flowy white shirt that was open all the way down to the upper part of his stomach and he had a big belt around his waist. Her mouth was watering like crazy and her hands itched to rip his shirt off. She didn’t want him here tonight but a little part of her, her naughty part was happy that he was.

             She strode over to her parents who were shocked by her attire and gave them a hug. She whispered into their ears, “Please don’t say anything about my costume, believe me I have received enough grief for it.”

             Her parents both zipped their mouths shut but their faces widened with what seemed like delight. She felt a massive hand wrap around her waist. For a second she thought it was Booker but then sadly realized it was Murphy. Booker was off to the side, eyeing her with what looked like fire in his eyes. Fiona’s anxiety level instantly kicked up several notches.

             Murphy placed a kiss on Fiona’s head and shook her parents’ hands. “Mr. and Mrs. O’Leary, it’s a pleasure to see ya tonight. Ya both look great.”

             “Why thank you, lad.” Carlin said. “Where did ya shirt take off to?”

             Murphy chuckled as he put his finger under Fiona’s chin and said, “Tis here lassie, laughed at my homemade costume so I had to take it off. Seems she likes this better anyway, don’t ya lass?”

             Fiona was about to protest when he placed a kiss straight on her lips, she heard her mother sigh with content and her dead nod his approval. Damn Murphy and his Irish heritage, it was the only reason why her parents were so set in their ways of Fiona ending up with Murphy. They wanted a true Irishman for their daughter. She went to look at Booker again but couldn’t find him. Damn! She knew she shouldn’t care about how Booker felt about the show Murphy was putting on but she couldn’t help herself. She unfortunately cared about the man.

             After what seemed like an hour of pleasantries with her parents, she was able to pull herself away to get ready for the apple pealing game. It was an Irish tradition they did every year with the ladies who came to the party while the guys took shots of lambswhool at the bar, specially made by Liam.

             Liam got everyone’s attention by whistling, something he was very good at, especially when he wanted to get a lady’s attention. “Alright you pookas and banshees, it’s time to split up so if you’re with someone give them a mighty big kiss good bye and send them on their way. Pookas or lassies, you are with our dearest Fiona over there who I might add looks like a little slapper.” There was a slight giggle amongst the crowd for Liam calling her a slut. “Banshees you are over here with us O’Leary men, we will be downing some traditional sheepswhool while the ladies try to find their true love by peeling apples.” The men rolled their eyes and made their way to the bar.

             Fiona gathered the woman and each gave them an apple and an apple peeler. “Now listen up you little vixens. This is an old Irish tradition on All Hollow’s Eve that we do every year. If you have done this before then you know the ritual, if you haven’t this is what we do. We all peel our own apple keeping the skin together in one long peel, don’t break it, and then we will say a little chant, spin three times and toss the peel over our shoulder. When it has landed we will look at the peel and whatever letter shape the apple peel is in, will be the first initial of your true love.”

             Tipper found her way to Fiona and grabbed her hand. They always made sure to stand next to each other during the tradition.

             “Hey girlie, are you ready for this?” Tipper asked. “You think you will actually make a different letter this time?”

             Fiona laughed. “I hope so. I’m getting sick of tossing a lower case Q over my shoulder every year.”

             “You and me both, maybe it will be an M this time.” Tipper said while elbowing Fiona and wagging her eyebrows.

             “Let’s hope not.” Fiona said while eyeing Murphy who was practically licking her with his eyes. That man needed to find another woman because every second he had his shirt off Fiona was finding it harder and harder to resist him. “By the way, I wish you would have seen the look on Bradon’s face when he found out the girl in the sexy cat woman outfit was you.” They started peeling their apples.

             “Oh God, was he checking me out?”

             “Big time, when he found out it was you he acted like someone just chopped his dick off. I don’t get why you two hate each other so much.”

             “Sorry to say this about your brother but he is the epitome of scum. He thinks he’s the greatest thing that’s happened to Warblers Point.”

             “You’re right in that aspect but he’s not too bad. He’s a good guy you know, if you took time to get to know him.”

             Tipper looked at her in shock. “Are you actually trying to hook me up with my nemesis?”

             Fiona put her hands up in defense. “I apologize.” Fiona was done peeling her apple and so was everyone else. “Alright ladies, time to start spinning and repeat after me.”

             All the girls stood in a line and did three spins as they repeated after Fiona. “Apple peel, apple peel, please reveal, the initial letter of my true love. Now toss them gently over your right shoulder ladies and turn around to see your letter.”

             Fiona turned around and was not shocked when she saw once again that she threw a lower case Q. She looked over at Tipper who tossed hers into a pile…no secret reveal there. “Looks like I’m destined with a lower case Q.”

             Mary Margaret joined them and stopped Fiona before she picked it up. “Me girl, you threw a B this year.”

             “B? Mom it’s a lower case Q.” Her mom was losing it.

             “Not from where I’m standing. That’s a B.”

             Tipper walked over to where Mary Margaret was standing and looked down at Fiona’s apple peel. A giant grin spread across her face. “She’s right, it’s a B.”

             Fiona refused to believe that it was a B, because that would mean that she was destined to be with Booker. She knew it was an old Irish tradition just to keep the woman busy but every woman in her family had always thrown the letter of their true love. Her mom was always convinced that the same would happen to Fiona.

             Fiona picked up the peel and tossed it in the trash. “It’s just a stupid game anyway so who cares. Come on.” She said to Tipper. “Let’s get some lambswhool.”

             They were almost to the bar when Murphy came over and intercepted them. He grabbed Fiona by the waist and pulled her in close. Tipper motioned to the bar saying she would grab Fiona a drink.

             “Hey sweetheart, how did the peel throwing go…Did you make an M?”

             She tried to squirm out of his grip but it was pretty much impossible and there was no way she was going to push against his naked chest to free herself, so she succumbed to his dominance.

             “No, sorry, another Q.”

“Aye, well there’s always next year.” He nuzzled her neck and she squirmed in his arms.

Trying to change the subject and get Murphy’s mind on something else she asked, “How’s the lambswhool?”

             He lifted his head and smirked at her. “Good as ever. Liam really has nailed the recipe.” Fiona knew talking to Murphy about booze was a sure fire way to get him to lose sight at what he was doing. Irishmen and their booze!

             Tipper handed her a glass, thank God for her because Murphy let up on his grip a little so Fiona could actually take a sip of her drink. Tipper and Murphy engaged in a conversation about the proper liquor to put in lambswhool while Fiona scanned the room for Booker. She felt bad that he came and she hadn’t even really sad hi to him at all. She knew that she brushed him off and he probably wouldn’t approach her but she still wanted to at least acknowledge him.

             She looked around the room and didn’t see him at all. Did he leave? Maybe this wasn’t his kind of scene. She watched everyone in the pub drinking, dancing and having a good time. She loved Halloween, it was one of her favorite holidays and ever since the pub started having Halloween parties it made it that much more fun. The pub was full of their family and friends all having a fantastic time and that was when she spotted Booker in the back by her apartment entrance. He was talking to the local general store owner and he looked pissed. He was the only one in the pub who didn’t seem to be having a good time.

             She felt Murphy wrap his arms around her waist so his chest was pressed against her back. He started kissing her neck and she watched Booker’s gaze grow darker and darker. For some reason she felt guilty and embarrassed for parading around tonight with Murphy at her heels, touching her, stroking her and being as physical as possible with her.

             “Come home with me tonight, lass.” Murphy whispered in her ear. “I want to be the one who takes this costume off of ya, that is after ya do a little naughty dance for me first.”

             A wave of heat rippled through Fiona’s body form Murphy’s gruff voice whispering in her ear. She couldn’t take this. He was way too tempting. She stepped away from him and said, “Murphy, I told you already we can’t start whatever we had back up again.”

             He gave her a devilish grin, nothing compared to the one that melted her panties off that Booker delivered but it was still good. “Who’s saying anything about a relationship? I’m just talking about one night with you.”

             That’s all it ever seemed like he wanted. Fiona knew if she spent one night with Murphy she would be tempted for another night and that’s not what she wanted. She wanted a relationship with substance, someone who she could talk to and hash things out with, someone like Booker but she wanted someone also who lived in the general vicinity, not someone who lived across the country.

             She gathered up all her will power and said, “I’m sorry Murph. I’m moving on.” As she said the words she saw a flash of black run through Murphy’s eyes and bitterness settled in. She had never seen him like this before. His whole body tensed and she was actually nervous in his presence. Even after she broke things off with him she never saw him like this.

             He looked down at her and said, “This isn’t over lassie.” Then he walked away and saddled up next to Tipper to drink more lambswhool.

             She eyed Booker who was now by himself so she decided to go talk to him, she should at least say hi. Going over there had nothing to do with the fact that she might have dropped a B with her apple peel or that deep down inside she wished he was a resident on the east coast so she could take him up on his offer to be with him. God, how she wished she could be with him. He looked too damn sexy tonight and all she wanted to do was run her hands up and down that perfect body of his. She grabbed some liquid encouragement and made her way across the bar.

 

                                                                                    ***

             

              The last thing Liam wanted to do tonight was celebrate Halloween, a holiday that him and Neala always went all out on. Instead of being at the pub dressed up with his wife, he was stuck wearing a stupid chipmunk costume, thanks to Bradon, handing out lambswhool, which happened to be the best part of the night. The recipe was handed down to him from his parents but he finally got all the proportions right of crushed apple, spiced-ale, cider, milk and sugar. He was getting compliments left and right from everyone, even his da, one of the hardest critics in the pub.

             He was shocked when he saw Sophie walk into the pub earlier. He gave her a ticket a while back and thought she wouldn’t show up because of how everything went down with Neala but she was a brave girl, she came anyway. He was glad because he didn’t want his problems to ostracize her from the community.

             She was dressed up as a sexier version of little Bo Peep. Her dress was short, showing off her little legs and the neckline was low giving everyone a good view of what she had to offer. Watching guys around her, eye her and check her out twisted Liam’s stomach. He knew he had no claim over her but he still didn’t like to think that some other guy could date her, pleasure her or make her happy. That was his job…well was his job.

The thought of Sophie being his brought back the image of the divorce papers Neala had delivered which burned a hole through his soul. She was awfully quick on getting those papers written up. It made him wonder how long she wanted a divorce, how long she had been planning to leave him. If he gave it his all, would hehave even been able to win her back? He still hadn’t talked to her since everything went down at the general store and now she moved out of their place and was living with her parents. It seemed like only yesterday they were in bed together sharing their love, how quickly things changed.

             Finn was taking a break from the bar for a moment and that’s when Liam noticed him chatting up Tipper, Sophie and some of their friends. He was being a little too charming for Liam’s liking, especially since he noticed Sophie touching Finn on the arm and laughing. Liam never liked the two of them together, he always thought they were sneaking around behind his back but deep down inside Liam knew Finn would never do that to him. They got into their fair share of fights but they always knew that their brotherhood took precedence over any relationship they would ever have.              

             Sophie dropped her napkin in a fit of laughter, thanks to Finn and bent over to get it. That was when Liam’s mouth went dry and his dick went hard. Her skirt lifted up as she bent over revealing little white ruffled panties. Jesus, he thought. He was never going to get that image out of his head. Damn, even though he wasn’t even divorced and he shouldn’t want anything to do with Sophie, it took all his energy not to go over there and whisk her away like he used to when they were dating.

             He noticed her drink was low so he decided to bring her a glass and kick Finn back to the bar, Liam was sick of watching Finn win all the ladies over. He filled up another glass of lambswhool for her and walked over. As he approached her he noticed she had some kind of glittery substance all over her body making her look even better up close, almost like an angel. Liam was playing with fire by approaching her but he couldn’t help himself. Finn was the first one to make eye contact with him and nodded.

             “Want me to watch the bar?” Finn asked.

             “That would be great, thanks man.”

             Finn gave the girls a little wave good bye and Sophie a kiss on the cheek making Liam turn red with rage. It was just a friendly kiss he had to keep telling himself, there was nothing going on between the two of them.

             Sophie finally looked up at Liam for the first time in the night and all the laughter and fun she had in her face beforehand was instantly removed and replaced by nervous tension. That was the last thing he wanted. He didn’t want to be the man that wiped away that beautiful smile and bubbly energy she usually displayed.

             Trying to forget her disappointment in Liam taking Finn’s place he said, “Here, I thought you might need a refill.” She took the cup he handed her and whispered a thank you. Liam noticed all the woman around him went silent and were just watching him and Sophie interact with each other. It wasn’t a good idea to visit Sophie in the middle of practically all the town’s people. He felt the atmosphere between him and the ladies turn from fun and pleasant to extremely awkward and uncomfortable. 

             “Uh, so how has your night been?” Liam asked, trying to strike up some sort of conversation so it wasn’t completely awkward between him and Sophie.

             “Good, thanks.”

             Well, she wasn’t making the situation any better with her two worded answer. This was a bad idea. He should just apologize for everything again and leave.

             “Listen, Soph…” He looked around as all the girls around them were hanging on his every word. This didn’t look good, especially with the gossiping that went on in this town. Word was going to get back to Neala that he was talking to Sophie tonight. He needed to leave…immediately. Looking around he continued, “I, uh just wanted to thank you for coming tonight, and I hope you have a good night with your friends.”

             With that he tipped the stupid Simon glasses he was wearing with his costume and left the ladies to their chirping. That didn’t go as well as he planned. What was he even trying to accomplish? It’s not like he could do anything about the feelings he had toward Sophie. Even a year down the road, would he ever be able to do anything with Sophie? Would the town automatically judge him for going for her when speculation around Warblers Point was that he and Sophie were having an affair? He went to go clean some more glasses while Finn took care of the bar. He had to be alone so he could get lost in his thoughts.

 

                                                                                    ***

 

              Booker was not happy, not happy at all. He knew coming to this party wasn’t going to be satisfying, especially after having to watch Murphy hang all over Fiona the whole time. Booker and Murphy were about the same height but where Booker was lean muscle, Murphy was all brawn so Booker conceded in the fact that Murphy would be able to take him out if Booker tried to get in a fight. He wasn’t stupid, he knew how to size up a man and assess what kind of damages would happen if they ever rumbled and the damages weren’t looking in Booker’s favor.

             When he first got to the pub and ran smack into Fiona he had never seen anyone look so sexy in his entire life. He had been around his fair share of Halloween skimpy-ness but good God did Fiona take the cake. Her hair was cascading down in curls around her shoulders, she did something with her make-up that made her eyes pop and the cleavage the woman was showing was beyond anything he could ever imagine. He remembered the night he shared with Fiona, naked, the image was etched in his brain but this get up was right up there with how enticing she looked.

             He hadn’t talked to her all night which bothered him. He knew he blew up at her in the hallway the other day but he thought she might at least say hi. He did show up with her parents for crying out loud, the decent thing would to say a little hello, strike up a conversation, be a gracious host but he got nothing.

             He chatted with a few of the locals that he came to know and eyed some of the females in the pub but no one really sparked his interest. Just like he thought, Fiona had ruined him. There was some sexy blonde in a cat woman outfit that Bradon kept eyeing and Booker didn’t blame him, she looked hot but she didn’t hold a candle to Fiona. No one did.

Irritated with himself and his feelings he put his drink down and started to head for the back door to let himself out when a small hand grabbed his shoulder. He turned around to find Fiona. His heart felt like it was going to pound out of his chest just from being close to her.

She looked so small, even with those come-fuck-me heels on her feet. “Hey Booker, how are you?”

She was actually being cordial. He was shocked and didn’t quite know what to do. Noticing it had been a couple of seconds since she spoke, he quickly squeaked out, “Uh, fine. Thanks. What about yourself?”

She looked around the pub and gestured toward the door leading outside. He followed her outside and the cold air instantly hit him. The cold was not his friend and if he was cold in his pirate get up, there was no doubt in his mind that Fiona had to be cold in what little garments she was wearing.

“Shit, its cold.” Booker muttered.

Fiona waved a hand in front of her passing off his comment. “This is nothing, wait until December and January roll around, you will be begging for this kind of weather.” He noticed her facial expression change. “Oh but you probably will be in beautiful sunny California by then so you don’t have to worry about it.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. I’m going to be here for a while. I actually quite like it…besides the cold weather. That is something I’m still getting used to.”

She nodded in agreement. “You’ll get sick of it once the spirit of the season wears off and you are left with snow and parking lot snow slush that wet your pants no matter how hard you try to avoid it, everyone at one time or another gets demolished by the parking lot slush.” She was joking around with him but he couldn’t force himself to join her, instead he heard himself snap at her.

“I’m not like every other tourist that walks through this town, believe me.” He was getting so sick of her comparing him to everyone else. He was not like everyone else. If he was, he wouldn’t be in some small town in Vermont searching for happiness. Almost everyone found happiness in a sunny fantastic place like Hollywood.

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