Amy makes an impulsive decision and takes a bucket-list trip to Ireland, never expecting to find a connection she didn’t realize she was missing. Here’s the opening chapter of SOMEDAY IN DUBLIN.
He was looking over at her again.
Amy took another drink of her cider and self-consciously tucked her hair behind her ear as she glanced down at her journal. She was embarrassed as hell that he’d caught her eavesdropping on the table next to her, but she couldn’t help herself.
The old guy on the left, who – for whatever reason – went by the nickname of “Duke” was regaling his best mate with a story about his younger days in the army, a very drunken evening and a woman who was born without a thumb.
And Amy just missed the punchline because Mr. Tall-Dark-And-Wearing-A-Smirk was onto her. She strained to listen in without looking so obvious about it, leaning back slightly while holding the journal up, as though she were reading from it.
Duke’s friend was now explaining that certain types of alcohol give you very different hangovers, and generally expounding on the failure of younger men to heed the warnings of their drinking elders before they indulge and regret.
“Regret?” said Duke. “I’d not regret her. Thumb or no, she’s an experience I haven’t had the like of since. I think she felt she had to compensate for it somehow.”
“It was only a thumb,” his companion pointed out. “It’s not as though you found something standing up t’ greet you when you dropped her drawers.”
Duke smacked the table, joining his friend in a good laugh. Amy couldn’t help but smile as she set the journal down, and picked up her pen.
You would love these old men. Their laughter is contagious. And you know their stories will carry them through the night or at least a few more pints while the world spins on around them.
She chewed on her pen cap, rereading it and thinking it sounded stupid. Who was she kidding? She wasn’t a writer.
Mr. Staring Too Hard was throwing her completely off. She pushed her long brown hair back off her face, scratching through the sentence as she wrinkled her nose. She reached for her drink, finishing the last of it, and glanced up again.
He was talking to the bartender and not looking at her now.
Wait, yes he was.
He’d just turned his head and he was looking right at her again. She hastily looked down, hoping he didn’t notice her noticing that he wasn’t noticing her when he finally noticed her again.
She flipped back a page in her journal, pulling out a stack of folded papers and laying them flat in front of her before making a check mark next to the an item on the first page.
Then she looked up again.
He was watching her over the lip of his glass, which he’d just tilted up to his mouth. His now smiling mouth.
Amy looked down at the table, determined this time to make a serious effort to ignore him. She opened up her journal again, and set her pen to it.
You would laugh out loud at me if you were sitting here, she wrote. He’s gorgeous, but as usual, I don’t have the balls to do much more than look like an idiot every time we lock eyes. I know what you’d say if you were here. I know what you’d say and I’m not going to do it.
Amy punched the button on her phone so she could check the time. She turned it back off again, and then closed up her journal, folding and sliding the papers back between the pages.
She was just starting to reach for her coat when she realized he was standing in front of her.
“Running away, are you?” he asked. He had a glass in each hand, and he set one down on the table. “Well, it’s too late. I’ve brought your drink.”
“You’re drinking Bulmer’s – at least, that’s what Tom told me.” He inclined his head toward the bartender.
“Oh. Yeah. Yeah, I am,” she said, nodding. “Thanks.”
“So are you staying or are you leaving?” he pressed. “Because I had planned for us to be staring at each other for another thirty minutes, but if you’ve better things to do…” He cracked a sideways smile that made her feel a little flustered.
Maybe a lot flustered. He was handsome from across the room, but up close those eyes were too blue, that jawline was too strong under the close stubble covering it. His dark, silky hair was slightly mussed and he had a dimple on one side when he smiled.
“You’re staring again,” he pointed out, lifting his brows.
Amy flushed hot red. Okay, he was gorgeous, but he was also kind of a jerk. She didn’t have time for jerks. She had an agenda to keep.
“I was just thinking,” she said. “I was getting ready to leave because I have somewhere to be.”
He leaned back, grimacing in a pained way. “Just the luck I’m having,” he said. “You’re meeting a fella then?”
Amy couldn’t help but smile at the word “fella.” She shook her head.
“No. I’m on my own. I came here for dinner but –” she reached over, opening the journal and sliding one of the papers out. “Hey, maybe you can help me. I’m looking for a certain pub.”
“If it’s a pub you’re looking for, I’m your man,” he said, sliding into the chair across from her and setting his glass down on the table. He extended his hand.
She took it, shaking gently. “Amy.”
“Amy the American?”
She smiled sheepishly, tucking her hair behind her ear again. “Is it that obvious?”
“You sound like one,” he said, “But apart from that, you’re nearly falling out of your seat trying to listen to the people around you.”
She reached for her cider, taking a drink and setting it down. “Let me guess…you’re a regular, and you’ve heard every story these old guys have to tell.”
“Definitely. My turn to guess…the story involved a woman of questionable reputation.”
Amy nodded, grinning. “And only one thumb.”
“Ah, the thumbless girl. A beautiful story.”
“How did her husband find out?” Amy asked, lowering her voice and leaning forward. “I didn’t catch that part.”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” he shrugged. “I’ve never seen those two before in my life. But there are two like them in every pub in Ireland.”
She looked surreptitiously over her shoulder. “I’ll bet there are,” she said. “I just wish I had the gift for capturing stories like that.”
“You’re a writer, then?” He gestured toward her journal.
Amy glanced down. “What me? No. No way. Not that creative.”
Michael crossed his arms and put his thumbs under his chin, studying her.
“No, I’m thinking that you are.”
“Really.” She arched a brow, waiting to see where he was going with this.
“You came all the way to Dublin for holiday,” he said. “Your eyes light up with every story you hear – I’ve watched you eavesdrop on three or four now – and every so often, you look out the window and watch the people on the streets as if you long to hear their stories, too.” He leaned back, reaching for his beer. “I think you’ve got an adventurous spirit, Amy from America.”
She looked at him as if startled, then covered it quickly, reaching for her cider. “I don’t know if I’d call eavesdropping in a pub an adventure.”
“Maybe you’d reconsider if you’d heard the rest of his story,” Michael said, gesturing at the old man with a twinkle in his eye. “Or mine.”
She took a drink. “Maybe,” she allowed.
“Is it your first time to Ireland?”
“Yes. My first day, even.”
“Well, welcome,” he said, lifting his glass to clink it to hers. Amy picked up her cider, clinking back.
“Sláinte.” she said.
“Sláinte,” he replied. “You’re already learning the language.” He took a drink, setting his glass back down. “Now, what’s the name of the pub you’re looking for?”
Amy reached for the piece of paper, unfolding it. “The Long Stone,” she read.
“The Long Stone?” He looked at her askance. “You don’t want to go there, luv. They’re overpriced and usually overcrowded. I can recommend a dozen better pubs, and closer.”
“No, it’s got to be that one,” she said apologetically. “Is it far? Google made it look like it wasn’t too hard to get to, but I got turned around twice today just walking a few blocks. My sense of direction isn’t the greatest.”
“It’s a short walk,” he replied. “I can take you there if you’ve set your heart on it.”
She looked at him warily. “I don’t want to be any trouble. I can find it if you’ll just point the way.”
He folded his arms on the table. “You’re no trouble. And we’ll be walking on well-lit streets teeming with the cream of Dublin society.” He put a hand to his heart. “I promise.”
She chewed her lip. “I’ll think about it,” she said.
Michael nodded. “Well, I’ve already made up my mind about you, but if you’d rather not have my company for this evening, I’ll be off and out of your way.”
She took another drink, toying with her glass and pushing it around on the table.
“You’ve made up your mind about me?” She looked up at him.
“I have.” He gave her an impish grin and she couldn’t seem to stop herself from smiling back.
“All right. You can show me the way,” she said. “But I’m not so sure I’ve made up my mind about you yet.”
She stood up, reaching for her coat, but he beat her to it. He held it out, helping her into it.
“Well, Amy from America,” he said. “I think you have. And now it’s up to me to prove you right.”