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I’d inherited a house I had never seen, in a land I had never been to, from a relative I had never met. It was fortunate, plus or minus the un was still to be seen.
The house stood solitary, proud and ram shackled, near the edge of the sheer, steep cliffs. No it didn’t look foreboding; however it didn’t look welcoming either. This was to be my new home?
Oh my god, what had I gotten into? There was so much that needed done and I was so not the person to do it. Just from looking at the outside of this ‘opportunity’ as my mom called it, the roof needed tarred, shutters re-hung, porch re-railed and the swing fixed.
I was dreading looking at the inside. It just seemed too much to deal with at the moment and while my nest egg was large, it wasn’t infinite. My luggage was due tomorrow so at least I didn’t have to worry about unpacking today.
I sat down in the tall grass by the sprawling oak tree in the front yard, trying organize all the things I needed to do or even where I needed to start. Frustrated with my inability to form a plan I flopped back in the grass with a sigh, closing my eyes to the warm sun. I must have nodded off because the next thing I knew I was being gently shaken awake.
“Hey kiddo , wake up..” a soft smoky voice whispered thick with an Irish brogue. With a voice like that I must be dreaming a dream I didn’t want to wake up from.
Another gentle shake. There’s no shaking in dreams.
My eyes slowly fluttered open. I looked up, and up. A tall, willowy young woman stood practically over me, concern in her dark blue eyes as she looked down at me.
“Are you alright?” She was quite striking in an unusual way, add that to her accent and slightly elf-shaped ears and I was stunned, a fairy ..wait, no fairies weren’t that tall.
I blushed and laughed, embarrassed to be caught unaware, “Yes,” I stuttered, grinned sheepishly “Sorry I must have dozed off.” taking her offered hand, I stood.
“Thanks.” I said. I came to right under her chin and had to look up to meet her gaze and abruptly forgot I was holding her hand because at that moment, she smiled an open and friendly smile.
My stomach dropped to my feet and I think I lost something else. I panicked took a step back and dropped my sight from her eyes. I couldn’t help being overtly shy, it was always this way happening without warning. The name ‘Ice Maiden” was made for people like me.
“Well anyhow, I ..I’d better get inside.” I stammered out fidgeting nervously with the bottom of my little t-shirt and made tracks to the house without even indicating a goodbye. My mother would have killed me for my lack of manors at that moment.
“Inside?” she queried in a gentle tone, ” Ahh, so your Ma’s the new owner of McGowan’s Tower?” humor rich in her voice, “Since you’re a wee bit young to be out here by yourself, she’s inside then?”
Out of nowhere a flash of indignation took me and I pivoted on my heels, forgetting my shyness and met her with my fiery green eyes. “It’s my house, not my mothers. And I’m plenty old enough to go grab a smoke or a beer if I wanted to!” I growled.
I was immediately contrite. It wasn’t her fault I had a pet peeve about people assuming I was younger then I was. “Sorry I didn’t mean to go all psycho on you.” I mumbled, hung my head rubbing at the tension in the back of my neck. “Must be jet lag or too much fresh air.”
I grinned sheepishly, hoping she wasn’t mad at me for my rudeness I dared a glance up at her face. Wearing a bemused smile that brought the dimple in her left cheek out, she didn’t look mad or anything at all but totally cute.
“Ach and I thought we Irish red heads had a temper.” she teased strait faced, laughter in her voice. She flipped her long, thick red braid back over her shoulder. “Well, I’ll be accepting your apology over that Guinness you were just talking about grabbing. Tarres is a fine pub down the road in the middle of town. Serves the best brew and of course has the best service, considering my family runs it.”
She wasn’t flirting just being friendly, my head knew the difference but my heart didn’t care and gave another little flutter. I don’t date. Ever. I started to panic again. I didn’t know if I liked the feeling she seemed to make me feel or not, it was uncomfortable to say the least.
She must of pickup on my nervousness because she moved closer and said in a soft voice, one that seemed to draw me, no matter that I want to run and hide.
“By the by, my name is Caitlin.” her dark blue eyes held mine; friendly, kind and open. My will seemed to slip a bit.
“Come on, I promise you a very cold draft and you can ask any questions you might have about here. Since you said you’re making this your home, you should get to know about the town and at least a few people.” she teased gently. “Just for an hour or so then I’ll let you escape.” she grinned, impishly.
I decided to just push down whatever weird feelings this tall elf had invoked in me and just look at her like a friend. bursa yabancı escort It helped with my tongue-numbing shyness. Ok, I got it under control. Control.
“Alix,” I coughed, “Alixilura is my name but most call me just Alix.” I shrugged, “Mom though I should have a heroines name so I could grow up brave and strong.”
I chuckled and shook my head at the irony. Instead she had gotten a little girl who had occasionally jumped at her own shadow, then a young woman who had a bad case of shyness.
Straitening my slim shoulders, I smiled at Caitlin, but said sternly “One hour that’s all. I have to get back here and get started on.. stuff.” I waved vaguely toward the house.
She laughed and held her hands up in mock surrender. “Ok, ok. I promise not to keep you up past your bed time.”
“It’s only noon!” I laughed, “You’re not getting that one past me! One hour.” I said sternly as I picked up my back pack to follow Caitlin into town.
She grinned teasingly back at me and I smiled back, feeling more at ease. I’d made a good decision. I was going to stick to it, even if it killed me. This attraction thing would go away if I ignored it and I truly believed Caitlin would be a great friend if I didn’t mess it up. I had already begun to like her quick wit and easy humor.
As we walked thru the center of the town Caitlin pointed out numerous things and told me the names of the people who ran, worked in, or owned said things. It was going to take a long time for me to remember even a minute amount of what she said. But her face was animated as she talked about the town and I could see she loved it here so I listened avidly. We came upon a tall charming structure that had a intricate sign of polished oak swinging from the stoop claiming:
~Tarres : Now you’re one of the family~
“Wow,” I said, admiration in my voice, ” I wish I could carve half that well!”
In thrall by the exterior, I was eager to see the inside. I was not disappointed. As lovely as the outside was, it was tame compared to the outstanding perfection of the inside. The atmosphere was warm, friendly, and had a crisp sense of being clean and cheery. People were enjoying themselves and it created a feeling of welcome. This was the type of place I enjoyed being in when I did go out. The place was so crowded no one noticed our arrival.
“This place is beautiful!” awe tinged my voice as I looked around. A pleased smile curved Caitlin’s mouth, flashing that sexy dimple again.
“Those two, one dancing around like a lunatic and one behind the bar drawing drafts flirting with everyone, are my sisters, Eloisa and Allyson, my brothers Douglas and Brendan. Eloisa and Douglas are twins.” she pointed out the young man waiting tables and the other cooking behind the bar, yelling at Eloisa and Douglas.
Her whole family was beautiful. It was just unfair to horde so much good looks in one gene pool. Still, I though, Caitlin was much more captivating then the lot of them, because but none of them could take my attention off Caitlin.
My lips began to twitch trying not to smile. It was just too much to be a coincidence. I had to find out. “Are you perhaps the third born?” A giggle escaped me.
She gaped at me in mock affront, “Who told you!” I was grinning then, laughing up to her. “Well our mom had to be able to tell which of us where who. Gran had eight daughters and seven sons.” she laughed. “Imagine the confusion there!” she quipped with a grin, “Let’s see if we can sneak past the guard dogs. If I can, I willna have to work this afternoon here at the pub.”
We slipped quickly and quietly in to the booth in the alcove. I could see everyone, but no one could see us. That in its self comforted me. It had its own mini bar and Caitlin made us two Guinness in frozen mugs. As she promised the stuff was prime, strong and true Guinness. I had drunk about half my mug when Caitlin finished hers and looked to the bar to get another; I slipped mine over to her and snatched her empty mug.
“Golly you’re a slow drinker, Caitlin.” I laughed. She looked back up and saw me grinning, the empty mug in front of me.
She smirked, “Most yanks can’t drink the stuff as well as you seem to be able too. Maybe I should get you something stronger?” she teased.
“Yes please, do you guys have ice tea?” I bantered back, feeling cocky now that I knew she didn’t mind my teasing.
She arched her brow, and laughed, “Ohh getting a wee bit smug are we now?”
Before I could reply, my stomach growled loud enough to be heard over the din of the crowed. I blushed.
“Sorry, ” I mumbled.
She laughed “Well I guess in order to get you feed I’ll have to be seen.” She started out of our hiding spot, I grabbed her arm. I didn’t’ feel like sharing her just yet.
“Wait, I can go grab us some food. What’s good here?” I asked.
“Well I’d never admit it, but my brother is a pretty good chef. And his potato soups my favorite.” she smiled. Returning bursa sınırsız escort the smile, I walked off to claim our food
I went up to the bar and asked for two potato soups and one ice tea.
“Well, your new around here, Are you passing through with the tour group?” Caitlin’s sister greeted in a cheery voice and a quick smile, as she placed my order on a bar trey.
Allyson was very beautiful, but not in a Caitlin way. Long blond hair and dark blue eyes gave her a fragile look, but in no way stirred me like Caitlin did.
I smiled; “Don’t know yet.” snatched up the trey, and went back to Caitlin.
“Mmm, smells good.” I slid the trey between us and snagged my ice tea and took a slow gulp. My stomach growled again as the yummy smell of the food hit me. Its heavy rich flavor made sure I’d remember where the best potato soup could be found in Ireland. Bliss.
“I think I’m in love with your brother if he can cook this good all the time.” I joked, “Does he do laundry and dishes also?”
Caitlin snorted, her cute little nose wrinkling up. “I can cook just as well, but I prefer not to tie myself only to the kitchen. I make better use of my time.” she said smugly.
We ate and discussed more of the towns people and laughed over a few childhood tales. The basic getting to know you stuff. The more she talked, the more I liked her and the more relaxed I felt.
She was confident, funny, intelligent and quite sweet natured. She liked building things and ran a fix-it shop here in town. She loved her family, was overprotective of her siblings, and by the way she was trying to hook me up with one of her brothers, strait.
I talked about my single childhood, growing up in a rural area with only my mom, my hermit life as a writer after graduating college in three years. Then my new house and how I’d received the letter that left it to me. I glanced down at my watch.
“Oh my gosh, it’s already four!” I exclaimed, mock scowling “I’m so blaming this on you” shaking my finger at her.
Grinning impishly she claimed, “Not my fault! We’ll blame it on the drinks.” she laughed, and then sighed, “Well, I better get back to work too. We need to do this again soon.”
I smiled, “Yeah, it was definitely fun. Thanks for making me come. I usually avoid socializing but with you its not so bad.” I teased.
We both sat there for a few minutes in relaxed silence.
I laughed, “Ok lazy bones, we better get going or we’ll never get anything done.”
“You first,” she grinned.
I sighed, “It’s a darn shame I’m so comfy. It makes leaving that much harder.” I stood. Laughing I grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet. “But you’re coming with me!”
We started out the alcove and had almost made it to the door when a woman caught sight of us, “Caitlin Mary Tarres!” Guiltily I released her hand. Caitlin gave me a sheepish grin and turned to the woman.
“Where have you been all day?!”
“Oh, Mom I didn’t expect you and Dad back for a few days. How was Dublin?” She asked sweetly, her wide eyes so innocent I could see the halo floating above her red hair.
Her brothers and sisters swooped down on us at that moment also. “Aye, Caitlin” Brandon, her chef brother greeted, “Old man O’Malley was expecting you this morning and you never showed up! He called here worried and Ma just happened picked up the phone.” he explained.
“Yeah.” said the twins, crossing their arms, grinning at Caitlin’s discomfort.
Allyson was the first to look at me. She didn’t glance or go back to the conversation. She seemed to be taking my measure. Caitlin noticed the look, jumped at the chance to distract her mother’s scolding and promptly introducing me. O how I hate manners sometimes.
“This is Alix, she owns McGowan’s Tower now. The place looks like it will need a lot of repairing but it’s a sturdy a building as there ever was. It’s going to be a rare pleasure working on it.”
At her presentation, all six pair of gorgeous dark blue eyes focused on me. I shifted, uncomfortable with the scrutiny and began to inch toward the door that hung my freedom so close.
“Hi,” I waved weakly, feet shuffling.
Mrs. Tarres smiled warmly at me and held out her hand, “Ah dear, we knew your uncle well. So sad to have him passing away like that. He was a bit of a character, barked at times but it was much more than his bite. How long will you be in town?” she asked, slowly a slightly unholy flame lit her eyes, “Are you staying? Are you seeing any one special or are you single?” she fired off before I could get my balance. Both of Caitlin’s brothers paled, I almost laughed aloud. Yeah right. I looked to Caitlin to save me.
“Ma!” Caitlin exclaimed, “Leave the poor lass alone. We have to be heading out; we have loads of work to do!” She put her arm around me and moved to step out in to the afternoon. Her mom turned her arsenal towards Caitlin.
“Ah my Cait, that handsome young Donner is back in town. görükle escort He’s had an eye on you since you were in pigtails. His da’ says he’s looking to stay.” Mrs. Tarres, beamed at her third born, clearly expecting her third born to express delight.
I couldn’t resist, my eyes caught Caitlin and I began to smile. ‘Pigtails’ I mouthed, grinning.
“Yes she was just telling me how hansom that young Donner is.” I said cheerfully, smiling sweetly at Mrs. Tarres. “And what a fine kisser he is.” While her mother’s eyes lit up with intent, Caitlin’s eyes gleamed vengeance. I laughed out loud. She hadn’t actually said even a word about Donner, but the excuse ‘the devil made me do it’ as a prime example in this case. “Well it was nice meeting you all, I have to be on my way so I can get settled in before night fall.”
Flashing a grin at Caitlin, I ducked out of the Tavern and walked away as quickly as I could, chuckling on the long way back up the hill towards the house.
I wasn’t expecting any more company for a while and was surprised by the bellow, “Alixilura!”
I spun around and saw her. I knew I was dead woman the second I saw Caitlin charging up the hill, murder in her flaming blue eyes. “You just wait till I get my hands on you, ya brat! Me Ma’s never going to let me alone now!”
I, of course having a sense of self preservation, ran for all I was worth. Laughing was slowing me down and her long shapely legs were eating up the ground between us, but, I thought as I put on a blitz of speed, I had run track so the chase was on.
We reached the porch of the ‘Tower”, before I realized I had the key in my back pack.
“Time out! Time out!” I cried as we leaped onto the porch, I collapsed against the door laughing hard and we both were panting hard. She stalked closer to me menacingly, or rather as menacing as someone trying not to grin could be. She leaned in and trapped me against the door with both her hands just above my shoulders.
My heart started slamming against my chest, not because of the run. I gulped. Breathing became difficult, she didn’t wear any perfume and her body heat was bringing the intoxicating scent of her skin to me. I was trying hard to suppress the sensations I felt, but just her scent was making me pulse down low. She didn’t seem to notice my distraction thank goodness.
“I canna believe you told my Ma that!” she growled, in thick brogue, so close her nose almost touching mine, “Now all I’ll hear is Caitlin you should marry! Caitlin when’s the young Donner to came a callin’! Ohh how your gonna’ pay once I get me breath back!” she was growling at me. I felt my stomach do that fluttery thing again and my spine tingle deliciously.
“I’d offer you a seat to catch your breath but as you can see the option is limited to the grass.” my voice barely steady as I indicated to the broken porch swing. I smiled sweetly. “Thank you for the run, I’d forgotten how much I like to run. In fact,” I said, “I think I’ll start up running again to get back in shape. Is there a good track around these parts?” I asked seriously.
She looked down at me with disbelief in her eyes, “You think you’re out of shape? I dunna even want to know what shape you think I’m in!” she chuckled dryly.
I couldn’t stop the slow blush that crept up my cheeks, and having a pale complexion blushes stood out. ‘Don’t think about her shape, don’t think about her shape’, I chanted in my head. I licked my lips, “Y..your shapes fine!” I stammered out, embarrassment immediately consuming me.
She threw her head back and laughed, “Oh my, I dinna mean to sound so threatening!” Misinterpreting my stammer, she stepped back allowing me vital space to breathe and recover from my slip. Another narrow escape.
Struggling to get my breath back to normal, I dug into my back pack for the little key to the large house behind me, I was still jittery from so close a slip on my part. My nerves on end and oversensitive, I could feel her breath across the back on my neck, making my knees shake. Thankfully she stepped back a bit further looking up at the house.
“Old McGowan kept the Tower in pretty good repair.” Caitlin mused, smiling broadly, admiring the big house with obvious affection. At my glance of disbelief she laughed and wrinkled her cute little nose.
“Inside, I mean. He figured that vandals would not come in to steal anything if it looked like the house couldn’t possible hold anything of value. It has a first rate alarm system, I myself put in there. All the water closets have the best modern pluming and accessories available. It has four large bedrooms on the second floor and a master bedroom. The master bedroom has a bathing room either of my sisters would easily kill for. The first floor consists of the dining room, a sitting room, a sunroom, a library and the kitchen.” she stopped her rapturous praise long enough to take a small breath. I stifled a giggle. She was just too cute when she was talking about something so mundane.
“The kitchen has all the latest and greatest that makes Brendan green with envy. I did the labor but old McGowan brought an expert in to color chord the house before I started the remodeling. I’m not so good with that.” grinning like an abashed little imp. She curled a fiery lock behind her ear that escaped her braid.
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