“Oh God. Shit, shit.”
I feel like I’m being turned inside out, my back arching in a way that suggests I missed my calling as a gymnast. Shane’s fingers are pressed hard inside me, applying just enough pressure to prolong the feeling sweeping through me. He doesn’t stop until I’ve sagged back onto the fridge, my legs still draped boneless over his shoulders. I should pull myself together, cover myself up, but the urgency is lost on me compared to what I just experienced. When I finally get the strength to pick up my head and look at him, he’s staring at me, an unreadable look in his eye.
“Fuck. I can’t wait to be inside you, girl.”
Just like that, my heart is beginning to pound again. The so recently satisfied parts of my body grow heavy under his appreciative gaze. I want Shane. I want to blow his f**king mind, just like he’s blown mine tonight. Slowly, I let my legs drop from his shoulders and sit up. Without a thought, my hand go to his belt buckle, tracing it with a single finger. “What are you waiting for?”
He swoops down with a curse, mouth covering mine, our kiss beginning at one hundred miles an hour. While I yank the leather of his belt through the loops, his mouth devours mine, his fingers pinching my hardening ni**les. Oh God, I’ve never been this desperate. I need to feel him inside me. At this moment, it feels like a necessity.
We both freeze at the sound of Faith’s singsong voice. I rack my muddled brain, trying to remember if Shane locked the stock-room door when we walked in. Oh boy, I don’t think so. I open my mouth to whisper the question, but he closes a hand over my mouth and shakes his head. When I see a touch of horror on his face, mixed with pain, I can’t help laughing into his palm. His eyes widen a little bit, probably at me having the audacity to laugh when he has a king-size boner in his pants, but something shifts in his expression. And he laughs, too.
Something exhilarating and terrifying moves in the air between us, but I don’t have time to wonder what it could be, because Faith speaks again. “Right. Well, Ma saw you two come back here. I can only assume you’ve finally shagged each other rotten.”
Shane abruptly stops laughing.
“Another group has come in, and we need you back behind the bar, Shane, if you don’t mind zipping it up for a spell.”
The sound of rusty hinges reaches the stock room, telling us Faith has gone back out into the pub. For a long moment, Shane only stares at me. “Did she just say—”
He pushes a hand through his hair, leaving the side standing on end. “Jesus, living with family is going to be the death of me.”
“Not racing cars?”
I don’t know why I say it. Scratch that, I know exactly why. We just shared something, and I need to put things back on even footing. I’m leaving Dublin, and he’s going back to racing. We are a diversion. I needed to remind myself of that fact out loud.
Laughing without cause, I jump off the fridge and begin replacing my clothes as quickly as possible. I assume Shane has left the room and I’m trying to ignore the twisting in my chest when I feel his fingers lift my chin.
He studies my face. “Maybe you’ll be the death of me.”
Shane doesn’t wait for my response, but drops his hand to his side and walks out. I don’t move for a long time.
“I can’t believe it. Dead, he is?” Kitty wails. “Who’s going to make the cod and chips now?”
I’m halfway down the stairs the next day when Kitty’s question reaches me, slowing me to a stop. I let my laundry plop down on the stair I’m standing on. It’s eight o’clock in the morning, the latest I’ve slept since arriving in Dublin. A horrifying fact. I suspect the only reason I didn’t wake up earlier is because Kitty didn’t knock on my door with ice-cold tea and charred toast. Oddly, I kind of missed the damn wake-up call. Now it seems like there might be a reason besides Kitty’s scatterbrain.
“We’ll manage.” It’s Shane’s deep voice, rolling up the stairs like smoke to reach me. Something hot and sticky invades my belly, in a way that demands I press a hand to the area above my zipper. Having no choice, I’m wearing the same jeans as yesterday, although I’ve tucked my Chicago PD sleep shirt into them so no skin is showing. I’ve thrown a jacket on over everything, even though it looks to be another day of great weather. Laundry must be done today, or I’ll be forced to walk around Dublin naked.
“How can I manage when people keep keeling over and dying on me?” Kitty’s voice has reached a hysterical pitch. I hear a chair scraping back and Faith speaking in a calming tone, but it doesn’t seem to be having much effect. “First your father, now Martin. He made such a lovely cod and chips, Martin did. It’s an absolute shame. I’d hoped to have it for my lunch today.”
Ah. The cook died. I guess I waited too long to try the cod after all. Not wanting to get in the middle of a family discussion, especially one involving the mourning of a friend, I turn with the intention of going back to my room, but my boot catches on the laundry bag, sending it hurtling down the stairs. It’s louder than it should be thanks to the rickety railing and dead spots in the wood. I cringe when conversation ceases below me.
Just when I’d forgotten my luck is f**ked.
“The American must be up.” Another chair scraping along the wooden floor. “You better let me be the one to tell her about our Martin.”
“Her name is Willa, Ma,” Faith says. “And she doesn’t know Martin from a hole in the ground.”
“She’ll read about it in the papers, I suspect,” Kitty continues as if Faith hadn’t spoken. “Better to get it out of the way now.”
I’m still frozen on the steps, as if they might forget about the falling laundry bag and go back to their conversation. Or chalk it up to another guest. With a frown, I eyeball the row of doors above me. I’m starting to wonder if I’m the only guest at the Claymore Inn.
“Willa,” Shane calls. “We know you’re there.”
I heave a sigh and make my way down to the empty pub. Kitty is standing closest to me with her hands behind her back, chin raised toward the ceiling. She looks like a military commander getting ready to address the troops. When I feel a tingle in my spine, my gaze immediately seeks out Shane, the tingle graduating to a full-body flush. Looking fresh from the shower, he’s leaning back in a chair like a lazy tiger, one booted foot propped on his knee. We nod at each other. Faith snorts.
“Bad news, American,” Kitty starts.
I wait, doing my best to look solemn.
Her brow furrows. “Damn, it’s gone and slipped through the cracks.”
Faith gets up from her sprawled position on the booth and lays a comforting hand on her mother’s arm. “Its fine, Ma.” She transfers her attention to me. “Martin, our cook, died.”
“He was more than a cook, really. His cod and chips was a work of art.” Kitty’s frail hand presses to her breast. “Tell me how he died again, Shane.”
Shane shifts in his chair, uncrossing his legs and leaning forward. When he speaks, he’s addressing Kitty, but looking at me. The shadow passing over his face makes something hard stick in my throat. “In his sleep, Kitty. No pain.”