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Authors: Lila Dubois

The irish lover

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The Irish Lover

A Glenncailty Castle ShortStory

 

By Lila Dubois

 

 

 

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2013 Lila Dubois

First electronic publication: February2013

 

ISBN: 978-0-9889107-0-6

 

Cover by Valerie Tibbs

 

 

 

Visit Lila’s website atwww.liladubois.net

 

 

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This book is a work of fiction. The names,characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’simagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to beconstrued as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead,actual events, locale or organizations is entirelycoincidental.

 

 

Smashwords Edition, LicenseNotes

 

 

This ebook is licensed for your personalenjoyment only. It may not be re-sold or given away to otherpeople. If you would like to share this book with another person,please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’rereading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchasedfor your use only, then please return towww.smashwords.comandpurchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work ofthis author.

 

 

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Growing up in America, Mary Callahan knew verylittle about her parents, who were killed when she was a baby.Returning to her native Ireland, she hopes to discover more aboutthem…and herself. Michael is home from Dublin for the weekend whenhe sees a gorgeous American peeking in the pub door. Somethingabout her calls to him. They don’t realize that it may be more thanchance that brings them together, and when instant attraction leadsto a night of searing passion they will both have to confront theirsudden and powerful feelings for one another.

A nighttime excursion brings them face to facewith lovers whose tragic fate has kept them bound to Glenncailty asghosts. Michael knows the danger the past poses, but cannot protecther from things that happened long ago. Mary must decide if she’swilling to risk her heart for a chance at love and a place to callhome.

 

 

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Chapter One

 

She may have been born here, but it wasn’thome.

Mary rolled down the window of her rental carletting in the cool, wet Irish air. She’d cranked up the heat whenshe got in and now the windows were fogged, making the mistymorning seem downright gloomy.

The gloom didn’t dampen the romance of the viewor lessen the feelings it inspired. She took a breath, tasting theloam of the earth. Little by little the windows cleared. Silverylight fell over rolling green hills. The rain made the landsparkle, as if it weren’t raindrops, but diamonds, that fell fromthe sky. And she was alone, with no one to share the wonder andbeauty of the view with, no one to ease the burden of sadness andloss she carried.

Mary Callahan had come for The Gathering—theyear when the Emerald Isle called all of her children home. Maryand her grandparents had emigrated after the death of Mary’sparents during the Troubles—a kind euphemism for the violence,bombings and murders that rocked Ireland in the latter decades ofthe 20th century. She’d been raised in Chicago since she was twoand until now had never returned.

She’d never wanted to come here. When she wasyounger she hated any mention of Ireland, or her parents, becauseof the sadness that settle over their little house for daysafterward. At her grandparents’ request--and due to the fact thatat the moment she was jobless with nothing better to do--she’d cometo a place as foreign to her as the moon.

Though she didn’t feel the connection toIreland her grandparents insisted she would, it was a beautifulcountry. Resisting the urge to jump out and take yet another photo,Mary turned on the rental car’s GPS system. In a country withoutZIP codes, and sometimes without street numbers, the best way toget somewhere was to ask, not to rely on a piece of electronicequipment but she used it out of habit.

“Glenncailty.” She keyed in the location,talking to herself to push away the loneliness. “Birthplace of oneMary Callahan.”

With the GPS ready, and more importantly aprinted list of directions, Mary put the car in gear, heading deepinto the Irish countryside in search of Glenncailty—the valley ofthe lost.

****

Michael Baker smiled as the glen came intoview. The valley was hidden away out in the Meath countryside,rural as could be despite its location only a few hours fromDublin. Narrow at the far end, it opened like a fan into an area afew miles across. The village of Cailtytown spread across the flatland. From the ridge where the road ran he could see the patchworkof fields with their dry-stack stone walls, the too-narrow roadsthat wound through clusters of houses and shops. Farmlandsurrounded the town, making it seem like a little island of peopleamid a sea of green. As the glen narrowed the fields grew wild, andat the narrowest point sat the castle.

Gray shadows fell over the old fortified manorhouse. Whatever it may have been, it was now and always had beenknown as Glenncailty Castle. When he was a child, Michael and hismates’ most daring adventures had been sneaking over to the castleand exploring crumbling buildings and peering in broken windows. Itwasn’t until he was older that he realized the true danger they’dput themselves in. People, many of them children, had diedwandering through Glenncailty Castle. For that reason it had beenboarded up, and the fear of God put in to the children ofCailtytown so that they wouldn’t go near it—not that it hadworked.

All that had changed two years ago when SeamusO’Muircheartaigh, the owner of the castle, reopened it and startedturning it into a posh hotel. The old stable had been convertedinto a nice venue for music and dancing, and there were rumors thatthe mews would become a spa.

It seemed strange to Michael that GlenncailtyCastle might be anything other than an old, haunted ruin, but forthe sake of those who lived in the glen he was glad. The recessionhad hit hard here. Most people in Glenncailty were farmers, and thefluctuating price of milk and grain had cut their incomes,threatening the whole village.

As he was about to turn left onto the road thatled down into the valley, he caught sight of the car behind him,which was driving on the wrong side of the road. He honked and thecar jerked into the left-hand lane. He turned off, then looked overhis shoulder, a little worried about the other driver. He caughtsight of a dark-haired woman he didn’t recognize, and a stickerfrom a rental company in the car window.

He shook his head. Maybe the parish councilshould put up signs reminding drivers from America and Australiawhich side of the road they should be on. Cailtytown had seen itsshare of people leave in the recessions—including the currentone—so they were expecting more than a few of the diaspora toreturn home to their little part of Ireland for TheGathering.

Once he hit the town he waved at nearly everycar he passed. Though he’d lived in Dublin since attending TrinityCollege, Cailtytown would always be home.

Pulling in to a little parking spot behind hisfamily’s house he took flowers off the seat and headed for thekitchen door.

“Ma, I’m here.” Michael shut the back door,wiping his feet.

“Well Lord love you, there you are.” Rose Bakerrose from her seat at the table in the kitchen. It was comfortingto see his mother, who was still young and beautiful in the eyes ofher son, sitting in the same spot at the kitchen table she alwayssat in. “You’ll have a cup of tea, won’t you?”

“I’ll make it.” Michael’s protest was brushedaside as she filled a kettle and set it boiling.

“These are for you.” He held out the thing he’dbeen hiding behind his back.

She accepted the flowers, turning the bouquetin her hands to admire the lilies. “And what are thesefor?”

“For you, because I love you.”

“Just like your father, a charmer.” She set tocutting the stems under running water and arranging them in a vase.“I’ll trust nothing you say now, as I’m sure you’re up tosomething.”

“Is that the thanks I get for bringing youflowers?”

“Enough out of you.” Her scolding was softenedby a smile. “Do you want me to iron your shirt for theparty?”

Tonight was aceilidh—a party—to raisemoney for the son of a local family. The boy was in medical schooland traveling to Africa to do relief work as a doctor while onholidays. As worthy as the cause was, the anticipated massive turnout had more to do with where the party was being held than itspurpose. Theceilidhwould take place in Finn’s Stable—themassive stone stable at Glenncailty Castle. Once a haunted ruin, ithad been renovated and revamped, becoming a beautiful performanceand party space. In the past months it had hosted some very highprofile concerts and events. Thisceilidhwas the firstevent hosted by someone from Cailtytown in the new Finn’s Stable,and it was a fair bet that most of the town would be inattendance.

Michael was going with his mother, at herrequest, but he had to admit that he might have come back on hisown, as curious to see the place as anyone else.

“I was going to wear this.”

His mother cast a critical eye over him.“That’s fine, but I’ve got a shirt for you in the hot press. Let mejust give it a quick iron.”

Michael’s lips twitched as he took a seat atthe table, cup of tea in hand. There was little point arguing withhis mother. Though he was a grown man, certainly capable ofdressing himself, he’d never been able to convince his mother ofthat fact. He’d stopped protesting, knowing that she liked to takecare of him, and with his father gone Michael was the only one shehad to take care of.

An hour later, after a light supper—to holdthem over until they got there, where they’d be eating again—and achange of shirt, Michael cocked his elbow.

“Would you accompany me to a dance, fairmaiden?”

His mother scoffed at him, but she was smilingas he led her out the back door to the car.

****

She couldn’t sleep.

Mary rolled over and bunched her pillow underher head. She thought she’d be over her jet lag by now, but it wastwo in the morning and she was wide-awake. After arriving atGlenncailty Castle—she was staying in a castle!—she’d been tootired to do more than go to her room and crawl into bed. Now shewas up and couldn’t fall back to sleep.

Part of her wanted to explore the castle—a big,stately structure that was actually three buildings. The main wingwas the largest, and according to the website there was a libraryand billiards room the guests could use. She was staying in theeast wing, on the second floor. The main building—or at least thefoyer and hallways she’d been in—had been elegant and stately. Herroom seemed a bit standard for a hotel room, though everything wasof the highest quality. Despite her Irish roots Mary had beensomewhat hoping she’d be staying in an old drafty room completewith stone walls and spooky noises—her grandmother always teasedher about her “American ways” and Mary bet wanting to stay in aruin instead of a lovely, well-appointed room was her Americanupbringing coming out.

Flopping onto her back she stretched. The roommay not be a derelict ruin, but she did think she heard something.Mary froze, straining to identify the noise.

It was a woman’s voice, but Mary couldn’t makeout the words. It seemed to be coming from her left. Mary turnedher head, staring at the corner. There was a strip of silvermoonlight cutting across the floor from where she hadn’t drawn thecurtains all the way. Her breath caught in her throat. A silverymist, wavering like rippling water, floated in the corner. Marytensed, but when she blinked it was gone.

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