Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Breandan watched Sookie Stackhouse sail past him and out of the Ladies Room. Her back was straight and every movement told him how little she thought of him. It was infuriating. It took him almost a full minute and the disgusted expression from another woman finding him still leaning against the sinks to get his feet moving.
“Struck out?” his bandmate asked after he walked back onstage. Kiernan didn’t bother to hide his smug satisfaction, and Breandan considered striking his bandmate with a curse on the spot. ‘Blindness. That’s an easy one,’ crossed Breandan’s mind, but he pulled it back.
‘What would a human do?’ he asked himself, forcing his mind back to the job at hand.
“Screwed up,” Breandan said aloud through clenched teeth. Breandan’s head was a snarl of frustration and fury. He was sure it had been Sookie Stackhouse, after all, how many more glowing women could there be in Boston? What he couldn’t understand was her reaction. He hadn’t used much of a push, but it should have been enough. She was attracted to him, and her surprise had helped to open her defenses, but then she had done exactly the opposite of what Breandan wanted. A possibility occurred to the Fae. What if her mongrel blood made her immune to the charms of the Fae? What if she was able to resist glamour?
“Sookie is a nice girl.” Sean interrupted Breandan’s thoughts and the Fae registered a warning. His neighbor had taken on a Big Brother tone and that could be a problem. The plan was to woo the girl and get her to Ireland, which assumed both personal involvement and a fair amount of plotting, but Breandan hadn’t factored in her having protectors.
‘This could work for me, though,’ the fiddler thought quickly, then turning to Sean said, “That was Sookie?” He looked out across the bar, scanning for her, looking for the slight phosphorescence that was her, and knowing it would give the right appearance to his story. “I forgot you said she’d be here. She’s beautiful! You didn’t mention that!” As the song opened and he waited for his cue, Breandan finally saw her, and then watched, helpless, as Sookie Stackhouse stood and left the bar, followed by Amelia Carmichael.
Sean was short with him the rest of the evening and Kiernan was chortling with glee. “I didn’t know,” Breandan told Sean again, sticking to his only defense, then added, “I don’t know what came over me. I just had to meet her. I swear, I’m not usually like this. She’s…well, you see how she is!”
“Well, whatever you did managed to chase her and my girlfriend right out of the bar,” Sean flashed his phone toward Breandan, showing the Fae he’d received a text, presumably from Amelia. “She says you’re a total dickhead. Real smooth!”
“She’s right,” Breandan readily agreed, “I was an ass, but I swear. It was like a car wreck and every wrong thing I could say just spilled out. I don’t know what came over me.” It was enough that the ride home was a little less chilly and Breandan was happy to see Amelia’s car out front, so at least Amelia wasn’t going to punish Sean, and that would make using these two to get things back on track a little easier.
The call that night with his Father wasn’t pleasant. His Father accused him of purposely creating drama in what should have been a straight-forward job. “I’m not sure what went wrong, but she’s more than human,” Breandan told Rogan.
“You’re sure?” his Father paused. “And you say she was glowing?”
“She was like a canary in a coal mine. I’m not surprised the Selkie could track her. The spark seems strong in her.” They had already decided that this was not Adele, and likely not Adele’s daughter. This had to be Niall Brigant’s granddaughter and her being this Fae could be helpful.
“So, you still have a chance of capturing her?” his Father asked.
“It might take a little longer,” Breandan nodded, “but she was attracted. I could sense it.”
“Just make sure you don’t get too comfortable,” his Father scolded. “I understand the attraction of new places and fresh diversions, but you are on a job. I want her back here as soon as possible. A mongrel is one thing, but a mongrel with spark? Niall will do anything to keep his link to her from being exposed. He enjoys the peace of his kingdom these days. Something like this will cause trouble and he won’t be happy about that!”
With a new plan, Breandan knocked on Sean’s apartment door the next night. It was Amelia who answered the door. Breandan made an effort to appear contrite and said, “I’m thinking an apology is in order. I’m guessing there were some hard words said about me by your friend.”
“Asshole,” Sean looked up from the sink where he was washing a cup. “That word was used a couple times.”
Amelia hadn’t stepped back from the doorway, leaving Breandan standing in the hallway. “I deserve that and more,” he told her. “I don’t know what came over me. I didn’t know who she was and I tell you, it didn’t matter. I just knew the minute I saw her that I had to meet her.”
“Propositioning someone in the Ladies Room is about as low as it gets,” Amelia wasn’t giving an inch.
“And I feel like the perfect fool. As I said, I can’t explain it. I suppose I thought if I was bold, she’d be bold right back,” Breandan followed the script he’d devised. He knew human women loved stories of love at first sight and this situation seemed perfect for that narrative.
“I told you I’ve never been to America before and with where I live, I never really met an American girl. I figured she’d be like the ones I saw on television. You know the shows, “Jersey Girls” and “Real Life?” I figured she’d be impressed by a man who’d step up and take charge.” Amelia rolled her eyes and Breandan allowed himself to look even more abject, “I didn’t know she was your friend. I swear.”
Finally, Amelia shrugged and stepped back, allowing Breandan to walk in. “No skin off my back,” she said off-handedly. “Sookie is good people. Probably all for the best. You’re looking for a vacation hook-up, but my Sookie needs someone who’s got more to offer.”
“I can’t stop thinking about her,” The words were out of Breandan’s mouth before he could stop them and he realized as he said them they were true. He set his fiddle case down on the chair and took a breath. He walked over to Amelia and using his most charming voice, asked, “Do you think she’d give me another chance?”
Amelia actually looked at him, her head cocked to the side. “Maybe,” she shrugged after a pause.
“That would be grand!” Breandan smiled and he believed Amelia was going to help him, but as the days passed, he started to realize he might be wrong. He played with the band the next night, and then twice on the weekend. Sookie failed to show at any of the performances. When Breandan asked, Sean just shrugged.
As Sean’s apartment, Breandan asked Amelia how her friend was doing and if she’d agreed to see him. “I haven’t had a chance to ask her,” Amelia shrugged. “She’s been really busy.”
Breandan suggested stopping by where they worked and his reward was a venomous look from Amelia. Sean grabbed his arm and walked him away. “The owners don’t like friends just dropping by,” he told the Fae. “And Amelia hates it when I show up there.” Breandan doubted it. He’d heard the two talk about meeting during break time at the diner more than once. “Yeah,” Sean was continuing, “Amelia has this thing she runs with her customers, flirting and stuff, and if I show up, it throws her. She needs the tips. No one wants their friends showing up where they work. You know how it goes.”
By Sunday, Breandan was considering using glamour on the couple to force the issue when Amelia announced, “I guess you’re really sincere about Sookie, huh?”
“You mean this has been a test?” and Breandan worked hard to control his quick anger. “Why would I lie?” He said it a little more sharply than he intended, so he took a breath, and then said, “I’m not lying. She’s made a real impression. I want to see her again,” and as the words left his lips, Breandan realized he meant those words, too.
“If you turn back into the kind of creep who would stalk a complete stranger and ask her to come home for a ride on the pony, I’ll castrate you myself!” Amelia deadpanned. “You had better not be the kind of guy who’s only looking for a hook-up because my girl’s not like that. She looks out for me and I look out for her.”
“Amelia and I thought it might be better coming from me,” and Sean looked at Amelia who nodded. “I’ll go to the Diner and talk to Sookie. I believe you’re serious about this, I really do, but if Sookie says no, that’s it.”
It seemed weak, but the alternative was starting over again. If Breandan O’Hara was frozen out, a new character and new approach would have to be found. Breandan would have to report his failure to his Father and he didn’t dare gloss it over. Eric Northman was here and he knew his Father would believe the vampire over his own son when it came to this matter.
That was when Breandan had a sudden inspiration. “If I write something down, would you read it?” he asked Sean. “You’d be acting as my basadoir.”
“Your what?” Sean asked.
“My matchmaker,” Breandan explained.
“Whoa!” Amelia exclaimed and held her hand up. “Don’t you think you’re moving a little fast here! You don’t even know if she’s going to talk with you and you’re trying to what? Arrange a marriage?”
“Perhaps the word has a different meaning here,” Breandan fixed his gaze on Amelia. He could tell she was the one he had to convince. “Where I come from, it was custom that a man wouldn’t as much as talk to a girl without a formal introduction. I’ve made such a mess of this. I figure it’s best to go back to basic manners and start again.”
“And that’s what a matchmaker does in Ireland?” Amelia looked skeptical.
“Where I come from,” Breandan assured her. He didn’t bother to add that where he came from marriages were arranged, including his own, and most everyone already knew each other. The world of the Fae was a small society. Breandan could see that the old-fashioned idea appealed and he knew before she spoke that he’d won.
“Well, Sookie’s a big one for manners,” Amelia said slowly, and so it was agreed.
When Sookie walked through the door of the diner an hour ahead of her schedule, the evening crowd was still winding up and Fran looked too happy to see her. “Everything okay at home?” Fran asked, and then followed it with, “Can you start early?”
“Everything’s great at home,” Sookie told her. “Mom went to sleep and I thought I’d just come in a little early.” What Sookie didn’t say was that sitting in the small kitchen, staring at the line of prescription bottles, and smelling the old, stale smell of sickness, was driving her crazy.
“And I’m happy you did,” Fran smiled.
“Good thing you’re here!” Pat exclaimed, wiping his hands as he came around the counter. “Why don’t you go get your apron? We had to fire that new busboy…”
“I’ll be happy to bus for awhile,” Sookie grinned, rolling her eyes. This was the normal Sookie yearned for and she happily buried herself in physical work. The mindless routine of scooping dishes into plastic bins, shuttling to the back, loading the machine, and pushing the trays through all seemed so comforting. She didn’t even notice that her apron was soaked or her hair was starting to fall.
“Wow, you look like shit!” Amelia said from behind her. Sookie laughed and it felt rusty, and then it felt good. As she changed her apron, Amelia looked at her fingernails before saying, “I think I should give you a heads up that Sean is coming in tonight.”
Sookie glanced up, “Why’s that a problem? You guys fighting or something?” Sookie didn’t think it was likely. The quick conversations they’d had at work generally featured Sean and how wonderful he was, or how thoughtful or talented. Every time Amelia said his name her face lit up.
Amelia had decided she wouldn’t mention her part in any of this. She was Sookie’s wingman and she didn’t want it to look like she was ganging up if Sookie decided to keep Breandan shut out. She chose her words carefully and said, “I guess you made one hell of an impression. Ever since that night at the bar, Breandan O’Hara’s been going on and on about you. He’s been bugging Sean to ask you to give him a second chance,” and Amelia glanced up to gauge her friend’s reaction.
“Breandan O’Hara is a lech and a butthole,” Sookie rolled her eyes. “He’s not interested in someone like me. He’s probably just got his panties in a twist because some stupid woman was foolish enough to turn him down.”
“Actually, Sean says he feels really bad about all that.” When Sookie shook her head, Amelia shrugged. “Sean says it happens with these guys fresh over from Ireland. They think American girls are like they see on the TV shows…”
“What?” Sookie asked. “Sluts?”
“Well…no…” and then Amelia shrugged again. “Kind of,” she added. “They see those reality shows and they think we’re all pushy and just about sex. And maybe the guys in the band helped that along. You know how the bar scene can be. Anyway, Sean is coming over to apologize for him.”
“Here?” Sookie asked. “Oh, shit. When?”
“He should be here any minute,” Amelia smiled. “Look, I told him I’d talk to you first. He feels kind of duty-bound. He promised. Really, Breandan has been at him every night and Sean just didn’t think he could say no anymore. Just let him say his piece and Sean can go back to Butthole Breandan and tell him ‘too bad, so sad, better luck next time.’”
Sookie stared at Amelia for a long minute before her lips started to curve up. “You think he’s for real?” Sookie heard herself ask.
“What? The stupid hick off the boat thing?” Amelia was looking at Sookie closely. “Why? Are you interested in Breandan?”
“No!” Sookie finished tying her fresh apron, but she couldn’t quite look at Amelia. When she did, she added, “Maybe. How much do you trust him? You don’t think this is another set-up, do you?”
“I don’t think he’s lying to Sean or me,” Amelia said quietly, and then she squeezed Sookie’s arm. The two women looked at each other and Sookie realized the smile that had started was getting bigger.
It was really almost a half hour and the diner was slower when Sean Callahan walked in. He was wearing his black leather jacket and he nodded to Fran and Pat as he walked by. He walked over to the booth where the waitresses were sitting, filling salt and pepper shakers. He kissed Amelia on the cheek as he slid in beside her, then leaned forward over the table.
“Hey, Sookie,” he greeted her, “How’s your mom?”
“She’s fine,” Sookie said, and then found her eyes glancing down. She was nervous! There was no accounting for it, but her heart was pounding and her mouth was dry.
“I’ve come here to talk to you about Breandan. You know, Breandan O’Hara, the guy in my band.” Sean shifted to pull something out of his pocket. “He asked me to find you and apologize for him, and he asked me to say some things. He didn’t trust me to remember them exactly, so he wrote them down,” and Sean pulled out a piece of notebook paper and smoothed it on the table in front of him. He scanned it and then, looking deeply into Sookie’s eyes, he said, “Breandan wants you to know he feels like a total jerk. He believed that American women are different than in Ireland, and that if he talked with you like he would a woman at home, you’d think he was a git- his word – and you wouldn’t give him the time of day.” He glanced down at the paper again before looking at Sookie.
“Go on,” Sookie nodded.
“So, Breandan is sending you his apology and is asking if you’d be willing to give him a second chance,” and Sean sat back and waited.
“Is that it?” Sookie asked, looking at the paper in front of Sean that had a lot of writing on it.
“Well,” Sean grinned, “I’m supposed to wait for your answer first.”
Fran had wandered over and she was nodding. “Well,” she said, “It sounds like he’s a proper lad, then. He’s asking before he jumps to anything as he should.”
Sookie glanced at Amelia. She found herself thinking of the way Breandan looked on stage as his fingers flew and the music flowed from him. She thought of the way his eyes captured hers, making her feel like the only person in the room, and the way her heart leaped when he smiled at her. “Yes,” she said. “I would be willing to give him one more chance.”
Sean smiled broadly and let out a sigh, “Great!” he exclaimed, and then running his hands through his hair, he leaned forward. “Okay,” and as he spoke, he kept his eyes on the paper, “Then I’m to say that as his friend, he’d like me to introduce him. He wants you to know he’s from the western part of Ireland and his family has lived in that part of the country for generations. They are landed people, but there’s not many of them. His family has a successful business in hotels and when Breandan returns home, he’ll be taking up his part in that business.” Sean frowned a little, and then glancing up at Sookie said, “He wants you to know he’s a man with prospects.”
“Well, I’ll be,” Fran shook her head. Pat had walked over and was wiping his hands with a towel. “What do you make of that?” Fran asked him.
“What is it?” Pat asked and he leaned over to look at the paper.
“It sounds like this Breandan O’Hara is from Ireland itself and he’s giving our Sookie’s a formal courting introduction,” his wife told him.
“What? Like from the old country?” Pat scoffed.
“Indeed, it is!” Fran smiled. “Well, I don’t know who this young man is, but I’d say he’s been raised proper, even if he is old-fashioned. Now, if this was Ireland and a generation ago, that would have been delivered through your brother or some other male relative, but I’d say he’s done a fair job of it. So,” and she gave Sookie a wink, “what’s it to be?”
“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” Sookie replied.
“Well, you’re willing to see him again, right?” Sean smiled.
“I don’t really care about where he’s from or what his family does,” Sookie was confused. “I barely know him.”
“And that’s the thing of it,” Pat nodded. “A young woman these days makes up her own mind. She doesn’t need families making these kinds of arrangements.”
“What kind of arrangements?” Sookie asked.
“A young man who extends that kind of introduction is telling you he intends to court you,” Fran explained. “He’s telling you his intentions are serious.”
“What are you talking about?” Sookie huffed. “I barely know him! I’ve only seen him the once!”
“He told me you’re all he thinks about,” Sean grinned. “He talks about you all the time. He’s been after Amelia and me to do this for over a week.”
Amelia swatted Sean’s arm, “Thanks for ratting me out!” she exclaimed, then turning back to Sookie said, “No pressure, really. He handled himself like a real turd at the club but, for what it’s worth, I do think he really wants to fix it with you.”
“I think he needs his head examined,” Sookie said. “A courting introduction? Look, this is all a little shamrocks and leprechauns for me. I wouldn’t mind seeing him again, but…”
“Good!” Sean hit his hand on the table. He turned to Pat, “And when would you think these two fine women might get an evening out because Breandan and I would like to take them out to dinner.”
“That’s a good idea,” Fran nodded. “That way you aren’t alone and it gives everyone a chance to get to know each other.”
“If you think your mother would be all right, Mondays are usually slow. I could give you next Monday, a week from tonight,” Pat said thoughtfully.
Sookie was looking around the table and she kept opening her mouth to say something, but nothing came out. There was a part of her that was feeling railroaded, but there was another part of her that felt flattered.
“I’ll check,” Sookie said uncertainly, “but I’m not making promises. I…”
“Oh, great!” Sean was smiling. “This will mean a lot to Breandan! You have no idea. He’s been pining, I swear!
That night as Sookie locked her car door, she found that Breandan O’Hara was figuring large in her thoughts. She barely spoke to the large black dog who shadowed her on the walk from her car to the house. When she got to the fence, she scrubbed her fingers through the bristling hair of the black dog’s head and said, “I hope your night was as good as mine.” She squatted down and holding the dog’s massive head between her hands, said, “There’s a guy who wants to court me. Court me! Sookie Stackhouse!” and she laughed.
When she stood, the dog let out a great groan as it lay down across the sidewalk. “Oh, great!” she said half to herself, “Another critic!” but she was almost humming as she unlocked the three deadbolts and swung the door open.
“Oh!” Sookie stuttered when she slammed right into Sam Merlotte’s chest. “Oh, I am so sorry!” but Sam didn’t seem sorry at all. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to him.
“Sookie!” he sighed and Sookie knew she had to take care of this right away.
“I don’t know what idea you have in your head, Sam,” she said, firmly pushing back from him, “but I think it’s wrong. I think you’re hoping there will be something between us, but I have to be honest with you. That’s just not going to happen…”
“Well…” and Sam opened his mouth and then shut it before saying, “Maybe you just don’t know me. I know we haven’t talked much, but I notice things about you. I know you’re thoughtful and you’re kind. You’re smart and you like to read. You…”
“I’m seeing someone,” Sookie blurted. It wasn’t true, but before she could even think about it, the words were out of her mouth.
“You are?” and Sookie felt guilty, seeing how stricken Sam looked.
“I’m sorry,” Sookie sighed.
“Your mother didn’t say anything about it. I talked with her this afternoon and…” he stopped talking. Seeing his lost puppy expression, Sookie felt even worse.
“She’s been so ill, I didn’t tell her about it. I didn’t want her to worry,” Sookie lied some more. Her face was red, and she felt mean and small. “I… I have to go,” she fumbled and ducking her head, rushed to the door and up the stairs.
“Sookie?” her mother called out as she shut the apartment door and clicked the lock in place, “Is that you?”
Sookie lay her hands against her cheeks to try and cool them, and then taking a deep breath, walked down the short hall and pushed open her mother’s bedroom door. “What are you doing up?”
“I don’t know,” her mother smiled wanly. “I couldn’t sleep. Are you okay?”
Sookie sat down on the side of her mother’s bed, “I don’t know,” she said truthfully. “I’m pretty sure I just broke Sam’s heart.”
“Oh,” her mother nodded, “I know he was hoping, but I guess it was just a matter of time, although I wish you would reconsider. He’s a good man and you haven’t really given him a chance. He has money and this house. He has a good heart and he’d take care of you.” When her daughter rolled her eyes, Michele leaned over and patted Sookie’s hand, “All right! I give up. I hope you were kind. What did you say to him?”
“That I’m seeing someone else,” Sookie whispered.
“Oh,” her mother answered. “Well, you know I don’t approve of lying, but it’s an excuse he’d understand, I suppose.”
“Well,” Sookie found she was smiling and she couldn’t stop. “It may not be exactly lying,” and she told her mother about Breandan O’Hara and the apology.
“Turn the light on,” her mother ordered. Once Sookie did, her mother slowly sat up and then turned to look closely at her daughter. “There is something in your voice when you talk about this person. You like him.”
“I don’t know him,” Sookie shrugged.
“But you want to,” her mother nodded, and then sank back against her pillows. “That’s how it was with your father. I wasn’t interested in meeting anyone, but one day I was walking down the hall at school, and I glanced over and there he was. He was running for school president, and the minute I looked in his eyes, I was done! I can honestly say I never noticed another man again. My Mother and Father couldn’t understand it, and neither could I, but I never regretted it, not for one minute.”
Sookie leaned over and laid her head on her Mother’s shoulder, and Michele scooted over so they could both lay against the headboard. “I miss him,” she told her Mother.
“I do, too,” Michele sighed. “A little more every day. I feel like I have to tell you how sorry I am. In some ways, I feel like until he left me, I never had enough time for you kids. If your Father hadn’t had to hide so often, I might not have had any time for you and Jason at all.”
It was such an odd thing to say that Sookie sat up to look at her Mother’s face. Michele was staring somewhere, her thoughts far away. “Why did Daddy have to hide?” Sookie asked.
“Did I say that?” and her Mother was back. “I don’t know why I would,” and then her Mother wrapped her arms around Sookie and pulled her close again. “You two always had such a close relationship. I know it sounds crazy, but I was almost jealous of you.”
“He was different,” Sookie said, and then, for the first time, she broke her promise to her Daddy and said out loud the thing that was between them, “He was different, like me. He could do things, magic things.”
The reaction was instant. Michele became stiff and she pushed Sookie away, “Don’t say that!” she exclaimed. “There was nothing odd about your Father! He was special and that’s all anyone needs to know.”
“Sure, Mom,” Sookie agreed. She bit her lip a little and forced a smile. “He was special, to all of us.”
“Yes, he was,” and happy Michele was back, “Maybe like this young man is going to be special to you.”
“I don’t think it’s like that!” Sookie laughed.
“We’ll see,” her mother smiled and she kissed her daughter’s forehead. “So, when do you see this young man again?”
“Next Monday,” Sookie told her, “as long as that works with your doctor’s appointments.”
“I’m sure it will,” her Mother assured her. She sighed, “I’m tired, Sweetheart,” she told Sookie. “Will you turn out the light?” Sookie helped her Mother slide down in the bed and she tucked the blankets around her Mother’s thin shoulders. The weight she’d put on before chemo was long gone and her Mother more resembled a scarecrow now.
“I love you,” Sookie told her as she stood at the door.
“I just want you to be happy,” her Mother told her, “like I was.”
Sookie thought of the way her parents were, her Mother a moth to her Father’s flame, and she thought of how she was now, so lost without him. There was something disquieting about it. ‘Don’t wish it for me,’ Sookie found herself thinking, and then, feeling disloyal, she headed to bed.
Tuesday night at the diner, Sookie found herself inexplicably turning to watch the door. There was no reason to think Breandan would appear but, for some reason, Sookie kept almost hoping and then almost dreading he would.
On Wednesday night, Sookie found herself looking at the door every time she had a free minute. Finally, giving in, she asked Amelia, “What did he say?”
“Who?” Amelia looked up from her station.
“Breandan,” Sookie huffed. “You know…when you told him.”
“Is that why you keep looking at the door?” Amelia grinned. When Sookie rolled her eyes, Amelia laughed out loud, “You are! You’re looking for Breandan O’Hara!”
“I’m hopeless,” Sookie shrugged. She felt foolish, but she couldn’t deny what Amelia was saying.
“He said he couldn’t stop thinking about you,” Amelia teased.
Sookie didn’t say anything else, but she could feel her cheeks blush, and worse yet, even knowing Amelia was watching her, she still found her eyes drawn to the door over and over again.
The next night, Sookie was finishing wiping down her tables when she noticed Amelia. Her friend was standing in front of her, looking over Sookie’s shoulder at something with her mouth hanging open. Sookie straightened and then turned around to find Breandan O’Hara standing a few feet away. He was dressed neatly in a white, button-down shirt and pressed, dark trousers. His hair was brushed back from his forehead and knotted high, emphasizing the sharp blade of his nose and his high cheekbones. ‘Sensuous,’ Sookie thought, looking at his lips. It was a word used often in the romance novels she’d read as a girl.
Sookie realized she was staring at Breandan’s mouth, and she snapped her eyes up in a way that had those lips curving as if he knew. He released her from her embarrassment when he turned to Fran who was standing beside him, “I’m sorry to be disturbing you and your guests,” he told her. “It’s just that there’s still half a week until I have time with her and she’s all I’ve been thinking of.”
“Well, it’s a sweet talker you are, and there’s no lie,” Fran laughed at him, then turning to Sookie, said, “Well, you can see you have someone who’s come to say hello.”
“Make it quick,” Pat said from behind the counter, but he was smiling, too.
Sookie could feel the heat in her face, and it only increased when Breandan stepped forward and brought his hand up. He was holding a bouquet of daisies wrapped in green florist paper. “I wanted to be thanking you for giving me a second chance,” he said, his Irish brogue curling around every word in a way that made Sookie’s panties melt.
Sookie reached out and took the flowers but, at the same time, she said, “I told Sean I’d go out to dinner with you, but as a group. I don’t know you and you don’t know me. You may decide you don’t like me.”
“I doubt that!” Breandan said and he smiled in a way that had Sookie’s heart fluttering. He had a dimple, not a deep one, beside his mouth and Sookie realized she wanted to lean over and touch it. It was so confusing! She had never reacted to anyone this way, so she looked at the flowers to hide her confusion.
She sensed her reaction made Breandan smile more and he leaned toward her a little. It seemed he was almost beside her when he said, “I’m happy you’re not throwing me out on the street. I’d deserve it and it’s lucky I am that you’re willing to forgive me a little.” Sookie opened her mouth to tell him he wasn’t exactly forgiven, but he had already turned on his heel and was heading for the door. He stopped before he walked outside, looked back at Sookie, winked, and then he was gone. Sookie found herself standing in the middle of her station, flowers in hand, and her mouth hanging open.
“So, that was the man, was it?” Pat had walked over to stand next to Sookie as several of her tables clapped.
“Breandan,” Sookie nodded, and headed to the back to find a pitcher for her flowers.
“What did you say his last name was again?” Fran asked when she returned. There was something about the way Fran asked that caught Sookie’s attention.
“O’Hara,” Amelia supplied.
“And Sean said he was from western Ireland? Hotels?” Fran asked.
“I think so,” Sookie mumbled, then grabbed a water pitcher to make a round of her tables. Romance was all fine and good, but hard work was how she earned her tips.
“It’s an old name,” Fran told her when she returned to her station. “And it’s an old family if he’s one of them.” Fran glanced over at the door Breandan had walked through. “There’s something odd about those O’Haras, a shining.”
“What are you going on about?” Pat scolded from across the way. “Nothing but superstition and old wives’ tales! Next you’ll be telling the girl he’s cursed or some such foolishness! We left that behind in Ireland and you don’t need to be bringing it here!”
“You think Breandan O’Hara is cursed?” Amelia asked, her eyes lighting up as she walked past with her tray.
“No, not cursed!” Fran scolded. “Just…other somehow. He has the look of those who have the gentry in their family.”
“As if there is any such thing as fairies and pookas!” Pat scoffed.
“I didn’t say he was one of them!” Fran snorted, “but we both know there are families who have a special place with them.”
“You don’t really believe all that?” Sookie scoffed.
“I’m not saying I do, and I’m not saying I don’t,” Fran replied, “but there is something different about that young man of yours. I bet you find out his family enjoys good fortune or he has some special gift.”
“He plays fiddle better than anyone I’ve ever heard,” the words tumbled out of Sookie’s mouth before she could even think.
“There!” Fran nodded, “And isn’t music one of their special gifts!”
“Get back to work,” Pat groused and Fran turned and walked away. Amelia also left, walking away to check the few tables left with guests, and Sookie found herself standing in the middle of her station, thinking of fiddle music and the way the sight of Breandan O’Hara’s mouth made her feel.
“So, you’ve found her then,” Rogan Brigant sounded pleased and Breandan was sure he was.
“I have a date with her. She’s interested, attracted even. I think everything is progressing well,” Breandan reported.
“But you’re not in her bed yet,” his Father pointed out.
“I’ve been here less than two weeks,” Breandan protested, his teeth grinding and promising himself to have words with the vampire. It was the only way his Father would have known that particular detail.
“She looks fetching enough. What’s the problem?” his Father persisted.
“There are details that need to be worked through,” Breandan kept his voice patient. “There’s a Mother. She doesn’t appear to be Fae. I haven’t met her yet, but I will. From all accounts, she’s gravely ill. That could create delays. What woman abandons her sick mother for…”
“Grand sex? Most!” Rogan laughed. “You give these humans too much credit. Just soften her resolve with a little glamour and a warm tumble or two. Not enough to muddle her consent…”
“That’s where there may be a problem,” Breandan interrupted. “She’s immune to glamour. I tried. It has no effect on her at all.” When Rogan remained silent, Breandan took it as a good sign. “Assuming she was human almost cost me everything. It took some maneuvering to get back in her good graces without arousing her suspicion. If she’s Fae enough to resist glamour, who knows what other peculiarities might present themselves? I would prefer to advance slowly. You must trust me on this.”
“How slowly?” Rogan was starting to sound angry.
“Not too slowly,” his son assured him. “Just slowly enough to make sure she is well entangled before I broach the subject of her coming with me to explore Ireland.”
“You aren’t finding your trip to America too enjoyable, are you?” his Father asked. Breandan knew this question was a trap.
“I am finding I like it here,” Breandan told his Father. “The people are agreeable and I enjoy how I’m passing the time, but I won’t forget my duty to you. You have sent me here for a reason and I will deliver the girl as you’ve asked.”
“Claude was asking about you,” Rogan told his son. For some reason, the thought of his cousin made Breandan uncomfortable. Breandan lived in the moment as did all Fae. The idea he felt in any way guilty was foreign, yet he did feel guilty. Breandan felt as though he was cheating, but he realized he wasn’t quite sure whether his maligned half was dark-haired or blond and waiting tables, and it was an unsettling thought.