Sweet Irish Kiss
1Night Stand (Multi-Author Series)
by JoAnne Kenrick
eBook ISBN: 9781613331064
Shaun Bell, a divorced workaholic, spends all his time tending bar in his Irish Pub. Rachel Taylor has issues. A match seemingly made in heaven…until morning rolls around and Shaun can’t bring himself to say good-bye. Can he win her over with his secret weapon, a Sweet Irish Kiss, or is Rachel still too scared to love?
Decadent Publishing ‖ ARe
Shaun drew back his arm, sucked in a breath, and took his shot. The instant his grip left the barrel, the dart ripped through the air with a precision only seen in that of a…well…drunk. Or someone inflicted with a bad case of nerves.
He missed the board by an inch, and the crowd reacted with rowdy laughter. “Bounce out!” “He’s right, you totally missed that board. How many you had?” Another one
of them raised his glass in a salute. The action caused his pint of dark ale to swish down his clothes and over the wood floor. “Oh shit, missus is gonna be pissed now. Supposed to be at work, not boozing it up in Bell’s with me Irish lot.”
Shaun ignored the shout-outs, shuffled his right foot a touch more forward, and threw another. The tip of the dart tilted down the instant it took flight, and the Bell logo’d tail failed to catch air. It plummeted toward the oak floor and a nearby punter. He jerked his foot out the way in the nick of time, though, and his look of horror jolted Shaun straight. The punter laughed it off and tipped his empty glass in Shaun’s direction. He nodded in return. The nod was an unspoken rule in Bell’s Irish Pub—his pub. It meant a drink on-the-house, and only the regulars knew this.
“Shit, me game is way off tonight.”
“Ya game is fine, but ya booze-eyes are a problem. Not like ya ta drink this much. I reckon ya banjo’d, so ya are.” Devlin’s thick Irish accent coated each word; a childhood bud and Shaun’s only full-time bartender, he’d come over from Northern Ireland weeks earlier.
Shaun staggered toward his friend behind the bar, tail between his legs. Devlin reached over and snatched the remaining dart from him. He frowned. “No more darts for ya tonight. Ya need ta sober up, so ya do. Coffee? Aye, it’s time for a coffee. San, bring this lad a strong’n.” Sandra, a part timer and the only born ’n bred Londoner in the building tonight, scurried to the pot and set about getting her boss a cup of the good stuff.
“Gawdon Bennet! Donkey Amateur Dart night. I curse internet shopping and that darn dart board Shaun found doing it.” Sandra clanked the teaspoon in her boss’s cup and went about her vent session with vengeance. “Lawd above! Sunday nights were nice before that bunch took residence. Should be home with my grandkids telling them tales, not here serving this impatient lot, innit.” She poured the full-fat milk and presented the coffee to Shaun. “There, don’t say I don’t do nothing for you.” He winked at her. “Don’t you go flashing your gorgeous greens at me, either. It’s so not gonna fly, mister!” Sandra wiped down the bar and went to serve a punter.
“Dev, I’ve only had two pints. What the hell is wrong with me?” He perched on a barstool and smiled at his friend. He’d lived in London since a child, so his Irish slang wasn’t as pronounced as Devlin’s.
“Pack that in for starters. Ya need ta save it for ya lady friend tomorrow.” Shaun laughed and ushered him to the customer side of the bar by patting the empty barstool to his right.
“San, pour up a pint of Beamish for me mate here.” He frowned upon seeing his friend’s mocking expression. “’I don’t mind admitting I’m nervous about tomorrow night.”
“Well, I got ya that stuff ya asked for. It’s in da duffle bag behind da bar.”
“The candles, mood music, and some condoms? It’s all there? Ya sure? I wanna make a good impression.”
“Nervous much?” Devlin took the pint offered by Sandra and necked half of it on more or less one breath.
“An arranged one-night stand. That’s weird, don’t ya think?”
“Fucking genius is what it is. Don’t question it. Enjoy it.” Devlin wiped away the beer froth from his mouth and grinned.
“But what if she doesn’t like me?”
“You’ll win her with ya Irish charm and green eyes, so ya will. Now drink up ya coffee and stop whining like a baby. This girl’s gonna have a fantastic night tomorrow. She’s gonna worship da ground ya cock drags on.”
Shaun growled and nudged his friend. “Hush up, ya crude bastard.” “So, what’s da girl like, anyway? Anything like ya ex?”
“Not a clue. Nothing like the wine totties and mingers that come in here, hopefully, or me ex. 1NightStand’s rigorous questionnaire should have found me someone half decent. Pages long, so it was. Fucking pages. Almost felt like the questions were aimed at me, too.”
“Yeah? Like what?”
“Are ya happy with ya balance of work and play? Do ya find others telling ya that ya are too generous? Is it time to settle down?” Shaun raised an eyebrow at the word generous and nodded to his friend’s drink. “Ya paying for that?”
“Shit, yeah, those questions are Shaun custom made. Here’s ta her not being like ya light-fingered, easily distracted ex.” Devlin finished his drink and slammed the empty onto the aged oak bar. Sandra held out her hand for cash and Devlin took her fingers in his like a proper gent might. Except for the slobbering kiss that followed.
“Two quid, mate.” Sandra broke free of his grip and scrubbed herself with a wet-wipe.
“Yeah, yeah.” Devlin slapped two one-pound coins on the bar which Sandra tried to claim for the cash register.
Shaun stopped her mid-money grab. “Kidding, this one’s on me.”
Sandra rolled her eyes. “Drinks are always on you. Anymore and you’ll be swimming in ale.”
“Have one yourself, San.” Shaun winked at her again. She laughed, muttered something, and poured herself a gin and tonic. “Don’t know how they think questions like that will find me a date. But Madame Evangeline says….”
“Madame Evangeline?” Devlin took the seat next to his friend and played with a coaster.
“The woman who runs the site.”
“Madame? So, you’re, like, seeing a hooker? Whey, hey. Tell her ta bring along a friend and I’ll join the party.” Devlin picked at a corner of the cardboard mat with Bell’s Pub’s logo on it.
“She’s French is all. It’s a regular matchmaking site. And if all ya after is a quick shag, ya should work Friday nights instead…or contact me ex. She’s always up for a quickie with anyone.” Shaun snatched the coaster away from him—before Devlin could scatter tiny bits everywhere and mess up his bar—and catapulted it toward the trashcan.
“Easy, boyo. Ya don’t hate me that much, do ya?” “Course not, I’m messing with ya is all. But I’m serious about Friday nights.” “If I work Friday’s, you’ll give me Saturday off?” Devlin pouted. Shaun shook his head. “Saturday is our busiest night, ya know that. Who knew gay night would be so popular, and they love ya and ya silver tongue. Ya could always come in for a drink on ya night off. That’s when the place is packed out the most with women on the prowl.”
Devlin paused for a second. “I should take ya place on this date. I’m more needy.” Shaun laughed at the suggestion. “I guess that’s a no? Oh, well. Ya tell this Madame whatshername thanks from me, because I put a twenty down on ya, so I did. And them nerves of yours killed ya game.”
“A twenty? Is that all? Big spender.” Shaun waved Sandra over and pointed at his empty.
“Shaun, ya don’t pay me enough ta throw any more than a twenty away. So, what’s this girl like?”
“According to her profile, she enjoys Baileys over ice, going to the movies, and refuses to watch the Grand National because she thinks it’s cruel. Oh, and she hates dressing up in posh frocks.” Shaun attempted to grab Sandra’s attention again and waved his arms in the air as if flagging down a taxi.
She signaled she’d get to him in a second.
“Hates dressing up? Hope that doesn’t mean she’s a minger because a tasty lass usually likes to get dressed up. Other than that, she sounds perfect. Low maintenance and a heart.” Devlin patted his friend on the back in a well-done- chap kind of way. “Ya should totally play with her, though, and quickly add ta ya profile that ya like ya women to dress up.”
“Hell, she can wear whatever she wants, so long as it’s not green. Fucking hate the color.” He craned his neck and scanned the coordinated interior; green leather on the stools, bunting, and stained glass. Even the beer mats matched.
“We’re Irish, so we’ve gotta love green. It’s in our blood or something. And if she does wear it, ya can enjoy ripping it off her. Right? Right?” He jarred. “ Hey San, fill me up, too?” Devlin slid his empty toward the flustered barmaid who tsked but went about her job like a professional. “Wrong. The whole idea of this one-night stand is for me to remember what women like, and to be in the company of a woman I’m attracted to without sweating profusely. It’s not about screwing her senseless.” Shaun shook his head and wondered how the two of them had ever become friends. They were like chalk and cheese.
“Sure hope it wasn’t expensive because there’s numbers on the lav doors that could have given ya a cheap date for the night.” Devlin stood and tried to usher his friend to the restrooms.
Shaun laughed and pushed him back to sitting. “Toilet door numbers are not the go for me. Ya know that’s not me style.”
“And dating sites are ya style?”
“I’ve gotta get back in the game somehow, and 1NightStand is 100 percent safe for both her and me. When I find the right lass, I want to be able to seize the opportunity. I want to settle down, Dev. I’m ready for the real thing. A house, kids…the whole shebang. This is me simply opening that door, safely.”
“Settle down? What are ya? Sixty?” Dev shook his head.
Sandra presented the lads with new drinks. “Need the lav. Will one of you cover me?” She scurried off before either had a chance to answer.
“No, but I sure as hell don’t want to be still single at sixty.” Shaun made his way behind the bar and grabbed a tea towel. He set about mopping up all proof of anyone having been served beer in the last ten minutes. “Dev, ya supposed to be doing this. Can’t get good staff, eh?”
“So. Ya not going ta bang her, then?”
“Guess that depends on me seduction techniques, and her.” He laughed and chucked the sodden material at Devlin’s face.
Decadent Publishing ‖ ARe