The setting sun glowed over the Dingle coastline but the two people locked in a kiss did not notice the beauty that surrounded them or that it was getting dark. When they finally broke apart they laughed nervously about the momentous decision they had both made.
Declan scratched his head,
“Jeez …what have we done?!”
“You can’t back out now!”
“Did I say that I wanted to? Besides this is our chance to continue the O’Brady-Callaghan family line. Come on Anna from Boston, let’s go home.”
“Home. I like the sound of that.”
They walked back to the Caragh with Anna tucked under Declan’s arm.
“Did you bring Louis?”
“Of course I did. He couldn’t wait to see you again.”
“Where is he?”
“In the trunk of the car. I hired a car at Dublin airport this time – a stick shift and everything.”
“And how many days did it take you to get here from Dublin exactly?”
“Four hours! Who knew it was so close!”
They both laughed remembering their eventful journey to Dublin.
“Ah well you Americans are always in a mad rush to get somewhere, we Irish like to take things easy. Anyway, it would have taken us less time if you hadn’t crashed my baby in the river!”
“Your baby? That wreck of a car?”
“She’s a classic.”
“So you said but I’m not convinced. I think it’s a fine line between ‘classic’ and ‘scrap metal’ and your 'baby' crossed it a long time ago!”
The hired car had everything that the ‘classic’ Renault 4 lacked – luxuries like brakes, door handles, that sort of thing. Declan carefully lifted Louis from the boot of the car.
“Ah Louis,” he sighed tenderly, “I missed you fella. Come to Declan.”
He embraced Louis like a lover and planted a kiss on the expensive leather.
“I think you’d rather marry Louis than me.”
“God you’ve got a point there. Give me my ring back!” He grabbed Anna’s hand and pretended to wrench the Claddagh ring from her finger making her shriek with laughter.
“No you don’t, you asked me and I said yes – that’s a contract!”
“So sue me!”
“I just might!” Declan backed Anna up against the car and kissed her. She couldn’t stop the involuntary moan that came from her lips, “Mmm. Maybe I won’t sue you just yet.”
“I knew you were going to be trouble from the moment I met you.”
Anna recalled how he had tricked her, the redheaded American in search of a taxi, “Likewise!”
As they walked into the bar of the Caragh there was complete silence. Just like in an old western movie, everyone turned and stared at them expectantly. Declan broke the ice.
“It’s OK. We’re gettin' married!”
Everyone cheered, drinks were ordered and suddenly it was a party. Well this is Ireland! Each customer congratulated the couple with handshakes, kisses and slaps on the back. Anna had to prove her worthiness to be Declan’s wife by drinking her first Guinness – a pint of course. She gulped the black liquid down and wiped the froth off her lips with the back of her hand and was declared an honorary Irish citizen. Even Declan was impressed.
“Well I did have Irish grandparents.” She confessed.
“Ah so, that explains why I like you, if you have the black stuff in your blood.”
Advice was given,
“Now when will you be getting wed'? Because getting married on a Tuesday is bad luck.”
“No that’s a Sunday to be sure, or is it a Monday?”
And so it went on as more drinks were consumed. Anna didn’t mind – especially after another pint of Guinness. She kept catching sight of Declan across the bar, laughing and drinking, so at home amongst friends and neighbours who were clearly delighted that he was getting married and happy again.
When the party seemed set to go on into the wee small hours, Declan caught Anna’s eye and there was no mistaking the determined look he gave her. It was time for them to be alone.
“Right lads, that’s enough. Home time. Everybody out before I throw you out!”
A communal groan filled the room but no-one would argue with Declan. He shooed customers out of the door in double quick time.
When the bar was cleared and the doors locked, Declan made a beeline for Anna.
“Alone at last,” He flashed his eyebrows, “Come here woman.” His arms circled her body and his lips found hers in a kiss. “God you’re so small.” He lifted her onto the bar. “That’s better. Now why don’t you get your best feature wrapped around me.”
Anna folded her legs around his waist and put her arms around his neck to draw him to her for another kiss more passionate than the last.
“Maybe we should go upstairs?” She suggested.
“Now there’s an idea.” He scooped her off the bar and carried her up stairs to the bedroom. “Here we go again. I always seem to be carrying you. Lump!” She dug a sharp finger in his ribs. “Ow! Stop that or I’ll drop you.”
“You wouldn’t!” He gave her a ‘Try me’ look and she got the message, “OK you probably would.”
Declan watched Anna’s face as he waited for her reaction. She surveyed the bedroom and her worst fears were confirmed - a cacophony of faded floral fabric on every surface.
“Oh my god! You’ve lived on your own too long!”
“What do you mean? This is Irish luxury.”
“Declan it’s awful! Just how many styles of chintz can you pack into one room?!”
He sniggered, “I know, we never got around to fixing up the bedrooms. This is the previous owners idea of good taste.”
“Hmm. Maybe I could stage the bedrooms for you?
“Maybe you could. There's a room along the corridor that was vandalised by some mad woman that could do with some attention!” He laughed.
She giggled, "I was just trying to charge up my Blackberry."
"You destroyed the whole room and fried the village."
"But I can make up for it now. I could make this the best B & B in Dingle.”
“Well you’ve got to earn your keep somehow I suppose. But I don’t want any of your con tricks. If I come home to find you’ve taken away all the furniture then it’ll back to Boston for you.”
“Anna are you sure about this? We don’t know each other very well. Maybe we should have a cooling off period – a trial run?”
“A trial run of being married?”
“I dunno – a long engagement just until you are sure? Seriously though, I won’t hold you to it.”
“Declan I am not going anywhere. I want to make this work.”
“Jeez you make it sound like one of your projects.”
“Well I did think we should agree terms before we go much further.”
He grinned, remembering how they had negotiated the cost of everything when they travelled to Dublin. “Ahh. I get you.”
“I learnt from the master!”
“OK so how much for a kiss?” He leant to kiss her.
“Well that depends.”
“Tongues? Whatever – I’ll be giving you this one for free.”
Their kiss continued with his tongue tickling against hers and Anna couldn’t help smiling as they kissed. She had always hated being ‘Frenched’ up to now - it always seemed too intimate, too invasive, but now with Declan it just felt right and fun. When they eventually took a breath, the banter continued,
“What do you mean ‘I’ll be giving you this one for free’?” Anna scoffed, “Did you seriously think that I’d be paying you again?”
“Of course. I’m worth it.”
“I meant that you should be paying me!”
“Oh is that right? So I’m paying you for what exactly?”
He raised his eyebrows and gave her a ‘Do you seriously want to go there?’ look. Anna suddenly realised the implications of her joke – sex for money?
“Eeew! I didn’t really think this through did I?”
He laughed, “I was worried there for a minute. I had an image of me leaving money on the bedside table every morning for you Bob!”
They resumed kissing,
“Now where were we,” he kissed the side of her neck and half giggled as he whispered, “So how much do you charge for a blow job?”
Another poke in the ribs,
Declan breathed in the scent of her as they kissed. “Mmm. You smell nice.”
“And you smell a lot better than when I last saw you.”
“Well I’d just spent three days with some mad American who made me sweat and puked on me! I had to carry Louis and you so what do you expect? I do wash normally, well maybe not on a Tuesday, apparently that’s bad luck. Actually I’ve been in the kitchen all day,” he sniffed under his arm, “I need a shower.”
As Declan took off his shirt Anna had a flashback to the first time she had seen his body at the B & B. She had been so dumbstruck she had hit her head on the door. He pulled off his T-shirt and yet again Anna lost her balance and thumped her head hard against a low beam.
Declan rushed to help her, “Hey are you alright? What happened there?”
“It’s nothing, I just got distracted.”
He brushed the hair off her forehead, “Here let me see. That’s going to bruise.” He gently kissed the red mark. “What distracted you?”
She looked at his chest with a smirk.
“Oh I see.” He nodded slowly with a bigger smirk than hers.
“You’re very…. toned.”
“'Toned'? Is that a posh way of saying … what exactly?”
“Muscular, not too much, just … perfect. Do you work out?”
“Jeez Anna, we’re not in America now, we don’t have time to go to the gym. I have to keep fit by carrying suitcases and heavy redheads!”
“Am I really a lump?”
“Yes… no of course not, you’re as light as a feather. You know that I’m only teasing don’t you?”
“I know. So if I’m not a lump – what am I?”
Declan held his chin in his hand. “Well let me think of the word.”
She gave him a coquettish smile to fish for a compliment. "Beautiful? Sexy?"
“Well I was going to say…. American,” Anna’s face fell, “But a very, very, beautiful and very, very sexy American.”
He was rewarded with a radiant smile.
“Now I need to get that shower.”
Anna flopped onto the bed, disappointed, and sighed,
“Oh. OK I guess I’ll just wait then.”
Declan leant against the door frame and grinned back at her,
“God woman, you can be so slow.” He held out his hand, “Come with me!”
Declan slowly undid Anna’s belt and unwrapped her from her dress like a present to reveal her best underwear – well she was an optimist.
“Mmm.” His fingers smoothed over the silky straps of her bra. “So tell me, were you wearing sexy lingerie all the time when we were travelling across Ireland?”
“Now you tell me! I would have made a move if I’d known.”
“As I recall you did see quite a lot of my underwear."
"Oh yes, but I wasn't interested in your body then."
"No you were just interested in your 600 euros. Anyway, you did make a move on me even though you denied it.”
“Oh yeah…”, he snorted a laugh, “….at the castle. I really wasn’t you know. Like I said - I wasn’t interested then.”
“So when did you get interested?”
“Oh I’m still waiting for that to happen!” He avoided the dig in the ribs he knew was coming, “No it was later. When you told me about your father I realised I’d got you all wrong. When for you?”
“Probably when you took off your shirt!”
“I knew it! You just want me for my body!”
Declan’s hand stroked down Anna’s back and unhooked her bra, slipping the straps off her shoulders, but he resisted the urge to look at what he had revealed. Their eyes locked together until something seemed to snap and the rest of their clothes were hastily removed and added to the growing pile on the floor.
Finally, Declan looked down at Anna’s body and suppressed a smile. She could see that he was holding something back.
“Don’t tell me. You’ve changed your mind now you’ve seen that I really am a lump. What other insults have you got for me? I can take it.”
“No. I was just thinking how lucky I am – and it’s not even a Friday.”
“My lucky day.”
“But it is a Friday!”
“Well that explains it then.” He appraised her body. “Not too shabby.”
“Oh my god! You actually paid me another compliment! That was a compliment wasn’t it?”
“Oh come on now, I asked you to marry me, that was a massive compliment.”
Soon they were in the shower, skin sliding together under the water, hands exploring each other’s bodies and settling where they needed to be to give each other pleasure.
“Wow, Anna from Boston, perhaps you can let yourself go after all!”
They decided to make a dash for the bed and promptly tripped over the pile of clothes, soaking them in water and soap. They slipped around on the bathroom floor trying to help each other up, which was made more difficult because they were laughing so hard.
“Your dress is going to be ruined.”
They burst into laughter again as they choked out in unison, “Just stick it in the wash it’ll be grand!!”
Eventually they fell onto the bed and the desire built up during their short acquaintance was so close to being released at last. Anna was breathing fast as she anticipated what was to come. Declan’s hands seemed to be everywhere at once but then he suddenly released her and pulled away.
“I think we should stop.” He said abruptly, “I think we should wait until after we are married.”
He shrugged and smiled, “It’s the old Irish way. It’s bad luck before the wedding.”
Anna’s face was a picture of confusion and disbelief. “You’re kidding me!”
He gave her a naughty grin. “Yes.”
“Oh you…” She prodded him in the ribs again. “Marriage should be based on trust – how can I trust anything you say to me?!”
Anna decided to get her own back.
“Maybe you’re right about a cooling off period. We might not even be compatible in bed.”
“Well maybe we should go ahead and find out?” He groaned, feeling a little desperate now.
“But I don’t want to be stuck with you if you’re not very good in bed!”
He gave her an old-fashioned “Seriously?” look. “Have you heard about the Blarney Stone?”
“Oh yes my dad told me about that. You kiss it and you get the gift of the blarney, the Irish charm.”
“That’s right. Well obviously I’ve kissed that.”
“And, I’ve kissed the Shifting Stone.”
“ ‘Shifting’ ?”
“Irish slang for making out – well sex really.”
“Really?” She was not convinced for a second.
“Well if you kiss that, you get the gift of being great in bed.”
He was teasing her and she knew it.
“Oh is that right?” Anna laughed sceptically.
He nodded with a smug smile, “It’s true.” It wasn't.
“Well I’ll be the judge of that!”
At last they set about getting back into the mood, but then,
“Declan, where’s Louis?”
“Well that’s romantic! We’re naked together on the bed and you want your suitcase instead of me!”
He shrugged. “I don’t have any, I’m Irish.”
“No I meant I have some condoms in my suitcase.”
“Oh right, I’ll get him.”
Declan sprinted down the stairs, naked, to retrieve Louis and dashed back to the bedroom as quick as he could. Anna found the box of condoms and re-joined him on the bed. He laughed, confronted with the huge box.
“OK that’s not intimidating!”
“Well it’s a Catholic country so I thought I should be prepared.”
“So let me get this straight. You brought the biggest box of condoms I’ve ever seen in my life with you, 3000 miles, to see me?” He raised his eyebrows.
“I was right - you do just want me for my body!”
“Yes… I mean … no …. Yes.” She laughed.
“So when you said ‘I think what I need is here’– you meant my body!”
“So you don’t want my body?”
“Not just your body.”
“Shall we toss a coin for who goes on top?” He teased.
“Yes – heads I win, tails you lose.”
“You catch on fast. On top woman – earn your keep!”
“Oh I’ll make you pay for that.”
He raised his eyebrows in expectation, “Can’t wait!”
“I should have guessed you’d like to be in control." He said as Anna climbed on top to 'earn her keep'. "Well you’re not going to have it all your own way.” He rolled on top and she shrieked.
Just in the moment before they finally did the deed, Declan threw a towel over Louis,
“He’s too young to see such things!”
Much, much, later when they had worked through a healthy amount of condoms, “I should have brought a bigger box,” the two lovers lay in each other’s arms beaming like they had both won the lottery. Anna propped herself up on her elbow and smiled at Declan,
“I was wondering, now you have your mother’s ring back, if there was a fire and you had 60 seconds to save something, what would you save?”
“That’s a tough one.” He grinned as a thought occurred to him, “Oh I know.” He shook his head, “Nah, I’m not saying.”
“I think I can guess. Let’s say it together.”
“LOUIS!” They said simultaneously and both laughed.
He hugged her tighter into his arms. “I’d save the woman I love.”
“Just to be sure – who is that?”
“You. You big eejit! Actually you have my ring now so suppose I’d have to save you. So, Anna from Boston. Do you think we’re compatible in bed after all? Are we still getting married diddly-eye?”
Declan bit his lip and Anna was surprised to see that he was nervous about her answer. She remembered watching him at the bus station and the disappointment in his face when he thought that she had left him. She reassured him with a smile, but still wasn’t going easy on him.
“Hmm. I’m not quite sure yet. I think we need to try it again just to make sure.”