The first Games We Play trilogy (the wild geese) feature three cousins from an extended Irish American family who are running a haunted hotel and--of course--an Irish bar. The third book, Two Truths and a Lie is set partially ON St Patrick's Day, although the scene in the excerpt below takes place a few weeks earlier. Enjoy!
“Do you come here often?”
Startled, Brenda turned her head to observe the man who’d just slipped onto the bar stool next to her. Max. Her heart gave an odd little leap. What’s he doing here? It was only five days since his last visit, and she hadn’t expected to see him again for another week. Her heart insisted he’d come back early because of her. But she tried never to assign too much weight to that organ of faulty logic. Her heart had steered her wrong before.
She scanned his face, drinking in the sight of him, cataloging everything she saw—from his copper-colored hair and neatly trimmed beard, to his eyes like faded denim, and that odd smile she’d grown used to seeing—the one that made him look like he was hiding a secret sorrow—and made a snap decision.
“No,” she answered. “This is my first time.”
Max frowned in confusion. “What did you say?”
“I said, I’ve never been here before in my life. You?”
His blue eyes widened a bit in surprise. “Oh, uh…yeah, I’ve been here a few times, I guess.”
“Really? That’s wonderful. I love a man with experience. Maybe you can give me a tour sometime?”
Interest flared in his eyes as he smiled. “It would be my pleasure.”
Oh yes, it would. Brenda held out her hand. “I’m Donna, by the way. Donna Van.”
“Donna? Oh. Very cute.”
“Thank you. And you are?”
“I’m Ma—Mike. Pleased to meet you, Donna. May I buy you a drink?”
“Yes, thanks.” Brenda pushed her barely tasted chardonnay aside as “Mike” signaled to the bartender. “So, Mike, what brings you to Atlas Beach—business or pleasure?”
“Well, Donna, if you must know…I’m here for a conference.”
“Oh, me too!” Brenda feigned surprise as she laid a hand on Max’s arm and inquired, “The Pipefitters Union? I think it’s going to be very stimulating experience—all those pipes and fittings. I understand there’s a demonstration on coupling coming up as well. I’m really excited.”
Max choked back a laugh. Before he had a chance to answer, Kristy had come over in answer to his wave. “Can I get you something?”
“Yes, I’ll have a Guinness, please,” he told her. “And the lady…” He glanced at Brenda inquiringly, but she was already shaking her head. “No?”
“No. Kristy, can you bring us a couple of Car Bombs?”
Kristy’s eyebrows shot up. “You want what now?”
“Irish Car Bombs.”
“You’re kidding. Do you even know what you’re doing?”
“Stop it. You know what I’m talking about. That damn boggart’s gonna be—”
“Kristy,” Brenda snapped, cutting her friend off before she said something they’d both regret. “Let’s not go there now. Okay? And, yes, by the way, I know exactly what I’m doing.”
“Well, I don’t,” Max protested. “What’s going on? What the hell is a car bomb?”
“They’re disgusting,” Kristy assured him. “Trust me, you’re not missing anything.”
Brenda waved dismissively. “Oh, stop it. They’re not that bad. Besides they’re an Irish tradition.”
Kristy snorted in derision. “They fucking are not.”
Brenda sighed. Of course they weren’t. But Donna, who was a bit of an airhead, would probably think they were. She waggled two fingers at Kristy. “Two, please.”
“It’s your funeral,” Kristy muttered as she moved away. “I just hope your cousin never finds out.”
“What did she mean by that?” Max asked after Kristy left. “What doesn’t she want your cousin to know?”
Brenda pursed her lips. She hadn’t planned for Donna to have a cousin. And they were breaking character by talking about Luke. “I suppose she doesn’t want Luke to know what we’re drinking. Some people find the name offensive.”
“Can I assume Luke is among them?”
“Well, yes, that was her point. I’ve heard rumors that he’s thrown people out when they’ve tried to order them.”
Laughter glinting in his eyes, Max asked, “And are you by any chance trying to get me thrown out? I suppose that’s one way to ensure that your cousin doesn’t speak to me again.”
“Don’t be silly, Mike; why would I do something like that? We’ve only just met. Besides, I don’t even have a cousin.”
“Right. Sorry, I wasn’t thinking. So the Car Bombs. ‘Not that bad’ is hardly a raging endorsement. Why are we doing this? Is there an upside to them that I’m missing?”
“Well, they’re very strong, for one thing. They’re made with beer, whiskey, and Irish cream liqueur.”
“Mixed together? Jesus, I’m starting to see Kristy’s point. Are you sure it’s just the name your cousin objects to?”
“I told you. I don’t have a cousin. And, anyway, taste isn’t as much of a factor as you might think. You have to drink them fast—before they curdle. They’re not meant to be savored.”
“Mmm. Appetizing. Sounds like a good way to get drunk.”
“Why, yes, Mike. Yes, it does.”
A slow smile curved Max’s lips as understanding gradually dawned on him. “Ohhh, I get it. Why, Ms. Donovan, are you trying to get me drunk?”
“So I can take you back to my room and have my wicked way with you? It’s a distinct possibility.”
Games We Play
The Wild Geese Trilogy
Book a stay the Wild Geese Inn, where love is rekindled, friends become lovers, trust is rediscovered and the fun never ends!
A quirky, family-owned resort on the Jersey Shore is the setting for this erotic, lightly paranormal series.
Cousins Brenda, Luke and Gwyn are determined to turn their failing hotel business around. They have no time for love. They're in no mood for games. But it's not going to matter. Not when they're up against a handful of ghosts, a mischievous boggart, a family curse, and destinies written in stone.
The Games We Play trilogy. Three books that prove that holiday fun doesn't begin or end in December!