When I think of this week’s theme–Family–I immediately think of the Wild Irish series. While each story involved romance, heartbreak, and a bit of wicked sex, the ultimate theme was the importance of family. I thought I’d do something a little different this week for the snippet. Rather than give you an excerpt from one book, I thought I’d share a few lines from each book in the Wild Irish series that shows the love of this family.
“My family lives above the restaurant. I’m one of seven children so I suppose you can imagine it’s pretty crowded. My mother was the cook before she died and on special holidays, when the restaurant was closed, she’d go downstairs to the big kitchen to prepare our meals and we’d eat at the tables in the big dining room. Even though the restaurant was basically home, my mother always made it feel like we’d gone out somewhere special to eat.”
She paused for a moment, smiling as she recalled the extra effort her mother expended to ensure the holidays were always perfect for her children. The tablecloths, the candlelight, the grape juice served in fancy wineglasses that they all used to make toasts and laugh and pretend they were grown-ups.
Professor Wallace’s next question brought her back to the present. “I imagine the restaurant must have smelled lovely.”
She started to open her eyes to respond to his question but she realized that, without sight, there was a security, a safety in speaking her mind that didn’t exist when she could see his face. If she was looking at him, she would fail to concentrate on her subject and instead spend too much time trying to figure out what he was thinking of her recollections. She kept her eyes firmly shut.
“The smells were incredible, warm and sweet. I know Christmas can’t really have a smell, but in my mind, it does. Cinnamon, pine, fresh-baked bread.”
“And your mother?” he asked.
Keira smiled. “She had a smell too. Sugar cookies. My mother smelled like sugar cookies.” The memory, the brief burst of happiness at recalling her mother’s scent, turned quickly to the piercing sadness that had resided in her heart for nine years.
“Do you still have the notebook? The one with all our songs?” he asked.
She leaned over to retrieve the small bag she’d carried with them on their walk. “Yes, it’s in here.”
“It’s probably a given whoever did this was looking for them.”
“So we’ll keep the songs safe. Sleep with them under our pillow,” she said.
“I love you,” he said, leaning forward to kiss her.
“Protecting the songs only solves one part of our problem,” she said as they broke apart.
“I know. For the rest, I think we need to call in the reinforcements.”
“Reinforcements?” she asked.
“Yep, I’m afraid we’re going to have to recruit that group of wild Irish you call a family.”
“You were crying,” he said, and her concerns about coming to stay with the Collins family came crashing down on her. Her erratic sleeping was one of the main things she didn’t want anyone—especially Tris—to know about. It was embarrassing, weird, disturbing.
“Really?” she asked weakly. “That’s strange.”
Tristan shook his head. “No, I don’t think it is. You gonna tell me about it?”
“Please don’t ask me.”
He considered her words and she felt the weight of the silence surrounding them crushing her. Then to her surprise he rose and, for a minute, she thought he was going to grant her a reprieve. She should have known better.
He bent down and picked her up from the couch as if she weighed nothing. “What are you doing?” He turned toward the stairs to the third floor, to his bedroom, and her cursed heart starting racing again.
“You don’t want to talk, so we won’t.”
His words left her speechless and he chuckled lightly when he looked down and spotted the nervousness on her face.
“Don’t worry, kitten. We’re not going to do that, either. We’re going to sleep. Looks like you could use about forty-eight hours of it.”
“I can’t sleep in your bed. What will your family say?”
“They’ll probably say it’s about damn time.”
“My mom took off when I was three.” Lily looked up, surprised by Justin’s words. “I don’t really remember her…and you know my dad. Conversation isn’t exactly his thing. The first time I met your mom was after Little League practice. Sixth grade. She’d made us all chocolate chip cookies. Best fucking cookies I ever had.”
Killian nodded and Lily watched him covertly wipe away a tear.
“A bunch of the parents were standing around. My dad was late coming to pick me up—as usual. Somebody asked where my mother was.”
Killian grinned sadly. “You said aliens abducted her.”
Justin laughed, though it certainly wasn’t a happy sound. “Always was a little bastard. After that, your mom sort of claimed me. It was her voice I heard yelling my name from the stands. She baked me a cake on my thirteenth birthday—first cake that had my name on it and wasn’t made by the grocery store. Whenever I smart-mouthed somebody, she set me straight in that calm, sweet voice that made me wanna fall on my knees and promise never to be bad again as long as I lived.”
Killian laughed. “Discipline by guilt, my sisters call it.”
“Yeah. Well, it worked on me and whenever I did something good in school, she made me some of those cookies. I didn’t know my mom, Killian, but I’m sure as hell glad I knew yours.”
Less than an hour had passed since she’d left but Ewan felt like it had been twenty years. He sat at the bar surrounded by his family and marveled over the fact they knew just what he needed. They left him in peace, but they stayed close. It was nearly ten and he knew he should move, knew he should get ready for the day, but his body felt too heavy.
Tris, Sean and Pop were hanging out behind the bar, putting bets on tomorrow’s football game. His sisters were sitting at one of the tables behind him, looking at some Bride magazines. None of them were talking to him, but he knew if he gave even the slightest inclination of needing them, they’d surround him in a heartbeat, hold him up until he found his feet again.
Tris came over, stood across the bar from him. “You all right, bro?”
“Yep. Just got kicked in the teeth. It’ll pass. In a couple hundred years.”
“For what it’s worth, I think she’ll come back.”
Riley spun around at his words, fury evident on her face. “What are you doing?”
“Telling your family our good news.” He knew his response would send her into orbit, but he refused to back down on this subject. If he gave Riley an inch she’d take a mile and he wasn’t budging on their marriage. She was his wife and she was damn well going to stay his wife. It was time she accepted that.
“Listen, Tris. Do you mind letting everyone know? I’m sorry about springing it on you this way, but it was sort of a surprise to us too.”
“Didn’t expect you to go to such lengths when I asked you to take care of her.” Aaron recalled Tris and Ewan pulling him aside after Teagan’s wedding and asking him to keep an eye on her. He knew of all her siblings, Tris worried about Riley the most.
“Listen, we’ll have a big party when we get back. Celebrate in style.”
Tris laughed. “Sounds like a plan. Welcome to the family, bro, and, um…good luck. You’ll need it.”
“I think you’re forgetting Sean is one of seven,” Lauren added. “The Collins family is used to lots of kids and noise and activity. You and I are products of the boring two-kid family concept.”
“My mom always said she’d had one boy and one girl and there wasn’t anything else to go for so she was done.” Chad put his hands behind his head.
Sean laughed. “She could’ve tried for twins.”
Chad shuddered. “Twins is no joke. I’m not sure how your brother Tristan manages with those two rowdy toddlers of his.”
Sean shrugged. “Tris was a twin. Believe me, besides Killian, there’s no one else in my family better suited to raise twin hellions than him.”
“I think you could do it,” Lauren said, imagining Sean as a father. He was good-natured, fun, easygoing and she had no doubt he’d be an amazing dad.
“I’m looking forward to getting the chance.”