After work, I help Ruth decorate the pub. We put fake cobwebs all across the place that I have no doubt we’ll still be finding in the new year.
“I’m going to head upstairs and touch up my makeup,” I tell her, and she grins back at me, which looks a little odd coming from a zombie diner waitress.
“Have you seen Eoghan yet?” she asks.
“No, not yet. Have you?”
She nods and then starts laughing.
“Why? What is he?”
“Has he seen you yet?”
“No…” I reply, feeling a little self-conscious. “He left early this morning to go to the market with his mom.”
“You’ll be quite a pair.”
She just laughs and goes to the bar, where Dylan is reading a newspaper, dressed as nothing but himself.
As I head up the stairs, I’m met by a shadowy figure in all black. I know it has to be Eoghan, but nevertheless, Mr. Dark and Mysterious sends a shiver down my spine. The second I can see his face, I know exactly what Ruth was teasing me about. He’s essentially my counterpart, Catrin.
He’s wearing a tight black dress shirt, black jeans, boots, and his face is painted white and black to look like a skeleton. His dark hair is slicked back and the top few buttons of his shirt are open.
He stops in his tracks when he sees me.
We take the few steps to meet each other in the middle.
“Nice look,” I joke.
He runs a hand over his hair. “I found this face paint in the bathroom. Since I didn’t have a costume, I just did this.”
“Día de los Muertos? You know, it’s actually on November 2nd.”
He nods. “I picked up some orange marigolds and candles for you.”
So, he does know what it’s all about. This guy.
He goes on. “I remember seeing art for this when I was in Mexico. You captured it perfectly,” he says, and gently pushes a wispy piece of my hair behind my ear. A lovely little sensation bubbles up inside me.
Ever since the photo studio, there have been these moments, touches like this one. They may seem small in the grand scheme of things, but his touches pack a punch. Like when he gently cups my elbow, or how he connects with my fingertips every time he passes me a drink, and the way he ever-so-slightly grazes his hand across my back every time we pass by each other in tight spaces. Each little touch is electric, and I so badly want to lean into it and jump his bones.
“Thanks,” I reply and do a silly-looking curtsey because I’m a massive dork that’s trying to play off how much he affects me.
But the reality is that I can’t take my eyes off him. The painted-on black circles around his eye sockets make his eyes pop, and the white paint that covers his lips make them so much more defined. I’m not sure I ever noticed how his top lip dips into a delicious curve in the center.
I let out a heavy breath and then have a troubling realization. Women are going to throw themselves at him all night. It’s a given. And I hate the idea completely.
I’ve got to get on my way before I shove him against the wall and tell him to keep his hands off anyone but me. “I’m going to touch up my makeup.”
“Right,” he says, and steps aside for me to pass by—but there it is, of course, his hand on my elbow and then ever-so-slightly up the back of my arm. The touch dares to melt off all my makeup.
I lift my dress and brush past him up the stairs. When I get to the top, I look back down and he hasn’t moved an inch. I shake my head and laugh, not knowing what else to do. It’s going to be an interesting night.
That dress. Dear lord.
The way it hugs every one of her curves has made my cock rock hard and there’s not much I can do about it now. Her breasts, which are basically spilling over the top of her dress, are simply going to kill me before the night is over. It’s a simple fact. Something has got to give. I’m not exactly known for having a great amount of patience, so I pray to God that she comes to me tonight.
I’m trying my best to work, but my eyes follow her everywhere she goes. The sway of her hips, the pressed-together cleavage, the makeup, the hair. The whole thing is like some exotic fantasy of mine come to life. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one who feels that way. Every lad in the joint has his eyes on her and it’s driving me to drink. Literally. I’ve been drinking a steady stream of Murphy’s while I work because it’s better than trying to fight every bloke in here.
Dylan notices because it’s Dylan. “Slow down. It’s going to be a long night.”
I notice Dylan has his own beer nearby. “The same could go for you, mate.”
“I hate Halloween,” he says.
His eyes track over to Ruth, who is being hit on by some langer wearing a peach tuxedo.
“I get that, brother,” I tell him, because Dylan’s feeling just as powerless as I am right about now. At least Bran doesn’t seem to be as hopeless as we are and can focus on the job at hand.
Dylan, who is not one to dwell on his fucked-up love life, changes the subject as expected, “I’m glad we hired extra security.”
“Me too, it’s bananas tonight.”
We’re at capacity with ghosts and zombies and witches and sexy fill-in-the-blank ladies. For Christ’s sake, there’s a girl dressed as a sexy feckin’ lamp. It’s ridiculous. And there’s been a fair share of them that have been giving me the glad eye tonight. At least half a dozen offering to buy me shots. But I don’t take the bait, wouldn’t dream of it.
“DJ’s working out, too,” he says while pouring a Guinness.
“Yeah, he’s playing some catchy choons,” I reply. The band wanted a night off, so we opted for something a little more fitting for the party tonight. The crowd is loving it and the dance floor is packed.
Juliana comes to my side of the bar, where there just happens to be a young woman dressed as a sexy nurse hovering around me. She butts her way in so unapologetically that I feel a little bit of pride at how my lass handles herself to get to me. She rattles off her order with a slight sneer, but I don’t sweat it.
I press my palms into the bar and lean forward. “Everything good out there?”
“You let me know if anyone bothers you, yeah?”
“Oh, okay. It’s fine, Eoghan, totally.”
“Halloween can be a little mad. A lot of bucks have their eye on ya, so be mindful. Don’t want you to get mauled.”
“Me? Mauled? Speak for yourself. I’ve seen more women at the bar than ever, Catrin.”
“Are you jealous?” I ask because I can’t help myself or the smile I’m sporting.
Her mouth drops open like she’s been busted. “Jealous? Uh, whatever.”
“Right,” I say and wink at her.
“Get back to work,” she shouts. “I need two gin and tonics.”
I fill her order and she twirls away, back into the masses, and I miss her already.
She hands off the drinks and doesn’t make it far before a man wearing a Cork City Football Club jersey approaches her. Whatever he says to her makes her smile and my blood starts to boil. Then I notice it’s that bloody boss of hers. They talk for a little bit and then he’s urging her onto the dance floor. She seems quite reluctant but eventually joins him. What I don’t expect is for him to pull her so close there’s not a sliver to spare for the Holy Ghost, and when he starts grinding against her, it takes everything in me not to hop over the bar and drive my fist into his face. But she’s not mine…yet. As long as she wants this, I’m not going to stop her.
But does she want this? She looks uncomfortable out there. At least that’s my perception, which I get may be wishful thinking. When the song ends, she immediately steps away from him, putting as much distance between them while not coming across as rude.
He steps toward her and she steps back. Then he reaches out for her hand and she tries to pull away.
“That’s it.” I drop my towel on the bar.
“Eoghan,” Dylan says after me, but I don’t turn around. I’m halfway to her.
“Is there a problem, lass?” I ask.
The gobshite drops her hand and looks up at me, his eyes scanning over my face as if trying to place me. “No problem at all,” he replies on her behalf and my hands flex into a fist.
I don’t take my eyes off him. “Lass?” I ask, because there’s not a chance in hell I’m going to allow him to speak for her.
“It’s fine,” she responds and takes a few steps back.
“Are you sure?”
He cuts off my question. “Is this your friend, Eoghan?” So, he knows me. Does he know that I’d walk through fire and ice for this girl? Because I’m on the verge of dropping him with one blow if he doesn’t back the fuck off.
“Yeah, this is Eoghan,” she says and gulps. “My roommate.”
He doesn’t say anything, but just looks at her and then looks back at me. Finally, he says, “It’s all much clearer now.”
“What do you mean?” she says with a nervous laugh.
“Nothing. See you Monday, Miss Rodriguez,” he says, and takes off toward a group of people he must know.
I don’t care for his tone one bit and so I start to follow him, but Juliana pulls at me and I immediately stop. “Don’t. It’s fine, Eoghan. Totally fine.”
“Are you sure?” I ask again.
“Yes, he’s just a little drunk. It’s no big deal at all. I promise,” she says.
I meet her eyes and they’re wide and open for me.
“Is there something going on with the two of you?”
“No, not at all,” she says quickly. “Not at all.”
“Okay, I should get back,” I tell her, and turn back to see the bar is swamped.
“Yeah, me too. Talk later?” she says.
“Yeah, let’s,” I tell her. Like I said, something’s got to give. Something soon.
“Excuse the expression, but it looks like you’ve seen a ghost,” Ruth says to me.
“Yeah, kind of.”
I watch as Aiden talks to a few of his friends and then looks over at Eoghan, who is back behind the bar and looking straight back at him. Thankfully, Aiden and his friends leave and I breathe a sigh of relief. Boy, do I regret telling Aiden about being at Murrough’s tonight. That was so fucking awkward. But Eoghan coming to my rescue—not that I needed rescuing, I think—just does something to me. And while I should care very greatly what my boss now thinks, I’m much more curious about how Eoghan really feels about me. He’s always been my friend. He’s always been one to protect me and take care of me however he can, but this was different. This was territorial. This made me feel like we belong to each other and there’s a part of me that really hopes that turns out to be true.
But I glance back to the bar and Eoghan’s serving yet another female customer, this one dressed as a sexy lobster. Come on, man. How can I compete with the dozens of women that circle him like he’s prey on any given night?
“Earth to Julie,” Ruth says, and snaps her fingers in front of my face.
“Are you all right?” Ruth asks, as if she asked five times before. She probably did.
“I need a drink,” I tell her.
“Great, me too. It’s Halloween!”
She grabs my arm and we both go to the bar. Dylan serves us a couple of shots of tequila with some lime slices and a shy smile as he watches Ruth.
The DJ starts playing Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” and Ruth shrieks, “Yes!”
“Oh my God, Ruth. You crack me up.”
“Another shot for us, Dylan, then we’re gonna go dance. We’re officially on break.”
He laughs and looks over at Eoghan, who is finally smiling a little after the skirmish with Aiden.
We down our shots and then go out to the dance floor to do the “Single Ladies” dance, which I am terrible at and Ruth does as if she’s some weird Irish Beyoncé. It’s a moment that will stick with me forever.
After the song, we head back to the bar and laugh with the guys for a little while and then go back to serving all our happy patrons, with a couple drinks in between for us, too.
Liam, who’s wearing some devil horns, has spent most of the night cozy in the corner with a woman dressed as Hermione Granger. They’re having a good laugh when I come around with a whole slew of shots they ordered.
“Here ya go, Liam.”
“No problem,” I say with a sloppy smile.
“You’re still coming to Baltimore with us tomorrow?”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” I tell him and it’s true. I’ve been looking forward to it every day since he invited me.
“This is the photographer, Eoghan’s oul’ doll,” he tells Hermione.
“Oul’ doll,” I repeat, and laugh at that. It sounds so funny.
“Oh wow, nice to meet you. I’m Katie.”
“Julie,” I reply, and we shake hands.
“Those photos are class. You’re really talented.”
“Thanks,” I reply, and the buzz I’m feeling makes room for a good dose of pride.
“Here, have one on me,” Liam says, and passes me one of his shots.
“Sláinte,” I say, as if it doesn’t sound completely stupid in my American accent. Damn, that hits hard.
I head back to work, but the more buzzed I get, the more I blatantly stare at Eoghan. He’s so goddamn hot, and I wish so much I had the courage to pull him by that tight black shirt down to my face and attack him with my mouth. I’m practically drooling about it, which has got to be sexy. I don’t care. He’s been having a fun time behind the bar, but thankfully I haven’t seen him take any shots with any of the women that hover around his station.
So, with a few of my inhibitions dropped, I find myself taking a little break at Eoghan’s stretch of bar. “Not drinking?” I ask him.
“I’ve been drinking,” he answers, and shows me a beer he’s been keeping beneath the bar. He puts it back, and then grabs the bottle of tequila off the shelf behind me. “It’s tequila you’re drinking, right?”
One side of his mouth lifts up as he pours it into two shot glasses and passes me one, with a lime and the salt shaker.
“Culturally cliché,” I say, and wink at him as I lick my wrist and then shake some salt on my skin. He watches me closely with dark, dark eyes.
I pass him the salt shaker and he licks his own wrist while looking at me directly in the eyes. It’s one of the sexiest moves I’ve ever seen and everything below my waist melts.
With our wrists extended in front of us and our shot glasses in hand, we both stare at one another.
“Sláinte,” he growls, and we both lean down and lick the salt off our wrists, then down the shots of tequila and suck the limes hard.
He immediately pours us a second one. I tilt my head to the side and figure, why not?
We don’t say anything as we both put salt on our wrists and then lift our shot glasses, but this time, before I can lick the salt off my own wrist, he takes my hand and pulls my wrist to his mouth and licks the salt off, so slowly and with so much devotion. My mouth falls open as I watch the act and I feel utterly worshipped, as if I’ve suddenly ascended to goddess status. He offers me his own wrist and I take it to my mouth, licking the salt off with the tip of my tongue while looking up at him, trying to give back as good as I got. His jaw tightens hard and my thighs, which were already pressing together, rub back and forth as I try to ease the ache I’m feeling for him. Our eyes lock on one another and we drink the second shot in unison.
“So, this is happening,” Dylan notes from beside us, but neither of us responds to him. We don’t even look his way. Instead, we both suck our limes for a long time and I start laughing a little. Eoghan doesn’t laugh. Not at all. Instead, he raises his eyebrow at me, as if asking if I want to go another round. I give him a slight nod and he pours.
This time, he preps my wrist first by licking up from the wrist with a broad warm tongue and my mind goes there. It wonders what his tongue would feel like between my legs. Then he adds the salt and licks again. I’m going to melt right on the spot. I do the same for him, savoring the taste of his skin, and now I want to taste him…everywhere.
“Sláinte,” I say this time and Eoghan smiles, apparently at my successful use of Irish vocab.
I watch Eoghan lick his lips and stare down at me. We drink and it burns much less.
I grab for a lime, but there isn’t one for me. Eoghan is holding the wedge between his teeth. He leans across the bar and offers me his mouth.
I have forgotten all of my reasoning about why it might be a bad idea to do a body shot with my roommate. Logic has flown the coop. It did three shots ago. There’s only Eoghan and his hot, sexy mouth and that lime.
I step up on the bar rail and lean over the bar, grip on to his shirt, and take his mouth with mine. We suck the lime together and share the wedge between our mouths as our tongues occasionally collide in the chaos. I need more, so I quickly pull back and he looks shocked…maybe distraught. I take the lime out and go back to his mouth as quickly as I can and he gasps, happily taking me back. His hands go into my hair and he has me pinned in place.
“Oh my God,” I hear Ruth say from a few feet away, but I don’t care.
I’ve lost sight of everyone and everything except this kiss. I think I hear Dylan call out Eoghan’s name, as if he’s trying to stop him for some reason, but we don’t acknowledge him.
In a wave of fast motions, Eoghan pulls back and comes around the bar, then he’s leading me onto the dance floor like he’s done so many times before, but this time it is so utterly different. We get right into the heart of it and he pulls me close to him. One of his hands glides up my arm and reaches into my hair. I’m hit with a huge rush of pleasure and I separate my legs as much as possible in this tight, tight dress to let his thigh in between.
This is going to be so good. I need it. I need him.
“God, Juliana, this is…” he starts and then kisses me again. It’s wild, and urgent, and so ridiculously public. I love every second of it.
After the shock factor of what I’m doing ceases, I realize that I’m kissing Eoghan. My Eoghan. And goddamn, he’s good at it, probably from all the practice he’s had over the years. He possesses my mouth as if it will never belong to anyone else again and presses us together so tightly, it’s as if he can’t get close enough to me.
We come up for air for just a second, and then Eoghan lifts me off the ground with one arm and pulls me up to his mouth again....
He's a sexy Irishman that likes to make me breakfast in nothing but his boxer briefs. Meet Eoghan, my new roommate.
Moving to Ireland has been my dream come true. I've managed a killer job, new friends, and a flat above the hottest pub in Cork.
The ruggedly handsome roommate wasn't part of my plan. Every time he takes me out on his motorcycle so I can photograph Ireland, he grows increasingly irresistible.
But we had an agreement...just friends.
I confess it. I want Juliana.
But we made a foolish agreement to be friends. So, it's got to be her choice. Her move.
I'll wait. I'll be the best person I can be for her. The friend she needs after a hard day at work, the sounding board for her ideas, the fun mate that pulls her on the dance floor, the handy-man, the chef, the muscle, the softy, the constant and consistent force she can rely on. I'll be her everything.
If you've ever dreamed of falling in love in Ireland, then this standalone romance is for you.
© 2021 Persephone Publishing LLC