Erin Slattery is the sole owner/operator of Family Detective Services. When presented with
the chance of returning to her parents beloved homeland of Ireland, Erin jumps at it.
Erin finds the family she lost over 25 years ago and that some secrets need to see the light
of day for there to be a happy ending.
This my first try at this writing thing, so please be kind! All characters are figments of my imagination, but they are mine, so please leave them to me and my mind. Thanks to all those who pushed me to submit, I love all of you!
Erin Slattery is the sole owner/operator of Family Detective Services. When presented with
the chance of returning to her parents beloved homeland of Ireland, Erin jumps at it.
Erin finds the family she lost over 25 years ago and that some secrets need to see the light
of day for there to be a happy ending.
Erin slowly watched as the hand moved up her stomach and reached for her breast. Just as fingers pinched her nipple she felt a tongue gently glide itself over her clit. Moaning Erin arched herself off the bed and she felt the wetness gush out into the waiting mouth…..
Suddenly a loud chirping sound was pushed its way into her foggy brain.
Rolling out of bed, with the last tendrils of the dream still in her mind, Erin Slattery shook her head.
“Why does it always happen that way? Just when things get good, the damn phone rings. Who the hell invented a little chirpy bird for a ring tone anyway?”
Walking to the bathroom the faint smell of coffee rose to meet her. Smiling to herself she thought about the new machine sitting on her counter down the hall in the kitchen. Thank God I finally joined the 21 st century! Programable coffee machines are great!! I wonder why I waited so long to buy one. Shrugging her shoulders she reached for a cup.
Erin walked into her office and glanced over at her computer. She noted that her automatic email delivery system had worked its magic. When Mr. Finn arrived at his office he would find his final report along with her final bill. Erin smiled thinking of the summer that awaited her.
A couple of months without any jobs, sailing and maybe some water skiing. She didn't really care. Just lounging around, planting flowers. I think I'll even try my hand at growing some tomatoes. Turning away from the window Erin glanced at her daily calendar to see what was planned for the day. Tying up a few loose ends and then lunch with a couple of old friends from her summers here long ago.
Erin noticed the clock and was shocked to find she had just spent over an hour just sitting at the window and staring at the water. Noticing the few clouds in the sky and brightness of the sun, Erin decided to chance wearing a pair of shorts. It looked to be one of those May days that whispered of the summer to come. She surely hoped so. With the dream or fantasy nothing but a lost memory Erin headed down the hall for the shower, whistling a tune with no tune
As Erin walked to town she noticed that the rest of the town also seemed to be taking advantage of the early summer like weather. Store windows and doors were opened wide, allowing the slight breeze to filter through the building and then mosey out the back doors. People were out cleaning up from the winter that had tried to move in permanently. Even Erin had had to admit it was a long winter. She loved the winter with its stark whiteness that went on forever and the quiet solitude. There were times when she was out cross country skiing that she felt like she was the only person on this planet. But then again, the thrill of downhill skiing had its pluses also. Although she had noticed that both sports were beginning to take its toll on her 40 year old plus body.
Erin walked into the restaurant and looked around for her friends. It had been so long since she had seen them, which was the reason for the lunch date. She noticed a black haired woman whose back was to her. That has to be Carrie. No one else has that color. I wonder if that color comes in a bottle? Walking up behind the woman, Erin put her finger to her mouth to shush the other two at the table. Erin reached around and turned Carrie's face to her and gave her the biggest raspberry she could!! Stepping back she waited as the shock wore off.
She was suddenly swooped up from behind and lifted off the floor. Yelling out in surprise Erin felt herself lowered to the ground.
“Who the hell………..” Erin swung around and saw to her shock Carrie standing there. She felt the blush start at her toes and rise up to her ears. Erin had always cursed her blushes. She had never been able to control them and they were the bane of her existence. Add to the fact that her ears turned red for no reason whatsoever and you have a kid who was the easiest to tease.
“OH MY GOD! I am so sorry. Your hair is just like Carrie's! You two,” pointing at Mary and Shelly “should have warned me.” With a wicked glare in their direction Erin moved around the table to give her lifelong friends a big hug. She moved over to take the only empty chair at the table. It placed her between Carrie and the other dark haired woman.
“Think nothing of it. Really, how many times does one get spit upon by a stranger.” Erin noticed the evil glint in woman's eyes, so she didn't take the comment seriously. Erin rolled her eyes. This woman sounded just like Carrie but with a soft Irish lilt. Turning her head to Carrie she waited for an explanation.
“Erin, this is my cousin Nora. She's been visiting the family for a couple of weeks. She goes back home this weekend. Which is really too bad, I've told her she is missing the best part of Lake Geneva, summer in this town is not to be missed! Go ahead, just ask any local!!” The table laughed at this. Not having lived here year round left Erin slightly out of the loop, but she didn't care. She had always been treated as part of the group. Also, she and parents used to spend winter holidays here. Being an avid outdoors family, Lake Geneva was the best of both worlds. Shrugging off the depressing thoughts of her past and parents, Erin turned her head back to the conversation.
“I can attest to that.” Shelly remarked. Mary just nodded her head. Mary had always been the quiet one, while Shelly was the one who jumped into things head first, no questions asked.
“So, how are you guys? What's new since the last time we were together?” Erin asked as she looked at the menu. She still couldn't look at Carrie's cousin. Her embarrassment was still apparent. After their orders were placed and drinks delivered to the table, the group settled down for a good old fashioned gossip session. They also were able to catch up on the events of everyone's lives.
After a fun filled lunch Erin walked back home, deciding to walk along the water instead of going through town. She made plans for her summer as she walked through Library Park. She had always loved this park. The library itself was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. She was not a great fan of his, but this building and the old railroad station had been her favorites. The entire town was saddened to learn of the destruction of the old train station. It had been done in the early morning hours under a curtain of darkness. There were those in town that still held a grudge against the group of doctors that had been behind it, even though that group of docs are no longer there.
As she walked into her small cottage Erin noticed her answering machine blinking at her. She stared at it for a long time before feeling the pull of the unknown. Erin had always had what she called shealladh, also known as the second sight to the Irish. Her senses were going guns to the wall as she listened to this woman's voice. She cursed her weakness for mysteries.
She listened as an old voice floated out of the speaker. Erin sat down as a sudden memory was pulled from her long ago past.
“Hello? Is anyone there? Damn I hate these stupid machines. OH, sorry, Miss Slattery? I would like to talk to you about a …………..” With that there was a beep and the rest of the message was lost. Pressing the button again Erin sat and waited, again lost in thoughts of the past. She jumped when the next message started.
“Hello!? As I was saying before your machine hung up on me, I want to talk to you about a job. I need you to find something for me. Mrs. Murphy gave me your number. I hope that was OK. She's terribly………..” Erin waited for the nest message.
“God dammed stupid machine!! As I was saying she's afraid you'll be mad at her for giving me your number. Would you be a dear and ring her up to tell her you're not mad. Thank you very much.” This time she, whoever she was, beat the machine and hung up first. Erin had to smile at the whole incident. Noticing that there were no more messages, Erin walked into the kitchen to look for something to do.
Standing there, looking around it suddenly dawned on Erin, there was NOTHING to do
“Holy shit, what am I going to do? I'm going to go nuts with nothing to do? Yeah, yeah, it all sounds good when you sit and think about a whole summer off. But when it comes right down to it? You realize you'll go stark raving mad in about three days!! Oh shit.”
Since lunch had been so late Erin decided that she would take a long, hot bath, thaw out a frozen dinner then just do a little relaxing at home. Do a little reading, fiction this time, the laptop will stay safely tucked away. She ran the water, tossed in the salts, lit a couple of vanilla candles and submerged herself in the water with the latest novel from her pile by the bed. She had noticed that it was getting taller and taller. Time for another bookcase, Erin remarked to herself. She turned her attention back to SX Meagher and her imaginative romp through PTown.
Erin was up with the sun the next day. She noted for the first in months she had not awoken with any foot pain. She hoped that her plantar fasciitis was finally going to make a quite exit from her life. Grinning she took care of her morning rituals and moved into the kitchen, glancing at the calendar as she opened the refrigerator door. God is it that time already? I had totally forgotten my trip. Well, might as well do it today. That way I can have a nice long holiday weekend. Starting in the middle of the week! Gee six whole days to do what I want. Crap, what am I going to do? Then the thought of a whole work free summer crossed her mind. CRAP! What was I thinking, I should have taken that job for what's her name. Oh well, such is life. Putting down her now empty cup she headed back to her bedroom and the start of her day.
Erin checked to make sure that she had her wallet, cell phone and the ipass for the tollway as she walked into the garage. Turning the car in the direction of highway 50 she turned the cd player on and the sultry voice of Paula Cole. She settled in for the two hour drive to the cemetery on the South side of Chicago. She always enjoyed the drive, which other people found odd. It was the feeling of adventure from her childhood that made the trip enjoyable Erin thought.
The ride up to the cottage with her parents had always held the hint of some sort adventure. Be it sailing, fishing, water skiing or just spending time with her folks. She also remembered the many cookouts that they had had with the many friends they had in Lake Geneva. Many of whom are now gone, one way or another. It was a magical time. Summers to do anything you wanted!
Driving back home to Chicago had been equally exciting to Erin. She enjoyed the time away, but also enjoyed getting to see her school friends again. She had always enjoyed the days leading up to the new school year. The shopping trips to pick up new clothes, to replace the ones she had out grown during the summer. Days spent getting all the school supplies that the nuns demanded you have that first day at school.
A horn from a truck pulled Erin from her musings. She noted where she was and wondered when she had passed the Baby Ruth sign. That sign has always been her clue that they were nearing home. Getting off on 111 th, Erin headed over to Mt. Olivet Cemetery. The years coming here had cemented the spot where her parents rested. The monument was not big, yet neither was it small. It was the family plot, her mom's family anyway. Aunts, Uncles and cousins were buried here. None of whom Erin had known. Her mother had been the last of her family, save for herself. She noticed that someone must have run into it while mowing or something, because the stone was askew. She would have to stop at the Diocese and find out how to go about getting it righted.
“Well, you two, how goes it? Not much going on down here. You probably already know that. Saw the girls yesterday for lunch. That was fun. Except for the part of slobbering all over Carrie's cousin Nora. I finished that job for the Finn's. It wasn't that hard. He was really disappointed that his great, great, however many greats, grandfather was not Finn McCool. Why is it Dad, that everyone thinks they are related to royalty? I'm telling you Shirley MacLaine did not do anyone any favors with her past life regression shit. Man! Sorry mom didn't mean to swear. I'm planning to take a couple of months off and enjoy the summer at the cottage. After thirty minutes by myself yesterday I was ready to pull my hair out. I hope it gets better.
“How did you do it Mom? All that time on your hands when dad was off doing his thing? At least before I came along. Maybe I should find myself a good woman and settle down, have a couple of kids. Well, her not me. I've always said that the thought of pushing a watermelon out a hole the size of walnut is just too painful to even think about. Besides, I'm getting too old. Plus with the family history, I won't take that chance. “
Erin sat with her back against the headstone, staring off into space. She often wondered what her life would be like if her parents had not died when she was just about to finish high school. Oh well, spilt milk and all that. “Can't change the past.” Isn't that what Dad always said?
Opening her eyes, Erin realized she must have fallen asleep. The sun was deep into the western sky and burning red. Getting up, brushing off her backside she bid her parents a farewell. Knowing she wouldn't make it the Diocese in time, she decided to head home and email them instead. That should work just as well , Erin thought to herself.
The drive home was fast, with very little traffic. Which was a first, but then again it is Tuesday. Pulling into her drive, she wondered what to do for dinner. After looking in the freezer she decided to order a pizza. She noticed the blinking light on the answering machine as she talked to the pub. Pushing the button, Erin sat down with a cold beer.
“Hello? Ms. Slattery? Are you there?” Erin noted that it was the old woman from yesterday calling again. “Damn, are you ever home? I didn't hear from you last night so I thought I would try again. Would you please call me? Thank you.”
Erin listened as she heard the receiver bang down, again. Smiling to herself she wondered if the woman was ever going to leave her name and number or would they just play this little game for a couple of days. After eating the pizza and finishing another beer Erin took a short walk around the neighborhood. The small hint of summer from yesterday still lingered in the air. The smells of spring were also in the air. Although she loved winter for the solitude spring had always been her favorite. It brought with it the promise of new life.
The next few days were spent quietly cleaning her cottage. She had made few, if any changes since her parents had died. Not wanting to lose the memory of their life here, together. Still, as she took a really good look, Erin realized it was time. Erin jumped into her car and headed down to the hardware store. She picked out color strips for the living room, kitchen and bedroom. The bathroom she would leave for the time being. Besides that room needed a whole big makeover. She wasn't up for that just yet.
Arriving back home all the swatches were taped to the various walls. There I can take a few days, then decide which color. I can do this, she thought to herself with a small ache in her heart. Mom would have wanted this. She was always changing this up. Drove Dad nuts!! Smiling to herself, Erin chose the colors she wanted for each room. She noticed yet again the blinking light on that accursed machine. She ignored it and walked out the door for a return trip to the hardware store.
By the time she picked up the paint and all the things she would need for her project it was time for dinner. Heating up the leftover pizza from last night the blinking message button called to her. Pressing the button Erin smiled when she heard the old woman's voice yet again.
“Hello? Ms. Slattery I'm beginning to wonder if you are even getting these messages. I've not heard hind nor hair from you. I think that is just plain rude. If you don't want the job, fine, but at least call me to let me know!! I was planning on a trip to Lake Geneva anyway, so I may as well drive up this weekend. I have your address from Mrs. Murphy. Please, if you get this message before tomorrow at nine, call me. Thank you.” Again, the click of the phone as it was hung up.
“I'd call you if I knew who you are and what your number is! Good thing I haven't erased them. She may not believe me when I tell her never left me any information!”
It wouldn't bother Erin if the old woman showed up. She was used to with from when her parents were alive. People came and went all the time. She used to love and listen to the conversation that her parents had with them all. It was all so interesting. Erin had always figured that that was where she had gotten her love of history. Using her love of history she parlayed that into with a Doctorate in History.
Erin jumped out of bed the next morning with the intent to work on the house the entire day. It was the Friday before Memorial Day and that was to her the start of summer. Why not start the summer off right, by adding some new color to some old dreary rooms.
The day progressed with the painting slow but steady. If she wasn't too tired and sore, Erin thought that she might go out later. Should she head up to Milwaukee or down to the North side of Chicago? She was in need of some diversion. It all depends on how I feel once I've cleaned up after painting.
After showering she decided to go ahead and take a drive up to Milwaukee to see if anything was going this holiday weekend. With the weather continuing to hold, she figured that the bars would busy.
After finding a place to park Erin headed into Mona's. It was still a tad early for the locals to come out, but the “out-of-towners” were out in full force. A few even looked to have started the celebrating much earlier in the day. After getting her drink and putting her quarters and name down on the pool table, she found a spot to sit and watch. Erin had always been fascinated by people. She often would spend hours just sitting in a coffee shop watching them.
A tall dark haired woman caught her attention. The woman moved with the grace of a tiger. N o a panther. All that black hair. Those legs! They just went up and up and up. Erin's attention was taken away from the black haired woman when someone yelled her name.
“Erin! You're up for pool. Winners have the table and their game is doubles, 8 ball. Erin!!” Erin turned and approached the table. She looked around for someone who looked like they wanted to play. Just as she turned to look behind her she felt her face grabbed and big fat wet raspberry was planted on her forehead.
“YUK! What the hell are you doing?!!!” Erin wiped her face off as her eyes travelled up the tall body in front of her. The blacked haired woman that she glimpsed earlier stood in front of her.
“Do ya need a partner?”
“Yes I do. But I don't know if I really want some slobber monster. What will happen if we win?” Erin chuckled.
“Hello Erin. How goes things?”
“Hello Nora. Things go well, thanks for asking. I'm surprised to see you here. Carrie didn't mention that you were family. I never would have guessed. Yeah yeah. My gaydar is broken, if I even had it to begin with. I wouldn't know a lesbian if she came up and, oh I don't know, licked my face.” Erin smiled as she rolled the cue across the pool table. Since it wasn't as warped as some of the others, she decided to use it.
“Tis ok. I'd rather not everyone know. I've found that here in the States being an out lesbian is not always a good thing. Some of the cousins live down south and they have made no bones about how they feel. Ach, well it is what it is. So do ya need a partner? For pool.” Erin watched as an eye lid slowly drew down over the intense blue eye forming a wink. Erin just stared at the woman in front of her.
Erin felt the blue eyes pulling her into their depths. She was trying to decide if the blue in those eyes reminded her of the water on clear bright sunny day or maybe the blue of a cloudless hot summer day. Shaking herself she brought her mind back to the pool table.
“Yes, I do need someone to watch me kick some ass. I don't think I really need a partner. If you want to use that title, sure, why the hell not.”
Erin glanced over at the two women who were impatiently waiting for the social hour to end and the business of pool to start. They had a cocky air to them as the short butch one broke the rack. After scratching on her third shot Erin took over the table. Proceeding to hold an impromptu clinic on how to shoot pool. By the time Nora had come back with their new drinks the game was over and the new opponent was racking the balls for another game.
“What, I don't get to play? Crap. I wanted to impress you with my skills.” Erin noticed the twinkling blue eyes.
“I'm sure you'll get the chance in the next game. In fact, I'll even let you break.” Erin handed Nora the cue stick as she walked by. Mumbling to herself, I'm sure you have many skills!
Erin had drunk only half of her beer by the time the game was over. She never had to get off her chair. Then again, neither did the two women they had been playing. Shaking hands all round, Erin decided she didn't want to play any more pool. Erin wanted to relax, find some food and have some fun. Turning to Nora asked if she wanted to join her. If not she, Nora, could have the table. After all, it was hers to give away. Nora mentioned also that she was hungry, so they walked up to the last two victims and handed the table over.
Erin walked out and looked to Nora for a suggestion.
“Hey, don't look at me. I'm from Dublin!” Erin heard the soft tinkle of laughter behind her. She glanced over her shoulder to find Nora following her.
“Don't you have a car?” Erin raised her eye brow.
“Nope, me cousin dropped me off and told me to call him when I was ready to head home. He had some business that needed to be taken care by this evening. Besides he wasn't expecting me call for at least another hour or so. I'll call him from whatever restaurant we end up at.” Erin looked into those blue eyes again, and without much thought she nodded her head.
Erin slowly rolled over and moaned. Her whole body hurt. Man that is the last time I do that! My poor body. I should have just stayed in last night. I wonder when I became one of those people who can't stay up until 4AM. Maybe if I hadn't spent the day going up and down a ladder it wouldn't be so bad. Fuck it, I'm taking the day off. With that thought in mind, Erin walked into the kitchen, yet again thankful for the automatic coffee maker. Taking her coffee and her morning yogurt she walked out onto the back patio. She was surrounded by the early sun and the promise of summer. The Tulips that she and her mother had planted all those years ago were slowly coming up. Erin was looking forward to the array of yellows and orange that would show up later in the summer. Right now though, she just loved the crocus and daffodils that seemed to have taken over the garden. She loved the flowers that foretold the end of spring and the beginning of summer. The flowers themselves always reminded Erin of fried eggs. With the yellow center and white petals.
She checked her email, the first time in days. There was nothing important or life threatening so she turned the computer off. Erin had decided to grab a book off her pile and left to go sit in the park to read. Again the weather was cooperating and things looked promising for the day. As she settled down for an hour or two of total book immersion Erin realized she had forgotten to check her answering machine.
Erin rolled over with her body even stiffer then it was when she woke up after her unscheduled morning nap. This time there was no soft mattress under her, just hard ground. Grabbing her blanket and book she walked over to the dinner to see how crowded it was. Thankfully it wasn't and she was able to get a small table by a window that overlooked the main dock.
Suddenly she felt a pair of cold lips on her neck.
“EWWWWWW. What did you do, just suck on an ice cube?” Erin turned in her seat to stare at Carrie. With her foot she pushed out the other chair at the table. As Carrie say down Erin noticed the resemblance to her cousin Nora. They each shared the dark hair, light skin and height. But the eyes were the difference that set them apart. Carries eyes were a green that reminded her of a soft meadow. While Nora's blue eyes were the color of the sky. Erin had a feeling that those blue eyes change color with the mood of the owner.
“So, I hear you ran into dear cousin Nora?” Erin watched as Carrie stole one of her French fries.
“HEY! Hands off and get your own. Why is it that you think you can steal my food? Ever since that time we went to county fair with the folks you've been stealing my food!! Some peoples kids.”
“Oh please, we both know that you'll never eat all that. You have the appetite of a small bird. I love going out to eat with you. All I ever need to order is the salad!!” Erin looked over the table and saw the same smirk she saw last night.
“So what did you think of the Irish version of Xena?”
Erin looked at Carrie like she had grown another head.
“What the hell are you talking about? Xena? Who the hell is that?” Erin looked at her best friend just as her mouth fell to the table. She loved it when she drove Carrie nuts. She also knew that the woman was nuts about her favorite TV character. Erin has never seen the appeal of either the show or the woman. But now that she thought about it, she just might have to watch a few shows. She'll have to check on Netflix, without Carrie finding out. The amount of grief she would get from her friend wouldn't be worth it.
“Yes I found your cousin hanging out at the bar in Milwaukee. She raspberried me!! Can you believe it?” Erin was smiling as she talked about her run in with Nora. “We had a nice night. Good food and good company. Why what did she say about it?” Erin was interested to see what Carrie would pass on.
“Not much.” Erin watched as Carrie acted indifferent. She continued to east her fries, looking indifferent. She knew that Nora wouldn't say a thing. Actually they had talked about what to tell Carrie. They decided to have a little fun with Nora's cousin.
“We had a great time. We played a couple of games of pool, kicking ass for both of them. Neither of us had had any dinner so we went over to Lake Street for some fish. She seems like a great person. She really can move. I think she mentioned yoga. I was so sore this morning. That tongue of hers is just magic. Long too. She hit spots that haven't been touched in such a long time!! It's too bad she's leaving for home later today. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.” Erin stole a look at her best friend and couldn't believe the look on her face!!
“Jesus freaking Christ Erin!! Haven't you ever heard of the term TMI?? That was way too much information. There are some things I just don't need to know.” Carrie's face had turned an ungodly shade of red. “Really, her tongue was long?”
Erin couldn't help herself, she burst into laughter, pointing at her friend. A couple of old women, tourists from the look of them, had also started to laugh. By the time Erin was able to get her breath and clear away the tears Carrie had finished her lunch.
“Oh come on Carrie. Take it like a man. I got you!! Finally I got you.” Erin was wiggling in her chair. “See this, this is me doing the happy dance for finally getting Carrie O'Neal. The girls are not going to believe this!!”
The shock that came over Carrie's face was even more priceless.
“NO!! Please you can't tell them. You know they won't let me forget it. Life would never be the same and you know it.”
“Oh I don't know. This is almost too good to be true. I've got you at my mercy!! “
“Please!!! I'll buy desert.” Erin watched as Carrie begged.
“OK, geez you're pathetic.”
Erin decided yet again to walk through the park on the way home. As she neared the library she heard footsteps behind her. When she heard her name she turned to see an older woman with white hair. Her blue eyes bored holes in Erin.
“Yes, I'm Erin Slattery. Do I know you?” Although the voice sounded familiar Erin couldn't quite place it. Mentally shrugging her shoulders she was taken by surprise when she was verbally assaulted. While she waited for the old woman to take a breath so she could get a word in, she continued to ponder why the voice sounded familiar.
“OH!! I know you, or at least I know your voice. If you would just stop for a minute, take a breath and listen to what I have to say, you may understand a couple of things.” Erin waited for the woman to take in her words. She motioned over to a bench just off the sidewalk. The woman looked like she was ready to fall down.
“Thank you. I do need to sit. Keeping up with you is like running a marathon. Your legs aren't long, but you do move fast.” The woman sat back and took a few deep breaths and looked at Erin with a mixture of annoyance and hope.
Erin knew that look. It was a teacher's look. She had used it occasionally herself. Luckily high school kids still were afraid of it.
“OK first off, yes I did get your messages. I found them……..interesting I guess you could say. I would have gotten in touch with you if you had left me any information at all. But you didn't, so I couldn't. As for Mrs. Murphy, I could never be mad at her. She was like a grandmother to me. Yes I could have called her to find out if any of her friends were in need of my services, but truthfully, I've been rather busy these last few days.” Erin looked at the woman letting her know that the ball, so to speak, was now in her court.
“Oh. Really? I didn't leave any information? I find that hard to believe. Maybe that damn fool machine of yours cut it off. I could swear I remember leaving my name and number.”
“You are more than welcome to come to the house and listen for yourself. I saved the messages.” Erin raised an eyebrow, daring the woman. She wondered if the old woman would have the guts to admit her mistake or would demand proof.
“I believe you. I'm sorry I jumped down your throat. It's just that I can't abide rude people. Maybe we could go to the house to talk?”
Erin nodded her head while a snort escaped from her. She had hoped that the woman didn't hear it. She was wrong.
“Snorting at an old woman! I tell you, just can't get any respect these days!” The woman turned and started walking. Erin just stared after her until she heard the woman shout back to move her ass.
They entered the house and went into the kitchen. Erin thought it was interesting how you could always tell if a person was a kitchen person or a living room/den type of person. This woman just shouted kitchen, so here they were, sitting in the kitchen.
“Coffee, tea or some sort of soda? At least I think I have a soda here. I know I have some cold water. Choose your poison.” She turned to the refrigerator and pulled a bottle of water out for herself. After getting an answer she turned the stove on to boil water for tea.
“OK, you know who I am. I'm still totally clueless with you. I'm sorry, really, but you didn't leave anything for me.”
“My name is Mrs. Timothy Mahoney. You can call me Katie though. I'm from the south side of Chicago. As you can tell from my accent I'm originally from Ireland. County Kerry. How I ended up in Chicago isn't really relevant to why I need to hire you. If you want the story I'll be more than willing to tell you. The reason I need to hire you is simple. I want you find someone for me!” With that Mrs. Mahoney sat back in her chair almost with a harumpf.
“Mrs. Mahoney, I'm not that type of detective. I'm more of a genealogist. I can find your family tree for you, but not a specific person. I think you may need a private detective if you need someone found.”
“Katie please. Oh but the person I want you find is family. I just don't know where or who they are. Oh it's such a long story.”
“Then why don't you start at the beginning. I've got nothing but time.”
“Have you ever heard of the Magdalene Sisters?”
“Yes I have. Their original premise was good. As with many things, it morphed into something that was beyond their control. There were a couple of them here in the States. Philly comes to mind. Don't know where else.”
“Yes, that's the group. They did indeed have one here in the States. Mostly they stayed primarily in Europe. They moved into Ireland during the late 1800's. Their heyday though was during the first part of the 1900's.”
Erin just sat back and listened to the woman talk. She seemed very knowledgeable on the subject. Erin wondered what the old woman wanted from her.
As Nora watched the ground slowly disappear from her view out the window she pondered her visit to her cousins. For the most part the past month had been great. It was just the break she needed after the horrendous winter she had endured back home. Well, except for the week down in Florida. Too damn hot and let's not even mention the bible thumping, gun totting bigots that seemed to have laid claim to their narrow minded view of what the Mulligan family name stands for. The ancestors are rolling in their graves with the likes of them in the family tree! Nora felt a smile twitch at her lips as she thought of the numerous ways she annoyed them. Leave it up to her to get caught with a woman in the back seat of her rental car! Her great uncle, as the police chief, was the one who was surprised when the window rolled down to reveal not herself but also the mayor's daughter. She had never seen that shade of red on anyone before. She had been afraid the poor man was going to fall over from a heart attack. Suffice to say, her welcome was worn out!!
The drive up to Wisconsin had been fun. It had only taken two days and the scenery was not the best, it being only the end of March. She did have to battle some snow, which really was a new experience for her. She was glad to make it in one piece. Carrie and her family had been thrilled with her early arrival. When she mentioned the reason behind it, they wanted to know if she had any pictures of their Uncle's face. She had settled down for a few relaxing weeks. It had been good for her.
Then came the day that Nora went to lunch with her cousin, Carrie had left the table to hit the head and she continued to talk with Mary and Shelly. Suddenly she was attacked by a mid-sized strawberry blond. It was the most disgusting thing that had ever happened to her. And she was mesmerized by the woman. “ Tongue lady” ended up being Erin Slattery, Carrie's lifelong best friend. It had been a fun afternoon, filled with the laughter of close friends. While she had been to feel part of the small group of good friends, she didn't allow her eyes to stray far from the small woman across the table.
Nora spent the next couple of days wandering around the town in the hope of running into the woman. No such luck. She reluctantly put the woman out of her mind, packed her bags, said her goodbyes and headed for Milwaukee to continue the trek of the cousins.
Running into Erin at the bar, a gay bar no less, had been like winning the lotto. She wondered when her gaydar went on the fritz. Since Friday night the strawberry blond had seldom left her thoughts. They had spent a pleasant night. After dinner they walked around the lake front. They stopped at a coffee shop for some caffeine for Erin where they continued to talk until they were kicked out. They continued their walk along the lake and then into the city itself. It was the best time she had had since she arrived in the States. A beautiful woman, a warm romantic walk, could anyone ask for more? When Erin had mentioned that she had to get going Nora gave in gracefully and walked the woman back to her car. She noticed that her cousin was sitting in the parking lot waiting for her also. They had said goodbye. Lost in the moment, Nora had taken the woman in her arms and softly kissed her lips, opened her car door and watched her drive away.
Nora woke up when she felt the wheels being released from the underside of the plane. She looked out and saw the city of Atlanta spread out before her. At least she assumed it was Atlanta, as that was the planned stopover for about five hours. What the hell am I going to do for five hours? It's not like it's enough time to leave the airport and find a decent meal. With these security restrictions in place these days it didn't even pay to leave the terminal! Bloody hell, if someone wanted to smuggle something on a plane, it could be done, restrictions or not.
Nora walked down the long tube into the terminal. Looking both ways she decided to head over to some comfortable looking chairs. She wanted the padding if she was going to be sitting around here for hours! She found a quiet corner with no kids in sight and proceeded to make herself comfortable. She pulled out her laptop and went about the necessary steps to log onto her yahoo account.
Noticing that her inbox of filled with close to 100 emails she mentally gave herself a Gibbs for neglecting it for close to three days. She just hadn't wanted to be bothered. She was after all, there to visit with the family not spend hours on the computer.
After deleting many stupid and inane adverts she ended up with close to 25 emails. Ach, that's much more manageable, she thought to herself. She noticed that her cousin Carrie had sent an email. She took a swig of her coke and sat back to read it. She started to chuckle and finally outright laughed by the time she had finished reading. Her cousin was a hoot. She had been sad that she had not been able to say goodbye in person. Unfortunatly she had been running behind and ended up not having the time having time to stop in Lake Geneva on her way to O'Hare airport.
She checked a few more emails. Most of them from her managers telling her that yes indeed they all survived without her for a month. Business was, in fact, booming. Nora again thanked her lucky stars for being in the right place at the right time. One pub had turned into 3 and she was making a decent living with them. With a sigh, she realized that the maxim “life goes on without you” was indeed true.
“Now that's a depressing thought.” She remarked to herself.
Nora woke up when someone body slammed their way into the seat down the row from her. Jerking upright, she turned a cold icy blue glare on an overweight man who was trying not to drop his banana split. With a sigh she slowly stood and stretched out her back. Hearing at least three pops she groaned, turned and gathered up her things. Walking past the man she was sorely tempted to swing her over the shoulder briefcase right into his face, but thought better about it.
Noticing the time she hurried down to her terminal to check the flight information. After talking with one of the attendants she found she had time to make a visit to freshen up some.
Nora splashed her face with cold water. As she pulled the towel from her face she noticed a young woman staring at her. Raising an eyebrow she silently asked if there was something she could do for the woman. Chuckling she watched the woman shake her head and leave the restroom. Nora grabbed her bags and headed back to the terminal, just in time for the first class passengers to board.
Thank God I didn't go cheap on the seats. Six hours cramped into a seat not big enough for a ten year old would have surely killed me! Nora accepted the glass of wine from the flight attendant. She sat back and prayed no one was going to sit next to her. Nora hated to make small talk.
After takeoff Nora slipped on her headphones to listen to an audio book she had downloaded before she left Milwaukee. She didn't know anyone was sitting next to her until she felt a tap on her shoulder.
Turning her head her eyes took in the woman next to her. It was the woman from the restroom earlier. Again the eyebrow arched up. The dark haired woman motioned for her to take off the headphones.
“Are you Nora Mulligan? From Dublin?” The mysterious woman asked.
Nodding her head, Nora replied “I am. Do I know you? Maybe from one of the Pubs?”
“No, you don't know me, but I know you. I've heard so much about you I feel like I could write a book about you.”
By now Nora was wondering what the hell was going on. She removed her headphones completely, putting them in her lap and waited. She knew her silence would unnerve the woman. She didn't have long to wait.
“I'm a friend of Ellen's, from London. She's living there now you know. Not that you would care. From what I'm told you are the coldest bitch known to women. How could you treat her like that? Tossing her aside like yesterdays trash! Have you no shame at all?” The woman seemed to have run out of steam and Nora seemed to have found hers. It had been a long time since she was this angry. Since Ellen pulled her little stunt and Nora caught her in all her lies.
“First off, I have no idea who you are, nor do I care. Second, what or who I am is no concern to you. Third, Ellen is not something I talk about, especially with complete strangers. My life is my affair and not something I banter about. Now, unless you can show me your first class ticket that says you belong in that seat, get the feck outta my face!” Nora jammed the button for the flight attendant and stared at the woman.
“Yes, Ms. Mulligan, is there something I can help you with?”
Nora just looked at the woman sitting next to her and arched her brow. The woman slowly got to her feet, turned and left.
“No, thanks, I guess the threat of your might scared her away! Thank you for that.” Nora smiled and winked at the red headed girl.
The rest of the flight was uneventful. Nora had taken a short nap and awoke as the plane was beginning its decent into Dublin. She was glad to be getting back home. She hadn't thought of Erin Slattery even once. Oh well, a chance best forgotten, as her grandfather used to say.
Erin closed up her laptop when she heard her flight being called. She had spent most of the last two weeks delving into Maggie Mahoney's story. She found out a lot in the past two weeks. Given her sense of history, she fell into this project like a duck to water. After reading the report (not to be shown to anyone upon pain of death) Erin just couldn't pass up this project. Who knows maybe she could write a fictional account of it one day.
Erin sat down in her first class seat and prayed that no one sat next to her. She still had a few more pages to finish reading of the report. Erin wondered why Maggie was all hush hush about it, but shrugged her shoulders and put it off to an old woman's paranoia.
As she waited for the plane to fill, Erin thought about Mrs. Timothy (Katie) Mahoney. She looked to be in her mid 80's, putting her birth year around 1925. She was a short woman with white hair. Erin thought she may have been some sort of athlete at some point because the old woman was in great shape. You could see that she took care of herself. There were few wrinkles on her face and her arms and hands still moved freely without a hint of arthritis. Erin hoped she looked that good at Maggie's age. Although given the family genes it would just be great to survive to that age.
After she ordered her glass of wine Erin sat back with the report. What she had read so far made her want to vomit. Then of course she wanted to strangle each and everyone involved with this whole thing. She knew she had to remove herself from this situation or she would not be able to do her job effectively. Oh, she would get it done, but she knew she could be easily sidetracked. Which she found was not a good thing to do. She never got the work done, which meant no paycheck. Clients don't pay for her little excursions onto paths not related to their family.
The next thing she knew the wheels were coming down and the seat belt sign was on. Crap! I fell asleep. That means I'll be awake all night. Crap Crap Crap. Oh well.
Gathering her things Erin walked into Shannon Airport and looked around. The airport itself was really out in the middle of nowhere. It works out well, the only problem being one had to rent a car (from Dan Dooley of course) in order to get anywhere. Leave it up to an Irishman to come up with a way to force you to spend money!! As she waited for her luggage Erin pulled out her passport and her driver's license.
As she stood in line for her rental car, she was glad she had reserved it ahead of time as it looked like Dan Dooley might run out of cars. She picked up the keys and a map and headed out into the sunshine.
Erin sat in her rental and mentally gave herself a Gibbs. God you are so stupid sometimes Erin! You would think you're a blond! Why didn't you fly into Dublin? Now you have a three hour drive ahead of yourself, if you're lucky.
With a heavy sigh, she pointed the car east and headed out. If she was lucky traffic wouldn't be bad. Her fears of driving on the other side of the road were unfounded. As time went on, she noticed that she was hitting more traffic, which meant she was getting closer to Dublin. She realized that she needed to stop at a coffee shop so she could get onto the web and find someplace to stay for a few days.
As she drove down Dame Street she kept an eye out for an Internet Café. She drove past a small alleyway and out of the corner of her eye she saw an Internet sign. She lucked out and found an empty parking place that she was able to grab. Who knew parallel parking could be so hair-raising! She reached into the backseat for her laptop and headed down the little alley.
Erin opened the door and noticed immediately that this was not regular internet coffee shop. The room was full of wood. Wood floors, a deeply rich dark wood bar. The ceilings were as dark as the bar, but Erin figured that most of the color came from centuries of smoke, both peat and cigarettes.
Erin looked around for the fabled “nun's nook” and moved toward it. As she settled into the booth, she continued to look around. If she let herself, she would be able to sit back and dream about times past. Am I sitting in a place where the hero's of Irelands fight for freedom once met? Did Padrig Pearse sit here and conspire with Michael Collins? Or was this an old pub where writers the likes of George Bernard Shaw sat and had a pint?
Pulling herself back to the task at hand, Erin was pulling out her laptop when the short waitress walked up to her. Erin noticed the green and orange hair that stuck out in all directions. When she talked, her tongue made a soft clicking noise.
“Hello, welcome to The Pointer Sisters! Can I get you anything to drink?”
Erin tried so very hard not to stare at the pierced woman standing in front of her. She lost the battle though. After she asked for a cup of tea, she couldn't help herself.
“How many piercings do you have?”
“Total? I lost count at 25. And no, I won't show you all of them!” With that the young woman bounced back to the bar. Erin chuckled to herself and went about hooking up to the net. She sat back as she waited for everything to boot up and get moving.
As Erin signed into her account her cup of tea was set down off to the side. She silently nodded her thanks to pierced girl and within minutes she was totally involved in her search for lodging. After making reservations at GF Handel Hotel, she checked her email. She was surprised to see she had at least 50. After going through them she was able to cut that number to less than half. She opened the email from Katie. She was surprised. She had not expected Katie to be able to use email. She had planned to call her later in the day. This was still a travel day for her. The next email was from Carrie. Erin smiled as she read it:
Hey Bitch! How's it going? Hope your trip went well. Is it like you remember from your trips as a kid? You better take some pictures and send them back!! I wanna see this green country Nora kept waxing poetic about. That woman won't send me any photos of the places she talks about so poetically, lazy wench that she is!
Erin finished up with her emails and packed up her laptop. She left a couple of bills on the table, waved to the green haired waitress and left the pub. After getting her bearings, she put the car into gear and went to find her hotel.
Realizing she was running late, Nora started to jog down the street. It was her first full day of actually working since she returned from vacation. She still felt out of sorts but knew there was nothing she could do about it. She had a business to run. With a little luck she would have at least one more to run. Her meeting with her banker was set for two hours from now. Right now though she wanted to check in with her staff. Make sure everything was going smoothly. She needed to take a look at the books also. Before she left on her vacation she noticed that someone had been siphoning off about 25 euros a day. Granted it wasn't much in the big scheme of things, it was just annoying. She had trusted her employees and thought that the relationship she had with them was one of trust and loyalty. She had set up a couple innocent traps to catch the thief and hoped that he/she had exposed themselves.
As she rounded the corner she noticed a strawberry blond jump into a small blue compact car. The color of the hair reminded her of Erin Slattery. She wished that she had met the cute little woman earlier in her vacation, but it was not meant to be. She shook her head to banish thoughts of Erin, she had a bank appointment and a thief to catch! She turned and pulled open the door to her pub, The Pointer Sisters. Every time she walked into her place she wondered if anyone besides her clientele knew what the name meant. It was yet another way to pull the wool over the eyes of straight community.
Her day crew raised their arms in greeting and a few tossed jokes about how long it's been. Giving each a hearty hug and greeting, Nora headed to her office. She couldn't believe the amount of mail that had accumulated in her absence. Granted she had been gone for two months, but geez! This was out of hand. What the hell was her assistant doing all this time? Then she remembered the trap and realized that she had caught her thief. It was too bad really because Trish had been with her since the beginning and knew all aspects of the businesses that Nora owned. With that unsettling thought Nora reached for the phone to call her lawyer. She needed to find out how best to confront Trish and see how ironclad her work contract was. She also needed to know what kind of charges could be brought, if she chose to go that route.
Later that afternoon as she walked out of the bank, Nora did a happy jig down the street as she walked back to the pub. She was able to afford the pub back home in Dingle. She knew she could afford with mortgage, but she just found out she didn't need to take out any mortgage. She would wait until she visited next weekend to tell her Mother that she was going to own the pub just down the street from the home she grew up in. Her father knew. Nora had never seen the man so happy, since he will be thinking he won't have pay for another pint for the rest of his life and would be able to give a shout to his buddies. She would be loosing money on her Da and his buddies. Thank God there weren't that many!
She turned her attention to the task at hand. Her lawyer had told he would check things out and meet her at her office later that afternoon. Trish had the next couple of days off, due to her constant presence while Nora was away. So they didn't have to worry about Trish getting curious.
Nora looked up from her desk at the knock on her door.
“Hey Jack, how's life treating ya?”
“Ach, same old shite just a different day. Not much ever changes around here Nora, you know that. The biggest news is the upcoming release of the Abuse scandal about the Sisters and the Church. There are a lot of people who don't want to read what really happened. I say it's time to bring this to light and damn the fallout. The best thing that ever happened to this country is the day the Church was forced to give up it's roll in the government!” Jack stated as he pulled up a chair to sit. Nora allowed him get ahold of his temper. She understood his anger. His grandmother was a product of the Magdalan Sisters. Nora had heard a few of her stories and she shuddered thinking about what the poor woman went through before she was tossed out at the age of 17 to fend for herself. With no skills at all. After a few minutes Jack pulled the papers from his case, putting them on Nora's now empty desk.
Nora watched and wondered what Jack had come up with. She didn't want to press charges, but she also needed to scare Trish enough that she wouldn't cause any trouble either. Not the Nora would ever do anything remotely illegal but if word got to certain people that she ran two gay bars in Dublin things may get a little sticky. Although the country has come far since the church has removed its tentacles from the government in the early 1990's, there were still enough rowdy boys around to cause her some headaches. They had to tread carefully. Not that it would bother her much if people found out about her lifestyle, she really didn't care what closed minded bigots thought. The problem was that many her clientele did care very much what society at large thought of them. They had been in the closet for so long, due to that fine institution called the Roman Catholic Church, they would never emerge.
“Well, what can we do? I don't want to see her to city jail. But can I really afford not to? I can't have my employees thinking that a couple of euro's here and there is not a big deal.”
“I spent a couple of hours going over the books and then checking the receipts that had been rung up over the time you were gone. I have to say it sure did pay off for you install that back up for them. First off you should know that it's not just a couple of dollars here and there Nora. If we use just the last eight weeks as an average since you first discovered the theft six months ago, we have a pretty large sum of money here.”
Nora sat up straight and looked hard at her friend.
“Just how much are we talking Jack?”
“Well just in the last month the backup total came to close to two thousand euros. There were some nights that more was taken, other nights less. I'm guessing that most of the thefts took place on weekends. Some nights it was a low as ten euros. But the weekends were like a buffet line. I don't see any evidence that any other employees are part of this. She seems to have done it all on her own.”
“Feck Jack!! Just over the past six months the total amount could be as high as twelve grand!!! What the hell is she doing with it? It's not like I don't pay her well. She is on salary. It's not like when we were just starting out and we had to work the bar every night. There has to be more to the story.”
“How do you want to handle this Nora? I know she's your friend, but do you really want her to get away with this? I hate to sound like the voice of reason, but an example should be set.”
“Crap, when did we start to sound like our parents Jack?”
Shrugging his shoulders Jack stood up and started to gather up his papers.
“I don't know when that happened, sooner or later it happens to us all. I looked over her contract, it does state that any criminal acts are cause for dismissal. I'm sorry buddy, I know this hurts.” Jack left the office with the soft click of the door.
Nora slumped in her chair. She didn't know what to do. It was clear that Trish would no longer be employed with her company. It isn't the money she told herself, it's the total betrayal she felt. Within the last year Nora's trust in people has taken a beating, first Ellen and now Trish. She was getting tired of her soul being battered to hell and back.
Deciding she didn't want to have to deal with it today she put it to the back of her mind. As Scarlett said, I'll think about it tomorrow. Grabbing her shoulder bag she decided to head out for something to eat. She didn't feel like cooking tonight. Life sucks sometimes!
Erin sat in the chair in her room at the B&B that was located just off of O'Connell Street. She was looking for someplace to eat. She didn't feel like any pub grub tonight. After finding a restaurant she then hit the shower and headed out the door.
As she walked toward the restaurant Erin took in the rich history that was Dublin. When she decided on history as her other major she did so with this city in the forefront of her mind. She remembered the stories that both her mom and dad regaled her with. She didn't remember all that much of her parents. She was just entering her freshman year of High School when they passed away. She had had nightmare for weeks after the plane crash. She pretended that they were just on an extended vacation. She also never set foot on an airplane until she left for college. When her Aunt Peg took her in, she had taken the train to Boston. Shaking off the morbid thoughts, Erin noticed the restaurant and picked up her pace, suddenly very hungry.
As Erin sat down by the window she had a perfect view of the monument to the hero's of the Irish Civil War of 1921. She contemplated what it would have been like to live back then. Harsh and unyielding were the first words that jumped into her mind. Although she felt it would have been an exciting time. She would like to think that she wouldn't have acted like most of the population of Dublin who not only ignored the men involved but also harassed them. She would like to think that she would have been on the side of the righteous and been holed up with James O'Connell inside the General Post Office. Being the incurable romantic that she was, her mind went off and created a whole world within her fertile imagination.
Erin was so wrapped up in her dreamland that she jumped when the waiter placed her plate of salmon in front of her. Nodding her thanks she picked up the fork and moaned as the first taste of perfect salmon danced across her tongue.
After her dinner she slowly walked back up the road towards her B&B. She cursed herself for not checking the web for gay friendly bars in Dublin. Then she remembered tattooed Beth from this afternoon. What was the name of the place? She cast her mind back to the outside of the pub, wrinkling her brow in concentration. The Pointer Sister? Sisters? Was that it? Nah!! That couldn't be it, could it? I wonder if the owner actually knew what the slang meaning for that? Erin chuckled to herself as she peered into each side street off the main drag.
Catching a glimpse of large buxom wooden woman standing in front of a door, Erin turned into the lane and headed for the bar. Opening the door to the pub Erin realized that yes indeed the owner of the pub knew exactly what the name of the pub means.
She was surrounded by hoards of woman. Butch, femme and all matter in between. There was not a man to be seen. Finally Erin felt comfortable. As she moved towards the Nun's Nook Erin looked around for a member of the wait staff. She noticed Beth staring at her and waved her over. After ordering she settled back into the bench seat. Letting her eyes wander around the pub Erin let the idea of a little entertainment flit through her mind. Do I feel up to it? Sometimes it's more trouble than it's worth. Did I just say that, what the hell is wrong with me? As she chuckled to herself, she felt rather then saw the whole bench shake. Turning her head she looked into the greenest eyes she has ever come across. She also noticed that the red hair fell so far down her back that the woman had to stand up a bit to get it out from under her ass.
“Ah lass are you sitting over laughing to yerself cause yer crazed? Want to share the joke?”
“Hi, it's nothing really. Not worth mentioning. What can I do for you?” Erin retorted.
“Well now then, maybe it's what I can do for you? I can hear from your accent that you're from America. Maybe you need an escort for your tour of our fair city? I'm more than willing to help you out with that. After I cook you breakfast tomorrow morning.” The red head who had yet to mention her name grabbed Erin's hand and started to slide out of the booth. Erin stayed where she was stunned.
“Well, I guess they are wrong when they talk of Irish girls.”
Noticing that the red head was staring at her with a question in her eyes Erin explained.
“I had heard the good Irish lasses were quiet, meek and very shy. Why I heard they would rather just sit in corner of the pub as opposed to actually venturing out and talking to anyone. Guess I heard wrong.”
“Ach, that you have lass. I'll never be accused of being meek and shy. HA! That's rich.” Grabbing her hand yet again Red (as Erin mentally called her) started to exit the booth with Erin in tow yet again.
Erin noticed that Beth was headed her way with her pint of Guinness. She quickly sent a pleading look to her asking for help.
“Nora said you're to meet her at her apartment. Slainte Peggy.” Beth stepped around her to drop off Erin's pint. “She understands that you just ordered the pint, so she will give you until half after before she comes to drag yer ass to your appointment.” Beth silently stared at Peggy until the woman began to twitch.
“You didn't tell me that you were meeting Nora. Enjoy yer pint. Hope yer stay in Dublin is a fun one. Come back and visit if things don't work out with Nora.” With that Peggy slid out of the booth and walked into the crowd, shoulders slumped.
“Thank you Beth. She was very aggressive and I didn't want to make a scene. After all I'm in another country and I don't know how things work around here.”
“No worries from this end. Peggy has to learn to not jump on every woman who walks into the bar. Poor girl will be alone her whole life is she keeps that up. She really is a good girl. Just not onto the ways just yet. She'll mellow out as time goes on. The women here are getting tired of her behavior. Signal me if she bothers again. She won't though, she thinks you now belong to the owner, so you should be good.” With that Beth went back to work.
Erin sat back and wondered if the Nora she knew and the owner of the pub would be the same person. She doubted it. How many Nora's are there in Dublin. Probably close to twenty-thousand. Although it is a very old and noble Irish name, it is also a name that no longer used in the latter part of the twentieth century. Shrugging her shoulders Erin drained her Guinness and gathered her things.
Erin walked out into the cool evening. She didn't bring a sweater so she wrapped her arms around herself and headed for her B&B. After changing into her sweats she laid out on the bed re-reading the report that Maggie had given her just before she stepped onto the plane. It was not the same as the one she had read in Lake Geneva. Erin put the report aside and closed her eyes. That would be her last conscience act before she woke up the next morning.
Erin woke early, had a small bowl of cereal and then headed out to Trinity College. It wasn't all that long of way, so she decided to walk. The morning was sunny and the air warm. It looked as if the summer had arrived early. She looked into the shop windows as she walked. If only she had time shop. Maybe she will be able to get in an hour or two in a few days. For now though, her schedule was tight.
Walking through the Great Gate she headed toward the Library to begin first leg of her research. She stopped in front of the doors that held the Wren Library. She tilted her head back taking in all that was. Here she felt a part of something bigger then herself. She remembered the last time she was here. She had just turned thirteen and her father brought her to visit as a present. The family had been visiting her mother's parents over in County Kerry, but on this day her father wanted to surprise his little girl. They jumped on the early train out of Dingle and headed to Dublin, never once mentioning the agenda for the day. Erin didn't really care she got to spend the day with her father. Days like that were few and far between for the girl.
As she walked down the aisle her head went back and she stared open mouthed at the intricate woodwork that now surrounded her. Aisle after aisle of books assaulted her senses. The smell of fresh polished tables and the mustiness of old books brought the senses alive! Erin turned and walked down one aisle just to run her fingers across the bindings. She got a secret rush with the knowledge that some of these books had been touched by many of Ireland's greatest men and women. James Joyce, Thomas Moore, O'Donovan Rosa, Katherine Tyan to name just a few. Finally realizing that she had work to do, she turned and headed for the desk.
She passed by The Book of Kells. She remembered it from her visit with her father, but she didn't really have time today to spend looking at it. She did remember reading that the Book of Mark suffered some damage while it was on loan to Canberra Australia. Her fervent hope was that none of the books ever left Ireland again.
As she walked up to the information desk, Erin glanced around hoping to see some sort of life. There was nothing. Not even a dust ball was moving in the lazy, hazy morning sun. After putting her bags on the closet study table she began to walk around the huge desk looking for any signs of life.
Idiot! Where the hell are you? I've got things to do and a timetable to keep. I called yesterday, it's not like you didn't know I wouldn't be here. Stupid, bat shi………..
Erin whirled around when she heard a noise coming from the hallway. The site before her caused her jaw to drop. Standing before her was the biggest man she had ever seen. Not heavy big, but tall big. This man must be close to seven feet tall. His hair was shorn close to his head and if a color had to attributed to it she would call it dirty blond. And skinny!!! Erin figured that if the man took his shirt off one would be able to count his ribs. There was not one ounce of fat or muscle on the man.
Trying very hard not to stare at the poor man, she busied herself with looking for something in her bag. After waiting for the man to get settled she turned to ask a question. All she saw was a giant hand shoved toward her face. Finally after close to five minutes the man motioned for her to step forward.
“Hello, my name is Erin Slattery and I called last week for an appointment. I have research I need to do about a man who may have been involved with the Civil War back in 1920.”
“I know when it was, thank you very much!” came the caustic remark.
Erin stepped back as if she had just been slapped in the face. OK this may not be the walk in the park I thought it would be.
“OK, well at least you knew I was coming. If you could just point me in the direction of the papers for that time period, I will get out of your way.” Erin could feel the air in the room begin to freeze. She knew then that this day was not going to simple and easy.
“Sorry, that part of the library is closed for cleaning. It won't be open until Monday next, if you're lucky.” With a high pitched sniff the ‘pain in my ass' turned his back on her. After standing there for close to five minutes being totally ignored Erin heaved a heavy sigh and grabbed her belongings and left the library. She looked at her watch and decided she would get something to eat and plan her attack.
Erin slowly walked back up Dame Street. She was so angry with that skinny ass tall man she was spitting. She noticed a coffee shop and decided she needed something to settle her nerves. After finding a place to sit by the window she looked around the small café. It had an old world charm to it. In one corner a small fireplace was throwing off heat. The smell was a mixture of peat, tea, coffee and pastries. It reminded her that she really had not had much to eat that morning. Grabbing a menu she settled on a large latte and just part of an Irish breakfast. After ordering she sat back and tried to figure what the fuck just happened to blow her schedule to shit and back.
The man from Trinity she had been talking to for the past week, Mr. Thomas Brady, had told her there would be no trouble with getting into that part of the Library that dealt with the Irish Civil War. There were lists and lists of both men and women who took part in the Post Office takeover. In fact, the man had even offered to start the research for her, if she emailed him the name she wanted. Erin knew Maggie wanted this on done on the quiet side, so she declined his offer, but instead made an appointment to meet with the man. That appointment had been for this morning. Now it looked like she would have go about this hunt in a different way.
After she finished her aborted Irish breakfast Erin gathered her things and headed back down Dame Street to the Library. Girding her loins, so to speak, she opened the door and headed back inside.
Erin whisked past ‘Mr. Tall Man' without a word. He started to rise from his place behind the counter, then shrugged and sat back down. When she found the doors locked she would be back. He gleefully awaited her arrival. After close to 30 minutes had passed he rose from his chair and went in search of the troubling American.
He found her sitting at a table in the middle of the history reading room. As he moved closer he noticed that many of the papers and books that lay scattered around her where from the section of the library that was closed for cleaning.
“How did you get these? That section is closed and I told you couldn't get into there until Monday!” The words were harshly whispered and very menacing.
“Well now, that's for me to know and you to find out. Isn't it? If you had taken time to talk to me this morning I wouldn't have had to go around you. So to speak.” Erin tried to keep the smirk off her face, but it was hard. She hated people that tried to lord things over others. She especially hated officious little pricks like this asshole.
The man started to grab some the papers to return them to the shelves. Erin slammed her hand down on the table. The sound, like a bullet being fired, echoed throughout the hall. A few heads turned to watch them with interest, but were ignored by the combatants.
“Touch them at your peril.” She hated to sound so dramatic, but she was just looking for an excuse to kick this asshole in the shins. Although his shin started at her hips!! She chuckled to herself as the man stared at her.
“We'll see about this!” With a huff the man turned on his heal and ran smack dab into Mr. Thomas Ryan.
“Mr. Ryan! We need to call security! This, this, this woman has been over in the area marked closed! AND she's taking out papers that are not open to the public.”
“Ah Mr. Archer, just the man I wanted to see. I'd like you to meet the daughter of my best friend. Erin, this is Mr. Jerry Archer. He just transferred to the Wren last week from Galway. Archer, Erin here is the daughter of Mr. Patrick Slattery. I'm sure you've heard of him, he was one of the world's best genealogists. He wrote many a book and article on the subject. Some of which are to be found in this very place.”
Erin took the hand that was now hanging in front of her face. It was cold and clammy and felt like the fish she used to take off the hook when she was a child. She resisted the urge to wipe it on her pant leg. Why leave a mark? Besides I don't want to have to do laundry just yet!
After Mr. Archer was told to help Erin out with anything she needed he left the hall. Erin turned back to her research, spending the next few hours with her head buried in books and papers.
She stopped by the big desk on her way out, intending to thank Mr. Archer for the little help she received from him. The man was not there and she didn't want to have to suffer his company anyway. She slowly retraced her steps back up Dame St. and to her B&B.
After changing into some blue jeans she grabbed her laptop and went to around the corner to the quiet little café. She wanted to get her thoughts and notes down together. As she waited for her meager dinner and tea to arrive she logged onto the internet to check her email. There were none that were urgent so she checked out the papers from back home. Again nothing jumped out at here. Why did the Chicago Tribune wait close to three weeks to write a small article about the plane crash 30 years ago. One would think that it would have been in the paper on the anniversary of the plane crash. Not in the mood for bad thoughts she logged off and opened up her notes page. The next two hours were spent organizing and refreshing her notes.
Nora walked down Dame St heading for her pub when someone bumped into her and knocked her on her arse.
“AYE! Watch where yer going ya pinhead!!” Nora looked up and up and up into the eyes of Jerry McDougal. “Ach Jerry, could you at least look down once in a blue moon!! People live down here ya know.” Nora slapped the man on his arm as he helped her up.
“Sorry love. I've just had a pisser of a day. I fecking hate Americans. Think they own the world. Everyone owes them something. Buggers.” The two old friends started to walk towards Nora's pub. Since it was getting on towards supper time the two friends decided to get some pub grub and talk. After ordering they went to sit in the Nun's Nook.
“How was your trip to the States? Did you get to see all the relatives?” Jerry took a long pull of the pint, sat back smacking his lips. He loved his pints of Guinness.
“Ach, it was enjoyable. Those relatives though. I've no use for the lot of them excepting those in Wisconsin and Chicago. They've got their head so far up thar asses they don't know dark from light! How in the world can a country be so ass backwards be so far advanced? I'll never understand it.”
“Yeah well, like I said earlier they are an arrogant group of people. Was it really that bad? I would have thought that the Boston group would have been OK with you. I'm sorry love. I know what's it like to shat upon.” Shaking his head, Jerry wondered sometimes at the way of the world.
“But Lake Geneva now, that is north of Chicago. That couple of weeks was fun. They more than made up for the other cousins. I was sad to leave them folks.”
Jerry listened to his friend. “AH, you met someone didn't ye? Tell me about her.”
“Nothing to tell really, we went out once. That was more of an accident then anything. We ended up at the same place that's all. We had dinner and spent hours talking. Then I had to leave for the airport.” Nora knew her tone was wistful, but as Jerry was her oldest friend, she knew she could trust him to keep her secrets.
“I don't expect to see her again. We did exchange email addy's though. Who knows, her job is such she may turn up one day. Although I never did tell her what I do for a living. Eh who knows?”
“Do you ever hear from the bitch?” Jerry knew he didn't need to name names.
“Na, but you won't believe this. On my flight home from Atlanta this woman puts her butt right down next to me and commences to tell me that I'm a first class bitch. That Ellen told her all about me. I treated her like trash, and all that other shite. Can you believe it?! Stupid git of a woman.”
Jerry sat there slacked jaw with his food halfway up to his mouth. He didn't think he had heard Nora right, so she repeated it. Shaking his head he wondered how anyone who knew Ellen really believed anything that came out of the bitch's mouth. So stating he then finished his supper.
After Nora said goodbye and sent Jerry on his way she turned her attention to the immediate job at hand, how to fire her manager Trish. By the time all the numbers were crunched the grand sum of money missing was close to fifteen thousand euros. She didn't want to see Trish end up in jail, but how could she explain her NOT being put in jail. Shaking her head, she decided to talk the bull by the horns , as the Americans say, and just confront her.
She called out to the bar and had Beth send Trish back.
Erin rolled over and looked out the window. The sun was shining through and dust motes flew through the air. With the advancing rays of light bouncing off the floor she tentatively put her feet down. Thank you God!! The floor is warm. After showering Erin dressed then headed downstairs for some sort of breakfast. She had almost two hours before she had to be at Heuston Station for her rail ride west.
Despite the previous days troubles Erin had gotten more done then she had hoped for. She found the name of the young man that Katie Mahoney was interested in. There was no mention of any wife or child in any of the papers she had come across. The man didn't really play a big role in the troubles of that Easter Sunday back 1921. He was mostly a gofer or a runner. From what she had read he most likely never even picked up a gun that fateful day or in the days that followed. Yet, when all was said and done, he was sent to prison along with at least three thousand others, men and women alike. He had been sentenced to death along with close to 70 others. The sentenced was later commuted and he was shipped to London to serve his sentence. But all information on him was gone after he left for London. She had hoped to not make a trip to London. While she loved the city, she was hoping to get the answers in Ireland.
Erin spent some time online last night emailing with someone in the Ministry of Justice in London. She hoped that she would receive an email some time today informing her of when Katie's older brother was released from prison. If she had that information she may be able to move ahead with looking for any family he may have left behind.
Erin paid her bill, grabbed her luggage putting in the trunk then heading out to the rail station. She had time so she wasn't worried about missing it. She really did wish she had had time for a little shopping. Oh well, maybe when I hit Dingle I can shop. As she wandered through the station she noticed a tall woman with jet black hair. It reminded her of Nora's hair. Shit, I forgot to email her that I was coming to Ireland. What kind of an idiot am I? Not that I would have been able to spare her any time. Oh well, I'll do it on my ride west. Nora, now there's a woman I would like to know. In the biblical sense of course, a smile playing across her face. I wonder if her lips are as soft and silky as they look? I'll just bet she tastes like honey too! The short kiss they had shared in Milwaukee only ensured that Erin wanted more. Erin felt her face flush as images of a naked Nora raced through her mind. The announcement for the train to Tralee roused her from her fantasies and Erin ran for the track on the other side of the station.
“SHIT! I've gotta run Teri. They just called last board for the Tralee train. I hope to Christ I can still get a private box.” After hearing Teri shout goodbye with a promise to pick her up at the station Nora ran for the last car of the train. It was slowly moving as she jumped on.
“NORA! You have got to learn to get here earlier. One of these days you're going to jump and miss!! What will I tell your mother then? Eh?”
Nora looked over and saw her mother's best friend Pat Collins.
“Ach, I was fine Auntie Pat. I've never missed the platform! And it's going on thirty years!” Nora smiled as she wrapped her arms around the grey haired woman.
“I've a feeling all the private boxes are taken, eh?” Nora saw the woman nod and shrugged her shoulders as she walked into the train car proper.
Looking around she saw no one else she recognized. Which was surprising, as she usually ran into at least three people each time she's gone home via the train. Oh well as she mentally shrugged. She would have liked to sit by herself as she wanted to think about the conversation she had had with Trish the night before. She really didn't want to send the woman to jail, but she also felt she needed to let her other employees know that this kind of behavior won't be tolerated.
At this point Nora wanted nothing more then to relax for the three hour journey to Tralee. She looked forward to seeing her family again. It had been over three months since she last saw them, before she left to visit the relatives in America.
As she walked further into the train she looked in each private car hoping it would be empty. She didn't relish the ride with some gabber sitting next to her. The Dublin-Tralee train was usually full this time of year with tourists, as people wanted to shake off the last of the winter cold. They wanted to get a jump on the holiday rates. Little did they know that those rates started in mid-April. An Irishman or woman is never going to give up a couple of extra Eros for any reason!
Out of the corner of her eye she saw a mop of red gold hair that reminded her again of Erin Slattery. She wondered what could have been if she had just stayed longer like her cousin wanted her to. Oh well, lost opportunities and all that. Then she suddenly stopped and really looked at the woman who sat hunched over the laptop. Taking a chance she pulled open the door and stepped inside.
Erin heard the door slide open with a squeak that was loud enough to wake the dead. She took a deep breath to calm herself. When she booked the private car she had been told that no one would be sharing the car with her. So the intrusion into her private space was not welcome.
“I'm sorry, but this is a private car. I was told I'd be able to have it to myself. You need to leave.” She knew she sounded like a bitch, but she really needed the quiet to try to figure out what was going on with her small unassuming client. A client who was able to get ahold of a report that was not made public until a week after Erin read it!
“Really?” was all Erin needed to hear to know who it was. The voice that had plagued her dreams for at least the last week.
“Nora!!” Erin jumped up and threw her arms around the tall dark haired woman. “I'm so glad to see you. I'm sorry I didn't email you that I was going to be in Dublin. Although as you know, I'm not in Dublin anymore. Sorry, I'm babbling. I do that when I get nervous.” Erin turned to sit down.
Nora had been dreaming of how Erin felt in her arms for weeks now. Not wanting the hug to end so soon, she made a grab for Erin just as the train lurched. She was not expecting Erin to fall back into her arms. She grabbed ahold of the red/blond head and the wall to keep them both from falling back into, then through the door. As she did he hand landed right on Erin's breast. She heard a soft moan and her hands suddenly had a mind of their own. After she settled them against the wall Erin turned in her arms, grabbing Nora by the front of her shirt. Suddenly Nora felt a soft moist tongue in her mouth. Nora heard a growl come from the wildcat in her arms.
The body that pressed against her was the softest she had felt in well, forever. Even with Ellen she never felt like this. Moaning she pulled Erin closer and parted her legs to fit her thigh between them.
Nora suddenly felt hands on her breasts. She wondered when Erin had pulled her shirt out of her pants. Then after a few seconds she didn't care. She realized that Erin had found her nipple rings. The moan that came from the back of the throat of both of them seemed to blend into one big animal growl. Nora reached behind her and pulled the shade on the door. Eventually she would get Erin over to the bench and pull the window shade. Not sense in scandalizing the countryside of southern Ireland!
Nora slowly walked the smaller woman back to the bench. As she did her hands continued their exploration of the soft, luscious body that she held in her arms. Somewhere she heard the plea,
“Oh God!!! Please Nora, I feel like I'm going to explode.” Erin's plea made Nora move with a speed she hadn't seen since she was twenty years old. With in seconds she had Erin naked and under her on the bench. As she sucked and nipped at Erin's breast her hands moved down to feel the soft curly hair that covered Erin's mound. The wetness she felt there made Nora just about wet her pants! As her fingers touched Erin's clit Erin surged up into her hand to get as much of Nora's hand to touch her as possible.
“Erin, please baby I need to taste you. Your smell is driving me crazy! Please?” Nora felt hands on her head and she was pushed down to Erin's center. Erin's taste was even sweeter then she had thought it could be. Nora felt Erin's hips surge up and felt her hands pull Nora in closer. Never had she ever been so blissfully happy as she was right at this moment.
Nora slipped two fingers into Erin and felt her fingers engulfed in the warmth that she realized was Erin. This was the Erin she knew was there. She pulled out and slipped two more fingers in and pumped. It didn't take long for Erin to fall over the edge of orgasm. The amount of Erin's essence that came from her was astonishing and Nora reveled in the fact that she, Nora, was the one who did this. The one who made Erin react this way.
Nora started to back away from the look in Erin's eyes it was intense. It was a combination of want, need and she didn't know what. Like she wanted to devour Nora until there was nothing left of her! While afraid, she was so turned on she broke out in a sweat. Suddenly Nora was on her back without any real idea on how she got there.
Erin tore off the top that Nora had on, the buttons flying all over the rail car. Well, crap Nora thought, then she felt the tongue that was playing with her nipple ring. At the same time a hand crept up and started to caress her other breast. Never before had Nora felt her nipples get that hard and jut out that far. It was painful yet even more exciting. The moan from Erin's throat was felt through the ring and the sensation was the most erotic thing Nora had ever felt.
Nora suddenly felt her pants being taking off. She smiled to herself when she hear Erin moan.
“You like?” Nora murmured.
“OH MY GOD!”
The discovery of the clit ring was like a present to Erin. She play with it, moved it from side to side all the while watching Nora's face to see which worked and which didn't. Erin soon found out there was very little that Nora didn't like. Every movement of the ring would send a jolt through Nora that landed right in her center. She was able to feel the heat of Erin's tongue as it played with the coolness of the gold ring.
When Erin slipped her fingers into Nora she felt the warmth engulf her. As she slowly moved in and out of Nora, she felt as if all was right in her world. It was a feeling she had felt only once before in her life. Shaking her head Erin tried to erase the pictures that came flooding back. She turned her attention back to Nora.
“Oh my God! You've got to stop, I can't take anymore.” Nora tried to sit up, but she couldn't move Erin. It seemed as if Erin decided to glue herself to Nora's body. Which wasn't a bad thing, Nora thought, but after looking at her watch, she realized that they would be arriving in Tralee soon.
“Erin, seriously, we need to get dressed! We are only about ten minutes from the station. We have to at least have our clothes on!” Nora looked down at Erin and realized that this woman was going to Tralee.
“Wait a minute! What are you doing on a train going to Tralee? Why didn't you email me that you were going to be in Ireland? I've got so many questions for you. Where are you staying? How long are you staying?” Nora buttoned her shirt and pulled on her jeans. She tried to make her hair presentable as the train slowed to enter the station. She grabbed her backpack when she realized that Erin had not answered her. With a questioning look she watched Erin's back as she too got dressed and grabbed her luggage.
Erin turned to look at Nora, trying to judge how much, if any, she should tell Nora.
“I'm here to look for some long lost family. I hope you don't mind, but it's not something that I really want to talk about just yet.” Erin looked into Nora's eyes hoping she had not offended her. “I'm staying at this tiny B&B called Banshee's Blanket. I found it online and it's gay friendly. The name was so intriguing that I just had to check it out. They said they would send a car for me.”
“I know the place. It's down in Dingle. If you have family research why are you staying down there? You'll have to rent a car won't you? To get up to the family center in Tralee I mean. You going to drive that daily?” Nora asked with a turn of her head as they walked down the hall to the train car exit. She grabbed onto the grab bar that was near the door as the car rocked to a stop cursing softly under her breath.
As they stepped onto the worn platform Nora noticed the tattooed woman who was standing by the station door. She put her pack down when she noticed the woman turn and start to run. She grabbed the woman and swung her up in her arms, kissing her.
“Welcome home baby!!!!” Nora just smiled at the high pitched voice that came out of the young woman. Turning to Erin to introduce her Nora noticed the look on her face. Looking at it from Erin's point of view, she understood the disgusted look on her face. Laughing, she opened her mouth to explain things.
“You have a girlfriend?! The what hell Nora? You could have mentioned it before now.” Erin whirled around and slammed into the station. She moved to the front and stood outside to wait for her hostess to pick her up. She heard the door behind her open and steeled herself for any confrontation with Nora.
“Erin, if you're calmed down now will you let me introduce you to my cousin? Erin Slattery I'd like you to meet my cousin Margaret, Peggy for short. Peggy, this is Erin Slattery, who I might add will be staying at your place for her stay.” Nora turned to Erin with a smug look on her face. Suddenly she felt the slap. It wasn't hard and thank God it wasn't on her face. That would have been bad for her reputation.
“You let me go off like that? Nora, what were you thinking? Hi, Peggy, it's great to meet you. I take it you're here for me and this one was just extra?”
Peggy was laughing at the site of her cousin getting hit by this slip of a woman. “Yes, I'm here to pick ye up. I didn't know this one here was coming home. I guess we could give her a lift. Has she been a good girl?” Peggy watched as Nora and Erin's face turned an identical shade of red. Hmmm, there's a story here! Turning she grabbed Erin's bag and started walking towards the small car.
“Although we may have to tie her big ass to the top of the car!! I'm not sure she'll fit in this tin can.” Laughing Peggy tossed the bag in the boot and got into the car letting the two women fight it out for shotgun.
The two women stood on the front step of the station and stared at each other. Then Erin turned, yelled “shotgun” and ran to the right side of the car.
“Oh no you don't lassie.” Nora quickly overtook Erin laughing as she reached the small car first. “I win! I get front.”
“It wasn't a race Nora. I called it first.” Erin moved to the front of the car staring at Nora the entire time. She noticed the smirk, suddenly it dawned on her. She was on the wrong side of the car. “Shit.”
Looking over the roof of the car, Nora saw the realization as it hit Erin. Smiling Nora opened that door and pulled back the seat. “We're not in the states anymore lassie. We drive on the other side of the car.” She watched as Erin slowly came around the car mumbling under her breath.
“Home James! If you please. I want to see my parents not the inside of the garda cell, so don't drive like you're normal ejeet.” Nora sat back, closing her eyes.
Because of Irish roads Erin felt stiff by the time they reached the B&B that was to be her home for the next two or three weeks. When she had first made the reservations she had not been sure how long she would be staying. After the little she found in Dublin, she knew her stay would now be closer to three weeks. With the odd trip to other towns, and hopefully other research libraries that will have the info she needed. She was still pondering the fact that two weeks ago Ms. Katie Mahoney had given her a copy of a report that had not been released by the Irish government until just this past weekend! It was one of the things she would be discussing with said client when she called in a few hours.
As she stepped out of the car, the house before her looked like the typical Irish cottage that she had seen in every travel brochure she had looked at over the course of her travels. It was long, low and white. With a perfectly thatched roof made of a beige and brown thatch. The door was painted a deep cobalt blue. The kind of blue that for some reason can never be matched outside of Ireland herself. The door was also what is commonly called a Dutch door, meaning that it was cut in the middle horizontally. With a handle on the top portion and one on the bottom. Erin smiled as her senses were assaulted with memories from the summers she spent with her family up in Ballyhiegue. Shaking her head she returned to the present. You are here on a job, Erin! Maybe, just maybe you might be able to drive by the old place after the job is done. Until then, keep your mind off of the personnel.
She and Nora reached the trunk at the same time. Each grabbing a suitcase. Erin sent a sidelong glance as it dawned on her that Nora would be staying at The Banshee's Blanket with her.
“So, you're staying here? I thought that you said your family had a house here. I just assumed you would stay with them.” Erin remarked as they walked to the front door of the cottage.
“ACH! Stay with me folks? Not on a bet me Muirnin! I love my folks to the end of time, but stay with them when I have an alternative? Nope. I'll call them in a couple of hours. They will then invite themselves over for dinner, which Peggy is prepared for. I hope!” Nora chuckled as she walked to the back of the house.
As Erin looked around she noticed that the cottage was much bigger then she first thought. It almost looked as if three cottages had somehow been moved and put side by side. She moved into the kitchen hoping to find either Peggy or Nora. Someone was there because Erin heard pots and pans being banged about.
“Hello? Peggy? You in here?” Erin watched as a woman stood up with a bread pan in her hand. “You're not Peggy.” Stating the obvious.
“ACH nay. Bad enough having her as a lover!” The striking red head pronounced. She reached over the island with her hand out, “Me name is Mary Margaret Sweeney. But you can call me Red. For the obvious reason of course.”
“Nice to meet you, Erin Slattery. I'm staying for the next few weeks.”
“Ah, so you're the American. Tis nice to meet you. I hope you enjoy your stay here in Dingle.”
“Oh I've been here before. Well, not here, here. Ireland, I mean. My parents were from Ballyheigue and we came back many times to visit my Grandparents.”
“Oh really. I've family up that way. When did you come visiting?” Red had moved around the island to take a seat, waving an arm for Erin to join her.
“Well, my parents were killed in 1979, so it would have been summer of 1978.” Erin felt a wave of sadness descend and shook her body as if to ward it off.
“I'm sorry for bring up bad memories. You know, I vaguely remember a big memorial service back around that time. I wonder if that's what it was.” Unable to answer Erin just shook her head.
“I honestly don't know. I lost track of everyone after that. My Aunt Pat came to Chicago for the funerals, we packed up the house putting some things in storage and selling the rest with the house. Then I moved to Provincetown. I never came back to Ireland after that. Aunt Pat had had an argument with her mother so that was that. My father's people died shortly after he did. Since he was an only child.....” Erin left the last of the sentence die away.
Hearing a noise in the living room, they bother turned to the door as it flew open.
“RED!!! I've missed you so! Have you come to your senses and dumped me cousin? I can show you the bright lights of Dublin you know. We could have such a grand time.” Nora walked over and engulfed the woman into her arms. Planting a kiss on Red's lips, Nora pulled away waiting for an answer.
“Ach and deal with you on a daily basis? Me thinks you would kill me Nora! How are you? It's been ages. How was the trip to the states? Were you able to get away up north to Chicago and Lake Geneva? Peggy said that was what you really wanted to do the most, but you were not sure you would be able to.”
Nora opened the refrigerator and pulled out a Guinness. Looking to the others and seeing shakes, she closed the door. Sitting down on the stool next to Erin's she remarked about her trip.
“Yes I was able. I wish I had not spent so much time down in Florida and then in Atlanta. Talk about a pain in me ass! My open minded ancestors are rolling in their graves. Talk about mean spirited bigots. As soon as they found out I was lesbian they couldn't get me out of the house fast enough! It's not like I ever kept it a secret. Let me tell you word travelled like wildfire. Bunch of bigoted old crab asses. When I got to Atlanta it was made very clear to me that I was not welcome to stay more then a couple of days. I was more then happy to change my plans and head north to Chicago! The plus for that whole trip was I that I was able to rent a car and drive there. Now THERE is a beautiful drive!”
“Well, I'm terribly sorry to here that about the cousins small mindedness. You know, we may have our faults over here, but at least you're accepted by a majority of your family! Lousy bigoted bastards!”
Erin noticed the sad look on Mary's face and realized that she had lost her family because of her lifestyle. Although her parents never knew of her preference for women, she knew in her heart that they would have accepted her and anyone she brought home.
“I'm going to go find my room and unpack. I had hoped to get started on my work, but I think instead I'll take walk around the countryside before I find some place have dinner. It was great to meet you Mary Margaret. You know I had a teacher by that name, Sister Mary Margaret.” Erin pushed the door open and left to two other women alone in the kitchen.
Grabbing her luggage Erin took to the stairs, or the first set anyway. By the time she reached her room she was out of breath and her legs felt like jello!
Who the hell knew they put people in the attic! Jesus, this is going to kill me before I finish the job! Erin heard a noise outside her door, tossing aside her socks she pulled open the door.
“I hope you haven't unpacked. This is NOT your room. Who in the name of all that's holy sent you up here?”
Erin could feel herself turn red. It was a slow burn that started at her neck and it rose right up to the tips of her ears. Turning she grabbed her socks and flung them back inside the suitcase. Slammed the lid, not bothering to lock it, she wrapped her arm around it and flew out the door. Past a stunned Peggy.
“NORA! You piece of shit, where the hell are you?! If I ever find you I'll make life so miserable for you it will make your head spin!”
Hearing the rapid footstep coming towards her Nora did the smartest thing she had ever done in her life. She ran. She ran fast and she ran far. When she finally slowed down she noticed she was in front of the local pub. Smiling to herself for having outrun her immediate destiny she walked into the darkened room. Again that age old sweet smell of peat invaded her senses. With one deep breath one could almost feel the history engulf them. Generations upon generations of Irish people who sat in this very room. Smoking, drinking, eating. Enjoying a life that although hard was nevertheless always full of laughter. To Nora that was the legacy of the Irish race. Laughter.
She slid into a stool at the bar as she waved over to the owner.
“Hoigh Pete! How goes the day? Can I have a Guinness please?”
Nora waited patiently was the stout was poured. If poured properly it would take just under two minutes. Pete had spent his entire life behind this bar and knew the exact time needed for the perfect pint of stout. As she took a drink of the bitter stout she turned and looked around the bar. She knew every face in the place. Some were friendly and others not so much. She wondered how they would take the coming change? Shrugging her shoulders she turned back at the clearing of a throat.
“Slanite Nora. I was wondering how you wanted to do this? Should we make a big announcement or just let them find out on their own? Either way you choose I'd like to think there would not be a problem.” Pete stood there shining the bar top.
“I don't know Pete. You know these people hate change. And we both know I was never the most popular woman in this town. I'm thinking of just letting them all find out on their own. Maybe just say you've sold the pub and tomorrow night will be your last night here. How does that sound to you?” Nora was truly worried. It had taken her years to get over the way this town had treated her. Not just her either, but her parents also. Being a lesbian growing up in small town Ireland when the Catholic church ruled with an iron fist was not the best part of her life.
Buying the towns main social center may not have been her smartest move, but Nora was never one to back away from a challenge. When she got the call from Pete about six months ago she turned him down cold. Why would she want to move back to a place that held nothing but bad, even painful memories? But Pete had always been nothing if not persistent. Over the next couple of months he wore her down. She had made a short trip home to talk to her parents. Needless to say they would be thrilled if she sold the bars in Dublin and moved home. Nora made it clear that she would not be moving home nor was she going to sell her pubs in Dublin. She would divide her time between the east coast and the west coast. Thank God Ireland had such a great rail system. That was truly the only straight shot across the country! And even the rail took many twists and turns.
“Nora? Lass you in there?” She felt Pete knock her head. Smiling she looked across the bar at the craggily old man who would forever be called friend. Regardless of who she brought to the table.
“Yes Pete, I'm here. Was thinking what a persistent bastard you are! Yeah I think a going away party for you tomorrow night. If anyone asks any questions, just tell them your lawyer took care of everything. You never met the new owner. If nothing else it will drive them mad!” She laughed at the thought of some of the gossips trying to figure this out.
“NORA! You're an evil lass, did you know that?” But Pete smiled at the commotion this was going to stir up. He turned to refill another stout for a man down the bar.
Nora felt eyes on her. She looked up to see a man at the end of the bar staring at her. She had seen those hard mean eyes before. They had invaded her nightmares many a night. Gathering up her jacket she left the pub. As she turned the corner to head back to the Banshee she heard the door open as music spilled out into the night. Walking faster she stuck to the shadows, not wanting the man to see her. This was the major reason she hardly ever came back to Dingle. This was also the reason she HAD to come to Dingle. This was her home dammit, and she was tired of being afraid.
Erin opened her eyes to see a pair of big green ones staring back at her.
“What the.....” she lost the words as the fat cat jumped off her bed and ambled out the window she had left open last night. Lying there for another few minutes she got her bearings.
“Today is a trip to Tralee. I need to find out exactly what I can get my hands on and what I can't. I also need to find out if there may be anyone left from that time. In other words you dip, you need to find a really really old woman! I guess an old man would be ok, but he wouldn't understand things the way a woman would.” Throwing back the covers she bounded out of bed and into the bathroom.
Twenty minutes later, she noted a new record for her, she walked into the kitchen to look for the coffee she had been smelling all morning.
“Mmmm, this is just pure heaven. Now, I need some food and I'll be on my way.”
“On your way to where?”
Almost spilling coffee on herself, Erin cursed and turned around.
“Jesus, you scared the crap out of me. Make a noise or something next time! It's none of your business where I'm going. After that stunk yesterday you're lucky I don't just smack you down! My legs hurt so much this morning I could barely get off the toilet!”
“Oh, come on now,” Nora remarked. “Surely you're in better shape so that 40 stairs won't be hurting you.” Erin noticed that Nora wasn't all the sure of her answer as she backed up a bit toward the door.
“Oh, I'm in great shape.” Erin was surprised that she thought she heard a flirtatious tone in her voice. As she walked around the kitchen grabbing up some food for breakfast, she noticed that every time she neared Nora the woman seemed to back closer to the door. She smiled and lunged. Nora took off so fast Erin didn't have time to blink!
She was still laughing when Peggy came through the door with Mary Margaret. They looked at her with the same expression. After swallowing what was in her mouth, Erin related the story to the girls.
“I'm sorry Mary, I can't call you by that nun's name. It just brings up nasty memories. I hated that woman to the very marrow of my bones. Bitch. I know it's not something I should be saying about a nun, but she was.”
After putting her dishes in the sink, Erin turned to Peggy to ask about getting a rental car for her trips to Tralee and maybe eventually out to the Blasket Islands.
“Ach, just take my car. I have no use for it, it's just sitting there collecting dust. It'll be good the battery to be run.”
“I have no idea what time I'll be back. It looks to be a busy day for me. Can either of you give me the name of a decent place to get some lunch? The closer to the library the better.” Erin took out a pen and paper.
“Actually hold on a minute.” Peggy ran to the front of the house. When she returned she handed Erin a couple of brochures that listed more then a few small pubs that would meet her needs. “These should work for you. They are not to expensive. I know the grub is good, the bonus is that they are fast also. So you can spend a wee bit more time researching. You ever going to tell us what you are researching?” Peggy tried to wiggle her eye brows, which did nothing but made Erin laugh.
“No I'm not. Not until this is further along the road. I'm not sure how any of the locals feels about some the things I may need to look into. By that I mean the church and it's wide ranging influence throughout this part of the country. I'm sorry, but I think it's best.”
“The church. That fecken church ruined many a young girl! In more then one way also. They can take their dictates and shoove them up their arse!”
Erin stepped back from the venom that just spewed from this small woman's mouth.
“I'm sorry Erin,” Mary remarked. “Peggy has this thing against the church. The family history is such that I'm surprised some members of her family still attend mass on a daily basis.” Erin looked over the young woman, who seemed to be staring off at nothing. Remembering things past. I know that feeling.
“No need to apologize. We each have our own demons when it comes that ‘fine institution' called the Catholic church. It's interesting because I love my faith, I truly do, but I hate the men who make up the church. They have a lot to answer for.” Shaking herself of the memories that always seem to be just below the surface, Erin stood, leaving the two women with their own.
She gathered her things, took another look at the local map to make sure she knew where she was going and left the room. After grabbing the keys from Peggy she pulled from the drive and headed east on the N86. She looked back to see three women jumping up and down in the rear view. She stopped and got out of the car to see what the trouble was. Thinking that a tire was flat or something. As she headed back to the drivers side Nora came puffing up beside her.
“Shite, you'll need to give me a drive back to the house! What were you looking for Erin?” This was said between breaths with Nora bent over double trying to garb as much air into her lungs as possible.
“Boy are you out of shape!! I'll bet you couldn't have done those 40 stairs you were teasing me about. At least I could still breath! Why the hell were you three jumping up and down like monkeys?”
“You were driving on the wrong side of the road lass. You could have been killed. Whoever is waiting for you back home would never forgive us if anything happened to you!”
“There is no one waiting for me back home Nora. There hasn't been for the last 20 years. I'm all I got!!” Erin knew she looked sad, but there was no way she could hide the pain behind the words.
“Well that's not right Erin. But regardless, please, just drive the right side of the road.” Nora remarked as she turned to walk back to Peggy and Mary who were still standing in the middle of the road watching them.
“But you just told me not to!! Make up your damn mind Nora!” Erin did everything but stamp her foot.
“No, no I meant......” Nora stopped talking when she saw the smirk on Erin's face. “You little bitch. You're an evil woman Erin Slattery. A truly evil woman.” With that Erin noticed she started to stomp down the road. She got into the car backing up and powering down the window so that she could talk to Nora as she walked back to the B&B.
“Will you get in, I'm not sure me driving backwards on strange roads, is really that good of an idea.”
Erin stopped, waiting for Nora to come around the car to get in. She watched as the tall woman moved the seat back to fit her frame. She then turned the car around, heading back to the house for Nora wouldn't fall over from a sudden heart attack.
“There you go, safe, sound and back where you started. Thank you for running after me. I did forget to stay on the wrong side.” She smirked as Nora playfully smacked her leg. “Listen, this isn't for general consumption please, my parents died when I was in high school then my Aunt Patty died shortly after I graduated from college.”
“ACH! What an ijit I am! I'm sorry Erin, truly I am. No one should ever not have someone waiting for them at home. Tis sad.” Nora shook her head, trying to understand what it would be like to not have a single living family member in your life. It was like trying to grasp the whole life on another planet thing. Actually that was easier to grasp.
“Listen, I don't know how long you'll be in Tralee today, but if you get back home before say 8 o'clock why don't you come down to the pub. You can't miss it it's the only one in town! But if you do, it's called The Whistling Pig. Look for the building with huge pink pig hanging over the door. I know for a fact that there is going to be grand old party there tonight. You'll get to meet me family!”
Erin listened to the invitation with half an ear, her mind was thinking about other things. Just this small amount of talk of her now dead family was enough to put her into a funk. Shaking it off she turned to Nora remarking,
“That sounds like fun. If I get back in time, sure I'll stop by. Now get out of the car, I need to get a move on!”
Erin spent the drive to Tralee thinking about her parents. It wasn't all that often that she thought about them. She had schooled herself to NOT think about them. For years after the accident when she spent more the a few minutes thinking of them she would become crippled with grief over the loss.
She vividly remembered the day she was pulled from class in her senior year, it was May 25, 1979. Sister Mary Margaret, the principal at Mother McAuley on the South side of Chicago, quietly stepped into the classroom. Every girl glanced toward the door wondering who was in trouble now. Knowing it was BIG trouble as Sister M&M didn't leave her office for nothing!
After talking to the teacher M&M turned to the class, looking directly at Erin.
“Please Erin, come with me.”
Erin felt the blood leave her face and sink to her feet. She knew, just knew that something had happened. Her stomach felt like it was going to come flying out of her mouth.
“Sure Sister Mary, should I bring my backpack and stuff?”
“Yes, that would be grand.” With that the black robed woman left the classroom. Expecting Erin to follow within seconds. That's the way things worked at Mother.
“What's wrong Sister? I've not done anything wrong for at least a month! Honest I haven't.” Erin was wracking her brain trying to figure out what she had gone and done now.
“Don't worry child, you're not in trouble. This time!” Erin noticed that her smiled was forced and it didn't meet her eyes. If nothing else Sister M&M always had a smile in her eyes. Now she was truly worried. she glanced at her watch her parents plane was not leaving until 8:00 that night, so she wasn't worried about that. And her Aunt Patty had arrived for the weekend the day before. Still with a sense of foreboding she follow the Sister into the schools office.
“Aunt Patty? Why are you here? What's going on? What is happening?” Erin rushed over to her Aunt hoping for some answers. Feeling her Aunt's arm around her was the only answer she got.
“Please! Will someone tell me what the hell is going on?!”
“Language Erin please. Sit. Please sit down Erin.” Being led over to the couch in the office only made Erin feel that much crazier.
“Please Aunt Patty.”
Wiping her eyes she felt the seat next to her dip. She turned to Sister Mary and saw tears in her eyes.
“Erin, I'm sorry lass. There was a plane crash about an hour ago. It was the afternoon flight to LA. I had heard about it on the radio shortly after it happened. But didn't think much about it. Then your Aunt Patty showed up here.” Glancing over to her Aunt, Erin knew then what had happened.
“NO! They were not on the afternoon flight!!! They were going to take the red-eye. Why would they be on that flight? Her appointment isn't until Monday afternoon! There was no need to get there tonight!” Erin got up and paced. As if by walking she would be able to ward off what she knew in heart was true. “Please Aunt Patty tell me they didn't change their plans!! TELL ME!!”
Erin looked at the two women sitting on the couch in front of her. Kneeling in front of her Aunt Patty, she looked into her eyes. The reality of things hit her in the face. Her parents were dead. She would never see them again. Never be able to tell them she loved them, never hear the musical laugh of her mother that sounded like wind chimes that danced in the breeze.
After that time seemed to stand still for Erin, although she knew it moved quickly. She and her Aunt handled things as best they could. Since her parents had found out about her mother's breast cancer, they had updated all their papers. At the time Erin had teased them. Telling them it's not like she would loose one of them, let alone two of them. The cure rates for breast cancer in 1979 were better then they were back in 1965 when Nana had succumbed. As she thought back to the conversation she almost felt like they knew something was going to happen to them both.
After the funerals, sans any actual bodies, Erin and her Aunt Patty stayed in Chicago for the rest of Erin's Senior year of high school. That summer they spent a month at the cottage in Lake Geneva. That was the hardest thing Erin had ever done in her young life. They had decided to have a small memorial there for her parents. They had always been active in the small town. While they were in Lake Geneva the house in Oak Lawn sold and anything that Erin wanted to keep was shipped up to the lake. She was keeping the cottage. This was the place that she and her parents had loved and really lived in together. Every summer for Erin's whole life they had spent the summers there and many a holiday also. Soon they closed the house, packed up the car and hit the road for Patty's house in Massachusetts.
Erin's first year of college was in Boston although she did not live on campus. This had not been her plans, she wanted to attend Northwestern University in Evanston IL. But after the crash she never wanted to go back to Illinois. She missed her friends. They had made many plans to attend college together, live off campus when possible. She loved Chicago, with it's rich history of the Irish. She had been looking forward to “pub crawling” as her father used to call it. But that all changed with the crash. She attended Boston College, lived in PTown with her Aunt. Not yet willing to be alone.
She smiled as she thought of Aunt Patty all these years later. Could it really be really be 25 years since she lost her best friend, anchor and Aunt? The woman who helped her through the maze that her life had become? Was it any coincidence that her first lover was named Patty? When Erin thought of safe places and unconditional love the name Patty came to mind.
She had lost her beloved Aunt to the same disease that her mother had just started to fight, breast cancer. Erin realized that the woman in her family were cursed with the gene that brought death to them. It was not something she consciously thought about on a daily basis. In fact, she did everything in her life to ignore the fact that she would mostly likely be dead by the time she was 55. She had made the most out of her life because of that very fact. Never having a long lasting relationship was a direct result of that thinking. Did she miss the daily companionship? Yes, most certainly, especially as most of her friends have settled down into marriage of one sort or another.
Shaking her head of her depressing thoughts she noticed she had reached Tralee already. She drove her way through the maze that was a small Irish town. Keeping an eye out for both the Heritage Centre and crazy walkers she slowly made her way to her destination. Slamming the door she made her way to into the Centre. She got her bearings and then looked for a quiet place to start her research day.
After requesting the materials she would be needing, she booted up her laptop and opened the Ancestry home page. She hoped that she would be able to wrap this job up soon. She had left a message with Katie for her give her a call when it was convenient. There a few questions she needed to ask, not the least of which was how an old woman in Chicago had gotten ahold of a report two weeks ago that hadn't even been made public until three days prior? In the mean time.....
Nora walked back inside the B&B after the car rounded the bend and disappeared. She wondered what she should do today. It wasn't often she had a whole free day to herself. First a long shower was in order.
As she stepped into the shower her mind could not let go of Erin. Remembering the train ride from Dublin came flooding back to her. As she rinsed the shampoo from her hair her hands slowly slid down her breasts, pinching them as they went lower. She slowly parted her lips and slipped her fingers inside. Slowly, oh so slowly pumping them in and out. Taking a nipple into her other hand she pinched and stretched, bowing her head down to lick the now extended nipple.
Pumping faster, gently biting her nipple she could feel her orgasm rising, but wanting to prolong this, she slowed down and threw her head back, leaning against the shower wall. Slowly sliding down the wall of the shower she spread her legs wide, once again pumping her fingers in, out all while using her other hand to pinch her now overextended nipples. She could feel her orgasm build faster then ever before.
“ERIN!” she screamed out as she came. Letting her head fall back against the wall she felt the now cold water roll over her body, she slowly evened out her breath. Knowing her legs wouldn't hold her just yet she just closed her eyes, resting until her strength came back. Eventually she was able to finish her shower, albeit now a very cold shower.
Nope nothing to it. Doesn't mean a damn thing! Nora dried her hair, combed it out, then dressed. She peeked out the door and down the hallway to make sure no one was about. Knowing she had screamed when she came would just be fodder for her cousin and her partner. Seeing the coast was clear she made her way to her room in the back, releasing a breath she didn't know she had been holding. Thank bloody God! I'd never hear the end of it. Nora had spent most of her life being teased by her younger cousin. Why that was she didn't know, but she took it all in good fun. Peggy was the cousin that had teased her the most. They were closest in age so they spent more time together. She also remembered that Peggy was the one who informed her of why she was so unhappy with all the boys she dated.
Nora smiled as she remembered that day. She was fifteen and Peggy ten. Everyone had always known that Peggy liked girls. She had never made a secret of it. One either accepted the tom girl as she was or she cut you out of her life.
They had been walked down by the docks looking for the pod of dolphins that occasionally made their way into Dingle Bay. It was a warm sunny day with the rays of light dancing off the tiny waves. If one closed one's eye you could imagine that you were in a dance hall with the sparkling lights dancing on the walls and floors.
“Ye know why you cry every day, dontcha Nora?” Peggy remarked as she threw a flat stone, hoping it would skip.
“What are you talking about Shrimp? I don't cry!” Nora puffed up her very very small chest, hoping to seem menacing. All she did was to make Peggy laugh.
“Ach, ye do so cry. It's ok you know. To not like da boyos.”
Nora felt naked in front of this wisp of a girl, in one fell swoop her life had been irrevocably changed. And by a ten year old girl!! Nora was quiet for the next quarter hour, not knowing what to say. She also knew that Peggy would never push her to talk, for which she was grateful.
“Ye don't think my folks will be upset? I know they love you, but you also know how Ma is with the church.”
“Ach, that feckin church is gonna be the death of this country! I'm so tired of hearing about it!!! They preach love and all that rigamarole yet they will condemn you to hell faster then a skipping rock if ye cross them! Bunch of puffed up of dirty men, that's what they are!!!”
“Peggy, PEGGY! Calm down! I didn't mean to get you going. It was just a question about Ma and Da. You don't need to start your speeches.”
Nora and the rest of her family knew how Peggy and her family felt about the Catholic church. When she had informed her parents two years ago she wasn't ever going to marry a boy, but would marry a girl her parents had gone to the parish priest. What happened next was the stuff of legend and the small town of Dingle was never really the same.
“I'm sorry Nora. You know better then to mention the word to me! But you're right. I think your folks will be just fine with it. After all, look how well mine took it!” With a belly laugh the girl picked up another rock to throw.
“LOOK NORA! Do ye see it?”
Nora looked out over the bay and saw the pod of dolphins heading toward them. They turned back into the kids they were and started to jump up and down to see if the gentle creatures would swim over to them. They walked into the water as far as they could so they could say they “swam” with the dolphins. No more talk about sexuality or the church would be made the rest of that afternoon.
They did eventually talk about it, Peggy not really knowing anything about anything it turns out, but that was ok. Nora was less moody and a much happier child. That was until the day she had to tell her parents the direction her life was taking her. Ends up that Peggy was right, blood and feelings are much more important then the church and what those men thought. Still think, come to that.
Erin stood and stretched her back. It felt like she had been sitting for hours, but glancing at her watch she realized that she only at work for just over two hours.
When did that happen? This need to take a break and tend to various aches and pains?! Crap, I suppose that after 47 years I'm starting to feel my age? Happens to the best of us I guess.
She went up the the desk to see if they knew of anyplace to have a fast sandwich. After gathering the information and her things she headed out to the street. Making sure she looked to her left first, she crossed over to the deli that the staff had advised. She didn't want anything big, as she really was going to try to make it to Nora's party tonight. Hoping there would be a grand Irish buffet for her perusal.
She looked over the menu after she placed her laptop and rain coat over in a corner table. Ordering an egg sandwich with chips she sat and looked around. What she saw reminded her of the place her father and she used to visit on their trips to Ballyheigue to see his family. She loved those trips. They stopped when she entered high school. They had only gone over Christmas, as to go during the high season was too expensive. Although they stayed with family, the cost of the plane ticket was getting more and more costly.
Leaning back, Erin allowed the server to place the egg sandwich down. Erin savored the first bite. Moaning in orgasmic delight. If there was any one thing she ever missed from her trips to Ireland with her parents, it was the non pasteurized products. As she ate she watched the people of Tralee walk by. It seems that today was a holiday. Just here in Tralee, not a national one. Erin was surprised at the amount of holidays in Ireland. Both national and local. She remembered as a kid wanting to live here because at the time it seemed as if her cousins were forever getting out of school for one reason or another.
Gathering her tools of the trade she tossed her garbage in the can on the way out the door. As she crossed the street she realized just how much she missed this country. She pulled open the door to the Heritage Centre, mentally preparing herself for an afternoon of research.
Erin asked the woman behind the desk if there were any lists of the names of the young men who had lost their lives during the Uprising of 1920. She had remarked that Thomas Ryan from Dublin had told her that she would be able to find an expanded list of the local lads and lasses for fought for Irish freedom at the local Centre.
“Would that be wee Tommy Ryan?” The grey haired woman asked. “I'm Fiona Reidy, by the way.”
“Wee Tommy Ryan? I'm not sure we're talking about the same man Fiona. My Mr. Ryan is a rather,” here Erin hesitated some looking for the right word. “Rotund would be a good word. Not ‘wee.'” Erin could feel herself turn all shades of red as her fathers words came back, Be careful who you talk to in Ireland lass, as everyone is related to each other some how or other!
Fiona threw her head back and laughed.
“Ay, that would be wee Tommy. Now his father is called Big Tommy Ryan! I don't need to explain that now do I?” Fiona winked and gestured for Erin's list of materials. Looking it over she started to check off certain items.
“Here you go, um you never gave me your name love.”
“Erin Slattery, it's a pleasure to meet you,” Erin extended her hand.
“Slattery, Slattery, Slattery. Ach the name is familiar, but the memory is no longer as limber as it once was. I'll remember soon enough. Anyway, I've marked the areas where that you'll find here. As for the other items, you may have to head out to the Blasket Centre for those. They have most, if not all of that out there. Anything having to do with the Blaskets is sent out there.” With that she sniffed and went looking for the reel of film Erin hoped she had.
After spending close to three hours looking at microfiche that produced limited results, Erin finally gave up.
Were the hell are these people? I know they were here in this part of the country! Katie told me. Erin realized that there were many small towns that back then existed but today do not. There had to be something out there that would help. Shaking her head, realizing she would not solve this mystery today, she packed up her laptop, turning her thoughts back to Nora and the invitation for tonight.
Nora had spent the day just being falsa or lazy. She went over to visit her parents to let them know she was back in town safe and sound as of yesterday. They already knew, big surprise there. She spent some time just sitting with her mother and talking. They talked about everything and nothing at the same time. She told her of happened between Ellen and herself. How she felt about it. She also told her about the thefts at the pub in Dublin. She mentioned in passing that she is considering selling the pubs there and moving back to the West Coast. She missed her family and friends. Aileen wanted to know how the trip to America went and how all the cousins were faring.
As much as she wanted to tell her mother about Erin, she kept her tongue. Besides, what could she say, Oh mammy, I met the most fantastic woman, we had sex on the train over and she rocked my world? So Nora kept silent on the subject.
“Nora, love, tell me about this woman who is staying at the Banshee? I've heard she is a cute little red head.” Nora watched her daughter. She hated when her mother did shit like that. It's like she can see inside me brain! Nora took a deep breath.
“Nothing to tell Ma, I met her will I was in America visiting the cousins in Wisconsin. We shared two meals and that was it. Until I saw her sitting in the cabin on the train from Dublin. I was rather shocked to see her, to tell ye the truth. She's a nice girl. I just found out this morning that she is an orphan. Just like Grammy was way back when.” Nora noticed that her mother squirmed in the chair, but didn't pay it any mind.
“So,” Nora asked wanting to her mother off the subject of the woman who seems to have wormed her way into Nora life without her realizing it was happening. “Are you getting excited about tonight Mam?”
“What's to get excited about? The Pig is having a grand opening. That just means another reason for the men of this town to spend their money! Nora, I realize you own those couple of pubs in Dublin, but the city is different then here in Dingle. Around here we see the results of some of these nights! Why just the other day that bastard Murphy left his wife with three broken ribs! I tell you, giving up the farm and moving to town has it's disadvantages! Like living next door to that bastard! The man ought to be taken out and given some of his own medicine!”
Nora knew how her mother felt about the evils of “the drink” as the Irish have come to call it. While she was not happy that her daughter was the owner of two pubs in Dublin, she accepted it.
The time had finally come to tell her mother who the new owner of The Whistling Pig, although her mother called it The Pig, was. Taking a deep breath Nora let the secret out.
“WHAT?! You bought the Pig from Pete? And here I thought he was my friend!! Why didn't he tell me? And Brenna! The wee bitch. Wait till I see her. Going to smack that woman.” Aileen wandered off to the kitchen to work out this latest bomb.
Nora learned many, many years ago to let her mother to have her space until she worked things out. Her mother had this sense of order and was very anal about it. When things like this were dumped on her unexpectedly it could take her days to get over both the betrayal and hurt. As Nora sat and waited for her mother to emerge from the kitchen, her mind went back to Erin. She remembered the train ride and how soft and full her body was. How right it felt to hold her. To touch her. Just to look at her.
Suddenly Nora felt a presence in from of her. She looked up to see her mother looking down at her. Cocking an eyebrow, Nora waited. She knew she was in for a tongue lashing, but accepted it, as she did purposely keep this from her parents.
“Does your father know?”
“No, only the boys. I needed them to be at the pub at times to make sure that Pete wasn't inflating the price.”
“Of course he wouldn't inflate the price! You know who his fish supplier is don't you? Will you be able to work with that piece of shite?”
Nora was shocked, she had never known her mother to use that kind of language. Hell, dammit and bastard, yes but anything beyond that was never uttered in this house.
“I'm hoping to be able to find another fisherman, but for the time being I'm willing to work with him. I don't really want too many people to know who the new owner is.”
“Do you know that Murphy finally got married didn't you?”
“Well, I figured that out when you mentioned the wife with the broken ribs. Who was foolish enough to marry that asshole.” Nora saw her mother's face darken and was surprised she was not chastised.
“I'm going to let that pass only because he is, but I don't want to here that word around me again. He married Francis Murray. She was a year or two behind you in school. One of the smartest girls in that school. She went away to school, was gone from here for close to 10 years. Then her parents were killed in that car accident. Tragic, just tragic. And them with two little ones at home still.”
“Where did she go to school Mammy?” She knew her mother. “Little ones, Mam?” There was a story here and she also knew that her mother was already making plans for young Francis. Nora realized that her mother had taken the young woman under her wing and now considered her family. She vaguely remember a quiet mousy girl who tended to be a loner. She kept to herself, rarely taking her nose out of the books she seemed to always have with her.
“She was in London until the accident. As I said, she had two little siblings to watch over. She quit her job and moved back here. But there isn't much for an accountant here in Dingle. She took a few little jobs here and there for close to two years. Until finally she had no choice but to find someone to look after her and the kids. Yes, little ones Nora. They are twins and were very much a surprise to the Early's. For some reason she seemed to think that Murphy was her only choice. Silly girl!”
Nora had had her own run ins with Murphy. No one knew his first name. He had only been called Murphy for as long as she could remember. She did not envy Francis her life. Living with a man who liked to use his fists when things didn't go his was could not be an easy life. No matter how admirable it was for the sake of the two little ones.
“Mam, could we please get back to the Pig? I'm sorry I didn't tell you, truly I am, but I want to keep this quiet. You know how most of the people in Dingle feel about me. I'm not sure I'm ready to feel all that pain again. These people were supposed to be our friends!”
Nora knew that her family had also gone through a hard time of when she came out of the closet. True to form her parents didn't let it bother them. They knew who their friends were, knew who loved them. They went about their lives like having a gay daughter was a normal everyday occurrence. She remembered back when she had just turned twenty was getting ready to leave for Dublin to finish up with her schooling, she asked her parents how they could stand the way some of the towns people were treating them.
“Ach, Nora girl, what they think doesn't matter. You are our daughter, gay straight, purple or yellow. Young or old. Sick or dead. That never changes. Tis the priests who put this hatred into the head of others. Maybe once people start thinking for themselves the hatred of this country will fall to the wayside.”
Nora chuckled, mumbling that she wouldn't hold her breath. For being so disrespectful she got a slight smack upside her head. She should have remembered that her mother, while a religious person to be sure, loved her faith dearly, but just despised the church and most of the small minded men who ran it. She continued to attend church at least three times a week, but she prayed in her own way on a daily basis.
“OK, tell me your plan Nora, cause sure as I'm sitting here I know you have one.”
“Ha! You should talk, I've a feeling I'll be hiring a new girl to work the books at the pub!” Nora got up and grabbed a cup and poured out some tea. She noticed that the afternoon had slipped away. “I should get a moving mam. I wanted to stop by the pub to see that things are set up for the night. I should tell you that other then the boys, Pete, Brenna and now you, which I know means Da, no one else knows that I bought it. For some reason I just don't feel comfortable with the rest of Dingle knowing it.”
“Ach I understand that lass. With the trouble ye've had in the past with these people I'm surprised you even come home to visit yer family! I'm awfully glad you do though!! Not to worry lass, I'll keep me mouth shut! I tell ye though I will be heading down there tonight to keep and eye on those boyos and their father!”
Nora watched as her mother left the sitting room for the kitchen. Where, she assumed, she would start making supper for the “boyos and their father.” Standing and stretching Nora wondered to herself if Erin would be joining the crowd at the pub this night. She tried not to let herself get excited at the prospect of seeing the woman again, but it was hard. The short strawberry blond struck a cord in her that Nora was afraid to try to explain to herself.
Nora was sitting down at the far end of the bar watching the bedlam. It had been advertised that if you got to the Whistling Pig before 8 that night you were entitled to one free Guinness. It was her present to the small town she grew up in. It hadn't been a grand old time growing up here being one of only two lesbians, but it was her home and for the most part these people meant her no harm.
Although they yet didn't know she was the new owner, they did know that Pete O'Day had sold the pub. She was truly surprised that not one person was able to get out the name of the new owner from him or Brenna. Pete was known far and wide for being the biggest gossip on the Dingle Peninsula. She watched as Pete enjoyed his last night behind the bar that had been in his family for as long as the old ones could remember. Pete's kids didn't want to tend the pub for a living. Most of them either living now in Dublin, London or America. Pete and his wife Brenna want to take some time to go visiting before one or both of them couldn't. Besides, they had grandchildren in America they have only seen in pictures and movies over the internet.
As she watched the revelment, a part of Nora wondered how much this was going to cost her, as it looked like the entire county had shown up! Ach, just goes to show you that an Irishman would never pass up anything free. Especially a free pint of Guinness or Stout! Well, it would be worth it. She watched as her brother brought out another barrel of Guinness. Nora lost count at seven. Taking a drink of her pint Nora scanned the rooms. She was thrilled with turnout. Many of the faces in the crowd brought back fond memories. There were one or two faces that also brought back painful ones. She watched as one such man laughed with his buddies. This group had brought many a tear to Nora back during her Secondary schooling. Having attended the National Schools was also not a pleasant experience for her. Especially after she realized she didn't really want anything to do with the boys, that it was the girls she was interested in. She and her cousin had become the favorite target of both the boys and various teachers. She was sure that the teachers were given orders from the local priests to make life miserable for the two girls. That was when both Nora and Peggy started to pull away from the church. Both families eventually followed suit, but it was a hard thing to do at the time. For both families.
Shaking herself back to the present Nora heard a roar of laughter come from the group of men surrounding a booth. Nora didn't want any trouble tonight, not on the night of her first as the pub's owner. She knew that the man who led this group of misfits was nothing but trouble. Murphy was a local fisherman with a couple of boats out on the dock. She knew that Pete used Murphy as his supplier for the fish he served up here at the pub. Nora still was not sure she wanted to do business with Murphy. He was a bully growing up, and from what she has heard and can now see, he hadn't changed much in the intervening years.
Motioning to her brother behind the bar, she got up to see who the unlucky recipient was of the likely unwanted attention. Moving closer, yet keeping close to the wall, she was able to see what was going on. She knew the minute she saw the soft strawberry blond head it was Erin. As she moved closer to the booth, she saw that Murphy was moving in closer to Erin. She moved to save her friend from the very drunk man who never could, nor did he know how, to take no for an answer.
The first thing Erin noticed was the leather. It was dark, so dark it had to be black. She started at the boots and her eyes traveled up the leather pants, with side ties, and moved over the perfectly smooth stomach to the leather vest that covered the most perfect of breasts came into her vision. Erin felt her mouth water at just the thought of holding them in her hand. She could see the outline of the nipples tighten as her gaze lingered. She was finally able to tear her eyes from her mental feast and looked into the bluest eyes she had seen since, well since the train ride!
"Oh my God Nora!" Erin felt the waves of want and desire coming off the sleek black panther that stopped next to the big man who was trying to pick her up.
"Feck! Is that O'Brien? Why can't you leave us normal people alone you big ole dyke?" Murphy turned and raised one of his meaty fists. "And what are you doing down here? Slumming? This is a working MAN'S pub, not a little lezzie bar. Get yerself back to Dublin where they are more accepting of your kind! Leave us be." With that he turned back to Erin to continue his pursuit.
Nora grabbed Murphy by the back of his pants and his hair all set to drag his ass out of the pub. She was quietly forced to stop when two hands dropped on her shoulders. She turned, ready to fight when she saw who was there. Smiling she moved aside and was able to squeeze in next to Erin before Murphy could open his mouth.
"Now, Murph you wouldn't want to be starting trouble on the night the new owner of The Whistle was coming by, now would ye? Especially as you are stilled owed that free pint that was promised." It seemed impossible but the man standing next to Murphy was even bigger. He stood at least six foot eight and could most likely break Murphy like a twig. Nora smiled as her baby brother toyed with the smaller man.
As the two men walked off towards the bar for a pint, Erin turned to Nora. Nora just about jumped out of her skin at the look of desire that emanated from Erin's eyes. Thinking of nothing else she grabbed Erin's hand dragged her out of the booth. As they walked through the crowd there were many comments about missing the celebration that was to happen that night, what with the new owner of the pub finally making an appearance.
"Don't you want to stay for the party?" Erin asked as she was dragged outside. "It looks like it will be a special night. Nora? NORA!?'
Without waiting for a reply Nora pulled her into the small alley. As she wrapped her arms around Erin she commented that the owner can just go suck eggs. She had more important things to tend to.
"Come on, lets go back to the B&B, I've got plans for you tonight! I don't want to do this in an alley." Erin said after regaining her legs, turned and headed down the street. Erin hoped that there were not too many people around, as she had plans for the leather bound tiger walking next to her!
As they entered the house Erin turned to Nora and put her finger to her mouth to shush her, Nora took the finger and put it in her mouth, sucking the whole finger into her mouth. Erin barely was able to stand as she led Miss Leather up the stairs to her room. She pulled her key from her back pocket and tried twice to get it into the lock before Nora took it and opened the door for them. The door slammed shut as Erin was slammed against it by Nora. Suddenly a hot mouth was attached to her neck and was sucking her dry. She pushed Nora away and moved over to the bed.
"Down!" She pointed to the bed while bending over her suitcase that was on a stool next to the bed. Nora smiled, ambled over untying her vest. "NO! Don't you touch anything! I'll do that, you just lie down, and don't move one single inch!" The command in Erin voice brooked no argument and so Nora moved onto the bed, her back up against the brass rails at the head of the bed. Nora closed her eyes as she felt the bed sag as Erin climbed onto her lap.
Suddenly she felt the cold steel of handcuffs as they were attached to first her hands which had somehow ended up between the rails of the brass bed.
"What the hell?" Nora tried to fight the sudden panic. She wondered if she had misjudged Erin. She started to thrash and pull at the cuffs. Erin put her finger to her lips and whispered.
"Stop, you'll only hurt yourself. I'm not going to hurt you, unless you want me to, that is. We are just going to play a little. There is only one rule, no noise. I'm sure these walls are paper thin and I don't need your cousin knowing what is going on. Understand?"
Nora smiled then remarked, "No worries lass. No one is here and won't be until at least half after three this morning. They are all at the pub for the party with the new owner." Erin smiled.
"And how do you know when they will be back?"
"Ach cause lass, I'm the new owner! I asked the paddies if I could keep the pub open longer tonight, it being such a momentous occasion and all." Nora smiled and tried to kiss Erin.
"Wouldn't you rather be there? Some of these people are your family." Erin leaned over to start to unlock the cuffs. Nora was finally able to close enough to kiss her.
"Na, I'm right were I want to be. But do I have to keep quiet?" She looked so much like a ten year old pouting that Erin laughed. she threw the key across the room and settled herself better on Nora's lap.
Starting at Nora's lips she slowly, ever so slowly kissed the impossibly long neck. As she moved down the perfect body that was trapped under her, she could feel the wetness begin to flow from her. She untied the first of four strings that held the vest together. As she undid each string she placed a soft feathery kiss there. Once the vest was undone, she placed both hands on either side of Nora's stomach, feeling the twitching of the muscles under her hands. Slowly moving her hands up to slide over the perfect breast she dreamed of earlier. The gold rings winked at her as she gazed in awe at the splendor before her. She sat up and threw off her top and then just laid down, loving the feel of her breasts touching those nipples. The rings just added a new sensation to the erotic feeling of mingling flesh. Before lowering her head to taste the hot/cold contrast, she took off her jeans. She stood naked in front of Nora, this being the first time either of one of them being naked in front of the other. The fuck on the train, had been just that, a fuck. Hot, heavy and fast.
Erin stood up on the bed over Nora. She knew Nora could see her wetness as it glistened from her curls. She could see Nora swallow as her eyes never left Erin's pussy. She slowly lowered herself onto Nora's stomach and painted her with her moisture. She felt rather then heard Nora's intake of breath.
"No noise baby. I don't care if no one is here. NO noise." Nora just nodded. She was too caught up in Erin to open her mouth. She didn't want Erin to stop. Ever!
Erin slid down Nora's stomach onto her leather pants. The further she slid the dark the leather got. She was leaving behind the very essence that was Erin. Nora was never so turned on in her life. She tried to hump Erin, but the way she was sitting she couldn't move her hips. Frustrated she opened her mouth.
"Ah, ah, ah, not a peep. Or I stop." Erin then spread her legs and walked on her knees back up to Nora. She turned around so Nora could see her pussy again as it was hanging right over her mouth. Erin could almost feel Nora lift her head to try to taste her. She chuckled and bent her legs just an inch to allow access for the time it took for Nora to swipe her tongue once. She moved down the bed, ignoring the whimper behind her, and slowly began to unlace the leathers. They were black and the strip of leather ran from Nora's hips down to her boot. Again, like with the vest, as the lace was untied a soft feathery kiss replace it. Erin finished with one leg and then started up the other leg. She had never been so excited and wet in her life.
By the time she reached the top of Nora's hip, Erin's tongue was just beginning to get into a grove. Erin silently thanked God for all those ice cream cones that kept her tongue nimble. Taking off what had now become the top layer of leather, Erin marveled at what awaited her. The muscles there were twitching so much it would lead one to think that Nora was having some sort of fit. Smiling to herself she lowered her head as Nora lifted her hips.
"Oh my fecken God!" Erin heard Nora yell out. Erin pulled away, hearing Nora whimper like a baby.
"I told you no noise. This is your only warning. One more sound and I stop. Understand?" Erin looked at Nora who nodded.
Nora felt the bed move, opening her eyes she noticed that Erin was reaching behind her, for what she didn't care. As long as Erin continued to do what she was doing, she didn't care about a damn thing! Suddenly she felt something so soft on her pussy that she almost came right then. She picked up her head and looked down at Erin. What she saw almost caused her to orgasm again. There she sat with a feather in her hand. Not just any feather either. But the biggest fecken feather she had ever seen. Nora opened her mouth to moan, but after seeing Erin watching her she clamped her mouth shut. Finally it settled into her brain, say nothing and just enjoy the ride. Totally surrender, no questions asked.
Erin had seen the feathered riding crop today while she was walking around Tralee. She had bought it for it's unique appearance. The meaning of pleasure and pain was irresistible to her. She had felt the urge to buy the thing although feathers had never been one of her things. Now she was glad she did, karma. She slowly ran it down Nora's leg, watching in fascination as goosebumps formed on the strong thigh in front of her. She bent over and kissed that thigh and felt the twitching muscle as her lips played. As she continued to play the feather ends up and down her legs, Erin's other hand was slowly combing the curls that were in front of her. The earthy musk was driving her insane, so she could only imagine how Nora felt. But GOD! She was having fun. Never before had she ever felt the need to be this in control. It was a very heady experience.
Erin moved crawled back up Nora's body until her mouth was one again over Nora's breast. She slowly moved her tongue over the hard stiff nipple that was just begging to be sucked. As she moved the feathered crop up the opposite leg, the hard tip touched Nora's hood ring. Erin didn't know how Nora was handling all the sensation she was dishing out. One hand was playing with one of Nora's nipple rings, her mouth was gently pulling on the other. Then Erin gently touched Nora's clit with the hard end of the riding drop. Nora jumped towards the ceiling, she was very lucky she didn't loose her nipple. The movement was so unexpected. Again Erin felt the evil grin appear. Foregoing the soft of end of the feather, she used the hard point to tease the hell out of Nora. She ran it up one side of her lips, coated it with Nora's essence by dipping it into Nora's hole. She slid it up on side of her clit, ran it over the ring. Erin could literally see the moisture flowing out of Nora.
Finally unable to take it anymore, Erin lowered her head. Her tongue touched the ring, again felt the coolness of the gold against the heat of Nora. She could feel herself drip onto Nora. She lowered herself to let Nora taste her. She forgot her mission for a while as Nora sucked her, but she slowly pulled herself away. Again she heard a whimper. She moved herself further down so she could get a better grip, so to speak, of Nora. She was so tempted to undo the cuffs, she needed Nora inside her, but she couldn't, she started this she needed to see it through. Not that it would be a hardship!
Realizing what she wanted, she turned herself around, once again facing Nora. She moved her head back to her prize. Her tongue slowly moved around Nora's clit. Careful not to touch the ring, but having just enough pressure to let Nora know she was there. As her two fingers entered Nora, she flicked her tongue against the ring, causing it to flip to the other side. There was a very loud moan, that was abruptly cut off. She smiled as she pumped in and out a few more times. Then as she added another finger, totaling three she again flicked the ring. Giving up all pretense of trying to stay quiet, Nora let out a loud yell.
Finally Erin sucked the ring and clit into her mouth as she pumped four fingers in and out of Nora. It only took a few strokes before Nora screamed out her orgasm. She lost count after three. Finally she moaned out,
"Stop, no more. You've just about killed me."
Erin slowly slid up Nora's body and settled herself on top. She let out the most contented purr Nora had ever heard. As she lay there Nora felt the result of Erin's countless orgasms run down and over her clit.
"Do you mean to tell me that you came just by making love to me?"
Erin smiled a small enigmatic smile and nodded. "That happens to me a lot. I just love giving."
"Well lassie, you can give to me any time you want. That was incredible!! It was such sweet torture. I never knew that bondage could be this exciting." Nora glanced over at the bedside clock and noticed it was just after three am. "Crap Erin my cousin will be back soon. I want you to feel as much as I feel right now, but that's not going to happen. At least not right now. I'm sorry luv.”
"Oh don't worry, I'm hoping this will happen again before I leave. Besides, as you noticed, I was more then taken care of without you even touching me." Erin rolled off of Nora so she could let Nora up.
"Wait, where are you going?"
"You said they would be home soon. I assumed you wanted to leave." Erin turned away and moved to pick up Nora's leather pants.
"Erin the only thing I want you to do is to take these cuffs off me. They would never let me live it down if they found me cuffed to the bed. In fact, I'm guessing they would take pictures so fast it would make yer head spin. Just uncuff me, I want to sleep next to you." Just then they heard the door open downstairs. The loud laughter got closer as the group headed into the kitchen. Erin ran to check to make sure the door was locked before she turned to Nora with a smile on her face.
"You've been able to slide your hands out the whole time. I couldn't put them on tight, those things chafe!" With that she turned the key in the lock and flipped the switch for the bedside lamp.