Kellan nods toward the bar. “Ready?” He holds out his arm and it’s as if my body moves of its own accord. I take it and he leads me to the bar. “Let me guess, green beer?”
“Please,” I scoff, waving him off, “it’s St. Patrick’s Day. I want a true Irish-inspired drink.”
The bartender walks over to us. “What’ll it be you two?”
Kellan looks to me. “Ladies first.”
“I’ll take an Irish Eyes,” I say. The bartender nods and smiles and then turns to Kellan.
Kellan laughs at me. “Irish whiskey, huh? I think I’ll do the same.” The bartender pours the whiskey in a glass and mixes it with a little cream and green crème de menthe. Kellan holds up his glass and looks in my eyes. “It actually matches your eyes. But you’re not Irish.”
I shake my head. “Nope. Got a lot of German in me though.”
Kellan takes a sip of his drink. “Don’t know why this is called Irish Eyes. The most common eye color among Irish is blue.”
Holding up my glass, I clank it against his. “Just like yours.”
His blue eyes twinkle and I avert my gaze to my drink. The way he looks at me makes things stir inside of me and I really don’t need my insides to be stirred right now, or even think of it for that matter. I should probably stop drinking.
“So, tell me,” Kellan calls out, “how long are you in town for?”
I take a sip of my drink, it’s loaded with Irish whiskey. “Only till the wedding,” I respond, meeting his gaze again. “After that, I have to get back.”
His lips pull back slightly in that sexy grin of his. “So, not long then. Hate to hear it.” I’m starting to hate it too. Shaking my head, I try to drive all indecent thoughts out of my mind, but all I can think about is hearing his voice in the dark, whispering in my ear as he touches me. I push the drink aside and Kellan laughs. “Too much for you?”
I rub a hand over my face. The room feels hot, but that’s probably because I’m tipsy and he’s making me want things I shouldn’t. “Actually, I was a little drunk to begin with. I think I need some air.”
Kellan takes my hand. “Come on. There’s a private area out back we can sit. I’ll grab you a bottle of water and we can go out there.”
He asks the bartender for a water and hands it to me. We walk out of the private room into the hallway and I guzzle the water as we head toward the door. When Kellan opens it, it leads out onto a balcony that overlooks the river. There are people everywhere and I can hear their chattering, but the cool air feels good on my skin.
“Better?” Kellan asks.
I nod. “Much. I just needed some fresh air.” There are two wrought iron chairs and he guides me into one.
“How much have you had to drink today?”
Groaning, I close my eyes. “Well … I was forced into taking Jell-O shots in the limo. To be honest, I’m not a huge drinker. Doesn’t take much to get me drunk.” Kellan laughs and it makes me smile. That’s one of the things I never forgot about him … the way he laughs.
“What are you smiling about?” he asks, laughing again.
I turn to face him. “Your laugh. I remember it from a long time ago. You were always so fun to be around. I always thought you’d end up with Hannah one day.”
Smiling, he shakes his head. “No. I always had my eye on someone else. Didn’t work out though.”
“You mean Bridget?” I ask.
“Fuck no,” he blurts out. “That was over a long time ago.”
His smile fades and I can see a flash of pain in those blue eyes of his. “What happened?”
Sighing, he looks off into the distance. “She did me wrong. Never thought I’d get hurt, but I did. After she left me for someone else, I just didn’t give a shit anymore.”
“Is that when you started growing a beard? In the pictures Hannah and Hallie sent over the years, I thought you were a homeless man.” That’s not exactly true. He’s always been good looking, but I really did hate the long, scraggly beard. Now, he looks sexy with just the stubble.
Kellan chuckles hard. “You thought I looked homeless? That’s messed up, Hope.”
I shrug. “Hey, you don’t look it now.” I glance down at his green get up. “Right now, you look like a leprechaun.”
He peers down at my green tutu. “And you look like a silly fairy.” But then he looks up at me and winks. “A cute one, by the way.” We watch the people walk by on the street and they’re all having such a grand ole time. It’s easy to get lost in the appeal. Feels like it’s been forever since I’ve let loose and had fun.
Kellan leans back in his chair. “So, tell me about yourself. What’s changed since the last time I saw you?”
I shrug. “Not much. Got older and left town.”
His brows lift curiously. “Dating anyone?”
“No,” I reply, shaking my head. “I was seeing someone a few months ago, but it didn’t work out. We really didn’t have anything in common. He was all into trail riding on his bike and I just couldn’t get into it. I tried once and broke my wrist.”
Kellan snorts. “And did he wear that girly looking spandex shit?”
The thought makes me smile. “Yep, but he wasn’t very masculine to begin with. Maybe that’s why I really wasn’t attracted to him. Not that I need a man to protect me, but it’d be nice to have someone who could defend my honor if need be.” I roll my eyes. “Okay, I must really be drunk to say crap like that.”
He smirks. “I get it. A woman should feel protected when she’s with her man.”
The door opens and Stewart steps out. “There you both are,” he says, looking concerned.
Kellan stands and I do the same. “Is everything okay?”
Stewart sighs. “I think Hallie’s had too much to drink. She’s sick so we’re going to head back to the house. The limo should be here in five minutes.”
I nod. “We’ll be there.”
Usually, I’d want the night to end, but I don’t want it to now. Plus, I don’t want to go home. My mother will still be awake and all too ready to finish her conversation about how I need to get busy with my life and find a husband. And if I don’t, she’ll handle it for me. My goal was to not go home until I knew she was asleep.
“What’s wrong?” Kellan asks.
With a heavy sigh, I meet his gaze. “I don’t want to go home just yet.”
He shrugs. “Then don’t. You can come with me and I’ll take you home later.”
The thought tempts me, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea or not. I trust Kellan not to do anything stupid, but the problem is me. I’m the one I need to worry about.
“Are you sure?” I ask, second guessing myself, but then he opens his lips and talks to me in that sexy Irish brogue.
“Come on, lassie. It’ll be fine.”
How can I say no to that?