Thursday, March 17, 2011

Beannacht Leat for St. Patrick's Day

Beannacht Leat!  Blessings to all on St. Patrick's Day.  Despite my maiden name of Sontheimer, I am possessed of a rich Irish heritage and have strong feelings for the native land of many of my ancestors.  I can trace my family history back to County Armagh, to Belfast, and to the area around County Antrim.   I have bua na cainte or the gift of the gab which helps in my writing career.  I like to call myself a seanachie on occasion but my Granny, who lacked the opportunity to become a writer but not the talent, truly was one.

Since my second novel LOVE TATTOO is out tomorrow from Evernight Publishing, I thought I would share another excerpt, this one - in honor of the day - that details the hero's Irish heritage.  Will Brennan is an Irishman and it shows throughout the novel.


He cocked his head to look down at me. “It was my pleasure, mo anam cara.”

There it was; that phrase again. It sounded like he called me something sweet but I wanted to know what.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

Will considered answering but he just smiled and gave me nothing.

“When you need to know, I will tell you,” he said. “I’m hungry. Let’s go eat.”

Fitz offers more than one dining option but he made tracks straight for Don B’s Steakhouse. I could see why since he seemed into the Irish thing right now – it had the dark wood look of a traditional pub, not that I had ever seen one. I had been to more than one faux Irish pub and this offered all the amenities. We settled into a table in a dark corner and I ordered ice tea, not booze. The enticing aromas coming from the kitchen smelled too good to miss and Will ordered coffee, black. We shared an appetizer, a meat, and cheese plate, before we ordered our main dinner.

“Have anything you like.” Will told me, as he polished off the bulk of the meats and cheese arranged on the platter. I nibbled at a little cheese, a bit of meat but he devoured the rest.

Since the prices looked steep on my unemployed singer’s budget, that came as welcome news. I studied the options but a Texas girl will always go for beef so I ordered a rib eye steak, medium, with sautéed mushrooms on the side. Will nodded but he chose the cowboy cut rib eye, a full eight ounces larger than mine and he asked the server if he might have oysters on the half shell instead of one of the side dishes. I thought she would refuse but he looked at her with that piercing, persuasive gaze and she agreed.

Now that we could settle down, I wanted to talk. I yearned to get to know this man who came across as so much larger than life, somehow more real than any reality I had ever known. I knew his body so now, of course, I wanted a taste of his mind, a piece of his heart, and if it was not too much to ask, a touch of his soul. By then, peering at across the cozy table, I admitted to myself that I was more than halfway down the road to loving him but I couldn’t quite make the jump unless I knew him more. What I saw, I liked, but at that point sexy as hell Will Brennan remained more of a stranger than not.

He offered me the last bite of cheese and chewed the one remaining piece of meat.

“That tasted good,” he said, leaning back, comfortable and at ease as if he sat in his own living room. “Now I’m ready for my steak and oysters.”

“Is the food here as good as it smells?” I asked, trying to jump start the idle chit chatchitchat into something more.

“Oh, yeah, it is.” Will said without hesitation. Beneath the table, his knee touched mine and that simple accidental bump sent ripples through the rest of my body. “I like the place, though, as well as the food. It’s far from authentic – at least in my day – but it does remind me of home.”

“So you’re Irish, then?”

He leaned forward across the table, winked, and said in a voice not much above a whisper,

“I am, for my sins.”

That intrigued me and I dug deeper for more information. Will came across as a man of few words but he had a story and I wanted it.

“I thought you must be, with the music and all.” I told him. “So, were you born in Ireland or what?”

Earlier, he sidestepped some of my prying questions but he answered that one.

“Aye, I was, in Toome.”

My ears couldn’t have caught that right so I questioned,

“Did you say ‘Tomb,’ where they bury the dead?” My mind went in about twenty different directions with that, wondering about tombs and dead people. It sounded so morbid but Will laughed, the first real mirth he shared with me. Until now, he smiled— he might have chuckled— but now he laughed aloud. He didn’t just chortle, he bellowed with laughter, shaking like an unsteady wind chime in a hard breeze.

“No, I did not. I said Toome. It is a little place on the banks of Lough Neath in County Antrim. Haven’t you ever heard the song about Roddy McCorley?”

That name dredged up some faint recognition. I thought I could match it up with a ballad that the Clancy Brothers belted out in their youthful glory days and if I stretched my mind to the limits, I thought maybe my Grandpa Riley sang it too. Since he died when I was just six, those memories have a haze around them, like the fog that rises up on the highway late at night.

“O see the fleet foot hosts of men who speed with faces wan, from farmstead, and from fishers’ cot along the banks of Bann.” I sang, dredging up the words from a deep well of memory. “They come with vengeance in their eyes, too late, too late are they, for young Roddy McCorley goes to die on the bridge of Toome today.”

His blue eyes glowed, dark as sapphires, brighter than flame.

“You do know it, then.”

“I guess that I do.” I was a singer, after all. “So you’re from Toome?”

Will met my gaze and held it. “I was, a very long time ago.”

I wondered what his idea of long ago might be because I would swear on that stack of Bibles my mamma always talked about that he couldn’t be thirty, if that or much past.

“Is that why you don’t have much of a brogue?” I asked. He did, sometimes, but it came and went.

“Aye, it is.” Now he sounded Irish born and bred. “And you’re from Texas?”

“I am.” I said with that damn pride that we are born having. “I come from a little town called Rusk that no one much ever has heard about, down deep in the piney woods country.”

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