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Authors: C. G. Powell

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BOOK: Spell Checked
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“Gemma and I will follow you as far as Waterford.  But after the tour, we’re driving directly to Killarney, so Gemma can do a little shopping.”

Mae wanted Gemma to ride with her so she asked, “Are you sure you don’t want to see the coast with us, Gemma, you don’t have to ride with Aidan.”

“Thank you…but no, I prefer to do a little therapeutic shopping before we get to Beck’s house,” Gemma replied.

“What about Meredith, is she coming with us?” Mae asked.

“Meredith is driving straight to the house in the morning.  She said she needed to prepare for your lessons.”  “Speak of the devil,” Beck said as Meredith opened the door and joined them on the patio.

Chapter 4

 

 

“Good morning everyone,” Mae chimed loudly, just to irritate those who had a little too much to drink the previous night when one bottle of wine turned into eight.  She noticed Beck was not at the kitchen table with Aidan and Gemma so she inquired, “Where is Beck?”

“He is with Donald getting the bags situated.  Gemma and I did not have enough room in the Roadster for all of our luggage.”  Aidan replied, finishing off the last of the eggs on his plate.

Gemma pushed back her chair, stood up, and began clearing the table of breakfast dishes.  She filled the wash bin in the sink with soapy water and began washing the dirty dishes.

“You know Beck has someone who takes care of that,” Aidan said to Gemma, pulling a drying rack out from under the sink and placing it on the counter.

“I find it therapeutic and it would drive me nuts to just leave dirty dishes in the sink.  I would be thinking about it all day,” Gemma said, continuing to wash the dishes.

Mae leaned over to Aidan and whispered, “She’s a bit OCD when it comes to the kitchen.”

“I heard that,” she laughed.

Beck came in through the front door looking like a God.  Khaki pants, white shirt, and a lightweight, olive-colored V-neck sweater.  After yesterday afternoon, it seemed as if Mae’s heart was running a marathon every time she laid her eyes on him.

“Aidan, I hope you don’t mind but I had to pack some of your stuff in Meredith’s car.  I did not have enough room in mine,” Beck yelled from the front door.  He walked into the kitchen, gave Mae a sheepish grin and sat down in the chair next to her. “Good morning Mae, are you ready to go?  I have a surprise for you in the car.”  Beck noticed Gemma at the sink.  “Gemma, you do not have to do the dishes, I have people that come in and do that for me.”  Aidan was shaking his head at Beck, having just had that very conversation.

“Seriously people, I like doing the dishes,” retorted Gemma, throwing a handful of soap bubbles at Aidan and Beck then returning to the dishes in the sink.

“Barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen is exactly where a woman belongs, Beck,” Aidan quipped with his back turned to Gemma.  In response, Gemma took the wash bin that was in the sink and dumped it over his head.  He jumped up and stood there in shock, water dripping from his soaked clothing.

Beck and Mae were laughing so hard Meredith could hear them from outside and bolted in the front door to investigate the commotion.

Meredith pointed at Aidan and laughed, “Whatever he did, he probably deserved that!”

“I’ll be changing now,” Aidan said leaving a trail of water from the kitchen to the bedroom.

“If only!”  Meredith yelled at him as he walked away.  Then she began to laugh again.

“Has he always been so full of himself?” Gemma asked Meredith, finishing the last of the dishes.

“Yes, he has and then some…You know, Beck has people to do the dishes,” Meredith added.

Gemma threw the kitchen towel in the air and silently walked out of the kitchen, causing Beck and Mae to start laughing all over again.

Meredith sat down at the table.  “Did I say something wrong?” she asked, confused by Gemma’s reaction.

“It’s a long story, Meredith and yes, Aidan deserved what he got,” said Mae, looking down at the mess on the floor.  “Do you have a mop?” she asked Beck.  “I think we have a mess to clean,” she giggled.

“That…was worth the mess,” Beck laughed getting up from his chair and grabbing a couple of mops and some towels out of a small broom closet in the kitchen.

It was an hour before they were finished cleaning the mess in the kitchen and finally ready to leave.  Beck walked Mae to the car where Donald was waiting for them.  As soon as they sat down, Beck reached over and grabbed a couple of bags from the front seat.

“These are for you,” he said handing Mae the bags.  “I had Meredith retrieve them from my office last night.”

Mae opened the small bag first to find a new cell phone.  “I can’t accept this,” she said feeling a bit odd to have been given such an expensive, personal gift from someone she just met.

“You can and you will.  It is important for you to have a working cell phone.  Besides it is a company phone and my IT people have dozens of these things just lying around.  So, please accept it,” Beck insisted.

“Okay… but only because I have been uncomfortable without a working cell phone these last few days,” she said, still uneasy about accepting it.  “What’s in the big bag?” Mae asked, her curiosity getting the best of her.

“A little something I have a hard time living without and I know you do, too.”  Beck smiled as he waited for her reaction.

She opened the big bag to find a laptop in it.  Before she had a chance to decline such an extravagant gift, Beck had already begun a somewhat rehearsed speech.

“Apparently they have a few of those lying around the office too.  So, before you tell me you cannot accept it or some other stupid crap like that, keep in mind if you do not accept it, I will just toss it out the window at the next rubbish bin we pass and you can watch me play Sudoku on my own laptop.  The cost of it is totally inconsequential to me,” Beck ranted, hoping she would not turn down the laptop.

Mae knew he was dead serious about throwing it away if she didn’t accept it.  “Well…How can I say no to that?  Thank you!” she kissed his cheek and pulled the laptop out of the bag.

“It is 4G so you can stay connected and I had them load some games on it for you.  Do you play Starcraft?” Beck asked, sounding like a kid in a candy store as excitement filled his voice.

“Human, Zerg, or Protoss?”  Mae replied, making Beck grin from ear to ear.

 

 

~~~***~~~

 

 

It took about two hours to get to Waterford.  The tour of the crystal factory was very interesting as they watched the artisans mold, carve, and cut crystal.  The tour ended in the retail store, where Mae walked around completely mesmerized by all the cut crystal sparkling under the lights casting rainbows throughout the store.  She had always been drawn to anything that sparkled.  Gemma once told her it was the only redeeming female quality she had, making up for her general lack of interest in all things girly.

Gemma was at the counter looking at a couple of carved perfume bottles.  Mae stood next to her as she decided which pricey little knick-knack she would take home.  Hypnotized by all the beautiful things in the case, Mae was oblivious to what the saleswoman asked when she sprayed her with perfume.  Mae gave the saleswoman a cross look as Aidan and Beck joined them at the display case.

Beck started sniffing, “What is that divine smell?”

“Mae was ambushed, by a saleswoman who sprayed her with perfume while she wasn’t looking,” Gemma laughed.

Mae was less amused by it and replied, “She was like a ninja and came out of nowhere.”

“Have you decided which one you want?” Aidan asked Gemma.

“I like the tall perfume bottle with the butterflies on it,” she replied.

Aidan signaled the saleswoman to the counter and paid for Gemma’s bottle.  Unlike Mae, Gemma had no problem accepting gifts from men.  They have been giving her gifts her entire life and Aidan was still trying to make up for this morning’s comment about a woman’s place.

“Mae, I need your opinion on something,” Beck said.

Mae told Aidan and Gemma goodbye, then she followed Beck to where the chandeliers were hanging.

“I wanted to replace the light fixtures in the dining room at the house and need a woman’s opinion.  Can you help me?” Beck asked, wanting to see what Mae liked.

“I’m not good at this kind of thing.  You should have asked Gemma when she was here.  She loves decorating.”  “Why would he want an expensive chandelier at a country home?” she thought to herself.

“I trust your opinion more,” he said.

“Very well, but I did warn you ahead of time.  What type of décor do you have in the dining room?” she asked, as there were many styles to choose from.

“Old Providence, the current fixtures are over one hundred years old and do not emit much light.”  To Beck, it seemed like just yesterday when he replaced the old gas fixtures with electric ones.

Mae pointed out a couple of smaller fixtures she thought were simple.  It was not her taste, but what she presumed would look good in a rustic, old, country home.  Personally, she liked the more flashy ones and apparently, so did Beck.  He ultimately chose a large twelve-armed chandelier with crystals cascading from the top to the end of each arm as well as two smaller three-armed ones that matched.  Mae figured he must be replacing the fixtures in some of the other rooms as well.  She noticed while they were looking at chandeliers, Beck kept close to her and inhaling deeply.  The smell of the perfume was starting to grow on her as well.  Mae stood next to Beck as he paid the saleswoman for his transactions.  When the saleswoman left, he moved Mae’s hair aside and inhaled deeply.  He kissed the back of her neck causing butterflies in her stomach.

“That perfume is intoxicating on you,” he whispered in her ear.

She could feel his warm breath on the side of her neck as he spoke, making her weak in her knees.  There was something in the perfume that left both of them heady from its scent.  The saleswoman returned and before she could give Beck his credit card back, he added the bottle of perfume for her to ring up also.

Settling into the back of the car once again, Beck and Mae held hands as they continued their journey.   Mae could feel his pulse racing with hers, yet both of them felt afraid to make a move, for fear of repeating the animal-like fury they felt on the dance floor two nights previous.  This time there was no bewitchment involved and any emotions they felt would be their own.  Beck drew her closer, leaning over to kiss her.  This time it was slow and controlled.  He kissed her neck then ran his tongue up just below her ear, his warm breath against her skin as she quivered.  Mae moved her hand to his thigh, both of them pausing as if they were approaching some invisible boundary.  Then Beck pulled away, leaving her somewhat confused.  “Maybe I went too far or maybe he doesn’t feel the same way I feel,” she thought, moving back to her seat.

“We should stop and take things slow,” Beck said, feeling the urge to regain control.  Falling in love with Mae was not an option; for now keeping her content would have to be enough, anything more would be an invitation to chaos.

She did not want to take things slow.  She knew she would soon be returning home and all of this would just be a memory.  Feeling dejected, she didn’t know how else to take what he said as she thought to herself.  “He is handsome, smart and generous.  Why would he fall for someone like me?”  For a time, Mae just sat in awkward silence.

“Mae what is wrong?  What did I do?”  Beck asked, sounding genuinely concerned.

“Maybe it was my imagination, but I thought there might be something between us,” she said, her voice heavily laden with disappointment.

“There is…and that is what scares the hell out of me,” he said calmly, in a half-whisper.

“Honestly Beck I’m terrible with relationships.  I am not beautiful like Gemma or witty like Meredith…I am just plain Mae.  When I meet a person like you, they are usually only talking to me to get Gemma’s number.  So, forgive me for taking everything as rejection, it’s just what I’m accustomed to,” Mae said softly, carefully avoiding eye contact with him.

“You are more than just plain Mae.”  He tilted her head to look at him.  “You are beautiful, smart and I have laughed more in the last two days than I have the last two years.  All I can think about is you and I am afraid I might say or do something to scare you away,” he said as he thought in the back of his mind, “I am so screwed!”  He knew there would be no turning back now and someone would pay the price for his indiscretion.

“Where do we go from here?” Mae asked.

“For now, you lie back in my arms and enjoy the view.  I am not going anywhere,” reassured Beck.

“By the way, I don’t scare that easily,” she said, lying in his arms against his chest.

“That perfume still drives me crazy,” Beck whispered in her ear as he wrapped his arms around her.

She giggled at his comment.

They spent the rest of the morning at the Heritage Center in Cobh.  There was a lot to see; Cobh was previously known as Queenstown and a major point of emigration from Ireland to the United States and Canada.  It harbored many ships such as the Titanic and Lusitania.  The inside of the Center was a restored Victorian railroad and a replica of what life on a prison ship bound for Australia was like.  Mae wanted to spend more time there, but she was getting hungry and Beck had plans for lunch elsewhere.

They drove down the coast for about thirty minutes, stopping at a small park near the water in Kinsale.  Beck had packed a picnic lunch for them consisting of cheese, wine, bread, and fruit.  It was peaceful as they sat on a blanket by the water, eating, and watching the boats pass by.

"What do you think of Ireland so far?" Beck asked.

"It's beautiful!  I find it amazing the people here have persevered over so many atrocities.  I'm glad Gemma dragged me here," Mae replied, closing her eyes and enjoying the breeze off the water.

Beck stood up, gathering the rest of the picnic basket’s contents and handing all of it to Donald to take back to the car.  “There are a couple of microbreweries here in Kinsale if you would care to do a little beer tasting while we are here.”

“Sounds good to me as long as it’s not stout beer, I don’t think I could ever acquire a taste for something that looks like motor oil and tasted like burnt coffee.”  Mae got up from the blanket and helped Beck fold it before walking back to the car.

Beck laughed at her.  “You Americans with your light beer cannot handle the real stuff.”

“Are you insinuating that I drink watered down beer because I’m a wuss?” she said defensively.

“I do not know, are you?” Beck shot back teasingly as he threw the blanket in the trunk of the car.

“Being able to hold my liquor is in my genes.  I will drink your ass under the table if you give me the chance.”  Mae found out during her first year at college that for whatever reason, she just didn’t get drunk.

“Is that a challenge?” Beck asked raising his brows.  He knew that as a vampire this was a challenge Mae could not win.  He could metabolize alcohol about as fast as he could drink it.  Aidan had tried a thousand times to out-drink him, but always failed.

“Game on!” she said as she was thinking, “I would love to see Beck drunk off his ass, then maybe I could take advantage of the situation, because this sexual tension is starting to get the better of me.”

Beck debated whether or not to tell Mae about the unfair odds, but vampires always love a good challenge.  It was part of their nature.  “Oh, well then…It is on!” he replied playfully.

Sitting at a table in the middle of the pub, they ordered another round, their tenth in the past two hours.  Mae was getting tired of going to the bathroom every twenty minutes and suggested shots instead.  “One way or another we are going to have a winner,” she thought.

Beck yelled across the pub to the bartender.  “Twenty shots of Bushmills, please.”  The bartender just shook his head pouring the shots and bringing them to the table.

Each of them lined up ten shots as a small crowd, mostly consisting of the pub staff, started to gather around the table.  “The rules are: Ten shots…two minutes, last one to finish has to stand on the table and sing
I’m a Little Teapot
, agreed?”  Mae challenged him with full confidence that she could win this hands down.

“Agreed!  And the winner gets to video tape it on their phone,” Beck added, setting his phone down on the table, insinuating that she would be the loser.

She thought about it for a second then replied, “Fine, but only for their personal viewing, no posting on YouTube or Facebook.”  Then they shook hands to seal the deal.

The bartender volunteered to keep time and referee.  “Are you ready?…Go!” he said, in a heavy Irish accent.

The glasses were hitting the table in perfect synchronicity as they finished each shot, with the crowd cheering them on as they raced to finish.  Everything went quiet when their last shots hit the table in a single
clunk!
  The crowd all looked to the bartender to provide a definitive answer to their question…“Who won?”

“Looks like we have a tie!” exclaimed the bartender.  The crowd booed at his ruling.  But not wanting to miss the free entertainment, they started chanting, “Sing!  Sing!  Sing!”

Beck looked at Mae, wiping the corner of his mouth with his sleeve.  “It appears we shall have a riot on our hand if we deny these good people their song.”

She laughed and rolled her eyes.  “Surely you don’t intend for us to stand on the table and sing?”

“That is exactly what I am suggesting.  So, are you ready to give them a little show?”  Beck asked as he stood on the chair then stepped onto the table, offering her his hand in assistance.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” she sighed, clasping his hand and joining him on the table.

They handed their phones to bystanders to record them.  A minute later they finished and bowed while the crowd cheered.

“How are you feeling?” inquired Beck, helping her down from the table.  He had never expected to take things so far.  It worried him because they had each drunk enough alcohol to make a horse pass out.  Oddly enough, Mae was not only still standing, but she appeared completely sober.

“I feel fine except for my crushed ego and utter embarrassment,” she laughed.

“Yours and mine both,” he laughed, paying the tab.

Once again they were in the car and back on the road.  After several minutes, drowsiness overtook them both and they fell asleep in each other’s arms.  A couple of hours later, Beck woke Mae up.

“We are almost to Kenmare and I thought you might like to freshen up a bit before we arrive,” Beck said, handing her a wet towelette and a bottle of water.

“I must look like hell.  Do you have any mints or gum?”  Mae hoped he did, the taste of whiskey still lingering on her breath.

“You look fine,” he said, handing her a tin of mints from the center console.

"You must be a Boy Scout...always prepared," she said, taking the mints and popping a couple in her mouth.

"And you are full of surprises.  Which I am certain will test my resourcefulness to its maximum," he grinned.

"I wonder what Gemma and Aidan are up to?  He didn’t look very happy about having to go shopping.  Are they going to eat dinner with us?"  Mae did not like being separated from Gemma.

"Aidan made plans for them in Killarney.  We will meet up with them at the house right after we eat.  You may call her if you like.  Her number is on your phone already, I had everyone’s numbers loaded on your phone before I gave it to you."

"Boy Scout," she accused.

"Lush," he replied playfully.

"When did Gemma get a phone?"  Mae asked, wondering if she missed some secret transaction.

BOOK: Spell Checked
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