Irish on the Rocks (Murphy Brothers)By: Magan Vernon
Dedicated to my agent, Stephanie.
For always believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. Slainte.
The only things good about a charity gala were the free drinks and raising money for the less fortunate. Something I was taking full advantage of—the drinks, that is. Especially when my “date” was late and I didn’t know a single soul in the place. I tried smiling and nodding to a few people, but the only conversations I’d had in months were with my family and my dog. Though, to be fair, she was pretty vocal and a better conversationalist than most of the men I’d dated.
At least I finally had a night out of the house. After staying with my mum and grandparents for the past month, the only time I ever left was for job interviews that never panned out.
But tonight, I got to be the girl in the red dress. The one that made my arse look good. Too bad I didn’t have anyone to impress, including my best mate and “date,” Sean.
Pulling my phone out of my pocketbook, I sent him a quick text.
Me: Where the hell are you?
Sean: Just finishing up practice.
Me: Really? That’s what you’re going with?
Sean: Don’t get your knickers in a twist.
Me: Are you really at practice or in some poor woman’s bed?
Sean: Can’t a man do both?
I rolled my eyes, grabbing a drink from the bar and taking a large swig. Sean Murphy had been one of my best friends since we were in nappies, spending our summers together on my granddad’s estate and our years being crazy in boarding school.
Now, I stood in the grand ballroom, alone, waiting for him and really wishing I had my dog there to talk to.
I took another big gulp of my drink.
Mum and I moved from the UK to Dublin a month ago, after her and my wanker of a father’s year-long divorce battle ended. She had wanted to save face and I, at twenty-three, found myself laid off from my job and out of options.
“Champagne? Is there going to be a toast?” I asked to no one in particular when I finally noticed what I was drinking, staring at the glass as if it would answer me back.
“What would they toast to at a benefit for childhood cancer?” a husky voice responded, and I turned, wide-eyed, to see a man leaning on the bar next to me.
I’d recognize those dark blue eyes anywhere. Jack Murphy, now older with a tailored suit that molded to his well-defined frame, stared at me with his chiseled jawline and dimpled smirk. The one I’m sure had most girls dropping to their knees and begging for his attention.
Every girl but me, that is. Even if I did have a wee crush on the guy back in the day. I’d known him my entire life, and he always thought the sun rose and set on his shoulders. A very nice set of broad, manly shoulders, but that wasn’t the point.
“Right. I guess that wouldn’t make any sense,” I muttered, taking a big gulp of bubbly and hoping I wasn’t going to be knackered. No way could I miss my morning walk with Jane Pawsten, my Brussels Griffon, due to a hangover.
“How about I get you a different drink? Something Irish?” His smile turned into a half-cocked grin that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to kiss or kick off his face. Had he lost his mind? With our past, I was surprised he was being so civil.
“Not much for whiskey, and I think this will be my first and last drink, but I’d settle for tea if they have that.”
Okay, so it was my second, but I didn’t want him to think I was a lush as I grinned, twirling the stem of my glass.
“Tea? I do enjoy a good cuppa as much as the next person, but when there’s an open bar, I don’t think they carry hot water or anything more than Lipton.”
I laughed, even though the statement wasn’t really that funny. Blast, I was a horrible flirt. And why was I even trying with him? Especially since I’d known this man all of my life but now he looked at me as if he didn’t know who I was.
“So…what have you been up to lately? World domination and all that, I guess?”
Bollocks, I really was bad at this small talk. I also wasn’t exactly sure what the oldest Murphy had been doing since I last saw him eight years ago. Sean didn’t really talk to me about his brothers, but I knew his da had passed and Jack and his brothers had yet to take over the company. Something that I definitely wasn’t about to bring up.