44. Beginning Again
Nate didn’t have a game plan. But he had GPS on his phone and that was good enough.
They didn’t leave the hotel with any real destination in mind. Leila had mentioned wanting to see castle ruins at some point the day before, though there were plenty unruined castles for her to see in the immediate area. It didn’t matter. If she wanted to see the ruins of a castle, well- there were over 30,000 castle ruins scattered across the country. They were bound to run into one if they pointed themselves in the direction of... well, any direction really. Except east.
Leila let Nate drive and didn’t ask where they were going. She knew most of the time he had visited Ireland, it had been in Dublin or some of the surrounding areas. Too close to the city to actually see any of the real countryside. From photographs found on Pinterest and Google searches, she knew that the smaller villages were quaint and beautiful, and she wanted to visit them and the surrounding green that seemed to encompass everything around them.
Green. It was green as far as the eye could see. No wonder the clover was almost synonymous with Ireland. Everything was the color of it here. With the exception of the stone-walled homes and little white dots of sheep, it seemed to drown out the rest of the world.
They drove for who knew how long until Nate saw something suspiciously like a ruin in the distance. He pulled the car over and Leila immediately got out of the car. On the wrong side of the vehicle. At least to her.
That. That was why it was better if Nate drove. She’d surely get them into an automobile accident if she attempted to. She didn’t even like driving at home all that much. In another country where everything seemed backward? Scared. Shitless.
Leila knelt onto the ground, peering at it like she’d lost her contact lenses somewhere in the fray of grass and clover. Nate watched her for a bit, a hand laid here, a pluck of leafy green there, until he came closer and tried to figure out what she was doing.
“What on earth are you doing?” he asked, hunkering down next to her and placing a hand on the dewy ground.
“Looking for a four-leaf clover, of course,” she told him. She looked at him as if that were the sole purpose of their journey outside of Dublin.
“You know you can look for those in the U.S. too,” he told her, biting back laughter. “They have them there as well. Ireland doesn’t have the monopoly on them.”
“I know, but it seems almost magical if you find one here.” Her cheeks flushed a bit and she didn’t look at him. “Have you ever found one?”
Nate thought about that.
“Once, when I was a kid,” he said. “No idea what happened to it. I gave it to my mother and she pressed it flat inside a book like I had read about once. I don’t know which book it was or whatever happened to it after. Kids forget about small things quickly.”
“Did it bring you any luck?”
“If by luck you mean I promptly got the chicken pox a few weeks later and my goldfish died within a few days, then yeah- I was lucky as hell,” he said with a smirk.
“Maybe it’s because you forgot about it after giving it to your mother,” she told him, looking over at him with a soft smile. “If you had maybe put it in with a photograph or kept it with you, maybe your luck would have been different.”
“I doubt the great ‘Chicken Pox’ epidemic of my 2nd-grade year was paying much attention to superstition. And Ron certainly didn’t get the memo. I would have seen it.”
“Ron?” Leila asked, his eyebrows quirking up.
“My goldfish’s name was Ron,” He told her.
“Uhm... why Ron?” Leila looked like she was holding back laughter.
“I had a best friend from 1st grade who moved away named Ron,” Nate said. “I missed playing with him, so when I got the fish it was the first name I could think of.”
“You missed your friend and you named your goldfish after him,” Leila stated. There was definitely laughter behind her eyes.
“Yes, is that a problem for you?” Nate’s lip quirked up on one side.
“No, not at all,” Leila said, her eyes widening a bit. “I just hope the ‘Charles Funeral Home’ gave little Ron a burial fit for a... a fish.”
“He was given last rites and thoroughly flushed in the guest toilet,” Nate told her, chuckling. “Mom wouldn’t let me bury him in the yard.”
“Well, at least your parents didn’t tell you they had given him to some fish farm in the country,” Leila said, standing and wiping the moisture from her hands. “Did you get another fish? Maybe name him Ron the Second or maybe Ron The Sequel?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” His face twisted at the thought. “Besides, I’m pretty sure that Ron had died numerous times.”
“Well, he occasionally got mysteriously smaller or larger,” he told her. “I thought it was weird. Dad said something about a growth spurt when he got larger and changed the subject when I noticed he was smaller. I’m pretty sure that previous Rons had died when I was at school and Mom or Dad replaced him before I got home those days. The only reason they didn’t this time was that I was the one that found him, belly up and looking pretty fucking pale. Even for a fish.”
“How many times do you think Ron died?” Leila asked, amused again. It would be just like Mathilde to have someone replace the dead fish with a new one before Nate could get home and realize his fish had passed over the rainbow bridge. She was a people pleaser for the most part.
“At least four or five times. I was a horrible fish parent,” Nate told her, walking away from the car. He pulled her into his side, escorting her toward what he thought might be a castle ruin in the distance. “They did a good job getting a fish that looked similar, but I had stared at that damned thing for hours sometimes. I knew when he looked different.”
“How did you know it was a ‘he’ anyway?” she asked. “Maybe Ron was a... Ronnette?”
“Well, I lifted his fin to check and lo and be-” he started with a smile.
“Shut up!” She batted at his hard chest with a palm, knowing he was messing with her. “And where are we going?”
“I think I see ruins in the distance. You said you wanted to see castle ruins. Why, I have no fucking clue. There are plenty of lovely unruined castles to be found in Ireland.”
“I always wanted to see them since reading a book,” she told him.
“What book would that be?” he asked. He didn’t see Leila reading a lot, but he knew she did on occasion by the look of the bookshelves in her living room.
“Scarlett,” she told him, facing becoming pink again. “It’s the sequel to Gone With The Wind. Written by a different writer, of course. I didn’t like the fact that Gone With The Wind didn’t have an altogether happy ending. I don’t like books that leave you hanging.”
“Does the book end the same way the movie does?” Nate asked. He had seen the movie once, many years ago. It was good, he thought, but too bittersweet. The man leaves the woman and yet she somehow finds the will to carry on. It left you with the impression that she would win Rhett back someday, but no indication as to how.
“Yes,” she replied. “Overall, the movie was a good representation of the book, of course with some things changed.”
“Scarlett had children with both her previous husbands before Rhett, for instance,” Leila told him. “She didn’t just have the little girl that died. She had a boy and a girl. A boy with her first husband, Charles, and a girl with Frank, her sister’s beau.”
They continued to talk about the differences between movies and books until they were only twenty feet away from a crumbling wall. Wall might have been a generous description. It was no higher than the bottom of Nate’s abdomen and the top layer looked to be as delicate as shist.
“So... why the fascination with ruins?” he asked, leaning his hands onto the top of the crumbling structure.
“I don’t know,” she said. “Maybe the history. When Scarlett went to Ireland in the sequel, she saw ruins from hundreds of years ago and felt the power of the land.” She stood there, gently touched the crumbling wall and tried to feel the same. “I don’t feel it,” she told him.
“What do you feel?” he asked, getting closer to her by a few inches.
“I... I dunno,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. “Maybe just a curiosity for the history of the area, the people who lived here. And this weird question as to why so many damned castles are all over the land in the first fucking place.”
“Why do the rich always live in large homes they probably don’t use half of?” he asked. “Like my folks. They have so many damned rooms in that house and I think only half have ever been used at a time. It’s a sign of wealth, and a sense of pride and accomplishment.”
“Does your renting an apartment from me mean you have no pride?” she asked him, smiling a bit.
“It just means I am perfectly aware of how much I need,” he told her. “I’m not my parents, or rather, my mother. She likes the large house and the parties being held over the smallest of things.” He paused. “And it’s less to clean on the weekends.”
Leila laughed and Nate joined her.
“You make enough money to hire someone to clean your small apartment,” she reminded him.
“Yes, but I’m not very comfortable with strangers being inside my home.”
“That’s surprising considering you’re stranger than most,” she joked.
“Just because I name goldfish after people I love and look for days for the mythical lucky 4-leaf clover?” he asked, amused.
“That’s only the first layer of your oddities, sir.”
Nate was surprised they stayed so long at the castle ruins. They ended up talking about anything and everything.
Well... everything except for Lorelei and her little bundle of joy. So overall, it was a good day. Leila was sure that as the days progressed, it would harder to fake a smile or just live in the now. The now seemed so fucking far away. Six, maybe seven, days away.
It felt like eons.
On the ride back, they stopped off in a small village and found a cute little place they could eat at. It seemed family owned, or at least that was the ambiance of the place.
Most of the items on the menu were strange sounding. Like one would have to analyze them like some sort of WW2 spy code. They both decided on the one thing they both knew: Shepherd’s Pie.
Nate drank real Irish whiskey with his meal and Leila stuck to water. After, they got in their car to head back to the hotel, but Nate received a text message before he could start the car.
Carl: Did you fuck her against the wall of a castle yet? Tell me how it is. I might want to take Violet to Ireland next vacation.
Nate pinched his eyes together, wondering why he had thought it was a good idea at the time to let his brother in law know that he could call him at any time on his cell. Maybe he should have been more specific. Call me about work any time, Carl.
“What is it?” Leila asked, her brows furrowing at Nate’s distress.
“A mistake,” Nate told her. “It was a mistake to give Carl my phone number in the first place. I should have gotten a cell phone just for work and given that number to him.”
“He’d still send you naughty messages and ask how often you were getting your dick wet,” Leila said, sighing. Sometimes Carl’s lack of filter was just too much. Well... hers was as well, though she tried to keep it in check around Nate. Outside of bed, that was.
“You’re right,” Nate said. “How that man hasn’t gotten on Aiden’s last nerve is beyond me.”
“He does a good job,” Leila said. If he didn’t, Aiden would have fired the man.
“Yeah. A good job at making things awkward.”
The longer they drove after that, the closer the DNA results seemed to be. It was as if driving out into the country had lightened the stress on both of them. The reverse was true as well. Going back to Dublin meant going back to the reality of things.
Once they parked the car and had taken the elevator to their floor in the hotel, they were both pretty wiped out. The walk to and from the ruins was longer than it had seemed at first, though neither of them regretted it in the least.
Late afternoon had come and there had been a light shower or two along the way back. When they opened the curtains to their hotel room, they found it was raining again.
“The weather is odd here,” she remarked looking as light rain turned heavier, and then disappeared completely wthin a few moments.
“Definitely different from California,” Nate said, coming up from behind her. “Rain in the winter, dry as dust in the summer.”
He pulled at her hips, crushing her body to his and curling his arms around her so she was pinned to him. He dug his nose into her neck and inhaled slowly.
With his lips pressed against her neck, he lightly chuckled, cupped her pussy and rubbed.
Leila gasped, pushing her head back further against Nate’s chest and groaning.
As one hand rubbed between her legs, the other snaked up under Leila’s thin sweater, pinched at her nipple through the thin bra.
“Nate!” she gasped out the cry, her body bucking. Leila could feel the smile he gave against her skin.
He hummed against her flesh, pressed his swiftly hardening cock against her back, kept her in place so he could grind against her.
“You... you’re...” Leila had an inkling of what she wanted to say, but it wasn’t coming out very well.
“Having trouble with words?” His chest vibrated with silent laughter.
“Bastard,” she swore through a blissful smile.
“Hmm,” he simply hummed and pinched a hard nipple. “I need to fly over to England soon.” He licked up Leila’s neck to her ear, breathing hard and heavy. “The jet’s being fueled and inspected tonight. Will you come with me?”
Yes, please. Come. Come with him. Both at the same time preferably.
One track mind, Leila.
England. That’s what he was asking.
“Yes,” she groaned out. “Yes, I’ll c-come.”
She felt his smile broaden, his legs shift behind her, then he was pulling her toward the bed.
Quickly she found herself bouncing up and down a few times on her back, staring at the ceiling.
Then he was on her. His head in her neck, his pelvis between her thighs, grinding his rock hard cock into her and kissing over her skin like he was trying to suck the flesh to eat her alive, from epidermis on in.
He started to work his belt from between them, Leila helping to push his pants down his hips when he was done.
Nate tore her sweater off her head, cupped her breasts, brought his head down to suck on her nipples through the thin fabric of her bra. One, then the other, reaching around to unclasp her bra at the same time.
“Need your tits out while I fuck you, sweetheart,” he told her, peeling her bra away from her body.
Her breasts spilled free and his mouth came down to suck one pert peak into his mouth. Leila groaned as he bit it slowly and her hands thrust into his hair.
Nate pulled her pants down her hips, hooking into her panties to move them out of the way as well. Leila kicked them off her feet, toed her socks down with her shoes.
Fuck, he loved the purr of her moans, loved the way she squirmed beneath him when she got turned on. He even loved when she teased him mercilessly, sliding her hot cunt up and down his length without letting him get into where he really wanted.
Fuck. He just loved her.
This had never been hate or intolerance of his younger sister’s best friend. It had all been a mask, a facade to keep him from wanting what he thought he couldn’t have all those years ago.
A habit of years was a bitch to break. He was glad he had had the wherewithal to beat this one. It brought him here. Sure, he had six days to wait until he would know for certain what his future held, but for once, he was looking forward to his future. His future with her. Leila. He was tired of only thinking in the short term. Go to work. Eat. Sleep. Get lost in Leila. Get through the week. He was no longer thinking in terms of days or weeks. He was thinking years, decades, a lifetime.
Leila was pulling at his shirt, tugging the hem up frantically, frowning when it got stuck between them. Nate simply smiled at the determined look on her face.
“Shirt... fucking... off, dammit,” she rasped out, looking frustrated. Nate chuckled and pulled away, allowing her to pull the material over his head, mussing up his already messed up hair.
Nate bit back a laugh from the look of relief on her face when the fabric had cleared his head.
“Better?” he asked with a smirk.
“Much,” she breathed out, her eyes flicking between his eyes and chest. He loved the firm feel of him, the sight of it, the smell of his skin.
A smile spread across Nate’s face and he lowered his lips to hers.
“Six,” he breathed against her lips. “Six more days and we’ll be rid of this bullshit.”
He pulled back a bit.
“Six more days ’til our lives can finally begin.”