Declan O'Callaghan pried the lid from the top of the paint can and scratched his head. 'What colour are we calling this then? Is it a greeny blue or a bluey green?' His wife, Anna, was busy surveying the wall of one of the inns guest bedrooms with a professional eye. Dressed in a t-shirt and a pair of Declan's old overalls tied by the arms around her waist, she turned to him, hands on hips.
'It's Marine Splash if you must know.' She said, daring him to argue.
'Marine Splash is it?' He said, pulling a face. 'And who would name a colour Marine splash?'
Anna rolled her eyes and turned back to the wall, hands outstretched as if to project her vision. 'This is going to be a feature wall. It will tie together the theme of the room.' She said.
Not realising Declan now stood behind her she turned around, running straight into the loaded paintbrush he held in his hand, leaving a huge blob on her white shirt.
Both she and Declan's eyes trailed to the paint before they returned to make eye contact. 'Sorry.' Declan cringed with what he hoped was an innocent little boy smile.
Anna's eyes narrowed. 'You did that on purpose.' She accused.
With a sigh of resignation, Declan bent to dip the brush in the paint once more before presenting it to her. However, before Anna could make good her revenge, his index finger pulled back the upended bristles before slowly releasing them. Little splatters of paint speckled across Anna's face.
'That I did on purpose.' He said, stifling a laugh.
In shock, Anna blinked once, then twice before finally launching herself at her husband. Already prepared for an assault he dodged neatly before grabbing her around the waist and lifting her easily off the ground. Wrapping her legs around him and her arms locked around his neck, Anna allowed herself to be thoroughly kissed, the paintbrush now dropped and abandoned.
'This isn't going to get the room done.' She said with a sigh as her lips were finally released.
'Ack, it'll all get done in the end.' Declan said with a shrug as he lowered her to the ground.
'I know, but the sooner the rooms are done the sooner they can start earning us some real money, and you did say I could run the B&B side as I liked?' She said, gazing up at him.
'I did that, I just didn't realise it was going to involve me doing this much work.' He complained.
She giggled and stood on tip toes for another kiss, a kiss which soon deepened when she pushed him back onto the dust-sheet covered bed. All thoughts of painting began to be forgotten when from below there came the sound of knocking.
Anna's head shot up. 'There's someone at the door.'
Disengaging from his wife, Declan sat up. 'That is what knocking normally indicates.' He said drily.
Slapping him playfully on the chest, Anna got up, 'Who would be out in this weather? It's pouring down.' She frowned. 'They could be some guests, caught in the rain, we've already got those two rooms done, I think the paint fumes would have gone by now.' She said excitedly as she dashed out of the room and down the stairs two at a time.
Declan followed at a more sedate pace. 'Be sure to check they're married.' He said with a chuckle.
'Yes, because we all know how that turned out.' She responded. 'Right is right rain or no rain.' She mimicked in an Irish accent.
At the large inn door, Anna smoothed her hair before throwing it open. 'Welcome to the Ca…' The words died in her throat as the sight on the other side.
'Who is it darlin'?' Declan asked as he leant an arm against the doorpost.
'Jeremy.' Anna said, her eyes as big as saucers. She glanced up at Declan. 'It's Jeremy.' She said again.
'So, I see.' Declan said coolly.
'Anna?' Jeremy said, his raincoat held above his head. Behind him was a woman, hunched under her own coat. 'I don't believe it! Can we come in?' He indicated the weather.
'What? Oh yes, do come in out of the rain.' Anna said automatically ushering them in.
Declan had wandered over to the coffee machine and was pouring himself a cup. 'What is it with you Americans, you just turn up, you can't pick up the phone and call first?' He said, taking a sip and grimacing at the hot liquid.
'Um, yes, Jeremy.' Anna asked, her hands clenched in front of her. 'What are you doing here?'
'Belinda and I are visiting Ireland and thought to see some of the country while we were here, I didn't realise you were living here.' Jeremy said indicating the pub. 'Um. You seem to be covered in paint?'
Anna hands immediately flew to her face as she realised how she must look. 'Oh, yes, we were painting.' She said obviously.
The woman identified as Belinda stepped forward and extended a hand. She had straight black hair, cut into a sensible bob, glasses which were starting to steam up slightly in the warmth of the inn and a neat, well put together outfit. 'Dr Belinda Roseburg.' She introduced herself. 'Nice to meet you.'
'Nice to meet you too.' Anna said as she shook the proffered hand in a slight daze. Declan merely raised his cup in acknowledgement to the woman and lounged back against the bar. Anna shook her head as if to clear it. 'So, you're visiting Ireland, how lovely. Have you hired a car?'
'No.' Jeremy said with a glance at Belinda, 'We had a driver drop us off, I'm afraid that's us stranded, we were hoping there would be somewhere we could grab a bed for the night?'
'That was taking a bit of a gamble wasn't it?' Declan cut in. 'After six months you just decide to drop in on your former fiancé and expect us to offer a warm welcome? You must have known we're the only B&B nearby.'
'I didn't know Anna was here. Anyway, you seemed to have offered Anna a warm enough welcome when she dropped in unannounced.' Jeremy said, an edge to his voice. 'So much so she packed up and moved to Ireland.'
Declan straightened up, an unpleasant glint in his eye as he towered over the American. 'Fortunately, I can drive you. The Doolies run a fine B&B and they'll be able to put you up there until you can be on your way.' He said icily.
Anna, glancing back and forth between the two men suddenly grasped Declan's arm. 'Can I see you in the kitchen please, honey?' She said sweetly.
Declan scowled at his adversary.
'Declan, honey.' Anna said, tugging on his hand. 'Kitchen please.'
Reluctantly the Irishman followed his wife. 'What!' He exclaimed as he picked up an apple from the counter and took a bite.
'Have you forgotten the Doolies are in Australia visiting their daughter?' She said.
'Ok, so I'll take them to the O'Roukes.' He countered, taking another savage mouthful.
'Sheila Cleary's daughter is getting married this weekend and the O'Roukes are housing most of the guests, there won't be a spare bed between there and Dublin.' Anna said patiently. 'That is if the car will make it that far.'
'She's a classic.' Declan's scowl deepened. 'They are not staying here.'
'Why not?' Anna cajoled. 'There's nowhere else. They've got money to give to someone for a room, why not that someone be us?'
'Nope.' Declan said, firmly.
'Think about it.' She wheedled, wrapping her arms around his waist. 'Think about the money.'
'Your ex fiancé, the man you left for me, turns up out of the blue with some new woman and you don't think there is anything strange about that?' He asked, exasperated.
'It's not ideal, but I don't see why we should lose out when we have potential paying guests?' She said, eyes big and hopeful. 'It's not like I'm going to go running back to him is it, I chose you, and he's here with a new woman?' She seemed to consider this for a moment with a frown before shaking it off and continuing. 'There's no reason why we can't we all just be grownups about this?'
Declan looked down into her eyes and knew he'd already lost the battle. 'Fine, but on your head be it Bob.' He said eventually.
Anna clapped her hands in delight before pecking him briefly on the lips. 'You won't regret this.' She said as she skipped back to the bar.
'I regret it already.' Declan said, viciously dropping the remains of the apple into the bin. 'Oh no, this isn't going to be awkward at all.'