Chapter 1. Another Irish Drinking Song

Another day, another funeral, Maura thinks as she pulls another pint for the widower's son. He'd just buried his mother, but already the rogue had his eye on a skirt, and looked liable to fall over on the dark-haired beauty as he followed her around the room with his maw agape. "You may want to sit down, Colm," says Maura's father in an even voice, helping the young man to lower himself to a stool.

"Ach, she's a dream, she is," Colm slurs, spilling his beer over his chin without regard.

"She's off limits to you, boyo. How would your poor mother, God Rest Her, feel about ye marrying an Italian?"

Maura silently dries a glass, grateful for beer goggles and loud music keeping the attention away from her.

"Aye, she's Catholic, i'n't she?" His eyes sweep the woman's well-worn but very well-fitting dress, "Baptized 'afore God and Pope?"

"I won't be tellin' ye again, Colm Murphy. Hands off," Paddy's Doyle's voice is dark that time, and even the inebriate knows better than to question him again. Colm stumbles up from the bar to find a nice Irish girl to bother, and Paddy turns back to his daughter. "Why don't you go to bed, wean? You've school tomorrow. Tell your Ma I'll be up in a mo'."

The young woman gratefully throws off her apron before he's even done speaking and gives her father's cheek an affectionate peck. "Good night, Da," she calls over her shoulder as she all but runs out of the kitchen door, leaving her father laughing to himself in her wake.


Jane curses in Italian and smacks away another grimy paw. She only agreed to join him so that she wouldn't have to spend her evening cooking or doing needlepoint or something so tedious she could never sit still long enough to do it properly.

That and her father is letting her drink wine, and not just with dinner. However, as one of two women present, she's become something of an attraction to the throng of increasingly intoxicated men. They dance around her, slurring songs in a foreign language and tripping over one another. At one point, there was nearly a fistfight for her attention, which was quickly diffused by Mr. Doyle. Now, the two sit arm in arm, singing the jaunty tunes in only the way that drunken Irishmen can.

Rolling her eyes at the revelry, Jane turns her empty glass toward the bar, disappointed to find Paddy's daughter had vacated the bar. "How's about I drive you home? There's no more liquor to be served, and they've cleaned me out of beer, so it won't be long now afore each a one of thems is on the floor," when he chuckles, she can't help but to join him, the wine still warm and fuzzy in her brain.

"Thanks, Mr. Doyle, but what about my pop?" she searches the room for her father, who isn't anywhere to be seen.

"Tell ya what, lass, I'll bring your da home in the mornin'. Yer ma deserves the break."