The red hair dye was Mum’s. She had taken to coloring her hair these last few months because a few strips of gray had made an unwelcome appearance. Her hair was dark—like mine—with rich, lush coppery strands running through it. I can still remember how her hair used to glisten magnificently in the sunlight.
A sharp pain pierces me straight through the heart as I flop back down on the bed.
That’s when I become aware of issue number two.
A hand tightens on my breast, and nimble fingers start to brush over the tip of my nipple. I’m still fully clothed, thank the stars, but that’s not stopping my bedmate. Panic rears up and slaps me in the face. This can’t be good. I rack my brains but I can’t recall any of the specifics.
I have no idea who is lying beside me.
Or what we may or may not have done.
I stifle a groan as I twist around to the other side.
Luke’s mischievous grin greets me, and I silently curse. His green eyes sparkle with excitement, and I think I might puke.
Please tell me we didn’t. Please tell me I had more sense than that. Or that I was too far gone to take anything to the next level. I narrow my eyes as I glower at him. His fingers swipe more feverishly over my nipple, and even though I’m protected by my shirt, his frantic tweaking actually hurts.
I send him my best death glare.
The one I usually reserve for vermin and serial killers. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Funny,” a heavily accented male voice says. “I was about to ask the same question.”
I scream, shoving Luke’s hand away as I shunt up against the headboard, pulling the covers up under my chin. A tall, handsome man with short dark hair and piercing blue eyes is standing at the edge of the bed, staring at me as if he’s just seen a ghost.
This cannot be happening.
My eyes dart to the small digital clock resting on top of the bedside locker, and I curse when I spot the time. I hadn’t even thought to set the alarm, and now I’ve slept the morning, and half the afternoon, away.
Luke sits up, dragging a hand through his messy hair. “Who the bleedin’ hell are you?”
I roll my eyes. Seriously, is he thick? I elbow him in the ribs. “Don’t be an idiot, it’s obvious who he is, or were you not listening to a word I said last night?”
“I was too busy staring at your tits.”
Points for honesty but zilch for intelligence.
He’s clearly still drunk.
Mr. Kennedy looks like he’s seconds away from throwing Luke out on the street.
I’ll save him the hassle. “I think that’s your cue to leave.” I shove him gently. “Go on, go.”
He pins me with a contemptible look. “That’s not what you were saying last night.”
I thrust my hands in the air. Pressing my mouth to his ear, I hiss, “Whatever! You know I was drunk!” I glower at him again.
“I sincerely hope you didn’t take advantage of my niece,” my uncle says, in a weird half-Irish, half-American accent. He levels a stinging look at Luke. They face off for a couple of seconds, and my uncle’s look darkens in a nanosecond. It’s a pretty impressive look.
Once I’m not on the receiving end of it.
I take the opportunity to slyly study him. He’s tall and lean with an unassuming muscular look that indicates he works out but doesn’t take it to extremes. Wearing a navy and red long-sleeved polo shirt and dark denims, he’s stylishly dressed for an old dude. The polo is slim-fit and it hugs his defined chest like a second skin. His dark hair is slicked back off his forehead in a feigned effortless manner. My nostrils twitch as I pick up the musky scent of his aftershave.
He gives off an air of understated wealth that is disconcerting. I’m beginning to suspect that Rachel hit the nail on the head with her assessment.
If this is what my uncle looks like, I have a feeling my cousins are going to easily meet the fit-rich barometer she’s set.
Luke flips the covers off and stands. He gestures at his clothes. “Relax, I didn’t take advantage of her. I’d never hurt Faye—I love her.” He starts scanning the floor for his runners, conspicuously avoiding my gaze.
My uncle’s chin jerks up. “He’s your boyfriend?” He looks skeptical.
Now he looks relieved.
Luke scowls as he sits on the edge of the bed, slipping his feet into his runners. He turns around to face me. “I guess this is goodbye?”
“Eh.” I rub my hand across the back of my head as I look to my uncle for confirmation. I have no idea what the plans are—whether he intends to hang around for a few days, or if we’ll be leaving immediately. Mr. Kennedy nods, and I turn to face Luke. “Yep. See ya, Luke.”
He leans over to kiss my cheek, and I pull him into a quick hug. A sad look briefly flitters across his eyes. “Take care, Faye. I’ll miss you.” He strolls out of the room with his shoulders hunched over.
A layer of tension immediately fills the empty space. My uncle looks at me, and I look back at him, and we just kinda stare at each other, neither one of us knowing what to say or do. His surprisingly familiar blue eyes are glued to mine, and a whole host of emotions skitters over his face. A muscle clenches in his jaw as he continues scrutinizing me, and I squirm uncomfortably. It’s too intrusive—awkward on so many different levels. I chew on the corner of my lip, but I refuse to divert my eyes, meeting his penetrating gaze dead-on.
After a couple of minutes, irritation starts to build. I feel like a monkey in a cage at Dublin Zoo. My patience snaps. “Weren’t you ever told it’s rude to stare?”
That breaks him out of his trance-like state. He rocks back on his heels, glancing sheepishly at me. “I apologize, Faye. And for turning up like this, but you missed the appointment at the attorneys, ah, solicitors”—he corrects himself when he sees my puzzled expression—“and I was worried.”