Thank you TRS staff and all the people who visited at the Staying at Home Party. I look forward to learning who might enjoy receiving my gift packages which also contain an eBook of Deadly Alliance, a sizzling hot romantic suspense from Tirgearr Publishing. The Romance Studio will let me know, and I will get in touch with winners.
Here is a post that lets readers know hero Finn is a really nice guy who cares about his dad. He is going to visit him, below:
Keeping his movements steady, the motorcycle responded to Fin’s shifting weight. Protective gear snugged around him, repelling a wind-fueled shower. Through the visor of his full-faced helmet, the world flowed past in water-shattered reflections of passing cars. Unlike the bike, Fin’s mind moved in broad sweeps, responding well to a new direction. Thanks to Amy Kintyre, he coasted away from blind alleys and headed along a fresh curve.
Finn rolled through an intersection, past Arrowhead Pizza where white, wrought-iron tables dotted the patio. A flock of starlings took shelter under orange umbrellas. After traveling another klick, he pulled onto a blacktop drive under an arched sign for Straight Arrow Ranch, his dad’s assisted-living complex.
Constructed mid-century, the fully-restored cabins enjoyed a new heyday. With branches resting on roofs, lodge pines hovered with maples and oaks alongside the log structures. Upscale wicker furniture graced front porches. Finn whiffed the succulent combination of ham and cornbread. The clubhouse’s home-cooked meals were catered.
Lately, Papa, more childish, enjoyed playing tricks on the lady next door. One of these days Mick Donahue would wind toilet paper around the front porch of uppity Dolly Pugh and her disobedient cocker spaniel, Sweet Pea.
A pine-scented gust lifted damp oak leaves as Finn kicked his way through a golden carpet to Papa’s cabin. With all the fees he paid, why didn’t the dining room at least have extra sugar? As he passed old, wooden wagons and a rose garden, he took his last step from his bike and freedom. He glanced at his Rolex but willed himself not to feel time pressure. Overdue for a visit, he fisted the sugar packets and skipped up porch steps.
With his own key he unlocked the front door. “Hey, Papa.” Inside the cabin reeked of medical-grade air freshener and Lysol spray left by the cleaning crew. “A-a-achoo!” Finn sneezed, unable to hold it back.
“Bless you, Finbar,” commented a gravelly-voice. With the push of his foot, Papa turned his La-Z-Boy and faced him. His sideburns, as shaggy as white caterpillars, were due for a trim from Mobile Barber. Once tall and robust, Mick was smaller now.
“Good to see you, Papa.” Finn’s hand connected with the shoulder of his dad’s tweed jacket. As he leaned to kiss him on the cheek, he heard deep wheezing. Looking downward to see the ten-pound aluminum cylinder of oxygen, he said, “I see they gave you longer tubing.”
“Tethered, I can go fifty feet. Kind of like being henpecked, but not stomped on.” He let out a hacking guffaw.
Just out of diapers when Fin’s mom had stomped out, time elapsed between sad thoughts and floods of tears from mommy-rejection. His eyes, like replenishing water tanks, had kept his face red and raw. Abandoned at three-years old, he turned into a cold-storage locker. He and Papa recovered from the painful blow, but Finn developed a reply-all distrust of women.
His mother, Fiona, hitched herself to an Irish mob boss, Aidan Rourke, pregnant with his child. To this day, except for one-nighters, Finn sidestepped affairs of the heart. A woman trying to get close pulled him down. His body buckled under the weight of emotional intimacy. Its gravity sucked the life out of a sexual encounter, and desire slid into sludge.
“Finbar, you’re not tracking.” Papa noticed his blank expression.
Finn said, “Ugh, sorry.”
“That’s when I get the jump on you.”
“Papa, I’ve got a lot on my mind.”
“Your business is killing you, right?” Papa gazed out the window. “The rest of the day will be sunny.”
Finn asked, “Great. The sun came out. You keep your yard as clean as a whistle. Maybe rake a few leaves? At least get out on the front porch.” Finn placed sugar packets on the side table.
The man who’d raised him adjusted prongs of his nasal cannula. “Sugar, thanks.” His voice warmed as he studied his face. “Son, you look star-struck. Is it a woman or have you found a solution to the big drain?”
Finn edged onto a chair opposite his dad. “Both. I hired Lester’s former girlfriend. If anyone knows about the drain, it’s Amy.” The cash loss and looming financial ruin was his life. At his wit’s end, Finn made up for losses by putting in his own savings. He gave himself a mental atta-boy for questioning her abilities. She didn’t need to know she’d passed Rosenberg’s accounting test with flying colors.
“Not fair-haired Amy from Long Beach!” Papa’s expression bordered on dreamy.
“That’s the one.”
“At office parties she sat by me. I told her all I knew about Gray’s Peak and the old Cougar Trail. She’s a hiker. Pretty blonde. Wholesome girl.”
“She does nice things. I’ll give her that.”
Papa’s emphysema made it hard to mingle. “Was it true about Les?”
“You mean the bit about him streaking through the office nude? Yes.”
“Cocky bastard.” Papa snorted with a wheeze. “Funny as hell.”
Embarrassing was more like it. “When working late,” Finn said, “Les made a habit of flashing through the office.”
“Stark naked, laughing at his reflection in the windows? Wowza!” Papa wasn’t Les’s only admirer. Conservative Arrowhead residents had found Les’s capers sidesplitting.
“Wild,” Finn said, “but he turned on an aura of trust.”
“Les-talk was as solid as bedrock,” Papa agreed. “Crooked though, the way he’d maneuvered expenses in his favor. He cheated the IRS.” He sighed.
Finn said, “He’s a Kelly.” Until lately, he’d dismissed Les’s gang connection to the Waterfront Roaches. Years ago, Boss Aidan Rourke, his mother’s second husband, had invested in their company.
Papa said, “Amy never struck me as a cheater.”
Finn wasn’t sure. “Think of it this way. A poor girl takes up with a rich guy. Classic.”
“Nice girl took up with a bum, I’d say.” Papa reached for the curtain string and pulled open the pleated drapery. Sun peeked through clouds. “After your mother took off, do you know what bothered me the most?”
“Missed pillow talk. You know, conversation.” Tears formed in his dad’s eyes.
“Are you sleeping okay?” Concern coursed through his brain. “Maybe you need a woman’s companionship.”
“I tried dating. Just never fell in love again.”
“Mom never looked back.” It was as if she had dementia. Married to Rourke and soon saddled with additional offspring, she resided in an over-sized villa in Beverly Hills.
“Enough of that topic.” Finally, Papa looked up. “The bullets to Les’s brain plucked him of everything he was. He never spoke again.”
“During his surgery,” Finn said, “news seeped out. He and Amy weren’t together.”
“Yet she took care of him.” Papa’s comment came out of the blue.
Finn didn’t know his dad mulled over the similarities. “Physically, Les was there.”
“Where the heck was his family?” Papa asked.
“Les’s parents drove up from Los Angeles once.”
“When?” Papa asked.
“Before you moved here. Anyway, Amy phoned me. I joined them over at their condo.” Finn recalled the scones and tea she served. After seeing Les that way, he switched to whiskey and water.
Papa cleared his throat. “Whether his parents were there or not, it made no difference to Les.” He coughed. As soon as his breathing evened out, he said, “One of these weekends we should visit the Kelly family.”
“That’s a promise,” Finn said. “I’d like to check up on Les’s twin brother.”
Papa nodded. “I remember Liam, severely autistic.”
“To the point of nonverbal.” As a kid, Finn had looked past Liam’s ceaseless rocking and flailing arms to see intelligence. “I want see him most of all. Remember how he liked to feed the swans?”
“Liam was a sweet boy but started running away. Did you know? By now he’s in a group home for adults.” The older man said, “I’ll do some phoning.”
“You’ll find out where he is?”
“Yup,” Papa said.
Fin’s gaze connected with his dad’s, and he took comfort in it.
Papa’s lungs rattled with each breath. “Aren’t you glad you taught me how to text?” The grin on his lips spoke of his capacity for jocularity. Papa stood, and the men hugged, patted each other’s backs, and then split apart.
“Can I do anything for you before I leave?” Finn asked.
Papa nodded. “Rip the cover off my National Geographic. It’s sturdy enough.”
“Sure,” Finn said, all too familiar with his dad’s scheme to move Sweet Pea’s leavings from his yard to Dolly’s front steps. The operation required finesse— moving it without disturbing its shape. “Papa, it was dark last time.”
“Yup, and that night a star was born,” Papa said. “You sneaked out and made the perfect transfer.” Mick really wanted him to do it.
“Where’s Dolly?” Finn asked.
“Riding the senior van to the store.” Papa crinkled his nose. “Well then?”
Finn nodded. “It’s an honor to be chosen for this task.”
“You’re about to win another metal.” Papa looked at him with genuine pride.
How often did Finn do something simple but greatly rewarding? The only the negative consequence would end up on the neighbor’s shoe. His dad beamed, and Finn relished the rush it gave him.
Papa said, “I like kidding Dolly. She’s way too full of herself.”
Finn pictured the fashionable elderly woman with a mane of white cotton who rocked hot pink lipstick. “Sweet Pea sure as hell won’t tell. Dolly doesn’t know it’s us, right?”
Papa chuckled. “She wouldn’t make brownies for me if she did.”
“One of these days she’ll shove them up your ass,” Finn said. His dad’s system for having fun occasionally backfired.
“I’m one lucky papa.” His laughter filled the room. “Until next time, son.”
Heading out, Finn waved with the magazine cover. In spite of their tight bond, he didn’t always agree with Papa. His father saw good qualities in women while Finn prided himself on channeling his sixth sense. He let suspicion be his guide.
Dog that he was, chasing after Les’s bone, Amy might be sniffing along the same trail.
Thanks for reading. You’ll find me at many places–