Joseph O’Connor lifted his Budweiser, looked at the amber brew, and wished it was a black and tan. You couldn’t get Guinness at the Caribou at all, let alone half of the black and half of the tan in a single mug. So what did his brother, Sean, see in the place?
“We should have gone to Clancy’s.”
“Clancy’s has been closed for years. Besides, this is close to home.”
Joseph snorted. “Nothing this side of the pond is close to home.”
“You’ve lived in America for three times as long as you ever lived in Ireland. You can’t be telling me this isn’t home.”
Joseph clamped his mouth shut. Arguing over home only led to fighting, which was likely to get them bounced.
“You should be glad to be here. I am. Where else could I be such a success?” Sean took a swallow straight from his beer bottle. The brown looked good next to his long red hair, not to mention his worn, green, army-surplus shirt.
“Where else could I earn a living off a web site? The advertisements are rolling in! NASCAR, muffler shops, body shops, you name it. I’m so glad you suggested Ian for the getting of it. He knows how to reach the people who see the beauty in what I do.”
“I didn’t mean for you to take it serious. I thought you were going to close it down now.”
“No need. If there ever really was a cop checking me out he’s long gone…. Ah, the lovely Christina.”
Joseph twisted around on the bench seat to look through the length of the tiny bar to the front door.
Christina stopped by the glass door, looking around. Her waist-length chestnut hair was tied back. Her bright green eyes, and a smile so bright it could dry paint, went brighter as soon as she saw them. Joseph wished the Caribou had more than a dozen tables.
Not that he wasn’t glad to see Christina. He was. Not only was she a fine looking woman and smart besides, she also had a gentle way about her Joseph liked. But she always seemed to turn up when he’d rather she didn’t. Besides, he didn’t like the way she couldn’t seem to decide between him and Sean.
“Hi!” She waved as she hurried across the cracked-linoleum floor. “I thought you guys would be here.” She plopped onto the bench next to Joseph without hesitation. Knowing it wouldn’t do any good to argue, he made room for her. “So what’cha guys up to?” She grinned from one to the other.
“We were just talking about….”
“Nothing.” Joseph interrupted Sean, giving his brother a hard look.
“Why do you guys always do that? It’s not like I would ever tell anyone.” She beamed at Sean, then at Joseph. “Besides, I can’t believe you really have any big, dark secrets. I’ll have Bud Light,” she said to the bartender who replied with a two-fingered wave.
“I’ll get it for you. I was just leaving anyway.” Sean drained the last of his beer. Joseph wanted to strangle him. He was running off because, using Christina to keep Joseph from following.
Joseph loved him dearly, but he hated the way Sean always ran away from anything he didn’t want to hear. Comments like, “Shut down the web page because the cop isn’t dead after all.” “Leave Grandpa out of it. “ And “Quit swiping the keys to my jeep” rolled right off him. Joseph glared at him.
Sean grinned back as he got to his feet. “Have fun, kids.” He came back long enough to put the Bud Light in front of Christina, then he was gone.
“Aren’t you going after him?” Joseph asked her.
“Not tonight. I think tonight I’d rather be with you.” She ran a flirtatious fingertip along the collar of his shirt.
He gave her a hard look, trying to decide if she was serious. “What is it you see in me?”
“It’s the red hair.” She reached toward his head. He captured her wrist, pulling her hand away.
“Sean’s hair is red too.”
“Yeah, but yours is redder.”