Page 1 of Wild Night

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Colm Collins walked into the pub, climbed onto the stool next to Patrick, dropped his bookbag on the floor, and slouched back in the seat, managing to look completely bored in three seconds.

“How was school, lad?” Patrick asked.

While his young grandson had a genial disposition, he didn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve like his twin brother, Padraig, who was always quick with a laugh and rarely without a smile. Rather, Colm was more thoughtful, introspective, and, well, mischievous.

Colm shrugged. “It was alright.”

Padraig, who’d come in right behind him, tossed his bookbag to the floor next to his brother’s. Typically, the boys got off the bus after school at home, but their mother, Lane, a nurse at Johns Hopkins, was working second shift, as was Patrick’s son, Tris—the boys’ father—who was currently manning the bar here at the pub.

The boys, at fifteen, were certainly old enough to stay home alone, but Colm had been caught sneaking his new girlfriend—the boy seemed to have a new love every other minute—into his bedroom two nights earlier. As such, Lane and Tris had grounded him and decided he would not be staying at the house alone until they could trust him again.

Patrick feared recovering that trust might not be a quick process. A teenage boy’s hormones were a powerful thing.

Tris returned from the kitchen with clean glasses, nodding at the boys when he saw them. “You guys have homework?”

From his gruff tone, it was apparent Tris was still unhappy about Colm’s behavior and determined to make this punishment memorable.

“Yeah, some. It won’t take me too long though,” Padraig said. “Want me to help you put the glasses away?” Padraig had obviously decided to share in the punishment with his brother, rather than go home alone. Which wasn’t surprising. Padraig loved being in the pub, helping his father with various tasks.

Tris grinned. “Sure. Colm, why don’t you grab that booth over there—where I can keep an eye on you—and start your homework. We’re eating dinner here, and I’ve got one of the part-time bartenders coming in to close up. Might as well settle in. You’re going to be here for a while.”

Colm sighed and rolled his eyes, but—wisely—held his tongue as he stood up to do as he was told.

Patrick fought to hide his grin. As the father of four rowdy, always-pushing-curfews-and-rules boys, he knew Tris was only just at the beginning of this battle with his intelligent, girl-crazy son.

“Mind if I join you for a few minutes, Colm?” Patrick asked, rising as well.

His clever grandson considered the question for a moment, obviously concerned he was about to get another lecture for his behavior. Patrick gave him a quick, covert wink to assure him he was safe.

Colm grinned. “Sure. That’s cool, Pop Pop.”

Colm retrieved his backpack and the two of them crossed the pub, claiming a booth in the corner. It was midafternoon, so the pub would be quiet until the happy hour crowd started to roll in.

“Are you going to yell at me too?” Colm asked once they were seated.

“I hadn’t planned to. I suspect your parents said all that needed to be said.”

Colm lifted one shoulder casually. “I guess so.”

“Am I to assume the young lady in question was the one you were telling me about a couple of weeks ago? I believe her name was Jessica.”

Colm shook his head. “No. Me and Jess are history. I’m going out with Zoey now.”

“My, my. I might need to start a list. I’m struggling to keep the names of your lady loves straight.”

Colm laughed. “You don’t need to worry about learning names yet. I’m just having some fun. Paddy’s the one who wants a girlfriend, not me.”

“I see. Padraig doesn’t have a girlfriend, though, right?”

Colm shook his head. “Nope. Not right now anyway. Paddy’s too picky. I’m not criticizing, Pop Pop, but I think you’ve been a bad influence on him.”

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