Home > The Awakening (The Dragon Heart Legacy #1)(13)

The Awakening (The Dragon Heart Legacy #1)(13)
Author: Nora Roberts

Once he had, she decided it was time to start worrying about getting through the airport, getting to the car rental place, actually driving. Though Marco had lost rock, paper, scissors and would take the wheel first.

But she looked out the window on the descent, and through the clouds saw the green fields and hills of her dream. She saw the patchwork of that impossible green with the richest of browns, the deepest of golds all glowing under a somber sky of pale gray.

Something in her heart sang, a note so sweet and clear her eyes stung from it.

“Oh, Marco, look!”

“I am.” More, he leaned in with his phone, angling for photos. “It’s like the pictures, but it’s real. It’s really real, Breen.”

“I dreamed about it, about all of this. I wrote it down.”

“It wasn’t in the blog.”

“No, I wrote it separate from that. I’ll show you later. We need to get ready. We need to—”

“We are ready.” He took her hand.

It wasn’t so hard. Follow the signs, show your passport—again, not arrested—retrieve the luggage, then haul that over to where they’d booked a car.

Since Marco would take the wheel, he went off to get the car, and Breen took the luggage trolley outside for her first gulp of Irish air.

It was different, softer, as was the light. The rain held off, but she felt it in the air, the damp touch of it. The voices, some American and some with that lovely lilt that made her think of her father.

Would she find him? Would he be happy to see her? Would he tell her why, why, he’d stayed away so long?

She wanted to forgive him. She hoped, one day, she could forgive her mother.

But today, she told herself, today is for me. I opened a door, and today I walked all the way through.

She watched the little black car creep its way up, spotted Marco through the windshield. He looked like a man carefully, meticulously defusing a nuclear device.

She thought: Better him than me.

He stopped, got out. “Made it this far. No loss of life.”

“Is it scary?”

“Yeah, some. Good thing it’s not too far to the castle. I said ‘castle.’” He grinned as they began to load the luggage. “The guy helped me program the GPS, so we’ve got the directions.”

“I have the map—and I printed out directions.”

“So we’re covered.” He started to get back in, realized he was on the wrong side. “I was being a gentleman, opening the door for you.”

“Yeah, we’ll both believe that.” She got in, strapped in. Took a deep breath. “We can go really slow.”

“Just yell if I screw up. No, don’t yell. Calmly say: Marco, my friend, you are now on the wrong fucking side of the road. Cut that shit out.”

“Got it.”

“Okay, here we go.” He started the car, grinned at her. “Let’s go storm the castle!”

He did okay—better than, Breen thought. She had to stop herself from taking big eye gulps of the scenery, and keep her eyes on the road in case she had to tell him to cut that shit out.

But he did fine, even on the scary circles—roundabouts, she corrected.

“I’m driving in Ireland, girl.”

“Yeah. Eyes on the road. We’re almost there.”

“You know, you’ve got to do it next time. That was the deal.”

“Lots to do at the castle. Maybe we’ll just stay there for three days.”

“No chance. We’re going to pubs, we’re going shopping. We’re going to see stuff.”

“There’s stuff to—Oh, that’s Bunratty Castle. It’s really close to where we’re staying. I could manage that. I read about it. We can take a tour, see stuff, shop. I don’t know if there’s a pub. It’s all so beautiful, Marco.”

“Never seen anything like it outside of movies and books.”

When he turned at the signpost for Dromoland, trees, great, huge, gorgeous trees, smothered both sides of the road. They wound through when it opened up to green again, with a pond on one side where ducks waddled.

As Breen let out a gasp, Marco stopped the car.

“I gotta stop. God, Breen, that’s a damn castle. An honest-to-God castle.”

Proud and beautiful, it ruled the rise with its majestic spread of gray stone, with its spears of towers, its turrets and battlements. Its flags waved in the wind.

“I saw pictures,” she said. “I researched, and I still didn’t really believe it would look like this.”

“This is a day, Breen. This is a damn day.”

“We’re going to be too early to check in, but they’ll take the luggage and store it. It’s got acres and acres we can walk.”

He inched the car along. “Could use some walking. Looks like it’s going to rain, but that won’t bother us.”

“No, it won’t bother us.”

As they pulled up in front, a man in uniform walked down to open the car door for Breen. “Welcome to Dromoland. Are you checking in?”

“Yes. Yes, we’re checking in.”

It couldn’t have gone smoother, Breen thought. Everyone was so friendly, so helpful. The grounds she walked with Marco were beyond magical.

When the rain came, and decided it meant it, they walked back, wet and happy, to explore the castle.

They found suits of armor, simmering fires in stone hearths, a couple of pretty shops, and dozens of brochures on the area that Breen snapped up.

They had a drink in the bar, a light lunch before someone came to escort them to their rooms.

Lovely rooms, Breen thought, with big beds and snuggly throws, with whiskey for those who’d want it and views of the hills.

“I am the king of the castle,” Marco said, and bounced on the bed in his room.

“Okay, Your Majesty, the plan is unpack, then an hour’s nap. We’re following the rules of battling jet lag. We’ve had the walk, the food, now one hour’s sleep. Adding in time to shower, change, blah, blah, we meet up at . . . five fifteen.”

“Cocktail time. So the bar.”

“That’ll work, and we’ll plan out what we want to do tomorrow.” She walked to the door. “Unpack first, and set an alarm.”

He saluted her. “Roger that. Hey, do the Die Hard. Take off your shoes and make fists with your toes.”

She walked to her own room, simply wandered the space, touched fabric, furniture. She unpacked the suitcase she’d earmarked for this part of her journey. She considered a shower before her nap, but remembered her hair.

So she stretched out on the big bed under the soft throw, and with her face turned toward the window, drifted off.

There were dreams, but when her alarm beeped, they blurred. She pushed herself up in bed, decided the jet lag advice might not always work.

However lovely the room, it still felt like the middle of the night to her body. She tried the Die Hard thing before she dragged that body up and into the shower. She yearned for a Coke, something to jump-start her system, and remembered the minibar.

Wrapped in the hotel robe—and what a luxury that was—her hair like wet ropes, she opened the bottle, drank half of it.

Better, she decided. Definitely better.

It took her until five thirty to make herself presentable and find the bar again. There Marco sat, flirting with the sandy-haired bartender.

“Here’s my best girl. Isn’t she a looker, Sean?”

“She is indeed. Good evening to you, miss, and welcome.”

“Thanks. Sorry I’m late.”

“Worth the wait.”

“And what can I get for you?” Sean asked her.

She eyed Marco’s beer, knew she couldn’t drink a pint of anything. She’d float away.

“Kir Royale,” Marco decreed. “Breen looks like a woman who should be drinking Kir Royales.”

“Will that suit you?”

“I’ve never had one.”

“Well then, you must, of course. And Marco tells me it’s your first time in Ireland, though your father was born here.”

“Yes. It’s as beautiful as he always told me. He was from Galway.”

“Ah, a lovely place is Galway.”

“Sean’s from right here in Clare, and he’s given me some places we need to see. Meanwhile.” Marco took out his phone. “You’ve got twenty-two comments and eighty-four views on your blog.”

“Oh, I do not.”

“Look for yourself.” Smug, he passed her the phone. “Breen’s started a blog, about the trip, and life in general.”

“Is that the truth? I’d love to read it myself, if you’d send me a link.”

“Glad to.”

Sean set a flute in front of her, a red-gold liquid with raspberries swimming in the bubbles.

“It’s mostly the usual suspects.”

“But not all—not in comments or views.”

Reading, she picked up the flute, sipped. Looked up. “I definitely like this drink. Where’s it been all my life?”

“Today’s the first day of the rest of it.”

Marco tapped his glass to hers.

She had two, stuck with water over fish and chips. They took another walk, then watched a family from Baltimore play snooker.

“I’m fading, Marco, and by some miracle I’ve made it until ten thirty.”

“We could have a nightcap.”

“I’ve had more to drink in the last few days than I do in a year. Besides, you can go back and flirt with Sean without the third wheel.”

“Girl, he’s adorable, and straight as a ruler. I was softening him up for you.”

“Not looking for a flirt or a fling.”

“Why do you make me so sad?”

“I’m calling it.” She stifled a yawn. “Remember, breakfast at eight, then we head out. We’re packing a lot in tomorrow.”

“And you’re driving.”

“To. You drive back.”

   
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