Wild Chance (Wilder Irish #13) by Mari Carr



Prologue





Patrick Collins took a long swig of cold Guinness and leaned back in his chair, soaking up his surroundings. His grandson, Padraig, sat across from him, grinning widely, if somewhat wearily. They’d walked the streets of Killarney for most of the morning and early afternoon until Patrick cried uncle, suggesting they break for lunch and a pint when he’d spotted what used to be Scully’s Pub back in the day.

Patrick had met his wife, Sunday, at Scully’s, where he’d served as the bartender. Sunday had been hired to sing and play guitar on the weekends, and it hadn’t taken Patrick more than one glance of the beauty to fall madly in love.

The pub had changed hands a few times since the good old days—as Scully had passed away decades earlier—and while it had been updated a bit, it still had the same atmosphere of an old-school Irish pub.

“So you really met Grandma Sunday here?” Padraig asked.

“I did indeed. She stood right over there on that stage in the corner, picked up her guitar, and sang with the sweetest voice I’d ever heard. Took one look at her and fell head over heels.”

“This is seriously cool. I can’t believe I’m really in the exact same spot where you met Grandma Sunday. I gotta get a picture of this to text back to everyone else.”

Padraig had always been one of Patrick’s biggest fans when it came to his stories about days gone by, and his grandson had admitted last night that being able to see the actual places from all the old tales was his favorite part about their trip to Ireland.

Patrick cheesed for the camera as Padraig held up his phone, taking a selfie as the two of them pointed to the stage behind them, then his grandson texted it with the words, Sunday’s stage. First place Pop Pop ever saw her.

Patrick anticipated that Padraig’s phone would begin pinging as everyone commented about the photo. Padraig had started a family group text just before they boarded the plane to fly to Ireland for their big trip. Since then, he’d taken countless pictures to text home, after which various family members would reply. The comments made Patrick feel as if they were all there with him, and it had warmed his heart that not only was he able to share this experience with his family, but that they were all so excited to see it, so interested in his past, so curious about their roots. He was indeed blessed when it came to his children and grandchildren.

“You know, Scully’s reminds me a lot of Pat’s Pub,” Padraig added.

The second the words crossed his grandson’s lips, Patrick saw the familiar shadow fall over Padraig’s face that appeared whenever the pub was mentioned.

Patrick struggled to talk about Pat’s Pub as well, but he worked hard to hide that from his family. Thinking of his own beloved pub back in Baltimore, gutted by a fire a few weeks before the holidays, caused him more pain than he cared to admit. He’d been present to watch a lifetime of memories and treasures reduced to ash. The image was one he would never be able to erase, and for the first—and perhaps only—time in his life, he’d been glad Sunday hadn’t been there. It would have devastated his dear wife.

Fortunately, no one had been hurt in the fire. Oliver, his grandson, as well as his partners, Gavin and Erin, who’d all been asleep in the apartment upstairs when the faulty electrical wiring sparked into flames, had managed to get out of the building via the fire escape.

The fire was actually the reason he was here now in Ireland with his son, Tris, and grandsons, Padraig and Colm. The entire family had gone together on a Christmas gift, paying for this amazing trip, no doubt to distract Patrick from the upsetting memory and to keep him busy while his other sons, Sean and Killian, worked overtime to rebuild the pub.

He hadn’t returned to Ireland since he and Sunday married and moved to Baltimore over sixty years earlier, and his family had decided now was the perfect time. It was the greatest gift he’d ever received.

“Wonder what’s keeping Dad and Colm,” Padraig mused aloud, obviously seeking a way to change the subject.

Patrick shrugged. “Who knows with those two? At this rate, Colm is going to have to buy another suitcase to get all his trinkets, knickknacks, and treats home.”

Padraig chuckled. “Yeah, well, he showed up late to the party, so he’s trying to make up for lost time.”

Colm, Padraig’s twin brother, had joined them for the last two weeks of their six-week adventure. Unlike Padraig and Tris, who were out of work until the pub reopened, Colm had a thriving law practice he couldn’t leave for such an extended period of time.