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by Pat McDermott

Ronan arrives at the home of his cousin Andy to take photographer Gabbi
on a driving tour of County Mayo's scenic Croagh Patrick area.
While Ronan waits for her, Andy shares more than exciting news.


Sleepy-eyed in an old gray sweatsuit, mug of tea in hand, Andy opened the door before Ronan rang the bell. “Mornin’, Rone. Suzanne’s still sleeping. Gabbi’s almost ready. She’s packing her camera things. Tea?”

Ronan tiptoed in. “No thanks. You’re up early, Andrew.”

Andy shut the door. “I wanted to speak to you, private like. Won’t take long. Come out to the kitchen.”

Like a funhouse flash, Gabbi appeared in the hall. “Hi, Ronan. I need two more minutes.” She whirled and vanished.

“That means five, at least.” Andy ambled to the kitchen.

Ronan followed, declining a second offer of tea. “Before I forget, here’s a spare key to the house. If by some chance we’re delayed, you can let everyone in.”

Andy set the key on the counter. “Will do, Rone.”

“So what’s up?”

A sly glance toward the hall prefaced Andy’s response. “Last night, Suzanne and I planned to make an announcement.”

Ronan caught on immediately. He couldn’t keep from grinning. “Were you now? A happy announcement, I take it?”

“Happy indeed. We’re expecting a baby. ETA July.”

Grasping Andy’s hand, then his entire arm, Ronan shook his cousin hard enough to make him laugh. “Congratulations. I’m tickled for yez. Why didn’t you tell the fam last night?”

“We didn’t want to upstage Maura and Gary’s engagement thing. We’ll tell them Christmas Eve or something. There’s plenty of time. Gabbi knows, though she’s sworn to secrecy. And I’m telling you for more than to share my delirious joy. I suspect you might find good use for these.” He drew a thin box from his sweatshirt pocket and held it up.

Ronan blinked at it. “Condoms?”

“We used them till we decided to try for the bambino. We’ve no need of them now.” Andy glanced toward the hall again. “I’m thinkin’ you’re a likely candidate for these little fellas. Oh, sorry. I meant, colossal fellas.”

Holding his breath to keep a straight face, Ronan folded his arms across his chest. “I do own a few myself, y’know.”

“And I’m thinkin’ you’ll be going through them fast enough.”

“Would you stop? I hardly know the girl.”

“Ah, go on. I watched you daydream your way through me da’s house last night pretending to admire the place so you could claim the last available seat, coincidentally right next to Miss Gabbi.”

“I wasn’t pretending. I like your da’s place.”

“Right. Anyway, you’ll know the girl better after your driving tour, yeah? Especially if you’re, as you say, delayed.” Andy thrust the box at him. “They’re dated. ’Twould be a shame to let them expire and die in vain.”

“You’re astray in the head, man.”

“I’m ready,” Gabbi whisper-shouted as she entered the kitchen.

The container of condoms seemed to slap itself into Ronan’s hands. Fumbling with the ludicrous thing, he turned his back to the door and jammed the box in his pocket.

Partner-in-crime Andy stepped forward and shielded the movement from Gabbi. “All packed and ready for your recon mission? Jayz, Gab. I’d hate to see what you’d be carrying on the real deal.” He moved so Ronan could stand beside him.

“Hey, Gabbi.” Ronan eyed her up and down. Straps linked two leather bags to her shoulders. The smaller bag looked like a lady’s purse. The other must be her camera bag. One of them, anyway. He approved of her sturdy walking shoes. “Can I take some of that for you?”

Her lustrous smile danced all the way to her cinnamon eyes. “If you take anything, I’ll fall over. I’m perfectly balanced now.”

Andy playfully poked her arm. “You are indeed. Where are you heading, Rone?”

“We’ll drive to Murrisk, and then to Drummin.”

“Good plan. Powerful views of the Reek. If the sun ever rises, that is.”

Gabbi had already gone down the hall. “It did. At eight forty-seven a.m. Let’s go, Ronan. Early morning light is ideal for shooting scenery.”

Ronan checked his watch. Ten past nine. Ignoring Andy’s devilish leer, he started after her. “See you later, And.”

“If you need extra time, be sure to take it. I have a key to your place, after all. Give us a shout if you want the place to yourselves for a bit.”

“Good-bye, Andrew.”

Leaving his lecherous cousin chuckling, Ronan followed Gabbi out the front door and clicked it shut behind him.




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