”Don you find this the least bit stalker-ish? ” Eoin turned his head to the seat next to him in their rental car. Eamon was looking at him with a face that read of distaste and unease. ”I mean, you showed up to her work, acting all sorts of dodgy, shoved a business card at her, and then disappeared like a weirdo. Showing up at her house, which we would only know where it was by following her, seems like an unwise decision by my book. ”

Scoffing, Eoin turned his attention back to the house they were currently parked in front of. ”We don have time to wait for a socially acceptable amount of time to pass. ”

”If thats the case, why didn you just talk to her in her office? ” Eamon didn fail to notice the sheepish expression that crept onto his friends face.

”I chickened out, alright? ”

”Chickened out? Eoin, weve been looking for this girl for years! Years! ”

”Thats just it, isn it? Years and we finally found her! My mind blanked. ” Eoin looked down, seeming ashamed of himself. He knew how hard they worked to find this woman. He could tell the second he walked into that office that she was the one. He could feel it in his bones. ”Besides, it worked out ok. We
e here, aren we? ”

Eamon sighed and slumped further into his seat. He loved Eoin like a brother; they grew up together, with Eamon being a few years older. But sometimes, he drove Eamon mad. ”Alright, lets get this over with, shall we? ”

Eoin nodded and hesitantly opened his car door and stepped outside. This was going to be a long night.

_____________________________________________

Dinner had been tense, to say the least. Everyone was lost in their thoughts, and little was said except the occasional ”pass the potatoes. ” Ashling, for her part, didn blame her brothers for the silence. She was grateful for the time to process her mess of emotions over the whole thing.

Should they call this guy? What could he possibly have to say about their parents? It had to be a scam, right? But then, how did this guy even know about their parents? Their accident had been significant, the kind of crash not often seen in such a rural place. They had been t-boned by a transport truck whose driver had fallen asleep at the wheel and then struck three other cars, killing those passengers as well. There was a write-up in the paper about it.

That must be it! That was where this guy found them. He must be looking for sad, grieving families to con and was googling local tragedies! Ash wasn sure what kind of plan would involve something so insensitive, but it was the only thing that made sense.

Sighing for what felt like the millionth time since her return home, she got up and began clearing the empty dishes from the table, her brothers raising to do the same. It was their nightly routine. Cian cooked pretty much all the time. He enjoyed it (unlike the rest of them) and was good at it. The other three McCoubrie siblings were responsible for the clean-up.

They were only half done when the doorbell suddenly sounded. All four siblings froze, confusion written on their faces.

”Was anyone expecting guests? ” Declan asked, setting the dish he had been drying down on the counter. A chorus of nos followed.

”Ill get the door, ” Ashling offered, moving quickly around her goliath-sized siblings towards the front door to not keep whoever was outside waiting too long in the cold. She pulled the door open, beginning to greet whoever it was, until the words stuck in her throat when she saw who was on the other side of her front door.

It was the same man from her office: Eoin. He looked the same as earlier, right down to the stupid look on his face, the sides of his eyes crinkling from the smile slowly creeping forward. He stood on the top step of her porch, one hand stuffed in his pocket, the other raised in a sad sort of half-wave.

”You! ” she exclaimed, ”What are you doing here? ”

”Yes, me. ” He answered, having the common courtesy to look at least a tad uneasy, ”I wasn being frank with you earlier. ” He lifted a hand to rub the back of his neck in a nervous gesture.

”You think? ” she answered back, her sarcastic tone making him cringe a bit.

”I am also here! ” a voice called from behind Eoin. Ashling, startled, leaned around the tall roadblock standing in front of her to see who was behind him.

Another man, slightly shorter than Eoin, stood just back from the beginning of the porch steps. His blond hair was messy, but in a way that looked like it was done on purpose. His blue eyes and striking features made him a pretty handsome man, though the twinkle of delight in his eye spoke of a jokester buried within.

”Sorry! My friend has no manners, ” he said with a smile, pulling Eoin back from the porch and stepping in to take his place, his hand outstretched to shake. ”My name is Eamon. ”

”Nice to meet you, Eamon, ” Ashling answered hesitantly, gripping his hand in hers in greeting.

”Likewise! ” he chirped, a smile stretching further across his face. ”Im sorry for turning up like this, but we were hoping to speak to you. It is rather important. ”

”Your friend mentioned something about my parents when he broke into my office. ” Ashs tone left no doubt that she was annoyed (to say the least) at Eoins approach to the whole situation.

”Yes, well, he is an idiot, ” Eamon grinned as if that explained everything. They both ignored the indignant ”Hey! ” that sounded from over Eamons shoulder.

Before anything more could be said, Ashling felt a hand on her shoulder. Turning, she saw Declan standing behind her, glowering at the two men outside.

”Whos this? ” he grumbled. He had heard Ashling speaking to whoever was at the door and knew something must be up for her to still be there.

”This is Eamon and Eoin, ” Ashling answered, pointing to each man, respectively, who were both standing with surprised faces. ”Eoin was the man from work I was telling you about. ”

”Really? ”

Eoin cleared his throat, moving past whatever it was that seemed to shock him, and stepped closer once again, a much more serious look on his face. ”Yes, about that. We do need to discuss something with you about your family. ”

”May we come in? ” Eamon added, hoping to break some of the tension, not to mention getting out of the damn cold that was starting to settle into his bones.

Ashling could tell right away that her brother was mere seconds away from suggesting the two strangers go straight to hell and slamming the door in their faces. Still, she was far too curious to let that happen. ”Oh, yes! Please come in! ”

Declan turned to her, shocked. ”What? ”

”You don want to hear what they have to say? ” She asked, looking at him with a knowing stare. He was just as curious (and concerned) as she was.

”Fine, ” he bit out through clenched teeth before turning on his heel and stalking back into the living room.

Ashling turned to their sudden guests, waved them inside, closed the door once they were both in, and pointed them to one of the sofas with a quiet ”please sit. ”

Eoin rubbed his hands together in anticipation before looking at Eamon. ”Where should we start? ”

Eamon opened his mouth to answer before Declan, who had been looming behind the oversized chair Ashling was in, chimed in with a stern ”wait. ” The two men stilled, unsure of what they were waiting for.

Ash turned towards the kitchen and called, ”Hey Seamus! Cian! Come into the living room, please! ” Cian entered first, wiping his hands dry on a towel from doing the dishes. Seamus came in second, tripping over the rug as he did so. He managed to correct himself before he fell but almost took out a lamp in the process.

”Jesus, Seam. You are a menace, ” Cian muttered, rolling his eyes. He moved to sit down in the chair next to his sister and faced their visitors, both of whom once again sported shocked looks.

”There are four of you?! ”

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