The musicians burst into action, filling the big room with a lilting Irish tune.
Ellen was mesmerized by the musician in the chair as he thrust himself into the tune, his muscular body swaying and his fingers flying. He was amazing.
As the tune ended, the audience applauded, stomped, and whistled. The man in the chair lifted his cap for a moment and looked straight at her.
Ellen sucked in her breath. She couldn’t believe it. This musician was the auburn-haired man she saw in the cafeteria on her first day. Why hadn’t she recognized him immediately?
The band continued the set as Ellen’s attention moved from one musician to another, always lingering on the auburn-haired man playing some kind of strange bagpipes.
When the set ended, the crowd yelled for more. The auburn-haired man got up and whispered something into the fiddler’s ear.
The fiddler nodded and passed the word to the other musicians and then said to the crowd, “All right then. We’ll play one last song in honor of an American lady visiting us tonight.” He pointed to Ellen.
Astonished, Ellen looked at the auburn-haired man who tipped his cap and smiled at her before the band launched into “Thank God for America.”
The audience started clapping and swaying to the tune, and Ellen joined in.
When the last note ended, the fiddler said, “It’s a wonderful audience you’ve been. Thank you friends. Good night.”
After that, the musicians stood at the edge of the stage shaking hands and chatting with several people in the audience before they started packing away their instruments.
The man from the cafeteria looked at Ellen, cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “Wait for me, please. I’ll be right there.”
She nodded yes and watched him taking apart his instrument and packing the pieces carefully into his case. He closed the case and set it down at the edge of the stage before stepping down to stand in front of her.
Smiling at her, he asked, “May I join you?”
Returning his smile, she said, “Of course.”
Sitting down opposite her, he leaned over and said, “Since you keep popping up in my life, I think it’s time for an introduction. I’m Tomas Brandon.”
He held out his hand, and she grasped it, noticing how warm and strong it was. “And, I’m Ellen Porter. How did you know I am American?”
“You look a bit Irish. I’ll give you that, but truth be told, I got the memo about an American female engineer coming on temporary assignment. Welcome to Dublin.”
Her hand still in his, she said, “Thank you, I’m glad to be here.” He held her hand a second longer.
“So, tell me about yourself Ellen Porter. Where you come from and what you are about.”
“I got my engineering degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Got my first job in our San Francisco facility. Got married and divorced in San Francisco, transferred to the Austin facility, stored all my stuff there, hopped on a plane to Dublin, and here I am.”
“I won’t pry about the divorce, but I’m glad you’re here. What are you drinking? Want another one?”
“I wanted a pint of Guinness, but a nosey waiter talked me out of it, so I’m drinking wheat beer.”
Tomas threw back his head and laughed. “For sure it was Benny. He’s always looking after the ladies. Maybe he has a daughter. I don’t know.”
Tomas raised his hand, and Benny quickly appeared, asking, “What can I get you?”
Ellen studied her companion’s profile. Up close, he was ruggedly handsome with a strong jaw and prominent nose.
“Two wheat beers like the lady is drinking,” Tomas said.
Tomas turned full face to smile at Ellen. His short auburn hair, wide face, and high cheekbones framed his deep-set golden hazel eyes.
She smiled at him and said, “So, tell me about yourself, Tomas Brandon.”
“I’m an electrical engineer by day, a musician by night once in a while, and an officer in the Irish Army Defense Reserve some weekends and some summer days.”
If you like sweet romance, come along to enjoy the twists and turns of this Irish-American tale.