“Yessir. I’m afraid though that it’s only a weather update.” Aine gave them a sad smile. “It looks like it’ll be poor weather for rainbows today. Perhaps tomorrow? The air seems near right for it, so it shouldn’t be too long now.”
“That’s what I told him this morning, dearie. It’s no worry at all…” The ginger haired older woman tutted at her spouse. “See, what’d I tell you. Tomorrow we can try, but it’s entirely too early right now.”
“I am telling you, I used to be able to sense these things. No good at it anymore.” the older man shook his head. “Never get old, Miss Aine. It’s never fun for anyone.”
“One more drink before you go? Perhaps some clover tea? House recipe.” Aine flashed a kind smile at the woman, who chuckled at her attempt to have them stay.
“Oh no, we should be finding our way back before it gets too dark. No good stumbling about in the dark. Too many wild things out there.”
“As you say, ma’am.” Aine settled their tab and personally walked them to the door. Both of them were a good foot and a half below her height. The gentleman motioned for Aine to lean down on his way out. “That new fellow you had here. Keep an eye on him. He seems ready to snap.”
“I noticed too, sir. I am going to do my best.” Aine patted him on the shoulder, fully expecting there to be several more such comments. New folk about were rare.
By the time Aine could return her attention to the bar, Marcus was polishing off a bottle he’d helped himself to. “Don’t you think you’ve had enough, Marcus?” “Just about…” Marcus slurred, having trouble holding his head up. “My regards to the chef!”
Marcus tried to salute the kitchen with the bottle, but his grasp on it slipped. Aine took the bottle from his grasp before it could slip and crash to the floor. Marcus’s head wasn’t so lucky, hitting the bar with a dull thud. “I think you mean the brewer,” Aine muttered.
Aine’s evening continued around Marcus’s slumbering form. She kept the place in order on her own, greeting each customer as if they were family. They responded in kind. There were no strangers in this place.
By the time she was closing up, the figure at the bar was raising his head. “What’d I miss?” He ran his hand through his hair, slicking it back, his hand instinctively going for a hair tie.
Aine smiled at her last customer and co-owner. “Not much, Philip. Did you sleep well?”
“Well enough when one is black out drunk. Must he do that?” Philip gave his jacket a sniff, apparently not liking what he smelled. “Ugh… Please tell me…” “Laundry was done this morning. It’ll be dry by now, up in your room.” Aine watched as Philip stumbled up the stairs.
Dealing with the two of them was second nature to her by this point. Her patience in arbitrating their silly squabbles was one of the key reasons they’d signed on in the first place. Their strange living situation made Marcus and Philip an interesting duo to work with.
Between the three of them though (well, mostly her and Philip), they managed to keep the place running. And that was enough of a challenge in and of itself with some of the folk coming through. Take that Dillion for example…
Aine thought of the young gentleman as she cleaned up the kitchen, putting away what was left of the stew for another day. She had some inkling of his issues, but… Time. She needed time to work on that one. And time was something she had in abundance.
Aine hung up her apron and climbed the stairs to her room, ignoring Philip’s cursing at his absentee brother. Something inside her ached for the early days when this had been simpler. Time changed things, and those who stumbled across her doorstep seemed ill equipped to adapt.
As Aine got ready for bed, she could hear the sounds of little feet downstairs, heading for the cream and bread left in the kitchen no doubt. She had to admit, as much as things changed, the little haven she and the others had carved out here was worth the effort.
That night was cold and windy, like many a fateful seaside night before. As the small town’s inhabitants lay in their beds trying to sleep, memories of similar nights before echoed into focus.
For some, they were memories of promises made, bonds forged with lungs full of salty air. The sea, as fickle a thing as it can be, could hold one to a promise with surprising ferocity.
For others, the night held memories of new beginnings and new bonds. The night could forge a link as well as any forge, given the right desperation to fuel the process.
All in all, however, there was one thing the townsfolk would agree on in the morning: on a night like that, there was little sleep to be had, and the morning sun brought with it blurry eyes and grumblings at the shortness of sleep.
Maeveen was up early, as always. She washed up quickly, changing into a bright dress before hurrying downstairs to begin work on breakfast. Her father left before she woke, eating leftover bread and fish. Dillion, on the other hand… Maeveen made sure to wake before him.
Dillion was a bit of a picky eater, she knew. Eggs and bread were alright, but the man loved fish beyond measure. Luckily she was a fisherman’s daughter. There was always fish and Maeveen knew just about every way one could cook a fish.
Honestly, Maeveen was so sick of fish, she avoided eating it as much as possible. But, what Dillion wanted, Dillion would get. She was determined to show him she could make him happy.
So, inevitably, she was awake, finishing up cooking some fish for her Dillion when he came in, bleary eyed and tired looking. Maeveen’s father, Captain Finnigan, had refurbished the unused shed out back for the man when Dillion needed a place to stay.
“Good morning, Dillion!” Maeveen bounced over to his side, kissing him on the cheek. “Breakfast is almost ready. Would you like some eggs? We have some fresh from the Turner family’s hens.”
“That’d be nice,” Dillion replied, though he sounded distant. He slid into his usual spot at the table. At least, Maeveen thought, he wasn’t avoiding breakfast like he sometimes did. “Do we have any fish?” He asked.
Maeveen sighed as she plated the food. “When is there ever not?” She set the plate in front of Dillion, loaded with eggs, warm bread, and fish. Dillion dug into the fish. “You were out later than usual yesterday.” Maeveen mentioned as she took her own seat at the table.
Dillion tensed momentarily before quickly replying. “I got to talking with some people in town.” Maeveen didn’t make eye contact. She was so tired of him flinching every time she asked him a question.
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