Successful advertising manager, GRETA CONNER travels to Ireland to fulfill a last wish from her mother. After arriving in Ireland, she is drawn to a colorful village named Angel’s Hollow. When a dark-haired stranger approaches and calls her by another name, Greta is intrigued to discover she’s the image of AEDAN O’RIAIN’s ex-girlfriend. Does she have a close relative unknown to her?
Aedan can’t understand his misfortune. Along with near bankruptcy in his future, his ex is trying to fool him by claiming she’s Greta Conner from the States. Is it some sort of plot to further ruin his reputation? Adding to his angst, his brother, Reece, insists on dating Greta if Aedan will not. All will certainly be lost if Reece falls into her plans.
Angel’s Hollow becomes like home for Greta, and there’s no one her heart loves more than Aedan. But will an unknown twin threaten all she’s longed for?
“Go to Cork.” The light blue eyes of her mother beckoned.
Greta struggled to understand the words as Aunt Sophie took her hand and led her into the hallway. She didn’t want to leave and glanced back to see Dad stepping close to Mom’s bedside.
“What did mommy mean? Why’d she say that?”
“Greta, your mommy didn’t say anything. She’s been in a coma. You know what that is, right?”
She nodded in answer. “But she did speak to me. She looked at me and told me to go to Cork.”
“No, honey.” Her aunt bent down to Greta’s eye level. “She’s in heaven now.”
“Where is Cork?” Is heaven—Cork?
“It’s a county in Ireland. County Cork. Your mother lived there for a while.”
The memory of the scene seemed as vivid as if it happened yesterday. But her mom had passed away twenty-two years ago when Greta was five. She sighed and her eyes brimmed with tears. Losing her mother had been like losing her own life.
Replaying the thoughts in her mind was inevitable as she drove the small rental car away from Cork City airport. Her arms trembled, but strength rose within. Her mom wanted her to journey here—where Mom met Dad.
Greta took a deep breath of cool late-summer air and reminded herself to keep to the left of the road. Cork City was a colorful mix of new and old with many places to explore. But finding a smaller town to set up as home-base suited her. Once she had the idea, nothing else seemed right.
The foreign countryside beckoned to her like a haunting Celtic song. The rolling green fields marked with a narrow road ahead and backlit by the low evening sun was surreal.
Driving further, her car was the only one on the road which added to the eerie quality. She seemed to travel on the edge of the world—everything else slipped further away from her. What if her car died? How long would it be before someone found her?
Her imagination supplied her with wild thoughts of a murderer crossing her path. He’d be a crazy character with pasty skin, greasy hair and a wicked knife. She’d do her best to run away or kick and fight, but her younger brother and father would never see her again.
She gripped the steering wheel harder. Bart and Dad would be fine. They were busy with their own lives anyway. She had no other choice than to come. The image of her mom’s beautiful face came to mind again. “Go to Cork.”
Besides that, she trusted she’d be fine. When her imagination showed her tragic scenarios, it was always wrong. When Dad was late coming home, he was never in an auto accident and barely hanging on to life. And when her little brother at the age of three had disappeared for half a day, he hadn’t been kidnapped. He’d fallen asleep in the closet under an old coat.
So why worry about the worst case scenario? She’d already done her share of worrying and needed to focus on positive things.
After navigating tight turns and passing through some small points of civilization consisting of a few buildings and a petrol station, a moderately-sized village came into view. The sea sparkled behind it, and the sun nearly touched the glassy horizon. Choosing a place so soon wasn’t something she planned to do, but its name, Angel’s Hollow, touched her heart. She needed God’s comfort and help.
A red house gave way to rows of brightly colored shops built right next to each other. The striking colors were probably a way to define where one stopped and the other started—dark green, canary yellow, periwinkle blue, maraschino cherry red, and cotton candy pink.
Finding an open space on the side of the road, Greta parked and stepped out of the car to get a closer look at the businesses. The brick sidewalks and flower boxes added to the riot of color. She loved the gift shops—especially the ones with rich-looking crystal and earthy pottery. Nearby a bakery showcased cupcakes and scones. Across the street were a couple of pubs and an enticing restaurant or two.
Couples strode by her, talking animatedly. Tourists. Some of the languages she couldn’t quite determine. Had to be a European dialect. Another group was American with a New York accent. The family wore their wealth well with immaculate clothing and strode by with an air of importance. She lost interest in them as a man about her age headed toward her.
He walked in a hurried pace, holding a bouquet of red and white carnations. She almost forgot how to breathe. The woman who was to receive those flowers had to be the luckiest one on earth. His dark hair, friendly face, and lean build were everything she admired in a man, right down to his neatly trimmed facial hair.
He looked directly at her, his blue-gray eyes widening in the process. He took a nasty stumble, but righted himself in the next stride. As he neared, he studied her face, then stopped in front of her. His forehead wrinkled. “Iona?”
“Sorry. You must have me confused with another.” Greta used her much-practiced Irish accent.
His mouth dropped open and his eyes became wary. She moved to pass by, but he stopped her with a light touch on her sleeve. “You’re not? But you look exactly like me ex—you’re codding.”
“Cod? Fish?” The words slipped out without the added accent. No, not fish. Codding… it meant kidding. Didn’t do too well with that one, but at least it finally came to her.
“If you don’t mind me asking, where’re you from?” The bouquet took a downward turn and languished by his leg.
“The Midwest.” She tried the accent again.
“The Midwest, aye?” He scratched his beard. “Westmeath? Offaly? Galway?”
She shook her head at each one. “Indiana.”
His puzzled look and defeated manner of lifting his shoulders to let them drop made her smile.
“Oh. That there. You’re definitely not Iona.” He smiled back. “You’re from the States then? Indiana must be one of the fifty?”
“Gave me quite a turn. Will you be here for a while?”
“Stop by O’Riain’s Cottage,” he pointed to the pink hotel with a restaurant across the street, “and I’ll get you a glass. I’m Aedan. Aedan O’Riain.”
“I’m Greta Conner.”
He seemed to force a smile as he nodded and turned to leave. What was so odd about her name?
Aedan rushed across the street to O’Riain’s Cottage without a backward glance. Her last words telling him that she was Greta Conner floated through his head. How did Iona think she could fool him like that? What was her plan? To humiliate him again?
Jackie Zack lives in Indiana and has three adult children and two cats. One of her favorite things in life is hearing people laugh. She hopes her writing will bring much enjoyment, making the reader feel uplifted and refreshed.
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