Some people called me an heiress brat. A socialite of Manhattan with nothing between my skull but hot air and the latest fashion trend. They said I was more acrylic nails than SATs.
I’m none of those things.
I’d say I was decisive. I know what I want, and I work my yoga-built bottom off to get it because if I didn’t, how else would I achieve anything? And while I might technically be my daddy’s heir, I don’t take his money for granted, nor am I living on his allowance anymore.
I’ve decided what I want…wanted for a long time and no matter what, I’m going to make it happen.
But I think my social status has more to do with my family name, being a Clemonte.
You see, I’m Catherine Hope Clemonte.
And I have no idea why we’re categorized as though our name is some big scandal when we’re talked about.
I promise we’re not, far from it.
Daddy is rich beyond belief because he earned it the hard way, there was no inheritance for him, he worked constantly, having grown up poor. He got into property development in the early eighties and now the Clemonte Hotels are all over the world. Celebs and the rich flock to stay there. Movies use them for locations. We hold prestigious events that earn their spot in the society pages of Manhattan. He married mom who instantly became his world, and then they had me. I was ridiculously spoiled with love. They’re those embarrassing type of parents who were incessantly in love with each other and had no bones about showing it even if their mortified teenage daughter had friends over at the house.
I suppose being the only child of the fifth richest man in American might explain why I’m called a brat. It’s what people expect. Us millennials have a reputation.
Who cares? I care a little, I guess.
I’m twenty-two, I don’t need that kind of label this early in my life. Can’t they call me a genius? (Sadly, I’m not. I’m in the last year of college and I’ll be lucky to get my business management degree) or a trendsetting influencer? (But I only have a few hundred Instagram followers, so it wouldn’t seem likely to happen. Plus, I only post pictures of toast and the odd stray cat)
Oh, god. My nerves are so rife I could exorcist-puke along with my rampant thoughts going nuts.
I’ve paced outside so long that a passing saloon car actually stopped and asked how much I was charging.
I hustled closer to the bar entryway, caught how loud it was inside and almost changed my mind about going in at all. I could always choose to do this another day, I reasoned with a croak of nerves tickling my throat.
Did I want to do this with an audience?
I swallowed and ran a anxious hand over my long red hair.
I was not risking humiliation and complete rejection just for scraps, I reminded myself. This was an all-in situation.
I wanted it all. I wanted what my heart had hurt over for five years.
My story wasn’t all that unique. Girl too young fell for the older guy. Guy crushes girl’s hope. Girl longs for guy ever since. It’s what every Lifetime movie is built on.
I was too young back then.
Now I’m not.
The door swung open and three guys ambled out talking to one another, giving me a cursory glance before they headed down the street. I hastily stepped aside and peeked in before the door swung closed again.
I knew already what MacNam’s looked like even before I’d stepped inside because I Googled it so often that if the FBI were to look at my search history on my hard drive it would appear that I was up to some no-good shit.
I couldn’t help myself. I had issues, okay. He’d become my sexy, delicious hobby and when I was obsessed with something I was all or nothing. I didn’t have gray areas.
But he hadn’t made my secret hobby easy that was for damn sure when I discovered he didn’t have one social media account.
And believe it, me and my second-best friend wine did extensive cyber stalking one weekend.
What kind of psychopath doesn’t have Snapchat?
I wanted to believe I was so adult chasing after what I wanted—who I wanted, but let the evidence show I was the coward loitering on the streets of Manhattan just after 9 pm gathering my composure to walk inside and lay claim to a man who would probably take one look at me and then look away. There wasn’t even any guarantees he’d remember me.
For two years after he’d crushed my teen heart I swore blind I hated that man for hurting me the way he did. The cruel things he’d said still rattled around my head dousing me in doubts.
Just because I was grown enough to understand his rejection to my adolescent emotions, it didn’t mean he was forgiven for the shitty delivery. The way the bastard sliced down the middle of me in his sharp Irish brogue like a thousand paper cuts could still send bile into my throat.
He could have let me down gently, but that wasn’t who he was.
I’d hurt him too by lying first…deliberately. The bank of lust that had burned through his beautiful eyes died in those few seconds of realization…my lie ended us before we were anything.
Tonight was about checking if the fires were still there in his eyes when he saw me. It was now or never, I’d told my bestie earlier that same week, when I put my plan into action.
She was annoyed with how often I turned down actual dates because I was hung up on something that never was. And that was one of many reasons I was standing outside his Irish pub freezing my butt off at the end of January. Snow laid crisp on the ground just days ago but thankfully had thawed somewhat. Even still, I was wearing my favorite lucky pair of white skinny jeans, pink leather buckle booties and underneath a fitted V-neck butt-length pink woollen coat, was just a plain white tee.
I was a red-haired woman over the age of fourteen who liked pink, m-kay. I didn’t need to explain my fashion choices.
My pulse skittered like a scared cat as I pulled open the door, a shift of warmth from inside coasted over my frozen cheeks.
I’d rehearsed this through every variable of conversation that could occur. Even the downright painful where he kicked me out on my ass for daring to walk into his domain. Even before he’d made a penny he’d had an ego. It was all part of his arrogant appeal, I suppose.
I had no confusion that he’d be anything less than lord of his fortress once I walked through the golden doors.
Face the man, tempt the ego. Or so the plan goes.
The pub was on a whole entire block. The real high-end section of Times Square. Beautiful red brick with tiny flood lights around the trim of the building, looking like an expensive palace. Everyone knew about MacNam’s.
Inside was just as extravagant and inviting with gold and browns everywhere, wooden tables and chairs, with gilded trim adding to the luxurious vibe. It was unlike any Irish pub I’d ever seen before and I felt the pinch of happiness for what he’d achieved for himself in such a short time.
My eyes took it all in. Nerves still jittering.
Along one wall was a full-length bar lit up and mirrored, every high-backed stool taken. On the other side were tables full of customers, I’d thought for a second I’d find a seat, catch my bearings and then casually ask the bartender if the boss was in tonight.
My thoughts got no further than that, they came to a stuttered halt. I wasn’t even afforded a second to peek up the staircase in the middle of the room to the second level because a pair of eyes so blue appeared in my vision and stole my breath.
Hope grew, and sprang like weeds seeing the surprise etched on a face I’d never stopped thinking about.
Not for a second.
Oh, I’d tried.
I’d hated him at times.
We’d been nothing much at all and still he’d exerted all this power over my poor aching body for the longest time.
My smile melted off my face when his warm eyes turned cold…slit to moody darkness and then he scowled.
Nerves goose-bumped across my skin as I forced my feet to move.
There was nothing funny about the irregular way my heart thumped out of order from within my ribcage. Every step I took closer it became a heavier sound in my ears.
No amount of mental rehearsal could have prepared me for how agonisingly real his enigmatic blue eyes felt on me. Sharpe and laser-like.
They were shiver inducing and trained on me, like a hunter would hold a gun.
Deadly and aware of my every step.
Those eyes punctured through me and didn’t waver, not for a second. Not even when a guy came up on his right-hand side and spoke closely to his ear. I watched his mouth move, bringing out words from those lush—vicious lips and still his gaze didn’t leave mine.
There shouldn’t be any reason for the way my insides jumbled up together, tying each organ to my racing heart—but you see, I was looking at the asshole I naïvely fell in love with five years ago…so I was a little out of my comfort zone.
Five long years I’d waited to look him in the eye as an equal—as a badass woman and let him know I was here for him.
The man who had ruined me for any potential boyfriend ever working out.
The main reason I was a virgin, because no one measured up to the flamed feelings he brought out in me.
Oh, yeah, I hated him as much as I loved him, because for a long time I’d wanted to move on from the memory of Ronan. To lose him in a sea of other pretty faces, and yet he always came back. He’d permanently ruled over my heart when I’d tried to remove all trace of him.
What do you need to know about Ronan MacNamara?
He’s a tall boy. Six feet two to be exact. I know this because in my fawning crush back when I first met him, I’d asked all the important questions; age, height and favorite color. (green)
An origin to Dublin he now lived and owned three Irish bars around New York, MacNam’s was synonymous to all things Ireland and success. I couldn’t click on a lifestyle blog without seeing a glowing review for one of his pubs.
He’s not overly muscular. His body is long and ropey strong. He carried himself arrogant and confident, like he was always sure where he was going, and people best just get the fuck out of his way. Clothes always looked perfect on him. Even now in dark-wash jeans with a studded belt, a sweater rolled up his forearms, along with the scuffed worn boots he made my heart skip several beats. That was before I reached his stubbled face, full kissable lips. His haircut had changed from the last time I’d laid eyes on him. Now it was that modern nineteen forties cut, shaved around the sides and swept off to left on top. God almighty, he’d grown even sexier in the interim. His face was ridiculously handsome.
Ronan was a big deal. And not just to my former pubescent heart.
I just didn’t know him all that well. Not the person he was inside, I didn’t know about his thoughts or ambitions, or even his family. Only as far as my long-ago infatuation went and that was mostly softcore daydreams and spying on him through blinds when he came by my house.
But what I knew of him now?
He was a liar.
A sexy, gorgeous, no good Irish liar.
And that’s not me tarring a whole nation with the same brush. I love everything Irish, especially potatoes and Riverdance.
I just know the man I love to be a liar is all, and I firmly believe a woman deeply in love can call her man all the names under the sun if she wants to.
The flapping birds in my belly didn’t give me a respite when I forced my feet to keep moving. Fixated on the turbulent tummy motion just to save my mind from going to dark places that involved his lips and mine.
The expectation now that it was here in front of me tasted weird on my tongue.
Not unfamiliar, but new and dangerous and a tiny bit terrifying.
With no clue how the next few minutes would go, I knew only that I’d come this far and nothing short of a natural disaster was making me turn around.
My stomach was flipping and flopping and generally being a damn nuisance.
Looking at Ronan from across his pub while crowds of people milled around us, his killer blue eyes all over me like gold on a leprechaun, I shuddered inside and willed time to stand still so I could just go on staring at him.
You get nowhere in life if you didn’t take chances, my dad would say. Me chasing down a man? I’m guessing daddy didn’t mean for me to interpret it that way.
No amount of scowling asshole was going to stop me.
Through my nerves I pasted a smile on my face and angled my body through the crowd, closing the gap between us, feeling every bit of the electric energy rushing through my bloodstream.
A girl came from behind, almost sent me flying as she rushed by knocking my shoulder hard enough that it hurt. I saw Ronan’s eyes narrow further, but he wasn’t looking at me this time, his eyes were on the road rage girl who was squealing his name.
“Baby! I missed you!” She declared and launched herself at his chest.
While my own chest deflated of all its air and left me with a weird crash and burn sensation.
The Irish asshole had a girlfriend?
I froze. Hardly blinking. My insides tumbling.
A spoke had well and truly been thrown in my wheels.
My eyes narrowed looking at the cosy scene.
Rude. I thought. How fucking rude. Didn’t he know he was supposed to wait for me to grow up? Hello, here I was fully grown.
I stood there like a deer caught in twin blue headlights. Ronan glaring at me over the shoulder of the blonde woman clinging to him.
Dammit, if I’d known there was going to be a traffic jam of women for his attention I might have gotten my butt inside the pub an hour ago, instead of loitering outside like a creeper.
Heat stole over my nose freckles.
Not because I was embarrassed or disheartened.
Because as I went on looking at Ronan, he was looking nowhere else but directly at me with that scowl and lust.
I saw lust clear as day all over his face and bursting out of his broody eyes while his girlfriend? Lover? Piece of the moment? Tried to climb him like a coconut tree.