It was a million dollar indulgence. An extravagance in the form of a 900 horsepower hybrid, in fact. But damn if the metallic silver 918 Spyder Porsche didn’t drive like it was stolen. For a moment, Shay Donnelly flashed back to the days when he and his friend Gavin McManus actually did steal cars and race them to the outskirts of Dublin.
He’d been driving for hours, starting at dusk so as not to attract as much attention to the showpiece automobile. As the drummer for the biggest band out of Ireland in the last twenty years, he was well known for his love of sports cars, and just as often derided as applauded for his pursuit of the ridiculously priced things.
It was dark with just the Porsche’s headlights guiding the way on the N67 from the Cliffs of Moher heading north through the Burren towards Galway. Driving at night meant the spectacular view was lost, but Shay was more concerned with feeling the power of the engine and the way the tires hugged the road along the switchback curves. As such an expensive automobile should, it responded exceptionally well to taking the turns at high speed and he became one with the smooth movements, zoning out.
Shay punched the accelerator as he came into a straight stretch and the engine switched into gas-fired operation as he tested the promise of getting to sixty miles per hour in less than three seconds. The car performed as expected and filled the interior with an exhilarating 7000 rpm-powered roar. The vibrations filled his body in an all consuming and satisfying way. This other state of being was cut short as a stationary figure became visible on the road ahead.
The breaks did their job with screeching and burned rubber smoke rising off the asphalt as the car stopped just short of the deer staring wide-eyed at him. The sudden quiet with the engine reverting to electric mode allowed him to almost hear the thud of his heart. He imagined the beat matched the deer’s.
As if a released from an invisible hold, the deer looked away and trotted gracefully across the road. It took Shay a moment longer to recover as his mind was fixed on the drum rhythm he had concocted as a result of his quick heartbeat. Music. Music was always relief when he needed it.
Not much further on, Shay saw a sign for Gregans Castle Hotel. He followed it on a whim and found the two-story country hotel lit up in the night. He pulled the Porsche to a stop in front. The amount of other cars meant the venue was busy with travelers and that would have normally put him off, but the desire for a calming drink took precedence.
The distinctive aroma of a peat fire was a pleasant welcome as Shay entered the hotel and found his way to the Corkscrew bar. He removed his black flight jacket and set it on the stool next to him as he took a seat at the counter. The barman greeted him warmly.
“Pint of the black stuff,” Shay said.
“Right away,” the bartender replied and set about the first half-pour of Guinness. He would let it rest before topping it off to ensure that the head was minimized.
Shay took in the small, comfortable room. An elderly man was slumped in a chair in a far corner, mouth open and head lolled to the side as he slept. His companion was a house cat curled up in the chair beside him.
“What’s on, then, mate?” Shay asked. The amount of cars parked out front meant the guests had to all be somewhere together.
“The Kennedy wedding. You’re not here with that?”
“I’m not, no.”
“Quick holiday from the tour?” he asked casually, smoothly indicating he recognized Shay.
“Something like that.”
The bartender set the full pint of Guinness before Shay and read his mood adeptly, leaving him to drink alone.
Shay wasn’t a big drinker in normal circumstances, usually finding little interest in anything more than a light buzz. Drumming and driving were his addictions, where he sought a high. The break in Rogue’s tour had afforded him the opportunity to acquire and test the Porsche.
Rogue had been supporting their most recent album, Ache & Swell, to sold-out crowds for almost six months. They had a three-week “break” that was intended as a rest but would also have them playing several large-scale festivals across Europe. It turned out that the timing would also likely coincide with Sophie, Gavin’s wife, having their baby.
The album had been a phenomenal success, selling close to fourteen million copies. The band’s renewed popularity came by way of both a strong album and a separate stand-alone hit song that had gone from a viral internet sensation to Hollywood blockbuster status when featured in a Chris Pratt romantic comedy. The music industry rarely saw such numbers anymore, and Shay had used this to justify his extravagant purchase of the Porsche. Didn’t he deserve to reward himself, after all?
But he had to admit that tonight’s drive wasn’t about rewarding himself. It was about losing himself.
The trill of laughter disrupted his thoughts and he turned to see a couple walking arm in arm into the bar. The woman was as Irish as they come with a head of red curls, sparkling blue eyes, and smooth,
fair skin. The ruby red cocktail dress she wore clung to her curves in a very pleasant way. The man accompanying her had light brown hair and pale brown eyes, and seemed dull in comparison to the woman’s lively presence.
“Perfect, thanks so much,” the woman told the man. “That’s all I needed.”
Shay was surprised at her flat American accent. He turned his eyes to his pint but kept listening.
“You’re sure you’re all right?” the man asked. He was also American.
“Absolutely. I just needed to escape. You go back to that girl you were eyeing. It’s all right. I’m off to bed soon.”
“Give a hollar if you need anything else.”
She winked at him. “Have fun, Jason.”
Shay sensed the woman hesitate before finally seating herself at the small bar with him, the stool between them occupied by his jacket.
“What can I get for you, Miss?” the bartender asked.
“I suppose I should order something like Guinness or an aged Irish whiskey. But what I really want is tequila,” she replied with an unapologetic smile.
Shay took a long pull on his pint and considered ordering another.
“Do you have any of those little slices of lime?”
With a glance, Shay saw that the woman had been served a shot of tequila and was waiting for the lime.
“I know, I must seem like an obnoxious American with an order like this,” she said.
It took a moment for Shay to realize she was looking at him. The bartender had supplied her with the requested fruit and moved away.
“It’s just the one drink that hits that sweet spot, you know?”
Shay saw that this wasn’t a throw-away line for her. She was really expecting an answer from him. He was always surprised when women flirted with him. It was easier to assume it came in response to his fame than to accept that he was someone people not only noticed but found attractive. His build was compact and he wore his receding strawberry blond hair buzzed, but his gray eyes were intelligent and his prominent Irish cheekbones gave his face an engaging sense of character.
The woman was watching him expectantly. He thought about brushing her off, finishing his drink, and leaving. That’s what he would normally do. His instinct was to keep his head down. But then he remembered that he’d come out tonight to get lost. Why not seize the opportunity to do that with someone else?
Only thing was, he was a terrible flirt. To conjure up something that might send her the right message of his interest in return, he imagined what his renowned playboy bandmate Conor Quinn would say.
Meeting her eyes, he replied, “Tell me about that sweet spot.”
And it worked like a charm.
© Lara Ward Cosio