Kara Stewart let out a frustrated huff as she descended the three uneven stone steps from the front door of the Western Adoption Agency. So much for her expectation that someone would open a file and give her all the information she needed. The task she’d set herself was obviously going to prove more difficult than she had anticipated.
She glanced across the street at the coffee shop on the corner. Maybe a large Americano would help her wrap her mind around everything the Agency secretary had told her. After checking to her left for oncoming traffic, she stepped into the road.
A squeal of brakes and the harsh blast from a car horn made her jump. Turning quickly, she clapped her hand to her mouth. She’d come within inches of being hit by a dark blue taxi.
The driver jumped out. ‘What the—? Are you trying to commit suicide or something?’
‘I’m so sorry! I looked the wrong wa—’ Her thudding heart jerked as she recognised him. He’d driven them several times from Mist Na Mara into Clifden. ‘Oh, it’s you.’
Wide-eyed surprise replaced the man’s frown. ‘Kara? I didn’t expect to see you here in Galway.’
‘I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking, and forgot to look right instead of left.’
‘No harm done, fortunately.’ He took a step nearer her. ‘Are you okay? You look a bit shaken.’
‘I’m good.’ Her pulse still galloped but she nodded toward his car. ‘I’m just grateful for your good brakes.’
‘Reflex action, but I’ll admit you gave me a scare.’
‘I’m sorry,’ she said again.
‘Where are you heading? Can I give you a lift?’
Momentarily, she considered asking him to take her to Salthill, but the need for coffee prevailed, if only to calm her nerves after the near miss. ‘Actually, I was aiming for the café across the road.’
‘Sounds like a good plan. Mind if I join you?’
Surprised, but with a tickle of pleasure scuttling through her veins, she nodded. ‘Sure, but only if you let me buy you a coffee. My way of thanking you for not knocking me down.’
‘Okay, if you insist. I’ll park up and join you there.’ He glanced over his shoulder. ‘Road’s clear for you to cross now without giving anyone else a heart attack.’
Kara crossed, walked a few yards along the street to the door of the coffee shop, and waited while he reversed into a space between two parked cars.
She allowed herself a small smile. What were the odds of meeting Ryan Brady here in Galway? But it had happened, and now she was about to have coffee with him.
Her friend Liz’s words echoed in her mind: Tried to flirt with him once, but got no response. Probably means he’s married with half a dozen kids.
Perhaps she was about to find out if that was true.
‘What do you want to drink?’ she asked, as they entered the small, crowded café.’
‘I’ll get them. See if you can find a spare table.’
‘Okay, but let me pay.’ She handed him a twenty euro note. ‘A large Americano for me, and whatever you want.
She found an empty table near the window and watched him as he crossed to the counter. Tall – over six foot, she guessed – with broad shoulders encased in a mid-blue polo shirt. His biceps and forearms were firm, not too hairy, but definitely masculine. Her glance slid down to where his shirt was tucked into well-fitting black pants. The words nice ass came into her mind, and she suppressed a smile. She didn’t usually survey men’s bodies, but Ryan Brady’s certainly ticked all the right boxes.
When he turned and rolled his eyes at the slowness of the service, she grinned. He smiled back, revealing small dimples in his cheeks which added to his good looks. Not movie-heartthrob gorgeous, but still attractive, even though she wasn’t usually a fan of men with beards. At least his was short and neatly trimmed, unlike his thick and somewhat unruly dark hair. His outstanding feature, though, was his Irish blue eyes. She’d noticed those the first time she saw him a few weeks ago. Beautiful eyes, the colour of a spring sky.
It was several minutes before he brought a tray across to the table, placed the mug of coffee in front of her, and offloaded a teacup, stainless steel teapot, and small jug of milk. ‘Sorry for the delay,’ he said, as he sat opposite her. ‘There’s a trainee barista behind the counter, and the poor lad hasn’t a clue what he’s doing. Anyhow, have you recovered from your fright?’
‘I think my heartbeat’s returned to normal now.’ That wasn’t true, but she couldn’t tell him why it still beat faster than usual.