Mulligan Stew

Mulligan Stew by Deb Stover Read Free Book Online

Book: Mulligan Stew by Deb Stover Read Free Book Online
Authors: Deb Stover
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Contemporary
castle later."
    "Never," Riley said, still staring straight ahead.
    The lad said, "Why c—"
    Rage whipped through Riley and he slammed on the brake, whirling around to face the cowering child.
    "No one goes there. Not now. Not ever ."

    Chapter 3

    "Begging your pardon," Bridget said stonily, struggling against her rising anger, "but you don't have the right or reason to speak to my son in that tone."
    Riley's knuckles whitened against the steering wheel, then he gave a curt nod and glanced in his mirror. "I'm sorry for snapping at you, Jacob." Without another word, he continued the short drive to the cottage.
    Bridget gave her now silent son an encouraging smile, then turned her attention to the countryside again. She didn't like starting off this way with Culley's brother, but she wasn't about to let him verbally abuse her child either. Drawing a deep breath, she looked out at the lush green fields, huge rocks along the shore, the ocean glistening just beyond, and nary a tree in sight, save a few near the cottage. It looked like something out of a storybook.
    Her gaze returned to the castle and her breath froze. A cold sweat sprang from her pores and she shivered. Granny would've said someone had walked across her grave.
    You're being silly , she told herself and drew a steadying breath, turning her attention away from the castle and back to the beautiful farm. Yes, the Mulligans' farm was like a fairy-tale place—a magical kingdom complete with a castle. And a curse. She shot Riley a sidelong glance. No handsome prince, though .
    Oh, he was handsome enough, but it was downright difficult to see beyond that shaggy mop of hair and persistent scowl. Still, he was Culley's brother and she would grant Riley the same tolerance she would've given her own brother if she had one.
    As long as he didn't mistreat Jacob again. That she would tolerate from no one—kin or not.
    A tall auburn-haired woman stood on the porch of the cottage, leaning heavily on a cane. She shaded her eyes and waved as the car approached.
    Bridget swallowed hard. A pity her husband wasn't the man bringing her home to meet his family. Grief welled within her, sudden and fierce, but she swallowed her tears and drew a shaky breath. "Is that... Culley's momma?" Bridget asked.
    "Aye, and mine," Riley reminded her, his tone curt.
    Fuming in silence, Bridget gnashed her teeth as he swung the car around and parked it beneath the lone shade tree before the cottage. A profusion of spring flowers distracted her from her dark mood and she counted to ten, banishing thoughts of strangling Riley Mulligan. The flowers bloomed around the base of the porch, bordered by a neat row of rocks that ended at the steps and a worn dirt path.
    Mrs. Mulligan came down the steps with the aid of her cane. A tall, redheaded girl followed. She looked so much like her mother, she had to be Mary Margaret, Culley's sister. They paused at the base of the steps, waiting.
    Bridget drew another steadying breath and reached for the door handle. Riley jumped out of the vehicle as if it were on fire, racing around to open her door before she had the chance. So he's minding his manners in front of his momma. She couldn't prevent the smile that tugged at her lips. A man willing to please his momma couldn't be all bad, no matter what he wanted her to think.
    Odd, but she was suddenly certain that Riley had been deliberately baiting her, and now he was putting on a show for his momma. Fine, let him. He didn't want her to like him or to feel welcome here when no one was watching. She had no idea what his motives were for either sort of behavior, but Granny would've said to watch for the true color of his stripes.
    Dismissing Riley for now, she remembered the women waiting to meet her and Jacob. Bridget climbed out and took her son's hand as he scrambled from the back seat. "Let's go meet your Granny Mulligan and Aunt Maggie."
    Riley made a snorting sound, muttered something Bridget

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