O’Carolan’s Seduction

Hugh Kelly’s come to America to leave Ireland, its traditions, and its conflicting attitudes behind, but the best money he can make is by tending bar in an “Irish pub.” The would-be Gaels love his authentic accent, but Hugh has eyes only for Steven, an uilleann piper with the damnable taste to wear kilts.

Hugh doesn’t care much for the traditional Irish music and is determined not to tap his toes along with the reels, jigs, and the O’Carolan tunes, but the music and Steven are irresistible. Steven gives Hugh a piping lesson, and the tune they play ought to be called “O’Carolan’s Seduction.”


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An excerpt, where Steven and Hugh find a bit of a language barrier.


The moderately polluted bouzouki player handed over a credit card and sat down next to Steven. “So, what’s under the kilt, man?”

Steven paused in his dismantling of his pipes. “You are such a good girl, Josh.”

“What?” Josh sat back with a thud.

“Good girls ask what’s under the kilt. Bad girls find out for themselves.” Steven polished a fingerprint off the chanter and put it into the case.

Josh laughed, though he sounded like he was mulling whether he’d been insulted. “And good boys, what do they do?”

“Good boys figure they already know enough about what’s under there, and the bad boys take a look.” Steven gave Josh a challenging glance. “And the very best bad boys…”

Josh and his bouzouki were gone before Steven finished the sentence, snatching the credit card from Hugh’s fingers on his flight out the door.

Troy laughed at the sight. “Since this is an extra night, you can take off, Hugh. There isn’t much left and I’ll take care of locking up.”

“Thanks.” Hugh had an eight o’clock class in the morning. “The bus doesn’t come for another forty-five minutes, though.” He looked at his watch.

“I can give you a ride,” Steven offered, making Hugh jump. Did the man have any idea what he’d just offered? “Where do you live?”

“Roughly Forty-Fourth and Baseline.” Hugh reminded himself that Americans referred to their cars as “rides”. It was a way to get home, that was all. “Thanks.” He followed Steven out to the parking lot, cursing himself for forgetting the quirks of the language. Steven had not just offered to have sex with him.

The conversation was general on the way home, as Steven needed few directions. Hugh had the opportunity to notice Stephen’s knees while he drove, and no, they were not bony. Very nice knees, they were.

As they pulled up before the ranch-style house that Hugh shared with three other students, he was quite sorry that Steven hadn’t meant his offer the way Hugh had originally taken it. Even if he wore a damned kilt.


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