An excerpt from Beyond the Pale, the first in the World of Spies Mystery series by bestselling Irish-American author Clare O'Donohue. A married pair of American college professors become accidental spies as they are chased across Ireland in search of a missing Brendan Behan manuscript linked to an international criminal organization. Called "a perfect roller coaster ride" by Suspense Magazine.
Eamon Byrnes checked his email one more time. There were no messages. He clicked to his bank's website and checked for recent activity. Nothing he didn't recognize. It was supposed to have happened by now.
"Damnu air!" he shouted to no one.
He tried to calm himself, take a long breath, but it did no good. He knew he was starting to panic and that would be a mistake. Panic was what had gotten him into this mess in the first place. Panic and bad judgement. He had to be calm, think things through. That was the way he'd survive this.
It was all supposed to be so simple. Easy money when he'd needed it so badly. After Nora got sick and Siobhan got into trouble, he had choices to make. Close the business or do whatever it took to keep things running. At the time, he thought he'd chosen wisely.
And maybe he had, but somewhere he lost control of it.
Eamon shut off his computer and looked out one more time. There was no one coming to his door, no one around for a distance. Still, he kept looking. There were only a few neighbors close by and only one, Mary Kelly, who would pop in for a coffee without notice. Mrs. Kelly was nearly eighty now, but nothing got past her. He'd avoided stopping by her house to let her know he was at the cottage. He was afraid she'd know straight away how desperate things were.
It was getting dark. He walked outside to get a good view of the road. There were no cars there. No bicycles. No one even out for a stroll. That's a good sign, he thought. No one had found him.
Not yet anyway.
As he stood there, he found his eyes drawn back to the house. He loved this old cottage by the sea. There was nothing in front of the place but a small patch of green and the Atlantic Ocean, wide and wild and good for the soul. The land had been in his family for more than a few generations, but now most of it was sold. What was left, this small house, was rented out to Americans looking for their roots, or needing a respite from the madness of their lives.
Eamon fixed it up to meet the clichés most Americans came to Ireland to find: a thatched roof and emerald green door, Waterford Crystal and local pottery on dark wood shelves and worn wooden tables. He'd found a pair of overstuffed chairs at an estate sale in Donegal, and they were now in front of the fireplace. A Celtic cross hung above the mantel. It was the look of an Ireland that was long gone, Eamon often thought when his mood went dark, or an Ireland that never really was.
Unless he was troubled, as he was now, he preferred to be in Galway City. It was convenient for shopping and for the pubs, and since Nora was gone, it was easier for him to be around people than to be alone. After the trouble with Siobhan, he'd sworn never to return here. He wondered how she'd feel if she knew he'd broken his promise.
The wind was picking up, the howling sad moan of a banshee wind, so he went back inside. He put a few bricks of turf into the fire and settled into the armchair nearest the flame. If he didn't get the email that was promised, then he would have to ahead with his plan. In his sixty-five years on the planet, he'd never imagined himself a murderer. But if it came to that, what choice did he have?
Nora, God rest her, would be spinning in her grave at the thought of what Eamon was about to do. But she had the comfort of being dead, and was therefore immune to the complications that life had thrown at him.
Maybe it wouldn't come to that. Maybe everything would be alright. He could go back to running his business, Skyping with Siobhan on Sunday afternoons, and having coffee with Mary as they looked out at the sea.
As he sat there, evening turned to night and the pitch black of the ocean made his little home feel very isolated. He longed for a visit from Mary and gossip about the goings-on in the parish. But when a knock finally shook him from his thoughts, it wasn't his neighbor at the door.
Beyond the Pale is Clare O'Donohue's 8th novel. It's on bookshelves now. www.clareodonohue.com
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