Wild Chance (Wild Irish Universe)

Wild Chance (Wild Irish Universe)

Kendra Mei Chailyn

Chapter One

“Stop the car!” Aedan Callahan shouted.

The driver grunted, eased his foot up off the gas then pulled over. A car honked from behind them before swerving out of the lane. As it passed, the driver gave them the middle finger.

“Same to you, pal!” The cab driver hollered. “Some people.”

“I see some things haven’t changed in my absence.”

The cabbie chuckled. “It all depends on how long you’ve gone.”

“A lifetime, it seems.”

Aedan glanced at the meter, paid the driver with a tip and scrambled from the back seat as fast as his duffle and leg would allow. The taxi sped off and he walked back the five or so steps it took to reach the pub.

Suddenly, Baltimore didn’t feel like a different planet anymore and all the changes meant nothing. All the memories he had with the people who owned the establishment came flooding back. Those, unlike everything else, meant everything.

Pat’s looked the same—sure, the sign over the door had gotten a little older with time but it added a certain something to the regality of the joint.

Whereas the rest of Baltimore had moved on—mom and pop diners replaced with big chain fast food joints, baseball parks replaced with skyscrapers—Aedan had begged for one thing to remain the same. He’d prayed that at least one thing would dawdle in time and that would tell him he’d been missed.

What better place than Pat’s?

With his heart racing, he gripped the door handle and pushed.

Aedan remembered Pat’s vividly. He remembered the laughter, the sound of music, the call of Pop’s voice to customers. He also remembered the love he felt each time he stepped through those doors and would be horded in with Pop’s kids. Not once did they make him feel like an outsider—which was what he was. But at that time Aedan never wanted to go home. He’d spend as much time as he could with the Collins until he didn’t have a choice. Then he’d meander the street for a while longer. Hungry and depressed, he’d climb through his bedroom window and curl himself into a ball.

A low thud caught his attention and Aedan blinked then looked around to see that his bag had slipped to the floor. He was about to pick it up when someone touched his shoulder.

“Welcome home, Soldier.”

Aedan turned to thank the voice then blinked.

“Aedan Callahan,” Killian Collins said, disbelief tainting his deep voice. “Where in the hell have you been?”


“Around? Did you know we filed a missing person’s report on you?” Killian asked. “I think we deserve a little more than around, don’t you?”

“Why are you so upset?” Aedan arched a brow. “The last time I checked, at eighteen years old I was an adult and could leave if I wanted to.”

“Why—” Killian caught his bottom lip between his teeth.

Aedan could tell he was upset by the way Killian’s eyes darkened. What Aedan couldn’t understand was why. He left because he knew no one would miss him. Bronagh definitely wouldn’t have called the cops even if he’d been underage the day he skipped town. To her, it would have been good riddance!

Killian’s reaction stunned him. Sure, he’d spent a great deal of time with the Collins, but Aedan had been quite positive he had more than worn out his welcomed.

“Look, I had to leave,” Aedan said. “I don’t expect you to understand.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Killian rested his hands akimbo. “One minute you were here the next, presto!”

“I joined the military, Killian.” Aedan’s exhaustion pulsed against his lower back. “That’s where I’ve been. It wasn’t like I was in prison. I wasn’t in a ditch somewhere—I was serving my country. I did send word home with the cops who found me.”

“And that’s supposed to—”

“Leave the man alone. He’s barely in the door and you’re already riding him.”

Aedan would recognize that voice anywhere. He smiled and shifted to look at Keira Collins. She was still as beautiful as the first day he’d laid eyes on her. “Keira Collins.”

She hugged him tightly as he picked her up in his arms and twirled her around. It’d been so long since he’d seen her. Aedan couldn’t contain the happiness brimming through him. Keira dropped a kiss to his cheeks as he set her on her feet again and released her.

“It’s Wallace now.” She wiggled her ring finger at him.

“And if you’d been here, you would have known that,” Killian said briskly.

Aedan spun on his heels, anger raging through him. “Get off my—”

“—Killian, cool it!” Kiera’s voice said she was not having it.

“Cic Maith Sa Tóin Atá De Dlíth Air.” Aedan muttered in Gaelic.

“I agree. He needs a good kick in the arse.” Kiera glared at her brother. “But enough about that. You’re home!”

Aedan swallowed and faced Kiera again. For her, he smiled and pushed a wayward strand of her dark hair from her cheek. “It’s good to see you, Kiki.”

She grinned. “No one has called me that in years.”

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