“I don’t think this is a good time for you to get married, Kate.”
“Oh? And just when do you think is a good time for me to get married?” The feminine voice was heavily laced with amusement.
“When you’re too old to care about looking for that next rainbow.” While her grandfather’s face was heavily lined, his voice and the sparkle in his dark green eyes were those of a much younger man.
Kate turned her head, eyeing him from her contorted position in the deep leather chair; “If that’s the case I may as well wait until I’m as old and crotchety as you. Of course, I don’t think my wedding-night will be as exciting as I hoped it would be.” A teasing smile lifted her lips. “Gramps, you’re forgetting that our engagement isn’t official. We haven’t announced it in the newspaper or set a wedding date. We’ve basically discussed the idea of settling down together. Be grateful we haven’t decided to just live together without the benefit of a marriage license,” she couldn’t resist goading.
”I’d prefer that over your making a mistake,” he grumbled. “And Jared’s too proper to just live with a woman. The two of you make it sound more like a business arrangement.” He glared at his granddaughter. “You’re not a woman content to settle for something so bland. You’ve too much of your grandmother in you for that.”
“Ah, but I also have your Irish stubborn nature, Shamus O’Malley.” Her deep emerald eyes, so like her grandfather’s, glittered with laughter as she faced the older man seated in a nearby chair. “So why don’t you tell me the real reason why you feel I shouldn’t marry Jared other than I’m too young at the tender age of twenty-nine.”
“You know very well what I mean. He doesn’t share your love for adventure and the outdoors, for the exotic,” Shamus pointed out. “You’d be bored with him in no time.”
“He plays a mean game of tennis, which is generally played outdoors, and he speaks Latin, which could be considered exotic.”
Shamus’s brows met in a thunderous frown. “He’s stuffy.”
Deep down Kate agreed that Jared seemed a bit too much on the conservative side. But she would never dream of admitting it to her grandfather. “There’s nothing wrong with a man being reserved.”
“He has no sense of adventure,” Shamus argued.
“He eats in the faculty cafeteria; that’s pretty adventurous in my eyes.” Kate heaved a sigh, silently wishing they weren’t having this conversation. Why was Shamus acting this way? You’d think he’d be happy if she meant to stay here permanently instead of roaming the world most of the year.
He ran his hands through iron-gray hair and looked as frustrated as he felt. “I bet he doesn’t even own a passport.”
“So I’ll give him an application for his birthday.”
Kate ran her hands through honey blond hair that hung in tangled waves to her shoulders. “You’re digressing, Gramps,” she said. “Here I am seriously thinking of settling down. Something you should be happy about and all you can talk about is how the man I’ve chosen is all wrong for me. Tell me something, if we’re so wrong for each other how did we ever get together?” She was the picture of innocence.
Shamus shifted in his chair. “You’re too young to get married,” he mumbled, scowling fiercely.
Kate sighed. “Gramps, in four months I will be thirty, and my biological clock is beginning to speak up rather loudly. And for once, I’m beginning to listen to it. After all, wouldn’t you like to see your great-grandchildren digging in the backyard looking for buried treasure and ancient bones?”
“Ha! More likely they’d be locked up in the library reading about the Civil War. I don’t know why you’re so worried about having a baby right now. Women in their forties have babies all the time,” he pointed out. “That will give you another ten years to do what you want. Besides, nowadays a woman doesn’t need a husband to raise a child.”
She lifted her eyebrows in surprise. “Why, Gramps, I never knew you were so liberal,”
“You know very well what I mean., Besides, if you want to marry someone that badly, look for a man better suited to your way of life.”
“Maybe I don’t want to marry someone like me! Maybe I want someone who’s more inclined to stay home, and not run after every legend and treasure still not documented. Maybe I want what you and Dad never had!” She sighed, shaking her head as her cruel words sunk in. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.”
“Yes, you should have. I always taught you to speak your mind. There’s no reason for you to stop doing so now.” Shamus looked weary. “You’re right, your father and I never did have much luck with women. You were the first girl in the O’Malley family for six generations. And the most gifted in the family business. I just don’t want you to make a mistake,” he said lamely.
“Gramps, something had to have happened to suddenly change your mind about Jared.” Kate looked suspicious. “Do you think you could give me a hint?”
“Nothing sudden about it. I just think you should take your time before jumping into something as serious as marriage, that’s all.” He sat back, clearly finished saying his piece.
By now Kate was thoroughly convinced her grandfather was up to something and he intended that she be part of his scheme. But knowing him as well as she did she knew that she wouldn’t learn a thing until he was good and ready to tell her. She bit her lip to keep a smile from blossoming. Oh, no, she’d just bide her time, Experience had taught her that Shamus O’Malley couldn’t keep a secret to save his life. Kate knew all she had to do was appear disinterested long enough and the cagey Shamus would soon spill all. She glanced up at the clock on the mantel as it chimed five times.
“I’ve got to get ready. Jared will be picking me up at seven for Dr. Phillips’s party.” She pushed herself out of her chair. “Are you going?”
Shamus made a face. “That’s a silly question, my girl. Phillips is a pompous ass. The less time I spend with the man the better. That’s why I haven’t attended one of his shindigs in the last eight years,”
Kate grinned, well used to her grandfather’s assessment of the college president. She walked over to his chair and draped her arms around his neck. “Yes, but that’s what makes him such an excellent administrator. And if standing there in that moldy old greenhouse admiring his wife’s roses keeps me in mind for that new teaching post next semester, well, so be it. Now, I’m going upstairs to get ready. If Jared arrives before I’m back down here, you be polite to him.” She playfully twisted his ear. “Do you hear me?”
“Ow! Damn it, stop that!” He batted at her hand although it hadn’t hurt at all.
“Then promise you won’t say anything to Jared.”
She pretended to strangle him.