A Wedding on Lilac Lane (Moonlight Bay #4) - Hope Ramsay

Chapter One

Dylan Killough couldn’t decide what to make of Ella McMillan. She stood on the stage with a fiddle tucked under her chin as she played a mournful accompaniment to “Molly Malone.” A crown of green carnations encircled her brow, and her feather earrings floated on the air as she played. With each stroke of her bow, another lock of unruly auburn hair tumbled out of the messy knot at the top of her head.

She looked as if she’d stepped out of an Irish fairy tale. But the boho dress and feathered earrings suggested that she reliably voted the Democrat line, if she voted at all.

“I do love listening to your daughter play the fiddle,” Dad said, beaming at Brenda McMillan, Ella’s mother and Dad’s current girlfriend.

The whole Dad-Brenda thing unsettled Dylan even though it shouldn’t have. Dad had been a widower for decades. He should have a girlfriend, even if he was in his fifties. But maybe not Brenda. Dylan didn’t like Brenda much.

Or her daughter, who had arrived around the holidays, moved into Brenda’s beach house out at Paradise Beach, and evidently had no plans to actually work for a living or leave anytime soon. Since Dylan and his father shared a house, Dad had recently resorted to sneaking away in the afternoons or taking long weekends with Brenda on the mainland.

Dad had never brought her home for an overnight. Thank goodness. The mornings after in the kitchen they shared might get really awkward.

His father was acting like a sex-crazed teenager, which embarrassed Dylan. The geriatric set in Magnolia Harbor, many of whom were patients in Dylan’s family practice, seemed to regard Brenda and Dad’s romance as the juiciest topic du jour. And they thought nothing about asking Dylan for details, which he forthrightly refused to supply.

Dylan took a sip of his Guinness and glanced at his cell phone, checking the score for the NCAA First Four game being played in Dayton. Clemson, his alma mater, was down by two points.

He would much rather be home lounging on the sofa watching the ball game. But no, Dad had made his presence at this dinner mandatory because Ella was subbing for Connor O’Neal at the yacht club’s annual St. Patrick’s Day bash. Connor, one of Dylan’s patients, was down with a late-season case of the flu, which had been bad timing for a guy who made a living playing Irish music.

“Well, that wraps up our first set of the night,” Jason Tighe said in his broad South Carolina drawl. “Y’all drink up now. We’ll be back in fifteen.”

“I miss Connor’s Irish accent,” Dylan said.

Brenda and Dad turned toward him with twin frowns, although Brenda’s was way more intimidating.

“What?” Dylan cast his gaze from Brenda to his father. “I love the way Jason sings, but he sounds like a good ole boy from Georgia when he talks.”

Brenda gave Dad one of those glances, where she rolled her eyes. Brenda didn’t like Dylan much either. They didn’t have a mutual admiration society going. He also resented the way Brenda made him feel whenever the three of them were together: Exactly like a fifth wheel, or a party pooper, or something like that. Maybe he should excuse himself now that Ella had finished her first set. The club was playing the game on the TV above the bar, which was across the room.

But before he could make an escape, Ella arrived at the table and took the empty chair to his right. If he got up the minute she sat down, he’d never hear the end of it. So he hunkered down, glanced at the score on his phone, and took a deep, calming breath.

Which was filled with Ella’s scent. Damn. The woman even smelled like a hippie. What was that aroma? Sandalwood? Patchouli?

She probably burned incense when no one was looking. Or used essential oils or some such thing. The aroma tickled his nose and not entirely in an I’m-about-to-sneeze way either. With her hair all tumbling down, and wearing that green velvet dress, which belonged on the set of Game of Thrones, she was attractive. If you had a thing for free-spirited musicians.

“You’re a better fiddler than Connor,” Dad said, sucking up to Brenda’s daughter. Who, in truth, was a pretty good fiddler, but Dylan didn’t want to admit it.

“Thanks,” Ella said in a high, piping voice, as she glanced at her mother. Something passed between them in that glance. A family in-joke he would probably never get.

The conversation stalled for