When Conor’s dream for Castle Dysert is facing ruin by circumstances outside his control he refuses to be beaten. Surely there must be a way to save everything they’ve worked so hard for?
Then, as all hope seems lost, a solution in the form of a reality TV show called ‘Grandma says we’re Irish’ presents itself. The producers are convinced Conor is just the man they need to host the show, and what better setting than the gorgeous castle, but is will this new venture save Castle Dysert or destroy it?
A bunch of so-called celebrities are installed, all looking for their Irish roots, and the cameras are rolling, but not everyone is as they seem, and soon, Conor finds himself stuck in the middle of something that even he can’t manage.
Release date: August 21, 2020
Publisher: Independently published
Print pages: 432
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Ana groaned in her sleep as Conor lay awake beside her in the dark. The wind and lashing rain that had been relentless all night was beating the windows, but he was warm and cosy beside his wife. The wild storm had been forecast, but it sounded even more violent than the predictions had suggested. He hoped the hotel was bearing up. The old buildings had suffered a little during the last storm; the ocean had overtopped the sea wall that bounded the castle on the south side and flooded one of the stables and a greenhouse. Poor Artur had been so upset, as all his lovely seedlings were washed away in salt water, but the insurance had paid out and now all was well again.
The baby was due in ten days’ time, but it couldn’t come a moment too soon. Conor was so excited to have a new addition to the family, but more than that, he longed for an end to Ana’s pain.
Her back was giving her so much trouble, worse than when she was carrying the twins, and though she didn’t complain, he could see how hard this pregnancy was. The oncologist had warned them that a pregnancy after cancer and its treatment wasn’t without complications, and she was right. Ana had been nauseous since the start, and it wasn’t just in the morning either – it went on all day. Everyone assured him it would stop after the first trimester, but it didn’t. Ana was so excited about this baby – they both were – but sometimes as he watched her struggle to cope, he wondered if it had been a mistake. He would never voice such opinions to Ana though; she was determined to deliver the healthiest, happiest baby in the world.
Moving was hard with her big bump now, and she settled into a more comfortable position, throwing her arm across his chest. Even in sleep she was restless.
He stroked her hair and she seemed to relax. His heart went out to his poor girl – as if she’d not had enough to deal with having had the twins and then breast cancer. They were both astounded and delighted to discover she was expecting another baby, but it had been a very difficult nine months.
Joe and Artie did their best around the house to be helpful, though at ten years old, their efforts often resulted in more mess than anything else. At least Ana’s mother was on hand. But he was really looking forward to the baby being delivered safely and Ana back to her old self. Both the doctor and the physiotherapist seemed sure she would be fine once the pressure of carrying the baby was taken off.
He tried to visualise his son or daughter. He and Ana had decided they wouldn’t find out the gender of the baby; the twins wanted it to be a surprise, and they didn’t trust themselves not to let something slip if they knew. Conor didn’t mind; the idea that he would have another child was wonderment enough.
He checked his watch in the darkness. It was almost four a.m. It was no good; he wasn’t going to fall back to sleep. Gently, so as not to wake Ana, he got up. He figured he’d go downstairs, have a coffee and catch up on some work. It was late November, and they had a big Christmas event planned at the hotel.
Business was booming. They’d even had to turn down a big offer from a film company that wanted to make some TV show in the castle as it would have been too disruptive. So many hotels would jump at business like that in the off season, but the five-star resort was full to capacity most nights of the year. It was exciting and gratifying but also such a huge responsibility. There was hardly a family in the area that didn’t have someone working for him, and he knew how much the locality needed Castle Dysert to continue to be successful. It was great but margins were tight, and so it was a constant struggle to stay in the black despite the bookings.
Several tour groups had booked in from the USA as well as many families who decided that slaving over a turkey was a thing of the past. A more affluent Ireland meant some people could go to a five-star castle instead of cooking.
Castle Dysert was going to look amazing. Olga had found an interior design firm in Galway, and the owner had all sorts of ideas. From what he’d seen so far, the transformation of the hotel into a winter wonderland was going to be nothing short of breathtaking. It had cost a fortune, but the brochure produced using advanced photo technology that showed the hotel decorated had done the trick and they were booked out.
It struck him as kind of sad that people would want to spend Christmas in a hotel. He would never want to be anywhere at Christmas except at home with Ana and the boys, his parents-in-law, Artur and Danika, and his own father, Jamsie. The new baby would be here this Christmas, and already the twins had asked Santa for something for their new sibling to be left under the tree. But he was glad that Castle Dysert was providing the most luxurious Christmas anyone could imagine for those without a family.
He’d spent the last week interviewing Santa Clauses, a hilarious task, and was confident he’d settled on someone as close to the big man as it was possible to find in West Clare. For many Irish hotels, the winter was a time of barely scraping by, but his second in command, an earnest but dedicated young Icelandic woman called Olga Jakobdóttir, refused to accept that people wouldn’t want to enjoy Castle Dysert all year long. She quite rightly pointed out that nobody came to Ireland for the weather anyway, and so the fact that it was cold and dark during the winter months was a positive when you had a luxury castle with roaring fires, comfy bars and restaurants and, when it was dry, a beautiful ocean shore to walk by. She convinced him to run all sorts of programmes, and she had been right. They were a triumph. There had been a murder mystery weekend with a medieval theme over the Halloween break, and they ran a cookery retreat – though Chef nearly had a stroke at having guests in his kitchen – a hillwalking and storytelling festival and all manner of outdoor things. So all in all, the winter programme was a great success.
Costs were higher of course. Heating alone was astronomical, and preservation orders on the centuries-old castle meant it was hard to insulate retroactively. Insurance too was crippling; the courts gave out ridiculously high judgements, and the result was many of his fellow hospitality colleagues found themselves facing ruin in the face of huge compensation claims. Theirs was a staff-heavy business too, and he prided himself on paying his employees properly, so the wages were higher than any other hotel in Ireland. But it was worth it. The 7,000 five-star ratings on Trip Advisor spoke volumes. People very rarely failed to mention how welcoming and professional the staff of Castle Dysert were. It felt good to be able to keep everyone on all year in what was normally a seasonal business, and he heard more than once how people who might otherwise have emigrated had now settled in the area because of the guaranteed work. While Castle Dysert was doing well, staying on top was a bit like shoving a rock uphill, but they were faring better than most.
He crept downstairs, past the boys’ room and the room where his father was sleeping. Jamsie had come down to help out with the boys in the last weeks of the pregnancy. He and Ana were the best of friends, and she loved having him around. The boys adored their granda. They had Artur and Danika as well, and Conor often marvelled at how lucky his boys were to grow up surrounded by so much love. It was in such contrast to his own lonely childhood.
He went into the big warm kitchen and made a cup of coffee and opened his laptop. He’d received an email from Liz, his sister. He’d never even known he had a sister – well, a half-sister – until Jamsie turned up after a four-decade absence. Jamsie had finally admitted he’d left his family because he’d got a girl from their town pregnant, and Liz was the result. Jamsie and the young woman soon parted ways, but Jamsie insisted on staying in his daughter’s life. This was something Conor found a bitter pill to swallow at first, that his father was adamant not to lose his daughter but seemingly could walk away from his sons effortlessly, but they’d had it out. Jamsie knew he’d messed up. He was embarrassed and felt that he could do nothing for his sons anyway, so it was best to let them alone. It was a rubbish excuse and Jamsie knew it, but he’d regretted his decision all of his life and was doing his best to make up for it now.
At first Conor had had no interest in meeting his sister, but she reached out and on a whim he invited her and her fiancée over to visit. Liz was a vivacious, confident woman, who last year married Damien from Belfast. She and Conor hit it off immediately, both good-naturedly teasing their father Jamsie about his love of flash cars. From the first day they met, it was easy between them and they both knew Jamsie was both relieved and happy to see their blossoming friendship.
On that first visit, they talked a lot – about Conor’s mother and his brother, Gerry, who had died, about Liz’s mother – and they felt a connection neither of them had anticipated. Now they kept in touch regularly, and Ana and the boys loved her and Damien.
He opened the email.
Greetings from a stinking-hot South Africa. Damien and I are both fine, though this volunteering business is not for the faint-hearted. We’ve set up a vaccination station and are administering as many vaccines as possible. Damien spent all of yesterday training nurse’s aides to do injections, so we are getting through lots of people, but the queues are out the door. It would break your heart. Medicin sans Frontières are doing such work here – it would make you want to up sticks and come out here full time, to be honest. We just might. My mother will have a canary, of course, but that’s just an added bonus!
Anyway, just checking in. I’m assuming I’m not an auntie again yet. Dad texts me a few times a day with the updates, and he’s even using words like cervix and engaged. Your Ana is certainly making a modern man of him. J
Give her and the boys a massive hug from us, and we’re waiting for the good news.
Lots of love,
Liz and Damien
Conor smiled. He was so proud of her. She and Damien were both doctors. They had no children, and it was hardly likely at this stage; she said she didn’t want any. They volunteered every year for a few weeks to alleviate suffering in some of the most poverty-stricken places on earth. He wouldn’t be one bit surprised if she gave up their life in London and their fancy practice for a life in South Africa.
He hit ‘reply’.
Great to hear from you and glad to hear you and Damien are doing well. Yes, all waiting here for the little O’Shea to make an appearance. Poor Ana is really in trouble with her back, and she is ready for this all to be over.
I can just imagine you living out there, and if it’s what you want, then you should just do it. None of us are getting out of here alive, as they say. The boys had to do a project in school on someone they admire and they did it on you and Damien, so you are now adorning the walls of St Edmund’s National School. If that isn’t the big time, I don’t know what is!
I’ll hopefully speak to you soon, once our son or daughter joins us.
Love, Conor x
A loud crashing noise outside startled him, and he got up to see the boys’ goalpost hurl across the garden and hit the garage door. Lightning lit up the sky as the thunder rumbled ominously almost at the same time. The storm was directly overhead. He was in pyjama bottoms and a t-shirt and debated whether to leave the goalpost where it was until morning or go out into the torrential rain and retrieve it.
The stillness of the kitchen was shattered by his ringtone, his phone vibrating loudly on the table beside his laptop. Anxious not to wake Ana, he reached out and grabbed the handset, answering the call.
‘Conor, where are you?’ It was his wife.
‘I’m just downstairs, love, are you –’
‘Baby is coming!’ she gasped.
‘OK, don’t move!’ He hung up and bounded upstairs, taking the steps two at a time.
He knocked on Jamsie’s door and went in to wake him. ‘Ana’s in labour. We need to go.’
Jamsie sat up. ‘No problem. Good luck, son. Give her my love and don’t worry about a thing – I’ll manage everything here.’
‘Call the hospital and tell them we’re coming, will you? And text Katherine – tell her I won’t be in.’
‘Right away.’ Jamsie smiled and waved Conor out. ‘Off you go.’
Ana was standing in their bedroom, her hands gripping the brass rail at the end of their king-sized bed. He could see she was in the middle of a contraction. Wordlessly, she moved to him, resting her hands on his shoulders. He rubbed her back gently as the pain subsided.
‘I woke, and my waters, and then pains,’ she managed.
‘OK, how far apart are they?’ He looked at his watch.
‘I don’t know,’ she said, wincing as she moved. It was hard to know if it was her back or a contraction, but he decided just to get her into the car.
He helped her into dry pyjamas and kissed her nose, giving her a wink. ‘OK, darling, let’s get you to hospital, eh?’ He put his arm around her and helped her downstairs.
‘My bag.’ She gasped.
‘It’s already in the car. I put it there two days ago.’
Conor carried her out, throwing his coat over her to try to keep her dry. The wind was so strong that it was hard to remain upright, but the car was parked close to the door and he managed to get her on the passenger seat without her getting soaked. He was drenched himself but didn’t care.
He jumped in and took off down the main road. The wipers were working overtime and the visibility was very poor as the relentless rain flooded the road before them. Several times Conor had to take a chance and drive through a flood, each time praying the car didn’t stall. Beside him, Ana gasped and gripped the seatbelt. Luckily the hospital was close by. He stopped at the set down, then parked as close to the door as he could.
He gently lifted Ana out, and again covered her with his coat.
‘It’s OK, pet. I’ve got you.’ He held her close, ran for the hospital and carried her into the reception area.
‘Conor.’ Her eyes were bright with tears. ‘Don’t leave me.’
‘Of course I won’t, darling.’
‘Welcome, Ana. We’re all ready for you.’ A smiling midwife appeared, and her soothing tones relaxed Conor. Ana was in the right place, and these people knew what to do. She was put in a wheelchair and she gripped his hand.
The porter asked Conor to move his car to the car park, explaining where he could find Ana once that was done.
‘Two minutes, I promise.’ He let go of Ana’s hand just as another contraction took over her body. He marvelled, not for the first time, at the strength of women.
‘Go – hurry!’ Ana said through gritted teeth.
He dumped the car in the first space he came to. He had a feeling it was going to be quick this time.
As he ran back to the hospital, his stomach was in knots, his mind a maelstrom of emotions: the excitement of meeting his child, combined with the fear all men face at watching their children enter the world, and mostly the feelings of awe at what his wife was capable of.
Thankfully the hospital was quiet, and he was directed to the delivery suite immediately. He was shown where to wash his hands and then was led into the little room. The obstetrician was examining Ana as he entered, and she greeted him warmly.
‘It’s showtime, all right, no messing about with Ana.’ Elaine Kinsella was a young gynaecologist, and Conor and Ana had liked her straight-talking ways enormously.
‘So, Ana.’ She took off her gloves and spoke directly to her. ‘You are almost nine centimetres dilated, so I reckon we are almost good to go. How are you feeling?’
Ana had said that she didn’t want to have drugs if possible, but Conor wasn’t sure that was such a great idea. Childbirth looked excruciating. But she was adamant. She’d been practising hypno-birthing and had discussed it with Elaine last week, who was very much in favour of it. Minimum intervention, let nature do its work was Ana’s philosophy, and Elaine agreed completely. As per his wife’s request, the lights were low, a hypno-birth track was playing softly in the background, and the only people in the room were Ana, Conor and Elaine. Ana had put plenty of high-energy snacks in her bag, balls she made herself with dates and cacao and seeds, all covered in dark chocolate, as well as bottles of home-made kombucha. To Conor, the drink was the most vile concoction imaginable, but Ana loved it. It was apparently very good for you, but he’d take her word for that.
He watched in awestruck amazement as Ana set about giving birth to their child. She listened to the soundtrack, and she seemed entirely focused on the task at hand. She was calm and determined and met each surge mindfully. She spoke in Ukrainian to the baby, telling it how welcome it was, how much they were looking forward to meeting it. Conor had learned enough of her language over the years to understand her most of the time, though speaking it was still very difficult for him.
She walked around the room, wearing one of his old t-shirts – she said it made her feel safe and loved – resting against him when she needed to. He gently massaged her back as she straddled a chair, which seemed to give her some relief, and when the surges were intense, she gripped his shoulders with such strength, he knew he’d be bruised tomorrow, not that he cared. He wanted so desperately to support her, to be everything she needed him to be.
The time passed quietly, both of them focused on the job at hand. He gave her snacks and drinks and cooled her down with a wet flannel when she perspired. In between surges, they even laughed a bit. They’d attended classes before the birth, and he had clear instructions about what Ana wanted and what his role was. It felt good to know what to do and to be a part of it.
Elaine examined Ana once more and declared that it was time to push.
After a very short time – at least it seemed so to Conor – Ana gave birth while kneeling on the bed, her arms resting on his chest. The baby’s cry was the loudest sound in the room as he and his wife clung to each other, tears running down both their faces.
Elaine announced, ‘Well, congratulations, Ana and Conor, you have a lovely little girl.’
Conor settled Ana into a more comfortable position. The shirt she wore clung to her, wet with perspiration. He propped her up on some pillows and gave her a drink.
Without wrapping her in anything, Elaine placed the baby on Ana’s chest under her t-shirt, and Conor gazed at his wife and daughter in astonished adoration.
The little baby rested calmly over Ana’s heart as her mother kissed her head. Conor couldn’t take his eyes off her perfect little face.
‘We’ll do all the weighing and checks in a little while, but for now I’ll leave you to get acquainted with this little lady,’ Elaine whispered, then quietly left them.
Ana cuddled the baby close as Conor wrapped his arms around both of them. Never before, even with the twins, he thought, did he feel such an overwhelming sense of love and the need to protect.
‘She’s so beautiful.’ Conor couldn’t take his eyes off her.
‘Isn’t she? I hoped for a girl, but I honestly thought she was a boy. I can’t believe we have a little girl.’ The wonder on Ana’s face was like a light inside.
The baby opened her eyes, which were a dark, almost navy blue. She had a mop of dark hair, not blond like her brothers.
‘Hello, sweetheart, welcome to the world,’ Conor whispered. Her little fist was up beside her face, and when Conor put his pinkie finger on her hand, she opened her fist and wrapped her tiny fingers around his.
‘This is your daddy, and he’s the best daddy anyone could have,’ Ana whispered.
Conor felt that his cheeks were wet once more and realised he was crying again. ‘What will we call her?’ he asked.
‘I think we should call her Lily, after your mother.’ Ana stroked her daughter’s cheek.
Conor swallowed the lump in his throat. Ana had never met his mam, but he spoke of her often. Ana had found an old photo he had of his mother and him, taken when he was about five, and got it fixed up by some old photo expert; now it was in a frame on their coffee table. The boys called her Granny Lily and referred to her often. His mam’s face swam before his eyes; she actually looked like his daughter – dark hair, dark-blue eyes. She’d had a gentle, quiet disposition and a heart of gold. How delighted she would be with grandchildren.
‘Hello, Lily O’Shea. You are so welcome. Wait till your madcap brothers see you – they’ll be thrilled to bits.’ He caressed his daughter’s tiny head.
The porter arrived and wheeled Ana and Lily, bed and all, back to Ana’s private room, and Elaine and Conor followed. The sun had come up, and though the weather was overcast and grey, the storm seemed to have abated.
Elaine took Lily off to weigh her, measure her and check her over. Conor kissed Ana and then helped her shower and change into clean pyjamas. She was sore and very tired but so elated that their baby was here and healthy, and nothing could bring her down. As they were in the bathroom, the staff came in and prepared the room. Conor helped Ana back to the bed with clean sheets; tea and toast were waiting for her on the tray.
As she sipped her tea and munched the hot buttered toast ravenously, Conor thought to himself that he’d never loved her more.
‘Here we go. She’s perfect,’ Elaine said as she walked into the room and returned the baby to her mother’s arms. Lily was dressed in a white sleepsuit and wrapped in a fluffy blanket, and she began happily feeding at Ana’s breast.
The pain that had been on his wife’s face for the last nine months miraculously was gone, and it was like his old Ana was back. She looked adorable, with her wet blond hair cut in her signature pixie cut. Her green eyes filled with love as she gazed adoringly at her daughter.
‘Isn’t she perfect?’ she whispered. ‘I can’t take my eyes off her. We made her. It’s incredible.’
‘Well, you did all the work.’ Conor smiled. ‘And yes, she’s perfect, and so beautiful, just like her mammy.’
‘You better text Jamsie and my parents – they will be worried.’ Ana kissed Lily’s head once more.
‘I will in a minute.’ He too was mesmerised by his daughter. But he knew the family would be on tenterhooks, so eventually he dragged himself away though he didn’t want his wife or daughter out of his sight.
He stepped outside and switched his phone on. He had two text messages, the first from his father.
Hope all going well, Son. Give Ana our love. Boys fine.
The second was from Katherine.
Call when you can.
His brow furrowed. The message was sent two hours ago, and Katherine would have known by then he had gone in with Ana. It was unlike her to call him knowing that.
He texted Jamsie first.
Lily O’Shea is the most beautiful baby in the world. She’s perfect and her mammy is doing great. Talk soon.
Then he rang Katherine.
She answered on the first ring. ‘Conor.’
‘Hi, Katherine. Ana had a baby girl, and they’re both perfect,’ he said to his oldest friend.
‘Oh, thank God for that, Conor, I’m so happy. But – and I’m so sorry to bother you with this – we have a problem.’
‘What’s up?’ he asked. Nothing could bring him down.
‘The sea overtopped the wall and then swept it away. Conor, the castle is flooded. We’re in about a foot of water here.’
Conor thought for a moment. He had worried something like this could happen, but even this bad news couldn’t dampen his spirits. ‘Oh, well, look, don’t worry. Get anyone who’s on-site already to do their best to save what we can, and I’ll be over in a while.’
‘Will do. We’re lucky we have so many staff in the residence, and I was working late last night so decided to stay rather than drive home in the storm, so we’re all here, and Carlos and Olga too. Don’t worry.’ Conor could hear the concern in her voice though. ‘And give Ana our best wishes.’
‘I will. See you soon.’ Conor ended the call, quickly rang his parents in law to tell them the good news, and went back to Ana. ‘Everyone sends love.’ He sat beside her and kissed her head.
Ana had finished feeding the baby. ‘Will you take her?’ she asked him.
‘Of course I will, but God, Ana, she’s tiny. I can’t believe Artie and Joe were ever that small.’ Conor was suddenly terrified he’d break her.
Ana grinned. ‘You were afraid you would break them too, and now look how you throw them around and always with the wrestling.’
Conor took a deep breath as Ana passed Lily into his arms. Though she was a healthy seven pounds, she felt so fragile and tiny. He settled her in the crook of his arm and took her over to the window. The sun had come up while they were in the delivery suite.
He bent his head and breathed in the lovely baby scent of her, gently kissing her downy head. She opened her eyes and gazed at him.
‘Welcome to the world, my darling girl,’ he whispered.
Danika and Artur arrived and were enthralled with their new grandchild. Conor pulled Artur aside and filled him in on what Katherine had told him.
‘How bad?’ Artur asked. His old lined face looked stricken. He and Danika had lived most of their lives in Ukraine, but a few years ago Artur lost his job and the apartment that came with it so Conor arranged to bring them to Ireland. Artur taught himself English, ably assisted by a six-year-old Joe at the time, and began working as a handyman at the hotel. From the outset, Conor could see Artur was an invaluable asset – he could grow anything and fix anything, and he seemed to know how to solve any manner of maintenance issues. Conor had promoted him to maintenance manager, and he took his career very seriously.
‘Bad enough, I’d say. The sea wall disintegrated. Katherine said there was a foot of water on the ground floor.’
‘Where is it come in?’ Artur wondered.
‘In the front door, as well as up through the floor, last I heard.’
‘We go now. Ana is all right with her mother.’
Conor nodded. Loath as he was to leave them, he thought he’d better go and see the damage. Ana was sleeping and Danika was holding Lily, so they slipped out.
As they pulled out of the hospital car park, Conor pressed the button on the steering wheel that connected his phone.
‘Hey, Siri. Call hotel,’ he commanded.
‘Calling hotel,’ the metallic voice responded, and within seconds Katherine answered.
‘How are things now?’ Conor asked.
‘Bad, Conor, though the water is subsiding now as the tide is going out.’ Katherine’s voice reverberated around the car’s interior. ‘We are six inches deep here in reception, and the extension is under a foot already. We’re moving as much as we can, but the guests and everything… Some of them are even helping. The toilets are flooding in the bar, and there’s water coming up through the plugholes in the kitchen and in the ladies’ cloakroom.’
‘What did the fire brigade say?’ Conor asked.
‘The engines are at a house fire in Tulla, an hour and a half away at least – there are trees down everywhere after the storm. They said they’d try to send us a pump, but… There’s no sign of it yet anyway.’
‘Did you wake Olga?’
‘Yes, she’s here, coordinating everyone.’
‘Can you put her onto me? Thanks, Katherine,’ Conor said as he navigated the winding coast road. To their left the Atlantic was pounding the shore, the spray covering the car frequently. The run-off from the sodden fields that sloped gently to the sea had nowhere to go, resulting in huge puddles on the narrow roads. Conor had to drive through deeper and deeper floods, each time hoping the water wouldn’t get into the engine.
‘Hello, Conor,’ Olga said. ‘I’m trying to get as much as we can up out of the water, but I’m afraid we’ve a big problem on our hands. I’ve sent some of the lads to the sheds. They said there were sandbags there, so they’re gone down in the golf carts to bring them up. But the water came up through the flagstones, up the toilets and sinks too. We’ve turned the electricity off for safety.’
‘OK. There’s nothing we can do now but wait for the tide to go out. Focus on getting carpets, rugs, anything like that, up high…’
‘What about breakfast? The kitchen is under water now. Chef came in, but he is wet to above his knees.’
‘OK…’ Conor thought rapidly. ‘Set up a tea and coffee station in the upstairs ballroom. Get the kitchen staff to secure the kitchen as best they can, electrical stuff up out of the water and so on. Ask Chef if he can get a continental breakfast going up there. I’m about ten minutes away.’
‘Right. See you soon.’ Olga was normally unflappable, but it was clear she was rattled.
Katherine came back on the line. ‘More importantly, how are Ana and the baby?’ she asked gently, in a tone rarely heard by anyone but her nearest and dearest.
‘Ah, she’s great, they both are. We’re calling her Lily after my mam. Thanks, Katherine. I’m almost there with Artur. It never rains but it pours, eh?’ He tried to laugh.
‘No water jokes, please. Let’s just save our hotel.’
Conor smiled and ended the call. All he wanted was to get back to the hospital to Ana and Lily, but he needed to be at the castle, at least for a while. Olga, Carlos and Katherine did most of the heavy lifting with regards to the day-to-day management, but they needed to see his face now. Everyone looked to him. He was the manager – and the owner now thanks to his father’s investment last year to buy the whole business outright – but Katherine’s steely efficiency was the backbone of the operation.
She hung up without saying goodbye.
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