Icebreaker, p.1

Icebreaker, page 1

 

Icebreaker
 


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Icebreaker


  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  Dedication

  Acknowledgements

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41 - THREE YEARS LATER

  Praise for the novels of Deirdre Martin

  Straight Up

  “Delightful and filled with Irish charm and dialogue . . . An excellent novel.”

  —The Romance Readers Connection

  “Straight Up successfully weaves the perils of falling in love amongst the realities of life. Liam and Aislinn’s relationship will tangle your heart with emotions!”

  —A Romance Review

  “Ms. Martin writes stories about real people in real relationships, which is refreshing in a world of fantastical plot setups and contrived conflicts.”

  —All About Romance

  “Deirdre Martin brings readers to the rural countryside of Ireland for an entertaining, jovial read that’s sure to please.”

  —Romance Reviews Today

  “Straight Up rebounds with energy, Irish humor, a little melancholy, but also plenty of love and happiness. Aislinn and Liam take a chance on love and it pays off in spades.”

  —Romance Junkies

  “Deirdre Martin provides an amusing tale of love.”

  —Genre Go Round Reviews

  With a Twist

  “Deirdre Martin, in expected fashion, [writes] another award-winning story of opposites attracting . . . I loved the book and highly recommend it to anyone.”

  —The Romance Studio

  “Deirdre Martin provides a fun contemporary restaurant romance . . . Fans will enjoy Quinn’s efforts with the support of both their families to win the heart of the sophisticated snob he loves.”

  —Genre Go Round Reviews

  “Natalie and Quinn are excellently written as total opposites who are helpless against the attraction between them . . . A first-class contemporary romance; I give it a very high recommendation.”

  —Romance Junkies

  “A wonderfully delightful story that has all the romance and drama any reader could want . . . This book should top everyone’s must-read list for the summer.”

  —Eye on Romance

  “Funny, energetic, and loads of fun, With a Twist is a tale readers shouldn’t miss . . . Once you start reading With a Twist, you won’t want to put it down.”

  —Romance Reviews Today

  Power Play

  “A wickedly fun and steamy hot contemporary romance . . . [I] could not put it down . . . Power Play is a definite keeper.”

  —Romance Junkies

  “A sheer delight from the first page till the last . . . Contemporary romance doesn’t get much better than this.”

  —All About Romance

  “This is a book you won’t want to put down.”

  —The Romance Studio

  “Deirdre Martin has another hit on her hands.”

  —Romance Reader at Heart

  “Sparkling banter and a couple with red-hot chemistry . . . [If you] enjoy a funny, hot romance that sizzles, then you won’t go wrong with Power Play.”

  —Romance Reviews Today

  Just a Taste

  “Another victory for Martin.”

  —Booklist

  “Be prepared to get a little hungry . . . Pick up Just a Taste for a tempting read you won’t want to put down.”

  —Romance Reviews Today

  Chasing Stanley

  “Martin has a way of bringing her dissimilar characters together that rings true, and fans and curious new readers won’t want to miss her latest hockey-themed romance.”

  —Booklist

  The Penalty Box

  “[Martin] can touch the heart and the funny bone.”

  —Romance Junkies

  “Martin scores another goal with another witty, emotionally true-to-life, and charming hockey romance.”

  —Booklist

  “Fun, fast rink-side contemporary romance . . . Martin scores.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “Ms. Martin always delivers heat and romance, with a very strong conflict to keep the reader engaged.”

  —Contemporary Romance Writers

  Total Rush

  “Deirdre Martin is the reason I read romance novels.”

  —The Best Reviews

  “Martin’s inventive take on opposites attracting is funny and poignant.”

  —Booklist

  “A heartwarming story of passion, acceptance, and most importantly, love, this book is definitely a Total Rush.”

  —Romance Reviews Today

  Fair Play

  “Martin depicts the worlds of both professional hockey and ethnic Brooklyn with deftness and smart detail. She has an unerring eye for humorous family dynamics.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “Makes you feel like you’re flying.”

  —Rendezvous

  Body Check

  “Heartwarming.”

  —Booklist

  “One of the best first novels I have read in a long time.”

  —All About Romance (Desert Isle Keeper)

  “Deirdre Martin aims for the net and scores.”

  —The Romance Reader

  Titles by Deirdre Martin

  BODY CHECK

  FAIR PLAY

  TOTAL RUSH

  THE PENALTY BOX

  CHASING STANLEY

  JUST A TASTE

  POWER PLAY

  WITH A TWIST

  STRAIGHT UP

  ICEBREAKER

  Anthologies

  HOT TICKET

  (with Julia London, Annette Blair, and Geri Buckley)

  DOUBLE THE PLEASURE

  (with Lori Foster, Jacquie D’Alessandro, and Penny McCall)

  THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

  Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Lt
d., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

  ICEBREAKER

  A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author

  PRINTING HISTORY

  Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / February 2011

  Copyright © 2011 by Deirdre Martin.

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  eISBN : 978-1-101-47707-6

  BERKLEY® SENSATION

  Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014. BERKLEY® SENSATION and the “B” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  http://us.penguingroup.com

  In memory of Nan Beytin

  Acknowledgments

  My incredibly patient husband, Mark.

  My extremely patient editor, Kate Seaver.

  My wonderful agent, Miriam Kriss.

  Binnie Braunstein, Eileen Buchholtz, and Dee Tenorio.

  The Left Wings Improv Group and AWI.

  Rocky, Mom, Dad, Bill, Eli, Allison, Beth, Jane, Dave, and Tom.

  1

  “There’s a twenty dollar tip in it for you, Ashok, if you get me there in ten minutes. Step on it.”

  Sinead O’Brien was rarely late, no matter where she was going. The only female partner at the law firm of Callahan, Epps, and Kaplan, she was known not only for her punctuality but also for her sharp intellect and history of getting successful outcomes for her clients. Sinead believed whatever success she had came from working her tail off, which is what she’d been doing today, despite it being Sunday. Her parents called it “workaholism.” Sinead called it dedication.

  Despite her usual attention to detail, time had gotten away from her. One minute, she was in her office reviewing depositions for a new case; the next she was fifteen minutes late for her family’s traditional Sunday afternoon dinner. Annoyed with herself, she’d packed her briefcase and hurried out onto the street, impatient for the car service, which seemed to take forever to come. Sliding into the backseat of the black Cadillac, she’d directed the familiar driver to speed to Eleventh Avenue and Forty-third Street, where the Wild Hart, her parents’ pub, was located. She could hear her mother’s voice in her head. Why are you working on a Sunday? Why haven’t you started dating again?

  Her parents’ lack of appreciation for her dedication baffled her. Irish immigrants, they’d broken their backs for years—seven days a week, year in, year out—to make the Wild Hart a success. She realized part of their concern stemmed from worries about her health (she suffered from debilitating migraines and had high blood pressure despite being only thirty-two), but she was a big girl and could take care of herself.

  Sinead checked her watch. The ride to her parents’ apartment seemed to be taking forever. She told Ashok to take Thirty-fifth Street across town to Tenth Avenue, thinking it would be quicker than heading uptown on Park Avenue. She settled back in the seat, wondering what wonderful dish her mother would be making. Sinead savored these Sunday dinners because she usually lived on takeout. It wasn’t that she didn’t know how to cook (God knows you couldn’t be Kathleen O’Brien’s daughter and not know how to cook); it was that she was too exhausted to make dinner for herself at ten or eleven o’clock at night when she got home. She tried to eat healthy, but every now and then a big, fat, juicy burger or a couple of donuts were the only thing that satisfied.

  Ashok pulled his Cadillac up in front of the Wild Hart, and Sinead hurriedly paid him, unlocking the pub door and heading toward the kitchen, where steps led to her parents’ apartment. She’d grown up here in the cozy flat above the bar: she and her sister, Maggie, crammed into one small bedroom; her brothers, Quinn and Liam, in another; her parents in the third. The apartment never felt small—until adolescence hit and she and her siblings began getting on each other’s nerves, tripping over one another and finding little space for much-craved privacy. Yet somehow they’d survived.

  Sunday dinner together stretched as far back in her memory as she could remember. The whole family would go to Mass and then come home for a large, early afternoon meal. Now that she and her siblings were grown and living their own lives, it was a way for them to come together once a week and catch up with one another.

  She walked into her parents’ kitchen, girding herself for a steely glance from her mother. Everyone but Liam, her younger brother who lived in Ireland with his wife, Aislinn, was there: her older brother, Quinn, a successful journalist, and his French wife, Natalie; her sister, Maggie, and her husband, Brendan. Their baby, Charlie, sat in a high chair between them. Sinead ducked her head sheepishly as she slid into the sole empty seat at the table.

  “Sorry I’m late,” she said, reaching for the steaming bowl of mashed potatoes. She was famished.

  “I thought maybe you weren’t coming,” said her mother coolly.

  Admittedly, she had missed a few Sunday dinners over the past couple of months. But she’d always called ahead to let her mother know not to expect her.

  “I would have called.”

  “I hope you weren’t down with a headache,” her father said, concerned.

  “No, I had a little bit of work to catch up on, and time got away from me.”

  Quinn feigned shock. “Time got away from you? You?”

  “Shut up, Jimmy Olsen.”

  “I don’t like when you work on Sundays,” said her mother.

  “It’s the Lord’s day of rest,” Sinead, Quinn, and Maggie chimed in unison.

  “Will you listen to that?” her mother said to her father with mock indignation. “Making fun of their own mother.”

  “If you can’t mock your mother, who can you mock?” asked Quinn.

  For a split second, Sinead’s eye caught Maggie’s, and Maggie smiled tentatively. So did Sinead. Their relationship had cooled a bit since Charlie was born. Sinead desperately wanted children; her ex-husband, Chip, was initially on the fence about the issue. When they were finally in accord and ready to start a family, Chip, who came from a wealthy family, had very traditional ideas about child rearing, namely that Sinead should give up her career. Sinead disagreed and proposed a number of compromises, all of which Chip rejected. They started to fight vehemently—about everything. Eventually, they both admitted that their differences were irreconcilable, and they divorced. But that didn’t mean Sinead’s hunger for a child went away, and seeing how happy her sister was with Charlie made her envious. It was painful.

  Sinead turned to Quinn. “So, what are you working on?”

  “A story about a woman with a rare form of cancer. There’s an experimental drug that’s had some success, but of course, her insurance company won’t cover it.”

  “That’s terrible,” said Sinead.

  “It is,” said her father. He studied her face. “You look tired.”

  “Dad, you say that every time you see me,” Sinead said, amused. “I’ve looked tired for years. There are circles under my eyes in my first Holy Communion picture.”

  “You need a holiday,” her mother declared. “When’s the last time you had a holiday?”

  “It’s been a while, but I’m fine,” Sinead replied defensively.

  “And when’s
the last time you were up at your weekend place?” her mother pressed.

  Sinead was silent as she speared two pieces of ham and put them on the plate.

  “Thought so,” said her mother.

  When she and Chip had first separated, Sinead had made an effort to go up to their country house in Bearsville as many weekends as she could. Taking hikes made her feel calmer and more balanced. She liked hibernating and licking her wounds in private.

  “Maybe you should go visit Liam and Aislinn,” her mother continued.

  “I’ll think about it,” Sinead promised.

  “That means ‘Get off my arse, Ma,’ ” her mother said with a sigh.

  “Yup, it does.”

  Maggie cleared her throat nervously. “I was wondering,” she began, looking at Sinead, “if Brendan, Charlie, and I might use the house one weekend? Just to get away for a bit.”

  “Of course,” said Sinead. “Just let me know when, and I’ll call the caretaker to come air it out and clean things up a bit.”

  “Thanks.”

  Sinead had always let her siblings and friends use the house. In fact, Quinn and Natalie had their wedding there. It made her feel better about spending all that money on a place she didn’t use as much as she should.

  Dinner conversation turned to the usual subjects: gossip about relatives and pub patrons, chat about favorite TV shows and various familial health ailments, the occasional heated political discussion. And of course now that baby Charlie had joined the family, everyone, especially Sinead’s parents, focused a lot of attention on him. It made sense: he was their first grandchild after all. Sinead thought Charlie was cute, but she didn’t know how to connect with him, exactly. She was awkward with him. It made Sinead wonder if she was cut out for motherhood at all. Shouldn’t this stuff come naturally?

 
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