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A Storm of Shadows
An hour before Cam was to meet with Seanan, he stopped by the liquor store. Having checked out the Jameson’s website to familiarize himself with their line of whiskey beforehand, he knew basically what he wanted. Locating the whiskey section in the store, he looked through the different bottles. Redbreast was the aged pure pot still Irish whiskey. There was the regular Jameson, known for its smoothness. Next he saw the Jameson Special Reserve 12 year, and the Limited Reserve 18 year. Cam debated over those two for a moment before he made his way up to the counter.
"May I help you find something, sir?"
"I’m looking for the Jameson Irish whiskey that’s a step above the Limited Reserve 18."
The older gentleman turned to the display behind the counter, scanning the top shelf before taking down a wooden box.
"That would be the Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve Irish Whiskey. It’s considered one of the best." Opening the hinged lid, he showed him the bottle it contained. "This is Jameson's most exclusive whiskey." Taking out his cheat sheet for the finer liquors, he said, "The description reads ‘Carefully crafted by the distillery's four Masters, it is the ultimate expression of the distiller's art. Its distinctive and glorious fruit rich character is born of fortified wine casks with port pipes. Bottled without the use of chilled filtration, the Vintage Reserve is 46% alcohol. Mellow sweetness and toasted wood are complimented by fruit richness characteristic of the port casks. A touch of creamy dairy fudge and dark chocolate add to the complexity. A long lingering finish with winter fruit sweetness and a spicy note of barley in the finish’." He slipped the sheet back beneath the counter. "In a nutshell, it’s a damned fine whiskey. This is the 2007 release, and only about 1000 bottles were sent to the U.S."
"Would it impress an Irishman who’s a Roman Catholic Bishop?"
Without batting an eye the clerk replied, "It would impress the Pope and St. Paddy himself."
"I’ll take it," Cam said as he reached for his wallet.
"An excellent choice." He rang up the purchase up on the cash register. "Are you giving this as a gift?"
He handed the cash to the clerk. "Let’s just say it’s a peace offering…or a sacrificial lamb."
"For a bishop?" he asked jokingly.
"Yep. The uncle of my fiancée," Cam said wryly.
The older man let out a whistle. "Well, you picked a good one. Maybe the Jameson family motto will be a good omen for you."
Cam took his receipt and the box containing the whiskey. "And what would that be?"
"Sine metu—Without Fear".
Cam laughed out loud. "Yeah, that would be a good thing, wouldn’t it?"
Jessie and Uncle Shay had spent most of the day together, catching up on the goings on in each other’s lives, at least to the extent that she could share.
"So, you’re happy with your job?" her uncle asked as he stretched back in the recliner.
"Yes, very much so. Are you still butting heads with that one cardinal?"
"Now Jessie, every time I mention your job, you give me the shortest answer possible and change the subject."
"I’m just interested in what’s going on with you."
"You were always a lousy liar, little one," he admonished. Taking pity on her, though, he said, "Don’t worry, Jessie. I’m not going to press you for details about your work. I may be a civilian, but I’m not a fool. An archaeologist and linguist working for NORAD? Nice cover, but I know better. Besides, you have to remember, your father was in the Air Force; I’m more than aware of the confidentiality required." He reached over and squeezed her hand. "As long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters to me."
Jessie breathed a sigh of relief. "Thanks, Uncle Shay." At that moment the doorbell rang.
"Ah, it seems Cameron is punctual. That’s a plus for him."
She rose to get the door. "Now, Uncle Shay, you be nice." She tried to sound stern, but failed miserably.
The only reply Seanan gave was an evil chuckle.
Opening the door, Jessie smiled at her uncle’s prey. "Hey."
"Hey yourself," Cam said as he leaned in and gave her a quick kiss, before scanning the room, his gaze coming to rest on Jessie’s uncle. Trying to sound sincere, he said "Seanan, it’s nice to see you again."
Seanan rose from the chair, walking over to the young Colonel with his hand extended. "Good to see you, too, Cameron," he said as he gave him a firm handshake. Wasted no time in getting straight to the point. "Why don’t we go into the library and make ourselves comfortable?"
With the air of one condemned, Cam followed the older man down the hallway, giving Jessie a nervous glance as he went.
Jessie kept a few steps behind, lingering in the doorway as Seanan settled himself in the overstuffed leather chair, leaving Cam to take a seat adjacent to him on the loveseat.
Hoping his peace offering would put him in a favorable light, Cam held out his gift to Seanan. "Jessie told me you enjoy a good Irish whiskey."
Taking the wooden box, he looked at the logo on the front. "Very nice," he said appreciatively, eyebrows raised just a fraction. "Thank you."
Jessie headed to the kitchen, saying a silent prayer as she went. Pulling a prepared tray from the refrigerator, she set a couple of glasses on it before returning to the library. "I put together some appetizers," she said as she walked in, placing the tray on the small table between them. There was just enough room for it as well as the bottle of whiskey and the glasses.
"I think we’ll do fine," Seanan said.
"I’m just going by past experience, Uncle," Jessie replied, giving Seanan a sideways glance.
He snorted, remembering the incident with John. "John was a puss…"
"Jessica Angeline, I am just speaking the truth. I doubt we have to worry about Cameron puking all over the place."
At that moment Jessie looked like she wanted to sink into the floor, but her mortification was broken by Cam’s laughter. "It’s all right Jessie. I’m sure we’ll enjoy the food, as well as the whiskey."
"Aye, that’s the spirit, my boy." Seanan took the bottle from the box and proceeded to pour them both a fair amount of the fine whiskey. "Punctual, and excellent taste. You’ve got two good marks so far, Cameron."
Jessie looked at the men with a feeling of helplessness. She loved her Uncle and knew he just wanted to protect her. But she also felt sorry for Cam, knowing the interrogation that was soon to follow.
"Now Jessie, it’s time for you to go run your errands. Cameron and I have a long conversation ahead of us, and we can’t begin until you leave." Seanan picked up his glass and took an appreciative sniff of the deep amber liquid. "Give us a couple of hours, little one."
Walking over to her uncle, she bent down and gave him a kiss on the cheek, as well as whispering "Behave yourself" in his ear. She turned to Cam and gave him a quick kiss on the lips, whispering "I love you" to him before heading to the door.
Just as she was turning to walk down the hall, she heard Uncle Shay ask, "So tell me, Cameron, when was the last time you went to confession?"
Jessie was pretty sure the last two hours ranked up in the top five of the longest ones of her life. Knowing her uncle the way she did, she knew that he could be quite blunt and direct, especially when he wanted to know something. She could only hope that things had gone well while she had been gone.
Pulling into the driveway, she noted the lights were still on in the library. Keys in hand, she went to the front door and unlocked it. Not sure what to expect exactly, she found herself shocked when she heard boisterous laughter. Setting her purse and keys down on the table, she listened to the sounds coming from the library, and she could hear Cam talking.
"…By the time he actually got around to drinking that orange juice, it had been sitting in the back of the fridge for a month. He was so damned thirsty, he knocked it right back. It was a second or two before he actually breathed in, at which point he spit it all over the place. There was orange juice on the table, the chairs, and all over Aunt Emma!"
At that point the laughter grew into shrieks of hilarity, coming from both Uncle Shay and Cam.
"Big old fat Emma, sitting across the table, with little bits of bacon on her face, orange juice dripping off her nose…"
Sticking her head around the corner, she wished she had had a camera in her hands. Uncle Shay was leaning sideways in the recliner, arms holding his stomach, laughing harder than she had ever seen him laugh, tears streaming down his face. Cam was just as bad, wiping the tears from his face as he leaned forward, unable to sit upright he was laughing so hard.
‘Well, I’ll be damned.’
Glancing at the table, she noted the whiskey bottle was less than a quarter full. ‘Geez, no wonder they’re laughing so hard.’
Yep, it was official…they were both drunker than skunks. The fact that Cam had Uncle Shay laughing boded well of the time they had spent together. She did her best to forget when John had been on the receiving end of Uncle Shay’s interrogation. John had been bound and determined he wasn’t going to get drunk under the table by some priest; what he hadn’t taken into consideration was the fact that, though Seanan might be a priest, he was Irish first and foremost. Not only had Seanan drunk him under the table, John had thrown up considerably before passing out. That alone had put a black mark against his name in Uncle Shay’s book, not to mention the fact that he hadn’t liked John in the first place.
With a smile on her face, Jessie retreated silently, leaving the two men to their animated conversation.
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