Excerpt Kiss Me I’m Irish by Bella Street

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He stared at her without answering. Emily returned his gaze, realizing this was the first time she’d seen him in full light. His hair was coal black and mussed from sleep. His skin, tan and ruddy, as if he were a field laborer. And his eyes were the intense blue of a milkwort blossom, with a telltale darker ring around the outer edge of the irises. Of course! With a name like Liam she should’ve realized it sooner. He wasn’t a gypsy at all.

He was an Irishman.

That meant this was some form of purgatory. Jem, Donnelly, and Our Lady of the Portal had had their revenge after all.

Crinkles formed at the edges of Liam’s eyes. “So you’re still holding to the story that you’re from another time?”

“I believe I’ve already made it clear I don’t tell falsehoods, Mr…” She bit her lip. “As we have not yet properly been introduced, I’m afraid I am ignorant of your formal title.”

“My last name is Jackson, but you can call me Liam.”

“Well, Mr. Jackson,” she said, lifting her chin, “I am Miss Emily Musgrave recently of Trethwick Hall, Truro, Cornwall, 1813.”

His mouth quirked. “Okay, Miss Emily, how are we gonna get you back to ‘1813’?”

The mocking question gave her pause. Did she really want to go back? Go back to what? Lady Tremaine, or the convent? She straightened her shoulders and struggled to gather her swirling thoughts into some semblance of order. Even if she was experiencing some sort of altered state or hallucination, wasn’t it far superior to her alternatives?

“Are you some kind of princess where you’re from?” Liam said, his voice lit with amusement.

Emily looked away, wishing he would not tease her. “No, Mr. Jackson, we are not royalty. My great aunt is a baroness.”

Why would he think her a princess? She’d arrived dirty and bedraggled. Lady Tremaine would have a fit if she could see her now. In fact, Lady Tremaine would get a chuckle of out Mr. Jackson’s assumption that Emily was a princess. Especially when my lady’s favorite descriptor had been more along the lines of hoyden. But throughout her lonely childhood, Emily had entertained rosy dreams of castles and knights, princes and princesses, sprinkled with piskeys and stardust. Somehow that dream had remained tucked away in the recesses of her mind as the distasteful realities of life had intruded—duty to her family name, duty to her great aunt, being sold to the highest bidder…

Oh, that mama and papa were still alive.

Emily reached for her locket, but instead of finding it she touched bare skin. Her breath hitched as she finally realized what was missing. Her necklace must have been lost during the chaos of her arrival! Emily’s heart sank like a stone. It was probably in the bog. Or it had slipped down one of the many drains in the necessary room. Regret filled her, wringing her heart out like a rag. How could she have lost it when she needed it most? Even in their absence, her parents were somehow near to her heart when she wore that locket. Now she was completely adrift, forever cut off from her past, lost in a bewildering muddle of time and circumstance. Tears burned at the back of her eyes.

“So, uh, what you see around you isn’t exactly the future you’d imagined?”

She blinked away her tears, her fingers seeking the locket she knew wasn’t there. “Um…no.”

“Did you ever wonder what it would be like?”

A great sadness descended upon her. Perhaps it was time to no longer dwell on the past—especially now that she’d been thrust so far into the unknown. She must face the here and now and determine her fate. Emily glanced up at Liam, swallowing a great lump. “When…I used to think of the future, it was always about who I would marry, what name would be linked to mine, and pleasing my family. I never imagined horseless carriages, colored words that glow in the dark, and…”

An overhead roar arrested her attention. She tipped her head back and gasped, her grief displaced for the moment. A great fixed-winged bird thundered above them.

“And airplanes?” Liam said.

She tore her attention from the marvel above and looked at him in a daze.

He sent her a searching smile. “It’s basically a…horseless carriage in the sky. They carry freight and people.”

Ren ow thas.” The world tilted beneath her. She reached for her locket, found it wasn’t there, and swayed.

“Okay, I’m thinking this isn’t time to bring up the moon landing.” Liam’s arm came around her waist. “Are you gonna faint? Hey, you aren’t back in that corset thing are you?”

Emily struggled to stay lucid. She blinked her eyes hard and gulped several deep breaths of warm, sticky air, thankful for a gentleman’s support.

“Did your neck get hurt?”

She focused on Liam. “Pardon me?”

“You keep scratching at your neck. Were you injured there?”

She frowned, straightening until she felt steady on her own two feet. “No, but I fear my gold locket was lost in the melee—”

His brows snapped together. “Do you mean a necklace?

Emily nodded, wondering at his furious expression.

“Dammit! Tinker!

Liam hustled her back into the room, leaving the door ajar. He settled her on the edge of his bed and turned on the overhead light. After stalking to the next bed, he shook the blonde’s shoulder.

Tinker grumbled in her sleep and swatted his hand away. He tried to rouse her again. Finally, she cracked open her eyes and sat up in a huff. “What?

“Miss Emily here seems to be missing something.”

“Her marbles?” she groused.

“Seems she arrived with a gold locket that has particular meaning to her.”

Tinker went very still. “Oh, the necklace. It had fallen off her in all the confusion, so I picked it up for safekeeping.” She shot Emily a tight smile.

Liam towered over her bed, his arms crossed. “She’d like it back. Now.”


Whipping the blankets to one side, Tinker slid from the bed wearing a shocking lack of clothing. Emily didn’t know how the woman could bear to be seen in a thin sleeveless garment worn with extremely short bloomers. Tinker rummaged in the drawer of the small table next to her side of the bed. She brought out her hand, revealing the locket dangling from between her fingers. The gold gleamed dully in the light.

Liam turned to Emily. “Is that it?”

She nodded, her lips pressed together to keep from crying out in relief.

He took it from Tinker and approached her. “Let me help you put it on.”

Heart thudding with anticipation to receive it back, she pulled her long braid to one side. Liam threaded the chain around her neck, his fingers warm against her skin as he fumbled with the clasp. As soon as the familiar weight pressed against her sternum, a calm came over her. She brought the locket to her lips and closed her eyes for a moment, feeling some of her equilibrium restored.

Behind her, she heard Tinker grumble and slam the door of the necessary room.


Emily twisted around and offered Liam a grateful smile. “Yes, thank you.”

His stern expression eased somewhat.

“Here now, what’s all this?”

Startled by a gruff voice, she turned back to the door. A man, looking not unlike one of the men who had been in pursuit of them the night before, stood in the doorway, his bulbous eyes surveying the scene with obvious distaste.

“I thought I made it clear that this here is a decent motel, no unpaid guests allowed. There are plenty others to bring your ladyfriends to—they rent by the quarter-hour—”

“Uh, Mr. Milbanks,” Liam said quickly, “this is a friend who dropped in unexpectedly from out of town.”

The man made a dismissive wave with his hand. “She’s still an unpaid guest. In fact you and your sister owe me for a week’s rent as it is.”

Liam shoved his hand through his hair. “Yeah, about that. I know I said I’d pay you after the gig last night, but there was a mix-up and—”

The man shook his head, his face turning the color of boiled ham. “No more excuses. You and your female friends here need to clear out within the hour. I got paying customers waiting on a room.” He swept Emily with a withering look, then turned and stomped back to wherever he’d come from.

A dark flush mantled Liam’s cheeks. “Sorry you had to see that. We’re kind of in a pinch at the moment.” He lowered himself onto the mattress next to her. “We have a gig tonight, so I think the pinch will be temporary.”

“She doesn’t want to hear about our money troubles, L.J,” Tinker said, coming out of the bathroom dressed in a blue shirtwaist and long indigo pantaloons.

At least her limbs were fully covered this time.

Emily noticed her own unsatisfactory wardrobe. Perhaps she’d wear her cloak over the strange ensemble encasing her body. How could she obtain more appropriate attire? “Is my cloak still available?”

“Yeah,” Tinker said, getting up to retrieve it. “It’s about the only thing that didn’t get ruined.”

Emily refrained from reminding Tinker it was she who’d ruined perfectly serviceable clothes. Emily accepted her cloak from the blonde and ran her hands along the lining.

“Why did you have it on inside out last night?” Liam asked. “At least that’s how it looked to me.”

“To keep the piskeys away, of course.”

He looked surprised while Tinker snickered.

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13 thoughts on “Excerpt Kiss Me I’m Irish by Bella Street

  1. Time travel are my absolute favorites. I love the premise of your book, where the heroine travels forward. Very interesting. 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for having me, Cynthia! Woot!

    And yes, I thought it would be fun to have the historic girl travel to the future. I tried to imagine how she responded to all the new things around her…including shaving her armpits! 🙂

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