(For maximum viewing pleasure, stop video at 2.51 minutes)
Mr. Niall Doherty and his lovely wife, Caroline, are celebrating their first Christmas together by hosting a ball at their home, Teach Swan, in Dublin. Every mirror, portrait, and door lintel had been draped with ivy or holly and there were enough kissing balls hung throughout the house to keep even Niall happy. Now it was nearly time for their guests to arrive, and Caroline could hardly contain her excitement.
With the ringing of the front bell, Caroline nearly deserted her post at the bottom of the grand staircase and ran to open the door. With a gentle squeeze, Niall quelled her impulse. Looping her arm through his, she craned her neck and stood on tip-toe in order to spot their first guests of the season. To her surprise, a large knot of people crowded into the hall at once. They all spoke in tones of excitement or laughed in delight as they brushed at the light dusting of snow that had stolen into the house on their brightly-hued cloaks.
Her heart pounding, she felt a tug at her hand. Surprised, she looked up into her husband's adoring face. Without warning, he whirled her away to a shadowy nook under the stairs to stand beneath a conveniently-placed kissing ball. "Just one more before the party begins," he murmured as he lowered his mouth to hers and took her lips in a kiss of surpassing sweetness. Just when Caroline wondered if perhaps their guests needs must entertain themselves, Niall released her with a sigh. "We must attend to our duties. However," he added with a twinkle in his eye, "I intend to keep you at my side the entire evening."
Caroline laughed. "There are too many kissing balls to comfortably do otherwise," she teased. Niall took her hand and, with another whirl, returned her to her place at the bottom of the stairs. Caroline smiled as she greeted each party guest in hopes that those who detected the blush that stole into her cheeks would suppose it to be on account of the festivities. The flutter in her stomach, however, was wholly on account of the handsome man who stood at her side. How had she ever been so fortunate as to catch his eye?
Niall's and Caroline's grand romance plays out in O'er the River Liffey, by Heidi Ashworth, available to buy or borrow for free on Amazon.com.