Home > Wild Dreams (Wilder Irish #12)

Wild Dreams (Wilder Irish #12)
Author: Mari Carr

 

Prologue

 

 

Patrick Collins slowly rocked back and forth as his youngest grandson, Oliver, nestled in his lap. He was spending the night at his son Sean’s home, babysitting. Sean was currently at the hospital with his spouses, Lauren and Chad. Sadly, Lauren, who had been ten weeks pregnant, had suffered a miscarriage earlier in the evening.

Patrick had driven to their house the moment Sean called to ask if he could stay with Oliver. His chest grew tight as he considered the tension in his typically affable, happy son’s voice. This wasn’t Lauren’s first miscarriage. In truth, it was her sixth, each loss driving the sadness that seemed to be his daughter-in-law’s constant companion even deeper.

Lauren had dreamed of a large family, a houseful of kids. After she’d first married Sean and Chad, she’d told her husbands countless times she wanted to break Patrick and Sunday’s record of seven children.

She hadn’t made that joke in years.

Patrick knew Sean was worried about Lauren, and not just her physical health but her emotional state as well. This evening when she’d gotten in the car, she looked like a ghost of her former self, an empty shell. She hadn’t shed a tear. Patrick suspected it was because she’d cried every single one of them out over the past decade. His heart ached for her, for Sean, for Chad.

Sean had been fearful of another miscarriage ever since Lauren told him she was pregnant again. She’d suffered four miscarriages before Oliver came along. And since his birth…two more. Sean had confided in Patrick just last week that this was it. He simply couldn’t watch his wife’s heart break again, couldn’t suffer the pain of losing another child.

They called Oliver their miracle baby and no little boy was more doted on, more adored.

Oliver had just turned five and usually he was a rambunctious ball of energy. Patrick often compared him to a bull in a china shop, something he’d often said of Oliver’s father when he was growing up as well. The boy took after Sean in terms of stature and disposition. He was a full head taller than the other kids in his kindergarten class, his strength was off the charts, and he was never without a huge grin on his face.

Patrick’s daughter, Riley, had given him the nickname Bam Bam a couple years earlier, likening him to The Flintstones’ character, after Oliver, only three at the time, had managed to dismantle the stone border she’d placed around her herb garden.

There was none of that energy present in Oliver tonight. While he didn’t know where his parents had gone or why, Oliver clearly sensed something terribly wrong had happened.

The two of them had claimed this rocking chair on the front porch after Sean and Chad got Lauren to the car, the three of them driving away, and they’d remained just like this for the better part of an hour.

Patrick thought perhaps Oliver had been tired, but the young boy hadn’t fallen asleep. Instead, he sat quietly on his lap, looking out across the yard.

“Would you like to go inside and watch TV, lad? Or maybe have some ice cream?” Sean told Patrick they’d just finished dinner when Lauren had felt the sharp pains, then noticed the blood. Mercifully, Oliver hadn’t seen any of that.

Oliver shook his head. “I’m not hungry.”

That response told Patrick everything he needed to know. Oliver might not understand what was going on, but if the boy was turning down dessert, it was obvious he was scared and sad.

Patrick decided it was time to distract the boy from his heavy thoughts.

“Have I ever told you what your name means, Ollie?” Patrick asked.

Oliver twisted in his lap to look at him, shaking his head. “What it means?”

Patrick loved learning about the history of names, the meanings, the symbolism. He’d taken to telling each of his twelve grandchildren about their names. Some, like Padraig, loved hearing the stories tied to past namesakes, while others, like Colm, were less impressed by the game. Granted, Padraig had the fascinating story of St. Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland to entertain him, while the best he’d had to offer Colm was the symbol of the dove.

“Every name has a meaning. And in your case, it has three.”

Oliver grinned, clearly excited by this discovery. “What does it mean?”

“Well, some people say Oliver is derived from the olive tree. Have you ever heard the expression extending an olive branch?”

Oliver shook his head, his brow furrowed in confusion. “What’s an olive branch?”

“It’s a limb, a twig, from a tree.” Patrick pointed to the large maple in the front yard, then to the ground below it. “See that stick over there?”

Oliver nodded.

“That’s a branch from that tree.”

“Why would somebody want a stick?” Oliver crinkled his nose, unimpressed by the gift.

Patrick chuckled. “Well, in this case, the olive branch isn’t actually there. It’s more of a symbol.”

Oliver tilted his head and Patrick hastened to continue his explanation, lest he lose the boy’s interest.

“If someone extends an olive branch, it means they are offering a promise not to fight. It’s meant as a symbol of peace and friendship.”

“Like the way I gave Billy half my peanut butter in jelly after I accidentally knocked him down at recess?”

Patrick grinned at the way Oliver insisted on calling his favorite sandwich peanut butter in jelly, despite how many times his parents had explained it was peanut butter and jelly. Of course, Oliver also referred to his second favorite sandwich as a girl cheese rather than grilled. The silly names amused Patrick to no end.

“I think that’s a perfect example of what it means to extend an olive branch. So Oliver means peaceful.” In Patrick’s mind, it was a perfect representation of his grandson. While Oliver sometimes struggled with his size and his strength, he genuinely hated to ever see anyone hurt or sad, and he didn’t doubt his grandson truly had given away half his favorite lunch to make amends.

“What else does it mean?” It was clear from Oliver’s tone he was less than impressed with being peaceful. And Patrick was reminded of Colm’s outright disdain over being compared to a dove.

“Oh, you’ll like the second meaning. It’s a good one. According to the Norse, Oliver means affectionate.”

“What’s that mean?”

“It means you are very loving, that you like kisses and cuddles and hugs and tickles.” Patrick backed his description up with an example of each definition, grinning widely when Oliver giggled as he tickled him.

“I like that one.”

Patrick had suspected he would. Oliver loved nothing more than to curl up on Patrick’s lap for a cuddle during story time. And he practically bowled Patrick over every time he saw him, running to him for a huge hug.

Patrick ruffled Oliver’s hair. “I knew you would. But…I’ve saved the best for last.”

Oliver’s eyes widened with curiosity.

“The Germans claim that Oliver represents an elf army.”

Oliver laughed loudly, his delight almost tangible. “That’s silly, Pop Pop.”

“Yes, but just think of all the fun you could have with an elf army. So many magical opportunities.”

That idea sparked Oliver’s imagination, just as Patrick knew it would, and for the next hour, the two of them remained in the rocking chair, creating their own elf army stories, each fictional adventure more outlandish than the next, until Oliver fell asleep in his arms.

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