Love & Luck

Love & Luck

Jenna Evans Welch

To Nora Jane, the possessor of two exceptionally plucky feet and a one-dimpled smile that lit up my darkness for over a year. This one’s for you, baby girl.

Dear Heartbroken,

What do you picture when you imagine traveling through Ireland? Belting out drinking songs in a dim, noisy pub? Exploring mossy castles? Running barefoot through a field of four-leaf clovers? Or maybe that old Johnny Cash song: green, green, forty shades of green.

Whatever you’ve imagined, my little lovelorn friend, I can emphatically say you’re wrong. I’m not saying you won’t find yourself singing a rousing rendition of “All for Me Grog” at a little tavern in Dublin, or that you won’t spend your fair share of afternoons stumbling through waterlogged castle grounds. But I am saying that this trip of yours will undoubtedly be even better than anything you’ve imagined. Don’t believe me? Wait until you’re standing at the edge of the Cliffs of Moher, your hair being whipped into a single dreadlock, your heart pattering like a drum. Then we’ll talk.

I know you’re feeling fragile, turtledove, so let me just lay it all out for you. You are about to fall head over heels in love with a place that will not only heal that little heart of yours, but also challenge you in every way imaginable. Time to open your suitcase, your mind, and, most of all, this guidebook, because not only am I an insufferable expert on all things Ireland, but I’m also an insufferable expert on heartbreak. Consider me a two-for-one guide. And don’t pretend you don’t need me. We both know there are a thousand travel guides on Ireland, and yet you picked up this one.

You’ve come to the right place, love muffin. The Emerald Isle may not be the only place to mend a broken heart, but it is the best.

Trust me.

PS: On a recent, particularly vibrant afternoon in County Clare, Ireland, I counted forty-seven shades of green. So take that, Johnny.

—Introduction to Ireland for the Heartbroken: An Unconventional Guide to the Emerald Isle, third edition



That’s the thought I went over the side with. Not I’m falling. Not I just shoved my brother off the Cliffs of Moher. Not even My aunt is going to kill me for ruining her big day. Just Worst summer ever.

You could say that my priorities weren’t in the best shape. And by the bottom of the hill, neither was I.

When I finally rolled to a stop, my designer dress and I had been through at least ten mud puddles, and I was lying in something definitely livestock-related. But cow pies weren’t the worst of it. Somewhere along the way I’d hit something—hard—and my lungs were frantically trying to remember what they were supposed to do. Inhale, I begged them. Just inhale.

Finally, I got a breath. I closed my eyes, forcing myself to slow down and breathe in and out to the count of five like I do whenever I get the wind knocked out of me, which is way more often than the average person.

I have what my soccer coach calls the aggression factor. Meaning, whenever we arrive at a school where the players look like Attila the Hun in ponytails, I know I’ll be playing the whole game. Getting the wind knocked out of me is kind of a specialty of mine. It’s just that usually when it happens, I’m wearing soccer cleats and a jersey, not lipstick and designer heels.

Where’s Ian? I rolled to my side, searching for my brother. Like me, he was on his back, his navy-blue jacket half-off, head pointed down the hill toward all the tourist megabuses in the parking lot. But unlike me, he wasn’t moving.

At all.

No. I sprang to my knees, panic filming over my vision. My high heels impaled the hem of my dress, and I struggled to untangle myself, scenes from the cheesy CPR movie they made us watch in health class firing through my head. Did I start with mouth to mouth? Chest compressions? Why hadn’t I paid attention in health class?

I was about to fling myself at him when his eyes suddenly snapped open.

“Ian?” I whispered.

“Wow,” he said wearily, squinting up at the clouds as he wiggled one arm, then the other.

I fell back into a relieved heap, tears spiking my eyes. I may have shoved my brother off the side of a mountain, but I hadn’t killed him. That had to count for something.

“Keep moving; eyes up here.” I froze. The voice was British and much too close. “Hag’s Head is a bit farther. Ooh, and look, there’s a wedding going on up top. Everyone see the lovely bride? And . . . oh, my. I think she lost a bridesmaid. A tiny lavender bridesmaid. Hellooooo there, tiny lavender bridesmaid. Are you all right? Looks like you’ve had a fall.”

I whipped around, my body tensed to unleash on whoever had just dubbed me “tiny lavender bridesmaid,” but what I saw made me wish I was even tinier. Not only had Ian and I landed a lot closer to the walkway than I’d realized, but a tour guide sporting a cherry-red poncho and a wide-brimmed hat was leading a pack of enraptured tourists right past us. Except none of them were looking at the sweeping landscape or the lovely bride, who happened to be my aunt Mel. They were looking at me. All thirty of them.

You’d think they’d never seen a midwedding fistfight before.

Act in control.

I straightened up, shoving my skirt down. “Just a little tumble,” I said brightly. Yikes. “Tumble” was not a typical part of my vocabulary. And whose robotic happy voice was coming out of my mouth?

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