We hope you enjoy this exclusive excerpt from The Art of Looking for Trouble and please consider pre-ordering today. Also check out an extended bio of the author and the first two chapters here, published last week.

As word of Mike’s decision spread through the bar, Pete slunk in, still in his grease-stained Sears Auto Center uniform, sat down at his regular seat without saying hello to anyone, and asked Davey for a shot of the house whiskey and a Bud.

“Lose a patient during an oil change, doctor?” Murph asked, then laughed at his own joke.

Pete downed his shot and then directed his glare at Murph.

“Sears shutting down?” Vince asked, sounding concerned.

“No, worse,” Pete said. He pointed to the shot glass, motioning to Davey who was still standing in front of him with the bottle of whiskey.

Pete downed his refill. “It’s my mother.”

“She sick, in trouble maybe?” Seamus asked.

“Worse, she’s moving back to Genesee,” he said and hung his head even lower.

“That’s it? What’s wrong with that?” Murph said, coming back to the conversation after no one laughed at his attempt at a joke.

“She moved to Florida ten years ago. She was always on my case about doing something with my life, which I could take when she was a thousand miles away. Now she says she wants to be back home and I’ll be getting the lecture every day.”

“Oh, come on, she’s just your mom and she wants the best for you,” Vince said.

“She can’t be that bad, by the way do you take after her or does your sister favor her?” Seamus asked.

“You can see for yourself in about a half hour. My sister is bringing her here to the bar.”

At the mention of Pete’s sister, with Pavlovian precision, Murph combed what was left of his hair with his fingers, Seamus tucked in his shirt, and Vince checked his watch to see if he had enough time to stay until she got there.

The guys spent the next thirty minutes alternatively drinking their pints, checking the clock and turning around every time someone came in the door, except for Murph. He watched the door like a polar bear waiting at the edge of the ice floe for a seal to pop his head out of the water.

“They’re here,” Murph finally announced with an adolescent crack in his voice.

They walked into Quinn’s like the women in a ZZ Top ‘80’s music video, in step and backlit by the afternoon sun. At least that was the scene playing in Seamus’ mind as he watched Pete’s mom walk into his life.

Pete’s mom was a carbon copy of his sister, or the other way around, but the guys wouldn’t have been able to answer that question if asked, they were thunderstruck. Pete’s mom looked slightly older than her daughter, with a few extra curves that made her seem a lot more dangerous.

Pete’s mom was wearing a tight sweater and a skirt even shorter than her daughter’s, that showed off her long-tanned legs that stood out even more amongst the pasty and sun-starved native Genesseans.

Seamus was the first to break the spell of the shock of seeing Pete’s mom.

“Seamus Corrigan,” he said, extending his hand, “Davey, please get these young ladies whatever they want to drink and put it on my tab.”

“Roxanne,” Pete’s mom said, taking Seamus’ hand.

“Of course you are,” Seamus said. He moved in front of his friends to block her view of them and stood there shaking her hand until Vince finally stepped in.

“I’m Vince Di Pietro,” he said taking her hand from Seamus. “That guy there holding in his gut is John Murphy, the guy behind the bar with his mouth hanging open is Davey Moran and the guy who won’t turn around, you already know, that’s your son, Pete.”

“Why don’t we take our drinks over to a table,” Seamus said as he retook Roxanne’s hand and walked her over to the big corner table.

The rest of the group hesitated.

“He means all of us,” Vince said, grabbing his pint and following Seamus.

They all took their seats while Vince walked back over to the bar and grabbed Pete by the arm and dragged him over to the table.

Seamus radiated in his seat between Roxanne and Angela. Pete slouched in his chair, facing towards the bar, away from his mother. Vince alternated between watching Seamus try to be charming and Pete trying to disappear.

“Angela has told me all about this place,” she said in a voice that sounded more like a purr.

“Angela?” Murph asked.

“Pete’s sister,” Vince whispered near his ear, “she’s right on the other side of Seamus you idiot”.

“Oh,” Murph said as he reddened.

“So, Roxanne, what brings you back to sunless, cold Genesee?” Vince asked seeing Murph’s embarrassment.

“Oh, I just want to be near my kids, maybe one of them will get in gear and make me a grandmother,” she laughed.

The guys laughed in unison along with her.

“No one would ever believe you were a grandmother, even if your kids got themselves to the altar and procreated,” Seamus said, patting Roxanne’s hand.

“Oh, you’re sweet,” Roxanne said. She laid her hand on top of Seamus’.

“Procreated?” Vince whispered to himself.

“I have to use the can,” Pete said, stomping off.

“So where are you staying?” Vince asked.

“I’m going to bunk with Angela for a while until I can find a job and get settled in.”

“What kind of job are you looking for?” Vince asked.

“Oh, I’m a hair stylist, just like Angela, so it should be pretty easy.”

“Yes, easy,” Seamus repeated.

Seamus waved at Davey for another round. Davey stood unmoved by Seamus’ command, so Vince went up to the bar and got the drinks.

“Does she smell as good as she looks? And I don’t appreciate being waved at like a servant, especially since I can’t join you at the table. Have you ever seen Seamus like this?” Davey asked without waiting for answers.

“Never,” Vince replied. “He’s always played the field and has been happy with a carousel of girlfriends. This is something completely different, he looks smitten.”

“Seamus? Smitten?” Davey shook his head.

“I’ll start planning the bachelor party,” Vince said and looked back at the table.

Seamus bought drinks all night and stayed with Roxanne even after Angela left because she had to work the next day. Pete never got out of his funk and no one noticed when he stumbled out.

Vince tried to stay, to keep Seamus out of trouble but his wife called and told him he had to come home. Murph tried to hang in with Seamus but he got tired of being completely ignored by the newly joined couple and finally left without either of them pausing from their conversation to say goodbye.

When Davey yelled out last call, Seamus and Roxanne were the only ones left in the bar.

“Well I guess we need to leave,” she said with an exhale.

“I’ll be walking you home safe then,” Seamus said getting up and extending his hand as he had done hours earlier.

They walked down Kilkenny Street a few blocks to Angela’s apartment, a two-family that Mike owned and stood looking at each other.

Seamus finally spoke.

“Would you do me an honor and join me for dinner tomorrow, can I pick you up at six?”

“Sure, that sounds fun.”

She leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek.

“Goodnight, Seamus, thank you for a wonderful evening.”

“Goodnight, Roxanne,” he let her name linger on his tongue, “see you tomorrow.”

He watched her go inside and loitered for a minute, waiting for the lights to be turned off before he headed back up the hill to his house.

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