A to Z Blogging Challenge / April A to Z Challenge / Blog Challenge / Books / Characters on Couches / Gideon O'Faolain / Impartials and Immortals / Writing

#AtoZ: O is for O’Faolain

Afternoon, all! Bear with me here; we’re starting to get into the oh-shit-what-word-can-I-use letters, which means I’m starting to invent things and justify them by whatever means work! That said, I think today’s post should still be at least a little fun, so let’s get on with it, shall we? (And all I can say is I hope it’s not morning for you, because I’m throwing in another Irish name.)

Addendum after writing: Due to the character himself deciding to show up (I really didn’t think he would), this post kind of turned into a kind of miniature Characters on Couches session. As a result, it’s a bit long. It’s also not recommended for anyone under eighteen, but that is entirely the incubus’s fault. Happy reading!

Murphy’s Three-Step Guide to Irish Words/Names: O’Faolain

Step one: How the +#@&* do you say it?!

Answer: Oh – fway – lun.

Step two: Oh. Well, what is that?

Answer: It’s a surname. Common anglicized versions are Whelan, Phelan, or O’Phelan, among many others. The first is the most common.

Step three: What’s it mean?

Answer: O’Faolain is an ancient–we’re talking tenth century here–Irish name that means “descendant of Faolan.” As to what Faolan means–it’s a personal name meaning “Young wolf.”

Now that we know all this, it’s time for me to yank the character with the name to the forefront. It’s come to my attention that he’s hiding things and this will not do.

[Enter Gideon O’Faolain; tall, lean, lightly tanned skin with dark hair and eyes; infinitely more well-groomed than the writer, and he knows it]

“You bellowed?”

I grin, remembering a comment made elsewhere that Gideon has the flattest Irish accent ever. It’s not entirely wrong. “I did. I have a question.”

He tilts his head slightly, conveying amused disinterest. “And do you not have access to Google? I gather it’s very useful for such things.”

I snort but wave a hand to indicate he’s not off the hook that easy. “Where does your name come from?”

Apparently taking me at my word, he crosses the room and drops into a seat across from me. “The first recorded use was Biblical, I believe.”

“Don’t be dense. Today’s the O post, not G. Your last name. O’Faolain.” I deliberately butcher the pronunciation hoping to goad him into correcting me.

“O’Faolain,” he says in clipped tones, and I have to hide a grin. If you looked up “punctilious” in the dictionary, there’d be a picture of him, I swear. “You seem to have explained it fairly well.”

Now I roll my eyes. “Don’t. Be. Dense. Your mother–” he cuts me a sharp look at that, making me think maybe I shouldn’t bring her up so casually unless I have some kind of defense between us “–used Walsh, but you didn’t.”

“She remarried.” The words are a shaky step up from a snarl. “I had no wish to share in her idiocy on that matter.”

Something’s tipping me off here. The way he said “remarried,” with a mocking emphasis on the first syllable. “You don’t think it was her second marriage, do you?”

The look he gives me is equal parts annoyance at both of us–me for figuring it out, him for giving it away. “It wasn’t,” he says flatly. “Her maiden name was Reddan; she maintained it until she married Martin Walsh.” He won’t ask whether I’m done. He’ll tolerate me, at least until I cross a line and he just walks out.

“Then where did you pick up O’Faolain?”

Most people, when they lie, don’t meet your eyes, and the lie doesn’t sit easy with them. Gideon looks right at me and smiles, the lie as easy on his skin as the several thousand-dollar suit he’s wearing.

“I imagine I’d heard it in tales of old and liked it.”

“Why not use one of the anglicized versions? You run a worldwide operation–surely Whelan would be easier for people to say?”

“They learn,” he answers implacably. “Usually before the first occasion they speak to me.” He’s still smiling, because he knows I can’t do anything about him lying, but it’s got an edge to it. I’m bugging him. Well, good. He’s bugging me right back.

“Does it come from your fa–” I start, but I cut myself off, because even though Gideon hasn’t moved–in fact, for all intents and purposes he looks completely at ease–I’m suddenly unable to speak. My knees are trembling, my skin feels like it has a live current trying to break free, and my throat is so dry I can’t swallow, let alone find words. Even my own skin brushing against itself–my legs touching, my own fingers trying to smooth my clothes–is too much. On a whimper, I sit down, but that’s no better; my body’s instant reaction is to rock forward against the chair, looking for some kind of relief. Gasping, I scramble back to my feet and stand awkwardly, trying not to let anything–my own hands and other limbs included–touch me.

I’m an idiot. I’m dealing with an incubus, a Fae mixed-breed who preys on women by sleeping with them, and I thought I’d be safe because I’m the writer. Now I realize he deliberately made no attempt at me–didn’t touch me, didn’t try to charm me–until just now, when he dropped the glamour that shields all Fae to some extent and hit me full-force with need. The kind of need that drives women into insanity just because of what he is.

Idiot, idiot, idiot! He’ll do whatever he wants, just like he always has.

Gideon stands up; the smile hasn’t left, but it’s changed. Even standing there trying not to move–something as small as shifting my weight from side to side even manages to set little nerve endings along my skin to screaming–I can see the predatory amusement in it, the flat ruthlessness in his eyes, and understand why he’d choose to name himself for the descendants of the wolves that used to populate Ireland so densely as to give it the nickname of Wolf-land. Comparing him to a wolf isn’t a stretch at all when he gets like this.

It hits me, while I’m trying not to beg–to stop? To keep going?–he’s seen them, survived even after they didn’t. He’s older than I thought by at almost 250 years. He lied.

“Do you remember, Ms. Murphy, what happened when my mother’s husband pried into affairs that weren’t his?”

Of course I do, I want to say. I wrote it down. But I’ve been standing so tensely it hurts, and I barely manage to gasp the words. “You killed him.”

For a moment I’d swear he looks pleased. “I did. You’d do well to remember that.” He gives me a brief, real smile–the charming kind that could turn a woman into putty. Then he leaves.

As soon as the door closes behind him, the tension keeping me together snaps and I collapse into my chair, panting for breath, one hand braced on the desk in front of me.

“I knew he was potent,” I manage breathlessly, “but fuck.” I giggle a little, realizing that minus the actual act itself, that’s exactly how I feel.

A low, animal sound of human derision comes from under the desk. The black and white collie slinks out, vibrant blue eyes fixed on me, and I know he’d be mocking me if he had speech.

Groaning, I lay my head on the desk and ignore the outgoing wave of heat that means he’s shifting back. “Shut up, Iain.”

I hear him laugh, then the noises of a door opening, pants being tugged on and fastened and belted. “Suit yourself, lass,” the Scot remarks easily. “I’ll be going, shall I?”

“You do that,” I mutter without looking up.

He laughs and leaves, and I sit where I am, trying to find the energy to go have a cold shower to get rid of whatever traces of Gideon’s…. impression on me are left.

Damn him.

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