Christmas on Inishmore
Christmas on Inishmore
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- Forced proximity
- Only one bed
- Small town (island!) setting
Emma never thought she’d flee from her success – especially not to Ireland.
As a tech founder, Emma Kells is used to being the only woman at the table. Her app brought her success, fame, and riches, but it also stole her social life. The success was unexpected, but so was a tech thief, claiming her invention actually belonged to him.
When Emma tries to defend her work, things take a turn for the worse when she makes a mess in the media and jeopardizes her future dreams. Her team suggests that lying low is the answer and what better place to do that than in Galway, Ireland? Only, Emma’s trip doesn’t exactly go as planned.
Instead she becomes stranded on the tiny island of Inishmore where the handsome pub owner offers her a bed. He reminds Emma of the comfort, laughter, and relaxation she has been putting aside for years, and now she’s wondering if her success was worth it.
When the real world comes calling, Emma has a choice to make. Will she return to her workaholic ways, or will she take a chance on an Irishman and love?
Dive into this forced proximity romantic comedy and fall in love with its witty Irish hero today. Featuring a cozy cottage (with only one bed, naturally!), a lovable dog, and a Christmas you won’t soon forget.
Start reading Chapter One...
Start reading Chapter One...
Some days, Emma wondered if working in the cutting edge field of social media app development was really making the world a better place. Scratch that, she knew it was actually a dumpster fire of addiction and FOMO, but the paychecks and the prestige of being a founder? Well, those were some pretty great perks of the job.
Still, at a moment like this, as she clapped for the non-profit founder exiting the stage, the same stage she was about to go out on, it was hard not to take a second look at the career she had chosen for herself. She surreptitiously checked the program in her hand to make sure she had his name right. Tom Conley…he’d invented some sort of water filtration system that was revolutionizing development work all over the globe. Good for him. Her social media app SLICE was revolutionizing things too, even if it was just how much time people spent on their phones every day.
“Tom,” she said, holding out her hand to shake his. “That was really inspiring. I’m Emma Kells, founder of SLICE. It’s nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too, Emma,” he responded. “Though of course I knew who you were already. SLICE is a huge deal. Congrats on all your success.”
Emma smiled. “Thank you. And thanks for warming up the stage for me, though it’s going to be tough to follow you out there.”
Tom dismissed the compliment. “I’m looking forward to learning from you. Break a leg.”
Emma turned back to the stage to hear the end of the emcee’s introduction. “Please join me in welcoming Emma Kells to the stage. Emma is the founder of SLICE, a social media app that has transformed the way we connect with each other all over the globe by capturing the power of live, real-time video. But I don’t have to tell you that—I’m sure half of you are SLICEing this right now! Emma is frequently the youngest founder in the room, as well as the rare female founder in an industry that is largely male-dominated. We’re honored to welcome her to the Southwestern Innovation Conference today as our keynote speaker. Put your hands together for Emma Kells!”
As the crowd erupted in applause, Emma took one last deep breath, closing her eyes to ground herself. There was a time when making a speech like this would have had her breaking out in a cold sweat. But after five years of keynote speeches and live on-air interviews, she had become something of a pro at charming a crowd while wowing them with her technical knowledge. She barely even registered the size of the audience anymore—whether she was speaking to a group of people standing around a table at a cocktail party or inspiring the entire student body at a high school, it didn’t make a difference to her. She could give a speech like this in her sleep. And the best part was, even if she was kind of phoning it in, that wouldn’t translate to her audience. No matter how much—or how little—genuine enthusiasm Emma brought to the stage, people would be inspired. The work she had done spoke for itself.
“Thank you for that warm welcome,” she intoned to the crowd. “And thank you all for being here! Austin, Texas—what a great city! Let’s give it up for our host city and for everyone involved in making SIC a success. I know I’ve been inspired here…have you been inspired? Let’s hear how inspired you’ve been in your applause…”
While the crowd clapped and cheered, Emma smiled. She was like Tinkerbell—applause like this brought her back to life. No matter how tired she got or how frustrating a challenge was, a room full of people cheering—even if they were cheering for Austin and not necessarily for her—brought some pep back to her step and made her stand just a little bit straighter.
“In the spirit of the Southwestern Innovation Conference, I’m here to share my own story of inspiration and innovation in the hopes that it will ignite something within you. Who knows what inventions, apps, and businesses are going to be born out of the collective brainpower in this room? So, as we get started, I’ll invite you to leave your imposter syndrome, your doubts, and your insecurities at the door. Ideas are going to pop up in your mind, and before you can squash them down with reasons they won’t work…don’t. Let them breathe. Let them live. And who knows…you just might be the one taking this stage one day.”
Emma knew it was important to bring the audience along on her journey like this, to make them feel like everything she had achieved they could, too. She knew—alas, from experience—that leaning in to the idea that she was a tech genius and most people couldn’t do what she had done garnered negative reviews. Harsh ones, too. Definitely harsher than the reviews that her male counterparts got when they were a little too ego-driven, but that was the nature of living in a man’s world, she supposed.
“Is anyone in this room old enough to remember living in a world before social media? Put your hands up if that’s you. Don’t be shy. I’ll put my hand up, too…I’m not ashamed to admit I may not be as young as I look. Where are my fellow 90s kids? There you go!” Emma continued to stall as sporadic hands went up around the room.
“For all the rest of you, I know it can be hard to remember a world without social media. Or without smartphones, even. But those of us who put our hands up remember a world with a lot less connection. Oh, sure, we were connected to our families, to the friends we saw at school…but I’m convinced that the relationships with the people closest to us tend to be the ones with the least depth in the connection. For me, it wasn’t until I started making my first batch of internet friends that I realized how much easier it was to connect, to share, to be seen by another human without all that shared history and potential baggage.”
Emma knew she’d found the right crowd when she saw the nods around the room. A few times, she’d given this speech to a crowd who couldn’t relate to the idea of making a real friend on the internet—not to generalize, but those crowds had tended to be from a different generation—and that had created a bit of awkwardness. They hadn’t been able to imagine making a close friendship with someone you’d never met in person, and she couldn’t relate to them and their super close families. After a few speeches like that, she’d gotten a bit more selective about the events she accepted invitations from, and it was rare that happened anymore.
“With the increasing access that we had to each other at our fingertips, thanks to the advent of smartphones, we saw relationships, businesses, and culture shift at an exponential rate. And of course, the media that we used shifted through that time as well—from long-form text to short-form text to photos, videos, and of course livestreams.”
She always paused there for the audible murmur that traveled across the room. SLICE was the king of livestreaming apps, and Emma was the queen for having invented it. Or…a different metaphor. Because she definitely wasn’t married to SLICE. True, it took all of her time and energy, their finances were commingled, and there wasn’t anyone else in her life who meant more to her. But SLICE wasn’t much for cuddling or companionship, and she certainly wasn’t getting her *ahem* physical needs met by it.
“SLICE was born when an idea floated into my window just a millisecond before it floated to anyone else. That, right there, is why I encouraged you to leave your doubts at the door—because I didn’t create this idea, I just received it. And if you can listen and be ready, a similar idea might just perch itself on your shoulder one of these days.”
Emma took a strategic pause as she saw a few members of the audience scribbling notes on the pads of paper in front of them. “Listening, paying attention, and being ready with the skills and motivation to take action were my secret weapons. They are the reason I was able to see that live video was the next big thing coming and to pivot from the app I had been working on at the time. They are the reason SLICE exists and certainly the reason I’m here today. And in fact, SIC is the perfect place to announce the next big innovation in the SLICE world. Are you all ready for this?”