Fiction Friday – Getting to Know You – Chapter 8

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CW-03-Getting-to-Know-You2

I still had questions about my supposed destiny, so I decided to invite my grandparents over for dinner later that week. I called my Grandmother Sunday evening, after I’d had a chance to take a shower and work on some homework for my college classes. We agreed to have the meal on Thursday night and I decided to make them the Coddle that I’d made for Joel and Nicolas since it had turned out so well the first time.

Mac and Eliza hadn’t spoken to the Grandparents yet about the baby, so I was concerned about keeping Eliza’s pregnancy a secret during the dinner. I was relieved when I spoke to my birth mother a few days later when she called to inform me that she was, in fact, two weeks pregnant with twins and feeling just fine. She had visited Grandmother, who was also thrilled, to get the confirmation.

My grandparents arrived through the portal right on time Thursday night, and Grandmother offered to help with dinner before she even had her coat all the way off. I smiled and told her to relax and let me serve her and Grandfather for once as I hung their coats in the closet then gave Grandfather a kiss on the cheek.

I paid special attention to my Grandfather as I asked if I could get either of them anything to drink to start things off. I was still concerned about his health and how the stress of recent events was affecting him. It was no secret that he was getting up there in years and he had looked so haggard after Mac’s death that I wondered if the recent tragedy would prove to be too much for him. I wanted to make sure that he was taking care of himself, but I didn’t know how I would scold him if I wanted to. I loved my Grandfather a great deal and I was relieved that he looked a lot better now that both his sons had returned to him.

They asked how school was going and if I had talked to Mac and Eliza lately. I told them that school was good, then I shared my experiences with Jared during my killer session with him the previous Sunday. “I didn’t do as well as I had hoped, but I still learned a lot that I keep going over on my own.”

I also told them that I had been on the island when Joel and Nicolas had arrived. “Nicolas is quite a card,” I commented.

“That’s one troubled boy,” my Grandmother replied with a sigh. “Hopefully time with his father will heal the wounds of the last few years.”

“Other children would help,” Grandfather added. “I think Joel said something about Nicolas starting school on the island.”

I nodded. “Next week, I think. I agree that the boy has an attitude, but I think all he needs is the reassurance that Joel loves him and is there for him. Joel is talking about allowing Nik to make his bargain soon. That should allow some emotional building between them.”

“He is of an age,” Grandmother agreed. “Should be good for him, give him some responsibility.”

“Too bad they won’t try for an Awakening, but you know how the Fenian are,” Grandfather said, a trace of bitterness to his tone.

I had just reached for the wine bottle to refill my Grandmother’s glass, but I stopped what I was doing and turned to look at them in surprise. “Is it possible for a sorcerer to attempt an Awakening?” I asked.

“They can try, but it doesn’t usually work,” my Grandfather explained. “Once one learns one way of magick, it’s very hard to learn another, even if they do Awaken. Shame,” he said as he shook his head slowly.

“I guess I can see why the Fenian’s wouldn’t want to try an Awakening if they are all sorcerers,” I pointed out, wondering for the first time how my Grandparents felt about the other kind of magick users. “Who would teach Nicolas a different brand of magick if he were to Awaken?”

“The magick that we as Awakened use is far different from what sorcerer’s use,” Grandfather explained. “That’s why it’s difficult, if not impossible, to Awaken one who has been a sorcerer. They don’t understand how we use Quintessence.”

“So, does that make their magick less special because it’s not like the kind we use?” I asked casually, not wanting to stir up an argument with my Grandfather but wanting to know his viewpoint.

“Not less special really,” Grandmother said carefully. “Just not… well, I can’t say real, because there are effects of it, it’s just that sorcerers are not Awakened,” she said sadly. “There is no Ascension for them.”

Ascension was the measurement of a mage’s magickal enlightenment and will that they spent a lifetime building. It was a very hard thing to acquire and I knew that my Grandparents had both worked very hard to achieve it in their lives. I didn’t know how close they were to Ascension themselves, but I assumed they were a heck of a lot further than I was. Ascension wasn’t something that I was really worried about right now. I was more concerned about learning all that I could and figured there was time enough to worry about ascending later.

“Okay,” I answered slowly, not sure what more to say. I could see how they would want all magick users to have the same kind of possibilities available to them, but I doubted that it meant anything to people like Joel and his family, who I was sure, held no stock in the idea.

I continued to make small talk while I finished getting the meal together and waited until we were seated at the table and eating before I even thought about bringing up my destiny. But before I had a chance, Grandmother asked what I thought about the idea of having siblings on the way.

“I’m very excited about Eliza’s pregnancy!” I told them enthusiastically. Then my features turned sheepish and I had to confess, “I’m glad that they told you about it because I wasn’t sure I could have remembered not to say anything tonight!”

“She’s very healthy, despite the life she’s led,” Grandmother said proudly. “The babes are well settled in, she should be having no problems with the pregnancy, aside from the usual morning sickness.”

I smiled and reached for my Grandmother’s hand. “That’s what she said when she called me. I can’t wait to see her belly get bigger as she goes along.”

Grandmother was practically a glow with the news of not just one, but two more grandchildren and Grandfather sat in quiet revelry as well, clearly happy for Mac and Eliza himself. “Hard to tell the sex yet, but that will come, in time,” Grandmother informed us. “She’d like me to have the honor of birthing them.”

I nodded, knowing that Eliza wasn’t big on letting anyone outside of our world getting too close to her. “I agree that your presence will probably be the best for her. She trusts you, Grandmother.”

I saw tears of happiness start to form in her eyes at my statement, but she quickly hid her face behind a flutter of her hands. In seconds, they were dry again and I caught the unmistakable scent of her apple pie that let me know she had used magick to hide her tears. We talked some more about the babies and speculated as to whether they would be mages like so many of the family or if they would be werewolf, like Uncle Angus and Aunt Cara. Of course, there was the possibility that they could carry some of Eliza’s traits, but there was no way to know about that for sure until they arrived.

After the topic of the babies died down a bit I remembered my original reason for inviting my grandparents to dinner and said, “Mac mentioned something before we went to Chenesar about me having a destiny. I talked to him about it the other day and he said that there’s a prophesy about me that Glenn’s mother had seen before her death. I was wondering what you could tell me about it.”

Grandfather looked at me in surprise. “I thought Macalister put no stock in destiny. I’m surprised he talked to you about it.”

I smiled. “He puts little stock in his destiny and told me to do as much with mine,” I explained. “I have a hard time believing the Fates would charge anything to someone like myself.”

“You shouldnae think so lightly of yourself, lass,” Grandfather scolded with one of those secret smiles he usually gave me. “All the Brennan’s are meant for greatness, it’s in our blood.” He looked over at my grandmother fondly and added, “Our time is passed, but yours is bound to present itself.”

Somehow, I doubted that just because I was a Brennan meant that I was bound for greatness. “We’ll see,” I told him with a smile. “Either way I’d like to know more about what was seen. Can you tell me anything?”

Grandfather leaned back in his chair and took a careful sip from his wineglass. “Did he not say that it was Glenn’s mother who spoke the prophecy, many years ago?”

I nodded. “Yes, but I was hoping to get a look at an actual copy and thought that you might have one. Mac was able to quote what sounded like a great deal of it, but I’d still like to see it.”

Grandfather turned to his wife and asked, “Where did you put that book, lass?”

“I believe it’s on the dresser in the bedroom, luv. Would you like me to get it?”

“Nay, you’ve worked hard this week what with checking over the babes. I’ll get it.” He then turned to me and winked, then reached inside his jacket and pulled out a large leather-bound book that looked like it had been handled a good deal over the years. The book was way too large to have just ‘fit’ inside his jacket and I immediately knew that he had done some bit of magick, especially because I smelled faint wood smoke in the air. But for the life of me I had no idea how he had done it. Before I had a chance to question him, he opened the book in his hands and it fell open. He looked down at it for a moment before handing it over to me and saying, “I believe this is what you’re looking for, lass.”

I grinned at the both of them and took the book. “Do you mind if I copy this?” I asked as I glanced the page over. It was worn, as if someone had read it many times over the years and I found that it said exactly what Mac had rattled off just a few days before, word for word, in fact.

“Go ahead,” Grandfather said. “It’s about you, too, after all.”

“Looks like someone has looked this over a few times,” I observed, wondering who it had been and why.

“A few times,” Grandmother said ruefully as she reached for my Grandfather’s hand, telling me with just one action that it had been him.

I smiled at them, then took a few minutes to really read the text for myself. When I was finished, I laid the book on the table in front of me and said, “I still don’t understand the part about saving Eliza’s people. Do you think it has to do with the vampires or other dhampyrs? I never really thought that there might be more out there than her.”

“We spent so long studying it without knowing what she was, but now we believe it talks of the dhampyr,” Grandfather said in that quiet, thoughtful way that he had that always seemed to put me at ease, especially in times of trouble.

“But we never considered it might be the vampires she saves,” Grandmother said thoughtfully.

“It is possible,” he replied.

I shrugged and left the table long enough to grab a sheet of paper and a pen so that I could copy the passage. Once back in my seat, I put the pen to paper, made a few squiggles to get ink on the page and concentrated. Within seconds the ink started to move, copying what was in the book exactly, down to the handwriting of the person who had originally written it.

After getting things started on the page I looked up and found that my grandparents were smiling widely at me, but neither said a word. When the page was finished, I handed the book back to my Grandfather and said, “Thank you. I really appreciate you letting me see it.”

He closed the book and returned it to the inside of his coat where it quickly disappeared again. “It is no problem, lass.”

I decided to not ask any more questions about the prophecy until I had a chance to really study it and think how it could apply to me. If they had further insight to share they would have and ultimately it was something I alone would have to deal with. There was one thing that I wanted to know however. “Did many of Glenn’s mother’s visions come true?”

Grandfather nodded. “A good deal of them have, a good deal has yet to happen,” he replied with a slight shrug. “I’ve never known her to be wrong.”

I nodded thoughtfully; still unsure what kind of a role I might play in the things to come. “I have strawberry shortcake for dessert if anyone left room.”

Over dessert and the conversation turned toward Joel and Nicolas. Grandmother asked how they were settling in and I reported what Eliza had told me earlier, that things were going well.

I had spent most of the week keeping myself from hoping Joel would call, knowing that he would have a great deal on his mind and very little time to accomplish everything. Nicolas was starting school and there was still unpacking for him to do as well as beginning lessons in magick for not only Mac, but Nicolas as well. On top of that there was the job that he was sure would be waiting for him. He was busy, and I knew that for right now I wasn’t going to be a big priority for him. Part of me understood that, but the other part wanted to be important to him and that was the one I had to work to keep suppressed.

 

 

 

 

 

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Fiction Friday – Getting to Know You – Chapter 7

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CW-03-Getting-to-Know-You2

The night was warm and inviting and the sound of waves hitting the beach somehow seemed like a lullaby. I was noticing how bright the moon and stars were when I heard my name being called from behind me. I turned and found Joel coming toward me from the direction of the garage.

“Do you mind if I join you?” he asked when he had caught up.

“Of course not,” I replied with a warm smile, my heart rate quickening slightly. I waited for him fall into step with me and soon we were headed down the beach at an easy pace. “Nicolas asleep?” I asked.

“Aye, his head hit the pillow and he was out,” Joel answered with a grin. “I waited a bit to be sure, but I think he’ll sleep straight through now. I was thinking you’d be in bed yourself when I came out for a walk.”

“I wanted a walk before I turned in.” I glanced at him and studied his profile in the moonlight, thinking again how handsome he was. “Did you find your present?”

Joel looked at me and the moonlight caught in his blue eyes, making my stomach flutter a little. “Aye,” he answered quietly. “And I wanted to thank you. It was quite thoughtful of you.”

I had been worried that the reminder of Chenasar might not have been a good idea as a theme for my present, but his tone sounded as if he had truly liked the picture, so I was relieved.

Joel went on to say that the journal I had left for Nicolas was nice, too. “He’ll be thanking you himself the next time you meet,” he assured me.

“I hope he likes it. I didn’t know if he journaled or not, but I find that I always process things better after writing them down.” I paused so that I could look up at the clear night sky and marveled for a moment at the stars. They were so bright they looked like points for needlework on black material. “Isn’t it gorgeous tonight? I love the stars,” I commented as I looked over at Joel again and laughed. “Of course, not enough to ever really study them or anything. I just like the twinkle of the starlight on clear nights. Shows how smart Gaia is.”

“The sky is very beautiful here,” Joel agreed, as he looked skyward as well. “I’ve seen lots of other stars, but it seems like the most beautiful are the ones in our world.”

“Did you want to sit a while?” I asked, not wanting this time alone with him to end too quickly, but painfully aware of the hour and that I had to be at Jared’s in the morning.

“If you’d like.” Joel looked around for a likely spot and gestured toward the boardwalk that ran along the length of the property. We moved over to it and he waited for me to sit first on the wood planks before dropping down beside me. Once we were settled, Joel cleared his throat and said, “Not to be rude, but your parents have a near paranoid sense of security. I can feel the wards on the wood here, and many other places as well.”

I hesitated a second. I’d already told Joel some of Mac’s history, but I’d really only brushed the surface and I wasn’t sure I had all the answers he wanted. “I understand that the whole thing might come off a bit odd, but it’s all for a very good reason,” I assured him, meeting his eyes and hoping that he would understand that I couldn’t tell him everything. “The vampires that Mac was involved with were pretty… God, what’s the word… manipulative, I guess,” I explained with a slight shrug.

“When Mac died and Eliza went into hiding, they tried to find her. I got the feeling that something happened in Nashville when she was staying with Glenn and Siofra there, but of course none of them will ever tell me.” I looked around the edge of the property and reached out with my own magick just to be sure that the wards are still in place and secure. “It’s just better to be safe than sorry.”

“I suppose that’s true,” Joel conceded; clearly not understanding. “Warding and binding is one of the things I’m to teach Macalister. Have you asked your mother what happened?”

I shook my head. “Maybe not in as many words, but she wouldn’t tell me about it even if I did ask.” I turned my head to look out over the water. “I’m still a little girl in Eliza’s eyes and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I love her more than anything, though, so I put up with it from her more than others.” There was a smile on my face when I looked back at Joel. “Maybe that will change now that she’s pregnant. You know, give her someone else to hover over,” I teased slightly.

Joel thought a moment then said, “Perhaps, but you’re her first born. No matter what children come after, you’ll always be special in her heart.” He reached over and took my hand gently in his strong one. “Perhaps you should ask her outright what you want to know. Even when a parent wants to protect their children, a straight question deserves a straight answer. It might show her you’re not as young as she thinks.”

There was something about how he said it that made me think he might be on to something. “Maybe you’re right,” I told him with a smile as I squeezed his hand. “Is that how you are with Nicolas?”

He chuckled a little. “Aye. If a child is old enough to ask the question, most times they’re old enough to hear the answer.” He looked at me intently, with an almost hungry look in his blue eyes. “Though why she would think you a child is beyond my reckoning.”

I swallowed hard, as a stray thought came over me that involved Joel pulling me against him so that he could fulfill all the promises that I’d just seen in his gaze. Instead I shrugged, not totally sure of myself or what to say. “Not that I’ve talked to her about it, but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I was all she had when she thought Mac was dead the first time,” I told him, thinking that if I kept talking I wouldn’t think about his mouth or the fact that he was so close to me. “The only thing left from the man she loved more than her own life. It’s really hard to earn Eliza’s trust. She had a bad childhood, so when she met Mac and subsequently fell for him it was a big deal for her. She’s very protective over me, and Mac, too for that matter, now that he’s back again.”

“I’ve gathered that,” he said dryly, a wry grin on his lips. “She’s a small thing, but she’s got to have fighting skills to have killed so many of the Black Guard before Taeynd got to her.”

I laughed slightly, thinking that he didn’t know the half of it. “She’s got skills alright. Just be careful if you ever spar with her. She’ll be more careful now that she’s pregnant, but she can still kick butt.” I fell silent for a minute and watched him. “I hope that you’ll be happy here,” I added in a low voice, then cleared my throat quickly and asked, “Will you show Mac how to worldwalk?”

Joel nodded. “When he’s ready. We’ll find out tomorrow how much he needs to learn. I plan on staying until he knows everything he needs to know.” He paused for a moment as he looked at me with that same intense look in his eyes. “It doesn’t matter if I’m happy, what matters is that he learns what he needs to, but I can’t imagine not liking it here, Corrine.” He reached out and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “Especially here with you.”

“Joel…” I said a little breathy as I reached up and covered his hand with mine, bringing them downward so that our joined hands were resting on my upper chest. “Your happiness is just as important as anyone else’s,” I assured him, taking my eyes from his because I thought I would drown in them if I wasn’t careful. “I like being here with you, too,” I confessed in a quiet voice.

“Aye, but destiny brought me here,” he said cryptically. “And I’ve learned my lesson on listening to the Fates.” He then leaned closer to me so that I could feel his breath on my face. “I’ll stay as long as I’m needed,” he promised.

I leaned closer as well. “What if you’re needed here longer than Mac needs you?” I whispered, searching his eyes and hoping to see something there concerning myself.

“Do you think that’s likely to happen?” he asked just as quietly, his lips were a hairs breadth away from mine. There was a light of sorts that danced in his gaze that said he was looking for answers as well and I knew I wouldn’t be holding back much longer.

I smiled slightly. “Oh, yes. Very likely.”

His lips brushed against mine, hesitated, and then caught mine in a soft kiss that was deliberately slow, as if he were savoring fine chocolate or a glass of wine. I returned the kiss, letting Joel control the depth of it for the moment. I had already been aggressive enough when I had kissed him in Ireland, so now it was his turn.

The kiss was warm and slow. Gentle, like a light rain after a long dry period and his lips parted so that his tongue teased along my lips. I felt his hand on my face and he gradually deepened the kiss when his tongue entered my mouth to find mine.

I moved my hands to his chest and grasped at the cloth of his shirt as I leaned closer to him. A small moan escaped the back of my throat as I silently wished he would touch me, knowing that this was going against the unspoken agreement that we had, that said we would move slowly.

The kiss continued for a few minutes before Joel pulled his mouth away, his breathing heavy as he pulled my head down to his chest. “Corrine,” he gasped in a husky voice. “As much as I’d like to continue, this is neither the time nor the place for this.”

“No, you’re right,” I agreed, my forehead leaning on his shoulder so that I could catch my breath as well. “As much as I hate to admit it, you’re right.”

He gathered me close, breathing in the scent of my hair as I slipped my arms around his waist. I felt his heart beating under my cheek and it was hammering just as hard as my own was. “I don’t want to rush things here,” he murmured in my hair. “I think we should take our time. It will give you a chance to get to know me, and Nicolas a bit of time to get used to the idea.”

I lifted my head to meet his gaze. “I know, and I totally agree,” I told him. I suspected that he felt the same way for me that I felt for him and I knew that taking things slow was going to be difficult for both of us. I decided to try to lighten the mood by saying with a laugh, “You don’t know anything about me either. I’m a frightful mess in the morning and I’m a cover hog.”

Joel grinned, his eyes reflecting the moonlight and I sobered a little, then continued. “But really, I’m concerned about Nicolas as well. He should be your main concern and I completely back you up on that. He’s in a new place, surrounded by strangers and he’s feeling isolated. I’ll help with him as much as you’ll let me. I think we may have bonded a little today, but we’ll have to see.”

Joel was silent for a moment as he studied my face and ran his thumb over my bottom lip. “It will take him time, but he will come around. He’s to start school here next week, and soon I’ll be able to keep an eye on him there.” Joel looked over my shoulder and off into the distance. “And there’s his bargain to be made,” he said absently before looking back at me. “Things will work out fine; we just have to give it time.”

I nodded and lifted my hand to touch the small indentation on his chin with my finger. “Are you worried about him making his bargain?”

Joel nodded a little and tried to explain why. “Aye. When the spirits asked for mine, I thought the bargain would be an easy one for me to keep. I pray they choose something less dangerous for him to agree to.”

I didn’t understand what he was referring to, so I put my cheek on his shoulder again to hide the questions I knew were in my eyes. “Can you talk about it? I get the impression that the bargain has to do with bartering for powers, so I can only assume that the powers that be wouldn’t just give them for anything easily done.” I began to wonder if Nicolas was a little young to be making bargains for power if the consequences became something hard to live with. Was he mature enough to handle something like that?

“True enough, but one can bargain if they feel the price too high,” Joel said as he held me against him loosely. “My Da tried to talk me into bargaining, but I wouldna listen. Too young and headstrong, thinking I knew how life would be. I don’t want to see Nik make the same mistake.”

I didn’t have a right to say anything about how Joel chose to raise his son, but I couldn’t help wondering if the bargain was a good idea right now. Joel had just returned, and Nicolas needed to relearn who was boss in his relationship with his father. On top of that, the boy had to come to terms with living in a foreign place so far from the home and security he had grown up in. My voice was hesitant when I spoke, and I pulled back enough to look up at Joel, hoping that I could start learning how to gauge his reactions as we talked.

“Is Nicolas ready for this?” I asked. “I’m sorry. I know that I have no right to question you on how you choose to raise your son, but I have to admit that I am feeling some concern for him in this bargain. Would you be with him when he makes it like your Dad was?”

Joel nodded. “Aye, I’ll be there. I don’t think anyone is ready for it, really, but it’s the price we pay to do magick.” He sighed sadly and continued, “By rights he should have made the bargain last year, but I’m glad Devin made him wait. I’ll spend the next month teaching him, then the bargain will be made.” He seemed concerned for his son, but there was also an underlying knowledge that this was what was right for Nicolas and I knew I wouldn’t question him on it further. “I can’t make his bargain for him, but I can be sure he’s prepared for it.”

Putting the subject aside for now, I snuggled closer to Joel, knowing that times like this would be few and far between for us until Nicolas got used to the idea of us as a possible couple. “If that’s how it has to be then I’m sure he’ll be prepared,” I told Joel, sure that he would do all he could for his son. “If there’s anything I can do to help, I will, even if it’s moral support.”

Silence fell over the two of us and I enjoyed the quiet moment of just being with this man, but then my thoughts turned to Joel’s ex-wife and the role that she might play in her son’s bargain. “What’s Nicolas’ mother like?” I asked. “He made a comment earlier that set off some warning signals.”

“What did he say?”

I hoped that I wasn’t about to start a possible argument between Joel and his ex-wife, but I didn’t agree with what she had said about Joel in front of his son. I also figured that Joel deserved to know what the mother of his son had said about his time away.

“Something about his mother telling him that you deserved being kidnapped by Taeynd because you’re always gone,” I said quietly, watching him the entire time to see if I could read anything in his expression. I squeezed my arms tighter around him in reassurance then continued; “I guess it just didn’t sound like something a mother should say to her son about his father. It sounded too mean spirited, but it didn’t seem to alter his outlook.” I leaned back enough to really look at him and I smiled warmly. “He said something about you not listening to the Fates as well. Now I’m curious about what they said to you.”

Joel looked down into my eyes for a moment, as if deciding what he wanted to say. “I saw them just before I went to Chenasar,” he started. “I had dropped Nik off at his mother’s, and was walking through Dublin to pass the time of their visit. The three lasses surprised me, knowing my name and more. I’d not have expected it from girls of their tender age.”

I smiled up at him, sure that I wouldn’t have known how to react either if three young girls approached me, claiming to know about my future. “And so, you brushed them off then?” I asked, wondering what came next. “Not a good thing, given what I’ve seen of them.”

“‘Tis not easy brushing off a trio of teenage girls when they want your attention,” he agreed. “I’m sure I offended the lot of them, but their words were true.”

I frowned slightly, feeling him tense a little where my body was pressed to his. “Did they warn you of Taeynd and you went anyway?”

Joel hesitated then confessed, “Without mentioning her name, yes.” He sighed deeply then. “I didn’t think destiny could touch me if I didn’t let it. I was wrong.”

I tipped my head forward to kiss his cheek comfortingly. “At least we were able to get you out of there.”

“Aye,” he said with a slow nod of his head. “If I could have killed her without losing my magick, I would have,” he confessed softly. “I wanted to, but without magick I-” he cut himself off there, letting the sentence hang in the silence.

I disentangled my arm from around him and used my fingertips to caress his face, not totally understanding how his bargaining and magick worked, but I got that it was a serious process. I got the impression that there was something more there that he wasn’t quite saying, but mostly I could feel the underlying pain that the entire situation had caused him, and I wished there was a way that I could have taken those negative feelings from him. “Well, you were under her spell, right?” I asked as I moved my fingers over his brow in a light caress, remembering how he had been when I’d seen him in Chenesar. “It’s not like you had a choice, but to do what she wanted.”

Something in my mind clicked then and I stopped to frown at Joel slightly. There was something about what he had just said about his magick that made me remember his bargain and the fact that he had said he would lose his magick if he killed her. “Wait, you would have lost your magick?” I asked. “I don’t understand…”

He smiled wryly. “The bargain, remember? If I break it, I lose the magick, every bit. When I was young I thought it would be easy to never harm a woman. Cathryn taught me differently, but Taeynd drove the lesson home.”

My frown deepened. “Your bargain for your magick is to not harm a woman?” I asked in surprise.

Joel seemed confused by my reaction. “Yes, I can never physically harm a woman, or I will lose my magick. That was the bargain I’ve made and lived with.”

“That’s one hell of a bargain, that’s for sure,” I told him, still very surprised, but suddenly able to understand something that he had said before about not being able to kill Taeynd himself. If he had, he would have lost his magick and I saw now why he hadn’t taken it upon himself to kill the evil woman, no matter how much she had made him suffer.

“And Cathryn… she was like Taeynd?” I asked, changing the subject to something else that I was wondering about. My mind had been a flurry of activity about the other woman ever since I have found out that Joel had been married. He had mentioned her name earlier, but I was hesitant to ask about her before. Since he brought her up again, I figured it was a good time to find out more about her.

Joel’s voice went dry as he spoke. “Aye. She was the first to make me wish I’d bargained differently.”

I chuckled slightly, hoping that he wouldn’t freely strike a woman even if it hadn’t meant losing his magick. “What is she like?” I asked.

“Difficult,” was his answer. He then paused for a moment and pulled back a little to look down at me. “What do you know of the fae?”

“She’s a fae?” I gasped in surprise, stopping a moment to think about what I knew. “I don’t know anything really,” I confessed after a moment. I had picked up little things here and there since my Awakening, but I wasn’t sure what was true and what was the stuff of stories I’d read as a child.

“Well, anything you’ve read in fairy tales is true, for the most part,” Joel explained. “The Fae are changeable, moody, capricious, and very, very beautiful. Unfortunately, their beauty is only skin deep, especially that of the Unseelie Court.”

There was something about the way he had said that last bit that caused me to study him in uncertainty. His tone had undoubtedly made me wonder if he still had feelings for his ex-wife when he had admitted to the Fae’s beauty, but I hoped I was just being sensitive about the other woman.

“I’ve heard of the Unseelie Court from different fiction books I’ve read,” I told him with a shrug. “I guess I never thought about whether the courts were real or not.” I looked at Joel and brought my hand up to touch his chin again, loving the cleft there. “Are the differences in the books true as well? I mean as far as the Seelie being the ‘good’, and the Unseelie being the ‘bad’ fae?”

Joel shrugged slightly. “They’re not ‘bad’,” he relented grudgingly. “They just don’t have the same morality we do. She once left Nik with a pooka for three days because she thought it would teach him humor.” I wasn’t sure what a pooka was, but his tone told me he didn’t approve as his storied continued. “He was four. I came damn close to hitting her when I found out, closer than I ever came with Taeynd.” Joel’s body was very tense under my hands as he spoke, and it was easy to see that this was a hard topic for him to talk about.

This was the most emotion I’d ever seen from Joel. I touched his face again and as I ran my finger over his bottom lip I said, “We don’t have to talk about her if you don’t want to. I can tell the subject bothers you and I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m sorry.”

In reality, I was totally fascinated by Cathryn and what Joel’s life had been like with her, but I didn’t want to be nosy or ask too many questions. Maybe after we got to know each other better he would tell me more about her, but I knew it was too soon to expect to be told the entire story.

“Corrine, I don’t want you to think that my bargain is the only thing that stops me from beating women,” Joel assured me, his eyes imploring me to believe him. “I just want you to understand that she pushes my buttons, nearly as bad as Taeynd did, though for different reasons.” He paused and took a deep breath. “And I’d think we’d have other things to talk about tonight in the short time we have together than my ex-wife,” he finished ironically and with a smile as his eyes met mine.

I looked down guiltily, knowing that he was right. “I know, I’m sorry. I’m being impatient. I just want to know everything about you all at once, good or bad. I know that even without the bargain you would never hurt anyone without just cause, especially a woman.” I lifted my gaze to his again. “I really wish that I didn’t have to go see Jared tomorrow.”

“There will be time, Corrine,” he said softly as he touched my hair. “I’ve years of teaching to give to Macalister. But as much as I’d love to stay here under the moonlight with you, we should go back.”

I knew that it had to be close to ten and I also knew that I really did need to get some sleep before my session with Jared tomorrow. “You’re right of course,” I said as I pulled away from him and stood, moving so that I was standing in front of Joel before he could stand himself. “Will you promise me something?” I asked.

He looked up at me and smiled briefly. “If I can, Corrine.”

“I would like to go with you the next time you worldwalk,” I blurted quickly. I knew that worldwalking was a large part of his life and I thought it might help me understand him a little more if I went with him. I thought the idea was exciting and I couldn’t wait to see what it was like to travel the way he did.

Joel smiled and put his hands on my waist. “If I can. I’ve promised Nik he can come with me next time, and if he doesn’t mind, you can come as well,” he told me as he stood, keeping his hands where they were. “If he does, then I’ll take you with me the next time I go.” He dropped a quick kiss on my cheek before taking my hand and leading me back toward the house.

“You should take Nik,” I told him as we walked, and I dropped my head to his shoulder. It was going to be hard, taking a backseat to Joel’s son, but I knew that in the end we would all benefit from the patience that Joel was instilling between the two of us and this fledgling relationship of ours. I realized that I was being over eager and that I needed to take a breath and let things happen. “I’ll wait to know about that part of you,” I said. “It’s more important that he go.”

“It’s just that I’ve been away from him for so long,” Joel explained, clearly trying to make sure I understood where he was coming from. “I don’t want you to think that I don’t want to take you, Corrine, but his needs take precedence over mine right now.”

I looked up at him again and smiled. “Of course, he should. And I understand that you need to think that way… really, I do.” I lifted my free hand and put it on the same arm that he was using to hold my other hand. “There’s time for us to spend time together later,” I assured him.

He smiled and squeezed my hand. “I’m glad you understand.”

We walked back to the house in silence, taking comfort in each other’s company. When we neared the courtyard, Joel stopped and took my face in his hands to give me a soft kiss that was feather light and made my heart flutter again. He then wished me good night in his quiet voice and turned to mount the garage steps with the grace of a cat.

I entered the house in a dreamy haze, remembering the feel of Joel’s lips on mine and aware of the fact that it was nearly ten o’clock. Mac was reading a book while Eliza flipped through the baby book she had bought that day on the mainland. They both looked up as I entered the house.

I breezed in, trying to hide the idiotic grin on my face as I gave each of them the perfunctory goodnight kiss on the cheek and said that I would probably be gone before either of them woke up, so I would call next week to see how things were going.

 

*****

I was slow the next day during my session with Jared. He said that I did fine, but I was angry with myself for not picking up the concepts he was trying to get across as fast I as normally did. Thankfully he didn’t give me a hard time over it, but I was still disappointed in myself regardless.

I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, waking around six to memories of my dreams where Joel had taken me to many different worlds that were exotic and beautiful. There were pyramids unlike any ever built on earth and an ocean so deep and so blue it made my heart ache at the beauty of it. Another place had a castle that was as big as a small American city. Another where I saw a six-footed cat that moved with a power I had never seen in something so large. Then there were the cliffs that soared over a tropical sea where so many Pegasus flew that they nearly blocked out the sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fiction Friday – Getting to Know You – Chapter 6

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CW-03-Getting-to-Know-You2

I found Eliza cleaning when I walked through the portal the next morning. Mac had already left for work and she was waiting for me to show up by getting some last-minute stuff done. I had called my Grandmother the evening before and the recipe for Nicolas’ special dish was tucked safely away in my purse so that I could buy the things I would need to make it during our excursion that day.

“I’m here!” I called out brightly as I set my suitcase and other bags down to give Eliza a hug. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine, luv,” she said as she hugged me back. “How are you? How was the test?”

I smiled at her happily. “I think I did alright. I’ll know for sure when I get it back next week.” I removed my jacket and hung it up on one of the pegs next to the back door. “Listen, before I get caught up and forget, I’ve got to be to Jared’s early Sunday morning for a session. He told me to get lots of rest,” I added dryly, but with a smile. “I might stay the night anyhow Saturday, if that’s alright, since it’s not like I have to drive or anything.”

Eliza returned my smile. “No, the gateways are real convenient, aren’t they?”

“Gotta love em,” I agreed.

It didn’t take too long before Eliza was ready, and we were on our way. She had a list of stuff that she wanted to get for the garage apartment, like food and such, and I didn’t tell her that Joel had already told me not to bother. I figured, hey, she was going to be his landlady in a way, so there was nothing wrong with her picking up a few things for him and Nicolas until he had a chance to get to a store himself. I also figured that I had free license to get some things for them as well.

Eliza also wanted one of those ‘what to expect when you’re expecting’ books. I told her that was a great idea and decided to get one myself as well, so that I would have a better understanding of what was going on during her pregnancy. She was my best friend, after all, and I wanted to be informed as to what she was going through. She was being really shy about talking about the little changes she had been experiencing because she didn’t want to be coddled. I told her point blank that I didn’t intend to coddle her unless she really merited it and we both agreed that was fair. Now, if only I could get her to agree to the same thing when it came to her tendencies at overprotection with me.

We were gone for several hours to give the illusion that we had gone to Virginia Beach for a doctor’s appointment. We got back around four, just in time to start dinner and as Eliza and I worked together, I began to think again about the prophecy that Mac had brought up when we had been about to go to Chenasar. Something had held me back from asking my Grandmother when I’d talked to her the day before and I decided that if I was going to ask about what Mac had meant, then I should probably do it before Joel and Nicolas arrived the next day.

While Eliza finished up the last details for the meal, I offered to take up the things we had bought that day for the apartment because it secretly gave me a chance to drop off the presents I’d bought for Joel and Nicolas without anyone noticing them. I had gone shopping in Salem and Boston for special welcome gifts for each of them that I hoped they would like. It had been a great deal of fun picking the gifts out for them.

For Nicolas, I had found a beautiful leather-bound journal with intricate knotwork on the cover. I thought that with all his new surroundings, he might take the opportunity to write down his thoughts about his new experiences. I knew that I took great comfort sometimes in writing out my own thoughts and feelings in a journal and I hoped that I would be able to find some common ground with the boy in sharing this opportunity with him.

Joel had proven to be the hard one to buy for and I ended up scouring half of Boston with no ideas what so ever. Then I saw it, the perfect gift. I was in an art gallery, looking first at pictures of horses and green scenes from Ireland that seemed familiar to me for some reason, but not the right gift for Joel. Then I saw a black and white photograph of the great redwood trees from the forests in California. They looked so much like the forest from my dreams where Joel and I had met that I instantly knew that I had to get the picture for him. I knew that Chenasar held many bad memories for him because of his capture there, but I hoped that the reminder of the trees would be as pleasant a memory for him as it was for me.

 

*****

I got my chance to talk to Mac while we were having dinner. “Mac, do you mind if I ask you about something?” I asked.

“What’s that, luv?” he returned with a grin as he passed a basket of rolls to me.

I glanced at him a second, wondering what he would tell me. “You mentioned something the other day when we were returning to Glenn and Siofra’s after visiting the Fates about fulfilling your destiny because I was here. What did you mean by that?”

Mac stilled for a moment and looked at me as if he were surprised by my question, yet at the same time he seemed as if he had been expecting it as well. “The prophecy is about me. It foretold about my leaving Ireland and falling in love with your mom,” he said, pausing for a moment as he reached over to take Eliza’s hand warmly in his.

“Dying the first time. Your birth. Finding my ‘joyous rage’ again,” he continued with a grin toward Eliza because that bit was a reference to her. He was listing off all the things in his life that had been foretold in his destiny. These were things I’d already heard about, but then he continued with things I hadn’t. “Protecting you from death until you could Awaken and how you would be ‘of your father’s kind, but save your mothers people’. Or some shite like that,” he scoffed good-naturedly with a chuckle. “Why do you ask? Feeling the weight of your own destiny upon yer wee slim shoulders?”

I frowned slightly in confusion, and then said, “I guess I can’t feel the weight of something when I have no idea of anything that comes with it.” I looked between the two of them questioningly. “I don’t get it… well, I get the ‘be of my father’s kind’, but I don’t understand the ‘save your mother’s people’.”

Mac shrugged. “Neither do I, luv. But that’s destiny for ya.”

“I don’t have any people,” Eliza insisted a little testily. She really hated any reminder of her family and usually bristled instantly when they were mentioned. “They’re all dead, remember?”

“I can’t imagine myself being able to do anything to save Eliza or her people,” I muttered, more to myself than to either of them, which was a good thing because they were still debating Eliza’s family or lack thereof.

“That’s true, but what if there are others like you?” Mac pointed out.

Eliza glanced at Mac and shrugged. “If there are, I hope for their sake they’re not Tremere.”

“So how did you find out about this destiny?” I asked Mac, before they got completely sidetracked. “Is it in Glenn’s mom’s book?”

Mac nodded. “Aye. But your grandfolks always knew about it.”

“Really? I wonder if they will let me read it,” I commented, wondering if Mac had a copy himself since the prophecy was about him, but to my complete surprise he started to quote it from memory.

“The Raven’s son shall travel to a New World seeking peace

But death shall seek him out.

Death will walk within him and he shall know neither family nor friend nor himself.

From a union with joyous rage a maiden shall be formed.

She will be the tie that binds, the voice that redeems.

Joy will keep her from harm and watch her grow.

In time the son shall again find joy and she will lead him to the maiden,

And he shall save her from the bite of death.

Through joy he shall remember that which has been forgotten.

And the maiden shall be the hope of the New World.

She shall be of her father’s race, but she shall bring salvation to her mother’s people.

She shall be the tie that binds, the voice that redeems.

She shall bring reason in the face of insanity,

Love in the face of hate, peace in the face of war.”

 

I did what I could to remember what he said, and I hoped that I had a good enough grasp of it so that I could write the prophecy down later in my journal. But I did have a few questions. “‘The tie that binds’? ‘Voice that redeems’? What is all that supposed to mean?”

“That is part of your destiny,” Mac said as he took a bite from his plate. “For you to figure out.”

I was quiet for a minute then shrugged, still not completely convinced that it was about me in the first place. “Okay. I doubt that it means much even if I did know how to look for it. I guess I’ll talk to Grandfather about it when I see him next.”

“Just don’t butt into Fate too much,” Mac warned, half teasing, half serious. “For my sake.”

I couldn’t help but smile at him as I agreed, “Alright.”

 

*****

We hung out together and did the family thing for the rest of the night. Mac and Eliza were both up bright and early the next day, doing their morning workouts, which they let me join in on. They rarely missed a morning session that began with stretches and moved into hand to hand sparring matches that sometimes turned into wrestling ones if Uncle Angus happened to be about. I wasn’t nearly as good as they were, but it was beautiful to watch them go through the forms.

After the workout, I told them that I was going to go up to a little hill on the property and meditate and Mac said that he would join me. The hill reminded me a little of The Point in Galway because you could look out over the ocean and really connect with Gaia. I was feeling anxious because Joel and Nicolas would arrive soon, and I thought the act of centering in meditation would do me good.

Mac and I trudged to the top of the hill with Gwrhyr in tow. One of the reasons that had helped Eliza to decide on this place was the fact that it included access to a small source of magickal energy that mages and werewolves used to fuel our magicks. Meditating on the hill was so incredibly peaceful and soon my father and I lost track of time as we traveled our separate paths on the astral plane. I was just coming to consciousness again when I heard Eddie barking near the house and Gwrhyr blinked away from Mac’s side.

I opened my eyes and looked at Mac. “Sounds like they’re here.”

His eyes opened as well as he turned to look toward the house. “It does,” he observed as he stood and offered a hand to help me up. “We should go greet them,” he said with a smile as he pulled me to my feet. We continued to hold hands loosely as we walked back to the house and I was glad for Mac’s steady fingers around mine because it always seemed to keep me grounded when I needed it the most.

Once we reached the courtyard, we found Eddie and Gwrhyr playing with Nicolas while Eliza talked to Joel. Eliza saw us first, and she turned to smile brightly. “Here they are,” she said as she looked at Mac in that special way that said how much she loved him. How he was the center of her world. They stepped close to each other and as they did I looked at Joel and found that he was giving me a slow once over, in a good way, and he was smiling widely.

Nicolas looked up from playing with the animals and moved to stand next to his dad as the adults greeted each other. Mac said welcome as he shook Joel’s hand, and then he did the same to Nicolas.

Joel turned to me. “Corrine. It’s good to see you again.”

I smiled back at him and looked him over appreciatively, thinking how nice he looked in his khaki pants and blazer. The patches on the elbows, along with his long hair and beard, made him look like a college history professor. “It’s good to see you, too, Joel. How was the trip?” I asked, giving Nicolas a smile, too.

For his part, Nicolas returned the look, but not the smile, which told me that he wasn’t quite ready to warm up to me yet. I took the silent challenge he offered and hoped that one day we could be friends.

“It was good,” Joel was saying as he glanced at Mac. “The directions were right on, we had no problems finding the island, or the house.” He hesitated a little then added, “It’s a little… fortified, isn’t it?”

“Better safe than sorry,” Mac murmured, but I figured that Joel would have more questions and I wondered how up front Mac would be with him about the reasons why. I felt that I had probably overstepped the lines by telling Joel what I already had about Mac and Eliza, but I didn’t regret my decision. He had to know what he was getting in to and my parents weren’t the most forthcoming with explanations sometimes.

“Would you like some coffee?” Eliza asked, “or some lemonade?” Everyone agreed that lemonade was perfect, and Eliza suggested that we all find a seat while she brought it out. Mac gestured toward the patio furniture, and Joel stepped to one side so that I could lead the way.

I glanced down at Nicolas and lifted a questioning brow as we walked. “And what about you, Nicolas? What do you think of America so far?”

“It’s dirty,” he replied firmly, which earned him a nudge from his father, then he added, “Well, New York City was big and crowded, and dirty. But the island is okay, I guess.”

It was obvious by the way he was drinking in all the sunshine and glancing out at the ocean that he liked it, though, and just didn’t want to admit it. I laughed a little at his charade as we sat down around the patio table and I noted that Joel waited for me to sit before allowing Nicolas or himself to do so. “I’ll have to agree with you that some places in New York are dirty,” I told the boy. “But it isn’t all bad. Did you see the Empire State Building?”

“Aye,” he replied shortly, as if he didn’t seem to want to chat.

As if sensing his son’s hesitancy, Joel took over the conversation and told us about some of the things that they had done and seen during their brief stay in the city. Soon we were all participating in the conversation as Eliza brought out the drinks.

I was sure to pay special attention to Joel as we talked and to Nicolas as well in an attempt to show him that his attitude wasn’t going to put me off. After a while I glanced at my watch and realized if I didn’t start cooking soon we would never eat dinner. “I should probably go start dinner. Is everyone getting hungry?”

Nicolas nodded eagerly, but Joel said, “We don’t want to put you to any trouble.”

I smiled at him warmly. “It’s no trouble at all,” I assured him. “I like to cook, and a bigger crowd is always more fun.” I looked down at my watch again and half watched Nicolas for a reaction to what I was about to say. “Dinner should be ready by seven, but Eliza and I picked up some snacks that shouldn’t spoil anyone’s appetite if they can’t make it that long.”

I knew that one way to a child’s heart was to feed them and Nicolas was no exception. He eyed me warily and Joel said, “Go along and have your snack. I’ll unload the car.”

The prospect of food versus manual labor won every time, so as Mac went with Joel to help him unload the car, Eliza gathered the glasses back onto the tray and Nicolas followed me inside. Once there, I pointed out a basket of fresh fruit to the boy as I went to the sink to wash my hands.

“There’s apples, bananas and fresh peaches in the basket, or…” I trailed off as I pulled out a container of the cookies that I brought and opened it. I looked around covertly, making sure that we were alone before holding the container out to him. “I made these this morning, but don’t tell your dad, okay?” I finished with a wink and a smile.

Nicolas reached out for a cookie then took a big bite as Eliza dropped off the tray of glasses before going back to help the guys. After he swallowed, Nicolas blurted, “Why were you holding Macalister’s hand? Doesn’t his wife mind?”

I was taken aback by the boy’s question and I needed a minute to gather my wits as I slowly put the lid back on the container. “I was holding Mac’s hand because he’s my father,” I explained as I turned and put the container on counter behind me. When I faced Nicolas again I found him watching my closely as I continued. “We were meditating together on the hill when you and your dad arrived, and we came to the house to greet you.”

Nicolas cocked his head to one side a little as he studied me. “You look too old to be his daughter. You don’t look much older than Elizabeth,” he observed astutely, his brows coming together in a way that said he was trying to figure out if what I was telling him was true, but looking really adorable at the same time. “Why were you meditating? Why wasn’t she meditating with you?”

He wasn’t being overtly rude in his questions. He was just a young boy who didn’t know the whole story and I could tell that he was incredibly smart. There was something in his blue eyes that said he caught everything around him. I found myself liking the idea of getting to know him better and not just because he was Joel’s son.

I smiled at him again and took a deep breath before speaking, wondering how much I should answer and how much Joel wanted me to leave out. I figured that Nicolas deserved to at least know the basics, especially if he was going to be living around here. “Let’s see,” I began. “I’ll answer one question at a time. Mages age differently than mortals. I know that Eliza and I look to be about the same age and that it’s difficult for some people to accept that she gave birth to me, but it’s true. Mac and I were meditating because it helps us to center ourselves and get in touch with Gaia. Eliza wasn’t meditating because she isn’t a mage or sorcerer, so she doesn’t need to, although I’ve tried to get her to join in.”

I bent over at the waist so that I was closer to him and confided in a whisper, “Actually, I think she has a problem sitting still that long.” I straightened again and let him think about my answer as I started to pull out the stuff I needed to start dinner. “You can try to meditate with me sometime if you want,” I offered.

“I meditate with Uncle Devin,” Nicolas stated proudly before going back to something else I had said. “Why can’t she sit still that long? Is there something wrong with her? You said your parents had horses and lived in Maine.”

I chuckled a little at all his questions and reached out to tussle his red hair. “Eliza likes to stay busy, that’s why it’s hard to for her to sit still that long, that’s all. And my parents do live in Maine. I’m adopted, and I grew up on the farm there. I’ve known Eliza all my life, but I only found out that she was my birth mother a couple of years ago.” I gestured at the food I was beginning to prepare and said, “We’re having Dublin Coddle for dinner, do you want to help me?”

The boy’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Do you know how to make it?”

I nodded as I started chopping the onions and potatoes that would go into the Coddle. The dish was a soup that contained bacon and sausage in a wonderful broth that my Grandmother told me was the most important part. “I got the recipe from my Grandmother, so we’ll see. It’s my first time making it, but I thought you and your Dad would like it for your first dinner on the island.” I glanced over at him to gauge his interest. “So, do you want to help?”

“If I don’t, you’ll probably ruin it,” he said skeptically as he rolled up his sleeves and went to wash his hands. “I help my Grandma all the time.” He came back to where I was working and proceeded to look over the recipe I had copied from my Grandmother’s instructions. He didn’t seem to find anything wrong with it because he then began to help me get everything ready with an expertise I hadn’t expected from a ten-year-old.

“Do you like school? What’s your favorite subject?” I asked, trying to maintain a line of conversation while we worked. I took the bacon and sausage from their packages and put them in a pot to cook.

“I don’t like school,” Nicolas stated in such a matter of fact way that I had to turn my head to hide the grin I couldn’t suppress. “I like what my Uncle Devin teaches me about mythology and history. My Da says I have to go to school here. He says there’s going to be a job for him there, and he’ll be able to keep an eye on me. What did you like in school?”

“Actually, I still go to school,” I told him. “I’m a student at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. I like history and mythology, too, but I really like psychology, that’s my major. I want to work with troubled kids when I’m finished.”

Nicolas stopped what he was doing and turned to stare at me, clearly impressed. “You mean drug addicts and such?”

I nodded as I stirred the meats that were just about cooked and pulled out a plate and paper towel that I could put them on to drain off the fat. “Kids like that and teenage moms and runaways. There’s a shelter in Salem that I’ve been volunteering at. There are some really nice kids there that just need a break, you know what I mean?”

He blinked, clearly understanding the circumstances of kids in those situations. “Isn’t that dangerous? I mean, all those druggies and stuff, can’t you get hurt?”

I shrugged as I spooned the cooked meats on the plate. “There’s danger in every situation in life, Nicolas. Even here, cooking like we are, has a scare of fire or cutting ourselves. If you look at life in fear then you aren’t living it, you’re just waiting for it to end. Know what I mean?”

He gave me a look that clearly said he wasn’t dumb and that I should stop treating him like he was. “I know,” he said in a long-suffering voice. “That’s why my Da isn’t going to stop worldwalking. He’s going to teach me, soon as I’ve made my bargain.”

I glanced over at Nicolas and smiled, seeing quite a bit of his father in the boy even though I didn’t know either of them very well. “Sounds like fun to me. I’m still pretty new in my studies, so there’s a lot that I have to learn yet.” I stopped what I was doing long enough to look at him. “When will you make your bargain? Your Uncle Devin mentioned something about that in Ireland.”

Nicolas frowned slightly, and I thought that I understood his frustration. Devin had said that he had made the boy wait to make his bargain until after Joel had returned and I could see how Nicolas would be behind because of it. “Da said we’d talk about it when we get settled in here. Aunt Skye says I’ve learned all I can without it. Did you have to make a bargain?”

I shook my head as I started to layer the potatoes, onions and meats in the pot so that we could finish the final stages of the meal. “No, mages Awaken and that’s when your powers come to the surface. From what I’ve been told it’s usually during stressful situations.” I was trying to sound flip because I was hoping that he didn’t ask about my Awakening. Just thinking about that vampire and the night at Mother Abigail’s made my skin crawl and I certainly didn’t want to be the one responsible for giving Nicolas nightmares during his first night on the island.

“Were there druggies?” he asked in a quiet voice, bringing my attention back to him.

I shook my head again and gave him a small smile. “No. It was men who wanted to do awful things.” I thought a minute about what to say, then continued, “Mac saved me. That’s the night I met him for the first time. It was pretty scary, but in the end, I got Mac in my life and these new powers to learn about. It all balanced out in the end.”

Nicolas watched me carefully as I put the last layers in the pot and covered them with stock. “Ma says everything balances in the end,” he commented. “She says that Da deserved to be kidnapped cause he’s spent so much time away from home.”

This was the first time Nicolas had ever brought up his mother in my presence and I looked at him in surprise, letting a moment pass before speaking, unimpressed that any mother would say something so mean spirited about her child’s father. “What do you think about your Dad being kidnapped?” I asked tentatively, referring back to all my psychology courses to continue this line of conversation.

Nicolas shrugged. “She’s gone more than he is, most of the time. I think Da didn’t listen when the Fates spoke to him in Dublin, so they made him listen.”

I smiled and put my hand lightly on his shoulder, deciding that I would go out on a limb here and be honest with him in the hopes of forming a friendship with the boy. “I think he mentioned something about that. You know, I realize that I don’t know you and your Dad very well, but there is one thing I’ve been able to pick up on and that is that he loves you a great deal. Just because he’s been away a lot in the past doesn’t change that.”

Nicolas shrugged again and turned away so that I couldn’t see his face. “You’ll be burning the Coddle if you don’t stir it,” he said quietly, trying to take the attention away from himself for a moment.

I left his side and quickly moved to the stove so that I could stir the pot and adjust the temperature of the burner. “Eliza and I bought a caramel/chocolate cake on the mainland today for desert,” I told him, but he didn’t seem to be too interested in further conversation. We weren’t alone for too much longer anyhow because the others came in just then.

Eliza asked if I needed any help and I told her that I had plenty. “Nicolas is making sure that I’m doing everything right, aren’t you?” I asked as I nudged him with my hip.

Joel moved to stand next to his son and asked if he had given me any trouble. I smiled up at him and replied, “No trouble at all. In fact, he’s been a great help. Do you like the apartment?”

He nodded and returned the smile. “I do. The view of the ocean is breathtaking.”

 

*****

Dinner was a relaxing experience that gave me the opportunity to watch Joel and how he interacted with his son, as well as Mac and Eliza. He didn’t single me out in any way with special attention during the meal, but I felt his gaze on me a couple of times and when I looked at him, his lips would curl in a unique smile that made my insides go warm.

I knew that Joel was interested in me and I was just as interested in him, but his relationship with Nicolas had to come first. If it didn’t, then I would have to seriously reconsider any involvement with him at all. My relationship with his son was important as well and I hoped that would come with spending more time with him.

After the meal, I suggested playing a game, but Joel said that jet lag was starting to set in just as Nicolas’ head started to droop. They said good night and went off to their apartment and I started to clean up the kitchen. It was nearly nine by the time I finished, and I told Mac and Eliza that I was going to head out to the beach for a walk before I turned in. I still needed to be to Jared’s early the next morning and I wanted to get to sleep by ten. I figured a walk would help me clear my head enough to sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

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Reducing Ideas – Reusable Shopping Bags

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It’s been a couple months since my last reducing idea post and today I have a super easy suggestion that many of us are already utilizing…  reusable shopping bags. This is such an important change we can all make in our shopping habits and what’s really cool is that so many stores are making it very easy to purchase our own bags by conveniently displaying them near the checkout counters.

I don’t know about you, but I get annoyed with those flimsy plastic bags that split open if you put any real weight in them. And I really hate using them for grocery shopping because you end up spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to collect the darn things from the trunk once you get home and they cut off the circulation to my fingers by the time I get inside! Ouch!!

I was surprised to learn that California and Hawaii are the only states that have some kind of ban on plastic bags and that many other states have already implemented laws that will keep banning from happening. If you’re interested in more information, here is a link to a Sierra Club article from December 2017:

https://www.sierraclub.org/ohio/blog/2017/12/why-are-so-many-states-banning-plastic-bag-bans

 

clean coast bag

The roomie and I were already piecing together a collection of reusable bags when one of my awesome coven sisters gifted me a set of 6 octopus bags (see pic above). I love octopuses so much!!! And holy cow are these bags really nice! And huge! I can fit soooo much stuff in them and they are very durable. If you’re interested in checking them out, here’s a link to order them on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Reusable-Grocery-Shopping-Clean-Reinforced/dp/B07B8CWBD8/ref=asc_df_B07B8CWBD8/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=241977010922&hvpos=1o3&hvnetw=g&hvrand=14094808695490209328&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9017095&hvtargid=pla-435908900059&psc=1

 

There are ALL kinds of bags out there, but if you are a crafty witch like me, you can always make your own shopping bags. I know that Cathy has done this for herself and has gifted sets to family/friends, using fabrics with prints that speak to the individual. You can use an existing bag for a pattern or hit up Pinterest or YouTube for suggestions. I found a great video that takes you step by step if you’re new to a sewing machine. Here’s a link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEnaFutDodg

 

So, what do you think? If you aren’t using them already, making the switch to cloth bags is beyond easy! What are you waiting for!?!? Let’s reduce the amount of plastic in the world!

Thanks for walking the Path for a little while with me and check back for more ideas! Blessed be!

 

 

Heart of the Witchs Path YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNFiMg7JNvy2wIywW-OEAHw

PodOmatic site for podcasts:

http://heartofthewitchspath.podomatic.com

iTunes site for podcasts:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/heart-of-the-witchs-path/id1141474394

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Fiction Friday – Getting to Know You – Chapter 5

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CW-03-Getting-to-Know-You2

I woke the next morning feeling restless and edgy. My dreams had been filled with visions of Eliza hurt and surrounded by blood. I didn’t remember most of the details, only vague impressions of how she got that way, which was so different than most of my dreams lately. I wrote what details I could recall in my journal and wondered what the dream meant.

I considered that maybe the dream was a direct result of having seen Eliza hurt for the first time in Chenasar, when we rescued her and the others. Regardless, the uneasy feelings from the dream left me wanting to talk to her, just to be sure she was okay. She answered on the third ring. “How are you feeling?” I asked brightly after our customary hellos. “Any morning sickness?”

“Bite your tongue,” she retorted irritably. “If I am pregnant, IF, mind you, then it’d be only by days, and I sure as hell don’t want to be coddled through the next nine months.”

Eliza’s instant irritation caused me to laugh, helping to take the edge off from the feelings I’d woken up with. “Glad to know you’re feeling yourself again,” I told her. “And don’t worry, I won’t coddle you. I’m already thinking about buying stuff for the nursery though. Do you have an appointment yet?”

“For some reason, I can’t seem to convince Mac that seeing your Grandmother would be much better than being poked over by some quack,” she informed me curtly. “I’ve got an appointment for Friday, but I’m hoping to talk him out of it.”

“I can’t say that I understand his insistence over the issue, but I’m sure that he has your best interest at heart,” I told her. “Is he going to go with you or did you want me to come?”

“Oh, he’s going with me, like it or not,” she shot back, and I had to hold back my laughter. “If I gotta turn the doctor’s mind from asking questions I don’t want to answer, he’s gonna stand there and watch. Help me, if he can.” She huffed in exasperation. “Damn, he’s so unreasonable sometimes.”

That comment caused me to laugh again and this time I didn’t hold it back. “But you love him and that’s all that matters, right?” I asked.

“I could have done without you pointing that out to me,” she said, finally easing up a bit. “We’re together, we can deal with everything else. How’s everything back home?”

“Fine,” I informed her. “I left the farm around five my time here. I went over to see Sam last night. She asked about you, said she’s worried about you being all alone. I told her that you were doing much better.”

Eliza was quiet for a moment and I hoped she wasn’t going to say something about me leaving Salem again. “I’m sorry that she worries, but it would be much better if she just forgot about me.”

I rolled my eyes at how black and white she could be at times. “That’s not likely to happen,” I pointed out. “She has reassured me, though, that she would never tell Brenda anything she might know about you. I trust her. I doubt that Brenda would do anything to hurt her since she’s Rafe’s sister and she tends to dote on him.” I thought about it for a minute and added, “I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t seen her much.”

“I’m just glad that you haven’t,” Eliza replied in a tight voice. “Maybe they’ve forgotten about me.”

“Yeah, I’m sure they’ve forgotten all about you,” I replied dryly, knowing that she didn’t believe that any more than I did.

“We can hope,” she said quietly, then changed the subject. “How’d dinner go last night? Anything interesting happen?”

“Dinner was fine. Grandfather was telling some stories about Mac and the others when they were young. It was funny. I have lots of new ammunition to use on him,” I told her with a grin.

I heard Eliza chuckle on the other end of the line. “Hmm… You’ll have to tell me all of them some time. How about dinner on Friday, or breakfast on Saturday? Or both? That way we can tell you all about the doctor whose mind we had to warp,” she suggested, her voice full of angst.

Since I only had classes on Tuesday and Thursday, Friday was wide open for me except for any homework I had to do. “Sounds great to me,” I told Eliza. “What do you want to eat? I’ll bring the fixings and we’ll celebrate.”

I could hear the smile in her voice. “That sounds great. I don’t care what we have, and I can pick up the fixings here. There’s a great little shop downtown.”

I wasn’t about to tell her that I didn’t want her to put herself out since she was pregnant. But she would probably get testy and accuse me of coddling her. “How about this, give me a day or two to think about what to have and I’ll see what my schedule looks like. I have a test Thursday and it’s going to be a killer. I think I’m prepared for it, but you know what they say about best laid plans…”

Eliza laughed a little at that and we decided to wait to see who would do the shopping. By the time I hung up with her, I felt better and the memories of the dream I’d had were nearly gone.

 

*****

Jared and I met on Monday as planned and I found myself telling him the same abridged version of my travels to Chenasar that I had told Samantha. I wasn’t ready for his stern response when he scolded that I had taken a great risk and he told me that he wanted me to start applying myself more to my magickal studies.

“You could have been hurt,” he insisted, his tone less than pleased. “And it’s my job to make sure you know how to handle yourself.”

I was taken aback by his concern, but I promised to work harder. Jared seemed pacified by my promise and began to immediately pile on the work, saying that we would need to meet more often, which included getting together on Sunday. He was effectively blowing my plans of staying on the island for the weekend, but I wasn’t going to try to talk him out of it so soon after promising to work harder. I had plenty of time to spend with Joel if this thing between us worked out, but my studies needed to be a priority.

With a better grasp of what my week looked like, I called Eliza on Wednesday to discuss shopping. With a slight touch of satisfaction to her tone, she informed me that she had managed to talk Mac out of actually seeing a doctor like he had been so adamant about. As I’d already suspected, there had been a good reason behind him insisting she see a doctor and that was to create a cover story for the human townspeople who would expect to hear stories about doctor visits as her pregnancy progressed. The new plan would be that I would come to the island early Friday morning, so she and I could go shopping together on the mainland, thus creating a time that would become a fake doctor’s appointment. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself.

After hanging up with Eliza, my thoughts turned to Joel and I wondered if he was going to have time to call me. He was never far from my thoughts as I worked on class work or the additional exercises that Jared had given me to do each day. But it had been three days since I’d last talked to him and I found myself wondering more often than not what he was doing at home with his family.

I was taking a break from studying Thursday morning to bake some cookies to take to the island that weekend. I had stayed up late the night before studying for my big test that afternoon and I was of the opinion that if I didn’t know the material by that point, I wasn’t going to. I felt comfortable that I would do well and was just filling an empty cookie sheet with globs of raw dough when the phone rang. I glanced at the clock and saw that it was just after nine and I wondered if it was Samantha. “Hello?”

“Corrine?” a deep, male voice asked. “It’s Joel.”

My heart skipped a beat as a smile spread on my lips and I found myself clearing my throat nervously. “Hey, how are you?”

“Better,” he answered. “It’s amazing what a little time at home can do for you. How are you?”

“Fine. I’ve got a huge test tonight, but I think I know what I’m doing. What about you? Getting ready for the big move?”

I heard him chuckle a little on the other end of the line and I was relieved that we had a decent overseas connection. “Nearly. We’ll be leaving Friday and spending a night in New York,” he explained. “A boy’s night out. Nik wants to see the Big Apple.”

I tucked a piece of hair behind my ear and checked my timer to make sure I didn’t burn the cookies that were already in the oven. “Sounds like fun. You guys be careful and don’t have too much fun,” I laughed slightly. “I’m going to the island myself tomorrow to stay at least the night, so I should be there when you guys arrive. Is Mac picking you up somewhere?”

“No, I’ve arranged to buy a car in Virginia Beach. It’s supposed to be waiting for us at the airport. Shouldn’t be too hard to get to the island from there.” He paused for a moment before adding, “I’m glad you’ll be there.”

I smiled at his words as I went back to dropping dough on the cookie sheet. “Me, too. The week has gone by rather quickly, but I was hoping that you would call before the weekend.”

“We’ve been very busy, or I would have called sooner. I wanted to call before we left this afternoon. We’re going into Dublin.”

“Oh, sounds like fun,” I said as I scooped up another spoonful of dough. “I haven’t made it there yet on my visits. Do you know the city well?”

“I used to,” Joel said wryly. “How much can it have changed in three years, right? Do you visit Ireland often?”

The timer was about to ding so I switched it off and opened the oven door. “Hmm, not as much as I’d like to. I love the farm and I love seeing my Grandparents,” I told him as I grabbed a potholder before bending to retrieve the cookie sheet in the oven.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the potholder in my hand right and I scorched my finger on the hot metal. “Ow, damn,” I muttered as I examined my finger to find that it wasn’t bad. “Sorry, burned myself,” I told Joel as I readjusted potholder and pulled the sheet out to put the next one in.

“Are you okay?” Joel asked, his voice full of concern.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I told him. The burn wasn’t a bad one and I could heal it myself if I needed to. “Listen, since you guys will be there Saturday night why don’t I make Nicolas’ favorite meal? You know, as a way of welcoming him? What does he like?”

“I’m not sure he’d appreciate it, but I would,” Joel said before telling me that Dublin Coddle was Nicolas’ favorite.

Luckily, it was a dish that my Grandmother had made once or twice, so I was familiar with it. I didn’t know how to make it myself, but I knew all I had to do was call her for the recipe. “Okay, consider it done,” I told Joel with a smile. “So how has your time with your family been?”

“Hectic,” he replied with a sigh. “I’ve got cousins coming out of the woodwork, and Nik has become quite a handful. I’m thankful that Devin kept an eye on him while I was gone.”

“Is he adjusting to you being back okay?” I asked, sliding the next sheet in the oven before starting to remove the warm cookies from the sheet and onto a cooling rack.

“He’s testing me,” Joel explained. “Half the time he’s mad at me and half the time he is sweet as honey, but he doesn’t want to let me out of his sight just yet.”

I sighed at the all too familiar story. “Oh, I understand that behavior all too well,” I commented as I remembered how I’d treated Eliza after she had gone to work for the vampires when I was a kid. She’d done it to protect me, but I hadn’t known it at the time and I hadn’t taken her extended absences very well. “Once he feels secure that you’re not going anywhere, he’ll be okay. How does he feel about the move?”

Now it was Joel’s turn to sigh. “I think he has mixed feelings. He likes the idea of moving to America, but he’s lived in Ireland his whole life. Also, he’s going to miss the family.” He paused for a moment. “You’ve been to the island, what can I tell him about it that will make him feel better about the move?”

I leaned my hip against the counter and thought about what might appeal to a ten-year-old boy. “Well, it’s absolutely gorgeous there,” I told Joel. “The water is a clear blue near the shore, then gets darker the farther it goes out.

“Mac and Eliza’s house has its own beach and Mac has a boat nearby that we can go out on in the summer. There’s a put-put golf course that’s open in warm weather and lots of cute shops downtown.” I laughed at my last comment and added, “He’s probably not interested in shopping, though, is he?”

Joel chuckled a little. “No, but the water and the golf might tempt him. Most of the time the water’s too cold for swimming here.”

“I’m hoping that he will like it there,” I said, then paused slightly, not sure how personal I should speak to the man on the other end of the phone. “I hope that you will like it there, too.”

“I hope I like it, too,” Joel replied softly, his voice warm. “It will take some time to teach Macalister what he needs to know, depending on how fast he learns and how much he fights me. His opinion of destiny makes me think he may not agree with what he has to learn.”

I sighed again because I knew all too well how Mac felt about destiny. “I wish I could say that he’ll fall right in line, but I just don’t know, Joel. I know that he will do what needs doing, but he’s always bucked when it comes to destiny.”

All this talk of destiny reminded me of something that Mac had said while we were in Chenasar about his destiny that made no sense to me. I wondered if Joel could shed any light on it. “Joel…” I began.

“It’ll be all right,” he was saying. “I’ll teach him what he needs to know, whether he likes it or not.”

“Exactly how much do you know about Mac’s destiny?” I asked. “Do you know if conceiving me is part of it?”

“I can’t speak for his future destiny, Corrine, as that’s between him and me,” Joel said. “But his past destiny? I’m afraid I really don’t know. Have you asked him?”

I shook my head. “No, but we were talking about destiny just before we went to find you and he made a comment about fulfilling his by having me, or something like that.” I hadn’t really been paying attention to what he had been saying at the time because I had been so concerned about getting to Joel. “I just remembered it just now. Everything happened so fast after we went to see the Fates that I forgot about it.”

Joel was quiet for a moment as if he were thinking. “If his destiny was to have you, does that mean you have a destiny as well?” he asked.

I shrugged even though he couldn’t see me. “So, I’ve heard. Not that I know much about it,” I told him, a knot forming in my stomach at the thought. “I can’t imagine being destined for anything. I’m not like Mac, Joel. I care about things, but I’m not a changer like he and Eliza are.”

“I don’t know about that,” Joel said tenderly, his voice making me feel warm. “You must have some kind of gumption. You’ve Awakened. Not many people can say that.”

I smiled at his assurance, but I still wasn’t convinced. “I guess, but I can’t imagine what I would need to do.”

“Well, if there was some prophecy about Macalister fathering you, perhaps there’s something about your destiny in there,” he pointed out. Something I hadn’t thought of yet.

“I have to call my Grandmother anyhow, so I’ll ask her about it,” I said, my voice full of incredulity that I couldn’t hide, so I changed the subject. “Anyhow, I also wanted to ask you if there was anything you needed. The apartment is furnished, so that isn’t an issue, and I’ll make sure the fridge is stocked for you and Nicolas, but is there anything else? I figured that since you were flying in that you would probably be limiting yourself to clothes and personal stuff.” I knew that I was rambling, but I couldn’t help myself. My excitement was building because they would be here in a couple of days.

“We should be fine,” Joel said with a hint of humor in his tone. “We’re not taking much with us, but we’re going to ship some things over. You don’t have to stock anything; we can take care of that when we get there. I appreciate the offer, though.”

I was a little disappointed, but I understood that I had no idea what they liked anyhow. “Oh, okay,” I told him. “What time is your flight getting in?”

“Eleven. I checked the ferry schedules, and as long as the traffic’s okay, we should be on the island by one. You’ll be there?”

His voice was so expectant that I wondered if he were anticipating the move as much as I was. “Mmhmm. I’m going there tomorrow and staying over.” I checked the timer to see that I had a few minutes before the next batch of cookies would be done so I started filling the empty sheet.

“That’s good,” he said. “Family bonding time, I suppose.”

I cleared my throat nervously before saying quietly, “I-I’m looking forward to seeing you.”

“Me too,” he said softly. His words lingered in the air between us as he cleared his throat. “Look, I’ve got to go. We’re headed down to Dublin, and if we show up late, she’ll skin me. I’ll talk to you on Saturday, okay?”

I nodded, wondering who ‘she’ was, but not voicing the question. “Okay. Be careful. You have my cell number if you need it.”

“I do, and I have Macalister’s as well. Sleep well, Corrinemackenzie,” he said, and I had to bite my bottom lip to keep from sighing like a lovesick idiot in response.

“You, too.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PodOmatic site for podcasts:

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Fiction Friday – Getting to Know You – Chapter 4

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I got back to my apartment around five o’clock Salem time and called Jared to check in with him. I wanted to ask about his view on sorcerers, plus we needed to go over the information he wanted me to work on after our last session together. He agreed to come over to my apartment the next day so that we could spend a few hours together.

After that I called my friend Samantha McLean to ask if she was going to be busy later. She suggested that I come over whenever I was ready, and I could help her put her daughter, Malak, to bed. Samantha was married to the bestselling horror writer, AJ McLean, and she told me that he was busy working on his next project, so she was feeling at loose ends and could use the company.

I agreed to the visit and after the baby was safely tucked in bed we got comfortable on the couch to talk. “What do you know about sorcerers?” I asked finally.

Samantha shrugged, her blue eyes thoughtful. “I don’t know, not much. They call what they do magick, but it’s not real.”

Her response caused me to frown slightly. “Why do you say it isn’t real?” I asked. “What makes magick, magick, in your eyes?”

It was Samantha’s turn now to look at me in surprise. “I don’t know,” she answered with a small shrug, causing a lock of her short, black hair to fall onto her forehead. “I don’t know any sorcerers, I just heard a couple of people in the coven talking about it. Did you meet one?”

I nodded, trying nod to grin like an idiot. “Yes. He’s amazing.”

Samantha eyed me sideways, a wide grin spreading across her features. “Hmm… tall, dark and handsome?” she teased.

I felt the heat creep up my cheeks and I knew that I looked embarrassed. “You could say that. I… you may not want me to discuss this with you given the fact that Brian is your cousin, but I’m not sure who to go to with this.”

Samantha’s expression turned serious as she studied me for a second. “Corrine, as much as I wanted you and Brian to work out, it’s okay with me that it didn’t. He has a big problem with the magick thing. Hell, he keeps trying to convince me to give it up. If you’ve found someone else that you’re interested in, I think that’s great! Now, tell me all about him,” she ordered with a wide smile.

Here’s where things got a whole lot sticky. I took a deep breath and tried to figure out what to say. Samantha was my closest friend in Salem, but her sister-in-law was a vampire who knew Mac when he was one, as well. None of the vampires knew that he had come back from the dead because if they did they would want him back for study. They were still looking for Eliza after all. There was no way that I could tell Samantha the whole story without worrying that it would somehow get back to them.

“His name is Joel,” I started. “I just met him, but I don’t know, there’s something there, you know? He is a sorcerer, but I don’t care about that. He’s from Ireland, my grandparents know his family, but they aren’t close friends or anything.” I paused and looked at her for a moment before confessing in a rush, “I felt something special the moment we met.”

Samantha smiled approvingly, and I could feel her excitement growing. “You have to tell me all about it. Where did you meet? When you were gone this weekend? Did you go to Ireland? I want to know everything.”

I smiled at her again as I thought about which one of her many questions to answer first. “Yes, I kind of met him this weekend.” I twisted my body on the couch so that I now faced her fully and put the glass I had been holding on the coffee table. “Okay, let me back up a little. I had a dream last week. I was in a different world, walking along these cliffs, when I saw this circle of stones in a forest with huge trees. I went to see what was happening and Jorl stepped out from behind a tree and stopped me. We talked, and I knew that I was in his dream. It wasn’t intentional or anything. I just ended up there.”

I didn’t wait for a response from my friend, just continued with the store. “Anyhow, through that conversation I found out that he was being held in this alternate world against his will. Siofra and Glenn dreamed of him, too, and so we set about finding out how to get there. And we did, Sam!! We traveled to this other world where women wore long, beautiful dresses and men fought with swords and guns! It was amazing. It was hard, but we managed to free him and get back here in a couple of days.”

I knew my words came in a rush of excitement, but I sobered a great deal when I finished the tale. “They tortured Joel just before we got to him. He was in bad shape, but I was able to heal him, and we got home okay.”

Samantha had been quiet the entire time I’d talked and before she had a chance to speak I finished, “He’s older than I am. He’s in his 30’s, I think, but I’m not sure. But he’s compassionate and you can see his heart in his eyes.” I looked down at my hands in my lap in embarrassment. “He’s really handsome, too.”

“Wow, just the three of you went?” Samantha asked when I finally stopped talking. “Sounds very dangerous. You should have taken more people with you, Corrine. I know that your aunt and uncle are very experienced, but someone really could have gotten hurt.” She smiled then and leaned forward. “But he’s handsome you said? His age doesn’t matter, really, as long as yours doesn’t bother him. Is he okay now?”

I nodded, knowing that I must have looked a little guilty because it wasn’t just Glenn, Siofra and I that had gone to Chenasar, but I couldn’t tell her the whole truth and risk word getting to the wrong people. “He’s fine,” I assured my friend. “It wasn’t just the three of us. Eliza was there as well.”

I figured that it would be okay to tell Samantha that much. She knew that I was still in contact with my birth mother, even though she didn’t know where she was, so I felt secure enough to confess that much.

“He has a son,” I continued, wanting to stay away from the topic of Eliza as much as possible. “His name is Nicolas and he’s ten. He’s a cute little boy, but Joel’s been gone for two years. Nicolas is going to be putting him through the paces to get into his good graces again. I can feel it.” I paused thoughtfully, then added, “Joel’s age doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t even think about it, but I know that others will. Like the family.” I brightened a bit before saying, “He’s spending a week with his family and then he’s going to call me.”

Samantha didn’t bother to hide her enthusiasm about the situation. “That’s very exciting,” she said with a happy smile. “I can tell that you like him, Corrine.” She reached out to touch my hand with her fingers. “I’m glad everything worked out and you got him back safely. I hope things go well for you, especially with the boy. I’d like to meet them both, when things progress that far,” she finished with a grin. “Is Eliza doing well then? I worry about her sometimes, being all alone.”

I nodded. “Eliza’s fine. I worried about her in the beginning as well, but she’s doing a lot better now. She’s busy and I visit her as often as I can. What I am worried about is her getting all ‘mommy’ on me.”

“I’m glad to hear she’s doing so well,” Samantha replied as she chuckled over my ‘mommy’ comment. “I hope she doesn’t let losing Mac control the rest of her life. She needs a big house somewhere with lots of kids.”

I smiled, still not really wanting to talk about Eliza because I didn’t like not sharing everything with my friend. “I really think she’s okay.”

I attempted to change the subject by asking about AJ’s current writing project. Samantha’s eyes turned soft when the conversation turned to her husband and she told me that the new book was about werewolves that hunted vampires. It sounds really interesting and I couldn’t wait to see what the outcome would be. AJ wasn’t supernatural himself, but when you lived with someone who was, you got an education. I wondered how much thinly veiled truth would wind up in his story.

I ended up staying for about an hour or so after that and Samantha asked more questions about Joel and where I thought the relationship might lead. I answered her questions, being careful to avoid mentioning Mac, Eliza or the fact that Joel was moving to the island in a week. I gave her the impression that when we did see each other it would be in Ireland. That would have to do for now.

 

 

 

 

 

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ABCs of Norse Mythology – Gefion

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Vegetation and fertility Goddess who is associated with the plow. According to The Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson, Gefion was the fourth goddess of the Æsir, following Frigg (the wife of Odin), Sága, and Eir. Gefion is a virgin and is served by women who died unmarried.

Early in her career Gefion had four oxen-sons by a giant. Later she married Odin’s son Skjold and settled in Leire, Denmark. She is a shapeshifter. She symbolizes fortunate turns of luck, magickal arts, virginity, prosperity, luck, fertility and agricultural growth.

 

gefion_by_lora_vysotskaya-dc4wvmt

 

 

 

 

 

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Fiction Friday – Getting to Know You – Chapter 3

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CW-03-Getting-to-Know-You2

I smiled back at Joel and raised a brow questioningly. “Really? I’m glad to hear that,” I told him, a touch of mirth lingering in my voice.

Joel ran his gaze over my entire face as he took my hand loosely in his. “We both behaved a certain way in the dream world, Corrine,” he began. “While you claim to take no offense, I-I suppose I would like to know if you would be interested in going out with me some evening.”

I felt my smile widen slowly and after a moment I nodded, glee singing in my heart. “I would like that very much,” I replied, trying to not sound breathless.

Joel grinned, looking years younger as he did so. “Good.” His face went serious again as he looked down at me. “I’ll be visiting with my parents for a week or so before going to the island. Do you visit your parents often?”

“I’ve been going at least one weekend a month since Mac came back,” I explained, wondering what he might suggest in the form of a date. “I know you’ve been gone from this world for a while, so what do you want to do?”

Joel hesitated slightly. “I hate to ask you to wait until we get settled in on the island, but I think I have to. The change will be a difficult one for Nik, I think. Perhaps when you visit the island we could travel to the mainland for dinner?”

I smiled at him again and lifted a hand to stop any further argument. “No, your first concern should be with your son,” I told him. “You’ve been away from him for a long time and I got the impression that it was really hard for Nicolas. He’s at an age where every little thing you do is going to be dissected in his head because he’s looking for a way to make you show that you love him. Trust me; I know how trying it’s going to be for you.” I rolled my eyes and smiled widely, “Gaia knows that I did the same thing to Eliza when I was young.” I then reached out and put my hand on his arm again and added, “Dinner on the mainland after you settle in would be wonderful. I’m looking forward to it.”

“I’d like that very much,” he said with a partially relieved smile. “Now I think I’ve taken up enough of your time. If I’m gone much longer, Nik may think I’ve gone worldwalking again.” He tensed slightly at that and looked back toward the house.

I felt my brow crease when he tensed and I looked toward the house myself as I tightened my hold on his arm. “What is it? Is someone coming?” I reached out with magick to sense if someone was about, but only felt animals in the woods.

Joel shook his head mutely. “No, I’m just worried about Nik. I’ve been gone a long time, and from what Devin says, Cathryn hasn’t been around much either.”

I felt myself relax slightly as I turned my gaze to him. “Is that his mother?” I asked.

“Yes.” Joel’s voice sounded so tired that I found myself wanting to reach out to him to sooth him, but I stopped myself. “We should probably go back,” he said then, yet he made no move to do so.

I reached out then to touch his face again and smiled at him warmly. “I know that right now you have a great deal on your mind, but I want you to know that I’m here if you want to talk. Need to talk. Anytime. Okay?”

Joel made an attempt at a slightly sad smile and I felt like he was giving me the world. “I appreciate that, Corrine,” he said. “It is going to take some time to get used to this world again.” He took my hand gently in his and started walking back toward the farmhouse. “Tell me about yourself,” he said.

I shrugged. “Well, there’s not that much to tell, I guess. I live in Salem and I’m taking classes in Boston.”

Joel chuckled slightly. “I’m sure there’s a lot more than that. Is your mentor one of the family?”

I shook my head, wondering how much he knew of the mage world. “No. Jared Smith is my mentor and one of the hunters that survived that night in Baltimore when Mac was embraced. He stopped hunting after that and moved to Salem.” I smiled at the thought of the man who had turned out to be a good friend, as well as a mentor, and who pushed me to work hard for him.

I continued. “He is the High Priest of a coven that I am now a member of. My family has started to take a more active part in my training, but Jared is still my mentor. My best friend is a mage as well, but she is Verbena. We are splitting Traditions and learning each other’s.”

Joel listened to all that I had to say in a way that made me feel as if he was shutting out the rest of the world. I had to admit that it was a nice feeling. “Sounds very… complicated,” he commented. “I learned most of what I know from my family.”

I glanced over at him while we walked, and I couldn’t help but realize how much I wanted to know everything about him and to have him know everything about me. “Are you close with your family?” I asked.

“I was,” he admitted as he looked down at me. “I hope to be again. I didn’t intend to be gone as long as I was. I’m sure once things settle down everything will be all right again.”

I agreed. “Have you had a chance to tell them about everything that happened? I’m sure they’ll be more understanding once they know it wasn’t your fault you were gone for so long.”

“I talked to them on the phone for an hour or so last night. We’ll talk about it more when we get home.” I could hear the wistful way he said the word home and I tried to imagine being gone from my family for as long as he had.

I tugged his hand playfully and grinned at him. “Are you happy to be home?” I asked, wanting to turn the conversation to more neutral topics. I glanced ahead of us and saw that we were nearing the house and I didn’t want my time with Joel to end so quickly.

“I’m happy to be away from Taeynd,” he answered with a sigh. “And yes, I am happy to be home.”

Before we got much closer to the house, I stopped Joel and turned him so that we were facing each other, but still not visible to anyone inside. “There’s something I want to tell you before we go inside,” I told him. I could hear the hesitancy in my breathless voice, but that didn’t stop me from looking up at him boldly. “Welcome home,” I said as I leaned toward him and caught his mouth in what I hoped was more than a chaste kiss.

Joel responded as I hoped he would when he gathered me close to him, his arms around my waist. His mouth was warm and confident as his lips pressed to mine in a kiss that was good enough to make my knees buckle from underneath me, leaving me no choice but to lean against him as it continued.

I may have been the one who started the kiss, but I held back from pushing Joel too fast, too soon, and I let him steer where we went from there. His lips made me forget about the rest of the world as they moved against mine, but it ended much too quickly for my taste and I clung to him as he pulled away.

Thankfully he held me upright after he broke the kiss, which was a good thing since I couldn’t stand on my own. We were both breathing hard and I couldn’t help thinking that I had never been kissed like that in my whole life. I wanted more.

Once I was able to breathe again I looked up at him and with a shy smile said, “I know that you’ll be busy with your family and all, but if you want, I could leave you my number…”

Joel looked down at me and I realized that we were still pressed closely together, but for some reason I didn’t feel too self-conscious about it. “I can’t guarantee I’ll have time to call, but I would like your number, Corrinemackenzie,” he said. He had a warm look in his eyes that made my knees feel like they wanted to buckle again, but I braced myself with my hands on his shoulders and managed to stay upright on my own.

I smiled at Joel again, and then glanced toward the house. “We should get back inside,” I said, not wanting to move because that would mean my time with him was almost over. “I need to go home soon, and your family might be wondering where you are. I have a paper to finish for class and I need to check in with Jared.” I knew that I sounded like going inside was the last thing I wanted to do, and I hoped that I didn’t sound like I was clinging.

Joel smiled back and took my hand as we started back toward the house again. “I don’t want to go either,” he confessed. “But there are things I have to take care of. I will call you and let you know when Nik and I will be on the island.” He frowned a little then and finished, “We’ll probably have to fly.”

I laughed out loud at his words. “Is the prospect so distasteful to you?” I teased. “I’ll admit that I’m a bit spoiled by the portal that Glenn installed in my apartment, but I still like to fly and take long drives in the country. Can’t you just ‘wink’ where you want to go?”

“I can ‘blink’,” he corrected with a smile, “but there are some limitations. Can’t get over the ocean, it’s a bit far. Never much liked flying, unless I was on a pegasus or dragon.”

Now it was my turn to look at him like I thought he was joking. “Dragon?” I asked. Especially after the visit to Chenasar, I knew that mythical creatures existed, at least in other worlds, but I hadn’t had much exposure to them.

“Im-ryn like Os-tur will allow people to ride them, as will other species of dragons on Chenasar,” he explained. “Other realities have dragons, too.”

“I’ve never seen a dragon before, except in storybooks. Pegasus, too, huh?” I had no reason to not believe him, but I knew that it was obvious that the idea was a different one to me.

“If we’d had time, there were many things I could have shown you,” he said as he glanced over at me, his voice a little sad. “Perhaps someday we can return there.”

I looked at Joel lovingly and took his hand in both of mine. “I’d like that a great deal. Maybe we could take Nicolas, too, so he can understand what happened better.” I was thinking to myself that I would really like to understand better what happened to him there, but I knew the subject was too raw and that we had plenty of time to talk about it later.

Joel laughed wryly, and I found that I liked the sound a great deal. “I’m not sure I want him to understand how stupid I was. He has a low enough opinion of me as it is.”

I turned to Joel and eyed him disapprovingly. “I’m not sure what happened myself, but I doubt that you were stupid in the situation, Joel. I know that one day we’ll talk about it, so don’t think that I’m asking now, but I don’t want you saying that Nicolas will think less of you. He loves you. I know I just met him today, but I know that he does. Don’t set yourself up for a fall that isn’t coming.”

“You could be right,” he conceded. “But I’d still not have him know until he’s older and can better understand the situation.”

I figured that ultimately Joel knew what was best for his own son; and that I was just trying to make him feel better. We had reached the house, so I didn’t say anything else as we entered and left our coats on the pegs that lined the wall just inside.

No one said anything about us being out together, but Nicolas had noticed, and his reaction was one of interest, but not necessarily of the good variety. Because of my experiences with Eliza, I understood all too well that the boy would resent anyone who would take away time with his father right now, so I knew that I would have to be very careful in establishing a relationship with him. Joel’s sister, Skye, noticed that we’d been out together as well, but her interest seemed to be a great deal more positive than her nephews had been.

Shortly after our return, the Fenian family said their goodbyes, saying they needed to get home for chores. Joel managed to get a private moment with me as everyone said their farewells. He repeated quietly that he would let me know when he and Nicolas would arrive at the island and I made sure that he had the number to my apartment as well as the one to my cell phone. They all ‘blinked’ out of sight in what seemed like an order of sorts. Joel’s parents went first, followed by Joel, who put his arm around Nicolas, then Skye, and finally Devin. It was kind of strange to watch them go because I felt no magick as they went. One second they were there, the next they were gone.

After they left my Grandmother asked if I had a nice walk with Joel.

I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. “Yes. Joel and I finally got a real chance to talk in person. He’s a nice man,” I said, trying to keep my voice even. I didn’t know why, but I was embarrassed by my Grandmother’s question and I moved off to make a cup of tea.

“It’s a good family,” she commented as I poured water into two cups then handed her one.

I decided for the moment that I wouldn’t ask anything about Joel or his family. I figured that my inquiries would only confirm that I was interested in him and right now I wanted to keep my feelings to myself. I knew that Nicolas was going to be a big hurdle in a relationship between Joel and myself, but I also knew that I was genuinely interested in getting to know the boy as much as I interested in his father.

 

 

 

 

 

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ABCs of Norse Mythology – Frigga

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Odin’s wife was considered to be the Mother of all; and protectoress of children. She spins the sacred Distaff of life, and is said to know the future, although she will not speak of it.

Goddess of feminine arts, associated with hawks and falcons, Frigga is the patron goddess of the home and of the mysteries of the married woman. She is seen as Odin’s match (and sometimes his better) in wisdom; she shares his high-seat, from which they look out over the worlds together.

Frigga was the Goddess for whom Friday was named. In mythology she was the Norse equivalent to the ‘Cosmic Mother’. The Anglo Saxons knew her as Frig and the ancient Germans knew her as Frija. To the Celts she was known as Danu, Brigantia, in Greece she was the primordial Goddess Eurynome, later re-invented as Aphrodite. Frigga’s function was as the Goddess of time, weather, married and motherly love, marriage, sexuality, parenthood and the bestower of children. Frigga was often depicted as white or dark clouds depending on her mood.

Frigga is especially concerned with keeping social order. She is called on for blessings when women are giving birth and for help in matters of traditional women’s crafts (spinning, weaving, cooking, sewing) and the magics worked thereby. Frigga can also be called on by mothers who want to protect their children. In olden days, this was especially the case with sons going out to battle, for whom their mothers would weave or sew special protective items. She is also called Hlin (protectress).

Frigga is the mother of Balder and is often thought of as still mourning for him. She is a seeress, who knows all fates, though she seldom speaks of them. Her hall is called Fensalir – “marsh-halls”. She has a handmaiden called Fulla and a messenger named Gna.

Despite the likeness of names and the similar relationship to Odin, Frigga should not be confused with Freya, who shares none of her essential traits. Her only departure from strict social behavior is that during one of Odin’s journeys away from Asgard, she is said to have taken his brothers Vili and Ve as husbands; however, this probably shows the queen-goddess as the embodiment of sovereignty. Her name is also not directly related to the English slang-word, though the two derive from the same original root (“love pleasure”). Old Norse Frigg, Anglo-Saxon Frige, Old High German Frija, Wagnerian Fricka.

In the heavenly realm of Asgard, Frigg lived in a magnificent palace called Fensal. She sometimes dressed in the plumage of falcons and hawks, and she could also travel in the form of these birds. She had 11 maidservants: Fulla, Hlin, Gna, Lofn, Vjofn, Syn, Gefjon, Snotra, Eir, Var, and Vor, who helped the goddess in her role as goddess of marriage and justice. They are sometimes considered to be various aspects of Frigg herself rather than distinct beings.

Frigga’s element is Earth, her color is green, her form of divination – the Runes. Frigga helps develop the ability to feel clearly to sense messages and information. She is associated with Crystal healing and her stones are Actinolite, Aventurine, Chysocolla, and Emerald. Her crafts are cooking, housekeeping, and ointments.

 

 

 

 

 

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Fiction Friday – Getting to Know You – Chapter 2

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Joel and his family were persuaded by my Grandmother to stay for dinner before returning home. I was doing the dishes to help with the after dinner clean up when Joel approached me. “I was hoping you and I could talk for a moment before we left,” he said quietly.

I smiled at him and glanced quickly around the kitchen and found no one paying us any attention. “Of course. Did you want to go for a walk or something?”

Joel smiled back, his blue gaze holding mine steadily. “Yes, that would be fine.”

I nodded, suddenly feeling a little nervous about finally being alone with him as I led the way outside. I noticed that no one appeared to take note of our departure as I grabbed a jacket on the way out the door, so I breathed a sigh of relief as we started toward The Point.

We walked in silence until we arrived at the picket fence that surrounded the family cemetery. Joel paused there for a moment, looking toward the graves before moving on and I wondered what he was thinking about. I didn’t get a chance to ask him because he finally spoke.

“I talked to your parents before they left. Nik and I will be moving to the island next week.” He seemed a little uncomfortable, or uncertain, about something.

I stopped and turned to face him, studying his face silently for a minute and seeing the doubt in his blue eyes. “Why do you hesitate?” I asked in a low voice. “I thought Mac needed your help to fulfill his destiny.”

“I know,” Joel said firmly, no uncertainty in his tone now. “I think I know that better than anyone.” He glanced back toward the cemetery as if he were wondering about something. “I just…” he began as he returned his gaze to me again. “I don’t want to frighten you away, Corrine.”

“Joel,” I began, not sure how to continue. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Why don’t you just talk to me and tell me what’s going through your head?” I stepped closer to him and put my hand on his sleeve. “Contrary to what others may think, I can handle something more stressful than washing dishes. Just talk to me.”

He put his hand over mine and the warm touch of his skin was comforting. “I know I came on a little strong in the dream world,” he started. “I don’t want you to think that I’m going to camp out on your doorstep until you notice me.”

I laughed a little and looked away from him shyly for a second before returning my gaze to his again. “You didn’t come off strong, but it was kind of weird that you seemed to know me. How is that?”

Joel dropped his gaze to where my hand rested against his arm. “Two things, really. I’ve dreamed about you.” He looked into my eyes intently, then back down as if he worried about my reaction. “I’ve the sight, to some extent,” he explained as his eyes jumped back to mine again. “I see some things, possibilities. I’m sorry if I offended you.”

I squeezed his arm slightly and took another step closer. “You didn’t offend me, Joel,” I whispered. “You did quite the opposite actually.” I hesitated slightly while I glanced away to clear my throat.

“You made me trust you,” I explained, meeting his gaze again. “That’s not such an extraordinary thing, except that I haven’t trusted easily lately. Mac’s death and Eliza’s subsequent hiding has been…” I shrugged, “well, hard is the easiest word. People that I consider friends, I have to lie to now or not tell the truth about what’s going on in my life. So, when we met that night in the forest… I don’t know how to explain it. Something clicked, and I knew that I could trust you. That you wouldn’t hurt me.”

I rolled my eyes and nervously tucked a lock of hair behind my ear. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to go on like that.”

“Mac’s death?” Joel asked with a puzzled look, then glanced over at the cemetery and murmured knowingly, “That’s what it was. I wasn’t sure, but I knew there was something.” He turned back to me and added, “Of course I won’t hurt you, Corrine. I like you a great deal, and there are possibilities…” He paused a moment, like he needed to back up, then he added, “Hell, I don’t even know if you have a boyfriend.”

I laughed slightly, nervously, and looked down at the ground shyly. “No, I’m not seeing anyone right now.” Then I looked up at Joel again and felt the tug of doubt in my stomach. “Why don’t you tell me what you do know, and we can go from there? I can fill in the holes and we can have a chance to… I don’t know, see what happens?” I couldn’t explain why, but I felt a familiarity with him that scared and thrilled me at the same time. I felt comfortable with him. Being close to him and touching him was like second nature even though I had only known him for two days.

“I know that you have tasted magick,” Joel said, his voice low as it began to weave a spell of comfort about me, making me want to fall into his arms. “That you are Macalister’s daughter, and that you are beautiful.” He reached up then and smoothed some of my hair behind my ear and I loved how caring the gesture was. “I know that someone was afraid of your magick,” he continued, his voice still low. “I won’t be, Corrine.”

I blinked in utter surprise. Whoa, that last comment hit close to home and was entirely too near to what had happened between Brian and me. I knew that I looked visibly shaken by what Joel had said and my heart began to flutter. Joel had been so right about how things had ended with Brian. It was almost as if he had been reading my mind in the first place.

I pressed my face closer to his hand and found comfort in the warmth of his skin. But just because he claimed not to be afraid of my magick didn’t mean that things couldn’t turn out the same way between Joel and me.

“You seem to know the right things to say,” I told him, looking up to meet his gaze. “But can you tell me honestly that me being a mage means nothing to you? I talked to your brother earlier today and at the beginning of our conversation he was expecting me to judge him until I set him straight.” I hesitantly lifted my hand so that I could lay my palm on Joel’s chest. “I don’t care what you are, but will others? I sense the hesitation in your family and mine concerning Mac, but I don’t understand it.”

Joel smiled a little at my questions and brushed his thumb across my bottom lip, nearly making me forget what we were talking about in the first place because of the close contact. “You’re a mage, I’m a sorcerer,” he said with a shrug. “We may not have the same brand of magick, but it’s still magick. I think many magi don’t fully understand that, it could be where some of the prejudices come from. You’d have to ask another mage why they don’t approve of us doing magick.”

Joel stepped back slightly then and took my hand in his to start walking down the path again. “Why would it bother me for you to be what you are? I know what’s real in this world, and your magick will help protect you from it, better than mine in many ways,” he said, looking over at me as we walked. “I see our magick’s as two sides of the same coin. If I feared yours, I would have to fear my own.”

I didn’t say anything for a while as we walked, liking the feel of my hand in his and mulling over what he said. “I’m sorry that I went off like I did,” I said finally after a minute. “I guess you could call it a case of once bitten, twice shy.”

I looked down at the ground as we went, not sure if I wanted to say more, but deciding that I wanted to be honest about my reservations. “I hurt Brian a great deal by the end of our relationship. I don’t think that I would say that he was afraid of my magick, but he definitely had issues with it. After Mac died, Brian seemed to realize how dangerous my life could be. He wants someone to have kids with, to grow old with. He didn’t think I could be that for him unless I stopped studying magick. Stopped being what I was. In the end, we parted ways and I hope that Gaia brings him someone who will make him happy. We’re still friends, in a way.”

“I’m sorry that he didn’t understand,” Joel said. “Nik wasn’t exactly planned, but I wouldn’t undo the circumstances that led to him. I love my son. Someday I want more children, and I pray the gods see fit to give them magick, whether it’s what I’ve been blessed with, or another kind of magick.” He looked down at me as we walked, his intense gaze watching me closely. “Life is dangerous. I don’t want to live my life so afraid of losing something that I won’t try to have it. People die every day, magick or not.”

“That’s what I’ve learned in the past year as well,” I confessed as I looked over up at him. “I’m not afraid to live my life, or to do what I need to in order to be happy. My family may think that they need to shelter me, but I’m not going to let them hold me back if I find something that I want.”

We were silent after that. I looked over the landscape, pretending to watch where I was going as I tried to figure out how to say what I was thinking. “Nik surprised me a little,” I confess finally. “But he’s a terrific kid. I think he missed you a lot and I’m glad you’re taking him with you to the island.” I chuckled then as I remembered the conversation I had a few hours ago with the boy. “I told him that I would take him to my parent’s farm in Maine to ride horses. He seemed intrigued by the idea; even though he told me that Larne Town is prettier than Galway. I think he was trying to be tough.”

Joel chuckled slightly as well, and then he turned serious again. “He’s had a lot of disappointments in his life. I’m hoping that living with me will ease some of the pain he’s had.” He paused for a moment, and then he commented, “You said something I’m not sure I understand. Your parents live in Maine? I thought the island was off of Virginia?”

I glanced over at him and smiled. “Sorry, I forgot that you didn’t know. I’m adopted. Mac and Eliza are my birth parents, and yes, they live on an island off the coast of Virginia. But my Mom and Dad own a farm in Maine where I was raised.” I frowned slightly as I thought about the state of my family. “It’s a different situation. I tell you what, let’s back up a little and you tell me what you know about Mac and Eliza. It all starts with them, and I don’t want to confuse you further.”

Joel frowned slightly as well, and I found that I loved the way his forehead lined when he did so. “Well,” he began. “I don’t want you to divulge family secrets, but I feel like there’s something I’m missing, with both Macalister and Elizabeth. I know you said something about him coming back from the dead, but there’s something different about her I can’t quite put my finger on.”

Oh, boy, I thought to myself, not sure how to proceed. I glanced up at him and asked, “What do you know about vampires?”

“Vampires?” he asked, frowning deeper this time. “Not a lot. Teeth and blood, mostly.”

I looked in front of me for a moment and wondered how mad Mac would be for what I was about to say. “I’m about to break a cardinal rule with what I’m about to tell you, but I guess if you are to help Mac you need to know the whole story and I don’t know how open either of them will be. Up until about a year and a half ago Mac was a vampire.”

Joel stopped and looked down at me as if he had been expecting me to be joking. When he realized that I was serious, though, he asked in a surprised tone, “Did your family cure him in some way?”

I shook my head. “No. There was nothing that they could do. Mac was born a mage, like most of the family. He grew up here in Galway and went to America in the 70’s, I think, where he met up with my uncle, Glenn, who had put together a group of hunters in Baltimore that were going after the vampires of the city,” I explained, a noticeable tone of dislike in my tone.

I knew that it had to be obvious to Joel that I didn’t like what Mac and the others had done, but I didn’t take the time to explain why as I continued the abridged version of the story. “That’s where he and Eliza met and fell in love. They had just moved in together when the vampires decided to retaliate one night. All the members of the group were hit and most of them were killed. Mac was made a vampire and the blood from his sire wiped his memory. He had no recollection of his life before being changed. Eliza believed that he was dead and she went into hiding, finding out in the process that she was pregnant with me.”

I fell silent for a few seconds, remembering what little Eliza had told me. “She didn’t have any money. No job. She was alone and going to have a baby. When the opportunity came to go to my parent’s farm, she went. And when she found out that they couldn’t have kids, it became a mutual understanding that they would adopt me. I grew up with Eliza. She was like a sister to me, my best friend.”

“She looks young enough to be your sister,” Joel commented. I could still see questions in his eyes, but I knew I would never tell him everything about Eliza. Not yet. He needed to know about Mac in order to teach him, but at the moment, Eliza’s history was unnecessary.

We walked quietly for a bit, giving Joel an opportunity to let my story sink in. When I glanced at him, I was glad to see the sympathetic look he in his gaze. “Eliza ended up moving to Salem, Massachusetts and found Mac there, about three years ago,” I continued. “He didn’t remember her, but luckily their love for each other remained. They got back together and through their relationship he started to remember parts of his past.”

It was agonizing to recall what happened next. “Things were great until the Christmas before last. They had to go to Europe, but I didn’t find out why until after they were there.” I paused for a moment before saying, “They were hunting a demon and it killed Mac.”

I glanced over at Joel again and I knew that my expression was a sad one. “It was horrible. Eliza shut down. I’ve never seen her do that. I didn’t know what to do most of the time except to just be with her.”

“They seem very close,” Joel commented. “I imagine it must have been difficult for her.”

My eyes dropped down at the ground again as I nodded and tried to block away my memories of the hurt we had all suffered during that time. “Then I got a call one day from my Grandfather that said he wanted me to come to Ireland right away. Apparently Siofra had done a spell when she was younger to keep Mac and Uncle Angus safe, but it only worked when both of them were dead. Uncle Angus had been killed years ago, during a fight, but Mac was technically still alive because he was a vampire. Anyway, with both of them in the hereafter together, the spell was activated, and they came back. I don’t know how it all happened, but I’m glad it did. He’s a sorcerer now and trying to find out what he’s supposed to do next.” I looked at Joel again and smiled. “Enter you.”

“Except he doesn’t believe in destiny,” Joel pointed out wryly. “Looks like I have my work cut out for me.”

I continued to smile at Joel, knowing that I had to stress the fact that he couldn’t give up on Mac, regardless of how rough around the edges he was sometimes. “Mac will do what he needs to,” I told Joel, hoping that he understood what I was trying to explain. “I have no doubt there. Just don’t tell them what I’ve said. There’s more to the story, but I don’t want to bore you with details.”

I loved how tenderly Joel looked at me as we continued to walk along the path. “I doubt you could bore me, Corrine. I do feel honored that you’ve confided in me as you have, and I’ll hold your confidences close.” He glanced over at me then in a way that made me want to desperately know what he was thinking. “And I won’t ask you what it is about Elizabeth that hits me so strangely since you don’t seem to want to tell me.”

I stopped then and reached out to put the palm of my hand on his cheek so that I was sure that he was looking at me. “It’s not that I want to keep anything from you,” I confessed. “But Eliza’s story is hers to give, not mine. I’ve given too much of Mac’s away already, but there was no way I could give you the entire story without sharing those details.”

Joel nodded in understanding and lifted his hand to wrap his fingers around my wrist. “I understand. You really don’t know me.” He smiled at me again in a way that made my stomach go warm. “As interesting as it’s been, I didn’t ask you to walk with me, so we could discuss your da.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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