My father is dead.
Not my Dad, the man that raised me from infancy and tucked me into bed at night. Not the one whom I still call Daddy and sometimes give butterfly kisses to in the warm sunshine after we’ve brought in hay from the field. No, not him.
Cormac Brennan. Mac. The man responsible for my existence. The man who was supposed to be indestructible… supposed to live forever… was dead. No amount of magickk that I or the rest of my family were capable of could bring him back.
For the first time this winter I finally feel the cold fingers of bleakness, the likes of which I have never known in my nearly twenty-one years. I feel so alone as I stand looking out the large picture window of my apartment, the city spread out below me as people bustle about in the fresh powder of the latest snowfall.
Winter in New England was usually a favorite season of mine. It always signified the quiet part of the year on the farm, when my Dad was able to spend more time with my Mom and me. I remember sledding down the big hill behind the barn and building a family of snowmen out in the north pasture when I was five with Dad and Eliza. Now all I felt was an emptiness that I couldn’t seem to shake.
It was less than a half an hour since the portal had closed behind Glenn and already I felt like climbing the walls as if I was locked in a cell for life. The funeral had taken place two days ago and I was pretty sure that I didn’t have any more tears left to shed, but my heart ached never the less. I’m finding it hard to formulate words about what I’m feeling right now, but I knew one thing for certain, my little apartment was beginning to feel like a tomb and its walls were closing in on me.
I was worried about Eliza, my birth mother and the closest friend I had ever known in the world. She had always been more like a sister then a mother and I didn’t want it any other way. She understood me, always had, and I like to think that I understand her as well. Not as much as Mac did, of course, but I like to think that I was a part of her inner circle and that one day she will stop thinking of me as a little girl and let me be the confidant to her that I had always wanted to be.
She was the one who would miss Mac the most. She was the one who had witnessed him die not just once, but twice. The first time was when he was mortal and they had been attacked by the vampires in Baltimore. They had been hunters there and instead of killing Mac, the vampire had been made him one of them, and in doing so he had lost his memories of his family and the woman he loved.
They had found each other again a little over a year ago and were managing to rebuild a life together. That is, until this last trip to Europe where Eliza had to watch him die for a second time.
Tearing my eyes from the inconsequential happenings outside, my gaze immediately went to the answering machine and the tiny red light that was blinking madly, signifying that multiple messages awaited me. I crossed to the small table that held the machine and the cordless phone and numbly pressed the button.
“Hey baby. Sam called me and let me know what happened. I’m so sorry about Cormac. Listen, if you want me to be there I will. Just call me and I’ll drop everything. Call me Corrine. I love you.”
I felt a small smile pull up the corners of my lips at hearing Brian’s voice. There had been many a time in the last few days that I’d wished he could have been with me, but he would have been put in danger being so close to my family. I’d had to keep him away to protect him.
“Hi Corrine, its Sam. I just wanted to see how you were doing. I know that you were staying with your grandparents for a few more days, but give me a call when you get home. AJ and I are both so sorry about Cormac. Talk to you when you get back.”
Samantha McLean was a fellow member of the coven I’d joined a few short months ago, after learning what we both were. Mages. Magickk Wielders. Spirit Walkers. We were students together, both being taught by the High Priest and Priestess of the coven.
“Corrine, its Jared. Call me. I’m worried about you.”
Jared Smith. My teacher, Jared Smith. He’d known Mac and Eliza in Baltimore, all those years ago. Sometimes I thought he’d only taken me on as his student because of the events that led to Mac becoming a vampire.
“Corrine, I’m so sorry.” Rachel Black, the priestess of the Black Rose Coven and Samantha’s, teacher. “Samantha called me and I just wanted to call and let you know that we are all sending you the most positive energy we can. If you need anything call me. I know that Jared is concerned for you as well. Be sure to call him when you get home.”
“Corrine… honey… ” Brain’s voice was quiet and as the message played I could see him sitting at his desk or looking out the window as he made the call. “… please call me. I haven’t heard from you and I’m worried as hell. I love you. Call me.”
Beep… there were various other calls from the other members of the coven. They all wanted to extend their condolences on my loss and to let me know that if I needed anything to call them. I was touched by their effort, but right now there was nothing any of them could have done to help me. They couldn’t make Eliza happy again by bringing Mac back to her. No one could play God to that degree.
I only half listened to the rest of the messages as I began to remove the dress pants and sweater I had put on that morning in the room Eliza and I had shared in my grandparents’ house and exchanged them for a warm pair of flannel pajamas. I decided to ignore most of the messages for now, but there were two calls that I couldn’t disregard.
Mechanically, I hit speed dial as I sank down onto the couch. Brian answered in two rings. “Corrine?” he asked anxiously. “Honey, how are you?”
“I’m okay,” I said, not bothering to make the effort to disguise my tired voice. “I just got in and I wanted to let you know I’m okay.”
“Give me fifteen minutes and I’ll be right there.” He didn’t give me a chance to argue, to say that I didn’t feel like company right now, before he hung up. I sighed heavily as I glanced around the apartment, making sure that everything was tidy for my imminent visitor, but I really didn’t care. Other than a light covering of dust, everything was just as I left it. No surprises.
My eyes fell on the front door and instantly I remembered being awakened four nights ago by my aunt’s knock at nearly midnight. I had been asleep. Not deeply, but enough to feel disoriented when the knock had come.
I remembered how I had fumbled with my robe as I made my way to the door, wondering who it could have been at the late hour. Brian had been scheduled to be at the Boston store early that next morning and he had told me that he didn’t want to wake me when he got up, that’s why he wasn’t there with me. I didn’t think it was him as my feet quickly brought me to the door.
It couldn’t have been Mac or Eliza either. They were out of the country on some kind of vampire business and didn’t know when they would be back. They had called the night before to let me know that they were in Norway or something and that things were progressing as well as could be expected, whatever that meant. Besides, Eliza would have called if they were returning earlier than they thought.
Siofra was the last person I had expected to see when I looked through the peephole. My mind was still foggy from sleep so I didn’t stop to think that something could be wrong as I undid the locks and opened the door. “Siofra? What are you doing here?”
She looked worn and drawn, like she had bad news of some kind. “Corrine, can I come in?” I moved aside instantly, trying to digest her appearance and the fact that her hands were tightly clasped in front of her. She stepped over the threshold and immediately moved to the couch, beckoning for me to sit next to her. “I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.”
I felt panic rise in my chest as I inched toward the couch and I stifled the need to beg her to tell me what had happened. Cormac’s sister and I didn’t have the best of relationships. She had seemed like a nice enough woman when I had first met her, but things changed. At first I felt reassured when I learned that she was a mage as well as my aunt, but the fact that she and her husband, Glenn, used to hunt vampires hadn’t set well with me.
The way I saw it, none of us have the right to be judge, jury and executioner to any group of people, regardless of what we thought of them. Kindred could be worked with, that much I had learned in the short amount of time I’d been around them.
I also didn’t like the way Siofra had treated Eliza. Siofra didn’t keep it a secret that she thought Eliza was responsible for Mac’s death the first time, when he had been made a vampire. Eliza thought she was responsible, too, and never defended herself against Siofra’s indignation, thinking that she deserved it. I, on the other hand, didn’t keep my mouth shut and things were rocky between me and my aunt and uncle, but getting better as time progressed.
I knew that if Siofra was at my door it had to be bad. Suddenly something clicked in my head. “Is Grandfather alright?” I had asked breathlessly.
“He’s fine,” she had been quick to reassure me as she reached over and took my hand, pulling me down to sit next to her. “Glenn got a call from Eddie Lane a few hours ago, Corrine,” Siofra stopped long enough to take a shaky breath before continuing. “I’m afraid that your father was killed tonight in Edinburgh.”
The truth of what she was saying had shot into my chest like a semi truck going full speed into a brick wall. Mac dead? That couldn’t be. It was impossible. He was a vampire. Only certain things could kill him now. I’d had trouble comprehending what she had been saying to me, but her next statement shocked me further.
“I would have come sooner, but our first priority was to take care of Eliza. Glenn is with her right now, trying to help her get through the initial shock. She’s taking it very hard.”
Eliza? Oh, God I felt incredibly guilty because my first thought hadn’t been of her. How was she coping? Of course it would be awful for her. Mac was the love of her life. Tears formed in my eyes and I remembered Siofra taking me in her arms. I cried for the man I had only known for a year. I cried for the pain my best friend was going through. I cried for my new found family who now had to suffer the loss of him all over again.
Most of all I cried for Mac. He had lived for nearly twenty years with no memory of who or what he had been before becoming a vampire, but by finding Eliza he had been slowly regaining those memories. He had been getting to know his family again. Now they had lost him again as well, only this time there wouldn’t be a second chance.
I let Siofra comfort me as we both shed tears of mourning. When I asked her how it had happened all she could tell me was that the demon that they had been hunting had killed him. Eliza was now in Nashville with Glenn and she was in bad shape. Siofra agreed to take me to her, but first Grandmother and Grandfather had to be told. Did I want to go with her?
Of course I knew that I’d had to go with her to Ireland. I had quickly thrown clothes into a bag and called Jared to let him know I would be away for a while, then we left Salem, bound for Galway.
Thinking of Jared jarred my thoughts to the present. I didn’t want to make the next call to my mentor, but I knew I couldn’t hold off any longer. I wanted nothing more than a few hours to myself, but if Jared caught wind that I was back and hadn’t contacted him, he would be angry and think that I was beginning to not trust him. Our relationship required complete trust in each other and I didn’t want to endanger that bond.
“Hi,” I said into the receiver when he answered. “I just wanted to let you know I’m back.”
“How are you doing?” he asked. He had come to the funeral two days before and for that I was glad. He had even gone so far as to bring Samantha with him, knowing that I might need as much moral support as possible, which I had. Seeing the both of them had been like putting the ground underneath me again and I would be forever grateful for their presence. I’d wished that Brian could have come to Ireland as well, but as a mortal, his presence in a house full of mages would have made the situation difficult and honestly I’d had my hands full with Eliza.
“I’m okay,” I told Jared and I almost believed the words.
We talked for a few minutes and after I had assured him that I would be okay with time, he said good-bye and I hung up. I had no sooner placed the phone back on the charger when there was a knock on the door.
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