I stayed a week in Galway after Mac’s return. I was really looking forward to getting a second chance with Mac and to get to know my uncle as well. The outlook of the entire family changed so much with Mac and Uncle Angus back in the fold that it was really hard to remember the wake and funeral that had taken place here just a few short months ago.
Eliza was like a new person. Gone were the lines of worry and sadness from her eyes and for the first time that I could remember, she looked like a young woman with the whole world in front of her. I loved to watch her and Mac interact with each other. It was like watching them for the first time. He was so much more laid back now and she was the happiest I had ever seen her, even though she didn’t like to let him out of her sight.
The biggest thing that I noticed about Mac was that he never missed a sunrise. He spent a great deal of time with the wolf, too, which I guess didn’t surprise me much since Gwrhyr was supposed to be helping him with his destiny and new powers.
I soon learned that Mac hadn’t come back as a mage like he had been before he was made a vampire. When I asked Grandfather why, he told me that Mac’s Avatar had been shattered when he was made a vampire and there was no way that he could ever be a mage again, in this life or those to follow. So the powers-that-be had decided to send him back as what was called a Sorcerer. I’m not quite sure what that exactly was, but my Grandfather seemed really sad about it so I didn’t want to question him further. Instead I accepted what he told me and made a note to ask Rachel or Jared what they were when I returned to Salem.
I’m not sure how it happened, but one morning I came out of the back door and found Eliza and Uncle Angus fighting on the lawn. I was alarmed at first and wondered why no one around them moved to stop the two since Mac, Glenn and Siofra were all standing around watching them. I quickly realized that they weren’t ‘fighting’ so much as ‘sparring’ as Eliza called it later, but the way they were going at each other seemed real enough to me.
Uncle Angus was in his human form and hit Eliza with a particularly fierce upper cut that made her stumble backward.
“Take it easy on me, all right?” she called out with a good-nature smile as she settled back into a fighting stance. “It’s been about three months since I threw down.”
“That’s some kind of record for you, isn’t it?” Mac shot out from the deck where he stood next to me.
Her smile widened slightly, but she kept her eyes on Uncle Angus. “Yeah, it is.”
“Have ye been working out?” Uncle Angus asked, obviously getting winded from the match.
“Well, yeah, I gotta be prepared, you know?” she shot back.
He seemed a little surprised at her answer and lowered his hands slightly. “For what?”
“Just don’t hurt Angus,” Mac told her sternly in a tone that made me smile. When Uncle Angus laughed out loud, his voice took on a harder note. “Don’t hurt her either.”
Eliza ended up sparring with Glenn, Cara and Stephen while I stood there watching. I was surprised though when Mac came forward and she begged off, saying she was tired and needed a drink. She didn’t fool me, however, when Uncle Angus came forward, boasting how it was time for him to wipe the dirt with Mac’s carcass again like he used to do when they were “wee bairns” as he put it. I saw how she watched the two of them fight with an anxious look in her eyes that said she was barely holding herself from stopping the two brothers all together. Even by using only his brawl and wits Mac managed to hold his own during the match and walked away with a few minor bruises and cuts.
I was really looking forward to getting to know my uncle. In the short amount of time that I had been able to spend with him I’d already figured out that he was very funny, incredibly good natured and usually called everyone by a nickname rather than by their given one. Siofra was Sprite and he usually called Mac, Macalister, and Aunt Cara was Cara Mia. Lass or Lassie was what he usually called me and I loved it when he and Aunt Cara would come in from their house and he would call out warm greetings for everyone.
One morning, about midway through the week I got my chance for some one on one time when my Grandmother asked me to go into town to the grocery store for her.
“With all the extra people around, my pantry is nearly empty,” she said as she handed me the list. Just then, Uncle Angus came into the kitchen as well to refill his tea cup. He and Aunt Cara and Stephen, who was staying the week in Galway as well, had arrived about an hour ago and the whole family was sitting on the back deck and sipping the secret blend of tea that my Grandmother had been making for the last twenty years. She claimed it helped give you long life, but I didn’t know whether to believe her or not.
“Take Angus with you,” Grandmother said, taking his cup from his outstretched hand as he was reaching toward the kettle that she always kept full of the tea now that her sons had returned.
“Take me where, Ma?” he asked as she walked his cup to the sink and rinsed it out.
“I’ve asked CorrineMackenzie to run into town for me,” she informed him as she put the cup in the sink and turned to face us. “She’ll need help and since you’ve finished your tea-”
“Of course I’ll go with her,” he said as he dropped a quick peck on her cheek and straightened again to look at me. “Come on then, lass,” he said as he swept close to me and wrapped an arm around my waist so that he could grandly dance the both of us toward the front door. “An outing with yer uncle, can ye handle bein’ seen with the likes of me, lass?”
“Be careful, son,” Grandmother called out before I had a chance to respond. “Corrine isn’t used to wild drivers the likes of you. Don’t you be scarin’ the girl.”
“I won’t Ma,” he bellowed back as he looked at me and rolled his eyes, his grin widening.
In a matter of minutes we were in my grandparent’s car and on our way to town, my uncle humming along with the old Irish folksong that was playing on the radio. I looked at the opportunity as a way to pick his brain to see if I could get some answers.
“Do you know anything about this destiny that Mac has to fulfill?” I asked as I looked out the side window, trying to appear to be making conversation.
Uncle Angus shrugged, keeping his gaze on the road ahead. “I’ve heard what Glenn’s Ma said about him. Most people think he’s fulfilled that one, so I don’t know what they want with him now.”
I thought that I remembered something about Glenn’s mother being a mage, but the particulars slipped my mind for a moment. “Glenn’s mother?” I asked, looking over at him. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“They say she was a great seer, before the vampires killed her,” Uncle Angus replied solemnly as he turned onto the main road that led to town. “I never met her, but she knew Da long before any of us was born. Sent Da home to Ireland to find Ma. I’m surprised ye haven’t heard the tale.”
That’s where I had heard of her before. Abrianna Landry was the renowned seer of her generation, just as my friend Samantha was of ours. She had been killed by vampires many years ago and her murder was what had provoked Glenn to begin hunting them, long before he had met Mac or Eliza. I also remembered the story of how she had met my Grandfather in the south of France some years ago and she sent him back to Ireland so he could meet my Grandmother. It was a romantic love story that I’d heard almost every time I came to Ireland to visit.
I snapped my fingers, recognizing now who my uncle was talking about. “That’s right. I’d forgotten that she was Glenn’s mom. It’s too bad… you know… the way she died.” So she had seen something in Mac, huh? I wondered to myself.
Before I could ask what the seer’s vision had contained Uncle Angus muttered, “Bloody vampires. Always mucking up things that aren’t to their liking. Still, it was part of Mac’s destiny, I suppose, so we can’t be too hard on the fiends, seeing as how he was one. Glad I missed that bit of his life.” He glanced over at me as he drove. “None of us really know what destiny’s got in store for him now. The wolf’s not real talkative when it comes to spilling the beans on that subject.”
I studied him for a moment silently, and I suddenly realized how long he had been dead and what it must be like now for him to suddenly be thrust back into his life so abruptly. He was still the same person, but everyone else had moved on and had other experiences he hadn’t witnessed. They had created a new life that didn’t include him. “Do you remember anything from when you were gone?” I asked in a soft voice.
Dead silence permeated the inside of the car for a moment, and I wondered if I had asked the wrong thing. “Aye,” he replied after a minute.
“I’m sorry,” I said, gulping uncomfortably. “It’s just that I’ve never known anyone who was… you know… except for maybe my Avatar, but I guess that’s different. Sorry if I made you uncomfortable.”
He glanced at me again. “Tis all right, lass. Death comes to us all, it’s natural to be curious about it, but I’d hate to darken yer day with tales of the other side. Its happiness ye should be considering now with me and your Da back among the living.”
I smiled back at him, glad that he wasn’t offended by my questions. “What was Mac like as a kid?”
Uncle Angus shook his head in mock sadness. “Always getting in trouble, that one. Running after the lasses and so sure of his own worth that he was always forgetting what he was supposed to be doing.” He paused for a moment, and then grinned in my direction. “Or maybe that was me I’m thinking of.”
His features turned serious and I could see that the question was taking him back in time to when he and Mac were children. “Macalister was a serious lad, always concerned with the ‘right’ thing to be doing. Never had a lick of fun unless I dragged him into it, kicking and wailing like a babe, for all he was older than me. Trying to keep Sprite wrapped in that pretty bubble she was living in when I kept telling him she had to face the hard realities some time.”
I could tell from his half smile that this second story wasn’t exactly the truth, but it was a whole lot closer than the first one and in that instant I think I loved him the most for the way he told it. When he was teasing a little and telling the truth at the same time. I mourned for the time I hadn’t had Mac in my life when I was a child. It was unfair to both of us that I had to learn about him from my uncle, rather then experiencing it for myself.
“I wish I could have known him then,” I said, looking out the window. “I feel like a fool because I wasted the time that we had together before the demon. I figured we had all the time in the world and now it seems like I’ve been given a second chance.” I was taking a risk, being so honest with Uncle Angus, but it felt right as I looked over at him again. “I’m not sure how, though. He’s not the same person that I met, not really. He isn’t a vampire anymore.”
I could almost see the inner workings of Uncle Angus’ mind grinding away as he expertly pulled into the grocery store and parked the car. “Aye, he’s different than he was, but not as much as ye might be thinking,” he said as he turned off the car and turned to face me. “It’s not easy being a father, and he didn’t have much practice before ye showed up, none that he remembered at any rate. Vampires are cold-blooded creatures; I’m sure he wasn’t all warm and cozy, now was he? Didn’t exactly fit the picture in yer mind of yer Da?”
I turned to face my uncle as well and I could feel my features pull together slightly as I thought about how to respond. I had never thought about what I had ever expected out of Mac before. Part of me still felt a certain amount of loyalty to my parents, that no one could ever take their place in my life. Another part felt the familiarity I found in Mac and Eliza.
“Mac is nothing like my Dad. Er, I guess I should say that he wasn’t anything like my Dad. There was always something that he had to do…something that he needed to finish. I think he had a lot of responsibility in Salem with the vampires, but I’m not really sure. He tended to not say too much about it to me. I guess I was wrong for not speaking up and saying, ‘Hey, can you take just a minute so I can talk to you about this…or that…or whatever.’”
“It wasna yer Da’s choice to die that night in Baltimore, Corrine,” Uncle Angus said, using my name for the first time since we’d met. His face was set with the most solemn of expressions that made me understand clearly that he was being incredibly serious about what he was saying. “If he hadna fallen to the undead, he would have been there to bandage yer knees and yer heart when ye were a wee lass, ye keen that, don’t ye? Perhaps ye were too busy expecting Cormac to fail as a Da that ye didn’t give him a chance to compete with the man who raised ye. Or is that man so big in your heart that ye’ve no room for yer own flesh and blood?”
“No, that’s not it at all, Uncle,” I was quick to respond. “I’ll admit, I didn’t know what to think when I found out that my real father was a… vampire of all things. Not that it fundamentally changed the way I looked at him or anything; it just took some getting used to is all, like the fact that I have the ability to do some pretty cool stuff myself. I like to think that Mac would have been a good father if given the chance. Maybe he and Eliza will have the opportunity for that now that he’s mortal again…but that doesn’t change the fact that he wasn’t there. And Diana as my witness, I’m not holding that against him. He didn’t have a choice and I know that.”
I looked down at my hands, taking a moment to figure out how to word what I about to say. “I wasn’t expecting Mac to fail as a father since I didn’t know what to expect from him anyway. Does that make sense? I pretty much knew that I was adopted my whole life and I knew how blessed I was to have Mom and Dad as my parents. But they don’t know anything about what I am or that I come from an entire family of mages…and werewolves,” I added with a grin and Uncle Angus smiled as well. “I’d like to keep it that way until I have a choice to tell them in my own way. I guess the trouble that I’m having is keeping the balance.”
“So ye haven’t told them ye found yer Da’s family at all?” he asked astonished.
“No. I didn’t know how to explain to them that I had found my real father…and oh, by the way he’s a vampire. Much less the fact that before he became one he was a mage…from a family of Mages…and werewolves.” I wasn’t trying to be a smart ass. I just wanted to express that I didn’t know how to explain the whole story to my parents so it was best and easier to not say anything for now. But that was getting hard.
“Of course, he’s not a vampire anymore, so that’s no longer an issue. Are ye ashamed to tell them what ye are?”
It was my turn to shake my head. “Not at all. I just don’t know how to tell them. I also wondered if keeping it a secret wasn’t the best thing anyhow. Did you know that the Tremere sent someone to the farm to ask about Eliza? I don’t want them hurt, Uncle. And if I have to lie to them I will. I just don’t know…”
Uncle Angus seemed sympathetic as he reached out to take my hand. “There’s no need to tell them what ye are, lass. As to telling them about us, it’s not gonna change the way they feel about ye, is it? Or ye about them? Telling them the truth about us, all or half of it, isn’t going to put them in less or more danger.”
I thought about what he said for a minute and had to admit that it did make sense, but I still wasn’t totally convinced. “Do you really think so? I really hate not telling them. I mean, if you were me, would you just tell them that I found my family? What about the other stuff?”
He shrugged. “I suppose ye could tell them the family’s known for living long, drinking’ hard, and toastin’ the mornin’ sun with a bit of whisky, but it might put them off,” he joked with a grin. “Next to that, werewolves, dream walkers and half vampires don’t sound too bad, does it?”
I laughed out loud at that one. “No, not really,” I said, squeezing his hand. “Thank you for listening. Sorry to bog you down with all this.”
“Don’t be worryin’ about it, lass. Ye’re wee troubles are nothing compared to that monster of a shopping list yer grandma gave us,” he said in all seriousness as he looked down at the enormous list I held in my other hand. “Think we can handle it, or should we call in reinforcements?”
I tried to adopt his tone, but the grin on my face gave me away. “Oh, I think it will be a stretch, but we can manage.”
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