Last week we finished Lost Loves and now we begin the next chapter for Corrine. How does life go on after the death of her father? How will her magick grow? Will she ever find someone to share her life with?
Find out in…
Spring finally came to New England. Well, the first signs of spring anyhow. The days were getting warmer and the snow that had blanketed the city was making its last ditch attempt to hold on for another day. March had come in like and lion, but by the looks of things, it would become a lamb soon enough.
I had just taken my last final for the semester and was looking forward to some time off of classes so that I could visit Eliza for longer than a weekend like I had been. I noticed the answering machine flashing like crazy when I entered my apartment, signaling the fact that I had multiple messages. I put my knapsack down on the floor next to the table where the phone and answering machine were and pushed play.
Most of them were the normal fare, Samantha calling to see how my Psychology II final had gone. We had been up late the night before working on a spell that Rachel and Jared had given us to learn and I had arrived home just in time to take a shower and leave for my class in Boston.
The next message was from Jared, who wanted to remind me that he expected me to be looking at the book he had given me the last time I had seen him.
Then came the first of three messages from my grandparents in Ireland.
My Grandfather was first. “Corrine, honey. Give us a call when you get home. It’s important.”
Next, my Grandmother’s voice came over the speaker. “Corrine? Are you home? It’s Gran.” There was some kind of a scuffle in the background and she paused to scold whoever the offender was who dared interrupt her when she was making a call. “No, you’ll not out of the blue say hello. Honestly.” Then I heard her voice return to the receiver again. “Just call us when you get home, luv.”
Finally my Grandfather called again and I smiled as I imagined him standing in the kitchen, talking on the wall phone that looked like it had hung there for many, many years. “It’s just me again, Corrine. Don’t want to alarm you, but give us a call when you get this.”
I couldn’t hold back the grin as I picked up my phone and dialed the now familiar Irish phone number. As the call connected I shed my coat and scarf and shouldered my knapsack again to transport it to the chair at my desk so I could unpack the contents when I was finished with my call.
My Grandfather answered and his gusto nearly knocked my over despite the fact that we were thousands of miles apart. “Corrine, we’d like you to come over right away,” he blurted. “Bring enough of your things to stay a couple of days. I can open a gateway for you right now.” He wasn’t upset, in fact he sounded a great deal happier than I had heard him in a long while.
I tried to stifle my laughter since his obvious good mood was so contagious. “Grandfather, I don’t understand. What’s going on? Is everyone alright?” I wondered if Siofra were pregnant again or something. That would be good news for everyone and the Goddess knew we deserved something to celebrate.
“Everyone is fine, more than fine,” he assured me. I could hear the smile in his voice and other voices in the background. It sounded like there was a party going on. “Just come to stay with us for a few days,” he went on. “You’ll understand everything when you get here. How long before you’ll be ready?”
My other hand was buried in my hair in a baffled gesture because I was trying to figure out what the heck is going on. My Grandfather was acting really weird and not offering any explanation. “Um… give me twenty minutes I think and that should be enough time. Is Eliza there?” I asked in an afterthought as I pulled out a suitcase from the closet.
“Yes, she’s here,” he replied with a laugh. “Everyone’s here. I’ll open the gateway in twenty minutes then. Plan on staying through the weekend, all right?”
I laughed then at the absurdity of the situation. “All right,” I told him. “I’ll see you soon.”
“Wonderful, we’ll be ready for you.” He hung up then and I returned the cordless phone to its base and started to throw clothes in the bag. I don’t know how I managed, but I was able to pack, call Jared to tell him I was visiting my parents in Maine, and secure my apartment for the time I would be gone.
Right on time, a portal opened in the doorway to my bathroom. On the other side I could see my grandparent’s kitchen and the two of them standing in the center, looking very excited. I could also hear lots of voices coming from what sounded like the living room and I assumed that maybe Glenn and Siofra were here as well. In actuality, when the portal closed I saw that Eliza was standing by the table, with a large gray wolf that I didn’t recognize and Eddie sitting close to the doorway into the hall.
The wolf looked vaguely familiar to me, but there wasn’t a blazing cross on his chest, so I knew that it wasn’t my cousin, Stephen. There was something otherworldly about him, like he wasn’t really a wolf at all. He didn’t seem like a werewolf, he was almost more human in fact, or inhuman. It was hard to nail down with a glance. He stood and walked over to me as Eliza did the same and gave me a hug. She looked really happy, the happiest I had seen her in a long time. She was almost glowing.
I hugged her back as I looked at my grandparents. “Okay, why is everyone grinning like they know some big secret? What’s going on?”
Eliza glanced over her shoulder at my grandparents, and led me over to them where they stood by the table. The wolf sniffed at me as I walked by, and then turned to go to the living room where it sounded like a lively conversation was going on. Eddie followed him.
“Sit down, luv,” Eliza said as she pulled out a chair. “I have something to tell you that I know you’re going to have a hard time believing.”
“Hopefully she won’t faint,” Siofra interjected with a smile as she entered the room, and I watched, baffled as Eliza blushed at her comment. “How are you doing, Corrine?” Siofra asked as she came over and kissed my cheek.
“Fine. Thank you,” I replied with a smile as I put my hand on her shoulder companionably. “How about yourself?” She nodded as I sat in the chair Eliza had pulled out and I looked at all the beaming faces around me. “What is going on?” I asked, a laugh coming through my voice.
Everyone glanced in Eliza’s direction expectantly, but it looked like she didn’t know what to say. “Look, sometimes things just happen that we don’t have an explanation for,” she said finally. She was glowing in a way, but very serious as well. She reached out and took one of my hands in both of hers. “Things that at first just don’t seem possible, but for real now, they do happen. Do you understand what I’m saying?” She waited for some kind of acknowledgement or nod from me, but I didn’t know where she was going with all this.
“Not really,” I said slowly. “Why don’t you just tell me what’s happened?”
Eliza took a deep breath before she continued. “Siofra did something when she was younger that didn’t exactly work the way she wanted it to. When Mac… died,” her voice hesitated as she spoke, but the word doesn’t seem to affect her the way it had been in the past few months, “the spell was triggered. Mac and Angus, well, they came back.”
I looked up at the four of them in confusion and found that everyone was watching me closely, almost as if they expected me to faint or something. What I did notice was that the conversations that had been going on in the living room when I had first arrived seemed to have quieted.
“What do you mean they’re back?” I asked, my eyes narrowed suspiciously and I was sure I was looking at every one of them like they were losing their minds. I found it hard to believe that any of them, Eliza especially, would joke about something like this. I knew that we could do magick, but bringing someone back from the dead? Even that was stretching things.
“They’re back,” Eliza said softly, trying to convince me. “They’re here. I wouldn’t lie to you, Corrine, Mac is alive.”
I knew that Eliza would have never lied to me about something like this. Suddenly the male voices that were coming from the living room made an odd sense. Without a word to any of them, I stood and quickly turned to move toward the doorway to the living room.
And there he was, larger than life. I froze in place, my hand still half in Eliza’s as my eyes made contact with Mac from where he was standing in the doorway. The wolf was sitting at his feet. It was confusing to see him in the daylight since I had only known him in the shadows of night before this, but it was a good confusion.
A shorter man nudged Mac from behind until he pushed his way into the kitchen where he stood and crossed his arms over his chest. I recognized Uncle Angus from family pictures that Grandmother had shown to me during my stays with them, but to see him alive and grinning was like knowing him for the first time.
“Is this the wee one ye’ve been hiding all these years?” he asked with a grin and a thick Irish brogue. “She’s prettier than Stephen, isn’t she?”
“That she is,” Mac says softly, looking only at me for the moment. “Hello, Corrine.”
I took a hesitant step toward him. “Mac?” I croaked out.
I watched in bewilderment as he crossed the room until he stood in front of me and I lifted my hand to my mouth in shock. He reached out and put his hands on my upper arms. He seemed real enough, his hands felt cold at first through my shirt, but they warmed as we looked at each other. “You’re not going to faint, are you, luv?” he asked with a smile.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The hand at my mouth reached out to make contact with his shoulder as the other one went to first his chest, and then his cheek. “I don’t understand…,” I managed to choke out, tears of happiness beginning to form in my eyes.
Given the mind-boggling circumstances, I needed to be sure of what I was seeing. I reached out with Life and Spirit to see if I could recognize anything that would lead me to believe that it wasn’t Mac standing there. There was a cold resonance coming from him, almost as if it was a part of him now, but he wasn’t possessed in any way. As far as I could tell it was him.
Amazingly back from the dead.
The skin on his face was cool to the touch at first, but the longer I touched him the warmer he became. It was the first time in my life that I had ever felt him this way and it was amazing to me. He was breathing. I was torn between the desire to walk into his arms and to just look at him forever. I was afraid he would leave again.
He pulled me to him and hugged me close. “I’m not sure I do either, but right now it doesn’t matter. I’m here.”
I let myself go limp against him, my arms winding around his waist to hold on for dear life as I buried my face in his neck. He smelled like the soap my grandmother always kept in the bathroom upstairs and his cheek was slightly rough from his growth of beard, something else I had never experienced with him.
I just let him hold me for as long as possible as my tears poured from my eyes. I allowed myself to forget the horror that the past few months had been and to let him be the strong one for a minute.
It was the first time that I felt like his little girl.
No one else in the room existed in those minutes while Mac held me and my tears subsided, as he whispered that everything was all right and that he was sorry.
Finally I pulled away from him, wiping my eyes and laughing a little between sniffles. “I’m sorry to be such a big baby…,” I told him.
Mac helped me wipe my eyes with a wide grin that lit up his face. “At least you didn’t faint.” He turned then to look at Uncle Angus and said, “Corrine, this sorry excuse of a werewolf is your Uncle Angus.”
My uncle sauntered over then to pull me into a large hug. “Hello, CorrineMackenzie.”
“Uncle Angus,” I said with a smile as I leaned back in his strong arms. “I’m so glad to meet you.” He was a good head shorter than Mac, but what he lacked in height he made up for in strength by the look of him. His shoulders were broad and muscular under my hands and his eyes were blue and twinkled with a mischief that I knew he had been famous for before his death. His smile was wide and infectious and just being close to him pushed the last of my somber mood away.
I looked around. “Is Stephen here? Aunt Cara?”
In fact, everyone had come home to welcome back the pair of brothers and we were all standing in the spacious kitchen, exchanging hugs and well wishes, everyone happy to see the brothers alive and well once again. My Aunt Cara was glowing like Eliza was as she moved to stand next to her husband and put a protective arm around his waist.
“Everyone’s here,” my grandfather said proudly as he looked at both of his sons and the family that had gathered together. A blur of conversation began as nearly everyone started to talk at once and I sat back to watch them, a content smile on my lips. I watched as Glenn came over to Siofra with Ian in his arms and kissed her cheek. My Grandmother was putting on a full kettle for tea and checking the roast that she had been preparing all day for us. Mac and Uncle Angus seemed to be regarding the family closely as well. I watched as they shared private glances with one another over one joke or another from childhood stories and it was obvious that they were content to be for the moment.
For the most part that first night I spent time with my Grandfather and Stephen, since I rarely saw him. I knew that Mac and Eliza needed to be together and that I would have a chance to talk with him when the time was right. We all sat down at my Grandmother’s large table to eat and I made sure that I was next to Grandfather so I could ask him how all this had come about.
He shot a half reproachful, half grateful look at Siofra. “It seems someone was determined not to loose her brothers,” he answered and my aunt dropped her head a little and smiled covertly. “The spell was a little too advanced for her at the time, but I find I can’t reprimand her for trying it, not when I’ve got my boys back.” He beamed down the table at the two of them. “They showed up at the house here yesterday morning, a bit cold, but none the worse for their trials, for the most part.”
It didn’t surprise me that Siofra would have been rebellious enough to attempt magick that others said was beyond her. She was a strong woman, as I was beginning to understand. Silently I thanked her for her work as well. Being the one responsible for bringing Mac back to Eliza helped her to again more points in my eyes. I was glad that we were becoming better acquainted.
The strange wolf stayed close to Mac during the evening as well. I asked Grandfather about the animal and Mac overheard me and answered himself. “He’s here to guide me to my destiny, or some such,” he said dryly as he looked down at the wolf. “Say hello to my daughter, Gwrhyr.”
The wolf, who had seemed to eye me since I had arrived, came over to me and raised a paw. “Greetings, Corrine Mackenzie,” I heard in my head. “I have heard tell of you.”
To say that I was a little freaked out by the strange voice in my head would be a small admission, but not totally something out of the blue. I slid out of my chair so that I knelt respectfully eye level with him and held out my hand to take his paw. “It is my pleasure to meet you, Gwrhyr. I’m sure that whatever Mac has told you about me is slightly biased given that he is my father,” I said out loud as I looked across the table to where Mac sat and he winked at me. “I look forward to not only getting to know you, but spending more time with him as well. Did you help bring him and Uncle Angus back to us?”
“It was not my privilege to do so,” the wolf replied in my mind. “I have seen your life path written in the cliffs of the deep umbra.” He tilted his head a little to eye me knowingly. “You have much to seek, and you will be sought much.”
I felt my brow wrinkle slightly as I looked at him questioningly. “My life path? What do you mean I have much to seek?”
I heard Eliza lean close to Mac and say, “I take it she can hear it too?” Mac glanced over at her and smiled.
“It is not my function to guide you on your path,” the wolf said in answer to my question. “Your Avatar is strong, and will guide you true.” He turned his eyes toward Mac. “My purpose is to steer this one to his destiny. The spirits have seen that he needs aid if he is to fulfill his duty.”
I changed tactics and asked my next question silently, “What is his duty? Can I be of some help to him?”
“His duty is his own, but aid you may be, in time, when the Cliffs of Garelan run red, when the seeker is found, when the seed has been sown.” With that said he dropped his paw from my hand and went off to sit next to Mac again, doing his best to look like a normal wolf, but not quite making it. Eddie was following the wolf like a shadow and lay down next to Gwrhyr on his back, wanting to play. The wolf started to rough house with him gently until the puppy yipped in delight.
I made a mental note to jot down all that he had told me in my journal when I had the chance as I slid back into my chair. Gwrhyr had tweaked my curiosity about what he was, so I felt out to him with Spirit in the hopes that I might sense something. I didn’t get much. After about three minutes of feeling around him, all I could put together was that he felt like an Avatar of sorts, but not quite. Actually, he felt like this cat that I knew of that belonged to some mages in Salem, whatever that meant.
Dinner was winding down and talk quickly turned to going to the pub in town for drinks. I agreed to go as well, but I needed time to clear my head in order to process all that I had learned in the past few hours before heading out. I decided to take Eddie with me and as I hooked his leash on, Eliza warned me to not be gone long since they would be leaving in a few hours. She and Stephen asked if I wanted company, but I told them both no. I needed to be alone.
Some invisible force pulled me toward the cemetery. For some morbid reason I just had to see the place where Mac had lain up until the day before. I closed the gate of the white fence that surrounded the family graveyard and in the semidarkness I could just make out the disturbance in the snow. Fresh dirt was mixed with the white powder and the setting made me feel eerie. It was obvious that Mac had to dig himself out of the earth and my heart lurched with the knowledge.
I had visited Mac’s grave many times after his death, but this was the first time I was almost scared to be there. My eyes moved over toward Uncle Angus’ grave and I saw that the disturbance there was larger than Mac’s, leading me to believe that he had to have been in Crinos when he clawed his way out. Bare, male footprints led from Uncle Angus’ grave to Mac’s as if they stood and talked for a time before moving off toward the house.
I turned back as well. Seeing the graves had left me feeling a little creeped out and the knowledge that Mac and Uncle Angus had to fight their way out of them didn’t sit well, either. What was important was that they were back and with us, their family. The nightmare was over.