Every Monday and Thursday brings two more free chapters of my exciting historical paranormal romance novel, Return to Rhonan (that’s four chapters each week). Set mainly in the Scottish Highlands, the reader will find much to enjoy on this mysterious well researched journey.
Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:
Return to Rhonan: Chapters 29 & 30
Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved
Jessie jumped on, hearing the deep tones of a male voice. ‘That is miraculous – dramatic.’
Her heart beating a tattoo, she swept round to see an incredibly handsome man in his early twenties. His skin had a golden sheen, hazel eyes sparkling, hair glittering blonde streaks in chestnut waves falling to his shoulders. The clothes were immaculate if a little odd, pantaloons and a white frilled shirt with silk cravat, from which sparkled a diamond stickpin the size of a hazelnut. Astonished, she felt a rush of heat through her body, a yearning to peel off her clothes and appear naked before him. Her thoughts reeled as she fought for control. She knew some women couldn’t resist good-looking men, but this was ridiculous.
His eyes shone knowingly. ‘Tis beautiful, you are Jessie.’ Without the slightest hesitation, he strode towards her, opening his arms. She tried to tell herself this was a dream, a nightmare but felt his lips close on hers. Frightened, she found herself responding while trying to fight her desire. Their mouths touched, tongues tasted. Fevered hands stroked. Massaging her back, he pulled at her jeans, nudging her to the floor. Groaning – lost, she felt him pull away, as Dinah shouted in the distance. Astonished Jessie watched, as he vanished in a column of rippling air, gasped as a rush of wind swirled around her. Tears streaming, she pulled the tank top down, struggling to zip up her jeans.
Stumbling to the door, she looked down the path to see Dinah walking briskly towards her with George in tow. Strolling arm in arm behind them were Lucy and Nat. She tried to compose herself, giving a rictus smile.
As Di walked through the door, she glimpsed Jessie’s face. Turning quickly, she shouted out to the others, ‘Hey, give us a few minutes. Jessie’s caught up here.’ Putting her hands on Jess’s shoulders, she said, ‘Hey – you look like hell.’
‘I feel I’ve just been there. You won’t believe this, but a ghost tried to seduce me. That’s not the worst, I wanted it.’ Tears tumbled down her cheeks, ‘I lost control, this guy just stood there, and I was ready to … I didn’t even know his name, and I wanted him to ….’
‘God. Oh my God, Jess.’
‘You stopped it by shouting out to me.’
‘What – how?’
‘He heard your voice and then vanished. The air rippled; I heard it whoosh around me. Di it was a ghost – couldn’t have been human.’
‘Incubus. Oh God, it was an incubus. Did it…?’
Look, d’you want me to get rid of the others?’
‘No – no, I think they should know Di. It might be you or Lucy next time.’
Going to the door, Dinah talked in hushed tones. Silently, their faces tense, the friends trouped in. Lucy came straight over, holding her gently. ‘I’m sorry, Jess – this is horrific.’
George gave a troubled glance. ‘What the hell happened, Jess?’
Di opened a bottle of wine, pouring a generous measure into a glass for Jess. Handing it to her, she said, ‘Wish we had some brandy. This can’t be happening – it’s too much.’
George came over hesitantly and knelt before Jess, taking her hand. ‘Can you talk about it?’
Jess nodded and taking a gulp of wine, ‘It’s a living nightmare. First, Murial just appeared in my room. And now this, I’m surrounded by ghosts – it’s terrifying. – unreal. Murial was actually sitting at the desk. Flesh and blood. I just ran – that’s why I’m here.’
Di looked at them ‘This is far worse. They’re not going to let Jessie alone. But I don’t think the incubus is anything to do with Murial – it‘s too evil.’
Nathan cleared his throat. ‘The priest warned us about this. He said there was a darker force at work – that Murial was shielding us from it.’
Jess looked up. ‘Darker force?’
Nat shook his head, sighing. ‘We should have told you Jess, but we didn’t want to start a panic – we thought Father O’Reilly had cleared everything. But, he did warn that maybe he wasn’t strong enough – maybe we needed a Jesuit.’
Dinah scowled, ‘We should have known. Jess could have been seduced or murdered here tonight by a bloody demon.’
George muttered, ‘We’ve got to do something about this and quickly.’
‘What?’ Dinah got up and put her arms around Jessie. ‘What the hell can we do?’
Nat said hesitantly. ‘We’ve gotta tell Douglas.’
Jess lifted her head sharply. ‘No – no way. He’s a Neanderthal when it comes to anything psychic. I just couldn’t cope with that.”
‘Look, I know about the row. He’s hurt you.’
‘Bloody right, he has.’
‘Jess, he’s got a short fuse.’
‘That’s no excuse.’
‘He’s got a lot of things on his mind – a lot to lose. When he’s crossed, he’s got a tongue like a rusted razor. Look, did you know about the inheritance?’
Jessie’s eyebrows knitted together. “What? He did say something about an inheritance – but it was all so sudden – I just couldn’t take it in.’
Nat lowered his head as he said, ‘You all might as well know. We could be in deep shit soon.’
Turning to the friends, he said, ‘I know it’s no excuse for Doug’ acting like he did, but he’s pushed to the wall at the moment. Seeing as you all seem to be involved, I’d better explain.’
Taking a gulp of his wine, Nat leaned against the table. ‘Two years ago, my brother inherited this place. We thought it was great; we were bloody millionaires, a Manor, a ruined castle, and seven million pounds. Then the Solicitor told us Douglas wasn’t a direct descendent. He’s descended from Duncan’s younger brother Guy. There’s a codicil to the will, it’s due to run out at the end of this month believe it or not. Anyway, the Codicil says that if a direct descendent is found, then the whole estate reverts to them. Doesn’t matter what we’ve done to improve it. They take the whole lot and money.’
Jess tapped her foot, her mind seething. ‘So he thinks I want the estate?’
‘Yeah. Look, there’ve been so many fraudsters creeping out the woodwork, claiming this and that. We’ve been presented with wills on parchment made to look antique, or portraits they’ve sworn they’ve found in the attic when the truth is, they were painted the week before. Then there’re claims of old love letters, lockets.’
Dinah said sharply, ‘Lockets?’
‘Yeah, stuff people have bought from antique shops or found in a car boot sales, and then putting in a sketch or claiming it to be that of Duncan or Murial. Easily done, the two portraits are there on show in the gallery, and there’re copies of them dotted around. People even come with scraps of paper in old dolls.’
‘But surely the lawyers can trace the family back?’
‘Yeah, but these claim they were the love child of this or that person, so there’s no physical trace. Others know Duncan either drowned or disappeared, so they make up stories about the suicide. Slimy bastards. He’ll agree to an exorcism now, so far, he’s refused the Jesuit priest coming here, but he doesn’t have a choice. One thing I do know Jess – Doug’s crazy about you.’
‘I wouldn’t have thought so after the way he talked to me.’ He’s breaking apart Jess. The guy’s in love with you.’
Jess felt hope like iced water freezing the pain. He was in love with her? Then why be so bloody ferocious, but she could see the reasoning behind his flare-up. Did he honestly think she wanted the hotel that she would resort to fraud? But then, he hardly knew her. Even so, she’d felt that he really cared for her that it wasn’t just lust. After all, they’d talked long into the night. Did he really love her, or had he listened to his glands? ‘So what am I supposed to do, forgive him, kiss him for putting my heart through a meat mincer?’
Nat went to her, putting his hand on her shoulder. ’Just give him a chance. He’s got to deal with this now.’
‘How can I? I feel like a piece of shit that he’s just stepped in. But, thanks for telling me; it makes it a bit clearer. Not that I−’
Nat could sense she was hesitating. Douglas was in with a chance. Better to cut it short before she changed her mind. ‘Okay, leave it at that – just think about it.’
Jess resigned herself to the moment. ‘I could do with another drink. D’you want one?’ She wanted oblivion, to exorcise both the horror of the demon and the heartbreak of Douglas from her mind.
As she went towards the drinks, Dinah called out, ‘I’ll do that Jess, you just sit and relax.
Nat said, ‘I think I ought to go tell Douglas about this.’
Seeing his lips set in a grim line, Dinah said, ‘I don’t know that Jess will take him back. I’m sorry I know he’s under pressure, but he was a bastard.’
Nat grimaced. ‘There’s more to it than you know Di. It’s not just the hotel there are other things involved, I just can’t tell you what they are. It’s personal.’
George sensing the strain Jess was under, tried to divert her attention. Walking over to the piles of mixed oils on the palette board said, ‘Never thought you’d mix so many colors, I mean for the green you’ve mixed yellow, blue, purple, brown. Hmm. Intricate.’
Realizing that George was trying to help, Jess answered, ‘For green, you get a multitude of shades from mixing the blue and the yellow. Grass or trees have so many facets of color, especially if it’s been raining; the sheen of water on leaves, for instance, picks up miniature rainbows.’
Dinah was happy to lighten the situation. Sipping her drink, she said, ‘Is the painting psychic art or normal?’
‘Normal. It’s a landscape of the lake and the island with the mausoleum.’
‘Come on, let’s have a look.’
Jess shook her head. ‘It’s only in the first stages. You won’t see much honestly.’
Seeing Jess’s face lift a little, George said, ‘Come on, then we’ll christen it with a toast.’
Raising her shoulders in resignation, Jess turned the canvas towards them, only to feel horror like liquid lava plow through her body… ‘Oh my God – What’s? What’s happened? I didn’t paint that – I didn’t paint her.’
The others surged forward. Dinah put her hand on Jess’s shoulder. ‘Christ – it’s Murial.’
Jess took a tight breath as she looked at the canvas; Murial faced them standing in the interior of the mausoleum. The painted moon cast deep blue and purple shadows through the leaded light windows. Jessie’s heart beat rapidly as she peered at another figure half-submerged in darkness by the corner of the open tomb. Jessie murmured, ‘It’s inside the Mausoleum. The island, the lake has gone. I didn’t paint this – I really didn’t paint it.’
Gazing at the figure, Lucy whispered, ‘Whoever is doing the haunting is not letting up.’
Dinah shivered, looking around her. ‘It must be Murial. She really means to get through to you, Jess. Is she here d’you think?’
Jess felt the goosebumps rise on her arms. ‘I can deal with Murial, as long as I don’t see her that is – it’s just the other – the demon.’ Having said the word, splinters of fear stabbed her spine.’
Nat muttered, ‘We’ll get the exorcist in for that.’
Going nearer, Jessie examined the shadowy figure in the shadow of the tomb. ‘I can hardly see it; it’s too deep in the shadows. It could be a man, I think.’ Stepping nearer, her heart almost leaped out of her chest as she made out the golden streaked hair, the cravat, and knee-high boots. ‘It’s him – it’s him. The thing that attacked me. How could this happen?’
Lucy shivered, rubbing her arms. ‘This is spooky.’
Dinah rushed forward, ‘Christ. You sure?’
‘Yes, it’s the same hair, clothes. I did not paint this, I really didn’t.’
Nat growled. “God – this is weird stuff.’
Dinah went nearer the painting. ‘Jessie, there’s some red hairs stuck on the canvas. I can see them glinting.’
Jess frowned. ‘The paint’s wet.’
Biting the tip of her tongue, Dinah carefully lifted a few long red hairs from the canvas. ‘See?’
Nat’s eyes glinted. ‘You sure you’re not mucking around with us, Jess. That’s your hair.’
Jess whirled around on him. ‘Now you sound like your brother. Why would I do that?’
Dinah said, ‘It’s an apport – that’s what it is.’
George echoed her, ‘An apport? Never heard of it.’
‘Sometimes a spirit will leave something, often as a gift or a thank you or as a reminder. It just manifests out of the air.’
Lucy said, ‘I’ve heard of that, but I thought it only happened in a séance.’
Dinah replied, ‘Oh no, there’s been thousands of apports over the centuries, in all sorts of situations. Anything from jewels to stones, to clothes – books.’ She held the strands up to the light. ‘It’s definitely hair.’
Nat said, ‘Do they have any roots?’
Lucy croaked. ‘Don’t – that’s awful.’
‘Well, we could maybe get some DNA.’
Jess said, ‘That’s a thought.’
Dinah examined the strands. ‘Yeah, they’re some roots – Christ – a living ghost?”
Lucy murmured, ‘I don’t know how you can handle that, Dinah, I just couldn’t.’
Jess peered at the painting. ‘There’s an inscription on the bottom of the tomb. I can’t quite read it. See?’ She pointed to the bottom right-hand corner of the empty tomb.
Dinah knelt to get a better look. ‘I can see it, Jess, but I can’t make it out.’
Jess bit her lip. ‘I shall have to get a magnifying glass – there’s not one here.’ Turning to Nat, she said abruptly, ‘You say the priest did the exorcism? Did any of you see anything?’
Nat shook his head, ‘I wasn’t there; it was Douglas and the priest.’
‘So, did they see anything?’
‘No, not really, but they did find an old writing desk up in the attic. It was covered in maggots. They were alive squirming; the stench was awful.’
Jess shivered, thinking of the writing desk in her room. Surely, it couldn’t be the same one? Douglas had been uncomfortable with it when she first saw it. So, he knew the place was haunted. Why hadn’t he warned her?
‘Is it a malign spirit?’
Nat shook his head, ruffling the brown lock on his forehead. ‘Well, as I said, O’Reilly was adamant Murial was haunting the Manor, but she was protecting us from a dark spirit infesting the place, a demon.”
‘Some ghosts can be murderous.’ Dinah said, ‘They can physically hurt someone, then there’s the mystery of Duncan.’
Lucy murmured, ‘Maybe he didn‘t drown.’
Nat shook his head. ‘No-one’s sure if it was suicide or something else. Our solicitor says he might have gone after Murial – who knows?’
Raking fingers slightly trembling through his hair, George muttered, ‘Welcome to the house of death.’
Dinah gave a short sharp laugh. ‘Come on, let’s be practical about this?’
Hunching up slim shoulders, Lucy interjected, ‘Practical? What’s practical about a bloody ghost?’
George raised bushy eyebrows. It wasn’t like Lucy to swear. She was obviously frightened out of her wits.
Dinah tried to smile reassuringly, rubbing Lucy’s arm. ‘Nat we need that Jesuit exorcist quickly – like tomorrow. How soon can you get hold of him?
‘It’ll take time, you know. The church officials will have to arrange meetings about it. The Archbishop will have to agree it. Then they’ve got to get the right priest.’
‘We haven’t got time. I think while we’re waiting, we should hold a séance. After all, we have the apport. That may attract Murial – maybe she’ll give us a message or tell us what she wants’.
Lucy walked over to George to clutch at his arm. “Now you really are frightening me. No way – there’s no way I’m going to any séance. I’d die – die of fright.”
Nat, ignoring Lucy, said, ‘If we did a séance, we’d need a medium.”
Dinah said, ‘Jess is a medium.’
Jess retorted swiftly, ‘I’m not – for want of repetition. I just draw them – a psychic artist is quite different from a medium. I don’t go into a trance, or have spirits manifesting through me. Neither do they talk through my mouth. ‘
‘You do go into trance Jess or at least a different state of consciousness to draw or paint them. What about the hypnotic trance, meditation?’
Jessie spluttered her face whitening. ‘Yes, but like Lucy, I’m petrified of them. I’d pass out if I saw a ghost.’
‘Come on, Jess, you know your guide will protect you. Red Cloud isn’t going to let one manifest unless you give permission.’
‘Guide?’ Idly patting Lucy’s arm, George said, ’So what’s that?’
Pouring another glass of wine and handing it to Jess, Dinah said, ‘Spirit guides choose their mediums or channels. They also guard the portal to the spirit world so that no malign spirits can slip through.’’
Jess nodded, ‘Although, sometimes an evil spirit does enter the earth plane.’
‘Yes, but it’s very rare, Jess.’ said Dinah. ‘Red Cloud is a high-level guide.’
‘Red Cloud?’ George raised his eyebrows.
‘Red Cloud was the guide of the Welsh medium Estelle Roberts. It was through her that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made his first contact with his son. He’s also Jess’s guide.
Jess said softly, ‘Maybe we could just sit as a circle? I mean no deep trances or that sort of thing.’
George beamed, ‘Great idea – great. What about now?’
Shaking her head, Jess said, ‘No. I’ve had enough to contend with tonight. Anyway, I’d need to get the room ready, and besides, it’s late.’
Looking over to Nat, she said, ’I‘ve only got a small table in the suite. Is it possible for you to get us a bigger one for five?’
George looked at Lucy. ‘You in?’
Lucy shook her head. ’I couldn’t really.’
‘Aw, come on, Sis. We’re just gonna sit in a circle, no trances, okay?’
George beamed when Lucy nodded. ‘So that‘s set then?’
Looking at the portrait, at Murial’s soulful face, the shimmering strands of hair, Lucy shivered.
Jess bowed her head, ‘Look – I need time. It’s all been too much. Can we just leave it for the time being.’
Nat frowned. ‘It’s not going away Jess – sooner we get this sorted the better.’
Dinah putting her arm around Jess said, ‘I think Jess needs some space, how about a week from now?
No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved
Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here: