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 39 & 40
Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved
As they gathered round Jessie picked out the tome for 1810. Carrying it to a small oaken table, she opened the mouldering cover to find the pages dampened and mottled with age. In some places, the ink had run obliterating whole sections of entries. ‘They don’t record the births – only the baptisms, confirmations, marriages and deaths. There’re sections for each.’
Lucy murmured, ‘We’ll be lucky to find anything.’
Jessie hunched over peering at the bedraggled words. ‘Nothing – hum – where do we go from here?’ Putting the flock-marked book back into the chest, she glimpsed a slight movement in the shadows by an old bookcase, the leaded light doors hanging half-open. Frowning she moved towards it, a gust of wind lifting her hair. She looked swiftly to the window to find it firmly closed. Whispering she said, ‘Something’s here – can you feel it?’
Lucy moved to her side. ‘Yes, there’s a strong presence in the room.’
A picture of Murial flashed into Jessie’s mind, her eyes imploring, the red hair glistening as she clutched the baby bundled to her chest. She did not flinch as it turned to her, the tiny skull gleaming in the shaft of light as the minute mouth opened and shut on air.
She felt tears of pity rise in her eyes as she went deeper into the image, deeper into the sorrow of a grieving young mother. She could almost hear Murial talking, as her breathing slowed, could almost hear Murial’s words. She felt a light touch on her arm pulling her back to reality. She bit her lip; the dead girl was so clear she could draw each lash of her eyes, each tiny line of despair. She turned to see Douglas looking at her his eyes creased with concern. ‘You okay sweetheart?’
She shook her head swallowing down the sadness. ‘No – not really – I can see Murial in my mind, I can almost touch her.’
Lucy muttered, ‘Strange – there’s no aroma of seaweed now – but you know I can feel her here.’
Dinah moved closer to George, her skin crawling. ‘Have you got your pastels with you Jessie?’
‘No – I did not think to bring them – didn’t realise she would be here. Anyway after what Father O’Reilly said.’
‘Oh don’t take any notice of him – superstitious old goat. You’ve helped so many with their grieving Jess. Just don’t give him any importance.’
‘Well he did get us out of trouble last night.’
‘I know but it doesn’t mean to say that his is the only faith. Murial is trying to reach you or Douglas.’
Lucy whispered, ‘She’s here – it is so strong. It’s almost like she’s with us all the time. ‘Knows what we’re doing. She’s trying to tell us something. There’s something in this room she wants us to find – I’m sure of it.’
Dinah said, “What about automatic writing? Why not try it.”
Douglas frowned. “What’s that?”
‘It’s spirit writing – can be correct – quite uncanny.’
Jessie glanced at Douglas. She could see fear – puzzlement. “Is that going to put Jess in any danger?”
Nathan shrugged ‘Nah. It’s not like a séance. Has anyone got any paper?’
Douglas crossed over to a drawer half open. ‘Plenty of it here. I’ve got a pen.’ He turned to Jessie looking deep into her eyes. ‘Be careful Jessie – you never know.’
Nat grinned, ‘Listen to the cynic talking. Go on Jessie give it a try. Come over here by the desk.’
Aware of the group behind her, Jessie sat with pen poised over the paper, trying to blank any thought. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. The others remained silent as she managed to still her mind, drawing a black curtain across all thoughts or images, deepening her breath so that it was scarcely four a minute. She felt her eyes glaze, the paper blur as the pen began to write. She knew she was holding the pen, first she heard a moaning, a voice seeming to cry through wind and hail. The words appeared, but they were not her own. Help me – Duncan – Duncan help us – help us.
Jessie was unaware of the others moving quietly closer, straining to see the words. Duncan has gone. I am alone with Max – he is a demon. Oh God, so much blood – Duncan will kill him – I know he will come. Can’t find her – can’t find my beloved child – my baby – coffin – waves – sea – baby – so much blood- it’s dark – dark – so much blood, I can smell it all over me over my baby. Duncan where are you my love – where are you?”
Murial was hurting so much, so alone. Jessie felt the tears hurt her eyes as the pen raced across the page. She licked a salty tear on her lip as she carried on, then felt a tissue put into her hand. Wiping the tears, she gave a shuddering breath as she began to scribble faster now, her pen skimming over the pages. Jessie was completely unaware of the others, of the room. She was with Murial; dark waters bubbled over her head as Murial floated towards her, her hair steaming like red reeds, her full skirt billowing. The demon is near. He’s near – wants you Jessie- death – death hides….
The pen stopped; she felt the hush in the room, the group perfectly still. Jessie felt herself go deeper, the pen digging into the paper. “Death hides in the corners – watch the shadows Jessie – do not be alone. Max – demon – trying to find Duncan – how long must I wait? Blood is bright red over me, over the walls. Find Duncan.
Jessie stopped abruptly, waiting – knowing there was more. “The bookcase – search – search for the truth. God – if only – if only.” Jessie stopped abruptly, the pen falling on the page as she shook her head, clearing away the trance – a mishmash of words and messages. But, that was the way of automatic writing. Sometimes it turned out to be a jumble, and at other times, it could be as exact as a Mozart Sonata.
She rose from the chair to face them, her face pale. “The records are in the bookcase. I don’t know what they are, but I’m sure something is there.” Her head was clearing as she walked towards the bookcase, fitting snug against the white bricked wall. Opening the glass doors she peered inside, her eyes searching the shelves. ‘There’s nothing here. Wait a moment; I’ll move some of these books.’
The dust rose from the blackened warped shelves as she moved the books. On placing some to one side, a sharp piece of wood almost cut her fingers. Wincing she drew it back to peer in. On seeing a dark space behind a splintered plank Jessie felt an adrenaline rush through her turning to Douglas, she said, ‘Could you pull this out – I think there’s something behind it.’
He reached over and tugged at the wood, breaking it free to reveal the dark aperture. Reaching in, he pulled out a rectangular wooden box.
As Douglas carried it to the table, Lucy whispered, ‘Look – the carving of a mermaid.’
He swore softly, ’Dammit – it’s locked.’ Reaching into his pocket, he produced a thin strip of wire. They watched, with bated breath, as he pushed it into the lock, twisting it and fro. ‘Got it.’ Lifting the lid, they saw a scroll of parchment wrapped in a scarlet ribbon with a neat bow. Untying the silk crimson ribbon, carefully unrolling it, his eyes widened. ‘It’s a marriage certificate. They moved closer peering over his shoulder, as he muttered, ‘Oh my God, Murial and Duncan married. Look – witnesses, Lady Margaret Mavebury of Rhonan, Sir Guy Mavebury of Rhonan and here Robbie McGregor.’
Jessie moved forward to look at it. ‘So it’s true, the dreams – the automatic writing.’
Douglas nodded. ‘It’s bloody tragic – that writing got to me.’
Jessie felt her heart drain, so the dreams were true, she remembered Murial’s eyes shining as Duncan gave her the locket – felt the foreboding as she spoke of death. So they must have married as Duncan swore they would.
Douglas took her hand as he blurted out. ‘Jessie, I’ve been a blind fool. I can’t argue with the reality of all this. It might be messages from the dead, but it’s all so damn real. We’ve just got to help Murial. But how?’
Lucy stepped forward. ‘We’ll find a way. I’m not going to let my fear overcome me again.’ She turned to Jessie ‘With the six of us together we’ve got enough psychic power to help Murial.’
George spluttered. ‘I’d like to help out here but I’m no psychic.’
Jessie murmured ‘Maybe not George but we can tap into your energy to give us more strength, same goes for Dinah, Nathan and Douglas. We need raw physical energy as well as spiritual strength and belief. ’
Douglas hugged her. ‘So let’s do it.’
George beamed. ‘Now you’re talking. You can’t deny the mysticism here. It seems spirit’s working overtime to make contact, and we can’t deny it any longer.’ Douglas nodded. ‘But first, the pub I need a drink.’ Taking Jessie’s arm, he led them from the small room whose secrets would change their lives.
The pub boasted sprawling lawns leading down to the loch. Jessie felt herself relax, as the sun warm on her back eased the tension of clenched muscles. The trestle table with attached wooden benches was just big enough to seat them all. The cool drink of lager and lime washed away the mustiness and dust of the dank room. Maybe now they could find some answers. Her fingers touched the locket hidden beneath her tank top. Why did she hide it? Even if it wasn’t anything to do with Murial, at least it was her right to wear it. It was her family heirloom. The row between her and Douglas had been so bitter. Now she was wary of him; knew he was trying to make his way back to her, but she could not allow him to hurt her again. At least, they were easier with each other now – friends. That was the way it would stay.
She watched the dogs gambolling down to the water’s edge, Daisy splashing in dipping her head right under the water whilst Victor stood at the edge. She smiled at Douglas, “So he doesn’t like the water? Look at Daisy, she’s got her head underwater. She just loves it and mud, the blacker the better. If she finds any she’ll roll in it.”
Douglas relaxed that the loch was far enough away, grinned. ‘Victor likes fresh water that is, but that’s a salt water loch.”
‘Really? I thought the hounds loved to splash around in any water.’
‘Not the Viszlas. His ancestors hunted on the Steppes of Russia, dogs of the Russian aristocracy. The tragedy was after the last world war the communists razed the mansions of the aristocracy to the ground, shooting the dogs. Some were rescued by the underground and taken secretly through to Germany and France.’
‘He’s certainly got a noble head, a true aristocrat. Look at Daisy; she’s like a shambling polar bear.’
Dinah clipped in. ‘She’s gorgeous Jess. Look at those curls and waves, huge black eyes. You know she poses.’ They laughed as Daisy raised her head from the water shaking the water over Victor, who decided she was rather lush and proceeded to nip her ears – doggy courtship.
George took a long drink of his beer and then turned to Jessie. ‘So, where do we begin?”
Jessie looked down at the automatic writing. ‘It’s so jumbled; I don’t really know where to start.’
Douglas said, ‘You told me some of your dreams you’ve been having Jessie. Could you tell the rest of us about them maybe there’re some clues there.’
Jessie nodded. ‘They were more than dreams. I honestly believe the dreams were messages from Murial. She was talking me into her life, her memories. In one of them, Murial and Duncan were discussing how they were going to help the tenants – people were beginning to die from starvation. In another dream, they were definitely going to marry. Then, there was Max the younger brother who had his eye on Murial. Duncan called him a rakehell something to do with the Hell Fire Club. Thinking about it, Duncan had a quick temper, quite ferocious. He said he would kill him if he touched Murial. Seems the temper runs in the genes.’ She stopped to look at Douglas his temper was similar.
Douglas caught the look and bristled. “So you’re saying we’re alike?’
‘Yes quite honestly, it’s not only the temperament. You both have the same features, colour of hair. It might as well be you Douglas; it was uncanny.’
Lucy interrupted, “And you are the spitting image of Murial and she was feisty. Maybe you’ve both reincarnated?’
‘It’s quite spooky.’ She caught Douglas’s gaze as she said, ‘Who knows? Anyway, Duncan ensured that Max would be given a commission in the Infantry. They planned that whilst Duncan went to help the slaves in Jamaica she would stay behind and help the tenants.’
Nat muttered, ‘That must have been terrible – just doesn’t bear thinking about. Surely they got help?’
George added, ‘There were so many absentee landlords, living in England or abroad who didn’t give a damn about the tenants. All they wanted was profit from the wool economy.
Dinah frowned, ‘So she was left alone with Max?’
‘I’m not sure when he left – that was not in the dream. But she had Guy and John the footman who always guarded her, and then of course there were the Earl and the Countess, let alone a bevy of servants.’
She looked at him and then at Douglas. ‘Oh my God now I can place him, I thought he looked familiar. It’s him, the one who – the one who attacked me in the studio. It was the same man as hid behnd the trees spying on Murial and Duncan. Dear God, it was Max – the demon.’
Lucy shuddered. ‘Sounds awful. Why on earth didn’t she go with Duncan?’
‘Like I said, she had to stay and look after the tenants. They were already beginning to die. She was really attached to one particular family, the McGregor’s; she looked upon them as her own family. Spent a lot of time with them as a child. She used to play with the son Robbie and was great friends with his wife Alice.
Nat put down his pint. ‘You know it’s almost as if you knew them the way you talk about it. They must have been vivid dreams.”
‘Messages – possession.’ Dinah exclaimed. ‘There is a difference. Jessie wasn’t just dreaming this, she was living it, was transported through time, the silent observer. It’s a well known phenomenon in spiritualist circles.
‘So Murial must be really powerful – I mean to be able to transport someone through time.”
‘No it wouldn’t be her doing; that would be her guide.’
Nat took another slug of his beer. “Now it’s getting complicated.’
Jessie smiled, “Like we were saying at the séance, a guide is someone who guards the portal for the medium or protects the spirit. But there are also higher guides or Guardians right up to the angelic realm.”
‘Don’t let Father O’Reilly hear you say that.’
‘Nat – there is no hard and fast rule for the Catholics. I truly believe Murial is a revenant, a dead person who has returned. The Catholics believe in that. I also believe her when she says there’s a demon.’
Douglas snorted. “Look I’m trying to believe something here. I said I’d help with this Murial game, but demons from Hell? Forget it.’
Jessie felt her pulse race. “You were at the séance Douglas, you heard that voice. You know something else was there besides Murial– frightened the life out of you. I saw you – you were bloody shaking. What about when you heard Father O’Reilly shout that we’d raised demons – you heard that awful voice say it was a demon. For God’s sake what more do you want?”
‘Okay I heard the voice, that’s one of the reasons I’m here now, but come on – Hell? We’re getting too dramatic here. Next it will be Exorcist 5 or whatever.”
‘Dammit Douglas –if we left it to you the demon would eat us alive.’ Jessie glowered at Douglas, Why did she even think they could get along? He was an idiot, a damn stupid idiot. How can anyone set limits on a haunting? He’s just denying the demon outright. ‘So when did you become the authority on heaven and hell? Next you’ll be saying Jesus Christ doesn’t exist.’
‘Does he?’ Douglas growled into his cider. ‘Just don’t push it Jessie. Be satisfied I’m here.” Jessie’s skin matched the colour of her hair. ‘Push it? Satisfied? Who the hell d’you think you’re talking to – the cat?’ That did it, now he was telling her what to think, the misogynist pig.
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: