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 41 & 42
Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved
Douglas sat before a set of eight security screens surveying the interior passages and public rooms of the hotel. He knew he’d angered Jess – he couldn’t seem to stop treading on her toes. He grimaced, recalling her parting words, ‘Bugger off.’
He replied, ‘Look, you can’t be alone. You’ll have to ask Dinah to stay with you.’
‘No way – I don’t need a nursemaid – for God’s sake what do you think I am – some wimp?’
‘Don’t be so stubborn – be sensible−‘
‘Sensible? Now you’re insulting me again.’
‘I just mean it’s senseless to−‘
‘Senseless? Senseless – just say that again.’ Her face reddened in fury. He saw her fists clench, as she hissed, ‘How dare you –how dare you say I’m senseless – you – you prick.’
He could see her lips parted in a snarl, her fists rising, the slender body bristling. Now he really had done it. He tried to placate her.
‘You’ve got it wrong Jessie. I didn’t mean you were senseless just that it would be senseless−‘
‘Shut up – shut up now. You bloody bastard.’
He tried not to grin. The situation was preposterous, but then she was Welsh and Scottish, both renowned for their fighting spirit. He tried to reach out to her, to put his arms around her. This was ridiculous. However, she pushed him away.
‘Stop it – let go – you – you prick.’
Now her teeth clenched, her lovely eyes narrowed as she swung a punch. It landed none too gently on his shoulder. At least, she hadn’t gone for his chin. Holding up his arms in mock defense, he said, ‘Hey – look. I ‘m sorry okay – sorry. Just let me take you home.’
‘I promised the priest I’d stay with you.’
His words trailed off as he watched her departing back. He was at a loss as to how to guard her. It was illegal to have security cameras in the rooms. Short of bedding down outside her door what could he do? At that moment, a couple strolled across his path holding a baby. Looking at the child burbling up at his mother, he had a Eureka moment. Yes, a monitor. He could swiftly install one in her rooms, and she would be none the wiser.
Nat had been wary of such a drastic move, but Douglas was adamant. No way was she going to be a victim to more demon attacks. He sighed; it would be a long night, but he was worried about her, besides which; he realized he was desperately in love. She could be both, she-devil and angel. No woman had fascinated him like this, a passionate woman arousing erotic desire; a little girl lost appealing to his protective powers, a caring compassionate therapist and yet within minutes, she could raise his anger to a fever pitch only to reduce him to tears of outraged laughter. No one ever had the audacity to call him a prick. A prick of all things. He would have felled a man in a second, but all he wanted to do with her was to hold her, to hug her furious body until she relaxed. As the thoughts flickered through his mind, he realized she owned his heart.
He shook his head, how was he going to balance it out with her? More importantly, how was he going to get her to talk to him again without hissing? She could be as fiendish as her damn cat.
Jessie looked through the window at the mausoleum, at the moon lighting the leaded-glass windows. It was quite gothic – chilling really. There was no way she would have driven back with Douglas. He was insufferable. His words at the pub still made her bristle, ‘Just be satisfied I’m here.’ as if he was some hero; that she was some wilting woman simpering in his presence.
She couldn’t allow him to rule her. Prissy had argued relentlessly with her, and now it seemed the battle continued with him. It was such a bleak outlook for them both. What could they share if they didn’t share their hearts? Her journey into the spiritual world was still only beginning, there was so much to explore, learn, experience. It wasn’t just about psychic matters, drawing or communicating with the dead it was about that eternal quest for Truth. It was her meaning in life, and what was life without meaning. She could not deny her thoughts, her search for faith when she was with him. Her spiritual mission was the pump supplying the blood to her heart. To love another was a part of that meaning in life, but Douglas was not her God.
She sighed. She did love him, adored him even though at times she wanted to hit him. However, he had to bend a little, to love and to God. She needed space. It was a tight fit with Lucy and Dinah in the back of the truck, and Daisy whined all the way back, most probably fallen in love with Victor. If only human love was so easy. Douglas did not appear at dinner, most probably licking his wounds.
As if sensing her mood, Daisy looked up from the basket and rising, padded over to her, her eyes sharpening, ears lifting, tail wagging. Time for a treat, a teeth-cleaning bone that Daisy loved along with her glucosamine stick and meat flavoured vitamins. Her mouth automatically twisting into a grin, Jessie went to the fridge taking out the bag of treats. Daisy jumped for joy, the mouth wide open, black lips smiling. Bending to her, Jessie said, ‘Come on shake hands?’ Daisy lifted her paw to Jessie’s hand, a ritual, they both loved. Then snatching the bone in a most unladylike manner, she raced to her basket, the huntress guarding her dead prey.
Smiling, Jessie turned back to the window, her thoughts turning to the studio – always a good escape from trauma, but her heart was not in it tonight. Besides, she would have to face a painting executed by spirit hands, a painting that had hair on it from a person dead over two hundred years. She was not sure she could cope with it. However, the inscription appearing on the tomb was intriguing. What was it? There had not been time to investigate. Should she go and take a look at the tomb? It was still light. Maybe one of the men looking after the boats would take her across.
Jess frowned as she noticed a movement by the silver birch trees – a flash of red hair. Going out onto the balcony, she leant over the iron railing, catching her breath, as she saw two figures struggling, almost obscured by the bushes. In her heart, she knew it was Murial. Was that Max with her? Was he molesting her? Calling to Daisy, she rushed from the room, taking the lift to the reception. Racing along the path to the lake with a delighted dog at her heels, Jessie reached the small quay. To her consternation, the boats were tied up, the men gone. Twilight gave way to darkness. The water looked as black as oil – blacker than the night.’
She had to get to Murial. Something was terribly wrong. She looked across the darkness to the island; it was only a mere hundred and fifty yards. She could do that in minutes. Anyway, she had the lights of the hotel. But then, she felt her body tense; the lights did not shine on the lake. Usually the surface was a medley of bright abstract colours swirling in the slight eddies of the water. Now it was still, silent, ominous. Her fear of ghosts raged. She could hear and feel her heart beating in her head. All she knew was Murial needed help, ghost or not; the girl was in danger. Discarding caution, she approached the boats.
Jessie noticed a small craft lightly tethered by ropes. Running towards it, she quickly undid the knots and stepped warily into the boat. Daisy gave a frustrated bark.
‘Quiet Daisy. Sit. Stay on the bank – stay.’ With a half shriek, ending in a throaty whine, Daisy sat on her haunches panting, her pink tongue lolling out. Jessie just hoped she’d obey; she was notoriously disobedient.
She hadn’t rowed since a teenager, and the oars felt strange as she tried to wield them through the water. Telling herself to calm down, she clenched her teeth and tried again. This time the boat moved thank God. Her back to the Mausoleum, she leant forward then pulled back the oars. To her relief, the boat moved quite smoothly, if slowly. As she managed to get some kind of rhythm, she heard Daisy barking followed by a splash. Oh no, she looked back to see the dog in the water paddling furiously towards her. She stopped, seething. ‘Daisy you little bugger.’
Daisy now trod water beside her. Jessie couldn’t drag her into the boat, she was too heavy. Sighing she hoped the dog would stay away from the oars. Daisy seemed to sense this, as she shot ahead. As a retriever and a strong swimmer, the water was her world, mud her delight. It was difficult to keep a rhythm but gradually Jessie struggled closer to the island. With darkness fully descended, the lights from the hotel helped illumine her way. She turned to see Daisy’s white head as she swam before her. Within minutes, Daisy scrabbled ashore shaking her fur, waiting for Jessie to reach her.
Just managing to get the bow of the boat onto the pebbles, Jessie leapt out wading through water, her trainers soaked. Pulling the boat up further onto dry land, she looked around. The darkness seemed to palpate, the bushes almost breathing. Looking at Daisy panting and waiting for her to move, she was glad of her company. Switching on the flashlight, she shone the beam through the trees, becoming aware of the silence closing in on her. Taking a deep breath, she moved forward through the shrubs and denser bushes, Daisy padding protectively at her side. Whilst freeing herself from thorny twigs, she caught her toe in a root. She grasped at a branch only to feel the thorns stabbing her skin. She felt the blood trickle slowly from her palm to her wrist. Biting her lips, she edged forward, her eyes just picking up a well-trodden path. There was no sign of Murial or her assailant. Should she go on? Her flashlight picked up the grey stones of the Mausoleum. Fear licked her skin causing her to shiver. What had she expected to see? How could she help Murial anyway? But, the ghost was a soul in torment, and maybe she could do something. Her heart urged her on. To her relief, the place was empty. She could only hope Murial was now free of her tormentor.
Jessie stood staring at the Mausoleum. Did she have the guts to enter? The message from the painting was strong. Was the inscription the real reason for her being here? Did the rectangle of stone at the bottom of the tomb hold a key to Murial’s past. She had the chance right now to inspect the grave, to find the rectangle of stone. Was the inscription there? Reaching the Mausoleum, she gently pushed the door open flashing the light around the interior. The smell of mildew and age stifled the air, the stone walls damp beneath her touch. She stepped into a well of blackness relieved only by a shaft of moonlight darting through the leaded windows.
For once Daisy hung back whimpering, leaving her to walk down the steps. Het trainers squelched with trapped water, the only sound in the gloom. Conscious of her heart tripping in her chest, she heard Daisy’s whimpers rise to a whine as if crying in fear for her. She was aware of the dead body in one of the tombs, would he rise? Would he manifest with flesh hanging from his skeletal body. No – don’t be stupid. Gritting her teeth, she stepped hesitantly on the stone floor, the light guiding her to Murial’s open tomb.
She heard Daisy give a short bark, heard her sharp nails clattering on the stone stops. Thank God at least she had some company. She felt Daisy’s wet fur soak through the leg of her jeans, the wet head brush against her hand, a hot tongue licking at her injured palm. Feeling comforted, she knelt down to scour the bottom left of the tomb. Through her skittering terror, she felt a rush of courage. The rectangle was barely visible covered in the grime of centuries. Scraping through the dirt, scaling away the moss, she managed to read the letters Forever United LDR to MM 1810. She sat down and almost cried. So it was true, Murial had been with her in her studio, had given her a message through the painting.
Although almost beaten by Douglas’s cynicism, she felt free of any doubt, her mind now clear, her heart strong. Laying the flashlight down with its beam on the lower part of the tomb, she scraped more of the moss away from the rectangular carving. Was it a secret compartment, would it move? But, despite pulling and scraping it held fast. Disappointed, she sat back on the cold stone floor, her fingers tracing the letters LDR – MM, the letters and words on her locket. These were her ancestors, surely? The locket had been in the family for two hundred years. What happened to Murial? Why did she disappear?
She dug deeper into the carved letters to remove the last vestiges of grime, then felt something move. Her hearted started beating rapidly but this time in excitement. She pushed against the letters and felt the stone move again. She whispered to herself, ‘Oh my God something’s here. Murial show me – show me what to do.’ She pushed harder but nothing happened. Picking up the flashlight, she used it to push even harder on the rectangle, but still no movement. Now determined, she tapped on the letters even harder and gasped as the stone scraped open. Shining the flashlight into the aperture she found what appeared to be a tin box gleaming dully in the flashlight. Pulling it out, she set it on her lap feeling around the lid. Finding the clasp, she bit her tongue as she prized it open, shining the beam onto a bundle of cream coloured letters, tied up in crimson ribbon. Daisy sniffed and whined as Jessie peered into the box, holding her breath.
With her stomach churning sand, she read the sloping script on the letter, Lord Duncan Rhonan, 18 Grosvenor Square, Westminster, Middlesex. She wanted to take the letters out to read them straightaway but the room was damp, musty, the floor almost wet. She had to get the tin box to her room, to read in safety and comfort preferably with a glass of wine. In her heart, she knew this was her ancestor; she had to know more.
Her legs felt rubbery as she made her way out of the Mausoleum, glancing at the two silent tombs one occupied possibly with the remains of her ancestor and the other one empty, waiting. She closed the door to the Mausoleum, and holding the tin as if filled with precious jewels, she reached the boat. Putting it safely in the bottom, she looked at Daisy. ‘Right now, are you getting in or are you swimming?’ Daisy’s eyes lowered as she slunk away and paddled in the water. ‘Okay, swim.’ She knew Daisy didn’t really need her permission as she was going to do it anyway.
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: