Bara Brith: A Welsh favourite of my mother … and her mother.

Bara Brith is another recipe from the Welsh side of my family. It was a favourite in my mother’s kitchen, and mine once I had a hungry hoard to feed.

Bara Brith

I was interested to read the history of Bara Brith.

According to Wikipedia, Bara is derived from the Welsh language and means bread. Brith means speckled. Apparently, a Welsh chef added mixed dried fruit to bread dough. It is believed to be the first version of the Welsh tea loaf.

I do know that this recipe has been handed down through the ages. The women of my Welsh family know this recipe by heart, and it is a recognized treat on a Sunday.

Bara Brith Recipe

  • 325 ml/11 fluid ounces of hot boiled tea
  • 230 ml/8 ounces of mixed dried fruit
  • 340 mg/12 ounces of self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of mixed spice
  • 60 mg/2 oz. brown sugar
  • 1 beaten egg

Pour the hot boiled tea over the fruit in a mixing bowl.  Leave to soak overnight.

Thoroughly grease a 1ltr/2 lb baking tin.

Next morning or day, pour the mixed fruit along with the tea into a bowl.  Add the egg. Mix gently.

Stir in the flour and then add the baking powder. Then stir in the brown sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined together.

If it is a bit stiff, pour in a little more hot water.

Make sure the mixture can drop easily off a large spoon.

Spread mixture evenly in the greased loaf tin and place into a preheated oven: approx. 170C/325F/Gas 3

Bake for around 1 and a half hours. For the last twenty minutes of cooking, cover with foil to avoid the crust burning.

Cool it for at least five minutes.

My mother would always leave it for a day in a cool dry place before eating, but it never lasts that long in our house.

Happy Eating.

If you like intriguing romance set in our modern topsy-turvy world then look no further than ‘Window to Love’: A wonderful new work by author Katy Walters. Available to purchase now at Amazon in either digital Kindle format or paperback: AMAZON UK or AMAZON US

Sam peered through the window; where was Tammy? After a life-threatening car accident, Samantha used a wheelchair and depended on her friend Tammy.
As Sam waited, she saw a large dog bound across the garden lawn to her window. Perhaps the dog was a stray?
Sam peered through the window and saw the dog trotting happily at the side of a reasonably handsome, reasonably aged man. As Sam lifted the curtain slightly for a better look, the man turned and waved. Sam shot back behind the curtain. ‘Blast!’ She didn’t want him knocking on her door. After all, she was home alone. She didn’t return the wave, and abruptly dropped the curtain.
Little did Sam realize this was just the beginning of a stream of giddy and sometimes frightening adventures with this reasonably good-looking man and his handsome dog.

I am so glad you have read my blog. Please stay a while to read more blog posts or my website pages:

Katy Walters Author – Regency Romance Crime Sci-Fi Horror

Welsh Cakes: A simple yet delicious family favourite.

Welsh cakes are a traditional food for the Welsh.  They are a quite simple sweet flatbread baked on a griddle. Below I offer you the Welsh Cakes recipe that I use.

Welsh Cakes Recipe
Scrumptious little Welsh cakes

They are practical and so delicious. The small round flat cakes gained popularity in the nineteenth century when used as a food supplement for the miners in the coal pits. They were easily wrapped and carried by the miners in their lunch tins. Along with the homecooked meat and fish pies in rich pastry, these delicious fruited cakes were a treat for the miners during their long hours working underground. The cakes were thickly spread with fresh butter and helped fill a hungry miner’s stomach.

A Family Favorite

This recipe has always been a favourite in my family.  The grandchildren also love them. Spread the cakes with fresh butter and eat them warm. You can even add jam/jelly or honey for a sweeter treat.

Using a griddle or bakestone, cook the cakes for about three minutes on each side. If you do not have a griddle or a bakestone, use your frying pan or oven. Keep an eye on the cakes and test for firmness. They should be a light golden colour.

Recipe for Welsh Cakes

230 mgs/8 ounces of self-raising flour

115 mgs/4 ounces of fresh butter, room temperature

2 dessert spoons of currants or other chopped dried fruit to your liking (you can add optional spoon of sugar).

1 fresh egg.


  1. Rub the butter into the flour until you get a crumb texture.
  2. Add the dried fruit and sugar, and then gently stir in the egg.
  3. Mix the ingredients and form a ball of dough.
  4. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 5mm/1/4 inch thick.
  5. Cut into rounds using a pastry cutter, or the lip of an average mug if you don’t have a cutter.
  6. Butter a frying pan, griddle or bakestone and get the baking surface hot. Cook the dough rounds on the surface for roughly 2-3 minutes each side (eyeball this).
  7. Remove from the pan.

Some people like to coat the cooked cakes with sugar, but I prefer not to.

If you enjoy Regency Romance with Time Travel, take a look at The Price of Love.

Available at Amazon:   US and UK

This book is also available to Kindle Unlimited members.

Please take some time to visit my website, where you will find a gallery of my art and photos, contact details, and details about the many books I have written.

Katy Walter’s Website

They’re ‘Sweet & Sassy: A New Beginning’!

I invite you to while away some well-deserved hours reading, smiling, and enjoying a whole lotta lovin’. ‘Sweet & Sassy – A New Beginning’, is a wonderful romantic boxed set. Now available for download at Amazon.

Sweet & Sassy: A New Beginning is an eight book multi-author boxset written by New York Times, USA Today Bestselling, and Bestselling Authors.

Despite thwarting dogs and Mother Nature’s wrath, these couples fight to begin again and forge a new path. Sometimes their second chances arrive where they least expect them or even wave through a window. Whether best friends, co-workers, or strangers, these men and women struggle with roadblocks that pop up all around them.
Join us as these romances enlighten your reading time with miracles, poker games, hiding from the past, disabilities, political shenanigans, military tactics, and starting life over for a new lease on life.

Enjoy EIGHT tales of love and life’s roadblocks from this international slate of USA Today and NY Times Bestselling Authors.

I hope you are all keeping safe and supporting those in most need – my husband and I are currently isolating. Please enjoy my website. You will find information on my many books and even a gallery with photos and slideshows of my artwork. Love, Katy.

Katy Walter’s Website

Special Agent Makayla

Mimi Barbour has released the 11th novel in her exciting Special Agent Series: Special Agent Makayla. Available now on Amazon in both digital and paperback formats, these books are always thrilling reads.

A while ago, I posted an informative yet light-hearted ‘doggy’ interview with Mimi Barbour. Please visit the Mimi Barbour Video Interview if you are interested. Love, Katy.

Makayla hears the cries of children in trouble.

Special Agent Makayla has a gift. In her mind, she doesn’t have special powers. It is just fallout from the days when she was blind… before the operation that restored her sight. She learned to use her other senses, rely on her instincts, and listen intensely. Except her uncanny ability is beyond this.
Working with the Special Victims Unit, Makayla takes on all the cases of vanished children where the usual processes have failed. Sickened by many of her assignments, she finds joy when children are discovered and set free. Her biggest concern … they just keep on disappearing.


The Golden Legacy

The Golden Legacy

I am so excited to be a part of this box set, The Golden Legacy. My contribution is the time travel romance, The Price of Love. I hope you you will give this box set a look, and that you enjoy a really good read.
Love, Katy

FIVE stories of passion and excitement, all the result of THE GOLDEN LEGACY.

The legacy of a pirate treasure is either a curse or a blessing depending on if it’s used for good or evil.

USA Today and NY Times Bestselling Authors.
Nancy Radke – Rebecca York – Susanne Matthews – Katy Walters

The Golden Legacy box-set. Five stories by Nancy Radke, Rebecca York, Susanne Matthews, Katy Walters. Pirate treasure and romance.

Love survives despite the trauma of pirates, kidnappings, and murder; villains, lies and deceptions. Travel from the 18th to 21st century and find what perils and pleasure await in this romance box set collection based on the cursed pirates’ treasure of THE GOLDEN LEGACY.



  hours  minutes  seconds


The Golden Legacy releases.

You can pre-order The Golden Legacy at Amazon using the following links:

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 49 & 50

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 49 & 50

We have reached the final two Free chapters of my exciting historical paranormal romance novel, Return to Rhonan. Set mainly in the Scottish Highlands, the reader will find much to enjoy on this mysterious well researched journey.

On Thursday, we reveal the first two chapters of ‘Maid of the Forest’! Mark your diary for a thrilling journey!

Don’t worry if you have missed any chapters of ‘Return to Rhonan’, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 49 & 50

Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved

Chapter 49

Pulling the sea green bathrobe around her, Jessie opened the door to the pink scrubbed face of the courier. Her hand trembled as she signed for the letter.  Excusing herself, she crossed to the writing desk whereupon a delighted Daisy jumped up ready to play with this new friend.  Jess returned pulling her off him, “Sorry about that she’s just−“

‘Gorgeous ma’am – got one of these at home. Beautiful natures.’

Jess smiled broadly. She was like a doting mother when it came to Daisy. Tipping him generously, she closed the door.  Daisy busied around her legs as she stared at the envelope.  Now was the time of reckoning. For all Douglas’s assurances, she still had that slight fear of his reactions.  Calling for him, he appeared, toothbrush in hand, a towel slung over a bare shoulder, another wrapped around his waist.

 ‘DNA. Results are here. I thought I’d just wait for us to do this together.’   He grinned through the toothpaste. “Give me a second, I’ll throw on some clothes.’   

Her heart thumped as she turned the letter over. What the hell did it say?  Although it was addressed to both of them, she feared to open it alone.  Better, he read it for himself. Sitting down in the chair, she called to Daisy, busy fussing around by the door sniffing all the lovely scents left by the courier.   ‘Daisy come here – come on.’

Daisy ambled over, her tongue lolling from the black smile, the dark eyes questioning.  She didn’t miss a trick where Jessie was concerned. She came over and licked her hand, finishing off on her knee.  Jessie let her fingers run through the white silky fur gaining strength from the sheer calm of the dog.  Looking up, she heard Douglas re-enter the room. Smiling still, he came and sat by her. ‘Hey come on.  It’s not the end of the world. We’ll face this together. You know I’m always with you.’  

Jess nodded handing him the letter.  ‘Seeing as it’s your hotel and your ancestor, I guess you should open this?’

 Taking the letter from her, he put it on the table.  He took her hand, looking earnestly into her eyes, ‘Before we open any letters Jess. I just want to say this.’

He left the chair and knelt before her.  Jess‘s heart almost stopped. What was he doing?

He brought out a small navy blue box and opened it for her to see a deep blue sapphire surrounded with diamonds nestled on a tiny navy velvet pad. She caught her breath, as he said, ‘Marry me Jess. Make me the happiest man on the planet.’ He took the ring from the box and held it up for her to see, ‘There’s an engraving on the inside and here’s a magnifying glass.  

Her eyes now open in wonder, she said ‘Oh my God.’   Taking the ring and the magnifying glass she read, “From LDR to JM Forever United.’’

Hardly able to speak, Jessie put her hand on his shoulder drawing him up to sit beside her. ‘And I’m the happiest woman on this planet. Oh Douglas, I love you.’

He held her tightly for a few seconds, his hand stroking her bright thick hair.  ‘Always babe, always.’   He drew back and grinned, ‘I wanted you to have this before – before we open the damned letter.’

He read the first page of the letter without a word, a slight frown creasing his forehead.  ‘Damn, it’s complicated.  Why can’t they just spell it out?’

She looked over, her heart racing, but said nothing except to bite her lip.

Douglas read the second page and then the third before going back again to the first page.  Putting them in his lap, he laughed and took her in his arms.  ‘Hey look at me –Jess – look at me …  seems we’re related.’ With that, he laughed out loud and grabbed her. ‘Hello cousin – we could be had up for incest.’

 Jess snatched up the papers her eyes racing down the pages. ‘Oh my God, my God – we are related. You really are my family.’ She bit her knuckles.

As he took back the papers, he said, ‘It reads here that the skeleton in the grave is not related … so Duncan did not drown himself in the lake then? They’ve got the connections of the hair from the canvas and us.’  

Jess put her hand down only to bite the knuckle of her finger. ‘So where does that leave us?’ 

‘Exactly where we were minutes ago babe. I love you even though you’re the heir to this estate.  Bugger, you just made it though, there’s only a couple of weeks to go before the whole bloody thing folded up anyway.’

‘It’s yours Douglas.  I don’t need it.  I really don’t—‘

 ‘Hey – we can work this out.’

‘Listen – I’ve thought a lot about it. I know that you will lose everything, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  I can re-sell it to you for pence – really.’

He took her hands in his. ‘Okay – I’ve been thinking too. I knew from all that’s happened that it was on the cards. There were too many co-incidences for me to ignore, but, what about this?  You become the major share-holder – I’ll just hang in there.’

‘No – I’m the major shareholder in the McGregor Empire. How about I’m on the board or whatever you want to do – just a minor shareholder? I really don’t want to be anything else.  I have my practice, my psychology – research, besides my art.’

Douglas held her eyes. ‘Whatever happens babe, we’re together. He saw her glance down at her ring still in the box. Tugging at her hand he said, ‘I mean that in all ways. You’ve said you love me, but you have not answered my question yet Jess. Marry me – now – tomorrow.’

Jess felt her heart almost burst with love, relief and sheer joy. ‘Of course I’ll marry you – you’re my life Douglas –my life.’

He grinned ‘I know, I overheard you and Dinah that day.’  

Jess drew a breath quickly and punched him lightly. ‘You devil.  Did the others hear too?’

‘Of course they did. We could hardly stop grinning. That’s why George grabbed Dinah and I sat at your lovely feet.’

‘Now I’m embarrassed.’

‘Made my day – love you Jess.’  He grabbed her kissing her all over her face. He stopped for a moment to look at her, then grinned, ‘Cousin. However, we go back so many generations it doesn’t count does it. Not as long as we don’t get throwbacks, just think a little Duncan and a tiny Murial.  See we’ve got the names already.’

Jess blushed. ‘Hey we’re not even married – time enough for all that.’

‘Not soon enough for me. But hey, we’re gonna have to let the gang know. I think Nat should be told before that.  He’s my brother and partner after all.’

Jess straightened up. ‘Yes, of course. Have a chat with him – see if he’s happy with me being a minor shareholder. Think Douglas, I can put a lot of money into this – extensions, golf course – safari – anything you like.  I’ve got an idea, why don’t we open a Complementary Healing Centre even a Psychic Centre.  I’ve heard of one in England –can’t quite remember the name. People come from all over the worlds for week-long seminars and courses.  What d’you think?’

‘Sounds good, but let’s take it slowly.  You’ve got to think about this too and your board of directors. I’ll talk to Nat and then we’ll get the others together. Let’s surprise them.  What about we have a sumptuous dinner served in here – champagne the lot.  We’ll have the dinner first and then tell them about the DNA and our engagement.’

Pushing her hair back from her face Jess said, ‘I don’t know that I could go through all the courses and not let on – do you?’

‘We can try.

 ‘How about tonight? I don’t think I could go any longer without telling Di.” 

Chapter 50

George beamed, tucking into potato wedges covered in golden batter. ‘My favourite – but you knew that Jessie.’

‘Glad you like it George, Chef chose the menu for us tonight.  Seems he’s well acquainted with all our tastes.’ Jessie grinned, her bright hair complimenting the deep blue of her dress. 

Lucy dazzled in a shift  of gold silk as she tucked into a melon salad, ‘Yep, he’s catered for us all; I see Nat has his garlic mushrooms and Dinah the lobster tails – great.’

‘Smashing idea having dinner and then a meeting. But, I warn you, I shall be too full to think properly.’ George patted his ample belly, and proceeded to take off his velvet cord jacket

Dinah laughed, ‘Time you went to the gym George. You’ve always got an excuse. Or, you could start taking Daisy and Victor out for some long walks.  ‘

On hearing their names, both dogs raised their heads but seeing food was not on the horizon, sprawled back down across the bedroom door. They both had strict instructions to stay in the bedroom, but inevitably, they would work their way to being under the table nudging for titbits.

George sighed. ‘It’s the way I’m made babe. Look at Lucy – thin as a rake.’

‘Hey not so much of the  “thin” thanks. I think slim is the word.’

Dinah beamed ‘Well, I love you just as you are huggy bear.”  She bent to pinch one of his potato wedges, seeing the appreciative glances he shot at the low cleavage of her strapless bustier scattered with scarlet sequins. Silently, Dinah vowed she would take him in hand, diet, gym, long walks. He was a great guy, but loved his food and beer.

As the waiter cleared away the first course, Douglas looked over to Jess his eyebrows raised.  Catching his message, she nodded. He rose to his feet, ‘Hey folks, we’ve got something to tell you.’ Four pairs of eyes widened with anticipation. ‘I – err – Jess and I got the news this morning… about the DNA.  Seems we’re related—’

Lucy squealed with delight, as George exclaimed, ‘Good God – so you’re cousins.’

Dinah leapt to her feet. ‘Oh my God – my God.’

Nat already apprised of the situation, grinned, ‘Yeah seems I’ve gained beautiful American cousins.’

 Lucy tapped him on the shoulder. ‘You didn’t say one word Nat and I’ve been with you all afternoon. How could you?’

He put a finger to his lips, and then grinned.

Dinah looked at Douglas. ‘How about the body in the tomb?’

Shaking his head, he said, ‘It’s not Duncan – seems his death is a mystery.  He didn’t commit suicide by drowning after all.  The rumours about him disappearing in search of Murial could be true.’

‘Hmm I wonder. Last we know from the letters, they were going to Jamaica whether or not  their marriage was approved of by the Earl or the Ton,

Jessie interjected, ‘She was only in the early stages of pregnancy.  But Duncan does write to say he is returning as speedily as possible.’ 

 ‘Enough of this maudlin stuff.’ Taking Lucy’s hand he added, ‘Looks like we get to visit our American family. Coming?’

 The banter continued, as the wine flowed.  Dinah looked at Jess speculatively, she seemed to be holding back, giving surreptitious glances over at Douglas. What was it?

As one waiter cleared the dessert, another entered with a champagne bucket whilst yet another carried in flute glasses.  George laughed, ‘Way to go, way to go.  This is a celebration alright.’    

Lucy gave a little shriek as the champagne cork flew across the room whilst Dinah ducked.  Once the waiter left, closing the door quietly behind him, Douglas once again rose to his feet. ‘Okay folks – Jess and I have something to tell you. We’re getting married.’

After a momentary silence, they leapt to their feet, lifting glasses. Raising his voice over the congratulations and laughter, George said, ‘So when’s the happy date?’

Jessie said, ‘Haven’t got one yet, but we’re working on it.  Lot of things to get sorted with the hotel and everything.’

 Bringing out the little jewel box, Douglas took out the ring placing it on the third finger of her left hand. ‘My bride to be.’  

Dinah clapped her hands, ‘I knew I knew it.  You’ve been giving each other secret glances all evening. Let me see?’ Jumping up she grabbed Jessie’s hand as Lucy followed.  The men sat where they were grinning.        

Dinah said, ‘Maybe now Murial’s spirit will be at rest.  You’re the descendent of the baby she was searching for Jess.’

As Lucy made her way back to her seat, she said, ‘Murial does seem to be quiet. I haven’t experienced anything lately have you Jess?’

Jess looked over to Lucy, ‘No – no dreams or premonitions.  I know I saw her just that once at the writing desk, but nothing since.’

Dinah nodded, ‘Yes but the letters and articles end so abruptly at the end of November.  The Clearances go on for years. There must be more. So many questions left unanswered.’

Jess nodded, ‘You’re right.  Father O’Reilly isn’t at all happy. He insists the haunting will continue until we have the exorcism. But then, he’s an old grouch, puffing on that smelly pipe of his, rasping on about demons and Jesuits. He swears blind, we need the exorcism not for Murial but for the demon, which could be Max – certainly looks like him from the portrait.  I thought it was in my imagination because I’d seen the portrait. But, you fought with him Douglas.’

‘I fought a monster Jess, all scales and fangs. Just looking at the portrait, I’m not sure if it was Max, but it did remind me of him.’

Jess sighed, why did he have to go on fact alone? Couldn’t he use just a bit of imagination.  She quelled the frustration. He wasn’t going to change.  He was almost black and white, and she was all the shades in between.

 As if reading her thoughts, he said, ‘You know, maybe you’re right, I remember now, I saw this guy by the lake – he was quite odd, I thought he was in fancy dress or something. It was the day I was searching for you…’ He hesitated looking at her, choosing his words carefully, ‘You know the day of our – talk. I heard voices in the suite, arguing, but when I opened the door, there was no-one there. I went over to the window, and that’s when I saw him by the lake, looking up at me and smirking. I thought he looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him, just thought he looked odd in fancy dress costume or something. But, come to think of it, yes, it could have been Max.’

Jess felt her whole body lighten. A smile twitched at her lips. ‘I could kiss you for that Douglas.’

He hugged her tightly to him. ‘Maybe Father O’Reilly’s right you know.  But, the only thing is, an exorcism could stir things up.’

As he uttered those words, Phantom shot out from his favourite sleeping spot on the window sill, hissing at the writing desk. 

Stunned to silence, they watched as he slunk across, his whiskers, fangs glistening.  But then, he stopped and sunk to the carpet scratching his ear gracefully.

Jess laughed, ‘He’s moody.  Maybe woke up from a bad dream of losing mice.’

Dinah grinned, ‘So much for black cats, witches, and the devil. Anyway, Murial has helped us to reveal her descendent. She must be at rest now.’

Jess nodded, ‘True. The only thing that is not clear, is why she carries the skeleton child – that is a mystery still. Anyway, now I know she is my grandmother a few greats removed.  It’s a wonderful feeling you know, a family at last. Now I can visualize all those ancestors standing behind me.  I feel … complete.  She stroked Douglas’s hand, smiling into his eyes.

Douglas beamed. ‘Now for some more news, Jess and I have been discussing some new additions for the Hotel, like a Centre for Complimentary Healing, seminars and courses in the Paranormal.’  Something for you guys to mull over. But we can discuss that another time.’ 

Dinah frowned looking over to George, wondering if she could go back to work in New York.  Their relationship looked to be going to another level.  She was falling in love with the guy but what about her practice? Could she and Jess transfer to here in Scotland? With Douglas  making arrangements to improve the Hotel, Jess would be making her home here.

As if reading her mind George murmured, ‘Hmm I have been thinking of taking out a tenure at the university here, it’s not too far to travel.’ He paused, looking meaningfully at Dinah who flushed. 

Nat caught hold of Lucy’s hand, ‘So what about it? You can’t go back now.  We need you.’

Lucy lowered her eyes, her heart beating a tattoo. It was too alluring to refuse.  The idea of the Centre along with lecturing in the evenings at the Hotel was attractive. Besides she didn’t want to leave now. Nat was becoming important to her – too important for her to leave right now.

Jess smiled inwardly, it sounded as if there were some impending proposals floating around here.

Aware of the softness of Daisy’s head nudging her legs, Jessie looked at the faces around the table. She felt a rush of joy, of belonging.  She had a family and loving friends, the vacuum was filled, her heart at peace.


 A few doors down from the Mermaid Suite, a woman shivered as voile curtains billowed from a sudden breeze.   Setting down her glass of wine, she leant towards her husband, “Someone’s singing their baby to sleep.  Isn’t that sweet?  Can you hear it?’

 The man rustled his newspaper, ‘What?’

‘Someone’s singing, ‘Bye baby Bunting … Daddy’s gone a hunting…. Can you hear it?’

 ‘No.’ He turned a page.


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

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 47 & 48

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 47 & 48

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:

All Available Chapters!

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 47 & 48

Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved

Chapter 47

The letters and newspaper articles lay in a neat pile by Dinah’s side. Yet her attention was focused on Daisy’s wound. ‘It’s only been ten days or so Jess, and she’s healing well.’ Lapping up the attention Daisy rolled into her favourite position on her back, her four feet in the air, the pink tongue lolling from the black lipped smile.  In that position, she looked more wolf than the benign golden retriever. A wicked gleam in her eye warned Dinah that if she stopped stroking the pink belly, Daisy would lift a huge paw and proceed to punch her. Retrievers were well-known for boxing in either play or anger.  

Smiling she continued to rub the pink belly as she said, ‘The letters are incredible Jess, but there’s not much pointing to Murial’s disappearance.’ 

‘I know it’s so disappointing.  But since reading the letters I’ve read a lot about the Clearances – had me in tears. People suffered so much, many starving – dying.’ 

Raising her head, Dinah said, ‘How’s Phantom? Scratched anyone lately?’  Like Jessie, she was an animal lover but was now wary of the black cat.  It appeared  from nowhere and clawed her leg drawing blood on the first meeting. Jessie picked  the cat up hissing and struggling putting it in the bedroom and closing the door. As it howled and scratched, Jess said, ‘I still can’t get him to trust anyone. Looks like he’s been badly treated Di, but I could find him another home if you like.’

 Di quickly raised her hand, ‘No – no it is okay he’s been badly treated – he needs time and lot of love. That’s if you can love a cat that mean.’

Jess smiled, ‘Well, he’s a little bugger, but we can try.’

Today, Phantom sniffed around Di’ warily, then to their surprise rubbed his head against the calf of her leg, mewing. 

Jess grinned, ‘He’s still mean, but he’s coming around. Daisy loves him. She was so brave that night at the lake, you know.  I just can’t imagine her biting at that monster as she did.’

‘That was peculiar Jess. We all thought Max was a ghost or incubus but he changed into a demon, powerful enough to overturn the boat almost and drag you down to the bottom of the lake.’

‘I have heard that ghosts or demons can take on human form, demons especially. They’re supposed to be shape shifters as well.’

Giving a slight shudder Dinah said, ‘Let’s hope, he doesn’t shape shift into Douglas or one of the others.  They found no sign of him.  Let’s hope he’s back in hell. Father O’Reilly was none too happy about it.  He still insists it’s because we used the Ouija board, that we’ve released some powerful evil.  But then, he did say it was not one of the major demons or devils.  Bad enough though.’

‘I wonder if he’ll come back?’

‘God I hope not – even Douglas is convinced it’s Max, the younger brother.  I mean if he was in the Hell Fire Club, then he carried out depraved practices, must have prayed to the Devil. You never know do you?’  Crossing to the laptop Dinah said, “Why don’t we search deeper?”

Booting up the computer, she saw Jess try to rise from the settee.  ‘No don’t move, give those ribs time.  Hah, here we are, there’s a load of information on Wikipedia. It says the Hell Fire Club was active in the years 1735 to 1741, but many say it continued in secret right up until the early twentieth century. It’s built on Montpelier Hill known as the Hell Fire Club.  Now on the slopes of Montpelier is a forest named Hell Fire Wood. There was a cairn, a passage grave on the summit.   It seems there were satanic rites carried out – debauchery and so on.  They procured local prostitutes, even abducted innocent girls too terrified to report their abductors. It was known as the Haunted House, The Kennel, as well as the Hell Fire Club.  It says that the lodge was built from the stones of the prehistoric grave, that the lintel from the grave was used over the fireplace.”

Jess shivered, ‘Sounds eerie.’

 Dinah put her finger near the screen.  ‘Here’s some more information, a violent storm blew the roof off the lodge. Local rumours held that it was the work of the Devil in revenge for debasing the roof of a pagan queen.  They always had an empty chair or throne ready for the Devil to preside over the meetings.  Good God, it appears priests visited as well. Look what it says there – they sacrificed a black cat. The priest grabbed the cat and exorcised it only to see a demon released from the cat’s corpse.’     Dinah looked around the room, but the black cat was no longer seated at the window gazing over the lake.  ‘Where’s Phantom gone?’

 Jessie said, ‘Aw come on now, he’s no demon.’

Going back to the screen, Dinah said, ‘Well you never know – you must admit he is strange.’

‘All cats are strange – they have this aloofness, and they can be moody.’

 Leaving the desk, Dinah sat back in a chair, ‘I suppose so, black cats are always associated with magic anyway, either the witches’ familiar or the Devil’s earthly form.   But, changing the subject Jessie, how’s it going with Douglas?’

‘He’s okay.  He’s very attentive – caring.  I don’t know Di….’

‘You don’t sound like you’re all that enamoured of him Jess.’

‘Well I am. I just can’t believe that he risked his life for me, taking on a demon in the lake. But, we’re just so different Di. – personalities – beliefs.  But, at the same time, he’s always in my thoughts. I dream about him, think of him when I wake up, and he’s the last thing I think about before sleeping.’

‘Huh Huh, you’re in love.’

‘Maybe you’re right.  But, how can we ever get on when I believe in spiritual and psychic matters, and he’s an agnostic? Well, was,  I must say he is now admitting that he does believe but just then  in the next breath he’s saying he doesn’t want to dabble in it. The thing is, I’m not dabbling Di.  It’s my life, as you know – it’s yours too.’

‘I know Jess; it’s so difficult loving a guy and yet not gelling on the important things. But you know they do say, you can’t choose who you fall in love with, neither can you mould them to what you want.’ Dinah pursed her lips.  ‘He’s a good guy Jess.  I know I told you he was so upset when he thought you’d – you know – drowned. We’ve never really talked about what really happened – but it was bad Jess. We thought we’d lost you but Douglas just wouldn’t give up.  That’s why you ended up with cracked ribs—’

‘And my life.’

‘Yes – thank God.  I’ve never seen grief like that. When he thought he couldn’t revive you, he just picked you up in his arms and sobbed. I can see him now, catching you up to his chest, holding you tightly, kissing – shouting at you to come back – that he loved you, and then rocking to and fro weeping. I couldn’t console him I was crying too much myself.

Biting her lip, Jessie said, ‘I don’t remember any of it, but from what you say – I just feel so confused. However, coming back to the spiritual side of it. Now he says he believes, but he’s still not willing to go any further.’

‘He’s told you Jess – he’s afraid. Give him time.  Thing is, you’ve got to make up your mind. Do you love him – I mean really love him?’

Lowering her eyes, Jessie went quiet before saying, ‘I don’t just love him Di, I worship him.  I think that’s why I want everything to be perfect.  I had enough of Prissy arguing with me all the time and I just don’t want it happening with him. I couldn’t bear it.’

‘You can’t expect him to go headlong into the things you believe in. He may never. But, there’s plenty going on beside spirituality and psychic beliefs.’

‘Maybe that’s too big a compromise.  But you’re right. I love him desperately.  He is so passionate—’

Hearing a knock on the door, they both jumped startled. George’s cheery voice rang out. ‘Hello ladies – door’s open can we come in?’

Dinah flushed a bright red and looked at Jessie, who bit her lips together trying not to laugh.  Yet, it seemed George had not overhead their conversation as he walked in followed by Lucy and Nat. Douglas was not with them. 

Nat seeing the question in Jessie’s eyes, said, ’Doug’ will be here in a minute. He took Victor out for a walk.’  

Lucy and Nathan took the settee whilst George plumped himself in an armchair pulling a blustering Dinah onto his lap. ‘How’s my girl today?’ He smiled foolishly, patting her knee.

‘For God’s sake George, d’you mind?’  She pulled at her skirt that had ridden up near to her groin.’

 ‘Nope, don’t mind at all.’

 As Dinah struggled to get up, Douglas walked into the room. His eyes lighted upon Jess.  ‘Hi sweetheart, how are you feeling?’ Stooping, he kissed her full on the lips.

 Surprised she laughed, ‘I’m fine thanks.  There’s a spare chair over there.’

Douglas grinned, ‘I shall sit at your feet madam.’ 

Jess felt the blush heat her face and chest. ‘Now to business – let’s discuss the letters.  Who’s read all of theirs?’

Raising her hand, Lucy said, ‘There’s very little of Murial in my lot – more newspaper articles.  However, I must say they were awful times.  She worked so hard to help, but there was little she could do really.’

George interjected, ‘The newspaper article on the evictions from the village was horrific.  How on earth could someone have that kind of power? I mean evicting all those families.  Then having the Military drive them from the holes in the ground.  That landlord literally sentenced them to death.

Lucy nodded, ‘George showed me that. No-one interfered – they just went along with it.’

‘Forced more like.’ said Dinah.  “I read it too.  He wouldn’t allow the neighbours to help those people – the swine. I mean four hundred people.

Jessie nodded her face muscles tensing. ‘It was horrific. Murial was so fierce – so brave. Even though her heart was breaking she did not weaken but fought on trying to protect the women and children.’

Douglas’s face tensed, as he said, ‘One thing I do know Jessie, is your dreams and visions tally with these letters.  There’s something we must do straightaway and that’s send off all we have for DNA analysis.’

Chapter 48

She drank in the moment, an idyllic scene with a gorgeous man. It had taken over six weeks for her ribs to heal. Though even now, they were still sore. Jessie gazed at the sun-dappled leaves of the weeping willow trailing slender branches into the waters. Overhead, a kingfisher‘s wings shone iridescent blues and greens. Jessie lounged on the blanket, stroking the black curls from Douglas’s brow.  It was idyllic, the sun, lake, trees and him; a private spot hidden far enough away from the Manor.  She bent to kiss the full lips her fingers now rubbing against the bristle of his unshaven cheek. He smiled languorously, and with a soft grunt rose to take her into his arms.  ‘So little lady what is next, food or a swim?’

 Jessie laughed, ‘My stomach is pleading with me, so I guess we should….’

Tickling her under her chin, he stretched over to the picnic basket.  ‘Now let’s see what chef has arranged. He said to leave it to him; he knew exactly what we liked.’  Pulling out a linen tablecloth he began unpacking the food, passing it to Jess, barbecued chicken thighs with Piri seasoning along with King Prawns in a light Marie Rose sauce, followed by Panini’s of ham, salami, chorizo and salad.  She smelt the freshly baked bread rolls, as she took out the churned butter swirls in an iced dish.  Her mouth watered at the avocado pears laden with more prawns in a tart lime and coriander sauce. ‘Gosh Douglas, this is great. I could eat it all. He certainly knows what we like. What about you?’

‘Couldn’t have chosen better.  And he’s got some pork and apple sausage, and for dessert Strawberry Pavlova with fresh cream.’ Douglas brought out two crystal flute glasses.  ‘Champagne on ice no less.’ Clinking glasses he said, ‘Here’s to the woman I love.’

As they ate, they listened to the soft tones of a local radio station playing Gaelic songs.  A female voice sang of love and roses, of yearning and return to the beloved land.  Jessie was glad she’d made the decision. It had taken time for her to trust him again, but she did realize she had heaped her own assumptions and beliefs on him.  Maybe that was a bit of Prissy’s character coming out in her.  Over the last weeks, she came to realize that beliefs or not, she loved him and wanted to be with him.  Nothing else mattered.  As she wiped some cream from his mouth, she grinned and standing up, said, ‘Now I’m going for a swim.’ Laughing she ran into the shallows wading through the bull rushes loving the reeds wrapping around her legs. God it was beautiful here, the water just warm, the sun sparkling like diamonds on the still water.  She had thought that maybe the terror of the attack would rise up to haunt her as she entered the water, but to her surprise, she felt completely at ease. Taking a deep breath, she plunged beneath the surface, her feet paddling her further into the lake.  Rising to the surface, she stretched out on her back, floating.  Her thoughts turned to the first time she’d been here, wondering why he wouldn’t come into the water. Now it didn’t matter. 

Jess rolled onto her the stomach and stroked lazily to the willow tree. Did Murial and Duncan make love beneath this tree?  She wondered if she could persuade him to have treatment for the phobia, a phobia that kept him from having fun right now.  He’d broken through the phobia, through his terror to save her life, but she knew it was still with him, still had that fearful hold. However, he was still raw from rescuing her from the demon monster; he needed time. 

He still insisted on sharing the suite with her, the memory of the demonic attack not far from their minds. They all agreed with Father O’Reilly that the Jesuit priest should perform an exorcism to be sure that Maximillian was dispatched permanently.  However, it took weeks to arrange.  They all submitted to psychiatric analysis, which was one of the first steps in arranging an exorcism.  The tests would reveal whether the haunting and attacks were due to hallucinations or underlying schizophrenia. It was highly unlikely that all six of them and the priest also could be suffering from any mental illness, but it was one of the stipulations of the Catholic Church that they were primarily examined first by a psychiatrist.

She had decisions to make, should she push Douglas to remove to his own quarters or should she entice him to stay. Rolling over she began using strong over arm strokes to the shore.  At least here in this idyll, the lake was screened by the bull rushes abating his fear of the water.  Thank God for that.

Slipping a towel over her shoulders, Douglas gently rubbed her back. ‘God you’re beautiful.’

His hands slid softly around her pulling her towards him. She felt the iron muscles of his arms, heard the thud of his heart, felt his abs harden with desire. She shuddered closing her eyes as the tingling swept through her stomach.  His fingers swept over skin, like a pianist creating music. Trancelike she floated into the notes that rose like scintillating colours cascading through sunset.

She moaned softly, as he leant forward, his tongue trailing his fingers, his hands moulding her muscles into sensuous desire.

She pulled away. ‘Not yet Douglas, my ribs are not healed yet. But soon – soon.’

Groaning he pulled her into his arms, stroking back the wet bright hair. ‘It seems my siren has turned into a vestal virgin.’

Smiling, Jessie laid her head on his chest, trying to control her feelings for him, longing to stroke his magnificent torso. Instead, she lay listening to the beat of his heart as it returned to a normal rhythm. 

Nuzzling her ear he whispered, ‘Love you Jess, stay with me.  Tomorrow we should get the results of the DNA and then we’ll know where we’re going with all this.”

Her body stiffened slightly, when it came to it, how would he feel, if she was indeed the heir to Rhonan. For all his assurances that he would be happy with any result, for all his protestations of love for her, how would he really feel and more importantly, how would he react?


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

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 45 & 46

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 45 & 46

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:

All Available Chapters!

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 45 & 46

Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved

Chapter 45

Raising her hands to the circle of light she floated up through the waters.  Glimpsing silver fish, with scales iridescent greens and blues, darting among lily pads, she tried to touch one. At the surface, the sun beamed on her face, as reeds brushed her legs.  However, the sun became an electric light, the reeds, a crisp hospital sheet.  Astonished, Jess saw Douglas asleep, his head lying across her lap. Hesitantly, she reached out, her fingers brushing the blue-black waves.  At her touch, he awoke instantly.

Raising his head, he said, ‘Darling – at last.’ Smiling gently, he grasped her hand.

Visions flooded her mind, the boat tipping, a scaly arm grabbing her, taking her to the bottom of the lake. ‘Douglas?  What happened?  I fell out of the boat –there was a monster. There was−‘

‘Don’t get upset. You’re safe sweetheart.”

   ‘Daisy?’ ow’s Lily?”

  She’s fine – resting at the vet’s. They had to stitch up a tear on her shoulder, but she‘s okay.’

‘Oh thank God. She tried to save me. I can see her now, swimming right down to the bottom.  She attacked that monster.’

 Douglas nodded.  ‘When it came to it Jess, she was right there – would’ve given her life for you.’

‘Did she have many stitches?’

Douglas decided to keep it light. ‘Just a few Jess – but she’s gonna be okay’        

‘How long have I been here?

‘Just the night.’

‘It was Max – wasn’t it?    

‘Yeah, but I don’t think you’ll be bothered with him again. He’s gone back to the hell he came from.’ 

‘You can’t send them back Douglas. Only an exorcist can do that.  He’s not finished yet.’ She shuddered.  “You know – I think I saw Murial. I remember seeing her streaking towards me, long red hair, and a skirt billowing in the water.’ 

‘I saw her Jess – saw her face. She fought him – saved  you – saved me.  I can’t explain it away this time. It happened. I’m sorry Jess. It’s my bloody fault for not believing in you. I feel such a heel.’

He almost jumped as Jessie gasped, ’Oh no, the box – oh no – there was a box with letters−’

‘Is this what you’re talking about?’  Douglas grinned holding up the tin box. She squealed with delight, wincing through the pain of two cracked ribs ‘Oh God, yes – yes.’

‘Nat saved it.  They went out to get the boat and found it in the bottom.  I checked the contents; they didn’t get wet, but then it had a tight-fitting lid. How did you find them?’   

‘I just couldn’t get the painting out of my mind – the inscription. I saw Murial struggling with someone, I thought – Max. Ghost or no ghost, I had to help her.’

Douglas nodded. ‘I understand – I wish to God, you’d contacted me first.’ He lowered his eyes.  ‘I’ve been so stupid Jess.’

Impulsively, she reached out her hand to grip his. ‘We both have.  I shouldn’t have tried to make you believe. You were trying to go along with it.’

He managed a weak grin, ‘Trying is the right word I think.  I know it’s no excuse but it was all too much, but the demon, I saw the bloody thing. Fought with it.’

Jess coloured up. ‘It could have killed you—‘

He interrupted, his face tense. ‘Changing the subject, the inscription on the tin is the same as your locket?’

Jessie nodded opening the tin box.  Lifting out the letters, she looked at Douglas ‘This is as much yours as mine. I mean I found it in the tomb on your island.’ Her voice trailed away as she held his eyes.

‘No, it’s yours as well Jess.  If the inscription on the tin is the same as the locket, then it looks like we’re both involved here. Go on, have a look, take the letters out.’

Jessie hesitated.  ‘You’re sure?

He smiled, as he looked at the pale skin, framed in fiery hair, a narrow bridge of light freckles across her nose. ‘Open the letters.’

Jessie stopped as Dinah popped her head through the door. ‘Hey. You’re awake.  Is it okay for us to come in?’

 As usual, her cousin looked radiant, the raven hair curling around her shoulders contrasting with the pale pink shirt. Lucy appeared behind her followed by George and Nathan.  Lucy put a bunch of mixed flowers on her bedside cabinet whilst Dinah popped some grapes in the bowl. 

As the girls found chairs,     Dinah said, ‘You look better.  That was one terrible night Jess.’

Douglas muttered, ‘She shouldn’t have gone on her own – should’ve asked me.’

Jess threw him a look, but refrained from saying he hadn’t been talking to her at the time.

Nathan said, “We heard Daisy barking and then the screaming. Douglas’s office is at the back, but we made it out front pretty quick.’

 George said, “We were teaching – but when we heard the racket, I think the whole class came out to have a look. Didn’t realize it was anything to do with you.’      

Jessie said. I don’t remember much Nat. But, thank you for saving my life.’

Nat said, ‘Douglas took the beast on. Phobia or no phobia.  I managed to get Daisy and you to the shore.’

Jessie’s eyes filled. ’That was so brave of you both. I just don’t know how to thank you’  Looking at Douglas, she said,  ‘A phobic attack can paralyse, but you not only fought that, but also Max.’

Nat broke in, ‘It was a bloody monster – scales – fangs.  Scared the life out of me.’ 

Douglas took her hand, squeezing it gently, ‘All I could think of was you.’ He rose and gently kissed her forehead.

Jessie felt her heart swell at his kiss. If only they could stop arguing – find some balance.  As if reading her mind, Douglas said, ‘Looks like we’re gonna go on quarrelling into the sunset.’

Dinah grinned, that sounded like a proposal if only Jess realized. She would tell Jess of Douglas’s heartbreak as he fought for her life.  But, not here, not now. 

Jessie flinched at Douglas’s words, blushing as she saw the adoration in his eyes. That look and those words sounded long term. Covering her confusion, she said to the group.  ‘We’ve got some letters here.  I found them in the tomb – I’ll explain later.’  She took the bundle out of the tin box and untied the crimson ribbon. Spreading them across the bed she said, “They’re all dated but out of order.  Let’s start with the first shall we?’

 Startled Dinah said, ‘Oh my God, this is exciting.  What date is it?”

‘Well there’s a single page of parchment.  Oh my goodness, it is from Sir Guy Mavebury. It reads, These letters and newspaper articles belong to my beloved stepsister Murial. These I have interred in her tomb for posterity.   Enclosed also are letters, she wrote to her sister the Lady Brianna. These were kindly returned by Brianna’s husband shortly after her untimely death from the Typhus.  We still had no knowledge of the whereabouts of Duncan and Murial, Her letters to Duncan’s beloved wife should be in your safe keeping. Jessie began sorting through them flinching as she moved her body. ‘Here’s a date – March 27th 1810.  Then there’s another one April 15th.”  Seeing the raised eyebrows and curiosity, she said, “Shall I read it out?’

Dinah quipped, ‘Can’t wait – go on.’

Chapter 46

Pushing herself higher on the bed Jessie began to read, peering closer at the faded script on yellowed parchment paper. Lifting the first page to find the writer, she said. ‘It’s from Murial. She looked over to Douglas, beaming; she continued. ‘Err … it’s to The Lady Brianna A’Hearne, Rhonan Castle, Cornwall, England.  Dearest Brianna, Your letter meant so much to me.  I know that you are with me in spirit, and I am stronger for it. The Scottish Clearances are raising panic on the estates here. We fear the absentee landlords intend to evict the tenant farmers to use their land for sheep grazing. It’s all to do with the wool economy.  How can this be….’?’

She paused; this is just like the dreams; it confirms everything.  Murial was really speaking to us.’

George said, ‘Uncanny – just makes my blood boil.  Those bloody landlords had no right – no morals. D’you know I read that one of the  landlords inherited ninety  thousand acres and immediately planned to clear the lot – give it over entirely to sheep, the  tenants forced to trek to the coast – to cut seaweed. It was a special kind of seaweed only found in deep water.  So the poor devils had to wade out waist deep to hack it from the rocks, children too…. But carry on Jess – carry on.’

 Jess picked up another letter to read of the plight of an old couple starving in a shack by the sea; Dinah looked over to Lucy to see her wiping her eyes smudging the mascara. ‘Oh God, it just doesn’t seem possible. Those poor people, left to die. If, it hadn’t been for Murial and her sister, they would have just walked to their death in the sea.’

Picking up another letter Jessie said, ‘Douglas would you mind reading, I just don’t feel up to it really, anyway my ribs hurt.’

Douglas winced, ‘That’s my fault. I’m sorry, I was clumsy … I—‘

‘You saved my life Doug.  And I’m grateful.’

Looking into his eyes, Jess saw the adoration, the pain.  Reaching out he took his hand, ‘Without you, I wouldn’t be here – I know that.’

His faced flushed. ‘It was joint effort – me, Nat and Murial.’

Dinah bit her lip; Jess still didn’t know that she had literally died for a few minutes. Now was not the time to tell her.  

Pushing through the letters and articles, Doug said, ‘I’ll just read out some snippets, they’re not in date order, obviously they were bundled together in haste. We can study them in depth later.’  As he read, so the tragic story of the Clearances and of Murial unfolded.

After reading for some time, he said, my voice is getting hoarse, so I’ll just finish reading this one, and then you can all take your pick. Picking up another letter ad-lib, he read,

December10th 1810.

My dearest Love,

 How happy I am to read your letter. I love you so much – it hurts when we’re so far apart. I do hope you can rally support.  But now, I must ask you to hurry back.  Duncan I am increasing – I am with child. What are we to do my love?  It will take some time for you to return from Jamaica.  I can conceal it for some months, but then I am at the mercy of the Earl. I fear his wrath. I know he loves me, but if he finds out before your return, I fear banishment. – Or worse, he may put me out into the night. It is just not ‘ton’; it has happened to other girls. They have been left to roam the roads begging.

If I tell him I am your wife, he could have the marriage annulled – make up some excuse.  You know how powerful he is and Father O’Sullivan so timid.’

Please answer this Duncan – I fear the worst.

Douglasput down the letter. ‘Poor girl – she’s fighting for the tenants and for her unborn child.’

Jessie whispered, ‘Good God, what a predicament. She must have been terrified. I know young women were actually thrown out – left to starve really. Honestly, men are beasts.”

Douglas said, ‘Yeah, if wives were unfaithful or even if the husband suspected it, they could be ejected from the house – lose their home, children – money. Some were ferreted away to asylums, or locked in a room without anyone raising any questions.”

Jess muttered, ‘Women had no rights at all– damn men.’

George said, ‘Yeah, seems men ruled with a rod of iron. A man had the right to bring his mistress home and install her in the marriage bed; the wife had to sleep in the spare room. If they rebelled, the husband or even their own brothers quickly subdued them.  There was a film about it, The Duchess, few years back now.’

Jessie scowled, ‘Bloody men.’

George gave a tight smile. “Can’t argue with that now.  It was terrible for women through the centuries. Even in the nineteenth and early twentieth-century, women were sold. It was called ‘wife selling’. In the poorer areas, the wife was paraded before the men wearing a halter and sold off to the highest bidder.  It was legal, went on all the time. With the rich they sold her off to friends to settle gambling debts.”

Jessie plucked at the crisp sheet. “Men – bastards.’

‘But, not all women suffered Jess. Some were cherished. Others led normal lives as long as they didn’t nag or answer back too much.  The husband had the right to use her money as he pleased.’

‘Cherished? I’m sorry George but you make them sound like pets.’

‘Yeah I know – didn’t mean  to – you’re right though – shocking business.’

Seeing that Jess was slipping down in the bed, Dinah, went to help her sit up. Aware of the cracked ribs, she took care not to pull her too much.  Adjusting the pillows, she said, ‘There now, is that more comfortable?’

Jess nodded.  ‘Thanks Di, that’s great.  Looking around at the friends she said, ‘Let’s get on. There’s another letter here from Murial to Duncan.

Dinah moved forward eagerly, ‘What does it say?’

My dearest Duncan ,

I was so glad to receive your letter. I read and re-read it, then held it to my breast as I went to sleep.  I could smell your scent on the paper, even that you had a cigar at some time during the writing of it. I am so relieved you will be home long before I begin to show.  This empire line does indeed help.  Many women dispense with corsets – as have I.  So, along with a shawl, I think I can keep our secret until your return. I know that you are working hard for the slaves.  I do not blame them making for the hills at least they will have some kind of a life with the Maroons, but as you write they can barely scratch  a living  in such arid land.

I miss you so much, I long to hold your dear face and kiss your lips. My body aches for you; I dream of you holding me close to your heart. Pray God, we will soon be able to live as man and wife publicly. But, as you say it could well be that we repair to your plantations in Jamaica. I must say it would be a welcome relief from these cold and wet climes. 

 We are still ferreting food to the farmers and tenants. Uncle has no idea; he’s only interested in his tomes anyway. With regular sustenance, they are beginning to get some flesh back on their bones. Robbie is taking on a lot of work at the stables.  Uncle sees none of the servants besides the intimate house staff, as he expects all servants to keep to the tunnels.  This rule serves us well as now I have Alice helping in the kitchen and the bairns are looked after by the neighbours.  He would be furious if he were to espy any of the servants, as you know, from any room in the Manor so this ruling serves our purpose.  

 We are still saving as much of our own food as we can, and stealing from the stores and the kitchen.  We have to be wary of the Housekeeper you know what the old witch is like, always currying favour with Uncle and the Steward.  One of the servants told me that last night, the Steward, the Butler and the Head Houseman, dined in the Housekeeper’s private rooms, with meats, fish and fine wines and then a pudding of apple pie and custard with helpings of fresh cream. God will repay them their selfishness and greed. How I would like to take my horsewhip to them Duncan. 

But, there is the dinner gong. I must go. You know how uncle becomes so tetchy if anyone is late.  Why we have to dress for dinner I know not? We have no guests this night, but still we must bathe and dress formally.  Aunt will not be present; as usual, she has a touch of the vapours, due to the dog escaping into the gardens today.  On a lighter note, it was such a merry scene, with the housemaids and the Butler running hither and thither after it and Aunt almost fainting as she watched from the balustrade.

Take care my beloved husband. I pray God you can help the slaves. These are wretched times with the slaves and the Clearances.

Your own devoted Murial.

Dinah pursed her lips. ‘I wonder if he did get back in time. Accidents happen especially at sea.’


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

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 43 & 44

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 43 & 44

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:

All Available Chapters!

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 43 & 44

Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved

Chapter 43

Jessie’s heart lightened as she pushed the boat out into deeper water.  Clambering in, she grabbed the oars.  The lights from the hotel looked inviting; she needed a shower, clean clothes, a comfortable armchair and wine. She could see the glow from the two windows of her suite.  In her rush to save Murial, she’d left the lights on and the balcony doors open.

 Daisy splashed in front of her, as Jessie began to row to the quay. Even as a puppy she liked to lead, definitely an alpha female, Jessie was her minion.  Musing on the contents of the tin, the parchment paper, the bright crimson ribbon, Jessie felt the boat rock slightly.  Frowning she looked around to see the water rippling, bubbles rising at the right side of the boat.  She saw Daisy turn her head and twist around; heard her whimpering her paws paddling rapidly back to Jessie.  The boat began to rock ominously, forcing Jessie to let go of the oars, and clutch the sides.  Seeing water slopping into the hull, slurping around the tin, she reached to save it, only to feel the boat almost capsize.

 She shrieked, as a scaled arm reached towards her over the side, a nightmare of a creature rose from the water stretching for her. It was her attacker from the studio, but now barely recognizable. Reptilian scales wrinkled across his face, the violet eyes narrowed with evil intent, jaws snapping with mucous-coated fangs.  A scream gurgling in her throat, Jessie searched frantically for a weapon; panicking she tried to pull an oar from its slot, but it would not yield.  The monster was now pulling at the boat, reaching for her, as she tugged again on the oar, Jessie could hear Daisy barking. Horrified, she saw the creature trying to climb over the side, its huge body reeking of mouldering eggs. Jerking away in horror and disgust, she feared the boat would capsize.  Struggling once more with the oar, she wrenched it free, managing to raise it shoulder high to lash out at her assailant.  Yet to no avail, the creature giving an insane cackle, caught it in mid-air and threw it into the water. 

Again, Jessie heard Daisy howling, surely she would raise the alarm surely someone would come.  Weeping, she wriggled away from the talons reaching for her, knocking over the tin of letters now floating in water at the bottom of the boat. Of God, they’d be ruined. Helplessly she cried out Douglas’s name. Why hadn’t she listened to him – why had she turned him away? Now she was going to die. She screamed out as the fiend too huge to clamber into the boat rose from the water, grotesque shoulders towering over her, hideous arms reaching for her. Moaning she saw the creature grinning, its vicious teeth now mere inches away from her face.

With an inhuman roar, it punched at the side of the frail craft, a mighty fist thrusting through flimsy wood.  Water churned in as her attacker tore at the broken panels. To her terror, it almost sank beneath her, leaving her in the scaled arms of an ogre from Hell. But, it did not seem to be intent on tearing her flesh; instead, it dived with her into the murky water, swimming through reeds and debris to the bottom of the lake. Helplessly Jess struggled for breath, clawing at water.

With breath escaping in a stream of bubbles, she knew she was going to die, prey to this monster.  Biting and kicking, she choked, swallowing muddy water. Desperate for air, she glimpsed a shape streaking towards her through the murk, red hair, like reeds streaming behind her, the face white, a full scarlet skirt billowing.  Even in her terror, she recognized Murial. How?  Why?  But, it was too late she was dying. The creature tightened its hold on her, as it reached out to knock away her rescuer. Through the reeds, she saw another shape hovering – Daisy – enraged, the black lipped smile gone to be replaced with a snarl, her head dipping, teeth ferociously sinking into the thick scaled skin of the creature’s shoulder. 

 Releasing Jessie momentarily, it turned its attention to Daisy now paddling swiftly to the surface, luring the creature away from Jessie.  Floating to the bottom of the lake, Jessie watched the last bit of her oxygen drifting in bubbles from her mouth. She glimpsed Murial’s skirt surround her, felt slim strong arms enfold her, long legs kicking, taking them to the surface and darkness. However, the monster returned, stroking powerful arms towards them, the violet eyes wide and malevolent in silted water. She saw Murial raise a short sword, whilst still holding onto her tightly with the other arm.  Their bodies colliding, the fiend gnashing teeth, wrestled with Murial. In the struggle, Jess felt herself falling once more into the mud. Her breath now gone, her body still, a vision of Douglas floated before her, his hair blue black in the sunshine, his hands so tender caressing, stroking back her hair, his arms lifting her, lips soft on her cheek as he carried her into darkness.

In his office, Douglas leapt to his feet as he heard a dog barking, a woman screaming.  Nat rushed to his door. ‘Come quickly someone’s drowning in the lake, there’s a bloody dog out there in trouble as well.’

‘Jessie?  It is Jessie, I know it – know it – oh Christ.’

Douglas caught up with Nathan. ‘I saw her walking with Daisy. I shouldn’t have left her alone.’  Running abreast, they reached the edge of the lake, to see water churning, a monstrous scaled creature fighting.  Douglas caught his breath as he saw what appeared to be a woman lashing out with a knife.  Surely not? It couldn’t be?  Long reeds of red hair flew above the spray, scarlet skirts ballooning.

He cried out to Nat.  ‘It’s Murial – can’t be – this is crazy.’ He stopped short as he glimpsed a white shape swimming towards them tugging at something white, it looked like another body submerged beneath the water.  ‘Oh Christ – no – no.  Nat quick.’     ‘

Nat shouted, ’What the hell is happening?’

Douglas bent to kick off his shoes, shouting, ‘It’s Jessie – Jessie’. Running towards the water, he felt the phobia rise almost paralyzing him.  Filling his chest with air, he screamed his way through the fear, as he jumped straight into the deep water of the quay striking out towards the dog and Jessie. As he neared the dog, he saw the body rise to the surface, saw the white features so still, the scarlet hair almost maroon in the moonless night. It was Jessie.  Now praying to a God he had so bitterly rejected, his arms thrashed the water as he swam towards her.

Chapter 44

Almost within reach of Jessie’s floating body, Douglas watched her turn face down into the water.  In a frenzied lunge, he reached her, swiftly flipping her over.  Nat now within yards of him shouted, ‘You take her in; I’ll get the bloody creature.’

 But, Douglas could see the creature breaking from Murial and speeding towards them.  ‘No, Nat get her and Daisy to the shore. ‘

Leaving him no option, Douglas turned swimming swiftly to the monster now churning the water towards him.  Taking a deep breath, he dived, his arms pumping, as he swam underwater. He would take the thing by surprise. He saw the heavy body on the surface above him. Forcing his way up, Douglas flung his arms around the scaly body dragging it below the surface of the water.   The creature turned with massive fangs to bite down into his throat, but Douglas was ready for him, punching him in the mouth.  Thrashing and rolling, they sank to the bottom of the lake, the mud writhing up, swirling around them.  Fighting to hold his breath, Douglas would not let go, he had to give Nat and Daisy time to get Jess to safety. Embroiled in the murky depths, punching, kicking and biting, he felt the creature’s rock rough hands tightening on his throat. As he tried to wrench the reptilian fingers away, they abruptly loosened. Relieved, surprised, he kicked himself free to be almost blinded by bubbles of blood. Peering through the gloom, he saw Murial  with skirts billowing, slashing through the creature’s legs with a gruesome sword.

 Choking, desperate for breath, Douglas kicked his way to the surface. Gasping, he looked around to see Nat hauling Jessie up to the bank along with Daisy.  As he peered into the depth’s he saw the white face of a woman, bright steel flashing in her hand,  her long scarlet hair wafting around her, saw the limp scaled arm of the creature now floating with open wounds trailing blood, the monstrous body still.   Douglas knew – knew that he was looking down into the face of Murial.   A sob rose in his chest.  They owed her their lives.  Striking out for the shore he knew, it was all true – true.  He felt a dreamlike calm, as he realized physical death was not final. Jess was right; she’d been right all along. At least, she was safe thank God. He would never doubt her again.  

As he climbed onto the bank, he saw Nathan holding Daisy bleeding from a jagged wound in her shoulder.  His eyes went to George bending over Jessie turning her on her side to help drain the water out of her lungs.  Looking up, George said, ‘She’s not breathing.’

God no, not after all this, she had to be alive.  Pushing his friend aside, Douglas said, ‘Get an ambulance, I’ll do CPR. ‘    He felt the terror rise, reliving his nightmare, his mind flashing to the still small form of his daughter, as the paramedics fought to save her.  It was happening again.

 The phobia rose up and swallowed him whole.  His knees buckled, his body folding in paralysis, move man – move.  Gritting his teeth, he looked up to see Dinah standing beside him, the tears streaming down her face. He said, ‘Look, you do the compressions, and I‘ll breathe for her.  Start now – come on.’

 With her face twisted in grief, Dinah pumped Jessie’s chest, stopping for Douglas to blow into her mouth.  Silently, with muscles clenched, he worked steadily urging Jessie to breathe. After some minutes, Dinah stopped, looking helplessly at him.  ‘She’s gone Doug’ – she’s gone.’

Douglas shook his head, growling.  ‘By God she hasn’t.’  He took over, pressing on Jessie’s chest, then breathing into her mouth.  As he pressed down again, he heard a crack and knew he’d broken her rib. 

 Dinah whispered, “She’s gone Douglas. Please stop; she’s gone.’  

 Douglas looked down at Jessie’s pale face, at the delicate splatter of freckles across the bridge of her nose; the green eyes closed as if in death; he gave a great cry, lifting her lifeless body into his arms, cradling her to his chest.  Kneeling on the grass, with tears streaming, he rocked her to and fro. He didn’t hear the sirens of the ambulance or see the flashing lights neither did he hear the ambulance men racing towards them. 

 The paramedic dressed in dark green overalls patted his shoulder, ‘Okay mate, we’ll take her now.’

Terrified, Douglas clenched his fists, feeling his nails dig into the palms of his hands as they brought out a defibrillator; with hope rising, he watched them cut open the white tank top releasing her breasts.  Looking down on her beauty, the pale skin, the toned muscles of chest and diaphragm, he cried aloud.  No, it couldn’t be, she couldn’t die. For God’s sake Jess fight – fight. Warning the crowd to stand back, the paramedics applied the paddles. Jessie’s body jerked in response, but there was no sign of a heartbeat on the monitor.  Again, they applied the paddles, but to Douglas’s despair, there was no reaction.

 As they began to shake their heads, Douglas shouted ‘Don’t stop, for Christ’s sake work man – work.’

Yet, even on the third try, Jessie did not respond.  The paramedics stood back their faces grim.

Now he screamed into the night, his hand reaching back into his  pocket. A demented prayer escaped his lips,  ‘Jess –come back to us – I believe Jessie – I believe – God help me, I believe in you – in Spirit. Don’t leave me alone.’

His heart leapt as he saw her eyelids move, then open, ‘Doug – my love.’

Dinah looked around, her face pale with relief, her feet soaking in wet trainers. Swiftly, the paramedics inserted an oxygen tube, hoisting her onto a trolley, and into the ambulance.  One of them turned to Douglas, shivering, his face ashen. ‘Don’t know what happened there mate, but whatever it was it worked – bloody miracle.’ 

 George caught Douglas’s arm.  ‘She’s alive man – alive. Thank God. We’ll take you to the hospital.’

 Douglas shook his head. ‘No – I’m going in the ambulance with her. She needs me. I don’t want her to be alone.’  He remembered her words, ‘I’ve always felt so alone.’  He would make damn sure that didn’t happen now, as she fought for her life. He muttered to an unknown god. ‘Thanks – I don’t know who the hell I’m talking to, but thanks.’ 


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

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 41 & 42

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 41 & 42

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:

All Available Chapters!

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 41 & 42

Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved

Chapter 41

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.’

‘Bugger off.’

‘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.

Chapter 42

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

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!