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!

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 39 & 40

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 39 & 40

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 39 & 40

Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved

Chapter 39

As they gathered round Jessie picked out the tome for 1810.  Carrying it to a small oaken table, she opened the mouldering cover to find the pages dampened and mottled with age.  In some places, the ink had run obliterating whole sections of entries.  ‘They don’t record the births – only the baptisms, confirmations, marriages and deaths. There’re sections for each.’

 Lucy murmured, ‘We’ll be lucky to find anything.’

Jessie hunched over peering at the bedraggled words.  ‘Nothing – hum – where do we go from here?’  Putting the flock-marked book back into the chest, she glimpsed a slight movement in the shadows by an old bookcase, the leaded light doors hanging half-open. Frowning she moved towards it, a gust of wind lifting her hair.  She looked swiftly to the window to find it firmly closed.  Whispering she said, ‘Something’s here – can you feel it?’

Lucy moved to her side. ‘Yes, there’s a strong presence in the room.’    

A picture of Murial flashed into Jessie’s mind, her eyes imploring, the red hair glistening as she clutched the baby bundled to her chest.  She did not flinch as it turned to her, the tiny skull gleaming in the shaft of light as the minute mouth opened and shut on air. 

She felt tears of pity rise in her eyes as she went deeper into the image, deeper into the sorrow of a grieving young mother.  She could almost hear Murial talking, as her breathing slowed, could almost hear Murial’s words. She felt   a light touch on her arm pulling her back to reality.  She bit her lip; the dead girl was so clear she could draw each lash of her eyes, each tiny line of despair. She turned to see Douglas looking at her his eyes creased with concern.  ‘You okay sweetheart?’ 

She shook her head swallowing down the sadness. ‘No – not really – I can see Murial in my mind, I can almost touch her.’

Lucy muttered, ‘Strange – there’s no aroma of seaweed now – but you know I can feel her here.’

Dinah moved closer to George, her skin crawling.  ‘Have you got your pastels with you Jessie?’

‘No – I did not think to bring them – didn’t realise she would be here. Anyway after what Father O’Reilly said.’

‘Oh don’t take any notice of him – superstitious old goat.  You’ve helped so many with their grieving Jess.  Just don’t give him any importance.’

 ‘Well he did get us out of trouble last night.’

‘I know but it doesn’t mean to say that his is the only faith. Murial is trying to reach you or Douglas.’

Lucy whispered, ‘She’s here – it is so strong. It’s almost like she’s with us all the time. ‘Knows what we’re doing. She’s trying to tell us something.  There’s something in this room she wants us to find – I’m sure of it.’

Dinah said, “What about automatic writing? Why not try it.”

Douglas frowned. “What’s that?”

‘It’s spirit writing – can be correct – quite uncanny.’

Jessie glanced at Douglas.  She could see fear – puzzlement.  “Is that going to put Jess in any danger?”

Nathan shrugged ‘Nah.  It’s not like a séance. Has anyone got any paper?’

Douglas crossed over to a drawer half open. ‘Plenty of it here. I’ve got a pen.’  He turned to Jessie looking deep into her eyes. ‘Be careful Jessie – you never know.’

Nat grinned, ‘Listen to the cynic talking. Go on Jessie give it a try.  Come over here by the desk.’

Aware of the group behind her, Jessie sat with pen poised over the paper, trying to blank any thought. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.  The others remained silent as she managed to still her mind, drawing a black curtain across all thoughts or images, deepening her breath so that it was scarcely four a minute.  She felt her eyes glaze, the paper blur as the pen began to write. She knew she was holding the pen, first she heard a moaning, a voice seeming to cry through wind and hail. The words appeared, but they were not her own. Help me – Duncan – Duncan  help us – help us.

Jessie was unaware of the others moving quietly closer, straining to see the words. Duncan has gone. I am alone with Max – he is a demon.  Oh God, so much blood – Duncan will kill him – I know he will come. Can’t find her – can’t find my beloved child – my baby – coffin – waves – sea – baby – so much blood- it’s dark – dark – so much blood, I can smell it all over me over my baby. Duncan where are you my love – where are you?”

Murial was hurting so much, so alone. Jessie felt the tears hurt her eyes as the pen raced across the page.  She licked a salty tear on her lip as she carried on, then felt a tissue put into her hand.  Wiping the tears, she gave a shuddering breath as she began to scribble faster now, her pen skimming over the pages. Jessie was completely unaware of the others, of the room. She was with Murial; dark  waters bubbled over her head as Murial floated towards her, her hair steaming like red reeds, her full skirt billowing.  The demon is near.  He’s near – wants you Jessie- death – death hides….

The pen stopped; she felt the hush in the room, the group perfectly still.  Jessie felt herself go deeper, the pen digging into the paper. “Death hides in the corners – watch the shadows Jessie – do not be alone. Max – demon  – trying to find Duncan – how long must I wait?  Blood is bright red over me, over the walls. Find Duncan.

Jessie stopped abruptly, waiting – knowing there was more. “The bookcase – search – search for the truth.  God – if only – if only.”     Jessie stopped abruptly, the pen falling on the page as she shook her head, clearing away the trance – a mishmash of words and messages.  But, that was the way of automatic writing. Sometimes it turned out to be a jumble, and at other times, it could be as exact as a Mozart Sonata.

She rose from the chair to face them, her face pale. “The records are in the bookcase. I don’t know what they are, but I’m sure something is there.” Her head was clearing as she walked towards the bookcase, fitting snug against the white bricked wall. Opening the glass doors she peered inside, her eyes searching the shelves. ‘There’s nothing here. Wait a moment; I’ll move some of these books.’

 The dust rose from the blackened warped shelves as she moved the books.  On placing some to one side, a sharp piece of wood almost cut her fingers.  Wincing she drew it back to peer in. On seeing a dark space behind a splintered plank Jessie felt an adrenaline rush through her turning to Douglas, she said, ‘Could you pull this out – I think there’s something behind it.’

He reached over and tugged at the wood, breaking it free to reveal the dark aperture. Reaching in, he pulled out a rectangular wooden box.

 As Douglas carried it to the table, Lucy whispered, ‘Look – the carving of a mermaid.’

 He swore softly, ’Dammit – it’s locked.’ Reaching into his pocket, he produced a thin strip of wire. They watched, with bated breath, as he pushed it into the lock, twisting it and fro.  ‘Got it.’   Lifting the lid, they saw a scroll of parchment wrapped in a scarlet ribbon with a neat bow. Untying the silk crimson ribbon, carefully unrolling it, his eyes widened.  ‘It’s a marriage certificate. They moved closer peering over his shoulder, as he muttered, ‘Oh my God, Murial and Duncan married. Look – witnesses, Lady Margaret Mavebury of Rhonan, Sir Guy Mavebury of Rhonan and here Robbie McGregor.’

Jessie moved forward to look at it. ‘So it’s true, the dreams – the automatic writing.’

Douglas nodded. ‘It’s bloody tragic – that writing got to me.’    

Jessie felt her heart drain, so the dreams were true, she remembered Murial’s eyes shining as Duncan gave her the locket – felt the foreboding as she spoke of death. So they must have married as Duncan swore they would.

Douglas took her hand as he blurted out. ‘Jessie, I’ve been a blind fool. I can’t argue with the reality of all this.  It might be messages from the dead, but it’s all so damn real. We’ve just got to help Murial. But how?’

Lucy stepped forward. ‘We’ll find a way.  I’m not going to let my fear overcome me again.’  She turned to Jessie ‘With the six of us together we’ve got enough psychic power to help Murial.’

George spluttered. ‘I’d like to help out here but I’m no psychic.’ 

Jessie murmured ‘Maybe not George but we can tap into your energy to give us more strength, same goes for Dinah, Nathan and Douglas. We need raw physical energy as well as spiritual strength and belief. ’

Douglas hugged her. ‘So let’s do it.’

George beamed. ‘Now you’re talking. You can’t deny the mysticism here.  It seems spirit’s working overtime to make contact, and we can’t deny it any longer.’ Douglas nodded. ‘But first, the pub I need a drink.’  Taking Jessie’s arm, he led them from the small room whose secrets would change their lives.

Chapter 40

The pub boasted sprawling lawns leading down to the loch. Jessie felt herself relax, as the sun warm on her back eased the tension of clenched muscles.  The trestle table with attached wooden benches was just big enough to seat them all. The cool drink of lager and lime washed away the mustiness and dust of the dank room. Maybe now they could find some answers.  Her fingers touched the locket hidden beneath her tank top.  Why did she hide it? Even if it wasn’t anything to do with Murial, at least it was her right to wear it. It was her family heirloom.   The row between her and Douglas had been so bitter. Now she was wary of him; knew he was trying to make his way back to her, but she could not allow him to hurt her again.  At least, they were easier with each other now – friends. That was the way it would stay.

She watched the dogs gambolling down to the water’s edge, Daisy splashing in dipping her head right under the water whilst Victor stood at the edge.  She smiled at Douglas, “So he doesn’t like the water? Look at Daisy, she’s got her head underwater. She just loves it and mud, the blacker the better.  If she finds any she’ll roll in it.”

Douglas relaxed that the loch was far enough away, grinned. ‘Victor likes fresh water that is, but that’s a salt water loch.”  

 ‘Really?  I thought the hounds loved to splash around in any water.’

‘Not the Viszlas. His ancestors hunted on the Steppes of Russia, dogs of the Russian aristocracy.  The tragedy was after the last world war the communists razed the mansions of the aristocracy to the ground, shooting the dogs. Some were rescued by the underground and taken secretly through to Germany and France.’

 ‘He’s certainly got a noble head, a true aristocrat.  Look at Daisy; she’s like a shambling polar bear.’

Dinah clipped in. ‘She’s gorgeous Jess.  Look at those curls and waves, huge black eyes.  You know she poses.’  They laughed as Daisy raised her head from the water shaking the water over Victor, who decided she was rather lush and proceeded to nip her ears – doggy courtship.

George took a long drink of his beer and then turned to Jessie.  ‘So, where do we begin?”

Jessie looked down at the automatic writing. ‘It’s so jumbled; I don’t really know where to start.’

Douglas said, ‘You told me some of your dreams you’ve been having Jessie.  Could you tell the rest of us about them maybe there’re some clues there.’

Jessie nodded. ‘They were more than dreams. I honestly believe the dreams were messages from Murial. She was talking me into her life, her memories.  In one of them, Murial and Duncan were discussing how they were going to help the tenants – people were beginning to die from starvation.  In another dream, they were definitely going to marry. Then, there was Max the younger brother who had his eye on Murial. Duncan called him a rakehell something to do with the Hell Fire Club. Thinking about it, Duncan had a quick temper, quite ferocious. He said he would kill him if he touched Murial. Seems the temper runs in the genes.’  She stopped to look at Douglas his temper was similar. 

 Douglas caught the look and bristled. “So you’re saying we’re alike?’

‘Yes quite honestly, it’s not only the temperament. You both have the same features, colour of hair.  It might as well be you Douglas; it was uncanny.’

Lucy interrupted, “And you are the spitting image of Murial and she was feisty.  Maybe you’ve both reincarnated?’

 ‘It’s quite spooky.’  She caught Douglas’s gaze as she said, ‘Who knows? Anyway, Duncan ensured that Max would be given a commission in the Infantry. They planned that whilst Duncan went to help the slaves in Jamaica she would stay behind and help the tenants.’

 Nat muttered, ‘That must have been terrible – just doesn’t bear thinking about. Surely they got help?’

George added, ‘There were so many absentee landlords, living in England or abroad who didn’t give a damn about the tenants. All they wanted was profit from the wool economy. 

Dinah frowned, ‘So she was left alone with Max?’

‘I’m not sure when he left – that was not in the dream. But she had Guy and John the footman who always guarded her, and then of course there were the Earl and the Countess, let alone a bevy of servants.’ 

She looked at him and then at Douglas.  ‘Oh my God now I can place him, I thought he looked familiar.  It’s him, the one who – the one who attacked me in the studio. It was the same man as hid behnd the trees spying on Murial and Duncan.  Dear God, it was Max – the demon.’ 

Lucy shuddered. ‘Sounds awful. Why on earth didn’t she go with Duncan?’

‘Like I said, she had to stay and look after the tenants.  They were already beginning to die. She was really attached to one particular family, the McGregor’s; she looked upon them as her own family. Spent a lot of time with them as a child.  She used to play with the son Robbie and was great friends with his wife Alice.

Nat put down his pint. ‘You know it’s almost as if you knew them the way you talk about it. They must have been vivid dreams.”

‘Messages – possession.’  Dinah exclaimed. ‘There is a difference. Jessie wasn’t just dreaming this, she was living it, was transported through time, the silent observer. It’s a well known phenomenon in spiritualist circles.

‘So Murial must be really powerful – I mean to be able to transport someone through time.”

‘No it wouldn’t be her doing; that would be her guide.’ 

Nat took another slug of his beer. “Now it’s getting complicated.’  

Jessie smiled, “Like we were saying at the séance, a guide is someone who guards the portal for the medium or protects the spirit. But there are also higher guides or Guardians right up to the angelic realm.”

‘Don’t let Father O’Reilly hear you say that.’

‘Nat – there is no hard and fast rule for the Catholics. I truly believe Murial is a revenant, a dead person who has returned. The Catholics believe in that. I also believe her when she says there’s a demon.’

Douglas snorted.  “Look I’m trying to believe something here. I said I’d help with this Murial game, but demons from Hell? Forget it.’

Jessie felt her pulse race. “You were at the séance Douglas, you heard that voice. You know something else was there besides Murial– frightened the life out of you. I saw you – you were bloody shaking.  What about when you heard Father O’Reilly shout that we’d raised demons – you heard that awful voice say it was a demon. For God’s sake what more do you want?”

‘Okay I heard the voice, that’s one of the reasons I’m here now, but come on – Hell? We’re getting too dramatic here. Next it will be Exorcist 5 or whatever.”

‘Dammit Douglas –if we left it to you the demon would eat us alive.’  Jessie glowered at Douglas, Why did she even think they could get along? He was an idiot, a damn stupid idiot. How can anyone set limits on a haunting?  He’s just denying the demon outright. ‘So when did you become the authority on heaven and hell?  Next you’ll be saying Jesus Christ doesn’t exist.’

‘Does he?’  Douglas growled into his cider. ‘Just don’t push it Jessie. Be satisfied I’m here.” Jessie’s skin matched the colour of her hair. ‘Push it? Satisfied? Who the hell d’you think you’re talking to – the cat?’  That did it, now he was telling her what to think, the misogynist pig.


No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters

All rights reserved

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 37 & 38

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 37 & 38

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 37 & 38

Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved

Chapter 37

Calmly, Father O’Reilly clicked open the battered leather case, lifting out sacred vestments. Putting on the white surplice, he kissed the Alb and the Chaucer before putting them on. Turning he held up the host, ‘In the name of Saint Paul, I abjure thee – get thee hence from this room – foul not these innocents.’

‘Innocents – their mothers licked— ‘

‘Be silent.’ thundered O’Reilly, his stature now straight, his voice deep.

Titters raced around the room mocking.  

Laying out the sacraments of salt, oil and another phial of holy water on the table, the priest prayed. ‘The Spirit of Our Lord Jesus Christ is with me as I go into the pits of hell.  His strength is with me, his light, the Light of the World banishing all darkness.’

As he spoke, a delicate aroma of the sea wafted into the room followed by a sweet voice. ‘Bye Baby Bunting, Daddy’s gone a huntin….’  Murial’s transparent form wafted before them, now showing her lovely face unmarked with age or death, crystal bright tears streaming down her face. The bundle clutched tightly to her breast. As they backed away O’Reilly whispered, ‘Stay with her, she be protecting ye. Stay.’

Jessie felt her whole body trembling with horror as she looked through the phantom form of Murial standing guard in front of them. Yet, part of her could cry for the sorrow in that beautiful face, the pitiful tiny skeleton.  She clutched Douglas’s hand, whilst she felt Dinah shuddering beside her.

The priest rose from his knees, the salt and water before him as he prayed further,

   Vos votum ut reddo hic.

   Senior , quot es meus foes! Quot consurgo obviam mihi!

   Plures es sententia mei â God mos non vindico

   Tamen vos , Senior , es a contego inter mihi , meus palma ,

   Unus quisnam levo meus caput capitis altus EGO dico sicco ut Senior ,

   quod is refero mihi ex suus sanctus mons montis. 

    LORD, how many are my foes!
               How many rise up against me!
               Many are saying of me,
              “God will not deliver him.”’

 The voice grunted like a pig.  ‘Come to Mama – come to Mama piglet.’

  The father took no notice continuing in English,

     But you, LORD, are a shield around me,
                my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
                I call out to the LORD,
               and he answers me from his holy mountain.

                I will not fear though tens of thousands
               assail me on every side.

   Arise, LORD!
               Deliver me, my God!
              Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
              break the teeth of the wicked.

  From the LORD comes deliverance.’

The voice now started to sing, ‘Stand up, stand up for Jesus …..’

 Then came the sing-song whisper, ‘Jess…. oh Jessie… come be my love. . I’ll never leave you…. Daddy’s here with me. The horse is falling. He’s wounded, in agony, Jess. Daddy’s crying for you.  …. Mommy’s in heaven; Prissy’s screaming in hell and all is well with your world.  BITCH.’

Murial’s voice floated over the words, trying to drown the horror. ‘Bye baby Bunting, Daddy’s gone a huntin…. ’

 The demonic voice boomed, ‘Shit in hell, you and your bastard child.’

 ‘Be silent fiend.’  Shouted the priest. With his back to the window he faced the room. Glancing at the phantom form of Murial almost disappearing, as she guarded the group, he said to Jess, ‘Ignore everything, girl.  He’s playing with you.’  Opening the book of Psalms he read,

    He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
                he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
               His victims are crushed, they collapse;
               they fall under his strength.
               He says to himself, “God will never notice;

   He covers his face and never sees.”

   Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
               Do not forget the helpless.
               The victims commit themselves to you;
               you are the helper of the fatherless.
               Break the arm of the wicked man;

  You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted;
              you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
              defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
              so that mere earthly mortals
              will never again strike terror.’’’    

The word ‘fatherless’ cut through to Jess’s heart, as she pictured her father dying in a lonely field, her mother committing suicide, her aunt’s agony in the clutch of a virus.  Sobbing she felt Douglas draw her into his arms, felt the rapid beat of his heart in this dreadful room.

Weakened, Murial dissolved into tendrils of mist as Father O’Reilly kissed the host, then held it high, walking around the room, ‘Demon begone.  Get thee back to Satan and his cohorts. Ye have no place here. Oh Lord and your Holy Saints, deliver us now from this most foul demon.’

 The stench left the room as the demonic voice tittered, ‘Don’t forget to wipe your arse.’  

Holding his hands high, Father O’Reilly fell to his knees, intoning the prayer of deliverance.  The room stilled, yet Jessie was in terrible danger; the soul of Murial doomed unless they got help.  The past was spearing through the present.  The desolation of the Clearances, the terrible suffering of the souls on this estate, the atrocities, made a portal for the demon – it was all too powerful for the priest.  Who could quell the anger, the devastation?  Who could put right ancient wrongs?

Looking at Jessie, he said, ‘Ye’ve raised a lake of sorrows, a well of memories that flood our time.  Ye are in danger – both ye, and Lucy are sensitives – ye’ve delved too far – now I fear  not just for yer safety, but your souls.  Tis not the desolate that will hurt ye, oh no, tis the demons of hell that drove their tormentors.  A sceptic like you Douglas  is the best balance.  Ye need to watch Jessie 24/7 as they say.  I’ll try to contact an exorcist. Until then don’t delve – don’t even think about it.  And you George – ye’ll watch Lucy like a hawk, if it looks like she’s going into trance – just sprinkle the blessed oil and salt over her and pray.  I shall leave ye both with the sacraments – use them if ye have to – then get ye to a church.  Have a bible near at all times, one blessed is better.’

Douglas scowled, as he said, ‘Bibles, devils, exorcisms, Jesuits, why? Why has this  happened?’

‘Because ye raised Murial when you played with that bloody Ouija – more than that ye raised the demon.  Ye have to help her.’

‘She was already haunting us father – so was that vile thing – that demon.’

‘Ye’ve made them stronger- ye’ve invited them into your world. They’ll not leave ye alone now.’

‘But how, what is she looking for – why the baby?  Why the lullaby.  Why is she latching onto Jess.’

Dinah frowned, ‘Maybe that’s it, she lost the baby – or maybe it died.’

Jess said slowly, I get it, She wants to be reunited with Duncan – that baby is their child. Maybe he never found her – never knew there was a child?’

Lucy added, ‘I wonder if the child died without being baptized or something.’

Father O’Reilly stood, knocking the bacchy out of his pipe into the crystal ashtray. ‘Then ye’d best be searching the Church Records. They go back hundreds of years.  If she had a child being a Catholic she would have had it baptized. Murial would never have consigned it to hell.’

‘Douglas looked up, ‘Not if she wasn’t here. Remember she disappeared and Duncan went after her.’ Jess bit her lip.  ‘Father is right, we must search the Church Records. Murial needs us. Whatever it is – we must try.’

Chapter 38

Douglas awoke to a cool tongue licking his chin, black eyes staring into his.  Seeing he was awake, Daisy thumped him on the chest with her paw.  God she packed a punch.  Trouncing on her two front paws, she signalled it was time to play.  Propping himself up on his elbow, he looked at the clock, for God’s sake it was only 5.30 am.

He jumped as he heard Phantom’s yowl.  That cat really did try to talk, now it looked at him, the pink tongue flicking over his paws, as he cleaned his whiskers.  Ruffling the fur of Daisy’s head, he rose, stretching his limbs. The couch was comfortable but hardly long enough for his tall frame, but at least he had actually spent the night in Jessie’s suite as her appointed guardian. He swung his feet to the floor, only for Daisy to lunge for his toes licking them furiously.  He tried not to laugh out loud, pushing her away. 

Peering through the open door, he glimpsed Jessie fast asleep in the four-poster bed, her hair in disarray spread over the pillow. He caught his breath as she stirred, rolling towards him, her skin opalescent in the soft light.  With her rounded curves covered in twisted rolls of sheeting and brocade cover, she might as well have been posing for Dante Rossetti. 

He longed to go to her, but knew he was on probation.  She wasn’t even sure she could forgive him for his stupid behaviour last week. But, she acceded to the group’s arguments that she should not be left alone any more.  If her story was to be believed, she was in mortal danger from the demon and terrified of an appearance by Murial. But, she’d ordered him not to try anything even remotely sexual.

To his relief, it had been a silent night. It seemed Father O’Reilly’s exorcism had worked at least, for the time being.  He rose quietly tiptoeing to the bathroom, closing the door gently behind him.  The water fairly sizzled on his skin as he lathered, it would be a long day. Sifting through Church Records did not appeal to him.  He would much prefer to spend the day walking by the river stopping by a pub for a ploughman’s lunch.  As the spray washed the soap suds away, he decided he would take Victor with them today as well as Daisy. They certainly helped to break up the tension still lingering around Jessie.  He’d take the four by four whilst the others followed in another car.  That way, he had her to himself.


 After leaving a village of terraced cottages with tiny gardens profuse with wild flowers, they drove past an old farm slumbering in the sun. Cows chewed grass on sloping fields, whilst calves either gambolled or lay by their mother’s feet.  Douglas turned back to the dogs. ‘Hey I think they’ve fallen in love with each other.’

Jessie looked to see the dogs tilting noses to the open window, one square headed with huge black eyes and white fur; her mouth wreathed in a black lipped smile whilst Victor, the Viszla, sat elegantly beside her, raising a red-gold domed head to nibble at Daisy’s ears, his amber eyes slanting in the breeze, long ears flapping. Jessie giggled turning her face to Douglas. His heart jerked as he returned the smile, God, she was so pretty.

The land around the church was wild with marshy ground and tussocks of green grass.  Then there were the Stone Age outcrops and tumbledown cottages of stone.  He’d come to love this land of his ancestors, with its boggy fields, streams, waterfall, lochs and cloud piercing mountains.

The 13th century church was some distance from the village surrounded by an old moat, some four feet deep framed by willow trees, whilst emerald reeds waved in black water. 

Jessie exclaimed, ‘It’s beautiful. Look at the tower, it’s so unusual.’  

Tying the dogs to the car Douglas said, ‘Yeah it is.’ The Benedictine Priory was so different to the other churches in the area.

As George and Nat with the two girls drew up, Douglas went over to them. ‘I’ll go and open up. Let’s hope Father O’Reilly remembered to leave them in the porch.’

Walking to the thatch covered lych-gate, Douglas pointed to a notice board. ‘Have a look at this. These are some really old drawings of the monastery that used to be next to the church.’

Jessie peered at the old ink drawings of monastery and monks at work in the gardens or walking into the church. ‘The monastery was pulled down – they left the church standing though.’

To reach the church, they walked through gravestones on either side of the path, many listing to one side or crumbling, others covered in moss.  Here and there, they espied the odd date where the lichen had been scraped away.

Jessie paused, ‘Hey look at that.’  She pointed to two gravestones side by side; the writing eradicated but each carrying the carving of a skull.

Douglas said, ‘Must be quite ancient.’     

Jessie retorted. ‘I wouldn’t like to come through here at twilight.’ She stopped by a grave with a coffin shape structure to read “1887. To our beloved Harry of eighteen years. Never more to see your dear face by our fireside.  Rest in peace beloved son.”  It’s so sad.’  Walking through the graves, she found three more all dedicated to young men lost at sea.  ‘Oh God, they’re so young.  This lad here was only sixteen years old.’

She stopped again at a moss covered stone. ‘Look it’s got a face carved on it with a moon and a headless body by the side of it. 16— or something. Could’ve been a witch d’you think?  Come on let’s go into the church.’

On entering, Jessie shivered.  ‘I can almost feel the sadness here.’  She looked up at the truncated spire of the Priory in all its mystique and sombre silence. 

The others joined them as they walked through the darkened porch, entering to see walls austere and proud, soaring up to arched oak beams.

Nat lowered his voice as he said, ‘Look at the screen to the altar, that brown varnish is covering the gesso work.’

Dinah whispered back, ‘Gesso?’

‘Yeah, moulded plaster – all those intricate designs’

 Looking up, Lucy said, ‘The top of it looks almost like lace.’

Jessie shivered feeling a cold breeze sweep through the church.  She looked over to Lucy as the odour of seaweed filtered through.  Lucy caught her glance, her face whitening.

Unaware of their concern, Douglas walked toward the west end of the church “Here’s the Priory Arms and hey look, there’s a priest’s door. It’s been plastered up – must have been the door the monks used to come into the church from the monastery.’

Nathan pointed to a blocked window in the north chancel, ‘The altar could be watched from rooms built onto the church. They were obviously been taken down when the monastery buildings were destroyed.’

George muttered, ‘Eerie. So much history. Look at this.  A wooden hearse.’

‘In the church?’

‘Yes here by the lectern.’

The others crowded around to see the wooden hearse replete wooden handles and iron wheels. 

Even Douglas shivered. ‘Morbid. Just think the congregation has to look at that every week. Could be their coffins on there soon. Anyway, let’s go through to the back.  The records should be through here somewhere.’

Jessie aware of the odour of seaweed becoming stronger, whispered to Lucy, ‘Can you smell it?’

Lucy nodded.  ‘Let’s hope it’s coming in from the sea. Just be prepared.’ 

Trouping through a narrow corridor of yellowed plastered walls, they passed the vestry full of vestments and choristers’ gowns to find a small musty room of bookshelves and wooden chests.

George said, ‘Hmm you can smell the mildew in here? Let’s split up and search for Murial’s records.’

As Lucy and Dinah scoured the shelves, Jessie noticed a mouldering trunk in the far corner. ‘Hey look here 1800-1815.’  Hesitantly she raised the blackened carved lid to find a host of leather-bound books the odour of must and damp rising to meet her.  Gingerly, she opened one of the tomes to see lists of names inscribed in Latin. ‘Think I’ve got something here.  Come and have a look.’


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 35 & 36

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 35 & 36

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 35 & 36

Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved

Chapter 35

Douglas looked down biting his lip. He’d tried so many ways to overcome this fear.  All failed so far.  He directed his gaze to jess. ‘I’ve had behaviour therapy, medication, hypnosis, but it hasn’t taken away the fear. It just helps me so that I can go near a lake.’ 

‘So, it may not be just that particular incident. If it was, it would be an exogenous fear, one brought about by outside influences. But, if as you say nothing has helped so it’s something within you. The accident only helped to bring it to the fore.  A phobia really means there is something in your unconscious, buried, deep, too intolerable for you to bear.  So, the mind is very clever. It has covered it with a phobia, that way you can cope with life.  Whilst you’re worrying about the phobia, your mind is occupied, so the real terror cannot rise to the surface of your mind. ’

 ‘But you’re supposed to be on vacation.’

 ‘My work is my life Douglas– without it I’d just dry up and wither away as they say.’    

 ‘So what about you and me?’

 Jess lowered her eyes, ’Can we leave it for a while.  I can’t go back – I need space now.  It seems every man I pick rejects me, one way or another.  Sometimes I think I do it deliberately, knowing they’ll leave me. ‘

‘Like your Dad?’

She nodded. ‘I know he died, but a child doesn’t know that, doesn’t accept it.   I used to sit on the windowsill when was I about three years old and pretend I had a Dad that he was walking down the street, walking home to me. I thought if I pretended hard enough it would come true.  I’d wave, and people would think I was waving at them and wave back.   Children do have deep feelings at that age you know.  They’re anxious if their parents leave them to go to work, or go out for an evening.  So, I should have got over it. But…’

Douglas took her hand, ‘I didn’t mean to hurt you Jessie, when you showed me the locket,  first I thought it was another fraudster, then I thought there was a chance you were the heir, and Marnie’s face swam before my eyes – I’m sorry.’

‘We seem to be saying sorry a lot today. ‘

Douglas stroked the pale delicate hand, so small in his. He longed to hold her in his arms, feel her heart beating next to his.  He knew then he would never leave her, never leave the child in this woman’s body, the child waiting on that windowsill.  If only she would have him back. He knew in that instant that he loved her, a love that came from the depths of his being, an exquisite pain slicing through flesh and mind. They had only just met, been together only a short while but already she was in him, part of him.  His love would take them through life into death and beyond.  Lovers’ thoughts, lovers’ sorrows.  If only – if only he could take it all back.  But, ‘if only’ were the two saddest words in the English language.


With the blinds and curtains drawn, the room looked suitably dark and sombre.  The only relief came from candlelight flickering over the walls, picking up the golden fleur de Lys in the wallpaper.  A faint aroma of lavender and sage wafted from pot pouris scattered on small occasional tables.  Jessie was glad the two animals were safely ensconced in the kennels for the night.  Any psychic gathering would really upset them; animals were so sensitive to the presence of spirit.

 Noticing Lucy’s questioning gaze as Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata flooded the room,  Dinah said,  ‘The music draws spirit. Mediums encourage sitters to sing nursery songs, or whatever makes sound.  Then there’re the scents as well, they cleanse, drawing in spirits from the higher spheres’

Twining her fingers in a lock of pale blond hair Lucy said, ‘I thought we were here to exorcise the woman in the painting – Murial?’

 ‘Oh no, we’re just going to sit in a circle, and hope Murial comes through.  I think she needs help.  There’s something terribly sad about her. ‘ 

 Dinah said, ’Jess’s dreamt about her and the dreams don’t bode well.’

Douglas shifted in his seat.  He didn’t want to be here, but if it meant being with her, so be it.  It wasn’t as if she was asking him to believe.  He looked at the Ouija on the table, with scraps of paper with the  words of the alphabet placed in a circle around it, and the words ‘yes’ and ‘no’ positioned  at each end of the table.

George said, ‘I thought we were just going to sit and hold hands.  This is a Ouija board isn’t it? I’ve heard it can attract evil – well it does in films.’   

Dinah laughed.  ‘No that’s just fantasy.  Anyway, this Manor doesn’t have any dark history does it?’  

Nat frowned.  ‘Well yeah, it does really; Maximillian, Lord Duncan’s younger brother was killed in a duel. Around the same time, Lord Duncan supposedly drowned himself and Father O’Reilly swears blind there’s a darker spirit here.’

Lucy said, ‘It’s been a place of horror. George and I had a day out.  We drove over fifty miles to the  Clearances Museum.  They give lectures and slide shows on the Clearances of 1810 onwards. Thousands of people starved to death here.’

 Dinah groaned.  ‘Aw Lucy, don’t – can’t bear to hear of it.’

 ‘They had to bear it, families evicted from their cottages, living in holes in the road, children crying, dying on their feet.’   

 Jess said. ‘You’re right Lucy, there have been some terrible, heartbreaking things happening here. Maybe we shouldn’t go on with this.  It’s too powerful – too dark.’

The Ouija board  moved as she spoke.  Jess clenched her teeth.  ‘No we can’t go on.  It’s too dark?’

 ‘Shut up.’  A deep voice sliced the air and their hearts with terror. ‘Ye cannot leave now. It’s started.’ 

Douglas tried to stand, but George pushed him back down.  ‘Look at Lucy.’

Unconscious, Lucy lay slumped in her seat, her mouth partly open. In shocked silence, they saw a thin wisp of smoke escape through her mouth, thickening, building into a balloon shape drifting over the table.  Dinah cried out as a skeletal head emerged from the smoke, the teeth clacking together.

Jess’s heart jumped as a male voice boomed out,   ‘Can ye bear the suffering?  Can ye bear to see our people dying, crying for food, bones sticky with fever, sucking them dry?’ 

 Dinah tried not to run, as the skull zoomed in front of her, her heart pounding as it snapped its teeth the air in front of her, drawing nearer.

More smoke exuded from Lucy’s mouth.  Jess whispered, ‘It’s ectoplasm.’

Chapter 36

Douglas felt his heart drumming in his ears. Christ it was true, bloody true, life after death. God, but not this – not this.  He crouched as the ectoplasm swirled above them, spiralling into the form of a young woman, her hair, scarlet trails of blood, socketless eyes turning to them. She uncovered a tiny skeleton, long vaporous fingers stroking the yellow baby skull, small toothless jaws clicking as it suckled at her breast. Hovering over them, she disappeared only to appear behind them gliding towards the writing desk.  They watched in shocked silence as she began to croon ‘Bye Baby Bunting, Daddy’s gone a huntin….’    

No one dared to speak as the room became ice cold, their breath tendrils of smoke. Lucy groaned ejecting a dense cloud of smoke. Another voice, deep, husky sneered, ‘Death comes.  She shall be mine. Ye shall never have her.’

Despite his horror Douglas cried out, ‘Whose death, who?’ 

‘The bitch is dead.’ The dense cloud drifted over to Jess, the livid face of a man stretching forth, the eyes weeping pus, the teeth, yellow dripping slime, a face from the grave. ‘She has always been mine.’  

Douglas gave a startled cry as Jess almost disappeared in a cloak of black smoke. He lunged forward, deaf to Dinah’s warning, clutching at Jess trying to pull her to him. ‘Get back to hell you evil bastard.’  As he held her, he felt a viscous slime dripping over both of them, into his eyes, his nostrils, mouth.  Choking, fighting to wipe away the mess, he heard Jess coughing, gasping for breath, the slime spilling from her lips, he dug his fingers into her mouth trying to clear it, yet Douglas could not stop the putrid gel from filling her mouth.

To his terror, Murial’s wraith floated before him, the skeletal hands reaching out to Jess, the tiny jaws of the shrunken baby gnashing. His hands shook, as he tried to brush the wasted appendages away from Jess’s face, but in vain.  In horror, he watched the bony fingers wriggle inside Jess’s mouth, pulling out streams of slime.  He wanted to get up and run, but was rooted to the spot.  To his terror and relief, he saw the flow of gel become small globules as Jess vomited out a mass of slime onto the table.  Her eyes fluttered open, chest heaving as she began to breathe.  Slowly Murial removed the emaciated fingers from Jess’s mouth and turned her head towards Dinah, drifting towards her singing ‘Bye baby Bunting, Daddy’s gone a huntin ….’

Dinah backed away, shouting, ‘Our Father who art in Heaven–’

A dark voice bellowed over Murial’s lullaby, ‘Time to fly … time to die … the piglet is screaming, Prissy is fucking a demon and I am dreaming of drinking your fucking  BLOOD.’

A gale shrieked through the room, curtains billowing, ornaments smashing to the floor.  The chandelier swung dangerously above them, a teardrop crystal falling as if in slow motion cutting Lucy on the forehead. 

Nat ran to her, trying to lift her as the blood streamed over her face into her mouth, He cried, ‘She’s choking – choking on her own blood.’  

Dinah shouted at him. ‘Paint the cross on her skin Nat. Do it – do it now.’

 Nat trembled as he dipped in his fingers in Lucy’s bright blood spewing from the mouth, spraying his face and clothes.  Grimly, he plastered a ragged cross on her forehead. Lifting her, he pleaded,’ Breathe Lucy – breathe.’   She jolted in his arms, the blood now just a dribble.

George ran to the windows, pulling open the curtains, tearing at the blinds, whilst Dinah switched on the lights.  The dark mist cleared as George fell to his knees shocked.  ‘Christ all Bloody Mighty, what was that?’  Tears streamed from Jess’s eyes as she panted, ‘Hell – George – Hell.’

 Nat whipped his cell phone from his pocket.  Tapping in the numbers, he said, ‘Father O’Reilly – Father  its Nat here.  Can you come quickly?  Things are bad – bad here … Yeah.   I’ll tell you when you get here….  We are in the Mermaid Suite … Yeah Mermaid Suite ….  I’ll meet you outside.’

He put down the phone.  ‘He’s none too pleased. But, he’s coming.’ 

Douglas scowled ‘You didn’t need to do that, Christ; we’ve had enough already.’ He stroked Jess’s hair, his fingers brushing away the last spots of gel from her lips.  ‘Darling – you okay?’

Jess raised her eyes to his, and nodded her arm curling around his neck.

Dinah almost whispered, ‘Murial – she saved your life Jess.  Did you see the baby?’

Jess spoke, her voice low in wonder, ‘Yes – it was awful, but she saved us Di.  I felt her bones, her fingers down my throat – can’t believe it Di. My throat is so sore.’’

Nat held Lucy in his arms, tenderly brushing away the matted hair from her bloodied forehead. As he felt her shudder,  he gently kissed her murmuring, ‘It’s okay sweetheart – it’s okay – I’ve got you now.’

Douglas looked over to Nat, ‘Thank God – it’s cleared.  We don’t need the priest to whip it all up again.’

 Holding Lucy tight, Nat said, ‘This place is dammed Doug. We opened the door to Hell, and O’Reilly’s the only one who can close it.’

 ‘But it’s all quiet – gone.’

‘So you think.  But, evil like that just doesn’t go away.  It’s bloody playing with us.’

 Dinah rose to go to George, shuddering on the settee, when the lullaby floated softly through the room.  ‘Bye Baby Bunting Daddy’s gone hunting….’

 ‘Did you hear that?’  Dinah crouched closer to George. ‘Oh God don’t say it’s happening again. We’ve got to get out of here.’


Hunched over, lighting his pipe, Father O’Reilly clicked off his lighter.  Squinting through the smoke he coughed, his voice rasping. ‘Stupid, that’s what ye be, stupid, playing with the Devil.’

Nat said, ‘Father, it was just a small circle−’

Douglas felt needles of anger nicking his spine; he was talking to them as if they were bloody kids.  ‘We certainly didn’t invite it; it was only a séance just a Ouija board and bits of paper for Christ’s sake.’

‘Don’t be taking the Lord’s name in vain boy. Sure, ye conjured up demons that’s what ye did. Did ye have no sense?’  He thrust the tobacco bag pouch back into the pocket of his shabby coat.

Jessie stiffened. Boy? Douglas thirty-four. He really was an offensive old man – rude – bad mannered.  ‘I just thought−’

 ‘So it was you was it young lady?’  Taking his pipe from his mouth, he snarled showing stubs of brown stained teeth.  ‘So tell me now. What pushed you to peer into Hell?’

Douglas put an arm around her.  ‘That’s a bit much.  She was only-‘

‘Bit much?  Bit much did ye say? Better that, than she loses her soul, than be dragged down into the pit.’  He pushed his pipe squarely into his mouth, puffing.

Dinah tried to quell the rising tension. ‘Murial saved Jess’s life tonight. We think she’s haunting Jess.  She’s having dreams – Murial appeared on a canvas Jess is painting.’

‘And would you be telling me who you are?’

‘Dinah – Dinah Shibley, a cousin of Jess.’

The priest’s eyes gleamed.  ‘Beautiful enough for the Fey. Ye’ll have to watch they don’t fetch you away.’

Dinah blushed, catching hold of a lock of hair.    

He shuffled over to the armchair, lowering his body into the comfort of the cushions.   ‘Murial, is a sweet soul, an angel, tis not her that is haunting ye, as ye say she’ll be after protecting ye.’

Douglas sprang to his feet.  ‘Protecting?  She’s frightening the life out of Jessie.’

‘So tell me now, what is our angel doing?’

‘She’s possessing Jessie in dreams; now she’s appearing on a canvas holding a baby, a skeleton. It makes you shudder to look at it. Jess was painting a scene of the lake and the mausoleum.  She left it for a few minutes, covering it up with a cloth.  When she came back, Murial was painted standing inside the mausoleum’

‘Ah, poor wee soul, she is searching for something, waiting.’

’That’s why we wanted to help her.’ Dinah said, looking over to Jessie.

Turning to Jess, the priest asked, ‘And why d’you think she would be after helping you?’

Douglas spoke up.  ‘I think there’s a connection Father. Jess showed me two scraps of paper the other day, and a locket?’

‘Hah, the locket again.  Do ye not get tired of looking at bloody lockets?’

‘No Father, this time I think there is something.  Jess could you get the papers and the locket please?’

As Jessie walked over to the desk, the priest’s eyes widened. ‘Is that not the desk from the attic?’

‘Yes Father, we-‘

 ‘I told ye to burn it.  It’s possessed – a devil’s gateway.’

 ‘But Father I didn’t know it was in here. I specifically told Tom to put it in the barn. But, somehow it appeared here.’

 Jessie said, ‘He was going to remove it, but I asked him, to leave it. ‘

The priest sucked on his pipe, ‘Hmm, devil’s work.’  Sitting down he took out a pair of spectacles from his top pocket and examined the scraps of paper. ‘There’s not much to go on here, two birth certificates. Hmm. The initials Mur and Mor?   It could be anything.  To be sure there’re many names beginning with M.’

Opening the locket, he peered at the painting, ‘Tis like his Lordship and this hair – tis so like−’

Lucy interrupted, ‘Maybe you could get a DNA reading?’

Douglas said, ‘Not if the strands were cut. It has to have a follicle on the end. And even then it may be too old.’

Lucy looked over to Douglas, ‘Might be an idea.’

 Dinah jumped up. ‘I have some strands from the painting. I’m sure they’re an apport from Murial.’

The room darkened as a male voice cut the air. ‘Ye shall not have her, the bitch is mine.’ 

Father O’Reilly plunged his hand into his breast pocket bringing out a phial of liquid. Grunting his way up from the chair, he immediately began sprinkling the room

The voice cackled ‘Get ye hence ye canting priest. Your brain is pickled in drink. Your tongue vomiting flies-’

His face blotched purple with anger, the priest raised his arms as he shouted, ‘Begone all foul things from this-’

‘Maggots squirm in your stomach you piss pot of a priest.’  

Taking hold of Lucy, Nat drew her closer to George and the others, whilst the priest rose to his feet.

His quavering voice now strong he roared, ‘Time to send this demon back to Hell.’


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 33 & 34

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 33 & 34

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 33 & 34

Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved

Chapter 33

Power jets washed away foaming shampoo, yet they could not clear the tortured thoughts. She still hadn’t returned any of his calls or text messages.  Wounds ran deep, the pain rising when Douglas thought of Cilla and Marnie.  He vowed he’d never let a woman have that kind of power again.  Of course, he’d enjoy a woman, sex, fun, but not closeness, nothing that involved the heart.  The sight of Jess excited him, that beautiful body, the full curve of her breast; the rounded buttock set the nerves of his skin on edge. 

When she told him of her early life, he’d found himself drawn to her, wanting to protect her, he knew what being a father was all about, the love for a daughter who could fill the heart with ecstasy or maul it to strips of bleeding flesh. Yet, Jess never knew that love, never felt a father’s arms holding her, lifting her up in the air playing.  He could not forget the look in her eyes when she talked of her father. Just, six words.  “He died in a hunting accident.”

When he walked away from the bench, he was shocked with his depth of feeling for her.  But, he was fighting for his daughter. He could see Marnie slipping away again if Jess took the estate.  

Dressing in a clean tee-shirt and denims, he resolved she was going to face him. They had to talk it out. Minutes later, he took the lift to the first floor bolstering his courage to face Jessie.   Confusion raged; he didn’t want to lose her, yet he didn’t want to be committed.  He decided to go with the moment.  As he approached the door, he stopped wondering what on earth he was going to say.  His hand poised to knock, he heard voices; a man’s raised in anger, Jess sobbing.  What the hell was going on?  He went to turn away but then heard Jess cry out in pain as the man shouted, ‘By God d’you think you could keep this a secret?  He shan’t have you – I’ll kill you before…”

She was in danger, his heart thudding; Douglas shoved at the door, but it was locked.  Now he heard movement, a low groan, scrabbling in his pocket; he found the master key, frantically turning it in the lock. He pushed the door open. The room was empty.  Confused, he walked into the sitting room– nothing.  Checking the en suite, he felt almost a waiting silence as he checked the shower empty, except for a soft towelling robe with an embroidered pink collar, he glanced over the marble sink and shelves noting the bottles of perfume, smelling jasmine with underlying tones of musk.  Flashes of their tryst by the lake rose in his mind, the sweetness of her, and the slender curves, the passion. He shut out the thoughts, as he again checked the sitting room and bedroom. 

 Going over to the window, he flicked aside the voile curtain, feeling a slight pang as he searched the people boating on the lake whilst others strolled by admiring the abundance of flowers in the herbaceous borders. He saw a man standing still looking up at him or the window. He was in his early twenties, light brown hair, glinting gold, look directly at him, his white frilled shirt and tight pantaloons, quite at odds with the usual summer wear of tee shirts, jeans or shorts – must  be going to a fancy dress party or something. He frowned as the guy crossing his arms, gave a slight smirk.  Who the hell was he? 

Letting the curtain fall he frowned, he’d felt sure people were in this room, he couldn’t have imagined the voices, anger, cries.  Maybe it was in the next suite? Locking the door behind him, he went down the corridor to the  room knocking lightly on the door but there was no reply.  Walking towards the lift, he felt his flesh creep. Was the room haunted? Was Jess being haunted?  Possessed?  No … impossible. It was all this talk of ghosts that was playing on his mind.


After checking into airport, Jessie made her way to the private planes.  To her delight, Daisy stood tail wagging on the top of the flight of steps with James the dog handler. His face wreathed in a smile, his white hair and equally white beard shimmering in the sun. Holding her arms wide she watched Daisy weave her chunky body down the steps. With a huge smile on the black lips, she jumped almost knocking Jessie over. ‘Daisy, Daisy, dear little girl.’ James laughed delightedly, ‘Little girl Miss. Jessie?  Why she’s a rhino.’ 

Jess hugged the strong neck covered in masses of white curls, the plumed tail with fur over a foot long fanning the air.  For those short moments, Jess felt at peace.  There was nothing could hurt or frighten her, not when she had this wonderful dog, this friend in her arms.  Taking the leash from James, she hugged him as he walked with her to her car.  ‘Now she had a good trip Miss Jessie.  Why she’s had four meals, drank a gallon of water and asked for her treats.’

Jessie laughed out loud, ‘That sounds about right. Oh James, I can’t thank you enough for looking after her.’  She choked remembering the awful row last week with Douglas.  James looked down at her seeing distress in her eyes, thinking maybe she’d missed Daisy.  ‘Why we missed you. You come straight back with her when you’re ready now.’

Jessie nodded her arms full of Daisy, with James’s arm around her shoulders. This is where her heart lay with her dog and the people, she knew and loved.  As she got Daisy safely into the car, with the dog guard up, Daisy immediately started barking at every person and car that came near.  She was already guarding the situation. Jess laughed at the familiar game. It was the only time Daisy did bark.  She was the world’s best friend and the world’s worst guard dog. She would welcome a burglar with a smile of pure joy, leaping and rolling around ready to play. As far as she was concerned, another friend had come to visit her.  But she was a deterrent, huge with almost inch long fangs albeit continually showing through her wonderful black lipped smile. To hug her, feel the chunky body wriggling with joy, was worth the micro-chipping, vaccination.

Jess put down the windows as they drove. The waves on the lochs danced with light contrasting with the dark majesty of towering mountains. As Jessie drove through the Gothic gates to the estate, the gargoyles seemed to leer,   ‘Beware, all ye who enter here.’ 

She wished to God, she was back in New York. Rhonan Manor gave her nothing but grief, pain that she never thought possible to endure.  Passing the purple glory of the copper beeches, the darkness of the rhododendrons interspersed with the silvery bark of the birches, she looked out for the deer that would wander through to the luscious meadows now filled with the scents and colours of wild flowers, the pinks, purples, reds and white inviting one to roam, touch and smell. 

She heard Daisy’s whimper, pressing her nose to the window, and as she espied a lone buck, the antlers proud.  The dog, fairly leapt with joy as the does followed with fawns prancing.  Jess grinned knowing Daisy would love to run with them.  Being such a gentle nature, she would not harm them, to her, they were yet more friends.

Arriving at the sweeping lawns and the lake, Daisy yelped as a heron gracefully lifted a long leg picking its way through lily pads. Jess’s heart leapt to her throat as she saw Douglas actually standing by the lake watching her, the muscles in his face tightening. It seemed he’d been waiting. As he raised his hand signalling for her to stop, her teeth clenched, yet her stomach rippled with hope. Part of her wanted to drive on, ignore him, after all what did they have to say to each other now, whilst the other part wanted to stop the car, leap out of the door and hug him.   Letting out an exasperated breath, she did stop the car, staring stonily at him through the open window, waiting for him to speak.

‘Jess, I need to speak to you – please.’

‘I don’t think there’s anything to talk about do you?’

‘Please Jess, I was out of order.’

‘Out of order?  Bastard. Now if you don’t mind?’

‘Jess it’s important.  This isn’t just about us.’

Jess glared at him before winding up the window, and driving on.

Chapter 34

Jessie opened the door sensing it was Douglas.   Eyes smouldering she stepped aside. ‘You’d better come in but keep it short.’

As he stepped through the door, inside, Daisy hit him full force in the chest, her tongue lolling out of smiling black lips, eyes laughing.  Jess ground her teeth.  Daisy took away all dignity, for her everything was geared to the game.  Catching hold of the leather studded collar, she tried to drag the dog across the floor into the sitting room, ‘Just follow us, she’ll calm down in a minute. She’s so friendly.’

More than you are, Douglas thought.   He covered a laugh as he watched Jessie slither to her knees trying to drag the huge dog away.  He could see the bond between them as she scolded whilst Daisy plonked huge front paws on the floor refusing to move. Then the dog promptly lay down on the floor and rolled onto her back, paws up in the air, pink belly on show.  Jessie stuttered. ‘She knows I can’t move her, little bugger.’ 

Putting her arms around Daisy’s chest under her front legs, she tried to drag her, but the dog didn’t move an inch. Douglas tried not to grin.  ‘Maybe if I went first, she’d follow?’

Struggling, Jessie gasped, ‘God she’s worse than ever, yes, go – go first.’

Stepping over the prostrate dog and Jess, Douglas noticed a black cat sitting on the windowsill, gazing out at the lake. It turned a serene head to flash green eyes at him. He felt a momentary shiver that was a mean look.  He loved cats but there was something about this one that made him take a step back.

‘Didn’t know you had a cat?’

‘No I haven’t but this one seems to have taken up residence with us. Strange thing is, Daisy hasn’t tried to kill it. The two things she races after, teeth gnashing are birds or cats.  I mean I can’t hold her on a lead if she sees either.’

Knowing that he still had to try and make amends with Jessie, he said, ‘Do you want me to take it away?’

‘No – no, I love cats and this one is really friendly and is so good with Daisy.  No – let it stay.’

Knowing her love of animals Douglas said, “All you need now then is a cockatoo or something.”

Jessie managed a smile.  “No I’ll draw the line there. I mean I would love to have a Mina bird they have such strong voices and sound so human when they speak, but I would have to have it in a cage. I‘m actually terrified of them; I can’t stand them flying around me. I’ve even crawled under the table to get away from a budgie.”

Seeing the opportunity to engage her in conversation, he said, ‘We’re thinking of having a menagerie of exotic birds.  We could get a Mina. It should draw in the crowd.  Good idea.’

Animals seemed a safe subject, although he did wonder why on earth, she’d paid all that money to bring Daisy over. One private jet, just for a dog, but then in a way, he was grateful. The dog certainly broke the ice today and the cat, although mean except to Jessie and Daisy, was a godsend.   As he sat down on the settee, Daisy leapt on the seat beside him, panting happily in his face.  She smelt of baby shampoo and Chappie.

Biting back a smile, Jessie knew it was useless trying to look aloof, instead she said, ‘Got expelled from two puppy training schools. Thinks she’s the alpha female. I’m second in the pack’

 Douglas laughed, and then caught sight of the cat who hissed, showing sharp fangs. Jessie saw the show of anger. ‘Phantom that’s enough now.’   The black cat blinked then gazed at her with widened eyes, innocence itself.  ‘Ah, he’s just jealous. He feels threatened by another male – he’s guarding his territory.’

As she turned to look at him, Douglas held her eyes, as he said, ‘Can’t we start again?  Look I’ve been an absolute fool.  If you’d just listen, maybe you could forgive me.’

Seeing anguish in his face, knuckles white, she said, ‘Okay, I’m listening.’

Daisy lay collapsed beside him, her head on his lap. Stroking the soft white ear, he said, ‘I’m divorced. I didn’t tell you because it’s not the sort of thing you talk about on a first date. I’ve also got a small daughter.  My wife Cilla left me for another man and took my baby daughter, Marnie with her.’

Jess rose from her seat as she saw his face blanch. ‘Look can I get you a drink? Tea – coffee – brandy?’

‘A soft drink would be fine.  Thanks.’ He paused, watching her move to the fridge. ‘What am I saying? You don’t want to hear about this.’

Handing him the glass of orange juice, Jess said, ‘I do, I’m just so sorry that−‘

‘I needed to explain, I’ve been a bastard.’

 ‘Yes you have.’

‘I wanted half custody, but Cilla made it so difficult, so I ended up with visiting rights, but they didn’t pan out. She made it so difficult for Marnie and me to meet.   When I inherited this place, it was a big decision.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to see much of Marnie.  I felt I was deserting her.  I thought maybe if I made a go of the place I’d have the money to fight my wife in the courts.’ He stopped, finding his chest tightening, his breath coming in gasps.

‘Try and breathe from the diaphragm, take it slowly.’  Jessie could see the tell-tale signs of the panic attack coming on. ‘Let me help you.’  Going over to him, Jessie said, ‘I’m just going to put my hands on your diaphragm and rib cage, and get you breathing properly.  Now when you breathe in, feel your stomach expanding against my hand.’

Douglas closed his eyes trying to concentrate. He pushed against the gentle pressure of her hand, felt her guiding the breath.  Slowly, his chest softened, his ribs expanding.  ‘Thanks.’

 ‘Do you suffer from panic attacks a lot?’

‘Yes, it’s a long story.’

‘I’m not going anywhere.’  Even though she still hurt from his rejection last week, the therapist in her over-rode everything else.  ‘Just start where you like. It will help you to talk about it.  I’ll get you out of the panic attack in a minute if necessary.’ She went back to her seat, watching Daisy lick his hand, laying her head back on his lap gazing mournfully up at him.  She didn’t try to move the dog as she knew stroking her would help Douglas.

 ‘She was still sleeping with me when she went off with him. I didn’t have any warning.  Marnie was only eighteen months old.  I came home from school one day and found them gone. I searched everywhere for them, panicked, but in my heart, I knew they’d gone.    I found out where they were living and started following them; I could hardly control the rage.  Anyway, one day I followed them to a picnic resort. It was a quarry really; the local council developed  the site turning it into a boating lake.  I kept my distance and watched the slimy bastard sitting there with them.   Then I watched as he took Marnie to a boat. I wanted to run over and stop him.  It was just a father’s protective instinct I guess.’

Jessie bit her lip, this was so painful for him, and she could see his eyes looking inward as if he was re-living the scene. 

‘He started rowing – didn’t put a life jacket on her – stupid bugger.  I went to the water’s edge, saw Marnie wave at her Mum and then the bastard stood up waving his arms as if it was some big joke.  It all went into slow motion, the boat turning over; Marnie’s small arms reaching towards the water, people shouting.  I threw off my shoes and leapt in. The water was so damn deep, and dark.  I swam out to the spot and dived, but I couldn’t see her. I didn’t have goggles and I just couldn’t do anything. Oh God….’ the tears bubbled in his eyes. 

Jess went over to him and sat on the side of the settee holding his shoulder. ‘I’m so sorry.’

‘I knew it was hopeless. The mud was thick on the bottom. I had to get air. My lungs were bursting. I knew if didn’t get air I couldn’t save her, so I shot to the top to get another lung full. Then someone grabbed my shoulder shouting, ‘We’ve got her mate – got her.’  I thought he was saying, ‘We’ve lost her.’ Thought he was trying to save me.  I struggled; started punching him but another guy swam up and screamed at me.’

He paused taking a sip of his drink, a muscle working in his jaw as he continued, ‘He shouted, “She’s okay, okay.”  I passed out – been down too long.  They dragged me out and I just lay there.  As I came too on the bank, the paramedics worked on her, but she wasn’t breathing.  I got up and started yelling, looking for the bastard.  He was standing there watching them with Cilla holding his arm crying.  I slugged him hard.  Cilla was screaming. God I just lost it. You know? Lost it.’

He rubbed the sides of the glass, his hands steadying; ‘She was in a coma for three days.  They said because the water was so cold at that depth, it saved her.   After that I went to court again, but they ruled it was an accident, a stupid one on his part, but they still got custody. Can you believe it?’     

Jessie rose and got him some more water.  ‘So that’s where the phobia started – of lakes?’

‘Yeah, I didn’t know I had it until I went back to the lake again.  As I stood looking out over the water to the spot where it happened, I felt this horror, a kind of paralysis, my heart was thundering, eyes fixed, staring, I couldn’t move, If anyone saw me, they would have thought I was mad.  The shaking started, then the need to vomit.  I know now that I can’t even talk when I’m in that state. I feel so lost, alone; who the hell can understand that, I’m not mad, it’s just this terrible fear.’

‘You’re not alone – I can help you.

Douglas realized that they had reached another level in this traumatic relationship.  He felt a hard body bump into his leg. He gazed down into the narrowed eyes of the cat that arched its back hissing. Phantom, the name suited.  He took hold of Jessie’s hand. ‘Are you going to tell me about it?’

 ‘About what?’

‘The attack – last night.  Nat said you were petrified.’

Jessie took her hand away, ‘Oh – err … I’d rather not.’

‘Nat tells me some demon hurt you?’

‘What’s the use of talking about it, you don’t believe in these things.’

‘I believe you were hurt – that you suffered.  Have you thought of seeing a doctor?’

Jessie stiffened her face tensing as she bit her lip. ‘You’re really saying I hallucinated aren’t you?’

Douglas looked down unable to face the hurt in her eyes. ’Something like that.’ ‘Well let me assure you I don’t need a psychiatrist. I am a psychologist. I know the signs.  Let’s just say we beg to differ.  At the moment, I am more concerned about you.  You need to get that phobia sorted otherwise it could generalise until anything to do with water could send you into a panic. So let me help you.’


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 31 & 32

Return to Rhonan: Chapters 31 & 32

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 31 & 32

Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved

Chapter 31

Wearily, Jess returned to her room to see the answer phone flashing.  Pressing the button, she listened to his voice, ’Jess – you have to stop this.  We have to meet up.  Nat has just told me about the attack. For goodness sake – don’t you think you have punished me enough?  Please answer this message; I’m worried sick about you. I love you. Just answer – please.’ 

Tears sprung to her eyes, stupid – stupid pride.  She should answer it – wanted to answer it; the bitterness replaced with yearning. Her hand hesitated over the phone.  She realized how awkward it was for all concerned. The friends would feel obliged to invite him to the séance. It was after all his hotel. They couldn’t spurn him because of the quarrel. Maybe he wouldn’t turn up.  Part of her felt relieved at the thought, but another part longed for him to be there. Taking a deep breath, she knew she had to get this together – meet it with dignity. Even if her heart did threaten to leap through her chest.

Dropping her hand to her side, she turned to the window, looking over the lake, the water dark and still, the mausoleum barely visible. Walking out to the balcony she clutched the wrought-iron railing as she whispered, ‘Murial – who are you?  What do you want?

Re-entering the room, Jess shut and locked the large windows. She looked again at the phone; it was late; the wine had gone to her head; her speech might be fuzzy; she might babble, or not make sense – best to leave it until she was quite sober. But then, without the wine maybe she wouldn’t find the courage to phone him.

After undressing and donning an oversized tee shirt, she brushed her hair, plating it into two long braids and pinning them on top of her head. That familiar heaviness tugged at her eyes, as she climbed into the bed pulling the duvet up around her.

Murial struggled awake to Becky pounding on the door. ‘Milady, wake up, wake up.

 Unlocking the door, she met the frightened eyes of the maid, ‘Oh milady tis terrible news – you must come quickly.  Tis the village of Tanmore, the soldiers are tumbling the cottages.’ 

 Splashing her face with water Murial flung on a fine lawn shirt hanging ready for her along with men’s underdrawers and her leather knee breeches. Oh God, this would happen with Duncan on his way to Jamaica.

Pulling on thigh-high boots, she snatched up her riding crop and belt with her short sword.  Whilst buckling it on, she dashed after the maid, shouting out to her to run to the stables and see her horse was saddled.  Meanwhile, she ran to Guy’s room.  ‘Guy, wake up, wake up Guy,’ When he didn’t answer, she pushed the door open, only to find the cluttered room empty.  Running down the broad oak staircase, she made her way to the dining room but again, the room was empty.  Seeing a servant scurrying by she shouted, ‘Where’s Sir Guy?’  

 ‘He’s saddling his horse in the stables milady, tis such a terrible thing – a terrible thing.’

Hearing the clatter of horses’ hooves outside, she ran to find Guy waiting for her, his delicate face paler than ever. ‘Come on Sis, seems the devils couldn’t wait.’

 She saw John the footman already saddled up along with the kennel man and head groom.  A couple of other male servants made up the group.  At least if there was a skirmish, they had enough manpower and weapons. She just wished Duncan was with them. He would certainly have rounded up more men, and he was a formidable adversary.

 As they rode to the village, Murial said, ‘So the estate owner is evicting them?’

Guy’s face was grim. ‘Aye – he wants the land for grazing.’

 ‘But surely he can’t do this – how can he turn a whole village out of their homes?  There must be ninety families living there.  They can’t possibly turn starving families out of their very homes?’

 ‘Tis within the estate owners’ rights.  They can do anything they like with the land; you know the tenants have no rights at all.’

 ‘But we know these tenants.  They are quite prosperous, built the cottages themselves. Do you remember? They saved the land, over four hundred acres, from the bog, split the stones up themselves and built the cottages with their own hands.  Now that fiend is destroying their homes.  I know the tenants have the rent ready.  They are renowned for paying their rent upfront.   Oh God – how is this allowed to happen?’  

 ‘Tis avarice – selfishness.  Many of the estate owners just treat their tenants like animals.  Look at Father, he has them use tunnels.  He has forbidden any of them to show themselves when he is in residence. He even has the tunnels running under the front lawns, so they cannot be seen. Only the house servants are allowed above ground and that is through sheer necessity.’

 Before reaching the village, they could hear the screams, smell the air acrid with smoke, hear the roar of soldiers’ voices.  The scene that met them tore at Murial’s heart.  It was a picture from Dante’s Inferno no less.  Thatch, slates and stones flew through the air as the infantry tore off the roofs of the cottages.  A small canon boomed creating jagged holes in the stone walls, tumbling them to the ground.

 Murial could see the villagers had been abed when the soldiers attacked the village. Some were half dressed, others still in their nightclothes. Men fought with spades and bits of wood only to be felled by armed militia.  Women screamed holding onto doorposts, desperate to stay in a home now just a pile of rubble and burning wood.  Their children sobbed clinging to their skirts. 

Guy with Murial following, led the group into the melee of muskets, swords and blood, screaming for the soldiers to desist.  Riding up to the Captain she shouted, ‘I order you to stop now, I am from Rhonan Manor and I order you by the name of the Earl to desist.’

The man trying to keep his horse quiet shouted back, ‘I take orders from the General – forgive me but this work must be done.’    Turning her horse away from him, she cursed, ‘Damn you; these are decent law-abiding people.  You are doing the devils work this day Sir, the devil’s work.’

Guy rode to her side. ‘Tis no use Murial – there is nothing we can do.  There are too many. Come let us go now.  ‘

 ‘Never.’  She screamed, ‘I’ll fight them with every bone in my body. Come Guy raise your sword and fight.  Charging into the crowd, she swiped at the soldiers working on the cannons, trying to pull others from their horses. They dare not touch her for she was one of the Quality, yet neither did the soldiers fall back.  Guy, John and the other men bravely took on the attackers, swords in hand to be met with broadswords or knocked to the ground fighting to keep out of the way of the horses, rearing terrified, their eyes wide, hooves chopping air.

 Leaping off her horse, Murial went to the aid of one young woman holding a baby whilst fighting to snatch some belongings from the smoking ruins, her child crying, clutching a rag doll.  Using the flat of her sword, she struck a soldier on the back, whereupon, she rallied the horse around to hit another across the side of his head.  Dazed, he looked at her with shocked eyes, before falling to the ground.  She turned to help the woman, snatching up a frying pan, bed linen and some clothes before escaping from the flames. 

Short of killing the soldiers, Guy and Murial were almost helpless. They could not turn them away.  Horrified at the screams of the children, she looked to see older ones bravely trying to fight the soldiers with their bare fists only to be flung aside. As she raced towards them, to her horror, she saw a young man barley sixteen years old, try to defend his mother.   Everything turned to slow motion as she ran to help him only to see the soldier lift his gun and shoot the lad in the head, hearing the mother’s anguished wail as he fell dying at her feet.  

 Holding the weeping woman struggling in her arms Murial screamed at him, ‘You bastard – I’ll kill you – kill you.’   Baring her teeth she let go of the mother lunging at him with her sword tip now pointed towards him.   The force of her thrust knocked him down. Together they rolled in the dirt and ashes of the ruin, the man narrowly escaping a fatal blow as her sword bounced off his chest armour.  The mother now screaming like a banshee leapt on him, fists flailing giving Murial the advantage.  Snarling, clenching her teeth she yelled as she leapt to run him through only to feel herself lifted away. Guy’s voice rang out, ‘Don’t Murial – don’t hang for him.’

 Still kicking, trying to escape his arms she cried, ‘He killed a child Guy – an innocent lad – I’ll murder him, run him through.’

 Wresting the sword from her, he helped her back on her horse. ‘Murial – my braw brave girl – save yourself to help others. Tis all we can do now.’

 Murial put her head in her hands and wept. As she wiped away the hot tears, she saw another child lying on the ground, her tiny body battered by horses’ hooves.  Kicking her horse into a gallop she rode over to the Captain, who was still on his horse watching the heart-wrenching turmoil, she said.  ‘You will rue this day Captain – don’t talk to me of duty – this is evil – the slaying of innocents.’  

 He turned a weary head to her, his eyes glittering, ‘He will pay for that act madam.  Tis not our choice; this day will burn in our hearts.  The order was not to shoot death into the crowd.  That blackguard will not live to see the night – that I promise you.’  

 Murial turned her head to see the man now manacled, led out of the fighting.    

Chapter 32

Jessie moaned, as if in pain, her body writhing between the sheets. Rivulets of sweat rippled down her face, running in beads onto her chest. She was living a nightmare – Murial had reached out once more and drawn her into the shocking reality of the Clearances. Part of her wanted to stay in the dream to see if Murial and Guy could help the victims, the other part of her struggled to escape experiencing the sheer cruelty meted out to the helpless tenants. Thrashing her arms, she fought to escape, to gain consciousness.  Forcing her eyes open, she blinked away the sweat, feeling her clothes wet to her skin.

 Swinging her legs off the side of the bed Jessie rose to walk to the bathroom.  Switching on the cold-water tap, scooping up handfuls of cold water, and bathing her face, she looked into the mirror, seeing the violet shadows beneath the eyes, the horror in her gaze.  Had that really happened?  Had a landlord or estate owner been so callously cruel as to rip people from their own homes, burning them to the ground? Did he ever feel remorse for those wretched people, innocent law-abiding citizens and defenseless children?

 They’d paid the rent, goddamn.  Where were the laws to protect them?  Jessie remembered the grim faces of the soldiers and something else in their eyes, a dreadful flatness, as if they were trying to blank out the devil himself.  How did they feel as their horses stamped on the fragile bodies of the children, on the mothers trying to save them?

Why was Murial showing her these gut-wrenching scenes?  Did she want retribution?  But, how could Jessie help two centuries later? It had all happened – there was nothing she could do. It was like watching the appeals on television for Somalia, sending money only to know that thousands of pounds would be swallowed down the ever hungry throats of corrupt governments.   It was too late for many of the helpless starving children.  Even now in a century where technological advances challenged mortality itself, famines broke out.  Even now, there were worlds of extremes, of celebrities earning millions, of children in the ghettos starving – dying. 

Was Murial showing her because she wanted her descendents to know what she suffered? What Scotland suffered?  Pouring herself a glass of water, she began to drink, only to find herself slipping back into the dream.  No, this couldn’t be happening.  Powerless to resist, she felt the trance, numbing her body, her mind, as she slumped in the chair.

Within hours not one cottage stood.  After the departure of the soldiers, the former tenants picked among the smoking ruins.  Murial worked alongside the evicted tenants.  Nearby Guy and the men, hurled debris aside helping those half buried under fallen doors and rubble.  Added to their despair, on the estate owner’s orders, no help was to be given them from neighbours in the adjacent village. They were to leave the estate for the coast before night. 

Not even the children or babies were to be offered shelter.  The stricken villagers now faced a night without food on the roads. 

Murial, her face and clothes grimy with dirt and ashes saw a small cavalcade arrive. She managed to smile as Meg along with some servants arrived with a cart laden with food and clothes and bedding.  It was mutually decided to ignore the estate owner’s orders and to build a habitable space in the ruins with doorposts serving to hold a roof of branches and turf. At least, that way they would have a couple of days to plan what they might do to survive the roads.

 As night fell, so tenants from a neighbouring village crept in unseen to help.  The stricken victims sat with hearts broken in the ruins of what was once a beloved family home. The remains of cherished kitchen dressers served as benches on which to sleep. These people through the toil of their own hands had enjoyed a certain prosperity, but even that did not save them when the estate owner claimed the very land on which the cottages stood.

 Murial watched Meg handing out food, whilst she provided the half-naked villagers with warm clothes but sadly, there were not enough to go around, the villagers’ own clothes and bedding having been destroyed in the tumbling. Murial waved a weary hand to Guy, and others helping the men to try to build makeshift dwellings, chopping up branches, heaving loads of rescued turf.  At least that would give them some shelter against the cold and rain of the night hours.  

Dawn ushered in Hell.  The soldiers were back to drive them from the very ruins. Again, with no warning, the broken people awoke to the thrum of horses’ hooves and the clash of metal swords.  Murial opened her eyes to see the soldiers surrounding the ruins; weapons raised.  Desperate cries wrought the air, ‘Ye canna do this?  Oh dear God in heaven save us – save us oh Lord.’   The people scattered pausing to scoop up their sobbing children as they climbed from the mud and ashes of the blackened holes, their only shelter.

One woman fell to her knees followed by others who held up their hands in prayer. ‘Please Mary Mother of God, save us, save the wee bairns. Do not desert us Mother Mary – save our bairns.’

 But, the only replies were the coarse curses of the solders as they dragged them praying from the ruins. 

 Murial knew it was useless to fight, but she could at least see they were not roughly handled, ‘Get your bloody hands off her.’ she cried as one soldier dragged a woman half dressed along the ground.  Seeing her raised sword, he dropped the pitiful form.

Clutching a handful of clothes with the odd cauldron, the people were forced off the estate and onto the open road now, only the ditches could offer any respite.

Streams ran through some of the ditches, others were almost a bog.  Wearily, Murial rode alongside the evicted tenants, a child on her lap, another clinging on behind her.

 Riding alongside her with more children on his horse, Guy said, ‘Murial you’ve had no rest. You must go back to the Manor, rest, eat and then return in warm clothing. 

 Her eyes felt full of grit as she looked at him. ‘No, we have to see these people settled.  We must do what we can now.  Besides I would not rest. You know that.  I am strong I can carry on.’

‘But Murial−‘

 ‘No Guy – please, there are over four hundred people here, let’s find somewhere for them at least for tonight.    Thank God, some people from the other estates have ignored the threats of the estate owners; they have come en masse to help us.  Even if it means they too could lose their homes. They’ve brought clothes, blankets, food, cooking pots, dry wood.  They can help build the shelters in some of the dryer ditches. But, Guy it’s shocking, only yesterday these people were abed in their own homes, a fire in their grates, warm kitchens, pretty parlours and now this.  They built those cottages Guy, saved the land from the bog.  Not much is getting into the newspapers.  These innocent hardworking people have done nothing to deserve such treachery. The world does not know yet. And when it does, it will be too late for many of them here.’  With a sob, she clutched the child to her breast.

Even in a state of shock, the courage of the Scottish people shone through, some singing, others talking quietly and yet others softly bewailing their fate.  Yet, their spirit was not yet broken, neither did they blame their God, as they set to building the shelters in the ditches.  Some men dug as others stamped down the ground.  The women gathered branches and turf in readiness for the makeshift roofs. By nightfall, the fires were lit on the roadside and the food cooking, but it was not enough. Many tonight would go hungry for yet another night. Murial wondered how long the food would last.  The neighbours could only share so much as they themselves were near starving.

 Mud seeped into the bottom of the ditch as Murial awoke to light filtering through the branches overhead.  The earthen walls of their tomb seeming to shake as the occupants awoke to a dull thudding.  Pushing aside a couple of the branches overhead, she heard men shouting. ‘They’re here again – tis the soldiers.’   Murial tried not to disturb the sleeping child as she climbed to her feet. Her whole body ached from half sitting half lying huddled among the evicted tenants.  Wearily, she wiped streaks of mud from for her eyes as she peered into the distance.  Yes, they were coming; she could see the flash of sunlight on steel.  Dear God – what now?

Groups of people were already about, as dawn peeled back the night. Joining Guy, who stood quietly talking to a group of men, she heard him say, ‘They will not attack us surely, these are ditches, the people must rest somewhere. They must be on their way to yet another estate.’  His words were cut short as the soldiers neared their weapons raised menacingly.  A woman screamed; others began to shout as Murial watched some soldiers alight from their horses and begin tearing off the roofs of the shelters, dragging out the screaming people.  

 Her heart pounding Murial ran forward, what was happening now?  Surely, they couldn’t be evicting them from the ditches, from mud-filled holes in the ground?  Running to her horse, she untethered him and leapt on his back.  She looked a mess; a beggar with a filthy mud streaked face, and dirt caked clothes, as she joined Guy, who was now speaking angrily to the Captain.  She caught his words, ‘This is beyond belief Captain – how in hell’s name can you evict these people from the ditches?  They are past the boundaries of the estate surely?

The Captain shook his head bringing out a map, ‘Sir; they may be beyond Lord Tanmore’s estate, but they are now on Lord Gallagher’s estate.  They must keep to the roads until they reach the forests and the coast.’ 

 Guy’s face whitened. ‘You can’t do this – in God’s name man they will perish for sure, tis only the bogs and the forests left to them.’  Shaking his head, Guy turned to see Murial approach.  It’s no use Murial– there is nothing we can do.’  

Murial bit her lip.  For once, she was lost for words. Neither Guy nor she could start fighting; people would be hurt more than they were now.  Looking at the Captain she said, ‘How can you live with yourself.  Could you not have turned a blind eye to this? Could you not let these poor people rest? At least let the children eat?’

The Captain looked at her with dreadful eyes, his speech almost a whisper. ‘I am sworn to serve my General – t’would be treason to disobey. I and my men would be hung or shot madam.  May God forgive me for this day’s work.’

 Guy spoke softly, ‘Come sister, you are needed at the Manor – there are others there who are near starving – dying.  Let us go.’

 Murial bit her lip, her eyes brimming with tears, as she whispered, ‘Captain let them eat first – please.’

The Captain bowed his head, ’Of course madam – then we must escort these people from the estates.  Be assured no one will be hurt.  Death will go hungry today.’


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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

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