Wait for the Wind, страница 1часть #3 серии Elemental Magic
WAIT FOR THE WIND
Elemental Magic, Book Three
By Brynna Curry
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.
To L.J., Anna and Kayla, you’re my greatest treasure.
I am truly blessed to have the three of you in my life.
All my love, your mom.
As always, thanks to my family for putting up with me and being there, I love you all. Thanks to my editor Piper, to Renee and Frank Rocco and everyone behind the scenes at LPI. A special thank you to a group of ladies (gentlemen too) known as the ‘Momwriters’, who have cheered my ‘Roars’ with me, answered tons of research questions, and together support this crazy dream we call writing. You hold a special place in my heart.
Thank you for taking this journey with me. I hope you enjoyed Ryan and Kate’s story. Look for Sea’s Sorceress, Skye’s story, the next installment in the Elemental Magic Series. Love is the truest magic and with it life is an adventure.
Haleyville, Alabama 2010
Ryan rolled on the sweat-dampened sheets and tossed with the effort to wake up. Disoriented, he only knew that his body seemed trapped in sleep while his mind dreamed in the conscious of another.
With a flourish of her hands, Arianne coaxed the flames in her hearth to raise high against the wind of the brewing storms. Candles on the table flickered and mirrored the rising fire. Her power was stronger with Briella’s stolen magic, but not quite enough to control fire, only change it to her benefit. Not enough to gain her sister’s husband and child, either. Once she unleashed Daemon’s inner demon and manipulated it into doing her bidding, she’d not only take Brie’s power, but her life.
Briella’s hold over the nixie was strong, but her naiveté would be her downfall. Even now, the threads connecting her to Briella slowly siphoned the young woman’s power. Arianne gathered the dried herbs she’d prepared for the next step in her plan. Together in a stone crucible she ground rosemary, lavender and thyme into dust. Then added a splash of water and mixed it into a thin soup of disastrous means. Her past attempts to win Daemon had failed. She and Briella were twins. Did they not have the same eyes and face? Did they not have the same body? Still, she knew ways to appeal to his wicked nature her sister could never have dreamed.
Stirring the air, she lifted the stone bowl and allowed it to float above the flames and boil heavily. An incantation whispered under her breath imbued the liquid with her power. Daemon need only drink the mixture and he would be hers, but how would she trick him into consuming it? There was one way to be sure she’d have what she wanted. Arianne dipped her finger into the concoction and began to paint her mouth with the mixture. Her prey was just like any other man inside. She must bind him to her physically.
Someone pounded on the door. She set aside the bowl, walked across the room and faced a furious Daemon. He could kill with a look, a thought, in his current state. Her only chance was to make him believe she was Briella. She began to mask her power, pulling on her sister’s magic until it was impossible to tell the opposing forces apart.
“What are you doing to Brie? I feel her energy waning. Let her go!”
Arianne smiled sweetly. “Don’t be silly. Ari’s done nothing to me. I’m right here.”
“Brie? Are you sick? Your magic. It’s–”
“I’m tired, that is all. Nothing to be concerned about.”
“Why are you here?”
“I’m waiting on Ari to bring some herbs for Etain’s poultice. Her shoulder isn’t doing well and still aches horribly with the cold weather. Are you feeling ill?” Arianne stepped to him and felt his forehead, pretending to check for a fever.
“No. You seem different.” Daemon caught her hand and kissed her palm where the potion still lingered and was caught. “Brie.”
Arianne accepted his kiss, his embrace, and triumphed quietly inside. She’d finally taken one of the two things her sister held dear.
Ryan woke startled and disoriented. Beads of sweat slicked his bare chest in spite of the cool temperature in his air conditioned bedroom. He tossed off the covers and sat up. For some reason he couldn’t catch his breath.
Swinging his feet over the side of the bed, he walked barefoot toward the bathroom in the dark. He bumped his knee into one of the taller statues he had yet to ship back home. Cursing, he half-hopped into the other room and flipped on a light. When he examined the blooming bruise across his kneecap in the shape of a long curved line, he decided it must have been the dragon statue he hadn’t packed yet. Bloody hell.
One more night on American soil, just one, and he’d be on a flight back to Ireland. The morning couldn’t come fast enough to suit him. Finally, all the trials were over. Agent Spiller had kept his word, seeing to it Ryan was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony.
He looked around the sparse bathroom. Everything had been packed away and boxed up to be shipped home, except for a couple of suitcases filled with the basic things he’d need. Ryan opened the glass shower door and turned the knob to cold. Standing under the chilly spray, he let the water pummel the dream away. He didn’t have time for cryptic messages and devilishly witchy dream women who sucked his sleeping mind into subconscious role plays.
He’d sold the house to a young couple just starting their family, people who would appreciate the space and history his house had to offer. When he got home and settled a bit, he’d find a new one. Maybe one that needed fixing up. That would give him something to do while he figured out where to go from here.
Kate jumped at the shrilling phone on her desk. Unknown was the only clue her caller ID gave. No, not again. I don’t have any more to give you. Damn Mick to his immortal flaming hell! She took a deep breath and picked up the receiver.
“Where’s the rest of my money?”
Always that hate-filled growl demanding more money.
“I’ve given you the last penny you’ll see from me. I don’t owe you anything.”
“Your beloved Da owes us another fifty-thousand dollars. He’s dead. That leaves his whelp, Doctor.”
She heard the scraping sound of something gritty on metal. Was he sharpening a knife? Was he just trying to mess with her mind? Leave me alone, please, just leave me alone.
Swallowing past the lump in her throat, Kate tried to bite back the raw fear running rampant through her thoughts. “I don’t have any more. That’s the last penny.” God, she hated the way her voice shook.
“Maybe I should pay your daughter’s class a visit. I wonder what Allaina’s screams will sound like when I start peeling the skin off her fingers. One at a time.”
“Leave my daughter out of this. I can’t get more money until I sell the house. I can’t–”
“Two days or I’ll leave her brains splattered all over the classroom walls.”
The line went dead. Kate placed the receiver on the hook and walked to a small sink in the corner of her office. Turning the water on cold, she wet a paper towel from the dispenser and bathed her neck with it. Those calls always made her feel sick to her stomach. Dear old ‘Dad’ had managed to accrue sixty-thousand dollars in gambling debts to a loan shark named Seamus Milligan. Horse races were the one thing he spent money on other than alcohol, and he always bet a losing game.
She’d already given them ten thousand dollars of her start-up funds, depleting the cushion she’d saved for the tough start ahead until the clinic brought in an income. If they hadn’t threatened to hurt Allaina, she’d have told them to kiss o
There had to be something she could do about the threat, but if she went to the police Allie would be killed. She could find Ryan. Show up on his doorstep and demand he help her protect their daughter. A daughter he didn’t know existed. Or she could turn to his powerful cousin, Devin, who would scare the Bejesus out of them with his magic. If she told him about it, but she had wanted to handle this herself. Too late for that. There was no other choice, even though she hated asking anyone–especially a man, even one she loved as family–for help.
The appearance of Ryan’s cousin shortly before Liv and Jack married altered her way of seeing the world. Science was only a sliver of hope compared to the wonders she’d seen him accomplish. Devin McLoch, a former jewel thief, now gentle wizard turned his crafty nature towards teaching Allie how not only to control her magical abilities, but twist and use them to help those in need.
Kate stepped out into the hall and locked her office door before going to the front desk. “What do the afternoon appointments look like, Carrie?”
“You’ve got a four o’clock with Mr. O’Malley and that’s all.”
Thank God for small favors, until the bills started coming in the mail, anyway. “I’m going to walk over and check on Mrs. Roarke, get some fresh air. Call if you need me.”
* * * *
The screen creaked in welcome as it had so many times before. Ryan Corrigan stepped into his mother’s kitchen. She turned around at the sink where she’d been drying dishes. A little more gray streaked the blond waist-length braid of her hair. Fine lines appeared at the corners of the green eyes which she’d passed to her son. A smile bloomed across her face.
He crossed the space between them and wrapped his arms around his mom, just holding tight. There was nothing like home, and he craved it. Home. Whatever came next, he could deal with it.
“Mama.” One word from his lips told the anguish of every moment since he’d left and the relief he felt now that the time away had come to an end.
“Oh, I’m so glad you’re home.”
“Me too, Ma. You look good.”
She’d visited him many times while he’d lived overseas, but Ryan knew it wasn’t the same as having your child home. He wished he could have the same opportunity. His child. What would he have been like? Or maybe it would have been a girl. Someone to treasure and protect. Kate had seen to it he would never get the chance to know.
No longer the towheaded boy he’d been, no longer a bubbling child who exuded caring and love, now a brawny six-three, he had a darker, honey blond hair color. Ryan quietly took note of any changes that had been made in his absence.
The house, at least from outside, had appeared to be in good repair. Either Jack or Skye’s doing, he was sure. He’d have to head over and see them before long, but right now all he wanted was the quiet of his mother’s company and a cup of her tea.
“Well, sit down and I’ll fix you a cup of tea. I made sugar cookies this morning. You can catch me up on the goings-on.”
“The last trial ended about two weeks ago.”
“The butler, the one Liv coshed over the head with a candlestick?”
Ryan grinned, remembering Liv’s great escape from Gueraldi’s fortress. Lord, they’d been terrified she’d be found dead, but she’d surprised them all by tricking the guard, knocking him out and escaping into the hands of an FBI agent.
“That’s the one. Well, he was found not guilty. Missing evidence. Didn’t take him long to walk out of the courtroom and go after the agent who took him down, Gabriel Spiller, and Jack’s former sister-in-law Leannan O’Neil.”
“Jack never said anything to us.”
“Probably didn’t know. Anyway, turns out she had the missing diamonds and didn’t know it. She found Agent Spiller and they went into hiding. Smythe found them and ended up dead.”
“Oh my.” Molly passed him a cup of hot tea and set a plate of cookies on the table between them.
“They’re getting married next month.” He smiled.
“A whirlwind romance. Sometimes it’s like that. And you? Any unfinished business in the States?”
“I’m clear. Forgotten as far as they are concerned. I sold the house, banked the money and gave my farewells.”
“I’m just glad all that mess is over with. So, do you plan to stay for a time?”
“Yes. If you don’t mind having me here until I get my own place.”
Her gentle but strong hand covered his.
“This is your home, Ryan Michael. No matter what you do, you will always be welcome here, as are all my children. Understand?”
“I’ve done so many terrible things.”
“As we all have and you’re probably not finished with your share. Nevertheless, I will always love my sweet boy. There is something you should know.” She was twisting her hands together.
“I don’t want you to find out by chance and be unprepared. Mary Katherine has moved back home. She’s started her practice here, and I didn’t want you to bump into her at Liv’s or–”
Only one thought registered. Kate was home. It didn’t mean anything. He wouldn’t let it matter. He couldn’t let the pain show, not even to his mother. His body burned at the thought of seeing her again, but his heart was ice cold.
“Lovely. Nice to hear Kate’s got her life together.” She wouldn’t get to him. He could deal with it. Maybe. “When?”
“About four months ago she came back to bury her father and open the clinic. O’Connell died of a liver disease, I think. He didn’t go easy.”
“He’d always been a hard drinker.” He’d hated Mick O’Connell for as long as he could remember. Mick should have died right alongside his own father. He hadn’t been aboard the ship, though. He remembered Mick had laid out that morning. Drunk again and Michael Corrigan had volunteered to take his place.
“Mick was a sopping drunk, abusive and everyone knew it. Liquor killed him. Like always, Mary Katherine was left to clean up the mess.”
“Well, it’s a big world. I’ve managed to avoid old lovers before. Why should Kate be any different? We’ve been done for a long time now.”
“She’s Liv’s doctor. I didn’t want the two of you to stumble over each other.”
“It doesn’t bother me, Ma. We were over a long time ago. I’m going to take a walk. Maybe head over to the cottage and see Liv.” And find out all I can so I can avoid Kate like the plague.
Ryan kissed his mother on the cheek and walked out into the afternoon mist.
* * * *
Laughter echoed out of the little cottage as Ryan looked through the kitchen into the living room, wishing he had called first. Not yet, he wasn’t ready. Liv sat on the sofa with a tea cup in her hand, her feet propped up on Jack’s lap. Jack absently rubbed her ankles. She had her back to Ryan.
Kate sat across from Liv in a puffy chair by the fireplace. They had a fire going, as the weather was cool this time of year. The memory of Kate lying in front of another roaring fire pushed to the front of his mind and tormented him. Gone were the wisps of long blond hair. She’d cut it in a more practical short, sunny cap that framed her slender face, giving her a pixie-like quality. No longer was she the girl who’d walked away from him–Kate was a grown woman. A gorgeous woman, he amended. Slender as a reed, and Ryan wondered if she still carried herself with a sexy air as if she owned the world. Her white lab coat reminded him of the years and pain between them. Stop it. She murdered your child. He swallowed hard, gave a cursory knock on the door and walked into his sister’s house.
Stepping into the room, for just a moment he let his eyes unerringly lock onto Kate’s. Ryan saw surprise and joy there, along with an aging that didn’t belong. Heat surged through him, a flame hot enough to burn a man. The memories all came flooding back too, until he was reeling from them, but years of hiding emotion allowed him to show her only indifference. He g
“What? No welcome home party?”
Liv squealed and jumped up to hug him as quickly as her pregnant body would allow. “Ryan! Oh, you’re home! I’m so glad. Have you been to see Ma? Skye will be out on the cliffs by now, or maybe the pub. Jack, look! Ryan’s home!”
Jack laughed at her enthusiasm and walked over to him. “Hey, Ryan. Welcome home.”
Ryan peeled his sister away long enough to shake Jack’s hand.
“Hi, Jack. Always a hundred questions with you, Liv, isn’t it?” He was surprised he could laugh and mean it. “Yes, I just left there. The house looks good, Jack. Thank you for looking out for Ma.”
“Molly’s an amazing lady. I love her to pieces.” Jack took Liv’s hand and led her back to the sofa.
“I’ll go down to the pub later. How have you been? When are you due?”
Liv curled her feet on Jack’s lap, while Ryan took the chair opposite them next to the fire. “We’re due in about a month.”
“And the baby?”
“Is doing well and so is the little mother. Let me add my welcome, Ryan.” Kate shifted in her seat and crossed her ankles.
He had a mental flash of her slim and pale, rising above him in the moonlight. Impossibly blue eyes burning through his, then he killed the memory like a spider.
“Ma tells me you’ve opened a clinic near here. May I say I hope to never need the service? No offense intended.” Idle conversation. Just pretend like she was never more than your sister’s friend. She didn’t mean anything to you.
“None taken, but I’ll be there just the same. Speaking of work, it’s time I got back to the clinic. Come by when you’ve the time and I’ll give you the grand tour.”
Liv might not have noticed the private conversation going on mentally, but Ryan caught the look Jack gave him, which clearly said he’d pick Liv for information later. Writer, ex-cop and psychic were a dangerous combination when there were secrets to be kept. Jack must have sensed the tension in the air. Could Jack read his thoughts, too?