Authors: Carey Corp,Lorie Langdon
, by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon, is a YA retelling of
that is fresh and enchanting.”
Happily Ever After blog
“Oz meets Once Upon a Time.”
âCity Book Review
“. . . An imaginative reboot of the classic
âSchool Library Journal
“Musical-theater fans will rejoice . . . Give this romance to fans who can't get enough of âWill they? Won't they?' plot twists.”
“The perfect mix of mystery, magic, and romance; be prepared to get lost in another world!”
âMaria V. Snyder, author of the
New York Times
Bestselling Poison Study series
Other books in the Doon series
Destined for Doon
Shades of Doon
Copyright Â© 2016 by Carey Corp and Lorie Moeggenberg
Requests for information should be addressed to:
3900 Sparks Dr. SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546
ePub Edition Â© June 2016: ISBN 978-0-310-74238-8
Any Internet addresses (websites, blogs, etc.) and telephone numbers in this book are offered as a resource. They are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement by the publisher, nor does the publisher vouch for the content of these sites and numbers for the life of this book.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any meansâelectronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any otherâexcept for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
is a trademark of The Zondervan Corporation.
Thank you to the Alan Jay Lerner Estate and the Frederick Loewe Foundation for use of the premise.
Cover design and photography: Magnus Creative
Interior design and composition: Greg Johnson / Textbook Perfect
16 17 18 19 20 21 /DCI/ 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To our Doonians all over the world, you are Called to a great purpose!
And for Mary Sue Seymour whose quiet passion continues to change the world for the better.
collapsed to my knees in the wet sand, staring at the vast, empty expanse of beach without a mountain in sight. Behind me the waves of the morning tide roared like a voracious beast. Soon they would devour the land and we would return to Dunbrae Cottage having failed to find a way back to Doon for the twenty-second day in a row.
Balling my hand into a fist, I willed the silver and emerald ring on my finger to react. It had opened the portal to the secret back door into Doon before. But despite wanting it to work more than ever before, it remained cold and lifeless on my finger as if mourning the loss of its counterpart, my best friend's gold and ruby one.
According to Duncan, Vee's ring had fallen from his finger when EÃ²ran pushed us toward safety during the bridge collapse. It had most likely been swept downriver with the rubble. Although Fiona and several others continued to search for it, I feared it was lost for good. And all of us with itâthe unfortunate Doonians trapped on the wrong side of the Brig o' Doon
as our loved ones battled against a wicked witch for their very lives.
Duncan's warm hand rested gently on my shoulder. “Come away, woman,” he murmured. The heat of his touch caused me to realize how miserable the weather wasâmuch cooler than the first time we'd visited the beach. That had been another lifetime ago. Duncan's first legit trip to the oceanâhis first time feeling the surf around his feet and exploring tidal pools. Despite the threat of zombie fungus and the urgency of returning to Doon, we'd had a perfect “Summer Nights” moment, getting friendly in the sand and all that. Later, when we were safely home, I'd given him a petrified starfish to commemorate the moment.
But the days of singing about our true love vow were over. It turned colder,
that's where it ends
. . . Now our kingdom was under siege and we were as useless as a classically trained Shakespearian actor at a
I cut off the hopeless thought. We'd find a way back to Doon, help our friends save the kingdom, and live happily ever after. All we had to do was believe and not give up.
I sighed internally. Easier said than done.
“Ready, lass?” Duncan's hand slid down my shoulder to curl around my bicep. But instead of rising to my feet with his support, I shrugged him away.
“Just a few more minutes.” I clenched my fist tighter, squinting at the horizon where I willed mountains to appear.
, I pleaded silently.
We need to get back to Vee and the others. We need to save Doon.
My plea seemed to disappear into nothing; the sand remained unchanged, flat and desolate except for an old Scotsman who lumbered across the beach in our direction. There was something vaguely familiar about the old guy, but Duncan interrupted before I could figure it out.
“Mackenna. Perhaps it's time we admit the truth. Aye?” Although he didn't touch me again, I could feel the heat rolling off him as he stood at my back.
Without warning, I lurched to my feet and whirled to confront him. “Which is?”
His velvety brown gaze held mine. “Mayhap we're no' meant to return to Doon through the mountains. At least no' right now.”
The words weren't easy for him to sayâI knew Duncan well enough to be certain of this. Every bone in his body yearned to reunite with his brother, as mine ached to return to Vee. Neither of us ever spoke of the possibility that one or both might already be dead, or that it might be our fault for abandoning them.
Despite the human heater facing me, my teeth began to chatter. “What if we're not meant to go back at all? What if this is how Doon survives, through our memories? I suppose we should just get on with our lives then. Maybe move out west to Santa FeâI hear it's sunny and nice.”
I'd flung my response at Duncan carelessly and had the uncomfortable satisfaction of seeing the pain in his eyes as my verbal darts hit their mark. He paled, his brows pinching together as he struggled not to react. “I'm no' sayin' we give upâor relocate. Just that we look for Doon another way.”
“Like rebuilding the bridge?” I asked, doing my best to not sound critical about his fixation with restoring the Brig o' Doon.
I shook my head before he even finished speaking. “And how much longer is that going to take? It not like erecting a Taco Bellâit's an historical replication made of stone and built by master craftsmen. Anything could be happening in Doon while we're waiting here in limbo.”
“Don't ye think I know that?” He turned and stalked up the beach.
I followed at a jog, closing the distance between us. “I know . . . And I'm sorry. But if I stop coming here, it's like I'm giving up. We need to have hope, now more than ever.” Slipping my hand in the crook of his arm, I leaned into Duncan, drawing from his strength and giving him mine. “I wish the Protector would give us some sort of sign.”
His lips pursed in a crooked smile. “Perhaps he's trying to, but we're too busy arguin' instead of listenin'.”
Ever sunny and optimistic, my boyfriend had a point. Letting go of Duncan, I stepped away so I could fling my arms wide. “Okay,” I shouted toward the heavens as I turned in a slow circle. “I'm listening.”
The old guy who'd been wandering along the beach stopped to gawk at my outburst. He gaped at me, then Duncan, and then back at me again. As he stared, my mind began to place him as the storyteller from the tavern in Alloway, a lifetime ago. It was through him that Vee and I first heard the legend of the MacCraes and their enchanted kingdom.
Being a distance off, the old man gestured toward the empty beach and shouted, “Hear this then, lassie. You'll no' get ta Doon through the mountains. Not this time.”
ackenna Reid could break a fellow's heart in a hundred different ways without realizing it. Like now, gray eyes wide and shimmering with hopefulness, mouth set against the possibility that something good was on the verge of happening, and eyebrows knit together in uncertaintyâher bonnie face a map of contradictions that worked in tandem to reveal the secrets of her heart. Secrets that I would protect at any cost.
I stepped between my love and the modern-world stranger who'd just professed knowledge of our hidden kingdom. Motioning with my left hand for Mackenna to stay behind me, I rested my right hand lightly on the hilt of my dirk tucked into the waistband of my blue jean trousers. “Identify yourself, sir,” I demanded.
Mackenna's hand lightly brushed my arm. “It's okay, Duncan. I know him.”
“You do?” I asked, my eyes never leaving the man.
“Yes,” she replied. “Well, sort of. He's the storyteller who first told Vee and me the legend of Doon. He works at the Tam O'Shanter pub.”
The storyteller in question was steadily closing the distance between us. In another moment I would need to make a decision . . . Unsheathe my weapon or no. Unfortunately, Mackenna's account of the gentleman didn't aid in that decision. “And jus' how did he come to know the legend of our kingdom?”
Her voice faltered. “I, uh, never thought to ask. It was just a story at the time. I had no idea it was real.” She emitted a soft sound of revelation. “Actually it was the Witch of Doon who introduced us, when she was pretending to be Ally.”
I knew from conversations with Mackenna that her and Veronica's first encounter with Adelaide Blackmore Cadell had been in Alloway, when they'd been on vacation. The witch had been posing as both the caretaker of Dunbrae Cottage and the caretaker's daughter. In those capacities she'd set the girls on the trajectory for Doon, which had eventually granted her the power to take the kingdom by force with dark magic.
With that latest revelation I pulled my dirk from its scabbard and ordered the stranger to halt when he was less than a dozen paces away. Wishing I had a proper blade, I took quick mental inventory. Besides the eight-inch dagger in my hand, I had my wee sgian dubh tucked into the hosiery of my right legâutterly useless beneath the stiff, modern trousers. At Mackenna's insistence on remaining inconspicuous, all my other weaponry had been left at the cottage. What I would have given in that moment for a cutlass or broadsword.
The man, face as leathery and blemished as aging cowhide, came to a standstill. While leaning heavily on a walking stick of driftwood, he blinked at me enigmatically. “I couldna help
but notice that you're looking for Doon, friend. But try as ye might, ye'll no' get those mountains to appear.”
For the next few seconds we took one another's measure. Dressed in crumpled, overlarge tweeds and woolen cap, the auld man gave the impression of a shrunken version of his former self. His rheumy eyes and the burst capillaries of his sagging face indicated he'd seen the bottom of plenty of cups. Overall, he appeared innocuous. But appearances, especially where known associates of the Witch o' Doon were concerned, could be misleading.
“What do you know of Doon?” I asked lightly, noting that EÃ²ran had quietly circled round behind the stranger with his dagger at the ready.
“Mayhap more than ye, Yer Highness.” He cleared his throat. “Please call off yer man. I mean ye and yer lassie no harm.”
I signaled for EÃ²ran to pause in his advance but remain at the ready. The man's face cracked slightly into what I surmised to be a smirk. “Ye see, I've been watching you for the past fortnight. And waiting for you much longer, for lifetimes . . .” He shifted his attention over my shoulder, to Mackenna. “When Adelaide first brought you American lassies inta the tavern, I knew it had begun.”
My grip tightened on my dirk. “Explain yourself, sir, and how ye came to be acquainted with the Witch o' Doon.”
“How did you know Ally was the witch?” Mackenna asked.
The auld man chuckled. “Adelaide Blackmore Cadell has gone by many aliases in her long walk on this earth . . . and I have known them all. Ye see, lassie, I'm the only person who's been alive as long as she has. Her fate and mine were the sameâtrapped on the outside, unable to cross the bridge. But tha's all different now. As yer Obi-Wan Kenobi might say, âThere's been a change in the force.'”
As a young lad, I'd heard the stories. An auld wives' tale of a cowardly man fleeing Doon at the exact moment the miracle happened. The legend went that the man, giving into his fear, had attempted to flee across the Brig o' Doon as the Protector enacted the blessing. He was then caught between realms and suspended on the bridge. The benevolent Protector appeared to him with a choice to return to Doon or continue his flight into Alloway. But before the foolish man could make up his mind, the witch snatched him into the modern world and Doon was lost to him forever. “You're the Suspended Man.”
“Worse ân that, laddie. I was King Angus Andrew Kellan MacCrae's only brother and yer kinsman, Alasdair MacCrae.”
Squinting against the rising sun, I tried to picture the auld, blue-eyed man as a strong, ruddy youth. Edging a small step back toward Mackenna, I groped for her hand. Her chilled fingers found mine, intertwining with a reassuring squeeze. “You lie, sir. Besides ruling Doon, the MacCraes are known for two things: siring sons and dark eyes.”
With a fragile, blue-veined hand, Alasdair scratched at the side of his nose. “I suppose tha's true, laddie. But many generations back, a young lass by the name o' Shoshanna Haldane became queen by marrying the MacCrae. She was the village Seanachaidhâits storytellerâand she had the same blue-gray eyes ye see before you. She was my mum.”
Now that he spoke thus, I did see the resemblance between Alasdair and Doon's current Seanachaidh, Calum Haldane. But hailing from Doon did not necessarily make him a friend. Or a MacCrae.
As if the man could read minds, he spread his hands wide, palms up in supplication. “Yer Highness, I have no magick and no allegiance to the Witch o' Doon, but that doesna mean
ye should readily believe me. I have valuable intelligenceâinformation ye need to know.”
Letting go of my hand, Mackenna rushed from my side toward Alasdair before I could stop her. “Please? Do you know how to get back to Doon?”
My heart began to pound as I calculated the likelihood of the auld man doing her violence and whether I could get to her before he did. To my relief, EÃ²ran crept within a pace of them. Without his queen to safeguard, EÃ²ran had decided it was his sacred duty to guard the queen's best friend. I knew with absolute certainty the good man would protect my love with his life. It's what Veronica would want.
Alasdair grinned, splitting his leathery face nearly in two. “Aye, lassie. I know how to get back to Doon. And tha's not all I know.”
“I just want to know how to return to Doon. I don't care about anything else.”
“Well, ye should care,” he replied with a delighted snort. “If you knew what I know, ye'd care a great deal.”
Stepping closer to Alasdair, within reach of Mackenna, I let my hand rest lightly around my lass's soft hip. “Stop talking in riddles, man. You will curry no favor if ye dinna answer our questions.”
“Apologies, Yer Highness. You see, I not only know how ta get back to Doon . . .” He paused self-importantly, his enigmatic smirk reminding me of a great-uncle I had not been overly fond of. “I am perhaps the only soul who knows how ye kin defeat the witch.”
“How?” Mackenna demanded as I scrutinized my supposed kinsman. What was his game? And why speak now after we'd been in Alloway for nearly two fortnights?
“Not so fast, lassie. I know how to defeat the witch, but I'll only be sharin' that information with the queen.”
I dug my fingers lightly into her hip to quiet her. “Which queen?” I asked, feigning ignorance.
Alasdair's shrewd, watery eyes moved from Mackenna's to mine. “The American lass. Wee thing, dark hair, goes by the name of Veronica.”
“I know who my best friend isâ” Mackenna's pocket chimed, cutting through the tension of the auld man's revelation. She removed her mobile phone and glanced at the screen. “Fiona says we need to return to the cottage right away.” Turning halfway toward the parking area, she paused as if suddenly remembering we had unfinished business on the beach. “What do we do with him?”
With a series of gestures, EÃ²ran indicated caution. Addie had magically removed the faithful guard's tongue and given it to her lackey, Sean. Despite being a mute, EÃ²ran had no issue with making his sentiments known. Regarding Alasdair, EÃ²ran was of the opinion that this was possibly another trap set by the Witch o' Doon. I agreed. The only way Alasdair could've known about Veronica is if the witch had told him.
But if he truly had intelligence about how to defeat her . . .
Both the guard and Mackenna looked to me to determine Alasdair's fate. If there was the slightest possibility the auld man had information that would help us not only return home but ultimately defeat Adelaide, we had to take that chance. “He comes with us.”
With a delighted chuckle, Alasdair nodded his consent. With Kenna at my front, the auld man at my back, and EÃ²ran bringing up the rear, we solemnly made our way across the beach to our waiting sedan.
When we arrived at Mackenna's ancestral home, Dunbrae Cottage, the front door was ajar. Not only was the door open, but the library windows as well. Our people spilled out of the doorway onto the front walk and garden. Those outside huddled in groups near the windows, whispering to one another. The posture of their bodies and severe expressions made it easy to discern that something of great importance was happening in the library.
As Mackenna pulled the sedan to a stop, I ordered EÃ²ran to stay in the car with Alasdair. Fixing my stare on the auld man, I said, “If ye know what's good for you, you'll stay put until I tell ye to move.”
Alasdair's rheumy eyes crinkled as if amused. “Yes, m'Laird.”
By the time I exited the car, the Doonians standing out of doors had turned to face the road. They all shared the same expression of unease mingled with hopeful expectancy. Mackenna slipped her cool hand into mine. Her brows pinched in confusion. “What do you think's going on?”
“I dinna know.” I squeezed her hand in reassurance. “Let's go find out.”
Wordlessly, the crowd clustered around the doorway parted so we could enter the cottage. The interior contained more human beings than I would've imagined possible in such a cramped space. Friends were pressed against one another in the foyer and up the stairwell, their bodies angled toward the library. As we appeared, heads swiveled in our direction. Each one regarded us with that same disquieting expression.
Despite the mass of bodies, the crowd managed to step aside so that we could get to the library. The focal point of the room
seemed to be a divanâor rather a person perched on the divan with her face downcast. At first sight, the figure appeared to be a child. Slender and petite, the girl had sleek ebony hair and copper skin. The slight trace of makeup on her fine-boned face indicated that she was not a child, merely small in stature.
Caledonia Fairshaw, Fiona's mum, sat to one side of the girl while her daughter sat on the other. After a grim look in our direction, Fiona put a hand on the girl's knee. “Ches, these are the friends I was telling ye about, Duncan and Mackenna. Do you think you could tell them what you told me?”
The girl nodded and raised her head to address us. Despite the confusion in her dark eyes, she radiated intelligence. She cleared her throat softly before speaking. “My name is Cheska Ann Santos. I'm fifteen.”
Her accent sounded similar to Mackenna's, with slightly crisper enunciation and an undercurrent of something exotic. Cheska closed her eyes as she drew in a deep breath; after a slow exhale, she opened them to regard us fiercely. “I can't account for what happened, exactly, or how . . . but I believe I was sent here from my home, the City of Tayabas, in the Philippines.”
Fiona nodded, prompting, “Tell them how ye came to be in Scotland, Ches.”
She fixed her grave eyes on mine as if daring me to doubt her veracity. Without so much as a blink of hesitancy, she replied, “I crossed a bridge.”