Read Into the Fire Online

Authors: Jodi McIsaac

Into the Fire

BOOK: Into the Fire
3.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

ALSO BY JODI M
C
ISAAC

The Thin Veil Series

Through the Door

Into the Fire

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Text copyright © 2013 Jodi McIsaac
All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Cover Illustrated by Gene Mollica
Published by 47North – Seattle, Washington

ISBN-13: 9781477808696
ISBN-10: 1477808698
Library of Congress Control Number: 2013936773

FOR LAUREN

CONTENTS

PRONUNCIATION GUIDE

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

PRONUNCIATION GUIDE

T
he guide below is meant to help you pronounce some of the trickier words that pop up in this story. But, seeing as there is little agreement as to the “proper” pronunciation of most of these words even among native Irish speakers and scholars, feel free to say them any way you like.

Aiofe—
EEF ah

Airgetlam—
AR get lum

Brighid—
BREE yit

Conchobhar—
KON cho var

Cúchulainn—
koo CULL in

Dian Cecht—
DEE an KAY

Ériu—
AY roo

file—
FEE luh

Fionnbharr—
FYUN var

Fionnghuala—
fyun OO la

leannán sí—
LAH nawn SHEE

Lia Fáil—
LEE-ah FOIL

Manannan mac Lir—
Man na non mac LEER

neamh-mairbh—
NEE uv
MAOW
(rhymes with “now”)

Nuala—
NOO uh la

Ruadhan—
ROO awn

Scone—
SCOON

sidh—
SHEE

sidhe (plural of sidh)—
SHEE

Tara—
TAH ra

Tír na nÓg—
TEER na NOHG

Toirdhealbhach MacDail re Deachai—
TUR a lakh mac DOLL ray DAW hai

Tuatha Dé Danann—
TOOa ha DAY DONN an

PROLOGUE

S
he waited until darkness fell. There were no stars tonight, no moonlight to illuminate her waves of red hair as she crouched on the edge of a wood, beneath the tangled branches of a hawthorn tree. The tree was dead, like all the trees in Tír na nÓg, and provided little cover. It didn’t matter; no one had come looking for her. But it was only a matter of time. They would come, and they would want revenge.

Fortunately, chaos was on her side. Her mind was still reeling from how quickly her fortune had turned the moment the High King’s head had been separated from his body. Lorcan was dead, and she no longer needed to waste her time or her power on bending him to her will. The throne was hers for the seizing, but she had to act quickly.

Tentatively, she stepped out from under the cover of the wood. There was no light to guide her, but she knew this path by heart. The dry grass crunched beneath her feet as she crossed the clearing, glancing behind to make sure she was not being followed. A small mound rose before her, and her hands quickly found the polished stone set in its side. She pressed firmly and watched as the side of the hill dissolved and was replaced by a door of wrought silver. She was home.

CHAPTER 1

C
edar McLeod was contemplating her mother’s secrets as she prepared to leave them behind. She stood alone in the empty living room of her childhood home. The lace curtains swayed toward her, carrying the smell of the ocean, taunting her.
Stay,
they seemed to say as they reached out for her.
Discover the truth about the woman who lived here.
She walked over and shut the window, forcing the stubborn latch closed.
I have to go,
she told herself. She pushed the curtains aside and looked out through the glass. The evening sun seemed to hover over the water in the bay, as though it might rest there for a while before disappearing beneath the waves. Cedar had always loved the passage from day to night; it was a time when the air felt thick with mystery.

She walked through the old house one more time, saying her good-byes. She had never been particularly sentimental… but she had also never traveled so far away without knowing if and when she would return. And so she closed her eyes and tried to savor the memories this house held for her. She felt the soft, plush carpet under her bare feet and remembered losing Barbie shoes and marbles in its depth, and the scoldings she’d received when her mother—when Maeve—had stepped on them. She ran her hand along the polished banister as she slowly climbed the staircase, avoiding the creakiest spots by habit. It was a path she’d memorized as a teenager when she was going through what Maeve had called “her rebellious stage.” Sliding down the banister had always been the easiest escape; coming back home had been another matter.

She reached her bedroom and sat down on the edge of the bed, smoothing the threadbare quilt beneath her fingers. She was tempted to lie down, to stare at the ceiling and think about all the reasons for doing what she was about to do. But no, she had to go home. Finn and Eden were waiting for her. She had made her decision. And so she picked up the last box and carried it downstairs, her arms sore from a weekend of packing and cleaning the old house. She locked up and then squeezed the box into the trunk of her car.

Only the workshop was left.

She walked around it for what must have been the dozenth time. It was such an ordinary building on the outside: white clapboard with only one door and a small square window. It had sat there in their front yard, just off the gravel driveway, for as long as she could remember. She’d never been allowed to enter it. “It’s nothing that would interest you,” Maeve would say. “Just a desk and a chair and a few books. I’m entitled to a little privacy.”

When she was fifteen, Cedar had tried to break into the workshop with one of her friends. But Maeve discovered them, and Cedar had never seen her in such a rage. Cedar was grounded for a week, and when she was finally allowed out, she discovered that her friend had suddenly moved to the city. After that, whenever Cedar was tempted to try again, she’d find herself remembering an urgent test that needed to be studied for, or a drawing that she’d been meaning to work on.

But now she knew better.

She finished her circuit around the outside and stopped in front of the door, which refused to open. She knew now there must be some sort of spell on it and that whatever was inside had something to do with Maeve’s secret life as a druid. But now Maeve was dead, and whatever secrets she still held were buried with her. Cedar rattled the doorknob, knowing it wouldn’t work.

She had tried to get in several times since Maeve’s death three weeks ago. She had brought a locksmith out, but his tools had broken on the first attempt, and then he’d been too busy to try again. She’d tried to break the window with a crowbar, but it hadn’t even scratched the glass. A curtain covered the window, and she could not see inside, except for a small ragged space in the corner—but even then all she could see was dust and darkness. She had asked Finn to help her, but he had just warned her to not drive herself crazy. Some mysteries were best left unsolved, he had said, and meddling in the affairs of druids never turned out particularly well.

She glanced at her watch and knew she had to get going. But she hated the thought of not knowing this side of her mother. She felt certain that if she could only get inside Maeve’s private sanctuary, all of her questions would be answered.

She placed her hand on the rough wood of the door. “Open,” she whispered, feeling foolish. She glanced over at the tree under which Maeve was buried, then turned back to the door. “Mum?” she whispered. “It’s okay now. You can let me in. Let me in.” Nothing happened. Cedar kicked at the door in frustration, and the wood creaked. Encouraged, she kicked it again. Then she took several steps back and flung herself shoulder-first into the door.

She was not expecting the explosion. A loud crack like a rifle shot ruptured the silence of the evening, and a force like a hot wind sent Cedar flying backward through the air. She landed hard on the gravel driveway amid a torrent of red sparks. Her head hit something hard, and she felt the darkness close in on her.

When she opened her eyes again, something was obscuring her view. She could see a rim of light in her peripheral vision. It surrounded the object in front of her like a halo. She recognized it as the porch light. The sky was black; night had fallen. She started to sit up and winced as a sudden burst of pain shot through her head.

“Wait,” the object said. “Let me help you.”

She felt herself being gently lifted into a sitting position. The world swam around her, and she closed her eyes, waiting for the pain in her head to subside. After a moment she opened her eyes again and blinked a few times. Gradually, the object in front of her came into focus. It was a man. He was kneeling beside her, his light gray eyes fixed on her with concern. He was handsome, though old enough to be her father. His shaggy brown hair was generously flecked with gray, his long face was lined and pale, and he was wearing a worn brown leather jacket over beige pants and a buttoned shirt. Behind him, the workshop looked as intact and impenetrable as always, despite the blast that had knocked Cedar off her feet.

“How do you feel?” the man asked.

“Um… surprised,” she answered. “Who are you?”

“You hit your head pretty hard,” he said. “You might want to get it checked out.”

“No, I’m fine, thank you,” Cedar said. She slowly got to her feet, running a hand over the large bump on the back of her head. She waited for him to introduce himself, feeling increasingly uncomfortable, but he only gazed at her silently. Finally, she said, “I’m Cedar. And you are…?”

His gaze slid from her face to the tree behind her, where Maeve and Kier were resting among the roots.

“Cedar,” he said, more to himself than to her. “Well, that’s certainly fitting.” His voice was soft and slightly accented. Irish, she thought. Then his eyes returned to her. “I’m Liam,” he said.

She waited again for him to elaborate, but this time he walked past her and knelt down at Maeve’s grave, which was covered in wildflowers.

“Thank you for your help, but why are you here?” she asked, suspicion in her voice. As far as she knew, Maeve hadn’t been friendly with any of the neighbors. In fact, she wasn’t sure that her mother had had any friends at all.

“I came to pay my respects,” he said simply.

“After dark?” she asked.

“It was better this way,” he replied. “I didn’t anticipate finding anyone else here.”

He wove his fingers through the grass and the delicate stems of the evening primroses and mayflowers. “She loved wildflowers,” he murmured. In the dim light, Cedar could see that his face was wet with tears. Quietly, he spoke some words in a language she didn’t recognize. Small green tendrils pushed up from the ground through his fingers, spreading upward with a life of their own and growing longer and thicker. He lifted his hand from the ground and watched as leaves grew on the branches, expanding up and out until the bush was the size of a small child. Then blossoms erupted from every branch in shades of red, white, and pink. “She also loved roses,” he said, not looking at Cedar. “It will bloom every year on the anniversary of her death.”

Cedar gaped at him in astonishment, wondering if she had hit her head harder than she’d thought. “How did you do that?” she asked. “Who
are
you?” She was about to ask if he was one of the Tuatha Dé Danann but stopped herself.

BOOK: Into the Fire
3.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Legacy Of Korr by Barlow,M
Ancient History by CW Hawes
The True Father by Steven Anderson Law
Defying Fate by Reine, S. M.
Castigo by Anne Holt
Muerto y enterrado by Charlaine Harris
Blood Royal by Yates, Dornford
T*Witches 3: Seeing Is Deceiving by H.B. Gilmour, Randi Reisfeld