Authors: Elizabeth Sinclair
Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal Romance
Into The Mist
Into The Mist
© 2008 by Marguerite Smith
Cover art by Kellie Sharpe
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work, in whole or in part, in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means now know or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
Published By Salt Run Publishing LLC
To the people who worked the hardest to see this book published
both in print and e-book formats:
my critique partners Dolores Wilson and Vickie King;
and my e-book guru Kellie Sharpe,
my heartfelt thanks.
And, as always, to my husband Bob.
Thank you all. Love you.
Assistant Librarian Irma Peese looked around the dimly lit Tarrytown Library. Outside, the blowing snow had piled up in deep drifts against the buildings and across the streets. Disappointment dogged Irma's steps. She always looked forward to the annual Christmas story hour the library sponsored. This year she'd been especially excited to take the place of the resident storyteller, Anna Hobbs. Anna couldn't navigate the deep snow with her walker and had to reluctantly bow out.
The evening had started off well, but the laughter of the children had ended abruptly when a parent had arrived and warned Irma that the blizzard howling outside the building was getting worse and the children should be getting home while the parents could still travel on the treacherous roads.
After they'd all left, only Irma and her small family, her daughter, Meghan; son-in-law, Steve Cameron; and granddaughter, Faith, had remained behind. They would have left, as well, but there was an important task to be taken care of first.
Irma stacked the rest of the books she'd picked out but never gotten to read to the children that night and moved them to the library book cart. Monday would be soon enough to put them back on the shelves.
She glanced lovingly at her family. It wasn't all that long ago that Irma had had no family; she had wandered aimlessly through Central Park as a bag lady searching for wounded souls. That one of those souls would be the man who would love her daughter for all time had never crossed her mind. But then she'd found Steve, a pediatric oncologist, sitting on a park bench, wondering why the children who came into his care died and he was helpless to stop it. Irma had believed him to be just another lost human being questioning the strength of true love and the existence of miracles.
Meghan and Steve were deep in conversation over an architectural magazine. They'd been planning an addition to their family and were thinking about putting another room on the Gateway Cabin. From their hand movements, there seemed to be some point of contention in making that decision.
Irma smiled. She had no doubt that in the end it would be a mutual decision, as everything in their lives was, and born of the deep love they bore for each other.
Leaving them to their quandary, Irma wandered to the table where Faith had just finished her latest rendition of Santa Claus and his sleigh and had started another picture. She'd already completed several drawings of the jolly old man and his reindeer, which now hung in a place of honor on the family refrigerator.
"Very nice," Irma told Faith as she leaned over her shoulder to inspect the latest Christmas masterpiece.
"Thank you, Ahmee," Faith said politely.
Irma shifted her attention to the piece of paper on which Faith had already drawn what looked like a river and mountains. "What have we here?" she asked, leaning over the girl's shoulder and studying the drawing. "If I'm not mistaken, that's a picture of the Hudson Highlands."
"Yup," the child said, smiling up at her grandmother. "It's where Rip Man Winkler went to sleep for days and days." With the tip of her black crayon, she pointed at the tiny stick figure she'd just completed, reclining on the side of the mountain. "See? There he is, just sleeping away."
"I see him." Irma chuckled and slid into the chair beside Faith, slipping her arm around the child's slim shoulders. "Actually, sweetheart, Rip Van Winkle slept on the mountain for twenty years."
Faith turned her mother's big blue eyes on her grandmother. "Really?"
Irma kissed her rosy cheek. "Really."
"Well, no one really knows. Strange things happen in the Highlands. It's a very special, magical mountain, where wonderful things happen that no one can explain."
For a moment Faith was quiet. Then she turned to Irma again. "Like in Resnance?"
A gentle smile crept across Irma's face. "Yes, darling, like in Renaissance."
She wasn't surprised that Faith knew about the misty village hidden in the glen just beyond the Gateway Cabin. After all, her mother and father were the Gate Keepers, and she knew that Irma was one of the Guides who took the needy souls to the cabin. Many times, Meghan had told the child the story of the village and how it came to be. Over the years, it had become Faith's favorite bedtime story.
Faith yawned. Irma glanced at the big clock above the librarian's desk. Almost ten thirty. Late for the child to be up. But since her father and mother needed to be here when
arrived, they'd had little choice but to bring Faith with them.
Pushing her drawing aside, Faith climbed into her grandmother's lap and snuggled against her ample bosom. "Tell me the story of Emanuel, Ahmee."
Irma wrapped her granddaughter in her arms and cradled her close to her heart. "Well, a long time ago, when the Indians still lived here in the Highlands, people came from across the ocean to find a new place to live where they could worship as they wanted to. Two of those people were—"
"Michiah and Rachel Biddle," Faith finished for her.
"Yes," she said and squeezed Faith lovingly. "Michiah and Rachel Biddle built a cabin." Irma tickled Faith's side. "The very cabin where you live now."
Faith giggled and squirmed impatiently. "Hurry up and get to the Emanuel part, Ahmee."
Irma laughed. "Ah, but you can't get to that part without knowing how Emanuel came to be."
A noise at her side made her look up. Steve and Meghan had come to join them. They each took a seat on the other side of the library table and leaned toward Irma, as eager as the child to hear the story.
"Not long after the Biddles had finished their cabin, Rachel gave birth to a baby boy."
"Emanuel," Faith declared, and everyone laughed.
Irma looked down at her granddaughter's sweet face. "You know this story as well as I do. I'd better warn Anna Hobbs that she might lose her job as storyteller one of these days."
"Aw, Ahmee." Faith leaned away from Irma and cast a look of incredulity at her. "I'm not old enough to have a job."
Irma laughed and hugged Faith. "I guess you're right." She sighed in total contentment and continued. "Emanuel was named after Michiah's great-grandfather. They were a very happy little family. They farmed the land, and when Emanuel was old enough, he and Michiah hunted for food in the woods. One day, when Emanuel was twelve, his mother became very ill. Michiah was very sad. He was afraid Rachel would die, and since he loved her so very much, he didn't know how he could go on living without her.
"Michiah was so sad that he couldn't even work the farm anymore. He spent every day wandering in the woods alone. One day he found a hill and climbed it and got to his knees and prayed for Rachel to get well. He did that every day for a long time. But each day, when he returned to the cabin, Rachel was still very sick. The next day, he'd go back to the hill and pray again, hoping that one day, when he went home, his prayer would have been answered, but it never was.
"Michiah had almost given up when he went to the hill one last time. This time, he noticed a mist in the glen below the hill. It was not like any fog he'd ever seen in the glen before. This mist was thick and white and had a strange light glowing inside it. As Michiah watched, the glow seemed to get brighter and brighter. Curious as to what the strange thing that glowed so brightly was, Michiah went down the hill and walked into the mist."
Realizing Faith hadn't moved or spoken in the past few minutes, Irma glanced down at her granddaughter. Faith was asleep. "Hmm, seems I've lost my audience."
Meghan cleared her throat, drawing Irma's attention. "Not entirely," she said, smiling. "Please go on. I never get tired of hearing this story."
"Where was I?"
"Michiah had just gone into the mist," Steve prompted, the expression on his face as eager as Faith's had been.
"Michiah was sure when he emerged from the mist that he'd been gone so long his family would be worried about him. He was even afraid that Rachel had died while he was gone and that Emanuel had been left to fend for himself. But as soon as he stepped outside the fog, his heart swelled with happiness, and he knew Rachel was well again. He hurried home to find his wife cooking supper for the first time in days. When she scolded him for leaving that morning and not returning for lunch, he was confused, but too elated to find her well to question her."
Irma shifted Faith to a more comfortable position. The child never stirred.
"The years passed, and the family continued to live happily in their cabin. Recalling the absolute love he'd found inside the mist, Michiah returned to the hill often, hoping to find it again. When Emanuel began asking questions about where his father went so often, Michiah told his young son what had happened to him. Entranced by his father's tale of this place where such love and peace could be found, Emanuel began accompanying his father to the hill to wait for the mist to reappear. But it never did.
"Then, two days before his fourteenth birthday, Emanuel's parents both died from a fever that had stricken many people in the valley. Inconsolable, Emanuel wandered into the woods to the hill where his father had told him he'd seen the strange mist. There, at the very top of the hill, he buried his parents side by side. Soon after that, Emanuel vanished from the settlement."
Irma glanced down at her sleeping granddaughter, then to Steve and Meghan. "Many said the Indians killed him and threw him into the Hudson River. Others say the wild animals got him and devoured his body." She winked at Meghan. "But
know what really happened to him."
Meghan grinned, then sat up straight, looked at the clock, and stretched her cramped muscles. She yawned, making her look much like Faith. "It's nearly midnight. Are you sure tonight was the night?"
Irma looked at her daughter and raised an eyebrow. "Is he ever wrong?"
Meghan shook her head. "Not to my knowledge."
The words had just passed Meghan's lips when the sound of the latch falling into place on the front door to the library echoed through the silent room.
We are each of us angels with one wing.
And we can only fly by embracing each other
—Luciano de Crescenzo
December 23, Tarrytown, New York
! All over her blouse, coat, and skirt. Where had it come from? What had happened? Terror, colder and icier than the biting winds whipping around her legs, clawed at her insides. Was the blood hers? Or was it someone else's, someone she'd hurt, someone…
Horrible scenarios of the possible source of the blood skittered through her mind. The terror grew until she felt as if she'd choke on it. Shivers that had no connection to the numbing wind chilling her face made her shiver and draw her coat closer to her body.
Frantically she looked around her. For what? Anything that would give her answers. She saw nothing through the wind-driven snow but dark buildings lining a quaint little street, Christmas lights twinkling gaily on long strings draped across the deserted road—and her. Not even a car passed that she could flag down.
With a desperation born of the unbridled panic of not knowing, she began walking aimlessly, oblivious to the snow blowing down the neck of her coat and the unrelenting cold permeating every inch of her body. She scoured her mind for details that seemed to hover just beyond her grasp. Though she strained to retrieve them, the closer she got to the answers, the more they scattered like frightened, elusive butterflies and left her with…
. No idea who she was, where she was, how she'd gotten there, or how she'd come to be splattered in blood.
Reminded of the stains covering her clothing, her mind reverted back into paralyzing panic.