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Authors: Lilo Abernathy

Tags: #Fantasy, #Vampires, #Mystery, #Romance

The Light Who Shines

BOOK: The Light Who Shines
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The Light Who Shines

 

By Lilo Abernathy

 

Bluebell Kildare Series: Book 1

Copyright

Title:
The Light Who Shines

Author:
Lilo Abernathy

Editor:
Shauna Ward

Cover
Photographer: Ivan Phillips

 

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

 

Copyright
© 2013 Lilo Abernathy

 

All
rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof
in any form whatsoever. For information, please contact Lilo Abernathy,
[email protected]
.

Dedication

For my parents, who taught me how to think, to question, and
to learn about the world by reading. Thank you for raising me in a house with a
huge wall of books ranging from
Horton Hears a Who
by Dr. Seuss to
Sherlock
Holmes
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And let’s not forget the stacks of
National
Geographic
and
Popular Mechanic
magazines.

You fueled my imagination with fantasy, then gave me the
necessary critical thinking skills to discern fact from fiction. You taught me how
to do for myself and make my way own way in this world, while at the same time
showing me how tremendously vast and interesting the world is. Yet no matter
how lost or tiny we feel amongst the wave of humanity that inhabits Earth with
us, we are not the least bit insignificant after all.

Thank you for giving me a desire for knowledge and an inexhaustible
love of learning. Most of all, I thank you for giving me the foundation
required to formulate my own opinions about the world and for respecting those
views even when they diverge from your own.

Acknowledgements

I would like to take a moment, or perhaps several days to
acknowledge my long-suffering editor, Shauna Ward. If I knew how to curtsy to
you, or better yet, how to bow, as curtsies just don’t seem to have the same
elegant grace about them, I would wave my arm in a flourish and bend at my
waist, using my considerable dexterity to nearly touch the ground as the blood
rushes to my face. And I would stay there until my skin turned red and my head
became light and I was in danger of fainting, which likely would not take long,
all in acknowledgement of you.

I can only imagine how painful it was to suffer through not
one, not two, but three reviews of storyline and character before finally
getting the go-ahead to start working on grammar, spelling, and punctuation. So
thank you, Shauna, for that, first of all. That is not even mentioning the many
other things I am grateful for. Let me just say… the phrase “that sounds a bit
awkward” has been indelibly seared into my mind, but I know I am a better writer
for it.

With no less fervor, I’d like to thank Ivan Phillips, the
photographer extraordinaire who scouted for the perfect alley for the book
cover backdrop, suggested the model, executed the model shoot, and guided me
through the selection process to the perfect photo. Yet how well I know that
your work didn’t end there. Ivan, I recognize and am thankful for how patient
you were with my incredibly picky instructions on how to edit the photo so that
the model’s aura and blue hair streak and eyes matched Blue’s character. I am
sure my readers will appreciate that attention to detail. I am also grateful
for your expert advice on color, tone, placement, angle, depth, and a whole
host of other concepts I was only vaguely aware of prior to your explanations.

I can hardly mention the photography without mentioning the
center of attention, the model Darlene Nuccio, who represents the main
character Bluebell Kildare in the cover shot. Darlene, you are stunning, and
even more importantly, you were reliable and professional and brought your own
unique sense of style to the job. The emotion that you infused into the final
photo made it an obvious winner.

My heartfelt appreciation goes out to all of my pre-readers
for your fortitude in braving the variety of rough versions I presented to you
and for providing your honest commentary in return. The long list includes Jean
Lombardo, Charles Lombardo, Eduardo Sampedro, Laura Ward, Evelyn Gauger, Ann
Moynihan, Jennifer Blanton, and many others. You truly helped me improve and
enrich the story.

There have been so many people who have helped me over the
years to get to this point by either words of encouragement or faith in my
abilities, but in deference to those stouthearted readers who actually read
acknowledgements, I’d like to mention just one. Mya Anderson, the seeds of this
book started to grow back in the days when we dreamed of doing projects like
this. Thank you for being my co-dreamer.

Finally, I’d like to thank my readers for purchasing this
book and beginning this journey with me. I very humbly present to you my first
work and hope for nothing more than your true enjoyment of it.

Preface

I intended this book to be a well-balanced combination of urban
fantasy and romance. It is filled with plenty of action, has a strong plot, and
is topped with a generous dollop of romance and a sprinkling of deeper meaning.
I chose this combination as this is exactly what I hope to find each time I
crack open a new book.

The plot follows the investigation of the kidnapping,
torture, and murder of a seventeen-year-old boy. The story opens at the crime
scene and is written from the alternating first person perspectives of the two
main characters: the primary inspector on the case and her boss. Love is in the
air, even as villains abound, keeping the story intriguing from several angles.

The story takes place in a society similar to ours, on our
earth, at around our time. However, some major events occurred about two
thousand years earlier that caused a divergence from what you and I know as our
reality. The prologue briefly takes us back those two thousand years to provide
hints about the origins of some of the more mystical aspects that manifest
themselves in the present day of this alternate existence.

The populace of this world primarily consists of several
breeds of humans: regular humans as we know them, magically Gifted humans, and
Vampires, who are essentially cursed humans. The story deals with one of our
society’s most ugly issues: prejudice. Except that in this world the prejudice
is not between races but between breeds of humans. In the course of exploring
this prejudice, we also confront key questions about the nature of good and
evil.

This story contains some vividly described scenes of
violence and a few explicit sex scenes. For both these reasons, I recommend as
a guide, not a rule, that the reader be at least seventeen years of age. I
consider it equivalent to an R-rated movie.

Table
of Contents

Copyright

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Preface

Table
of Contents

Prologue

Chapter
01  Double Depravity

Chapter
02  Slipped at the Cock and Bull Tap

Chapter
03  The Wild Garden Grows

Chapter
04  Hidden Treasures

Chapter
05  Of Smoke and Shadow

Chapter
06  Herbal Etcetera

Chapter
07  Evidence of Anguish

Chapter
08  The Dragomir

Chapter
09  Every Day Enmity

Chapter
10  The Office

Chapter
11  Begging for Reprieve

Chapter
12  Lessons on Wolves

Chapter
13  Homecoming

Chapter
14  The Hunt

Chapter
15  A None Too Gentle Reminder

Chapter
16  Vapor

Chapter
17  The Bitter Truth

Chapter
18  Making an Entrance

Chapter
19  A Grain of Salt

Chapter
20  Fertilizing the Flowers

Chapter
21  Short Drive Down Memory Lane

Chapter
22  Gala Magic

Chapter
23  Evidence of Entry

Chapter
24  Silent Vigil

Chapter
25  The Yellow Sea

Chapter
26  New Leads

Chapter
27  Positive Reports

Chapter
28  Fly Trap

Chapter
29  Empathetic Soul

Chapter
30  Bees and Honey

Chapter
31  A Big Mess

Chapter
32  Belfry

Chapter
33  Beautiful Vigil

Chapter
34  The Alley

Chapter
35  Not Remembering

Chapter
36  A Light Too Beautiful

Chapter
37  Foiled Again

Chapter
38  A Mutual Understanding

Chapter
39  Office in Disarray

Chapter
40  Is the Dog Rabid?

Chapter
41  Solidarity

Chapter
42  Suspect List

Chapter
43  Soliciting Assistance

Chapter
44  Covert Sentinel Revealed

Chapter
45  A Confusing Illumination

Chapter
46  Convening

Chapter
47  A Sagacious Gentleman

Chapter
48  Vacant Generosity Exposed

Chapter
49  Artful Deceit

Chapter
50  An Embarrassing Pretense

Chapter
51  Targeting the Suspect

Chapter
52  Lemonade

Chapter
53  Bad Omen

Chapter
54  Phantom Island

Chapter
55  Searching Desperately

Chapter
56  An Introduction to Pain

Chapter
57  Warehouse District

Chapter
58  Into the Darkness

Chapter
59  The Riverside

Chapter
60  Strengthening the Soul

Chapter
61  An Errant Wolf

Chapter
62  Running in Circles

Chapter
63  Using the Light

Chapter
64  Crypt

Chapter
65  Choosing

Chapter
66  Hoping

Chapter
67  Awakening

Chapter
68  Friends

Chapter
69  Claiming

Want
More?

Author
Autobiography

 

Prologue

Shaina: Winter, Year 1, Red Ages

I wake to the sound of pounding on the door and Mor’s voice
yelling “Shaina! Shaina!”

Sorcha wakes up crying as I rush to open the door. A
bloodcurdling scream tears through the night, destroying any illusions of a
peaceful return to slumber. When I swing open the door with trembling hands, I
see anguish in Mor’s eyes. The words that tumble from her mouth bring to the
fore all the fears I’d been trying to suppress this winter.

“Shaina, Conor was found dead, killed by the bloodsuckers.
Grainne and Aongus are calling you a Witch and are gathering the town folks to
burn you as one! Quickly! We must run!”

I start gathering my things together, but Mor yells, “There
is no time! Grab the bairn. We must go now!”

Sorcha is wailing now. Tears streak her little cheeks as she
grips her blanket tightly in her tiny fists. I grab my plaid and wrap it around
us both as I follow Mor outside.

“You must quiet her!” Mor whispers.

I try to comfort Sorcha in a hushed voice. “Shh, Sorcha, you
must be quiet. Shhhh.”

Sorcha pays no heed and cries all the louder as she clutches
me with her little fingers.

I hear the voices of the villagers coming now, yelling and
screaming. “Burn the Witch! It was her husband who brought this upon us!”

Aongus’ voice rises above the rest. “Let her die too! Why
should she be spared?”

Mor leads me past the blacksmith’s shop, behind Fergus’
cottage, toward the forest. I see their torches at my cottage now. A voice
yells, “They are gone!” and the villagers continue to chant, “Burn the Witch!
Burn the Witch!”

I cast through my mind wildly now, seeking out a remembrance
of a place to hide. My mind comes up empty, just as it did all winter when I
feared a night such as this would come. I should have braved the cold and gone
to the sea caves where the dragon tribe dwells despite the perilous winter
journey.

Just then, Sorcha lets out a loud bawl, and I hear Grainne
yell, “She is over there!”

Mor and I run around Fergus’ cottage and make for the edge
of the woods. The throng is following us quickly with the younger men in the
lead. The woods are just up ahead—if only we could lose them in the woods! If
only Sorcha would stop crying!

We reach heavy brush, and I hear the thunder of feet behind
me. Just at the edge of the woods, my foot catches on a tree root and I tumble
to the ground. As I land on the hard dirt, I twist to protect Sorcha from being
crushed by my weight, and pain shoots up my leg. Fear strikes my heart as I
realize I have a choice to make.

“Mor!” I yell.

Mor glances over her shoulder and sees me on the ground. I
try to stand, but my knee gives way. I can see the torches through the dark
coming swiftly closer.

“Mor, take Sorcha. It is too late. Run. Keep her safe!”

Mor stands there, petrified. She looks at me, she looks at
the woods in front of her, and she looks at the torches that are almost upon
us. I thrust Sorcha out while warm, wet tears stream down my cheeks and fall unheeded
onto the snow. “Take the bairn! It’s me they want!”

Mor grabs Sorcha and my arms, bereft of their lovely burden,
fall uselessly at my sides. I stare hungrily after Sorcha for one last moment,
and just as Mor and Sorcha disappear in the dark of the woods, the torches are
upon me. First the young men arrive, their faces ugly with rage. I know each of
them, grew up with them, broke bread with them, bartered with them, sang with
them, but it matters not. It is their fear that drives them this night, and no
proclamations of innocence or fond memories will help me now.

Niall grabs my arms and starts dragging me into the throng.
I try to gain footing, but my right leg will bear no weight. Tadgh grabs my
other arm, and together they drag me to the center of town. The mob crowds
around, cursing me, throwing sticks at me as I’m roughly tied to a large ash tree.
The faces of my friends and my neighbors swirl around me in angry confusion
with rays of moonlight shining on a gaunt cheek here and a slashing brow there.
The bindings are pulled tight, cutting into my wrists and ankles as I struggle,
but I know it is useless. It has been useless for a long time. It has been
useless since the day Torloch made his pact with the devil’s handmaiden,
Lilith. It has been useless since the day Torloch took my wee baby boy away and
returned home without him but with his blood on his hands. It has been useless
since Torloch became a bloodsucking monster and spread his disease through the
village.

I look out at the faces of the crowd, and I see anger and
fear. I see despair. It is a mercy they have let me live this long. I curse
myself again for not leaving earlier despite the biting cold of winter. I hear
one voice among the bloodthirsty yell, “Give her a Witch’s trial!”

Another voice responds, “We will give her a trial of fire.
If she is innocent, let her be saved!”

Bundles of dry oak twigs and sticks are piled at my feet. Oak,
the tree of strength. I wonder if the oak will give me strength in the last of
my dying moments. I think of Sorcha, the twin of my poor baby boy. I hope only
that Mor got her away safely and at least one of our family will be spared.

Grainne walks right up to me and spits in my face. “You
filthy Witch,” she snarls. “Your monster husband and his kind killed my son. Shredded
his neck.” Tears run down her dirt-smudged face. “We are going to watch you
burn for what you done!”

Una, who lost her husband to Torloch, grabs a torch and sets
the wood at my feet on fire. The firelight reflects off her savage face, and I
see months of grief and seething anger in the depths of her wild eyes. There is
no mercy here.

I can feel the heat rising, and it burns. I look out at
their faces, and even through my fear, I feel their sorrow and their rage. I
feel it in me as well. That has always been my curse: to feel others as myself.
Their rage now feeds mine. The flames lick my ankles, and the smoke fills my
eyes.

I look up at the night sky and feel my fury overflow. Months
of rage at Torloch, who took the life of our son to try to save himself. But
more rage at Lilith, who made him an empty promise and turned him into a
monster for the price of our child. Tears stream down my face as I recall my
own black pit of grief at losing my lovely little boy. I feel the grief and
pain of everyone on this dark night.

I smell the smoke from the ash tree I am tied to mingling
with the oak kindling about my body. My childhood learnings flit through my
mind even in my last hour. While oak gives strength, ash is the bridge between Earth
and other worlds. Good! Let it make a bridge to the Plane of Fire for me so
that I might reach Lilith and pay her back in kind.

I shout to the blackness of the sky above me. I call to the
dark with all the rage of my soul. “Lilith, I call on you to hear me. By my
blood, you will be destroyed! A light will come. A light that shines through
your evil. A light that calls you to answer for your deeds. A light that binds
you as I am bound and burns you as I burn. A light that rips you asunder and
destroys your darkness.”

The pain is so great. The flames sear my legs now. I can’t
help but twitch and scream and convulse, though I know there is no escape. I
writhe, trying to get away from the fire, but it just grows and grows as my
calves blister and melt. A part of my mind wishes the fire where higher so this
pain would end more quickly. The only escape now is death, and it fast approaches.
The smoke is so heavy that I cough as I scream. The fire has reached my waist
now, and it envelops me in its excruciating embrace. I see the horrific faces
of the mob, distorted and cast in red from the fire that consumes me.

I scream with all the strength that I have, willing my voice
to carry through the between spaces. “Lilith, hear me! I call to you! By my
blood, you will pay for what you have done!” I cough and hack, unable to get a
breath of air. I thrash my head as the tongues of fire lick ever higher,
melting my flesh, binding me to the holy ash tree as though we are one. The
pain is so great now that I know nothing but the feel of it engulfing me. It
seems to be all that was before me and all that will ever come after. I’m being
eaten alive by the ravenous fire. The agony and the rage are the whole of who I
am now.

I think one last thought, unable to even catch enough breath
to scream it, unable even to work my mouth to speak it as the flames lick my
chin. My dying thought sears into my soul and lifts with me to the Plane of
Light. “Lilith, by my blood you will be destroyed!”

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