The Shadow and the Night: Glenncailty Castle, Book 3 (9 page)

BOOK: The Shadow and the Night: Glenncailty Castle, Book 3
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“Is everyone able to see?” Melissa turned on the projector and an image of the ransacked nursery flashed up onto one of the most shadowed of the bare white walls.

“It’s fine, thank you,” Seamus said.

“Here you are.” She passed around packets of papers. Tristan put his down on the empty chair beside him. Elizabeth didn’t take one.

“First of all, I’d like to thank Mr. O’Muircheartaigh for inviting me to do the examination. It was an interesting mix of anthropology and archaeology, which I don’t often get to work with anymore. Secondly, I’d like to thank Séan and Sorcha for passing on the documents and information they found. I included copies of the relevant pages in your packets.”

Melissa picked up a pair of glasses from the table and slipped them on. Tristan sucked in a breath. Desire flooded him, so acute that he had to cross his legs to keep his cock under control. She was adorable and seriously fuckable with her glasses on. Apparently he had a fetish for women in glasses—or at least this woman in glasses.
 

“What I’d like to do is take you through the reconstructed timeline, then address the remains that I examined. Mr. O’Muircheartaigh, since we weren’t able to meet before this, I wasn’t able to add any family history elements as they relate to you in particular.”

“That’s not what I’m concerned about.”

Melissa’s eyes narrowed behind the lenses of her glasses. “Perhaps after this I could do a model of your face to check for skull point similarities.”

“Perhaps not, but thank you.” There was a hint of amusement in Seamus’ voice.

“Very well.” Melissa tapped the computer and the image of a yellowed book, open to show faded text, appeared.

“The most easily identified remains are the children. Traditionally, this is not the case, but Sorcha and Séan’s discovery of these parish and school records allow us to make an educated guess as to their identity and from there extrapolate something about who the adult female’s remains were.

“I did some additional research, and in 1850 Lord Richard was Viscount Dover. His younger son John held the title of the Lord of Glenncailty. In 1865, both the Viscount and his heir die and John, who seems to have been spending most of his time in Ireland, inherits.”

Another click and another slide—this one a list of names.

“In 1866, it appears that some portion of Glenncailty’s residents rose up against their English landlord. Though this area of the country was not in the center of the Fenian rising, this small-scale revolt was probably spurred by that. The result is listed here—these are the names of those who were killed during the uprising.

“One family in particular seems to have been the focus of the violence—the Mac Gearailts. There were three brothers: Thomas, who was 18; Ronan, who was 20; and Carrig, who was 24 at the time of his death. Carrig was married and had children—his wife, Carroll, and two male juveniles named Ruari and Orin, who were six and four, are also listed among the deceased. Now what’s interesting is, if you look at the list, there’s a third boy—age eleven years—under Carroll’s name, but unlike the others, there’s no last name, and, more tellingly, his first name is Charles.”

Tristan sat forward, caught up in the mystery she was slowly unraveling. Melissa was a gifted storyteller, her voice reflecting her puzzlement, interest and sadness.

“We can also find Charles-with-no-last-name in the school records. In those same records there are two other boys with no last names. Henry, who was last listed as nine years old, and George, who was five.

“Once again, with thanks to Sorcha and Séan for putting the idea forward, we can see this in one of two ways. The first, and most likely, is that these boy’s surnames were deliberately left off because they were the illegitimate offspring of the Lord of Glenncailty. Before John inherited, it seems he spent most of his time here, though it’s worth noting that he married in 1859. Assuming he was in semi-permanent residence, it makes it plausible that he had a mistress or series of mistresses in Glenncailty.”

“The poor babies,” Sorcha said quietly. “That would have been a hard life.”

Melissa nodded. “I want to go back to the Mac Gearailt family, in particular the oldest brother’s wife. Carroll’s maiden name was O’Donnabhain.”

Another slide, another family tree. Tristan was sitting directly behind Seamus, and the more Melissa spoke the tenser both Seamus and Elizabeth became. He could see the tightening of their shoulders, the straightening of their backs.

“Carroll had a sister and a brother. Aogan, her brother, lived to be sixty years old and had seven children. There is no record of her sister Mary’s marriage or death. Now, if Mary hadn’t been married, she most likely would have gone to live with Carroll and therefore would have been with the family when they were killed, but as I said, there is no record of her death.”

Melissa flipped to another slide. This one was an overhead shot of three skeletons, the bones clean and white, laid out neatly on blue plastic.

“Using the details already mentioned, I’m making my preliminary identification. This is Mary O’Donnabhain.” Melissa pointed to the adult skeleton. “According to her birth record, she was twenty-seven at the time of her death. That means that she was around sixteen when she became pregnant with her first child, Charles.”

“She was so young,” Sorcha whispered. “I assumed she was his mistress, but if she was that young…”

Melissa took off her glasses and folded them. “There is no way of knowing how Mary first came to be involved with John, but based on the records and context evidence, we can assume that she remained involved with him, either voluntarily or involuntarily, for the next eleven years.

“She had three more children—Henry and George, who were old enough to attend school, and a baby.”

Melissa rose and went to the wall, touching the image of the child’s skeleton. “This is Henry. The skeletal growth indicates a child between eight and nine years old, which aligns with the records. This—” she pointed to the littlest skeleton, “—was Mary’s youngest child, approximately four months old.”

“She was either mistress or slave to this man,” Tristan said, too caught up in the history to remember that he was avoiding Melissa. “Her oldest child died among his mother’s family, who were rebels against his father’s authority.”

“Precisely.”
 

Tristan met her gaze. There was no censure, no pity. He relaxed slightly.

“Henry was strangled to death, with enough force to break bone.” She clicked to an image of a small curved bone. “Can you see the fracture?”

He’d been killed there. In his mind’s eye, Tristan could still see the image of the woman in the green dress—Mary—grabbing and strangling a young boy, who stared up at his mother, struggling and thrashing against her hold.
 

“The infant was also strangled,” she said, clicked to another slide, another damaged bone.

“How did Mary die?” Seamus asked, voice nearly expressionless.

“I cannot say for certain, but based on the bones, I would say that the extent of physical trauma that occurred just before she died would have been enough to result in death.”

“She was beaten to death?” Tristan asked.

“That’s my best guess—let me skip to the illustrations of her bone damage. She had a broken leg and ribs. There’s some skull damage, but it wouldn’t have been enough to do serious brain damage.”

Beside Séan, Sorcha was wiping her eyes. Séan had his arm over her shoulders, his face set in grim lines. Tristan could just see the side of Elizabeth’s face, and her already pale skin had taken on an unhealthy pallor.

There was a moment of uncomfortable silence, broken only by Sorcha’s soft weeping. Melissa blinked and frowned. She opened her mouth as if she were going to say something, then toyed with her necklace. Tristan tipped his head to the side, trying to read her expression—it wasn’t frustration, it was distress. She looked at Sorcha and her shoulders fell.

It never paid to be the bearer of bad news, but it was killing him to see her looking like that. He liked her feisty and stubborn.

“You forgot something,” he said.

“No, I didn’t.” Her frown went from worried to irritated.

“Yes, you did.”

“What?”

“You don’t see it?”

“No, because I haven’t forgotten anything.”

“You’re missing a child. You said there were three in the school record.”

“Oh, that. I didn’t miss it. I know exactly what happened to George. I was just waiting.”

“I have things to do,” Tristan said with his best haughty tone.
 

Melissa narrowed her eyes, her fingers tapping on her leg. He tried to hold his expression, but he lost control and grinned. She blinked, realizing he was teasing her. She rolled her eyes.

“If I can continue…as I said, there’s more to talk about. I had some friends pull records in England and—”

“Who killed them?” Seamus asked. The words cut through the lightened mood Tristan had tried so hard to create.

“There is no way to know for sure. Questions like that require additional information or a definitive murder weapon—such as a bullet—that can be traced back to a particular item or person.”

“You know, don’t you?” Elizabeth turned in her seat and looked at Séan, Sorcha and then at Tristan himself. “You saw it, didn’t you?”

“I didn’t,” Séan said quietly. “And Sorcha did more than see it. She had to live it.”

“I…I was inside her.” Sorcha’s voice trembled. “For a moment I was inside the woman. She was so angry, so sad. One of her children was dead. Charles. She knew Charles was dead, and she blamed it on him.”

“Who?” Elizabeth asked.

“John. The man she loved.”

“Did he order soldiers to murder Charles?” Elizabeth’s eyes were so blue they seemed to glow.

“I’m not sure. All she was thinking was that he had murdered Charles.”

“And so she murdered two of their children.” Elizabeth’s words hung in the air. Even Melissa had come closer, listening. “What else?” Elizabeth asked.

“What do you mean?” Sorcha replied.

“Did you see him? Did you see John?”

“Not really. Just an impression. He had dark hair. He hated her—they hated each other.”

“That much hate…it can taint a family for generations.”
 

Seamus stiffened at Elizabeth’s words.

“They left that hate in the room,” Tristan said, so caught up in the conversation he forgot that he didn’t want to remind Melissa about what he’d seen. “Those weren’t ghosts, not true ghosts. What they felt and did was so powerful that it lived on, stuck in an endless loop that replayed.”

“And what about you?” Elizabeth asked Séan. “What made you break down that wall?”

“I’m still not sure.”

“Excuse me.” Melissa spoke loudly, more loudly than was necessary given that they were all only a few feet from each other.

Seamus, whose back was to her, turned. “Is there a problem?”

“I’m afraid so.” Melissa looked at each of them in turn. “Who were you talking to?”

“What do you mean?” Tristan asked.

“You all seem to be responding to someone, or something. Who are you talking to?”

Tristan looked at Elizabeth, then at Sorcha and Séan before returning his focus to Melissa. “We’re talking to Elizabeth.”

“Elizabeth.” Melissa nodded slowly.

Elizabeth hadn’t yet turned around, but now she did, moving slowly. She faced forward, hands neatly folded on her lap, and didn’t look at Melissa.

“Who is Elizabeth?” Melissa asked.

Tristan’s stomach knotted and his heart started racing.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Sorcha cleared her throat. “I must have forgotten to make introductions. Elizabeth is our general manager.” Sorcha gestured to Elizabeth.

Melissa looked at Elizabeth.

Melissa looked
through
Elizabeth.

“My God,” Tristan whispered. He leaned forward and grabbed Elizabeth’s shoulder—it was warm and solid under his hand. He sat back, relieved. For a moment there he’d thought…but no, that wasn’t possible.

“Is Elizabeth in this room?” Melissa asked, voice calm and measured.

“She’s sitting right in front of you,” Tristan barked out, tone harsher than he’d intended.

“This chair?” Melissa pointed to where Elizabeth was sitting, still and quiet.

“She can’t see her,” Séan said grimly.


Non.
Elizabeth is right there.”

“Right here?” Melissa gestured to the chair again and when Tristan nodded, she turned and sat
on
Elizabeth.

Elizabeth disintegrated, whirls of yellow, blue and cream smoke curling around Melissa’s now-seated figure.

Sorcha screamed, jumping up so fast her chair fell over with a clatter. Tristan too jumped to his feet, but he grabbed Melissa, pulling her up and pushing her away from the chair—he didn’t want her to end up possessed or hurt. Séan grabbed Sorcha, backing both of them away.

Only Seamus remained unaffected. He rubbed the head of the wolfhound who had come over to see what the commotion was about.

BOOK: The Shadow and the Night: Glenncailty Castle, Book 3
11.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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