Against his mother’s wishes, Mishel Hewes decides to accompany his uncle Arnie Rollison on his yearly sabbatical to Ireland. It’s not a pleasure trip by any means, but a journey to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the day that Cairnnon Castle fell.
Once in Ireland, the pair find that Castle Cairnnon is being resurrected at an alarming rate, by some unknown benefactor. And Arnie’s first concern is for the body of his young intern who was buried when the Castle toppled a quarter of a century before.
Hoping to provide some solace for his adoptive uncle, Mish gets himself hired on the construction crew, which isn’t a hardship with all the ripped workmen around. However, once inside the creepy stronghold, Mish is plagued by the same strange phenomenon that had once threatened his father, on the ill-fated trip many years before. Sick and suffering from the horrible effects of Cairnnon’s infamous elemental, Mish falls to his knees convinced he is at death’s door. What he finds instead can only be described as a miracle. Or perhaps one blessing is just another curse.
This series is a re-release.
Warning: This collection of short stories contains m/f and m/m couplings and cliffhangers. Installments must be read in order.
She reaches out to me, her lovely cerulean eyes pleading, “Help me. Please…don’t leave me.” The subtle Irish lilt, even after all these years, has not dimmed. It is still music to my ears.
I extend my hand. I cannot reach her.
The chasm between us widens, spreads, expands the length of the island, across an ocean, this distance between us insurmountable as she remains forever unattainable. Lost but not forgotten. Never forgotten.
“Arnie! Arnie. Wake up. You’re dreaming about Neve again.”
Lana yanked his shoulder.
“I’m sorry, Lan.”
She turned away from him and punched her pillow. “Must be coming up on the anniversary of Cairnnon crumbling,” she mumbled. “The nightmares are starting already.”
Arnie sighed heavily and got out of bed. Sleep would evade him now. He’d leave his wife in peace. No need to keep her awake while he tossed and turned.
In the kitchen, he poured himself a stiff drink and toasted in silent salute to his beautiful wife. She must truly love him. Not many would tolerate the dreams that plagued him. Nor the fact that most of them centered around another woman.
* * * *
“I’ve gotta give it to you, Arnie. After all these years you still make the journey every year.”
Mishel Hewes walked into his parents’ house, overhearing an ongoing conversation. His mom, Crishtin, and his dad, Josh, sat at the kitchen table chatting with his uncle Arnie Rollison. He wasn’t his biological uncle, but he might as well have been. The man was as important to him as his parents were, and just as influential.
“I can’t get outta town fast enough for Lana. She won’t get a full night’s sleep until I leave.”
“The nightmares?” Josh asked.
“Hey, old folks, what’s goin’ on?” Mishel barged in.
“There’s my big strapping boy.” His mother hugged him.
“I’ll give you old, ya little shit,” Arnie responded, chuckling.
Mishel towered over Arnie, smirking down at him. “Where you off to this time, Unc?” he asked, grabbing an apple from the bowl in the middle of the table.
“Off to Ireland, Mish.”
“Ahh, the yearly sabbatical.”
Arnie nodded, his expression thoughtful.
“Why do you go there faithfully at this time of year?” Mish crunched on the Golden Delicious.
“It’s the anniversary of the day that Cairnnon Castle fell, son,” his father explained.
“I’m sorry. I guess I forgot. It’s not something you talk about. You were there then, weren’t you, leading a group of paranormal investigators, right?” He addressed his uncle.
“Yes. It’s been twenty-five years.” He sighed. “I thought they would have found her by now.” Arnie turned to Josh.
“Found her? Who?” Mish inquired.
“We lost an intern that day.”
“Oh my God! You guys! You didn’t tell me that.”
With his gaze downcast, Arnie said, “Her name was Neve. She was a local Irish girl. We met her the first day we arrived.”
“She was inside when the fortress collapsed. I stayed for weeks and tried to help excavate. But like everything else associated with that cursed pile of stones, it was a nightmare and plagued by unexplained accidents and setbacks.”
“So what are you saying? You never recovered her body?”
The older man shook his head, while staring at the floor.
“You left her there?” Mishel was shocked.
“Mishel, don’t,” his mother said, reprimanding him in a soft tone. “There were extenuating circumstances. Not being able to recover Neve’s body is something Arnie has agonized over all this time. He doesn’t need your censure.”
Arnie nodded, his jaw tight.
“Well, that’s it then!” Mishel erupted, demanding their attention. “I’ve got some vacation time coming. I’ll join you.”
“No!” His mother stood up in protest. “I forbid it. You will not. That place is evil. It almost took your life before you even had one. I will not give it another chance to claim you!”
Taken aback, Mishel watched her. “What are you talking about? You were there? When you were pregnant with me?”
His parents nodded.
“Why is this the first I’m hearing of all this?”
“The worst thing you can do is go there and start stirring it all up again. Just leave it!”
“It was a long time ago, Mish. And your mother is right, it’s best left in the past,” his father said, ever the peacemaker.
“I’m not stirring anything up. I’m simply going with Arnie, for support.” He shook his head at his parents, a little shocked by their overreaction.
On the flight over to Ireland, Arnie filled Mishel in on the bizarre circumstances that had brought his parents together.
“Your dad was still pretty much a newbie, still learning the ropes as far as paranormal investigation goes. We did this Halloween event at a place called Allen House. It had a colorful history and the owners swore that it was haunted. I’d been there myself several times and didn’t document a thing.” Arnie opened a bag of airline peanuts.
“But that evening, it was the first night that your mom and dad met, and they had the supernatural experience of a lifetime.”
“Oh yeah?” Mish sat on the edge of his seat, wondering once again why his folks hadn’t shared this with him.
“I don’t really know how to tell you this, kid.”
Mish cocked his head and smirked. “What could be so bad, Unc?”
“Your mom and dad were taken possession of that night.”
“Whaaat!” He chuckled, waiting for the punch line.