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Authors: Bernadette Walsh

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BOOK: Devil's Shore
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I pulled away from Him. “You’re the one who should be careful.”

“Or what? You’ll chant me to death? ‘Goddess Mother, hear your children.’” He laughed, turned and dissolved into the forest. I was left alone and naked in the dark.

“I see you’re waiting for me.”

I opened my eyes. Simon stood above me. His black eyes twinkled with amusement.

I was cold and my lips were sore, bruised and swollen. My left nipple ached. Suddenly I realized I was naked. I grabbed a throw blanket that reeked of Declan’s sweaty feet and covered myself. “How did you get in here?”

“The door was wide open. You should really lock the door if you’re going to nap in the nude.”

“I wasn’t napping in the nude.”

“Oh, no?” He smiled. “What were you doing, then?”

I struggled to cover my naughty bits with the small square of a blanket. “None of your business. Why are you here, anyway?”

His black eyes danced with amusement. “I was afraid we got off on the wrong foot. I wanted to make it up to you.”

“That’s not necessary.”

“Orla, don’t be like that. Why don’t I wait for you on the porch while you get ready? Put on some warm clothes, I have something to show you.”

“What makes you think I’m going anywhere with you?”

He reached forward and tucked a stray lock of hair behind my ear. “Because you know I can teach you ten times what Claire can. Because you need me, you need my knowledge. And because, despite the fact you almost broke my leg last week, I suspect that you like me.”

“Like you? I’m a married woman,” I said with as much dignity as I could muster.

His smile vanished. “I know. Please. Get dressed. I really do have something to show you.”

“Fine,” I snapped. “Give me five minutes.”

I threw on baggy jeans and one of Declan’s old woolen jumpers. I couldn’t possibly have looked any less sexy. I pulled the front door shut and twisted the key in the old lock. Without looking at Simon I said, “I have to be home by three.”

“This won’t take that long. Why isn’t your house warded?”

“Warded?”

“Warded. Protected. A woman of your power shouldn’t be living naked, so to speak.”

“So to speak.” I felt my cheeks redden.

“I’m not joking, Orla. You must ward your house, both inside and out. You know there is a portal in the cellar, don’t you? Can’t you feel the energy emitting from it?”

“I don’t know about a portal. My husband and sons keep their sweaty trainers and football gear in the cellar. Surely that should scare any spooky spirits away.”

He didn’t crack a smile but instead took my arm and guided me to his waiting black Mercedes.

We drove through the empty streets, silent, except for the purr of the engine. Simon pulled in front of a waterfront contemporary mansion, with a wall of glass facing the Great South Bay.

He held out his hand, helped me out of the sedan and walked me around the back of the house to a dock with a gleaming white sailboat tethered to it. Once aboard he offered me his hand.

I stepped back from the boat. “You didn’t tell me we were sailing. I’m sorry, but I can’t.”

“What do you mean, you can’t? It’s perfectly safe and I’m an excellent sailor.”

“I can’t. I get terrible seasickness.”

Simon jumped off the boat. Then he rubbed his palms together and placed his fingers on my temple. As he muttered something under his breath an acrid burning smell emanated from him, filling my nose and mouth. “No more sea sickness,” he said, looking down at me. “No more excuses.”

Looking at the water, instead of the gentle swells of the Great South Bay, I saw the roaring water of the Feale, swollen from the summer rain. Glimpses of a scarlet cloak appeared then it was sucked under in the churning water. I shook my head no.

“I can smell the fear off you, Orla. Nothing will hurt you, I promise.” He lifted my chin. “Please, please trust me.”

My usual snappy retort faded from my lips. Despite myself I nodded and, like a child, placed my hand in his.

The air was still but as soon as Simon hoisted the sails and snapped his fingers, a strong breeze filled the sails and the sailboat fairly skipped along the bay’s soft swells.

“Neat trick,” I said. Simon sat reclined across from me as the jib and mainsail moved of their own accord.

“My mother’s element was air, my father’s water, so I can control both.”

“Your element?”

Simon frowned. “This act of yours is tiresome. I feel sometimes as if I’m speaking to a child, a rather slow child at that. Yes, my element. The source of my powers. I have a double element, which makes me strong and somewhat rare.”

“’Tis no act, Simon. I told Claire already, I know nothing about witchcraft. Sorry to disappoint you, but I really am just a Dublin housewife.”

“A Dublin housewife with powers that rival my own. How is it possible you have such powers and yet are so ignorant of their nature?”

“I’m slow and ignorant. Very nice, Simon. I think you should take me home. Now.”

He reached over and took my hand, his bold, arrogant eyes softened. “I’m sorry. I’ll answer your questions. But why do you know so little about your gift?”

“Because I don’t view it as a gift. It’s a curse, one I thought I’d successfully dodged until two years ago.”

“How you can you call power like yours a curse?”

I pulled my hand from his and looked down into the roiling water. “Because it has come at a steep price.” Visions of my mother’s green eyes, wild and mad as she was led into the county home, flashed across my mind’s eye and my nose was filled with the scent of lavender from her garden.

He lifted my chin so that his black eyes met mine. His voice now a gentle caress, he said, “Do you know your element is earth?”

“No. How you can tell if I can’t?”

“Because I recognize the smell. Like a cool dark cave with an undertone of moss.”

“Like moss? That sounds horrible.”

“It’s intoxicating, really. Sometimes when I am near you in the yoga studio it is all I can do not to...”

Again, I felt the blood rush to my cheeks. “Not to what?”

He looked out into the horizon. “Never mind. We’re almost there.”

“And where is there? What is it you have to show me?”

“It is a special place on Fire Island. The Sunken Forest, where the earth elemental spirits are especially powerful. I want to test your power, see how strong it is and, if you’re willing, show you how you can increase it.”

The boat lurched left and an empty stretch of beach lay in the distance.

“I’m not sure I want more power. I can barely control the power I have.”

His hand covered mine again. “Trust me. Can you do that?”

A woman’s faint voice echoed in my head. “
No. Don’t trust him.
” But as I fell into the black pools of his eyes, I heard myself say, “Yes, Simon. I trust you.”

Simon snapped his fingers and the wind died down. The surf, which only moments before crashed onto the desolate beach in violent waves, calmed, licking the shore in soft gentle whirls of current. Simon didn’t bother securing the boat, he simply muttered under his breath. He leapt out of the boat. I climbed into his waiting arms and he carried me to shore.

The sun beat down on the sand, driving the autumnal chill from the air. Hot in Declan’s old woolen jumper, I pulled it over my head and deposited it on the sand, grateful for the breeze that blew through my thin t-shirt. Simon had already removed his jacket and the long lean muscles of his arms were beaded with the ocean’s spray. He took my hand. “Come. I want you to meet your element.”

We walked up the incline of the beach to a small path that led into green scrub. A rustling noise came from the thick brush, making me jump.

Simon squeezed my hand. “It’s only deer. They’ve overrun the island. It is nothing to be afraid of.”

We continued on into the brush and soon were surrounded by pine trees, twisted and gnarled from the briny sea air. The air smelt like salt and wet sand and decay. And moss, it smelt like moss. Somehow, it smelt familiar.

Small streams of sunlight fought through the dense needles of the ancient pine, illuminating the silver strands in Simon’s hair. He stopped, turned to me and held his hands outward.

“Do you feel it?” he asked in a low whisper. “Do you feel your element’s power?”

I shook my head. I felt nothing.

“Raise your arms. Reach out to it. Don’t be timid like Claire. Grab hold and command it. The power is yours.”

I held out my hands and peered into the brush. I tried to concentrate, tried to draw strength from the strange trees, but felt nothing. Sensed nothing. There was no power there for me to take. “It’s pointless. I feel nothing.”

“Close your eyes, Orla, clear your mind. Let it come to you.”

I did as he instructed. I took a deep breath and allowed the sour briny air to fill my lungs, to become a part of me. Minutes later, I felt a ball of energy to my right, a formless ball of energy hidden beneath the muck of the Sunken Forest’s floor. Without opening my eyes, I allowed the energy to draw me to it. When I’d reached it, I opened my eyes and crouched beside the bubble of energy that fought its way through the mud. It floated up to greet me and I felt its energy call to me. The buzzing in my head increased and behind me I felt two more entities rise up from the forest floor.

The energies, neither male nor female, threatening nor welcoming, surrounded me. If anything, I felt curiosity emanate from them. They felt old, as old as the earth.

“Stretch out your hand to them, Orla. Touch them.”

Without hesitation, I reached out to the energy before me and thrust my hand into its center. The ball glowed and a current of yellow light encircled my hand.

“Simon!”

“I see it. How does it feel?”

The gold power coursed up my arm. My old scar burned. The power continued up my arm, settling in the center of my chest. It was if I had swallowed a thousand suns.

Like an alcoholic needing his first drink of the day, my throat burned. “More,” I croaked. “I want more.”

I reached out my other hand to the other entity and drew its power into me, drained it of all its essence and when I was done, reached over to the third energy, pulled it to my face and drank from it. The golden honeysuckle of its power kissed my lips, slid down my throat.

Simon approached me. My every nerve sang from the strange energy, the element, that coursed through my veins.

“You’re glowing. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

I pulled him to me, placing my burning lips on his. His lips, cool and wet, answered my kiss, met my passion. He ripped the thin t-shirt from me.

“You’re burning, Orla. You’re burning up.”

His lips glowed from my kiss, as if my energy transferred to him. I touched his lips with my finger. “So are you.”

I drew him to me and kissed him, long and hard. I forced the energy, and my need, into him. His skin soon hummed with power. I pulled on his shirt and the thin material came away in my hand, exposing the smooth hairless skin of his chest, the perfection of his sinewy muscles. His arms seemed to grow in strength and power. He pushed me onto the forest floor and tore the thin denim of my jeans.

“Tell me you want this,” he said. “Tell me you want me.”

My eyes rolled back in my head as I lay sprawled amongst the muck of the Sunken Forest, the energy from the soil seeping in through my pores, meeting the power that roared through me.

I spread my legs with no sense of shame as I let him see every inch of me. I couldn’t form words, couldn’t form thought. I needed to release this power, transfer it to him.

As waves of electric current coursed through me from the earth below, I moaned and raised my hips in invitation.

He bit his lip as if he were arguing with himself, trying to convince himself to resist me. I slipped my hand between my legs and moaned. His eyes burned with desire for me and for the power that possessed me. Resisting me no longer, he slammed into me and the roar of water filled my ears. I spread my legs wider, urging him to reach deeper within me.

He pulled my hair back and forced my eyes to meet his. “Look at me, Orla. Stay with me”

But he was a blur, a blur of energy and motion. He withdrew from me but with a power I didn’t think I possessed I pulled him back to me, forcing him to fill me as I rocked beneath him. Words, the ancient words of the Mountain burst forth from my mouth as I held him in the vise-like grip of my thighs. I reached up and bit his neck and his torn flesh filled my mouth. His blood dripped onto my breast and then fell onto the waiting earth.

“I can’t hold on,” he wheezed.

“More, I need more,” I growled. The ball of energy that had settled in my chest, almost suffocating me with its weight, moved down my body. I felt myself crest. Simon’s black eyes now burned green. His lips twisted, contorting his handsome face. The smell of musk, the smell of the Mountain, filled my mouth, and my old scar burned. But I rode him, pulling him deeper within me until the green left his eyes and he shuddered and collapsed onto me.

BOOK: Devil's Shore
3.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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