The Magus Conspiracy

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Chapter Eight: Kiva.

The boys arrived back in Wicklow to a frosty reception.

They were surprised to see Bree’s SUV parked near the bus stop, the two mums inside. Mark smiled as he crossed the road to the car but realized the smile wasn’t returned. Bree and Kiva looked furious.

Uh-oh, he thought. As they got into the car, Mark hissed out of the corner of his mouth: “I think we’ve been rumbled.”

During the drive back to Almha, Kiva turned around in the passenger seat to look at Ferdia.

“How did you get on in Bray?”

There was an edge to her voice that both boys picked up on.

“Uh ...” Ferdia glanced at Mark. Mark held his breath and waited for what Ferdia would say. Ferdia knew the game was up. He sighed.

“How did you find out?”

“Never mind how I found out, what the hell did you think you were doing?”

“Mother, if I’d told you where we were going, you’d never have let us go.”

“You’re damn right I wouldn’t! I told you to stay away from my father. Damn it, Ferdia you lied to me. You lied right to my face. And I would have expected more of you, Mark.”

Mark stammered. “But we ... I ...”

Bree glared at him in the rear-view mirror. “Don’t even go there, Mark! You’re just as much to blame. And you’re in just as much trouble.”

“Ferdia,” said Kiva, “as soon as we get back to Bree’s, pack your stuff. I’m taking you home. Your father’s back from his business trip too. I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes when he finds out about this.”

“Ah, Mother!”

Kiva’s jaw jutted.

“DON’T answer me back. DO NOT try my patience.”

Ferdia snorted.

“Oh, come on, Mother! All we did was go to see Grandfather. You are just pissed off because we almost got one over on you!”

Mark’s jaw dropped. He stared at Ferdia. He’d never heard him speak like this.

A look like thunder came over Kiva’s face.

“How dare ...”

“Did you know he’s disappeared?”

“Ferdia, you shut up this minute ...”

“No! YOU listen for a minute. Grandfather has disappeared. Did you know about that? Do you even care?”

Bree started to speak: “Ferdia, I really think you should show your mother a bit more ...”

Kiva bared her teeth and swung her left hand at Ferdia. There wasn’t much room for her to maneuver between the head-rests but the crack of her hand hitting his face made them all jump. Bree swerved in surprise.

“Jesus, Kiva; what are you doing?”

“Shut up and stay out of this, Bree.”

Bree didn’t retort; she was too shocked. She glanced at Mark in the mirror. He was looking at Ferdia, his hand to his mouth. Ferdia had the strangest look on his face: He grinned like a satisfied maniac.

“Well, Mother; I always knew you were touchy about Grandfather but I never knew how touchy!”

“Ferdia, shut your mouth. You don’t know the half of it.”

“Oh, I think I know enough. I know he was involved in something dodgy. And I know it was something to do with Fintan.”

“Ferdia, I’m warning you ...”

Bree interrupted: “Oh Ferdia, don’t be ridiculous. Fintan didn’t know your grandfather. Your mum and he fell out long before we all got to know each other.”

“Really? Did you know he disappeared last Christmas Day?”

Bree stood on the brake and the big Volvo ground to a halt. She turned around in her seat to face the boys. Her face was white.

“What?!”

“He disappeared on Christmas Day; the same day as Fintan.”

Bree looked at Kiva.

“Did you know about this?”

“No! God, Bree; of course not! I don’t see my father any more, you know that.”

Ferdia jumped back in:

“Maybe not, but there’s something else: Grandfather and Fintan both had owwwww!”

Ferdia stared at Mark, a hurt look on his face. Mark had grabbed the flesh on Ferdia’s thigh and pinched it hard.

“What the ...”

Mark stared at Ferdia, his brows knotted. The look shut Ferdia up immediately.

“Mum,” said Mark, “Mrs. McMurnagh, I’m really sorry we lied to you. It’s all my fault. We were talking about Ferd’s granddad last night and I thought it would be cool to go and see him. But he wasn’t there, and we thought we saw Christmas cards up on the mantelpiece in the house. We just started talking about how weird it would be if he’d disappeared the same day as my dad, that’s all. We didn’t mean any harm.”

Kiva looked at him and Mark knew she knew he was lying. To his relief and great surprise she didn’t expose him.

“Ok, well I suppose there’s no harm done.” She wagged her finger at Ferdia. “But you’re still in deep trouble, Buster!”

Bree looked from Ferdia to Kiva and back again. She had her ‘I’m going to get to the bottom of this’ look on her face.

“What were you going to say, Ferdia?” she asked.

“Ignore him, Bree,” Kiva interjected. “He gets like this when he’s been caught out.”

Bree persisted: “Ferdia, what were you going to say?”

Ferdia looked out the window. “Nothing; I was just angry with Mother.” He looked back to Bree. “I’m sorry, Bree. It was wrong to bring up Fintan. I didn’t mean anything by it.”

Bree was far from satisfied. She looked at Ferdia for a long moment then turned around, jammed the transmission into Drive and continued towards Almha.

As they pulled away, Mark realized they’d been stopped outside Niamh’s house. There was a police car parked in the driveway.

What’s that all about?

He looked up at her window. Niamh’s cat was sitting there looking out towards the Old Lighthouse but there was no sign of Niamh.

I wonder how she’s getting on, he thought.

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