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Chapter Twelve

“Oh hush, Deataigh! The crate isn’t the end of the world.” Alanna opened the door of a quaint oaken carrying cage.

T’is no better than the basket you found me in.

“It has a comfortable cushion, and you can see. No dark lid with splinters to work their way into your delicate nose. Now get in!”

The smoky gray cat raised the ruff like mane around his neck and hissed his displeasure. He stalked into the travel kennel and deliberately turned twice ending with his back to the door Alanna latched behind him. The tip of his tail twitched in annoyance.

Why do I need to go see this Doc Andrew? I know I’m healthy, I have you to heal me if it becomes necessary.

“If I want to take you home with me, and you won’t want to stay here without me, I need him to give you your vaccines. I want to be able to travel with you between here and home. Do you want to stay behind or come with me on a jet to fly? Of course, we could just zap you to our home and claim you were a stray. I’d prefer to do it legally.”

I do not like to move instantly as the wizards do. Muireanne had the way of it, a great healer and sorceress she was.

“Hush now, this will be over in less time than you think.”

I hate veterinarians. Damn needles. I won’t get ill. We familiars never do.

Deataigh’s blue green eyes narrowed as he looked over his shoulder, still voicing his displeasure.

“Do you want a blanket or towel over the crate? It will keep the prying eyes of the village from seeing you,” Alanna asked.

Never mind. Everyone knows me as the stray who has been hunting in the barns around here. I even left a rat for Riona on her porch. The honey is almost ready.

“Hush now, I don’t want everyone staring.” Alanna walked down the path to the street and turned toward the village center. Passing Murphy’s Tavern and then the grocery store and bakery, she continued past three more narrow cobble stone streets until she came to Doc Andrew’s surgery.

Doctor Andrew Torin


Large Animals

Small Animals

Surgery hours:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Noon until 6 pm. Or until we are done.

Torin! Alanna felt prickles run down her spine. Why hadn’t Liam warned her?

Torin? Could it be?

Deataigh’s nose wrinkled as he sniffed the air.

I will make him pay for this. He’s the one who put me in that degrading basket. I know his scent. I would have recovered.

“We will see. Do you know him?” Alanna whispered as she pushed the door open to the musical tinkling of a string of tiny bells attached to the handle.

I will know in a moment. My nose says yes, my eyes will tell the rest.

The waiting room was sleek, with overstuffed chairs spaced around the waiting room. Alanna walked up to the reception desk and waited for the man there to finish the notes he was typing. It looked like he was reporting on the last patient to leave. There wasn’t anyone else around, so Alanna took a deep breath before she spoke.

“Are you Doc Andrew?”

The dark head dipped in a nod.

“I have Deataigh here to see you. He’s not very happy about it either.”

“I’m almost done here. The dairy farmer two fields over from the stones, has a couple of cases of mastitis. His cows will be fine now that I’ve treated them.”

He finished typing, saved and locked the screen.

“I expect your cat is angry with me, Muireanne’s never liked me either.”

“What on earth are you talking about?” Alanna decided to play dumb, but her heart was beating like thunder in her chest.

The veterinarian sighed. “You took me out with your sleep spell as well last week. You’re as potent a witch as Muireanne was then, and if I find her, now again.”

“I’m sorry if I did, but I looked to see who was around before I put Deataigh to sleep. Unless you were the eyes I sensed watching?”

“I was, hidden in the hedgerow right beside the gate. I knew this tomcat was destined to be yours. Let’s get him into the exam room. Have a word with him, will you? I won’t be poking him with anything sharp.”

Deataigh answered him with a hissing growl ending with a long loud yowl.

“He’s as opinionated as he was then, too.” Andrew Torin shook his head and smiled as he lifted the carry cage up onto the table. “Let’s let him out. Close the door behind us will you, Alanna?”

“I don’t have the first clue about who and what you are talking about.” Alanna shut the door as Doc opened the carry cage door and waved the cat out.

Deataigh twitched his tail twice, the tip lashing against the edge of the open door. The yowling meow he voiced made Alanna smile.

I should make him pay for putting me in that damn basket.

“Caught you Deataigh, your talking to her. Those eyes give you away just as it did your venerable ancestor when she talked to Muireanne.”

The cat arched his back, kneading his claws into the cushion he had vacated. He hissed once more and then turned like a sinuous snake to stalk out his prison.

Doc looked the cat in the eye and said, “You and I both know this was the best way to get you to Alanna. I might not be able to hear you, and for some reason you let that big old barn tom get the better of you. I’ve never seen you or any of your long line of ancestors lose in a fight, or even allow yourself to be injured.”

He’s right. He’s always was able to see us as what we are. Familiars. I did allow that mangy tom to get a few swipes in, but when he got hold of my ear, I put an end to it.

“Explain to me who Muireanne is. I’ve been dreaming for months now, about a witch who was a healer. One who lived somewhere near the castle which stands in ruins over on the hill to the west of our village.”

“You have her chin and her eyes. And if you look in the mirror, you will see your ears have the same tragus every descendant of the Torin family has.”

Alanna reached up to touch her ear, feeling for the oversized flap that extended over the ear canal. Her father had it, aunt Morgan had it, Grandma Gloria and Grammie too.

“We always thought it came from the earliest witch in our line,” she said.

“It seems it was my only contribution.”

Alanna took a moment to study the man standing across the exam table from her. He was a solid wall of muscles. She knew he would be strong. Taking care of large animals required it, but the gentle hands stroking her smoky grey cat who purred like a perfectly tuned motor, showed care and kindness. His eyes were the same dark brown as hers, minus the gold flecks. His were more orange with the occasional dot of dark green.

“Why do you remember? What happened between you and her? I saw her at the stones on solstice. Liam found me there long after sunset. I was drawn into her world, as she made her sacrifice and the Goddess accepted it. I watched as she went home, and I knew she was pregnant, and I knew her as mother.”

“I’ll tell you more as we go, but the most important thing is the curse she uttered when I went back to war. Until the castle crumbles in the mists of time, I will curse you to remember. To wander in search, to find me, and know our love was true, and never to join me. I will belong to another until you understand, you need to love me enough to stay, to put me first, and trust I will do the same for you. Go, fight your war. I would come with you, heal your ills and hurts. I do not need to be protected and coddled.

“She didn’t know she was to be a mother when she sent me away in anger. I didn’t come back until after the Bishop burned her. I found her daughter, living in the same cottage and a cold welcome there as well.”

“Why is this time, the last time?”

“I should have known you would sense it, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Deataigh has told you. The last wall of the keep of our castle crumbled last summer. If I don’t find her, I’ll never be able to tell her, I’d stay with her no matter what it takes. She is and was the only reason to live another life.”

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