“The stars! I’ve haven’t seen the milky way so clearly, not even on a new moon,” Alanna said as she traced her way back to the juncture in the stone walls.
“I’m sure there are times when it’s like this where you come from,” Liam said.
“Not from our valley. I live in Montana, and the mountains and hills block a lot of the sky.”
“Where exactly, I’ll look it up on Google.”
“A ranch just outside Billings Montana.”
Liam reached out to grab her arm as she stumbled in a rut.
Alanna reacted without thinking, conjuring up a soft ball of effervescent light. She tossed it up in front of them and it gave them a clear view of the path revealing the uneven surface.
“You really are a witch!”
“You know Cardamon is a psychic healer, why would you think I’m different.”
“We’ve never seen him do any other magick. He gives us potions, and he lays his hands on us to heal. I didn’t think you would be any different.”
“I can cast the basics. Grandda Harry has been teaching all of us. With everything that went down in the last year and a bit, I had to learn to protect myself and those around me.”
“I’m not in the least bit talented. Neither ESP, nor even the slightest bit of magickal ability. It fascinates me though.”
“At least you didn’t back away from me like I’m an abomination. There are still those who would keep me from helping people if they knew what I am. I’m working hard toward a medical degree already. Studying for my SAT’s so I can get into pre-med courses.”
“Not fair! You’d think the profession would be honored for the miracles you can perform.”
Liam shook his head in disbelief. They were halfway back toward town, and Alanna could see the cottage.
“In America, my family works from the shadows. There are a few key government officials who know the truth. They consider us VIP’s of sorts, and they protect our privacy. The only one who is really public with her abilities is my aunt Morgan.”
“That’s her. She just had her babies a few months ago.”
“Yeah, she’s the one who trapped that assassin. It was big news in the spring.”
“She’s amazing at tracking down the lost. People and things, the insurance companies love her.”
“We’re going to have to climb over the wall here.”
Alanna turned to lean against the stones. Boosting herself up she straddled the wall and waited for Liam to do the same.
“I walked the top of the wall coming up here. It’s way easier than fighting with the path.”
Liam squatted behind her, and then stood.
“My balance is pretty good, lead the way.”
They continued, chatting as they went. The silvery light of Alanna’s glow spell illuminating the rocks with a quiet sparkling sheen. The moon slid lower in the sky, and the two of the stood silhouetted as they ignored the end of their walk.
Cardamon’s garden slept, shadows wavering as a light breeze caressed the plants.
Liam watched as Alanna untied her sweater, pulling it on and covering sudden goosebumps. His own shivers reminded him he’d left home on a whim.
“I’m getting cold too. I think I’ll leave you here. I work at my parent’s grocery store. I stock the shelves, run the check out, and do the occasional delivery. I’d like it if we could meet again.”
Liam jumped down and reached up give her his hand.
She felt the touch of his love for her as their fingers linked, the steady warmth of friendship, more precious than any flare of passion. Here was someone who gave kindness without calculating the return, he simply did what was right, what his heart knew it should.
“Thanks for coming with me,” Alanna said.
“Why wouldn’t I? You looked pretty washed out when you woke up. And you sure as hell weren’t steady on your feet for the first while. Where did the stones take you?”
“I watched a healer make her sacrifice to the Goddesses Aine and Gaia, thanking them for a good harvest. I felt her memories, and the child she carried. Her love for a knight she healed, and the danger she was in. Though the people around her come to her for all their ills.”
“Did you figure out who she was?”
“She never talked to anyone else. I heard her cast her circle, but there wasn’t another soul anywhere near.”
“There are records of the people who lived here at the churches. We could see who lived here back then. Do you have any idea of the time frame?”
“From her dress, I think some time in the early 1200’s. It was a long time ago. See this bracelet?”
“It’s gorgeous. The stones glow in the moonlight,” Liam said.
“She was wearing it on her right arm, just like I am.”
“Really? This is fascinating, and I want to hear more, but I’m going to freeze to death if I don’t get home.”
“Forgive me, I can fix that for the moment.”
Alanna grasped his arms, and poured energy into his chilled body, warming him as she shivered through the process.
“I’ll never understand how you do can do that, thank you.”
“Go home, Liam. I’ll find you at the grocery store. I’ll be doing most of the shopping, day to day while I’m here.”
“I like you, Alanna Quade. I like the mystery you have to solve. I’d like to help.”
“I like you Liam Moore. I could use a friend. And the help.”
He wrapped her in a quick hug and leapt back up on the wall running along the top he disappeared around a corner and she wondered for a moment if he was real.
Slipping into the house, she went straight back to the kitchen to make tea. She wanted chamomile and mint to calm her. She hoped Cardamon was asleep, it was near midnight. Waiting for the kettle to heat her water, she combined the herbs she wanted and put them in the tea ball.
“You’re back,” her tutor arrived on silent cat paws.
“I’m sorry I was gone so long, cousin.”
“Where were you? I was about to call the constables and send out a search party.”
“I went to the stones. I forgot today is solstice.”
Alanna poured hot water into her mug then turned to face her tutor.
“I have more questions than answers.”
“Tell me what happened. I’ll see if I can help.”
She pulled out a chair and began with her walk out to the stones. Their conversation murmured well on into the wee hours, and in the end Cardamon agreed with Liam. He knew most of the history of their family, but not as far back as the stones had pulled Alanna.
“Go, sleep child. Put an amethyst and black tourmaline under your pillow, it will keep the dreams away for tonight. I was going to start on some of the spells, tomorrow, but you need your rest.”
Alanna rinsed her mug and headed for the stairs.
“I don’t think there is any way to stop these dreams, cousin.”
“For tonight, they will stay away. I’m sure of it. Sleep well, and when you wake, we’ll go in search of your witch.”
He said it with such certainty, she wondered what spell he cast. As she lay down, she felt protected, and relaxed into sleep without another thought.