Today's Promise - Chapter 1 Excerpt

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Today’s Promise - Chapter 1 Excerpt

 Kara O’Keefe stood between two worlds, separate from both in more ways than one.

Part of her longed to remain in this faerie ring where she need face no one, mortal or fae. Beyond the trees where she stood at the base of the mound—or knock, to use the name it was known by here—was twenty-first century Ireland. Before her was the gate leading from the mortal world to Tír na nÓg…the Land of Youth. She did not feel she belonged in either place. And yet she had no choice but to walk through the portal before her. Obligation dictated her steps before she took them. Responsibility had always been a driving force in her life.

She needed to return Lugh’s sword…the Godslayer. The one the Sidhe lord Bran had wielded, intent on slaying Goibhniu, the Smithgod and current ruler of Tír na nÓg. He would have, if not for her interference.

A fine tremor rippled through her. She cut it off and forced her muscles still. She’d made several enemies this night: Olcas and Dubh, the sons of the dark goddess Carmán…the one called the Bone Raven…Not that any of them had been the best of friends with her before. Perhaps even several among the Sidhe would now count her less than friend after her seeming disobedience.

Grimacing, she crushed the misgivings stirred by those thoughts. Whatever anyone else believed, it was responsibility, not disobedience that had sent her through the faerie gate despite their orders to stay safely in the fae lands.

At her back she heard the grasses rustle. She grimaced. It was Aí, Goibhniu’s messenger, shifting restlessly. Beside him stood the old gypsy woman who, for some reason Kara still did not fully understand, had stopped her from slaying Olcas, a being of pure evil from the annals of Sidhe history, who had captured, tortured, and cursed her.

Why couldn’t the two of them just go to Tír na nÓg without her? She knew her way back alone, and it wasn’t like she was eager for their company. Both had interfered with her chances to deal with her abuser once and for all. Now she would have to dream of justice, until the time and situation presented themselves again.

She sensed Aí was going to touch her long before his hand came to rest upon her shoulder, and tried not to flinch as his essence unwittingly crept past her guard. Though he immediately drew his hand away, an uncontrollable shudder rippled through her. The recent battle had left her so drained she was unable to block the intrusion. It was not enough that he no longer touched her. She was too raw and he was closer than she liked. True, the curse was broken—she would no longer look upon a man or feel one’s touch and perceive him as Olcas. But that didn’t matter. Even though Aí now wore his own face, and had touched her with his own hand, it was still too much for her.

Turning, she captured his eye, staring hard in warning.

“Yer pardon, Kara,” he answered softly in acknowledgement, stepping several lengths back from her. He nodded toward the clearing they’d just left then forward to the path that lead to where the Sidhe and gypsy forces gathered. “Shall we go home then? I’m thinkin’ they could use our help….”

As he spoke she realized there would be wounded to tend…and an immortal “god” to face. She shuddered at the thought. There was no more time for speculation, for doubt, or for lingering. She slung the case holding Quicksilver over her shoulder by its strap, and reached out to reclaim the sword Aí held out to her.

Though she did not agree with his calling the fae land her home, she nodded, an unvoiced sigh tightening her throat. With her violin resting across her back and the ancient sword held with care in her arms, she stepped full into Tír na nÓg.

Her first deep breath of air in the fae realm sent energy flowing into her, easing the hurt, soothing the raw edges. She closed her eyes and lost herself briefly in the peace of the moment. Distanced herself from the memories: of battle; of herself left behind to wait and worry; of her hand forced by the Sidhe deceiver, Bran; of an attack by lethal spirit women, beautiful but deadly, invisible except to those who had the Sight; of thwarting Bran’s attempt to murder Goibhniu; and finally, her encounter with Olcas and Dubh. This memory disturbed her peace more than any of the others. These foes wore the bodies of mortals. One familiar to her, if not friendly, was Tony. The other was unknown, but perhaps worse for that. She felt more compassion for that victim. When the demigod had possessed him, it was in the aftermath of a blaze. The body was so burnt she could not imagine how it still moved, let alone breathed. If the stranger’s soul was still aware, he must have been in constant agony.

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