Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Scriostóir - 1

Cerdic watched with one raised eyebrow as the boy ran hell-bent-for-leather down the sidewalk, the cop just a few yards behind him, and gaining ground. The boy would be in for severe punishment once he reached the house, but for now—

He stepped casually forward as if unaware of what was happening, ending up directly in the cop’s path. The officer veered just enough to keep from slamming full force into Cerdic, hitting his shoulder hard instead. Cerdic reached out, grabbing the officer to keep from falling.

“Are you alright, sir,” the officer asked even as he tried to extricate himself from Cerdic’s grip so that he could continue the chase.

“I’m fine,” Cerdic responded. “Please continue on and catch the miscreant.” 

With a sharp nod, the cop looked around, muttering angrily when he realized the boy was nowhere in sight. After checking once more to make certain Cerdic was alright, the cop went back down the street, disappearing around the corner.

“Miscreant?” someone said, chuckling.

Cerdic turned to see one of the older boys leaning against the building wall. “It means—“

“I know what it means, thanks. I’m not a total dunce. You gonna kill Jakie when you get back?”

“That, Manny, depends whether what he got what he was sent for. If so, he’ll escape with a tongue-lashing. Otherwise—“ Cerdic smiled tightly, leaving the rest unsaid. He knew Manny understood. “Have you completed your assignment?”

“Yeah.” Manny glanced around to make sure no one was watching and then handed Cerdic a slim folder, which he immediately slid into his camera case.

“Get going then. I expect you back at the house for dinner.”

After giving Cerdic a mocking salute, Manny strolled off and Cerdic reentered the hotel which stood half a block away from the UN Plaza.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Caomhnóir - 42 - Epilogue

“Los Angeles?” Thom said, staring at Keegan. “Damn. I was rather hoping for somewhere a bit more exciting, like Paris or Calcutta or anywhere out of the country.”

“Calcutta?” Keegan’s eyebrows rose in amusement.

Thom shrugged. “After six months in the States I’m ready for anything, even there. So what does Alasdair want you to do? Has some Scriostóir decided to destroy humanity by making dozens of bad movies and flooding the market with them?”

“Would that it was that easy,” Keegan replied with a low chuckle. Then he told Thom why he, why they, were going there.

When he’d finished Thom nodded. “No rest for the good guys. But at least now you can tell him no if you want to.”

A broad smile lit Keegan’s face. “That I can, thanks to you.”

As he had so many times in the past six months, Thom shook his head. “I had nothing to do with it, not really. It was you being willing to sacrifice yourself to save me that did it.”

And as he had, equally as many times, Keegan took Thom in his arms, telling him in no uncertain terms, “If you hadn’t loved me—”

“No, if you hadn’t loved me. That’s what it took. That’s what Alasdair told you, and he should know.”

“At the same time that he told me that if I ever breathed a word of it outside of his office he would see to it that I was banished to the Stone Age for the next ten thousand years.”

“Which,” Thom said, chuckling, “would not make my day. When I’m old and gray I do not want to be avoiding Mastodons and saber-toothed tigers.”

“And just what makes you think he’d let you come with me?”

“Because, to quote a rather tired but true adage, ‘Whither thou goest, I will go to’.”

“Or?” Keegan said, knowing what Thom’s reply would be.

“Or we’ll be having roast gryphon for dinner for a long time to come.”

The End

* * * * * * * *

Coming next


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Please welcome author S.A. McAuley

Title: An Immovable Solitude
Author Name: S.A. McAuley
Release Date: October 27, 2012

Erik Hash, owner of a shark diving company in South Africa, loses everything in one night--his business, his partner, and his desire to live. The victim of a violent hate crime, he leaves South Africa and takes a job aboard a private yacht to escape.

When his partner reappears after three years, he wonders if there is something left for them to rebuild. But the ocean isn't ready to let go of him quite yet.


Chapter One

The boat pitched from side to side as the deckhands struggled to lower the rattling cage against the hull. The sky was a cloudless indigo blue, and the stars were beginning to blink out in rings as sunrise pushed past the horizon. The air was unseasonably warm, which lowered the chances of this being a productive trip, but I wasn't going to complain. I loved summers in the Cape.
The waters of Van Dyks Bay were generally erratic, consistent in their inconsistency, and there were days I wanted to ignore the weather and wave report and just chance it, setting sail for Dyer Island without planning for what to expect. But this was our boat, our company, and we had a reputation that ensured us a steady stream of tourists.
"Oy! Hash! We need help securing the lines out here, hey?"
Abraham's voice called to me from the stern, where he and two of the deckhands pulled at ropes used to fasten the cage to the side of the boat. The waves were too strong for divers to climb in just yet, but the wind was slowly dying and soon the pitch of the boat would turn to a slow, hypnotic roll. I left the tiny wheelhouse and helped them tie off lines, relishing the salt spray that hit each time the boat bottomed out on a wave.
We struggled to secure the cage, and Abraham switched to Afrikaans as we worked. It was my second language, but the mother tongue for most of our crew, and when things became tense, as they did now, the tourists wouldn't understand one word we said to each other. The cage finally settled into the grooves worn into the hull from countless trips, and we fastened it tightly. Behind us, the divers talked nervously with each other, surveying the bay with suspicion, fear, excitement, or a mix of all three. They were already clad in thick wetsuits, masks hung around their necks or gripped tightly in fists. Abraham tugged at the ropes, checking them before turning to me and nodding.
"Let's give it another ten," I replied to the question he hadn't asked. "I'd like it to be a bit calmer."
I stopped to chat up the group of divers on my way to the wheelhouse. We had ten on board today, a full charter. As usual, it was a mix of nationalities and ages: six women and four men on an escorted tour of South Africa. The women today were especially flirtatious, and like any smart captain looking to see his business grow, I took the time to talk with each of them before moving on. Kerry liked to tease me I enjoyed this part of my job a little too much.
I wore my usual blue and silver board shorts hung low on my hips, with feet and chest bare. I leant down to speak intimately to the women, my smile flashing, my laugh genuine. My blond hair, just a touch on the long side, fell into my eyes and one of the ladies looked as if she wanted to push it back. I never discouraged it if they tried. I gave my excuses, begging off with the list of duties I had to complete. I pointed at Abraham and told them my boss made me work too hard. Abraham grinned and shook his head; he'd seen this too many times. Yet he still laughed, because both of us knew who the boss really was even though at twenty-seven, I didn't look old enough to have my own company.
More importantly Abraham knew I wasn't interested in any of them. No matter how free, easy, or beautiful they were. I had a gorgeous man, my partner in every sense of the word, waiting for me back at our shop.
Nothing about me proclaimed my sexuality; I'd never been loud about being gay. Most days, it was the least of what defined me. But I'd never hidden it either. For some, my choice to live with my sexual orientation as secondary, like every straight person had the pleasure of doing, was unsettling. So they made assumptions when it would've been easier to ask. But for most, especially the tourists, I was little more than eye candy. Someone pleasant-looking to flirt with when away from home.
The nervous anticipation of the divers relaxed as the winds died and the waves settled the boat into a gentle sway. The sun crested over the mountains to the east, chasing the rest of the stars away. Abraham gave his standard greeting and instructions before the first divers dropped into the cage. The energy of the tourists was palpable, pulling smiles from the tired crew.
We'd all been up for hours already, prepping the boat and supplies, and performing equipment checks. This moment―when Abraham, with a twitch of his lips, asked the inevitable question, "Who wants to go first?"―was my second favourite part of the workday. Nervous laughter skittered between the tourists, and Dominick, our videographer, circled them, capturing their reactions for a personalised DVD we would sell to them after the trip. Today, it was an American who stepped forwards, a goofy grin plastered across his face. He immediately put the rest of the tourists at ease as he joked about who would get his wife if he didn't make it out.
I leant against the helm and pulled out my cell. A green light blinked at the corner and I flipped it open to read the text.
I chuckled. Three years after his arrival in South Africa and Kerry still hadn't mastered the basic slang. He'd attempted it enough times that I knew he was asking how the charter was going, but the actual meaning of what he'd asked was "how are you?"
Lekker was my one-word reply: Excellent. We both spent so much time dealing with tourists that we usually had to curb the use of slang. But when it was just the two of us, jokes about the differences between his Irish English and my South African English were common.
I heard gasps and a scattering of loud curses and knew the first great white had been sighted. I peeked out of the wheelhouse to where the deckhands were tossing a fish head into the water. They dragged it back to the boat, drawing the shark closer to the cage. My cell pinged.
I can't drag my ass out of bed.
He was lying. I'd heard his footsteps on the wood floors, walking from the bedroom into the shower, as I'd left early this morning. He would be in the shop now, hunched over his desk, coffee cup in hand, his black hair most likely dishevelled from running his fingers through it while he reconciled the monthly accounts. His work today wouldn't be complicated, he was too organised for that, but it would be tedious and that drove Kerry mad. He needed to be constantly entertained, and I favoured the days I spent discovering new ways to keep him occupied and interested.
It's right where I want it, hey? I texted back.
The tourist group was all smiles now, enthralled with the gigantic beast cutting lazily through the water around them. Selling the DVDs was going to be easy today. Abraham and the deckhands had the divers taken care of, the water had calmed to a leisurely roll, and the heat from the sun was tempered by a gentle breeze from the south. Newborn seal pups barked from the island off our bow. It was the birth of these young that had attracted the great whites back to Dyer Island and Van Dyks Bay despite the warmer waters, driving larger tourist groups our way to the point where we'd added a second boat and hoped to receive government approval for a third next year.
If you don't want your books to balance this month, Erik Hash was his response.
He was using my full name. Not a good sign. I typed back Frustrated already?
He replied before I could look up I'd rather be on the boat.
I let out a low whistle. If he wanted to be on the boat more than in the shop, that meant he was more than frustrated. Kerry hated the sharks as much as I loved them. I'd met him three years ago when he'd walked onto my uncle's boat with his sister, Kelle, in tow, and I knew then I would do anything to have him. It took me one day to get him into my bed, but almost a year before I knew he loved me as much as I loved him. Kerry and Kelle were only supposed to stay in the Cape for a week, and then move on to Durban, over to Johannesburg, and eventually into Botswana. After our first night together, Kerry decided not to leave Van Dyks Bay and Kelle reluctantly stayed on.
Worry lines creased my forehead as I tried to formulate a response. Kerry had been more distant than usual the last couple of days. I didn't expect him to be overtly emotional anytime; it just wasn't him. He was reserved, calm, and introverted, the opposite of me, but lately he'd been more withdrawn than usual. I knew he was joking when he said he would rather be on the boat, but I read the underlying annoyance in that statement and I doubted it had anything to do with reconciling the finances. Kerry was working through something and I couldn't shake the feeling that it was bigger than he was letting on.
A collective gasp came from outside the wheelhouse and I grinned, an old joy filling me with each satisfied shriek that erupted from the deck, pulling my thoughts away from Kerry. I felt the boat pitch as the thundering footsteps of the divers followed the shark from aft to stern. It was rare I made a trip out near Dyer Island without spotting one of the apex predators, but my excitement never waned, and my admiration for their ancient power and beauty never faltered. I was seven years old again each time I connected with the black eyes of these stunning creatures.
What was I doing sequestering myself in the wheelhouse? There was nothing I could do for Kerry until the charter was done. We were on the sharks. I threw my cell into my hoodie hung by the door, and stepped out onto the deck. There were two divers in the cage, three standing where it was anchored next to the boat, and two on the bow. Feet shuffled above my head on the second level of the boat where the rest of the divers were chatting happily as they clicked off pictures.
Abraham sidled up next to me, put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed affectionately. His bone-white teeth stood out against the deep blackness of his skin and a jovial smile told me it was a good sighting. The silver streaks he'd developed in his hair over the last two years made him even more handsome.
"How big?"
"Almost four metres," Abraham said, pointing at the shark on the aft side. "There's a three metre juvenile creeping around as well."
We made our way behind the cage, where a deckhand tossed chum into the water, bribing the sharks to stay with our boat. There were two other companies doing the same bait and view routine with their own tourists so we had to keep the sharks occupied or risk losing them to one of the boats that sat a respectable distance away. I peered into the water as I saw the large shadow draw closer. I slid my polarised glasses over my eyes to block out the glare of sun on the waves and felt my breath hitch when the larger one came into view.
The sides of the shark were scarred from the number of mating seasons it had been through, the twisted patchwork of white a testament to its age. It cut gracefully through the water past the cage, ignoring the divers in the cage that were pushing as far back against the metal as possible, and yet it was obvious the shark was aware of everything happening around it. It had decided we weren't a threat long before it showed up alongside the boat. These creatures were cunning, intelligent, and ancient. I knew the black of their eyes almost as well as the green of Kerry's.
The deckhand pulling the fish yanked it closer to the cage and the water surged as the juvenile crashed towards the floating fish head. The divers next to the cage jumped back with a cry of surprise, while the deckhands, Abraham, and I laughed until we were nearly crying. We'd seen the shadow underneath the water as the smaller one moved in. I put my arms around the shoulders of two of the divers at the side of the boat. The petite wife of the American man pulled me closer. Her wetsuit was soaked since she'd just exited the cage.
"You see that bro over there with the video camera?" I pointed them towards Dominick so he could get a good shot of their faces after the surprise. "He's much more dangerous than the juvenile softie out there."
Dominick winked, and they twittered and blushed.
"See, I told you. Sharks are incredibly evolved predators, but you shouldn't fear them. They are shy, deliberate hunters and will rarely attack except when hunting. They will never attack the cage. Dom, on the other hand, you need to watch those teeth."
Before I could slip my arms from around their shoulders, the American woman looked at me in amazement. Her teeth chattered. "I don't know whether to be frightened or amazed. You really love them don't you? The sharks?"
"I do. There is more to be amazed of than frightened of. Listen to Abraham. He'll sell you."
I excused myself and left my co-captain to do his work. While my brain was filled with all kinds of arcane and useless trivia about sharks and their appearances on TV and in movies, Abraham had been a part of my uncle's research crew for years and could answer the important questions about shark biology and habits. Turning this part over to him was also carefully choreographed after our years of working together. I had a tendency to spout off about the evil that was TV's Shark Week if given half a chance. Okay, any chance. But it also gave me time to do what I really loved to do, which was watch the sharks.
I sat in the stern with the deckhands and cut up chum. It was the perfect vantage point to watch the juvenile great white stay a deferential distance from the larger shark, which only circled back once the divers had calmed down and a fresh bucket of blood was dumped into the water. I watched the shark until I felt an itch to check on Kerry.
Back in the wheelhouse, I pulled out my cell and texted Okay?
I stared at the phone, waiting for a reply. I could picture him trying to think how to respond, of typing something and then erasing it. I closed my eyes and paid attention to the rolling of the waves beneath the boat, letting them rock me. The sun pouring through the wheelhouse window on to my shoulders and face, warm salt air filtering in through the open windows, and the rhythmic sound of the waves against the hull helped calm my worry over Kerry. I don't know how long I stood there, mesmerised and half asleep, before my cell pinged again.
Just need more coffee. And your ass back in bed.
Only a couple more hours and I would be happy to oblige him on the second part. Because getting off the boat and coming home to Kerry, even after three years, was still my favourite part of the day.

Author Links:  

Twitter – @AuthorSAMcAuley
Email – authorsamcauley (at)
Bio: Sam sleeps little, reads a lot. Happiest in a foreign country. Twitchy when not mentally in motion. Send her a picture and a song and she’s bound to write a story about it. And yes, that’s an invitation.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Caomhnóir - 41

“Fuck this,” Thom growled, realizing that he was, to a certain extent, free at the moment even though his hands were still shackled. As the man approached him, Thom took hold of the chain attached to his collar and swung it hard. It did little damage as it hit the man’s hip, but it did make him pause. Remembering how Keegan used his flail, Thom whipped the chain around again, staggering but managing to wrap it around the man’s hand. Then he pulled hard, smiling tightly when the man’s gun hit the pavement of the bridge. At least now they were on equal footing, or would be once he stood up.

Ignoring the sound of blade meeting blade behind him, Thom struggled to his feet, moving sideways just enough to avoid the man when he lunged towards him. Sending a silent prayer up to whoever might be in charge, Rialóir Deiridh or otherwise, Thom lashed the chain out one more time, relief flooding him when it did what he’d hoped and wrapped around the man’s throat. Even though the man topped him by a good three inches and at least fifty pounds, Thom moved in to grab the free end of the chain, ignoring the man’s pummeling fists as he pulled it tight. The man struggled to free himself as his face began to turn dark from lack of oxygen. Finally he dropped down on all fours, passing out seconds later.

“Yes!” Thom whispered before turning to see how Keegan was faring.

Thom hadn’t realized that during his fight with the man, Darius had moved past them towards the far end of the bridge, forcing Keegan to follow him as they battled. Both men were blood-covered, panting for breath as they tried to best each other.

Thom’s first thought was that he had to stop them somehow, before Darius drew Keegan off the bridge, trapping him forever in the place of his death. Then he paused as he realized something he was quite certain neither of the combatants was aware of, Keegan’s Geis did not seem to be affecting him in the least at the moment. That meant one of two things, either Keegan was already too far across the bridge and would never be able to come back, or the Geis had been negated for some reason. And there was only one reason Thom could think of that would cause that. Keegan had somehow been freed from his servitude to the rialóir deiridh.

But if that’s so, and he dies anyway, what good would that be he thought, his heart beating fast with fear for the man he loved. “Please, please,” he whispered as he moved closer, unsure what he could do to help rather than hinder Keegan in his battle.

The question became moot seconds later when Keegan raised the broadsword in both hands and brought it down with such force that Darius skull was cleaved in two. As his body fell to the pavement at the end of the bridge, Keegan knelt down beside him taking the dagger from its sheath at his waist. Plunging it into Darius heart, he murmured the ritual words that would set Darius free.  

Standing again, Keegan turned to look back at Thom. “I’ll— never forget that I love you,” he said quietly.

“Then come to me,” Thom replied just as quietly, backing away slowly to the center of the bridge.

“How can I, now? I’m trapped here forever,” Keegan whispered, his voice filled with pain.

Thom just shook his head, beckoning to Keegan. “You can come to me,” he said, his words full of conviction.

Needing to show Thom that that was not possible, Keegan took at step forward. And then another, and another. His eyes widened in shock, and then joy, as he slowly walked, and then broke into a run, racing to where Thom stood. He swept him into his arms, holding him so tightly Thom finally asked with a wide grin, “Are you trying to smother me to death?”

“Now that would be a bit counter-productive,” Keegan responded with a laugh before he cupped Thom’s face in his hands. “I don’t know how, or why, but I think—”  

“That we found the out-clause.”

“Yes.” Keegan gazed at Thom, slowly tracing a thumb over his lips, and then kissed him, pouring all of his love and hope for their future into it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Caomhnóir - 40

“Welcome,” Darius called out when he was a few feet away from where Keegan stood. When he beckoned him to approach, Keegan shook his head.

“Release him first,” Keegan said with soft intensity.

Thom heard his voice and looked up, his eyes wide with hope and fear. “Go Keegan,” he called out, his voice raspy but strong with emotion. “Don’t let him do this to you. Don’t let him—” His words were choked off when the man holding the chain gave it a sharp tug, almost pulling Thom off his feet.

“Bastard,” Keegan shouted, taking a few steps to reduce the distance between him and Darius without stepping onto the bridge. “Free him, now!”

Darius just smiled, taking his hand from behind his back. “Put this on, then, possibly, I shall.” He held out a collar that matched the one on Thom, a thick chain hanging from it. Keeping the end of the chain held tightly in his hand, he tossed the collar to Keegan.

“When he’s by my side, and not before.”

Chuckling, Darius turned, telling the man to bring Thom to them, and then taking the chain from him. “The collar, now,” he ordered Keegan.

Fighting the Geis with everything in him, Keegan moved onto the bridge. He knew that once he’d put the collar on Darius had only to drag him a few hundred feet back along the bridge to the other side and he would be forever trapped, a prisoner in the place where he’d died, and Darius’ prisoner as well, with no hope of ever escaping.

When Keegan hesitated, Darius put one hand on Thom’s shoulder, forcing him to his knees. A slender blade appeared in Darius free hand. He pressed the edge of it against Thom’s throat just above the collar. Then he looked up at Keegan, waiting.

Slowly Keegan raised his collar, setting it around his throat but not closing it. “Let him go, Darius, and I am yours. Kill him and you have signed your death warrant.”

“No!” Thom grabbed Darius’ wrist between his manacled hands, not to force the dagger away, but to draw it across his own throat. A thin line of blood appeared, trickling down beneath the collar.

Darius’ eyes left Keegan, landing on his prisoner as he tried to pull the blade back. That was all that Keegan needed. His flail was instantly in one hand, a broadsword in the other. The sword rose and descended, a glancing blow taking Darius across the shoulder as he spun back to face Keegan.

Darius merely scowled as he dropped the two chains. Keeping the dagger at the ready, he was suddenly holding a gladius in his other hand. “Do you truly think you can defeat me, a seasoned warrior, street-boy,” he sneered before lunging towards Keegan. As he did, he called over his shoulder to his accomplice, “Kill his lover.”

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Coming Nov. 3rd - 'You Can't Change the Past'

You Can't Change the Past
(Phoenix Rising #3)

When an assassin plans the revenge killing of the Phoenix at a major business convention, his people must stop her. They too become targets, as she sets her sights on slaying them as part of her vengeance. With the assistance of a policewoman, Ginna Smith, and a crew of Vance's street kids, they set out to find and eliminate the assassin before she can do the same to them.

Much to everyone's surprise, Vance recruits Ginna for his team. She accepts and soon begins to see exactly what Vance is like. She is distressed by his vicious side yet still begins to care for him. When Vance meets her son, they bond, leading to a more personal interaction with Ginna. When someone begins to stalk Vance, he must do his best to keep Ginna safe before she too is targeted by his nemesis.

CONTENT ADVISORIES: This title contains both MM and MF scenes. It has a HFN ending.

* * * *


Part One
 A Shattered Life

Chapter One


"Vance Montgomery, get your ass in here right this minute," the voice roared.
Vance cringed, wishing he had the guts to just run. But his mother would find him, or if not she'd send her present boyfriend looking. And that would make things worse. Straightening his shirt, tucking it into his tattered shorts, he made his way across the browned grass and up the dirt path leading to the battered trailer that served as their most recent home.
He hesitated, trying to gauge from the tone of her shout whether he should face her down or be servile. As the trailer door swung open he stood as tall as his five foot five inch frame would allow.
"Yes, Mother," he said deferentially, hiding the fear he felt as she stood there holding an almost empty bottle of beer in one hand, her hair ratty and scraggly around her thin face.
"Where the hell have you been? School let out over an hour ago."
"I stayed after to do my homework." He scuffed the worn toe of one tennis shoe in the dirt.
"Boy, don't lie to me. You were off with those damned Power's kids getting into trouble."
Shaking his head he lifted his eyes to look at her. "I wasn't, I swear." Which was the truth as far as it went. He'd been with two other boys from his class trying to talk Mr Smith at the grocery store into giving them jobs for the summer. The man said he'd think about it.
Grabbing the doorframe with one hand to steady herself she took a long pull on her beer, tossing the empty bottle in the vicinity of the open trash barrel a few feet away. Then she grabbed his arm before he could back away, dragging him into the trailer.
"You know how I deal with liars, Vance?"
"Yes, Mother." His voice trembled and he took a deep breath before saying again, "I wasn't lying."
Her hand flew out, landing hard on the side of his face. "Give me your belt."
"Mother, please…"
Her grip tightened painfully on his arm. "It's the belt or the chain."
He fumbled with one hand to get his belt off. His mother snatched it from him, spinning him around, forcing him face first onto the sofa. He closed his eyes, praying the beating would be brief.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Caomhnóir - 39

As he drove north-west towards Galway, Keegan’s rage turned to an icy calm. When it did, and he was able to think again instead of just react, he realized there had been something more in to Darius’ message. Reaching down to retrieve it from where he thrown it on the passenger floor mat, he opened it one-handed. At the bottom were a set of numbers, co-ordinates if he didn’t miss his guess. He punched them into the GPS system that came with the vehicle. It took only a moment for it to tell him where he was to meet Darius.

He realized that he was to enter the city proper, and shuddered, pulling off to the side of the road because he needed to think. He knew from what he’d been told that his going into Galway would be virtually impossible for him. Unless—

He nodded slowly. The Geis was placed to keep him from entering Dún Bhun na Gaillimhe. What if that meant the part of Galway where he had grown up, inside what had later become the walled city. He studied the GPS map again, realizing that the spot Darius had chosen was at the foot of O’Brien’s bridge which crossed the River Corrib. At the far end of the bridge was the area that had, in his youth, been his home. Now, he knew, it was just another part of the modern-day city.

“Just be there Darius, with Thom,” he growled as he pulled back onto the highway.

It was just past two in the morning when he saw the lights of the city ahead of him. Steeling himself, he continued driving, following the highway until he could pull off onto the narrow city streets. As he did, he felt ever so slightly repelled, as if something was trying to force him to turn back. He knew it was the Geis beginning its work and did his best to ignore it. The closer he came to his destination the harder it became to do that, until for the safety of the few drivers around him he pulled to the side of the street and parked.

From there, he began to walk. If it weren’t for his love for Thom and the overpowering need to save him from Darius’ clutches, he would have run away, so powerful was the urge to do just that.

Finally, fighting the Geis with everything in him, he arrived at the foot of the bridge leading across the Corrib. By now it was close to three a.m. and the area was deserted, and dark except for a few street lights.

Then, from the shadows across the bridge, he saw Darius approaching, followed by a large man holding a chain. At the other end of the chain was Thom, his head bowed as much as possible considering the thick collar that encircled his neck. As they neared him, Keegan could tell that Thom’s hands were shackled as well. He growled in anger, stepping into the pool of light beneath a streetlamp.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Caomhnóir - 38

“Is there any city in Ireland that doesn’t have a castle?” Thom asked, looking across the river at one as they drove into Cork.

“I suppose there must be some,” Keegan replied with an amused glace at him. “Perhaps next time we come here we’ll make it a point to check out all of them. I believe there are well over three hundred.”

“That would, umm, keep us busy for a long while.”

“Indeed. For now however we need to find somewhere to put up for the night, and not in that castle.”

Thom laughed. “Please, not. Once was more than enough.” He watched the road ahead of them, wishing he still had his cell. It would have made finding a decent hotel or B&B easier. “There,” he said suddenly, seeing a B&B sign on a side street.

Keegan turned sharply, rolling his eyes. “A bit more warning please.”


Pulling to a stop in front of the building, Keegan parked and they went inside where they were greeted by a very pleasant woman who, as she checked the reservation book, told them she was the owner. When Keegan told her they’d like a room away from the street for the night she smiled, not seeming the least perturbed that he’d asked for only one. Once he’d paid, she gave him the keys, told him that there was parking in back and informed them that breakfast was provided as part of the services.

“But supper’s not,” Thom pointed out as they returned to the car. “I’m hungry and, quite frankly, we need to do a bit of shopping too for something to wear. I for one am tired of these jeans and shirt after more than twenty-four hours in them.”

“Then let’s take care of both problems before we go to the room.”

Two hours later they returned to the B&B after a swift spree of clothes buying and a very good dinner at a small bar and grill. Carrying their purchases to their room, they unpacked the various bags, hanging up the clothes.

“Be right back,” Thom said suddenly, picking up the keys when he realized he’d left one bag in the car.

“Just don’t get lost,” Keegan quipped as he watched his lover hurry from the room.

Ten minutes later he was wondering if his words had been prophetic when Thom still hadn’t returned. After another five had passed he was getting worried. Snagging the room key from where he’d tossed it on the dresser, he headed to the door. The sudden ringing of the phone stopped him and he hurried to answer.

“I have something that belongs to you,” a rough voice said. “A mutual friend suggests, and I quote, ‘If you want it back you return to the place where you bought it’.”

“That makes no sense,” Keegan exclaimed, to a dead phone. However as he thought about it he realized it did. The caller obviously worked for Darius, and being no fool, he couldn’t have the man say ‘the place where you died’. “Just what game are you playing now?” Keegan growled as moved quickly out of the room. “Damn it, Thom has the car keys,” were his next words to himself, as he took the stairs down two steps at a time. When he got to the car he found it sitting with the driver’s side door open, the keys in the ignition.

On the seat was an envelope. Tearing it open he found a message from Darius.

‘I have your boy. You know where to find him. It’s a trade off, you for him. I suggest you hurry if he means anything to you. I intend to have a great deal of fun with him until you turn up. – D.

“Touch one hair on his head and you will die,” Keegan snarled as he slid into the car. Seconds later he was racing down the streets of Cork, heedless of his speed as he pointed the nose of the car towards Galway and violating of his Geis.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Caomhnóir - 37

As he watched the countryside pass, Thom finally asked, “Where are we headed now?”

“Down to Cork,” Keegan told him. “We should be there by evening. We’ll find a place to stay and fly out in the morning.”

“I never thought I’d say it, but I’ll be glad to get home.”

“As will I. This has been a most interesting trip, but a bit of peace and quiet is in order now. That is of course—”

“If Darius decides to behave once we get back.”

“Which one can only hope, since he’ll be well within Alasdair’s reach by then.”

Thom nodded. “I wish Alasdair would send him packing to, oh I don’t know, ancient Rome perhaps. Back where he came from. He can do his thing, maybe keep Antony from meeting Cleopatra, and we can go back to living relatively normal lives.”

Keegan chuckled. “As normal as it gets with me around.”

“I’m not complaining—too much,” Thom told him with a smile. “And once we find the out-clause in your contract we really can have a normal life.”

Keegan glanced at him, his visage turning serious. “Even if there is one, which I doubt, I don’t think I’d want to give up what I’m doing.” Returning his eyes to the road, he continued what he was saying. “I actually like the idea that I make a difference in the world. I know you think I’m a slave but it was my choice. I’m—I don’t know—perhaps at this point a willing slave?”

Thom chewed his lip, staring out the window as he contemplated what Keegan had said. “What if there really is an out clause, but you can still be what you are and do what you do?”


“I don’t know; maybe that you still answer to Alasdair but as an equal, and you don’t have to move around from century to century. God only knows there are enough troubles here and now that need Caomhnóir working on them, especially if the Scriostóir are behind them.”

“Very true. But that is not going to happen.”

“You sound quite certain of that.”

“Thom, I’ve been a Caomhnóir for nine centuries, moving back and forth as I’m needed.”

“Jumping at their beck and call. When do you get a life of your own?” Thom retorted angrily.

“I had that, and blew it. I killed an innocent girl while trying to save my own worthless life. I earned the consequences fair and square. Mar a gcuireann tú, déanfar amhlaidh tú bhaint as.”

“Would I be too far off the think that meant, ‘as you sow, so shall you reap’?”

“Spot on,” Keegan replied with a smile. “And that is the truth behind the Caomhnóir. We are men reborn. We seek redemption and a second chance at life; to paraphrase something that I read—somewhere.”

“Probably some wall in a men’s room in Paris during the Revolution,” Thom muttered.

Keegan chuckled. “As I remember, there were no such things back then.”

Taking a deep breath, Thom grinned. “Well there are nowadays, and I wish you’d quit putting my phone number up in them.” He moved as far away from his lover as he could to avoid Keegan’s swipe at him, more than happy that the serious mood had abated—for now.

* * * * * *

Mar a gcuireann tú, déanfar amhlaidh tú bhaint as - As you sow, so shall you reap.