Dance of the Gods Page 10

“How?”

“It happens.” Maybe in his world the sky was rosy pink and love was forever. “People get dissatisfied, feelings change. Added to it my mother was sick of the life, the things that took my father away. She wanted normal, and it was her mistake she’d married someone who’d never give it to her. So she was busy picking fights with my father, and he was busy ignoring her and working with my brother.”

Which would mean, Larkin thought, that no one was paying attention to her. Poor little lamb.

“So I was always after my father to train me, too, or trying to do some of the stuff my brother was doing.”

“My younger brother trailed after me like a shadow when we were children. This is the same in all worlds, I suppose.”

“Bug you? Bother you?” she amended.

“Oh, drove me mad some of the time. Others, I didn’t mind so much. If he was close by, it was easier to devil him. And others yet, well, it wasn’t so bad as company.”

“So pretty much the same as with me and my brother. Then this one day they were down in the training area—a space most people would have a family room.” But you had to have a family to rate a family room. “We had equipment—weights, a pommel horse, uneven bars, rings. One whole wall was mirrored.”

She could still see it, perfectly, and the way they’d reflected her father and her brother, so close together, while she’d been off to the side. And alone.

“I watched them in the mirrors; they didn’t know I was there. My father was giving Mick—my brother—a rash of grief because Mick just couldn’t get this move. Back flip,” she murmured, “dive, shoulder roll, throw the stake into the target. Mick just couldn’t get it, and my father was dead set he would. Finally, Mick got pissy himself, and he threw the stake across the room.”

It had almost brushed her fingers, she remembered. As if it had been meant for her hand.

“It rolled right to me. I knew I could do it. I just wanted to show my father I could do it. I just wanted him to look at me. So I did. I called his name: ‘Watch me, Daddy,’ and I did it, the way I’d watched him do it over and over trying to get Mick to understand the rhythm.”

She closed her eyes a moment because she could still see herself, still feel it in her. As if the world had stopped, and only she was in motion for those few seconds.

“Hit the heart. Mostly luck, but I hit the heart. I was so happy. Look what I did! Mick’s eyes just about fell out of his head, then…there was this little smile in them—just a little. I didn’t know what it meant then, I thought he’d just gotten a kick out what I did, because we mostly got along pretty well. My father didn’t say anything, not for a few seconds—seemed like an hour—and I thought he was going to yell at me.”

“For doing something well?”

“Getting in the way. And, not yell, really. He never raised his voice; that’s all about control. I figured he was going to tell me to go back up with my mother. You know, dismiss me. But he didn’t. He told Mick to go upstairs, and it was just him and me. Just me and my father, and he was finally looking at me.”

“He must have been very proud, very pleased.”

“Hell no.” Her laugh was short and without any humor. “He was disappointed. That’s what I saw when he finally looked at me. He was disappointed that it was me and not Mick. Now he was stuck with me.”

“Surely he…” Larkin trailed off when she turned her head, met his eyes. “I’m sorry. Sorry his lack of vision hurt you.”

“Can’t change what you are.” Another lesson she’d learned hard. “So he trained me, and Mick got to play baseball. That was the smile. Relief, joy. Mick, he’d never wanted what my father wanted for him. He’s got more of my mother in him. When she left, filed for divorce, I mean, she took Mick, and I stayed with my father. I got what I wanted, more or less.”

She stiffened when Larkin put an arm around her shoulders, but when she would have shifted away he tightened his grip in the comfort of a one-armed hug. “I don’t know your father or your brother, but I do know I’d rather be here with you than either of them. You fight like an avenging angel. And you smell good.”

He surprised a laugh out of her, a genuine laugh, and with it, she relaxed against the wet rock, with his arm around her shoulders.

Chapter 3

O n the cliffs, the circle was cast. Now and again, there was the sound of a car passing on the road below. But no one walked here, or snapped their pictures, or stood on his headland.

Perhaps, Hoyt thought, the gods did what they could.

“It’s so clear today.” Moira looked skyward. “Barely a cloud.”

“So clear, you can see across the water all the way to Gaillimh.”

“Galway.” Glenna stood, gathering strength and courage. “I’ve always wanted to go there, to see the bay. To wander along Shop Street

.”

“And so we will.” Hoyt took her hand now. “After Samhain. Now we look, and we find. You’re sure of the location where we’ll send any if we can transport?”

Glenna nodded. “I’d better be.” She took Moira’s hand in turn. “Focus,” she told her. “And say the words.”

She felt it from Hoyt, that first low rumble of power, the reaching out. Glenna pushed toward it, pulling Moira with her.

“On this day and in this hour, I call upon the sacred power of Morrigan the goddess and pray she grant to us her grace and prowess. In your name, Mother, we seek the sight, ask you to guide us into the light.”

“Lady,” Hoyt spoke. “Show us those held beneath this ground, against their will. Help us find what is lost.”

“Blind the beasts that seek to kill.” Moira struggled to focus as the air began to swirl around her. “That no innocents will pay the cost.”

“Goddess and Mother,” they said together, “our power unite, to bring into day what is trapped in the night. Now we seek, and now we see. As we will, so mote it be.”

Darkness and shadows and dank air, fetid with the foulness of death and decay. Now a shimmer of light, glimmers of shapes in the shadows. There was the sound of weeping, so harsh, so human, and the moans and gibbering of those who had no tears left to shed.

They floated through the maze of tunnels, felt the cold as if their bodies walked there. And even the mind shuddered at what they saw.

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