Key of Light Page 14

And yet, here they were, together in a largely empty room of a stranger’s house and having nearly identical thoughts.

“It’s strange how much we have in common. Strange, too, that we live in a relatively small town and never met before last night.”

Zoe sat on the opposite end of the couch. “Where do you get your hair done?”

“Carmine’s, out at the mall.”

“That’s a good salon. Hair Today, here in town, where I worked? It’s mostly women who want the same do week after week after week.” She rolled her big, tawny eyes. “Can’t blame you for heading out of town. You’ve got great hair. Did your stylist ever suggest that you take a couple inches off?”

“Cut?” Instinctively Malory’s hand went to her hair. “Cut?”

“Just a couple inches, take some of the weight off. It’s a terrific color.”

“It’s mine. Well, I get it punched up a bit.” She laughed and dropped her hand. “I get the feeling you’re looking at my hair the way I’m looking at this room. Wondering just what I could do with it if I had a free hand.”

“Cokes and cookies.” Dana brought in a trio of cans and a bag of store-bought chocolate chip cookies. “So, what have we got so far?”

“I didn’t find anything that mentions three daughters of a young god and a mortal woman.” Malory popped the top and sipped, though she would have preferred a glass and some ice. “Jesus, this stuff is so sweet when you’re not used to it. I also didn’t find anything about trapped souls or keys. A lot of strange-looking names like Lug and Rhianna, Anu, Danu. Tales of battles—victories and death.”

She took out her notebook, flipped it open to the first neatly arranged page. One look at it had Dana’s dimples popping out.

“I bet you were an A student all the way through school. Honor roll, Dean’s list. Fucking the curve for the rest of the class.”

“Why?”

“You’re too organized not to be. You made an outline and everything.” She snatched the notebook, turned pages. “And time lines! Charts.”

“Shut up.” Laughing at herself, Malory grabbed the notebook back. “As I was saying before being snickered at for my organized research style, Celtic gods die—they appear to pop back, but they can actually be killed. And unlike what I know about the gods in Greek and Roman mythology, these don’t live on some magic mountaintop. They inhabit the earth, live among people. Lots of politics and protocol.”

Dana sat on the floor. “Anything that could be a metaphor for the keys?”

“If there was, it was over my head.”

“Artists were gods, and warriors,” Zoe added. “Or the other way around. I mean art—music, storytelling, all that—was important. And there were mother-goddesses. Motherhood was important. And the number three. So, it’s like, Malory’s the artist—”

It was a quick and painful twist in Malory’s heart. “No, I sell art.”

“You know art,” Zoe said. “Like Dana knows books. I know about being a mother.”

“That’s good.” Dana beamed at her. “That gives each of us our role in this. Pitte said beauty, truth, courage. In the painting, Malory—let’s simplify by calling them by our names for now—Malory was playing an instrument. Music-art-beauty. I was holding a scroll and quill—book-knowledge-truth. And Zoe had the sword and the puppy. Innocence-protection-courage.”

“Which means?” Malory demanded.

“We could say the first key, your key, is somewhere that has to do with art and/or beauty. That goes along with the clue.”

“Great. I’ll pick it up on my way home.” Malory nudged a book with her toe. “What if they just made it up? The whole story?”

“I refuse to believe they made the whole thing up just to have us scrambling around looking for keys.” Thoughtfully, Dana bit into a cookie. “No matter what we believe, they believe it’s true. So there’s got to be some root, some basis for this legend or myth or story they told us last night. If there’s a root, it’s in a book. Somewhere.”

“Actually . . .” Zoe hesitated, then went on, “the book I was reading talked about how a lot of the Celtic mythology and legends didn’t get written down. They were passed orally.”

“Those damn bards,” Dana muttered. “Look, Pitte and Rowena heard it somewhere, and whoever told them heard it from someone else. The information is out there, and information is my god.”

“Maybe what we have to do is get information on Pitte and Rowena. Who the hell are they?” Malory spread her hands. “Where do they come from? Where do they get the kind of money that allows them to pass it out like cupcakes?”

“You’re right.” Annoyed with herself, Dana blew out a breath. “You’re absolutely right, and I should’ve thought of that before. It happens I know somebody who can help us with that while we’re looking into the myth.” She glanced toward the doorway as she heard the front door open. “And here he comes now.”

They heard a thud, a slam, a scramble, and a curse.

It was just familiar enough to have Malory pressing her fingers to her temples. “Holy Mother of God.”

Even as she spoke, the huge black dog raced in. His tail swung like a demolition ball, his tongue lolled. And his eyes went bright as stars as he spotted Malory.

He let out a series of ear-shattering barks, then leaped into her lap.

Chapter Four

 

FLYNN saw three things when he charged into the room after his dog: his sister sitting on the floor laughing like a lunatic; a sharp-looking brunette standing at the end of the couch heroically trying to dislodge Moe; and, to his surprise and delight, the woman he’d been thinking about for the better part of the day, mostly buried under Moe’s bulk and insane affections.

“Okay, Moe, down. I mean it. That’s enough.” He didn’t expect the dog to listen. He always tried; Moe never listened. But it seemed the right thing to do as he gripped the dog around the barrel of his belly.

He had to lean down—well, maybe not quite as far as he did. But she had the prettiest blue eyes, even when they were shooting daggers at him. “Hi. Nice to see you again.”

Muscles jumped in her jaw when she clenched it. “Get him off!”

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