Faerie Tale Queen - Chapters 11 - 15 (Unedited)
Lunch was a pleasant affair. Kieren learned Logan was the middle child and the only male of the siblings. His older sisters and one of the younger ones were married with broods of their own, and his youngest sister was away at college, in New York of all places, studying international law.
Kieren told him a little bit about her grandfather, his passing, and the conditions of his will. When she had asked Logan if he had known Paddy, he told her he only had a vague memory from when he was a child, but his grandfather had known him quite well, and when he spoke to his grandfather next, he would inquire for her.
As promised, after lunch and after he insisted in cleaning up lunch stating, “The cook does not clean up afterwards.” Logan took Kieren on a tour of her home. She now knew where all the linens were, where the vacuum, dust pan and broom were kept, and even where the circuit breaker box was in case she blew a fuse.
The tour ended where it had started, in the kitchen. “You may want to have a look at that.” Logan said as he pointed to the envelope on the table.
“Thomas told me he had left it, but honestly, information from a lawyer does not hold much interest at the moment.”
“Then I insist you read it this afternoon. Perhaps it will bore you enough you will fall asleep and get some much needed rest.”
Kieren grinned, “That sounds like a good idea. I was eyeing up the living room couch earlier.”
“Good, that also means you’ll be resting that hand. Is it bothering you much?”
“Hmm?” Kieren raised her injured hand in front of her face and examined it. “Actually no. It stings a little if I wiggle my fingers, but other than that, it’s not bad.”
“Then I suggest you don’t wiggle your fingers,” Logan stated. “I had planned on working on the deck for the rest of the day, but heaven knows there are a hundred other, less noisy, projects which need my attention. If you give me half an hour to straighten up, I can promise you some peace and quiet.”
“I don’t want to cause you any inconvenience.”
“You’re not. As I said, there is plenty for me to do. It does mean the deck will not be finished by Tuesday though.”
Kieren shrugged, “It doesn’t matter to me in the least when it’s finished.”
“As long as you promise to keep the back doors secured until I do finish.”
Kieren raised her right hand, “I promise.”
“Then I will take you few day reprieve. I will have it done sooner rather than later though, I won’t want to be working on the deck when it turns colder.”
“Then I am inconveniencing you,” Kieren protested.
Logan shook his head, “A day or two one way or the other Love will not make that much difference. Now, off to your packet, I have work to do.”
Kieren watched Logan leave, then grabbed a drink and the envelope, and headed into the living room. She placed her items on the coffee table, then added more fuel to the fire before she settled under an afghan on the couch. She reached for the envelope and said, “Come on, time for you to bore me to sleep.”
She dumped the contents into her lap, and was quite surprised she did not find a single legal document in the lot. There were brochures and pamphlets on Tallymore, as well as Ballycastle and Belfast. There was a small book on local folklore and legends. There were detailed diagrams of the house and property. I could have used this two hours ago. The owner’s manual for the Cayenne was there, as well as direction to and a phone number for the dealership. There was also a hand drawn map showing various points Kieren would or could need in the months ahead – the grocery store, the library, the medical facility, the pharmacy, the cinema, and several pubs and eateries were all highlighted.
“I have to hand it to you Thomas, if nothing else, you are thorough.”
Kieren stuffed all the papers back into the envelope except of the book on folklore, took a sip of her drink, and then settled back to read. She had not gotten past the first few pages before her eyes began to drift shut.
“You’ve come, my child.”
Kieren turned toward the voice, and before her stood a beautiful woman with flowing auburn hair. Her eyes were as green as emeralds and her smile as sweet as a lark’s song. “Where am I?”
“Look around. Do you not recognize this place?”
“Grá,” Kieren whispered, “but how can that be?”
“This place lives in your heart my dear. We were never far away.”
“Then why haven’t I been here before?”
“The time was not right.” She said simply.
Kieren studied the woman. She knew she had never met her before, yet she seemed so familiar. “Who are you?”
“My name is Bevin.”
Kieren’s eyes widened, “Forgive me,” she said as she bowed her head and made to curtsy.
The queen gently placed her fingers beneath Kieren’s chin and raised her, “That is not necessary my love.”
“My apologies Your Highness, but I’m at a loss. I truly do not understand how this can be happening.”
“In time you will my dear, in time.”
Kieren woke with a gasp and blinked her eyes.
“I’m sorry to have wakened you,” Logan said, “but you have been asleep for hours. If you sleep more now, you won’t want to sleep when you should be sleeping.”
Kieren blinked again, pushed the hair back from her face and sat up. “It’s okay. You’re right. I should get up.”
“Are you alright? You look disoriented.”
“I’m fine. I was having a dream, and it just felt so real.” Kieren furrowed her brow, “Like I was really there. Has that ever happened to you?”
“I can’t say that it has, but I’m not one for remembering my dreams.” Logan shrugged. “Now, I left you some supper warming on the cooker. Nothing fancy, just some soup. I wanted to change your bandage before I left, and I really must be on my way or I’ll be late.”
“It’s Sunday night, which means supper with my mum and dad.”
“If you need to go, then go. Don’t worry about me.” Kieren insisted. “I can wrap my hand myself.”
“You can do it yourself in the morning. I want to see it for myself now. If it’s any worse than it was before, you’re coming with me so my mum can have a look. She’s a nurse.” Logan reached out his hand, “Come on, let’s have a look.”
With a sigh, Kieren relented, and laid her hand in Logan’s and let him administer to her injury. When he was satisfied her hand would heal just fine, and had it rewrapped in clean bandages, he said, “Be careful with it tonight, and who knows, maybe by tomorrow it will be fine.” He stood, “I have some business to attend in the morning, but I should be back by three to work on the deck.” With a final salute, he was gone.
Kieren wandered into the kitchen and chuckled at what she saw. On the wall above the stove, or cooker as Logan called it, was a shiny new rack of hooks, and from the hooks hung an assortment of pot holders and oven mitts. On the counter was a small handled tray containing a bowl, a spoon, a napkin and a box of crackers. Kieren shook her head, “I bet if he could have figured out a way for the bowl of soup to be at the table but still remain hot, he would have. Yup, he thinks I’m a total klutz.”
Kieren ladled soup into her bowl and carried the tray to the table. She had no idea what it was, but it smelled delicious. Since it was too hot to eat, Kieren decided the call to Leila was long overdue, and she should not delay any longer, so she dialed.
“Well it’s about damn time,” was Leila’s greeting. “I was already scanning the news reports to make sure no planes had gone down. My next step was to call Scotland Yard.”
“Scotland Yard is in England, not Ireland.”
“Interpol then.” Leila amended.
Kieren laughed, “Since I’m not on any terror threat list, nor am I an international jewel thief, I doubt they would have been much help either.”
“Whatever.” Leila huffed. “You were supposed to call when you got there and you didn’t. I was worried.”
“Yes, I should have, but I was so tired when I got here, all I did was grab something to eat and then I passed out. I didn’t even wake up until noon!”
“Why didn’t you call me then?”
“Sorry ‘mom’, but I didn’t think you would have appreciated a call at seven on a Sunday morning.”
Leila caved, “You’re right, I wouldn’t have, but I was still worried. So how were the flights? What’s Paddy’s house like? What did you do all day? I want to know everything.”
“The flights were grueling, Paddy’s house is amazing, and I did absolutely nothing today. As a matter of fact, I would probably still be sleeping if Logan hadn’t woken me up.”
Quick as a cat pouncing on a mouse, Leila interrupted, “Logan? Who’s Logan?”
Kieren expelled a long breath, she should have known better. “Logan is the caretaker here.”
“And, he was here fixing the deck.”
“And, he’s a nice guy.”
“Cripes, you’re like a dog with a bone.” Kieren complained. “And, he’s tall, dark and drop dead gorgeous, single and twenty-seven. Happy?”
“Not as happy as I’d be if I was there with you apparently.” Leila teased.
“Oh you think so, do you?”
“Who knows? He might prefer brown sugar and spice over milk and honey. Last count had us at a dead tie.”
“Well this time we’re not going to find out.”
Leila was surprised at Kieren’s quick dismissal of their playful rivalry. This Logan must be someone special. She immediately changed her course, “Does he have a brother?”
“Nope, four sisters.”
“Leila, I have no idea. I only met him six hours ago.”
“Well, just give me plenty of heads up before the wedding. I don’t have my passport yet.”
“Yeah, I know,” Leila chirped, “but you love me anyway.”
“I do, crazy fool that I am. Hey, do you realize this is the first time since junior high we’ll be apart for my birthday?”
“Yeah, it sucks.”
“You don’t think there’s any way you could get your passport before the weekend, do you?” Kieren asked hopefully.
“Not a snowball’s chance, but I might be able to by my birthday.”
Kieren couldn’t contain her excitement, “Really? That’s in five weeks. Are you sure?”
“I applied on Tuesday, the day after you found out you were going to Ireland for a year. It should be here in three weeks. Did you honestly think we could go an entire year without seeing each other?”
“No, and I wouldn’t want to. Are you sure you can take time off?”
“As luck would have it, one project will be ending and there will be a gap before the next one starts. I’ll have a minimum of ten days, and if I’m lucky two weeks. You’ll be sick of me by then.”
“Never.” Kieren assured.
“I’ll call you with my travel information when I have it. I hate to cut you short, but the Jets are playing at four and Dad and I have tickets to the game, so I’ve got to get a move on.”
“Okay. I’ll call you next Sunday. Oh, if you see a weird number come up, it’s me. They gave me a new phone I’m supposed to use.”
“Doesn’t that seem a little strange that they would do that?”
“Not really. Paddy didn’t want me to have to pay for anything while I was here. Whatever, we’ll talk about it next week when I call. Give your dad a hug from me.”
“I will. Miss you.”
“I miss you too.”
“I love you too.”
“Talk to you next week. Bye”
“Bye.” Kieren grinned as she hung up the phone. Yeah, Leila’s coming!
Kieren took a spoonful of her soup and grimaced. It was ice cold. She dumped it back into the pot, gave the pot a stir, then ladled herself another bowl, sat and thoroughly enjoyed her supper. Logan is a man of many talents.
Kieren decided to simply run water in her bowl and leave cleaning up until morning. Since Logan had been nice enough to change her dressing, she did not want to chance getting it wet. She stored the remaining soup in the fridge.
Okay chicky, you’ve accomplished absolutely nothing all day. The least you can do is unpack. Kieren retrieved her remaining bags from the living room and hauled them to her bedroom. An hour later, her drawers were filled, her clothes were hung, and her now empty suitcases were safely stored in the bottom of her closet. All that remained was on bag which contained her favorite drawing supplies.
She suppressed a yawn. “Setting up my office can wait until tomorrow or Tuesday, depending on when the rest of my boxes arrive.” She yawned again. “I can’t believe how tired I am.”
Electing not to fight her body’s needs and vowing to get an early start in the morning, Kieren readied herself for bed, set her alarm clock, then climbed under the covers and shut her eyes.
“It’s even more beautiful than I imagined.”
“I couldn’t agree with you more. I have the privilege of seeing this view every day, and it never fails to fill me with awe.”
Kieren smiled at the sound of the queen’s voice. “Everywhere I look, there is something more breathtaking than the last. My drawings could never pay it justice.”
Queen Bevin joined her at the window, “I would argue otherwise. Your paintings capture the kingdom admirably.”
“You’ve seen my paintings?”
The queen slipped her arm through Kieren’s, “Come. Walk with me.”
As they descended the stone steps and traversed one corridor after another, Kieren was at a loss as to where to look. There was so much to see within the castle, her eyes flitted about in an attempt to take it all in, to commit it all to memory.
Sensing what Kieren was attempting to do, Queen Bevin patted her arm, “Relax my dear. You have plenty of time to learn all the wonders of our home.”
“Our home?” Kieren asked.
The queen smiled then redirected Kieren’s attention, “Ah, here we are.”
They had entered a small, sunny sitting room whose walls were covered with framed paintings, Kieren’s paintings. Every illustration, from her series of children’s stories, were arranged by book within the walls’ individual panels, and in front of each panel stood a small table which contained a copy of the corresponding story. And, just like in the breakfront in her dining room, there remained three blank wall panels with an empty table in front of each.
Kieren had no idea how she was supposed to react to the scene before her. She knew she had fans of her work, but this was over the top. “I don’t understand. Why would you do this?”
“You will, my dear, in time, in time.”
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Kieren blindly slapped at the obnoxious noise, and effectively silenced it. She groaned, rubbed the sleep from her eyes, and glared at the display. “What in God’s name possessed me to set the alarm for six?”
With a sigh, she threw back the covers and slid out of bed, making sure her feet landed in her slippers as opposed to the cold floor, and padded into the bathroom. “Those have been some pretty funky dreams. What do you think they mean?” She asked her sleepy reflection in the mirror. “Well, my subconscious is obviously trying to tell me something, but my conscious is not awake enough to interpret. This calls for coffee.”
With the coffee brewing, she wondered if she received a morning paper here like she used to at home. Sure enough, when she opened the front door, there was a newspaper on her welcome matt. As she bent to pick it up, she was startled by a fuzzy black blur which whizzed past her and into the house. She straightened and closed the door, “Looks like I’ll be having company for breakfast.” As she made her way back to the kitchen she made “pst, pst, pst” sounds to try and locate her uninvited guest.
“Where did you go? Oh there you are,” Kieren laughed when she saw the cat patiently sitting on one of the stools at the island, “and you do look like you’re waiting to be served breakfast.”
“Ah, a talker I see. Well perhaps you can tell me where you came from?”
“Hmm, never heard of it, but I’m betting you’re hungry from your trip. How does leftover frittatas sound?”
“Yes, they are one of my favorites too. We can worry about getting you back to where you belong after breakfast.”
Kieren heated up the leftovers in the microwave, then dished out a plate for herself and a smaller plate for her guest, and placed it in front of him. They ate in silence, and when they were finished, Kieren cleaned up the kitchen and the cat cleaned himself.
Kieren was leaning against the counter, sipping her coffee, when a quick wrap sounded on her back door and Logan entered the kitchen. “I thought you had a meeting or something this morning?”
“I did and I do. I was just about to leave, but… You haven’t seen a black cat anywhere this morning have you?” Kieren pointed to the now content sleeping ball of fur on the stool. “Making yourself at home I see.” He said as he scooped up his wayward cat, and when he did, the cat stretched in his arms and burped. “Ah, and mooching a meal too you little knacker.” He laughed and looked at Kieren. “I see you two’ve met.”
“Well, we haven’t been formally introduced.”
“Sebastian, Kieren, Kieren, Sebastian.”
Kieren reached over and shook the cat’s paw and curtsied, “It’s a pleasure to make you acquaintance Lord Sebastian.”
“Arch, don’t be encouraging him, he’s worse than Garfield already. Sorry to have bothered you. We will get out of your hair and I will see you later.”
“Sebastian is more than welcome to stay if you’d like. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind the company.”
Logan watched her face fall as he shook his head, “Not today love. His box and his food are at home, and I just don’t have the time to retrieve them and bring it all back to you. I’m late already because of this little bugger, but I promise, the next time I have to go out for the day, I will deposit him with you. Got to run. See you later.”
“See you later.” She said as she watched Logan stride across her yard and disappear through the trees. She frowned and tipped her head, then immediately went to the living room and the attorney’s envelope. When she located the paper she was searching for, she unfolded it and spread it on the table. After a quick turn to get the map into the correct position, she pushed her pointer down on the very spot where Logan disappeared. Just on the other side of the trees stood a small building labeled ‘caretaker’s cottage’. “Ah, another mystery solved.” It’s comforting to know he’s so close.
Ok girl, we can’t have two unproductive days in a row. What should we do today?
After a minimal amount of deliberation, Kieren elected to take her sketchpad out to the cliff and draw. The weather was exceptionally mild and there was hardly any wind, conditions Kieren thought were too good to pass up.
A blanket or a chair? I’m not lugging a chair out there, so a blanket it is. She loaded her pad, pencils and the blanket into a shoulder sack and headed off to hunt for the ideal spot.
The perfect spot is a straight shot off of the sunroom and where the back stairs from deck will lead when Logan finishes them. Hmm, maybe it would be nice for him to finish sooner rather than later. Kieren spread out the blanket, positioned herself with her back against a boulder and her knees bent with the sketchpad upon them and her pencils in easy reach. For several moments she simply sat and took in the incredible view. Then she reached down, grabbed a pencil, and became engrossed in the images she was trying to capture.
At some point, Sebastian found her and was now curled up at her side. Absentmindedly she stroked his silky coat as she stared off at nothing. The morning had been productive. Her sketch pad contained several new drawings, two of which were completely finished, but now, she was tired and did not feel like drawing any more.
“Hey buddy, what do you say?” The cat opened one eye. “Are you ready for some lunch?” He yawned and stretched. “I’m pretty sure I saw some tuna in the pantry.”
“Merrowww.” He said as he stood, stretched some more, then lead the way back to the cottage.
Kieren laughed as she collected her things, “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you could understand every word I said.”
Logan found Kieren, and his cat, sound asleep on the couch. “You’ve taken a fancy to her too I see,” he whispered as he crept out of the room as quietly as he had crept in.
Kieren found herself sitting on the wall of a fountain at the center of one of the many gardens surrounding the castle. Slowly she dragged her finger through the water and set the lilies dancing. A delicate scent teased her nostrils, jasmine perhaps, she mused. Sensing the queen’s presence she said aloud, “I wonder if this is what Heaven will be like.”
The queen sat beside her, “I have often wondered the same thing my dear. I have to tell you, I am enjoying these frequent visits. We have much to catch up on, too much time has been spent apart already.”
Kieren continued to drag her finger through the water, “You keep saying things like that and they don’t make any sense to me; but when I tell you I don’t understand, all you give me is ‘you will in time’. I beg your pardon, but it is becoming very frustrating. If I’m supposed to be learning something from these dreams, I wish you would just tell me already.”
“If you still believe these are only dreams, then you are not ready yet my dear, but you will be in time, in time.”
“You can’t possibly be hungry again Sebastian.” Kieren reproached without opening her eyes.
“Alright, alright. I’m up. Sheesh you’re pushy!”
“I told you, you shouldn’t have encouraged him.”
Kieren quickly twisted around to see a smiling Logan casually leaning in the doorway to the kitchen, wiping his hands on a towel, Sebastian now circling his legs.
“You seem to be making a habit of being in my home when I wake up.”
Logan’s face clouded, “My apologies for the intrusion.” He reached down, scooped up his cat, turned and left before Kieren had the chance to say she was only teasing.
Well you flubbed that up didn’t you girl. When are you going to learn you can’t kid around with someone until they know you better? Your tone is entirely too sarcastic.
“Logan,” she jumped up from the couch and went after him. When he wasn’t in the kitchen, she continued to the back door. Damn that man can move fast. “Logan!” She yelled again as he neared the edge of the woods. “Logan, please wait,” but he ignored her and was soon hidden from view by the trees.
“I hope it’s a clear path between the houses.” Kieren said as she took off on a slow run. When she first entered the woods, she thought she spotted Logan ahead, so she picked up her pace. She rounded a bend and pulled up short. Neither Logan nor a path were ahead of her. Damn, I could have sworn he went this way. I must have missed a turn off.
However, when Kieren turned around to retrace her steps, she could not find a path behind her either. Well how can that be? Slowly she turned in a circle, but there was no path to be found. What the hell? The echoing sound of a twig snapping behind her had her spinning around. “Logan?”
Rustling sounds to her right and left had her frantically looking in those directions, attempting to locate who or what was causing the sound. The light dimmed. The trees seemed taller. Kieren felt a thousand eyes upon her. The forest was coming to life around her. The noises were everywhere, circling her. Her heart began to pound. Her breathing became labored. She needed to find a way out. Now.
She screamed when she felt someone grab her arm then shake her.
“Kieren!” Logan shook her again, “Kieren, stop. It’s me. Logan. I’m not going to hurt you.”
“Logan?” His word finally penetrated her panic. “Thank God,” she praised as she threw her arms around his waist.
Reflexively, Logan’s arms wrapped around Kieren’s shaking body, shielding her, protecting her, form whatever threat she perceived was out there, even if he couldn’t see it himself. “Any chance you want to tell me what just happened?”
“I came after you to tell you I was only teasing. I kinda like waking up to find you there, I really do. You turned the corner and I lost sight of you, and when I came around the bend the path was gone, and then it was gone behind me, and then the noises and they were getting closer, but I couldn’t see anything, and…” She took a shuddered breath.
“Kieren love, not that I don’t believe you, but what you’re saying doesn’t make much sense. Look,” he gently detangled himself from her and stepped to the side, “there’s my home. Now back up a few steps.” When she did, he continued. “Here’s the bend. Now lean back a little and look that way.” He pointed up the path. “That green you see is your lawn, less than fifty feet from your laundry door. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but a three year old couldn’t get lost going between our houses.”
Kieren alternated between craning her neck to see the edge of her property, staring at the path now clearly defined beneath her feet, and the back of Logan’s home. “I, I can’t explain it, but I swear to you it happened. It path was gone and I was completely surround by huge trees and strange noises.” Kieren rubbed her hands up and down her arms. “But obviously that didn’t happen, so why would you believe me?”
Logan slipped his arm over her shoulder and pulled her to his side and rubbed his hand up and down her back, “I believe that you believe. I saw the panic on your face. I felt your body shake with fear. Although I could not see what you saw, I know what happened to you was real.”
Kieren looked up at him, “Just like that? You believe me?”
Logan shrugged, “Why would you lie? Come on. Let me make you a cup of tea with a little something in it to calm your nerves.”
Kieren wrapped her hands around the mug Logan handed her with the hope it would ward off the chill she could not seem to shake.
“Drink.” He ordered.
She hissed as the liquid burned a path to her stomach, a burn which had nothing to do with the temperature of the tea. She blew out a breath, “Wouldn’t it have saved you time if I just took a swig straight from the bottle?”
“Ach, I only put a splash of whiskey in it.” Logan dismissed as he joined her on the couch with a mug of his own. Although he would not admit it to Kieren, he felt he needed the fortification as much as she did. Watching her overcome by such terror had rattled him to his core. His need to understand prompted him to ask, “Has anything like that ever happened to you before?”
Kieren curled her feet beneath her and settled more securely into the protection of the couch, “No, but then again I have never had progressive dreams until I came here either.”
“Forget I said anything. The last thing I need is for my only friend here to think I’m a candidate for the loony bin.”
Logan laughed, “I don’t think you’re loopers. Please tell me. What exactly is a progressive dream?”
Kieren studied him for a moment then relented. “Probably not a real term, but it’s the only way I can think to describe it. Every time I fall asleep, I travel to the same place, talk to the same person, but the dream is different every time. I keep telling her I don’t understand and she keeps assuring me I will in time.”
“Queen Bevin, the queen of Grá.”
“You talk to the queen of love?”
“Huh? No, Grá, that’s the name of her kingdom. Didn’t your parents’ tell you stories about her when you were a child? Stories of Grá and the shires of Urriam, Síocháin, Rathúnas, and Comhcheol? Of the battle against the Bagairt?”
He shook his head, “Sorry love, I have never heard of queen Bevin.”
“Hmm,” Kieren frowned. “I guess I always assumed Paddy’s stories were common folk tales.”
“None I ever heard, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy hearing them now.”
Kieren took another swallow of her tea, gritted her teeth and visibly shivered, “Ugh, that’s enough of that,” she said as she placed her cup on the table. She unwound her legs, slipped her feet back into her shoes, stood and reached her hand out to Logan, “How about I show you instead.”
Logan sent her a quizzical look, accepted her hand and rose to stand beside her. When they exited the house, Sebastian darted through the door and made a beeline up the path straight to Kieren’s house. Logan rolled his eyes, “I guess he’s coming with us.”
As they neared the edge of the woods, Kieren steps slowed. Logan laced his fingers threw hers, “I’ve got you.”
Kieren glanced at him, then to the path in front of them, took a deep breath and marched forward. When they emerged on the other side, unscathed and less than a minute later, she looked back and shook her head. “How could that have gone so terribly wrong the last time? How long’s the path? A couple hundred feet?”
“If that.” Not wanting her to become upset again, Logan gave her a tug. “Come on, you were going to show me something.”