Faerie Tale Queen - Chapters 16 - 20 (Unedited)
“Have a seat.” Kieren offered. “I’ll be back in a minute.” True to her word, Kieren returned shortly, her arms laden with books, and joined Logan on the couch.
“What’s all of this?”
“The story of Grá.”
“The story of love?”
Kieren glowered, “Why do you keep saying that?”
“Because sweetling, Grá is the Gaelic word for love. All the other places you mentioned are also Gaelic words.”
“What do you mean?”
“What were the names of the shires?”
“Urriam,” she began.
Logan interrupted, “Honor”
“Síocháin,” Kieren continued.
“Rathúnas and Comhcheol?”
“Prosperity and Harmony,” he supplied.
“Then does Bagairt mean something as well?”
Logan nodded, “It means menace or evil.”
“I never knew,” she whispered then looked at Logan. “I guess it all makes sense though.”
“If you say so love, but I still have no idea what you are talking about.” He reminded.
“Oh that’s right, you don’t do you?” Logan shook his head and Kieren plopped a book into his lap and opened it. “This is the kingdom of Grá.” She flipped a page, “and this is Queen Bevin.”
“She looks sad,” Logan observed.
“She is,” Kieren confirmed as she turned the page. “She has to send her son into the mortal world so he can find a wife. She is going to miss him terribly, but she knows, if her kingdom is to survive, she has to do it.”
“How will her son, finding a wife, save the kingdom?”
“Because the prophecy says so.”
“Umm hmm. You see, when Pádraig…”
Logan interrupted again, “Who’s Patrick?”
“Not Patrick, Pádraig.” Kieren corrected. She was about to continue but stopped when Logan rolled his eyes. “What?”
“What is clear to me is no one ever bothered to teach you any Gaelic. Did they?” Kieren shook her head. “Pádraig and Patrick are one in the same.”
Pádraig and Patrick are one in the same. Pádraig and Patrick are one in the same. Logan’s words echoed in Kieren’s head.
She flipped a few more pages, stopped and stared at one illustration. She then leaned forward and grabbed the next book on her pile, rifled through the pages, studied one, then placed it opened on Logan’s lap where it joined the first book. She repeated the process several times until all nine book were lying open, then she snatched a few photos from the mantle and placed them next to the open books.
“What are you about?” He asked when her frenzy of activity calmed.
“Pádraig and Patrick are one in the same.”
“All I meant was Patrick is the modern version of Pádraig.”
“No you were right the way you said it. Pádraig and Patrick are one in the same. Look.”
Logan flipped through the books, dutifully looking at each picture Kieren pointed to, “I can see they are all the same, but they are the same character and you did all the drawings didn’t you?”
“Yes, I did, but look.” She handed Logan the photos of her grandfather, “You can’t tell me the prince isn’t the spitting image of my grandfather, Patrick Christopher Byrne.”
“Nearly identical,” he agreed, “but again, not all that surprising. You adored your grandfather. Why wouldn’t you make the hero in your books look like your hero in real life?”
“What about the name?”
“These are all based on stories Paddy told you right? He gave the prince his name. Even us humble Irishmen like to have our egos stroked from time to time.”
Kieren expelled a frustrated growl. How can I get him to see what I’m seeing? Inspiration struck. She grabbed Logan’s hand and tugged him from the couch, sending the pile of books tumbling to the floor. She pulled him into the dining room, flipped on the light switch, and positioned him in front of a section of the breakfront. “Then explain that.” She said as she pointed to the mural on the top shelf. Then she pointed to another, and another, “or that or that.”
“More of your paintings. Kieren, I really don’t understand what has you so worked up.”
Kieren gave him her best Cheshire Cat smile, “That’s just it. Those aren’t my paintings. I did not paint these.”
Logan glanced from painting to painting, “Are you sure? They look nearly identical to the ones in your books.”
“Positive. For one thing, I have never been able to use oil based paints effectively, and if you take them down, you’ll be able to see how old these paintings really are, much older than you or I.”
Logan continued to stare at the paintings as he spoke. “So did you base your illustrations off of these paintings?”
“I saw these for the first time on Saturday when I arrived,” Kieren said, then amended, “Actually, I may have seen them before when I was very young, but I don’t recall.”
“Did your grandfather paint these?”
“The extent of Paddy’s artistic talent was to draw a smiley face or a heart on my birthday card, and even they were a bit on the Picasso side. You kinda had to tip your head to the side to figure out what they were.”
“So, if your grandfather’s not a candidate, who painted these?”
“I haven’t a clue.”
Logan studied the painting for a few more minutes then said, “It seems we have a mystery on our hands.” He reached his hand out to Kieren, and when she took it he said, “Come on, I think it is time you taught me all about Grá.”
For the next couple of hours they read Kieren’s book and discussed the intricacies of Grá. Kieren told him of the unique qualities of each of the shires and how they worked together to make Grá whole. Because of Logan’s translation of the shire’s names, Kieren was clearly able to see how each of the names reflected each shire’s attributes.
She brought Logan through the prince’s journey to the mortal world, his quest for a bride, finding her and starting a family. She explained how her current book was to be about the princess returning to Grá, and how she and Queen Bevin would work together to defeat the Bagairt, but she was having a great deal of difficulty writing the story.
After a light supper of leftover frittata and soup, then returning to the living room, Logan asked, “I’ve been meaning to ask, you no longer have your hand bandaged. Am I to assume it is better?”
Kieren held up her hand and proudly displayed her Band-Aid wrapped thumb, “Except for one tiny blister. The cream you used did the trick. What was it?”
“Ancient Chinese secret,” he quipped, then laughed when she made a face at him. “Just your run of the mill pharmacy burn cream. Nothing special.”
“Well, it worked.”
“I’m glad.” Logan spread his hands to encompass the mess around them, “So where does this all leave us?”
“Damned if I know.” Kieren admitted with a shrug. “Maybe my slumberous visitor will enlighten me tonight.”
“Huh? Oh, you mean your dreams.”
“That’s just it Logan, what if they’re not dreams.”
“So what Kieren, are you trying to tell me you are actually traveling to Grá every time you fall asleep? You can’t seriously believe that.”
“Honestly, I don’t know what to believe at this point.”
Logan leaned over and kissed her forehead, “Your dreams are your way of sorting out a problem in that creative little head of yours, nothing more. Don’t fret over it. Go to sleep, dream of Grá, but this time have a list of pointed questions to present to the queen.”
“And how will that help if I’m not really there?”
“Because love, maybe if you ask the questions, your subconscious will provide you with the answers.” He stood raising her with him. “It’s getting late and I should be leaving.” When Kieren had walked him to the door, he added, “Go. Dream. Tomorrow we can talk about whatever you come up with from your dream.”
Kieren nodded her agreement, watched Logan stride beyond the reach of her back light, shut off the light, then closed and locked her door. A list of questions. Where do I start? Before Kieren retired to her bedroom, she retrieved a pad of paper and a pen from the office. After she donned her nightgown and brushed her teeth, she climbed into bed with the pad and pen, and began to jot down notes.
Kieren closed her eyes and raised her face to the sun. The light mist from Urraim’s largest waterfall softly fell upon her skin. This truly is a wondrous world my imagination has created.
The tinkle of children’s laughter made Kieren open her eyes and turn toward the sound. She smiled as the small rambunctious group drew near to where she stood, partially obstructed from view by a bush at the water’s edge. They were siblings, of that, she was certain. The eldest, a girl of perhaps fourteen or fifteen, was halfheartedly trying to catch her two racing brothers, while a young girl attempted not to be left out of the fun. The young girl squealed with delight as one of her brothers picked her up, spun her around and then placed her back on the ground as he raced away, seconds before his older sister caught him.
Kieren’s laughter at their antics brought the children up short. She watched in wonder as the smiles slowly faded from their faces as they stared, mouths agape, at Kieren. “I’m sorry,” she said as she stepped completely into the clearing. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.” The children’s eyes grew wide. “I simply couldn’t contain my joy at seeing you playing together. I never had any brother or sisters, but watching you was how I always pictured it would be if I had.”
When the little girl began to hide herself behind her sister’s skirt, Kieren added, “It’s okay. I won’t hurt you.” Then she stooped down so she would be at eye level with the child. “My name’s Kieren. What’s yours?”
Kieren looked up when she heard the older children gasp, “What?” She asked in confusion, but then her attention was diverted back to the little girl who was now cautiously walking toward her.
When the child stood directly in front of Kieren, she reached out her chubby hand, stroked one of Kieren’s locks of hair, then placed her hand on Kieren’s cheek and whispered in awe, “I never thought I would meet a real princess.”
Kieren turned her face and kissed the little girl’s palm, “Oh sweetling, I’m not a princess, just a visitor admiring this beautiful place you call home.”
“But you said your name was Kieren,” the younger boy stated.
“I did and I am, but that doesn’t make me a princess.”
The older sister stepped forward, “Then why do you share the name of the queen’s granddaughter?” and the older boy added, “You even look a lot like her.”
Kieren smiled. “Do you really think so?” She asked the boy and he nodded. “Well, thank you for that lovely compliment.” Kieren then looked up at the older girl, “As for having the same name as the queen’s granddaughter, I have no idea, but I will be sure to ask her about it the next time I see her. Now, you all know my name, but I still do not know any of yours.” She said with a tap on the end of the little girl’s nose which made her giggle.
“I’m Annie. That’s my sister Mary and my brothers Jamie and Toby.”
Kieren rose, took Annie with her and plopped the little girl on her hip, “It is a pleasure to meet all of you. Now, you were all having a marvelous time before I so rudely interrupted you, so I will let you get back to your fun.”
Annie hugged Kieren’s neck and Toby said, “You could play with us if you’d like.”
Kieren glanced to Mary for her approval before she replied. Upon receiving it she said, “I would enjoy nothing more.” To which she received a squeeze from Annie, whoops of delight from Toby and Jamie and an appreciative smile from Mary.
My questions for the queen will have to wait for another time. Something much more important has come up.
Kieren woke much more rested and in a far better mood than she had been in a long time. She showered and dressed, then wandered her way to the kitchen. When she arrived she was surprised to see her coffee pot had just finished brewing. Almost simultaneously, she heard the first sounds of banging come from the back deck. She poured two mugs of coffee and headed toward the clatter.
“Good morning,” she greeted.
Logan eyed her as he took the proffered mug, “I’m glad I didn’t wake you.”
“You didn’t mention you would be working on the deck today.”
“I hadn’t planned on it, but when the opportunity arose, I decided to take advantage.”
“The meeting I had scheduled was postponed until later in the week, and since the sun was shining, I thought what better way to spend the day than on an outdoor project?”
“What is it that you do?” Kieren asked.
Logan flipped the hammer in his hand, “What, you don’t believe I’m a carpenter by trade?”
“You’re definitely a carpenter.” She surveyed his handy work, “and a rather gifted one at that, but no. I don’t think your day to day job is carpentry.”
Logan arched an eyebrow, “And what is it you imagine I do?”
Kieren took a seat on the deck, tipped her head to the side and deliberated, “Since you already told me you weren’t a doctor or a medic, which would have been my first guess, I’ll need to work through this.
“You’re physically strong, so you could be a law enforcement officer of some sort, but then again, your strength may very well be a byproduct of your extracurricular activities. Even in work clothes, you are always clean cut and you carry a sense of power and authority with you, so I could say a lawyer or an executive of some sort, but somehow, that doesn’t feel quite right. You are extremely analytic, yet surprisingly open minded. You appear to have a fluctuating work schedule, something far more forgiving than your average nine-to-five Joe would have.”
Kieren pursed her lips and furrowed her brow, then on a nod she said, “I’m going to go with a consultant of some sort, but not just an average consultant. I think you either own, or are a partner in, a consulting firm.”
Logan raised his eyebrows, “I’m impressed. My friend Richard and I started a security consulting firm a few years ago when we were straight out of university. Although we handle all types of security systems, we have developed a special knack for building impenetrable firewalls for computers. I’m more the engineer and Richard is more the computer geek, but the combination seems to work for us.”
“Now I’m impressed.” Kieren stood, “Have you eaten?”
“I have, thank you.”
“Alrighty then, I will leave you to your hammering.”
“And what is it you have on your schedule today?”
Kieren sighed and shrugged, “I don’t know. It’s so nice out, maybe I’ll go explore the cliffs and the beach.”
Logan’s face clouded, “It would make me more comfortable if you didn’t do that alone for your first time.”
“I’m a big girl Logan. I can go explore if I so choose.”
Logan shook his head, “I would have said the same thing to anyone, young or old, female or male. No one should explore those cliffs for the first time alone. Please?”
“Fine,” she grudgingly relented.
“I’ll tell you what. After lunch, we’ll both go down. Deal?”
As she turned to leave, she nearly tripped over Sebastian. She bent down, scooped up the cat, and practically stomped to the door.
“Where are you off to?” Logan called after her.
“To find something to occupy me for the next four hours,” she retorted as the door closed firmly behind her.
Take a breath you ninny, you’re overreacting.
“Maybe I am, but I still don’t like being told what I can and cannot do.” She held the cat up so they were nose to nose. “You’d never do that to me, would you buddy?”
“See I knew you wouldn’t.” She cuddled the purring ball of fur for a few minutes, then placed him on a kitchen stool. “I don’t know about you, but I could use some breakfast.”
“I’m thinking pancakes.”
“Why can’t all the men in my life be as agreeable as you?”
After a shared breakfast, a knock sounded at the front door. Much to Kieren’s delight, her boxes from the States had arrived and the driver was nice enough to deposit them directly into her office, so she happily spent her entire morning unpacking and arranging.
Satisfied with her productivity, she sought out Logan to see if he was ready for lunch. They made quick work of the light fare and set off on their adventure. After a few slips, and reluctantly having to take Logan’s hand to help her negotiate part of the decent to the beach, Kieren was thankful she did not go alone, and she told Logan as much.
“I wasn’t trying to be overbearing.”
“I realize that now.”
They walked for miles, climbed a few outcrops of rocks, and explored a few caves. Kieren gathered a few shells and stone that caught her eye. She even found what appeared to be an old coin near the mouth of one of the caves.
“It will be interesting to find out where it came from.” She mused as she turned the coin over in her hand.
“Ah, it’s pirate’s booty for sure. Heaven knows these shores have seen more than their fair share of buccaneers and brigands.”
Kieren laughed, “You sir, have an active imagination. I thought I was the fantasy writer in this group.”
“That you are. I may not have heard the legends of Grá, but I could tell you legends of pirates that would make your hair curl, more than it already is, that is.
“What do you say we start heading back? We could get cleaned up and have an early supper at Shenanigan’s if you’d like. You haven’t been yet, have you?”
“To Shenanigan’s? No, I haven’t. That sounds like fun.”
“And then I was thinking, maybe tomorrow, if you haven’t any plans, I could show you about the island a bit.”
Kieren sighed, “Oh, I would love that, thank you.”
“It’s settled then.” Logan reached for her hand and gave her a little tug. “Come on, I know an easier way to get back up to the house than the way we came down.”
Kieren felt like she had walked onto a movie set. Shenanigan’s was exactly how she had pictured an authentic Irish pub; rich wood everywhere, low lit candles on the tables, fiddlers playing on a small stage, a burly redheaded man behind the bar, a beautiful buxom girl waiting tables, and old men sipping a dark muddy brew.
As Logan relieved Kieren of her coat, the sultry vixen sashayed over to greet them. “It’s good to see you Logan.” She said and kissed him on the cheek. “And who have you brought with you this evening?”
“Kieren may I present Mary Katherine MacClennan or I should say Mary Katherine Shaunacy now, but we all call her Molly. Molly, this is Kieren Byrne Cleary.”
Molly gave Kieren a brilliant smile, “Ah, so this would be Paddy’s granddaughter finally come home. And where is Paddy? I haven’t seen him since I was but a young girl, but oh I loved that man.”
“Molly, Paddy passed away a few weeks ago.” Logan informed her, sparing Kieren from having to respond.
Molly gathered Kieren in a quick but fierce hug, “Oh dear, I’m so sorry for your loss, as I said, I loved the man.”
“Thank you.” Kieren replied, not knowing what else to say.
Molly pulled back, then squeezed Kieren’s hand, “Come, come. Let’s get you set up. Tonight will not be about being sad, it will be about celebrating a wonderful life.”
Kieren had no idea what Molly was talking about until after Molly had seated her at the table, then climbed up on the stage and drew everyone’s attention. “Settle ye selves down. I’ve just learned from Kieren Cleary over there, that her grandfather, Patrick Christopher Byrne, has passed.” She raised a glass, and when every patron had his glass raised as well, she said loud and clear for all to hear, “Here’s to you Paddy, you were loved by all and will be missed by many. May the road rise up to meet you, and the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand.”
The crowd cheered and drank, and Kieren was reduced to tears. It was her grandfather’s funeral all over again. She barely had time to swipe at her tears, when the music began to play and someone had taken her hand.
She looked to Logan and he told her, “You cannot refuse love, it’s for Paddy.”
For Paddy. She allowed herself to be whirled away. Since she had no idea what she was doing, she simply held on tight and allowed one partner after another spin her around the room, each attempted to share a word or two about Paddy as they danced. Eventually the music stopped and she was returned to Logan and her table.
Throughout dinner, people would sit at their table and share a story about Paddy with them. By the time they had finished eating, Kieren’s tears had completely dried and her sides ached from laughing.
When Molly stopped by the table to check on them, Kieren thanked her again. “I’ll still miss him every day, but now I think I’ll be smiling when I think about him instead of wanting to cry.”
“Then we did well and I’m glad.” Molly wagged a finger at Logan. “Make sure Logan here gives you my number, so if you’re needing anything when he’s not around, you have someone close to call. I only live up the road a piece, and if I’m not home, I’m usually here.”
“That’s very sweet of you. Thank you.”
“Ach, think nothing of it.” Molly dismissed. “You’re one of our own, even if you haven’t realized it yet. Now, I won’t be bothering you no more. Enjoy the rest of your evening and I hope to see you soon.”
When she left, Kieren turned to Logan and asked, “Is she always so kind?”
Logan laughed and shook his head, “Actually, she isn’t, but for some reason she’s taken a fancy to you. Count your blessings. You don’t want to be finding yourself on Molly’s bad side.”
Kieren raised an eyebrow, “That sounds like you’re speaking from experience.”
“That I am love, that I am.”
“Spill it buster. What did you do to that poor sweet girl to get on her bad side?”
“Sweet my arse. She has a mean streak which would give the Devil himself pause, our Molly does.” Logan eyed Molly from across the room. She responded with a beatific smile, for she knew Logan was being forced to recount his tale of woe.
Kieren noted the exchange and prompted, “So…”
“Let’s just say I was a bit of a prankster when I was young, as most young boys are, and Molly didn’t appreciate being the butt of one of my pranks, and she made me pay for it for a very long time.”
Kieren’s eyes widened, “Oh no. So this has been going on for a while.”
“Damn near twenty years.”
“But she seemed genuinely happy to see you when we arrived?”
“Oh, Molly and I are great friends, but that doesn’t mean she’ll ever let me forget the time when that wasn’t so.”
Kieren couldn’t contain her giggles, and eventually Logan joined her in laughing at his own misfortune.
“It’s getting late and we should be getting you home. I have a big day planned for you tomorrow, so you’re going to need to be well rested.”
“Is that so?”
“It is.” He said as he helped her on with her coat.