Authors: Dana Michelle Burnett
Gypsy Fairy Tale Book Two
Dana Michelle Burnett
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Copyright © 2013 by Dana Michelle Burnett
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real accounts. Any resemblance to a person, living or dead is completely coincidental.
A huge thanks to Kristin Crawford for her endless support for my work. She has the difficult job of being the "first reader" of all my new work and I am so thankful to her for her honesty and for avoiding hostile red pens.
I heard the sliding action of the gun as he chambered a round. The rest of the group raised their weapons and took aim.
I closed my eyes. I knew there was no magic to save me this time. This was it. This was the end. It was all for nothing...It didn’t matter how hard I tried...It didn’t matter...It was over...
I held my breath and just waited to die.
It was the same dream again, it was always the same, but part of me wanted to believe that it would be different this time.
Just as before, the house was dark and still except for the solitary lamp in the living room lighting the sickbed. I could just make out the withered body under the sheets and my grandmother sitting in the chair, watching over this person like some sort of sentinel.
My breath caught in my throat at the sight of her. She was alive... So close that I could almost reach out and touch her. I missed her. I wanted to go over to her and crawl into her lap like I did when I was little and have her tell me that everything was going to be okay.
She didn't seem to hear me. She just reached out and touched the ashen face of the old man on the bed. Was this my grandfather? Why would he be in my dreams? He was dead and buried long before I was born.
I called to her again, louder this time, but again nothing. As if I hadn't done all of this many times in previous dreams, I clung to the wall, moving closer, but wishing I could just escape. Why wasn't she answering me? Why wouldn’t she look at me?
I watched as she lowered her face into her hands. I could tell she was saying a prayer of some sort, but I couldn't hear her words over the beating of my own heart. Why was this so terrifying?
Crouching down against the wall across from her, I crossed my arms over my chest and tried to force myself to calm down.
I’ll wake up in a minute and all of this will be gone... I'll be safe in my room... And all of this will be gone...
I looked at my grandmother, wishing I could somehow pull her through back to the land of the living with me. Why did she have to be gone? I didn’t want her to be dead; I wanted her to be with me.
I miss you so much... I have so much to tell you...Why did you have to die?
I heard her then, whispering softly into her fingers, but it was not a prayer, but an equally heartfelt plea for a miracle.
“Niall,” she said. “Where are you? I need you... I need you...”
No sooner were the words out of her mouth when I began to feel it.
It was nothing at first, just a cold chills going up my spine, but then it got stronger, pressing up against the house and making the floorboards creak.
I looked over my shoulder to the window, but there was nothing there but a thick gray mist. I stared at the swirling cloud and knew... The Tuatha de Danann were close...That meant Kieran was close.
When I turned back to my grandmother, Niall was standing next to her. I scrambled back against the wall. How did he get there? I didn't even hear him come in. Was he alone? Where were the other members of his family?
Niall stood next to her, dressed in black as always, with his dark head bowed.
“Ah, Rosemary, “he said softly without looking up. “It has been too long.”
My grandmother's face softened, “Do you even recognize this old woman?”
“You will always be young and beautiful to me,” he said as he met her eyes.
“So you forgive me then?” She asked as she took the hand of the old man in the bed.
Niall didn't let his eyes move from her face, it made me think that he was trying to memorize every detail. “There is nothing to forgive.”
They fell silent as the old man struggled to breathe. The longest time they just stood there, next to each other, so close that their shoulders almost touched. It was so simple, innocent really, but so intimate that almost felt guilty watching them.
I crouched there, trying to figure out how to move without them seeing me, but knowing it didn't matter because it was just a dream.
It’s just a dream...It doesn’t matter if they do see me...Because it’s just a dream...
I was just about to make my move when Niall spoke again. His voice was so soft and so sad that it pulled at my heart.
“So tell me then,” he said in that delightful accident. “Why have you brought me here?”
My grandmother looked down at the thin hands that she held between both of hers. She ran her thumb over the ropy veins, even from where I was, I could tell that her eyes misted over. She didn’t seem to want to answer, but she seemed to need something from him very badly.
“I know that I have no right to ask you for anything,” she said as if ashamed. “But I want you to heal him.”
Niall looked down at the sleeping man in the bed and then back to my grandmother, shaking his head.
“I cannot,” he said simply.
“Please Niall,” she begged, not even trying to hide her desperation. “Do not punish him for my mistake.”
He flinched, almost wincing at her words. There was something unfinished between them; I could hear it in the way that they spoke to each other. It was a raw and open wound that bled a little with every word they said.
“It was hardly a mistake,” he choked out as if the words were being ripped from his throat. “I can see the happy life that he gave you.”
“Then please, save him.”
“Rosemary love, I cannot.”
My grandmother let go of the old man's hand and turned to clutch at Niall’s coat almost shaking him, “I'm begging you, do this for me. If you ever loved me, you will do this for me.”
Niall stood his ground, but his face went ashen. He reached up and pried her hands from his jacket. I couldn’t be sure, but I thought for a moment that I saw a few tears on his cheeks.
“I will always love you,” he said in a tight voice. “But this I cannot do.”
“But if you love me –“
“Rosemary, I will always love you, more than you will ever understand,” he said. “But there is nothing that I can do.”
I watched as my grandmother turned and looked down the field man in the bed, all hope leaving her face.
She sighed and blinked back the tears, “So he will die?”
Niall didn't look down to the bed; he focused all of his attention on her, watching her face.
Didn’t she see it? Couldn’t she see how much he loved her?
“Yes,” he said softly. “I would guess that he will be gone by morning and his suffering will be over.”
My grandmother sucked in her breath and fell to her knees, clutching the sheets on the bed. She didn’t just cry, she wailed like so sort of animal. Her sobs echoed in the room as they tore from her throat and shook the bed, but the old man did not wake.
Niall reached out to her, but as soon as she felt his hand on her head, she pulled away and struggled to her feet. She looked at him wild-eyed as she held out her arms to fend him off.
“Don't you touch me!”
“Rosemary, I –“
“No!” She spat at him, “You need to get away from me this very minute. I hate you for this Niall and I will never forgive you, do you understand? I regret the day I ever laid eyes on you!”
He stood there helpless with his hand outstretched as if he wanted to comfort her, but wasn’t sure how. His features contorted in anguish, “I understand.”
In a blink of the eyes, he was gone. He just disappeared. I wanted to do something, to scream at my grandmother that it was not his fault, that sometimes people just die.
I wanted to tell her all of that and more, but just as she looked my way and I opened my mouth to speak, she turned into ash and just and blew away.
It was like something out of a horror movie. One second she was there in front of me and the next she was nothing but dust blowing around the room.
Don’t go...I’m not ready...I’m not ready...
Somehow I got to my feet and ran to the bed, standing in the exact spot where she had stood, but my grandmother was nowhere to be found. I turned and looked down at the bed, expecting to see an old man at death’s door, but instead us all... Me.
I looked down at my own face there in the bed, already turning the gray ash. I reached out to touch... That thing that looked like me on the bed, but the ash crumbled and fell to dust.
I’m gone...I’m gone...
I wanted to scream or hide from the horror of it, but as I went to raise my hands to cover my face, I saw them starting to turn to ashes well. It was happening again...
It was then that I heard myself screaming.
I bolted upright in bed, gasping for air. I was sweaty, my clothes clinging to my skin. Even though it was silly, I looked down at my arms and hands, checking to make sure
that they were still of flesh and bone and not turning to ash.
It was only a dream...
It was only a dream...
The light of the early autumn morning cast a hazy glow over my room, not helping my confusion between reality and my dream. My hometown of Corydon, Indiana was just so still and quiet without the birds chirping outside, but I reminded myself that there were no birds because they had already flown south for the winter.
The birds will be back...And it was only a dream...
In my head I knew that it was just a dream, but I shivered at the memory of the ash that once was my body swirling around in the breeze. It was almost as if I could feel the dust actually clinging to my skin.
It was only a dream...
I closed my eyes shuddered, trying to push the dream further back into my memory. I was alive... I wasn’t turning to ash... And Niall and the travelers were long gone... Just gone.
As I opened my eyes again, I swung my legs over so that I was sitting on the edge my bed. I took a deep breath and stretched, but then my eyes fell to the night table.
There, next to the old lamp my grandma got at a yard sale and on top of my discarded copy of
Gone with the Wind
, laid Kieran’s goodbye letter to me. The paper had been unfolded and read so many times that the creases were deep and it was actually tearing in places. It was there every morning to remind me of what I had done.
It was only a dream... And Kieran is
It came then, the full heaviness of reality crashing down on me. Kieran was gone and I had no idea for sure when he would be back. Did the immortal Tuatha De Danann have the same concept of time as mortals?
That was the reality that hit me every day. There were times that I preferred the memory of the ash. At least then I was nothing. At least then I was just gone and didn’t have to suffer while waiting to see if Kieran would come back for me.
I got up and went into the bathroom. I brushed my teeth without looking in the mirror. Why bother? I hardly ever looked in the mirror anymore. Since Kieran left, I did what I had to do and then got on with the rest of my day, not caring if anyone else thought I was attractive or not.
Turning on the shower, I got in and let the hot water finish waking up my body. As I stood under the stream, I could feel the tears coming. I brushed them away and willed the others back into submission.
m not allowed to cry... I wanted this... I let Kieran go... He wanted me...
And I let him
leave... So I’m not allowed to cry...
I regretted not going with Kieran. I thought I wanted to be a strong and independent woman...Who was I trying to fool?
It wasn’t long before the water started to turn cold. I shut the shower off, dried myself, and dressed quickly before I had a chance to feel the chill.
Downstairs the rich scent of coffee filled the air. I poured myself a cup, feeling the pull in my shoulder that was still sore from the Milean’s bullet. I switched the coffee pot over to my other hand as I slid it back into the coffee maker and was careful to use the same hand when I picked up my travel mug.
I didn’t want to think about the pain in my shoulder. I didn’t want to think about the Mileans trying to kill me. If I thought about those things, I had to think about Kieran healing me and saving my life, and that was just too much to think about.
I walked out the door and locked it behind me. I stepped out onto the sidewalk and started walking toward the feed store. I was careful not to look past the store to the fairgrounds across the street where the travelers camped last summer. It broke my heart every time I saw the empty field.
Where was Kieran now? Was he missing me as well?
Every day I checked the mail box, hoping for a letter, but there never was one. He didn’t call and he didn’t write. Why didn’t he write? Had he forgotten me already?
It was odd; I existed for years before Kieran. I even convinced myself that I was starting to make some sort of life for myself, but now it was just so hard to adjust to life without in and even everyday things were difficult.
Actually, it seemed ridiculous to be going through my old routine like nothing had changed when in fact, everything had changed, but I did it anyway. I unlocked the door to the feed store and went in, setting up the coffee and sweeping the floor like everything was back to normal. Of course, as far as everyone in town knew, things never strayed that far from normal to start with.
I was struggling with a fifty pound bag of chicken feed, dragging it across the floor, when I heard the rattling of the bell as the door opened.
“Be with you in just a second,” I called out in a huff, trying to sound was pleasant and cheerful as possible.
It was then I heard a familiar voice that I never expected to hear again.
“Need some help with that?”