Dark Storm is here! The final book in the Dark Man Trilogy is finally done. The ebook version is now uploaded to Smashwords.com, and the print version is just going through the approval process, so it should be available in a couple of weeks.
A Dark Storm is forecast with a strong possibility of evil by nightfall. The pressure is on Shelagh. She knows the others want her to grab someone to seal the deal… before it’s too late, for all of them. Despite the pressure, she resists. There is so much yet to unravel, to understand before they can put an end to the tyranny of the Dark Man. She can’t afford to make a mistake and if there was one thing her mother Lizzie taught her, it was not to take the easy path. So she’s biding her time. She just hopes she has enough time left before the storm roars down upon them.
Shelagh is drawn to Aiken, the contractor who looks like a Norse god with a tool belt. What woman wouldn’t be? She hired him to renovate her kitchen so she has ample opportunity to appreciate his assets, but something isn’t right. Her ex, who she hasn’t heard from in two years is stalking her again. And another man has appeared on the scene: A quirky professor from Dublin. The only one missing is the Dark Man, whose habits have changed once more. Where will this all lead?
“Hello Shelagh. How are you?”
“You’re not supposed to call me,” Shelagh replied, disgust dripping from her lips, her face tightening into a scowl at the unwelcome voice coming from her phone handset, “There’s a restraining order.”
“I haven’t spoken to you in ages.”
“That long? How time flies.”
“What do you want?”
“To offer my congratulations. Your store is doing well I hear.”
“You’re not supposed to call me,” she said, gripping the handset with white knuckles, “There’s a restraining order.”
“Surely we can put that behind us.”
“Why would I?” Shelagh gasped in exasperation.
“I hear you’ve had problems with the Dark Man. Vandalisms, assaults, and so on. I thought I should call you and offer any assistance you might require.”
“What assistance could I possibly want from you?”
“With your mother gone, I thought you’d need my special abilities.”
“Stalking is the only specialty you have. My family doesn’t need your magic. We can handle the situation without your help.”
“Forgive me, but so far you don’t seem to be handling things that well. I heard the sad story about Keith’s unfortunate death. Then you lost your mother and her limited abilities. I heard about the airport incident involving your niece. Shocking. I heard about the attacks on Nolan at the restaurant and your cousin Kat’s boyfriend at court, not to mention Duncan attacking Kat’s son at Blackie Spit. You don’t seem to be—”
“—We don’t need your help.”
“I wouldn’t want to see anyone else get hurt.”
Shelagh placed one hand flat on the desk in front of her, her eyes narrowing.
“Is that a threat?”
Shelagh heard a loud sigh of frustration on the other end of the line.
“Let’s call it an offer of assistance. I don’t want to see you suffer.”
“Neither do I Brad, which is precisely why I want you to stay out of it. I’ve suffered enough at your hands. The Prophecy is our business, not yours.”
“We had something once.”
“Meeting you was a mistake. I’m not letting you near me again. I’m reporting your phone call to the police.”
Shelagh slammed down the receiver and glared at the phone on her desk. She’d picked up the phone expecting a call from her contractor. Instead she discovered the person on the other end of the line was her ex boyfriend Brad Conry.
After a moment she got up from the desk and went upstairs into the turret of her mansion. Pale winter afternoon sunlight shone through the tower windows, illuminating the shelves lining the walls holding candles of various hues and sizes and various shaped jars of herbs and mysterious colorful liquids. Ancient leather bound tomes lined bookshelves. A midnight sky spangled with stars depicting the constellations of the zodiac decorated the ceiling. An old wooden altar, the sides decorated in elaborate carved designs of foliage and animals, stood in the middle of the room.
Shelagh walked across the onyx pentagram design set into the tile floor to the west facing window. She took a moment to compose herself, leaning on the window sill, staring at the breathtaking view of the quaint seaside village of Crescent Beach. To the north the snow capped Coast Mountain range formed a backdrop for the towers of downtown Burnaby looming in the far distance behind the tree clad bluffs of Delta in the middle distance. Mansions peered out of the foliage here and there on the hills over the farmer’s fields surrounding Mud Bay in the near distance. Judging from the clouds building above the peaks of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands of the Strait of Georgia in the western distance there was nasty weather coming in from the Pacific, threatening rain later in the afternoon. White caps stretched to the western horizon and waves crashed into the nearby pier. A few hardy sorts braved the squall, their scarves streaming like banners as they strolled with lovers or walked their dogs. Joggers leaned into the gusts and soldiered on. Wind hissed through tree branches, blackberry brambles, and wild rose bushes, shook the window screens, made the rigging on the masts of the sailboats at the nearby sailing center rattle and ring and the flags flap and snap. Crows and seagulls surfed the wind currents, searching for handouts. Shelagh opened the window, letting the gale tug at her hair, drinking in the storm energy. She loved nothing better than to go down to the beach during storms to experience the power of the wind. Shelagh sighed and swept some windswept hair from her eyes.
Just what I need on top of everything else. Why did he really call? How did he know about the Dark Man’s attack at the airport? Only the immediate family and a handful of people sworn to secrecy in the inner Circle know of that attack.
The more Shelagh pondered Brad’s conversation, the more she wondered if somehow he had something to do with that attack.
What is Brad up to? Has he become connected to the Dark Man in some way? Has the Dark Man recruited him like he has so many others? Bea thought she spotted him with Duncan a short time before the attempted abduction of Kat’s son Arthur just a few weeks ago. The Dark Man started appearing to Bea as Brad after we defeated the Dark Man’s attempt to kill her at the airport. Why would he appear to her as someone she’s never met before? What does that mean?
Shelagh shook her head and sighed, resolving to call her niece and arrange for a meeting to discuss Brad’s call and his relationship to the Prophecy.
Too many questions, too few answers. Meetings used to be easy when they all lived under our roof, but now my home is empty. First my parents are killed. Then Bea marries Nolan and moves out. Only a week ago Kat and Arthur moved out after Kat married Ken. Oh they’ve both only moved to houses a few blocks away, but they might as well be a million miles away at times like this. Bea and Kat both still live within walking distance, but it’s not the same thing. They’ve both got families now.
Shelagh closed the window, turned from the view, and crossed to a book cabinet with glass doors on one of the curved walls. Unlocking the cabinet she carefully selected a battered and singed leather bound book from a shelf. Her grand grandfather Robert had copied this ancient tome from his mother Katherine’s Book of Shadows three hundred years ago and added his own experiences. His daughter Beatrice’s Book of Shadows had been lost, but Robert’s granddaughter Elin copied her book, the larger leather bound book still on the shelf, from her grandfather’s. Up until Elin, Shelagh’s ancestors had a tradition of passing down the Prophecy and magical traditions from one generation of her family to the next. Each person copied their Book of Shadows from the person in the generation before them. Elin’s daughter Brigid had broken the tradition, though she saved the books and ultimately passed them on to her daughter Rosemary, who had the gift as Shelagh did. Rosemary saved them for her children’s children and thus they passed down through generations to Shelagh through her mother Lizzie. Passed down like Katherine’s red hair to remind her ancestors of the curse they all faced.
Shelagh gazed down at the antique journal in her hands. The book told of how an unwanted suitor had tried to force her ancestor Katherine to marry him, utilizing the magic of an unscrupulous sorcerer. It told of how Katherine had obliterated her assailants with her magic. Unaware that her sorcerous assailant had called a spirit from the otherworld to work his will, Katherine’s elimination of the sorcerer had trapped the spirit in their world. With no one left to send the creature back to the otherworld, it had haunted their family ever since, endlessly trying to finish the task it had been set. Robert’s Book of Shadows documented that incident and his mother’s Prophecy of how the Dark Man’s curse could finally be defeated. Shelagh flipped the book open carefully to the first page, where Robert had written Katherine’s Prophecy:
Daughters of blood
Kin of heart
Cursed by prince
One of fire
One of wind
One of sea
Cursed be their tree
Challenge the curse
Bane of art
Kin of spirit
Son of Earth
Break the bane
Set them free
Once there are three
Shelagh closed the book and stared out the window at the sea again. The account in these journals wasn’t a fantasy, as much as she wished that it were. The Dark Man had hounded her family for centuries, bringing death and misfortune to many of her ancestors. He had caused the death of both her parents and had nearly killed her niece, Bea, and her cousin, Kat. None of them were sure if their combined magic on Samhain eve at Blackie Spit had simply stopped the Dark Man temporarily or sent him back to the astral planes for good. Her life had been quiet since that last attack. The same absence had happened after the airport attack weeks earlier though, and the Dark Man had eventually returned to haunt them once more. Shelagh sensed that the Dark Man was still out there somewhere, licking his wounds.
Who will be next? What will happen next? I’ve prepared for years to face the Dark Man under my mother’s direction. Two of my female relatives have faced him in recent weeks, two of the three relationships required by the Prophecy have been established. It’s my turn to face the Dark Man head on. They met the challenge and so must I to finally end the family’s curse. Thing is, I don’t have a man in my life at the moment, so probably I won’t need to face him any time soon. I almost certainly have more time to prepare. That is, if I knew exactly what to prepare for. If only the Dark Man continued to do things the way he has for centuries. Unfortunately, recent events prove that this is no longer the case. Lately he’s departed from his long established modus operandi. Until recently he’s never attacked females descended from Katherine. He’s only gone after the males that have formed relationships with the women in my family. That is, until he succeeded in killing my father Keith and my mother Lizzie to weaken our defenses, my defenses. He’d tried to kill Bea and Kat. Will he try for me? Won’t that ensure that the Prophecy cannot be concluded? Does that make sense, given his mission was to link one of us to someone of Lord Newcombe’s line? Aren’t I his last chance? Three hundred years he’s tried. Is he willing to wait for another generation? How long must our curse go on?
Thoughts of the Prophecy and its connection to her loss stirred up more grief and anger within Shelagh. Her mind flashed back to the day Lizzie died. Had her death only been two months ago? Shelagh had stood in the newly renovated coffee counter in Conjure, worrying about her mother’s deteriorating condition and dreaming of hopes and possibilities surrounding the Prophecy. Suddenly she felt the hairs on the back of her neck rising and she knew that she wasn’t alone. Picking up a paring knife from the kitchen counter, Shelagh slowly turned. Her mother Lizzie stood in the middle of the kitchen behind her, wearing a flowered shirt and her favorite Tilley hat, anguish wracking her face, a single, shining tear trickling down from one eye.
“Mom! What are you doing here?”
Promise me you’ll see this through. Promise you’ll help one another. Promise me you’ll end this.
Leaving these words echoing in her daughter’s head, Lizzie had then vanished like smoke in a breeze. Shelagh had known even before the phone started ringing beside her that her mother was gone.
Will she come back again and show us what she wants us to do, show us what the Prophecy means?
Shelagh sighed and checked her watch.
I don’t have time for silly business. The contractor will arrive any minute.