Tiernan Cate (EN) — Changeling

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Changeling
Автор: Tiernan Cate (EN)
Количество страниц: 37
Язык книги: Русский
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Changeling краткое содержание

Changeling - описание и краткое содержание, автор Tiernan Cate (EN), читать бесплатно онлайн на сайте электронной библиотеки Lib-King.Ru.

When Morgan receives a shocking revelation about her family, she's thrown into a moral tailspin, believing that her essential nature is evil. Is her dark heritage too powerful to overcome?

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Changeling

Sweep Series, Book 8

Cate Tiernan

To my inner wolf

1. Breakthrough

Surely I did not know the meaning of the word Godforsaken until I arrived at this place. Barra Head is on the westernmost shore of the highlands of Scotland, and a wilder, more untamed countryside it would be difficult to imagine. Yet, Brother Colin, how exalted I am to be here, how eager to bring the Lord's message to these good people. Tomorrow I shall set forth among the inhabitants, taking them the joy of the Word of God.

— Brother Sinestus Tor, Cisterian monk, in a letter to his brother Colin, also a monk, September 1767

"Okay, I'm gone," said my sister, Mary K., whirling to run downstairs. We'd just heard the distinctive horn beep of her friend Jaycee's mom's minivan.

"See you", I called after her. Although Mary K. was my little sister, she was fourteen going on twenty-five, and in some ways, like for instance her chest, she looked more mature than I did.

"Honey?" My mom poked her head around my bedroom door. "Please come with us to Eileen and Paula's."

"Oh, no thanks," I said, trying not to sound rude. I loved my aunt Eileen and her girlfriend Paula, but I couldn't face having to interact with them, smile, eat, pretend everything was normal—when only day's ago my entire life had split at the seams.

"She's made seaweed salad," Mom said temptingly.

"Augh!" I crossed my two index fingers to ward of health food, and my mom made a face.

"Okay. Just thought you'd want to have a last family meal," she said in her best guilt-inducing voice.

"Mom, you'll only be gone eleven days. I'll know you for the rest of my life. Plenty of family meals in our future," I said. The next day my parents were leaving on a cruise to the Bahamas, to celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

"Mary Grace?" my dad called. Translated that meant, "get a move on."

"Okay." Mom looked at me speculatively, and suddenly all the humor in the situation was gone. My parents and I had been through a lot in the last couple of months, and every once in a while the memories came back to bite us.

"Have a good time," I said, turning away. "Say hi to Eileen and Paula."

"Mary Grace?" my dad said again. "Bye Morgan. We won't be late."

Once I heard the front door close, I felt my shoulders sag in relief. Alone at last. Free to be myself, at least for a little while. Free to feel miserable, to lie curled on my bed, to wander the house aimlessly without having to talk to anyone or try to look normal. Free to be myself. That was a joke. The me that was Wicca. Not only Wiccan, but a blood witch and a Woodbane—the most infamous of Wicca's Seven Great Clans. The me whose biological father, Ciaran MacEwan, had killed my birth mother, Maeve Riordan. Ciaran was one of the most evil, dangerous, remorseless witches there was, and half of me came from him. So what did that say about me?

I looked at myself in my bedroom mirror. I still looked like me: straight brown hair, brownish hazel eyes, a tiny bit tilted at the corner, strong nose. I was five-six, seventeen years old, and had yet to develop a feminine curve anywhere on my body.

I didn't look like a Rowland's. For sixteen years I had never once thought I wasn't a Rowlands, despite looking different from the rest of my family, despite the huge differences between Mary K. and me. Now we all knew why those differences existed. Because I had been born a Riordan.

I dropped onto my bed, my chest aching. Only days ago I had narrowly escaped death—Ciaran had tried to kill me in Manhattan. Only at the last minute, when he'd realized that I was his daughter, had Ciaran changed his mind and allowed my then boyfriend, Hunter Niall, to save me. My father was a man who had killed my mother: Who had tried to kill me. Ciaran was evil beyond belief, and that evil was part of me. How could Hunter even pretend not to understand why I had broken up with him?

Oh, Goddess, Hunter, I thought, filled with longing. I loved him, I lusted after him, I admired and trusted and respected him. He was tall, blond, gorgeous and had a fabulous English accent. He was a powerful, initiated blood witch, half Woodbane, and he was a Seeker for the International Council of Witches. He was my mùirn beatha dan—my soul mate. For most people, that meant they were supposed to be together forever. But I was descended from one of the worst witches in the Wiccan history. My very blood was tainted forever. I was poison; I would destroy anything I touched. I couldn't bear to hurt Hunter, couldn't bear to even take the chance that I would. So I had told him I didn't love him anymore. I'd told him to leave me alone.

Which was why I was alone now, having spent the last few days clutching a pillow, aching with loneliness, and sick with misery.

"What can I do?" I asked myself. It was Saturday, and my coven, Kithic, would be meeting as usual for a circle. One of our eight annual Sabbats, Imbolic, was coming up soon, and I knew we would be starting to talk about it and preparing to celebrate it. Going to a circle, making the commitment to observe every week, was a part of the pattern of Wiccan life. It was part of the turning of the Wheel of the Year, part of learning. I knew I should go.

But I knew I couldn't… Couldn't bear seeing Hunter. Couldn't bear seeing the other people in my circle, having them look at me with sympathy, fear, or distrust.

"Meow?"

I looked at my kitten.

"Dagda," I said, picking him up. "You're turning into a big boy. You have a big meow." I stroked Dagda, feeling his rumbly purr.

If I went to the circle tonight, I would have to see Hunter, feel his eyes on me, hear his voice. Would I be strong enough to face that? I didn't think so.

"I can't go." I told Dagda. "I won't. I'll make a circle here." I got up, feeling that this was a way to keep my commitment to observe the Wiccan circle. Maybe drawing on the power would help my pain. Maybe it would take my mind off Hunter and off my own inherent evil, at least for a little while.

I went to the back of my closet and brought my altar out from under my bathrobe. As far as I knew, my parents hadn't discovered it yet. It was a small footlocker, covered with a violet linen cloth, and I used it in the rites I did at home. It was hidden in the back of my closet, where it wouldn't be noticed by my devoutly Catholic parents. To them, it was bad enough that I practiced Wicca at all, and they would be really, really unhappy if they knew I had all this witch stuff in their house.

I shoved the footlocker into the middle of the room, aligning its four corners with the four points of the compass. (I had figured this out weeks ago and memorized the position it should be in.) On each of the four corners of the footlocker I set the silver ceremonial bowls that had belonged to my birthmother. As always, I looked at them with love an appreciation. I had never known Maeve—I had been only seven months old when Ciaran killed her—but I had her witch's tools, and they meant everything to me.

Into one bowl I put fresh water. In one bowl half full of sand I stuck an incense stick and lit it. The thin grey stream of scented smoke symbolized air. Another bowl held a handful of stones and crystals, to symbolize earth. In the last bowl I lit a thick red candle, for fire. Fire was my element: I scried with fire; I could summon fire at will.

I quickly shed my clothes and got into my green robe. The silk was thin and embroidered with ancient Celtic signs, runes, sigils of protection and power. Maeve had worn this, leading circles for her coven, Belwicket, back in Ireland. Her mother, Mackenna, had worn it before her. And so on, for generations. I loved wearing it, knowing I was fulfilling my destiny, feeling a connection with women I had never known. Could Maeve's goodness cancel out Ciaran's evil? Which half would win in me?

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