Shadow Walkers Synopsis

Caitlain Rose Mackenzie is a fairly average young woman. Her life is what, most that know her would call rather ordinary. Well it was anyway, until one night while she was working late in the cataloging area of the Chicago Art and Science Museum. Within the matter of a few short seconds chaos reigned supreme, as an ancient evil sweep through with a bloody wrath.

When it was all over, Caitlain hurt and more than still confused about what had taken place that night, found herself being whisked away to Ireland, by four men she had never met so she could recover. Recover? Or was there more to it than that, more than even new companions realized?

Shadow Walkers by Penny E Dunbar

Chapter 1

Patience is the ability to count down before you blast off. ~Author Unknown

As the tired old cliche went, it was a dark and stormy night, when the pilot's voice came over the intercom, announcing it would be another forty-five minutes to an hour, before they'd land in the Ireland, at the private retreat. He tried to get above a depression and did, but it was short lived for a couple hours. Then the storm had grown stronger, and he had found himself once more trying to maneuver the Lear jet through the turbulence.

It had been a bumpy ride, as Betty Davis would have no doubt complained, had she been a passenger. But thankfully she wasn't. That homely mug of hers, would have paled and withered in spite of itself, the young looking pilot had smiled, before he'd affectionately called the passenger in his care, a wee cutie puss.

My Wee Lassie, as he called her next, would soon be safely on the ground and out of harms way. As soon as the chauffeur could usher her gently into the waiting transportation and drive her to the lodge, hot drinks and food would be waiting, he'd promised. Her room was already prepared. Then once she'd had a good night's sleep her vacation could begin....

Vacation. It had a strange ring to it. No one ever gave away an all expense paid free anything, especially a vacation in Ireland. And especially when it came from someone like Gerard Delacroix from what she'd heard. To him, time was money Borias Bearach had explained to her and that usually meant, "I dinna pay you to sit around. Now get your arse back out there and get to work."

So why was Delacroix giving away a free vacation, she wondered and why was he giving her one, when he didn't really know her from Adam or Eve either one for that matter. All she was, was an employee that spent most of her time cataloging things down in the lower part of the museum.

"Another of life's many mysteries," she murmured under her breath. When the jet seemed to rock from the storm, her fingers tightened on the arm rests on her seat. Damn she hated flying. If man was supposed to fly, he'd have been born with feathers, a beak and an exhaust pipe sticking out his backside, she groaned to herself. Hopefully the man that called himself Borias Bearach was in better shape in the cockpit with Michael Donnegan their pilot, than she was back here in the passenger compartment.

Faolán O'Neal on the other hand, looked to be dozing in his seat with his headphones on, while Caeoimhin MacDonagh had his nose buried in some novel. Caitlain Mackenzie wished she was as brave as they were when it came to flying. Then again, they said it wasn't the wild free-fall, with the wind whirring in your ears, like an oncoming freight train that killed you. It was that sudden bone jarring stop when your body went 'splat' that got you.

Hopefully she'd never know what that was like. She'd already had enough of a jolt to her life as it was already. That she knew first hand. Granted, she'd been lucky. Oh there had been stitches and a broken arm and a few other things, but she was still here, still walking around and to what she's been told, that was a good thing.

"A verra guid thing," Bearach had told her. "But that be water under the bridge now and ye have to think about gettin' back on yer feet." She shook her head banishing the memory of that night from her thoughts. Right now, it was the last thing she wanted to think about.

She sighed to herself huddling in the seat. "It still won't save your ass if lightning hits this plane you know," she whispered to herself. "You'll crash and burn just like you did at the museum that night."

She gave an involuntary shiver when lightning flashed outside and she drew the blanket around her like a shield. Yeah, flying inside a plane was bad enough, but trying to get away from something on a killing spree, in the basement of a museum, was something else entirely. Bearach had called it a strigoi, a vampire. She hated vamps, hated vamp movies almost as much as flying. She hadn't even known they'd existed at all till that night. Still she told herself, there was a lot to be said about being able to walk away.

What did bother her was the disturbing things she'd over heard from Bearach, O'Neal and MacDonagh, when they thought she was asleep in her hospital room. From the other side of the curtain, she'd gathered, they were something called Shadow Walkers. The pay wasn't always that great, but...But what? she sighed to herself. That it was a job. Maybe not the greatest, but it paid the bills and put food in their bellies.

There was medical care too. Gallagher Lochlainn had med facilities, where if need be his 'hunters' as they were referred to, could be air lifted out, if they survived that is. Usually the life expectancy of a hunter was two years, three maybe and four if they were lucky and they had a partner. That meant they were all living on borrowed time from what she'd heard.

Most times though the private med facilities doubled as a make-shift morgue and crematorium for an unlucky hunter. There was no wake, no funeral, not much of anything to tell the truth. Hunters were usually alone in the world. Orphans with no families to mourn their passing, unless on occasion they did have a partner they worked with. Other than that it was just a matter of lighting the burners and Woosh! See ya. Wouldn't want to be ya.

Sometimes there was the occasional problem, of having to deal with said body when it was found. If it hadn't already got up and took off that is. If you were lucky enough to get to it before that happened, an ash, aspen or juniper stake was driven neatly into it's putrefying little heart, the head was taken off and the whole thing was burned to ash. Sometimes the heart was taken out and burned too. In that case, nope we really wouldn't want to be ya, Bubba.

"So kick the tires and light the fires Big Daddy and let's cook that booger on down, and have us some of that there, down home Vamp Bar-B-Que," she murmured quietly under her breath, frowning as lightning flashed again outside the window of the jet.

From the cockpit, she could hear Bearach raising hell with Donnegan when the jet rattled again. "I dinna care if it does put us off schedule, ye wee gomeral. We be off schedule as it is already. Find some damned place to set this damned bird down, till the storm passes a'fore it knocks us out of the damned sky!"

"Is that all ye can say, Bri? Damned this and damned that? Hell Caeoimhin's right," laughed the softer brogue of the pilot. "Ye need more fiber in yer diet. Ye really should try a big bowl of stewed prunes. I hear they help. Either that or pull the panties out of the crack of yer arse."

"I dinna care to crash and burn, ye wee hellion! Thank ye kindly!"

"The only way ye are goin' to crash and burn, will be when I open the hatch and toss yer arse out without a parachute, if you dinna go sit down in the back somewhere, and get out of my hair."

Closing his book, Caeoimhin MacDonagh glanced her way and rolled his eyes. "Dinna pay them heathens no never-mind, Lassie. They always be goin' at it when they fly. Mick loves to ye see an' Bri doesn't, especially if the weather's bad."

"I can't say that I blame him much. Mr. Bearach I mean," she answered quietly. "This is the first time I ever flew any place and well..."

The plane shuddered and seemed to dip, making her squeeze her eyes shut when Borias cussed like a trooper. "Dammit to hell! Find some place to land this fookin' deathtrap, ye hellion!"

"Did ye never want to spread yer wings and let the faerie in ye fly?" Donnegan laughed.

"Ye wee damned, demented little shite! Ah am no faerie! I be an elf!"

"Well that explains why Bri be so full of shite," Faolán O'Neal yawned, sitting up in his seat. "I on the other hand may be an elf, but am not full of it, thank the Goddess for small blessin's granted."

"Says him," Caeoimhin winked at her, when Faolán pulled out his pocket watch and looked at it.

"I have no been asleep two damned hours and the heathens already be yellin' at each other. Ye wuid think they were marrit, the way they go at it," he complained with another yawn.

Mischief sparkled in Caeoimhin's blue eyes. "Just think of it Faolán, if they were, that would leave two lonely lassies fer ye to console."

"Oh aye, two lonely nut cases ye mean, ready fer the looney bin. That be just what we need," he grumbled, rubbing his eyes when Borias and Michael went at it again. "They would be as nuts as them two in the cockpit."

Elves and faeirie and vamps were unheard of. In fact the only place they existed were in books and movies, didn't they? If that were the case then, what in the hell was she doing with three elves and a faerie over the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of a storm? Why she giggled, she didn't know. It just bubbled up in her throat and slipped out as she looked back and forth at MacDonagh and O'Neal.

Since she'd met Bearach a little over a week ago, everything seemed like a strange dream. One she couldn't wake up from and then he'd introduced his friends to her. Now she was wondering if a looney bin like O'Neal had spoke of, could be looming in her future somewhere.

She'd known right off the bat there was something about Borias Bearach that was different than other men. He just hadn't felt the same. It wasn't that he hadn't been unkind or looked different. It was just that there was something there, something in his make-up that was different than the males she had worked with at the museum, not to mention others she knew. Like Dave at the corner of 35th and Bender who ran the news stand, rain or shine. Or Ralph who ran the deli over on Kelly Street. Or Nate who lived in her apartment house and drove a cab. They were just run of the mill males. Nothing ordinary about any of them save for one thing. They were human. That was the key word right there. Human. Not elf. Not faerie. Not vamp. Just...human.

"Ye be drivin' me nuts, ye auld fart! Git the hell out of here a'fore I get them damned flyin' monkeys after ye!" Donnegan snapped at Bearach, his brogue getting thicker.

Her giggle was on the verge of hysteria when Michael came through the cockpit door into the passenger compartment. "Fine! If ye think ye can do any better, ye auld fart, ye drive the damned thing! See how far ye get! If ye want me, Ah weel be goin' to get me a damned barf bag and a parachute!"


"No! Just hold her steady and if ye dinna crash into the ocean or a mountain, whichever comes first mind ye, ye well win the coveted booby prize," he snickered. "The Golden Puckered Titty Award."

"Hell, Mick, Bri could fall into a big auld barrel of titties and he'd still come out suckin' on his damned thumb," Caeoimhin laughed out loud.

"Tis not my fault that he be a MAIGHDEAN!" he hooted knowing the reaction he'd get.

"Shut the hell up an' get back in here and fly this fookin' thing, ye wee turd!!"

Laughter erupted in the compartment around her, as Michael held onto a seat to keep from falling over laughing. "Problem there Skippy, me lad?" he snickered. From the cockpit there was a growl and a curse. "Watch yer tongue, ye auld fart. There be a wee lassie back here and she doesn't need her ears scalded." Michael winked at her, then chuckled when Borias let loose with a string of expletives. "He can be just a wee bit colorful at times."

Caeoimhin frowned and got up from his seat, moving to sit next to her. He could feel her fear. Feel the hysterical laughter that was just below the surface, threatening to burst forth, and knew she was on the verge of loosing it all together. That had happened three times that he knew of, since she'd been found locked inside a walk in-safe with the only other survivor of that night in the museum.

That poor bastard, Caeoimhin knew had been a raving lunatic when they'd been found. Stark staring mad, some would have said. He hadn't lived long. Just two short days after they'd been found, the poor fool had managed to get to the roof of the hospital and did a nose dive off a ledge.

Caeoimhin frowned at Michael. "How long before we land?"

The pilot gave him a small shrug. "Not long. Mayhap thirty minutes. No more than that I'd say. I'd have never left Bri in there by himself, if I thought there was any real danger. O'course you know him. He'd take a damned molehill and turn it into Carrauntoohil."

"One you could slam into and go, Splat," came Caitlain's nervous giggle when she pulled the blanket up to hide her face. She didn't see the worried looks that passed between them. Didn't hear the hurried whispered conversation, right before Michael went back to the cockpit. All she heard was the screams of the people she'd worked with two weeks ago, while they died around her....


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