Shadow Walkers - Chapter 9

Home is not where you live but where they understand you. ~ Christian Morgenstern


I just wanted to write you both and let you know I'm okay. Remember how you two always tell me I should get out more? That there was more to life than being bottled up in the basement of the museum? Well, you'll be happy to know I did. Now don't get excited okay? I gotta tell you something. Don't pay the ransom, I escaped!

It's okay though, because I'm with four guys that looked like they fell off romance novel covers. Three of them would even make nice cabana boys. The fourth one is an auld fart. I even broke his nose for him. The first time was an accident. The second time wasn't. I did that on purpose. I told his friend, that if he didn't take the sword back from me, I'd cut off Mr. Happy and stick it in the auld fart's damned ear for him. Finn and Tadg would have been proud of me.

Seriously though, I imagine by now, you heard about what happened in the basement at the museum. No, I don't wanna talk about it and the truth is, I can't. Yeah, I know I disappeared and I can't help that either. I didn't want to, but I kinda got talked into it, by the auld fart himself, over the point of a fork. He said, "Gallagher Lochlainn said, 'Ye be goin' on a wee vacation, Woman and that be all there is to it'."

Did I mention he talks like Braveheart did in the movie? The auld fart I mean, not Gallagher Lochlainn. I don't even know what he looks like as far as that goes. Just that he's got lots of money and he tells people what to do. I think he's on the board of trustees for the museum too, but I'm not sure. He's probably some higher echelon, upper crust with crusty uppers, like that Gerard Delacroix you introduced me to that time, when we went to do eat, at that fancy hoity toity French resturant. It wouldn't even surprise me if they knew each other.

There's just something strange about a couple of asparagus spears with the carrot curl and a piece of fish wrapped around them. Speaking of fish, I'd like to slap one upside a certain auld booger's head. That man's as irritating as a roll of cheap toilet paper. Until then, I'll probably get porridge I guess or some strange animal called a haggis. Hell, I don't even wanna know what that looks like. I asked what it was and the auld fart told me, it was a sheep's belly, stuffed with barley and meat. Yeah, I think I'll stick with the porridge.

Right now, I'd kill for some of your Pork Roast with Potato Stuffing or a slice of Bhug's warm Guiness Cake. I'd be happier than a heck then. I keep telling myself, someday I'm gonna learn to cook like you two do, but as long as they keep making spaghetti in a can, or Ralph keeps making meatball hoagies with roasted sweet peppers at the deli, the cooking lessons will have to wait.

I really miss all of you. I just want to come home again, but until this is all over, I'll have to stay here.

'Don't pay the ransom, I escaped' was a joke. Ha! Ha!

PSS: Michael told me to add that part about the joke, so nobody got in trouble.


"Hey Aine, Finn, Tagh, Bhug, I'm hoooome!" she sighed, hitting the Send button on the computer in the study. In her mind she imagined Aine in the kitchen. The room was bright, airy, and always filled with wonderful smells of something cooking. Finn would probably either be in the study reading up on some bit of history, or catching up on some bit of medical reading. Something was always going on when she went to visit.

Tagh, well he would either be at home working on his music, or be at Bhug's shop giving private music lessons. Bhug had jokingly said once, Caitlain reminded her of a kid in a candy store, with five cents in her pocket, when she would drop in at her curio shop. Maybe it was true, but in a way it was more than just the bright colors, and scented candles, jewelry and Celtic music. It was the warmth she felt when she was there or at the Quillian's home.

Finn and Aine lived in a huge, sprawling house in the Glencoe Park District just outside of Chicago. It was what the Realtor had described as a 1934 Scottish-Irish art deco home, whatever that meant. Unless it was the fact that the place was filled with Scottish and Irish stuff. Sometimes Aine would get a faraway look in her eyes and she'd say, "With Lake Michigan so close tis like having a loch nearby."

Sometimes during the summer it wasn't unusual to find herself with them, at a renfaire if work allowed her the time off. "And if you would play the part, you must dress the part aye?" Aine smiled at her one afternoon last summer, when she pulled out a dress from the antique wardrobe closet for her to see.

To Caitlain it was one of the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen. It was hand crafted from something called natural flax linen. On the sleeves was golden trim and elegant buttons. "And there are laces on the back for the right fit", Aine had smiled, as she turned it to show her.

Caitlain guessed being immortal had it's good side, especially when you remembered the clothes and things like that. She'd never voiced her opinion on the subject though, even after Aine had let it slip one snowy Christmas night, when she and Caitlain were watching, 'An Affair to Remember'.

"You'll like it. It's one of those feel good movies, Button," Aine had told her, when she'd slipped the disc into the player. It was also one of those weepy movies Caitlain found out all to soon, when tears started leaking out her eyes. In fact according to her, it was the kind that you needed a box of industrial strength Kleenex, a big bottle of Heavy-Duty-Janitor-In-A-Drum-Visine and a super dooper squeegee to get though.

Aine had hugged her and wiped her eyes, as if she'd been a small child. "Dinna cry, Button. Tis a love story and it had a happy ending. There is nothing sad about happy endings. Sometimes you just have to wait for them. Look at Finny and I when we lost our wee Shanleigh during the Civil War..."

Aine had frowned then and bit at her bottom lip, looking a little lost. "It must be the wine. What I mean is, if you believe in fairy tales and true love and happy endings, it will find you, Button, no matter how long you wait." Even though that strange tingling feeling was there, Caitlain saw the truth in her friend's eyes.

That New Year's Eve she'd received a postcard from Aine showing the Empire State Building. On the back Aine had written a single line from the movie.'Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories. All Our Love, All Our Life, Finn and Aine'. It made Caitlain cry to think, everyone they had both ever known, and loved was in all probability long gone, having shuffled off this mortal coil as Shakespeare put it. Parents, lovers, friends, families, children...all gone.

Then there was Tadg and Bhug. She felt the same tingling whenever she was with them as well, but neither ever talked about anything like that. They never even mentioned it, and Caitlain wondered if somehow the two of them had forgotten, or they just didn't want to remember what they were. She even wondered if any of them knew about their friend, Brogan. Now that one was a puzzle when it came to the past, except like Caitlain, Brogan had been an orphan, raised in a foster home on a Native American reservation in the Southwest somewhere.

He, Bhug and Tadg owned a new age shop in downtown Chicago called, New Moon Rising that catered to what they called the Pagan community. There they sold a variety of Wiccan and pagan items that ranged anywhere from incense, to crystals, to jewelry, to ritual items and such. Plus there was an assortment of greeting cards and stationary made from all natural fibers. There were even nifty looking daggers called athames. The only thing they didn't sell was Ouija Boards, they told Caitlain.

Brogan had said, those were bad news. "You play with those things, you court trouble, Squirt. You may not get rid of what comes to visit and I can guarantee you, you certainly won't like it one damned bit."

“Brogie's right, Caitybug. Trouble is the last thing you need, especially where you live. There's already been five murders and seven or eight shootings in that neighborhood since January and here it is the end of February. And the burglaries, don't even get me started on those. When are you going to get out of there?"

"When Johnny Depp knocks on my door with a balloon bouquet in one hand, and a check from Publisher's Clearing House, the size of Soldier Field in the other."

"Isn't that supposed to be Ed McMahon, Caity?"

"You can have old and wrinkled if you want. I'll take hot, swaggering and studly any day. Yo ho ho! Although according to you two, he'd probably be dudly instead of studly," she'd giggled. "But you know what they say right? It's not the swagger, it's the size of the sword that counts."

Brogan shook his head. "You're impossible. You know that? What are we going to do with you?"

"I don't know, but if you see old J.D. give him my address."

"I've got news for you, Caitybug. Old J.D. as you call him, wouldn't step foot in that crazy neighborhood you live in, even if he got to make a sequel for, 'From Hell'."

"Geeze, did anybody ever tell you guys, you all worry too much?" she murmured with a sigh, staring at the blank computer monitor.

Michael didn't miss the sadness in her voice. Maybe Caeoimhin's suggestion to Borias, that she send an e-mail to those she loved, had somehow backfired. He knew from experience that being away from home and family could drain you, and then add to it everything that happened to Caitlain on top of it and well...It was why Caeoimhin was beginning to worry about her. She'd hardly eaten a thing in the five days since she'd arrived, and she stayed mostly to herself. Caeoimhin had called it, hidin' out from the hellion.

Then he went on to tell Borias it was depression and, something needed to be done or it was only going to get worse. Borias hadn't been keen on letting her use the computer at first, but he'd finally relented when he couldn't find her this morning. They'd searched the ancient tower from the top floor to the bottom. There had been no sign of her anywhere that is, until Faolán's frightened voice came over the walkie-talkies hooked to their belts.

"Sweet Jasus, I see her!" he'd cried out. "She be on the damned roof!"

It would have been an understatement to say, who pounded up the stairway harder, Michael remembered. He knew he wouldn't have wanted to hang on the difference either. What did worry him, was the fact that Borias wouldn't let anyone but himself go out to her. He had that look on his face, like he usually got when he was mad about something and Michael and Faolán worried, that he might just toss her over the side for the hell of it.

It was Caeoimhin that held them back, when Borias had stepped out and shut the door quietly behind him. "Leave him be, lads. Ye know he willna hurt the lassie, but this be somethin' he needs to do fer himself," he told them softly. "And just mayhap with a bit of luck, Bri will start to live again."

When Caitlain finally appeared with Borias, she'd apologized very quietly for scaring everyone. She'd only wanted to look at the countryside around them. It wouldn't happen again, she promised. Borias on the other hand, looked more shaken than any of them had seen in a long time. In fact, Michael thought, the last time Borias looked like that, was when they had lost Mary Kate.

Still something had changed. Borias had been the epitome of kindness, when he'd taken her by the arm and carefully escorted her down the steps to her room. He made sure he stayed in front of her, as he backed down, watching each step she took so she didn't fall. When they reached her room, he issued instructions with Caeoimhin, Faolán and Michael.

"I will leave ye three to look after the lassie here. I have things to attend to a'fore the noon meal. Mick, after the lassie has rested a bit, would ye be so kind, as to set up an account fer her on the computer, so she can write and let her friends know she be safe?"

He turned his attention to Caitlain then. "Lassie, I trust if ye feel up to it, ye will take the noon meal with us. We are no much to look at, but we do have manners and a bit of civilized conversation at meal time."

She started to say something in return, but before she could, Borias turned and went down the stairs. Now here she sat in the study still staring at the monitor and absently running her right forefinger over the key board.

"Lassie are ye alright?" Michael asked softly, leaning against the edge of the desk.

"I guess," she answered with the shrug of her shoulder. "I was just thinking about home and..."

"Aye and?"

"What it was gonna be like when he drops the other shoe."

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