Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An Irish Mystery--Part Two--Debby Giusti


“You’ll find Caryn waiting for you in the turret tower,” Patrick’s mum had claimed when he stopped at her cottage in the village. She spoke with a sense of urgency and had a mysterious glint in her eyes as she assured him of Caryn’s continuing love.

“She’ll explain everything,” the older woman said, taking his grandda’s walking stick from the corner and placing it in Patrick’s hands. “You’ll need this shillelagh where you’re headed, Paddy dear. Now off with you.” She had shoved him out the door with nary another word, and Patrick hadn’t looked back as he’d hiked across the lush green countryside to the foot of Shamrock Castle.

Night started to fall as he passed through the crumbling castle entrance and headed for the steps that led to the turret tower. Long shadows danced across the walls and taunted him from the nooks and crannies of the stone structure. The briny smell of the sea filled the air, reminding him of Caryn’s love of the water and her sailboat, The Shamrock Queen.

At first playful, the wind teased his hair and pulled at his jacket as if to steer him off course. Focused on finding Caryn and the answers to her disappearance, Patrick continued to climb while the wind gathered strength and shrieked around him, reminding him of stories his mum told about banshees keening for the dead.

He shook his head, hoping to send the superstitious thoughts scurrying into the darkness. He didn’t believe in the spirits she claimed haunted the castle. Although loveable, some of the villagers said mum had turned a bit daft in her advancing years. After all, she believed there was a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow and that he and Caryn could find true love and live happily ever after. His more practical side knew ten years was too long to wait, even for true love. Patrick wanted to see Caryn but only because he needed the brooch, which belonged in the Mulligan family.

Yet as he climbed higher, he wasn’t thinking of the brooch. He was thinking of Caryn’s twinkling eyes and the way her lips curled into a luscious smile he longed to kiss.

“Perhaps I’m the one going daft,” he mumbled, raking his right hand through his hair. In his left hand, he clutched the shillelagh his grandda had used in every St. Patrick’s Day Parade he could remember. Proud and tall, his grandda led the parade through the village to the steps of the Stone Church. If a young lad and lass came forward, asking to be married, good luck would befall the village for the rest of the year.

“We haven’t seen a wedding in the Stone Church since you left for America,” his mum had bemoaned recently over the phone. “Everyone goes into the city to exchange their vows. Perhaps you’ve forgotten, Paddy dear, but your grandda asked grandmum to marry him on St. Patrick’s Day and your dad asked me as well.”

How could he have forgotten something as important to the Mulligan family as the St. Patrick's Day wedding proposals? His mother left unspoken her own desire for him to follow suit, which would have happened if not for Caryn’s disappearance. No doubt, the free spirit he had once loved with all his heart would try to explain her absence with some tall tale that made perfect sense to her, yet would make him realize their relationship had ended years ago. Which it had, he kept telling himself.

Then he thought of the russet hair he longed to wrap through his fingers. As he neared the end of his climb, his heart thumped hard against his chest. His mouth dried, and warmth curled through his gut.
Stepping onto the top landing, his eyes focused on the closed door to the room where she waited. Gathering his courage and trying to control the jubilation that filled him anew, Patrick grabbed the knob and pushed the ancient oak door open.

“Caryn,” he whispered. Twilight spilled through the windows, brighter than the darkness of the stairwell. He squinted into the light, imagining her there, but his face fell and his internal warmth turned cold when he realized he was alone.

Patrick wiped his hand across his cheek, feeling moisture that left him questioning his own good sense. He didn’t love her, did he?

In the distance, he spied a boat, gliding across the water, its white sail adorned with a giant shamrock. Were his eyes playing tricks on him? Caryn’s boat had flown the same sail long ago.

Dropping to his knees and ready to place his head in his hands, Patrick spied a tiny mound of shamrocks, lying on the floor. Tucked in the middle of the newly picked clover was a scrap of parchment. Unfolding the paper, he read: Don’t be afraid to follow your heart and enter the secret passage.

Caryn had talked about finding a secret walkway in the old castle. He turned to stare at the walls surrounding him. Where could it be?

His fingers played over the hewed stones, but he found nothing. Twilight was turning to darkness, and he needed to retrace his steps to the ground level below. On the way down the stairs, he tripped and fell against the wall. Instead of holding firm, the rocks moved, revealing a narrow opening.

Patrick thought of his job in New York and the life he had lived for the past ten years. Then he thought back to when he and Caryn were together. He remembered the feel of her soft body wrapped in his arms and could almost breathe in the fresh scent of her.
Follow your heart, the words flowed over him as he stepped into the dark passageway. The wind howled once again, and with a giant sigh, the rock wall slid shut behind him.

He blinked into the darkness. A faint light appeared far ahead, and a voice Patrick recognized called his name.

“Caryn?”

8 comments:

Margaret Daley said...

So many questions raised, Debby. Great!

Leann said...

I'm stumped. Why did Caryn disappear? And why contact Patrick now? But I'm ready to read more. Good job, Debby.

Lenora said...

Oh, great story, Debby. So Irish. I love Ireland and I enjoy Irish characters. Ten years and a missing brooch. Now a secret door.
I'm hooked. And hello to Leann. We had a nice chat about these little stories at our conference this weekend (And still I never connected that the story started like, NOW!!!! I must have kissed the blarney stone.

Terri Reed said...

Very intrigueing. Can't wait to see what's next.

EllenToo said...

So many possibilities....be careful Patrick something bad could be on its way or waiting for you around the corner.
Loving the story.

Barbara Phinney said...

Just read the two installments. Wonderful! Where does that passage lead to? Caryn has some serious explaining to do if it is her.
Barbara Phinney

Debby Giusti said...

I'm eager to see what Roxanne is going to do with tomorrow's segment. Is Patrick seeing a vision? Or is Caryn in the passageway? If so, what about the sailboat? Will that play into the story? One thing is certain, Patrick's armed -- Grandda's shillelagh will protect him from the banshees. Not sure what will protect him from Caryn...or if he wants to be protected! :)

Lynette Eason said...

Oh my, you guys have really outdone yourself with this one! Great job.