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Marc Mullinex

 

(Celtic Magic 5): Mabon –Autumnal Equinox

 

Paranormal / Fantasy / Women’s Fiction

Date Published: 09/15/2023

Publisher: Changeling Press LLC


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Maine artist Libby McNulty’s dreams are haunted by the terrifying Wild Hunt
of Celtic legend. As if that isn’t bad enough, the landlord threatens her
and her friends with eviction in order to turn their apartments into more
profitable condos.

Tom O’Sylvan is a reclusive combat vet who serves as the building manager.
When Libby discovers Tom is also the Huntsman, legendary leader of the Wild
Hunt, myth and ordinary life begin to collide. Can the two of them face
their demons to save each other from danger?

 

Excerpt

Copyright ©2023 Siondalin O’Craig

 

Libby McNulty reached a paint-spattered hand toward the chipped mug on the
counter, not turning her gaze from the six-foot-tall canvas standing on a
low easel. Her brush remained poised in the air. A drop of chartreuse paint
clung to its tip, quivering as if envious of the heavy raindrops splattering
the studio windows.

The image of the woman in the center of the canvas looked a lot like Libby,
or rather what Libby would have looked like if she were a goddess of the
hunt in medieval Ireland. The painted huntress wore a green velvet gown
instead of threadbare Lee jeans rolled up around her calves, and her auburn
ringlets bounced free under the canopy of autumn beech leaves, rather than
tucked haphazardly under a bandanna. In her left hand, the woman on the
canvas held a bow, while her right clenched an arrow rather than a
paintbrush. Their luminous chestnut eyes were exactly the same though;
alert, intent, seeing something beyond the edge of the picture.

Libby took a sip of her tea and grimaced. It had gone cold, and the milk
was sour. Its taste spread across her tongue and pulled her mind back inside
the white-washed wooden walls of her studio. She shivered.

The air was cold and damp, colder than it ought to be in September. Soon it
would be Mabon, the autumnal equinox, when the equal length of day and night
brought balance before the long winter slide, through the pumpkins and
trick-or-treating of Samhain, into the darkness of Yule on the longest night
of the year. Usually, the Mabon season meant sunny T-shirt days and warm
sweater nights, but the persistent rain this year had Libby shivering in her
plaid flannel shirt.

She set the mug back down on top of a folded letter pocked with tea stains.
The letter was signed by Dave Wolf, Vice President and Senior Partner of
James Carbill Real Property LLC. In other words, her landlord. It said
something about selling the building.

Despite the fact that she had a five-year lease with a renewal clause, the
letter made Libby uneasy. That lease had so much fine print, so many pages
she hadn’t read. Her anxiousness to sign something that said
she’d have a home and a place for her art for five years had her
putting blinders on, made her impatient.

She ran a chipped fingernail over the thick paper. It was signed in real
blue-black ink from an expensive fountain pen. Libby knew ink and pigments
better than leases; she made most of her own from bits of trees, flowers,
mushrooms, and stones that she gathered from the forest and rocky shore
surrounding this little town of Lisna, Maine. She was able to make ink and
paints from the plants and barks and stuff she found walking through the
woods — materials that were free to anyone who could read the land. Yet
that blessing was so easily used for evil rather than beauty. She pondered
how many people’s lives around the world had been changed, even
eliminated, by the stroke of ink on paper, wielded for power rather than
art.

But I have my lease, Libby reminded herself again. They can’t kick me
out, at least not for another five years.
Over the drum of rain, Libby could
hear the creaking floorboards that rested overtop of her studio’s tin
ceiling, footsteps of her little band of apartment neighbors. Straight
overhead was the apartment of dear little KatieMor. Next to that, retired
lobsterman Jim Johnson lived with Mario Perkins. Jim with his cane and Mario
with his walker both relied on the Limerick Block elevator as the only way
they could stay living out their end days in their own hometown. Donna
Constantine, the librarian. The Halls, who had a business training
nonprofits how to organize. And Tom O’Sylvan — Tomayo — the building
manager. Libby often heard his distinctive footsteps heading down the stairs
and out the door late in the evening, his big black Irish wolfhound padding
by his side.

Fingering the triskele medallion she wore around her neck, Libby stepped
back and took another look at the painting. Behind the Libby-as-Huntress
stood a cloaked and hooded figure, its face obscured. They stood at the
edge-line between a harvested field and a late-autumn beech forest. The
Libby-Huntress looked off-canvas, toward where, in the real forest just
north of town that it was painted to resemble, a mysterious standing stone
jutted out of the ground in a mossy clearing. The stone — a foot taller
than Libby, and covered with a patchwork of pale green and orange lichens —
had become a grounding point for Libby in her many hours of wandering
through the woods, gathering fiddleheads, ramps, and nettles to eat, along
with oak galls and dyer’s polypore mushrooms to make ink and
paints.

That man whose face lay hidden below the dark hood haunted Libby’s
restless dreams. She could feel him now, pulling her out of her studio
again, out past the brick walls of the Limerick Block, beyond the small
bounds of the village of Lisna, back into the painting, back into the
trees.

The bright green drop of paint let go and landed with an audible plop on
one of Libby’s black canvas sneakers. Libby looked down.

I just need a good long walk, she thought. If only this rain would let up.
A few hours in the forest would set her back to rights, let her get some
sleep, some real sleep, a night without fractured bits of nightmare shocking
her awake. Visions of the stone, the hooded man, a hunt, and all-consuming
flame.

 

About the Author

Siondalin O’Craig writes romance with the slow burn of a peat fire on an
autumn night deep in the woodland hills. Sip a glass of Irish whiskey, turn
the page, and let the magic overtake you. Siondalin lives in the mountains
of New England where she walks under the trees celebrating the wheel of the
year, grows a luscious garden full of magical herbs, and plays a wicked
Irish fiddle. Follow her on Facebook and email her at
siondalinocraig@gmail.com to sign up for her newsletter.

 

Author’s Facebook

Publisher on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter:
@changelingpress


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