Authors: Wendy L. Callahan
The Gossamer Gate
Wendy L. Callahan
This book is a work of fiction. References to real people, events, establishments, organizations, or locales are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity, and are used to advance the fictional narrative. All other characters, and all incidents and dialogue, are drawn from the author's imagination and not to be construed as real.
The Gossamer Gate
Three Magpies Press
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2011 by Wendy L. Callahan
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e text of this book is set in Times New Roman
Summary: A faerie prince intent on revenge against Khiara returns to seek retribution against her, pulling her into the Otherworld against her will.
[1. Faeries – Fiction. 2. Witchcraft – Fiction. 3. Revenge – Fiction. 4. Kings, queens, rulers, etc. - Fiction. 5. Friendship – Fiction. 6. Romance – Fiction. 7. Fantasy.]
Three Magpies Press
For Phoenix Song Cyrcle and anybody who still believes in faeries.
“Khiara. That was a great class.”
“Thanks, Matt.” The
high priestess turned from snuffing the rose-scented candles along the top of the mantle to smile at her student. Khiara Haley dimpled at the compliment, her hazel eyes crinkling at the corners. She knew people found it difficult to look away from her eyes, which were a warm shade of gold that matched her honey blonde hair. “Have a great evening, and let me know if you have any questions about this week’s lesson work.”
Matt nodded and hesitated by the door. “I was wondering if you… It’s so nice tonight.” He
drummed his fingers against the doorknob, and then gave it a twist as his next words came out in a rush. “Would you like to come downtown for ice cream with me?”
Oh, I don’t date,” she answered with a shake of her head, a rueful note in her voice. “I’m sorry.”
“Of course. It makes sense. I’m your student, you’re the teacher. It wouldn’t be ethical or something like that.” The young man fiddled with the deadbolt and Khiara sighed.
“It’s not a teacher/student thing, Matt. It’s that I don’t date anyone.” By now, at the age of twenty-five, she was accustomed to giving the same excuses, the same apologies. “Between running the shop and teaching classes, there just aren’t enough hours in the day, but thank you very much for thinking of me.”
“Anytime,” he said
. While his expression didn’t betray his disappointment, she could hear him making an effort to sound nonchalant. Matt finally opened the door and backed out with a nod. “See you next week, then.”
“Bye.” As soon as the door shut, Khiara turned back to the mantle, propped her elbows against it, and bowed her head against her forearms. Dear gods, how much lo
nger could she go on like this? It wasn’t that people misconstrued her kindness, her easygoing attitude, or her smiles as flirtation. It was simply some sort of cosmic joke that whenever she liked a guy – really
a guy – he didn’t return her feelings, while the rest of the straight, males in a twenty-mile radius couldn’t seem to stop asking her out on dates.
“This has been going on since I was sixteen,” she muttered against her arms.
“Is this the way it’s always going to be?”
There was no answer but the
fluttering of the leaves of the small maple tree in her front yard as a gentle breeze swirled through the foliage. Rather than ponder the possibility of embracing the notion of accepting Leaving her rhetorical question hanging in the candle and incense-perfumed air, she turned away to finish putting the room back in order – books on shelves, tools back in their appropriate places, windows closed and locked. Matt was right, though, when he had said it was a nice night. So, while she left the downstairs doors and windows locked tight, she trudged upstairs and opened the windows in every room on the second floor. Sweet, floral smells from the shop downstairs mingled with the fresh air upstairs, diffusing the odors throughout the house.
They were the smells that reminded Khiara she was
She passed through her bedroom, pulling her t-shirt off as she went, then tossed the article of clothing into the hamper in her bathroom. Soon she was enveloped in the warmth of steam as hot water pulsated down on her from the showerhead. The Haley
residence in downtown Northampton might have been an historic Victorian home, but her nana had modernized it when she converted the dining room and den into her little magick shop. That included Khiara’s favorite luxury – a tankless water heater, installed five years ago, just before her nana died.
Nana remained on her mind as she completed her bedtime routine. When she finally turned back the comforter and slid under the sheets, she remembered one of her nana’s favorite bits of wisdom: “
Listen to the wind. Its voice will tell you what is coming.”
Closing her eyes, Khiara waited for the next zephyr.
The initial parchment-like rustling of leaves gave way to a whisper. “
I am coming for you.
Sixteen. She was only sixteen. Yet here she was, alone with him.
flowed through her, and she wrapped her arms around herself for warmth.
“Khiara,” he whispered, “I’m your friend.” His fingers came up and brushed her hair back off her shoulder. This elicited yet another shudder, and she compressed her lips in a hard line as she shook her head. He moved closer, placing his fingers beneath the chin she had tilted down against her shoulder. “I need you,” he said, his voice as dry as the pages of an old book.
“My people need you.”
“No,” she answered, her voice low, uncertain.
Her instincts warred with her sense of trust as he said something else to her, something coaxing and sweet. “No,” she said again, this time louder.
“We will die without you. You don’t want that, do you?”
His fingers curled over her shoulder and she flinched away from him. “I can’t do it,” she said, her voice catching. “Please, don’t make me.”
“I’m sorry, Khiara, but I have no choice.”
His grip tightened, and her entire body tensed as panic flared within her.
She awoke with a vague recollection of the dream that had left the events of the past far too fresh in her mind. With a shake of her head, Khiara rubbed her hands over her face and groaned. “It’s been nine years. Why the hell is it coming back to me now?” she muttered.
Of course, her nana would remind her that n
ine was a number of magickal power, the product of three times three. Three, she would say, was a number of manifestation and nine was a number of completion.
Khiara was far too mindful of this as she began to prepare for her day.
“The past belongs right where it is,” she grumbled into her hands. “Dead and buried, and not in her dreams, thank you very much, universe.”
Mentally shrugging off the thoughts and emotions that the dream had triggered, Khiara immersed herself in her daily routine. She
soon put the dream far behind her as she dressed, made tea, and pored over emails and status updates on social networking sites. By the time she had sipped the last of her chai, both her personal and business accounts were balanced, and she had placed an order with her wholesaler for some new merchandise. Before she knew it, it was time to open shop.
Unlocking the door of
The Charm Shoppe, she opened it, leaned against the doorjamb, and gazed out at Main Street. The mid-June morning was sunny and comfortably sultry. It wouldn’t be long before the infamous New England humidity would settle over the region until mid-September. For now, however, Khiara embraced the coming of summer.
el witcho italiano,” trilled a familiar voice. A heavy-set woman with curly brown hair barely contained in two braids walked along the flagstone path toward the door.
and said, “You realize you’re not actually speaking Italian, right Cate?”
I barely speak English, right?” Cate held a take-out drink carrier laden with Dunkin Donuts cups in front of her. “I come bearing caffeine.”
“That’s music to my ears.” Khiara accepted a cup of coffee and stepped aside so Cate could enter the shop. Her friend
’s long skirt flowed with her movements, as did her loose pleasant blouse. In Khiara’s mind, everything about Cate flowed. If someone could personify any of the natural elements, then Cate was water in human form – graceful, lovely when calm, and potentially dangerous when roiled.
set her messenger bag down on the stool behind the counter, and hummed as she fiddled with various displays around the store. Khiara followed and watched. The other woman’s eyes – one brown, one blue – focused on anything but her as she moved from one shelf or table to another.
So… What’s his name?” Khiara asked with a half-smile, before sipping the ice coffee.
“What makes you think there’s a name?” Cate asked in a high, sugary-sweet voice.
Khiara winced. Cate’s exaggerated winsomeness was a dead giveaway. “When you go from screeching death metal one day to humming pop music the next, there is – without a doubt – a name.”
“There could be a name
.” Cate turned and grinned.
“I knew it.”
“His name,” she said, pausing until Khiara prompted her with a frantic whirl of her hand, “is Barden.”
“Seriously?” Khiara spluttered, putting her hand to her mouth partially in amusement and partially to keep herself from dribbling coffee as she tried not to laugh.
“Your name is seriously ‘Key-ara’?” Cate retorted, narrowing her eyes
and waving her hands around in front of her.
“It’s Italian and a family name, as you damn well know, you brat.”
“You’re a smart-ass hand-talker, as I damn well know,” Cate said as she walked over to the cash register to open it for the day. “Yes, that really is his name, so please don’t mock it. I like this guy.”
You like every guy you meet.”
Cate lowered her chin and glared at her.
“Alright, alright. No need to give me the death stare. I’ll give you the proper opening for girl-talk.” Khiara leaned on the glass jewelry counter, holding her cup between her hands. She cleared her throat and said, “Tell me all about him and spare no detail. Where did you meet? What does he look like? When will the wedding be?”
e’s tall, shaves his head, and he has these big, dark eyes.”
“Sounds like your type so far.” Khiara sipped her coffee. “I mean, you can’t go wrong with a guy who has eyes.”
“Very funny.” Cate made a finger gun and pointed it at her. “But, seriously, he really is my type. Not only that, but he’s very smart and chivalrous. He’s into Shakespeare.” Cate hesitated and said, “That’s the
Romeo and Juliet
Khiara rolled her eyes. “
Yes. Hence the name ‘Barden’ is completely appropriate.”
“Don’t be. Shakespeare was known as ‘The Bard’.”
“Oh.” Cate pursed her lips. “Well, I guess I’m not as well-educated as you are. Actually, that’s one of the problems I have.”
“Oh? Since when is Shakespeare a problem? He always championed love.”
“Well…” Cate fiddled with the plastic lid of her cup of ice coffee. “I’ve never read any Shakespeare. He’s probably going to want to talk about it when we go out to dinner tonight, but I seriously have no clue. So I need your help.”
Khiara tried not to choke on her coffee as she lowered the cup from her lips. After she forced the mouthful of liquid down the appropriate pipe in her throat, she said, “You’ve never read Shakespeare? Not even in high school?” She remembered reading at least one of his plays each year of high school, as well as his poems. In fact, she had taken the time to completely memorize Sonnet 116, and it remained her favorite to this day.
“This is me we’re talking about, remember?” Cate shook her head, her eyes wide with apprehension over her possibility of failing the Shakespearean portion of her date. “Not one word of it.”
“Well, have you ever seen any of the movies based on the stories?” Khiara asked, placing her finger against her chin as she considered the possibilities. “Like either of the most popular versions of
Romeo and Juliet
Much Ado About Nothing
Love’s Labour Lost
– there’s a musical version. What about
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
? That’s my personal favorite.” As soon as she mentioned the story, she bit her lip. There it was again – a reminder of everything she tried to escape from nine years ago.
with Mel Gibson?” Khiara quelled the chill that threatened to spread from between her shoulders, along the rest of her body. Instead, she stared at her best friend in and asked, “How is that even possible?”
“Help me,” Cate whined. “I won’t know what to say if he asks me which play I like best, or what I think of some poem or something. Please, please help me!” She
laced her fingers together in a token gesture of begging.
and the icy sensation at her back receded. “I’ll help you, I’ll help you. That’s what friends are for, after all.” She went into the living room and selected a huge, green book off one of the bookshelves built into the wall. Returning to the shop front, she placed the tome in Cate’s hands and said, “This will get you started.”
“You’re kidding me.” The other girl looked at Khiara
, eyes wide, and then back down at the book.
“This is his collected works,” Khiara answered
, opening the book to the table of contents and running her finger down the page of text. “It includes all of his plays and sonnets; everything you need to brush up on your Shakespeare.”
… I…” Cate gaped at her. “I can’t read all of this.” Setting her coffee cup on the counter, she flipped through the book. “This is over a thousand pages of ‘brushing up’, Khiara.”