Oak & Mistletoe
A Druid Curse, A Prophesied Love, A Consuming Vengeance…
Catherine Green, along with her twin sister and older brother, travels to Ireland on a college graduation trip. Her vacation takes a permanent turn when she lands her dream job at an art and history museum on her beloved Emerald Isle. She meets a handsome stranger named Bowen, an expert of sorts on local ancient studies. Though their first meetings are turbulent at best, Catherine finds herself drawn to him.
Unaware that she is the key to breaking a hidden curse, Catherine unleashes the evil madman Conall and his druid followers, imprisoned since ancient times. Tragedy and loss ensue, sprouting within Catherine the deep seeds of rage that thrust her onto the damaging path of vengeance. Confused by the enigma that is Bowen, his mixed signals, and her own feelings, she is swept away with him on an unexpected journey surrounded by myth and long-forgotten knowledge. In order to stop the evil plans of Conall and his reunified army, Catherine must entwine her fate with peril. Her survival is trivial to her as long as Conall dies. She’ll do whatever it takes.
As Catherine examined the relic, she suddenly heard an airy whistle followed by a cracking noise. She looked up at Danny and felt herself sinking back, then falling. The stone she sat on was giving way. She heard Danny yell for her as she fell, and in a quick second managed to reflexively grab hold of several small trees and sharp bushes which cut her mercilessly but slowed her fall. The staff had caught at an angle against a tree and she grabbed at either side until she was hanging against the cliff. Dirt fell on her from the small landslide she created on her way down. She had tumbled a very short distance, but her blood pumped hard in her ears.
“Catherine?!” Danny screamed from above.
Catherine couldn't move, other than dangle. Every time her body swung she felt a horrible pang, and thought that moment would be her last. She couldn't say a word, she could barely breathe, so she hung helplessly. Focusing her weight and hands on the staff, she struggled to keep hold. Her upper body was not her strong point, her arms were already exhausted, and she wondered how much longer she could last. Unable to look up or down she stared stupidly at the ground.
“I'm coming down to get you!” Danny shouted. He had never been afraid of heights. As a boy, he would throw himself from trees, and cause great stress to all who had been forced to watch. Since boyhood, he had matured to skydiving and other thrill-seeking skills. Rock climbing was nothing to him.
Though Catherine was terrified for him since it was clearly a very unstable area, she knew he was her only hope. She was no acrobat, and she was paralyzed by fear. She considered her imminent death, and wished Danny would leave her to it and not risk himself. A light in the back of her mind reminded her she would see Kathleen again, and that this torture would end. But then she remembered she had to live to help Bowen. She couldn't leave him to fix her mistake. The mistake he had tried to prevent. Catherine slowly came back to the here and now, trying to keep her grip on the staff whose smoothness she had quickly grown to resent. She tried to hold still, and keep her hands inward so as not to accidentally slip off. Held tightly to the sharp protruding edges, her hands began to feel like they were being cut in slow motion.
Unable to see her brother from her dangling position, she listened desperately for anything and finally heard movement along with gravel and dirt tumbling down around her. Squinting her eyes, she held her breath and waited. Within less than five minutes, Danny slid to a stopping point by hitting the tree she relied on for survival. Catherine's breath escaped loudly as her eyes flew open. “I'm here!” he said, as he made grunting noises trying to steady himself.
Still unable to look up, Catherine wondered what he planned on next.
“Listen to me, Catherine, when I say so you need to let go.”
Catherine slowly shook her head. He was talking crazy. There was no way she was just going to let go.
“Only one hand. I'll be there to grab it,” he said firmly.
That was certainly less crazy, though she had doubts as to her ability to do as he asked. Catherine quickly wondered how Danny was going to pull this off. She knew they didn't have any rope with them. She worried once again for his safety.
“I'm going to say 'now' in a sec, and that's when I need you to let go of the staff with one hand, okay?” He sounded unsettled by her silence. Though he clearly understood she was in some state of shock, he worried that she might completely freeze up.
Catherine waited for Danny to give the word, and she tried to prepare herself for the sudden death that might follow. Wait! she thought in a panic. He didn't say which! Which hand! she mentally screamed, and cursed herself inwardly that she couldn't break her silence. She thought madly. Which would he reach for? He knew she was right handed, but maybe he wasn't able to get to her right hand? She couldn't possibly be sure either way from where his voice came above her, for the tree was thin where it didn't block sound, and the gravel came from both sides when it fell. She would have to take the chance and hope he would know. Catherine waited.
“Now!” Danny shouted.
J.Z.N. McCauley resides in lovely New England, where she loves wearing jackets and boots in the unpredictable weather there. She is a wife and mother who enjoys life to the fullest. Also, being a nerd across many genres is something she expresses openly.
McCauley spends most of her spare time writing, drawing, or reading. She loves archeology, mythology, history, music and many other forms of art as well. Always having a variety of interests and talents, she could never pick just one. When the chance pops up to travel to any of her favorite places, she takes way too many pictures. Otherwise, she is exploring a mystical land in a daydream. Which all provides fuel to her immense joy of writing.
She is the author of the novella A Bell Sound Everlasting as well as the fantasy novel Oak & Mistletoe. She is currently writing The Oathing Stone (Fall 2017), a sequel to Oak & Mistletoe.
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