This is the first book in a serialized story about family and friendships…that also includes a little magic.
Maggie McCrae knew her granddaughters were not ready for the legacy she must leave them. The house, the grounds and everything that went with it would now be theirs. She vowed she would do all she could to protect them and hopefully, give them the time they needed to fulfill their destiny. Gabriella and Moira must learn to trust themselves and each other as they discover the true magic of Burrows Bay.
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“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.” –Wolfgang von Goethe
Maggie McCrae wandered around the house she had known all her life. Well, mansion really, but somehow it had always seemed comfortable and welcoming to her. So many memories…most of them wonderful and only a few that were not. It had been a good life.
Her great-grandparents had built this beautiful home on the cliffs overlooking Burrows Bay on Fidalgo Island. Part of the San Juan Islands north of Seattle, the views were amazing from almost every window. Tonight, she was out on the balcony that ran along the upstairs library. This is where she did her best thinking. And her most effective magic.
Maggie remembered being in this room with her grandmother, some seventy years earlier. She had taught her all about the plants and herbs, which formed the basis of their special powers. Maggie always said anyone could do what she did with enough study and effort. But tonight, she wondered if that were true. Could they learn? Would they be able to do it without her?
Too much pride! She chided herself yet again, for not reaching out to the girls earlier. They were grown women now. Not the young girls they should have been when they learned how to use their powers. But it couldn’t be helped. She had foolishly thought they would have more time. Now, she realized even her abilities had limits as she had not seen this coming. The doctors had been very nice, but there was nothing to be done. Her days on this lovely island were almost over.
She watched the lights flashing out in the woods. They were just waiting. Waiting for her to die, so they could move in and bulldoze all that she loved…for money. The love of money was always the greatest evil, she believed. For four generations, her family had protected these woods and the cliffs overlooking the bay. If her girls were successful, they might yet save it. Her two lovely granddaughters, Gabriella and Moira. Cousins, who had spent so little time with each other and now, she was throwing them together. Sink or swim, she thought. There was no time for anything else.
She had taken care of all the legalities. Arthur, her oldest friend and solicitor, would be by in the morning. Bless him, she could always depend on Arthur, especially at times like this. But there was one more thing she had to do. She’d put it off for as long as she could while she took one final day for herself. Thankful for the warm September weather, she had walked through the gardens and around the small vineyard, enjoyed her favorite views from the cliffs and finally, taken one last stroll through the woods. She’d come back to the house and prepared her favorite dinner, while playing the music that she and her beloved Patrick had listened to on their honeymoon. He’d been gone so long. She desperately hoped that she would see him on the other side. She smiled as she remembered the love of her life and how they had been everything to each other. She sighed and wished for one more night.
But there was simply no more time. She had to do it now. She hoped the Autumn Equinox would amplify her normal powers. The plants and herbs she had chosen from the garden were laid out on the table in front of her. As was the silver bowl. She said the words more for her own confidence than any actual benefits of the verse. They were from an old monk she had met near Tibet many years ago. It was the closest thing to a protection spell that she knew, and she prayed that it would work.
She placed the lavender and mint in the bowl, followed by the basil and rue, then the bit of tansy and other native plants that were written in the book. Finally, she added the sachet filled with spices collected by her grandmother. When all were carefully laid in the bowl, she took the wooden match and lit the candle. The vanilla fragrance filled the room and as she said the last line of the verse, the candle flared. Probably a draft, but she smiled at the drama of the moment. She would take it as a good sign.
She poured a bit of the wax on the herbs, then added the rum. She had forgotten the vodka, but the rum would have more meaning. She’d seen that in her mind’s eye and had decided to write it down in the book. They might enjoy that, when they discovered their heritage. At the last moment, she decided to take the bowl and candle out onto the balcony. The trespassers might appreciate the light show and she could use all the help she could get.
She waited until the herbs had wilted in the rum, and then she took a breath as she readied herself. With a final look across the forest and bay, she began.
“This is for all who have come before and all who will come after,” she said, knowing these first words by heart. “For them and for myself, I ask that everything we love and everything we guard be protected by the ancient spirits of this island and the ancestors from our Scottish homeland.”
She looked up at the night sky and continued. “I offer all that I am, and all that I will ever be, to ensure that the children of my children find their way and be protected from the evils that walk the earth and dwell in the hearts of weaker beings.”
She took the candle and quickly lit the herbs, now soaked with rum. The flames jumped up, and she took a step back, still watching the woods. “The evil that knows no limit, no fullness, only hunger. I ask that all that is good, light and helpful in this world watch over my children’s children and help them on their journey. Give them the time they need to learn, to grow and to become all they must, to protect everything we know and love.”
As she spoke, she raised her arms out to her sides and then up to the sky. She could feel all her power, all her might, draining from her. But she kept going until the words were finished. As she watched, there was a glimmer in the night sky…or was it the final remnants of the aurora borealis that had shown itself this summer? She wasn’t sure, but she chose to believe it was a sign that the magic had worked. She hoped so. It had taken the last of her energy. She walked over to the chair by the fire, feeling her age for the first time. It had been a good life. A happy one, for the most part. She had regrets, but not many. And she had seen enough of the future to know there was a good chance it would all work out. She hoped it would. Too tired to go to bed, she put her feet on the ottoman, wrapped the throw around herself and slept.
The next morning, Arthur O’Reilly walked into the house, calling Maggie by name. “Come on, old girl, where are you? I thought you said coffee on the porch this morning?” He chuckled to himself, knowing she would give him grief about the old girl part. She was still lovely at seventy-four, and he looked forward to calling on her. More a sister than anything, it was still a boost to the ego to be in her presence.
As he wandered upstairs, he correctly guessed she’d be in the library. It had always been her favorite room, not counting the conservatory. And she preferred the balcony upstairs, when it was nice enough to leave the doors open.
“Maggie, my dear, did you forget our breakfast date?” he joked as he walked into the room. Seeing her on the chair by the fire, he said, “No napping now, you’ve coffee to fix. It’s one of the main reasons I come to visit.”
As he came closer, he saw how pale she looked. Bending down, he grabbed her hand. “Maggie! Oh no. Maggie, talk to me. Talk to me!”
As she stirred, Arthur felt he could breathe again. “I can’t lose you, too. Not so soon after Lily,” he said, more to himself than to her. “Maggie, let me help you up.”
“No,” she said as she held out her hand. “I’m afraid I’m quite ill, Arthur. I should have told you sooner, but I knew you would only worry.”
“Just stay there, Maggie. I’ll get help.” He pulled out his cell phone and dialed 9-1-1, praying they would get there quickly.
“Arthur, my granddaughters…” Maggie looked up at her friend. “I should have contacted them sooner.”
As she started to fade, Arthur reached down and checked her pulse. “Maggie, don’t leave. Hang on, my girl, hang on!”
But it was too late. She was gone. Arthur wiped his eyes and heard the sirens far off in the distance. Too late, he thought. Too late! The breeze blew through the doors to the balcony, and he could have sworn he heard faint bells, then a soft whisper. “Don’t worry old friend, this is not the end. Be a help to them. They will need you.”
He shook his head, clearing it of such fanciful thoughts, and went down to meet the ambulance.
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