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Guardians of Erin 2
Since moving to Ireland, Ashling Donoghue has tackled one challenge after another. Now the mystery of her parents' disappearance seems unsolvable. Are they dead or only missing? No one—not even the godlike Breasals—has a clue. Hope and fear war inside her, but she's determined to find answers and stay strong for her siblings. Even as she hones newfound powers, her banshee-in-training sister Deirdre needs her support.
Ashling could use a little help herself. She's struggling to navigate her first romance, and while Aengus Breasal stirs her body, mind, and soul, his nemesis Lorcan does too. Both men harbor secrets about her past life as Caer. One has ties to Aoife, the scheming wind demon whose influence is on the rise.
As the Stone of Destiny awakens, so does the conflict within.
Page Count: 212
Word Count: 46311
The Breasal Estate, Killarney, Ireland
November of the same year
Thunder shook the night as the Dullahan’s black stallion reared beneath him on the sweeping lawn below. The horseman thrust his severed head toward the sky and called out the names of those he hunted.
“Dylan Donoghue! Maeve Donoghue!”
Powerless to stop him, I watched from the bedroom window. The glass panes infused my palms with the chill of death itself. Out of sight, my parents screamed, then fell silent. The sound of laughter followed.
Exultant. Spiteful. Malignant.
Aoife! The wind demon whose foul plot shattered my family with a single blow.
Hate and despair welled inside me. “No!”
“Ashling, wake up!” My sister shook me awake.
She switched on the lamp between our beds, and I scanned the room. The same sash windows as in the dream. The same luxurious décor in shades of periwinkle, white, and gray. Even my slippers beside the bed were the same. But the night was quiet, and there was no immediate danger.
Deirdre tucked her long, blonde hair behind her ears and gave me a knowing look. “Another nightmare about the Dullahan?”
Nodding, I wiped the sweat from my brow. “And Aoife.”
“Sounds almost as bad as my dream the night he took Mom and Dad.”
“We don’t know he took them.”
“We don’t know he didn’t.”
“They’re not dead!” Dread clutched my heart, and I pushed out a long breath to calm myself. “They can’t be.”
“Branna said pretty much the same thing the other night, and you know how psychic she can be.”
“And now you and I have abilities. Soon the boys will too,” I huffed. “But what good is it if we can’t find Mom and Dad?”
“Seriously. The Breasals say we’re ‘treasures,’ but I don’t feel like one. It’s been weeks—”
“Almost three now.”
“Exactly. And still nothing.” She punched her pillow.
The image of my boyfriend’s exquisite face, of his deep blue eyes and golden hair, flashed in my mind. “Aengus is always out searching for them, and Brigit and Hugh have half the Otherworld on the case. Eamon and Greagoir are also keeping watch.”
Deirdre twisted her lips. “Well, if a leprechaun and dragon can’t find them, who can?” Her eyes narrowed. “What was that look when you mentioned Aengus?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re not gonna sabotage your first-ever romance, are you?”
I sighed. No point trying to hide it from her. “He seems to care about me. But does he like me or the fact that I was Caer, his great love in a past life?”
She glanced up at her bed’s canopy. “Look, I know you’re older, but we both know I’ve had way more experience with guys. So I’m telling you, don’t blow this. You have a god of love falling in love with you. Don’t ask questions. Just go for it.”
“He’s not a god.” He and his family had stressed that point. The Tuatha Dé Danann could shift between dimensions, but they weren’t deities.
“Close enough. Stop analyzing things to death and let nature take its course.”
Good advice, but easier said than done. “I’ll try.” I pushed back the covers and swung my legs off the bed.
“Where are you going?”
“To roam the house for a while.” I slid my feet into the soft slippers, then walked around her bed toward the door. “You go back to sleep.”
“Don’t mind if I do. ’Night, Ash.” She reached for the lamp.
With a click, the room went dark as I grabbed the doorknob. “Good night.”
I slipped out into the hallway and shuffled past our twin brothers’ bedroom to the place I couldn’t resist: my parents’ room. For the hundredth time, I studied the interior. Everything was exactly as they’d left it, down to Dad’s watch on the nightstand and Mom’s bathrobe on the chair.
The night they disappeared, Aengus stood beside me in this same spot and squeezed my hand to reassure me. Since then, he spent most of his time in the Otherworld. He hadn’t even mentioned the kiss we shared Halloween night.
Was he avoiding me? Maybe. But one thing was certain: he was as drawn to me as I was to him. So what was the deal?
If Mom were here, she’d hug me and say everything would be okay.
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