А Б В Г Д Е Ж З И Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Э Ю Я Ё
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Выберите необходимое действие:
Меню
Свернуть
Скачать книгу Elphame's Choice

Elphame's Choice

Автор:
Жанр:
Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2019 год
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 >>

Читать онлайн «Elphame's Choice»

      Elphame's Choice
P.C. Cast

From the bestselling author of the "House of Night" series comes the award-winning world of Partholon, rich in goddesses, intrigue and magic.Part-human, part-centaur, Elphame has always been different. OK, make that very different. The hundreds of shimmering butterflies sent by the goddess Etain to mark her birth were only the beginning. When Elphame is asked to breathe new life into the remote MacCallan Castle, she goes along with it (well stranger things have happened. . . ) and finally she's found her true calling.But Elphame hadn't banked on her life being threatened when the bizarre Fomorian descendents (bat-like humans - it's a long story) return to MacCallen with their own devastating agenda. Nor the fact that she may have finally found her lifemate. . . at the most inconvenient time!

She burst out of the forest and into a small clearing to find herself suddenly shrouded in fog. Breathing hard, Elphame came to a halt. The mist curled around her, thick and grey. She blew on it and suddenly the misty colour changed and it became tinged with a hint of red.

The colour beckoned her.

It swirled in an unending circular pattern that reminded her of one of Epona’s holly-hedged labyrinths that decorated the temple grounds. In her dream the familiar comparison made her smile and she stretched out her arms, spreading her fingers wide. Slowly, she began to turn and as the mist caressed her body she realised that she was naked.

“Elphame…” The disembodied voice floated around her on the mist. It was a man’s voice, but she didn’t recognise it.

“Come to me, Elphame…”

The GODDESS OF PARTHOLON series by New York Times bestselling author

P.C. CASI

DIVINE BY MISTAKE

DIVINE BY CHOICE

DIVINE BY BLOOD

ELPHAME’S CHOICE

BRIGHID’S QUEST

Find out more at www.mirabooks.co.uk

Elphame’s Choice

P.C. Cast

www.mirabooks.co.uk (http://www.mirabooks.co.uk)

To my amazing daughter, Kristin Frances, the perfect blending of two and the inspiration for Elphame.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

As always, I thank my agent and friend, Meredith Bernstein. In this particular case you deserve The Big Thank You!

I am so appreciative of my editor, Mary-Theresa Hussey. Thank you, M-T, for keeping me on track during the complex task of world building.

Thank you to my father, Dick Cast, for his invaluable information about wolves (it’s turned out to be a good thing that you’re a member of a pack!) and about flora and fauna in general.

I appreciate my sister-in-law, Carol Cast, RN, BSN, for detailed info pertaining to horrid wounds and dead bodies. Any bodily fluid errors are mine and mine alone.

And I would like to express a soul-felt thank-you to my fabulous fans who fell in love with Partholon years ago and kept/keep asking for more and more and more…I truly appreciate you all so very much!

PROLOGUE

That day had started with deceptive normalcy.

The dawn offering to Epona had been particularly moving. The Goddess had filled Etain so completely that afterward she carried the glow of Her presence throughout the morning, and for once she was allowed some time alone—temporarily freed from the duties of Goddess Incarnate.

The contractions began as a vague sense of unease. She couldn’t find a comfortable place on her well-cushioned chaise longue. She snapped with uncharacteristic impatience at the enthusiastic servant who checked to make sure her mistress didn’t need a refill of hot water. Not even the thought of a long soak in the mineral springs bathing pool seemed appealing.

Etain hoped a stroll through her magnificent flower garden would ease what she thought was just a little difficulty digesting the strawberries from lunch. The walk appeared to be helping—until she paused to sniff a brilliant crimson blossom and her water broke violently all over the Goddess Incarnate’s silk-lined slippers.

Normalcy had also been broken.

“Isn’t that always the way of it?” She grimaced and clenched her teeth as another wave of pain blanketed her body. Bending at the waist she leaned heavily against the woman whose arm was linked through her own.

“Sssh, Etain.” Fiona spoke soothingly in her light, melodic brogue. “Donna speak, my friend. Just concentrate on your breathing.”

Etain jerked her head in a sharp imitation of nodding agreement and tried to match her panting gasps to Fiona’s calm, deep breaths. The contraction peaked and receded.

A flurry of activity ensued. The Goddess Incarnate’s clothes were changed by her bevy of attendants, who then began notifying the Wise Women who lived in the villages closest to Epona’s Temple. Wrapping her arm around Fiona’s waist, and using her sturdy presence from which to draw strength, Etain continued her stroll through the temple gardens. The Chosen One’s friend and advisor had assured her that walking would aid in the child’s birth.

As the day crawled methodically past, the image of Etain’s oasis of tranquility dissipated, but the residue of Epona’s morning possession calmed her—as always, Epona’s Chosen drew upon the familiar thread that bound her to the Goddess and found strength and comfort.

Fiona smiled encouragement and the two women turned around, heading back toward the floor-to-ceiling windows that led from Etain’s bedchamber to her private garden. Gauzy curtains the color of liquid gold fluttered from within the open leaded-glass panes that served as door and windows. The Goddess Incarnate breathed deeply, trying to steady the racing of her heart and ready herself for the inevitable next contraction.

“I think that really is the worst part.” As always, she spoke her mind aloud to Fiona.

ELPHAME’S CHOICE

“What?” She looked thoughtfully at her friend and mistress.

“The inevitability of what’s happening. I can’t stop it. I can’t pause it. I can’t really affect it at all. The truth is that I’d like to say, ‘This has been interesting, but I’m ready for it to cease now. I want to bathe, eat a lovely meal and get a good night’s rest. We’ll just begin from here tomorrow, shall we?’” Fiona’s expression of polite curiosity changed to bubbling laughter.

“That would be nice.”

“Nice?” She grimaced in a very ungoddess-like manner. “It would be wonderful.”

Etain took another deep breath, appreciating the intoxicating sweetness of the voraciously blooming lilacs that framed that part of the walk. The path curved to the left and the lilacs gave way to a profusion of violet-colored roses, which were in full bloom. The delicate drapes billowed from the entryway, and fluttered like the wings of giant butterflies over the tips of the roses. They paused a few feet from the bedchamber that had housed Partholon’s Beloved of Epona for countless generations. The breeze carried the enchanting sound of women singing praises.

“We are the flow of water

The ebb and tide

The rush of knowing

All truth inside”

The words were woven together in a harmony of pitch; the underlying beat was hypnotic. It beckoned to Epona’s Chosen and soothed her frayed nerves. Slowly, her swollen body relaxed as she was filled with the women’s greeting song.

“We are the sound of growing

A Goddess root

Stretched strong and knowing

An endless shoot”

The words propelled Etain forward so that she eagerly entered her bedchamber. The Wise Women filled the room. At the Goddess Incarnate’s appearance, the tempo of the song increased. Spinning gracefully they seemed to float around the room until Etain and Fiona formed the center of their joyous circle.

“We are the soul of woman

A wondrous gift

Both rich and knowing

In praise we lift!”

With the word lift the women raised their arms to the domed ceiling and spun, humming the melody together. The silky clothing they wore drifted around their bodies like falling leaves, framing them in shimmering rays of changing light. All of the women were smiling, as if they were taking part in an event filled with such wonder that it was impossible to contain within them, and the happiness came spilling out of their bodies. As Fiona helped her mistress settle back into the cushions of the chaise longue they could clearly see formless glitter outlining each dancer like spiritual halos.

“Magic,” Etain whispered.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 >>