Marked by Destiny(3)

By: Lisa Cardiff

For most mortals, the legend of the Tuatha Dé and their Four Treasures is nothing more than a fanciful fairytale to be told to their children. For others, the threat of the Tuatha Dé and the lure of the power of the Four Treasures are very real, and there are those among them that will stop at nothing to harness that power.

Chapter 1

Present day.

Avery Conner searched the crowded grand hall of the Irish American Historical Society for her best friend, Grace. Self-conscious of her shapeless, black cocktail dress and her disheveled hair, she walked through the room nodding and smiling at people she recognized, but she refused to make eye contact, hoping to avoid being drawn into conversation with anyone.

Artists, scholars, and socialites in cocktail attire filled the hall with vivid swirls of color. Music from a string quartet floated through the air as waiters clad in black and white muddled through the crowd with champagne and hors d'oeuvres on silver platters. The sweet smell of roses wafted through the air from the large white floral arrangements decorating the tables.

Despite the size of the hall, the décor had been selected to create an atmosphere of comfortable sophistication. Overstuffed, regency inspired sofas and cream wing chairs were grouped around the perimeter of the room, and polished silver sconces cast a warm glow over herringbone oak floors. Velvet fabric draped the opening to the exhibit gallery on the far right of the hall, and a wood paneled bar with a glowing onyx counter stretched half the length of the back of the room.

The hall was too crowded, making her feel claustrophobic, and Avery was about to turn around and look at the exhibits again when she spotted Grace walking toward her. “Grace, I really have to go. My plane leaves in three and half hours,” Avery pleaded.

Grace and Avery had arrived at the party not less than forty-five minutes ago, and Avery was already pushing to leave. Grace looked annoyed, probably because Avery had abandoned her immediately when they arrived to look at the exhibits rather than make social rounds with her. Avery realized she managed to exacerbate Grace’s frustration by demanding to leave. She didn’t know why Grace forced her to attend these types of functions when Avery repeatedly refused to make any effort to be part of the society scene that Grace loved.

Grace thought Avery never grasped that these events were about more than work, but she was wrong. Avery unquestionably understood they were a place to see and be seen, but Grace failed to realize that Avery intentionally left before she was seen.

Avery felt Grace’s judging stare crawling up and down her clothing. She cringed, hoping Grace would forego her standard critique of her appearance. Determined to ignore Grace’s perusal, she grabbed a glass of champagne from a passing waiter and pasted a smile on her face.

Grace let out a pained sigh, and then a look of resignation crossed her face. “Seriously? You’re already packed. There won’t be any traffic at this time of night, and I promise you’ll make it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Just relax and enjoy this event before you’re stuck sitting by Dierdre’s deathbed for the next few weeks.”

Doubt flashed across Avery’s face, and then she visibly paled. Nausea rolled in her stomach, making her want to abandon her plans to visit her mother. What if she couldn’t control her anger? What if her mother refused to answer her questions yet again? What if she were too late to see her? Mentally exhausted from torturing herself for five straight days, she just wanted the trip to be over and get back to her life, but she couldn’t shake the feeling once her plane touched down in Ireland, nothing would ever be the same.

Taking a deep breath to clear her head of the persistent haze of panic that had been eating at her for days, she grabbed Grace’s hand. “Thanks. I know you’re just trying to help.”

A smile flickered at the edge of Grace’s mouth. “You know, I forced you to come tonight so you would have something to think about besides this trip. Being your oldest and, I hope, dearest friend, I knew if you sat at home waiting for me to pick you up, you would lose your nerve and cancel your plans. I’m not going to let you do that. You can’t let your relationship with Dierdre define the rest of your life. You need closure.”

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