BRINGING YOU THE BEST IN ROMANCE FICTION
A Short Excerpt from Faerie Dust by Linda Ciletti
Five years previous, Leisa’s daughter, Blaise, died of crib death at ten months of age. Or so she believes. But Blaise has been in Faerie and Alasdair wants to save her from a horrific fate. To do that, he needs the changeling that was set in her place. In this scene, Leisa catches Alasdair digging up her daughter’s grave and learns the truth about him.
It was a short walk to the cemetery. The gates were open and the cool morning air filled her lungs. The sun blinded her and she knew a warm day lay ahead. Soon late morning rays would burn off the dew. For now the grass shimmered as each glistening wet blade reached for the light. Leisa studied the many rows of gravestones. So many varied colors, sizes, and shapes, all glowing gold under the rise of morning. She walked swiftly, eager to reach her destination. When Blaise first passed away, each weekly trip to the grave site had been heart-wrenching. The first year she’d wept each time. The second year she had merely ached. By the third year she had set her pain behind her and found comfort in her visits. Why? She didn’t know. Perhaps she had never truly accepted that Blaise was gone.
Topping the hill crest, she headed for the treeline. She’d wanted Blaise buried in a natural way. No embalming. No funeral parlor visitations. No fancy coffin or vault. Just a plain pine coffin and a quick one-day burial. Natural. Because the ground tended to sink in such cases, green graves were placed near the tree line or beyond. She’d bought the plot next to Blaise’s for herself. They would spend eternity together.
From the distance, Leisa saw movement near Blaise’s grave. She hurried her steps. As she got closer, she made out a familiar shape. Alasdair was standing thigh deep in the grave.
“Oh, my God.” Leisa began to run. When she reached Alasdair, she grabbed his shirt and pulled frantically. “What are you doing!” she screamed. “Stop it!” She grabbed the shovel handle and tried to rip it from his grasp.
Alasdair held tight. “Leisa. Why are you here?” He yanked the shovel from her hands.
“Why am I here!” Leisa bellowed. “Why are you here? And what the hell are you doing?” Again she tried to grab the shovel. When her sights fell on the wood coffin lid, gray and warped and rotting, she covered her mouth and turned away. Tears filled her eyes and she fell back. “You’re insane!” she cried. “I’m getting the police.” She broke into a run, cutting through the strip of woods that separated the cemetery from the road. Tears fogged her vision, and she tripped on an exposed root.
“Leisa!” Alasdair called.
Picking herself up, she ran once more. She could see asphalt through the foliage and hear the passing of cars.
“Leisa,” Alasdair called again. Closer.
“Go away!” Leisa shouted over her shoulder. A stitch in her side slowed her and she doubled over. Hurried strides approached from behind. She could hear the crush of ground cover at each nearing step. Sucking in a breath, she straightened and prepared once more to run. A firm grip wound about her arm and yanked her back.
Alasdair muffled it with his hand as he locked her between his arm and chest. “Leisa, let me explain,” he pleaded.
Leisa struggled and shook her head.
“Please, Leisa. You must listen.” Alasdair shifted his stance for balance. “I will loose my hand now.”
At the drop of his hand, Leisa bit his arm. “Let go of me!” She shrugged out of his hold and ran.
“Sweet Mother Earth!” Alasdair yelled. His strides were long and quick. Catching up with Leisa, he grabbed her from behind. When she swung around, they both lost balance and fell to the ground. Sharp twigs bit into Leisa’s back. Alasdair straddled her and held her firmly down, his hands clamped about her wrists, pinning them to dirt, leaves, and rock.
Leisa tried screaming, but powerful sobs closed off her throat. She began gasping for air. Quickly Alasdair swung off of her. He lifted her to a sitting position and waited until she caught her breath.
“Why, Alasdair? Why would you do that?” She rested her elbows on her knees and covered her face with her hands. A muffled groan sounded through her fingers.
“Leisa,” Alasdair began. He knew he should not divulge the truth, but he had no choice. Leisa had seen him desecrating what she thought to be her daughter’s grave. No lie could correct this. “Leisa,” he repeated. “Your daughter is not in that grave.” He felt her stiffen and he paused. When she looked up at him, eyes red and swollen, he repeated, “Blaise is not dead.”
“Yes, she is!” Leisa cried. “I saw her dead in her crib. I saw her in the coffin before it was sealed. Don’t tell me she’s not dead.”
“Yet in your heart you cannot believe her gone.”
“Wishful thinking. I don’t want her to be dead. But she is, Alasdair. And you’re digging up her grave. Oh, God!” Leisa began sobbing hysterically.
Alasdair grabbed her by the shoulders. “Blaise is alive and I have come here to save her. To bring her home. To you.”
Leisa lifted her head and glared at him. “You can’t save her. She’s dead!”
“Why are you doing this?”
“Leisa. I can prove she has not passed on.”
“Come back to the grave with me. When I lift the lid and remove the changeling, you will see.”
Leisa gasped. “You want me to watch you remove her body?”
“Not her body. A changeling.”
Leisa opened her mouth to speak, then grew quiet. Her eyes went wide. “Changeling?”
“Aye. ’Tis a–”
“I know what a changeling is. Sybil’s fairy book has a story about one.”
“Then you know what I say is true.”
Leisa shuffled back on her elbows. “What I know is that you’re insane.”
“Leisa. I am not insane.” Alasdair paused, then finished. “I am fae.”
“You’re telling me you’re a fairy? And you expect me to believe that?”
“No. It can’t be.”
“Do you not remember when Sybil asked you if I was a faerie?”
Leisa looked thoughtful. “Yes, I do. The other night outside my building.”
“Aye.” Alasdair rested his arms on his knees. “Did she ever tell you why she had asked me such a question?”
Leisa replayed their conversation. “She said she saw your wings.”
Alasdair smiled. “She saw the truth.”
“No, it can’t be.”
“When I left, you ran after me. Called my name.”
“Yes, but you were . . . how do you know that? You were gone.”
“I was there. You merely saw a firefly.”
Leisa shook her head and rubbed her face. “I remember. I thought it was strange to see a firefly so close to the building. Usually they hover over grassy areas. And it was brighter than any I had ever seen.”
“’Twas no firefly.”
Leisa shook her head. “No. It can’t be.”
“You ushered Sybil up the stairs. You later set her on the sofa and read to her. She brought you the book on faeries, her favorite, but you refused to read from it and chose another.”
“How do you know this?”
“I have watched you and Sybil many times this week past. I have slept on the ledge just outside your window.”
Leisa laughed hysterically. “Oh, God. I’d rather you were crazy.”
“Nay. Were I crazy, Blaise would be dead.”
Leisa shot him a look.
“I am not crazy–and Blaise lives.”
Read more in Faerie Dust by Linda Ciletti.