For those of you waiting on Amazon to update the manuscript - here is the missing chapter. I apologize again for formatting error (and my formatter sends her apologies as well!).
They climbed the stairs of the lighthouse, taking their time, this time with flashlights, and calling back to each other whenever a broken step appeared or a loose bolt was apparent. Sasha was still niggling over Declan’s declaration of love, so she missed a step and almost went down, but he caught her – strong and steady behind her. Would it always be this way? Him there to catch her?
Sasha needed to come to terms with the fact that it already had always been this way. The only difference was that now she was included. It was like pulling back a curtain to reveal a secondary cast of characters in her life that she’d had no knowledge of. It was disconcerting, to say the least. It should have come as no surprise to anyone that she wasn’t quite ready to drop the L-word yet.
“This is cool,” Bianca exclaimed from the top, and soon they all crowded into the circular room. The flame from yesterday had now died out, though it seemed to Sasha that another one had been ignited in her heart. Heat flushed her as she thought about Declan taking her against the wall, her body melded to his. Declan turned and flashed a knowing grin at her, and she jumped and turned away to begin to examine the room.
“It’s fairly standard, for the century it was built in,” Seamus said as they began to examine the stones, peeking through the window slots to look at different viewpoints.
“The view is phenomenal,” Sasha sighed and leaned against one sliver of window that showed the ocean, uninterrupted for miles but for a moody seagull swooping in the misting rain. Though the weather was melancholy, there was something about the seagull that calmed her. There had been a battle raging on these very shores the night before, yet in the morning, the birds still flew and the rain still fell. Wars were waged, battles won and lost, and the world moved on. The continuity of it was a blessing.
Sasha smiled and turned, crossing her arms as she looked at her friends, the people who had now become her family. She looked up and murmured a silent ‘thank you’ to the Goddess.
“Hey, is that a placard?” Sasha asked, pointed to a small metal square, bolted to the wall, far above their heads where the roof rounded to its peak.
“Good eye, Sash,” Seamus said.
She gasped as he scaled the wall, nimble as a monkey, and peered at the square. Holding on with one hand, he brushed at the rust for a moment until he could see.
“Get anything?” Declan asked.
“There, but for the grace of God, go I,” Seamus said, and dropped lightly back to his feet.
Sasha thought it was interesting that she had just been thinking about the circle of life, the ebb and flow of good and bad, and here was a quote that echoed the luck and misfortune of humanity.
“Grace’s Cove!” Bianca said immediately.
Sasha looked at her in confusion. “Grace’s Cove? I think I’ve heard of it. Village on the west coast?” she asked.
“It’s near where we had our last battle and found the stone. The cove is enchanted. It’s all very fantastic; I’ll fill you in on the ride. But I’m certain this is where we need to go,” Bianca said. Then she paused, her round face flushed as she held up a hand, and said, “Actually, it doesn’t matter what I think. What do you think, Sasha? Does Grace’s Cove feel right?”
“This was one of Grace O’Malley’s castles,” Declan said from behind her.
“It was? That’s amazing. I have nothing but respect for Grace O’Malley. The original tough-as-nails woman. Did you know she gave birth at sea? And then went into battle? And women today talk about having perfect birth plans. Please. Grace O’Malley would laugh in their faces,” Bianca pattered on behind her, but Sasha tuned her out and turned to look back at the lonely gull swooping above the crashing waves.
When it dove into the water and snatched a fish, the fish dangling from its mouth for a moment before meeting its death, Sasha nodded once.
There but for the grace of God go I.