Queen of the Night
The plane circled the tiny island of Mores Cay and the pilot motioned to his passenger as he tilted the wing so she could get a look at the beach at the south end. She couldn’t see the bungalow she rented for the next month as the plane slipped past, but knew it was hidden in the palm trees at the base of the cliffs.
“Beautiful,” she shouted to the pilot and received an affirming nod back. They circled back to the north end where the seaplane would land. As they descended Sam thought back to the horrid divorce she had just gone through and was glad to be here in paradise where all she had to do was to take care of was herself.
The seaplane drifted up to the dock as the land crew waited for the mooring ropes to be tossed to them by the pilot’s assistant. Once the plane was secured to the dock the land crew opened the luggage compartment and removed the three pieces of luggage that Samantha Dalton had brought with her. Sam unhooked her seatbelt and was assisted off the plane by the pilot.
“Here you go, mum.” He helped her balance on the plane’s pontoon as it bounced in the waves. “Watch out for those ropes,” he cautioned as he pointed at the lines being tied to the front of the pontoon. “Your luggage will be in the shack at the end of the dock in just a bit. Do you have someone meeting you?”
“Yes, I do. Mr. Rourke will be meeting me.”
“Ah, you’ll be stayin’ at the old bungalow on the south end then.”
“Yes, I hear it’s been in his family for a long time.” Sam smiled eagerly at the thought of the quaint bungalow she saw in the brochure that was nestled on a powdery white sand beach.
“Yes ‘um, a very long time. Are you staying there alone?” The tone in the pilot’s voice seemed to carry an air of caution and Sam looked at him in question.
“Yes, I’m looking forward to some peace and quiet,” she said cautiously. “It is quiet on that end of the island, right?”
“Oh, that it is mum, you could say the silence can be deadly.” The emphasis he put on deadly didn’t register with Sam as a warning, but she was soon to find out what he had meant. He was about to say more, but Mr. Rourke came running up the dock to meet his renter for then next four weeks.
“Yes, that’s me. And, call me Sam.”
“I’m Shamus Rourke, but please call me Shamus.” Shamus looked at the pilot and subtly jerked his head in dismissal. “Did you have a nice flight over from Freeport?”
“Nice and smooth thanks to….” She looked for the pilot to thank him, but he was already boarding the next passengers for the return trip to Freeport.
“Good. My Jeep is parked at the end of the dock. Why don’t you get settled in it and I’ll get your bags.”
He led her to the Jeep before going after the bags. Once they were secured in the back, he slid behind the steering wheel and turned on the ignition. “I’ve taken the liberty of stocking your kitchen with staples; bread, eggs, milk, bacon, cereal, fruit, local vegetables and some dinner items too. There’s a Vespa motorbike you can use to come back to town when you need to re-stock. The first stocking is complementary and should get you through your first week. I hope you don’t mind.”
Sam nodded and smiled at him. “Thank you for your consideration, although I would like to stop and pick up some wine before we head out of town. Would that be possible?” She looked the man over surprised that he was so young to be the owner of a large parcel of the island.
“Oh, no need. I also stocked some wines too. Reds and whites to cover all basis.”
Sam shook her head in surprise. “Wow, you thought of everything.”
“Well, it’s just something extra I do so guests won’t have to deal with the necessities on the first day.”
They rode through the small town of Hard Bargain at a faster pace than Sam expected. She barely had time to spot the local market at the speed Shamus was making on the roadway. She did notice that many of the locals eyed their passage warily and chalked it off to the hasty pace of the Jeep. Before she knew it, they were on an uninhabited stretch of roadway outside of town. Shamus had to slow the speed of the Jeep as the blacktop gave way to a crushed shell roadbed. The island was small so the trip to the south end only took 15 minutes. Shamus pulled up to a downed palm tree that defined the parking area. A bright yellow Vespa was parked under a small lean-to near the path.
When the Jeep stopped, Shamus jumped out and removed the two larger bags and started toward the path that led down to the bungalow. “This way, Ms. Dalton. I mean, Sam.”
Sam stepped to the back of the Jeep and removed the last bag and followed the owner down the path. It was covered with crushed shells and was comfortably wide, but not wide enough for the Jeep to travel. As the path sloped downward it cut into the sides of the cliffs. The closeness of the jagged limestone cliffs made Sam shudder as they seemed to close in overhead. The feeling only lasted a couple of minutes until they walked out onto the pristine beach that was bathed in glorious sunshine, waiving palm trees, and a azure blue lagoon.
“Wow,” Samantha said as the beach came into view. “This is absolutely beautiful. I feel like I’ve entered Shangri-La.”
Shamus nodded in silent agreement. His newest guest had no idea how close that description really was. He had been searching for years for the “true love” needed to break the curse and so far no one has been able to do it. His hope that Sam Dalton would finally be the one turned to dust when he found out that Sam was really Samantha. The backers for his planned resort did not know about the ghost or the curse on his family. They just wanted to develop the land and couldn’t understand Shamus’ delay but they were not willing to wait much longer for a decision. He turned to the right and led the way to the small two-room bungalow that was nestled below a stand of palm trees at the base of the cliffs.
“Here we are.” He set the bags down on the small front porch that faced the lagoon. He pulled out a key and slid it in the lock and opened the door allowing Sam to enter first. “I don’t know why I bother to lock it. No one ever comes down this way.”
“Really? It’s so beautiful. I would think this beach would be packed with tourists.”
“Well, it doesn’t have easy access. And the lagoon is perfect, but the coral breakers are not very friendly to boats…so….” He knew this line well and told it often, but the real reason he couldn’t turn the property into a moneymaker was the ghost of Corrine Mallery that cursed his family for centuries.
“Well it’s exactly what I am needing right now,” Sam offered as she followed him. “Some good old peace and quiet.” The kitchen/living room and bedroom/bathroom were side-by-side and both offered a beachfront view. Sam went into the small bedroom that flanked the living room and set her bag down. Shamus followed her into the room and placed the two bags on the bed.
“Let me quickly show you around. I have an appointment in town in a half hour, so I’ll need to get back to town shortly.” He led her to the bathroom and explained the water system and toilet. The water was stored in a tower at the back of the building and the shower and sinks had water heated by solar panels that were strategically placed on the side of the cliffs. “These panels also produce a small amount of electricity to power simple lighting for the night and the small refrigerator.”
“I was wondering about how the food would be kept cold. I couldn’t imagine having to get ice everyday.”
In the kitchen he showed her how to use the small two-burner gas stove. He told her the propane was recently filled and would provide all the cooking power she would need and then some.
“There’s some firewood behind the building that you can use in the fire pit out front if you wish. And if you care to try your hand at fishing there’s equipment in the small shed by the water tower. There’s a good spot over on the left side of the beach. Oh, and there’s also some snorkel gear back there too.”
“Anything I should be wary of in the water?”
“Nope. Nothing but friendly colorful fish.” He smiled and went on. “Towels, toiletry items are in the bath, clean sheets in the wardrobe, and candles under the sink if needed. Also a lantern in the shed.” He looked hastily around the room. “Well, I think that’s about it.” He handed her the key for the bungalow and the Vespa and headed for the door. “Oh, Matilda will be by at the end of the week to bring fresh linens and do a little cleaning. I hope you enjoy your stay.”
“I’m sure I will. Thank you.” She watched him run quickly to the path and disappear between the cliffs.
Sam looked around the room sighing as feeling of excitement and adventure filled her. She went to the bedroom to unpack her trusty old fashioned Smith Corona in hopes of quickly knocking off a short story for her publisher so she could spend the rest of the time basking in the sun. Setting it on the small desk in the living room, she pulled out a sheet of paper and cranked it in. She placed her fingers on the keys and looked out the window waiting for inspiration to move her into action. The white sand and the gentle surf in the cove caught her attention and all thoughts of writing quickly left her mind.
She inhaled and whispered to the empty room, “I must be crazy to be sitting here inside when there’s all that beach just calling to me.” She stood and went back to the bedroom and rifled through her bag for her bathing suit. In ten minutes time she was floating in the blue lagoon, a smile firmly in place on her face.
* * * * *
It was a dark and stormy night. The gusts of wind howled like a pack of coyotes screaming down the canyon and shook the windows with all their might. The little girl sat huddled next to the fireplace greedily trying to gather what little warmth the last bit of flame licking at the charred remnant of wood could muster….
Sam looked at the words she had just written and ripped the paper out of the old Smith Corona. “Bah! Rubbish Sam, just plain rubbish. How many scary dark and stormy nights have you ever lived through?” She looked out the window and watched the waves as they gently lapped against the white sand. The light breeze coming through the window brought in the fresh scent of ocean. Inhaling deeply, Sam stood and took a peek at the clock across the room. She had been in the bungalow for nine days now.
“Damn, I’ve been working on this for three days and I don’t have a blasted page ready for Stephanie! Crap! I told her I couldn’t do scary Halloween stories. Crap, crap, crap!” Sam paced the room, worry lines etching her brow deeply. “Damn, this was supposed to be a vacation…a real vacation for a change…not a working one! Why the hell did I agree to write a short scary story. For a children’s magazine no less!” She stopped at the window and looked out at the inviting beach. “Well, to hell with it! Stephanie will just have to wait for this one. I’m not wasting another day of my vacation on this.”
Sam grabbed her favorite ball cap, filled her backpack with bottled water and a few granola bars, and a towel then headed out the door. The little bungalow she rented on the southern end of Mores Cay was just what she needed….a quiet and secluded place to heal her wounded heart. The quiet was intolerable at first, but after two nights, she reveled in the peaceful sound of the ocean.
The southern shore of Mores Cay was bordered by a 100-yard wide strip of pristine white sand that started at the waterfront and ended at limestone cliffs that jutted up from the island. These cliffs were full of caves carved out by the wind and surf over the years and were avoided by the local inhabitants as a haunted place….or so Matilda had informed her when she came to clean. As Sam walked the deserted beach she remembered the tale told by Matilda. If she was prone to believing in the supernatural, the ghosts in the caves held the souls pirates that shipwrecked on the coral breakers surrounding that end of the island. According to Matilda, Shamus Rourke was a descendent of Blackbeard the Pirate and his family was under a curse by one of his victims. Matilda told her she was surprised to see a woman in the bungalow. She said Shamus rented the little retreat exclusively to men who he said were supposedly more adventurous and weren’t reliant on restaurants, daily maid service, or tourist attractions. Sam made sure Matilda knew she wasn’t in need of daily service and was quite capable of taking care of herself.
“Yes, Miss. Dalton. You seem capable…but have you ever seen a ghost?”
“A ghost? Well, no, but then I don't believe in ghosts so I don’t think that will be a problem for me.”
“As you say, Miss, but be careful out here. Watch out for the Queen of the Night. I’ve heard tales that she is very dangerous and some of the people who have stayed here left changed.”
“It’s hard to explain, Miss …but they were not the same as when they came. It was as though their souls were sucked right out.”
Sam shook off the memory thinking it was all part of the locals way to develop the ‘island mystique’ for the tourist trade. Every island had to have a story and this was theirs. After all, she had been on the island for nine nights and had not run into a ghost. She didn’t know that tonight would be different.
Sam walked out to the beach and turned back to look at her hidden retreat at the base of the path. The cottage was surrounded by tall palm trees, palmettos, and native flowering shrubs and would be overlooked if anyone from the water tried to find it. Matilda also warned her about the local flora in that cove. The locals preferred to call it by its more colorful name - Queen of the Night – rather than the horticultural name of cestrum nocturnum. It was from the Nightshade family and the whole plant and especially the berries were highly poisonous. The old woman told her the local legend that the plant sprang from the buried body of a woman kidnapped by Blackbeard the Pirate…her name was Corrine Mallery. The jasmine scent of the plant was very strong and alluring, especially at night. It was said to be so intoxicating it would lure pirates into eating the poisonous berries, thus extracting a revenge for the kidnapped woman’s brutal death. Sam shook her head at the memory of the tale chalking it off as the old woman’s way to get a little attention from the few tourists that made their way to Mores Cay. She grabbed her pack and slipped it over her shoulders settling the light load firmly before heading west to see what she could find. She had spent the first nine days close to the bungalow and was now regretting the time she wasted inside pecking on the typewriter. Now, she was ready for adventure and decided to check out the cliffs and see if she could find a few ghosts. It would be dark in an hour and she wanted to get to the cliffs before the sun set. Last night she thought she saw a faint glow from the base of the cliff…she wanted to be there for a closer look tonight. She assumed it would be bio-luminescent organisms in the lagoon that caused the glow but was ready for whatever the night would bring. Or so she thought.
Sam quickly and carefully scaled the jagged limestone cliffs searching for a good spot to observe the lagoon from. Scanning the cliff, she saw a precarious perch that would be perfect. Stepping carefully and pulling herself up over the lip, she found a small level spot for her vigil. Sam settled in munching on a granola bar and sipping bottled water as she waited for the sun to set.
Around midnight, Sam decided that the story was truly a fabrication and packed up her towel and granola wrappers, stuffing them into the backpack and stood to make the slow, careful trip over the ledge and down the cliff. She was actually disappointed that the night was uneventful, but figured the calm lagoon was unable to stir the bio-luminescent organisms into glowing. As she finished zipping up the backpack, a breeze from the lagoon brought the strong scent of jasmine to her nose. She smiled as she inhaled the strong sweet scent and slipped the backpack over her shoulders.
“Well, it was a beautiful night anyway,” she said as she stooped to grab hold of the ledge, then stopped in amazement as she saw a figure sitting on the rocks below. She knelt and watched, mesmerized by the glow that surrounded the figure. “Whoa! I must be hallucinating.” Sam stood and called out, “Hello…”
The figure turned at the sound of greeting and stared at Sam for what seemed to be an eternity, smiled, then said in a soft whispered Scottish accent, “at last,” then lifted a hand in greeting.
Staring at the woman below, Sam found herself holding her breath, as her eyes held the most stunning woman she had ever seen. The apparition before her was wearing a long white dress that clung to a very shapely body in the light breeze, exposing every sensuous curve. She had long reddish blond hair that framed her pale face and piercing green eyes that shot straight through Sam. The vision before her took her breath away. At the motioned invitation from the woman below, Sam moved to descend. She was so mesmerized by the vision below that she slipped on the edge, losing her balance. She reached for the ledge as she fell, her fingers clawing at the sharp rocks as she fell the thirty feet to the base of the cliff. Her head hit a large outcrop of rock just before she came rest on the soft sand at the bottom. She held consciousness for a split second before passing out. The last thing imprinted on her optical nerve was the beautiful woman bending over her, a tear slipping from one emerald eye.
* * * * *
Sam moved her arm, “Damn it,” she swore as her eyes popped open with the pain. “What the fuck?” She lifted her head off the stack of pillows and looked down at her hands. Both hands were wrapped in strips of linen. She dropped her head back down on the pillows and experienced a sharp pain in her head causing her to squeeze her eyes shut and moan loudly.
The noises she made alerted the figure sitting in the chair by her side. “Hush, now.” Came the soft voice, “I’ll get you something for the pain.”
Before Sam could open her eyes again to see who spoke the woman was gone. “I must be dreaming,” Sam said as she looked around the quiet room. Then the woman came back through the door holding a cup of steaming liquid. “It’s you,” she said softly.
“Aye,” the woman said as she sat in the chair and held the cup to Sam’s lips. “’Tis hot, so just take small sips.”
Sam looked at her in wonder. “You’re real,” she said softly as she took a sip of the proffered drink and coughed as the bitter liquid slid down her throat. “What on earth is that?”
“A healing tea from nature,” the woman answered.
Sam’s eyes opened wide knowing that the main plants on the beach were those of the Nightshade family and were very poisonous. “Not from the…”
The woman smiled allaying Sam’s fear. “No, not from the island jasmine, but from the sea.”
Sam sighed and took another proffered sip. The pain was already subsiding as she lay back on the pillows. “Who are you? Where did you come from? Your accent… you’re not from this island.”
The woman’s eyes seemed to bore into Sam’s brain as though they were searching for something. She offered Sam another sip but Sam moved her head away, waiting for the woman to answer. “”Tis true, I’m from the far of land of the Scots, but I’m here now,” the woman said and put the cup to Sam’s lips again. “Now, take another sip. That was a nasty fall you took. ‘Tis a wonder your head did not split open.”
Sam began to feel lightheaded as she tried to focus on the person beside her. Her eyes started to drift shut, but she did as she was told and sipped the tea. She forced her eyes open and asked again, “What’s your name?” The woman set the cup down and looked intently at Sam.
“You know who I am, Samantha,” she said as she stood.
As her eyes lost focus and her mind became foggy under the effects of the tea. Sam nodded, “Yes, I think I do.”
* * * * *
It was bright morning when Sam opened her eyes again. She looked around the room warily and found no one there. A cup with cold tea was sitting on her bedside table. Cautiously she sat up and found her headache was now just a dull throb. She reached up with one bandaged hand and felt the back of her head. “Ow!” She said as her hand came in contact with a very large bump. “Nice bump, Sam. You’re lucky you didn’t kill yourself.”
Removing her hand from the injured head she looked at the bandages that covered both. Each finger was wrapped separately and the palms were also covered in a smart figure eight pattern. She flexed her hands and was surprised that they didn’t seem to hurt as much as she expected them to. She remembered reaching out for handholds as she lost her balance and also remembered the pain as they were torn on the sharp rocks. She searched her memory for anything after the fall, but came up blank.
“How’d I get back here and who put me back together?” She stood and gingerly went into the living room. No one was there. She looked for a note and found none. She went back to the bedroom and picked up the cup, sniffing the contents with care. “Phew, what the heck is this stuff?”
She took the cup to the kitchen area and set it in the sink then walked to the door of the bungalow. She gently grasped the handle and pulled only to find the door locked from the inside. “That’s strange,” she said. “I could have sworn there was someone with me here last night.” She searched her memory once more and remembered seeing the beautiful woman on the rocks below her perch.
“Now I remember. There was someone…I know I saw her…it wasn’t my imagination. She must have helped me home, but where is she now?” Sam unlocked the door and stepped outside. From the porch she looked up and down the beach but saw no one. “Hellooo,” she called. “I’m awake now. I want to thank you for helping me last night.” There was no response so Sam decided to walk the beach and search for her new found friend. She walked up and down the beach several times, calling out for the woman, but there was not a living soul in sight, not another bungalow or livable cave on this side of the island. Finally giving up, Sam went back to the bungalow to rest. “She must have come by boat, that’s the only logical answer.”
Four days had past since Sam’s tumble down the rocks. Her hands were healing well, no longer requiring bandages and the bump on her head was almost gone and the area was only slightly sensitive. She was sitting on the porch idly watching the waves lap against the shore when Matilda came down the path.
Matilda called out to Sam. “Hello, Miss. I’ve brought clean linens and towels and some fresh fruit from the market.” Sam jumped at the voice and turned to face Matilda. “Oh, sorry Miss. I didn’t realize you were sleeping.”
“Oh, no Matilda. I was…my mind was just elsewhere.”
“Well, I’m sorry if I interrupted. I’ll just go inside and get the place tidy for you.”
Samantha watched as the islander stepped into the bungalow. Sam turned back to the lagoon and stared out to the sea, then seeming to make up her mind, she stood and went into the little house.
“Matilda,” Sam said as she entered. “Do people often come here by boat?”
“No, Miss. Mr. Rourke doesn’t like folks to come around here. Besides, no one on the island would anyway. Remember, I told you about the ghosts? Well, folk here avoid this piece of land completely because of them.”
“Ok, but what about other tourists. Would they come here?”
“No, Miss. The coral here can be dangerous, especially at low tide so I don’t think anyone would think of coming this way. Why do you ask?”
“The other night, I was out on the rock cliff and met a woman. Well, at least I think I met a woman.”
Matilda’s eyes widened. “A woman, you say?”
“Yes, a very beautiful woman. You see I was out on the rocks around midnight when I spotted this woman sitting on the rocks below me. I called out and she turned and waved to me to come down. Well, down I came, all right.” Sam shook her head and flushed. “I tumbled down about thirty feet and banged myself up pretty good.”
“Oh, my, Miss. You’re all right now though?”
“Yes, pretty much healed up now.” She showed her the healing scrapes on her hands and the small bump that was left of the goose egg sized bump that was originally there. “The woman, well, I’m assuming it was the woman because I don’t remember much after the fall…well, she must have brought me back here and fixed me up. The next morning when I awoke, there was no one…no note…nothing. I looked all over, but no sign of life except for me.”
Matilda looked at her guardedly. “You saw this woman at midnight?”
“Yes. She was stunningly gorgeous. Reddish blond hair, deep green eyes, and a body that we would both kill for!” Sam said with a laugh.
Matilda however was not laughing. “She was dressed all in white?” Matilda asked.
“Yes, a white flowing dress. Do you know her?”
“No, Miss. I’ve never seen her, but then, I would never climb the rocks at midnight to find her. But I know who you are talking about.”
A look of confusion crossed Samantha’s face. “So, who is she?”
“The Queen of the Night…Corrine Mallery. Or at least the ghost of Corrine Mallery.”
“That’s impossible,” Sam said with a chuckle of laughter. “This woman was as real as you and I. Beating heart, flesh and blood.”
“Yes, Miss. That’s what the tales say…but only at night. That’s when she comes to life to wait for her true love. Folklore has it that once she finds her true love, they will both leave this place and the curse will be lifted.”
“Mr. Rourke is a descendent of Blackbeard the pirate. His family has been living with the curse placed on them by Corrine Mallery after they raped and murdered her. They’re cursed to die a savage death and none will live beyond thirty.”
“And…has this happened?”
“Yes, Miss. No one in his family has ever lived past thirty. Mr. Rourke has been renting this place to single men from Scottish descent trying desperately to find her true love and break the curse. He turns thirty next month.”
“Surely it’s just a hereditary disease or something, right? Not a curse?”
“No, Miss. Each person died a tragic death. I knew his grandfather. He was killed by a shark attack…there’s never been killer sharks in these waters except for that one attack. And his father was swept off the rock cliff by a rogue wave that hit the island and was thrashed to shreds on the rocks below.”
“Well, those could happen to anyone, Matilda. They’re perfectly understandable deaths.”
“That may be so, Miss, but none of his family ever lived beyond thirty. All died in a savage way…their flesh torn from their bodies in cruel ways. Even if they left the island, they still died in horrific ways.” Matilda looked around the room. “I’ll be finishing my work now, Miss.” She hesitated, “Don’t be going on the rocks at midnight, Miss. There’s no telling what her ghost will do.” Matilda turned and went to work straightening and cleaning the small house.
Samantha watched, as the woman attacked her work quickly, as though she was anxious to leave. She walked back out to the porch and thought about their conversation. Ghosts. Curses. Violent deaths. Then she thought of the woman she saw on the rocks. “Nope. No such thing as ghosts. That woman came from somewhere. Maybe she walked down the path instead of coming by boat? That’s got to be it.” Sam nodded in affirmation, but in the back of her mind, she remembered the woman’s Scottish accent and curiosity lit a desire to go back to the rocks at midnight to see if Corrine Mallery would appear.
* * * * *
At 11:00 pm, Sam grabbed her beach towel, sand chair, and the lantern from the shed then stuck out to the rocks where she had seen the woman four days ago. By 11:15 pm, she was settled on her blanket in the sand, her eyes intently watching the area of rock before her. The lantern was extinguished and her eyes were adjusting to the darkness of the night. It was a warm night and the sand was still radiating heat and surrounding her with comfortable warmth. The sound of the waves gently lapping in the lagoon behind her played softly in contrast to the harsher sound of the crashing waves upon the rocks that sheltered the lagoon. The symphony of nature and the warmth from the sand beneath her soon had Sam nodding off in a light sleep…but not for long.
“Hello, Samantha.” The soft voice was almost lost on the breeze. Sam opened her eyes and found the woman from the night before sitting on the sand beside her. “’Tis a lovely night.”
Sam closed her eyes and rubbed them, then opened them again. The woman was still there. She wasn’t dreaming.
“I see you’ve healed well from your fall.” The woman said softly as she reached for Sam’s hand to inspect. Her touch was warm and electrifying as Sam sat spellbound.
“Uh, yes. Thanks to you,” then added hesitantly… “Corrine.”
“Aye, but you’ve always been a fast healer, love.”
Love? Thought Sam a bit confused. “You speak as though we know each other.”
“But we do, my love.” Corrine answered. “I’ve been waiting for you for a very long time.”
“I’m sorry,” Sam stammered. “I don’t understand. I’ve never met you before. At least, not before the other night.”
“Ah, but you have, love. Just not in this time or in this body,” she said as she caressed Sam’s face. Her touch sent waves of excitement through Sam and kindled a desire she had never felt before.
“Not in this time?” Sam said, shaking at the feeling that was growing within.
“No, love. It’s been many years since we were together…and now, we’re finally together again.”
“How many years?” Sam quizzed.
“Aye, since 1715 when I left Scotland. You were going to follow me on the next ship out, but alas, Blackbeard put an end to that.”
“Two hundred ninety three years?” Sam said in astonishment.
“Aye, love. I’ve been waiting for you that long.”
The journalist and writer in Samantha overcame the incredulity of the story and the desire she was feeling for this woman was growing so she pressed on for more information. “Why did we leave Scotland?”
“You don’t remember much do you love? I imagine the years have scoured your mind from those days. Our kinfolk were very cruel when they discovered our love and we decided to leave on the first ship out of port.”
“But, you said I was going to follow you. What happened?”
“Aye, that was the plan, but you were late getting to port and the ship sailed without you. I saw you from the rail and we watched each other in tears as the ship pulled away. You shouted you would follow, but the brutal pirate Blackbeard ended my life before we could reunite. I knew you’d keep your promise, that’s why I’ve waited.”
Sam bowed her head in sadness remembering the tale Matilda told of the rape and murder of Corrine Mallery. “I’m really having difficulty with all this,” she said as she lifted her head to face the woman.
“I can prove it to you if you let me,” Corrine said sweetly.
“How?” Sam asked softly as she looked into the depth of the emerald eyes before her. A stirring beginning in her soul as Corrine moved closer.
“Like this,” she said as she slid a hand along Sam’s back and pulling her within a breaths distance. Their eyes searched one another and Sam could feel her heart pounding in her chest. “Don’t be afraid, love,” Corrine said as she softly placed her lips on Sam’s.
The kiss lingered softly at first, then became more powerful as both women reveled in the release of passion that had been held back for centuries. Sam felt her fear and doubt ebb away as her body reacted to the kiss. Across her mind scenes flashed from the recent past, then seemed to move across decades…going backward further and further in time. In each scene she appeared with the same likeness, but was surrounded by different people…families…friends…and places. Finally, she saw a scene of her and Corrine, wrapped in one another’s arms deep in the heather filled hills of Scotland. The love they shared was palpable and filled them completely.
When Corrine slowly pulled away, Sam opened her eyes and smiled, and saw a tear of joy slipping down Corrine’s cheek. She reached up catching the tear on her fingertip and slipped it into her mouth relishing the sweet salty taste.
“Do you remember now, love?” Corrine asked quietly.
“Yes, I do. I’m sorry I’ve been away so long.”
“You are here now, love.”
“Yes,” she answered and they kissed again making the years they were apart seem like only moments in time.
* * * * *
Shamus Rourke signed the contract with the developer and smiled brightly. When he woke up the day after his birthday, he knew the curse on his family was finally over. Now, six months later, the deal with the developer was going full speed ahead. A year from now, he would be opening the newest resort in the Caribbean…Blackbeard’s Cove.
“We’ll be breaking ground tomorrow, Shamus.”
“That’s terrific, Henry. It’s been a long time coming. A very long time.”
“Well, Shamus, you’ll live to be a very rich old man once the resort gets going.”
“Live to be an old man, eh? That alone is worth it!”
Henry Weinstein didn’t understand the comment fully and thought it might have something to do with the Dalton woman.
“Say, did they ever find out why that woman died?”
“No, we thought it might have been a aneurism caused by the fall she took on the rocks, but the autopsy came up empty. No drugs, no aneurism, nothing. She was healthy as a horse.”
“Well, just goes to show you that living a healthy lifestyle isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, eh?” Henry laughed as he folded the legal papers and slipped them into his brief case. “Enjoy life to the fullest is my motto!”
“Yes, that’s going to be mine now too.” He watched as Henry left his office and thought back to the day Matilda found the young Dalton woman. She was lying on the bed, hands folded across her chest, a smile on her face. Matilda had her own ideas on what caused her death, and maybe she was right. After all, the curse was finally over.