- Author: Oliver Davies
Book online «Blood in the Water Oliver Davies (ereader that reads to you TXT) 📖». Author Oliver Davies
Blood on the Water
Deadly Highlands book 2
A Message from the Author
It had been one of the best days the whole gang had spent together for years. When had all six of them last been together like this? Over the New Year in Haddington? Yes, and that hadn’t been the same at all. Conall and Shay had done their best, which was never short of amazing, but everyone knew that the parting clock had been ticking down in their heads again all week. They may only be cousins to the rest of the world, but to these four, their oldest and closest friends, they had always seemed to be bound to each other more closely than twins, and less explicable, as if some bizarre metaphysical mishap had tangled their souls into one big gordian knot of a mess in early childhood.
“And that, my dears, is why Sidhe children should never be allowed to attach themselves to mortals.” Liam had told them all one summer evening near Kopanos, in northern Greece. “They have no control over their power in their infancy, you see. It just reaches out its ethereal little baby fingers to grasp any shiny bauble within reach, and the grabber gets grabbed right back.”
He’d shaken his nine-year-old head at the Keanes like some wise old sage, and Conall had pelted him with popcorn, scooped from the pan he’d just removed from its bed of carefully arranged embers.
Shay had merely stared, mildly irritated, from across the campfire, with too much catlike dignity to pay any attention to such ridiculous fancies. He’d never liked it when his strangeness was brought to everyone’s attention like that. He’d smiled with satisfaction, though at Liam’s outraged yelps as droplets of hot olive oil peppered his chest like stinging bites.
Jen had confiscated the frying pan soon enough. Not for Liam’s sake, but because she was starving, she said. Conall had got a really good thump on the arm, too. It had bruised by morning. But fair was fair, so had her knuckles, because he’d snatched up the lid in time to shield himself from her second, less forceful punch, and she’d smacked right into it. There was never any annoying male condescension in their group!
For October in Inverness, the weather today had been exceptionally fine, cloudy, but not cold for the season. Best of all, with no more than a gentle breeze blowing, conditions on the water had been perfect. The six of them had physically exhausted themselves between the kayaks and the paddleboards, racing up and down the loch beyond the bottom of the Keane’s new garden.
Their house in Dores had been explored with joyous approval after the four visitors had arrived the evening before, despite Shay’s self-excusing running commentary on all the work he still needed to do; replace this shelving and that wainscoting etc. etc. He had a seemingly endless list of furniture and fittings he hadn’t finished playing with that he seemed to be extraordinarily pleased about. They’d only moved in three weeks before. It was sheer delight to see both of the cousins looking so completely happy and whole again.
Despite their wetsuits, chill and hunger eventually drove them all back to the house at four. Shay hadn’t been joking when he’d talked about sealing and insulating the place properly. It was toasty warm indoors. They raced to shower and change before descending on the kitchen like a pack of starving dogs. Daniel, Conall’s da, was no novice at dealing with the gang in this manically gleeful state. He’d laid out an array of sandwiches and cakes to keep them all going until dinner, and they soon wolfed the lot down with mugs of steaming tea.
“Up to you,” he told them cheerfully as he saw the direction their thoughts and their furtive glances at the pantry door were trending. “Either you can all shove off until dinner time and let me cook, or you can make yourselves whatever you like, whenever you like, and I won’t bother today.”
A silent consensus was quickly reached. They shoved off.
“Less than twenty-four hours together. and we’ve bloody reverted!” Mair snorted, dropping into an armchair in the west-facing sitting room with its splendid views down to the loch. “Anyone would think we were all still nine or ten.”
Shay, the youngest of the group, had always been accepted as their rightful peer, if not their elder. You couldn’t talk down to a boy who could outthink, outtalk, and physically best the lot of you. Besides, he’d had an unfair advantage. None of the others could recall more than tiny fragments of their earliest childhoods, but Shay could, and he’d taught himself to read before his third birthday. He knew the colours, models and licence plates of all the rental cars they’d travelled in, and the names of every town and village they’d visited.
“What was that old man called? The one in that little village in Sicily that sold those amazing ice creams. He had that enormous ginger cat, remember?” Conall’s cousin supplied the answers - Signore Alberto d’Alessi and fat old Volpe. Shay’s had always been the final word in any dispute about who had said and done what, and where. He had been their archivist and co-arbitrator, as well as their endlessly inventive instigator, in the same way that Conall had always been their cautioning conscience. A firm hand on the reins was both reassuring and essential, when careening madly after Shay towards possible glory or potential disaster.
Had anyone ever asked them who their leader was, they would have simply pointed at the Keanes and said, “They are.”
“Nothing wrong with that,” Liam declared as he sat down on the couch. “Well, apart from the fact that Daniel’s being mean to us,