Roger overstays his Oxford term. Brianna isn’t coming to visit as planned. A mysterious crate arrives. Roger confers with Joe Abernathy. JHRC on toast did she do it? Yes, oh yes she did. A grimoire is revealed. Roger and Fiona make a plan. Midsummer’s Eve means time to travel.
Inside the Chapters:
Part 8 Beaucoup
Into Thin Air Oxford, April 1971
The Dean talks Roger into staying in Oxford an extra week to do a conference for some Americans even though he’s due to be in Scotland. The money is a good incentive, so Roger agrees. Roger has a disconcerting letter from Brianna in his hand (p547, Nook). She was supposed to be visiting him in July. Now she’s not coming. He thinks she’s lying (a lying bitch wee in fact) and has found someone else. He’s trying to be mad. He feels empty.
Some boxes arrive for Roger on the last day of the conference. Remember he’s not supposed to be at Oxford right now. He’s mystified. He opens the attached envelope (p548, Nook). He takes the crate into his sitting room and looks for a tool to open it. He wonders if she would send him her history if she meant to break up with him. Good thinking Rog. She packed it with museum quality. He finds a variety of things. Photos and a large portrait of Claire, her Raggedy Ann doll, other memorabilia, silver dinner service with the history typed on each. It’s the family silver passed down from 1842; it was a wedding present to Frank and Claire. Roger places the items on the floor next to him growing ever puzzled. She sent her entire history to him. He realizes she sent it there on purpose knowing he was supposed to be in Scotland when it arrived. Last, he unpacks a jewelry box; it’s filled with brooches and earrings. He notices two items are missing, the silver bracelet he’d given her and her grandmother’s pearls (p550, Nook). Yes, she could have Roger.
He’s beside himself over Brianna possibly traveling through the stones without telling him. Where had she gone? He phones Joe Abernathy, Brianna’s only other connection in the twentieth century. Joe thinks she’s with Roger. Joe explains the last time he saw Brianna (p551, Nook). She left on April 27th for Scotland. Roger is panicked. Joe explains she planned to go to Inverness from Edinburgh. She would have arrived in Inverness for Beltane when the Stones would be open. Now Joe is worried too. Roger asks Joe a simple question (p552, Nook).
“Wouldn’t you?” Those two words asked by Joe Abernathy haunt Roger. He and Joe had discussed the finer points of why Brianna would have gone. She found her father and was curious. Yes, Joe did know the way of the traveling, Claire had told him (p552, Nook). Roger tells Joe he does know what the stones are like, but not everyone hears them and reflects on Claire going through at Craigh na Dun on Samhain two and a half years before. Remember Claire accidentally went through at Beltane the first time and returned to the twentieth century near Beltane on the eve of Culloden. Roger hates thinking about the sounds and the feelings at Craigh na Dun. Joe is curious (p553, Nook). He doesn’t want to go into the things he knows about Claire with Joe and explains unless someone did something BIG it wouldn’t make the historical news. Roger asks Joe if he knows how dangerous the eighteenth century is? He doesn’t but (p554, Nook).
Roger drives toward Inverness with “Wouldn’t you?” continuing its chime in his head. He likely would (p554, Nook).
Lack of communication or purposeful miscommunication has Roger all riled up. Why not a note to say this is why I went, and this is why I need you to wait for me in the twentieth? This is a mess in the making. What would you do? I would go like Brianna, but I wouldn’t omit the lack to Roger. I wouldn’t lie. Argh, for as smart as Brianna is sometimes her common sense goes out the window and did she not think Roger would figure it out? Uncle Joe is such a good guy. I’m glad he’s a touchstone for Brianna and Roger in the twentieth.
Return to Inverness
Fiona has turned the old manse into a bed and breakfast establishment. Fiona is excited to see Roger though her betrothed Ernie is less enthused. Roger becomes a detective to track Brianna’s steps. He finds it fairly easy since there aren’t many 6-foot-tall red-haired women from America around Inverness. Roger ponders when he should go after Brianna through the stones (p556, Nook). He must choose one of the feast days to most safely pass. Roger keeps himself busy while he quietly prepares for his departure. Some nights he even slept.
Roger and Fiona have a chat. She wants to know why he has a photo of Gillian Edgars (Geillis Duncan Abernathy) and why he’s been up to Craigh na Dun. She is not having his joke of an answer (p558, Nook). Fiona knows something about Gillian and the stones. Roger means to find out what it is. He tries to bargain with her, but she runs off saying she needs to think. His mind is racing, and he thinks of Brianna. his stomach flips and flops. He thinks of Fiona’s words, “She’s dead. Isn’t she?” She was alive when Claire went back the first time. Is she alive in the past now? The timey-wimey reality hurts Roger’s head.
Fiona is back at the sink. She’s not supposed to tell, but she’s going to tell him because she must. Roger remembers Claire telling about her and Frank seeing the dancers at the circle one Beltane morning and Mrs. Graham was one of the dancers. Fiona goes on to explain that grannie (Mrs. Graham) was the caller (p560, Nook). Fiona knows all the words; she’s the caller now. Fiona met Gillian because she had been one of the dancers. Roger asks her to go on. She asks Roger if he knows where Brianna’s gone. Roger is disquieted (p561, Nook). He tells her he must go after Brianna. Fiona is unsure if men can go through. She’s only heard of women who do. Then she discloses a bomb. She has Gillian’s grimoire. She meant to give it to the police after she’d disappeared, but after reading it didn’t think it would help them.
This is the grimoire of the witch, Geillis (p562, Nook). Roger thinks she’s a nutcase and a poor writer. He thumbs through the sections and notices each of the sun and fire feasts has notes and crosses. He reads the notes under Samhain (p564, Nook). She had also logged what she called case studies of dead people who were found at various stone circles in Scotland, northern England, and Brittany. There were twenty-two persons listed. Some may have known what they were doing, while others were unsuspecting. It chilled Roger to his core. Claire was right; it was no revolving door. The disappearances near the circles were also notated. The crosses signified those who disappeared near each feast. One entry, in particular, caused Roger to stop (p566, Nook). Claire was part of Gillian’s information for her casebook. Gillian did not have any record of Claire’s return three years later. The book felt like a bomb in his hands. The last section of the book is called “techniques and preparations” (p566, Nook). He understands why the book upset Fiona when she read it. He walked toward the river but couldn’t get the last words from his mind, “Shall I kiss you, child, shall I kiss you, man? Feel the teeth behind my lips when I do. I could kill you, as easily as I embrace you. The taste of my power is the taste of blood-iron in my mouth, iron in my hand. Sacrifice is required.”
That is some CRAZY and eye-opening information right there. We know blood isn’t needed, but does it help steer?
June 20, 1971
We’re getting a micro view of Roger from April to June. We haven’t seen Brianna in 18 months except for what is disclosed through Roger’s point of view. It’s Midsummer’s Eve in Scotland (p567, Nook). The description gets to me every time. I have been in Scotland during Beltane as the days were beginning to stretch. I can imagine what the Summer Equinox would be like to witness. The stones buzzed and hummed before Roger could see them. On prior visits, the stones felt odd, but they were silent. Claire hears them all the time I think. He and Fiona stopped thirty feet from the circle. He thinks Fiona is afraid for herself, but it’s for him she scared.
Roger is dressed in eighteenth-century clothing. He suddenly feels like he’s playing dress up.
Fiona goes into the circle without him to perform her ceremonial ritual in privacy. The humming from the stones got into Roger’s body, bones, and blood. It almost felt like he had an itch to scratch within. He hears her sing with words he cannot understand. Can he make it through? Claire and Brianna both had. Geillis is his ancestor, so yes, he should be able. He likens the feeling from the Stones to being eaten by ants. He’s restless and cannot ease the feeling. Fiona’s singing was making the sensations worse. She finally came to get him, and he cannot hear her for the noise in his head. Before he enters the circle, he stops and kisses her full on the mouth requesting she not tell Ernie.
Roger smells something burning. He feels bodiless. He also smells coffee. The feeling of wrong came over him. His body hurts. What he thought was stars above him is Fiona yelling his name (p570, Nook). They try to figure out why he disappeared and came back (p570, Nook). Roger had to gather himself, so he can tell Fiona what happened. Roger had thought of his father, and he must have crossed his timeline when he saw his father. He thanks Fiona for not letting him burn. They talk about the gemstones in his mother’s locket likely keeping him alive in the crossing. Roger realizes thinking of his dad was the problem. He decides to go again to Fiona’s horror and objection. He explains how he knows it will be okay (p573, Nook). She understands.
She places her engagement ring in his hand. It has a small diamond in the setting. She’ll tell Ernie she lost it. It’s insured after all. He’s ready to go again (pp573, Nook). Fiona waited for a long time to be sure Roger doesn’t return. She bids him well (p573, Nook).
What’s Coming up? Chapters 34-35 Drums of Autumn (DOA).
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