Somewhere Lies the Moon

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For free spirit Ena Rose, the daughter of Ailsa Rose, growing up in Glen Affric has been idyllic. But womanhood looms; she faces tormenting questions of the heart -- and a love that can never be. Then there are the women whose destinies have unfolded over decades and eras; Mairi Rose, warm and wise, who binds the family together...Ailsa, who found boundless happiness in her daughter, Ena...Wan Lian, who after leaving China is driven by soul-consuming sorrow and anger at the death of her loved ones...and Genevra ...
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Overview

For free spirit Ena Rose, the daughter of Ailsa Rose, growing up in Glen Affric has been idyllic. But womanhood looms; she faces tormenting questions of the heart -- and a love that can never be. Then there are the women whose destinies have unfolded over decades and eras; Mairi Rose, warm and wise, who binds the family together...Ailsa, who found boundless happiness in her daughter, Ena...Wan Lian, who after leaving China is driven by soul-consuming sorrow and anger at the death of her loved ones...and Genevra Townsend, who finds amongst the exotic dangers of India an inner serenity that will enable her to return at last to Glen Affric.

Richly textured and life-affirming Somewhere Lies The Moon is a mesmerizing tale filled with timeless wisdom and unforgettable heroines who live on long after the final page is turned.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Author Kathryn Lynn Davis introduced readers to the fascinating legend of the Rose women with TOO DEEP FOR TEARS and ALL WE HOLD DEAR, the first two books in a captivating trilogy that explores the triumphs and tragedies of several generations of women who all share a common bond. Now comes Somewhere Lies the Moon, the third installment in this intriguing family saga. As Davis takes readers along on this final leg of an exciting and sometimes heartbreaking journey, she brings to vivid life the mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends whose lives and destinies are all tied to the Scottish Highlands sanctuary, Glen Affric.

Charles Kittridge, an English diplomat with a wandering eye and lifestyle, fathers three very different daughters by three different women in three different countries. The eldest, Ailsa Rose, lives a life filled with music, magic, and passion amid the Scottish Highlands until her idealism is soundly and cruelly crushed. Li-An, the youngest daughter, bears the Chinese features of her mother and the startling blue eyes of her father, making her an outcast in society. Born in China during a time of violence and political unrest, Li-An suffers a multitude of tragedies that will leave an indelible mark on her life. Finally there is Genevra, a fair English Rose born and raised in the exotic and oppressive atmosphere of India, where she learns that the land and the people she loves will come to betray her.

Ailsa, Li-an, and Genevra are drawn together by a mystical connection they all share — as if each is a part of one bigger voice — and by thedeathbedsummons of their father. When Ailsa's mother, Mairi, opens her heart and her home to all three young women, their bond becomes one that cannot only withstand any assault but also provide a source of strength and sustenance to each of them. It's a strength all three will need and call upon when the trials and tribulations of life try to knock them down.

Somewhere Lies the Moon picks up the previous stories of Li-An and Genevra and brings them some resolution. Li-An struggles to find a way to heal old wounds and recover from the powerful grief that has seized her since the assassination of her beloved husband. But before she can search for the happiness and contentment she so desires, she must first travel a path of self-discovery marred by potholes of heartache, prejudice, and self-doubt. Genevra must deal with the very real dangers of the volatile environment she lives in and the imagined threats brought about by her own insecurities. Somewhere Lies the Moon also introduces Ailsa's granddaughter, Ena Rose, a young woman with a penchant for healing and a magical touch when it comes to creatures of the wild. When Ena reaches the brink of womanhood she finds herself struggling to meet the challenges imposed on her body, mind, and heart. But first she must search for a painful truth amid a tangle of lies, grudges, and betrayals.

Davis's prose is lyrical and evocative, and she weaves a vibrant and almost palpable thread of sensory detail throughout her work, bringing the people and places alive in a smorgasbord of smells, sights, sounds, and touches. From the heather-strewn hills of the Scottish Highlands to the exotic, spice-laden air of an Indian village, Davis brings home the importance of place in all our lives, deftly showing how it influences and shapes her characters. Somewhere Lies the Moon brings bittersweet closure to the overlapping generations of Rose women, letting us visit these remarkable women one last time and share in their passions, desires, and heartaches.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like the Scottish Highlands glen where the heart of her new historical romance beats, Davis's prose is sometimes vibrant and alluring, sometimes impenetrable as gorse--especially for a reader new to her ongoing saga of the Rose clan (Too Deep for Tears). Despite the awkward premise that a contemporary young woman is reliving the tangled events of her 19th century ancestors, the novel will reward persistent readers. Mairi Rose Kittredge, the matriarch of Glen Affric, has embraced as daughters the love-children of her dead husband, Charles Kittredge, a British diplomat who had fathered Lian in China and Genevra in India, as well as Ailsa with Mairi in Scotland. The three half-sisters, who first meet as young women at the time of their father's death, remain empathically connected until dream-summoned back to the Glen, 17 years later, where Mari is on her deathbed. Their lives are described at exhausting length, and husbands and lovers and sons never quite completely claim the women's souls. Indeed, the most intriguing intimacies in the book are between women. An especially compelling triangle unites Ailsa, her pubescent daughter, Ena, and Jenny Fraser, whose late husband, Ian, is Ena's father. Though the betrayal is painful, childhood best friends Jenny and Ailsa eventually reconcile because of their shared love for Ena. As the novel gains momentum, it dispenses words of wisdom about mothers and daughters, women's power to forgive and the need of men to indulge in bloody, tragic heroics. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Another volume in Davis's wordy epic of women bonding in a Scottish glen. Davis (All We Hold Dear, 1995, etc.) structures her long reverie as a flashback. Eva Crawford, a musician and a student in Edinburgh, refuses to marry her lover, Rory, because she feels inexplicably insecure and disconnected. In several days, a kind of waking dream and the contents of an old trunk bring her back to her female ancestors: Mairi Rose Kittridge; her daughter, Ailsa; and Ailsa's two half-sisters, Genevra Townsend and Wan Lian, all three girls sired by Charles Kittridge, a British diplomat who got around. There's a section for each daughter: the first about Lian, who is forced to flee a sheltered life in China for a charming village in France, where an aristocrat artist teaches her that life need not be a vale of tears; another section about Genevra, a painter who is brought up in India and, while her soldier husband is away, nurses an estranged friend back to health, discovering her own spiritual strength; and Ailsa, who has returned to the glen after the death of her British husband and who is bringing up her extraordinary daughter, Ena, in her mother Mairi's dirt-floored croft. Ailsa is also mending fences with her former childhood friend Jenny, with whose husband Ailsa conceived Ena. And Ena, a precocious child who speaks like a self-help manual with a Scottish burr and tends to wounded animals, is having a difficult time growing up. All the women in this Glen Estrogen (the guys are pretty much all off tending their crops) have magical intuitions and dreams that foretell the future. And their dreams lead them back to the glen just before Mairi's death to bring closure to everyone'sspiritual quest among the burns and the ferns and the heather and the gloamin'. Davis writes romances for those, d'ya ken, who like to read about hidden spirits, exchange long, sensitive hugs, and talk about their feelings endlessly.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671736057
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 9/1/1999
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Meet the Author


Kathryn Lynn Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including Too Deep for Tears, All We Hold Dear, and Somewhere Lies the Moon, all available from Pocket Books. She lives with her husband in Riverside, California.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Glen Affric, Scotland, 1879

There were night sounds beyond the ring of lantern light that caught within it streams of rushing water, divided and fused again, tumbling over huge striped boulders in the swift summer burn. In the darkness beyond the circle, the nightingale sang, a white owl hooted, a wildcat called to her missing mate. The breeze ruffled the treetops -- a promise, a threat, a faint caress -- the cool summer child of the harsh winter wind. There was no mist, yet shapes and hues and textures blurred together -- a dark background for the luminous sphere of light.

Mairi Rose Kittridge, Ailsa Rose Sinclair, Wan Lian, and Genevra Townsend reclined in the radiance on smooth flat rocks, contemplating low, stairstep waterfalls descending gently from level to level. Where the falls did not turn it to swirling foam, the water was clear golden, and lush ferns grew in hollows that followed the curve of the river.

Ailsa, Lian and Genevra had stripped down to their shifts to luxuriate in the mild summer air. But Mairi Rose was fifty-six, and though she enjoyed seeing the young women take off their clothes and release their inhibitions, she remained fully dressed, regarding them with tenderness and concern. She had contented herself with removing her brogues and raising her skirts to wade in the large pool where the waterfalls dissolved into stillness. She'd unpinned her silver-streaked red hair, loosening the braid that blended with and altered the pattern of the red plaid she wore. It did not have to keep away the chill, for it was summer and the night, for once, was warm; she wore it because the plaid was old, comfortable and poignantly familiar.

Ailsa raised her head, chestnut hair falling down her back to pool on the rock behind her, and stared up at the interlocking pattern of leaves. "Sometimes I wonder if my father dreamed it all, conjured up this night, the magic lantern that makes only this place real in all the world, and all of us here, together." She nodded toward Genevra and Lian, her newly discovered half-sisters, in amazement and affection.

Lian was twenty-five, tall and lithe, with the thick black hair and bronze skin of the Chinese, while Genevra was eighteen, small and slender, with translucent skin and fine blond hair that refused to stay bound. At thirty-eight, Ailsa had the sturdy wholesome beauty of a woman of the glen, with her sun-browned skin and scattered freckles, her strong legs and callused feet, which had carried her over this very burn many times when she was younger.

The single feature the half-sisters shared was the reflection of their father's light blue English eyes. Ailsa's were blue-violet, Lian's sky blue, Genevra's blue flecked with gray.

"I do not think Charles Kittridge has that kind of power," Lian offered, legs pulled close to her body. "To create this place and us as well." She kept her voice neutral, stifling a flash of the rage at her father that had shaped her childhood. He was a British diplomat who had traveled the Empire, leaving behind Ailsa in Scotland, Lian in China, Genevra in India. He had abandoned his daughters and their mothers, though it had not been his choice. Nevertheless, the result had been the same. He had left them helpless and far apart, from him and from each other, except for the invisible strands that bound them through their dreams. They might never have met, but he had called his three daughters to his bedside here in the Scottish Highlands, where it had all begun, where -- in the end -- he had chosen to die.

Charles Kittridge's widow, Mairi, and the half-sisters had passed through the fire of the first violent rush of grief over his death nearly two months ago. Tonight they'd become restless, in need of grace and stimulation, rather than sorrow. So here they sat in the glow of the lantern, losing themselves in the songs of the river.

Genevra, the youngest, looked up, eyes alight. "Of course our father has that kind of power." She had been drawing on her ever-present sketchpad, trying to capture, not the image, but the essence of her sisters in the mellow light of the glen. "We're here, aren't we? Still here, though he's gone, buried, no more than a ghost." She looked about, shivering. "Yet I feel he's hovering about us, watching. I know he is." Her tone held more longing than certainty. "Because we need him."

Roused from her thoughts, Mairi raised her head warily. She'd seen the copper gleam of the eyes of a wildcat darting through the shadows, pausing soundlessly to watch from the safety of tangled ferns and reeds. She was undisturbed.

She'd been aware of golden eyes upon her many times in her life and had felt an inexplicable reassurance. There were things in this glen of the Celtic gods that she could not explain, and did not try.

The moon had begun to rise from behind the mountains, outlining the jagged tips with silver, muting the light that permeated the water, made it incandescent. Ailsa felt comforted; in the midst of a storm of anger and sorrow, forgiveness and loss, she had found a moment of stillness, of peace.

"I believe ye can keep the spirits of those ye love by ye if ye choose," Mairi offered. " 'Tis no' a matter of how far they are from ye or if they can come back again, but only how much ye believe. There're spirits everywhere. In the water, in the sky, in the earth and the ever-changin' moonlight." She smiled knowingly. "These things are older than we, older than memory, older than man. They remember what we never knew -- every soul that's lingered here, leavin' his image in the water or his voice in the wind or his imprint in the soil. Here, earth, sky and water are close enough to touch, to recognize."

Lian felt dazed, as if the moonlight had enfolded her in an enchanted cloak, blocking out the past. "How do we leave our mark upon this place?" She wanted very much to do that single, simple thing.

Glancing upward, Mairi gazed at the point where the burn disappeared over the hill into the secret green woods. The water poured over an ancient stone that protruded above the linne in which she dangled her feet. "Ye leave your mark, ye make the land remember, by takin' a risk that proves your sincerity and commitment."

Craning her neck, Lian saw the rock, the clear curtain of water falling from it in small steps, bit by bit, over the wide boulders and through the slender rushing channels of the burn.

"When the moon's full, ye stand there and dive into this linne, which is deeper than ye imagine."

Lian drew in her breath and glanced at Ailsa.

"I've heard it whispered the rock is sacred, that the water remembers such risks, such courage." Ailsa pondered. "But do ye think 'tis wise for us?"

Genevra leaned forward eagerly. "It doesn't matter. What matters is adventure, magic, all the things you've taught me to believe in, though they be wise or practical, foolish or brave. Don't you see? Only we three will have dared."

Ailsa looked from Lian's unreadable face to Genevra's and back again. She turned to her mother. "Should we take the chance?"

Mairi considered solemnly, fearful for these women who had learned so much and lost so much in the last several months. Perhaps she should have kept silent. But then, she could not hold them safe beside her forever. " 'Tis your decision to make, no' mine. But I think 'twould be a fine thing to know you've conquered your fears and doubts." And, she thought, mayhap the invisible hand that holds ye fast inside your anger and grief for your father.

Lian was beside Ailsa in an instant. "If Ailsa is willing, so am I."

Despite her eagerness, Genevra was slow to rise, but as her older sisters approached, she closed her sketchbook firmly and stood, back straight and chin up.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Chapter One: Glen Aft, Scotland, 1879 There were night sounds beyond the ring of lantern light that caught within it streams of rushing water, divided and fused again, tumbling over huge striped boulders in the swift summer burn. In the darkness beyond the circle, the nightingale sang, a white owl hooted, a wildcat called to her missing mate. The breeze ruffled the treetops -- a promise, a threat, a faint caress -- the cool summer child of the harsh winter wind. There was no mist, yet shapes and hues and textures blurred together -- a dark background for the luminous sphere of light.

Maid Rose Kittridge, Ailsa Rose Sinclair, Wan Lian, and Genevra Townsend reclined in the radiance on smooth flat rocks, contemplating low, stairstep waterfalls descending gently from level to level. Where the falls did not turn it to swirling foam, the water was clear golden, and lush ferns grew in hollows that followed the curve of the river.

Ailsa, Lian and Genevra had stripped down to their shifts to luxuriate in the mild summer air. But Maid Rose was fifty-six, and though she enjoyed seeing the young women take off their clothes and release their inhibitions, she remained fully dressed, regarding them with tenderness and concern. She had contented herself with removing her brogues and raising her skirts to wade in the large pool where the waterfalls dissolved into stillness. She'd unpinned her silver-streaked red hair, loosening the braid that blended with and altered the pattern of the red plaid she wore. It did not have to keep away the chill, for it was summer and the night, for once, was warm; she wore it because the plaid was old, comfortable and poignantly familiar.

Ailsa raised her head, chestnut hair falling down her back to pool on the rock behind her, and stared up at the interlocking pattern of leaves. "Sometimes I wonder if my father dreamed it all, conjured up this night, the magic lantern that makes only this place real in all the world, and all of us here, together." She nodded toward Genevra and Lian, her newly discovered half-sisters, in amazement and affection.

Lian was twenty-five, tall and lithe, with the thick black hair and bronze skin of the Chinese, while Genevra was eighteen, small and slender, with translucent skin and fine blond hair that refused to stay bound. At thirty-eight, Ailsa had the sturdy wholesome beauty of a woman of the glen, with her sun-browned skin and scattered freckles, her strong legs and callused feet, which had carried her over this very burn many times when she was younger.

The single feature the half-sisters shared was the reflection of their father's light blue English eyes. Ailsa's were blue-violet, Lian's sky blue, Genevra's blue flecked with gray.

"I do not think Charles Kittridge has that kind of power," Lian offered, legs pulled close to her body. "To create this place and us as well." She kept her voice neutral, stifling a flash of the rage at her father that had shaped her childhood. He was a British diplomat who had traveled the Empire, leaving behind Ailsa in Scotland, Lian in China, Genevra in India. He had abandoned his daughters and their mothers, though it had not been his choice. Nevertheless, the result had been the same. He had left them helpless and far apart, from him and from each other, except for the invisible strands that bound them through their dreams. They might never have met, but he had called his three daughters to his bedside here in the Scottish Highlands, where it had all begun, where -- in the end -- he had chosen to die.

Charles Kittridge's widow, Mairi, and the half-sisters had passed through the fire of the first violent rush of grief over his death nearly two months ago. Tonight they'd become restless, in need of grace and stimulation, rather than sorrow. So here they sat in the glow of the lantern, losing themselves in the songs of the river.

Genevra, the youngest, looked up, eyes alight. "Of course our father has that kind of power." She had been drawing on her ever-present sketchpad, trying to capture, not the image, but the essence of her sisters in the mellow light of the glen. "We're here, aren't we? Still here, though he's gone, buried, no more than a ghost." She looked about, shivering. "Yet I feel he's hovering about us, watching. I know he is." Her tone held more longing than certainty. "Because we need him."

Roused from her thoughts, Mairi raised her head warily. She'd seen the copper gleam of the eyes of a wildcat darting through the shadows, pausing soundlessly to watch from the safety of tangled ferns and reeds. She was undisturbed.

She'd been aware of golden eyes upon her many times in her life and had felt an inexplicable reassurance. There were things in this glen of the Celtic gods that she could not explain, and did not try.

The moon had begun to rise from behind the mountains, outlining the jagged tips with silver, muting the light that permeated the water, made it incandescent. Ailsa felt comforted; in the midst of a storm of anger and sorrow, forgiveness and loss, she had found a moment of stillness, of peace.

"I believe ye can keep the spirits of those ye love by ye if ye choose," Mairi offered. "'Tis no' a matter of how far they are from ye or if they can come back again, but only how much ye believe. There're spirits everywhere. In the water, in the sky, in the earth and the ever-changin' moonlight." She smiled knowingly. "These things are older than we, older than memory, older than man. They remember what we never knew -- every soul that's lingered here, leavin' his image in the water or his voice in the wind or his imprint in the soil. Here, earth, sky and water are close enough to touch, to recognize."

Lian felt dazed, as if the moonlight had enfolded her in an enchanted Cloak, blocking out the past. "How do we leave our mark upon this place?" She wanted very much to do that single, simple thing.

Glancing upward, Mairi gazed at the point where the burn disappeared over the hill into the secret green woods. The water poured over an ancient stone that protruded above the linne in which she dangled her feet. "Ye leave your mark, ye make the land remember, by takin' a risk that proves your sincerity and commitment."

Craning her neck, Lian saw the rock, the clear curtain of water falling from it in small steps, bit by bit, over the wide boulders and through the slender rushing channels of the burn.

"When the moon's full, ye stand there and dive into this linne, which is deeper than ye imagine."

Lian drew in her breath and glanced at Ailsa.

"I've heard it whispered the rock is sacred, that the water remembers such risks, such courage." Ailsa pondered. "But do ye think 'tis wise for us?"

Genevra leaned forward eagerly. "It doesn't matter. What matters is adventure, magic, all the things you've taught me to believe in, though they be wise or practical, foolish or brave. Don't you see? Only we three will have dared."

Ailsa looked from Lian's unreadable face to Genevra's and back again. She turned to her mother. "Should we take the chance?"

Mairi considered solemnly, fearful for these women who had learned so much and lost so much in the last several months. Perhaps she should have kept silent. But then, she could not hold them safe beside her forever. "'Tis your decision to make, no' mine. But I think 'twould be a fine thing to know you've conquered your fears and doubts." And, she thought, mayhap the invisible hand that holds ye fast inside your anger and grief for your father.

Lian was beside Ailsa in an instant. "If Ailsa is willing, so am I."

Despite her eagerness, Genevra was slow to rise, but as her older sisters approached, she closed her sketchbook firmly and stood, back straight and chin up. "Let's go up together," she said.

"Without our shifts," Ailsa insisted. "They're more likely to trip us up or catch on a branch and pull us down than to protect us." She drew the flimsy garment off, dropping it at her feet. "There'll be nothin' between us and the water, nothin' to hold us back but ourselves."

Genevra hesitated, then stripped off her chemise and drawers, but Lian looked uncomfortable.

"You've done it before," Ailsa urged softly. "'Tis only us. Do ye no' trust us?"

It was odd, but she did. A few months ago she had neither met nor conceived of these two women, but since her arrival, the distance and resentments that might have become barriers among them had collapsed under the weight of their shared grief. They had held tight to one another, combined their strength to keep from falling deep into their sorrow. "You must know that I do, but it is not proper -- "

"'Tis no' a question of proper," Mairi interjected. "'Tis a question of faith, of the comfort ye feel with your sisters. No' one of us is here to judge ye or stare at ye. 'Tis a little thing, Lian, and of no import when ye think of what you've already shared."

Lian gazed into Mairi's eyes, amazed that this woman, who might well have resented her and Genevra, sent them away or treated them with disdain, had instead taken them in like birds with broken wings. Slowly, she'd begun to try to heal those wings. "It is as you say. We do not hide from one another. To try to do so would be pointless. We dream each others' dreams. No woman can know another better than that."

Besides, this night, this sense of contentment was a gift, a blessing Lian could not refuse. Carefully, she removed her cotton shift and folded it neatly beside her sisters'.

Because she knew the glen better than the others, Ailsa lead the way. The three made a wavering line of pale flesh against dark earth and stone. When they reached the crest of the hill, they stood on the boulder, their feet barely covered by the water that flowed over it, and stared at the moonlit scene below. The river became an unruly ribbon of silver threaded through green moss and yellow lichens, thick ferns and striped boulders. It tumbled and raced, slowed and meandered, whispered and sang in a voice deeper and more enduring than the wind.

Without speaking, they agreed Ailsa would go first. They could feel her excitement in her vibrating body, see her Highland pride in the way she stood a step away from the edge of the slippery rock, solid and unwavering.

What Lian and Genevra could not see was Ailsa's reluctance to take the last step. Ye fool, she thought. Have ye gone daft? She was thirtyeight years old, no longer young, no longer the nimble, fearless girl who'd leapt into the air and flown across a Beltaine fire, arms wide, plaid stream, ing behind her like fiery wings. She'd been away too long to leap from this high place as easily as she'd risen above the flames.

Uncomfortably aware of her half-sisters watching, waiting for her to plunge over the edge of the deceptively smooth surface, Ailsa realized she was unnerved by the steep drop, afraid and ashamed of her fear. If she did not dare, would Lian and Genevra? She felt their trepidation, their exhilaration laced with doubt, their anticipation as her own.

She heard rustling in the bushes and caught a glimpse of amber eyes. A wildcat crouched nearby. Quickly, she looked away and saw her mother staring up at her, saw the compassion and confidence on Maid Rose's face. "No' for them," Ailsa whispered, straightening her shoulders, "but for myself, for MY father, who never had the chance to take this risk or claim this victory."

Exhaling, she spread her arms wide, beginning at her sides and bringing them up slowly, hands open, fingers spread, as if to embrace the air, the breath of the wind, the voice of the water singing at her feet.

She tipped her head back and let the wind blow through it, staring at the stars through a canopy of leaves. "For this moment alone I would've come home long ago, if I'd known." She paused. "But 'tis no' a night for regrets."

Ailsa murmured a prayer to Neithe, God of Waters, and dove. As she descended, she felt the wind on her falling body, knew that wind's caress as a promise. She closed her eyes, did not know when she would hit the water until it enveloped her -- cool and familiar. She curved her arms up toward the surface, then burst back into the night, shaking her wild, wet hair from her eyes, inhaling great bursts of sweet Highland air.

"Why did ye close your eyes?" Mairi asked.

"I'd no need of them. I came by touch and smell, and was a little afraid, but when the fear left -- I can no' describe the feelin' of bein' free, untouchable."

"Look!"

Mairi pointed to where Lian stood resolutely at the edge. It was difficult to see her expression. The moon was suspended behind her tall, slender body, and her black hair glowed like onyx against her bronze skin. She raised her arms above her head, palm to palm, and froze, edged in moonlight. She was willowy and graceful-magnificent, unfaltering. In that moment, her grief fell away, revealing pride and a spirit so strong it transformed her into the image of an ancient Celtic goddess, or her own Kwan Yin, Goddess of Mercy.

Lian did not really see what lay below. There is nothing to fear now, she thought. Not when everyone she loved had been taken from her. She alone had survived. Except she was not alone. Not now that she'd come to know Ailsa and Genevra, who had always been part of her, and Mairi, who seemed to have been Waiting, ready to open her home and her arms.

It was easier to jump than to think ahead, to wonder. Easier to plunge off this rock than to look inside her heart. She had lived with eyes downcast all her life. Now they were wide open.

Lian bent at the knees and launched herself into the air. As she descended, tears fell of their own accord, pushed by the rushing air over her temples and into her hair, leaving her shaken, yet relieved. She was free.

Mairi and Ailsa, who could not see her tears, watched in admiration as Lian's body curved sinuously into a perfect dive. Her hair streamed behind her like a banner of victory, and then, too soon, she hit the water, slicing it into waves that rose to the edge of the line.

She had not closed her eyes, even at the last moment. Now she gazed in wonder at a new world. The water was deliciously cool on her skin; she let it flow over her, along her back and down her legs. She turned to feel it rush over her breasts and belly and thighs. She curled her toes in the soft silt at the bottom, letting her feet sink deep, while her hair floated around her. Finally, reluctantly, she rose toward the light, taking in one deep, long breath, making her way to the rock where Mairi and Ailsa waited, dripping.

"Most remarkable. Breathtaking. I do not know if I have made my mark on the river, but it has made its mark on me." She would not soon forget her exultation as the water had flowed sensuously around her.

Together, the three looked up to where Genevra stood alone, shivering. They could see the water rolling over her feet, her fine hair, loosened from its pins, falling in soft curls around her neck, the apprehension on her shadowed face. She, too, was silhouetted by moonlight, caught in the glow like a reluctant Madonna.

Holding her breath, Genevra wondered what had possessed her to pursue this ridiculous quest. It would not change her. Tomorrow she would be the same as she was tonight. She gazed down and grew dizzy, swaying from side to side.

With an effort, she forced her eyes open, shivered once, then was still. She did not want to back down. Not when the others had already suc- ceeded. Genevra wanted more than anything to be like them, but, though Mairi told her she was wrong, she was not certain she had the strength.

Frightened, she started back from the edge, then heard a noise and glanced over to find the wildcat perched on a boulder, staring. More afraid of those amber eyes than the sharp drop, she stumbled forward and jumped. She tried to steady herself, straightening her body as she fell, feet first. She crossed her arms over her chest, gripping her elbows, holding tight to protect her body with nothing but her two small hands. She kept her eyes open, fixed on Lian and Ailsa. The connection among them, and that alone, would bring her safely down. Her hair blew about wildly while the water misted on her skin. Anxiety retreated beneath an unexpected rush of determination. The cat had taken the choice from her, but as she felt the air rush past her naked body, her skin tingled and a shout rose within her, a burst of courage.

Genevra was overwhelmed. She had done this unthinkable thing, and just before she struck the water, she'd felt as if a pair of hands reached up to catch her -- her father's? Her fiancé, Alex Kendall's? Her own from her reflected image? She'd plunged in knowing she was safe. Now she wanted to explore by moonlight what she'd seen only in the sun.

She trailed her hands through the water grasses that undulated like the pale green hair of mermaids, brushed up against the sides, striated with so many shades of gold, brown and rust that they bled one into the other. She touched the round, smooth stones, feeling the shape of them, the size, absorbing the colors as she did all color, until it blended with the palette in her mind. She would paint this scene someday.

At last she ran out of breath and reached the surface just in time, coughing and gasping for air. Ailsa and Lian were poised on the bank, ready to pull her out, but Mairi whispered, "Don't ye dare. She'll never forgive ye. Ye two did it on your own. To offer help would diminish what she's done, make her less than ye."

By now Ailsa could see that Genevra was smiling as she coughed and stumbled toward a boulder, where she lay face down, quivering with exhaustion. After what seemed like an eternity, while her half-sisters stood by anxiously, she raised her head.

"I was terrified," she admitted blithely. "But I did it just the same. And once I was under water, I saw so much. It was amazing." She ran out of breath and lay inert. She did not tell them about the reassurance of invisible, anonymous reaching hands. That moment was hers alone.

"I wasn't graceful like you," she said at last. "I just jumped, and I'm glad I lived to say so." She closed her eyes as the flush of triumph faded from her cheeks.

When Maid took Genevra's head into her lap to smooth the snarls from her fine, wet hair, the others realized how tired they were. Lian and Ailsa collapsed, leaning on either side of Mairi, absorbing her warmth. It was finally sinking in -- what they had done, how dangerous it had been, how easily they might have been hurt. Yet they hadn't.

"'Tis because ye were already known somewhere in the deep ancient heart of this earth, but now ye'll no' be forgotten. Not ever."

The three looked at one another long and steadfastly, sky blue eyes meeting blue flecked with gray meeting blue-violet. Finally, Lian spoke the words that hovered among them, touched by moon and lantern light. "We will not be forgotten because we will not forget. If he gave us nothing else, our father gave us that."

With a burst of energy, they rose together, as if they shared the same body, and slipped back into the water of the silver golden pool.

The wildcat shook itself, languidly licked its paw, then turned to disappear into the shadows where the moonlight did not reach.

Copyright © 1999 by Kathryn Lynn Davis

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