When your dreams become reality, hidden secrets come to light.
Cursed by haunting visions of the notorious pirate queen, Maeve must risk her life in a race against a soon-expiring ancient pact.
Nineteen-year-old Maeve O’Malley returns to Ireland with the medieval relics that could prove her clan’s rights to the land and its treasures. If only she knew who to trust with the centuries-old secrets before time-honored Brehon Law hands everything over to her enemy.
Murderous rival clans and warrior chieftains challenge Maeve, while her unforgettable, charming ex continues to complicate her mission with her new passionate, destiny-bound protector.
Finding the elusive final resting place of the pirate queen is critical if Maeve is to accomplish her quest of returning balance to her clan, before it's too late. But is she willing to make the sacrifice necessary to become a true warrior?
Be transported through medieval castle ruins and ancient cemeteries while exploring the mythical enchantment of Ireland’s legendary pirate queen, Grace O’Malley, in this suspenseful continuation of BOHERMORE and the PIRATE QUEEN series.
Read an Excerpt
Return to Grace
Scrambling over shifting stones of the ancient rock wall, laid by hands of countless generations, I cursed the stinging Irish nettles as I vanished into my family cemetery. Every inch of the hallowed space was familiar, from the oldest tombstones with weathered medieval carvings to the "newer" centuries-old gravestones — Celtic crosses that were cracked, tilted, or fallen. The decrepit O'Malley boneyard was in the same state of time-crushed ruin as last winter when I'd almost lost my life there.
Cloaked by heavy spruce boughs laden with hanging ivy, the silent stillness of the graveyard was ethereal, isolated from the outside world. Mist stirred like thick smoke around the foundation of each tipped cross or limestone slab as I moved deeper into the solemn sanctuary. My curiosity drew me in farther as thoughts of my haunting visions swirled in my head.
Tracking my ghostly hunter was my primary focus, because I was growing weary of the torment of forever being stalked. I had new information now that made me stronger, smarter. I intended to end the curse before it ended me and any future I might have.
The raw scar on my chest burned back to life as I crept close enough to read the gravestone epitaphs. My hand jumped to the ancient ring hanging from my necklace and closed around it with a fist as I looked back for Paul.
Thoughts of my grandmother placing the relic around my neck sent chills through me. It had only been a few months since her passing, back in Boston. She'd died two months after my grandfather. Of a lonely broken heart, I was sure. My return to Ireland after their deaths was an easy choice for me. My family was gone. Ireland was where I felt most at home now. For many reasons — my roots especially. Rebuilding my life here made sense.
I released the heavy ring and it dropped back to its rightful spot, nestling into the scarred burn as a micro-pulsing of molten intensity returned. The rising discomfort, then pain, sharpened my senses, reminding me of the other ancient relic in my jacket. My hand moved to my pocket by instinct and pressed around the outline of the contents to be sure the leather parcel was still there.
"Come on," I whispered like a sneaking child and waved for Paul to catch up. "What are you doing?" My eyebrows scrunched as I watched his paranoid gaze scan the perimeter of lumbering trees that dated to far before my grandparents ever left Ireland. I peeked back over my shoulder in the direction he was perusing, half expecting to see a spook.
"Wait, Maeve. Somethin's different." His brogue thickened and his head tilted as he froze, listening.
"No. It's exactly the same." My classic impatience poked at him. "Just like when we flew out of here last time. Look." I pointed. "That's the ivy that snagged my foot as we ran from her and the. ..." My eyes moved to the tomb mound and I fell silent. The danger of our last visit brewed in my muscles and turned my bones soft. Fear crept back in, once again, to curtail my plans.
The heat generated from my pounding heart turned me to rubber as I moved from confident explorer to skittish quarry.
"Aren't we safe this time? I have her ring. ..." My words faded into the mist, losing any promise they may have held.
Facing my ancestor from five hundred years ago, the great pirate queen Gráinne Ní Mháille, shot fear through my soul. The medieval legends of Grace O'Malley told tales of piracy, battle, and revenge.
I'd always believed she was responsible somehow for my mother's death, and for the centuries-old curse that had plagued generations of the O'Malley women. I needed to end it if I was going to have any semblance of a normal life and any hopes of a future for the women of my family. If any were left.
"Shh." Paul's finger went up to freeze time and he moved his palm across the air as if to detect any disturbance. "We're not alone."
My ears flinched, like a deer sensing its hunter.
"What?" My quivering feet carried me to him in a millisecond and I grabbed his arm, turning then to see his view. I watched and listened. "Do you think it's her?"
The wind hadn't whipped up yet. The blasts and the terror hadn't come. All the wrath and vengeance of her soul, ready to attack. But nothing happened. How could she be near without the terrifying accompanying wind, violent bursts, and screams?
My body shuddered at the memory of my visions.
Every muscle in my body tensed around my bones, turning me to a rigid statue where only my eyes could move.
She would come for the ring.
I was sure of it.
That was why I brought it back.
It was like it connected me to her, somehow, and I would use this to my advantage.
My hand wrapped around the ring on my necklace again, feeling its heat and vibrating anticipation. It was the ring from her true love, Hugh, given to her over five hundred years ago before he was murdered by the rival MacMahon Clan. Visions of the brutal slaying replayed in my mind as I recalled the vivid details of my horrific nightmare that played out the devastating historical event.
I swallowed hard and wondered if I was playing with fire. My impulsive nature always got the best of me and somehow landed me in situations like this — in a cemetery with the ring of the wrathful pirate queen. My second thoughts crashed in on me, making my knees tremble.
My grandmother had protected the ring for years, back home in Boston. It had been passed down and kept safe for generations, but now I'd brought it back. Back to Ireland's legendary chieftain, the pirate queen. She'd been hunting me my entire life, in my strange visions — my awake dreams. All for this. I squeezed the heirloom, feeling its centuries of suffering.
I opened my hand and looked at the ring. The ornate Celtic designs swirled in my eyes and the heavy gemstone protruded among the mythical beasts and spirals, holding secrets of medieval times. This ring could be Grace's direct connection to Hugh. Maybe it held the power to heal her eternal suffering and grief ... to settle her tormented soul.
All I knew was that the power of the ring was strong enough to cause my grandfather's mother to send her eldest son away to America to hide the ring and never come back. Thoughts of Joey leaving his Irish home to protect his family filled my heart with sadness.
I missed my grandfather and hoped my final hours with him back in Boston, telling him every detail of my original trip to his homeland, the discovery of Grace, and my hopes to end the curse, were enough to bring peace to his soul. A part of me knew I had come back to Ireland for him. My Irish roots ran deep, especially through my grandfather. Patrick Joseph O'Malley. My Joey.
I figured I could use the power of the ring to stop Grace from hunting and terrorizing me. And future generations of O'Malley women, like all those from the past who suffered the same visions and stalking. Many losing their lives to it in one way or another, including my own mother. I had to end it. Confronting Gráinne Ní Mháille and offering her ring back seemed to be my only option for a resolution.
I looked at Paul's face and traced his stubbled jaw, chiseled with clenched focus, but his warm blue eyes softened with caution and concern. Guilt washed over me as I worried about putting him in harm's way ... again.
Grace attacked us here last winter, with clear intent to kill, and there was no certainty that she wouldn't try again. But she had recognized him then, right before attempting to strike him with her sword. She looked straight into his soul, like she knew him, and dropped her sword in the ivy. She fell to her knees and buried her face in her hands.
The memory of her grieving form constricted my throat.
A glint of light flashed in my eyes and my head twitched in its direction. Paul's chin jumped toward it at the same time.
His wide eyes turned to mine and I met them with equal hope.
It visited my dreams again and again, glinting its vibrant light at me, luring me back to Ireland from its ivy-covered bed.
I squeezed Paul's hand. "Oh my god! It's her sword. Do you think it's the sword?" My nerves bounced me in my shoes. "Come on."
I pulled on him to follow me as my other hand held the ring at my chest. The scarred spot where it burned me months ago was throbbing to a point of warning and hysteria.
Paul's hand tightened on mine.
"Don't move. There's someone here." He stopped short.
Blood drained from my head, leaving me dizzy at the thought that he might be right. Though he was no longer my professor, thank god, I still knew enough to believe his every word.
At the edge of the trees. Motion.
A dark figure lurked in the shadows of the gloom. It moved like fluid away from the far edge and into the maze of gravestones. My feet stepped backward along with Paul's, though I didn't take my eyes off the ... person.
His tall frame, masculine in its size and stature, was covered in a dark brown cloak. The oversize hood draped over his bowed head, concealing any features. Only his hands remained exposed in a creepy, prayer-like position. He continued to move toward us, as if he were gliding across the ground.
"Let's get out of here." My whisper caught in my tight throat.
"Come on." Paul turned with me and moved in a determined gait, heading toward the bright light of day radiating just outside the sallow shelter of the graveyard.
Following his steady pull, I turned back to the ghostly figure and let out a yelp as I saw his form moving toward us at a sprinter's pace, hands extended forward, palms facing each other, beating up and down for stealth speed.
My head spun back toward the light of day.
"Run!" I screamed.
I pulled on Paul in a panic and before he had a full view of our attacker, his pace amped up to full sprint as he yelled, "Jazus! What the. ..."
He raced with me toward the ancient stonewall — the border between our ghostly world and the real one. I fell in sync with his strides as my ears filled with a blood-curdling growl from behind us.
It started out low and grew into a complex sound of a runaway freight train or an evil boar possessed by the devil himself. The terrifying sound shattered my mind as it pushed through my hair and coated my skin, proving he was nearly upon us.
We flew over the wall, slipping on damp moss and knocking loose a top stone that rolled past my feet, tripping me up. Paul gripped my elbow in a steel lock, steadying me as we ran for the car, stumbling on rocks and gravel.
I looked back over my shoulder, expecting to be grabbed any second by terror in human form, but the cloaked stranger was nowhere to be seen.
Paul fumbled for his keys as my eyes darted all around.
"Hurry up!" The shake in my voice worsened with every quake of my body.
The engine revved to life and Paul threw it in reverse and blasted us backward down the lane as I watched the graveyard move farther and farther away from us.
Regret brewed in my stomach as the desire to go back overtook me immediately.
"Wait. We didn't get to...." My words of longing to go back for the sword were cut short as my eyes jumped to the tall figure standing rigid on the stonewall, watching us pull away. His hands interlaced again in a prayer position and his head tipped down, allowing the hood of the cloak to flop over it.
He remained motionless as we drove away.
"In here, in here." I pointed to the parking lot near Warde's Pub. My hands rubbed my knees until they were hot. "We can't just go home after that. We need answers," I panted. "Let's find Padraic." I brushed my messy hair away from my face. "He knows a lot about my family ... and Brigid."
My defeat at the cemetery turned to determination in a heartbeat.
Paul turned to me with tight lips, then parked the car. "Fine. It's worth a shot."
Our stools in Warde's Pub beckoned us back since our last visit months ago, and Padraic welcomed us as he wiped the counter and set our square napkins in place.
Though it was just a couple miles from the O'Malley graveyard, the safety of the pub made it feel like light years away.
"Ach, sure, was wonderin' when I'd see ye again. Back for more, are ya?" Padraic snapped his towel at me.
I leaned forward to get a look down the length of the bar, hoping Donal might still be at the back of the pub, dwelling in the shadows. Stories of my distant cousin Brigid began with these men in Warde's. Tales of a possessed girl with visions. Not unlike me, really, which made it even more disturbing.
Their tales said she was taken away from the O'Malley farm when she was eighteen and sent to the Magdalene laundries. My eyes closed to clear the haunting thoughts. I could have ended up just like her — committed, institutionalized in an asylum, and forgotten.
I looked at Padraic, still unsure how to feel about him. He had been the bearer of bad news about the laundries last time we were here, but shooting the messenger wasn't going to help. "They was a cursed family, them O'Malleys," he said last winter with little empathy or filter. "The women had all gone stark ravin' mad."
My mouth pressed into a frown remembering his crass words. I shook it off with a twitch of my shoulders. I knew different. I had the same visions as Brigid, of the pirate queen, and knew Gráinne Ní Mháille wouldn't stop tracking the O'Malley women until she got what she wanted. The ring.
If I could just throw the ring at the vision of Grace O'Malley and have it all poof into oblivion, I would. I'd throw it and run. But there was more to it. I was certain. The unfortunate nagging in my gut told me the ring needed to be passed, directly and cautiously, at just the right moment, like a sacred ritual. My lip curled up in disgust and self-loathing, wishing I didn't have to take it all so seriously, but I knew I was right.
Facing her was my plan, and not a pleasant one. She scared the crap out of me and worse, she had the power to end me.
"Yeah, back for more. I guess you could say that." I huffed at his comment. "It all feels very unfinished." I tipped my head at Padraic. "Like the O'Malleys just disappeared from their homeland and no one knows what happened to all of them ... particularly Brigid. Where could she be now?"
I wrapped my hands around my coffee mug, searching for warmth, wondering where all the local O'Malleys had gone.
"Ach, lassie, 'tis all but legend now, fadin' into the mist of time." Padraic moved down the bar, wiping in a rhythm of decades of similar strokes. "The O'Malleys dispersed. Lost their land through the ancient Brehon Law and moved on. Shame 'tis." His voice faded as he went farther down the bar. "'Twill always be their land, though."
I turned to Paul and raised my eyebrows in question. "What's Brehon Law?"
He nodded, as if in agreement with Padraic, absorbing what he said.
"It's ancient Celtic ruling, from medieval times. Governed the people through laws that were actually quite modern for their time." He looked down the bar toward Padraic. "He must be referring to its property laws, which basically granted ownership of 'property in question' for a fixed amount of time. Generations, really."
"Fixed amount of time?" My eyebrows scrunched, narrowing my eyes.
"Basically giving the original owners time to prove their rights to the land. Once the deadline hit, though, Brehon Law would grant the land to the current holders, if the original landholders couldn't prove their claim, that is."
My eyes widened. "That's a bit harsh. Isn't it?"
"It's actually quite fair. Particularly since the deadlines are generally set for hundreds of years." He flipped his hair away from his face. His windblown look sent tingles into my belly and warmed me.
It was much more than legend though, as Padraic called it, with a flick of his rag. Paul and I knew there was more to it. I had her ring. And in my pocket, the leather satchel held promises beyond imagination — an ancient tomb key.
My grandfather kept the medieval key back in Boston, hidden safe in his garden with St. Brendan the Navigator as its protector. The iconic statue in the backyard held the secret within its stony base, behind a camouflaged mysterious little hatch, for countless years. And now the key was back here in Ireland, right in my pocket.
My smile quivered as my throat tightened. I missed him. Every day. I missed Gram and my mother too. The hollow emptiness of grief carved out my heart each day. Feeling alone and lost, my love for them had nowhere to go. It festered in me, trapped. My journey back here, to Ireland, was the best way for me to stay connected to them in some way.
Excerpted from "Inish Clare"
Copyright © 2017 Jennifer Rose McMahon.
Excerpted by permission of City Owl Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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