The Will-o'-the-Wisp Stories Book 3
Too much family drama at home. That's what Morgan Patterson was thinking when she left the States to finish her final year of college studying abroad in Northern Ireland. She quickly finds herself immersed in a hidden world of magic and danger with the man of her dreams at the center of it.
Only he's not a man. Tiernan Doherty is an honest-to-goodness faerie lord with family drama of his own. There's a blood feud to be settled, not to mention a messy chain of duty that binds him to the queen of the dark fae, a woman he truly despises.
None of that matters to Morgan, though. She realizes Tiernan's not just the man of her dreams, he's the man she's meant to protect. But what she does to protect him surprises everyone, threatening the longstanding peace between humans and faeries, and causing more than enough tears for them all.
"These Are for Tears," is the third book in the Will-o'-the-Wisp Stories, a serialized, epic urban fantasy that proves nothing is what it seems, promises are meant to be kept and words are binding things.
Publisher: Independently Published
Going deeper into the dense woods and overhanging branches, Connor wished Morgan hadn’t heard his parting words. It was unfair of him to say it. She knew her destiny and his, both.
That little twit of a friend of hers, Ryan Donohue, he’d told her more than once she would die alone. In the woods, cold and bleeding while Tiernan Doherty stood over her, watching.
Ryan was a gypsy. Like many of his kind, he could tell the future. You’dve thought he’d a remembered that before he started messing about with the faerie. Especially before he started crapping in Tiernan Doherty’s business. Clearly, knowing the future didn’t mean you’d be able to avoid it.
But the relationship between their people was often like that. Ryan Donohue, his mom, Pegeen, and her crazy sister, Moira, were never content to be merely on friendly terms with the faerie. No. They wanted something more’n that. Ryan wanted what he couldn’t have—some of the Doherty wealth.READ MORE
Over the years, he’d try and take bits here and there when he thought Tiernan wasn’t watching. Only Tiernan was watching, and he’d always caught the fecker when he’d been thieving around.
However, Tiernan’d not punished Ryan for it. Maybe it was because, same as Connor, he was fond of the boy for showing pluck. Then too, Tiernan had been seeing Ryan’s Aunt Moira for a time—before Morgan’d come along—and maybe it caused Tiernan to turn a blind eye to Ryan’s dumb shite, just so’s he could keep Moira’s fancy and stay all comfy.
It was hard to say, really. Because Tiernan had pissed Pegeen around a couple times. Enough that she’d placed a few curses on Doherty—which amused Connor to no end. That might’ve also been why Tiernan never did anything about Ryan’s thievery. Then too, Pegeen’s sister, Moira, she was a crazy tart. She was, by far, the more dangerous of the three Donohues. Because Moira wanted something she couldn’t have, neither. She wanted Tiernan.
What Moira wanted was to possess Tiernan and all that came with him by virtue of his family name: the untold wealth that was Doherty’s, the position, power and him; she wanted that too. She’d always been greedy.
Why Tiernan’d never caught onto it, Connor had no idea.
Her hunger for power drove her into places she’d had no business to begin with. She’d managed to fall in with the druids. That bit with the druids was problematic because it gave Moira access to some faerie secrets only the druid knew.
But it mattered not. Moira was dead. Her death and the deaths of her human partners—a married couple called Joe and Kathleen—was down to Em and Connor’s doing. Em wanted the three of them dead. So did Connor. Except his reasons for wanting them dead was different than Em’s. Therefore, and nonetheless, they’d all been summarily executed as was accorded by law, and Em was none the wiser.
Moira, Joe and Kathleen, Kathleen especially, were working a scheme like what Ryan had done. They were trying to take things from Tiernan when they thought he wasn’t looking. Kathleen was keeping Tiernan distracted by playing on his emotions when Moira couldn’t. Joe was just along for the ride. Between the three of them, they’d stolen a right goodly amount of the Doherty family jewels.
That was unfortunate. Tiernan’d already promised the family inheritance to Em as restitution for essentially abandoning his hereditary post at Em’s side. Tiernan had once held the position Connor did as Em’s enforcer and its associated roles: Knight Champion, protector of the king or queen. The Far Darrig, protector of the faerie realm. The Queen’s Consort, protector of the Queen’s virtue. All three positions held by him.
Thinking about Em’s virtue, Connor laughed. Loudly. But he remembered where he was and what he was there to do. He scanned the underbrush for signs of Em’s trackers. Morgan had said they were nearby. He’d not see one yet. He crouched lower, listening, but his thoughts were still on Tiernan Doherty.
To be sure, the true reason Tiernan was distracted, was about his disregard of protocol where Em was concerned—not about a wee bit of Kathleen’s or Moira’s skirt. Not to mention, Tiernan was also in the middle of a messy divorce. It wasn’t as if he’d been in love with the woman. Withy, Tiernan’s ex-wife, was but a convenience.
Tiernan’d married Withy to keep from marrying Em, simple as that. No big secret there. Em had always wanted Tiernan by her side, in whatever way possible. She really didn’t care how she got him there, whether he was married to Withy or not.
Tiernan had ideas otherwise. He might have had copious sex with Em before and after his marriage, but it was meaningless. Tiernan had no intention whatsoever of being Em’s consort, not formally nor otherwise. He certainly never had any intention of giving Em access to the massive Doherty fortune, which she would have, if she and Tiernan were in a mutually exclusive relationship, and had he not married Withy first.
Nonetheless, Tiernan’s sudden and unexpected abandonment of his hereditary duties to Em as the Queen’s Champion was quite a serious thing. At best, it was relinquishing his inherited position in Faerie, something unheard of by a member of the Doherty clan. At worst, it was a rejection of Em and her right to rule. Or even a comment on Tiernan’s true and intense dislike of her.
Either way, Tiernan had to be held accountable for his rash decision. Em could have had Tiernan executed. That suited Connor just fine—he would have been the one to carry out sentence. Em had another plan, though. She wanted to shame Tiernan, wrest compensation from him, then kill him.
This also was fine with Connor, if the end result was Tiernan’s death. Connor had wished for Tiernan’s death for as long as he could remember. Then came Morgan, wandering into Faerie as if she belonged there, singing a happy tune as well.
Morgan’s appearance on the scene was a boon for Em. It gave Em the perfect tool to make Tiernan fecking miserable. Because Tiernan Doherty, for the first time in his very long life, had fallen in love.
It fit Connor’s narrative too. Truth be told, using Tiernan’s love for Morgan to destroy him was poetic justice, of a sort. Once again, it would be accurate to say, there was no love lost between Connor and Tiernan. To be sure, there was nothing left between Connor and Tiernan except for hate. And even hate was an inadequate word to express the feelings they had for one another.
Everyone knew it, both in Faerie and among the humans. The hatred between Connor and Tiernan was legendary, almost as legendary as Tiernan’s contempt for Em. Truly, it had long been Connor’s intention to end Tiernan’s life at the opportune moment, such was the grievous rift between them. That it was a rift of Tiernan’s causing was irrelevant. Because Morgan had since made a conditional promise to Connor, securing Tiernan’s safety—for as long as she lived.
Morgan was quite the clever girl, considering she was someone who’d had no experience in dealing with the faerie. Most of the time she didn’t believe in faeries. Or magic. Yet she’d used the magic—just as Connor’d taught her—against that eedgit, Em. What a mess this was they’d gotten into!
Connor closed his eyes in concentration. That was in the past. Now there were other faerie hunting for Morgan. But Morgan was right. The trackers were close, and they were afraid. They were finally near enough for him to sense them, their fear, palpable. They had every right to be afraid. None of them would leave this place alive. They’d been tasked with killing Morgan. They’d not leave until it was done. It was something Connor would not allow. Not now that Morgan was his wife.
His thinking defaulted again to Morgan. Morgan had agreed to marry Connor for several reasons. Love wasn’t one of them. She didn’t love him. She’d made that clear as a bell. She loved Tiernan Doherty and always would. This little fairytale of theirs was always, at its center, going to be about Morgan’s love for Tiernan and what she would do to protect him, and what they had shared. Connor understood that.
Her plan was ingenious. No one would ever believe she’d ask for Connor’s help in protecting Tiernan. Ever. Connor’d hardly believed it himself. But Morgan had asked. He was only too happy to comply—once she’d explained what she’d give him in return. Her promise to him was, quite frankly, everything he’d wished for.
Besides, Morgan was pregnant by then. The baby was the bond made between them, securing the promise. Not only was there the baby, but Morgan had managed to secure items that might be needed by anyone making a run at Em, challenging Em’s right to the faerie throne. With those sacred items: the royal crown, scepter, girdle, an heir in waiting, the sword and the Doherty treasure, Morgan was the only serious contender for the throne in millennia.
The sword in question was Connor’s. Sword was both an honorific and the sword itself. The Sword was synonymous with the Queen’s Protector. It was also the symbol of the office. Known as a broadsword, it was one beautifully crafted bit of metalwork. It was something never out of Connor’s sight since the time he’d been given it as a boy. At least not until Morgan had come along, making her promises.
Connor’d taught her to use it. Even more appealing to Connor, was Morgan’s use of the sword would piss off Tiernan. Once Morgan had bound Connor from killing Tiernan, pissing him off was rather much fun.
Even more fortuitous was that Morgan had the Doherty family jewels. She’d found them at the end of a rainbow. How funny was that? The very same jewels Tiernan had promised in recompense to Em for essentially abandoning his post as her champion. The very same jewels Moira had stolen from Tiernan after he’d grudgingly offered them to Em.
Because Tiernan couldn’t give Em the compensation they’d agreed upon, Em held Tiernan to another form of repayment. It was an archaic form of payment. Better than that, it was something Tiernan truly detested. Em demanded he continue to have a relationship with her. Tiernan consented because, crap, Connor had no idea why Tiernan consented. Except with Morgan in the picture, Tiernan finally put on his big girl panties and just said no to more relationships with Em.
That hadn’t set too well with Em. Not at all. It made her more determined to cause Tiernan’s life—or what was left of it—to be miserable. Miserable, miserable, miserable. She’d not been able to accomplish that, until Morgan.
First, Em manipulated situations until Morgan had no choice but to leave Tiernan. Then, between Connor and herself, they’d shoved the heartbroken Morgan into Connor’s waiting arms and waited for what happened next. What Em didn’t know was, at some point, Morgan turned the tables on both Em and Connor. Fortunately, Morgan turning the tables had included Connor in her plan to keep Tiernan out of Em’s grasp.
Morgan’s plan, well, it was meant to accomplish more than that. It also meant to depose Em, bring true justice into Faerie, and heal the wrongs of long ago suffered by Tiernan and Connor. As if anyone could heal them.
Second, Em had managed to get herself pregnant. It was Connor’s. But Em claimed it was Tiernan’s. She’d had a reason for doing it. Saying the baby was Tiernan’s, first and foremost, appeared to fulfill Faerie prophecy: an unorthodox queen would have a git by a virtuous man, a man long thought to be of the Doherty lineage. The child would bring all of Faerie into alignment, life would be good. Life would be grand. And Em would have access to other riches held by the Dohertys.
Because Tiernan was bound by the old ways, once Em named him as the sire of her bairn, he would marry Em—which was exactly what she’d wished for.
In the interim, Tiernan’s ex-wife, Withy, was also pregnant. It was Connor’s too, but Withy had pinned it on Tiernan as well. She wanted exactly what Em did: Tiernan. She didn’t give a toss about the prophecy, neither.
Of all the babies that were Connor’s, Morgan’s bairn was the only one he claimed. Which was funny, because…what was that? A sound, the sound of brush underfoot.
Connor had found the trackers.COLLAPSE