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Book Title: Love Beyond Reach|
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The author of the book: Bethany Claire
Edition: Bethany Claire Books
Date of issue: January 1st 2017
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 413 KB
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Love Beyond Reach
Book 8 of Morna's Legacy Series
Conall Castle—Present Day
It was odd for Morna to be watched so closely in the place that had once been her childhood home. She stood nervously inside the familiar walls of her old bedchamber, twisting her head at every noise or possible footstep to make certain no other tourists or castle employees were headed their direction.
"It sure looks good, Morna. You did a really good job of making the outside look like a bunch of the other old books here. Do you have another copy? I want to read it."
A brief moment of terror filled her at the thought of Cooper opening the pages of her book and taking in the words inside. He understood far too much about everything already. The last thing he ever needed to read was every little—and sometimes scandalous—detail of her life.
"Cooper, if ye love me, ye will promise me to never, ever read what I've written. It is meant for someone else's eyes, and those are not yer own. Do ye understand?"
While young Coop usually did the exact opposite of what he was told, she could see by the concerned look in his eyes that he cared enough about her plea to listen to her this time.
"Fine, but I know what that means. It means there's the same stuff in this book as the books that Mom used to read when we lived in New York. I bet you talk about kissing Jerry in there, huh?"
She could live with it if all Cooper thought was inside those pages was a little kissing. "Aye, Cooper. I have kissed Jerry many, many times throughout our lives, and I'll admit some of those are mentioned within that wee book."
"Yuck." Cooper's expression twisted into one of disgust, and he held the book away from him as if he worried the nearness of it might cause him to absorb the words. "You don't need to say anything else. I promise to never read it. But, can I ask you one more thing? Why did you want me to come? Wouldn't E-o be able to reach that second shelf a lot better than I can?"
He surely could have, but outside of Cooper, Jerry was the only other person who knew about Morna's recent endeavor, and she wanted very much to keep it that way.
"Aye, I'm certain he would have had a much easier time of it, but Eoghanan doesna need to know anything about it. I can trust ye to keep a secret, aye? Ye know how the others feel about my meddling. I doona wish to explain it all to them."
If Cooper felt he had an important role to play in anything, he was sure to meet it head-on.
"Of course you can. Don't you worry. It might be a little harder, but I can climb up there and get this book placed just where you want it. How long do you think it will take for her to find it up here?"
Morna couldn't be certain. She would no longer spell anyone to do exactly as she wished them to, but she would do all she could to point the girl in the needed direction.
"I hope not verra long at all. She's here, actually. In the castle at this verra moment."
"Really?" Cooper's voice raised several octaves in his excitement. "Can you show her to me on our way out? I promise I won't say anything to her. Let's just walk by her or something, okay?"
Morna was just as keen to see the woman in person herself. "Aye, fine. Now, ye best hurry before someone finds us." She paused and pointed in the direction of the empty space where she wished the book to be placed. "Ye see there? Crawl up and slip it in place as quickly as ye can. Then, we best be on our way. Magic works best if ye set it and then release it to do as it should."
"Aye, aye, Morna. I am your humble servant, Pirate Cooper."
"A pirate? Have ye moved on from dinosaurs then?"
Cooper's voice, when he answered, sounded astonished and horrified.
"Move on from dinosaurs? Are you crazy? I don't think I could ever do that. But a man has to have varied interests. It makes him well-rounded."
Morna laughed at the verbatim words she'd heard from Jeffrey only a few nights before as she watched Cooper shimmy up the side of the bookcase and slip her beloved story in place.
It contained her every memory, and she hoped that when the lass found it, she would treasure every word. Only time would tell.
* * *
"I think this one is my favorite so far. There's just a feeling to it. I don't know what it is, really. Something magical about it, wouldn't you say?"
Laurel turned and awaited Marcus' response. She could tell by his glazed expression that her usually-patient friend was losing his resolve to indulge her obsession with all things old.
"You've said that about every castle. Each one is more magical than the last. Each new one is now your favorite. I'll be honest, they are all starting to look the same to me—just one big blur of stones and crumbling junk."
While many sites they'd visited over the last ten days had indeed been crumbling, Conall Castle in no way fit that description. Well-tended and magnificent, Laurel could all but see the castle's history swirling around her—could almost feel the people who lived here before.
"That's because they do keep getting more magical—I swear it—especially this one. But you know, it may just feel that way because it seems like we are the only ones here. It's lovely to have the whole castle to ourselves rather than bumping into other tourists around every corner."
Marcus laughed, and Laurel knew what he was going to say before he uttered a word. He'd complained about it for the entirety of the drive.
"It doesn't surprise me that we are the only ones here. I know lots of the places we've visited have been isolated, but this is quite literally in the middle of nowhere. If our car broke down on the way back tonight, there would be nowhere for us to stay."
Laurel found herself hoping that the car would break down just before dusk. She couldn't think of anything more enjoyable than being stranded around such beauty.
"I don't think I would care overmuch if we got stuck out here. Surely a castle as old as this wouldn't be too hard to slip into after everyone has left for the night. To sleep in a place like this would be pure heaven."
Marcus couldn't have sounded less enthused. "It probably has ghosts."
"Oh, I hope so. All of the best ones do."
"You're insane if you like ghosts." Marcus' hand on her forearm drew her attention away from the tall window she stood gazing through. "Hey, look. We're not alone, after all. Still, I agree with you that it's nice being around fewer people."
Sure enough, as Laurel turned, she could see two people approaching—an older woman accompanied by a young boy holding himself very proudly as he walked.
"Let's head down toward the other end, Marcus, so they have this area of the castle to themselves."
The woman and boy said nothing to them as they passed, but Laurel found herself struck by the intensity of the unabashed stare she received from them both. She gave them a friendly smile in return, and the young boy raised his left hand and waved in greeting before they went on their way.
"Did you see the way they both stared at me? Has my blouse popped open or something?"
Laurel looked self-consciously down at herself as she tried to make sense of their wide, questioning eyes.
"No. Everything is covered as far as I can tell. Maybe they recognized you."
Laurel laughed and continued to move down the long hallway toward the last room at the end.
"Did you see how small that child was? There is no way he knows who I am. If his parents let him read one of my books at his age, then God help him. No, it definitely wasn't that. Maybe they were staring at you, and I just mistook the direction of the boy's gaze."
"Because I'm black? Come on, Laurel. Surely you think better of them than that."
Laurel couldn't tell if he was joking, but it wouldn't surprise her if he wasn't. Marcus had so many wonderful qualities. While his humility was to be admired, it drove her crazy just how incapable he was of recognizing his own attractiveness.
"No, Marcus. I most definitely didn't think they were staring at you because you are black. Perhaps they were staring at you because the only other human I've seen with your shape is the guy who plays Captain America, and he's just a freak of nature."
Marcus huffed and stepped out of her sight and into the room to their right.
"I didn't even make eye contact with them. They were definitely staring at you. Let's just forget it. I can already predict what you are going to say about this room."
Laurel remained just outside the doorway as she awaited his prediction.
"Oh yeah? What's that?"
"You are going to say that out of all the castles and all the rooms you've seen, this is by far your favorite."
She knew he teased her, but regardless, he was bound to be wrong. The room that lay ahead of her couldn't possibly beat the tower room they saw in the castle two days before.
"Let's just see about that, shall we?"
Determined to come up with a reaction completely opposite of what Marcus expected, Laurel stepped inside, looked around, and found herself completely unable to do so.
The room was perfect in every way. The things she loved most in all the world lined three out of the four walls—books.
"It drives me crazy when you are right. This beats the tower."
"I knew you were going to say that. I knew it even before I stepped inside. I read about it in the guidebook and knew you'd love it. I can see by the happy, glazed expression on your face that you'll be in here a while. I think I'll go explore the dungeon while you do so. I'll come back for you in a bit."
Marcus nudged her playfully before leaving her alone in the room. Once he was gone, she inhaled deeply and smiled. The smell of books gave her the same kind of energy coffee did for some. She thrived off of them, lived in them, made her own living from them. In a room full of books, she felt at home.
She knew that the books lining the shelves didn't quite fit with the historical nature of the castle. The bindings and covers were enough to tell her that none of them could be more than a hundred years old. Still, that knowledge did nothing to damper her love for what surrounded her now.
She moved to the far wall and slowly trailed her fingers along the spines, moving row after row, bottom to top. It was a game she often played in libraries—whatever number popped in her mind first was the number of books she would count before she pulled the next one she would read. The top row required her to stand on the tips of her toes, but she was still three books away from landing on her number, so tradition required her to reach.
It took little for her to pull it from its place. As she latched fully onto it for the first time, she glanced over her shoulder to see a soft, empty chair in the corner of the room.
Marcus would occupy himself for ages exploring the castle grounds. It wouldn't hurt anyone a bit for her to take a moment to peruse the books on the shelves in this room. If the spines of most of the books were any indication, most of them weren't written in English, but she hoped that once inside she would find enough recognizable words to tell her what classic she'd pulled from the shelves. It was bound to be something everyone knew—no doubt a Jane Eyre or a Treasure Island.
The chair was old, and for a moment, she feared it would collapse underneath her. But as she settled in more fully, it seemed to wrap her up in a way that invited her to do nothing more than read.
She opened the book gently. While it surprised her to see that the words were English, it was the handwritten note inside that piqued her interest in a way nothing else ever had.
"To whomever finds this book, you should know that it was meant just for you. Tuck it away in your bag, hide it beneath your shirt, but whatever you do, do not return it to the place from which it rested before. For many would read the pages contained within and dismiss my every memory, my every word, as nothing more than fiction. But you, my first and last reader, will read these words and hear the truth in them.
"Read these words. Love them, tend to them, believe them, and then once you've made peace with the truth, come and find me. By my story's end, you will know just where."
Until we may meet,
"Damn." Laurel whispered the word aloud to herself, shaking her head at the book with mesmerized awe. Whatever the reason for such strange words, the author must have known that it would be impossible for the reader who stumbled upon them to do anything other than read on. She didn't know anyone whose curiosity would allow them to do differently.
Smiling at the wit and the wonder of it, Laurel happily flipped to the next page and continued, never suspecting for a moment how such an act would change her life forever.
© Bethany Claire
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Read information about the authorBethany Claire is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Scottish time travel romance novels in Morna’s Legacy Series.
Bethany’s love of storytelling has been a lifelong passion but, convinced it would serve her best to follow a “conventional” career path, she tucked that passion away and went off to college.
Fast forward four years and about six major changes later, she realized the stories simply were not going to stay tucked away. Months away from graduating with a degree in elementary education, she finally realized writing was the only career that would make her happy.
So one day in the middle of a summer education course, she got up in the middle of class and walked to the registrar’s office and withdrew from the university on the spot. Since then, she has devoted herself to writing full time and is following her dreams.
Read more about Bethany at www.bethanyclaire.com.
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