Her entrance into the grand foyer went almost entirely unnoticed by all except the doorman. It was the annual Sam Hain Solstice Ball, a masked event that could be mistaken for an S&M evening were it not for the tuxedo’s and haute couture draping the masked guests as they mingled and sipped expensive champagne while pretending to be oblivious to the identity of their companions. Brennan’s mother had once told her that the tradition had begun before the McCluskey had even made their way to Boston as a celebration of life and the Source of all of their magic. As a girl, all the she’d understood was that she had to stay in her room because the grown ups were doing “adult” things. A smile slid across her lips with the memory of the night that she’d discovered what those adult things were.
She had been 13 years old and very upset with her parents for not allowing her to finally attend the event. So, as a small rebellion, she’d snuck out of her rooms and made her way toward the ballroom, but was stopped before she could even descend to the main level. Baring her way had been a man and a woman, pressed against the wall directly next to the doors. Though Brennan had only been 13, she knew what was going on and she became utterly fascinated by the look on the woman’s face. Her head was thrown back as though she was in pain, but she was gripping the man’s shoulders, as though trying desperately to pull him closer to her. The scene had played out before her eyes for nearly 10 minutes before the magic had begun.
It was subtle, at first, and then brighter. An iridescent blue light had begun to tint the woman’s skin and fill her eyes. The man’s hair was standing at attention and had even stopped swaying with his carnal movements. The two were now in a swaying rhythm that reminded Brennan of a waltz and with every movement, swivel of hip, and moan, the two shone brighter with the light. She had wondered, as they continued to shine, if the light became too much, would they burn? And just as that thought had crossed her mind, the woman’s hand shot toward the ceiling and tried to grip on to the wall above her as her back arched painfully and the power that had been building loosed itself like lightning shooting from her fingertips, disappearing into the house. She had been trapped in the hallway, listening to the two people whispering softly to each other breathing heavily for quite some time before she’d been able to sneak back to her rooms unnoticed.
The first bars of Strauss’s Blue Danube filled the ballroom, pulling her from her memories as the crowd around her began to file onto the dance floor in pairs. Her perch behind a large stone column kept her safely in shadows and sufficiently alone to scan the crowd for her target. Brennan was still not sure why her Uncle Rory had sent his lap-dog, John, to give her this mission, nor could she understand what sort of threat this boy posed. His unassuming head of brown hair was bobbing with the cadence of the waltz, his partner spinning and swaying with him, and they were both smiling. He couldn’t be more than 15 years old.
She turned and made her way up a staircase to the balcony that overlooked the main floor. In a bygone time, this would have been an exceptionally imposing reception hall. Her memories of attending the Sam Hain Solstice Balls made her thankful to be masked as she was sure that she had turned a violent shade of red. On her 18th birthday, her mother had confirmed what she’d already suspected- the ball was a means the McCluskey’s used to replenish the Source resting far below the house. The people in attendance were invited for the very specific purpose of being seduced and having their energy recycled back to the pool to be used as the Council saw fit. Looking around the dance floor, Brennan stifled a laugh, not many of tonight’s attendees were unaware of this arrangement. The crowd looked to her like a swingers bar on Halloween.
Three more songs played before her targets dancing companion was able to coax him off of the dance floor and Brennan knew just where she would take him for some privacy. She weaved her way through the throngs of people who seemed to be moving closer and closer together to see the young man and his companion slip behind the doors to one of the library ante-chambers. She hurried around toward the other entrance through the rear of the library and found herself alone, in the darkened room, with only the young voices coming through the crack in the door. Brennan began to look through the many artifacts being displayed in the dark room and found the one that she had been looking for- a small black metal compact that had once belonged to the original McCluskey and could drain you of your life within seconds. She slowly moved toward the door, whispering the incantation to activate the compact softly as she went. When she was about 5 feet from the door, Brennan stopped, unable to move.
She struggled against her own body, but she’d been frozen in place. A loud noise echoed from where the boy and his companion had been hiding and the sound of hurried apologies and scrambled dressing came through the crack and into the empty library. If she’d been able to move her lips she would have screamed and she was about to try when the voice came into her head.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, my love.” A soft, American voice said only to her.
“Who are you and why are you interfering? Do you have any idea what you are doing?” She could feel his presence- he was in the room. She felt out the shadows with her mind to find this interloper and deal with him, but the room was entirely empty.
“You won’t find me, it is not time, you are not ready,” he said, then she saw it. A shadow in the shape of a man moved from behind the large chairs positioned next to the fireplace and walked calmly toward her. She could sense no anger, nothing menacing from him, just the weight of centuries. It made no sense and she was still fighting to get free of his binding spell. “You never fail to make me laugh, even now, in the years before you find yourself.” She felt the spell release and her body immediately ran toward the rear door- it shut and locked itself before she could get there.
“Who are you?” she said aloud this time, her back against the paneled walls of the library, “What do you want?” The shadow continued to close the distance between them.
“I want nothing my love, you are not ready,” Brennan took a breath and in the instant that she blinked, the shadow was upon her, hovering inches from her face. A scent filled her nose, but she gasped in shock, the smell was that of Pine Trees and Honeysuckles and fresh streams, not the tar and malevolence she’d though he was made from.
“What the hell-” and before she could finish her question the shadow leaned down to kiss her and the world went dark.
At that same moment, 2 continents and one very large ocean away, Shawn Donovan woke from a dead sleep, covered in sweat and breathing as though he’d just run a marathon. What had just happened? The dream had felt so real, but who had that woman been and why had he referred to her as love? He turned to look at the clock on his side table and saw that there were still 5 hours before sunrise. Laying back down he determined to commune with the Source after the sun sets to be sure that this was not an omen or a warning of some sort.