Book 3



Ross and Faith Mac Paidin didn’t expect to die on their way home from the dance.

Saturday evening, Faith put on her favorite dress; a beautiful red and navy chiffon with white collar and cuffs. Slipping into the heels she’d chosen for the occasion and stepping to the mirror; she began to apply the bold crimson lipstick she’d splurged on. It contrasted nicely against her fair skin and made her blue eyes pop! Running painted fingertips through the golden curls cascading over her shoulders, she gave herself a quick wink of approval. Her sweetheart would be pleased.

Ross, an army man, had served in the military for seven-years, and as he gazed at himself that late June afternoon, he thought he was looking pretty darn sharp in his crisp dress-greens. There were lots of shiny medals and colorful ribbons pinned to his chest, and he had good reason to feel proud. His thick, mahogany hair was cut above his ears, “high and tight,” and he slicked it back carefully, making sure not a strand was out of place. There wasn’t a hint of stubble on his freshly shaved face as he slapped on some manly-smelling cologne and moved for the closet door. He, too, wanted to make this a night to remember.

At just twenty-eight years old, he and Faith had gotten an early start on married life. Their first child, Ethan, was born when they were only twenty-two. And the other kids weren’t far behind. They were a happy family, and Ross loved filling his role as breadwinner, husband, and daddy.

Stepping into his closet, Ross located a matching flat-top hat with gold braid and brass insignia featured prominently on the front. Lifting it, with both hands, toward his head, he caught a glimpse of the photo he had secured inside a few months earlier. It was a picture of the five of them, taken at last year’s battalion Christmas party. He put it there so that, no matter where the army took him, or for how long, he always had a little piece of home close by.

Ten years had passed since leaving his home country of Ireland, and Ross swore he’d never look back. After his mother went missing, it became ever more apparent with each passing day that his father, despite all of his peculiar abilities and eccentricities, would not be able to bring her back. Ross decided enough was more than enough. Maybe Inez and Clara weren’t so wrong to abandon Father in a huff, as they did. After all, his sisters had endured their dad’s ridiculous behavior since long before Ross’s birth. Could he blame them for turning their backs on such a bizarre family? No. But he missed the girls. Their absence left him feeling isolated and alone. Ross yearned for a reliable, stable, secure life. He liked the idea of living with both feet planted firmly on the ground. All this magical business was for the birds.

So, when he was twelve years old, Ross made a vow that as soon as he turned eighteen and became a legal adult, he would move to a far-away place where he could start over. He would build a new life, and tough luck if Sir Edward thought his only son should follow in his freak-show footsteps.

Ross believed that severing ties with his father, moving halfway around the world, and blending into American society was his best chance for a normal life. And he felt sure he’d achieved his objective, having heard nothing but silence from “across the pond” for years now. Of course, his dad initially used all the vast resources available at his disposal to track him down. Many times he even tried to convince him to go back to Ireland. But Ross’s refusal to communicate or interact in any way seemed to have finally done the trick.

Yet, a lingering fear simmered just beneath the surface. Even after all the precautions Ross had taken, he wasn’t entirely confident his father wasn’t having Arthur keep an eye on him. There had been moments over the years when he’d wondered if he sensed a familiar hidden presence in the room. So, he remained cautious.


Ross’s First Sergeant, John Kleinman, and his wife arrived at 7:00 pm to pick them up. The four planned to ride together and grab dinner downtown on The Waterfront before heading for the dance.

The event was held at a local Grange, and when they walked in, there were lots of people in uniform milling about with partners on their arms, or seated next to them. A band was playing a lively tune on stage at the front of the hall, and in the far right corner, at the back of the room, a well-stocked bar was staffed with tenders busily filling glasses. The air was thick with smoke and boisterous laughter as the two couples made their way through the crowd. They found space at the end of a long banquet table and sat down. The next several hours were spent laughing, twirling, bouncing, and swaying across the dance floor. At one point, during a slow song, Ross leaned in, holding Faith’s hand, and pulling her close. He loved that she wore her hair long, and when he bent his head down close to hers, he smelled a faint hint of citrus and honeysuckle, which was all the intoxication he needed.

It was after midnight when they finally dragged themselves out of the building and moved toward Sgt. Kleinman’s four-door sedan to head home. The weather was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky, and about a million stars were shining brightly overhead as they walked. Ross mentioned, out loud, that he hoped it stayed this nice for the fireworks display next week. And he knew that Jack and Sadie, especially, would giggle with delight at the brilliant colors. It had been a wonderful evening, everything they’d hoped it would be. And the four-some shared lazy conversation as they climbed into their seats and got situated.

The streets of Portland were mostly vacant at that hour of the morning as they drove through the city center. All of the shops were dark except for the brightly lit signs on the exterior of the buildings. Passing a department store window, Ross noticed the shadowy form of a mannequin standing inside and thought she looked almost ghostly in her artificial world. Faith nuzzled up to him, resting her head on his shoulder, and closing her eyes. John expressed how happy he was that this red light was the first they had encountered during their entire trip through town. Then, as John put his foot on the gas pedal, and began to roll his shiny automobile into the intersection, Ross inhaled sharply.

“Mother?!” He gasped in confusion. Shooting forward, he jerked Faith out of her hazy slumber, and she spun around abruptly to see what Ross was looking at. There, standing alone in the middle of the intersection, was a woman. She was dressed in an ankle-length charcoal-gray, hooded cloak. And she was staring directly at them.


Ross yelled, and Faith thrust her right hand in the air, instinctively, as Ross pulled her more tightly to his body.

The other vehicle struck with incredible force. A big, green garbage truck smashed into their car and just kept going. It hit them broadside, at high-speed, sending the Kleinman auto spinning and careening across the street. It finally slid to a stop when it slammed into a telephone pole.

Emergency Responders pronounced all occupants of the vehicle dead on-site when they arrived at the scene.

Jack, Ethan, and Sadie were utterly unaware of the dramatic change about to take place in their little lives.