Blood & Soul

Blood & Soul by Deborah O'Toole (aka Deidre Dalton) is Book #3 in the Bloodline Trilogy.


Emma Beckett is adopted into a loving home as an infant, never knowing the true circumstances of her birth. As a child, she discovers she has unique powers of healing. She eventually realizes her abilities could be an instrument of evil, begotten by a bloodthirsty monster . . .

From the Prologue: Visions of Emma


DREAMS HAD ONCE been a bane of existence for Noel Grady, signifying portents of the future with puzzling symbols and vivid tableaus. Over time, the disturbing flashes had grown less frequent, becoming fleeting bits of déjà vu which rarely followed her waking hours.

She was in her seventy-fifth year when the dreams returned. They came slowly at first, brief glimpses of odd images that disappeared almost as soon as they appeared. Then they became more frequent, consistent in content and hauntingly familiar.

The girl in Noel's new dream was young, probably in her mid-to-late teens. She was tall and slender with short, wheat-colored hair. Her face was somewhat blurred in the dream, apart from startling blue eyes that seemed to rotate like orbs, no matter which direction she turned her head. She was walking along a forest path, which was surrounded by pine trees. It was shaded and difficult to see, but Noel could make out the girl's quick and purposeful stride. She was being followed by several wild animals - a squirrel, four ducks, a pair of raccoons and a ginger-colored Maine coon cat - all of whom were at her heels.

In the dream, a strong wind suddenly whipped into a frenzy, forcing the girl to increase her speed. The sky grew darker, making the vision in Noel's mind even more difficult to discern. The wind swirled over the girl and her animal companions, a misty, wreath-like fog snaking around their collective bodies.

Then, suddenly, all of them came to a clearing. It was nighttime, the surrounding area an ink-black space but for a crescent moon shining brightly in the sky. Noel thought the display in itself seemed to be pure science fiction, yet there it was in her dream. A huge, silver-yellow quarter moon in the middle.

The young girl stood in the clearing, now devoid of high winds, staring at the crescent moon. The wildlife following her on the path now formed around her in a circle, also staring up at the sky.

Noel's view switched to the young girl's face, similar in sensation to seeing a video or camera close-up. She stared back into the phantom lens, her facial features now clear and defined. Noel was momentarily startled, seeing in the face a stunning likeness to her son-in-law, Kirk Lester, with her daughter Kate's blue eyes. It was her granddaughter, Emma. Even though Noel had never met her, she knew the face from photographs sent to her by Emma's adoptive parents.

And then the girl spoke three simple words: "It is time."

She turned her head away to stare up at the crescent moon again, this time pointing a finger into the sky. The dream began to slowly fade in Noel's mind, like a program on television gradually fading to black.

Noel exhaled loudly, her eyes opening in the semi-darkness of her bedroom. The dream had not left her frightened as visions from her past had done before, but rather she felt a peaceful calm, as if knowing the dream would somehow, somewhere - and soon - come to fruition.

With a slight smile, Noel closed her eyes and fell into a dreamless sleep.

* * *

NOEL AND PIM Grady had been married for thirty-six years, content with each other's company, even in retirement. One day was much like the next for them, their routine formed from habits long-ingrained in both of them.

They sat in their breakfast nook, methodically eating sliced cantaloupe and buttered toast. The sun was bright, streaming in through the window. Pim's silver cane, which he used to get around at the age of eighty-five, was propped against the wall behind him. His silver hair, once blond, fell thick to his neckline. Despite the frailness of his physical body, his mind and dark eyes were as alert as ever.

Noel, too, had weathered time fairly well. Her long, silver mane was tied into a loose pony tail, her slightly-lined face devoid of much make-up. Her blue eyes were much like the ones she saw in her dream about the girl, only vaguely hooded now.

She sipped her coffee as she regarded her husband of more than three decades. He was as handsome as ever, in her eyes. Pim was her soul-mate - her best friend through good times as well as bad.

Theirs was a unique pairing, made possible by a shared experience virtually unheard of in the real world, much less the surreal realm they had found themselves in so many years ago. Noel had been Noel Gatsby then, living with her mother in a rundown apartment house on Wren Street in Jamaica Plain, Boston. Pim Grady had been the building's superintendent, but had been forced to give up his job as a senior engineer at Nordic Petroleum because of a slipped disc in his back. Noel suffered from several physical afflictions of her own, including pinched nerves along her back and neck, heart disease, cancer and a botched hip replacement that caused every waking moment to be filled with agonizing pain.

Then, one day, both of them underwent a seemingly magical transformation, their ills disappearing overnight as if perpetuated by a some miraculous entity. It was only later, when they compared notes, that they realized they had experienced a similar "cure" given to them by two mysterious Asian creatures - Hoshi and Shoji - that only appeared to them in their dreams. Side effects from their cures was the mutual ability to read each other's minds, along with Noel's troubling dreams that often gave glimpses of the future, heavily laced with mysterious symbolism.

Their only child, daughter Kate, was born mere months after their wedding, and seemed to also possess a special ability that enabled her to bend people to her will. While Kate had a normal childhood, her romantic obsession with Kirk Lester had resulted in the birth of a child, who was given away as a form of protection, and a fame that was associated with Kirk's murderous father, Kendrick Lester, whose ill notoriety was garnered by being known as the Bluebell Serial Killer. Even though he had been sentenced to life in prison, Kendrick's unsavory fame had followed Kate and Kirk to the present day. After serving ten years for complicity in his father's crimes, Kirk had re-joined Kate in the real world, albeit heavily shadowed by grisly events from the past. They lived in Beacon Hill now, where Kate kept them comfortably well-off with her books on medicinal herbs, spices and recipes. They resided at a townhouse left to Kate by her late godfather, Judge Edward Minot, which shed its own eerie ambience on their erstwhile notoriety.

"I had that dream again last night," Noel stated as she stared across the table at her husband. "Except there was one difference this time."

Pim gazed at her. "Oh, dear. A young girl in the woods, being followed by animals? What's different now?"

"She came to a clearing after being in the forest," Noel replied, keeping her eyes on Pim. "There was a crescent moon in the sky, and I saw her face this time." She took a deep breath. "She looks like Kirk, with Kate's blue eyes. Or my blue eyes, for that matter. It was Emma."

Pim's eyes narrowed. He instantly relayed his thoughts to his wife. "You saw our granddaughter."

"Yes," she answered him without speaking.

The long-married couple often transmitted their thoughts to each other. It wasn't from fear of being overheard as they lived alone, but rather a sense of comfortable habit. They could carry on complete conversations for hours, without uttering a word.

"Anything else?" Pim asked aloud.

"Yes," Noel admitted. "At the end of the dream, she said: It is time."

"She would be about seventeen years old now," Pim observed.

Noel nodded. "The girl in my dream seemed to be of such an age."

Pim cleared his throat. "What do you think she meant when she said It is time?"

"Perhaps it's time we met her in person," Noel responded softly.

"You should check with Madge, ask her is she had a similar dream."

"She's coming for dinner tonight," Noel said. "We can talk to her about it."

Madge Tilley was Noel's former employer, a retired attorney who was also a dear friend and Kate's godmother. Madge had also experienced a "cure" many years ago. Her resulting side effect was to see glimpses of future events, which she preferred to call "visions" rather than dreams.

Pim smiled. "To actually meet our granddaughter again, after all this time." His eyes clouded over. "We can't tell Kate about it, not yet."

"I know," Noel replied sadly. "And we might have a long wait. I had the dream, true, but we don't have any idea when the meeting will occur, although I have a feeling it will be soon."

"Me too," he agreed. "I can feel it in my bones."

"Getting e-mails and photos of our granddaughter from Cabral and Darcy Beckett was all well and good over the years, but I would rather meet her in person."

"It's something I want to do before I die," Pim transmitted his thought to her.

"Don't talk like that," she chided him gently. "You have years to go yet."

"It is my most fervent hope, love."



BLOOD & SOUL ©Deidre Dalton. All rights reserved.

"Blood & Soul" may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the author. "Blood & Soul" is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.