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A Boon by Moonlight


Nicola Cameron

Published by Belaurient Press at Smashwords

Copyright 2013 Nicola Cameron

ISBN: 978-0-46390-361-2


Cover Artist: Melanie Fletcher

Editor: Theresa Havens


ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

TABLE OF CONTENTS



Dedication

Author’s Note

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Bonus Story: Snow Day

About the Author

Other Works

Connect with Nicola Cameron

DEDICATION



For Peter White,
Who never ceases to spur me on to greater heights.
Thank you, sweetie.

AUTHOR’S NOTE



A Boon by Moonlight was originally published in 2013 by Evernight Publishing. This version has been re-edited and expanded, but there are no fundamental changes to the plot.


CHAPTER ONE



Zach Mayhew hiked through the moonlit forest, keeping his flashlight trained on the ground ahead of him. The September air wasn’t quite cold enough to make his breath steam, but he was still looking forward to getting this over with, going home and climbing into a nice warm bed.

I don’t believe I’m wandering through the damn forest in the middle of the night looking for a faerie ring. This is totally nuts.

He paused, trying to judge how far he’d come. The full moon overhead helped, as did the familiar deadfall that marked the beginning of the stream trail. Just a little farther, and then he’d be there.

And then... He grimaced. And then you’ll call something that doesn’t exist.

He knew the guys in his old squad would be laughing their asses off if they could see him right now. He wouldn’t blame them. If someone had told him even a month ago that he’d be hunting down a faerie ring, he’d suggest they lay off the recreational herbs and spices.

But it was for Gram. Who had never asked anything of him, not since she took him in as a child after his parents died. She’d supported him all through school, saw him off when he joined the Marines, acted as his rock during two tours in Afghanistan, and welcomed him back with open arms when he finally came home. Going to work with her at Mayhew Plants afterwards felt like the right thing to do. Working with green things, helping them grow after years of firefights in the desert, was a balm to his soul.

And then she’d collapsed in the middle of the nursery, knocking over a tray of her beloved orchids as she fell to the floor. He rode with her in the back of the ambulance to the hospital where a CAT scan revealed the dark spot in her brain. Too deep for surgery, the doctor said, and too close to vital brain centers for radiation. The only other option was chemo, but the odds weren’t very good.

Zach could still remember the way his throat had closed up and the feel of Gram’s hand in his as she refused further treatment, saying that eighty-one was good enough.

After that. there was nothing else to do but bring her back to the rambling Victorian house that had been her home for sixty years, the place where she wanted to die. The local hospice organization assigned a nurse to come by every day and check Gram’s vitals, monitor her meds, and give assistance as needed. Zach took care of everything else. Deputizing the running of the nursery to his assistant manager Lacey, his new job was to make sure Gram was comfortable as she could be under the circumstances.

Until the end.

That night, he had brought her a bowl of the tomato soup she’d requested. She smiled at him as he arranged the bed tray over her lap. “Thank you, Zachy. You’ve always been such a blessing to me,” she said.

He’d sat down on the bed and took her hand, careful of the delicate joints swollen from arthritis. “You deserve it, Gram,” he said, swallowing hard. “You need anything, you just tell me. I’ll get it for you.”

She had squeezed his hand lightly. “I’m glad you feel that way, angel, because I do need something. I want you to do me a favor.”

He had braced himself to discuss the funeral details with her, what music she wanted or what dress she should be buried in. It was the last thing he wanted to talk about, but it had to be done.

Instead, she had told him a story. When she finished it and made her request, he was glad he was already sitting. For a Marine, falling on his ass from shock would have been embarrassing.

“Gram, is this some kind of a joke?” he finally managed.

She shook her head. “I know how it sounds, Zachy. But it’s the truth. And now, I want him to fulfill his promise. I can’t get out to the ring, so you’ll have to go and bring one of them back here.”

One of them. The Sidhe, the Shining Ones, the Gentry. A fae. One of whom, according to Gram, had had an affair with her before she married Grandpa, and promised to bring her into Faerie when her mortal life was at its end.

It was ... Zach didn’t like using the word “insane” in conjunction with Gram. But it was clearly impossible. Either her meds were causing hallucinations, or the cancer had triggered some sort of aggressive early dementia.

But if she wanted him to go to Mount Rushmore and bring her back a chunk of Washington’s nose, he would have bought climbing gear and a pickaxe. Whatever she needed right now, he’d move heaven and earth to get it for her. So if she wanted him to hike out to the forest in the middle of the night, find a faerie ring, and recite a poem that was supposed to summon the Sidhe?


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