Excerpt--Aisling, Book Three: Beloved Son

© Carole Cummings



“So well-intentioned, Dallin Brayden, but too...” Calder shook his head sadly.

Wil didn’t ask him to finish. He was already feeling culpable enough. He’d spent too much time today being pissed off over nothing, and not nearly enough paying attention. He tossed back the rest of the tea, nodded.

“Too everything,” he told Calder. “There’s so very much of him, sometimes it seems impossible there might be boundaries at all.”

“He loves too well and too deeply,” Calder put in gently. “It is not meant, what you have between you. It can do no good—to you, to him, or to Lind.”

That made Wil bristle. “That’s hardly for you to say, is it? And anyway, I don’t think there’s such a thing as... as loving too well, and... and if... if...” Damn, he hated it when he lost track of what he was saying in the middle of a good bluster. “You’re too bloody nosy, Calder. You’re always... I don’t like it when...” His mind stumbled this time, a slight haze covering his thoughts, making them thick and sticky.

He paused, gathered himself, shook his head to clear it. Tired, that was what it was. It had been such a long day, and he’d been asleep for the four before, and his brain had nearly exploded out his ears before that. “If the...” He blinked, gave his head another shake, the chain of his thoughts suddenly breaking apart, the links flying out in every direction. What had he been saying? What had he been doing? Something silly, something... no. No, it was something important, but Calder would probably think it was silly, and anyway, it was private, and Calder would only roll his eyes if he knew, shake his head and blabber it to the Old Ones so they could say that what the Aisling and the Guardian were getting up to wasn’t meant, and...

A tiny snort leaked from Wil’s mouth. And so the fuck what.

“Bowl. I was... the Burning Bowl, and it... no, Blessing. The bowl, I mean…” The words were slurred and syrupy, like his tongue had just outgrown his mouth, and he staggered, his left leg turning to water. He went down on one knee, goggled at the ground, at Calder’s boots, at the divot in the grass Wil had clawed up before when Dallin had sunk his teeth into Wil’s shoulder and made him beg, and then at the dirt still crusting lightly under his fingernails... at the cup losing focus in his hand...

He knew this feeling. If his mind had been working, it would have been screaming.

“I am sorry, Aisling,” Calder said gravely. “But even in this, I serve you.”

“Serve...?” As though his hand belonged to someone else, Wil held the cup out, lifted it up toward Calder. “What... what have you...?”

Calder knelt in front of him, gently took the cup from him, reached out and stroked his cheek with a broad, callused hand. “Someone has to be the Guardian, lad. I do the Mother’s will, as I always have done.”







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