Home > Lacybourne Manor (Ghosts and Reincarnation #3)

Lacybourne Manor (Ghosts and Reincarnation #3)
Author: Kristen Ashley


People try to explain magic in a variety of different ways.

They use the excuse of science, miracle, divine intervention, luck, fate and coincidence.

It’s all just magic in one form or another.

* * * * *

And the purest magic is love.

And the purest, purest magic is true love.

* * * * *

Everyone has magical powers.

Some know they do.

Some would never believe.

Some are greater than others.

Some are good and kind and true.

Some are evil and wicked and violent.

And sometimes they all get tangled together.

* * * * *

This is the story of the purest, purest form of magic, true love.

It is a story about all kinds of magic, mixed up in a crazy, mystical mess.

* * * * *

Esmeralda Crane was there when Royce Morgan first laid eyes on Beatrice Godwin.

It was the Year of our Lord, 1522, and even though Esmeralda had already lived a goodly number of years in two centuries, she had never been blessed to witness true love.

He was handsome, a rich, land-owning knight wearing shining spurs. He had thick hair the unusual colour of sunshine mixed with honey and eyes the colour of the richest, most fertile clay. She was dark of hair and fair of skin, her hair so dark, it was only a shade lighter than black and her skin so fair, it was without blemish except for the freckles that danced across her nose. She had extraordinary hazel eyes, eyes that could be more green then brown on occasion (with ire, which was a good deal of the time, considering her fiery nature), more brown than green on other occasions (with love or happiness, which was also a good deal of the time, considering her kind heart).

Esmeralda watched their stormy courtship with fascination. There were times that his personality (which was mostly autocratic, reserved and often cynical) would grate roughly against her personality (which was buoyant, free-spirited and often explosive). Esmeralda feared both these stubborn souls would never see the magnificent stars in each other’s eyes and understand what kind of precious gift they had been given.

As ever, the magic of true love was victorious. Esmeralda should never have doubted it.

Even though Esmeralda wasn’t invited, she created a glamour for herself so she could attend Royce and Beatrice’s wedding.

One rarely had the honour of witnessing true love in the giddy hours right before its consummation.

But she felt the black soul there that day, dark as midnight. The soul was sitting in the church, as bold as can be, even though lightning should have struck it dead the minute its foot crossed the sacred threshold.

As Royce and Beatrice stood in the front of the church, Esmeralda saw the stars in the lovers’ eyes. Alas, Esmeralda knew those stars were now crossed with darkness.

She hurried from the church before the ceremony was finished, jumped on her sweet-spirited, but not very swift, nag so she could quickly get to her larder. There, she pulled out herbs, incense and oils, all the while muttering to herself. She put all of her efforts, all of her energy, all of her (considerable) power and all of her (even more considerable) magic into a protection charm that would keep the lovers safe.

Once done, exhausted with her efforts, she shrugged off her fatigue and scurried to Lacybourne Manor, frightened that she would be too late.

Nearly to the doors of the grand house, Esmeralda found that she was too late.

She came upon the newly-wedded pair outside the house, lying entwined under a copse of trees, the blood from their slit throats now fertilising the soil around them.

Esmeralda wanted to cry, to scream, to keen into the night all of her despair that their love had not been consummated. The glorious consummation of true love, the like of the love between Royce and Beatrice Morgan, would have protected them like a powerful shield.

The old witch, no matter how tired, was not yet done with magic that night.

She picked up the delicate hand of the fallen Beatrice and saw the flesh and blood beneath the girl’s fingernails. The same could be found under the nails of the once mighty knight.

Taking her dagger, she gouged the human particles from beneath the lovers’ nails and also collected a dagger blade full of the soil that had absorbed the couple’s mingled life blood. Lastly, she pierced the point of the dagger into her finger and squeezed her own blood into her powerful brew.

Working swiftly, the witch mixed the protection charm with a fierce shake. More of her conjuring was muttered, she opened her charm and sprinkled her potion around them.

Forever linking them.

Forever, through eternity, binding them together.

Until one day, many, many years in the future, the stars in the lovers’ eyes would uncross.

Esmeralda knew the black soul would hunt them but she prayed that her protection charm and the added power of violence, death and true love would protect them.

The witch knew one day, they would find each other again.

And that day, they would need her.

Chapter One


Marian Byrne stood at the door of Lacybourne Manor smiling at the last tourists that left through the grand entry.

At seventy years old, she’d been a volunteer for The National Trust working at Lacybourne for seven years. She had no idea how long she would be able to continue, her feet were killing her.

Marian was tall, straight, thin as a rail and had the energy of a fifty year old (or, at the most, a fifty-five year old). Her hair was cut short, its curls died a peachy red that was not old lady peach but a colour she, personally, found very becoming.

She was under strict instructions to have all the tourists and their cars and the other flotsam and jetsam cleared from the area before the man of the house came home.

Colin Morgan had inherited Lacybourne just over a year before. His aunt and uncle left no heirs so upon their untimely death (he of cancer, she of a broken heart, the latter Marian believed although the doctors said differently), the man from London became owner of the grand house with its medieval core. The old owners were not nearly as demanding as Mr. Colin Morgan. They would often mingle with the tourists and even open some of the private chambers.

Not Colin.

He closed the house all days except Mondays and Tuesdays and allowed it open only one Saturday a month. It was available solely from February through June, which was quite a muddle for The National Trust as that cut out the height of the tourist season and school holidays. And he expected all of the tourists and The National Trust pamphlets and laminated leaflets that lay about the rooms to be locked out of sight by the time he came home.

This would have vastly annoyed Marian, if she hadn’t met Colin Morgan.

He was near as the spitting image of the man in the portrait that hung in the Great Hall.

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