SAMHAIN CROSSING By Tracy Cooper-Posey
Paranormal Romance Novelette
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They recognize each other across twenty centuries.
On the ancient Celtic feast day of Imbolc, a mysterious, but empty, box is discovered, built into a wall of a first century structure in the ruins of Carn Euny in Britain. Itching for distraction, the dig team drop a note into the box, and the next morning find an answer written in ancient Latin.
Dig director, Doctor Daria Caitini, declares the response a hoax, but when more and more letters arrive on each successive Celtic feast day, Daria finds herself drawn into corresponding with the writer, a first century druid called Cadfan, who is hunted by the Romans, and who recognizes her dedication to her work and her essential loneliness, too….
A Short, Sexy Paranormal Romance
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BARNES & NOBLE
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EXCERPT FROM SAMHAIN CROSSING
COPYRIGHT © TRACY COOPER-POSEY 2022
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Carn Euny, Cornwall. Imbolc, February 1 Last Year.
Daria should have recognized that her staff were becoming bored, that moral was dipping, long before the Imbolc incident. She was an excellent archeologist and had worked damned hard to earn her doctorate. But if she had a weakness at all, it was this. She was often blind to the emotional states of other people, because for her, the work came first.
The revisionist dig at Carn Euny had been underway for just over a year. There was enough work to be done on the site that Daria could remain happily occupied here for years, yet.
She didn’t understand why the students and her assistants said Carn Euny was in the middle of nowhere. True, there was nothing around them but barely green, wind-swept and stone-studded hills, but Penzance was only twenty minutes away. And yes, it had proved impossible to rig up any sort of internet node out here, but wasn’t as though they were living in tents on the site—which Daria would have preferred, to save the short commute each day. Everyone was boarding in Penzance, where the internet was readily available.
The Imbolc prank was something only well-educated, terribly young students could have dreamed up. The day before Imbolc, the team working in the round chamber beside the fogou had found the stone box high up in the wall, where the curve of the wall became the roof. A flat slab of rock had hidden it, but a careless nudge with a rock hammer had loosened the cover. Behind the slab was an open space lined with more flat rock, which meant it had been built and wasn’t simply a hollowed-out part of the hillside the fogou and the chamber were beneath.
The space was eighteen inches deep, two feet across and about eight inches high. Other than ancient dust built up in the corners, the thing was featureless. Like all fogous and the chamber itself, the square space had no conceivable purpose. It just was.
The students had called Daria in to inspect the space. She found it interesting, but not terribly exciting, ordered photos, measurements and records be made, then returned to the ruins of the village beyond the buried tunnel. That had been her mistake.
The next morning, barely ten minutes after the bus carrying the majority of the students to the site had deposited them in the public parking area, one of them, Georgina, arrived breathless in the courtyard of House I. “You’d. Better. Come. See. Doctor. Caitini,” she gasped and bent over with her hands on her knees, bellowing.
Daria patted her back as she passed. “You really must stop smoking, Georgina.”
Georgina nodded, then hung her head. “Chamber,” she added as Daria stepped past her.
House I was very close to the east end of the ancient tunnel, and the corbelled chamber was at that end of the twenty meter tunnel, too. It took less than five minutes to clamber out of the excavation pit and into the long tunnel. Daria could hear the excitement in the echoing voices coming from the chamber.
She stripped off her gloves and tucked them into her coat pocket as she moved through the narrow, but thick, portal and into the chamber itself.
Everyone was gathered around the folding table, which had been parked in the middle of the chamber where natural daylight poured through the hole in the wooden roof that had been constructed over the chamber last century. They were examining something in the weak morning light, their heads close enough together that she couldn’t see what it was.
Daria stepped up to the table. “What have you found?”
The room instantly fell silent. The students and assistants parted, letting her step up to the table. Aldin Guillory, the most senior of her site assistants, hefted a pale cream colored, stiff sheet of paper that curled at each shorter end. “It was in the safe, Dr. Caitini.”
Daria pulled her gloves back on and took the sheet, then moved so the light played on it. “Someone must have put it there last night,” she murmured.
The ink on the paper was fresh and dark, and the writing quite legible. She automatically began translating the ancient Latin. “This is a strange jest you leave for me to find, Kilroy, but my days are long, and the distraction most appreciated. I thank you, too, for removing the debris and dust from the box. What manner of parchment do you use? I’ve not seen such smoothness before. Nor such a strange color of ink. If you are so moved to relieve a man of boredom, do explain yourself.” It was signed, simply, “C.”
Some throats were cleared around the table as Daria read the note. Aldin shifted on his feet.
Daria lowered the parchment. “This is a joke, yes?”
Aldin grimaced. “The note they left there yesterday was the joke and they admitted it straight away.”
“What note? The one this letter speaks about?”
“Here,” one of the students said, shoving their phone toward Daria. “We took photos.”
Daria glanced at the screen. The photo showed a perfectly ordinary sheet of printing paper. On the bottom half of the page, someone had used an ordinary ball point pen to write in neat printed letters: Kilroy hic erat.
Kilroy was here, Daria translated for herself.
On the top half of the sheet was the classic Kilroy cartoon image of a man with a large nose peering over a wall or fence, two hands on either side of his bald head.
“You…left that in the safe?” Daria asked, glancing at the blank maw, high up in the wall. A sturdy box had been placed beneath it for everyone to be able to reach the safe.
Nods. Sober expressions.
“And this note was in the box this morning, when we got here,” Aldin added.