Authors: Aiden James
Curse of the Druids
A Nick Caine Adventure
Created by J.R. Rain
Acclaim for Aiden James:
“Aiden James has written a deeply psychological, gripping tale that keeps the readers hooked from page one.”
Bookfinds review for “The Forgotten Eden”
A variety of twists, surprises, and subplots keep the story moving forward at a good pace. My interest was piqued almost immediately and my attention never wavered as I forced my eyes to stay open well into the night. (Sleep is overrated.) Aiden James is a Master Storyteller, whose career is on the rise! Out-freaking-standing-excellent!”
Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews, for “Plague of Coins”
“The hook to this excellent suspense thriller is the twists that will keep readers wondering what is going on as nothing is quite what it seems. Adding to the excitement is that the audience will wonder whether the terror is an evil supernatural creature or an amoral human…Aiden James provides a dark thriller that grips fans from the opening.”
Harriet KLausner, for “The Forgotten Eden”
“Aiden James’ writing style flows very easily and I found that Cades Cove snowballed into a very gripping tale. Clearly the strengths in the piece were as the spirit's interaction became prevalent with the family…. The Indian lore and ceremonies and the flashbacks to Allie Mae's (earthly) demise were very powerful. I think those aspects separated the work from what we've seen before in horror and ghost tales.”
Evelyn Klebert, Author of “A Ghost of a Chance”, “Dragonflies”, and “An Uneasy Traveler” for “Cades Cove”
“The intense writing style of Aiden James kept my eyes glued to the story and the pages seemed to fly by at warp speed…. Twists, turns, and surprises pop up at random times to keep the reader off balance. It all blends together to create one of the best stories I have read all year.”
Detra Fitch, Huntress Reviews, for “The Devil’s Paradise”
“Aiden James is insanely talented! We are watching a master at work….Ghost stories don’t get any better than this.”
J.R. Rain, Author of “Moon Dance’ and “Vampire Moon” for “The Raven Mocker”
BOOKS BY AIDEN JAMES
CADES COVE SERIES
The Raven Mocker
THE TALISMAN CHRONICLES
The Forgotten Eden
The Devil’s Paradise
Hurakan’s Chalice (with Mike Robinson)
GHOSTHUNTERS 101 SERIES
The Ungrateful Dead
THE DYING OF THE DARK SERIES
The Vampires’ Last Lover
The Vampires’ Birthright
Blood Princesses of the Vampires
Scarlet Legacy of the Vampires (with Patrick Burdine)
(Coming September 2014)
THE JUDAS CHRONICLES
Plague of Coins
Reign of Coins
Destiny of Coins
The Dragon Coin
Tyranny of Coins
Game of Coins
(Coming September 2014)
WITH J.R. RAIN
The Nick Caine Adventures
Temple of the Jaguar
Treasure of the Deep
Pyramid of the Gods
Curse of the Druids
WITH MICHELLE WRIGHT
The Judas Reflections
Murder in Whitechapel
Curse of Stigmata
A Zombie Revolution
WITH LISA COLLICUTT
The Serendipitous Curse
WITH JAMES WYMORE
Curse of the Druids
Copyright © 2014 by Aiden James
Cover Art by Michelle Johnson
All rights reserved.
Ebook Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Curse of the Druids
It began with another damned map.
A map I thought would become history in the summer following our Sekhmet temple adventure. Yassir Ali’s Egyptian grunts nearly caught us twice—in Amsterdam this past July and again in Greece during September.
It took another month before we found a haven secure enough to relax for two weeks. In Milan, Italy, with my deceased buddy Mario Thomas’ brother and his family. I hadn’t seen Marcus in nearly ten years and, thankfully, he was glad to see me. Marie approved my gift of a golden figurine to him, with the understanding Marcus wouldn’t try to cash in on it until Ishi, Marie, and I were safely out of the country.
From Milan, we deposited the rest of the gold in Vienna, before heading to Madrid for a week, and on to Paris just before Halloween. Not nearly as romantic an excursion as some might picture. By then, our assailants had again located our scent and pursued us with renewed vigor. So, we moved on to London, near the end of November, when Thanksgiving would be celebrated in the States. But our presence in England was singularly for the task we set out to complete in July… to find the Ambrosius Amulet.
Ascribed to Merlin himself, this relic is believed to predate Merlin’s lifetime—if he even existed—by three hundred years. Linked to the historical King Ambrosius Aurelianus, the brilliant blue sapphire was once described as being the size of a child’s fist and set inside a golden dragon pendant. No telling how much the damned thing is worth in pounds, euros, or the good ole American dollar. Legends state the amulet not only would protect its owner from harm, but it also opens a vortex allowing a host of ancient Gaelic gods and goddesses access to our world. “Deities or super intelligent alien life forms,” Marie told us during our flight from Paris to London, despite the fact neither species of entity has ever been given serious consideration among the world’s noted academics. That is, none not bearing the last name of Da Vinci, as in
DaVinci, Marie’s daddy.
Aside from paternal loyalty, why does Marie have a bewildering obsession about this relic? It was the last thing on her father’s ‘to-do’ list, before his untimely death at the hands of her ruthless uncle. Ever since, she has secretly felt driven to find it for him—even though she readily admits it might prove impossible to find.
“I doubt it exists,” Ishi whispered to me. His soft brown eyes were playfully aglow.
“I heard that,” said Marie.
We were driving from London in a rented Mercedes Viano, heading southwest to Salisbury for a stopover on our way to Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Or, rather, Marie drove and I kept her company in the front passenger seat. Ishi sat directly behind me. We had reserved two rooms at the esteemed Cricket Field House in Salisbury, a quaint bed and breakfast not far from our intended destination. The plan that day was to check in to our rooms and pay a visit to the historic sites of note in town. An evening of fun and relaxation was the plan that night, and then we’d take care of our business at Stonehenge in the morning. Actually, Stonehenge would merely be a stop on the way to our true target, since Ishi and I had never visited the site before. The recently discovered Bluehenge was where the map would take us
“Heard what?” I said, playfully.
Marie sighed, shaking her head. She wasn’t pleased by either of our glib responses to her latest rendition of why this trip was necessary.
“Maybe the two of you should carry on to the States and leave this project up to me,” she said, tersely. “Especially, if you’re going to undermine my father’s research into the amulet’s existence. Just because it won’t necessarily be easy to find doesn’t mean it won’t be there waiting for us when we get there.”
“Will it chirp like your car keys when you get within homing range?”
I admit, it wasn’t a good idea to goad her. But, it’s damned near impossible for me to resist a good ribbing when readily presented. Besides, permanently avoiding Yassir Ali’s ire by fleeing to a much safer locale in America carried much more merit than her disparaging comment warranted. After all, Ishi and I had several times offered to return to England for the amulet when things were less tense, and when we were no longer targets for a team of hired assassins. Not to mention, December’s chill was hardly ideal when digging for artifacts.
“Just kidding, Marie,” I said, when she refused to acknowledge my remark. “You know I love you.”
I added sweetness that I hoped didn’t come across as facetious. For those familiar with our last expedition, in Egypt, they’ll recall our budding romance. Marie and I remain an item, though lately things have been a little tense. I chalk that up to our shared need for adventure, and the fact we had spent far too long running from Ali’s thugs.
But the chance to find new buried treasure called to us both like nectar to a honeybee. So we couldn’t stay on the lam for long. Once the chance to sneak away to England presented itself, we went for it, ignoring the ever-present dangers involved.
“I love you, too,” she replied, with a tad more sugar compared to my response. Definitely facetious. She turned to smile at me. Her dark sunglasses, almost too big for her delicate features, effectively hid her eyes from view. But I had no doubt the twin blue seas with gold flecks were inflamed. Lasers sheathed for my protection?
My Tawankan pal smirked in the back seat. Ishi possessed the ideal demeanor. Lately, he seemed to flow with whatever was happening. It’s obvious he has enjoyed the sabbatical from treasure hunting much more than Marie or me. Or, maybe the enjoyment is for not getting shot at.
“How long do you think it will take before he figures out we’re in England?” Ishi asked, studying the countryside littered with trees that still carried foliage. Green—everything was green, which made me wonder why either of us expected snow. The cool dampness in the air hinted of that kind of coldness, but it brought only varying degrees of rain.
“He, as in Yassir Ali?”
“Yes, Boss, that guy.”
“I think we lost the bastard and his buddies back in France,” I said. “Haven’t seen hair nor hide of ‘em in almost three weeks. As long as that continues to be the case you’re off the hook, sister.” I nudged Marie, hoping to lighten the van’s mood.
“But it hasn’t stopped you from looking over your shoulder, too, Nick,” said Ishi, worriedly. “We may not see them yet… but they’ll come.”
Ishi had been the one most eager to immediately hop continents to North America. And, yes, I agreed. I felt we had pushed our luck while in France. Lingering too long in the continent where Ali’s men had tracked our whereabouts. Our last rental car before returning to Paris for our flight to London exploded in flames outside a busy restaurant in Reims. No one was hurt, luckily. We hoped the fact we left the damned thing unclaimed would deter our assailants from following us further. Marie clung to that hope like a divine revelation.
“That’s it!” She pulled the Viano to the side of the highway and slammed on the brakes. The sunglasses came off, and my gal’s blue-eyed fury met the surprised looks on both Ishi’s and my faces. “I’m gonna turn around and take the two of you to Heathrow, where you can flee to the States with your tails between your legs! All right?”
I damned near let her do it. Dealing with feisty females has never been my forte, though I seem to attract that sort of lass more than any other. But, the needling question ‘what if she’s right?’ made our departure premature without first exploring the place called Bluehenge. Besides, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to my latest flame.
“Sorry, sweetheart,” I told her quietly, fighting the urge to lash out. “I’ll keep it muzzled.”
I pulled an imaginary zipper across my lips and turned my focus to the road ahead. Refusing to grovel when she glared at me again, after I winked at Ishi, I allowed the pompous smile she loves to hate steadily widen until she pulled back onto the road to continue our journey west.
A small victory… there is that.
“You didn’t win anything this time,” she muttered, without looking at me. “I need your full support, Nick… at least for now. If we’re not close to finding the amulet within a week, I’ll give in to your wish and we’ll take the first flight to New York.”
“Florida,” said Ishi, his tone playful. “Key West. I’m tired of freezing my ass off.”
“Sounds good to me,” I agreed. “But I’d like to take Marie to Times Square for New Years, Ishi. Something my folks did the year before they died….”
Why it hit me the way it did, I couldn’t say. Marie and I had planned to visit New York for the holidays before leaving Paris. Even Ishi was aware of our amorous plans, stating he might return to Honduras to visit friends he hadn’t seen since spring, and rejoin us in January. The sudden wave of memories, and their attendant emotions, brought images of my folks being cut down in a wave of bullets. Fresh. As if it happened yesterday. My eyes filled with tears and I couldn’t speak.
I stared ahead, hoping no one noticed. Of course, not finishing my point begged a response. Fortunately, the exit for Salisbury was coming up, and Marie focused on it while Ishi shut down his iPad. A few minutes to recompose myself, I planned to never reveal what finally came to mind as the likely source for the episode.
Instead of my parents, I saw the three of us—Ishi, Marie, and me—nearly cut in half by a barrage of bullets close to an unfamiliar landmark. A fear fed by painful childhood memories? Perhaps. But it didn’t lessen the scent of gunpowder and blood
in my nostrils. Not one bit.