Authors: Kirsten Weiss
Tags: #Mystery, #occult, #Paranormal, #Tarot, #Lake Tahoe, #female sleuth
“I don’t know.”
“And why did the genius loci or daimon or whatever decide to help you?”
It was, Riga thought, a good question.
The call from the Sheriff came two weeks later. “We found Night’s body.” His voice sounded strained.
Riga pressed the phone to her ear, and plunged her ski poles into the snow with her free hand. The sun was high in the cloudless sky, and the forest a cool, green mantle of peace. Through the thick pines, the lake sparkled like a sapphire.
“So he is dead,” she said. She’d known it, known that was the way Lefebvre’s dark magic worked, known it when she’d seen Night’s ghost at the lake that night. But a body made it final.
The bindings of Donovan’s cross country skis creaked. He pushed off with one foot and glided to a halt beside her. Though they weren’t touching, she could feel his vital force, thrumming with vitality. It made her blood sing.
“Strange thing is,” the Sheriff said, “judging from the decomposition, he’s been dead over a month.”
A robin fluttered to a branch above her, dislodging a clump of snow that tossed the branches below, then fell to the ground with a wet splat. The bird chirped as if surprised to have caused such a commotion.
“I’m sure the medical examiner will come up with a rational explanation,” she said.
“I’m not.” The Sheriff hung up.
Riga pocketed her phone, looking down at her skis. “They found Deputy Night’s body.”
“So it’s over.”
She looked at Donovan. His face was dusky with exertion from their trek. “Yes,” she said.
“And the prima materia you took? Are there any lingering effects?”
Inside her, the world breathed and she felt its turning. Mountains scraped across clear sky, their progress an echo of thunder. Tree roots strained in the earth, drinking the icy snow melt. Rocks and stones hummed in sympathetic vibration of the Earth’s passage. Donovan was there too, in her heart, a warm, vital force. She was unsure where she ended and the world began, a sensation that came and went in the days following her experience with the prima material.
She struggled to shut it out, suddenly overwhelmed, unsure how to explain. “I feel… different but don’t know what it means yet. I called a daimon. I called for help and Tessie came.” But she hadn’t controlled the daimon. Riga had thought about this a lot, and about her responsibility in Hans’s death. She wasn’t sorry he had died, but it was somehow a relief that the daimon’s actions had been as much a surprise to her, as they had been to Hans.
“When I reach out with my magical senses,” she said, “I can see, but what I see is different than before. I’m not sure what I can do now, what that makes me. But I’m done trying to return to what I was. I’ve melted my last doorknob.”
“Melted doorknobs?” He raised a brow. “That’s quite the non sequitur.”
He crushed her to him, kissing her long and hard and her knees weakened. She smelled the musk of ancient woods, tasted something primal. Someone had once told her that it never got better than the first kiss but it wasn’t true.
“Come on,” he said, releasing her. “It’s not much farther.”
She followed in his tracks, watching his powerful body plunge through the woods. The snow looked crystalline blue in the dying light, the trees casting long shadows. A “no trespassing” sign was posted on one of them.
“Are we on private property?” Riga struggled to control her breathing. She wasn’t used to the vigor of cross-country and her lungs burned.
Donovan looked over his shoulder at her without breaking his stride. “Don’t you trust me?”
They slipped down a gentle incline to a low stone wall. Rocks had tumbled down in one section, and Donovan skied through the gap they’d left.
“Someone should fix that,” he said.
They wound through the trees. If there was a path, Riga couldn’t see it, but Donovan swished through the pines, unhesitating. They entered a clearing with a two story house, its bottom floor built of stone and the top of blond wood that glowed in the sunlight. Donovan circled around the rear, towards the lake shore. At the steps to a stone patio he stopped and stepped out of his skis. He steadied Riga while she unbuckled hers, then took her hand and led her up the short steps to the deck.
A table near the low rock wall had been set with a red and white checked cloth, china, and a champagne bucket. Nearby, a stone fireplace cast a close circle of heat.
Donovan checked his watch. “The pizza should be done.”
He found a short wooden pizza peel leaning against the fireplace, and used it to withdraw a wheel of pizza. He placed the pizza, still upon the fat wooden spatula, on the table.
Riga inhaled: pepperonis, tomatoes, and tangy cheese. Her stomach growled.
“Donovan, what is this place?”
From the deck, Riga had a wide view of forest and lake. The waters had subsided to a cobalt color, the mountains tinged dusty purple, their snow-capped peaks rimmed in fire. Faintly, she heard the sound of a plane fly overhead, and then silence. She looked back at the house. The wide picture windows reflected the scene in an impressionist blaze, Riga and Donovan two elongated figures that joined at the hips.
“It’s breathtaking,” she said.
“I’m thinking of buying it.”
“The house?” Riga asked, startled by the idea.
“We need a real home, Riga. The casino is no place for us.”
“We…“ She wanted him but moving in together felt like a betrayal of herself, a cheapening of things. She knew lots of people did it and it worked out fine for them. But she wasn’t like them. “Donovan—”
“I’m asking you to marry me, Riga.”
He took her hand, his expression serious. “When I was looking for Erin, I kept catching myself thinking – wishing – that you were with me. We should have been together. I should have stayed with you, here, in Tahoe. I’ve made so many mistakes with you. It was wrong of me to drag you to the casino, wrong to push you to move in with me without making a real commitment to you. Marry me, Riga.”
Part of her felt a quiver of distrust in the happiness swelling within her and she told that part to shut the hell up. She knew this man and if she couldn’t take this chance with Donovan, then there was no one for her.
“Mr. Donovan Mosse?” a man’s voice rang out.
Two men in blue parkas walked up the steps onto the porch.
In one fluid motion, Donovan stepped in front of her.
One of the men reached into his inside pocket and pulled out a leather case. He flipped it open, flashed a badge. “Federal agents. You’ll need to come with us, Sir.”
“What’s this about?” Donovan said.
The other man slipped a cuff on Donovan’s wrist, expertly turned him to face Riga, and clapped the other cuff on behind him. “You’re under arrest, Sir.”
His brows drew forward in an angry slash. “For what?”
“Money laundering, Sir. You have the right to remain silent.”
They maneuvered him down the steps.
“Money laundering?” Donovan sputtered. “This is crazy!”
“Donovan?” Riga stumbled down the steps after them.
“They’re wrong, Riga. I don’t know what’s going on, but they’ve made some mistake. Call my attorney,” he said over his shoulder.
No, she thought. No. This couldn’t be happening.
She followed them mutely, watched while they put Donovan into an SUV with government plates, watched them drive away.
Donovan cheating on his taxes? Maybe. But money laundering? No. He wasn’t that stupid.
She was going to get to the bottom of this, get Donovan out of jail, and then…
Riga stood listening to the car engine fade in the distance, listening to the forest, the only sounds now a faint ringing in her ears and the raucous laughter of a jay.
The Emerald Tablet, as Translated by Sir
Isaac Newton, c. 1680
1) Tis true without lying, certain & most true.
2) That wch is below is like that wch is above & that wch is above is like yt wch is below to do ye miracles of one only thing.
3) And as all things have been & arose from one by ye mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation.
4) The Sun is its father, the moon its mother,
5) The wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth its nourse.
6) The father of all perfection in ye whole world is here.
7) Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth.
7a) Seperate thou ye earth from ye fire, ye subtile from the gross sweetly wth great indoustry.
8) It ascends from ye earth to ye heaven & again it desends to ye earth and receives ye force of things superior & inferior.
9) By this means you shall have ye glory of ye whole world & thereby all obscurity shall fly from you.
10) Its force is above all force. For it vanquishes every subtile thing & penetrates every solid thing.
11) So was ye world created.
12) From this are & do come admirable adaptaions whereof ye means (Or process) is here in this.
13) Hence I am called Hermes Trismegist, having the three parts of ye philosophy of ye whole world.
14) That wch I have said of ye operation of ye Sun is accomplished & ended.
[Dobbs 1988: 183-4.]
A book based on current magical (or magickal) thought and practices would be nothing without its source base, and I’m grateful to the many magicians and philosophers who have shared their work. In particular, Patrick Harpurs books on daimons, alchemy and the imagination: Daimonic Reality and A History of the Imagination. For a side-splitting look at the life of a modern magician, I can highly recommend Lon Milo Duquette’s two memoirs: My Life With the Spirits and Low Magick. His book on Goetia, The Key to Solomon’s Key is also a wonderful source. Finally, the tarot deck described in Riga’s dream is the Tarot of Dreams, by Ciro Marchetti.
Also, a huge thanks to my editor, Diana Orgain, author of the brilliant and funny Maternal Instincts mysteries.
About the Author:
Kirsten Weiss worked overseas for nearly fourteen years, in the fringes of the defunct USSR and into the Afghan war zone. Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.
Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes paranormal mysteries, blending her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem.
Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching True Blood and drinking good wine.
Follow her on Twitter @RigaHayworth or on her blog at http://kirstenweiss.com
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