Giant’s Garden by Siondalin O’Craig
Celtic Magic 4
A grant to do doctorate work in a bleak corner of Northern Ireland is Penny Gallagher’s last chance to find her wings and break free of her oppressive industrialist boyfriend.
When she finds her time there has been engineered for her boyfriend’s profit, it takes a voiceless giant of a man to help her discover her own magic.
Giant’s Garden (Celtic Magic 4)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2023 Siondalin O’Craig
The Giant’s Causeway
Sean Feeney took another long drag from his pocket flask. Heavy gold chains around his wrist grated against the flask’s metal rim. Penny Gallagher watched him sway unsteadily in his skinny designer jeans and black Converse high tops.
He reached out and draped his bony arm around her shoulders. She couldn’t tell whether it was to keep himself from falling over or an awkward maneuver meant to be making a pass at her.
She hoped it was the latter. First off, they were standing at the top of a cliff. Not just any cliff, but a bare, windswept cliff tumbled with black hexagonal stone columns jutting out into the North Channel of the Irish Sea between the north coast of Ireland and the west coast of Scotland. If Sean dropped onto those lichen-pocked rocks it would mean a fatal mess involving a lot of paperwork and long, dim conversations with uniformed authorities. And if I fell… no, she told herself firmly, we’re not going down that line of thinking right now.
Secondly, she hadn’t gotten laid since James Carbill threw her over six months ago for some new interior designer he had fallen for. And to tell the truth, she had not been laid decently for months before that. James’s steel-blue eyes had started wandering elsewhere long before that ugly day when he’d told her that she needed to move out of the Beacon Hill apartment he had been keeping her in, and that both of her positions — as his personal assistant, and as his sexual partner and dinner party arm candy — were terminated effective immediately.
James had softened the blow a bit by pulling some strings to secure this grant so she could finish her doctorate degree in psychology from Boston’s Fauntel University, and that’s how she wound up standing on top of a windy cliff, watching Sean’s long, shaggy blond hair blow into his eyes, which were fixed vacantly on the horizon.
She reached up to her shoulder and twined the fingers of her right hand with Sean’s, hoping to lower the odds that they’d both go off the cliff. The smell of salt spray on stone mingled with alcohol fumes. She reached for his flask with her left.
“Give me a hit of that,” she said, raising her voice over the wind. “You can’t have all the fun yourself.”
He handed her the flask absent-mindedly, its cap dangling from a little silver chain. She took a swig. Smoky, peaty whiskey seeped into her tongue and the flesh of her throat, straight into her bloodstream. She would swear it never even hit her stomach.
“All this,” Sean said, gesturing broadly with a wobbling sweep of his arm. Penny braced her feet, but they did not topple over. “When you write your… your… thing.”
“Your thee, your thing. On all this. You’ll make millions of dollars. We’ll all make millions of dollars. Because everyone will want it.”
Penny took another hit of the whiskey. It felt mellower this time, as if she and the whiskey were getting acquainted. “No one ever made millions of dollars on their psychology doctorate thesis,” she said.
“Oh, but you will.” Sean turned around, his face close to hers, and poked her hard in the chest with the point of his index finger. “You will. I will. Everyone will. Because this,” he swept his arm out again along the horizon, “this is the Giant’s Causeway. You’ll write about why it makes people feel so good — you feel good, right?”
Penny nodded skeptically. He didn’t wait for her response before rambling on.
“Because it makes people feel so good that they will all want to live here, and I’m selling my land to the American developer who will give them all a place to live. And everyone else will too. Just as soon as you are done.”
Penny smirked and shook her head. It’s true that her doctorate proposal had talked about the intersection of landscape and psychology, and the grant that James had helped her secure had sent her to this bleak, forsaken, vertical drop-off to write about it. But in point of fact, she had not yet started writing, and now that she was here, she could not for her life figure out what to write about.
“Sean, you handsome devil,” she said. “It’s a pile of rocks.” Basalt, she noted to herself, recalling one of the guidebooks she’d read on the plane. Lava from a volcanic episode, cooled slowly, formed hexagonal columns. Why do people find the myths more interesting than the science?