Dawn had barely climbed the sky when Claire got out of bed the next morning. She headed down the kitchen to make some breakfast, where she found Morgan sitting at the counter waiting for her, smiling. She stared at her sister.
“You stay up all night again?” she asked her.
Morgan shook her head at her. “Nope,” she said. “I was waiting for you.”
Claire pulled her sweater tighter around her, against the chill in the early morning spring air. “And where do you think I’m going?” she asked.
Morgan grinned at her sister. “You’re going to visit Sophia in the Land of the Fae,” she accused. “And you were going to run off without me.”
Claire grinned at her. “You’re getting pretty good at that, sis,” she said.
“So why were you going without me?” Morgan said, shaking a finger at her sister.
Raising her brows in mock surrender, Claire gave Morgan a sheepish look. “Cause I feel like I’m always competing for your time with Alex,” she said in an embarrassed tone.
Eyes wide in amazement, Morgan stared at her. “You’re kidding, right?” she asked. She frowned at Claire. “You’re not kidding.”
Shaking her head, Claire flushed a little.
Morgan came forward, taking her sister’s hands in her. “I love both of you,” she said, earnestly. “And I have time for both of you.”
Compressing her lips, Claire nodded, then sighed. “I know, and I feel pretty silly for being jealous.” She looked up at Morgan and shrugged. “Maybe I’m just a bit jealous of what you an Alex have too,” she said, giving her a ghost of a smile.
Morgan looked at her in amazement. “But you have Thorick…,” Morgan exclaimed, clearly confused.
Flushing, Claire looked away. “Yes,” she said, “and don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty crazy about him. “But he doesn’t keep a girl warm at night.”
Morgan leaned back, staring into her sister’s eyes. “You don’t get to see him much, do you?’ she asked.
Claire looked away, shaking her head.
Morgan took her sister’s hand. “Let’s go make a day of it at the Land of the Fae,” she said, smiling.
Letting go of Morgan’s hand and holding her hands up in surrender, Claire grinned at her then, and nodded. She went to the cupboard and pulled out a bowl, dishing herself some of the hot oatmeal that Morgan had made, then poured herself a cup of coffee. She took her breakfast and went to sit beside Morgan, sitting on one of the bar stools at the counter.
Morgan glanced at her. “So—what are we doing in the Land of the Fae—besides visiting Sophia and Kira, that is?” she asked her, taking another bit of her hot cereal.
Claire glanced sideways at her, taking a bit of her own. She sat there a long moment, chewing, and felt Morgan turn to stare at her, waiting.
“I’m going to talk to them about the Daughters of the Circle,” Claire finally said.
Morgan’s mouth dropped open, obviously alarmed now. “Why? Has something happened?”
Frowning, Claire shook her head. “No,” she said. “I just think it’s past time we started finding out what we’re going to need to know to do this, is all.”
Morgan looked away.
Claire knew her sister didn’t want to admit this still scared the hell out of her. If she started gathering the Daughters of the Circle, she knew Morgan wouldn’t stop her. She’d never do that. But Claire also knew that Morgan had hoped for more time. Morgan needed more time. And Claire had a feeling they were running out of that.
Claire reached over and covered her hand. “What is it, sis?” she asked quietly.
Claire could see in her sister’s eyes that she knew she was wise to her fear. Claire had delayed doing this all winter. But she needed to get wise—and little tougher. All the delays in the world wouldn’t get rid of her fear.
She saw Morgan shake her head and smiled at her. “Nothing,” she said. “Let’s do this.”
Claire squeezed her hand and smiled, then went back to finishing her cereal.
When they were done, they washed their bowls and put a few things together in a pack, then headed out the back deck and down the lane along the meadow.
“Is Sophia going to meet us?” Morgan asked her.
Claire nodded. “Yeah,” she said. “Thorick is supposed to let her know when he sees us.”
Morgan smiled. “Is he coming to the Land of the Fae with us?” she teased.
Claire grinned, but shook her head. “No. We’re going to visit the Elders alone.”
A few minutes later, they entered the shade of the woods and walked along the path until they found a good place to sit and wait on a log. Morgan grinned, sitting down and patted a spot beside her for Claire.
Claire came and sat down.
“So--,” Morgan said. “What exactly are we talking to the Elders about? I mean—besides these Daughters of the Circle?”
Shaking her head, Claire glanced sideways at her sister. “Exactly how to gather the rest of the Daughters,” she said. “You are one of these Daughters.”
Laughing, Morgan made a face. “Yeah—but I still don’t know what that even means.”
Grinning, Claire shook her head, then sobered, realizing. “Don’t worry,” she said, frowning now. “Neither do I.”
Morgan picked up a stick, leaning over to draw on the ground before her. “If you had to guess, what would you think we were going to do?”
Claire shrugged. “Moonlit rituals,” she said, smiling.
“Naked?” Morgan said, looking up at Claire now, flushing.
Claire grinned. “I’m teasing.” She thought about that. “At least, I don’t think that’s what we’ll be doing.” She shook her head. “Maybe there will be some rituals involved,” she said, as this dawned on her. “But I’m sure they’ll be very beautiful—actually.”
Morgan thought about that. Then nodded, and they both glanced up as Sophia came through the veil. Getting up from the log, they went to hug their friend.
Sophia laughed, hugging them. “I’ve only been gone a couple days,” she said.
Morgan grinned, wrinkling her nose. “See. You’ve just got to come back,” she said, pretending to be morose. “We need you.”
Sophia smiled, leading them back through the veil. “That’s sweet,” she said. She glanced back at Morgan. “I’ll be back for the weekend,” she said.
Claire glanced at Sophia, as she turned. “Are the Elders okay with meeting us?” she asked her.
Sophia nodded, glancing back at them again. “They’re excited to meet with you. They said these are important times, and they’re happy to be a part of it.”
When they reached a fork in the path, Claire noticed that Sophia led them down a trail they hadn’t been down before.
They must be heading for the village, she thought. So they were getting straight down to business. She felt little butterflies in her stomach at that. She couldn’t help but feel nervous. This was too important. And she didn’t even know quite what to ask.
When they got to the little Fae town, Sophia led them to where they were holding a small celebration. They greeted several of the Elvin Elders and went to get plates full of food, sitting down and visiting with them. They talked with several of them, like that, for some time. Then, finally, Sophia called their attention to why the sisters had come.
“We understand that you want some help with gathering the Daughters of the Circle,” one Elder named Shaikana said.
Claire nodded. “I’m afraid that I don’t have any idea how to go about doing something like this,” she confessed.
She saw several of them nod, but she could not sense any judgement. “That’s to be expected,” another Elder, named, Zanhar said.
Claire noticed that several of them nodded as they began speaking amongst themselves, and she glanced at Morgan and Sophia in relief. She saw Sophia grin at her and knew that her friend had sensed her anxiety.
Finally, Shaikana raised her head and looked at Claire. Claire couldn’t help but notice how regal, but absolutely beautiful, she was.
“You must begin holding circles,” she told Claire, perhaps open one of those human stores, like Morgan has been thinking, where you can begin inviting those who seem interested to those gatherings.”
Claire felt Morgan stiffen beside her. She clearly had no idea how they could possibly know such a thing. Claire knew Colorado was ready for such things. They already had many of these places in various towns holding such gatherings.
Shaikana gazed at Claire with clear blue-green eyes. “You will know who the Daughters are—when you meet them.”
Claire sucked in a breath of excitement, nodding. “What a wonderful idea,” she said. She felt Morgan glance at her in surprise and turned to smile at her sister. Morgan must have realized how thrilled Claire felt, but she only sat there quietly.
Looking out over the Fae village, Claire realized that this was finally it. This was the sign she’d been looking for. And Claire knew the time had come to gather the Daughters of the Circle.W