Morgan groaned and turned his face to the wall. Eny, his best and only friend; Eny, his soror mystica; Eny, his most faithful critic, his most trusted adviser, the girl on whom he had pinned so many hopes and dreams (though he wouldn’t have admitted it until this moment): Eny was gone.
And that wasn’t even the worst of it. As he sat there on the cold, hard sand with the salt spray in his nostrils and the stinging tears in his eyes, it suddenly struck him that, this time around, their parting was final and absolute. All in one dreadful, terrifying moment he remembered all the stories he’d heard about the Sidhe, the Stone of Destiny, the Island of Inisfail, and he knew without a doubt that Eny was gone for good.
He had been sitting there a long time, shedding silent tears, when someone laid a hand on his shoulder. Thinking it was father, he rubbed his eyes and looked down. Like any boy his age, he was ashamed to let his father see him crying. But when at last he found the courage to glance up through the blur, he was surprised to see that it was not his father at all.
It was Baxter Knowles.
“Hey,” Baxter mumbled. “I just want to say I’m sorry. I hope you can—well, you know, forgive me. My mom always said I was a pill. Guess she was right.”
Morgan blinked. He opened his mouth to reply but nothing came out.
“I know where we are,” Baxter went on, nodding towards the cavern door. “Home. Those rocks out there, that beach, that curve of shoreline. It’s Santa Piedra. My dad practically owned the place. But he’s gone now. Gone for good.” He laughed a short, harsh laugh; but Morgan thought there was something glinting on his cheek.
“Yeah,” Baxter drawled. “I was thinking I could impress him with that sword of yours. But I was wrong. I’m really, really sorry. I see now that nothing would have impressed him.”
Morgan shook his head uncertainly.
“I need to say thanks, too. You could have left me back there, Izaak—back in that weird woman’s tower. You didn’t. How come?”
Morgan couldn’t speak. His lip was trembling and there was a big lump stuck in his throat.
“That’s okay,” said Baxter. “You don’t have to say anything. I already know the answer. It’s ‘cause you’re the son of your father. You just did what he would have done. Like I said, I think your dad’s a great guy. I only wish—well, never mind. I’d just like to know him better, that’s all. You too,” he added sheepishly.
He stuck out his hand. Morgan took it and squeezed it.
“So,” said Baxter, turning to the door again. “How long do you figure we’ve been gone? No idea? Me neither. But I know my mom will be worried. Better get going. See you later?”
Morgan nodded mutely. Without another word, Baxter ducked under the low-hanging doorway, stepped outside, and went crunching away down the pebbly shore between the rocky cliffs and the briny tide pools.
(To be continued …)