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Maggie Shayne | Exclusive Excerpt: FIONA: ORIGINS


Here’s an exclusive excerpt of Maggie Shayne’s FIONA: ORIGINS

FMI: https://MaggieShayne.com/fionaorigins



When I came home after a night of partying with my friends that beautiful spring morn, the last thing I expected to see was my parents lying on the floor of our cottage. I ran to my father first, as he was the nearer. But he was cool to the touch, chalk white, eyes closed, still in his nightclothes.

Dead. My da was dead.

“No!” I fell to my knees beside him, pressed my fingers to his neck in search of his pulse, but instead I felt, and then saw, two small dark wounds. I gasped and drew my hand away, but my gaze stuck fast. The punctures were swollen and red; there was not a drop of blood to be found, not even on his skin.

We’d argued the night before. My last words to him had been unkind.

“Oh, Da,” I whispered, “I’m sorry. If you want to move away, we’ll move away. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Da. I’m sorry.”

“Fiona,” Ma whispered.

“Ma?” She was alive! I scuttled to her side. She lay faceup on the floor, still wearing her nightgown and her soft fleece robe.

I pressed her cheeks with my palms, searched her neck, fear making my eyes widen and my heart race. I turned her head gently, to check both sides. There were no wounds there, only her tears dripping onto the backs of my hands.

“It’s my heart, darlin’. It broke to bits when I found yer da like that. Oh, my sweet Michael!”

“I’ve got you, Ma.” I was already fumbling for my phone in my handbag, somehow still hanging from one shoulder. I tapped out 999. They answered quick. I said, “My father’s...my folks were attacked during the night. My mother’s having chest pains. Please hurry.”

“It’ll do no good, child,” Ma said. “I’m not long for this world. I so hate to leave ye alone. But we’ve little time left, and there are things ye must know.”

Her burr was heavy, her voice weak as she lay dying on the rag rug she’d braided herself. Beyond our windows, Loch Ness sparkled in the morning sun as if nothing horrible was happening along its green shore. It kept winking in my eyes.

I stroked Ma’s face. It was pale and cool. “I never should’ve stayed the night away. I was just so angry, him wanting to up and move away from here. Away from the loch.”

There’d been a bonfire with my schoolmates, and plenty of drink to celebrate our final day at university. I hadn’t planned to take part, but with Da acting so crazed, I’d left in a huff. We’d drunk ourselves foolish and camped out overnight. And look what I’d come home to.

I never should’ve gone.

I rung off, dropped the phone, and gathered Ma’s head onto my lap so I could hold her. “Help’s on the way, Ma”

She shook her head in the cradle of my arm. “Listen to me, Fiona. We were livin’ in the States back then. There was a fire in the research center, beyond the village. Dark place. Secretive. There were a dozen theories as to what went on there, but no one knew for sure. It burnt to the ground.”

“Save your strength, Ma, please.”

She pressed her lips, shook her faded red curls, and raised her voice. “Listen to me, daughter!”

Ma never raised her voice. It startled me. “All right, I’m listening.” My own burr had once been as heavy as hers, but I’d been learning to soften it at college. To succeed in the world, Professor McKenzie said, one first needed to be understood by the world. And she’d harped on us to pronounce our Ts and use diction.

The life lessons of Professor McKenzie were likely going to prove more valuable to me than my liberal arts degree ever would.

“We were out for a drive the night of that fire, yer father and me. We saw the glow of flames up ahead, and suddenly there you were in the middle of the road all alone, yer face covered in soot.”

I frowned at her and wondered if she was losing her reason. “What do you mean, there I was?”

“Oh, Fiona, my dear sweet lassie. I dinnae give birth to ye. But I couldnae love you more if I had.”

“You—you’re not my—”

“You wore a hospital gown, a disposable nappy, and a plastic bracelet.” She paused there, took a few shallow breaths. "Subject 92751, it said.” Her cornflower eyes were dull, their shine all but gone.

I was stunned to my bones. Hot tears escaped my eyes and spilled onto my cheeks.

“I’d been prayin’ for a child, and you were God’s answer, Fiona. We sold our business and brought ye home to Scotland the verra next day, so they’d never know ye survived.”

She closed her eyes, rested her head on my arms. Her story had shaken me, but not as much as finding her and Da on the floor of our home. A home that had known only love and laughter for my entire life. Up until recently, with Da’s mad insistence we must move away.

Had he known somehow, that this might happen?

I heard sirens in the distance at last. “They’re comin’, Ma. Hold on.”

“Be safe, my sweet girl.”

The medics were at the door. I shouted “Come!” before they even knocked. More men than I'd expected crowded in, two of them coming to my mother. I moved aside, reluctantly surrendering her care to them.

Two others had gone to check on my father. I looked that way, knowing what they'd find.

“He’s already gone,” one whispered.

“Aye, but do ye see the marks on his neck?”

The two men locked eyes. There was fear in them. I read it easily. Ma always said I had an uncanny knack for reading people.

Death, murder, fear. These sorts of things were strangers in our home. Secrets were, too, or so I’d always believed. But there'd been a very big secret after all, one my parents had kept from me for my entire life.

I felt like a wee, frightened child as they carried her to the ambulance. I ran alongside, holding her hand. There was sunshine and a late spring breeze, and yet, it was the darkest day I’d ever known.

“Follow behind in the car,” one of the medics said. I knew him. The son of a local farmer. We’d played together as children. I couldn’t recall his name.

I drove in silence, tears blurring my vision, pulled into a parking spot all cockeyed and ran to where the ambulance had stopped. They opened the rear doors to take my mother out again. But she was different. Every wrinkle had vanished from her face. She looked like a peaceful, sleeping angel. And I knew she’d gone to join Da.

The medics ran inside, pushing the gurney ahead of them, shouting for a crash cart, but she was gone. I felt it as surely as the sun on my face. She was gone, and Da was gone. I was alone in the world, and now with no idea who I truly was.

Everything about my life had been a lie. Everything I knew about myself, about my world, had been stripped away.

* * *

The cottage was emptier that it had ever been when I returned home that afternoon. I stood on the threshold, looking inside, but was somehow unable to make myself enter. I could only stand there, staring, wondering whether they’d still be alive, had I only stayed home.

Who’d done this to my family?

I heard a vehicle pull up and, in a few seconds, Constable Wallace put a hand on my shoulder. “Darlin’ lassie,” he said. “I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you.” I lifted my chin up then, looked at him over my shoulder. “A vampire did this, Constable.”

His nostrils flared with his pupils. “It was no such thing, child. The coroner says yer da likely fell down the stairs.”

“The autopsy will show otherwise,” I said.

“I see no need for an autopsy. Ye donnae want yer da to be treated that way, now, do ye?”

“Aye, if it means capturing the monster that did this to him. To them.”

“Yer ma died of a heart attack,” he said.

“Aye, a heart attack caused by the sight of her husband lying dead of a vampire attack.”

“It wasnae—”

“It was! Did you not even see the punctures in his neck?”

“Ye go spreading this nonsense ‘round, ye’ll cause a panic, Fiona.”

“Maybe there ought to be a wee panic, sir. There’s a monster loose in Foyers.”

“I came to get yer official statement, lass.”

“I came home from spending the night away with my friends, to find my father dead of a vampire’s bite, and my ma dying of a heart attack. I called 999. That’s all there is to tell you.”

He nodded. “I’ll need to verify with these friends—”

“Why’s that now? Do you think I put those marks in Da’s neck?”

He took a deep breath, then lowered his head and said, “I’m going to leave ye to grieve. We can talk tomorrow.”

“Nothing I say will be different tomorrow.”

He turned and walked back to his car. I made myself step inside, at least long enough to slam the door. And then I stayed put, right there at the threshold, wondering what to do.

At length, I pulled out my cell and rung up Jerry McGuinness, my da’s solicitor.

It took him four rings to answer “Aye, what is it now?”

“Mr. McGuinness, it’s Fiona Fairweather calling.”

“Fiona, I’ve only just received the tragic news. I’m sorry, lass. And stunned. My heart’s near to broken. Are ye all right? I was just on my way to ye, love.”

“There’s no need to come.” I didn’t want anyone to come. I’d things to think about tonight. “I just—it was a vampire. A vampire killed my father. And the constable denies it, calls it an accident.”

Jerry was quiet for a long moment. So long I was compelled to speak again. “Did ye know my da wanted to move away?”

“He wanted to move away?” Jerry sounded as shocked as I’d been when I’d first heard the notion. "Why?"

I sighed heavily. “I was hoping you could tell me.”

“This is the first I’ve heard of it, lass. Where was he wantin’ to go?”

“It’s unimportant. Can you make the constable admit the truth and find my da’s killer? Is there some lawyerly thing you can do?”

“It would be a waste of time,” he said softly. “Wallace couldnae tell a vampire from an umpire. But… I know of some people who do this sort of thing. In the States where my nephew Aaron lives. I can make a call.”

I nodded slowly. “Aye. All right, you do that. I’ll see what I can do here.”

“What do ye mean, lass?”

“Nothing. I mean… Goodnight, Jerry.” I disconnected, put the phone back into my purse, and heeled off my shoes. Then I walked through our, moving slow and looking hard for anything off kilter. There was no furniture askew. Even the vase of roses from Ma’s garden was still upright on the wee stand near the window.

Was that blood on the carpet there?

I went into the kitchen, taking as few steps as possible, stopping at the cabinet where Ma kept the zipper bags. Then I rummaged through the junk drawer, locating a box cutter blade, a marking pen and a pair of tweezers. I took the big magnifying glass off Da’s reading table as I went back through the living room.

At university, I’d changed my mind a dozen times about what to study. I’d thought trying many things might help me find my calling. I never had. But I’d taken a semester of law enforcement classes my second year before deciding that was not for me. One of the classes had been on gathering evidence from a crime scene, and I was straining my mind to remember the details now.

The vampire had been in this house. He must’ve left a trace.

I moved to the spot where my father’s body had been lying, and crouched to search with the magnifying glass. I found those few drops of blood I’d seen on the carpet. My stomach convulsed. But I swallowed hard, took out the sharp blade, and cut those sections of the carpet out, then put each one into its own zipper bag. I also located a stray hair that was neither my ma’s red, my own copper, nor Da’s silver-gray. It was black as the soul of a killer. I put it into a bag as well.

I went through the entire living room, and the areas near both the front and back doors. I photographed a footprint, near the back, just on the top step, and then collected some of the dirt that had formed it.

By the time I finished, it was dark outside.

I’d been too busy to hurt for a wee part of the day. But as soon as there was no more to do, the pain came back in waves. I told myself to go upstairs to bed, but I was too afraid to sleep in this place.

I donned a fresh nightgown, took my pillow from my bed and an extra pillowcase. Into that pillowcase, I dropped the box cutter knife, the crucifix from Ma’s bedroom wall, and a few cloves of garlic from the vegetable bin. Before leaving the kitchen, I took up Ma’s broomstick and broke it over my knee. And then I took the broken end, my pillowcase full of supplies, and all those zipper bags out to the car. I’d lock myself in and sleep there, where a vampire might not expect me to be.

* * *

Three Days Later…

Boleskine Burial Grounds overlooked the southern shore of the loch. The wind coming up off the water tousled my hair the way my da used to do. My folks’ bodies lay in two shiny wood boxes, suspended above a pair of holes in the ground. They’d lined the open grave in green fabric, for the moment. The mourners mustn’t see bare soil, all tangled with roots and worms, after all.

My parents had made their arrangements themselves, years ago, so there was little for me to do. Even their modest headstone had been ready and waiting for them, standing so long that patches of bright green moss had already begun to creep over its edges. Their names and birthdates were pre-chiseled into its face. The stonecutter would return after I’d gone, I supposed, to add the date of their deaths.

The mourners had all gone, but even before they’d left, I’d been alone. I would always be alone now.

And then suddenly, I wasn’t.

I felt him before I saw him. His shadow fell over me, blocking out the sun, but also buffeting the wind.

I turned to see who was there. The tall, dark-haired man was a stranger to me. A stranger with eyes the same gray-blue as the loch right before a storm.

“I’m sorry for your loss, Miss Fairweather. How are you holding up?”

“You’re American.” The accent was unexpected enough to reach through my grief. But only briefly. “You knew my parents?” I asked, minding my diction. “Ma said they’d lived there once, when I was…a child.”

“No. I’m sorry to say I didn’t know them. We’re here because of the way they died.”

“And what do you know about that?” I was suddenly wary.

He kept looking at me, then away. Kept starting to speak and stopping again. “I’m sorry,” he finally said, and looked at something near my feet instead. “I’m handling this badly. My name is Quinn Collins. I’m with the United States Division of Paranormal Investigations, better known as the DPI and um–”

“Jerry McGuinness is an old friend,” another man said.

He was a few yards behind Quinn Collins. Odd that I’d missed him. He was so tall his back curved ‘round him. His hair was as gray as old steel. He came closer, reached out to take my hand. “I’m Chief Lester Mayhew. I head up the Byram Field Office.”

“Of the…DPI,” I said.

“Yes. You’ve heard of us?”

Since I thought he’d be insulted if I said no, I said nothing at all, only turned my attention to the spray of lilies atop the caskets. Ma’s were orange with velvety brown dots and yellow streaks, tiger lilies, for she’d loved how they grew wild wherever they pleased. Da's were blue, for the loch he loved. Who knew there were such things as blue lilies?

“I gathered up some evidence,” I said softly. “Since the constable couldnae—couldnt—be bothered. It’s in the car.” I held out my keys. “In the boot, a canvas sack. I’m not um…I’m not yet ready to leave, but you can take it on your way.”

“Evidence?” The handsome one asked. “You gathered evidence?” He was looking at me as if he’d never seen my like, and his boss was looking at him looking at me.

Then Chief Mayhew took the keys from my hand. “Wait here, Collins. I’ll get it.” He walked away, up toward the road.

“So, you know how to gather evidence,” Quinn Collins said.

“I took a course in college during a brief foray into the study of law enforcement. Heaven knows if I remembered correctly. But I did what I could.” I looked at him, got stuck trying to read his expressions. He was very good at hiding his feelings, I thought. “If you think I missed anything, you’re welcome to go over the place again. No one’s been inside since…  Other than the medics, that is.”

“They haven’t? Where have you been staying, Miss Fairweather?”

“My car, mostly.”

“That’s not much safer than the house, if it was a vampire who murdered your father.”

“I just can’t bear to stay inside. It’s where my da died, you know? And it was a vampire.” I watched him to see if he believed me.

To my surprise, there wasn’t as much as a flicker of doubt in his eyes. “You do believe me, don’t you?”

“I do. Why wouldn’t I?”

I shrugged. “Constable Wallace didn’t, or refused to. Folks ‘round here don’t believe in such things,” I said, pronouncing my t. It wasn't precisely true. We'd never seen such things, but we knew of them. We had the Internet. There were vampires in many parts of the world. But not in Scotland.

“And how about you, Miss Fairweather? Do you believe in such things?”

“I've been keeping a crucifix and a wood stake under my pillow in the car.”

“Going to kill a rogue vampire, are you?”

“Aye. If he returns. Aye.”

His eyes were dark and full of secrets, but he believed me, and he was impressed by me, in spite of himself. That much showed clear, before he shuttered his face again.

He seemed to be searching my eyes in return, and I wondered what he was thinking, but then he looked away, to gaze out at the loch. “It’s a beautiful spot they chose.”

“Ma chose it long ago, and not for its folklore, though there’s lore a'plenty.”

“There is," he agreed.

“That burnt-out foundation up there?” I pointed. “That’s the remains of Boleskine House. Burnt just before my nineteenth Christmas. It once belonged to the occultist Alleister Crowley. They say he summoned hordes of demons right here among the headstones. Some claim they linger still.”

We were both looking up at the charred remains of Boleskine House. And he said, "Before that, way before, there was a church, wasn't there?”

I snapped my head his way. “Aye. A tenth-century kirk that also burned.”

“With all the congregation trapped inside.”

“You know your folklore, Mr. Collins."

“It’s part of my job.”

"Part of your job? To know about lore and fairytales?"

He nodded. "There's more truth in them than most would think."

Chief Mayhew had returned, carrying my makeshift evidence bags three to a hand. “You’re remarkable, Miss Fairweather. She’s remarkable,” he said to Quinn Collins. “Look at this.”

Quinn looked, but there was the merest hint of a knit in his brow.

“Why didn’t you stick with law enforcement in college?” the chief asked. His face was friendly, but there was something off. He was looking pleased, but I’d no idea with what.

A cloud passed over the sun. “How do you know about that?”

He smiled easily. “We don’t begin an investigation without a thorough background check of everyone involved,” he said.

Quinn Collins’ frown deepened. He was not fully in the know. And his boss, I sensed, was performing for me.


Collins said, “We really didn’t come here to intrude on your…time. To say goodbye.”

“No, no, of course not,” the chief agreed. “But we do need to sit down with you, Miss Fairweather. And time is short. Could we meet with you tonight, do you think?”

“I donnae—don’t know—”

“We can make it a dinner meeting,” the chief said. “You look like you could use a good meal. That pub, on the corner?”

“Tomorrow night.” Quinn Collins looked at his boss. “She’s burying her parents, Chief.”

I lowered my head, grateful for his concern, but irritated at his assumption that I couldn’t speak for myself. “I was about to say that tomorrow would be better. Tonight, half the town will be in and out, bringing food, drink and condolences. Speaking of which, if you do want to inspect the crime scene, you’ll need to hurry. Jerry’s holding them off until five, he said.”

“I think we have plenty to go on with what you brought us,” the chief said. “And if we’re putting it off until morning, let’s make it a breakfast meeting.”

“Aye, all right. Only the pub’s not open in the forenoon.”

“We can come to you, if it’s easier,” Quinn Collins said. “We can even bring the breakfast. What time will you be up and around?”

“Earlier than you,” I told him.

He accepted the challenge, a little spark of amusement in his eyes, and with a nod, they turned and walked off. He rolled his right shoulder as if it ached, on his way to the car.

I watched them go. The chief was talking most of the way. I heard, “She’s something, isn’t she? At a time like this, to have the presence of mind to gather evidence…” His voice trailed off as they walked further.

Quinn Collins turned to look back at me, and I got the feeling he was trying for all the world to puzzle me out.


Wings in the Night: The Fiona Files, Book 1


By Maggie Shayne

On sale May 2nd

Copyright MS Lewis, All rights reserved

FIONA by Maggie Shayne

Wings in the Night: Fiona Files #1




A brand new chapter in the WINGS IN THE NIGHT Universe…

An innocent child…
A research facility, the subject of wild speculation, burns to the ground. That same night, a little girl is found wandering sooty and alone wearing a hospital gown and a bracelet identifying her as SUBJECT 92751.

A lifetime of lies…
Fiona Fairweather has spent her entire life in the small Scottish town of Foyers on the shores of Loch Ness. But everything changes when finds her parents dying on the floor. With her final breaths, her mother tells the truth, that she wasn't born to them, and that the truth about her origins could put her in grave danger.

A dangerous stranger…
Quinn Collins arrives from the States to investigate her parents' deaths. Fiona is drawn to him in spite of the threat he represents. Can she trust him? Or has he come to fetch her back into captivity?

A daring quest for truth…
To find out who she really is, Fiona risks returning to the US where her parents found her, and accepting a job in the rebuilt facility from which she'd fled as a toddler. She jumps into the lion's den, and Quinn Collins is one of the biggest lions there.

A soul-wrenching discovery…
DPI only does research on extra-humans, so it makes no sense to Fiona that she was once a “subject” there. But what she learns is almost too shocking to believe, for not only was Fiona born in the DPI, she was made there.

The truth awakens…
On her 300th full moon, something foreign that's been sleeping inside Fiona all her life, stirs awake and begins to grow strong. Will she fight it, or embrace it? Will it co-exist with her or possess her? And will Quinn Collins keep her secrets, or will he be the instrument of her ultimate destruction?


Romance Contemporary [Oliver-Heber Books, On Sale: May 2, 2023, e-Book, / ]

Buy FIONAKindle | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Maggie Shayne

Maggie Shayne

New York Times and USA Today bestselling, RITA® Award winning Author Maggie Shayne published 62 novels and 22 novellas for five major publishers over the course of 22 years. She also spent a year writing top story arcs for CBS’s Guiding Light and As the World Turns and was offered the position of co-head writer of the former. An offer she tearfully (it was lots) turned down. It was scary, turning down an offer that big.

But in March 2014, she did something even scarier. She went indie. And it went so well that by July 2015 she incorporated her business, Thunderfoot Publishing Inc. She’s never enjoyed her job more. This new frontier of publishing is bringing Maggie success like she’s never seen before in two distinct areas of her work.

First, her contemporary western romances, The Texas Brands series and the Oklahoma All-Girl Brands. And secondly her beloved paranormals, including the Wings in the Night series, which has the distinction of being the second vampire romance novel series ever, launching just a year after Lori Herter’s Obsession series created a new genre.

Maggie is also an acclaimed thriller writer with her award winning Brown and de Luca novels, and many more. Maggie Shayne is extremely accessible to her readers, interacting with them daily, via her Facebook pages and twitter accounts.


The Portal | Wings in the Night: Reborn | Fatal Series






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