Dark Brew

Paranormal Romance

The Wild Rose Press

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Kylah McKinley, a Druid, herbalist, and owner of a New Age shop, learns she’s the reincarnation of Alice Kyteler, a Druid and moneylender who lived in 14th century Ireland.           

On a pleasant summer evening at twilight, Kylah is wheeling her husband Ted down the road near their Cape Cod home when a car nearly runs them over. Stunned with shock and fear, she insists it’s deliberate—a car hit Ted on his motorcycle a few months ago and crippled him. But he brushes it off as just another accident. “Chill out already,” the easygoing Ted tells his frantic wife as he slides back into his wheelchair.

Kylah is convinced this is no coincidence. Both “accidents” happened after she came back from a past life regression. With each regression, she learned more about her life as Alice. This hit and run attempt happened the day she made an appointment for another past life regression.

She fears these “accidents” are their past lives coming back to haunt them, because in her past life as Alice, Ted was her fourth husband, John LePoer. John was murdered and Alice was arrested as his killer. But she didn’t kill her husband in her past life. Taking another human life is unthinkable to her. Ted doesn’t believe their pasts are haunting them. He just can’t take it seriously.  

She's serious enough for the both of them. Safely home behind locked doors, Kylah asks Ted to join her in her regression, to that past life they shared. She must find out who hated them so much, to prevent any more attempts on their lives. But Ted won’t go along with it.         

The next morning, Kylah takes a solitary trip to the beach, to meditate. “Why can’t I control my destiny?” she begs the cosmos. She needs to find out who she is deep in her soul, below the surface. She spent the best years of her life as a caregiver, first to her father, then to Ted’s son Jeremy who died of leukemia, and finally to Ted, six months into their marriage. Druidism guides her down the path of self-fulfillment and growth. But she still has a long way to go.

She always struggled between her desire to be her own person, to thrive and bloom as an individual, and her lifelong role as caregiver.

She digs out her cell and calls her closest friend, Mike Richardson, an attorney who handled her first divorce.

He meets Kylah at the beach, and she pours out her heart about her suspicions and fears of a killer. He suggests Kylah hire bodyguards. But she doesn’t believe an army of guards will change their fate.

When Kylah arrives home from her shop late that night, she finds Ted sprawled on the floor, cold, blue, with no pulse. She calls 911, believing he suffered a heart attack.

Kilkenny, Ireland, 1320: Druid and moneylender Lady Alice Kyteler is accused, along with merchant Adam LeBlund, of killing her first husband William Outlawe. Half joking, Adam says to Alice, “If we get out of this alive, I’ll marry you.” They’re acquitted for lack of evidence, and Alice takes him up on his offer. They marry within the year.

The present: Kylah finds her herb cupboard a mess. Several jars are opened and missing, leaves spilled all over. She now believes Ted took his own life with an overdose.

Ted’s autopsy reveals that he died from a lethal combination of the same herbs from her cupboard. She recognizes this combination as an ancient Druid poison mixture. Now she knows someone from their past has come back to murder Ted.

After investigating the case and questioning everyone who knew Ted, detectives rule his death a homicide. Because Ted died while eating a meal she’d prepared, with her herbs as ingredients, Kylah is arrested for his murder. She has no alibi; she was alone in the back of her store taking inventory until 8:00, but can’t prove it.

Ever since they began dating, Ted’s ex-mother-in-law Enid hated Kylah—she blamed Kylah for wrecking Ted’s marriage with her daughter. Enid’s constant interference in Kylah and Ted’s lives became unbearable. Kylah and Ted began having loud and venomous arguments that put a strain on their marriage.

Kylah’s friend Mike prepares her defense and promises he’ll get her acquitted. Mike and his wife decide to divorce. Now with Ted gone, Mike admits his love for Kylah.

Kylah and Mike grow closer as he defends her in court. But a romance with him would spell disaster, especially now that the case is national tabloid fodder. Even after Mike leaves his wife, Kylah denies her heart’s desires and struggles to keep him at a distance. She doesn’t want him to devote his life to her. He’s a brilliant lawyer, but she still may be convicted and spend the rest of her life in prison. She could never let Mike suffer like this.

Mike doesn’t need her noble sacrifices the way her father, Ted, and Jeremy did. He’s in love with her for who she is. She wants to believe him, but only if she is acquitted will she trust herself to love him.

Kylah is arraigned, pleads not guilty to Ted’s murder, and is freed on $1.5 million bail. She moves into the apartment above her store and fights off the constant media harassment.

An expert herbalist, Kylah knows the herb combination that Druids have used for thousands of years to temporarily transport their spirits to a previous life. She needs to go back to the 1300s, to her life as Alice. She confides in Mike about taking this journey, but he’s against it: “Transporting your spirit to a past life is dangerous, especially to a hellhole like 14th century Ireland.” He fears losing her, so she suggests they both go together. Not wanting her to do this alone, he reluctantly agrees to take the journey to the past with her.

Kylah knows she was Alice Kyteler in the Middle Ages, and now she must explore her past life, to gain insight into her present predicament.  She and Mike take the correct combination of herbs brewed in tea. Trying to focus on journeying to 1324 Ireland, Kylah just can’t keep her mind off her upcoming trial and her fear of serving a life sentence for a murder she didn’t commit. But the herbs enter her bloodstream, and after a turbulent journey, she wakes up in the remote past, in somewhat familiar surroundings. She is now Alice Kyteler.

A friend, whom she recognizes as Mike, arrives on horseback, begging her to help two villagers, Jacque and her daughter Margaret, dying of the sweating sickness. Margaret is currently married to John LePoer, whom Alice eventually marries. This makes her wonder: is Margaret going to die soon, and leave John a widower?

Kylah administers herbs to Jacque and Margaret. In her delirium, Jacque tells Kylah how much she hates her son-in-law John. Not only has he taken her for broke with his bogus predictions and potions, he’s cheated on Margaret and left the poor lass heartbroken. Kylah makes a mental note of all this and goes back to her husband Adam, but she’s horrified to see that he’s dying of the plague. Despite her best efforts to cure him, he dies in her arms. Kylah drinks the correct potion and returns to the present.

As Mike works on her case and gives her his devotion and emotional support, they both know they’re falling in love. As he stands by her, their growing feelings create greater problems. If anyone finds out about their feelings for each other, he will be removed from the case, but she needs him desperately.

Awaiting trial, Kylah reads all she can about Alice. They live similar, parallel lives. Alice’s last husband John LePoer was murdered, just like Ted, and she’s the suspect. But it says nothing about whether she was acquitted or condemned to death or if the real killer was found.

Mike still objects to taking herbs to transport themselves to this previous life. He now realizes that they knew each other in the 1300s, but believes herbs are mind-altering drugs. Kylah must learn the truth about the circumstances surrounding Alice’s false conviction if she’s ever going to be acquitted in this lifetime. She knows the truth is hidden, and is determined to uncover it—to save her own life, so she and Mike can have a future. He’s forced to respect her wishes, but is against any further supernatural interference. If this is exposed to the media, they’ll lose all credibility and she’ll be convicted for certain.

Motivational speaker Dom Bugbee was good friends with Ted. He blabs Kylah’s case to nosy reporter Brooke Hill of The Cutting Edge, a top-rated tabloid television show. The media camps outside Kylah’s shop. Reporters swarm like locusts and Kylah is a nervous wreck.

Despite the danger and Mike’s protests, Kylah travels back to the 14th century again, alone. She re-enters her life as Alice, determined to learn how she managed to escape the false murder charges. On this regression, she’s married to John LePoer. Kylah learns that John LePoer’s mother-in-law Jacque killed John because he left her daughter for Alice.

This is the key evidence that’s identical to Kylah’s present situation.

 Now, Kylah finally knows the real killer’s identity in present day: Ted’s ex-mother-in-law, Enid. She hated Ted because he left her daughter Jill for Kylah, and as a result, Jill committed suicide.

When Kylah was still only a suspect, detectives told her they have a realtor’s photo of the house next door, showing Kylah's white convertible parked in her own driveway the day Ted died. But Kylah’s white convertible was in her store’s garage the entire time. Now, she asks the detectives to question Enid about having rented a white convertible.

As a detective questions Enid, she breaks down and confesses to murdering Ted: she’d visited him, took the dinner Kylah had made earlier, and dosed it with the deadly herb combination. Enid also confesses that Ted’s ‘accidents’ were no accidents. She’d hired someone to run him off the road. The second ‘accident’ was meant to kill Kylah, too. When she heard Kylah talking about regressing to her past life, Enid knew she’d find out Jacque had killed John, and would put two and two together; that she was Jacque in that past life, and was now trying to kill Ted. So she had to try to stop Kylah.

Kylah learns that this will repeat in future lives, so she must make Enid realize that she didn’t wreck Ted’s first marriage. He pursued her relentlessly because his marriage to Jill was over, and for a good reason, which Enid never knew—Jeremy wasn’t Ted’s son. When Jill and Ted were married, Jill took a lover and gave birth to Jeremy, whom Ted raised as his own. After Jill’s suicide, Kylah nursed Jeremy through his illness. Kylah explains to Enid there’s no reason to hate her or Ted. Enid begs Kylah’s forgiveness and atones for her wrongdoing. Now Kylah is certain that these events won’t repeat themselves in future lives.

With Enid now in prison for Ted’s murder, Kylah settles in England with the man she loves, as did her 14th century counterpart. It’s here that she learns her life lesson: that one can love another without sacrificing self. With Mike she learns the difference between love and need. With her past wounds healed, she and Mike can share in their love for each other.

Diana Rubino  •  Email: diana@dianarubino.com