I sometimes wonder when, exactly, my life went off the rails. I guess the easy answer would be the day, when I was five, that my mother was killed. But when I feel like being honest with myself and really look at my life, that pat answer just doesn't seem to ring true. There just seems to have always been something off about things. Some of that could be attributed to being in a military family with a father that was often gone for long periods on inexplicable duty that he was never allowed to talk about. I, of course, figured out pretty early what that was about and dad had to sit down and have a very grown-up talk with me when I was six about the dangers of being an intelligence agent and what strangers being nice to me might mean.

Even with that weirdness, there was always something more that was sort of like a shadow visible only out of the corner of your eye and no matter how hard you try you can never see it fully. That was my life and I had the sneaking suspicion that that had always been my life from the day I was born. Daddy, of course, wouldn't know, even if I could talk to him. Since we had been split up for our own safety, I couldn't. Eoin, my sort-of-foster-father/uncle, didn't know because he came into my life well after my father and I became aware of the strangeness without knowing what it was.

No, the only person in my life at the moment who I thought might know was someone who seemed to breeze in and out of my life without ever really being known. And that breeze was usually scented with blood and death. Karl, a man who I met only shortly before he had to clean up a bunch of bodies I had made dead in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was a monk in some kind of secret Order of the Church. I was assuming the Catholic Church. In the almost five years since Belfast, he has had to clean up a few more messes for me, but then that seemed to be his job. He showed up after I killed the bad guys and made the mess go away. We didn't really hang out and have long, meaningful talks about the meaning of life (my life) or the nature of good and evil or why I had to start killing at age ten. No, Karl was my cleaner and maybe, just maybe, my guardian.

It took a year after the slaughter of Belfast for me to finally have my girl moment and break down about how unfair my life had gotten. It took a year to finally cry for Hestia, my teacher who was killed before I took off for Belfast to avenge her and get my new family back from the bad guys. It took a year for me to look back on how serpentine my road to Belfast had been and wonder how things had gotten this screwed up.

For a while I was not fun to live with while I tried to figure things out. Eoin eventually shipped me off to southern Scotland with Ambrose until I could regain my civility. Scotland is a wonderful place to regain your sense of your own self. A sky often lead gray with brisk, refreshing breezes, a landscape breathtaking in its beauty and dotted with buildings that practically oozed their age, and a people as gruff and craggy as their land but personable if you get to know them all combined to create a mood that let me think and evaluate my life. And that was when I truly came to the conclusion that "normal" was not a word that described me, nor had it ever. Not really.

That was as far as I got before the summer was over and I was summoned back to London for school. But it began a sporadic, often frustrating attempt to put who and what I was into some sort of rational perspective. It was sporadic because the destiny I seemed to be doomed with included interruptions by people trying to kill me or me having to kill them. It was frustrating because I lacked a lot of the proper information to come to a fully rational conclusion. I knew there were people that could provide that information, but I tried, desperately tried, to avoid getting them entangled in my already screwed up life.

But destiny is a bitch.

Chapter 1 ยป