The Dream Walker by Deb T.

Part One

Philip looked around, confused, as he became aware of
his surroundings. His confusion turned to awe. . .he had
never seen a place like this, except in picture books of
ancient Greece, with its tall white columns. The air was
balmy, though not unbearably warm. How did I get here,
Philip thought, and where is here?

Those were only two unanswered questions. Philip was
not alone in this magical place. . .there was a woman sitting
beside him, resting her cheek against her fist. She wasn't
beautiful in the usual sense, but he liked her looks.
Shoulder-length dark brown hair framed a slim, pale face.
Her eyes were hazel, which lightened to green or darkened to
brown, and she had a warm smile. Yes, Philip decided, she is
beautiful, but it's a very subtle beauty.

"Why are you staring at me like that? Do I have a spot
of grease on my cheek?" the girl asked, her smile turning
impish. Philip couldn't remember their conversation up to
this point, so he just shook his head, laughing. His
companion went on, "Well, I'm glad to hear *that!* So, why
do you stare at me as if I'm from another planet?"

"I'm not!" he protested, laughing. The girl smiled and
Philip continued, "I thought I was looking at you the way I
should look at a lovely lady!" The girl's smile died and she
looked at the pool of water, which had appeared at their
feet. Philip asked softly, "Have I offended you, my Lady?"

"Not exactly. 'Offend' isn't quite the proper term, but
I am disappointed. I thought we agreed there would be no
lies, Philip," the girl said, rising to her feet. Philip
frowned. How did she know his name? What was hers?

However, instead of asking those questions, Philip
replied, "I have never lied to you, my Lady, about anything.
And I would not lie about this. You are beautiful to me.
How did you know my name? You have me at something of a
disadvantage, my Lady." The young woman eyed him
thoughtfully, then that mischievous smile returned.
"Let's swim!" she said and dove into the pool. Philip
shook his head, stunned. He had never met a woman with such
dramatic mood swings. . .but perhaps she wasn't real. That
could be it, he thought, maybe I'm imagining her. The girl
dove underwater and stayed down for several seconds. At
last, she came to the surface and laughed, "The water is
wonderful, Philip, come on!" For the first time, he noticed
that her shoulders were bare and he felt his face turning
red. The girl cocked her head and asked, "Is there a
problem, Philip? You're blushing."

Philip still couldn't speak and the girl rolled her
eyes, then dove again with a great splash. This time, she
stayed down a long time. Philip went to the edge, concern
overriding embarrassment. Not again, he thought, a sick
feeling spreading through his chest, please, dear God, not
again! He knelt on the rim of the pool, calling, "My Lady?"

Two hands shot up from the water, circling his wrists
and pulling him into the pool. Philip only had time to take
a breath, close his eyes, and say a silent prayer before he
hit the water. He came up sputtering, to the accompaniment
of delighted laughter. Philip opened his eyes. . .the girl
stood nearby, grinning impishly. Her smile died when she saw
his expression, and she asked, "Philip, are you angry? I'm
sorry, but it's so nice in the pool. Forgive me?"

It took several moments for Philip to bring his emotions
under control, then he said, "Yes. It's just that I was
worried when you didn't re-surface, my Lady. There was
another. . ." A white-hot pain shot through his heart as he
remembered that girl. He closed his eyes, willing back the
painful memories. Dear God, would it ever stop hurting?

A gentle hand touched his shoulder and Philip opened his
eyes once more. The girl now stood dangerously close to him,
but her eyes were dark with compassion, rather than desire.
She said, "I'm so sorry, Philip, I didn't know. Forgive me
for frightening you?" He nodded with a faint smile.

"Of course, my Lady. . .you had no way of knowing," he
replied. An impish smile lit his companion's face once more
and Philip added, "And you're right, the pool is very nice.
But please give me more of a warning next time. . .just long
enough for me to change into a swimsuit."

The girl laughed and retorted, "Naturally. I'm always
right!" Philip rolled his eyes and splashed her. The girl's
eyes widened and she said, "Oh, you want to play that game,
do you?" She splashed him back and for a time, they played
in the water, wrestling and laughing. Philip's laughter
caught in his throat, however, when the girl slipped on the
slick floor of the pool. Instinctively, Philip reached for
her, his arms encircling her waist.
That was a mistake, though she was wearing a swim suit
after all. The girl put her hands on his shoulders, but one
hand reached up to smooth his hair from his eyes, then slid
down to cup the right side of his face. She whispered his
name as she kissed him, and Philip returned that kiss. . .
. . .
"Philip! Philip, wake up!" a child's voice said
urgently, dragging Philip Callaghan back to reality. He
opened his eyes and discovered young Katherine Corrigan
sitting on his bed. She sighed, "You scared me, Philip!"

"I'm sorry, Kat. . .what time is it?" Philip murmured,
running his hand over his eyes. Then he looked at the clock.
Seven thirty am. He groaned and said, "I'm sorry, Katherine,
I don't know why I didn't hear the alarm clock." The concern
began leaving the child's face, and Philip continued, "If
you'll give me ten minutes, I'll be ready to go."

"Okay. Are you sure you're all right? You were
gasping," Kat commented, looking worried. Philip nodded,
managing a tired smile, and the little girl at last looked
convinced. She leaned forward and kissed his cheek, then
bounded off his bed. Philip threw back the covers and went
into the bathroom which adjoined his room.

He took one look in the mirror and made a face. It was
no wonder he had scared poor Kat even after he was awake. . .
his eyes were all bloodshot! Philip sighed, resting his
forehead against the cool glass of the mirror. He was just
glad it had been Kat who woke him, instead of Derek. Or, God
forbid, Bishop Douglas. Philip shuddered. That might have
required some quick explaining!

As Philip showered, he thought about the dream from the
previous night. . .thinking about the passionate kiss when
Kat's insistent voice had interrupted. It had been a long
time since Philip's entire body had come to life like that,
and it un-nerved the young priest.
Philip could almost hear his older brother Michael say,
"Sure, and you're just a man, Pip! When you took those vows,
you became a priest, not an archangel!" Philip smiled, which
died as he thought of his late brother. It had been four
months since Michael's death, and Philip still found it
difficult to think of him without wanting to cry. Philip was
five years Michael's junior, and up until Philip had gone to
live with Derek after the deaths of Thomas and Maeve
Callaghan in a plane crash, Michael had protected Philip.

Philip had been seven, an impish little boy whose pranks
made his mother laugh, even as she scolded him. Philip could
remember so clearly the last time his mother had scolded him
for a prank. It was hours before they returned home from San
Francisco. Philip didn't remember what he had done, but his
prank had succeeded in making Derek laugh. His mother had
laughed, "Philip Callaghan, you'll be the death of me yet!"

Fourteen hours later, the plane crashed as it was making
its final approach into Dublin, killing both Maeve and Thomas
as well as twenty other passengers. Twelve year old Michael
suffered a broken leg in the crash, and Philip went into
shock. Wouldn't talk, couldn't talk. He had been shielded
from physical injury by his father's body. But in that
instant, the impish little boy who had made Derek laugh after
the death of Alicia Summers disappeared.

Philip turned off the faucet, now wishing that he had
continued thinking about the girl instead. He didn't want to
remember those anguished months after his parents' deaths,
didn't want to remember his maternal grandmother's litany,
'it was your fault, it was all your fault, you're a bad bad
boy!' His hands shook as he dried off and dressed.

Two months after his parents' death, Philip was awakened
by his grandfather and a shadowy figure in his room. His
maternal grandfather, Eamonn, whispered, "Pip, lad, you have
a visitor. It's Derek, come all the way from the States just
to see you." The little boy had blinked the sleep from his
eyes in bewilderment, and the other figure emerged from the
shadows. . .a slim, dark-haired young man. It was Derek.

"Hello, Philip," Derek had said softly, "would you like
to come live with me in San Francisco?" Philip had woken up
in a hurry, and looked at his grandfather with a mixture of
terror and hope. Did he dare hope that Derek really wanted a
bad boy to live with him, even though Philip had caused his
parents to die in that plane crash? Eamonn had nodded.

Philip flew out from under the covers toward Derek, who
caught him easily. His godfather laughed, holding Philip
close in his arms, and said, "I'll take that as a yes.
Eamonn, do you think we can get the custodial papers signed
in the next few days?"
"Sure, and I think we can arrange that! I can't thank
ye enough, Derek. . .I know Philip will be much happier
livin' with ye. And ye certainly have the patience Nuala
lacks," Philip's grandfather had replied, and the little boy
stiffened in Derek's arms when he heard his grandmother's
name. Perhaps Gavan Ryan saw the child wince, for he gently
stroked Philip's soft hair and said, "It's a good boy he is."

"Of course he is," Derek had replied. Philip had looked
up into his godfather's hazel eyes, and saw that Derek meant
every word. And in that second, Philip's long road of
healing began. It took him years to accept that his parents'
death hadn't been his fault, that his childish prank in San
Francisco hadn't resulted in the plane crash. . .but in time,
accept it he did, with Derek's help.

Kat was fidgeting nervously in the library as she waited
for Philip. He had promised her the night before that he
would take her to the parish school, where he played soccer
with the boys in his parish. The little girl was looking
forward to it. . .she had missed Philip so much.

Kat thought it was neat, actually. She still missed her
dad and her brother, but when her mom had joined the Legacy,
Kat got another dad and two older brothers, plus an older
sister! Nick, Kat's other older 'brother' appeared and said,
"Hey, sweetness. . .waiting for Philip?" Kat nodded and Nick
shook his head, sighing, "That's not nice of him!"

"It's not his fault, Nick. . .he was asleep. His alarm
clock didn't wake him up, so I had to," Kat defended Philip
staunchly. Philip came down the stairs, and the little girl
added, "Besides, he's here now." Nick laughed and Philip
swung her up into his arms, holding her tightly. Kat looked
at him worriedly. . .he looked so sad. Even sadder than when
he came back after being away for so long, when he was having
trouble helping Derek with that puzzle.

"Are we ready to go, then?" Philip asked and Kat nodded
eagerly. She still wasn't sure how they were getting to the
parish, since her mom had said once that Philip didn't like
to drive. But Kat believed in Philip. . .she knew they would
get there, one way or another.

Nick watched Kat and Philip leave the House. Kat's
devotion to and faith in Philip broke Nick's heart. There
had been a time when he believed in someone the way Kat
believed in Philip. . .but Nick's childish trust had been
shattered. And somehow, knowing that Philip would never
betray Kat's trust didn't help. Especially since, Nick
thought as he walked to the library, an eight-year-old girl
has more trust in my old friend than I did at one time.

There will come a time, Nick thought, when I'll make it
up to Philip for even suspecting that he could turn against
Derek. I should have known that Philip would never do
anything to harm Derek. I don't know when, and I don't know
how, but I will make it up to him. I swear it!

Maeve Philippa "Pippa" Reynolds watched in silence as
the boys' soccer team practiced. It was odd. . .this was one
of the few places where the fourteen year old could find
peace from her troubles. Her older sister had once told her
that there were certain places which were just. . .magic.
There was no rhyme or reason to it, they just were.

Pippa had decided by the time she was eight that the
soccer field was one of those places. Unfortunately, not
even watching the soccer practice could push Pippa's doubt
and fear from her mind. Her sister Lissa had been in a coma
for more than a year, shot in the head during the same
burglary which cost their father his life. . .the doctors
were discussing turning off her life support system. So far,
Pippa had blocked them with the aid of the her guardian,
Police Chief Dennis Markham. But Pippa didn't know how much
longer she could hold out, even with his help.

The teen sighed deeply and glanced at her watch. I
should be rolling along, Pippa thought, if I want to reach
the clinic by noon. She began walking away from the fence,
then noticed a slim, dark-haired youth walking with a little
girl. Pippa cocked her head to one side, studying the boy,
who wore sweats. After a moment, Pippa's eyes widened. That
was no boy. . .that was Father Callaghan!
She walked toward the pair, saying, "Father Callaghan?"
The priest looked up, frowning thoughtfully, then he smiled.
As ever, that smile made the world spin crazily about Pippa.
All the girls in her class had a crush on the young priest,
though no one ever did anything about it. Pippa and her
friends knew better than that.

"Hello, Pippa Reynolds. . .how are you?" the dark-haired
priest greeted. Pippa nodded with a smile, and Father
Callaghan continued, "How is your sister? Has she improved?"
Pippa shook her head, blinking back tears resolutely. Her
sister was one of the prime reasons why Pippa and her friends
left Father Philip alone. Lissa had told the girls very
bluntly that the first time she heard of someone putting the
moves on Father Philip, she'd turn the offender over her
knee. Lissa was only twenty-six, and she wasn't very tall,
but when she took that tone, you didn't argue with her.

"No, Father Callaghan, she's still the same. I go to
the clinic every day and talk to her, but. . ." Pippa said,
sighing. The priest's pale eyes clouded with sympathy, and
Pippa glanced at the child at his side. The little girl, who
had big blue eyes and chestnut hair, looked at Pippa with
interest. The teenager asked, determined to change the
subject from her sister, "And who is this princess. . .your
sister or your niece?"

"Neither. This is 'Katherine Corrigan,' or 'Kat.' She's
the daughter of an associate. Kat, this is 'Pippa Reynolds,'
one of the stars of the girl's soccer team," Father Callaghan
told his small companion. Kat Corrigan looked from the
priest to Pippa, her blue eyes growing even bigger.

"Really? Philip says that the girls team is just as
good as the boys team. That's pretty good, isn't it?" Kat
asked and Pippa nodded, thoroughly charmed. Kat added,
"What happened to your sister, Pippa?"

"Lissa was shot in the head last year, Kat. She's been
in a coma ever since, and I'm really worried about her,"
Pippa replied. Sorrow filled Kat's eyes, and she held Father
Callaghan's hand even tighter. Pippa saw the anxious look
the child directed at the priest, but Kat said nothing.
Pippa added hesitantly, "Father Callaghan, I was wondering,
would you mind coming to the clinic? Lissa has always
thought a lot of you, and even though she's in a coma. . ."

The priest looked surprised, but replied, "Of course. I
didn't realize. . .well, I never met your sister, and I don't
even know what she looks like, but of course I'll check in on
her. I've spoken with her on the phone, but. . ." The young
man shook his head ruefully and said, "Never mind. I'm
fumblin' with words today. I'll come see her in the next few
days, but right now, I have to get Kat home."
"Thanks. . .just tell the receptionist that you're there
to see 'Lissa,' and they won't give you a hard time. It was
nice to meet you, Kat. . .I'll see you, Father Callaghan,"
Pippa said. The priest nodded and Pippa headed for the
chief's house. If she hurried, she could get a shower.

"She's nice, Philip. . .I like her a lot," Kat confided
as she and Philip continued walking around the parish
schoolyard. He smiled, touching her chestnut hair lightly,
and the child continued, "That's really sad about Pippa's
sister. I bet she's as nice as Pippa is."

"From what I know of her, she's very nice," Philip
admitted, "Lissa was a policewoman. She interrupted a
burglary in progress at her house. The bullet grazed her
head, which isn't usually a life-threatening injury. . .but
she's still unconscious. The robber killed her father."

"That's terrible!" Kat exclaimed and Philip nodded. The
event devastated the parish. . .Lissa Reynolds had made her
presence felt in the community. Philip had spoken with her
briefly on the phone, but received the impression that she as
a very sad, very lonely young woman.

"Yes, it is. . .but everyone has been praying for her,
and I have faith that she'll wake up. A few extra prayers
never hurt, though. . .perhaps you'd like to say one?" Philip
suggested and Kat nodded. The priest smiled, ruffling her
brown hair, and said, "Then we should find a taxi and head
back to the castle. We don't want Derek or your mum
worrying, do we?" The little girl shook her head vehemently
and the pair headed for the parish office to call a taxi.

Pippa forgot about the chance encounter with her parish
priest and the little girl named 'Katherine' as she headed
first to the chief's house for a shower, then to the clinic
to visit her sister. She was in luck. . .the chief's wife was
out shopping, and Pippa left the woman a note, explaining
where she was. They'll understand, she thought.
Once she was clean and tidy, Pippa grabbed her purse and
headed for the clinic. However, once she was there, she
learned that the doctor was examining Lissa, so Pippa sat
down to wait. Unfortunately, she began remembering the day
her sister and father was shot, more than a year earlier.
Her mental reel stopped once she reached the door to her
house. No, she thought, you will not think about that!

It wasn't easy, however. . .for the last year, it seemed
as if she couldn't stop replaying that horrible afternoon in
her mind. Coming home from school. . .finding her father
dead in the living room, and her older sister lying
unconscious and bloody a few yards away.

Pippa glanced at her watch, swearing under her breath as
she realized it had been nearly an hour. This is annoying,
she thought, she should be finished! At last, the physician
left the room and approached Pippa, saying, "I'm finished
with the exam, Philippa. I'm not sure if you should see your
sister now, however. There's no change." Pippa's hands
curled into fists. As if that mattered?

"My sister needs me. She has always been there for me
when I needed her, and it's time for me to repay that favor.
Now, I'm going to see my big sister. Is that understood, Dr.
Miles? Because if it's not, I can easily have you taken off
my sister's case," the girl said coldly. Pippa was shaking
inside, but she didn't allow her fear to show.

The woman's eyes darkened with rage, but she replied in
a controlled voice, "I only want what's best for your sister,
Philippa. There is no need to threaten me with dismissal."
With that, she stalked away. Pippa didn't like arguing with
adults. . .she had been taught that they were always right,
no matter what the circumstances. . .but she didn't think she
had a choice. And, the girl thought, the chief would have
backed me up on this one.

Pippa got up and slung her purse over her shoulder, then
walked into her sister's room. Lissa's long, dark brown hair
was spread on the pillow under her head and her palms rested
on the sheets covering her body. Pippa fought back her
tears. She sat down beside Lissa's bed and took her hand,
whispering, "I'm here, Lissa. Dr. Miles tried to keep me
out, but failed. You're all I've got, I won't abandon you!"

Pippa once more found herself near tears and struggled
to bring her emotions under control. After a moment, she
continued more cheerfully, "Guess who I saw today, Lissa. . .
Father Callaghan! Yeah, he was walking in the parish
schoolyard with this really cute little girl. . .I thought at
first that she was his niece or his little sister, but he
said she's the daughter of an associate. Whatever the hell
that means. . .I know, watch my language!"
Pippa laughed, then continued, "He's supposed to come by
in the next few days. I think I shocked him when I told him
that you think a lot of him. If you don't talk to the poor
man, he doesn't know these things! And I still don't get
it. . .why do you never talk with Father C after Mass?"

Kat was half-asleep by the time she and Philip reached
the castle, nestled against her friend's body securely. He
asked softly, "Did you enjoy yourself, Katherine?" The
little girl smiled sleepily and nodded. She always enjoyed
spending time with Philip, no matter what they did.

"I wish I could come with you when you go see Pippa's
sister," Kat murmured, "but I don't think Mom will let me do
that." Philip laughed softly, and it was on the tip of Kat's
tongue to ask Philip why he and her mother really didn't get
along. Her mom thought Alex and Nick were wonderful, and Kat
was surprised that Derek hadn't asked her mom out on a date.
But her mother didn't seem to like Philip, and Kat didn't
understand why. However, the little girl decided not to ask.
She didn't want the sadness to come back to his eyes.

"No, I don't think your mother would like that. I'm
glad you enjoyed yourself. . .I did, too," Philip replied as
the taxi pulled to a halt. He lifted her into his arms, and
Kat snuggled even closer as he carried her into the castle.
She was asleep before they reached the stairs in the foyer.

Philip didn't stay up much longer after returning to the
castle with Kat. He was exhausted by their day together,
though he wouldn't have changed a moment of it. Having Kat
around was almost like having one of his nieces or nephews
here in the States, where Philip could play with them.

He fell asleep thinking of Kat, and of his strange
encounter with Pippa Reynolds that afternoon. Once more,
his dream took him to that magical place, where he had met
the girl the previous night.

The magic place hadn't changed at all, and Philip
realized that he was glad it hadn't. He wasn't sure why he
felt that way, but he did. A soft voice from behind him said
softly, "I was afraid you wouldn't come." Philip turned and
saw the girl sitting by the pool. She smiled shyly and
added, "I was afraid I frightened you. You left so quickly."

"No, you didn't frighten me. . .you only surprised me.
I was called away on urgent business by someone very dear to
me. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you," Philip replied.
He walked to her side and sat down beside her, saying, "If it
would not offend you, my Lady, I would like to know your
name. Would that put you in danger?" The girl's smile turned
sad and she put her hand on his arm.

"No, there is no danger here, to either of us. I'm
sorry for not trusting you when you were here last. It's
just that no one has ever called me 'my Lady' before, and I
liked it. You're right. . .I should have told you my name
before. It's Elizabeth," she replied.

"Hello, Elizabeth. You have a beautiful name. It suits
you," Philip said solemnly. She smiled, a smile which lit
her face and turned Philip's heart inside out. He continued,
doing his best to ignore the sensation, "Elizabeth, what can
you tell me about this place? Where exactly are we?" For
some reason, he didn't tell her that he was a priest.

"This?" the young woman questioned as she glanced around
with a thoughtful frown. After a moment, she replied, "I'm
not real sure. All I can tell you is that here, in this
place, there is no loss and no pain. Here, I can think about
my mother without feeling as if my heart was ripped out. She
was killed. . .shot when I was ten years old."

"I'm sorry. I lost both of my parents when I was a
child. I know how difficult it is," Philip said and
Elizabeth nodded sadly. Philip continued, trying to lighten
the mood, "What would you like to do? Please, no more
soakings! I don't think I could handle another fright. . .
you added about ten years to my age last night."

Elizabeth laughed and said, "Please! You're close to my
age. . .I'm twenty-six, you're what, twenty-eight?" The
young priest nodded and Elizabeth waved her hand, adding,
"That's what I thought. . .you can afford those extra ten
years. But, as you wish!"

"Thank you," Philip said. Elizabeth smiled and Philip
continued hesitantly, "For some reason, Elizabeth, I keep
thinking that I know you from somewhere, but I'm not sure
where or how or even why." The young woman shrugged and
Philip asked, "Elizabeth, why did you bring me here? It's
very beautiful and peaceful, but why did you bring me here?"
"I didn't, Philip, you were already here. Remember? We
were talking about living up to parental ideals when you
began staring at me," Elizabeth replied. Philip looked away
and the girl continued anxiously, "You don't remember. You
don't remember anything before I caught you staring. How did
you come to my sanctuary, Philip? How did you find me?"

"I'm not sure. I'm not sure how I found you or why,"
Philip said slowly. Elizabeth had called this place her
'sanctuary.' From what? From whom? The young woman stared
at him, her dark eyes wide with fear. He took her hand and
said, "I would never hurt you, Elizabeth. Please, don't be
afraid of me. But it's true, I didn't find you. The first
thing I remember is you asking me why I was staring at you."

Elizabeth withdrew her hand and rose to her feet,
saying, "I also feel as if I know you. I would have never
kissed you otherwise. And when I kissed you, when you held
me, it was as if. . ." She broke off, her dark hazel eyes
narrowing with concentration. After a moment, she looked
back at him and asked in a low voice, "How do I know your
name? What's happening? Why is this happening?"

Elizabeth was now shaking and Philip rose to his feet,
joining her beside the pool. He awkwardly put his hands on
her shoulders, trying to comfort her and to ignore how his
heart skipped a beat. That's enough of that, Philip, he told
himself sternly, the girl needs reassurance right now, not
desire! He said, "I don't know. All I know is what I told
you earlier. . .I would never hurt you."

"That's not what scares me, Philip," Elizabeth answered,
turning in his arms. She wrapped her arms around his waist
and murmured against his sweater, "I know that you would
never hurt me. But what if I've somehow endangered you?"

"And what if there's a reason for my coming here?
Elizabeth, what haven't you told me yet?" Philip asked,
gently pulling away. The young woman frowned, biting her
lower lip. Philip shook his head and said softly, "Never
mind, it isn't that important. If you don't know, then
perhaps I was meant to come here."

"Then you're not angry with me?" Elizabeth asked softly.
Philip shook his head mutely and Elizabeth buried her face
against his shoulder once more. The young man held her
tightly, wishing he could comfort her somehow.

go to part two