The Hacker Pushes Her Luck (Moonchuckle Bay 6)(46)

By: Heather Horrocks

When they didn’t say anything else, Cara said, “I have three older sisters who are much prettier than I am. If we absolutely have to win the prize, then send one of them.”

Her father shook his head sadly, “We can’t. There’s a stipulation that the pageant participants must be single, neither married nor engaged.”

Cara raised a shoulder. “Yes, and all four of us are single, neither married nor engaged.”

Her oldest sister, Mary, looked sheepish. “Patrick asked me to wed him last night, Cara. I said yes.” She raised her hand to display a ring there.

Shocked, Cara said, “I thought you thought of Patrick as a friend and brother and nothing more. You’ve told me that enough times.”

Her sister’s face took on a smitten look. “Last night, everything changed between us.”

Cara motioned to her two other sisters, Sophie and Ruby. “Then send one of them.”

Her two remaining sisters held up their hands to display rings there, as well.

Disoriented, Cara stared at them. “Are you trying to tell me you’re also engaged? Because that’s impossible.”

“Impossible?” Sophie frowned. “Are you saying no man would want to marry me? Because Conor has asked for my hand in marriage.”

Their father nodded. “He has.”

Cara shook her head, feeling picked on. No, she felt gaslighted. “No, I’m saying that this is starting to feel like a setup.”

Cara turned to her parents. “I don’t know why they’re doing this, but I can’t go. Not to Moonchuckle Bay.”

“Oh, yes,” Ruby said knowingly. “The man from the cruise.”

“Shut up!” Cara snapped. “I don’t want to talk about him.”

“Why not?” Grandma O’Sullivan asked quietly. “It’s been ten years. Surely you can be in his proximity for a few weeks in pursuit of our heirloom runestones.”

Her father took her hand and looked down at her. “Cara, a chroí.” His endearment for his daughters was the Irish Gaelic my heart. “Can you not see that we must get those runestones back? None of you can have full power until they are returned to us?”

Cara felt the truth of his words, and they weighed down her heart. “But cannot any of my sisters put aside their engagements for just a few weeks? Seriously, we have a better chance of winning them back if the prettier sisters are there. This is a beauty pageant, after all.”

He put an arm around her. “You are the one chosen to go. Don’t fight it.”

Disbelieving, she stared at her three newly engaged sisters, her mother, her grandmother, and then back up at her father.

Her family were earth witches, and they’d been without the power of their runestones for nearly seven years now. She yearned to get hers back, to feel the power flow fully through her once again.

If only their grandfather hadn’t— She shook her head. She couldn’t go there. He’d had dementia and hadn’t realized what he was doing. There was no point in blaming him.