<i>The Amish Bride of Ice Mountain</i>: Excerpt The Amish Bride of Ice Mountain: Excerpt Kelly Long "Ach, he’s so formal, maybe he’ll not attempt a kiss at all…" <i>Flaming Hot</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Flaming Hot: Exclusive Excerpt Lynn LaFleur "He tilted his head the other direction and kissed her again..." <i>Slow Hand</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Slow Hand: Exclusive Excerpt Victoria Vane "Nikki closed her eyes and parted her lips on a sigh of surrender..." <i>Maybe This Christmas</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Maybe This Christmas: Exclusive Excerpt Sarah Morgan "She tried to walk past him but lost her balance and fell against his chest..."
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Showing posts by: Donna Grant click to see Donna Grant's profile
Thu
Sep 4 2014 12:00pm
Excerpt

Burning Desire: Exclusive Excerpt

Burning Desire by Donna Grant

The Dark Kings have fought for centuries to preserve their dragon magic. But can one warrior resist the greatest temptation of all. . .?

A DESIRE THIS POWERFUL

In his quest to destroy the Dark Fae—his nemesis—the Dragon King known as Kiril goes to Ireland as a spy. When a gorgeous, mysterious woman tries to seduce him, Kiril instantly sees through her glamour to the Dark Fae beneath. Shara isn’t just any Dark; she’s from one of the most powerful bloodlines—and despite the dangers, Kiril can’t stay away from her. He’s enthralled by her smile, enslaved by the undeniable passion…

IS A WAR WORTH FIGTING FOR

Shara has one chance to make things right with her family—and to prove her worth. It seemed like such an easy mission…until she actually meets Kiril. His charm, his sexual magnetism is too much for her to ignore. Shara knows that falling into Kiril’s arms can bring her nothing but trouble. Yet she discovers an inner strength she didn’t know she had…and an attraction that knows no bounds. But is her desire for Kiril worth the risk of eternal doom for them both?...in Burning Desire by Donna Grant

Get a sneak peek of Donna Grant's Burning Desire (Part 1 available September 9, 2014; full book available September 30, 2014) with an exclusive excerpt of Chapter 1.

Chapter 1
Cork, Ireland
May

Pretending. Misleading. Mimicking.

Kiril and the rest of his brethren had been perfecting those acts since they sent their dragons away and set about blending in with the humans. They had honed their skills to a degree that only a handful of people in the entire world knew who they really were—Dragon Kings.

It had been difficult for the first millennia to pretend they weren’t once rulers of the realm. After that, it became a habit, a way of life. What else was a Dragon King to do when the dragons were gone?

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Mon
May 12 2014 1:30pm
Excerpt

Fire Rising: Exclusive Excerpt

Donna Grant

Fire Rising by Donna Grant

For centuries, the Dragon Kings have battled heaven and earth to protect their dragon magic. But when a beautiful mortal seeks refuge in their lair, she ignites a warrior’s love, an enemy’s wrath, and a firestorm of passion that could destroy them all…

A WOMAN ON THE RUN

Sammi Miller lives a quiet life as a pub owner in the Scottish Highlands—until the mob bursts in with guns blazing, looking for her ex-lover. Taking a bullet in the shoulder, she manages to escape and make her way to her half-sister Jane. Hidden away in the mountain fortress of the mysterious Dreagan Industries, Sammi finds more than a safe haven. She finds Tristan—the most gorgeous, beguiling, and haunted man she has ever known…

A WARRIOR ON FIRE

Newest of the Dragon Kings, Tristan fell from the sky in a snowstorm naked with a sword—but with no memories of his ancient struggles. When he meets the wounded Sammi, something powerful stirs within his heart. When he sees the dragon symbol etched into the bullet from her shoulder, something fierce burns within his soul. With his darkest enemies closing in, Tristan must take wing, take sides—and take no prisoners—to save the woman he’s destined to love…in Fire Rising, second novel in the Dark Kings series

Get a sneak peek of Donna Grant's Fire Rising (Part 1 available May 13, 2014, full novel available June 3, 2014) with an exclusive excerpt of the Prologue and Chapter 1.

Prologue
May 2014
The Rose and Crown pub
Oban, Scotland

Sammi wiped the last part of the highly polished bar as the front door opened and Daniel came rushing into the pub. She wondered at his harried expression and the sweat beading his face. When he locked the door and turned to her with wild eyes filled with sorrow and remorse, she knew something was dreadfully wrong.

“What is it?” she asked cautiously.

[Log in or register for an inclusive excerpt of Fire Rising...]

Tue
Apr 8 2014 12:30pm
Excerpt

Darkest Flame: Exclusive Excerpt

Donna Grant

HER BEAUTY IS A WEAPON.

Denae Lacroix is a beautiful MI5 agent on a deadly mission. Sent to the Scottish Highlands to spy on the mysterious Dreagan Industries, she discovers too late that she’s been set up—as human bait. She is an irresistible lure for a man who has not seen or touched a woman for centuries. He is a man with a destiny—and a desire—that could destroy them both…

HIS PASSION IS A CURSE…

It’s been twelve hundred years since Kellan has walked among humans—and there’s no denying the erotically charged attraction he feels for Denae. But as a Dragon King, he is sworn to protect his secrets. Yet the closer he gets to this smart, ravishing woman, the more her life is in danger. All it takes is one reckless kiss to unleash a flood of desire, the fury of dragons…and the fiercest enemy of all.

Get a sneak peek of Donna Grant's Darkest Flame (part 1, out now; full book available April 29, 2014) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

Chapter 1
Dreagan Land
April 20th

The night was dark and tranquil as Denae slid against an oak and waited for her partner, Matt, to catch up. They had jumped from a slow-moving van under the cover of darkness two nights earlier

While she had only her knife—and two more no one knew about—Matt had been given a Glock. He had tried to keep it hidden, but Denae had seen it just the same.

An owl hooted nearby and crickets sang loudly in the stillness. Wind rustled the leaves as it swept through the branches of the trees. The moon played peekaboo with dense clouds that moved like dark giants swiftly across the sky.

A perfect night for spying.

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Tue
Dec 17 2013 1:00am
Original Story

“Midnight’s Surrender”: A Holiday Story

Donna Grant

Midnight's Surrender by Donna Grant

As part of H&H's Hot for the Holidays program, we're thrilled to share a limited-time peek at 12 special holiday stories! All 12 e-novellas are on sale now (you may have seen us talk about this H&H-St. Martin's Press program before), but we're offering H&H members the exclusive chance to read the whole story for free—it's our gift to you. But here's the thing: Stories will be available for ONE DAY ONLY over the next two weeks, so grab a blanket, a mug of hot chocolate, and get reading before they disappear with a wink and a smile!

Dale has been on the run—from himself and from the demons who haunt him. But when he comes across a stunningly beautiful woman he cannot resist, he knows that he must do whatever it takes to possess her. She is a Druid with secrets of her own, but he is drawn to her like no other.  Even when danger closes in around them, Dale knows that the true threat is to his very soul, which he will sacrifice in order to save her…

“Midnight's Surrender” is no longer available to read on Heroes and Heartbreakers. Be sure and check out our stories section for more original stories and hot new excerpts from Heroes and Heartbreakers.

Learn more about or order a copy of “Midnight's Surrender” by Donna Grant:

Buy at Amazon

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Mon
Oct 14 2013 1:00pm
Excerpt

Midnight’s Promise: Exclusive Excerpt

For centuries, Malcolm has struggled against the forces of darkness—and bears the scars to prove it. Hardened by a lifetime of fighting, he is more warrior than man, incapable of feeling love or compassion. But one stormy night, he pulls a beautiful woman from a car wreck—and experiences a rush of fiery emotion that could melt even the hardest of hearts.

Since childhood, Evangeline Walker has felt the magic growing inside her. Descended from Druids, she is the perfect vessel for ancient magic—and evil. Evie knows she should trust no one, not even Malcolm, whose strong touch and tender kiss she craves. But after she makes a devil’s bargain to save her half-brother, this fearsome warrior may be the only man who can protect her—with his heart, his body, and his soul…

Get a sneak peek of Donna Grant's Midnight's Promise (available October 29, 2013) with an exclusive excerpt of the first chapter from part 2 of this e-serial. You can buy part 1 now and pre-order part 2 before its release on October 15, 2013.

Chapter 15

Evie let the stones’ word soak in before she started walking again. There had to be more to the story, more to why the stones had such a hatred for Malcolm to call him a betrayer.

Not that either Malcolm or the stones would tell her the truth.

Evie wandered the long corridors without asking the stones anything else about Malcolm. They in turn said no more about him. It was a truce of sorts.

[Log in or register to read the full excerpt of Midnight's Promise...]

Wed
Sep 4 2013 12:30pm
Excerpt

Midnight’s Temptation: Exclusive Excerpt

A new tale of The Dark Warriors—powerful Highlanders who are bound by the gods and have taken their battle from ancient Scotland to the modern world, where a woman’s love is the most dangerous lure of all…

Ever since that fateful night, he can’t stop thinking about her. A timeless beauty in a nightclub, she moved across the dance floor like an angel, surrendering to the music—and casting a spell that could only be magic. When Phelan took her in his arms and kissed her, the Highlander knew this was no ordinary woman. This was a Druidess who could fulfill his every desire—or destroy him completely…

She is a mystery—a woman on the run, hunted by two different men. As much as she longs to be captured by the magnificent warrior Phelan, she knows she must resist the temptation. A vengeful evil is stalking her, watching her every move—a madman who will stop at nothing to possess her power. Once, she sold a piece of her soul for magic. Is she willing to risk Phelan’s life, and give up her heart…for love?

Get a sneak peek at Donna Grant's Midnight's Temptation (available October 1, 2013), the newest book in her Dark Warriors series with an exclusive excerpt from Chapters 1 & 2. Parts 1-4 of this e-serial will be released September 10, 2013 through October 1, 2013. Read along with the four-part series or read the full-volume after October 1.

Chapter 1
Late August

He tangled his fingers in her long, thick, ebony tresses, her sighs of pleasure making his blood singe his veins. Her feminine curves were a heady delight to a man starved for her.

Golden skin speaking of Spanish heritage and as smooth as satin called him to touch more of her. He lay on his side, her body pressed against him. His hand glided past the indent of her waist and over a gently flared hip down to her thigh.

Her legs parted instantly. His lungs seized when his fingers delved into the black curls, trimmed and partially shaved, hiding her sex.

“Please,” she whispered.

[Log in or register to read the full excerpt of Midnight's Temptation...]

Fri
Jun 7 2013 12:00pm
Excerpt

Midnight’s Captive: Exclusive Excerpt

Midnight's Captive by Donna GrantLaura Black knows her boss is a man of many secrets—haunted by some unknowable force, driven by some unspeakable destiny—and yet it makes her crave the devilishly handsome, roguishly charming Charon all the more. When she uncovers a betrayal that will send her into a world of magic, she turns to the only one she trusts: Charon. Even when she’s in jeopardy of losing her heart…

Charon Bruce endures a relentless yearning to have Laura for his own, an ache he knows will never be fulfilled.  After the town he has protected for centuries is targeted by a ruthless Druid, he has no choice but to reveal his secret to Laura. He must fight the deadliest foe he’s ever known if he’s to keep her safe.  But when Laura is captured by his nemesis, he must choose between winning the battle of good versus evil—or losing the woman he loves…

Get a sneak peek of the sixth book in Donna Grant's Dark Warriors series with an excerpt from Chapter 1 & 2 of Midnight's Captive (part 1 of the e-serial starts June 11, full volume available July 2, 2013).

Chapter One

Ferness, Scotland
May 2013

Charon slowed his car as he pulled off the main road into a strategically hidden drive. He eased his charcoal gray CL65 AMG Mercedes cautiously over the dirt road until he came to the rock-lined parking area behind the pub he owned.

He put the car in park and shut off the engine. For several minutes Charon sat silently, contemplating the previous hours.

The game had changed.

Again.

[Log in or register to read the full excerpt of Midnight's Captive]

Thu
May 16 2013 12:00pm
Excerpt

Midnight’s Kiss: Excerpt

Bound by the gods. Champions against evil. The Dark Warriors have taken their battle from ancient Scotland to the modern world—where a woman’s love is the greatest danger of all…

DEEPER THAN DESIRE

Dr. Veronica Reid is a world-renowned archeologist whose Druid abilities help her to unearth ancient magical items. The arrival of the all-too-attractive and charismatic Arran MacCarrick puts her on the defensive when he begins to question how she really finds her artifacts…until an unknown foe attacks and Ronnie discovers that Arran has a secret as great as her own. Together, they unleash an all-consuming passion that won't be denied...

STRONGER THAN FATE

Immortal Warrior Arran is on a mission to find the spell to bind the god within him. But one look at the impossibly beautiful Ronnie and he knows there is more to her than meets the eye. With danger lurking around every corner and an undeniable hunger that grows with every kiss, Arran must reveal who he is to keep Ronnie from his nemesis. Now he is left with no choice but to fight—or fall—for the woman he loves...

Get a sneak peek of Donna Grant's Midnight's Kiss (available June 4, 2013) with an exclusive excerpt from Chapters 1 & 2. But wait! There's more! If you're dying to see how things heat up between Arran and Veronica (we are!), be sure to leave a comment for the chance to unlock extra juicy scenes from the book. When the post hits 50 comments (one comment per post per person), we'll release more from Midnight's Kiss. Share this on Facebook or Twitter to spread the word—'cause you never know what'll happen after 50+ comments…!!!

 

Chapter 1
MacLeod Castle
May 2013

Things had changed.

And not exactly for the better.

Arran MacCarrick stared at the chessboard with unseeing eyes. He was 646 years old, and today he felt every day of those years.

A great sadness weighed upon him. Not for himself, but for his friends. It warred with the restlessness that urged him to do something.

The need for battle, to work his body into a frenzy as he unleashed the powers within him from his god, Memphaea. The yearning for something to do kept him awake at night— and on edge through the day. He searched for anything—and everything—to occupy his thoughts and body. If only for a little while.

Camdyn said he needed a woman. Arran inwardly snorted. The last thing he needed was a woman to get in his way and make him fret about her mortality.

A woman.

“No’ likely,” he murmured.

An unwanted memory of his sister filled his thoughts. She had been a bright, shining star in his world. A free spirit who saw only good. Her future was supposed to have been filled with love and laughter.

Instead, Deirdre had found him. Shelley, his sweet sister, had tried to help him. In return, she was torn to pieces before his very eyes.

He hadn’t been a Warrior then, hadn’t had the power to stop the wyrran. But even now with that power running just beneath his skin, he knew he was better off without any hindrances.

Are you really?

He glanced up from the chessboard to see Lucan and Cara walk hand in hand up the stairs, whispered words of lovers passing between them.

Unbidden, the lonely nights assaulted him. While the others laughed and talked with their women, he sat in his room alone, staring at the telly without paying attention to whatever movie someone had given him to watch.

Arran might know he was better alone, but he would admit—only to himself—that he envied what the other Warriors had with their women. The smiles, the touches, the secret looks.

It was those women, formidable Druids all, who had helped shape every Warrior in the castle. The Druids were strong, independent, and fierce. Perfect matches for the immortal Highland Warriors they had claimed.

Arran and the others of MacLeod Castle had killed two of the most evil Druids who had ever walked the earth, and they lost friends in the process.

It had taken centuries to end the reign of evil. After defeating such threats, happiness should have followed.

But Fate wasn’t always so kind.

Arran remembered his partner as he looked up to find Aiden staring at him impatiently. Arran was moving his knight on the chessboard when Larena burst into the great hall, followed closely by her husband, Fallon MacLeod.

“Check,” Arran said as he folded his arms on the table and tried to pretend he didn’t hear Fallon and Larena as their year-old argument started up again.

Aiden MacLeod snorted and drummed his fingers on the table. “Uncle Fallon and Aunt Larena are at it again,” he mumbled, his fingers alighting on top of his queen.

Arran looked at Aiden, one of only two children brought into a world of magic and Druids. Aiden was the son of Marcail, a powerful Druid, and Quinn MacLeod, one of three brothers both Highlanders and Warriors.

With a nudge of his foot against Aiden’s, Arran said, “Make your move, lad.”

Aiden’s green eyes flashed confidently. “I bested you last week. I can do it again.”

“Doona get cocky,” Arran warned, though a smile had pulled up the corners of his lips. They teased Aiden as being just a lad, but he’d come into manhood just as stubborn, intelligent, and headstrong as any of the MacLeods.

“I’m tired of waiting!” Larena shouted. “It’s past time, Fallon, and you know it. We’ve sacrificed centuries! I want a family. I want to hold my own children.”

Arran could no longer ignore the couple. He found his gaze shifting to his leader and Larena. All the men at the castle, save for Aiden, were Warriors—Highlanders with primeval gods locked inside them.

They had enhanced senses, incredible speed and strength, as well as individual powers given to them by their god. Each of them deadly in their own right.

Larena was the only female Warrior in a castle full of women who were Druids. The Druids often said the stones of the castle seemed to hum with magic. It was no wonder, Arran thought, with Warriors and Druids occupying the massive structure for over seven centuries.

“Larena,” Fallon said wearily as he wiped a hand down his face.

“No,” she interrupted him, anger making her voice quiver. “Don’t try to tell me it’ll be all right, because it isn’t all right.”

Larena walked away, leaving Fallon staring after her. Arran glanced to his left to a room off to the side that had been converted into a media room. There Hayden, Galen, and Logan watched Fallon silently, waiting to see what would happen.

The people who lived at MacLeod Castle were family. They weren’t bound by blood—they were bound by fate. Arran took a deep breath and thought how each of them had walked a path that had converged at the castle.

Even during their darkest hours, the love between them, the laughter, and the determination held the group together. For the past year, tensions had grown. And patience was wearing thin.

All because of a spell that could bind the gods inside them once more.

Aiden silently rose from the table and strode from the great hall as Fallon’s shoulders slumped. Arran knew his leader needed a large glass of scotch, but Fallon had turned away from any kind of liquor long ago.

Instead, Arran grabbed Aiden’s untouched mug of coffee and walked to Fallon. Fallon took it without a word, his face lined with concern and dread.

“You know she’s no’ going anywhere,” Arran said.

Fallon and Larena’s love was too strong for anything to tear it apart.

Fallon sipped the coffee. “She’s hurting, and I can no’ make it better. I’ve tried. I’d give her the moon and stars if I could.”

“So, I guess this means the lead we had on the spell was another dead end?”

Fallon nodded.

Arran grimaced. The spell to bind their gods wasn’t much of a concern for him, but for the other ten Warriors who were married, it was all they focused on.

It was only through Isla’s powerful Druid magic of hiding MacLeod Castle from the world and keeping the Druids within her shield from aging that the mortals had lived as long as they had.

Aiden, Quinn’s son, had been born four hundred years before, and with special magic allowed to age until his twenty-fifth year. The Druids had also taken precautions through the centuries by a potion that would prevent them becoming with child. No one wanted to bring children into the war that had raged.

It worked until last year, when Camdyn and his wife, Saffron, had found themselves surprised, expectant parents.

“Larena saw Emma,” Fallon said into the silence. “It’s always worse for Larena afterwards.”

Larena wasn’t the only one affected by the birth of little Emma. Camdyn and Saffron were still on MacLeod land, but they were building their home outside Isla’s shield. With the threat of both Declan and Deirdre gone, everyone felt safe enough to leave the shield.

Camdyn and Saffron had left the castle, mainly because of their child. Aiden was gone more than he was at the castle—and with the tensions so high, it was no wonder.

“We all thought to have found the spell by now,” Fallon continued.

“And to have your own child.”

Fallon drew in a long, deep breath. “We waited centuries until the evil had been eradicated, and now that it has, we canno’ find the spell.”

The spell had been written on a scroll and hidden in Edinburgh Castle, but it, along with three shipments of magical items, had been taken from Edinburgh to London centuries ago. Two of those three shipments arrived in London. The other was lost.

“We’ve searched London, and even Buckingham Palace. It’s no’ there,” Arran said.

“It’s no longer a scroll, but nothing we’ve come across exhibits any magic.”

“Could it be cloaked somehow?”

Fallon lifted a shoulder in a shrug. “I doona have an answer.”

Arran might not care if his god was bound or not at the moment, but he knew his fellow brethren were suffering as much as Fallon. He was one of four Warriors who wasn’t mated, so if he could do something, he would.

“We need to follow the path.”

Fallon’s brow furrowed as he looked at Arran. “What?” “The journal you found at Edinburgh Castle, it said that

there were three shipments. One by water, two by land. We know that one by land didna make it to London. Since nothing has been found in London regarding the scroll—”

“Then we assume it was in the shipment of other items that was lost,” Fallon finished. A ghost of a smile appearing. “I like your thinking.”

“I was just coming to propose the exact same thing,” Ian said as he descended the stairs into the great hall. His light brown hair was left long and loose, brushing against his shoulders.

Arran wasn’t startled to hear that someone else had his idea. It was just a matter of time before one of them had thought of something. The fact that it was Ian was a surprise. Especially since it was Logan’s wife, Gwynn, who could do wonders on a computer.

Arran smiled, thinking of the computer and how he, Ian, Logan, Camdyn, and Ramsey had struggled to come to terms with the modern world after they had been jumped forward in time from 1603.

“Did Gwynn find something?” Arran asked.

There was a gleam in Ian’s eyes as he said, “Actually, I did. I’ve learned a thing or two from her.”

He and Ian shared a smile. Only someone who had timetraveled could understand the complexities and differences of the world they had known and the modern one they had been in for over a year.

“Impressive,” Arran said.

He and Ian weren’t just united by their leap forward in time. They had been held in Deirdre’s mountain, Cairn Toul, for years as she tried to break them to her will so they would serve only her.

It’s what happened to most Warriors. The gods were too insistent, too powerful when they were first unbound. It took a certain kind of man to be able to come back from that and learn to control the god himself.

Arran considered himself one of the lucky few. But then again, he’d have found a way to take his own head before he ever did the bidding of evil.

Ian and Arran had escaped alongside Quinn. It had never entered Arran’s mind not to join the MacLeods in their fight against Deirdre.

“What did you find, Ian?” Fallon asked, jerking Arran out of his thoughts.

Ian stuffed his hands in the front pocket of his low-slung jeans, causing his dark red tee to stretch tight over his muscular shoulders. “We doona know the exact route that was taken from Edinburgh to London, but we were able to discover the course of the other land-bound shipment.”

“And?” Arran prompted when Ian hesitated.

Ian’s lips flattened. “The other shipment went the fastest, quickest way.”

“Bloody hell,” Fallon muttered.

Arran folded his arms over his chest. “Which means the one we’re looking for went the long way round.”

“Precisely,” Ian said with a nod. “I’ve been poring over maps all morning long, and I’ve narrowed it down to four possible routes.”

“Hold on,” said a female voice from the floor above.

A moment later, and Dani’s head of long silvery blond hair popped into view as she hurried down the stairs with a bunch of papers in her hand. She cast a smile at them and said, “I discovered something interesting in the news that was very near one of the routes.”

“What was so noteworthy?” Fallon asked.

Dani waited until she was beside Ian before she answered. “A dig. An archeology dig, to be exact. They happen all over the UK, and they always make headlines. I’ve put a tag on them, so when something’s posted, I get an alert in my e-mail. When I got this one, I did some more poking.”

She paused and licked her lips. “I tried making some calls, but I was blocked every time. Even with Gwynn’s talents on the computer, we found nothing. So...I did what anyone who knows a mega-millionaire would do.”

“You talked to Saffron,” Arran said with a grin. Not only was Saffron a Seer, but she was also connected to people all over the world through her business and charity work. If anyone could get information, it was her. Or her money.

Dani nodded. “Thanks to Saffron and her connections, I think I know where we can begin to look.”

“Where?” Fallon asked, his attention focused for the first time since the conversation began.

“Southwest of Glasgow. They’ve been at the dig site for almost two months now.”

Before Fallon could even put out a request for someone to go check it out, Arran said, “I’ll go.”

Ian didn’t seem fazed that he had spoken up, but Fallon raised a dark brow.

Arran rocked back on his heels. He had to get out of the castle and do something before he went crazy. Besides, none of the others would want to leave their women. “Everyone is...occupied besides me.”

“We could ask Phelan or Charon to check it out,” Dani said.

Arran bit back a growl. He might have forgiven Charon for spying on them while locked in Cairn Toul, but that didn’t mean Arran wanted him to take over his mission. “Why bother Charon? And Phelan, who the hell knows where he is? He disappears the same as Malcolm.”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Arran regretted them. Though all the men were Warriors, Malcolm was different. Four hundred years ago, he’d been a mortal helping his cousin, Larena, hide from Deirdre.

He was attacked on Deirdre’s command and left for dead. Malcolm had been brought to the castle, and Sonya, with her healing magic, did all she could. It saved his life, but it didn’t heal his scars or fix his right arm so that he could use it.

It wasn’t much later before Deirdre found Malcolm and unlocked his god. She used Larena against Malcolm in order to keep Malcolm doing her bidding. But it had been Malcolm who betrayed Deirdre at the end, helping them to end her once and for all.

But Malcolm’s scars went much deeper than his skin. They went to his very soul, and nothing could heal them now. Only time would aid in tempering the past.

Arran cleared his throat. “Regardless, I’ll go. I can only best Aiden in chess so many times. With no wyrran to battle, and no evil to kill, I need something to do.”

“No evil to kill,” Dani said with a look at Ian. “That sounds wonderful.”

Ian wrapped his arm around her and brought her against him for a kiss. “It’s music to my ears. I never thought I’d see the day that Deirdre was no longer alive. And then to have also ended Declan. It’s almost too good to be true.”

Arran looked away. It was too good to be true. If there was one thing he’d learned, it was that the evil Deirdre and Declan had been wasn’t going to give up so easily.

They’d had a reprieve. But how much longer could that last?

“Find me the spell,” Fallon told Arran. “Please.”

Arran glanced at Ian and Dani. They had been together for only a short time, as had Logan and Gwynn, and Ramsey and Tara, but Arran knew they all wanted normal lives.

To have children.

To grow old and die with their wives.

Camdyn had almost succeeded in pushing Saffron away because he’d been married before. It was watching his first wife die that had confirmed to Camdyn he was better off alone.

But, as Quinn was often heard saying, love finds a way. Arran had been given a home—and hope—with the Mac-

Leods. He owed every man and woman there a debt, one that a single mission couldn’t come close to repaying.

“I’ll find it,” he vowed to Fallon. “I’ll follow every lead. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

“Even steal?” Ian asked.

Arran didn’t hesitate in his nod. “Whatever it takes.” Dani held out a large manila packet. “I thought one of you

might be going, so I had Saffron pull some strings. You’ll be working at the dig as a volunteer.”

“I willna have to sneak around?” he asked, a little peeved that he couldn’t use his Warrior skills.

“No,” Dani said, her voice flat. “There’s no need. You’ll be able to look at everything they find as well as help in the dig. If you find something, being a Warrior, you should be able to take it easily enough.”

Arran was eagerly looking forward to the task.

“But,” Dani said hurriedly, “remember, you’re working under Saffron’s company. She’s helping to supply the funding for this dig, which is how we were able to get so much information.”

Ian rolled his eyes. “Is there anything Saffron is no’ involved in?”

“Not really,” Dani said. Then she turned back to Arran. “In other words, if something happens, they’ll look to Saffron and her company, so we need to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“If it does, I’ll ensure another company is at fault,” Arran said.

“Good. You can leave in the morning. They’re expecting you tomorrow afternoon,” Dani said.

Arran just smiled. “I’ll be leaving now. It takes only a few hours to reach Glasgow. I can be there by eight or nine this evening. That way I can have a look around before everyone starts working tomorrow.”

“A fine idea.” Fallon walked to the kitchen, where the keys to the vehicles were kept. He tossed a set to Arran and said, “Take the Range Rover. It’ll do better where you’re going than the Porsche.”

Arran pocketed the keys and hurried to pack a bag. His blood pumped with the need for something more exciting than sitting around playing chess.

There was only so much training a Warrior could do before his god demanded battle. And death.

Arran might not have evil to kill, but he had a spell to find. It was just what he needed.


Chapter 2
27 miles south of Muirkirk, Scotland

Arran parked the Range Rover and looked through the windshield at the chaos before him. A sizzle of magic rushed over him. He was definitely in the right place.

The magic was ancient and...potent. It made him smile, but that smile froze when a different feel of magic swarmed him. It left him breathing hard, need filling him until he could see nothing, feel nothing but the exquisite magic.

A Druid.

There was a Druid at the site. And he was going to find the Druid as soon as he could. The only thing that kept him from searching immediately was that the magic wasn’t evil.

Saffron had told him the excavation site was run by Dr. Ronnie Reid, who was a premier archeologist and one of the best ever to come out of the field.

Arran had also been warned that Dr. Reid ran a tight operation, so he’d have to be careful while he searched for any clues to the missing spell and the Druid he’d just felt.

Not that Arran was concerned about this Dr. Reid. He would put himself in the good graces of the man, and make sure Reid saw Arran was a good worker. Once that was established, then Reid would leave him alone. Thereby giving Arran the time he needed to look around.

He sighed. He’d thought this mission would be a quick one, but as he watched the dozens of people moving back and forth from the different dig sites, hauling away dirt while others were prone on the ground, dusting possible finds with what looked like paintbrushes, Arran realized this was going to be anything but simple.

In all likelihood, he’d be here several weeks. Mayhap months.

Not that he was upset about it. With no more evil to fight, Arran was bored. It wasn’t that he wanted evil around, it was just that the god inside him craved battle, yearned for bloodshed.

Demanded death.

What better way to appease his god than by battling evil? Arran clenched his jaw. There would be no clashes at the dig site, which meant he would have to find another way to work off some of the pent-up energy he felt thrumming through his body.

Exerting his muscles with physical labor was just the thing.

Arran opened the door and got out of the Range Rover. The wind howled across the land, slamming into him just as the magic had done, and a glance at the evening sky showed that rain was on the way.

He closed his door and quickly opened the back passenger door to grab his duffel and backpack. Saffron had assured him that lodgings would be made available. In a way, Arran was hoping there wasn’t anything. It had been a very long time since he’d slept under the stars as he’d used to do four hundred years ago.

After adjusting the bags on his shoulders, he closed the door and looked at the site once more. The magic was beckoning to him, the sensual feel of it like kindling on a fire.

Desire pumped, scorching and burning, through him as his gaze scanned the area. With every breath, a yearning he’d never felt before filled him and grew until it consumed him, engulfed him.

Devoured him.

Where was the Druid? There was hunger such as he’d never borne. Every bone in his body urged him to find the Druid posthaste. It had to be the Druid who was causing such...desire.

Want more now? Get a copy of Midnight's Kiss: Part 1 by Donna Grant now available:

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New York Times and USA Today bestseller, Donna Grant has been praised for her “totally addictive” and “unique and sensual” stories.  She's the author of more than thirty novels spanning multiple genres of romance.  Her acclaimed series, Dark Warriors, feature a thrilling combination of Druids, primeval gods, and immortal Highlanders who are dark, dangerous, and irresistible. She lives with her husband, two children, a dog, and four cats in Texas.  

To learn more about Donna and her books, please visit www.donnagrant.com

Mon
Nov 26 2012 3:00pm
Excerpt

Midnight’s Warrior: New Excerpt

Donna Grant

Midnight’s Warrior by Donna GrantFor ten long years, Tara has been a woman on the run, hiding from the magic-wielding Warriors and Druids of modern-day Scotland. Now, as a tour guide at a remote Highland castle, she hopes to finally escape her past—until one impossibly gorgeous man enters her life…and exposes her wildest secrets.

For centuries, Ramsey MacDonald has concealed his strength and skill as part Warrior, part Druid, for fear of unleashing the full force of his power. But when he takes Tara into his arms—and seals their fate with a kiss—Ramsey will have to fight for her love…though it may mean losing control of the magic inside him.

Get a sneak peek at Donna Grant's Dark Warrior novel Midnight's Warrior (available November 27, 2012) with an excerpt of Chapters 1-3.

Chapter 1
Dunnoth Tower
Northern Scotland

Tara tapped her toe beneath her desk as she discreetly lis­tened to her iPod in one ear. She quite enjoyed her job as a booking agent, tour guide, bookkeeper, and anything else they needed at the castle.

[Log in or register to read the full excerpt of Midnight's Warrior...]

Wed
Jul 25 2012 1:00pm
Original Story

Dark Craving: A Dark Kings Story, Part 3

Dark Craving by Donna Grant

Our exclusive limited release of Donna Grant’s DARK CRAVING has ended! But don’t worry, there will be more short stories and novellas to come. Meanwhile, look for the DARK CRAVING e-book, out July 31, 2012, as well as the next two novellas in the Dark King trilogy, NIGHT’S AWAKENING and DAWN’S DESIRE, out soon.

Buy Dark Craving at Barnes and NobleBuy Dark Craving at AmazonBuy Dark Craving at iTunes

 

 

Plus, be sure and check out all of our other great original stories in our short-story collection!

***

EXCLUSIVE TO H&H! A LIMITED-TIME RELEASE:

Donna Grant’s Dark Craving

Fueled by ancient magic—and enflamed by human desire—the Dragon King known as Hal can transform himself at will into one of the legendary winged creatures he is sworn to protect. But one thing he can never do is fall in love…with a mortal woman.

Searching for her brother in Scotland—and succumbing to the freezing cold—Cassie Hunter awakens to find herself in the arms of a magnificent Highland warrior. Across his chest is the tattoo of a fiery dragon. And in his heart is a burning passion that, once unleashed, will consume them both…body and soul.

This is a story of destiny and desire, magic and mystery, warriors and lovers. These are the forbidden cravings of the Dark Kings.

Tue
Jul 24 2012 1:00pm
Original Story

Dark Craving: A Dark Kings Story, Part 2

Dark Craving by Donna Grant

Our exclusive limited release of Donna Grant’s DARK CRAVING has ended! But don’t worry, there will be more short stories and novellas to come. Meanwhile, look for the DARK CRAVING e-book, out July 31, 2012, as well as the next two novellas in the Dark King trilogy, NIGHT’S AWAKENING and DAWN’S DESIRE, out soon.

Buy Dark Craving at Barnes and NobleBuy Dark Craving at AmazonBuy Dark Craving at iTunes

 

 

Plus, be sure and check out all of our other great original stories in our short-story collection!

***

EXCLUSIVE TO H&H! A LIMITED-TIME RELEASE:

Donna Grant’s Dark Craving

Fueled by ancient magic—and enflamed by human desire—the Dragon King known as Hal can transform himself at will into one of the legendary winged creatures he is sworn to protect. But one thing he can never do is fall in love…with a mortal woman.

Searching for her brother in Scotland—and succumbing to the freezing cold—Cassie Hunter awakens to find herself in the arms of a magnificent Highland warrior. Across his chest is the tattoo of a fiery dragon. And in his heart is a burning passion that, once unleashed, will consume them both…body and soul.

This is a story of destiny and desire, magic and mystery, warriors and lovers. These are the forbidden cravings of the Dark Kings.

Mon
Jul 23 2012 1:00pm
Original Story

Dark Craving: A Dark Kings Story, Part 1

Dark Craving by Donna Grant

Our exclusive limited release of Donna Grant’s DARK CRAVING has ended! But don’t worry, there will be more short stories and novellas to come. Meanwhile, look for the DARK CRAVING e-book, out July 31, 2012, as well as the next two novellas in the Dark King trilogy, NIGHT’S AWAKENING and DAWN’S DESIRE, out soon.

Buy Dark Craving at Barnes and NobleBuy Dark Craving at AmazonBuy Dark Craving at iTunes

 

 

Plus, be sure and check out all of our other great original stories in our short-story collection!

***

EXCLUSIVE TO H&H! A LIMITED-TIME RELEASE:

Donna Grant’s Dark Craving

Fueled by ancient magic—and enflamed by human desire—the Dragon King known as Hal can transform himself at will into one of the legendary winged creatures he is sworn to protect. But one thing he can never do is fall in love…with a mortal woman.

Searching for her brother in Scotland—and succumbing to the freezing cold—Cassie Hunter awakens to find herself in the arms of a magnificent Highland warrior. Across his chest is the tattoo of a fiery dragon. And in his heart is a burning passion that, once unleashed, will consume them both…body and soul.

This is a story of destiny and desire, magic and mystery, warriors and lovers. These are the forbidden cravings of the Dark Kings.

Mon
Jun 25 2012 3:30pm

Author Donna Grant on Druids

Midnight’s Lover by Donna GrantDonna Grant’s Midnight’s Lover is released tomorrow, and combines time-traveling, sexy Highlanders, and druids! We’ve asked Donna to join us here at H&H to explain just what her fascination with druids is all about. Thanks, Donna!

I get asked a lot why I chose Druids for my Dark Sword and Dark Warrior series. I find the legend of the Druids utterly fascinating, not least of which because there are so many conflicting accounts. Some records show the Druids to be spiritual and intellectual leaders who helped heal the sick and gave counsel to kings and other leaders.

The Romans would have us believe they were the basest of humans who routinely sacrificed humans and animals in order to appease their pagan gods.

[Say it ain’t so...]

Wed
May 30 2012 1:00pm
Excerpt

Midnight’s Lover: New Excerpt

Midnight’s Lover by Donna GrantDefenders against evil. Bound by the gods. The Dark Warriors are taking their battle from ancient Scotland to the modern world—where a woman’s love can set them free…

A WARRIOR’S PASSION

Driven by the fierce god within him, highlander Ian Kerr is sworn to fight for the land he loves—and the brother he lost. But when he’s transported four centuries into the future, he finds himself fighting his own desires—for a beautiful, bewitching woman who could hold a warrior spellbound…

A WOMAN’S MAGIC

Danielle Buchanan has heard the legends. She has felt the power of Druid blood in her veins. But she has never known a man as fearsome—or as haunted—as the warrior Ian. With her magic, Dani must help him fight an ancient evil. With her heart, she must join him in his quest. But only with her soul can she free him from his curse…and seal their fates together.

Get a sneak peek of Donna Grant’s Midnight’s Lover with an excerpt of Chapters 1-3 (available June 26, 2012).

(And be sure to enter for a chance to win a copy of the book!)

Chapter 1
Inverness—Fourteen years later
New Year’s Eve

Danielle zipped up her boots that reached to her knees and rose from the bed to stare into the full-length mir­ror on the back of her door. She turned to one side then the other looking at the slinky black dress that hugged her curves.

“Definitely need to work out more,” she mumbled as she frowned at her reflection and sucked in her stomach.

Her door pushed open and Whitney, one of her flatmates, poked her dark head through the door. “Wow, Dani. You look amazing.”

[Please sign in or register to read the full excerpt of Midnight’s Lover...]

Wed
May 9 2012 1:00pm
Excerpt

Midnight’s Master: New Excerpt

Midnight’s Master by Donna GrantGwynn Austin has no idea why her father has disappeared on a mysterious trip to Scotland. When she goes on a desperate mission to search for him she finds more than she bargains for in a ruggedly handsome, wickedly exciting Highlander who exudes danger and mystery. And when she discovers her own link to Scotland, she’ll have to trust her heart to help lead her...

Propelled through time by powerful Druid Magic, Logan Hamilton uses his immortality and powers of the god inside him to help prevent the awakening of an ancient evil in the modern world. He never expects to find help in the form of a beautiful, alluring, and all too tempting woman whose passion and strength matches his own. Together, Logan and Gywnn must fight for their love—before a demon from the past destroys them both…

Get a sneak peek of Donna Grant’s Midnight’s Master (available May 22, 2012), the first book in her new contemporary paranormal series Dark Warriors, with an excerpt of Chapter 1-3.

Chapter 1
December 18th

Gwynn Austin clenched the arms of her aisle seat, her knuckles white and her breath locked in her lungs as the airplane finally touched down in Edinburgh.

God, she hated flying. She barely made it through short trips across the US without being sedated or drink­ing heavily.

But the message from her father had changed every­thing.

[Please log in or register to read the full excerpt of Midnight’s Master...]

Sun
Jan 1 2012 5:00pm
Excerpt

Darkest Highlander: New Excerpt

Darkest Highlander by Donna GrantFor years, Broc has watched over her, protected her—and hidden his love for her. But when his beautiful Sonya, finds herself in a hopeless situation, the Highlander flies to her side to save her. Unfortunately, before the Druidess can thank him, Broc is captured by his enemy and destined for eternal pain…

Sonya vows to help her noble warrior, though he is imprisoned in a mountain of pure evil—bound in chains of the darkest magic. With Sonya’s own magic fading, she must summon the greatest power of all to save the man she loves. But even if these two hearts are united, will they be strong enough to defeat the heart of darkness? Or will their undying love doom them for all eternity…?

Get a sneak peek of Darkest Highlander by Donna Grant (available January 31, 2012) with an excerpt of Chapters 1-3.

One

It was the growl, the low, menacing rumble that implied doom for her.

Sonya sucked in a ragged breath and lifted her head from the damp ground of the forest floor. Her spirit was broken, her body fading rapidly.

[Log in or register to read the full excerpt of Darkest Highlander...]

Mon
Aug 22 2011 6:08pm
Excerpt

Shadow Highlander: New Excerpt

Shadow Highlander by Donna Grant

Sent on a dangerous mission into the shadowy world of the Druids, Galen must find a powerful ancient relic to defeat the enemies of Castle MacLeod. But what he discovers is far more powerful—and far more dangerous. A Druid lass whose beauty is as spellbinding as any magic....

Reaghan is the most enchanting woman Galen has even met—and the most enigmatic. She alone is immune to his mind-reading gifts. He alone makes her feel safe and secure. But Reaghan holds a secret power deep inside her that could destroy them both. And if Galen hopes to hold this captivating woman in his arms every night, he must defeat the darkness that draws closer around her every day....

Get a sneak peek of Donna Grant’s Shadow Highlander (Available August 30, 2011) with an excerpt of  Chapters 1-3.

(Plus, enter for a chance to win a copy of the book!)

One

Loch Awe, Southwestern Scotland
Summer 1603

If there was one thing Galen Shaw knew, it was magic.

And there was only one reason for that magic.

Druids.

[Sign in or register to read an excerpt of  Donna Grant’s Shadow Highlander…]

Sun
Apr 17 2011 6:00pm
Excerpt

Untamed Highlander: New Excerpt

Untamed Highlander by Donna GrantThe Dark Sword series reins in the magic, passion, and fury of Scotland’s legendary warriors—for whom love is always worth fighting for…

DEVIL IN THE FLESH

Druid-born and magic-blessed, Isla is one of the deadliest she-devils ever to serve the forces of darkness. As an immortal Highland warrior, it’s up to Hayden Campbell to destroy her and her kind. But for Hayden, Isla is more than a sworn enemy. She is temptation

ANGEL IN HIS ARMS

Taking Isla captive, Hayden hopes to avenge his kinsmen who died by Druid magic. But when he looks into Isla’s eyes, he sees the secrets of her past. When he touches her skin, he feels the passion in her soul. And soon Hayden comes to realize that this beautiful, beguiling woman is not his enemy at all—she is his destiny. And, even as the forces of darkness conspire against them, their love will conquer all…

An exclusive extended excerpt of Chapters 1-3 of Untamed Highlander (Available April 26, 2011) by Donna Grant.

 

One

Hayden Campbell swore viciously as he turned over yet another frozen body on the rocky slope.

“This one is dead,” Fallon MacLeod yelled from his position farther up the mountain.

“They’re all dead.” Hayden blew out a breath that puffed around him, ignoring the frigid temperatures and steady snowfall. Though he felt the cold it didn’t bother him because he  wasn’t quite human.

He was a Warrior, an immortal with an archaic god in­side him that gave him powers and immeasurable strength—among other things.

Hayden rubbed the ice from his eyelashes as his gaze wandered over the snow-covered slope and the numerous dead Druids. “We should have returned sooner.”

Fallon, another Warrior, walked toward him with heavy footsteps, his green eyes grave. “Aye, we should have, but my concern was for Quinn. We scarcely got him and Mar­cail out of this cursed mountain in time as it was.”

“I ken.” Hayden gazed at the hated mound of rock. He had always loved looking at the great mountains, but be­ing locked in Cairn Toul for too many decades and forced to watch the evil that grew there took away the pleasure the mountains had once given him. “Damn Deirdre.”

Deirdre, the one who began it all, was finally dead. She was a Druid, but from a sect who gave their blood and souls to diabhul, the Devil, for the use of black magic. She was, or had been, a drough.

There was another set of Druids, the mie, who used the pure magic born in all Druids to bond with nature and harness the natural power that came to all of them. The mie used their magic to heal and aid those in need, not to destroy as the drough and Deirdre did.

But Hayden and the other Warriors had defeated her. It had cost many lives, however. Too many lives.

Hundreds of Druids had been imprisoned in the moun­tain for Deirdre to drain their blood and harvest their magic to add to her own. No one knew how old Deirdre was, but if Hayden could believe the rumors, she had lived for nearly a thousand years, going back to the time just after Rome was driven from the land by Warriors.

The Warriors had been made thanks to both the drough and mie in response to the cries of the Celts for help, and Hayden  couldn’t fault the Druids. Rome had been slowly suffocating Britain, ending all that made Britain great. And the Celts had been unable to defeat them.

The Druids had done what they could for Britain. They had no idea the primeval gods they called up from Hell would refuse to leave the men they took control of.

The gods were so potent the Druids couldn’t remove them. The only thing the Druids could do was bind the gods inside the men after Rome had been defeated and departed Britain’s shores.

And so the gods moved from generation to generation through the bloodline and into the strongest warriors. Until Deirdre found the MacLeods and unbound their god.

Deirdre’s reign of evil had lasted far longer than Hayden liked to think about. Deirdre might have been powerful, but even a drough could be killed.

Hayden grinned, reliving the moment Deirdre’s neck had been crushed by another Warrior and Hayden had en­gulfed her in fi re.

“What are you smiling at?” Fallon asked, breaking into Hayden’s thoughts.

Fallon was leader of their group of Warriors. They had banded together to fight Deirdre and the wickedness she spawned. Though they had expected it would take years, Deirdre had changed everything when she took the youn­gest MacLeod brother, Quinn, captive. That’s when they had taken the fight to Deirdre.

“The fact Deirdre is dead,” Hayden explained. “Every­thing  we’ve been fighting against all these years is over. Gone.”

Fallon smiled and slapped him on the shoulder. “It’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it? Now all we have to worry about is having the Druids find the spell to bind our gods once more. Then we can live as mortal men.”

Binding the gods was all Fallon, Lucan, and Quinn spoke about. But the MacLeod brothers had wives, so they yearned to have their gods gone from their lives.

Hayden, on the other hand,  wasn’t sure he wanted to be mortal again. He was too powerless that way.

“I’m going to look on the other side of the mountain,” Fallon said. “Maybe we’ll find someone alive.”

“I think the ones who could make it out of the moun­tain did. It was the weather that killed them.”

Fallon blew out a ragged breath and clenched his jaw. “We should look inside the mountain, then. Some might have been too afraid to leave.”

They both turned to the door that stood ajar amid the rock as if waiting for them to enter its wicked domain. All Druids  were gifted with a certain power. Deirdre’s had been moving stone. She had instructed the mountain to shift and form so that she had a palace inside it, shielded from the world.

Hidden from all.

Countless Druids had died heinously, and many a Highlander had been brought to her to have his god un­bound. If he didn’t  house a god, he was killed.

Even now Hayden could smell the stench of death and iniquity that permeated from the mountain, could still feel the helplessness which had weighed heavily on his shoulders while he had been locked in one of the various prisons.

But he had been one of the lucky ones. Hayden had bro­ken free and escaped, determined to fight Deirdre and her bid to rule the world.

“Why would anyone stay inside that place?” Hayden murmured as unease rippled down his spine. He fi sted his hands and forced himself to stand still and not give into the urge to turn away from the malevolent mountain.

Fallon scratched his jaw, his gaze thoughtful. “I doona know, but it’s worth a look. We freed these people, and it’s our responsibility to make sure they return to their homes.”

Hayden considered Fallon’s words. “They may not want our help. We are, after all, Warriors. They might not be able to tell the difference between us and the Warriors who allied themselves to Deirdre.”

“True. But I must look either way. I wasna held longer than a few days in the mountain so it doesn’t hold the memories for me as it does for you.”

Hayden might not want to go into Cairn Toul, but he would. “I’m not afraid.”

Fallon put his hand on Hayden’s shoulder and looked into his eyes. “I would never think that, my friend. I would not torment you, though.” He dropped his arm and smiled. “Besides, I want to return to Larena as quickly as I can. You give a final look over the mountain while I go inside.”

Before Hayden could object Fallon was gone. He used the power his god gave him to “jump” inside the moun­tain in the blink of an eye. Fallon couldn’t jump some­where he had never been before, but the use of his power had saved them countless times.

They all had different powers. For Hayden, Ouraneon, the god of massacre which was inside him, gave him the ability to call up and control fire. There  were other differ­ences as well. Each god favored a color, so every Warrior transformed to that color when he released his god.

Yet, for all their differences, there was a great deal they had in common, like strength, speed, enhanced senses, as well as deadly claws and sharp fangs. The most disturb­ing, though, was that their eyes changed to the same color as their god.

It had taken Hayden a long time to get used to that. He hadn’t seen his own eyes, but he could imagine how he looked when the whites of his eyes disappeared and his entire eye turned red.

As much as Hayden had rebelled and fought the god within him, that same god allowed him to defeat Deirdre. With Deirdre dead and his family massacred by a drough sent by Deirdre, there was nothing in this world for Hayden to do.

For so many years he had roamed Scotland, watching the world change around him while he hunted droughs. Deirdre had taunted him that she had sent a drough to kill his family as she tortured him day after day. So he fought against Deirdre while seeking his vengeance on the droughs.

Now there was no place for him in this new world. There was no place for him anywhere.

He continued his wandering of the mountain, looking for anyone who might still be alive, as he thought of what his next move might be. He had stayed in Scotland be­cause of Deirdre and his revenge, but maybe he would travel and see the different countries others spoke about.

Hayden leaned against a boulder and raked his hand through his damp hair. The snowfall had begun to grow more dense, the flakes thicker and heavier, but it didn’t hamper his superior eyesight. They stuck to his eyelashes and covered everything in a blinding white blanket.

Hours went by with Hayden locating nothing but more dead. The fact they were most likely Druids only made the fi ndings more difficult to bear. Druids might have magic, but they  were susceptible to the elements as any human was, and thanks to Deirdre’s affinity for killing them, the Druids  were becoming more and more scarce.

A shout from Fallon let Hayden know it was time to return to MacLeod Castle. As Hayden began to turn away something caught his eye.

He paused and narrowed his gaze when a gust of wind lifted a lock of long, black hair in the snow. Though Hayden knew the woman was most likely dead, he hurried to her anyway, hopeful he would leave the mountain with at least one alive. He spotted the pool of bright red blood in the snow that gave him hope she was still alive.

“Fallon,” he barked while scraping away the flurries and ice from around the small, much too slim body.

The woman was lying on her stomach, an arm bent with her hand near her face and matted ebony hair obscuring her features. Her fingers were slim as they dug into the snow as if she had tried to crawl away.

Hayden could only imagine the pain she had been put through, the heartache Deirdre had given her. He held his breath as he put a finger beneath her nose and felt a soft stirring of air.

At least they would leave the cursed mountain with one life. He reached for her and paused again. He didn’t want to hurt her, but it had been so long since he had been gen­tle, he  wasn’t sure he knew how. All he knew was battle and death.

Maybe he should allow Fallon care for her. But as soon as the thought went through his mind, Hayden rejected it. He found her, he would see to her. He didn’t know why, he just knew that it was important to him.

Hayden blew out a breath and slowly, firmly placed his hands on the woman’s body before he tenderly turned her over. Her arm fell to the side, lifeless and still. Disquiet settled in his gut like a stone.

He shifted so that he leaned over her, shielding her from the onslaught of snow. Once he had her in his arms, Hayden brushed the hair from her face to see her incredi­bly long black lashes spiked with frozen snow.

He felt something shift inside him when he saw her face was pale as death, but even beneath the scratches, dried blood, and ice he could see her beauty, her timeless allure.

She had high cheekbones and a small, pert nose. Her brows  were as black as the midnight sky and arched over her eyes. Her lips  were full, sensual, and her neck long and lean.

But it was her cream-colored skin, so flawless and per­fect, that made him reach out and stroke her cheek with the back of his fi nger.

A shock of something primitive and urgent went through his body like a bolt of lightning. He couldn’t take his eyes from her, couldn’t stop touching her.

Her body struggled for breath, struggled for life, prov­ing she was a fighter. Even with the elements taking the breath from her one heartbeat at a time, she didn’t give up.

Something inside him broke at that moment. He hadn’t been able to save his family or the many Druids on Cairn Toul, but he would save this woman, whoever she was.

A feeling of protectiveness wound through him. It had been so long since he’d felt protective of anyone or any­thing that he almost hadn’t recognized the emotion. Now that he did, however, it grew stronger the longer he held her in his arms.

He would make sure she survived. He would ensure she was protected at all times. It wouldn’t make up for the lives of his family or the Druids, but he had to do it.

Hayden found himself wishing she’d open her eyes so he could see them. He wanted to give his oath to her right then, for her to know he would fight with her. Instead, she lay unconscious in his arms.

His vow would have to wait, but nothing could stop him from pledging himself to her.

“Does she live?” Fallon asked.

Hayden glanced up, startled to find Fallon near when he hadn’t heard him approach. That  wasn’t like Hayden, but then again, he had never held such a lovely woman in his arms before, especially one who needed him as she did. “Just. She’s bleeding badly, though I cannot tell where she is wounded.”

“Judging by the blood on your hand, I would say some­where on her back.”

Hayden looked at the hand holding her and grimaced. He doubted they had much time to save her. For the fi rst time in . . .  ages . . .  the need to defend, to shield someone consumed him, drove him. “She’s shivering.”

“Then let’s get her out of here,” Fallon said.

Hayden lifted her small frame in his arms. She was light, but through her clothes he could feel the sumptuous curves that proclaimed her a woman. He gave a nod to Fallon and waited. Fallon laid his hand on Hayden’s arm, and in a blink they  were standing in the great hall of MacLeod Castle.

“God’s teeth!” someone yelled at their sudden appear­ance in the castle.

“Sonya!” Fallon bellowed.

The hall swarmed with Warriors, but Hayden only had eyes for the woman. He wanted, nay needed, her to survive, and was surprised to find himself praying—something he hadn’t done since before his family’s murder. He decided then and there he would protect her with his life.

He felt the warm stickiness of her blood as it traveled from his hand down his arm to his elbow to drop on the stone floor. Her breathing was ragged, her body so still he would think her dead if he didn’t see her chest rising and falling, slowly but surely.

“Sonya, hurry!” Hayden shouted. The thought of hold­ing another dead body in his arms made Hayden’s heart quicken with dread.

Death surrounded him, always had, most likely always would. But now, he wanted life for this small woman, whoever she was.

There was a whooshing sound as Broc landed in the great hall, Sonya in his arms. Broc folded his large, sleek indigo wings against him as he set Sonya on her feet and pushed his god down and returned to normal.

Sonya said not a word as she rushed to Hayden. The single, thick braid holding her fiery hair hung down her back with small tendrils curling about her face.

“Put her on the table,” Sonya instructed him.

Hayden didn’t want to relinquish his hold on the woman, but he knew he had no choice if he wanted her to survive. He glanced at her, at her parted lips and ethereal face. “She’s cold.”

“And I’ll get her warm as soon as I heal her,” Sonya told him, her amber eyes meeting his gaze. “Let me heal her, Hayden.”

Quinn took a step toward the table. “Broc—”

“I know,” Broc answered.

Hayden looked between the two Warriors to fi nd their gazes locked on the female in his arms. There was some­thing in their tone, something he should recognize, but he couldn’t focus on anything but the woman.

He forced his attention back to Sonya. “I think the wound is on her back.”

“Then lay her on her stomach,” Sonya said as she pushed up the sleeves of her gown.

“I’ll help,” said Lucan’s wife, Cara.

Hayden glanced down at Cara. They’d had their differ­ences, and in some ways still did since Cara carried drough blood in her veins. She might never have undergone the ritual, but it was enough that Hayden had wanted to see her dead.

It was only out of respect for the MacLeods that Hayden left Cara alone. Still, it rankled him to have her near. Evil bred evil, it was just a matter of time before it took Cara.

The next thing Hayden knew, the other two women of the castle, Marcail and Larena,  were also there. All but Larena  were Druids. Larena was the only female Warrior, and she had the distinction of being Fallon’s wife.

Matter of fact, the only female who  wasn’t mated to a MacLeod was Sonya, and Hayden had seen the way Broc watched the Druid when he thought no one was looking.

“I need her gown cut,” Sonya said.

Hayden didn’t hesitate to allow a red claw to lengthen from his fingertip. He sliced the woman’s gown with one swipe, and when the gown fell open to reveal the female’s back, the entire hall sucked in a breath. Hayden’s gut clenched and his blood turned to ice.

“Holy hell,” Quinn murmured and rubbed a hand over his mouth.

There  were no words as Hayden stared at the scars that crisscrossed the slender back of the woman on the table. Whoever this female was, she had suffered greatly and horrifi cally. And often. If he felt protective of her before, it was nothing compared to what arose in him then.

He would find who did this to her, find them and make them suffer as they had made her suffer. Then he would kill them.

However, it was the wound on her shoulder which drew Hayden’s gaze. “What happened to her?”

Sonya leaned close and poked at the bleeding injury. “Looks like a blade of some sort. I need to clean it to be sure what happened, but from what I can see I think the weapon pierced her skin, and then was dragged from her shoulder down her back to her shoulder blade.”

In an instant a bowl of water was placed next to Sonya. She wrung out a cloth and began to clean the woman’s wound. Agonizing moments later, Sonya lifted her head, her lips compressed in a tight line.

“There’s magic involved in this wound. I cannot tell if it caused the wound or only made it fester.”

Lucan and Fallon moved to stand on either side of Quinn, who was at the woman’s feet. Broc had also shifted closer to Sonya. It was then Hayden looked around the hall and noticed every Warrior at MacLeod Castle now ogled the female.

Hayden’s gaze swung to Quinn to find the youngest MacLeod watching him with sharp, pale green eyes. Be­fore he could ask Quinn why he was staring, the woman let out a low moan full of suffering and agony.

Sonya stilled. A heartbeat later she tossed down the cloth and lifted her hands over the woman’s wound, palm down, fingers splayed. Sonya’s eyes closed, and Hayden could feel her magic fill the hall as she began to heal the wound.

Cara and Marcail soon joined their magic with Sonya’s, but nothing they did seemed to assist the healing. The woman let out a scream and tried to jerk from the table.

Hayden held her down, careful not to touch her wound, but the more magic the Druids used, the worse the woman became. Frustration welled up within Hayden while he watched helplessly as the woman suffered.

“What are you doing to her?” he demanded of Sonya.

The Druid’s amber eyes snapped open to glare at him. Sonya reached over and took Cara’s and Marcail’s arms and lowered them. As soon as they did the woman stopped her movements and laid still and quiet.

It was like she had died. Yet Hayden could still see the breath leaving her body, could still see the blood fl ow from the wound.

“Something isn’t right,” Sonya said.

Marcail shook her head, her rows of tiny, sable braids on the crown of her head moving against her cheek. “It was almost as if she fought against our magic.”

“What could possibly do that?” Cara asked. Her ma­hogany eyes sought out Sonya, but Sonya didn’t answer.

Instead, Sonya moved aside the tangled mass of ebony locks from the woman’s neck. With slow movements, she tugged at the thin leather strap until she found what she was looking for.

Hayden took one look at the Demon’s Kiss dangling from Sonya’s fingers and felt the same betrayal and fury he had on the night of his family’s murder.

 

Two

“Easy, Hayden,” Quinn said.

Hayden swiveled his head to the MacLeods. An icy feeling of dread consumed him as he looked at the brothers. “You knew, didn’t you? You knew who she was, what she is?”

“Aye,” Quinn answered. “Before you condemn Isla, know that Deirdre kept her sister and niece prisoners in Cairn Toul.”

But all Hayden could think about was the Demon’s Kiss around Isla’s neck. It was but a small silver vial. However, it held the first drops of a Druid’s blood after they com­pleted the ritual of a drough to serve diabhul.

A drough. The very thing Hayden had scoured Scot­land to kill.

Druids were born with pure magic, magic which was all that was good and right. But there  were some who wanted more magic than a mie had. Those Druids turned against all the good inside them and become droughs.

Hayden glanced down at Isla, the woman he had been willing to vow to protect. Her face was turned toward him with scratches on her cheek and forehead. How could he have ever wanted to shield her?

“She’s drough.” Hayden spat the word as if it was the vilest thing he had ever encountered, and next to Deirdre, it was.

Droughsdeserved only death. Anything so immoral shouldn’t be allowed to walk the earth.

Broc folded his arms across his chest. “You doona know Isla, Hayden.”

“I know all I need to know.”

“Enough!” Fallon bellowed before a full blown argu­ment could ensue. “Sonya, can you use Isla’s Demon’s Kiss to heal her wound? I’d like to speak with her.”

Hayden fisted his hands in an effort not to jerk the vial out of Sonya’s hands and toss it away forever. The blood in the vial could heal a drough of its wounds instantly, or kill a Warrior. There was something about a drough’s blood that was poison to a Warrior.

As if Sonya knew what he was thinking, she clutched the vial in her hand and stared at him. Hayden didn’t want to harm Sonya, so he could only watch as she un­corked the vial and tilted the small silver bottle over Isla’s wound.

Only nothing came out.

“It’s empty.” Sonya lifted her eyes first to Quinn, and then looked at Broc. “There’s nothing left.”

Lucan ran a hand down his face and blew out a harsh breath. “Look at her scars. I say she had cause to use her Demon’s Kiss many times before.”

“There’s not that much in the vials,” Cara said, fi nger­ing her own Demon’s Kiss around her neck.

Hayden had to remind himself Cara  wasn’t a drough, that it was her mother’s necklace she wore. The element which had sent him killing all droughs after his family’s murder raged within him again. There was a drough on the table and another with drough blood around her neck. He could kill them both in a matter of moments.

But if he did he’d lose the first home he’d had since his own. He’d lose the men he called friends, brothers. He lowered his eyes to Isla’s midnight locks and tried to calm the anger raging through him.

“Heal her, Sonya,” Fallon ordered. “Regardless that she served Deirdre and is a drough, I willna allow her to die in my castle.”

Hayden had seen enough. He might have found Isla and brought her to the castle, but he  wouldn’t stay and help them to mend her. Once the evil was inside a drough, it was always there.

He started to turn away when Isla stiffened and let out a tortured scream that made even Hayden jerk in response. Her body began to shake on the table and blood poured from her wound.

“What’s happening?” Fallon asked.

Sonya shrugged, a look of confusion and helplessness on her face. “I have no idea.”

“Let me,” Galen said. The dark blond Warrior walked to the head of the table and placed his hand on Isla’s skull. Almost immediately he snatched his hand back with a hiss, his face losing all color.

He paused for just a moment before he fl attened his lips. “Hold her.”

Quinn grabbed Isla’s ankles. “What did you see?”

Galen shook his head and once more placed his hand on Isla’s head.

Broc, Quinn, Fallon, and Lucan all had hold of Isla. Only Hayden refused to touch her. He started to move aside so another Warrior could help when Galen put his other hand on Hayden’s head.

In a blink, Hayden could see images projected in his mind of Isla being beaten and whipped by Deirdre in ways that would have most men begging for their lives. Deirdre was vicious in her torture, her laughter ringing inside Hayden’s mind as she slashed Isla’s back over and over again, leaving Isla soaked in blood.

Isla withstood it all, her body moving with the impact of the hits, her face never showing any emotion, not even when the cuts penetrated muscle to the bone.

Hayden then saw Deirdre with her hand above Isla’s chest and a black cloud rushing over Isla to engulf her. The cloud suffocated Isla, tearing at her soul and making her see people being ripped apart, their terrifi ed screams echoing in Isla’s mind.

The images brought Hayden to his knees only to come level with a pair of the most amazing ice-blue eyes which were staring at him.

“End this,” Isla whispered. “Please, take my head.”

Not knowing if it was real or not, Hayden pushed Galen’s hand from his head, but Isla still gazed at him.

“Please,” she begged hoarsely, her eyes beseeching him. “You must kill me now.”

It was what Hayden should do. She was a drough, and droughs must die. But no matter how she pleaded with her mesmerizing blue eyes, Hayden  couldn’t bring him­self to do it.

Was it because of what Galen had shown him, or be­cause of the soft pleading in her voice? Whatever it was, Hayden knew he  couldn’t be the one to end her life.

Sonya once more tried to heal Isla, and this time Hayden grasped Isla’s arm when she tried to move away. Isla fought them with all her might, but she was weakened from her injury. The mix of worry and dread in Hayden’s stomach only grew the more magic Sonya poured into Isla.

Isla screamed words Hayden didn’t understand, they were so garbled with pain. No matter how they held her, she fought to get away.

Time stretched into eternity and the hall was fl ooded with magic before Isla’s eyes finally closed as she fell back into unconsciousness. Hayden was surprised to fi nd her hand holding onto his arm in a death grip, her broken nails cut into the skin of his forearm.

“Do you still want to kill her?” Galen asked, his tone clipped, angry. “After you saw what was in her mind, do you still think she deserves to die?”

Hayden didn’t bother to answer. He wasn’t sure if he could. His need to protect warred with the feelings that demanded justice for his family’s death. What he was go­ing to do in the end, he hadn’t decided yet.

A glance at Isla’s shoulder showed the wound had mended, but not as it should have. It no longer gaped and oozed blood, but it  wasn’t fully healed either.

“Isla fought Sonya’s magic,” Broc said into the silence.

Quinn shook his head. “Why would she do that?”

“She asked me to kill her,” Hayden said, still kneeling so his face was even with Isla’s. He tried to look away, but was held captivated by her haunting beauty. He was more than troubled by her request. Troubled and disturbed be­cause he’d seen the earnestness of her appeal on her eyes. Why would she want to die? “She told me she needed to die, to end it.”

“We heard her,” Fallon said. He sighed and looked to Larena. “Do we have a spare chamber?”

Hayden climbed to his feet. Since Deirdre had de­stroyed the cottages they had built, everyone was  housed in the castle with no room to spare. “Give her mine,” Hayden said before he changed his mind.

He rolled his eyes when everyone just stared at him. “She canna stay on the table, and all the chambers are full.”

Fallon gave a small nod. “See it done.”

Hayden watched as Sonya motioned to Broc, who gen­tly rolled Isla onto her back and lifted her in his arms. Hayden didn’t take pleasure in the fact that he wanted to be the one who carried Isla.

That the need to hit Broc for daring to touch her had Hayden rising to his feet with his hand fisted. It was ri­diculous. She was a drough.

“Are you all right?”

Hayden turned to find his closest friend, Logan, beside him. Logan was the one who kept everyone laughing. He was always ready with a jest and a smile. But there was no smile on his face now, only concern reflected in his hazel eyes.

“Aye, my friend,” Hayden lied. He tried to keep from looking at Broc carry ing Isla, but failed. Hayden hated the war going on inside of himself. It should be easy. Isla was drough, and because of that she should die.

Why then  couldn’t Hayden bring himself to kill her?

Logan moved to stand in front of him. “What did you see when Galen put his hand on your head?”

The other Warriors moved closer around Hayden. All of them, it seemed, wanted to know the answer. He swal­lowed and tried to form the words, but  couldn’t. Even after everything he had witnessed in his one hundred and eighty years of immortality, what he had seen in Isla’s mind hor­rifi ed him.

To see that torment done to a man was one thing, but to know it had been done to a woman, a woman who was supposed to be cherished and protected by the men of her family, sickened him.

“Horrors unlike you could possibly imagine,” Galen answered when Hayden  couldn’t. “Isla suffered greatly, and repeatedly, at Deirdre’s hand, of that Hayden and I can attest to.”

Lucan leaned on the table and drummed his fi ngers. “Yet she served Deirdre.”

“Did she?” Quinn asked. His brow furrowed and he crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m not so sure. There were times I thought she might have been trying to help me in Cairn Toul. The way she spoke sometimes, as if her words held double meaning, as if she had been trying to tell me something.”

There was a snort from the back of the hall. Hayden turned to find one of the twins, Duncan, with his long brown hair, standing against the wall whittling a piece of wood.

“Let’s not forget,” Quinn ignored Duncan and contin­ued. “We all saw Isla’s sister in the blue fl ames, bound and used by Deirdre. Though none of you saw her, there is Isla’s niece who Deirdre used her magic to keep as a child.”

Fallon walked to Larena’s side and put his arm around his wife’s shoulders. “I went inside the mountain to look for survivors who might not have left. I found a child. She was dead, the dagger still sticking from her stomach.”

“Though I wish no child death, Deirdre had corrupted her,” Quinn said. “It’s probably better that she is dead.”

Larena licked her lips and glanced at Fallon. “What now? Once Isla is healed, what do we do with her?”

“Keep her as a prisoner as she did all of us,” Duncan said.

Before Duncan could say more, his twin, Ian, put a hand on his shoulder. “It  wasn’t Isla who captured us. That was Deirdre, and she’s dead.”

“I won’t allow her to be a prisoner,” Larena said before Duncan could argue with his twin.

Fallon shook his head. “Nay, we willna imprison Isla. We’ll heal her and send her on her way.”

Hayden tried to get the vision of Isla’s hauntingly beau­tiful ice-blue eyes out of his mind, but he  couldn’t. He wanted to see her again, to make sure he hadn’t been mistaken of their color. And her vulnerability.

“What happened at Cairn Toul?” Lucan asked Hayden and Fallon.

Hayden lowered himself on a bench with his back against the table and listened with half an ear as Fallon told the others what occurred during their search of the mountain.

“And then I brought them here,” Fallon fi nished. “The rest you know.”

Quinn blew out a long breath. “I had hoped you  wouldn’t find anyone, that all had managed to get away, but I fully expected them to be alive if anyone was still at the moun­tain.”

“It was too cold,” Hayden said, remembering how the strands of Isla’s ebony hair had been frozen.

While the MacLeod brothers gathered close together and spoke in whispers, Hayden lifted a brow when Galen and Logan sat on either side of him.

Hayden  wasn’t the type of man who wanted—or needed—company. If anything, he desired to be alone with his thoughts, particularly those that warred within him now. It was how he had lived for so long, that even being at MacLeod Castle with the other Warriors sometimes got to him and had him leaving the castle.

He never went far, but just being by himself always helped.

“I willna apologize for giving you a glimpse into Isla’s mind,” Galen said after a lull of silence.

Hayden shrugged. “I didn’t ask for an apology.”

Logan cocked his head to the side and narrowed his eyes. “You didn’t see your face when you discovered she was drough. For a moment, I thought you would kill her where she lay.”

Did they think him such a monster? Hayden drew in a tired breath. He supposed he was such a beast. He  couldn’t deny the urge to kill her had passed through his mind or that he still considered it. She had asked it of him, after all.

How could he ignore the fact she was drough when it was a drough who had slaughtered his family—every one of them?

“I don’t murder people,” Hayden said. “I give the droughs a fair chance at battle before I kill them.”

Logan leaned forward until his elbows rested on his knees. “I wouldna blame you for wanting to kill her. As you said, she’s a drough. And I know why you hate them so.”

He was one of the few who Hayden had confi ded in, one of the few who knew why Hayden’s hatred went so deep. Deirdre had taken something from every Warrior, so Hayden didn’t expect special treatment for the grudge he carried.

Galen  rose to his feet. “I don’t know your reasons, Hayden, but I can guess. If you ever want to have a future you must let go of the past.”

Once Galen had walked away, Logan turned his head to Hayden. “Would you be sitting  here if Isla  wasn’t a drough?”

Hayden raised a brow. “What?”

“It’s a simple enough question. I saw how protective of her you  were. I’ll ask again. Would you be sitting  here if Isla wasn’t a drough?”

Hayden shook his head, unable to deny the answer.

“I didna think so.” Logan sat up and rubbed his hands on his thighs. “Arran said she was pretty.”

Arran would know, too. He, Ian, and Duncan had been locked in Deirdre’s mountain together with Quinn. The four Warriors had formed a tight bond during those awful weeks in the Pit.

Hayden had just thought his torment was over with Deirdre’s death, but the presence of a drough, even one who might have been forced to serve Deirdre, put his sanity to the test.

 

Three

Hayden stayed in the corner of his chamber. He’d told himself to stay away, that he didn’t care about Isla, but his curiosity about her had swayed him. And Fallon had re­quested his presence. Why, Hayden  wasn’t so sure.

He watched Isla thrash on the bed, her black hair tangled about her head and face. She burned with fever. Her body was flushed and sweat glistened on her skin, but he had a suspicion that’s not what made her mumble incoherently in her sleep, fear and dread visible on her oval face.

“I don’t understand,” Cara said from beside Lucan, their hands joined together. “Why didn’t our magic heal her? I’ve seen Sonya heal more serious wounds.”

Sonya shifted her thick braid over her shoulder, her gaze on Isla. “She fought our magic. It’s like she  doesn’t want to be healed.”

“She did ask Hayden to kill her,” Fallon said.

Marcail sat beside the bed and wiped Isla’s brow once more with a damp cloth. “Regardless, she is in much pain. I can sense the terror within her.”

Hayden saw Quinn start toward his wife, but he  wasn’t quick enough. Marcail put her hand on Isla and right be­fore their eyes they saw the stiffness leave Isla’s body in the space of a heartbeat.

“Marcail, damn you,” Quinn said as he knelt and caught his wife against him as she crumpled to the side.

Before Marcail could answer, she leaned over and emptied her stomach in a bucket. When she fi nished and Quinn turned her in his arms, Marcail’s face was ashen and sweat beaded her brow.

Isla had begged for death and fought the healing, but still Marcail had used her magic and pulled the emotions within Isla into her own body. It was Marcail’s gift as a Druid. She could take others’ emotions into herself, though the greater the emotion the more it made Marcail ill.

Quinn held Marcail gently as the effects rushed through her body. “Why?” Quinn asked his wife.

“I could help her. Why wouldn’t I? She didn’t hurt us in Deirdre’s mountain, Quinn. Not once did she ever harm us.”

“How bad is it?”

Marcail visibly swallowed and closed her eyes. “Aw­ful. I’ve never felt anything so ghastly in my life. Not even when I took Duncan’s pain from him. I don’t know how Isla is still alive.”

Hayden saw the slight movement on the bed and el­bowed Fallon. “She moves.”

 

Isla knew it was a dream, but she didn’t care. She was with her sister, Lavena, once more. And in Isla’s arms was the most beautiful little girl alive—Grania, her niece.

The thick woods of her home surrounded Isla in their comfort and beauty. As a Druid she loved nature, and the closer she was to it the stronger her magic became.

The sky was clear and the birds loud as they fl ew from branch to branch while their songs filled the air. The smell of pine and oak, of fern and heather mixed together to bring the familiar smell of the forest to her. Isla could stay in the area forever.

But as always the beautiful day turned black and grim with the arrival of the mercenaries. Grania’s laughter turned into shrieks of panic as she was jerked from Isla’s arms.

Isla fought to get to her niece but the men  were too strong, laughing through her struggles. Lavena yelled at Isla to get Grania, but Isla could do nothing against the strong arms that held her.

She managed to get free and tried to reach Grania, but a meaty fist slammed into her face, stopping Isla in her tracks. Then the men separated the three of them. Dread filled Isla. Not for herself but for her sister and Grania.

The dream changed again, turning darker and even more sinister as she was delivered into hell—Deirdre’s lair in the mountain. Thick black smoke surrounded her, the evil palpable as it began to drown her in the vapor.

And then, the dream was gone. For a moment Isla did nothing but lay there, unsure of what had happened. She didn’t know where she was. The anguish of her dreams had vanished. The terror of it all, however, still fi lled her.

Of a sudden, she recalled the solemn black eyes which had stared at her as she begged for death. Obviously the blond man hadn’t carried out her wishes.

Isla tried to swallow and felt her raw throat rebel at the effort. Her body burned with the ravages of a fever and her skin itched from sweating, but at least she was out of the snow and ice.

Between one heartbeat and the next she realized she wasn’t alone. She cracked open her eyes to fi nd herself staring at Fallon and Lucan MacLeod as they stood at the foot of the bed.

Isla threw off the covers and dashed toward the door she spotted to her left. Instant, agonizing pain tore through her, but she had withstood far worse in her years at Cairn Toul and she pushed through the weighty mantle of pain.

She had to get away from them, away from everyone, before it was too late! She had taken only a few steps before a big blond stepped in front of the doorway, ef­fectively blocking her escape.

She skidded to a halt, her body aching with each breath. With frantic hands Isla clawed at the strands of hair that clung to her sweat-covered face so she could better see. Her gaze scanned the chamber to fi nd five men and three women watching her, but her gaze returned to the blond giant.

He stood silently, almost at ease, but she  wasn’t fooled. He had the look of a Warrior, battle-hardened and ready for anything. At any moment.

“Let me leave,” she demanded of the chamber at large.

“Isla, you’re injured.”

She blinked and focused her vision on the man who spoke. “Broc?” Could the winged Warrior actually have sided with the MacLeods? Somehow she  wasn’t surprised.

“Aye. It’s me.” His voice was soft, as if he  were talking to a half-wit. “You need to rest.”

Isla shook her head, and then instantly regretted it as the chamber spun. She stepped back and ran into a wall. Her stomach churned, and she sunk her fingers into the stones to help keep herself standing. Her body was weak, and she didn’t know how long she could stand before what little strength she had was depleted.

“You have to let me go,” she panted. “Now. You have no idea what you’ve done by bringing me  here.”

Fallon MacLeod stepped forward, his dark brown hair pulled in a queue at the back of his neck. He looked like the natural leader that he was. “Deirdre is dead, Isla. There is nothing for you to fear anymore.”

Isla couldn’t control the bubble of laughter that welled up inside her. She clamped a hand over her mouth and blinked back the sudden rush of tears. She shook her head and lowered her hand. “She’s not dead.”

“She is,” Lucan said.

Quinn nodded. “Listen to my brothers, Isla, for they’re correct. I saw Deirdre die with my own eyes.”

Isla briefly wondered why Marcail, who was on Quinn’s lap, looked ill, but the need to leave was too great for her to think of anything  else. “Deirdre isn’t dead.”

A red-headed female with sharp amber eyes took a step toward Isla. “You have a fever, and your wound festers. Allow your body to recover. You will then see we speak the truth.”

Isla knew it was pointless to argue with them. As much as she didn’t want to say the words, she had to. “Stop it!” she yelled. “I’m not addled. I know Deirdre better than any of you. She isn’t dead, because if she was, I would be as well. We are linked through her black magic.”

The MacLeods shared a look, but it was Broc’s fur­rowed brow that told her he might understand what she was trying to say. Even the blond giant’s brow puckered at her words.

“Broc, I’m speaking true,” Isla said. He had to trust her so she could leave. “Deirdre isn’t dead. You have to be­lieve me.”

Fallon shook his head. “I doona understand this. We saw Deirdre’s neck snap, and Hayden set her on fi re.”

Isla didn’t know who Hayden was and didn’t care. “Deir­dre cannot be killed by a broken neck or being burned.”

“Stay  here and heal,” Quinn said again. “If you leave now you’ll die.”

“If only that  were true,” Isla murmured, tired to her soul. She saw the hulking blond glance away from her and she took that moment to dart toward him, intent on escap­ing under his arm.

She  wasn’t quick enough, however. As she reached him, his arms wrapped around her like iron manacles and dragged her against his hard chest. Her injury throbbed and her bones felt as if they would crush any moment under the impact of his strength. She looked up into the same black eyes she had seen before.

His face was a mask of anger, but flickering in the dark depths of his eyes, Isla saw a glimmer of emotion, as if he battled within himself over something.

Her hands had come to rest against his chest to push away, but beneath her palms was a solid wall of hard, un­yielding muscle which  wouldn’t be budged.

For a moment, she had the insane urge to run her hands over his chest, to feel all that sinew moving beneath her fingertips. She lost herself in the black pits of his eyes, wondering what it would feel like to stop fighting him and lay her head on his thick shoulder, to relinquish the need to stay strong and allow him to carry her burdens for a bit.

She had seen striking men before, but there was some­thing about the man holding her that was different, spe­cial. It could be the hardness of his black eyes or the way his blond brows slashed over those eyes giving him a harsh, sinister look.

It could be the strong jaw and chin and hollowed cheeks or the way his blond hair fell haphazardly around his face and shoulders, as if he raked his hands through it often.

Whatever it was that held her it urged her not to fi ght him, to give into the new and wondrous sensations his touch caused. Her eyes dropped to his lips. What would it be like to press her mouth against his? She had never kissed a man before, never wanted to.

What was it about this man? How was he connected to the MacLeods? And what was wrong with her? Had her wound affected her thinking and her body?

All too soon she remembered where she was, and why she needed to leave.

“You should have taken my head as I asked,” she told him.

His wide, firm lips compressed into a tight line. She knew she should fight him, but she was held transfi xed by the handsome face staring back at her.

“Nay.” That one word was said with finality, his deep voice laced with an edge.

Though she  couldn’t see much of his body, the way he held her effortlessly against him told her all she needed to know about his strength. The fact he was a Warrior was a given.

She also noticed while the others wore tunic and breeches, this Warrior wore a kilt of blue, green, and white with a saffron shirt beneath it that did nothing to hide his chest corded with muscles, muscles her hands itched to caress.

“Please,” she tried again, disturbed to her soul at her reaction to this man. “Let me leave. You’re all in terrible danger if I stay.”

His gaze flickered over her shoulder, and that’s when Isla heard the chant.

“Nay!” she screamed and tried to wrench out of the Warrior’s arms. “Do not make me slumber!”

The last thing she wanted to do was go back to sleep and be tormented by her nightmares once more. There was no chance for her to fight the magic, though, not in her damaged state. She tried to beg the Warrior once more, but the sleeping chant took her before she could.

Hayden looked down at the woman in his arms. Isla’s ice-blue eyes had gone wild when she’d heard Sonya’s chant, her fingers digging into his shoulders.

Now, Isla’s eyes  were closed, her head resting back against his arm. He could still hear her soft, velvet voice beseeching him to allow her leave the castle, could still feel the heat of her gaze as she looked over his face.

Had she liked what she saw? He didn’t want to care . . . but he was strangely curious. He’d never had trouble en­ticing women into his bed before. Yet there had been no emotion on Isla’s face as she looked her fill of him.

“What did you do to her?” Hayden demanded of Sonya.

Sonya lifted a shoulder. “I put her to sleep. She was becoming irate, and she needs to heal.”

“She was giving us information. And you didn’t see the fear in her eyes. She didna want to sleep.”

“Sleep will heal her.”

“I don’t think so,” Marcail said. “If what I took from her happens when she sleeps, it’s no wonder she became so agitated when she heard the chant. She’ll be back in that same distress once again.”

Hayden lifted Isla’s small body in his arms. They had taken her dirty, damaged gown and replaced it with a plain white chemise which was much too thin. Much too re­vealing. Even now Hayden could make out Isla’s small, pert breasts and her dark nipples. Most of the dirt from Isla’s face, arms, and chest was gone leaving only creamy skin he had glimpsed on Cairn Toul.

Skin he once more longed to caress.

To Hayden’s surprise, he found his body reacting to the soft curves beneath the simple linen. He knew the feel of her breasts pressed against him. He knew the feel of her small hands on his chest. He knew the slender curves that tantalized and teased his body.

And saints help him, he knew the way her lips parted softly, beckoning him to taste her, as she looked at him. He didn’t want to respond to Isla, but it seemed his body was not his own where she was concerned.

Hayden glared at Sonya instead of moving toward the bed. He wanted to know why Isla thought Deirdre was alive, but it would have to wait. And he’d have to wait for another look into her startling ice-blue eyes.

“I’m sorry,” Sonya said. “I thought it would be better if she rested.”

Fallon rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefi nger. “You didn’t know. How long will she sleep?”

“It differs.”

Hayden silently cursed. Isla might be a drough, but he couldn’t forget the fear in her eyes. Whatever it was Mar­cail took from Isla earlier was enough to frighten the drough so that she clung to him, a stranger, someone who pre­vented her from leaving.

It took a moment for Hayden to realize Lucan was standing beside him, a dark brow raised in question. Lu­can’s sea green eyes watched him carefully.

“What is it?” Hayden inquired.

“I asked if you planned to hold her the entire time she slept or lay her down?”

Hayden blew out a breath and walked to the bed. He glanced at Marcail to find the Druid studying him as he lay Isla down. Hayden pulled the covers over Isla and turned to leave.

“Was she telling the truth?” Fallon asked.

Hayden stopped and turned to face the others. “She’s determined to either leave or have herself killed. All you have to do is look into her eyes to see she believes what she is speaking about Deirdre. Whether it’s the truth or not, I cannot say.”

Fallon nodded.

“I’m inclined to believe her,” Quinn said. “Deirdre showed me Isla’s sister and niece. She used them to keep Isla doing what she wanted.”

Broc leaned a hand against the stone wall and dropped his head back so he looked at the ceiling. “Isla kept to her­self except when Deirdre would send for her. Even then, she held all emotion from her face. The fear we saw just now was real.” He lowered his head and looked at Fallon. “And that worries me.”

“We all know how powerful Deirdre had gotten,” Lu­can said. “What if Isla is telling the truth? What if Deirdre isn’t dead?”

Marcail moaned and buried her head in Quinn’s neck. “God help us all.”

“Then where is Deirdre?” Fallon asked.

Though Hayden hated to have to ask it, he knew he had to. “Did you find her body in the mountain?”

Fallon shook his head. “Nothing.”

“Holy hell,” Quinn mumbled and held onto Marcail tighter.

Hayden found his gaze on Isla, her pallor matching that of the linens. She would know where Deirdre was.

And Hayden intended to ensure she told them every­thing.

 

Dunmore kicked at the log in the hearth, sending sparks flying into the air, before he reclined in his chair. A mo­ment later the log broke in half with a loud crack.

He had retreated to the cottage he kept close to Cairn Toul so he could get to Deirdre easily when she needed him. He still  couldn’t believe she was gone. She had given him plenty of coin for his work, but to know that he was doing something for someone as great as she had brought meaning to his life.

Ever since he had found her as a lad of just sixteen summers, he had known Deirdre would do great things. It had never entered his mind that she would be killed. By the MacLeods. She was the greatest drough to ever live. It should never have happened.

“I’m not dead, Dunmore.”

Dunmore sat up in his chair and looked around his cottage as he reached for his sword that lay beside him. He was alone just as he had been a moment before. But the voice had come from inside his head.

“You’re not hearing things. My body was destroyed, as well as most of my wyrran. My magic is regenerating my body even as we speak. I will have a form once more, Dun-more. Until then, there is something I need you to do.”

It never entered Dunmore’s mind that the voice in his head  wasn’t Deirdre. He had seen what her magic could do, and he knew she had lived for a thousand years. She was the goddess she claimed to be.

“How can I serve?” he asked.

Deirdre chuckled. “My wyrran are cleaning my moun­tain. I need you to get to Cairn Toul quickly. I’ve a need for a Druid. The MacLeods will pay for ruining my empire.”

“I will see it done,” Dunmore vowed and leapt to his feet.

Copyright 2011 by Donna Grant


 

 

Donna Grant has been praised for her “totally addictive” and “unique and sensual” stories. She's the author of more than twenty novels spanning multiple genres of romance—Scottish Medieval, dark fantasy, time travel, paranormal, and erotic. Grant's newest series, Dark Sword, promises to be her most addictive yet. Don't miss this intoxicating series with Druids, primeval gods, and immortal Highlanders that are dark, dangerous, and delicious.

She lives in Texas with her husband, two children, a dog, and three cats where she's weathered five hurricanes in the last three years. To learn more about Donna and her books, please visit her at her website and her blog.

Sun
Apr 17 2011 6:00pm
Excerpt

Untamed Highlander: New Excerpt

Untamed Highlander by Donna Grant

Druid-born and magic-blessed, Isla is one of the deadliest she-devils ever to serve the forces of darkness. As an immortal Highland warrior, it’s up to Hayden Campbell to destroy her and her kind. But for Hayden, Isla is more than a sworn enemy. She is temptation

Taking Isla captive, Hayden hopes to avenge his kinsmen who died by Druid magic. But when he looks into Isla’s eyes, he sees the secrets of her past. When he touches her skin, he feels the passion in her soul. And soon Hayden comes to realize that this beautiful, beguiling woman is not his enemy at all—she is his destiny. And, even as the forces of darkness conspire against them, their love will conquer all…

An exclusive extended excerpt of Chapters 1-3 of Untamed Highlander (Available April 26, 2011) by Donna Grant.

One

Hayden Campbell swore viciously as he turned over yet another frozen body on the rocky slope.

“This one is dead,” Fallon MacLeod yelled from his position farther up the mountain.

“They’re all dead.” Hayden blew out a breath that puffed around him, ignoring the frigid temperatures and steady snowfall. Though he felt the cold it didn’t bother him because he  wasn’t quite human.

He was a Warrior, an immortal with an archaic god in­side him that gave him powers and immeasurable strength—among other things.

[Read more...]