The top romance blogs team up to give away free books and celebrate the genre ... it's the monthly Romance Round Robin! Stop by all four blogs and leave a comment for a chance to win awesome prizes on each site.
Heroes and Heartbreakers: Read an excerpt of New York Times bestseller Donna Grant’s upcoming release, Midnight’s Seduction, and enter to win one of four prize packs containing the first two books in her Dark Warriors series. Sweepstakes ends 10/26, so comment now!*
Romance at Random: Stop by for a chance to win two prize packs including Jessica Scott's Until There Was You PLUS Iced, the new release on sale 10/30, by Karen Marie Moning!!
USA Today Happy Ever After: Find out how romance authors answer the question, “What books made it to your ‘keeper shelf’?” and enter to win a box (a BOX!) of newer releases.
Discover a New Love: Find out about USA Today bestselling author Terry Spear's new series featuring shape-shifting jaguars and enter for a chance to win one of five prize packs, including the entire nine-book set of Terry's werewolf series.
The sweepstakes end October 26th. Be sure to stop by each site and increase your chances to win.
Warriors, dragons, and seers, oh, my! Step right up for a preview of chapters 1-3 of the sexy new bad-ass paranormal from New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant. Be sure to leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win one of four prize packs containing the first two books in this Dark Warriors series (I know how much you hate to start in the middle!). *
Captivating and enticing, Saffron Fletcher is a rarity in the Druid world—a Seer. She is the ultimate prize in an epic battle. After suffering horrendously at the hands of evil, her thirst for justice is all that keeps her going. Can she put her trust in the sinfully gorgeous, wonderfully dangerous Warrior who haunts her dreams and promises retribution for their common enemy?
Camdyn MacKenna is hungry for revenge…until he falls prey to Saffron’s seductive magic. She enchants him like no other. But if Camdyn yields to her allure, will he be strong enough to defeat their sworn enemy—and resist the rising forces of evil that could destroy their love forever?
MacLeod Castle January 2012
Saffron sucked in a harsh breath as she came instantly awake. But she kept her eyes closed tight, afraid to open them and see nothing but darkness. Again.
She heard the crackle of the fire in the hearth, and the wind as it rattled against the window from the fierce winter storm that had raged for days.
Three years of being blind, of fighting the darkness she had been confined to, and she was too frightened to open her eyes and see if the spell had truly been broken.
A spell that had been put on her by Declan Wallace, a Druid with unimaginable black magic. A Druid who had wanted to use her abilities as a Seer to his advantage.
Even now, just thinking of the power of his magic sent a cold chill snaking down Saffron’s spine.
But it wasn’t just his magic. It was the evil inside Declan, the malice and the spiteful soul that was as black as pitch. And owned by Satan himself.
Saffron had discovered all too painfully how extensive Declan’s magic was. He had used her fear of spiders to torment her. To torture her endlessly, incessantly.
She inhaled deeply as the fear that had been with her for three years began to take over once more. Saffron struggled to remember the glorious feel of Declan’s magic snapping as Danielle found his spell deep in Saffron’s mind. And broke it.
Relief had poured through Saffron. Relief and . . . calm. She relaxed as the same mixture of emotions soothed her once more. The reversal spell, however, had affected Saffron in a way that even now made her stomach clench in terror.
She shouldn’t have passed out. She shouldn’t have felt the tug of Declan’s magic as it struggled to keep a hold on her.
Yet she did. She felt all of it keenly.
“Stop being a ninny, and open your eyes,” she whispered to herself.
Saffron swallowed past the lump in her throat and clutched the heavy blanket that was atop her. Her heart pounded with a sickingly slow beat that echoed in her ears.
And before she could change her mind, she opened her eyes.
There was no half measure for her. No cracking open a lid to see if she saw any light. It was all or nothing.
Instantly, she raised her hand to shield her eyes as the light from a table beside her made her turn her head away quickly. Her heart missed a beat as she blinked against the bright light.
Saffron sat up and swung her legs over the bed so that her back was to the light and she let her eyes wander the room. She had been in MacLeod Castle for several weeks. She’d gotten to know the room as any blind person would. By touch and learning how many steps from any given point to another.
But now she was able to look at the castle as everyone else did.
A wall of gray stone rose before her, broken by the window and a medieval tapestry with rich hues of burgundy, green, and gold. Saffron had to blink several times to allow her eyes time to adjust to the brightness that seemed so foreign to her.
She scrunched her toes on the rug and looked down at her feet. There had been a time in her life when she wouldn’t have let a month go by without a pedicure. Her once impeccably polished toes needed trimming, and a good soak.
If her feet had changed so much, what would the rest of her look like? Even before her trip to Britain, she had gone to the gym regularly to keep fit. It wasn’t just about staying trim, it was about being healthy, especially after her father’s death due to heart disease.
Saffron promptly pushed thoughts of her father out of her mind. If she thought of him, she’d have to think of her mother and stepfather, and she couldn’t deal with that and her new sight at the same time.
Slowly, Saffron rose from the bed and walked to the window. She knew it was exactly eight steps from the bed to the window, but this time she didn’t count. Or at least she tried not to. It was so ingrained in her she couldn’t help it.
When she reached the window, she pressed her face to the glass and sighed as the cold touched her. The movement of the water outside her window made her breath catch in her throat. She’d had no idea her room faced the sea. After a few more moments watching the dark, rolling water, she straightened.
Then she turned to face the rest of the room.
She had to shield her eyes from the light, and it took several tries before she was able to see past the glare. Her eyes roamed from the chest of drawers to her left to the small door that led to a private bathroom. Then on to a chair in the corner next to the door that led into the corridor. Beside the door were hooks that Saffron knew had been there since the castle was built.
Farther along was a dressing table where her brush and other belongings were laid out. Next came the bedside table with the lamp, the bed, and then the hearth.
Saffron stared at the flames, amazed at the hues of orange, yellow, red, and even blue that she saw. It had been so long since she had seen color that she found herself mesmerized. Completely enthralled.
She could easily allow herself to become lost in the firelight. The urge was so overwhelming that Saffron took a step toward the hearth, intent on doing just that.
It was the sound of footsteps approaching her chamber that pulled her attention from the fire to the door a heartbeat before the knock sounded.
The door opened a crack, and a woman poked her head in. Her gaze went to the bed first. She frowned slightly before her eyes moved about the room. When she found Saffron, she smiled and stepped into the chamber.
Saffron had no idea who she was. She knew voices and the cadence of a person’s footsteps, but she didn’t know anyone’s face. Panic began to set in. She dug her fingers into the stone behind her and tried to control her breathing.
Saffron let out a sigh as she recognized Cara’s soft brogue. She had been the first Druid at the castle, the one who had brought the MacLeods into the world. “Cara.”
“Aye,” said the petite brunette with kind mahogany eyes. Her curly chestnut hair was pulled back in a low, loose ponytail with curls framing her face. “Forgive me. I should have told you who I was.”
Saffron waved away her words. “I knew as soon as you spoke.”
“It doesn’t matter. I should’ve thought of that. But I’m glad to see you up. How is your eyesight?”
“As if Declan’s spell never was.” Of course Saffron knew that to be the lie that it was. Declan’s evil presence had been inside her for three long years. And her eyes were sensitive to light.
“That’s wonderful news. Dani has been so worried about you.”
“How is Danielle?” Saffron asked, knowing what a risk Dani had taken to go into her mind to break the spell. “I need to thank her.”
Saffron knew just how awful it had been for Dani to go into her mind and feel the slick, cloying mass that was Declan’s magic. Saffron had been so concerned it would harm Dani that she almost didn’t let her try this last time to break the spell.
“Dani and Ian have been in their chamber,” Cara said with a chuckle.
Saffron shifted her feet on the cold stones. Ian just returned to the castle, with Dani’s help, after four centuries of being gone. But his disappearance hadn’t been his doing. It had been Declan’s. And Deirdre’s.
The thought of the other drough made Saffron shiver. Deirdre and Declan were droughs, Druids who gave up their pure magic to have black magic. And with it, their souls to the Devil.
Saffron learned about Deirdre through the other mies, or good Druids, at the castle. Deirdre had been alive for over a millennium, and she was the one who had unbound the gods in the MacLeods, thereby beginning the war they were waging. A war that the rest of the world had no idea was taking place.
But Dani and Ian had found each other. Dani, another Druid, had needed Ian’s help to reach the castle. And Ian, struggling to control the god inside him, needed Dani to get the upper hand over his god.
Gods. Saffron inwardly laughed. That’s who she lived with. Druids and Warriors with primeval gods locked inside them. These Warriors were able to detect magic, but more than that, they were immortal and had amazing powers.
Or at least she had been told about the powers. She hadn’t actually seen them herself.
But she had heard the roars of the Warriors. She knew their strength, like the feel of Camdyn’s thick muscles beneath her hand.
Just thinking about Camdyn made her stomach flutter. Saffron swallowed and shoved thoughts of him out of her mind. She told herself she was only drawn to him because he’d been the one to free her from Declan’s prison.
There was no doubt in her mind that if she’d been told the Warriors had the power to control fire or teleport, it was true. But she couldn’t wait to see it for herself.
“Saffron?” Cara asked.
She shook herself and blinked as she looked at Cara. Saffron began to wonder what everyone else looked like. She especially wanted to see the couples together, like Cara and her husband, Lucan MacLeod. “Apologies. I’m—”
“No need,” Cara interrupted her with a wink. “I understand. Are you hungry?”
“Starving. How long did I sleep?”
“Just through the night. Dawn broke an hour ago.”
Saffron glanced down at her clothes from the day before and grimaced. “Let me change first.”
“We’ll be waiting.” With one last smile, Cara was gone.
Saffron walked to the chest and opened a drawer. She looked at the socks inside, all white, and all folded neatly so she would know what she grabbed. She took a set, determined to buy every color imaginable now that she could see again.
She hurriedly pulled the socks over her icy feet and jerked off her jeans and sweatshirt. She smiled as she thought of how offended her mother would be to see her not only in jeans, but a sweatshirt as well.
Her smile grew as she dug out another pair of jeans and a soft yellow sweater. She took a look at her clothes and noticed they were all solid colors that could easily intermingle with each other so she wouldn’t mix anything up.
All the clothes she had were given to her by the other Druids in the castle. Nothing in the drawers was hers alone, except for her panties and bras. Reaghan had brought a bag full of lingerie to her, and to Saffron’s delight, they were all lacy and sexy. And all different colors.
There was so much she needed to take care of. First and foremost, she needed to call her lawyer. If what Gwynn had told Saffron the other day was true and her mother was trying to claim her legally dead, then her mother and the son of a bitch that was her stepfather would get all her money. Money her father had refused to give her mother.
“Over my dead body, Mother,” Saffron said as she stuffed her feet into black boots.
She ran a brush through her hair, unable to look at herself in the mirror. One thing at a time. It was going to take much more courage than she had right now to see herself in the mirror after three years.
Saffron walked out of her chamber and turned right. She paused a moment, listening to the sound of voices below her in the great hall. The castle was huge, but her hearing had improved when her eyesight had been taken.
There was laughter and conversation. Meals in the castle were almost always an entertaining affair. There were so many couples in the castle, from the three MacLeod brothers, Fallon, Lucan, and Quinn, and their wives, Larena, Cara, and Marcail, to Hayden and Isla, Galen and Reaghan, Broc and Sonya, Logan and Gwynn, and now Ian and Dani.
She wasn’t the only single person at the castle, however. There was Marcail and Quinn’s son, Aiden. Fiona, and her grown son Braden, and the newest Druid to the castle, Kirstin. Then there were the other Warriors, Ramsey, Arran, and Camdyn.
Saffron ignored the way her heart raced when she thought of Camdyn. She had sensed a gnawing inside Camdyn, a viselike grip on him that refused to relent. Yet, when he dealt with her, he was always gentle, if not silent.
What did he look like? She rubbed the pads of her fingers over her thumb as she remembered the silky, cool texture of his hair against her palm when he had caught her from falling the last time she’d had a vision.
Camdyn always seemed to be near her. Even when he didn’t say anything, she knew he was there. And oddly, that comforted her. Everyone looked out for her at the castle, but with Camdyn it was different. He had a different undertone in his voice when he spoke to her, and there was a distinctive gentleness mixed with power when he touched her.
She’d touched his face once. It had been the only way to know what he looked like with her eyesight gone. Her palms still felt the prickle of his whiskered cheek, the sharp angles of his face, and the full, wide lips.
He hadn’t known what she’d done because she’d been quick, but the need to know him had been tantalizing. She’d gotten a peek at his face using her hands, and it had been enough for her to mentally draw an image of him.
And it was a glorious image.
The question now, however, was whether he would live up to what her mind had created.
Something akin to excitement ran through her at the idea of seeing everyone for the first time. She was at the stairs leading to the great hall when she realized she wished she had washed her hair and maybe put on a bit of makeup first.
Her head swung in the direction of the voice as a woman with long silver-blond hair jumped up from her spot at the table and raced over to her.
Saffron recognized the cadence of the walk and couldn’t help but smile as Danielle Buchanan’s arms wrapped around her. She returned Dani’s embrace and squeezed, realizing then that she had missed Dani and Ian’s wedding the night before.
“It worked,” Dani whispered.
For the first time since waking, Saffron found herself blinking back tears. “Yes. You did it, Dani. Your magic let me see again.”
Orkney Islands Ring of Brodgar standing stones
Camdyn MacKenna stood in the silence of the coming dawn with fellow Warriors Arran and Fallon. Lucan, with his ability to command darkness and shadows, was patrolling the area to see if Deirdre was already there.
They were spread around the area, hunkered down and waiting on the windswept expanse of land with only the stones to shield them. To Camdyn’s exasperation he found his thoughts wandering. But not just to any time. To a time when he had been happy.
A time with Allison.
He squeezed his eyes closed as he thought of his wife, of her smiling hazel eyes. Of the life they had shared together.
A life she hadn’t turned away from despite the god inside him. She had known he was a Warrior. She had known of his power to manipulate the earth, his incredible speed and enhanced senses. And his immortality.
Despite it all, she had stayed with him.
Camdyn opened his eyes and focused on the ring of standing stones that were most likely as ancient as the gods inside the Warriors. No one knew where the standing stones had come from, or why they had been built.
The Celts had used them, revered them. The stones were seen all over Britain, their origins a mystery. Few realized it was the magic contained within them that drew people.
But a Warrior knew. A Warrior had the ability to sense magic—good and evil. Camdyn dug the heel of his black boot into the earth, thankful the magic he felt wasn’t doused in evil as a drough’s magic was.
Droughs.How he hated them. Or one in particular. Deirdre.
Just thinking about her made the bile rise in his stomach. He’d had a good life before Deirdre had found him and unbound his god, turning him into the monster he was.
Camdyn had survived her cursed mountain and managed to escape. He’d found refuge in the deep forests and the mountains. Until he had come across Allison. She had been like a light in the darkness.
As soon as Camdyn saw her he knew she was the one for him. She hadn’t batted an eye when he told her how the Celts of old had allowed the droughs to call up primeval gods locked in Hell. The strongest warriors in each family stepped forward and allowed those gods into their bodies, creating the fi rst Warriors.
It was those first Warriors who rid Britain of Rome. But it came at a price—the death of many Celts before the droughs and mies combined their magic to bind the gods inside the men since they couldn’t make the gods leave.
The gods traveled through the bloodline of these warriors, waiting for a day when they could have control once again. Deirdre gave them that wish when she found the hidden scroll and learned the MacLeods held a god.
Three brothers, in fact, shared one of the most powerful gods between them. Once Deirdre unbound their god, she set about finding the rest.
Camdyn snorted, the claws of his god lengthening from his fingers as hatred rolled inside him. He drew in a long, deep breath until he had himself back under control and his claws had disappeared.
Allison had believed every word of his tale, but even then it had taken Camdyn nearly five years before he allowed her to see what he changed into when he called up his god. The times before, he would make sure he was far from her and their cottage before he changed.
Yet, not even his transition could make her cower in fear. Camdyn had rarely left her. He’d stayed by her side, living the life they had been granted.
And when she began to age, he saw the sadness in her eyes.
A shift in the air drew Camdyn’s gaze to the left and his thoughts to the present. He turned his head to fi nd Arran watching him closely. Arran had already called up his god, and his white skin, claws, and eyes stood still in the darkness.
Arran cocked his head to the side, a silent question.
Camdyn gave a quick shake of his head before he looked back at the stones. They had come to make sure they were alone, because somewhere below the stones rested Deirdre’s twin sister, Laria.
The answer to ending Deirdre’s life once and for all.
Moments ticked by before a cloud of darkness began to dissipate and Lucan MacLeod stepped out and looked at each of them.
“Well?” Fallon, the eldest MacLeod and leader of the Warriors at their castle, asked.
Lucan lifted a brow. “I doona sense Deirdre or any of her wyrran.”
Camdyn spat at the mention of the wyrran. They were Deirdre’s pets, created by her to be commanded only by her. They were small in stature, hairless and thin, but deadly with their talons on their hands and feet. Their yellow eyes were sinister looking, but it was their mouthful of teeth that their lips couldn’t fit over that made them truly ugly.
“I agree,” Lucan muttered to Camdyn.
Arran moved toward Lucan from his hiding place, the white skin of his god disappearing once more. “Has the ground been disturbed?”
“Nay,” Camdyn answered. Since his power was to command the earth, he could also tell when it had been dislocated and how. “Nothing has touched the stones, especially inside the circle, in quite some time.”
“Camdyn’s right,” Lucan said.
Fallon crossed his arms over his thick chest as he looked at the stones. “The magic is heady here.”
The other three nodded silently.
Camdyn rubbed his hands together. “Finally, after two hundred and fifty years, I’m going to help end Deirdre.”
“Six hundred and fifty,” Arran corrected with a grin. “Remember, we allowed the Druids to toss us into the future.”
How could Camdyn keep forgetting he lost four centuries of his life? Not that he minded. He was getting used to this modern world fairly well, and with the aid of his god he’d learned to understand their language swiftly.
“Aye,” Camdyn said.
Lucan moved to stand by his brother Fallon. “Regardless, it’s about to end.”
“It almost seems too good to be true,” Fallon said softly.
The four of them stood together as the sun crested the horizon, lighting the Ring of Brodgar in its golden glow.
Camdyn had to admit the sight was glorious. The stones themselves stood in a huge circular pattern on a thin strip of land on an eastern-sloping plateau separating two lochs.
Twenty- seven stones remained upright in the circle, and even more interesting was the area where the stones themselves were. It was as if it had been hollowed out. No weeds or wildflowers grew where the stones were. The grass was greener, leaving a distinct circle that could be seen from any angle.
There was no doubt in Camdyn’s mind it was magic.
The shadows began to fade as the sun continued its ascent into the sky, and even though Camdyn knew how dangerous it was to stand in the open with Deirdre likely to appear any moment, he couldn’t make himself leave.
There was something so appealing, so . . . comforting about the stones that made him crave to stay.
Camdyn looked at Arran, Lucan, and Fallon, and one by one, the Warriors pulled their gazes from the stones.
“It’s time to return to the castle and tell the others what we’ve learned,” Fallon said.
Arran grinned, his eyes flashing with excitement. “And get ready for a battle.”
Camdyn didn’t have time to say anything as Fallon put his hand on his shoulder, and in the time it took him to blink, they were standing in the bailey of MacLeod Castle. Fallon called it jumping; its more modern term was teleporting, and Camdyn rather liked the speed with which they could travel.
“Lucan!” Cara shouted and raced to her husband as they walked into the castle.
Fallon hurried to his wife, and lone female Warrior, Larena, and wrapped his arms around her. Camdyn and Arran continued past them to the two long tables that had been put together.
As Camdyn walked by his fellow Warriors, he noticed just how many had found their women. He, Ramsey, and Arran were the only Warriors left without mates at the castle.
At least they weren’t the only single men. There was Aiden, Quinn’s son, and Braden.
That thought had no sooner gone through his mind than he felt a wave of forceful, brilliant, and all too pleasing magic move over him.
Camdyn didn’t need to look up to know it was Saffron. Her magic had had a distinct feel for him ever since he lifted her in his arms in Declan’s prison.
He found his gaze rising to the top of the stairs where Saffron stood in a pale yellow sweater and jeans that fi t her long lean legs to perfection. Her walnut-colored hair hung freely about her face as her eyes moved leisurely over the hall.
He released a breath he hadn’t known he held. When Danielle raced to Saffron, and Saffron’s eyes followed her, Camdyn knew Declan’s spell to blind Saffron was truly gone.
Everyone worried that the spell wouldn’t release Saffron, but the simple fact that no nightmares had plagued her the previous night, as they had in the past, told Camdyn she would be all right.
He’d been the one to go to her every night and calm her, though she never knew of it. No one did, and that’s how he wanted it kept.
Camdyn had been unable to stay away from her this past night, however. He’d checked in on her several times. And each time she had been sleeping peacefully.
Still, it was good to see for himself that Declan’s spell was truly gone.
He kept silent, trying to hear what Saffron and Dani said to each other, but everyone was so excited to see Saffron that they began talking at once.
Cara disengaged herself from Lucan’s arms and waited at the bottom of the stairs for Saffron and Dani. Saffron whispered something to Cara who gave a nod and a soft smile.
Saffron walked with slow, measured steps that were graceful and elegant. Her posture was impeccable, but the smile on her face was forced.
Camdyn wondered if anyone else noticed. She passed him with nary a look, and then suddenly halted. Their eyes met, clashed. Held.
For several heartbeats they said nothing, but he saw her shoulders relax a fraction before she walked around the table to sit next to Fiona and Braden.
Camdyn wanted her to know who he was, but how could she? She only knew his voice, not his face. Why he’d wanted her to recognize him, Camdyn couldn’t begin to fathom. But it made him uncomfortable.
He surreptitiously glanced at Saffron to find Fiona and Braden both talking to her.
It was because of Isla’s magic of shielding the castle from view, as well as keeping the mortals from aging, that the Druids, including Fiona and Braden, who had been at the castle over four hundred years, hadn’t grown older.
Camdyn didn’t blame Fiona and Braden from staying at the castle. The world had changed drastically since they took refuge in the castle in the seventeenth century, and with Deirdre still out there hunting Druids, it was better to stay hidden.
But he couldn’t help but wonder what they would do when Deirdre was gone. There was still Declan to consider, but Declan didn’t hunt Druids for their magic as Deirdre did.
Once Deirdre was gone, Declan was next on their list.
The thought of Declan reminded Camdyn of Saffron. He’d never forget how he’d first found her, chained and half starved, how she had quivered in his arms when he’d broken the chains and lifted her.
She’d been frightened by him, but despite the horror Declan had put her through, she had gathered her courage and wrapped her arms around Camdyn’s neck.
He’d been the only one who could gain access to Saffron’s prison because of his power to move the earth, and that was how he’d become her rescuer. Or so he told himself.
The truth was, once he saw her, he’d wanted to be the one to free her, the one to bring her out of the darkness. Camdyn wasn’t sure why, nor did he understand this yearning he had to be near her in case she needed him.
Saffron had proved to be adept and courageous. Yet, regardless—or maybe in spite of that—Camdyn kept a close eye on her at all times.
Out of the corner of his eye he watched as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. It was a nervous gesture she probably didn’t even know about. But her anxiety caught his attention.
“How do you feel, Saffron?” Quinn asked.
Saffron’s tawny eyes shifted to the youngest MacLeod. “Better now that Declan’s magic is gone, Quinn.”
Quinn chuckled. “How did you know who I was?”
“Your voice,” she answered.
One by one Camdyn watched her call out each person’s name after they spoke to her. Her shoulders relaxed each time, and her smile grew more genuine.
Inwardly he nodded as realization dawned. She had been afraid.
That was something Camdyn hadn’t expected. As long as Saffron had been at the castle she’d had an iron will, an unbreakable attitude.
However, it wasn’t the first time Camdyn had seen a chink in her armor. No one but he knew of the nightmares she suffered, and he only knew because he heard her in the lonely hours of the night when he walked the corridors of the castle.
He’d been unable to stay away from her strangled cry that first night. Every night since then he had gone to her. He did nothing but lay a hand on her forehead, but that seemed to calm her.
Until the next night.
At first it had been just to quiet her, and then he’d needed to touch her, to see her. He dared only to touch her forehead, but he’d come to love the feel of her thick hair and the way it fell against the pillow. He’d come to need the sound of her soft breath as she fell into a dreamless sleep.
Camdyn had tried not to see her bare legs that had kicked at the covers, or see the dusky nipple that poked through her white tank.
He’d tried and failed.
A flood of heat seared through his body as the memory of her lithe body flashed in his mind.
He cocked his head to the side as he studied her. Would she have more nightmares now that Declan’s black magic was gone? More importantly, could he keep away from her?
Suddenly, her tawny eyes moved to him and held him captive. She stared at him for numerous silent moments. Camdyn took that time to drink in the stunning sight of her, from her oval face and slim neck to her wide lips and high cheekbones.
Thick locks of her rich brown hair fell over her shoulder to lie artfully above her breast. He wanted to reach out and touch her hair because he knew just how soft it was.
There was a poise about her that spoke of refinement and class, yet in her gaze he saw a wildness, a recklessness that nearly matched his own. It was so unexpected and startling that it made his balls tighten in a desire so fierce, so intense, he had to grip the bench he sat on to keep from going to her.
Her voice, soft and gentle, fanned the flames of desire that was already out of control. He gave a slight bow of his head, and smiled inwardly. It hadn’t been a question but a statement. Another testament to her confidence. “Aye.”
For several minutes her beautiful tawny gaze held his before she looked away. But Camdyn couldn’t stop looking at her. Couldn’t stop the way her magic enveloped him, covered him.
Saffron inhaled deeply and found herself relaxing as the breath left her lungs. Everyone treated her no different than they had before, and that was saying something.
Most people handled the blind with kid gloves, but not the residents of MacLeod Castle.
At least now she knew not only everyone’s voice, but also their faces. Lucan, the middle MacLeod brother, with the small braids at his temples and griffin-head torc.
Fallon, the eldest MacLeod and leader, with his boar-head torc and dark green eyes. Quinn MacLeod, with his wolf-head torc and alert attitude. Hayden, the tallest of the men, stood like a blond giant. Galen had kind indigo eyes that seemed to see right into her soul.
Broc, who stood guard over all of them; Logan, who had a mischievous grin; Ian, who had eyes only for Danielle; Ramsey, who was the quiet one with silver eyes; Arran, who was the one eager for a fight; and Camdyn . . .
Saffron refused to look at the Warrior again because in the depths of his dark eyes she saw the same loneliness and anger that was within herself. The same sadness, the same hunger for something more.
She’d known it was him as she passed him in the hall. He’d not spoken, not moved, but she’d known who he was simply by the feel of the man himself.
It had sent a shiver of delight through her, a shiver that had made her stomach flutter and her heart skip a beat.
After just one look at him, his face was branded in her mind. From his long, straight black hair that he let fall freely around his sculpted face, to the dark shadow of a beard on his hollowed cheeks that only made him sexier.
It could also be his dark eyes and the thick brows that slanted over them. She swallowed as she recalled the hard line of his jaw and his full lips, lips she knew could probably make any woman swoon. All of which she had felt with her hand, but she hadn’t been prepared to see just how devilishly handsome he was.
But it wasn’t just his face. She had felt the thickness of his muscles, but feeling and seeing were two different things, especially when it came to Camdyn.
His meaty shoulders were made visible by the black tee stretched taut over his arms and chest as he braced his forearms on the table and listened to something Ramsey said.
She’d caught a glimpse of his bum and the way the dark denim hugged him. With one glance, she’d taken in all that was Camdyn. And she wanted more.
“What happened on the isle?” Broc asked Fallon, bringing Saffron out of her thoughts and back to the war that raged.
She shifted her gaze to Fallon, who sat at the head of the table, his hands folded over his tight stomach as he leaned back in his chair.
“Deirdre hadna arrived,” Fallon answered.
Arran snorted. “Yet. We need to get there before she does.”
“Did you sense her nearby?” Hayden asked.
Lucan shook his head. “Nay. The Ring of Brodgar is huge, and I walked it several times searching for the smell of her foul magic.”
“The area is devoid of trees,” Camdyn said. “There was nowhere for her to hide. The peninsula where the stones are located is long and skinny with lochs on each side.”
Reaghan, one of the Druids with powerful magic and wife to Galen, leaned her elbows on the table and nodded. “It’s just as I remember it described to me.”
Saffron still had a hard time believing that Reaghan, beautiful, soft- spoken Reaghan, had put a spell on herself that wiped her memories every ten years to hide the location of Laria from Deirdre.
It was difficult to tell who was the oldest of the Druids, Reaghan or Isla. Both of them had gone through several more centuries of being immortal than any of the Warriors had.
“What are we waiting for then?” Sonya, the healer, asked as she looked around the table.
It was Ian who raised a dark brow and said, “It seems too easy.”
“My thoughts exactly,” Logan said.
“Easy or no’, we need to get to Laria,” Quinn stated.
Broc shrugged. “I can always locate Deirdre with the use of my power.”
Galen drummed his fingers on the table and said, “We’ll need you to do just that, my friend.”
There was a crackle of tension as Fallon focused his gaze on Ramsey. Saffron glanced at Ramsey who sat to her left a little ways from her. He returned Fallon’s stare with nonchalance, as if he were testing Fallon in some way.
“I think it’s time you told us who the male Druid from Torrachilty Forest is,” Fallon said.
Ramsey slowly sat up from his reclining position. “You said you trusted me.”
“And we do. I’d feel much better if I knew who the Druid was.”
“He’ll be there,” Ramsey vowed.
Saffron had been witness to enough tension between her parents while her father had still been alive to become uncomfortable in the silence that followed.
It was Camdyn who broke the quiet. “We all know Deirdre put Charlie here as a spy. We’ve no idea how much information she obtained before Arran killed him, but the simple fact of the matter is, we’ve waited centuries to kill this bitch.”
“I agree,” Logan said with a gleam in his eye.
Ian nodded. “I’m eager to end her once and for all.”
Larena, her hand atop Fallon’s, said, “It won’t be over then. We’ll have Declan.”
“One villain is better than two,” Quinn stated with a shrug.
Marcail worried her bottom lip with her teeth a moment before she said, “We need to find the spell to bind the gods inside you Warriors. If I had remembered it all before Deirdre tried to kill me then—”
“Shh,” Quinn said as he took her in his arms and kissed the top of his wife’s head. “We’ll find a way.”
“And if not, my magic will keep all those mortal immortal inside this shield,” Isla said as Hayden took her hand.
Aiden slammed his hand on the table. “And what if we doona want to stay in the castle? What if we want to see the world?”
Saffron looked from Aiden to his parents, Quinn and Marcail. Saffron could see the apprehension in Marcail’s turquoise eyes and the resignation in Quinn’s green ones.
“I’ve only asked that you wait until Deirdre, and now Declan, are ended before you leave,” Quinn said.
Aiden’s jaw clenched, the muscle ticking. “I’ll wait. But as soon as they’re dead I’m leaving. I doona care what evil suddenly springs up. I’m tired of being caged.”
Saffron looked down at her hands to find they were clasped together tightly. A similar conversation between her and her parents had occurred years ago when she had wanted to see the world while her parents wanted her to begin college in Colorado immediately.
“Saffron?” called a male voice she recognized as Galen’s.
Her head snapped up to find every eye on her. “Yes?”
“Are you all right?” Galen asked.
She swallowed and forced a smile, a smile she had learned early on in her life to call up when necessary. “I’m fi ne.”
One of Lucan’s dark brows rose in response. “We’ve been calling your name for quite some time, lass.”
Saffron licked her lips as embarrassment washed over her. “Apologies. I was . . . somewhere else for a moment. What is it that you need?”
“Have you had any visions?” Fallon asked.
She cleared her throat softly and found an interesting spot on the table to stare at as she said, “No.”
Using her thumbnail, Saffron outlined the knot in the wood over and over as she listened to everyone speak of the stone circle. She had been unconscious when they’d learned they needed to go to the Orkney Islands to find Laria. So she sat and listened, blending into the background.
Her stomach grumbled, reminding her it had been hours since she had last eaten. Saffron rose and quietly walked to the kitchen and got some eggs, sausage, and biscuits out of the refrigerator. She had turned on the stove and was cracking the eggs when Fiona walked into the kitchen.
“Would you like some help?” the Druid asked.
Saffron smiled. “That would be nice.”
They worked in silence for several moments before Saffron asked, “Do you regret spending all these centuries in the castle as you watched the world change around you?”
“Nay,” Fiona said without looking up from cooking the sausage. “My priority was keeping Braden alive at all costs. With Deirdre out there, our only chance was here in the castle where everyone welcomed us. Thanks to Isla’s magic, Braden was able to mature while I didn’t age. It was more than I could have hoped for, especially since I have very little magic.”
“And now Braden isn’t aging.”
Fiona glanced at Saffron and grinned. “Aye. There are times I see him staring from the battlements. He’s been out in the world several times with Aiden, and I know both of them want to see what else is out there. They want to visit the places they see on the Telly. And they want their own women and families.”
“But you’ve kept him here.”
“Never. I was made to stay in our village near Loch Awe. Reaghan was also kept there, though for a different reason.
Still, she will attest to how the elders manipulated us into staying when all we wanted to do was leave. Braden has stayed here because he wants to help.”
Saffron poured the eggs into the pan, remembering her own desires to see the world. After college she had done just that. She’d had the time of her life until Declan found her.
“Do you think we can really end Deirdre?” Fiona asked.
Saffron began to scramble the eggs. “Everyone has worked tirelessly to attain the artifacts needed to awaken Laria. Some have even lost their lives. So, yes, I do think they can awaken Deirdre’s sister.” She paused and looked at Fiona. “Then it’ll be up to Laria to kill Deirdre.”
“Aye,” Fiona said with a sigh. “What about Declan? I’ve heard so many things about him.”
Saffron found herself squeezing the handle of the spatula. “Declan is mine to kill.”
Out of the corner of her eye she saw the way Fiona’s head jerked toward her, but Saffron didn’t care. After what Declan did, after the life he had taken from her, she would make him pay.
“That smells delicious,” Gwynn said as she checked the biscuits in the oven. “Reaghan said Galen already raided the kitchen this morning, but he’s hungry again.”
Fiona laughed as the sausage began to sizzle in the skillet. “Galen is always hungry.”
It didn’t take long to finish cooking the meal and the others to take it out to the great hall. Saffron felt something in her head shift, a warning that a vision was on its way.
She leaned her hands against the counter and took a deep breath as she closed her eyes. Throughout her life she’d always had visions. Some were so horrific they would leave her with nightmares, and some brought a smile to her face.
Always the visions were about someone other than herself. Not once had she had a vision about her own future. Nor could she call up the visions on her own.
They came and went like the wind. And normally they came to her when she least expected them.
But more than that, she was tired of people wanting her because she was a Seer. It was the reason Declan had sought her out. The MacLeods might have saved her, but they had seen the wisdom of having a Seer on their side.
Until her blindness had been reversed, Saffron had been powerless to leave. Now she could, but in order to kill Declan she would need the help of those at the castle. So while they were using her, she was using them.
Just when she thought the vision would wait, it slammed into her mind. She heard screams echoing in her head and blood coated the walls. A woman fought against a man who held her back against his chest.
“Where is she?”
Saffron’s eyes flew open as Declan’s voice reverberated in her mind: The images faded, and she felt herself falling.
Suddenly, strong arms were around her and she inhaled the scent of cedar, sizzling power, and man.
She knew it was him without opening her eyes. His scent, the way he held her. There wasn’t another man in all the world who could come close to Camdyn MacKenna.
“I’ve got you,” he whispered close to her ear so no one else could hear.
He alone knew how her body shook after a vision, and how weak she became. He knew because he was always there, always ready to catch her should she fall.
A girl could certainly get used to that, and Saffron feared she’d already become used to it. The thought frightened her. Yet, instead of pulling away, she clung to him as much as her shaky arms allowed.
With one of his hands splayed on her back holding her close against his rock-hard chest, Saffron rested her face in the crook of his neck as his other hand held the back of her head.
She might feel weak, but in Camdyn’s arms she knew nothing could harm her. And after all she’d endured with Declan, she was amazed that she could feel that way.
“What was the vision?” Gwynn asked, her Texas accent coming through thick with emotion.
Saffron’s heart pounded as she lifted her head to look at Gwynn. “It was Declan.”
Without a word Gwynn walked to her and put her hand on Saffron’s arm. Gwynn and Logan had had their own run-in with Declan that had nearly cost both of them their lives. Gwynn’s father had also been recruited by Declan to translate a magical book, and he hadn’t survived.
Saffron held on to Camdyn long after she should have released him. Camdyn didn’t move, he simply held her as footsteps approached the kitchen and Danielle appeared. Dani paused, and then rushed to her.
The three of them were the only ones from the U.S. Gwynn was from Texas, Danielle from Florida before she came to live in Scotland after her parents’ death, and Saffron from Colorado.
“What did you see?” Dani urged.
Saffron shivered as she recalled the hard sound of Declan’s voice, and Camdyn’s arms tightened a fraction around her. She rested her head on his chest and closed her eyes as she thought over the vision.
“Declan is looking for someone. Or he will look for her. I don’t know her name, or why he wants her,” she said and opened her eyes. “But I felt his need to find her, and it was great.”
Gwynn leaned back and rubbed her hands up and down her arms.
“Declan’s magic is gone,” Dani added. “I know because I pulled it from you.”
“No one can touch you here,” Camdyn said, his deep voice filling the kitchen.
Saffron nodded and tried to believe their words, but it was difficult when she knew in her gut that things with Declan were just beginning.
She looked up and her eyes met Camdyn’s dark chocolate eyes. He looked only at her, his gaze penetrating, probing. Utterly captivating.
“You’re safe.” His voice was smooth and deep. The timbre of it made her blood heat.
And her heart race.
Dani cleared her throat and grabbed the basket of biscuits. “I think we need to take the rest of the food out to the others.”
Camdyn took a step back and dropped his arms from around Saffron. “Are you all right?”
Saffron licked her lips and nodded. Camdyn frowned and turned on his heel and left.
“That’s a strange one,” Gwynn said.
Dani shrugged. “Not so strange. Just . . . quiet and withdrawn. I think there’s more to him than anyone realizes.”
Saffron merely watched his retreat without adding to the conversation, because she knew there was much more to Camdyn.
Copyright © 2012 by Donna Grant
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Liz Maverick writes paranormal romance, YA and contemporary comedies from a rather small apartment in Brooklyn. She loves to connect with readers, so give her a shout on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lizmaverickcentral and be sure to sign up for her super-fun romance newsletter.
Bestselling, award-winning author 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. Her latest acclaimed series, Dark Sword, features 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 three cats in Texas.