Authors: Erin Quinn
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #General
Table of Contents
“A complex, mysterious, and very satisfying story!”
New York Times
bestselling author of
An Echo in the Bone
“Absorbing and seductive, mysterious and fantastic—
is a satisfying treat.”
M. J. Rose, bestselling author of
is an intriguing, highly absorbing book that sucked me in and didn’t let me go until its amazing conclusion. I was completely swept away by the mystery, the magical ambience, the vivid setting, and the chilling and original plot. A highly recommended must-read!”
bestselling author of
The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
“A dark and passionate romance with the literary brilliance of
The Time Traveler’s Wife.
—Kathryne Kennedy, author of
“Erin Quinn weaves a mystical tale of intrigue and seduction…The imagery is breathtaking, and the prose is beautiful and authentic… You live the story, not just read it.”
—Calista Fox, author of
Object of Desire
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This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2009 by Erin Grady.
All rights reserved.
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BERKLEY® SENSATION and the “B” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Berkley Sensation trade paperback edition / August 2009
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Quinn, Erin, 1963-
Haunting beauty / Erin Quinn.—Berkley Sensation trade paperback ed.
eISBN : 978-1-101-12908-1
1. Clairvoyants—Fiction. 2. Americans—Ireland—Fiction. 3. Domestic fiction.
For my beautiful, intelligent, and practically perfect daughters,
Hailey and Taylor. You put the light in the sky.
A book never writes itself, and getting a novel into the hands of readers is a collaborative effort. I would like to thank my editor, Kate Seaver at Berkley, for falling in love with
and helping to bring it to the bookshelves. It’s been a pleasure working with you.
As always, I must thank fellow author, best critique partner in the world, and cherished friend, Lynn Coulter. I couldn’t make this journey without you.
I should be drawn and quartered if I forget to mention my partners in crime (please don’t ask which crimes because we’ll never tell) who have supported me in my endeavors, listened when I cried, and cheered when I succeeded. Your support and friendship are priceless (alphabetically): Jennifer Ashley, Sylvia Day, Calista Fox, Wendy Hood, Kathryne Kennedy, Sherri Knauss, Mary Leo, Cathy McDavid, Mackenzie McKade, Cassie Ryan, and Susan Squires. And a very special thanks to Diana Gabaldon for taking time out of a breakneck schedule to read
and give a wonderful endorsement quote. Howard Carron of the Maricopa Library District must be thanked as well for all of his support of local authors—especially me. He’s been wonderful, and I feel fortunate to have met him.
Judi Barker, Rebecca Goude, Betty Grady, and Julie Mahler all read first drafts of
and provided valuable feedback—mucho thanks. Ceaira Grady, niece and biggest fan, has my appreciation for all of her encouragement—it means more than you know. Much gratitude goes out to Kevin Graham of Intel for helping me harness the power of the universe and Caroline Curran for sharing all things Irish.
And last but never least, my wonderful, supportive husband, Rick. Twenty years and it only feels like a lifetime (*grin*). Seriously, I still love you as much as I did the day I said, “I do.”
I am truly blessed to have such amazing people in my life.
HE man came to her just before dawn.
Danni had awoken with a start a few moments earlier, tangled in her bedding, unsure of what had pulled her from sleep. The inky blackness outside pressed against her windows, a dark entity that wanted to creep in and take over. Uneasy, she crawled from bed and shuffled to the kitchen for coffee.
That’s when she felt the air turn.
It plunged in a silent, cold force that made her ears ring and her stomach sink. Like a latent memory, the sensation of it was suddenly there, filling her head—familiar and frightening, pressure and relief. She knew it; she feared it. She
it, though what the turning air heralded escaped her.
She spun to find the man waiting behind her. Tall, with broad shoulders and the layered muscles of a warrior, he leaned against her counter. As if it was perfectly natural for him to be there. As if he really
in her kitchen.
Dark brows and long black lashes emphasized the unusual color of his eyes—not quite green, not quite gray. Eyes like the sea, relentless and deep. A straight, blunt nose gave balance to his full lips and square jaw. There was a harsh and rugged edge to his features that flawed his beauty and made it something masculine, something more compelling than simple aesthetics. He wore a black leather coat over a crisp white shirt and jeans that tapered from lean hips to long legs. Not just tall. Not just broad. A big man.
He watched her, assessing and judging her with the same weighted concentration she gave him. She felt self-conscious in her faded
Save the Children
T-shirt and pink boxers, which was ridiculous—he wasn’t really here.
Danni knew it, but the knowledge didn’t stop her stomach from knotting with uncertainty and fear.
She sloshed coffee over the edge of her mug as she set it down. She would have dropped it if she held it any longer. The man interpreted this as acquiescence and began. Sometimes it was like that, she remembered. Sometimes they seemed to take Danni with them, like tour guides on a ghostly journey. Other times they were completely unaware they’d unraveled the fibers of reality and forced Danni to peer in at them.
When she’d been a child, the visits—the visions—had been frequent and exciting. The plunging turn of the air had felt like flying to her. But the visions had stopped so long ago she’d forgotten they’d ever happened at all.
, she corrected herself. She hadn’t forgotten—she’d wiped the experiences from her memory with purposeful precision, because only the crazy saw people and things that weren’t real.
But here it was happening again. Why? Why
after all these years?
The man took a step away, gesturing for her to follow as the familiar kitchen walls behind his broad shoulders vanished and, like a painting created before her very eyes, a stark landscape appeared in their place. The image had fuzzy edges and a grainy texture, but it breathed in a lifelike way, just as the man did.
It seemed so real.
A patchwork quilt of vivid greens, earthy browns, and heavy pewter spread out unendingly. Danni frowned, trying to put a name to the place. Did she know it? Had she seen it before? The man crossed from the pale kitchen tile to a spongy turf that should have left footprints but, of course, didn’t. His steps were as unreal as his presence. Reluctantly, Danni went with him.
It felt like they walked for some time, but she knew they’d never left her kitchen. Still, the frosty cold of the earth against her feet, the wintry wind on her face, and the damp mist clinging to her hair and scant clothing chilled her to the bone. The sensations were crisp and visceral and frightening.
She followed the man across a valley to a destination she couldn’t fathom. The sky above them grumbled and rolled in bleak shades of slate and steel. It seeped down to lush emerald pastures and saturated the air with freezing dampness. The brisk wind carried the spice of sea salt as it tormented the many-limbed alders and bandied with the stranger’s long leather coat and short cropped hair. She could hear waves crashing somewhere close.
Where are you taking me?
He paused and looked back at her as if she’d spoken out loud. There was something in his eyes as he stared. A longing. A need. Her heart thumped painfully at the echo it dragged from inside her. Who was this man? Why did she feel as if she should know him?
They reached the edge of a precipice hanging out over the churning sea. A footpath cut a sharp trail down the side. Even as she prayed he’d turn away from it, the man started down the steep slope. His long legs covered the distance easily as he descended, but Danni had to scramble to keep up—certain a deadly plunge was in her future, not so clear on what that might mean. If she died in a vision, would it be for real?
The sounds of the tide thundering relentlessly were louder now, and she smelled the sharp scent of brine. She sensed something big looming high up to her left, but didn’t know if it was real or imagined and couldn’t turn to look back.