Table of Contents
“A complex, mysterious, and very satisfying story!”
“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!”
“A dark and passionate romance with the literary brilliance ofThe Time Traveler’s Wife.
—Kathryne Kennedy, author of
Enchanting the Beast
“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
“Celtic fans will enjoy this trip into the Irish mists, which had plenty of legends and mystical visions. ”
“A complex story with lifelike characters, seductive passion, and . . . a wonderful dash of magical mystery. Vivid and breathtaking . . .Haunting Beauty
is a book that you won’t want to put down and leaves you breathless for more. The twists and turns Ms. Quinn throws you throughout the story suck you right in, right until the very end.”
(Top Pick, 4½ stars)
“An intricately woven story where each day is touched by magic . . . Filled with fascinating characters, wonderful detail, and the beautiful scenery of Ireland. Readers will be drawn in right from the start. I would recommend this book to fans of paranormal romance that enjoy mystical elements and edge-of-your-seat suspense.”
Berkley Sensation titles by Erin Quinn
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
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 © 2010 by Erin Grady.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions. BERKLEY® SENSATION and the “B” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Berkley Sensation trade paperback edition / May 2010
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Quinn, Erin, 1963 -
Haunting warrior / Erin Quinn.
eISBN : 978-1-101-18756-2
1. Dreams—Fiction. I. Title.
This one is for my readers with heartfelt thanks for your support, your
letters, and your friendship. You know who you are, and I am truly
blessed that my journey has crossed paths with yours!
I would like to thank my wonderful editor, Kate Seaver, and incredible agent, Paige Wheeler, for their support and encouragement. I am so lucky to be working with you both.
Much gratitude goes to fellow authors Lynn Coulter and Kathryne Kennedy for early feedback on this novel and most of all for their friendship. Thanks to my sister, Bev Moriarty, and my mom, Betty Grady, for working their butts off at my launch party (and to Dad, who put up with all that female chatter for hours on end). Thank you Judi Barker for more things than I can list. Rebecca Goude, Julie Mahler, Jennifer Springer, and Jodi Springer, I send thanks for your proofreading skills and catching my million and one typos. Calista Fox and Sherri Knauss,
, for the girls’ nights that keep me sane.
And a special thanks to Sue Grimshaw of Borders Books, who has been incredibly supportive of me and my career! Words cannot express my appreciation!
URRY, Ruairi. Hurry.”
The whispered command tickled the inside of Rory MacGrath’s ear, featherlight and taunting. He brushed it away and rolled over, trying to block out what he instantly knew. It was the dream again—the one that felt too real to be just a dream. In a moment he would open his eyes and find the woman standing beside him. He wouldn’t know if she was flesh or fantasy, wouldn’t be able to distinguish imagined from reality. Not even in the morning.
He acknowledged this, tried to convince himself that he didn’t believe her to be more than a projection of his own mind. A fantasy he’d conjured and spewed into this semisomnolence. He felt his heartbeat begin to race, his breath slow and deepen—combatant symptoms to the paralyzing awareness.
He thought he opened his eyes, but couldn’t be sure anymore. Either way, he saw her waiting impatiently beside the couch where he’d fallen asleep watching ESPN. The apartment was dark, lit only by the flickering screen of the TV behind her. It cast her in gray and white, dreamscape shadows. Then the flashing screen went blank and they were both bathed in darkness.
This—of all that was about to come—it was
that he hated the most. The black-on-black void held him captive for interminable moments.
Sound came before the light was restored. It was rumbling, indistinct, but a sensory input that his panicking mind grasped gratefully. There was something out there. Something more than his fear. More than his sleep-deadened body.
A flicker heralded the flame of a candle. An instant later others sparked to life until boundaries of a room could be determined in the glow. He was no longer in his apartment.
He scanned his surroundings quickly before fixating on the woman again. It was impossible not to. She looked the same as she had last night and the night before and the night before that. She had dark hair—too burnished for black, too velvety rich for brown. It was full and silken and glossy as mink. It hung to her waist in a wave of body and bounce, gleaming with the flicker of the candlelight. Her eyes were brown, as dark as her glorious hair. They burned like the tiny flickering flames around her. Even his dream-self couldn’t believe their luminescence. Her lips were full and soft, one corner caught between her teeth. She looked exotic, her skin dusky and her features fine.
She wore a blue dress with white sleeves—something that laced in places where there should have been seams or zippers. It bloused and flowed over her round shoulders, past hips that made him think of sex in a deep, drowning way. The hem brushed a scattering of twigs and straw on the floor. Not even her feet peeped out.
She stood in the center of a room with three stone walls. Behind him hung a thick woven curtain that served as the fourth. He knew it without turning to look. There was a table with a pitcher on it in the corner beside a lumpy bed covered by a scarlet blanket. The room was damp and drafty, making the tapestries on the walls billow, but the woman seemed oblivious to the cold.
As he watched, she began to untie the dress, letting it fall, revealing a white shift beneath it. The thin material silhouetted her body for a moment before she began to remove that, too. Even as some part of him shouted again that she wasn’t real, Rory succumbed to the seduction. She was every fantasy he’d ever had, ever wanted.
Her skin was so smooth and hued it might have been carved from the waxed light that made it gleam. Her breasts were full and heavy, and he felt the air leave his lungs as she bared them. She glanced up then—every time, every night, at just that moment, almost as if she’d heard him. Her cheeks were flushed. Her eyes defiant. Anger bordering on rage filled their depths. So much of the dream made no sense, but that part—that look of fury mixed with consent—it bewildered him the most.