Authors: Donna Grant
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For Monique Patterson.
Brilliant editor and valued partner.
As always my thanks goes first to my fabulous editor, Monique Patterson. I’m so very blessed to be working with such a wonderful person, and talented editor.
To Holly Blanck, Paul Hochman, Anne Marie Tallberg, and everyone at St. Martin’s who helped get this book ready, thank you. Also a shout-out to the awesome gals at Heroes & Heartbreakers—Liz, Megan, and Heather.
To my extraordinary agent, Amy Moore-Benson. Thank you!
A special note to Syd Gill. Thanks for everything you do. You make my life easier, and for that, I owe you so very much.
To my kiddos, parents, and brother—A writer makes sacrifices when writing, but so does the writer’s family. Thanks for picking up the slack, knowing when I’m on deadline that I might not remember conversations, and for not minding having to repeat things.
And to my husband, Steve, my real-life hero. Thank you for the love you’ve given me, for the laughter you brought into my life, our beautiful children, and the happily ever after I always dreamed of. I love you, Sexy!
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
made Saffron shiver. Deirdre and Declan were
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
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?”