Plight of the Highlander (The MacLomain Series: Next Generation Book 5) (2 page)

BOOK: Plight of the Highlander (The MacLomain Series: Next Generation Book 5)
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When his eyes slid her way, she didn’t shy away from his questioning gaze. Yet he soon sensed there were others nearby. Skilled, stealthy warriors, they were part of Valan’s band of assassins. Cloaked in Torra and Grant’s magic, Colin and the others were well masked from harm. Regardless, like the other men he kept a firm grasp on his weapon.

Suddenly, the MacLomain Laird ran from the cave with a lass in his arms. Colin couldn’t help but be impressed with the warrior’s skills at evading all the weaponry being thrust at him. In short time, he’d vanished into the woods as had the assassins.

Most of them.

One man was heading into the cave.

“Now. Quickly,” Torra said. “Kill him then we need to get to Valan.”

Grant took the lead, his dagger through the side of the warrior’s neck a breath before he realized they were there.

“Hurry,” Torra urged.

All followed her into the cave. Colin flinched at Valan’s still body. The MacLomain had dealt him a good one. Fatal to be sure.

“Colin, please keep an eye to the forest while we do this,” Torra said.

Weapon ready, he heeded her request. It seemed, however, that all were in pursuit of their renegade assassin. Meanwhile, Torra touched Valan’s head. As she did so, she touched Sheila, who in turn touched Valan while she put her ring to Grant’s mark. The others all did the same until white fog started to swirl around them.

The magic of the dragon.

Alarmed, Colin watched as it engulfed Torra, pouring from her mouth and eyes as it wrapped around the Hamilton. First the fallen assassin’s hand twitched, then a leg. With a deep gulp of air, he sat up abruptly.

All stumbled back as he blinked and gasped, “Bloody MacLomain!”

No sooner had Valan said such when his eyes locked on Grant and widened before swinging slowly to Colin. Only four damning words came from his lips before Torra’s magic swamped all and they traveled through time once more.

“Death to you both.”

Chapter Two

 

The Broun Castle

East Lothian

875

 

“If any of ye makes a move I’ll see yer cock cut off.”

“‘Tis good then that I dinnae have a cock,” Torra said, eyes on Iosbail MacLomain or as she was known in this time, Iosbail Broun. “We mean no harm. I am kin from your future.” Now to appeal directly to the wizard. “Look into my mind to see the truth of it. We are here so that you might stay one step ahead of your brother, Adlin MacLomain.”

This, it seemed, was exactly the right thing to say.

Iosbail’s eyes glowed softly as she looked at Torra. Within moments, she tossed back her head and released a full, throaty laugh. Meanwhile, Torra prepared for the worst but hoped for the best.

As she suspected might happen, the minute Valan adjusted to his surroundings he lunged first at Colin and seethed at Grant. “Bloody bastards.”

“Och, nay.” Iosbail shook her head and flung out her hands. Under the weight of her magic, Valan plunked back down on his arse.

“Where’s Cadence?” Malcolm growled at the same time Leslie said, “Where the hell is Bradon?”

“Back at the Hamilton castle with the MacLomains,” Torra said gently. She looked at Malcolm. “Cadence and your wee bairn will be safer there and your chieftain needs her ability to speak with Adlin beyond the grave.” Then she looked at Leslie. “Bradon needs to be with his brother to lend support as they prepare to attack.”

The only couple who had stayed together here was Grant and Sheila. She owed both a debt of gratitude and wouldn’t see the two separated having so soon come together. Besides, Grant needed to be around his brother Malcolm and Sheila would do better having Leslie near, even if the two were quick to bicker. Not to mention, it was important that Iosbail and Leslie meet in this time period.

“I seriously don’t like this,” Leslie said.

“Nor I,” Malcolm grumbled, expression dark.

When Iosbail quirked a brow at Torra, she was quick to introduce all who were with her.

Including Colin and Valan.

Torra had yet to make eye contact with either. The gods knew it would be a volatile thing bringing them back together, but she had no choice. Mayhap while here at the Broun castle they would all be able to step back from their intertwined pasts and find forgiveness.

It didn’t help any that she’d loved Valan before she met Colin.

Iosbail made a study of everyone before her firm voice rang out. “All are welcome in my castle if ‘tis peace you mean to keep.” Her eyes went from Grant to Colin then to Valan. “Otherwise, ‘twill be by my blade and magic that you meet your end.”

An immortal wizard born of Ireland, few were stronger than Iosbail Broun.

Except for Iosbail’s brother, Adlin, who all but birthed the MacLomain clan.

“Come, you arrive on the Beltane,” Iosbail said. “I will see you settled first then we will talk further.”

But she knew well that Iosbail didn’t need to ask much having been inside Torra’s mind. Yet one with dragon blood was powerful indeed. Torra had not let her see everything. Not the longstanding rivalry Iosbail would have with the Sinclair clan or her eventual love for King Alexander Sinclair. Some parts of history or the future in this case, must happen as they would.

Torra eyed the Broun castle as they crossed a meadow. Built with wood, it was considerably smaller than the MacLomain’s but held a certain charm Adlin’s castle never would.

But her eyes weren’t on the castle long.

Instead, they were flickering discreetly between the men striding along either side of her.

Leave it to her to have desired such tall men when she was so slight of stature. Where Valan had inherited his Da’s swarthy dark looks, Colin was his lighter counterpart. Though Keir Hamilton’s very nature had decayed his appearance, his son still held the glow of youth. With dark brown, near obsidian eyes and striking features, he was never without admirers.

Yet he’d never been able to rival Colin MacLeod.

Though the years had hardened Colin some, it only lent to his fierce handsomeness. With well-formed lips, a straight nose, strong jaw and high cheekbones, the MacLeod Laird was the sort who truly made a lass feel feminine. Sun-streaked and thick, his hair was accentuated by eyes surely given to him by the gods. Coloring with his emotions, they’d go from the shade of a deep, dark thundercloud when angry to sunlit ignited fog when happy. Only when truly impassioned would they become the color of fire on freshly sharpened steel.

As if he sensed her thoughts, Colin’s eyes cut to hers as they walked. Torra looked away but not before her gaze slid down his well-muscled body and then over the large tattoo Keir Hamilton had marked him with on his bicep and shoulder.

The tattoo.

She closed her eyes briefly and sighed. Keir had stolen a slice of her essence when she’d time-traveled to meet with Colin. Using such he’d sought out the MacLeod and marked him with a depiction of Torra herself. Mixed with Keir’s dark magic, the mark would always draw them to one another. So it became a tool the Hamilton used to lure.

Iosbail again reiterated what she’d said before as they walked over the drawbridge. “No strife within these walls or ‘twill be hell to pay.”

Torra swore Valan and Colin both huffed, but she didn’t dare look at either.

“You will bathe, change, then join my clan in celebration,” Iosbail declared.

There might be a chieftain about if Iosbail married one, but she would always rule the Brouns as long as she was here. As such, her words were final. “I already have chambers being prepared but first,” she made a flourish at the men and then the armory, “Go choose your weapons for the evening’s festivities. If ye make to attack each other even once, yer no longer welcome.”

Then her attention turned to the women. “I will show you to your chambers.”

Torra gave a small smile and nodded, amused at how Iosbail’s accent fluctuated in accordance to her company. It was something all Scots with magic tended to do when around those from the far future. A balance between how they normally spoke to a dialect designed to make the women from the twenty-first century feel more comfortable.

The courtyard was decently sized with kitchens located before the armory and stables alongside the warrior’s quarters. Like the MacLomain castle, the Broun stairs led to the front door and opened into the main hall. Instead of two sets of stairs running up either side, only one set ran up the left side and the great hearth sat in the opposite corner. Torra eyed the way a tunnel of wood had been built just above the fire up to a small hole in the ceiling to release smoke.

Iosbail winked at her as they walked. “‘Tis a good way to keep the smoke from filling the hall.”

No doubt. Torra couldn’t help but smile. In this, Iosbail had beaten out Adlin’s grandson, Iain MacLomain with his similar way of using stone to do the same. But she imagined Adlin and Iosbail had long been competing with such small, albeit ingenious inventions within their clans.

Torra looked down on the great hall as they walked across the first landing. The tapestries were all nautical in design. It seemed Iosbail liked the water. About ten long trestle tables were already being covered with food and drink. Fresh rushes had been laid and fifty or so torches burned.

They didn’t go far before Iosbail started ushering the others into their chambers. The Broun wizard then led Torra up a winding set of stairs into one of only four towers in the castle. But towers were her usual place of residence so she wasn’t overly surprised.

As if Iosbail sensed her line of thinking she finally stopped at the door to a small chamber. “‘Tis best, is it not, that you are separate from the others?”

Since she’d been twelve winter’s old she had been separate from everyone so understood. Did it make it any easier? Nay. “It seems you think so, Iosbail and are you not in charge of this clan?”

Iosbail’s blue eyes met hers not with sympathy but sternness. “Dinnae seek compassion from me, lass. I love ye good and true as ye are my kin.” Her eyes narrowed a scant fraction. “But till we’ve more time to know one another better ye’ll stay where I can keep a close eye on ye, aye?”

Torra gave a sharp nod. “Aye.”

Where Adlin MacLomain was one sort of person, his sister was another entirely. Not that she was bad, certainly not, just far more cautious. Her life had led her down a different path. Where Adlin was quick to smile and joke, his sister was quick to be rambunctious and not mean nearly half of what came from her mouth…including the laughter. Was she inherently kind? Absolutely. Was she also angry at something in her past? Aye.

Torra watched Iosbail walk away. A truly beautiful woman, her long wavy black hair was glorious. Very few were as exquisite as Adlin’s sister. Yet she’d never acted vain. If anything, the Broun matriarch seemed more focused on practicality and whatever else plagued her magical conscience. She didn’t entirely blame Iosbail for her caution and mayhap even trepidation.

After all, Torra was part dragon.

The magic burning within her was something undefinable to most…even those with powerful magic. And now because she’d looked inside Torra’s mind, Iosbail had a much better understanding of the part she herself would play. A part that was so important it would make all of this possible.

Still, it was hard seeing someone she’d come to care so much for treat her so distantly.

Swallowing hard, Torra turned to a chamber not all that different from the one she’d had at the MacLomain castle. Comfortable with one window, a hearth and bed, a tub of steaming water lay waiting as well as a dress. Three torches lit the room as she removed her clothes and slid into the tub.

Yet even as she sunk into the warm water she knew she wouldn’t stay there long.

Could not.

Fire already sizzled beneath her skin. A fire she had long ago tempered.

But mayhap that was the problem. She’d spent ten winters keeping the beast at bay and now it had been freed. Now she knew what it was to spread her wings and fly. Torra leaned her head back against the basin and flexed her hands over the edge of the tub. For a moment, it seemed as though she flexed not her hands over the cool surface but her wings over the frigid air of the Atlantic.

For a split second, she flew over the whole of Scotland and felt the icy wind of the North Sea. Then she banked, always eager to stay close to kin…to Cowal…Argyll. Now that her soul was whole, even if in another time, the desire to once more become the dragon was making her skin, even her teeth ache.

Such need.

But that was not the only thing she yearned for. In the haze of reaching for the dragon within was something else altogether…or
someone
else.

Colin MacLeod.

Her eyes fluttered and though she did not open them to see the flames on the hearth, she saw clearly the fire of her past.

It had been months before her brother Colin finally returned after being gone for three winters. But the Colin she needed most was not her brother at all but the enemy, or so they thought…better yet they didn’t even know yet.

So much was kept secret.

But through it all, Torra had small moments, those that meant so much. She opened her eyes, looked at the hearth and became lost in a memory, one that consisted of the hearth in her chamber at the MacLomain castle.

On very rare occasions, Colin would visit her from within the flames. Because of the pentacle Grant had given him, that particular visit had been one of the last times she’d seen him.

“I am here,” Colin had whispered through the fire.

“Aye, my love,” she replied.

His words slipped through the fire and crackled into the air. “I love you, Torra.”

“‘Tis dangerous when you come to me this way,” she whispered, raising a hand so that she might catch his sparks.

After all, Colin MacLeod’s magic was one with fire.

His flames spun around her, touching but not scorching. Nay, they but melded and combined their heat. Torra raised her arms over her head and closed her eyes as he spiraled around her. His fire nearly had her bathwater bubbling and she smiled. Then her smile dropped. “I miss ye so.”

“Aye, lass,” he whispered as his fire swarmed around her, igniting furious, blasphemous arousal. Her legs fell apart and her chest thrust up. Because behind all the fire was a flesh and blood man.

Or at least she’d always hoped there still would be after Keir was done with him.

Her body quivered as she shut her eyes and pushed away the past. For all her desires and yearning, she and Colin had never been intimate.

Torra opened her eyes to the quiet chamber in the Broun castle. She licked her lips, eager for something denied her. Only once in all this time had the MacLeod’s lips touched hers and it had been but a swipe. Torra again ran her tongue over her lower lip and wondered how it might feel, taste, move, if it was Colin’s.

Yet even as she desired him she feared the repercussions of too much intimacy. There was no way to know what would happen if she lay with him. For far too long she’d wondered and worried. What would happen if she lost her virginity to him? Would the dragon inside her destroy him? The fear plagued her and was half the reason she had never allowed more than the briefest of kisses.

BOOK: Plight of the Highlander (The MacLomain Series: Next Generation Book 5)
2.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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