Excerpt


She was a witch.

Brodie Maxwell sat on one corner of the bed and watched blearily as his wife approached, a cup held carefully before her. A witch. It explained everything.

"Drink it," he ordered.

Deirdre Maxwell glanced from the cup in her hand to her husband's face. "Sure, I didn't get it for myself. 'Tis the mulled ale you asked for."

"You've put something in it," Brodie said with drunken certainty as he rose unsteadily to his feet, one hand moving to the dagger at his belt.

"Of course I haven't!"

Her eyes met his, dark brows slightly raised, the very picture of innocent surprise. Clever witch. That's what she was. What she'd been from the first, when she enspelled him on the windswept cliffs of Donegal four years ago.

She had made him promises. Oh, not in words, for she had barely spoken to him during their brief courtship. But her eyes—so blue, so clear and yet so distant—her eyes had held depth upon depth of mystery and promise. Her mouth had curved in a secret smile that hinted of ecstasy to come.

Lies, it had been, all lies. She had given him nothing but her body, unwillingly at that. From their joyless mating he'd gotten but one puling girl-child and nothing since.

Who knew what black arts she had used to win him. Had been using since to shrivel his manhood. What potions she'd been slipping into his ale.

The dagger flashed and the point just touched the white skin of her throat.

"Brodie, whatever are you doing? What's come over you tonight?"

"Drink it," he snarled.

One shoulder moved in the slightest of shrugs. And there it was again, the elusive quality that had once entranced him and now drove him to helpless rage. In a single gesture she dismissed him, as though she was so far above him that nothing he said or did could ever truly touch her. He didn't take his eyes from her as she finished every drop and lowered the cup. Then he stepped back and sheathed the dagger.

"All right, then."

"Are you well, husband?"  Her voice held just the right touch of concern. Oh, she played her part ably enough when it suited her, but he wasn't taken in. 'Twas well known a true witch could not feel love. But even a witch could bear a son, and by God, he'd have that much from her.

He grabbed her arm and pulled her hard against him. Ah, he'd finally reached her. The fear springing to her eyes sent a thrill of excitement racing through his veins.

"Oh, I'm well, wife," he said.

Her slender body stiffened, as though she braced herself against a blow. She'd had blows from him before—well earned, every one of them—but tonight he had other plans.

He released her and walked to the flagon—one he'd fetched himself—and poured, draining the mazer in thirsty gulps. When it was finished, he poured himself another. God knew a man needed something to warm his blood if he was to take this bony, whey-faced witch to bed.

But take her to his bed he would. Tonight was Beltane Eve, and even if Brodie was in name a Christian, he was still half pagan in his heart. Tonight he would beget a son. And then he would rid himself of the witch he'd married, lest she taint the boy who would one day be his heir.

Deirdre Maxwell watched her husband drain the second mazer, then bent her head to hide the relief in her eyes. Brodie thought himself so clever, but he was truly a great fool. What she had brought him was just ale, nothing more or less.

It was the flagon she had drugged.

Banished from his clan, Alistair Kirallen is barely surviving, sustained only by his need to avenge his foster-brother's death—until a vision shows him the one woman who can change his destiny. Deirdre Maxwell, trapped in brutal marriage, is sure the man she encountered on Beltane Eve cannot be real—until she meets her husband's new swordsman. Alistair may be the man of her dreams, but the grim reality of Deirdre's life leaves her no room for fantasy. Alistair's courage—and his honor— will be tested to the breaking point as he fights to win a future for them both.

"Readers who adore strong, daring men who need love to heal their wounds will be more than satisfied with LAIRD OF THE MIST. The sheer strength of the storytelling, three-dimensional characters and touch of mysticism is all you could desire. "                   – Romantic Times 


Laird of the Mist

The Borderlands Trilogy: Book 2