Read an Excerpt
Midnight's Promise: Part 2
By Donna Grant
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2013 Donna Grant
All rights reserved.
Evie let the stones' words soak in before she started walking again. There had to be more to the story, more to why the stones had such a hatred for Malcolm to call him a betrayer.
Not that either Malcolm or the stones would tell her the truth.
Evie wandered the long corridors without asking the stones anything else about Malcolm. They in turn said no more about him. It was a truce of sorts.
But how she wanted to know more. Regardless of how dangerous she knew it could be, there was something about Malcolm Munro she couldn't leave alone.
It was that curiosity she had been plagued with since birth. It had already gotten her into an awful mess, but Malcolm was ... different. His scars notwithstanding, he was an enigma she wanted to solve.
She came across many chambers. Most were small with dark stains on the floor. Evie had a distinct feeling those stains were blood. She didn't stay in those rooms long.
Somehow, she made it back to the cavern she'd seen days before. Except this time she was looking up at the balcony. A look around the spacious area showed her broken tables and benches strewn about.
It looked as if someone had come in and destroyed everything with a wrecking ball. Or something incredibly strong.
"Like Warriors," she whispered.
There was a loud crack behind her. Evie whirled around to see a section of the floor dropping down. She walked to it and looked into what appeared to be caves on either side of a wide area.
"What is this?" she asked the stones.
"The Pit. Veryyyyyyy useful for Deirdre."
"How?" she asked with a shudder. What light came through wasn't enough to see more than the outline of openings on either wall beneath her.
"It was used to break Warriors to her will."
Well. She'd asked, after all. "Were the MacLeods held here?"
"Aye. Quinn. Marcail ruined it all."
Now that wasn't something she'd expected to hear. "How? How did Marcail ruin things?"
Never mind the fact the stones confirmed a MacLeod brother had been held there. That alone made her heart thud against her ribs.
"Deirdre wanted Quinn for herself. He should've been herssssss."
"Yeah, well, we don't always get what we want. So Quinn and Marcail were together?"
"Yessss. Deirdre tried to kill her. Then the others came for Quinn. They killed Deirdre's Warriors and her wyrran."
Evie straightened and swallowed. "There was a battle here?"
"Fallon and Lucan came for Quinn."
Fallon, Lucan, and Quinn MacLeod. Interesting. "You said Deirdre tried to kill Marcail. So she failed?"
"You enjoy death, don't you?"
"Deirdre was our mistressssssss."
Evie realized things were getting a bit creepy regarding Deirdre and the connection to the stones. Malcolm's warning ran through her mind, but Evie decided to remain within the mountain. She wasn't Deirdre. Nor was she evil. "What are the wyrran?"
"Creatures Deirdre created," Malcolm said from behind her.
Evie spun around in surprise. Her foot slipped on the edge. She flailed her arms wildly in an effort to keep her balance and not go falling into the Pit.
Suddenly, she was yanked against a chest of solid, unyielding muscle. Evie flattened her hands against his damp shirt and felt the heat of him, the power.
It made her quiver with longing so deep, so intense it took her breath for a moment. She looked up into azure eyes filled with ... nothing.
Not even that could dampen her attraction to him. He held her securely, gently against him. His wide, full lips were so close. All she had to do was rise up on her toes and fit her mouth against his.
What would he do? Would he push her away? Or would he return her kiss? Evie was tempted to find out. Just as she began to go up on her tiptoes, he spoke.
"You doona want to go into the Pit, Druid. You willna like what you find."
"I know," she said and tried to swallow. "The stones told me Deirdre used it to break Warriors."
She half expected him to jerk her away from him. Evie found she couldn't move. Malcolm was like a magnet, and she was the answering side of that piece of metal who had no choice but to go to him.
No matter the threat, no matter the risk.
The darkness, the mystery surrounding Malcolm only drew her nearer. It was like she was destined to encounter him, their lives intertwined in ways she couldn't begin to fathom yet.
"Are you all right?" he said in a low voice that sent chills over her skin.
"Yes." In his arms, she realized she was more than all right. She was comfortable, calm. At ease.
"Good," he said and took a step back, releasing her. "Be careful what you find in this mountain, Druid. The stones willna always be there to help you."
She watched him walk away and wanted to stamp her foot in frustration. "Infuriating, irritating man," she murmured.
* * *
Malcolm fisted his hands before he flexed them. Damn but he could still feel the Druid's softness and allure. He wanted to rub his chest where her hands had been. It was like he'd been singed his skin burned so hot.
And the devil take him, but his cock was as hard as the granite he walked on. Need, intense and stark, sizzled in his veins.
It burned him, branded him. The need made it difficult to breathe, to form a coherent thought. He was on fire. Every thought centered on a Druid he didn't dare touch, but couldn't keep his hands off of.
A Druid who would be better off if he would leave her now and never look back. But he couldn't. No matter what argument he used, he found himself staying in the hated mountain.
"Malcolm," she called from behind him.
He inwardly winced at the sweet sound of her voice. It slid over him like velvet, inviting and tantalizing. Combined with her magic that kept him in a constant state of yearning, he was surprised he could think at all.
As if she had some pull over him, Malcolm halted and waited for her to catch up. She came even with him while her hands played nervously with the strings hanging from the waist of her fuchsia sweatpants.
He tried not to look at her, but once again he found himself drowning in the depths of her clear eyes. The innocence, the purity he saw reflected there reminded him of the fiend that he was.
His nod was wooden but words wouldn't come. He looked over her head at the doorway. It was just steps away. If he could get away from her, he could calm his heated body and right his thoughts once more.
"Do you feel anything?"
Her question surprised him enough that he met her eyes. "What?"
"You heard me. Do you clamp down on your emotions to keep them hidden?"
"Nay. I have no emotions."
"Don't be a wanker," she said testily. "Of course you have emotions. It's up to you whether you show them or not."
Malcolm leaned down so that his face was even with hers. He blew out a harsh breath and glimpsed a small ringlet near her face billow out. "Doona pretend to know me, Druid. You know nothing of my life, nothing of what I've done. I'm dead inside."
He straightened and walked around her. Four more steps and he was out the door.
Just as he reached it, she said, "If you didn't feel anything, then you wouldn't be here trying to keep me from becoming what Deirdre was. And you wouldn't have saved me from falling just now."
His steps slowed, but he refused to stop. She was wrong. He knew what was inside him. A hefty measure of nothing.
And desire he couldn't shake.
Malcolm didn't stop until he was in the darkened room that had once been a prison. He threw off the soaking wet shirt and then came to a dead stop when he saw the opening that was now three times the size it had been.
No more did he have to sit in order to view the scenery. He knew exactly who was responsible. The Druid.
But why? He'd been nothing but testy and rude since he first woke her and demanded she leave. He didn't want her kindness. What did a man like him do with kindness?
He'd been hardened by a brutal attack, life-altering debilitation, and a drough who made sure his soul was knotted with hers.
Malcolm sighed and walked to the opening before stepping onto the ledge. The storm still raged, the wind lashing him like a whip. Rain pelleted him viciously, obstinately. He lifted his head to the sky and closed his eyes.
Above the storm, he heard the distinctive sound of wings. The beat was long and deep, which meant it wasn't Broc. It was a dragon.
Was the dragon here for him or enjoying the few seconds of freedom he got by taking to the skies? It didn't matter why the dragon was there. Nothing would change.
Malcolm didn't want to be concerned over her, but she was his responsibility. He had been quick to judge her. The others would likely do the same. He'd given her a chance — though a slim one — to change his mind, he wasn't sure if any of the others would.
His decision made, Malcolm released his god and jumped onto the side of the mountain. He used his claws to anchor him to the rocks as he jumped higher and higher up the mountain until he reached the top.
He let loose a bolt of lightning that extended from his hand to the next mountain. That's all it took for the beat of wings to come closer and the form of a dragon to be seen in the clouds.
A heartbeat later and the gleaming scales of a crimson dragon dove from the sky. Malcolm watched, mesmerized, at the ease of the dragon's body cutting through the rain and wind.
He was beginning to wonder if the dragon would spread his wings to land when the beast rolled into a ball as it sped closer and closer to the mountain.
Just before he would've crashed, the form of the dragon shifted and Guy landed with his legs bent and hands upon the ground. He lifted his head and shook the long hair out of his eyes before his gaze pinned Malcolm.
"Guy," he said. "I should've known."
The Dragon King stood, seemingly oblivious to the fact he stood naked in a storm. "I've been charged with babysitting you, Warrior. And I take my responsibilities seriously."
"So I see."
Guy looked around and grimaced. "Cairn Toul. This is unexpected."
"Cut the shite. You've known I've been here."
"So I have." The Dragon King crossed his arms over his chest. "Why are you here, Malcolm?"
"No' to reminisce, if that's what you think."
Malcolm glanced down at his claws. They looked as dark as blood in the flashes of lightning. He should tamp down his god, but he couldn't think of a reason why. "I'm checking this vile place to make sure there's nothing of Deirdre's that Wallace can get his hands on."
"You think there could be something here?" Guy asked, his brows drawn together.
"With Deirdre, anything is possible. Wallace is already stronger than we expected. I doona want to leave anything to chance."
Guy's chest expanded as he took a breath. "Why no' tell the others? They're concerned for you."
There was no need for Malcolm to answer that, and Guy knew it. Malcolm ran his tongue over his fangs as he regarded the Dragon King. "Who requested I be watched? Con or Fallon?"
"Does it matter?"
"Aye. Who?" he demanded.
Malcolm absorbed that for a moment. "Why would he be so interested?"
"The Warriors have always been of interest to us. We kept to ourselves for so long that I think Con is trying to make up for it now."
"By acting like an older brother? We Warriors can take care of ourselves."
"Oh, sod it, Warrior. We know that," Guy said, his voice laced with a thread of anger. "Con didna send me tonight. I needed to take to the skies. I learned you were here and wanted to have a look around."
Malcolm turned to the side and tamped down his god. It didn't matter who spied on him. It was the same as Phelan and Larena calling and texting as they did. Or the way Larena used to.
"Something on your mind, Warrior?" Guy came to stand beside him as he spoke.
Malcolm kept his gaze forward as he said, "You've been alive much longer than I."
"Aye. Do you want to know how to get through the years?"
"Something like that."
Guy held his hand out so that rain could gather in his palm. "Think of the years like this water. Some will stay in your memory forever. Others will be forgotten as soon as they occur. It's knowing which ones to cling to and which ones to let go that's tricky."
"Have you mastered it?"
"Nay. Just as looking at the years stretching ahead can be daunting. There were times I wanted everything to stop. I didna want to be here anymore. I wanted to give up. But I was charged with something important, Malcolm, and I couldna just let go."
"It would be easier if I did."
"Larena needs you."
Malcolm looked at him and comprehended that Guy was trying to be a friend. Odd that he only now realized it. A friend. The Druid asked that of him, but he hadn't given it a second's thought.
"Why?" Malcolm asked Guy. "Why are you trying to help?"
Guy smiled wryly. "Because you remind me of where I had been headed at one time."
"What stopped you?"
"We dragons can sleep for thousands of years. I took that option, and it helped to sort me out."
"I doona have that opportunity."
Guy threw back his head and laughed. "Nay, Warrior, you doona." The laughter stopped as he peered closely at Malcolm. "Something has changed."
Malcolm wasn't going to tell him about the desire or the way the Druid had him feeling things he'd forgotten.
"You can tell me," Guy urged.
"You answer to Con."
"I answer to myself. Con is my King, but I'm a King as well, Warrior. Doona forget that."
Malcolm faced the Dragon King. "No need to get riled on my account."
"You need something kept a secret, then I'll make sure it's done."
For just an instant, Malcolm considered telling Guy about the Druid. As much as he might like Guy, it would be better if no one knew about her existence until she was out of Cairn Toul.
Guy made a sound at the back of his throat and leapt into the air. When he did, he shifted back into dragon form. Rain sluiced over the dark red scales as Guy's huge wings beat against the air to take him up through the clouds and out of sight.
Malcolm made his way back inside the mountain and the chamber. He sat with his back against the stones, staring out through the darkness surrounding him to the storm that raged.
* * *
Jason sat at his desk and saw on his tablet that he had a new message from one Evangeline Walker. He couldn't contain his smile as he opened it. Already he was one step closer to fulfilling the prophecy.
He'd known he had her captivated when she answered his second e-mail. Luckily for him she had no contact with anyone from MacLeod Castle. But just in case, he would tell her his name was Jay, or J for now as he signed his e-mails.
The rate at which she answered his messages and her hunger to learn more about magic meant he would have her on the hook soon. After that, it would take nothing to get her to meet him.
He gave her more tidbits about his book of magic. Jason even sent her a spell she could use. Not once had she hesitated in trusting him. It was almost too effortless. In this day and age to have someone trust so easily was too much.
"Like candy from a baby," he said while typing his next message.
She soaked up his woe-is-me role as he'd expected. Just as he fed her lies about being lonely to make her feel sorry for him.
The one thing he didn't like was how cagey she was about herself. She eagerly corresponded with him when he spoke about himself, but if he asked questions about her family or past, she closed up tight as a clam.
He tapped his desk as he waited for her to respond to his fourth request that they meet. When the reply came, he wasn't shocked at her decline.
Instead of inviting her again, or demanding as he wanted to do, he asked how the spell had gone. Her response had him rethinking things.
"She hasna tried it yet."
This Jason hadn't expected. Perhaps she was more cautious than he'd taken into consideration. Of course, hacking into her site had frightened her. But it was meant to lead her to him, not away.
Evangeline was meant to fulfill the prophecy, and she could be used as a pawn against the MacLeods. She wasn't supposed to take a long time to convince to join him. If she didn't change her tune soon, he'd have to take more drastic measures to ensure that she did.
Excerpted from Midnight's Promise: Part 2 by Donna Grant. Copyright © 2013 Donna Grant. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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