Lord of the Beasts [Fane Series Book 2] [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Susan Krinard
eBook Category: Fantasy/Fantasy
eBook Description: Inherited from an otherworldly father, enchanted blood flows through Donal Fleming's veins. Yet though his empathic ability for all creatures gives purpose to his calling as a veterinarian, life among his mother's mortal kind has left him wary, and he secretly hungers for the freedom to live unrestrained by civilized society. Until Cordelia.... Cordelia Hardcastle has always played by society's rules, confined in a gilded cage of propriety and convention. Until Donal Fleming introduces her to a passion she's never dreamed of, and a world she's never imagined. But Donal's attraction to the remarkable Cordelia has unleashed his most primal instincts. The time has come for him to challenge his destiny and face the consequences of his impossible choice--between human love and the powers that, to him, are life itself....
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/HQN
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2006
This eBook is part of the following series:
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THE WOMAN WAS BEAUTIFUL as no earthly creature could be, flawless in form and carriage, her hair cascading over her shoulders like Fane gold spun by a master weaver. The world of men had names for her kind: Fairy and Daoine Sidhe and Fair Folk among them—but no such description could begin to capture her radiant perfection. Her ivory face shone with a stern radiance that no mortal could gaze upon without recognizing that he was nothing but a low, wretched brute in the presence of divinity.
Donal wasn't afraid, though Da had left him alone with the Queen of Tir-na-Nog. The man known by humans as Hartley Shaw—the Forest Lord, stag-horned master of the northern forests—had been cast out of the Blessed Land, driven away by his own mother because he would not give up his love for the mortal Eden Fleming. But now Queen Titania gazed down at her grandson and spoke, smothering the little spark of defiance Donal nursed in his six-year-old heart.
"Your father has made his choice," she said, her voice sweeping over Donal like a blast of cold north wind. "But you are young, and your blood may yet serve your people."
Donal had heard those same words a hundred times before, and always he gave the same answer. "I want to go home, with Da."
"Home." Titania flicked her slender fingers, and silver leaves shook loose from the stately tree beneath which she stood. "The vile sty mortals have made of the good, green earth. That is what you return to, child."
Though Donal knew there were many bad things in the world, he knew it was not as terrible as his grandmother said. Animals still ran free in the forest beyond the Gate. Ma and Da had seen to that. No matter what happened anywhere else in the land called England, Hartsmere would always be safe.
"But not for you," Titania said. "Never for you, grandson. You will find no peace at your mother's hearth. You will always be torn between two worlds, and your father's choice will haunt you for as long as you live among mortals." Her lovely face darkened as if a cloud had passed over the ever-shining sun of Tir-na-Nog. "Hear me, and remember. If ever you should love as my son loves…if ever you fall into the snare of a mortal female's wiles…you will lose the gift that lifts you above the People of Iron. The voices of the beasts will vanish, and you will be alone. You will have nothing…nothing….
* * *
DONAL FLEMING WOKE with a start. The voice in his mind faded, and in its place rose the clamor and din of morning at the Covent Garden market.
Only a dream, he thought. Not a memory, real as it seemed…at least not his own. But Tod had been there on that terrible day twenty-five years ago, and the hob had told Donal the story so many times that Titania's threat had become unquestionable fact.
Donal flung aside the coverlet and swung his legs over the side of the bed. He massaged his temples, seeking in vain to quiet the incessant noise that was inescapable in the vast metropolis called London. With a groan he set his bare feet on the faded carpet and staggered to the washbasin to splash his face with the tepid water that remained from the night before. The few drops that passed his lips tasted of the smoke and coal dust and grime that hung in the London air. He scrubbed his skin with the towel so thoughtfully provided by the hotel staff, but no amount of washing would remove the city's taint.
He draped the towel over the back of his neck and went to the window overlooking the square below. The competing cries of vendors—sellers of vegetables and fruit, meat pies and bread and sausages, flowers of every variety—mingled with the clatter of cartwheels and hoofbeats, penetrating the thin glass as if it were tissue. Swarming humanity ebbed and flowed between the stalls and shops, kitchen maids bumping elbows with waifs buying violets to sell on street corners and bleary-eyed dandies gulping coffee after a night of theater and tavern.
It was an alien world to Donal. He closed his eyes and thought of the moors with their deep silences and broad, clean skies. At this hour, the farmers would have long since been up milking cows, feeding chickens and mending walls, going about the same business they did every spring morning. And he would be out visiting Eliza's new litter or helping Mr. Codling and his fellow farmers through the lambing season. He might not utter a word all day, for the taciturn husbandmen of the Dales had little use for idle chatter, and the beasts spoke without need of human language.
With a sigh of resignation, Donal selected an oft-mended shirt and his second-best coat from among the few garments he'd brought from Yorkshire. He was aware that his clothes were sadly out of date, if only because his mother had brought it to his attention on more than one occasion. Lady Eden laughingly despaired of her eldest son, and of his ever finding a wife who could overlook his stubborn refusal to accept his proper station in life.
The station of the bastard child who had been given everything the son of an earl could desire, and cast it all aside. All but his love for his parents and brothers, his memories of Hartsmere and the distant family connections that brought him so far from home.
Donal replaced the towel around his neck with a slightly frayed cravat and worked it into a simple knot at his throat. He glanced in the mirror just long enough to run dampened fingers through the unruly waves of his hair. Surely the August Fellows of the Zoological Society of London had better things to do than critique the appearance of a country veterinarian.
Copyright © 2006 by Susan Krinard.