Heart of a Warlock [Celtic Series Book 3] [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Lyn Armstrong
eBook Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Historical Fiction
eBook Description: A bitter heart... a reluctant betrayal... Trust does not come easy for Laird Callum Roberts, a Celtic warlock. While hunting a sorceress who captured his father, he comes across a mysterious lass on a sacrificial alter. Enchanted by her beauty and sensuality, there is something amiss with the secret maiden. Is she just another deceiving woman or can he trust his cynical heart to see her innocence? Exiled and shunned by her clan, Lady Alayne Duncan finds herself blind and at the mercy of a dark sorceress. To save her little sister, she has no choice but to commit a vile sin against a warlock. However, Alayne cannot deny the desire of her heart and body as she yearns for his erotic touch. The more time she spends with the warlock, the more she loathes the treachery. Can she forsake the warlock for the life of her sister?
eBook Publisher: Resplendence Publishing, LLC, Published: 2008
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2008
This eBook is part of the following series:
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9 Reader Ratings:
"Curse this darkness," Lady Alayne Duncan muttered with frustration.
She was destined to live in darkness forever. No matter how many times she blinked or rubbed her eyes, her sight did not return. She would never see another sunrise or the deep ruby color of a rose in full bloom. Nae, she would only see vague shadows and outlines. And darkness.
What had she done?
This could have been avoided. She could have had her sight back if only she obeyed Lady Torella. The wicked sorceress gave her one opportunity to regain her sight. All she had to do was keep Laird Tremayne, the sorceress' son, imprisoned within the enchanted cottage.
However, Alayne could not do it.
Laird Tremayne's ladylove was going to be killed if Alayne did not help him escape.
But where did that decision leave her? It left her blind ... forever.
Alayne rose from the kitchen table, the same place she had been sitting since Tremayne left. She hoped he was not too late to save his lady, or else her sacrifice would have been for naught.
Instead of thinking of his fate, she should be more concerned with her own future. She had thwarted Torella's plans and it was only a matter of time before the sorceress returned to punish her.
Fear sliced through Alayne's heart like an icy dagger.
She had to leave!
Pivoting her body, she hastened toward the kitchen wall, her hand outstretched to feel the rough texture of the timber boards. She guided herself toward the stairway. The cool handrail led up to the second landing where she edged along to the end chamber.
Alayne hopped on one foot while grabbing her throbbing toe. The floorboards creaked under her weight as she limped to the bed. Being blinded by the sorceress was the hardest thing she ever had to endure.
Nae, that was not true.
Being parted from her younger sister, Wynda, was far worse.
Taking a deep breath, she willed herself not think of the past. She had more pressing matters to worry about. Her life depended upon leaving immediately.
Edging along the pallet, Alayne used her tender toes to nudge the hard wooden chest at the end of the bed. Lifting the lid, she retrieved a cloth sack from beneath her linen gowns and shoved her meager belongings into the satchel.
A trickle of sweat made a trail down her temple. Where was she going to go? Once again, she had no place to seek refuge.
Perhaps a tavern would be in need of a laundress.
A blind laundress?
"Curse my fortune!" The words echoed in the empty chamber.
She rose with the sack and slung it over her shoulder. There was no time to be angry. She must make haste before the sorceress returned for vengeance.
Alayne ran her hand down the balustrade, the steps creaking beneath her. She rushed into the kitchen and opened a cupboard in the corner. The crash of clay pots sounded near her feet after she swept them off the shelf. The smell of flour rose around her and she felt the sprinkling of light dust settle on her skin.
"It must be here."
Her fingers grazed along a smooth barrel-shaped container.
Dropping her sack, she grasped the jar and opened the lid. Three gold coins rattled within. She tipped them into her hands and pocketed the only wealth she possessed. Picking up her belongings, Alayne felt along the wall for the place where she left her slippers. Bending down, she placed the shoes on her feet and then opened the back door.
She halted. "Where am I to go?"
Exiled from her homeland, she was unable to return to the Duncan clan. Due to an ambitious knight jilted by her apathy toward his advances, Sir Rutger Kilander had spread false accusations of treason. With the dishonest sheriff of Mawrth supporting Sir Rutger, Regent Moray did not believe in her innocence and took her wealth and lands from her. The unforgivable crimes they accused her of were something she could not face. Not now. Not with her blindness.
Alayne took a deep breath and raised her chin. One day she would clear her name and return to Wynda. One day they would be a family again. For now, she had to survive, for her sister's sake.
The oak door creaked when she closed it behind her. She moved toward the smell of sweet hay. One, two, three steps to the right and she was at the entrance of the small barn. She groped for the handle and pulled the doors open. Her palfrey gave a long, high pitched sound in welcome. Alayne smiled with relief.
Following the sound of the neigh, she reached out. A silky nose nuzzled her palm. Running her hand along the warm pelt, she grabbed a handful of mane and swung onto the horse's bare back.
"Make haste, my friend."
Alayne gently heeled the flanks and balanced her sack on her lap as the horse's steady gait took them outside. "We must get away before..."
A sense of stillness surrounded her. The very air weighed heavy with evil. Fear rose in her throat and her tongue tasted sour.
It was too late.
Her horse sidestepped with nervousness and then reared. Alayne became unbalanced and fell off. Her backside landed in mud, its gooey mass oozing between her fingers. After a sharp stench reached her nose, she knew it was not mud, but...
Of all the places she could have landed.
A shrill cackle rent the air.
Her breath seemed to harden in her throat. She could see only darkness. Forever, darkness.
A whisper tickled her ear, "Did the wee lass think she could escape my wrath?"
Alayne's heart dropped, her stomach twisting into a knot.
Slowly, she shook her head and lowered her chin.
Sharp nails dug into her arm through the thin fabric of her kirtle, pulling her to her feet. Despair spread through her, causing her limbs to weaken. Her legs threatened to collapse at any moment.
Silently, Alayne prayed that death would come swiftly.
"Where is the sorceress?" Laird Callum, Chieftain of the Roberts Clan, demanded of the prisoner chained to the wall. Sweat moistened his brow, but he would not release the whip in his hand. He would find the devil's mistress, even if he had to kill the sordid man before him.
Callum slashed the whip across the prisoner's bare back. The sharp crack echoed throughout the dungeon. "Where is she?"
The Campbell's wiry old steward remained silent, frustrating Callum. He took no pleasure in torture, but he would do what was necessary to find Lady Torella Campbell, the dark sorceress who captured his father. Not knowing whether Phillip was alive or dead darkened his soul every day. He had to find him. He must.
"We have been over this many times. You know where she is, you have served the sorceress all your life. Tell me and I will release you."
The steward twisted around to glare at Callum. "Why do you not ask Laird Tremayne?" he sneered. "Or does he keep his mother's whereabouts a secret from his new clan?"
Callum pulled the steward's damp brown hair, tilting his head back. "You are the one who is the traitor, Master Evan. You tried to kill my sister, your laird's wife."
"She was not his wife when I stabbed her and besides, she is well and hearty. Perhaps that should account for something."
"That is the only reason you still live," Callum snarled and released his hold. "Maychance, another day without food and water will release your tongue."
The sound of laughter followed Callum up the stairwell, even after the heavy dungeon door closed behind him. The steward flamed the suspicions in the back of his mind about his sister's husband. Did not Laird Tremayne, the sorcerer, have the same wicked blood in his veins as his mother? The man had imprisoned his sister to use her magical Celtic blood to resurrect his mother from purgatory.
And now he was married into the Roberts clan. Campbells and Roberts. Two feuding clans united. He could not believe it. If his missing father only knew the pledge he made to his grandfather had come to fruition.
No matter how much Callum disagreed with the alliance, his hatred focused on another Campbell. Lady Torella stole the life of his betrothed and captured his father with dark magick. It had been a full year and still he could not find either of them.
If anything happened to his father, Callum swore he would have vengeance.
His boots echoed as he stormed into the solar. The warm chamber was deserted.
Where is everyone?
A gurgling sound came from a wooden box near the window. Callum hastened toward the squeal and found his bonny niece kicking her legs playfully. Upon seeing him, baby Rhiannon giggled and threw her pudgy hands toward him.
Callum's anger melted and he gathered her into his arms. Her soft white gown flowed over her legs as he lifted her into the air.
He cooed, "Who left you all alone?" Even though his voice was soft, the question vexed him. Rhiannon must never be alone. It was not safe. Even with a family of witches, he feared the sorceress was more powerful.
Rhiannon had the blood of a sorceress and a Celtic witch. A mixture of good and evil. Whoever possessed the babe could access supreme magick--a temptation Lady Torella would not overlook. The sorceress would come for Rhiannon. It was only a matter of time.
"Ah, there you are."
At the sound of his mother's lilting voice, Callum gathered Rhiannon to his chest and turned.
"Where is the wet nurse?" he asked, keeping his tone light so as not to frighten his niece.
Adela glided into the room, her velvet cream gown and long nutmeg hair flowed gently with the draft from the window. Her bronze eyes sparkled when she caressed Rhiannon's pink cheek with the back of her finger. "I sent her on an errand."
"Mother, Rhiannon is never to be left unguarded. The sorceress could have..."
"I did not leave her for long and the protective enchantment around our land is strong. No evil can pass through. Besides, I would sense if the sorceress was nearby."
The baby in his arms shifted restlessly, so he swayed her as he had seen his sister do many times. "You did not sense the sorceress when she was masquerading as my betrothed."
His mother's beautiful face fell and Callum instantly regretted the accusation.
"Your father's absence had taken a toll on me."
"I pray your pardon, Mother, I..."
Adela placed her arm around his waist, and he pulled her into his embrace. "There is nothing to pardon, my son. But I swear to you, I will never let my guard down again," she said, gazing affectionately at Rhiannon.
Sniffing the air, his mother informed, "I think the wee lass needs to be changed." Taking the babe, she returned her to the wooden cradle. "Your sister and Tremayne should return shortly."
"Where did they go?"
"Gavenia convinced her husband to take her for a ride to the lake. You know how restless she gets when she is inside too long."
"Aye, I do."
"I insisted they leave Rhiannon here with me to give them a respite." Adela folded a fresh cloth around the baby and picked her up again. His mother probed him with a serious look. "Tremayne speaks of his home again."
"Well, he can talk all he likes. They are not leaving until I destroy the sorceress." Callum stormed to the sideboard. Picking up a bowl, he placed an assortment of meats inside.
"You do not trust your new brother?" Adela asked, her brow furrowed.
"Nae, I do not. He is his mother's son after all. No matter how much he despises the sorceress, he is still connected to her."
"He is also your sister's chosen one and will not hurt her or the babe."
"Chosen one," he scoffed. "Where was his loyalty when he held my sister against her will or tried to kill her for the sake of his mother?"
"But he did not. He risked his life for Gavenia."
"I care not. I do not trust him and he will remain our guest until I can be assured of Gavenia's and Rhiannon's safety."
"Wield your sword lightly, my son. You do not want to distance your sister."
Callum turned his back on his mother. "I am Chieftain of the Roberts clan. Until I find my father and avenge my betrothed, no one is leaving."
His mother touched his shoulder and gently turned him to face her. "You look just like your father. You have the same golden hair and strong jaw line. But your angelic features belie the Roberts' stubborn streak." She caressed his face, her voice softened, "Do not let vengeance darken your heart."
"Right now, my heart is cold and 'tis the way I like it." He dropped the trencher on the sideboard. "If anyone is helping the sorceress, be it Laird Tremayne or someone else ... I pledge to you, I will see them dead!"