Ever since I can remember, I’ve had strange dreams that always came true, and experienced terrifying powers that set me apart from everyone else.
It’s not until my eighteenth birthday do I begin to understand what those dreams mean. When my grandfather is attacked and left for dead, I am thrust into the Otherworld—a medieval-like land of beautiful immortals with amazing gifts. One of these immortals has stolen the key between the realms, and it is up to me, Brynne Davies, the next gatekeeper, to reach the key before the power struggle that exists in the Otherworld occurs on earth.
Complicating my task are the members of the Royal House of Parthas, especially the king’s brother, the handsome Murdoc, Warlord of the king’s army, and then there’s the charming Fae prince who seems to always be one step ahead of me.
Time is running out for me to find the key and close the door. If I don’t, the world I left will never be the same…because of me.
I wrote my first young adult novel over ten years ago, and took a slight detour from writing YA to publish nineteen adult romances. Now, I'm following my heart and writing in the genre I've been passionate about for so long, and about characters who don't exactly fit into any specific box.
Aside from writing and reading, I'm obsessed with history, love research, traveling, and riding motorcycles with my hubby, my first and only love, who stole my heart when I was fourteen and he was eighteen (yes, he robbed the cradle). I am also a medium, which gives me a unique perspective when writing about the paranormal and characters like Riley, who can see, hear, and feel spirits. I'm passionate about books, and I'll never tire of writing love stories.
Will be found here come release day: http://www.amazon.com/s/
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The chamber wasn't large, or maybe it was the tall, muscular man standing before the fireplace that made the space feel smaller than it actually was. His powerful back was to me, the shoulders broad, making a V to a narrow waist. His dark, almost black hair was cut short on the sides, but the top was long—an edgy faux hawk that no one else would be able to pull off, but I thought was incredibly sexy on this very masculine warrior.
The guard motioned me farther into the room. He cleared his throat loudly. “The visitor is here, my lord.”
I refrained from rolling my eyes. As if he didn't hear us enter.
I took a baby step into the room. Now was not the time to lose my cool.
“You may go, Egan,” the warlord said with the same brogue I’d heard since meeting Kai.
The warlord turned and looked at me, and my mouth went dry.
Murdoc had razor-sharp cheekbones and piercing ice-blue eyes framed by ridiculously long lashes. He wore a silver torque about his neck and one on each wrist, and slender hoops hung from his earlobes. He also had full-sleeve tattoos, similar to the man who had led me here. A charcoal-colored tunic hugged his wide chest, and expensive-looking leather pants fit perfectly against solid thighs and laced at the crotch. I forced my gaze back to his, trying to ignore the heat racing up my neck to my cheeks.
Okay, the warlord of Parthas was hot. More rugged than Kai in many ways and yet oddly similar, especially through the eyes. Before I had time to ask if the two were related, he approached me, his gaze shifting over me once again, taking everything in with a glance.
It was all I could do not to take a step back for each one he took forward. But I thought of Pops and stayed completely still, steadying my nerves for what was to come. A good plan, but I panicked and dropped into an exaggerated curtsy, at the same time I heard a ripping sound.
I instantly straightened. A seam had given under the strain. This was not the time for a wardrobe malfunction.
His brows lifted to his hairline, but I didn’t miss a beat and pretended I couldn’t feel a slight draft on my backside. “Good day, my lord.”
He stopped inches from me, giving me just enough room to stand up straight. Unfortunately, he stood so close I had to bend my head back to look at him.
“My brother tells me you journey from the coast lands.”
“Brothers?” I said with a smile. “You two look alike. I mean, not exactly of course, but there is a very strong resemblance. Do you have other siblings?”
Oh my God, I was rambling. I bit the inside of my lip to keep from saying anything else.
His brow furrowed as he watched me in silence. As the seconds ticked away, he relaxed his stance. I wish I could say the same for myself. He made me nervous and I had the feeling he could see right through me.
“Aye, I do.”
It was obvious he wasn't about to cough up any more information.
“What is your name?” he asked, a dark brow lifting nearly to his hairline.
This warlord had perfected the art of intimidation. I was terrified. “Brynne…McCane.”
He stared at the talisman at my neck, and for a heart-stopping second I thought he might yank it off. I hoped Art was right and it shielded my thoughts from immortals, because I would hate to have him know what I was thinking.
His gaze shifted back to mine. “May I call you Brynne?”
“What brings you to Parthas, Brynne? What is it exactly that you are wanting?”
The smithy was stifling hot. Gareth had thick and curly reddish-brown hair. Wet with perspiration, he was busy pounding out horseshoes as if his life depended on it. He abruptly looked up and his eyes widened. “My lord, I fear I do not yet have the sword ready.”
Murdoc smiled reassuringly. “I am not here for the sword, but rather to make a bracelet for Parthas’s newest arrival.” He motioned to me. “Gareth, this is Brynne. Brynne, may I introduce Gareth.”
Gareth appeared relieved as he glanced at me, and quickly hid a smile. “His lordship is quite skilled with iron and fire, Miss Brynne.”
“Aye, I believe you,” I nearly shouted, feeling ridiculous the second the words were out because Gareth’s brow furrowed. It didn't help when he and Murdoc shared an amused smile.
To Gareth’s credit, he didn't let his gaze move past my chin. I wished I could have changed into another gown because I looked a mess. Aside from my appearance, I was glad to be in Murdoc’s company.
“Do not boast of my skills too much, my friend,” Murdoc said, taking a leather apron from a spike on the wall. He tied it around his waist and then reached for my hand, sliding his fingers and thumb around my wrist.
His touch was electric and it stunned me. I felt that casual touch all the way to my toes.
“I need to measure for an accurate fit,” he said, and I looked up at him, at the way his long lashes cast shadows on those model-like cheekbones. I swallowed a sigh.
“Very delicate,” he said, catching me staring at him. He didn't move, just watched me for a moment before letting his hand fall away.
I had to remind myself to breathe as he took a step away from me.
He immediately set into motion by grasping a set of tongs, then heating a rod of iron over the fire.
I stood watching for a few minutes, then feeling ridiculous, I decided to take a seat on a nearby bench. I had to admit—Murdoc intrigued me. He was a walking contradiction. Everything about him screamed intimidation, and yet here he was—Parthas’s ominous warlord—taking time out of his day to make a bracelet for a girl he had just met. Which made me wonder—did he have a woman? He wore no ring. Then again, I did not know Parthas customs.
Murdoc glanced up at Gareth, who kept his gaze averted, but the blacksmith’s lips quirked nonetheless. Gareth then turned away and made himself busy cleaning up the metal shavings in the work area, humming all the while.
A light breeze rushed through the smithy, and I watched as the wind ruffled Murdoc’s hair. The shirt he’d slid on hung loosely at his waist and over his butt.
And he had a nice butt. Once again, I forced my gaze away from his smoking-hot body.
I couldn’t afford to start crushing on anyone in Parthas. Time was ticking, and I had to get in and get out, and back to Pops.
But that didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy the eye candy while I was here.
Murdoc kept reaching for different tools off of a wooden rack to twist and bend the metal. It was amazing to watch him at work. After ten or so minutes of meticulous detail, the bracelet was finished and Murdoc set it to cool on a rack.
Putting the tools away, he brushed a hand through his hair just as another strong breeze blew through the shop window, and a stray lock fell over his right eye.
I don’t know what possessed me, but I stepped close, reached up, and brushed the strand away. Murdoc’s hand flew up and caught my wrist in a firm grip.
I gasped, surprised by his reaction. “I only wanted to get the hair—”
He immediately loosened his grip. “I apologize, Brynne. I am not accustomed to being touched.”
Not accustomed to being touched? Was he serious? Something in his eyes made me believe he was completely serious…and why did I find that so sad? Maybe because my grandfather had never let me go to bed without tucking me in with a kiss on the cheek and telling me that he loved me.
Murdoc stared at my lips—almost as if he was going to kiss me.
“My lord,” a guard yelled from the door.
Murdoc blinked and took a step away from me. “Aye, Cameron. What is it?”
“There is a caravan coming, and they are flying the colors of the House of Zaphyr.” Cameron flashed a grin. “Your betrothed will be at the castle gate within the hour!”
Your betrothed? As in fiancée?
Murdoc was engaged.
I walked with Murdoc deeper into the cave. The more we walked, the brighter the space, until the cave opened up to a space nearly as large as the castle’s great hall. In the center was a majestic waterfall, the water splashing on the crystals below.
“Come.” His hand tightened on mine, and we walked carefully across a bridge toward the waterfall until we were standing directly behind it, the crystals like prisms of light breaking through the glass wall.
I had never seen anything so beautiful in all my life. I reached out a hand to allow the curtain of water to ripple over my fingers. When I looked over at Murdoc, he was watching me closely, the sides of his mouth lifting in a smile that made my pulse race.
“Thank you for bringing me here,” I said. “It’s beautiful.”
“You are beautiful.” The smile slowly left his lips, and he leaned in and kissed me.
Unlike Rein’s kiss, this kiss was meant to scorch. His lips were firm, demanding a response. His tongue teased the seam of my lips and I opened to him.
My hands were in his hair a second later, the kiss growing deeper by the second.
I don’t remember him pulling me close, but I felt his fingers brush along my spine slowly, up and down, before sliding over my butt. With my body pressed against his, I could feel what I was doing to him, could feel the heat between us. I could think of at least five reasons why I should walk away, a big fat number one being he had a fiancée, but God help me, I didn’t have the willpower.
Murdoc explored my mouth greedily, demanding a response that I couldn’t deny him. He groaned when my hands tentatively slid up and over his wide shoulders.
The sensations that shot through my body were so intense, I felt light-headed. This was nothing like the mild curiosity I’d felt with Staun when we’d first started dating. Now I knew what Nana meant when I’d once caught Pops wrapping her in his arms and giving her a smooch, and she’d laughed and said he could still make her toes curl.
My toes were definitely curling as I grasped his hair in my fists to steady myself and tilted my head so I could return his kiss. My heart pounded so hard against his that I was afraid he could hear it, and my breaths came out in short pants between kisses.
Long moments passed as we tasted each other, giving in to our impulses and losing ourselves in the joy of the moment. Eventually passion gave way to tenderness as he rained small kisses over my face, and my heart felt full with the sweetness of it.
He cupped my face with his hands and pulled away just enough to look into my eyes. He didn’t say anything, not a word, but I read so much in those ice-blue eyes that would haunt me for the rest of my life. Even more, he stared at me as if he were trying to memorize my features.
“We should get you back to the castle before my brother sends out an army to find you.”
“You didn’t tell him where we were going?”
“Nay, I wanted you to myself for just a little while.”
“I’m glad you brought me,” I said, and was rewarded with an irresistible grin that made my thighs tighten.
Murdoc took my hand, pulled a bracelet from his pocket, and slid it onto my wrist. It was the bracelet he’d made for me weeks ago, and it had been dipped in silver.
His fingers threaded through mine and I could feel the hard calluses there. We walked slowly, and I had the urge to stop him, to kiss him again, to just feel those arms around me.
“Do you want to make a wish?”
I nodded, and we stopped at the bridge.
“Go ahead,” he said, releasing my hand.
The wish was a no-brainer. I needed the chalice so I could return to Portland and close the gateway. I wished I didn’t have to return right now. A summer in Parthas would have been awesome…but there was no sense in wishing for something that could never be. If only, I thought to myself. If only things could be different. I don’t know. Could it be possible in the future that I could return to Parthas…and spend time with Seren. And maybe I was forgetting that I had no place in this world.
I closed my eyes, made my wish, and kissing the ring, I then tossed it into the waters below. My eyes widened when it took a good fifteen seconds to make a splash.
That was quite a drop.
With a backward glance at the glistening walls, I walked toward Murdoc and returned his smile. He didn’t take my hand this time, no doubt because the guards would be outside the cave.
Before we breached the entrance, he stopped and pulled me aside, against a small alcove. He cupped my face with both hands. “I want you to stay with me.”