Redeeming Vows Page 1

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Chapter One

Liz snapped out of her daydream with Simon’s voice ringing in her ears. He wasn’t screaming from the front yard about his ball hoping over the fence.

No, he was calling her in his head. Something even now, ten months after the first time he’d done so, she’d not grown used to.

Mom, come back to the keep. The shit is hitting the fan again.

Liz shook her head and surged to her feet. How many times have I told you not to use language like that?

I’m talking in my head, Mom. It doesn’t count!

Liz lifted her skirt, ran to the door, and continued to argue with her son who was over a mile away.

It sure as hell does when you’re talking to me.

Simon laughed. Ha. You just swore.

That’s different, I’m an adult.

Whatever.

Liz could imagine the expression on her son’s face. With eyes rolling back in his head and hands on his hips. What’s happening now? she questioned, knowing he wouldn’t have called her if it wasn’t urgent.

Birds, hundreds of them. Grainna has to be in the mix. We all feel her evil.

Crap, hold on.

Like a cell phone, Liz tuned out of her son’s thoughts and raced to the mare saddled and waiting outside the sanctuary of her hideaway.

“Come on, girl. We have somewhere to be,” she coaxed while grasping the reins and hoisting up and into the saddle.

Hurry! Simon’s voice pleaded while she watched the Scottish landscape race beside her.

The wind and rain drenched her gown and hair, grown long in her months in the sixteenth century.

She searched frantically for a spell to ward away the birds so only the Druid witch remained when she finished her chant.

Liz pushed her horse faster, hearing her son’s urgent voice in her head. Damn, she shouldn’t have left him, she scolded herself.

Over the hill, the keep emerged strong, solid, and massive under a blanket of black.

Her horse stopped and whinnied at the chaos unfolding in front of their eyes. Crows filled the sky, thousands of them, blotting out the sun.

Liz’s jaw hung open. “Son of a bitch!” she whispered before kicking her mount into a frantic run. She started chanting long before she reached the gates.

“In this day and in this hour, I call upon the Ancient’s power. Give us all the ability to see Grainna amongst all of these.”

The closer she drew, the more powerful the effects of the chant became.

Birds dropped from the sky, dead, while servants fled the walls of the stone fortress of the MacCoinnichs’.

“Open the gates,” she yelled from outside the huge wooden doors that blocked all unwelcomed visitors. “Open the damn gates!”

Stopping short of the wooden doors, Lizzy’s horse strained against the reins and whinnied.

Careful to hold her seat, and avoid landing on the ground, Liz continued her chant and watched the sky. Finally, the barrier opened, and she had to still her horse with the dash of retreating people screaming and fleeing the inside of the gates.

Pushing her horse forward, she surveyed the courtyard and found her son standing next to Fin and the entire MacCoinnich family. All of them watched the sky. Tara, Myra and Amber held hands in the shadows, waiting.

Liz jumped off the mare and ran to the women, gasping for air.

“In this day and in this hour…” they all chanted, the only way to fend off the evil coming from the sky.

Liz grasped their hands, strengthening and completing their Druid circle.

“Give us the ability,” Liz said and waited for the others to repeat her words. “To see Grainna’s true self amongst all these.”

With each phrase, the sisters levitated from the ground, a side effect of any spell they wove together.

No one knew why they hovered above the earth, and none of them knew how to fall back gracefully when they were done. Twice they repeated the words and like a plague, the crows began to drop.

As one, the sisters turned their heads to the sky as an inhuman screech of evil filled the air.

A solitary crow hovered. With one loud screech, it darted away.

Tara squeezed her hand before Liz let her gaze slip from the sky. Slowly the women let each other’s hands go and slid to the ground. Myra fell on her behind and extended a hand to Tara to help her up.

Liz hardly took a breath before Fin stepped in front of her with hands perched on his hips.

“Where the hell were you?”

“Out.” She turned away, intent on letting that be the end of their discussion, but Fin had other ideas.

His hand darted out and caught her shoulder.

“Dammit, Elizabeth, you know better than to leave the keep without someone with you. Are you so selfish that you’d endanger everyone here for your own needs?”

His eyes expressed his anger.

She looked beyond him and over to her son who quickly diverted his attention to his shoes.

“I needed some time alone.”

Taking a step closer, Fin lowered his voice so only the women heard. “Then take to a far tower here within these walls. You’re of no use to any of us dead.”

Liz felt her chest rise and color flame to her face.

He was right, and she hated him for it.

Clenching her teeth, she turned and marched from the chaos. She didn’t stop until she safely passed the threshold of her chambers. Tara followed her inside and gently closed the door behind them.

Without looking in her direction, Liz addressed her younger sister. “You agree with him, don’t you?”

“You agree with him, too.” When Tara didn’t say more, Liz turned and stared at her.

“What if Grainna positioned that flock of evil over only you? None of us are capable of taking her on alone.” Tara stepped closer, taking Liz’s hands.

“I’m suffocating here.”

“I know.” Tara pushed back a strand of Liz’s hair and continued. “But stay close, Lizzy. I need you here. We need you here. You are the strongest of all of us.”

“I’m not stronger than you.”

“That’s not true and you know it.”

“I don’t have an ability like yours or like the rest.”

Liz referred to each and every one of the MacCoinnichs’ gifts. Tara’s ability to move and manipulate everything that grows might have been a new power, but it was something Liz’s baby sister had already learned to use to her advantage. Tara’s husband, Duncan, could cast a flame larger and stronger than anything imagined by twenty-first century fiction writers. Simon spoke to animals. Ian directed the weather with a mere thought. Myra moved objects with her mind. Even Amber, the youngest of the MacCoinnichs, was an empath who could sense events long before they happened.

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