(First scene of Chapter One)
On the heels of the nightmare came the alarm from the wards.
Someone was trying to break into the house.
Sorcha Fay leapt from bed. She threw on her boots and her coat and scried the wards for the source of the alarm. The beach. She was halfway downstairs and headed for the back door before she even thought to be afraid.
Indignation and anger were the foremost of her emotions. She couldn’t wait to confront whoever had been messing with her wards. This time, they were caught, and she’d prepared a few extra surprises in case they tried to escape.
Oh, she hoped they tried to escape. She might not be as quick on her feet with offensive spells as her cousins, but with plenty of time, Sorcha was perfectly capable of mounting an effective attack.
Or perhaps this was more accurately a defense—because she would defend Fay House to her dying breath. But with luck her dying breath would not come tonight.
She hurried down the cliff path to the beach, but stopped when her feet skidded against the small loose stones, making a terrible racket. She should be more wary. After all, whoever this was had tampered with her wards many times already, and she hadn’t been able to track the source or trap the intruder before tonight. There was a not insignificant chance that even her skillful and malicious traps would be avoided or dealt with. She couldn’t ignore the danger completely.
She used the salt spray, mist, and moonlight to weave a glamour. It would hide her until she could take stock of the situation, and she could take her time and place her steps more carefully the rest of the way.
The beach was a mix of sand and stone, and her boots made soft crunching sounds on the pebbles that she couldn’t avoid without spending more time and magic, and she was impatient to confront her trespasser.
Assuming the intruder was still in the trap.
She came around a jut of cliffwall. A boat sat on the beach, beyond the water’s edge. A few steps beyond the waves, at the base of the cliff, stood a man. Sorcha swallowed, hard.
He’d tried to use magic to escape, because her incineration spell had been activated in addition to the binding ward. It had worked exactly as she’d imagined, burning off his clothing and any items he’d been carrying. She’d meant the spell to leave intruders vulnerable, and bereft of any magical tokens they’d planned to use against her, but she hadn’t been expecting her adversary to be so…male.
The moon was a hint shy of full, already sinking toward the west in the bright summer sky. Its pale glow and the never-quite-dark of a Scottish summer night illuminated the man’s perfectly formed flesh, like a sculpture brought to life. He was tall and lean, with defined musculature but no bulk. He reminded her of a greyhound, with a powerful chest and shoulders but a trim waist and hips. Her gaze shied away from what was clearly visible between those hips and fled upward to his face.
Here, she stared—riveted. He was beautiful. She couldn’t tell the shade of his eyes in the moonlight, but he had a long, straight nose and a thin, wide mouth. His cheekbones cast shadows onto the smooth planes of his face, and his jaw was angled and sharply defined. His hair was dark and much longer than was the fashion. He probably kept it pulled back, away from his face, but her spell would have destroyed any thong or tie. It whipped back from his face in the sea breeze, and when he swung his head as far as the ward would allow, a few strands tangled under his chin.
Something inside her belly burned. It was not fair that she would be attracted to this man. He’d invaded her sacred space, had come for a purpose that could not be good, and she was lusting after him as though he were an eligible lad from the village.
Sorcha clamped on her inconvenient desires and crept closer.
He was cursing in several languages. She recognized French and English, and that last was probably Irish because it sounded like Gàidhlig, but the pronunciation was off. His hand made an aborted gesture, probably another attempt at casting a spell-net, and when the ward reacted he suggested that it do something with itself that it did not have the proper appendages or orifices to accomplish.
In short, he looked delectable and dangerous, and Sorcha had no wish to confront him here in the open. So she drew down a few threads of the ward and rewove them, forming a new pattern.
“What in the hells?” the man shouted, as his feet dragged against the pebbled shore. This was going to be the tricky part. She’d had to sacrifice the extra protections to gain momentum, and she hoped he didn’t realize that before she could maneuver him back into the little cave in the cliffs behind him.
Fortunately, he was too preoccupied fighting the motion to recognize that if he’d stopped and tried to rip the ward apart, he would have succeeded. She nudged him into the cave and quickly attached the ward to the stones around the entrance. Once she was satisfied with the new configuration, she tied it into the larger house ward so it would be sustained without her feeding it energy.
Only then did she let go, and drop her glamour.
The Fay of Skye Series
Etta needs to learn magic. Mal has sworn never to cast a spell again. But falling in love changes everything.
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Sorcha thinks he’s come to steal from her, but when Ronan helps her track down a real thief, he might end up stealing her heart.
Viola had the misfortune to fall in love with her soulmate Ian at age 16. At age 21, she is about to take charge of her life. That is, until her magic ends up tangled with Ian’s. Now he must convince her that they’re stronger together than they could ever be apart.
The first of six serialized installments is now available!
Cara McKinnon wrote her first fantasy romance at the age of six, about a unicorn couple that falls in love and has adventures (there is also pie). Now she writes about humans falling in love and having adventures, but she can’t quite stop including magic.
She loves history and historical romance, so she decided to set her books in an alternate Victorian era where magic is not only real, but a part of everyday life.
Cara attended the best writing school in the world, Seton Hill University, where she received an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction and found her writing tribe. She lives on the East Coast of the US with her husband, two kids, and an oversized lapdog named Jake.
Visit her on her website caramckinnon.com, where you can find more information about the Fay of Skye series, writing and romance, and ways to get in touch!