To save him, she'll release her secret powers. To keep her safe, he'll control the beast that lives within.
Sirona is well-known as a healer of the Cleary Clan. But she must live alone in the forest to avoid the fear and distrust of her people. Her lonely existence makes it easy for the rival clan Comyn to kidnap her away to their keep. There, she's given a fearsome task--save one of the laird's three warrior sons from a mysterious and deadly ailment. If she fails, the Comyns will burn her as a witch. Entranced by his handsome face and powerful form, Sirona must choose to save her enemy, or die herself.
Rhain Comyn knows he deserves to burn in hell for the sins he's committed on the battlefield. But though the mighty warrior lies on his deathbed, an angel with fiery hair will not let him slip into darkness. Beguiled by her healing touch and beauty, Rhain finally has someone worth living for. But to protect her from his conniving brothers, he must help her escape back to warn her clan of impending attack. Is his passion for her worth betraying his clan?
When the fleeing couple are discovered by the Comyns, will their allies arrive in time to side with them in a battle to the death?
Sirona eased down on the bed. She took one of his gaunt hands in both of hers. Despite the coolness of his skin, warmth spread through her at the touch. Her heart clenched. What if she could not save him? There had been those who were too far gone for her to take the risk. Death was near, but close enough that he would be incensed if she snatched this soul from the brink? She closed her eyes and let her thoughts fall away, focusing all her energy on the sensation of his cool, damp skin against hers. His hand was limp, lifeless and frail. She sensed his longing for death, born of a sorrow so deep it seeped into his bones. Tears clogged her throat as she was overcome with profound despair.
What had happened to him to cause such anguish and torment, such hopelessness? She tried to recall what little she knew of the clan. The Clearys had been feuding with them for generations, but it wasn’t until Gregor, laird of Clan Munro and ally to the Clearys, had been killed, that the hatred and fighting had escalated. Now there were skirmishes every few months.
Comyn men were renowned for their ruthless brutality. Legend stated they came out of the womb already filled with bloodlust and savagery. Comyn women seldom survived childbirth. The laird’s own sons had been born to three different wives. Despite the frailty of their women, the boys grew strong and healthy, populating the clan with a merciless fighting force, albeit a small one. Their only weakness.
Rhain, the youngest of the laird’s sons, was rumored to be the most ruthless of them all. He had hired himself out as a mercenary, it was said because there weren’t enough Clearys to quench his thirst for blood. Sirona shuddered and opened her eyes. Her heart tripped when she found him staring at the rafters over the bed. She dropped his hand as if it burned and shot to her feet. She took several deep breaths as she watched him. When he did not move, indeed he did not even blink, she inched closer. “Can you hear me?” she whispered. No reaction.
She pressed the backs of her fingers against his cheek. No fever. With one finger beneath his chin, she gently turned his face toward her until she was in his line of vision. She stared into rich brown eyes, windows to a deep, dark abyss that promised endless suffering.
“Rhain?” His eyes focused on her face when she whispered his name. “I’m here to help. Can ye speak to me?” His eyes wavered back and forth between hers. “D’ye want something to drink?” She surveyed the room for the first time. Near the hearth stood a table, laden with food and drink. She crossed to it and poured a cup of water from a flagon.
Returning to the bed, she sat next to him and slid her free arm beneath his shoulders. With her help, he sat up enough to drink from the cup she held for him. When he’d drained it, he fell back, what little strength he had depleted from the exertion. Sirona cradled him against her. She brushed silky locks from his face and spoke to him in a soothing voice.
“I need ye to tell me what ye feel. Do ye ache?” He was weak, but did not seem to be in any pain. She cast relief over him just the same. “Can ye speak to me?” she asked again.
He seemed to be trying to say something, but his voice was so quiet, she had to lean close to hear him. His breath was warm on her ear, but sent a cold shiver down her spine.
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