Publisher: Highland Press
Print: Ebook: $0.99
Heat index: sensual to stimulating (3 flames) Pages: 44
Cover Artist: Karen Michelle Nutt
Ebook: Amazon /Amazon UK /Barnes and Noble /Smashwords /iTunes
Also featured in A Twist of Time Anthology: Amazon Kindle / Nook
In Print: Amazon / B&N
A short Irish paranormal time travel romance
Kendra O’Reilly felt a connection with the Blarney Castle as if the echoes of the past could still be heard. The guide tells her a story about the Blarney Stone being the ancient Lia Fáil, one of the magical gifts from the god-like race, the Tuatha Dé Danann. To wish upon it, one will see where his or her destiny lies. Kendra wishes to find her one true love. She never thought she’d be whisked back to fifteen-century Ireland to find him.
Cian MacCarthy, the Lord of Blarney not only possesses the gift of Irish eloquence but he also has visions of the future. He’s waited for Kendra’s arrival, knowing she is his soul mate. Now all he has to do is convince her she belongs at his side.
Sometimes finding your destiny is a true journey...
Enjoy a snippet from Echo of Time...
Kendra opened her eyes and stared up at the barely visible sky peeking through the tops of the trees. Wisps of mist swirled around her head. She sat up startled as she stared at her surroundings. Her leather purse lay beside her and she grabbed it and strapped it across her shoulders.
Feeling the velvety softness against her skin and not the cotton T-shirt she’d donned this morning, she looked down at herself. Fear caused the little hairs on the back of her neck to stand up on end. Surely this was someone’s idea of a jest. She wore a dark blue gown, which reminded her of dresses the women wore at renaissance faires. She didn’t even own a dress let alone a lady-in-waiting original. Where were her jeans?
She scrambled to her feet. What the heck was going on? She spun around, realizing the landscape had changed as well, more trees and thicker foliage. It was as if she had somehow slipped back in time. “No, that’s impossible.” And yet in her heart she knew it was true. She closed her eyes, hoping the horrible reality of this predicament would simply vanish. “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” She opened one eye, then both. “Damn. I guess you need the ruby slippers or silver as the author had intended. Now what?” She threw up her hands. Then she laughed. “I’m sleeping. That’s it. Any time now I’ll wake up and this will all disappear.”
She glanced around at her surroundings again. She didn’t believe she was really sleeping. No, as sure as her name was Kendra O’Reilly, she knew she stood alone in the forest on the Blarney Estate. And if her attire was any indication, the year was somewhere in the mid-1400s give or take a few hundred years. “Oh that’s just crazy. I’d like to put in an order for the twenty-first century…to go,” she said to the heavens, hoping someone up there would hear her plea. “I’m a jeans and T-shirt kind of girl. I can’t wear this medieval garb.” She pulled on her dress to emphasize.
Of course no one answered. There was no sonic boom, no magical mist to transport her out of her predicament. “Now what?” She supposed she couldn’t stand here forever. She had to find shelter, someone to help her. “A night in shining armor would be nice.”
“What do we have here?” The menacing sound of the man’s voice had her whirling around. There wasn’t just one man but six men on horseback, burly and unkempt. They stood tall, dark and deadly with broadswords at their sides. They didn’t look to be the rescuing-type-of-guys.
“Hello.” What a lame thing to say. Although it was better than ‘Hi, how ya doin’? Seen any other time travelers like me today?’ She hoped her voice didn’t reveal her apprehension.
“Ye are not from these parts,” the one who obviously thought he was in charge spoke. He sat the tallest of the bunch. His hair was dark brown and needed to be washed along with the rest of him. He played with the long scar that was carved into his right cheek as he watched her, his gaze anything but comforting.
“You could say that,” she squeaked.
His brows knitted into a frown. “I thought I had.”
Kendra realized she understood these men and they understood her and yet she knew without a doubt they spoke Gaelic and she spoke English…hadn’t she? How in the world did traveling back in time render her speech pattern understandable? Not that she was complaining, but she couldn’t help but wonder. Then again this was probably all a dream and anything could happen.
Just go with the flow, Kendra. You’ll wake up soon.
She licked her lips that had suddenly become dry. “I’m lost as you no doubt can see.”
“Aye, I see ye are alone and in need of someone to protect ye.” He dismounted and took a step toward her.
She lifted her dress and stepped back, sensing she’d need protecting from him. He didn’t look particularly honorable. In fact, he probably didn’t have an honorable bone in his entire body. “My party should be here any moment.” Her gaze darted back and forth looking for an escape route. This certainly wasn’t the man she’d envisioned after her wish.
“I don’t believe ye, milady.” He took in her attire. The gleam in his eyes indicated he thought what he saw was appealing. Just her luck; dark blue flattered her olive skin and dark hair. “Where are yer guardsmen, yer maidservant?”
“Not far from here,” she lied. “I wandered away from camp and became lost. They will be worried about me. You had best move on your way and let me pass.”
He ignored her request. “And what name have ye fair maid?”
She didn’t see a reason why she couldn’t tell him. It wasn’t like he could look her up in the phone book. “Kendra… Lady Kendra.” She thought it wise to let him think she was a lady. She might have a better chance of survival if he feared retaliation.
“Milady Kendra.” He bowed. “I am Lord Byron FitzMaurice, the Earl of Kerry.”
The other men with him snickered, making her suspicious that he didn’t speak the truth.
“I shall be Earl one day,” he remedied.
After he killed the current Earl no doubt. “It was nice to make your acquaintance, but I must be on my way.”
He swept his hand beside him. “The road is this way. Ye will not want to be lost in the forest when the sun sets.”
She looked behind her where the trees were thicker and closer together. “I think I came from this way.”
“I don’t believe so, milady.”
She backed up anyway. Then turned and ran.
“After her!” Byron yelled.
She couldn’t let them catch her, only she didn’t know where she was heading. For all she knew she could be running in circles. She spotted Byron through the trees beside her. He’d be upon her soon. She weaved to the left and ran right into one of the other men in Byron’s party. She screamed as he lifted her off the ground. She bit his arm and he bellowed an obscenity as he flung her away. She fell hard and he was upon her, raising his hand to slap her, but his arm halted in mid-air. A beefy hand gripped his arm, stopping his intent.
Byron came into view, but his appearance didn’t put her at ease. “Do not mar the beauty until I have her,” Byron demanded. When I am finished, you may do as you wish.
So much for gallantry.
Byron yanked her to her feet. He pulled her to him in a fierce hug, his mouth inches from hers. “Come sweet, a kiss. If ye treat me well I may see fit to slit yer throat instead of giving ye to my men.”
“I should think ye’d want a quick death rather than have my men defile ye, but ’tis yer choice, milady.” He leaned down to kiss her and she closed her eyes only to have them snap open again when the brute stiffened with a grunt. She watched in horror as Byron’s gaze glazed over before blood seeped from his mouth. His full weight on her, she pushed him away before she went down with him. A dagger protruded from the man’s back.
Alarm rang through her as all hell broke loose. War cries and clanging swords swirled around her making her dizzy. Who were these other men clothed in rich colors and fighting with a vengeance. Were they here to save her or did some other cruel fate await her? She decided not to stand here and find out. She turned and ran.
She didn’t go very far before another one of Byron’s men caught up with her on horseback. He swept down on her, grabbing her by the cuff of her dress. He hauled her up like a sack of potatoes and sprawled her over his lap. She bounced up and down, seeing the ground too close for comfort. She held on for dear life and closed her eyes.
He rode hard and fast for some time before he stopped his mount and brought her down with him. This was a nightmare. If she were going to wake up, now would be a good time. She swung her fists, but the lout knocked her in the head with a quick slap. She fell to the ground, but it didn’t stop her from trying to crawl away. Too bad she hadn’t taken those self-defense classes her friends had talked about. They might have come in pretty handy right now.
“Not so fast, milady.”
“Let me go.” She struggled to be free. This man stunk worse than Byron and his teeth were black with decay.
“Not until I have a little kiss.”
She pushed at his face as he mauled her, pinching her flesh.
“I believe the lady asked ye to unhand her.”
Her captor stilled and Kendra craned her neck to see who’d come to her rescue this time. Her breath wobbled as she took in the width of her rescuer’s heavy shoulders, hard muscled thighs and face of a god. He had wheat colored hair braided in a medieval style and eyes the color of a stormy sky. Her breath caught in her throat. It was the man she envisioned at the Blarney Castle!
The buffoon who held her let her go and readied his broadsword. “Tell me yer name so I, Dougal, may tell yer kin ye have left this world.”
“Cian Laidir of the MacCarthys at yer service.” The man bowed with over exaggerated flare before his lethal gaze sought his adversary. “But I am afraid it is ye who will see the fiery pits of hell this day.”
His look alone oozed with authority and raw power. A chill ran down Kendra’s spine. Dougal was a fool to mess with this guy, but who was she to argue. Go Cian.
Cian charged and metal clanged against metal in their dance with death. She should run while they were occupied in trying to kill one another, but she couldn’t make her limbs move. Cian raised his sword with ease, his muscles rippled with each pounding blow he sent Dougal. She almost felt sorry for the guy—almost. Dougal managed to get in one good swing, slicing Cian’s arm. Kendra gasped, but her fear was unfounded as Cian’s arm swung again. This time relieving Dougal of his head.
Okay, no way in the world this was still a dream. Nightmare maybe, but no dream. She didn’t have that good of an imagination and even if she had, lopping of heads wouldn’t come to mind.
She looked away, trying not to throw up. Here she had prayed for Cian to win. Foolish of her, but she hadn’t thought he’d kill the man.
His shadow shielded her from the sun. The man stood over her. Was she to be next? But then he spoke and she knew he wasn’t like the others. The velvety rhythm of his voice calmed her even if what he said did not.
“There was no other way, milady. I could not let him live. I am only one and he would find his friends and come after us. Please do not fear me. I will not harm ye.”
She looked up at him. In a gush of feminine awareness, she lost herself in the blue depths of his gaze. She didn’t know him and yet the crackle of recognition hit her as if she’d known him all her life. She could trust him.
He offered his hand and she took it. Warmth and strength filled his grip as he lifted her to her feet.
His gaze took in her every feature, leaving nothing untouched. “Are ye one of the Fae?”
“Fae? As in fairy folk?”
She shook her head. “I’m not from around here.” Which was an understatement. “I wandered too far from my escorts and became lost.” The fabrication rolled off her tongue with ease now.
“Hmm.” He didn’t call her a liar, but she had the feeling he didn’t totally believe her either. “We must go, milady. ’Tis not safe here.”
She agreed, but where did he plan to take her? Why should she trust him? “Who are you again?”
“Forgive me. I am Lord Cian MacCarthy, Lord of Blarney at your service.” He bowed. “And ye are, milady?”
“We must make haste, Lady Kendra.” He whistled two sharp shrills and a monstrous black horse appeared, lifting its head and snorting as if perturbed with its master. “Do not give me attitude, Epona.” He leaped onto her back with ease. He commanded the horse to move forward by pressing his large thighs against her flank and yanking on the reins. He leaned down and offered his hand to Kendra. “Milady.”
Should she trust him? It wasn’t like she had many options open to her right now. And he did save her. She didn’t think he did so just so he could have the pleasure of killing her himself. She grabbed his hand and he lifted her behind him.
“Hold on, milady. Epona rides like the wind.”
She didn’t have to be told twice. She gripped Cian’s mantle and held on for dear life.
Epona flew, surefooted and swift as she swerved between the trees and jumped over obstacles in her way. Kendra rested her head against the stranger’s back, inhaling the woodsy smell of her would-be-rescuer. God, he smelled good.
Cocktails and Books
This short story was perfect. It was romantic, sweet, and had all of the best elements of a time traveling love story. The characters were strong, the writing was descriptive yet quick, and the romance unfolds beautifully. Not to mention the always swoonworthy Irish setting! Kendra and Cian are made for one another, and while their story is short, it’s one that will stick with you for quite some time! ~Iris Pross