More than thirteen centuries ago, the Highlands were ruled by a powerful Pictish King whose ferocity in battle was as legendary as his honor and devotion to his people. When his trusted advisor had a vision that the Picts could one day disappear from the Earth, King Bridei charged one family with protecting and preserving the language and lore of the Picts through the generations to come.
Born into this ancient family line, Nessa Brodie feels both the weight of her responsibility and the desire to pursue her own dreams, until a series of fateful events lands her in the distant past. As she navigates her new world and all of the uncertainty and fear that comes with it, Nessa begins to realize that she is destined to be the completion of a circle begun long before she was born. Torn between the life and love she left behind, and the captivating passion of an untamed warrior-king, Nessa learns that even the path laid out by fate is never easy or straight.
“Well? Do you want to have her killed tonight with the others?” Namet stood before him, waiting for his answer.
Bridei was eating his dinner. Or at least he was trying to. This was the fourth interruption he’d had to endure since he’d sat down. “No. I need to know who she is first, and who she answers to. There is too much at stake not to know each and every one of my enemies, large or small.” He paused, chewing thoughtfully. “She could be completely innocent, of course.” But maybe that was wishful thinking. The lass’s fathomless green eyes told him nothing except that she was lying.
“Or she could have been sent to seduce you into telling your secrets. Or to poison you.” Namet always argued the other side. It was one of his many roles as chief counselor to the King.
“Then why would the old man be with her? He certainly does not put one in the mind of seduction. Wouldn’t she have come alone, if that was the plan? Played on our sympathies as a woman lost and by herself?” He shook his head, taking another bite of food from the carved wooden bowl. He could have dined from golden plates, of course, but he preferred simpler things. “I need to know more. Bring her to the fires tonight. I would have her see what happens to those who cross me. Perhaps then she will talk. And Namet…”
Bridei pointed his spoon at him with narrowed eyes. “I would never be seduced by any woman. Know that.”
He wouldn’t have anyone, even his most trusted counselor, thinking he could be weakened in any way. Especially not by feminine wiles. He had had women throwing themselves at him since the day he’d become King, even before that, and never once had he let one touch his heart. Never for a moment had he been ruled by lust or need. He was always in control. He was King.
The old warrior’s mouth curled up at one corner just a little as he nodded. He had been around long enough to know that sometimes a woman came along that a man had no hope of walking away from. Even being a king didn’t make one immune to matters of the heart.
Kella McKinnon lives in rural New England on a mini-farm with her husband and three children, and has far too many hobbies to list... but writing is her biggest passion.
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