Pocket Books, 11/07
Authors Note: The beginning of Chapter One is posted on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble, so this excerpt
comes a bit later. I think of it as "THE MEETING."
Ian awoke with a start. He'd been dreaming. Dreams were rare for him and, to his way of thinking, that was a
good thing. He learned long ago -- very, very long ago -- that when he dreamed, it always meant something.
The "something" was always a very accurate warning of the future and, more often than not, it warned of
He tried to recall the dream now. He'd been in the forest and there had been a woman, although he hadn't
been able to see her clearly, and some type of danger. And that blasted pounding.
Pounding, he suddenly realized, that continued even now that he was awake. He stood up, feeling disoriented.
The book he'd been reading fell unheeded to the floor.
Where was that noise coming from?
Moving into the hallway, he followed the sound, his senses coming fully alert.
"Hello? Mr. McCullough? Is anyone there?" Muffled words reached him, followed by more pounding.
A woman's voice.
Damn. The American had come, afterall.
What was wrong with the woman? Didn't she realize how dangerous driving in one of these storms could be?
Didn't she have any sense at all?
He strode to the door and threw it open, fully intending to give his visitor the tongue-lashing she deserved for
her reckless behavior.
"Do you bloody well realize what time it is?" He'd begun to yell when the sight of her on his doorstep struck
Standing there in the pouring rain, with her hair plastered to her face, she was completely drenched and
shivering hard enough the movement was visible to him even in the dark.
At the sound of his voice, she drew back sharply, losing her footing in the puddle that had formed on the
stoop. Only his grabbing her elbows prevented her taking a nasty spill down the steps.
"Sorry. I'm sorry." Her teeth chattered so violently he could barely understand her mumbled apology. "I...I
didn't think about the time. The drive took so much longer than I'd planned."
She feebly tried to pull her arms from his grasp.
Rather than letting go, he tightened his grip, drawing her inside the entrance hall, where she stood, dripping,
her eyes cast down as if studying the intricate patterns on the marble floor. she made no move to stop him
when he slipped the strap of the heavy bag from her shoulder, and dropped it at her feet.
She glaced up then, almost furtively, and their eyes met.
Green, like the deep forest. Her eyes were an intense green that sucked him in, captured him, prevented him
from looking away. They widened an instant before darting back down to resume their examination of the
The contact broken, Ian gave himself a mental shake.
"Stay right here. I'll get something to dry you off and soon we'll have you all warmed up."
He raced upstairs and grabbed an armful of towels, stopping only to pull a blanket off the foot of his bed
before returning to his guest.
She stood as he'd left her, huddled into herself, shivering as a small puddle formed at her feet.
Wrapping the blanket around her shoulders, he guided her toward the library. She'd be much better there.
Thanks to the fire he'd built earlier in the evening, it was the warmest room in the place.
"Here are some towels. I'll pop into the kitchen and find something warm for you to drink. Is tea all right, or do
you prefer coffee?" she was an American, after all.
"Tea would be wonderful, thank you." Only a whisper.
She took the towels and began to dry her face and hair as he left the room.
While he waited for the water to boil, he let his thoughts drift to the woman drying off in his library. She
intrigued him. A great deal. which was most unusual in and of itself.
The old saying about eyes being windows to the soul hadn't become an old saying without very good reason.
It was absolutely true. Catching a glimpse of what lived behind those windows, however, was extraordinary.
Souls valued their privacy.
Looking into this woman's eyes, he'd felt an unusually strong energy pulling at him. Her windows had been
wide open, her soul leaning out, demanding his attention like the French harlots he'd seen so many years ago,
hanging out of the Barbary Coast bordellos.
He couldn't recall having run across anything like it in all his years. She was something entirely new.
A thrill of anticipation ran through his body. "Something entirely new" was a rare experience for Ian. After six
centureies spend shuffling between the Mortal Plain and the Realm of Faerie, he often thought he'd seen it all.
During that time, he'd also learned countless valuable lessons. One of those lessons was that the rare
experiences were usually the best. Certainly the most important.
Yes, he was quite intrigued by Miss...
what was her name? He couldn't remember. He couldn't even remember if Henry had ever told him her name.
He'd spent so much time thinking of her as "The American," her name had been of no importance.
That was certainly changed now. Playing innkeeper to his little American tourist had unexpectedly become a
much more stimulating prospect.
Bending over in front of the fire, Sarah vigorously scrubbed at her hair with the towel. She'd read all about
Scotland's unpredictable climate in the bag full of travel guides she'd bought, but nothing had prepared her for
the reality of it. In spite of the fire, the blanket, and the towels, she was still cold and soggy.
And enormously embarrassed.
One look at her host and she might as well have been a teenager again, completely tongue-tied and unsure of
herself. That first glance had fairly taken her breath away, leaving her stammering and unable to make eye
contact with anything but her own feet. It wasn't the sort of behavior she expected from a mature woman.
Particularly not when she was the mature woman in question.
Handsome men had always had that effect on her, and this one was certainly a prime example. The classic
line "tall, dark and handsome" could have been written especially for him. He towered over her by a good six
inches. His eyes, a brown so dark they might actually be black, matched his hair. hair a bit too long, curling
around his neck, just onto the cream-colored turtleneck sweater he wore. The sweater clearly outlined a
chest that belonged on a pinup calendar. He could be Mr. January, perfect start to a new year. A man like
that might even get more than one month.
He was one outstanding specimen, all right. And he was also a good ten years younger than she, at the very
least, which made her reaction to him all the more ridiculous. What was wrong with her, anyway?