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Authors: Mackenzie Crowne

Gift of the Realm

BOOK: Gift of the Realm
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“They
were real, Colin.

Saraid and
Owein were real, not just fictional characters from a heartbreaking legend.”

“So
it would seem.”

“They’re
your ancestors.”

“And
yours,” he reminded her. “You’re a descendant of Saraid and Owein, too.”

“I
didn’t miss that detail.”

“Yes,
but has it occurred to you what that means?” At her blank look, he added, “We
carry Owein’s blood, Keely, as well as Saraid’s.”

She
stared at him for a moment. Her disbelieving laughter took care of the residual
tightness in her belly. “Fairie blood?” she scoffed. “Please!” A lifted brow
was his only response. “That’s as ridiculous as it is impossible.”

“As
ridiculous and impossible as sharing your dreams with a handsome Irishman for a
decade?”

She
narrowed her eyes at his taunting grin, but had to admit, he had a point.
Fairie
blood. Good God!
How was she supposed to feel about that? She had no clue.
She was going to need some time to come to grips with all she’d learned in the
past few hours—if coming to grips with the unbelievable was even possible.

 

 

 

Gift

of

the Realm

 

by

 

Mackenzie Crowne

This is a work
of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of
the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to
actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is
entirely coincidental.

 

Gift of the
Realm

 

COPYRIGHT
Ó
2012 by Lorene M. Ferry

 

All rights
reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner
whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press
except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or
reviews.

Contact
Information: [email protected]

 

Cover Art by
Diana
Carlile

 

The Wild Rose
Press

PO Box 708

Adams Basin, NY
14410-0708

Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com

 

Publishing
History

First Faery
Rose Edition, 2012

Digital ISBN
978-1-61217-154-8

 

Published in
the United States of America

Dedication

 

For
Marty.

The
fat Irishman who loved a good tale, and

offered
an encouraging word,

even
when he wanted to roll his eyes.

I
miss you, Dad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

Tanned
skin, the color of aged whisky, filled Fiona’s appreciative gaze. Even though
Brogan’s shoulders tensed in anger, she couldn’t help but admire the breadth of
them and his finely muscled back. Thick mahogany locks, damp with sweat, fell
forward in a silken curtain to shield his strong profile. Her lover was a fine
specimen of the male form.

Strong
and steady, the still waters of his temperament hid a cauldron of passion he’d
been only too happy to share with her these past few weeks. In bed, his
enthusiasm for her bold response allowed her to express the soft, womanly
feelings he drew from her—feelings she thought never to know again after
Fitzgerald Quinn’s painful betrayal. Out of bed, his serene confidence in the
rightness of their unexpected joining affected a calm on her volatile and often
eruptive personality. And, for the first time in a long time, the future didn’t
look so bleak. Most importantly, in his position as Guardian of the Fairie
Realm, her father could have no complaint with Brogan as her choice of mate.

She
thought Brogan felt the same way.

“You
said you loved me,” she hissed, sitting up and snagging a corner of the satin
sheet to cover her breasts.

“That
I do,” he replied without looking her way. He rose from the bed, gloriously
naked, to snatch up the breeches and tunic he’d been wearing before he’d
stripped them both bare an hour earlier. Temper was evident in every line of
his magnificent body. “But princess or handmaiden, I’ll not be spending
eternity with a fairie who carries the memory of her human lover in her heart
even as I bring her to pleasure.”

“Unfair,
Brogan. When you touch me, there is no other in my mind.” A regal toss of her
head sent her long, pale hair rippling to pool at her waist. Her blue eyes
flashed with fire. “I only asked you to help me find a way to make Fitzgerald
Quinn pay for his deceit.”

Brogan
yanked the breeches up over his loins with ill grace. “I’m sick to death of
hearing the man’s name on your lips. King Cael denied the match, Fiona, and he
gave the human his protection! Even if I wished to aid you in your futile quest
for vengeance, did you think I would go against my king? I wouldn’t and you
know it well.”

He
turned on his heel and stalked to the door, his tunic clenched in a large fist.
He wrenched the door open and glanced back at her. His eyes, as green as the
emerald hills of Ireland, raked over her before meeting her willful glare.

“I’ve
given you time to put the hurt behind you, but you’ve let it fester until you
can think of nothing but destroying that useless excuse for a man. I hope your
bitterness can keep you warm, princess, for I no longer will.”

The
walls of her sumptuous bedchamber rattled under the power of the slamming door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter
One

 

Gravel
crunched beneath the tires of the SUV as Keely O’Brian brought the vehicle to a
stop along the shoulder of the road. At the bottom of the hill, spread out like
a three-dimensional postcard, sat the Village of Dunhaven, Ireland. She gripped
the steering wheel, drinking in the sight like one who had been wandering in
the desert for far too long, thirsting for the sweetness of home.

“Well,
Donovan,” she murmured. “What do you think?”

A
wiry muzzle dropped to her shoulder, and she lifted a hand to scrub absently at
the dog’s scruffy beard. An almost human groan of pleasure sounded in her ear.
Reflected in the rear-view mirror, the Irish wolfhound’s eyes were slits of
pleasure—his large mouth open in a grin full of sharp, white teeth and lolling
tongue.

“I
agree,” she laughed, her gaze searching out the roof of Morna’s cottage among
the dwellings below. Hers now. The cottage had passed to her nearly ten years
ago, at her grandmother’s death. Her smile slipped. She shouldn’t have stayed
away so long.

The
decision to give up her position in her father’s law firm, to come back to
Ireland, and make her home here, hadn’t been made lightly. No, she mused, a
decision weighed for nearly a decade couldn’t be considered impulsive.

Her
parents didn’t understand. Then again, Tom and Shannon O’Brian had always been
a bit perplexed when it came to their only child. They loved her, and were
proud of her accomplishments, but they’d never quite known what to make of the
odd weed in their perfect garden.

Her
gaze shifted unerringly to the cloud-shadowed knoll in the distance. At the
edge of the cliffs overlooking the sea, the timeworn columns of Dunhaven’s Door
stood as they had for countless centuries. Those seven weathered monoliths
pulled at her, filling her dreams—those fanciful dreams that had visited her
for as long as she could remember.

An
obsession with an ancient ring of stones she’d never seen was exactly the kind
of thing her parents would have scratched their heads over—if she’d bothered to
mention it. She hadn’t. How could she explain something she didn’t understand
herself? Especially once she’d visited Gran the summer before starting college.

It
was ten years since the dreams changed. From the very first time she’d stepped
foot inside the ring at Dunhaven’s Door, her dreams began coming at her like
stealthy attacks, clawing at her mind with an urgency, leaving her anxious and
confused. And Colin Quinn played a starring role in each of them.

She
grimaced at the memory of their last encounter. Within the dark confines of
Quinn Manor’s gazebo, she’d foolishly sought Colin’s help understanding the
dreams.

Water
under the bridge
, she reminded herself.

She
was no longer a wide-eyed teenager, easily dazzled by a pair of laughing blue
eyes and a dimpled smile. Experience was a harsh professor, and since the night
in the gazebo she’d been determined to become an “A” student.

She’d
done her best to put Colin Quinn and the world of folklore and fantasy behind
her after returning to New York. In the end, the effort proved impossible.
Though she’d busied herself with her studies, staggering under a heavy course
load until she earned her law degree, the dreams continued.

Her
habit of documenting the details of her nightly adventures helped keep her
sane, and eventually she wove those details into a story that became the basis
for her first novel. The process had been enlightening

Through
the act of writing
Into the Mists
, she’d learned that though the dreams
may set her apart, casting her in the roll of weirdo and freak, they couldn’t
destroy her. The experience also taught her that merely surviving the dreams
would never be enough.

Donovan
nuzzled her neck from the back seat, and she hummed in anticipation of their
surprise appearance. If she’d timed things right, she’d be arriving just in
time for the party being held in the garden of Quinn Manor for Kathleen Quinn.
Gran’s best friend was turning seventy-five today, and Colin was sure to be
there.

She
was nervous about seeing him again, because, whether he knew it or not, he had
a role to play in whatever task the nightly visions required of her. He may
think her mad when she approached him to demand he assist her in solving the
mystery of Dunhaven’s Door, but assist her he would.

She’d
lived with the dreams long enough.

Besides,
unlike the last time she’d faced him, this time she wasn’t alone. If Colin
Quinn so much as looked at her wrong, he’d find himself facing down one hundred
and fifty pounds of intimidating canine.

The
vision of Donovan growling out his displeasure while his large paws pinned
Colin’s wide shoulders to the ground made her smile. She pulled back out onto
the road and headed for Quinn Cottage.

Keely
let her gaze run over the tiny house. She’d contracted a local woman to care
for the cottage when it had come to her at Morna’s death. Clearly, Mary Flynn
took her job seriously. The whitewashed stone structure was well tended and
neat as a pin.

A
pang of grief tightened her chest. Like Keely, Morna had loved Quinn Cottage.

Its
time-weathered, thatched roof and busy, mullioned windows were just as she
remembered. The bright flourish of perennial flowers Gran once babied along
each spring lined the walkway, and twin baskets of colorful blooms hung on each
side of the front door.

The
original homestead of the Quinn family, it had been more than three hundred
years since the last Quinn lived there. A seafarer by trade, Fitzgerald Quinn
left the cottage behind, building and moving into Quinn Manor once he’d made
his fortune.

The
source of that fortune was a mystery to this day. The theories were
wide-ranged, from shady shipping deals and smuggling, to outright piracy. But
Keely preferred the theory in which the long ago Quinn wooed and won a young
fairie princess.

According
to one legend, Fitzgerald’s fairie lover, Princess Fiona, was furious over her
father’s refusal to approve a match between her and a mere human. In defiance,
the stories claimed she secreted every last bauble of her vast fortune from the
fairie realm, pouring them at her lover’s feet in place of her heart before
returning to the realm, never to be seen again.

While
the thought of the couple’s thwarted love saddened Keely, the story itself held
a certain charm and fit with her whimsical impressions of her grandmother’s
hometown. Whatever the true source of the family’s wealth, one Quinn or another
had lived in Fitzgerald’s manor ever since, and those subsequent Quinns had
proven their knack for increasing the family fortune. By all accounts, the
current Quinn had inherited that knack. Her gaze swung to the twin chimneys of
Quinn Manor, visible above the foliage at the top of the lane.

“Come
on, Donovan,” she called. “Let’s get this over with.” She clipped the leash to
his collar before heading up the lane.

The
manor came into view as she passed beyond the trees overhanging the quiet road.
The largest jewel in Dunhaven’s crown, the manor sat upon a gentle rise like a
modern-day castle. Built of the pale granite found locally, the stone had
weathered with the years, gleaming in the summer sunlight, and its many windows
sparkled like diamonds.

BOOK: Gift of the Realm
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