The Next Daughter of Highland Darkness is Here!

DOD-Adaira-2017

A sister’s unbreakable loyalty…

Left for dead by the evil queen’s dark servant, Adaira finds herself in the hands of Rafe, a wolf-shifter who threatens her sanity and indomitable heart.

A commander’s unshakeable love…

Ordered to capture the Keith sisters, Rafe Madok, commander of the Honor Guard, must turn over the woman he loves to face justice.

Both must follow their hearts…

By secretly protecting the Keith sisters at the same time he’s expected to capture them, Rafe’s position in his pack is in jeopardy. She must clear her sister’s name and defy the man she loves by asking Rafe to escort her to the very laird that ordered her arrest. Will Rafe choose duty over love? Can Adaira protect her sister and openly love Rafe at the same time? Or will fate destroy everything they’ve worked so hard to protect?

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Adaira

Chapter One

Today was the day her life would end, Adaira felt it bone-deep as she ran through the glen like the devil was coming for her. For a fortnight, the dark fae prince had chased her in the woods, hunting her like prized game. He’d worn her down mentally and physically beyond exhaustion. She didn’t know how much longer it would take before he stripped her of the will to live—to fight for what she believed in.

The prince played cat and mouse to perfection—leaving no doubt who the mouse was. One minute she’d be within his icy grip thinking she’d be returned to the queen, and the next, the prince would let her go—prolonging the inevitable for his own twisted amusement.

Hope of making it out of the glen alive was fading, but Adaira held on to the one thing that made her fight—her beloved sisters. They were depending on her.

The thought of her family gave her strength. She stopped and looked behind her. Although she was no longer being chased, it didn’t mean she wasn’t being followed. She dashed behind a tree, hoping to outwit the devil.

She leaned her head back and prayed the prince hadn’t seen her. Her heart thundered as she anticipated another attack. Just the thought of returning to the Unseelie queen tattered her willpower. It was as if the queen was clawing at her, dragging her back inside a nightmare. A nightmare that Adaira had lived through for the past ten years.

Suddenly, something wet slid down her leg. Lifting her dress, she rubbed her calf. Blood soaked through her wool stockings and onto her hand. Maiden, Mother, Crone?  She searched her body to find where the blood was coming from. A sting spread across her back and she reached over her shoulder, wincing as she swiped at her skin. Shite, the bastard had gotten her. It wouldn’t be long until the fae poison entered her bloodstream where the bastard had slashed her back with his claws. She was doomed.

Adaira hung her head. That’s when she noticed the bloodstained snow. The trail of blood led straight to her location. Nay! What was she going to do? The prince would surely find her now.

The earth suddenly shifted, causing her to freeze. No mere mortal would have felt it. The air around her flickered like a flame. The hair on the back of her neck stood on end from the powerful charge. He’s here. There was no time to react; the prince swooped down from the sky and landed a few yards from the tree. Terror streaked down her spine. He settled his great black wings and searched the area with his keen gaze. Adaira sucked in a breath, standing as still as the dead. The prince scooped up a handful of blood-soaked snow and inhaled deeply. Her essence was everywhere—the bastard would find her.

Adaira hugged the tree tighter, murmuring the only words of protection she could think of, Maiden, Mother, Crone. Spare me. Or just let me die before he finds me…She gasped for air, finding the courage to fight.  Surrendering wasn’t an option. She needed to think clearly on how she was going to escape. Weak from blood loss, her muscles ached. Though she possessed unnatural strength, she wasn’t immune to pain and suffering. And the wet cold had finally taken its toll. She needed rest and warmth—shelter from the prince.

The sound of snow crunching beneath his boots echoed around her. He was so close she could hear his heartbeat.
Oh, goddess, please. Please do no’ let him see me. She closed her eyes and pressed herself flatter against the tree. The rough bark bit into her flesh like jagged teeth.

The prince crept past her like a fine mist floating through the glen. She cursed herself for being weak. If she had half her strength, she could attack him, rip his throat out, and personally deliver it to the queen. That wasn’t going to happen. Instead, she had to outsmart the fae. She’d die before she’d allow him to bring her back to the queen.

Taking in a shallow breath, she eyed him again. He’d moved several feet ahead, studying the trees and ground in front of him. He knelt and scooped up another handful of snow. Adaira welcomed the distance between them, though it wasn’t far enough.

Mayhap she’d live to see another night.

He stood and looked up into the sky. Slowly, he tilted his head from side to side like he was listening to something or mayhap someone. Fearing for her life, Adaira slowed her breathing as she kept her eyes pinned on the prince. He spread his massive black wings, stretching them wide. What is he doing? He knew she was here and weak. Why hadn’t he gone in for the kill?

He crouched down, and with one pump of his wings, he flew up into the sky disappearing behind the clouds.

Dearest Maiden … she sighed in relief as she peeled herself from the tree. She coughed through the coldness in her throat. On shaky, weak legs she took a step forward, then collapsed into the snow. Her body was shutting down. All she wanted was rest; however, if she surrendered to exhaustion she’d surely die. The prince didn’t give up on his prey this easily. He’d return—she had to keep moving.

With all her might, she found the strength to stand. She brushed the snow off her dress and straightened her spine. “Leana, I will find ye.”

The day turned colder and darker as the graying clouds engulfed the sky. She shook her head as she continued trudging through the snow. The fae poison was slowly dulling her wits. It would kill her if she didn’t tend to her wounds quickly. She couldn’t remember how many days she’d been on the run, but the growing pain drove her to find shelter.

Adaira stopped abruptly and squinted through the snow flurries. Smoke billowed up ahead. Where there’s smoke there must be fire, and where there’s fire, there must be shelter. Could she trust what she was seeing? Or was this fae poison trickery? At this point, she hadn’t any choice. If she didn’t get the poison out of her body, she’d die. And if she stayed outside in the cold much longer, she’d perish from exposure.

Adaira forced her exhausted body to keep going. Black and silver tents dotted the landscape. She heard men’s voices in the distance. Aye, this was a campsite, but whose? Why were they camped in the middle of nowhere?

She crept to the closest tent, the fire more inviting than anything she’d ever seen. Keeping watch, she warmed her hands over the flames. Her body slowly tingled back to life as she prayed this wasn’t a dream, that she wasn’t lying in the snow somewhere dying.

But death visions didn’t include the smell of smoke or fine ash drifting high in the nighttime air. This had to be real.

The frigid wind shook the tent, startling Adaira. She quickly retreated into the shadows, waiting to see if anyone would come out. She shivered, imagining herself inside the shelter, tucked beneath a thick fur with a bowl of hot broth in her hands. Her knees buckled. The poison smoldering in her veins was spreading. Someone had to be around to help her. Were these honorable men or beasts like the prince? Would they assist her?

Before she collapsed from exhaustion, Adaira staggered through the snow to the tent and walked in. “Hello?” The word came out as a mere whisper.

When no one answered, Adaira stepped deeper inside. She rubbed the cold from her arms as she looked around. A fur pallet was situated on one side and a sword and water skin were laid out next to it.

Another sharp wind rattled the canvas, but this time it was different. It howled with warning. Adaira’s gaze zigzagged across the shelter as the shadow of a wolf appeared on the outside. Consumed with fear, she knew she didn’t possess the strength to fight. She moved quickly, grabbing up the sword, ready to strike if she had to. But the beast was nowhere to be seen.

This wasn’t over. It couldn’t be. Wolves were as relentless as the dark prince. The bloody bastards hunted in packs and didn’t give up—not until the hunt was over—until their prey was dead. Adaira wasn’t ready to enter the barren realm of death— she’d fight. If they wanted her, they’d have to come and get her.

A wolf howled and three more shadows appeared, circling the tent. “Show yerself, wolf,” she cried out with the last bit of strength she possessed, the sword almost too heavy to lift.

She followed the shadows around the inside of the tent, ready to pierce their furry flesh through the heavy material. Her back was facing the tent’s entrance when a cold blast of air rushed inside. A wolf had entered the tent. She felt its breath on the back of her neck.

Heeding her instincts, Adaira whirled around, the sword raised high in the air. A gray wolf stalked closer, snarling and snapping at her. Shite, the poison. Would she even be able to swing the heavy weapon? Surely the beast could sense her weakened state and smell her fear. Any sudden movement would invoke an attack.

Too weak to hold on to the sword, it dropped from her hand. The beast lunged and she squeezed her eyes shut, ready to feel its sharp teeth bite into her skin. When she didn’t end up on the ground with the wolf gnawing at her neck, she opened her eyes and gasped.

The world was spinning as she staggered forward, finding a naked man with long dark hair streaked with gray standing in front of her. She reached out and touched his face, burying her shaking fingers in his thick beard. Familiar silver eyes bore straight through her. By the saints, she knew those eyes, for they haunted her dreams.

“Rafe?” She swayed and fell forward. Strong arms caught her, pulling her into a wall of pure muscle and warmth.

“My heart’s queen.” The rugged voice she knew so well soothed her aching body. His words assured her safety. “I will take care of ye.”

Adaira rested her head on his chest, letting him hold her up. “Rafe,” she swallowed, struggling to talk. “Poison.”

“Shhh, let me take care of everything.”

Adaira’s world faded into a black void, but her heart was safe.

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