Dragon's Mate [Cairgorm Dragons 1] (Siren Publishing Classic) (5 page)

BOOK: Dragon's Mate [Cairgorm Dragons 1] (Siren Publishing Classic)
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“Yes, lord,” she answered.

Quickly, she dressed and left his cave. She was sore, her behind was still throbbing, but she was well content. She changed into dragon-form for the long flight back to the settlement. He did the same. She sensed his thoughts
.
“I’ve taken her this way many times. Strangely she has never conceived. I don’t understand why.”
Then he used his powerful mind
,
second only
to Braemuir’s in power. He looked deep into Ciarda’s mind. She felt him probing to discover if she’d visited Mairi for a potion. However deeply he reamed her mind
,
he could find no evidence. He never would find it because it didn’t exist.
“I shall have to do something, or, if she’s barren, find another mate.”
She heard his thoughts in consternation. She had the power to prevent herself from conceiving
,
and she’d used it with Oidhche, because she’d wanted to conceive with Braemuir. Oidhche had sent her to do just that. But that hadn’t happened
. Now, out of self-preservation, I’d better allow Oidche to get me with child, and soon, or I’ll have no mate at al
l.

Walking through the settlement, she thought about what Oidhche had told her. She could see no reason for taking Eilidh to the shore, but she dare not disobey him. She went to Eilidh’s house, banged on the door
,
and, when Eilidh opened the door to her
,
she said,
“Will you come to the shore for a walk with me?”

Chapter Five

 

Eilidh was reluctant to go with her
. A
lthough Ciarda had been very friendly toward her
. S
he’d also claimed to be Braemuir’s mate. When Braemuir had opened his mind to her, Eilidh had seen how Ciarda had seduced him. Eilidh could understand that no red
-
blooded man,
who had not yet found his mate-for-life, would turn down an attractive woman who offered to fuck him. He hadn’t know
n
what a mating was like. Eilidh hadn’t known what it was like either. Most girls just married the man that came to court them, with their parents’ permission. With Braemuir it had felt so right, as if it was meant to be. She had expected to marry someone and hoped he’d love her
,
and she him, but
no one
had told her about the overwhelming love she felt for Braemuir and he for her. Maybe it wasn’t everyone’s fate to have that bestowed on her. Ciarda had offered herself to him, she’d fucked him and pretended to love only him. Then she’d left left him when he wouldn’t be as rough as she desired. Now, she could see no reason for Ciarda to try to be
her
friend. Braemuir had told her to be careful, but he hadn’t told her to have nothing to do with Ciarda. It wasn’t in Eilidh’s nature to be unkind
. M
oreover, this was a small settlement and
it was
unadvisable to be at odds with anyone.

Once outside the house
,
Ciarda said,
“You must come with me
.
Old Mairi is in trouble and needs your help.”

“Where is she? Why didn’t you say so to start with?”

“She’s over by the shore
. S
he’s been hurt. She asked me to come and get you. I can’t carry
he
r by myself
,
and yours is the nearest house
.

Ciarda began to hurry
,
and Eilidh had all on to keep up with her. Eilidh was kindhearted and, at first, didn’t wonder why Mairi wanted her above all others. Ciarda was walking fast
,
and Eilidh couldn’t keep up with her without an effort. Nevertheless, she began to have niggling doubts. Something struck her as not quite right. She stopped. Ciarda hurried on for several paces,
and
then she noticed that Eilidh had stopped.

“Why have you stopped, Eilidh? We must hurry. Old Mairi is near to the sea and the tide will soon turn. She’ll be in danger
.

Eilidh had, perforce, to put aside her doubts. Everyone knew just how fast the tide raced in when it turned. If Mairi, old and infirm, was injured and unable to move, when the tide came in, inevitably, she would drown. Eilidh tried to ignore the voice in her head telling her something was wrong. She tried to ignore the feeling of evil coming ever closer. It was very hard to do
,
as the nearer they got to the shore, the stronger the feelings became. Still, for Mairi’s sake, she continued to hasten after Ciarda. At last they came to the shore
.
Eilidh couldn’t see Mairi.

“Where is Mairi?” she asked.

“Just over there, beyond those rocks. You go on. I have a stone in my sandal and must remove it.”

Eilidh continued down toward the rocks. The bad feelings she had been having grew stronger and stronger. She was forced to grit her teeth and oblige her feet to keep moving. She rounded the rocks, just where she couldn’t be seen from the shore and found not Mairi, but a large, well-built man. He was much taller and stronger than her. He was masked, and she was afraid. It had nothing to do with the mask. He seemed to have an aura of evil about him.

“Where is Mairi? What have you done with her?”

“I know nothing of Mairi. I want you. Come here, woman, and give me no trouble or it will be the worse for you.” He had a set of iron chains in his hands. Eilidh stood no chance against his strength, and he took her by surprise, as he wrapped the chains about her body, pinning her arms to her sides. She was easily overpowered. Loaded with the iron chains, she was unable to shape-shift to her dragon.

“Answer my questions satisfactorily and you shall live.” 

“What do you want of me?” Eilidh asked. She didn’t believe he was going to let her live. She was scared, but she tried not to let him see it.

“Are you mated with Solus?”

“That has nothing to do with you.”

“Oh, but it has everything to do with me. I will rid the world of Solus and then the Clan will be mine, and with it, the treasure from Medina Sidonia’s sunken galleon. Only Braemuir is given that knowledge. If Solus dies, I shall be Braemuir. Feasgar and Maddain are no match for me. Then I shall have all that wealth. Nor shall I make the mistake of squandering the gold on a parcel of peasants, as the Braemuirs do.” 

“I don’t know what you mean.” 

“We shall see about that.”

Eilidh felt a huge pressure on her mind-shield. She longed to call for Solus but dared not lower her shield to do so. This man was pushing ever harder against her defences. She let him see a little, hoping it would be enough to convince him she didn’t have the knowledge he sought. He gave a shout of triumph.

“You are his mate. Now I will kill you, and consequently, he will die, too.”

He placed a gag over her mouth to stop her crying out, and then he chained her to the rocks.

“Soon the tide will come in. Don’t worry, your death will be quick. It’s pity I can’t stay to see it. No one can save you now.” He laughed in triumph.

Eilidh was out of sight of the shore. She couldn’t cry out in any case. There was no one to hear her, and the sea made enough noise to drown out the sounds she could make around the gag. The tide had turned, and the sea began to flow rapidly toward the shore. She struggled with the chains. She tried in vain to become her dragon. Oidhche was right. She was unable to shape-shift, loaded as she was with iron chains. She let out a silent cry.


My love, my mate, come to me. I am dying!”

Chapter Six

 

Braemuir was arbitrating between Calum and Donald, two of his farmers, over some matter of their boundaries, which had got out of hand all of a sudden. Calum saw him still, and his eyes seemed to be looking inward, and not at them anymore. The way he had his head on one side, it looked as if he was listening to someone. Plainly he wasn’t listening to what Callum was saying to him. The farmer was startled to see Braemuir shape-shift and the huge dragon take off with a roar of fury. He knew the rulers of the Clan were shape-shifters, and not only the rulers. The Braemuirs had, for generations, scattered their seed indiscriminately. Many women in the Clan had given birth to babies with the ability. Most of them had been quickly married, and the men they had married had been complacent. It was no bad thing to have a shape-shifter as a son. You had first-class defence for your farm and stock. Also, by marrying a girl the Braemuir had impregnated, you saved her from being cast out, and had the Braemuir in your debt.

“Well I never! Will ye look at that. I wonder where he’s off to in such a hurry?” Donald asked.

It was one thing to know they existed. It was altogether something else to have one shape-shift before his eyes, and not just anyone, but Braemuir himself.

“I dinna ken. He sounded verra angry indeed. What a bluidy big dragon. He ought not to do that near civilised folk. Next we shall hae the milk curdling in yon coos,” Calum replied.

“I’m richt glad it’s no’ me he’s efter. I hae ne’er seen him so fashed.”

Calum looked at his friend. Suddenly the boundary dispute seemed unimportant. Calum had been Donald’s neighbour for years. The boundary had always been where it was now.

“Mon, I dinna ken what’s come o’er us,” Donald said.

“I couldna’ rightly say,” Calum replied.

“Och weel. Come tak a wee dram in Lachie’s tavern then.”

Calum shook his head in wonder as he walked off with his friend to the local tavern to discuss the matter over a mug of ale.

 

* * * *

 

Solus hurtled toward the shore. He called to Eilidh.

“I’m coming, my mate.”
 

When he got to the shore, the sea was foaming round the rocks as the tide raced in. She was submerged up to her neck and struggling to keep her mouth above water. He landed close by and surged up to her, on powerful legs. He took the stake in his jaws, careful not to harm her. He wrenched it out of the ground, then rose with her, clasped in his strong front legs. She shivered and shook with the cold and reaction to her ordeal. He couldn’t fly far with her so cold, so he landed on the grass beyond the shore, and set her down. He broke the iron chains and said, “
Dragon, now!”

Then the pale-blue dragon was by his side. Together they rose in the air and, on powerful wings, flew over to Skye and the safety of the Black Cuillins. There she told him what Oidhche had said to her.

“He said he knew we are mated. He said he was going to kill me and you’d die
,
too. I couldn’t shape-shift. He covered me in iron chains.”

Solus’s roar disturbed the sheep on the lower slopes. He was blazing with anger, She
saw
his eyes whirl and was afraid.

“I’m not angry with you, my mate. I wish that cowardly dragon would face me in a fair fight.”

“No,”
she wailed.
“You might be killed. I don’t want to lose you now. If you die I must follow, and what of our son?”

“I won’t live looking over my shoulder all the time in case danger threatens you and him. If Oidhche faces me, he will perish.”

“He mentioned Feasgar and Maddain, who are they?”

“My brother and my sister. All dragons have Gaelic names. My brother, Lachlann’s name, Feasgar, means afternoon or evening and his colours reflect the dying day. He is orange, yellow, and amber. Muireall, my sister’s dragon name is Maddain, which means morning. She is aqua, rose, and lavender. I should tell you I have a twin brother, too Riaghan. As is the custom, he wasn’t raised in the Braemuir Clan. He’ll be able to return when we are mated.”

“Why was he sent away? Did he do something wrong?”

“No, but it’s the custom that if the Braemuir is one of twins, the younger is raised in another Clan. In the past, it was in case of sickness or danger. The Braemuir line would aways continue true. Now it’s just a custom that no one cares to disregard. It must be hard for him.”

“I hope that we don’t have twins, then. I would hate to send one of my babies away.”

“It’s only in the case of two boys, but you are carrying one son,
mo run
, so it won’t happen to you.”

She hadn’t really believed the half of all he’d told her. That wasn’t quite right. She hadn’t been able to accept it all, until it became obvious that Oidhche did indeed mean to kill her.
How cowardly of Oidhche to choose to destroy Braemuir through me.
He hadn’t succeeded, but now she believed Braemuir when he repeated that it wasn’t safe for people to know they were mated. It would be even worse if they discovered she was with child. He decided that she needed to be safe, away from the settlement, away from all who might harm her. He sent out a call for Feasgar and Maddain.

Two large dragons arrived in the Black Cuillins, in a matter of minutes. They had been close, sunning themselves on Kilt Rock and watching the sea eagles hunting. Feasgar was a male dragon, smaller and slighter than Solus. He was the colours that Solus had described to her, and he was as beautiful as an autumn evening.

BOOK: Dragon's Mate [Cairgorm Dragons 1] (Siren Publishing Classic)
9.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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