Authors: Tara Nina
Book five in the Cursed MacKinnons series.
A lead on a demonic cult lands Cait and Jenny in the arms of a pair of scrumptious twin Scottish lairds. Hot sex fueled by danger tightens their bonds with these men. But sunlight plays against them. Dour and Donnell MacKinnon are cursed. Just the girls’ luck—they finally find the perfect men and they’re gargoyles.
The cult wants the MacKinnons dead. Cait and Jenny want them in their beds. Men by night. Gargoyles by day. It’s a battle against evil these women are determined to win.
paranormal erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave
This novel is dedicated to my Sizzling Scribe sister Cait Miller. She has been tremendously helpful with her extensive knowledge of Scotland (considering she lives there, it’s a plus).
I am grateful to have the ever-patient Grace as my editor. Her guidance helps make my novels perfect.
Guarded by a tortured soul
A widowed mistress coddles thy brathairs paired
Indebted by unfortunate fates
Their future waits
Hidden beneath wooden planks
Lies stairs o’ blood
Safely they be swathed ’n Fraser green
The translated version of the riddle of the twins rolled through her thoughts as she steadily walked the streets of London. Belvedere tugged happily on his leash, leading as if he knew the way. It had taken months to decipher the riddle that eventually led them to Fraser Castle. Chills skittered down her spine at the memory of standing in the “Green Room” at the top of the once supposedly bloodstained stairs.
As she stood in that room, the words
they were here
floated in the air. When the ghost of a young woman appeared, May knew the whispered rumors about a princess being murdered there were true. The specter’s sad eyes still lingered in her mind. Something bad happened to that young woman, but for now it remained a mystery. May’s main focus was on freeing the remaining MacKinnon brothers.
The clues led to Fraser Castle, which in turn pointed them to The Hunterian Museum where many of the castle’s artifacts had been donated in the early fifties. The museum reported that several years prior the “sleeping twins” statue, as they called it, was sold to a buyer who wished to remain anonymous. Not even an offer of a substantial donation to their cause could loosen their lips.
If she hadn’t by chance seen a picture in the paper… She took a deep breath. What if she was wrong? May took a moment at the corner across from the newly built art gallery. Was she hoping against hope that she’d found them? She turned and fidgeted with her hair as she stared at her reflection in a storefront window. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw something odd. Knowing danger lurked, waiting to strike the brothers, kept her alert to strange things that stood out from the normal.
Casually she tilted her chin, acting as if she fussed with her appearance but focused on a man in a trench coat. Was he following her? Had she seen him a couple blocks back when she’d stopped to allow Belvedere a few minutes in a dog park? He entered a store and she breathed a sigh of relief. Overactive imagination playing tricks, but then again it could be pointing out a possible threat. For several seconds, she studied the door where the man disappeared. He didn’t come right back out so she had to be wrong. He wasn’t following her. She shook her head and turned to the crosswalk.
Now was as good a time as any to determine if her hunch was correct. But was she ready to face
? It had been years. Did something still exist between them? Her heart skipped a beat. The light changed and she stepped off the curb and walked along with the rest of the crowd across the street.
She admired the well-manicured garden gracing the front of the gallery. A small outdoor bistro was to the right of the door with tables and chairs placed under umbrellas on the lawn. A few stone benches lined the walkways weaving through the trees, shrubs and flowers. It gave a welcoming appeal to the uniquely round building with black glass walls.
People were scattered about, enjoying the weeklong grand-opening event. At the top of the stairs, her hand froze on the gallery’s door handle. Was it excitement at seeing an old friend again churning her stomach into a buttery mess? Or was the fear of being wrong about the twins’ location making her hesitate?
May breathed deeply as she looked down at her sidekick, who sat patiently waiting with his tongue sticking out to the side and big brown eyes staring at her. She smiled. “You’re right, Belvedere. Time to pull up my big-girl panties and get this done.”
Jameson knew the name of his surprise visitor before he even looked up from his work. He heard the soft swish of silk, the jingle of her bracelets and inhaled the scent of her perfume, an essence he’d never forget along with the woman. May Allison Kenly-Wentworth-Breckenridge, the woman he’d let slip through his fingers
He lifted his gaze from the invoice and focused on her. His heart beat faster. Her hair was no longer bright red but a lighter shade, more auburn with gray streaks, which only added to her character. She wore it in a loose bun on top of her head with several strands dangling free, outlining her angelic face. It made him smile to see the sexy freckles still spattered across her cute button nose. And even though many years had passed, her wondrous green eyes shone bright with the excitement of a child at Christmas.
Her outfit was typical May. No matter how much money was in her bank account, she followed no fashion trend. She set her own. Today wasn’t any different. He loved the bold-colored dress, but wished it didn’t fit so loosely, hiding what he imagined was a perfect womanly body.
And strutting on a leash at her side was the cutest dog he’d seen in a while. Being unfamiliar with dogs, he couldn’t guess the breed, but it was a lovely shade of brown and white, with fluffy ears and a cropped tail. Unbelievably, it had brown freckles across the bridge of its white snout.
He rolled his wheelchair from behind his desk and headed in her direction.
“May, what a wonderful surprise.”
She reached for his outstretched hand as she crossed the room and met him halfway. He hadn’t changed. He still looked delectable even with the scattered shades of gray peppering his wavy black hair. And when he leveled those deep-blue eyes on her, she swore her knees wobbled. Yep. He still had the magic to make her tingle with a look.
“Jameson Archer, you haven’t changed a bit,” May stated exuberantly.
“You have, May. You’ve gotten even more beautiful than I remember.” He lifted her hand to his lips and pressed a tender kiss to the back of it. May was thankful she’d chosen the loose-fitting, silk kimono-styled dress. If she’d worn something form-fitting, he’d know the effect he had on her by the sudden hardness of her nipples. She blinked, trying to force her focus from his perfect set of lips.
Belvedere barked a warning the moment Jameson’s lips made contact with her skin. May petted his head to soothe his angst, but it didn’t keep him from positioning himself between her and Jameson’s wheelchair.
“Thank you, Jameson. Still the sweet talker I remember.” She grinned.
Her many bracelets jingled when he fingered the charms that dangled from one of them. He caught the sterling silver unicorn, rubbing it between his forefinger and thumb. “I’m amazed to see you’ve still got this one.”
“I take good care of my most prized possessions.”
“And this is one of them?” he questioned.
“Of course,” she replied, gently tugging her hand free. “One of my dearest and oldest friends gave that to me.”
“Ah.” He laughed. “Now I’m old.”
“As am I,” May retorted as she touched his shoulder playfully. She couldn’t help but note the strength she felt beneath her palm. All that upper-body muscle…
“No, May. You are timeless.”
Before she thought better of it, candid words exited her mouth. “Tell that to the wrinkles in the corners of my eyes and my sagging ass.”
Jameson burst out laughing. His infectiously rich laughter made her join in. When they both regained their composure, he motioned for her to sit on the couch.
Belvedere stuck to her side and took a protective stance between them. He gave another low yip of warning as if claiming May as his and never took his eyes off Jameson.
“I see you have a new champion of sorts. What’s his name?”
“Belvedere. He’s an English springer spaniel and quite protective.”
Jameson offered Belvedere his hand to smell and decide whether Jameson was friend or foe. After a few seconds, the pup licked him and allowed Jameson to stroke behind his ear.
“You keep doing that and he’ll be in your lap,” May pointed out.
“I don’t think I’d mind at all.” Jameson smiled as he wagged his eyebrows. “It’s been a while since I’ve had anything warm and cozy in my lap.”
May rolled her eyes and shook her head as she replied, “You are incorrigible.”
“You wouldn’t have me any other way,” he declared teasingly. “Would you care for a drink?”
“A cup of tea would be nice.”
“Not a problem.” He smiled, rolled over to his desk, pressed a button on the phone and requested afternoon tea and snacks be brought in for his guest. Jameson maneuvered his wheelchair so he faced May across the coffee table. “What brings you to London? And how did you know I was here?”
“Jameson, you never do anything small. The opening of your latest art gallery has been posted in every paper from here to New York. How could I not know where to find you?”
“And why, pray tell, lovely lady, have you been looking for me?”
Was that a hint of lust she saw in his eyes? It couldn’t be. Jameson was her oldest and dearest friend. She couldn’t help but remember he and her first husband were best friends. But did he somehow know she’d fallen in love with both of them? Nah, she decided. That was a secret she’d kept to herself. When Hal died, Jameson had been there to help her through that dark time. As her friend, he’d supported her. Nothing more. But could it have been if he hadn’t been married to Muriel?
Though she tried to stop the rapid train of thought, it proceeded. By the time he divorced Muriel, she’d already married her second husband, Stanley. It just never seemed to be the right opportunity for them. She attempted to stop reasoning the why behind their not being together. Looking at him now, she couldn’t help but wonder what it would’ve been like if things happened the other way around in her first marriage.
If she’d married Jameson instead of Hal. She shook the what-could’ve-been scenario from her thoughts. That was many years and two husbands ago.
May tried to turn her thoughts away from the tenderness she felt for Jameson, but the caress of his gaze refused to let her. Could there be something romantic left between them? Unfortunately there was this little bit of business she needed to take care of before anything else could take precedence in her life. She shooed away the fantasy of romance and got down to the reason for her visit.
“I have to admit I have been looking for you, Jameson.” She settled into the corner of the comfy couch. Belvedere snuggled close to her side as she absently rubbed his coat. “Your latest collection has a couple of items I am interested in purchasing.”
“And here I thought you’d come to see me.” He gave her a playful pout, but it disappeared immediately when there was a tap at the door a second before Jameson’s assistant LaVerne opened it and pushed in a cart with a tray of cookies, a silver teapot, a wooden box filled with assorted teas, two teacups on saucers with napkins and matching silver teaspoons. And just for Belvedere, there was a clear glass bowl containing water. Belvedere hopped down and sat patiently waiting, as if everything on the tray were for him.
“Will that be all, sir?” LaVerne asked in a nasal English accent. May couldn’t help but admire the well-dressed, slender man with perfectly coiffed, snow-white hair and black-rimmed glasses. She liked the way he treated Belvedere as he placed the dish on the floor in front of him and stroked his fur.
“Yes. Thank you, LaVerne.”
He nodded in Jameson’s direction as he stood and left.
Jameson lifted the silver teapot and poured hot water into both cups as she selected a teabag. Once the tea was prepared, she sat back, took a sip and watched him over the rim of her cup. Tea was something she’d never seen him drink. Brandy, Irish whiskey, an occasional beer but never hot tea. Odd she remembered something like that. A slight smile tickled her lips. He sipped his then started the conversation again.