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Authors: TERRI BRISBIN

Rising Fire

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PRAISE FOR
RISING FIRE

“Terri Brisbin weaves a richly imagined, spellbinding romantic fantasy in
Rising Fire
! Atmospheric, absorbing, infused with dark magic, gripping intrigue, and mesmerizing sensuality, the Stone Circle series is Terri Brisbin at the top of her game. I'm totally hooked and I can't wait for more!”

—
New York Times
bestselling author Lara Adrian

 

PRAISE FOR

THE NOVELS OF TERRI BRISBIN

“A carefully crafted plot spiced with a realistic measure of deadly intrigue and a richly detailed, fascinating medieval setting.”

—
Chicago Tribune

“A sharp-tongued and sharp-witted heroine clashes romantically with a dark and dangerously sexy hero in Brisbin's latest captivating medieval romance. Expertly laced with danger and sweetened with sensuality,
Taming the Highlander
is an absolute delight.”

—
Booklist

“Excellent. . . . The quick-moving story contains several twists readers may not see coming.”

—
Romantic Times
(4 stars)

“Historical romance fans will fully enjoy
Once Forbidden . . .
a powerful relationship drama.”

—The Best Reviews

“As always, Terri writes compelling characters and a riveting story that totally draws you in to the world of medieval Scotland. . . . The kind of story that will stay with you long after you finish the last page.”

—The Romance Readers Connection

“Beautifully written . . . [and] filled with surprises, passion, and danger,
Surrender to the Highlander
has something for all our reading pleasures. Terri Brisbin pens another excellent read.”

—CataRomance.com

“A seductive, vivid love story between a sexy hero and a strong heroine . . . a highly emotional tale that is vastly entertaining. It's rich in historical detail, laced with the perfect amount of passion, and enhanced with intrigue. . . . Ms. Brisbin continually delivers highly satisfying romances, and
Surrender to the Highlander
is another winning effort from her; don't miss it.”

—Romance Reviews Today

“A great historical romance with rich characters that will delight and entice readers . . . [an] engaging story of a powerful Highland beast and the lovely lady who tames him. . . . Fans of Brisbin's novels will not be disappointed with her work, and newcomers will find in Brisbin a great new author to add to their historical romance list . . . a lively, frolicking tale of life in the Highlands; truly a must read.”

—Historical Romance Writers

“Empathetic, well-defined protagonists, solid historical detail, and a well-crafted plot filled with spies, treachery, and intrigue keep things on track in this lively adventure.”

—
Library Journal

SIGNET
ECLIPSE

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 375 Hudson Street,

New York, New York 10014

USA|Canada|UK|Ireland|Australia|New Zealand|India|South Africa|China

penguin.com

A Penguin Random House Company

First published by Signet Eclipse, an imprint of New American Library,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Copyright © Theresa S. Brisbin, 2015

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

SIGNET ECLIPSE and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

ISBN 978-0-698-15324-0

PUBLISHER'S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are 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.

Version_1

Contents

Praise

Title page

Copyright page

Acknowledgments

The Legend

Prologue

 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Epilogue

 

Excerpt from
RAGING SEA

About the Author

To Val Luna—librarian, writer, friend: You loved this idea when I first told you about it and urged me to write it. I hope it turned out as you thought it would. Yours was a life well lived. It ended too soon with stories yet to be written, and I will miss you
always.

Acknowledgments

This series has ruled my thoughts and writing for more than three years—from the first idea to finally bringing it to readers now. During that time, many, many friends and readers pushed me on to write it, and I'd like to thank several:

To Jen and Lyn Wagner, my unofficial brainstorming-critique group—thanks for talking me off the ledge too many times and for always being supportive of my crazy creative process—you keep me grounded, or, at least, away from the whisky.

And to Carolyn Sullivan, a writing colleague from New England—thanks for believing in this series and for giving me a message about the future for
it.

The Legend

Centuries ago

T
he earth buckled beneath her feet, its roar fearsome and deafening, and the sky tore itself open to hurl torrents of rain and lightning at her. Chaela soared through the air and laughed as the others used their powers against hers.

The goddess of fire and chaos, she inhaled the acrid smoke of the destruction she wrought as her enemies and their minions scattered before her might. Chaela savored the taste of ashes in her mouth that foretold of the victory that would soon be hers. Raising her voice, she formed the words and sounds that would bring forth the fire from within her. That fire would bring an end to this battle and to her enemies gathered there.

A moment away from sending brimstone and flames at the last of them, a freezing burst and a terrifying silence flooded through her mind. Like a woolen blanket swaddling a newborn, the silence strengthened, surrounding her until she could hear nothing, feel nothing, and think no words of incantation or spell-making.
She gazed across the desolate plain and discovered the other six gathered among the only stones left standing. Her weakling son stood with them—
against her!
—but she would make sure he'd pay for his betrayal. Soon . . .

Another sound began, invading her thoughts, pushing her down to the ground and forcing even the breath from her body. Their voices rose, chanting words she did not know, until the eerie melody was everywhere.

“No!” she screamed against the overwhelming power of it. They could not defeat her! She could not let them.

She sought the words of a protective spell, but they scattered, as those who had chosen to follow the six traitors had. Chaela drew upon the fire inside her, searching for the power that was hers to burn and destroy, but it, too, was gone.

Cernunnos forced the ground beneath Chaela to thrust up, tossing her into the air. The winds, guided by Taranis's powers, carried Chaela to the stone circle and held her motionless above it as the enchantment grew louder around her. And still she could not release herself from the bonds the six created.

“Chaela,” Belenus, the god of life and order, called out to her. “Cease this and you will be allowed to live.”

“Fools!” she roared back when her voice would serve her mind. “I cannot be destroyed!” Struggling against the bonds that held her, she could not do more than scream out in frustration. Elemental powers such as hers were created by the universe and could not be extinguished.

“You can be defeated, Chaela. You will be imprisoned in the endless pit and never return. Your name will be forbidden and forgotten,” Sucellus, the god of war and change, told her.

She would never be forgotten—she had seen to that. Her name and her legend—and her blood—would go on no matter what these betrayers were able to do here today. Her very being held an elemental power of the universe and could never be extinguished. Chaela laughed then, the sound echoing across the decimated landscape. The people who had served and gained powers from their gods should be afraid, very afraid, of her wrath and the extent of her powers. Gathering every bit of the power that lived in her blood, she pushed out one final time, trying to force herself loose from the binding spell.

Spiking tendrils of pain and terror seeped through her as she watched a huge black hole open beneath her in the center of the standing stones. The seven continued chanting, and each word pierced her like a sword, her powers leaching out of her as they forced her closer and closer to the yawning pit. Her body levitated over the chasm, and then she fell. Though free of the binding spell, she could not break through the barrier they placed over the opening.

“Free me!” she screamed, beating at the invisible wall between them.

Lashing out with her remaining powers, Chaela pounded against the wall that kept her from the world she would rule. She could feel a weakness in it, and she thrust all she had against it. She watched as the seven standing above her startled, and she threw her head back, laughing at their stupidity.

To bind a power such as hers to this place, there must be a sacrifice to strengthen the spell. A sacrifice of blood, of her blood.

“You do not deserve the powers we have!” she yelled
through the barrier. “You do not—” She could not speak the rest because her words were cut off by the sight before her.

Her son, the only one of her human-kind children who'd inherited some of her power, threw himself over the pit. Sucellus sent a spear of iron through his heart, and his blood spilled across the barrier. Instead of freeing her, his sacrifice sealed the portal over her.

Chaela pounded fruitlessly against the now-impenetrable divide and then fell back into the blackness, unable to see or to feel an end to it. The opening of light disappeared above her as she fell farther and deeper into the void, but Chaela stopped fighting it and allowed herself to drift downward.

Let those traitors above believe her conquered. Let them believe themselves and the other puny humans safe. They may have won this battle and thrown her from the human world into this void, but they would not win in the end.

They would eventually die off in the human world while she lived on forever in this prison, searching for a way back.

And she would find a way back—to take her rightful place as ruler, to avenge this wrong, to destroy those who could band together against her.

She would find a way to return, and every one of them and their descendants would curse this day when they turned against her.

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