Authors: Patty Taylor
Table of Contents
SEA WOLF MAGICK
Highlander Magick Series, Book 2
SOUL MATE PUBLISHING
SEA WOLF MAGICK
Cover Design by Syneca Featherstone
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, business establishments, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Published in the United States of America by
Soul Mate Publishing
P.O. Box 24
Macedon, New York, 14502
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
I wish to dedicate
Sea Wolf Magick
in loving memory to my devoted father, Luther Taylor.
I know in my heart you’re smiling down at me.
This one’s for you, Daddy! ((Hugs, always))
As a child I will remember, a tall and quiet man,
Who smiled and took me by my hand.
He’d grin and wink, then say to me,
Come on, and tag along.
It seems like only yesterday, when tomboy days flew by,
In the summer we’d go fishing,
In the fall we’d train the dogs.
And my Daddy always took the time and patience,
to teach me right from wrong.
One day he walked me down the isle,
My unsteady hand wrapped around his strong arm,
He paused and kissed me on the cheek,
His eyes were filled with tears,
He whispered softly in my ear,
This time, I’ll tag along.
The angels came and took him
To a place I cannot follow.
The only comfort that I have,
Is that his pain and suffering’s gone;
And now my loving mother stands beside him,
And they’ll never be alone.
But in my heart and soul, I know,
In time, one day again I’ll see;
My daddy as he waits for me,
Standing in a meadow or beside a bubbling stream,
And then he’ll wave and call to me,
Come on and tag along.
A special thanks to Màiri, Beth, and Lane for your continued support and mentorship with my Highlander Magick Series. I feel very blessed to have made the friends I have in my writing journey. I wish to thank Debby Gilbert, my editor and publisher, for her continued faith in my stories, and a special thank you to my cover artist, Syneca Featherstone, for designing my gorgeous covers.
The Mystic Fairy Glens of Cuillin Hills, Isle of Skye
“Aye, lass, what ye need is a good strappin’ man.” A tousled mass of carrot-orange hair sprouted above Beth’s favorite
Herbal Lore Encyclopedia
. Darby winked. His mischievous green eyes sparkled, peering over the top of his gold-rimmed glasses. Jumping down from his favorite stool, he shuffled toward the crackling fireplace as he pulled his pipe from his frayed coat pocket and puffed on the crooked stem. “Just placin’ me own opinion, of course.”
The pleasant scent of fresh tobacco filled the cozy cottage Beth Macgregor now considered home. Her wee companion grabbed a poker and stoked the crackling fire. “And I’m not implyin’ about askin’ someone to help do the chores.”
Is it that obvious
Her heart fluttered. A warm rush flooded her neck and face.
These bloody hot flashes have gotten
out of hand. By the Goddess, I’m only turning thirty next week. Darby’s right though. I can’t deny the truth much longer.
Like an unquenchable thirst, the unrelenting cravings grew worse each night. Her body constantly reminded her she was still a young woman with serious needs.
Beth blew at a few wispy hairs tickling her eyes and wiped her forehead with the back of her hand. Beads of perspiration trickled down her cleavage. She stepped back from her cluttered counter filled with plants and jars, and made her way to the window, pushing open the diamond-grid panes.
A stunning white stag raised his head near a field of heather nestled in the green valley beside the Mystic Fairy Glens. The fragrance of fresh pine mixed with wild flowers filled the brisk air.
She closed her eyes and took a refreshing breath.
“What I need is a decent night’s sleep.” She hoped her perceptive little friend didn’t catch her voice waiver. Being part-Fae, the eccentric character had the ability to discover her true thoughts if he really wanted to. “You’re here, Darby, and all the company I need. Besides, another man around the place would get in the way.”
“Aye, thank ye, lass. If only I were human and a few centuries younger, I’d been courtin’ ye meself long before now.” Darby’s heritage was rather unique. Particularly since he was a descendant of the famous Scottish Brown Man of the Muirs and his mother was an Irish fairy.
His caterpillar eyebrows arched, and a secret smile curved his mouth. “And dinna be tryin’ to change the subject. Ye’ve been healin’ and tendin’ to the needs of everyone in the village except for yerself. ’Tis past time ye be takin’ a deservin’ break.”
Darby scraped a kitchen chair across the hardwood floor toward the tall oak bookcase. The screeching noise made goosebumps rise on her arms. The muscles tightening in her neck, she sensed Darby’s gaze settle on her back. Fidgeting with her apron strings, she strolled back to her workstation and tried to focus on preparing an arthritic remedy for one of her elderly customers.
“Why dinna ye consider takin’ Michael up on his offer? He’s a fine strappin’ man, that one. I do believe a relaxin’ donner along the beach one night would do ye some good.”
By the Goddess, I hope . . . No, Darby would never spy on me.
Beth blew out her breath and bit her lower lip, pushing the foolish notion from her mind. The past few moonlit evenings, she’d tiptoed out the back door and rushed down the grassy knoll behind the cottage to the creek. Letting her thin nightgown slip to the ground, she’d twist her long hair into a bun before easing herself in the mist-covered stream. The refreshing cold water surging over her fevered body provided her with some relief.
She realized, deep in her heart, only one thing could quench the mounting fire raging between her loins. And that was the love of a man. Except the man she’d been dreaming about hadn’t come along yet.
Here, lately, an overwhelming sense of loneliness and despair gnawed at her insides. Gifted with the power of sight, her intuition usually proved correct.
This was one time, she prayed she was wrong.
Cold chills rippled down her spine. She tried blocking out the recurring images. The vision of Darby fading into total darkness haunted her.
“Did ye even hear a word I said, lass?” His voice interrupted her thoughts.
“I promise, Darby, I’ll think about it.” Beth gripped the wooden pestle lying next to the stone mortar between her clammy fingers. She returned her attention to the tedious task before her.
“I promised to have this remedy ready for Mrs. McIver by tomorrow morning.” Not paying attention, she grabbed the prickly stems of the stinging nettle plant without the protection of her gloves. “Ouch.”
The tiny needles pierced deep inside her hand. She flinched, sending several glass jars shattering to the floor. “Damn it!”
Darby hopped down from his stool. He waddled on short legs toward the doorway, where he grabbed a broom and dustpan.
Beth hurried and rubbed an herbal salve of dock and plantain leaves on her skin to sooth the pain. She knelt, gazing at the ruined harvest of seeds and dried cuttings scattered amongst the shattered glass. All due to her clumsiness. With her head lowered, she sighed and closed her eyes. An awkward silence enveloped the room.
“I’m sorry, lass, ’twas naught yer fault but mine, I’m afraid, for bringin’ up such foolish notions in the first place. I’ll help ye gather more plants come tomorrow.” Darby gently squeezed her shoulder before sweeping the shards of splintered remains from the hardwood floor.
Beth stood, watching her best friend head toward the open door with the remaining clutter. Unable to meet his good-natured gaze, she turned her back purposely to avoid his keen eyes.
Beth wiped her forehead with the back of her hand. The stabbing pain in her heart stung more than the prickly nettles. She turned away, sticking her finger between her lips, and spied a green ribbon dangling from the front of her cedar hope chest. Stepping lightly across the floor to the trunk, she sniffled and lifted the heavy lid.
A scroll dropped to the floor.
She smiled, remembering the precious gift her beloved younger sister Keara had given her when they still resided at the country homestead nestled in the rolling hills of Thurmont.
Gathering the sides of her long tartan skirt, she knelt in front of the chest, untied the smooth satin ribbon, and unrolled the parchment. Her legs tucked beneath her, she admired the meticulous details of the artwork. She leaned over, sprawling the paper on the floor in front of her and ran her fingers across the sketch depicting a brawny Highlander.
The Scotsman’s muscular hands clenched the wooden wheel of an old ship. Chestnut brown ringlets clung to his forehead. Locks of shoulder-length hair were strewn across his handsome face, while he braced himself against zealous gusts of wind. The white caps of ocean waves thrashed against the bow. Clad with a tartan plaid slung over his shoulder and a dirk tucked into his kilt, his chest was embellished in Celtic symbols and dragon tattoos.
A spark of light caught her attention. The Highlander’s eyes amazingly flashed from a warm chocolate brown to a vivid golden yellow before changing back to normal.
It can’t be.
She blinked. Those melting brown eyes drew her like a magnet. Having learned by now that the Isle of Skye was definitely a place of magic and enchantment where most everything was possible, she concluded
her vivid imagination must be running wild.
She reached inside her hope chest and retrieved two rose quartz crystals to use as paperweights. Her fingers traced the outlines of the rugged Highlander’s shoulders down to the intricate dragon tattoos on his muscular chest.
Her eyes locked with his. A searing connection raced through her veins like electric shocks, leaving her arms and legs tingling. Warmth spread between her inner thighs, generating a craving like none before. Her upper-body flushed with heat, and her forehead beaded with sweat.
A dark shape scuttled across the bottom right-hand side of the scroll. A spider reminding her of a tarantula, attached its enormous body to the paper like glue and stretched its hairy legs above its beady eyes and head. Beth shrieked and looked for something nearby to grab and swipe the hideous creature off her sketch. She never was fond of spiders.
Its spindly limbs arched and swayed in the air like the creature was performing a dance ritual. One by one, they took turns tucking their fingered claws beneath the bearded abdomen to gather strands of fine, silky hairs. The bristled arms twisted and swirled and begun spinning the fibers together until they formed a black shimmering yarn that weaved an intricate webbed silhouette around its body.
Like ink draining from eight quilled pens, the artistic limbs drafted the outline of four teardrops with a tiny apostrophe mark over each one.
Beth leaned back and stared, her mouth open wide. She watched the elaborate details of a paw print appear in front of her like magic.
The spider retracted its jointed legs. Its body shuddered before bursting into a scattering of sparks. Smoke swirled from the smoldering flare, and the stench of rotten eggs drifted in front of her face. She wrinkled her nose, waving her hands to clear the smoke and nasty fumes from the air. The new imprint sizzled red and sparkled in multicolor before turning jet black, leaving an embossed animal imprint on the parchment.
Wicked laughter echoed overhead. The flames in the fireplace died. A frigid air filled the room while an eerie feeling crept over her like a black shadow. Quickly, she rolled the parchment and clutched it to her chest.
The front door burst open. Darby stood in the middle of the doorway, his mouth twisted into a scowl. The normal rustic color of his face drained and turned pale. His glance traveled from her face to the stone fireplace. His thick eyebrows arched when his gaze centered on the sketch she clasped in her hands. The distinctive sparkle in his eyes had vanished, replaced with a sad and cold stare. The wrinkles of age overpowered his worn face, pronouncing a look of sorrow and pain. His pudgy hand clutched the crystal knob and closed the door as he headed to the fireplace and grabbed an iron to poke for hot ashes.
“Darby, are you all right?” Anxiety gripped her heart from Darby’s worried expression. The silence between them made her uncomfortable. Biting her lower lip, she shoved the rolled-up scroll deep inside her apron.
“I’m fine, lass. I should know well by now I canna change fate, ’tis all.” He lowered his gaze to the floor and shook his head.
A gust of wind blew through the open window and brushed against her body, strong enough to extinguish the remaining embers.
Beth opened her mouth to speak and then clamped it shut. She wanted to tell Darby the truth about the spider and the paw imprint on the parchment, but her gut feeling gnawed at her better judgment to keep it to herself for the time being. Instead, she decided to head out for a stroll to gather her thoughts.
Beth traipsed to the open window and closed the panes before pulling her shawl from a wall hook and draping it across her shoulder. She scooped up her basket for gathering herbs and proceeded to the door. “I’ll be back later, Darby. It’s a perfect harvest moon night, and I want to replace some supplies.”
“Please, Beth, ye mustna go out this evening, lass. A storm is startin’ to brew, and the harvestin’ can wait ’til tomorrow. Ye have enough ingredients left to hold Mrs. McIver over for a few days.”
The twinkle gone from his eyes, his knuckles cracked as he gripped a piece of wood. She could have sworn his cheeks glistened with a few tears. She knelt in front of Darby, threw her arms around his shoulders, and hugged him.
“I promise, I’ll be back soon. You said yourself, a good brisk walk will do me good and help clear my mind.”
Darby sniffled, wiping his eyes with the back of his worn sleeve. He reached inside his coat pocket and unwrapped a shiny necklace and motioned for her to lean down while he placed it over her head and around her neck. “If ye’re determined to head out tonight, I know I canna change yer mind. But there is one thing I
Beth lifted her long hair from beneath the silver chain and cradled a beautiful oval opal surrounded by sparkling tiny diamonds in her fingers. With a soft gasp, she marveled at the exquisite gems. “It’s stunning, Darby. I don’t know what to say.”
“Ye must never remove it. It belonged to someone verra special many years ago.” Darby grinned, a faraway look in his weary eyes, he rubbed a hand through his wavy hair. “No matter what happens, swear to me, lass, ye willna take it off.”
“I promise. And thank you.” Beth leaned over and kissed his moist cheek. She studied the aged wrinkles beneath his eyes. “I’m worried about you, Darby. Are you sure you’re all right? I don’t ever remember seeing you act this way.”
“I’m fine, lass. Go on with ye, I’m just bein’ foolish in me old age.” He squeezed her hand and turned back to the fireplace.
She straightened, picked up her basket, and took one last glance at her friend fidgeting with a brittle stick and poking at the fire. Biting her lower lip, she tried to erase the twinge of guilt about not telling him the truth before she twisted the door handle shut behind her.
A thin mist hovered over the path leading beside the emerald forest. Hard to believe any storm could disrupt the quiet still of the cool evening, Beth stopped to gaze at the breathtaking, clear evening sky filled with brushstrokes of salmon-pink mixed with hues of yellow. Sheep bleated and scurried down the steep embankments toward the sea. Thunder rumbled, and a clash of lightning lit up the sky. The hideous laughter she thought she imagined at the cottage returned.
The troubled look on Darby’s face haunted her. Taking a deep breath of air to settle her nerves, she convinced herself everything would settle back to normal come morning.
A thunderous roar erupted behind her. Like an earthquake, the ground shook beneath her feet. She jumped.
The cottage. By the Goddess, Darby!
Beth dropped her basket and raced toward home, her shawl falling from her shoulders. Curls of smoke rolled from the chimney. Her heart beat frantically against her chest. A hard lump swelled in her throat. Out of breath from running, she stopped in front of the door, grabbed the handle, and pushed. It wouldn’t budge. Somehow it must have bolted shut behind her without Darby realizing it.