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Authors: Tarah Scott

The Pendulum

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The Pendulum

by Tarah Scott

The Wild Rose Press

www.thewildrosepress.com

Copyright ©2007 by Tarah Scott

NOTICE: This eBook is licensed to the original purchaser only. Duplication or distribution to any person via email, floppy disk, network, print out, or any other means is a violation of International copyright law and subjects the violator to severe fines and/or imprisonment. This notice overrides the Adobe Reader permissions which are erroneous. This eBook cannot be legally lent or given to others.

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The Pendulum

by Tarah Scott

THE PENDULUM

by

Tarah Scott

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The Pendulum

by Tarah Scott

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

The Pendulum—Legacy Of The Brooch, Book One COPYRIGHT ©

2007 by Tarah Scott

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Contact Information: [email protected] Cover Art by
R.J.Morris

The Wild Rose Press

PO Box 706

Adams Basin, NY 14410-0706

Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com Publishing History

First English Tea Rose Edition, February 2007

Published in the United States of America 4

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Welcome to the Legacy of the Celtic Brooch series. The authors of this series were handpicked by our editors at The Wild Rose Press and asked to write a tale using an heirloom Celtic Brooch as the one constant in each story. Beginning in March, 2007 with English Tea Rose and Tarah's Scott's, The Pendulum and ending sometime in early 2008 with Marly Mathews from the Faery Rose Line we will follow this brooch on its mystical journey from Regency England to modern times. It might show up as part of a dowry or be used to pay a ransom. It might be magical; it might simply be a piece of jewelry. Every author was asked to put her own spin on the brooch's appearance and they have all done a beautiful job.

We welcome your comments on this series and hope that you will enjoy reading the stories as much as our authors enjoyed creating them for you.

Enjoy the journey!

RJ and Rhonda

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Dear Reader:

Thank you for purchasing this electronic copy of the first in our "Legacy of the Celtic Brooch" series. Please send the following code to me along with your first and last name to [email protected] You will be entered into a drawing for an actual Celtic Brooch. The winner will be drawn at the end of the series, approximately January 2008.

Only one entry per person per story is allowed. If you purchase all 13 stories as they come out this year you will have 13 chances to win this authentic Celtic Brooch.

CODE: LG19728

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Dedication

This book is dedicated to my dear friends and fellow authors, Kimberly Comeau and Evan Trevane. Your willingness to read this book over and over went well above the call of duty. Thanks you guys. You're the best.

I would also like to acknowledge my publisher Rhonda Penders, who never shied away from the hard questions. My editor Katherine Malayvin, for her patience in allowing me to pour over this manuscript until it was right. Lastly, I'm thanking RJ Morris in advance for this, and every other wonderful cover and galley she has created for me.

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CHAPTER ONE

Scottish Highlands, 1388

Lady Airin Keith slid free the bolt, then inched open the hidden door to the Scarlet Knight's bedchamber. Light sliced across the floor in a single, thin strand, and music mingled with male laughter seeped into the room from the great hall below. She hesitated. The hallway door had been left ajar.

Had the knight already taken to his bed? Curse him
and
her father. She had ridden hard in order to arrive before it was too late.

She cocked an ear, straining to hear light snoring or breathing. Nothing. The hour was not yet nine. Surely, the knight would not leave the merry making so early? Mayhap he was unable to hold his liquor. That would serve her well, but no man such as the Scarlet Knight could be anything less than a skilled drunkard.

Airin pushed open the door several inches and peered into the dark until the bed took shape. Thank the saints, empty.

She whirled, her long braid snapping around to her belly, and hurried back twenty feet to retrieve her lit candle. Back at the door, she stepped into the room as a man staggered down the hallway. She jerked her head right as his plaided backside disappeared from view. A moment later, his roar of laughter echoed up the stairs he descended.

Fool
. 'Twould serve him right if he landed skull first on the great hall's stone floor. Airin hurried to the hall door. With a quick glance through the slitted opening, she clicked the door 8

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shut, then turned. She blew out a long breath. When this was finished, she would teach her father a lesson for such underhanded dealing.

Her gaze fell on a table sitting beneath a lavishly curtained window directly opposite her. On the table sat a small, unadorned, wooden box. Airin straightened. The box looked like that which Perry had described. She lifted the candle and peered at it. By the saints, could the burglary be accomplished so easily? At least eighty men milled about the castle. Yet, no guard stood watch outside the room. Mayhap the Scarlet Knight was not as canny as was said. The thought should have soothed; instead, dread coiled like an adder around her insides.

She hurried around the bed to the table, then stopped, afraid of what she might find.

"Ridiculous," she muttered. Her great grandmother's brooch had disappeared seventy years ago without a trace.

The Scarlet Knight's claim that he had found it was false.

She set the candle on the table and lifted the box. Music abruptly lifted in a hard crescendo. Airin stood, heart pounding, as the music dropped again into a low hum. The merry making would continue through the night. Anger simmered just below the level of control.
Aye, Scarlet Knight,
make merry while you can. Tomorrow you return home—

without the bride you thought to claim.

Airin opened the box. There, on purple velvet, lay an ornate silver brooch. Just as her great grandmother Brianna described, knot work ran the full circle of the ring brooch. A dagger embossed with gold, and concealing the stickpin, 9

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sliced through the middle of the brooch. She ran a finger over the lower right edge where the links widened and joined with a coat-of-arms, then paused. Centered over the coat-of-arms, two curls butted, one a fraction smaller than the other.

Brianna loved to tell how her husband had been pulled aside during a fair in Edinborough and given the brooch. The picture was burned into Airin's memory. Except for a scratch on the back of the brooch, Brianna spoke of no other defect.

Satisfaction surged through Airin. The Scarlet Knight should have commissioned a better silversmith. She turned it over, then bent toward the light in order to discern the scratch. She snorted. Just as she thought: no scratch.

Something rustled behind her. She spun, yanking free the dagger strapped to her waist. A blur of gray flitted in her vision. A sharp pain to her head preceded a flash of white light. Thrusting the dagger blindly, she rocked sideways and struck the table. Metal scraped wood as the candle holder slid across the table, then dropped off the edge. It hit with a tiny thud, and the candle flickered, then extinguished. Airin swung, facing the open path around the bed.

Shadow shifted against darkness and a wisp of air brushed her arms. A chill raced up her spine.
Madeline
. Airin's heart beat faster. Her younger sister was no longer satisfied with haunting Beaton Hall, she had returned to her childhood home. Another shift. Airin kicked, connecting with flesh and blood muscle of a man as a low grunt sounded. So the phantom was human. She kicked again, hitting air.

Nausea rolled through her. She stumbled, dropping the box, and groped for the bed. She missed and crashed to her 10

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knees. A flash of light blazed behind her. Fire? Had she died and entered Hell? She glanced over her shoulder. Her vision blurred, but she made out a candle lying beside flaming gold brocade curtains. Airin fumbled for the bedpost, felt wood, then held tight as spots raced across her vision.

Shouts went up in the courtyard as she forced her head up to see a cloaked figure disappear into the passageway. She tightened her grip on the bedpost and heaved to her feet. Her knees buckled, but she held fast, swinging around to face the fire.

The hallway door struck the wall with a crack. Airin twisted around and her heart leapt into her throat. A giant stood in the doorway! Stories of pagan Celtic gods rising from the underworld to claim their victims sprang to mind. The god charged. She reared back before registering the men who rushed past him carrying buckets.

"Airin," a deep voice shouted as she fell sprawling just short of the wall.

She glimpsed the fallen box lying halfway under the bed before a voice near her shouted, "Water."

Airin yanked her gaze up and nearly jumped out of her skin at sight of the towering plaided god standing over her—

then she blinked. Deryll? She jammed her eyes shut and shook her head in an effort to dislodge the specter. Pain rattled the gray within her mind and she grimaced. She was having that dream again, only this time, it had taken a bad turn. She wanted to laugh. Dreaming while awake was surely a bad sign. Cold water doused her head.

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"What—" she sputtered, spitting water and shaking her head again. By the saints, her head throbbed.

Someone shouted for more water.

Fingers closed around her arm hard enough to hurt and a yank brought her to her feet. Someone rushed past as strong arms slipped around her, brushing the curve of her breast as he scooped her close. Warmth rippled through her. She suddenly wanted nothing more than to burrow into his warmth. The mouth, a bare inch from hers, snagged her attention. He had Deryll's full mouth and square jaw. Were Deryll's hands as warm as this man's?

She leaned back and squinted. This man's face was fuller, more angled and—He stepped into the well-lit hallway and Airin went cold at sight of the scar running down the right side of his cheek. A man raced from the room, bumping into them.

BOOK: The Pendulum
13.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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