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Tall, Dark, and Medieval
 


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Tall, Dark, and Medieval


  TALL, DARK, AND MEDIEVAL

  VICTORIA ZAK

  ELIZABETH ROSE

  BARBARA DEVLIN

  LAUREL O’DONNELL

  COPYRIGHT

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

  Highland Storm

  Copyright © 2014 Victoria Zak

  The Dragon and the Dreamwalker

  Copyright © 2013 Elizabeth Rose Krejcik

  Arucard

  Copyright © 2015 Barbara C. Noyes

  Midnight Shadow

  Copyright © 2011 Laurel O’Donnell

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the express written permission of the publisher.

  Cover art by JAB Designs

  HIGHLAND STORM

  GUARDIANS OF SCOTLAND BOOK 2

  VICTORIA ZAK

  COPYRIGHT

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

  Copyright © 2014 Victoria Zak

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the express written permission of the publisher.

  Published by Victoria Zak

  Cover art by JAB Designs

  Editing by Julie Roberts

  TITLES BY

  VICTORIA ZAK

  GUARDIANS OF SCOTLAND SERIES

  Highland Burn

  Highland Storm

  Highland Fate

  Highland Destiny

  KATHRYN LE VEQUE’S WORLD OF DE WOLFE PACK

  De Wolfe’s Honor

  Highland Burn

  Will Love’s Flame Quench the Dragon’s Fire?...

  The past never stays in the past, it rears its ugly head eventually. James the Black Douglas knows this all too well. With a past that has left him vengeful and his dragon blood thirsty, his reputation as a ruthless warrior haunts his enemies in their sleep. As his allegiance stands with Robert Bruce, the King of Scotland, he must now repay a debt to the king and agrees to marry his daughter, Abigale Bruce. The problem is he doesn’t want a wife. When flames start to burn out of control between him and the auburn-haired lass, he must decide to either kindle the flames of passion or shelter her from the truth and set her free.

  It’s What Shines in the Dark That Brings Forth Your True Light...

  Determined to keep his daughter safe and out of the hands of the English, Robert hides Abigale behind the safe walls of a nunnery. After eight long years of living her life in seclusion, Abigale is finally set free. But her new found freedom comes to an abrupt halt when she learns of her betrothal to the infamous Bogeyman – James the Black Douglas. She soon finds herself falling in love with the uncontainable and haunted man. Is her love enough to soften his hardened heart?

  Highland Storm

  Can passion weather the dragon’s storm?

  The only true pleasures in life Conall Hamilton yearned for were to marry a good woman, raise a family, and hide away into seclusion to live a normal life away from battle and war, not an easy task for the Dragonkine warrior and Clan Douglas’s second in command. Assigned to investigate an allied clan, he vows upon his return to marry his love, Effie. That’s until the Dragonkine warrior finds himself accused of a crime he did not commit, murder. Imprisoned, he must find a way to escape not only to save his own life but to save the life of the woman he loves.

  In time the past will catch up with you…

  Effie Douglas is a survivor. Though not born a Douglas, Effie leaves her old life behind to seek safety within Clan Douglas. For five years Conall Hamilton has been her secret lover and savior, helping her pick up the pieces of her damaged past. Hiding the true nature of their relationship from their clan had become a burden for the red-headed lass and now she desires more. She wants Conall’s name. When Effie is summoned home, she is plagued with unwanted memories, treachery, and new found information that will change her life forever. Will Effie have the courage and strength to weather the storm that rages around her?

  Highland Fate

  She was his saving grace.

  The Red Hawk, warrior chieftain of Helmfirth, is an overbearing, dominating dragon who strikes fear in his enemies, until one day a nemesis dares to test his limits and attacks Hawk and all that he holds dear. With one foot in the grave, Hawk finds himself inside the walls of Dunfermline Abbey and his life at the mercy of Sister Kate. In repaying a debt for saving his life, Hawk accepts Kate’s proposal. Will her proposal be the death of him or save him from a terrible mistake?

  He was her fall from grace.

  Growing up in Dunfermline Abbey, boundaries and vows have kept Sister Kate safe until a wounded red-headed Highlander in desperate need of her help turns her guarded life upside down. The lure of this man brings out a side of Kate long suppressed, and she yearns to leave the Abbey in search of her true self. There’s one problem; she can’t make the daunting journey through the Highlands alone. She needs a Highlander with exceptional skills and she has her eyes set on one—Hawk.

  Highland Destiny

  Rory Cameron, an alluring Dragonkine Highlander, has enjoyed his days as a womanizing beast. But lately his sexual appetite has been unfulfilled and he must have the mate he has not yet discovered. When he finds himself in the arms of Kenna Mackenzie, his hope is fulfilled. Can he contain the flames of love until his mate realizes he is the one for her, or will one mistake cost him his whole world?

  Kenna Mackenzie must protect her future son at all costs—Scotland depends on it. Running in fear from her betrothed, she finds herself secluded deep within the great glen, far away from the likes of men. When she least expects it, a dragon swoops into her life. Feeling the burn of the seductive flames, will Kenna embrace the fire between Rory and her—or will she flee again?

  DeWolfe’s Honor – A World of De Wolfe Pack Novella

  Honor knows no bounds when it comes to love.

  The youngest son of the de Wolfe pack, Thomas de Wolfe, is an honorable knight, who prides himself in sustaining his family’s courageous, legendary name, but in wolf fashion. After a tragic pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Thomas returns home to England a changed man and ready to fulfill his beloved Tacey’s dying wish; to protect her daughter, JewelAna’s, true identity. In order to keep his honor, he must sacrifice his own happiness and deny the alluring pull between him and JewelAna. How long can Thomas keep his oath before the tether that holds him back breaks, unleashing his wolf and his desire to claim his mate?

  Destined to become a princess.

  Pure-blood Welsh princess, JewelAna de Shera, grew up believing that she was born into the legendary English house of de Wolfe, until one day a jaunt into the marshlands of Wales awakens a sleeping malice that reveals a different story. Her true identity is laid bare when a persistent dragon, Fáfnir Wend Draki, comes to collect what is rightfully his; JewelAna. Can she convince Thomas to break his oath and claim her as his own before his wolf is destroyed by the dragon’s flame?

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  This book is dedicated to my family. For if it wasn’t for them, this wouldn’t have been possible.

  HIGHLAND STORM

  PROLOGUE

  Magnus, one of the few remaini
ng Dragonkine elders, raced through the Highlands as if the devil himself followed closely in pursuit. One wrong turn or stumble and he was a dead man. Knowing the facts he held, the creepers were relentless in their chase. Pushing his charger beyond its natural aptitude, Magnus had to reach Black Stone on the Hill. He had time-sensitive information that Laird Douglas needed to know. However, with death hot on his heels, he doubted that he would make it home alive.

  As if the grueling task of cheating death wasn’t bad enough, he’d just endured the realm of dragons. Shifting into a dragon had been the only way to reach the island of Staffa. The salty sea breezes had calmed his nerves and reminded him of home, as he remembered taking to the skies before entering the lair. Smashing waves crashed against the sea cave violently, making it impossible for mere humans to invade the dragon’s territory; a natural defense system that was quite powerful.

  Once in the cave, a long winding trail of ocean water snaked inside, guiding him deeper into the hollowed-out cavern. Hexagonal, basaltic pillars stretched tall throughout the cave as if it were a cathedral for worship. Dragons of all colors and sizes had been perched high on the columns, eyeing Magnus suspiciously as he’d entered their domain. An alarm of hisses and deep gut-gurgling rattles had warned Magnus to tread softly. These dragons did not trust easily, not even their own kind.

  Steam had risen from the waters, leaving behind the salty aroma of the sea mixed with a tinge of sulfur, a smell Magnus would never forget.

  He had hoped to never encounter a true dragon lair again. Spending a decade living strictly in dragon form had grown too comfortable for Magnus. Watching the downfall of his kingdom had been enough to turn him fully dragon and abandon his human side altogether. At the time it had seemed like a good idea. It had been the only way he knew how to mourn the dead, for the pain he’d felt was more than he could handle, being human. Taking dragon form had been the only way he could justify the rage he held inside.

  Treading deeper into the abyss, he’d folded his wings tight against his body as the tunnel began to feel cramped, closed in. Tight spaces had made the dragon’s skin crawl, for if he’d needed to stretch his wings and fly, he wouldn’t have been able to. The small space had left him defenseless, not a desirable predicament. Sweat had beaded on his scales from the humidity, or perhaps from his nerves. Whichever it might have been, he had needed to pick up the pace and get his arse out of there.

  And that was exactly what he’d done. Magnus had talked to the elders and it was precisely what he’d feared. With this new-found information, he’d raced out of the cave with his sights on Black Stone, but what he hadn’t counted on was death chasing him down.

  Now on horseback, Magnus raced through the glen like wildfire. Hot sulfuric breath puffed down his neck as a creeper, dressed in black armor, snatched at his reins. Pulling his warhorse away from death’s grip, he headed down a dirt trail towards Angus land. But making it there was going to be a challenge. He could not fail his Dragonkine brethren; their lives depended on him and so did the people of Scotland.

  Magnus fought the urge to shift; keeping the Guardians’ dragons’ identity a secret was becoming increasingly more difficult. He turned his head to look over his shoulder, red hair whipping in his face, and met the empty eyes of a creeper.

  Creepers in human form and pure death in dragon form, these creatures were vile beyond contempt. With the realization that Magnus now had the knowledge of why they were here and who controlled them, the creepers held nothing back as they fought to keep their existence veiled.

  “Shite!” It seemed as if every turn he made those nasty bastards ghosted around him. He kicked his horse but the steed had given Magnus all he had. To his dismay another creeper appeared on his left flank. He was now surrounded by death. All Magnus could do now was pray but to whom, he did not know.

  Drawing his leg up, Magnus unleashed its power and connected with the creeper, sending it rolling to the ground as the other menace retreated. As he set his eyes back on the trail, from out of nowhere a feminine figure flashed before him as he raced by. Wondering if his eyes had deceived him, Magnus turned his head to look behind him. Why was the woman out here alone? Was she daft? She was going to get herself killed.

  Death came to an unexpected stop before they reached the woman. Magnus slowed his steed and turned to face her. What was the lass thinking? He meant to call out and ask her just that, when he noticed that the black-clad knights seemed afraid of her. She held her hands in front of her as if she was motioning them to halt.

  A bright, golden flash of light flared from her hands, illuminating their surroundings. The flare zapped the creepers, sending them to the ground, disorientated. An iridescent wall now separated Magnus and the lass from death.

  “Go! Now! I dinnae know how much longer I can hold the light!” the woman called out over her shoulder.

  Magnus stood dumbfounded. What the devil had he just witnessed? The view from where he stood was real, aye. Even though he only saw the back of her, she was covered by a white dress with her arms exposed. He couldn’t believe it. Faintly his eyes traced the white markings scrolling up the back of her arms. “Nay,” he exclaimed. Indeed his vision had deceived him. They are all dead; I witnessed the massacre centuries ago.

  Magnus’s horse pranced in a fit as if it could sense the turmoil in the air. Never removing his sight from the lass, he saw her turn and face him with a smile. She nodded her head. More confused than ever, he blinked his eyes, trying to confirm the vision in front of him. Had entering the dragon elders’ lair played with his mind? Shaking the cobwebs from his head, he clucked at his horse and took off towards Angus.

  HIGHLAND STORM

  CHAPTER ONE

  Cold sweat streamed down Conall Hamilton’s face and his heartbeat quickened as he sat up in bed, catching his breath. Ever since he’d dared to dream of a solitary life and settling down with one woman, haunting images of his past plagued his nights. Visions of his beautiful wife and son running into his arms should have been his last memory of his family, but Conall wasn’t granted that pleasure. Instead his last memory was of Ann and wee Thomas brutally murdered outside their village home by a band of rogue Vikings.

  Yet tonight’s dream had been different. There had been no charred bodies, no screams, and no dirty little feet poking out of the white sheet that lay across his son’s lifeless body. Indeed this dream was different; it had come with a message.

  Conall shut his eyes tight, trying to erase the nightmare from his mind. He shoved his hands through his sweaty hair and cursed out loud. “Holy hell!” Ann was here; he had felt her.

  He recalled her warm gentle hands caressing his chest, slowly making their way down under the covers, where he grew rather aroused from the sweet torture. His hands found their way up to long lean legs straddling his hips. By the saints, they are soft.

  The fresh smell of rain wisped past his nose, awakening all of his senses. Silky strands of long hair tickled his cheek and her voice warmed his heart like a summer’s breeze. “Wake up, my darling.”

  This had to be a dream, yet the body spanning him felt so real. And her scent... God, her scent. Even though centuries had passed, that scent never did. Conall rubbed his hands up and down her soft thighs and opened his eyes. “Nay, ’tis a dream.” His Ann? In disbelief, he ran his hands through her golden locks. “Ann.”

  “Aye, my darling,” she said sweetly. His wife felt of flesh and blood; her flawless white skin shimmered with a glow as he trailed his hands down her shoulders and cupped her breasts. “If this be a dream, I do no’ want to wake,” he whispered.

  Ann bent down and kissed his lips. Her lips were just as he remembered them; full, soft and made for passionate kisses. Whispering in between kisses, Conall said, “I’ve missed ye, mo chridhe.”

  The beautiful woman sat up and smiled brightly down at her husband. “’Tis time, Conall.”

  “Time for what?” He didn’t want to waste time with useless chatter. He knew what he wante
d to do. It was what he had longed to do since the day she was unfairly and brutally taken away from him. Claim her one last time.

  Conall pulled Ann down on top of him but was halted. “Nay, Conall, ye must listen to me. ’Tis time to move on and allow yerself to love again.”

  A vision of a memory he wished he could forget flashed through him. He was on bended knees, gathering up his family’s ashes, preparing for his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Ann and Thomas, his wee Thomas, needed a proper burial away from the ruin of their home and the evilness of men. He owed it to them. They deserved peace and their souls needed to be put to rest properly.

  Never allowing himself forgiveness for failing to protect his family, he roamed the Earth emotionlessly. He was a shell of a man. With every step he took he mourned his family, alone. Being immortal, Dragonkine warriors gave part of their immortality to their wives. They had eternity to be together. So he had thought, but no amount given could have saved his Ann.

  As he watched her smiling down over him, he remembered that long daunting journey. Images rolled through his mind as if it had happened yesterday, not centuries ago. Even being a dragon, the road traveled to the Holy Place was dangerous. It left many travelers meeting their maker sooner than they expected. Whether it was inner peace, to be forgiven for crimes, or seeking a cure for illness, the voyagers endured the crusade, seeking spiritual enlightenment.

  One night, on his way to the Holy Land, Conall had sought refuge at a nearby village tavern where he was greeted by an unruly group of local folk. Desperate to rob Conall of everything, the wild men began to beat him. After the first blow the warrior discovered he could actually feel again. Blow by blow his body absorbed each pounding fist as he stood stoic. He believed that this was his punishment for failing his wife.

 
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