Donna Grant

Wicked Highlander

Dark Sword — 3

To Melissa and Netti for being such great advocates of the series.

To the wonderful readers on the Dangerous loop.

A heartfelt thanks.


My usual list of thanks: My husband for, well, everything. My kiddos, because they’re young enough to think Mom is still special, and my biggest cheerleaders. To my parents and family, because y’all are the greatest! Thanks are due to my ever-wise editor, Monique Patterson, who has the best suggestions and greatest insights. To Holly and everyone else at St. Martin’s working behind the scenes — you rock! And to my wonderful, supportive agent, Irene Goodman.


Cairn Toul Mountain, Highlands of Scotland

July 1603

Deirdre stood on the balcony overlooking the cavern that made up her great hall. There were no lofty windows to let in the sunlight as they were deep in the mountain.

Instead, there were multiple large, oval candelabras hanging from the arched ceiling high above them shedding their light. In the yawning space, the glow from the candles couldn’t reach everywhere. And that’s just how she liked it.

Wyrran with their pale yellow skin mingled with her Warriors of every color imaginable. They looked like a rainbow below her, but she alone knew the sheer destructive power those Warriors had the potential to create. They were men with primeval gods inside them, each with a distinctive power that set them apart from the others. And these were hers to rule. The Warriors stared up at her, their attention rapt, as they waited to hear why she had convened them.

“Hear me. Feel me. Touch meeee…”

Powerless to ignore the call of the mountain, Deirdre closed her eyes and lost herself in the song of the stones. She forgot about the Warriors and why she had called them to her and placed her hand on the mound of rock next to her. She succumbed to the sweet oblivion the rocks gave her, had always given her. And always would give her.

It had been so since her tenth winter. She had woken to hear the mountain’s call beckoning her. She walked out of her cottage and stared at the distant mountain, knowing that one day she would make the journey to the high peak.

That day was eons ago, but she could still smell the bread her mother baked, still feel the lash her father used on her bottom for not doing her spells correctly. And she could still see her sister’s eyes watching her. Always watching.

Even at such a young age Deirdre had more power than any drough in their small community. She hid it well, for any drough whose power was that great was killed instantly. Because the drough aligned themselves with evil and created black magic, their power could be immense — and deadly.

Deirdre had plans. So she waited, and she learned.

The Druids had only been split into the two factions for a short time before they had called the gods from their prison in Hell, but in the time since, the drough did not mingle with the trusting mie. The mie with their talk of goodness and pure magic made Deirdre ill.

There were a few communities of drough who banded together. Deirdre’s was one of the last. Their little group was mostly family and extended family, but the struggle for power went on daily.

In her eighteenth year Deirdre offered her blood in the ritual to become a drough. When her blood seeped from the cuts on her wrists, an excruciating pain sliced through her. In that instant she saw her future as the black magic and evil invaded her soul and claimed her for their own.

The very next day she began to hunt for the scrolls she knew her aunt kept hidden. She’d heard the elders whisper about them some nights, as if the very mention of the scrolls would have the mie descending upon them.

Once she found the scrolls taken from the mie she knew why the elders whispered, their gazes searching furtively around for listeners. Inside the rolled parchments were spells that were supposed to have been destroyed. Deirdre smiled as she tucked one particular scroll up her sleeve and turned to leave.

“How dare you!” her aunt screamed as she stared at Deirdre from the doorway.

Deirdre smiled to hide her surprise. She had expected to get caught, just not by her aunt. But any person would do for her purpose. “I dare many things, Aunt.”

“You’ll pay for snooping where you don’t belong, you little viper,” her aunt said, spittle flying from her thin lips. “You always did like to slink into belongings that weren’t yours.”

“And what do you think to do about it?”

Her aunt raised her hand to send a blast of magic. Deirdre flicked her wrist and her aunt slammed back against her cottage door, her eyes wide with dawning recognition of just how powerful Deirdre was.

Without hesitation Deirdre unsheathed the dagger she kept at her waist and plunged it into her aunt’s heart.

It was the first time she had killed. But it wouldn’t be the last.

Deirdre left the cottage and turned to stare at her mountain. That’s when she felt her sister’s eyes upon her once more. She turned to her twin, Laria. Both shared the blonde hair and sky-blue eyes of their mother, but that’s where their similarities ended.

As her twin, Laria often knew when Deirdre had been into some mischief. Deirdre didn’t expect to have an ally in her sister. In fact, Deirdre knew she would have to kill Laria.

“What have you done?” Laria asked calmly, but her shrewd eyes saw everything.

Deirdre looked into pale blue eyes that matched her own. She felt for her sister’s magic, but just as always, there was nothing. Still, Laria was her twin. “The start of something wonderful, sister. Won’t you join me?”

“You know I won’t.”

“A pity,” Deirdre said and raised the dagger.

Laria glanced at the weapon as if it were a flower instead of a weapon with blood dripping from the end. “Will you kill us all?”

Deirdre began to laugh as a thought took root. She let loose a scream that had everyone running toward her. With her sister watching, Deirdre put on the performance of her life.

“Aunt has gained power,” Deirdre shouted as she faked her tears and stumbled around. “She tried to kill me.

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