Aislinn never wants to see another doctor. Their painful and pointless treatments have done nothing to improve her rapidly deteriorating health. She hopes that the staff of Wiccan Haus can at least offer a change of scene, if not a return of a little of her former strength. She's delighted to meet Punda, a masseuse, on her arrival and charmed by the cottage in the apple orchard where she will stay.
Dr. Hugo Peralta visits the island at the insistence of his boss. The distinguished brain surgeon is in desperate need of a respite before overwork makes him one of his own patients. He is surprised but pleased with the privacy and serenity of his cottage--across the orchard from Aislinn's. An idyllic location on a magical island where love can blossom--if the Rowans can help the trio save Aislinn from whatever is killing her.
Hugo drove the cart at breakneck speed after Punda—or whatever she’d become—and Aislinn. He couldn’t allow them to be in danger without trying to help. He reached the narrow part of the trail as the trees ended, and he hit the open cliff. His first time on the route, he slowed, trying to see where it went.
He drove around a sharp curve to find an astonishing sight: an older woman bent, rolling a boulder toward the edge of a cliff overlooking the water. What the hell?
He put on the emergency brake and climbed out of the cart, intent on finding out what mischief she was up to. He had a bad feeling he knew already.
Dear God. She’s down there. “And you must be Aislinn’s mother.” He took slow steps toward her, hoping to keep her from shoving the rock over before he could stop her. “I’ve heard so much about you.”
The woman turned toward him and bared her teeth. “I’ll just bet you have. This is none of your business. Go away.”
“Oh, you’re probably right.” His heart beat in his throat as the rock moved closer and closer to the edge. “But I’m the nosy type.” Just a few more steps.
As he reached for her, she turned toward him and waved a hand. And he couldn’t move. Anger and terror filled him, but his legs were frozen to the trail, his arms pinned to his sides.
“As soon as I’m done with her, I’ll take care of you, too.” She began shoving the rock again. Inches away. He died inside.
Without warning, Punda—the lion version—leapt from the branch of a pine overhanging the cliff and landed on the evil woman’s back, driving her claws in and sending a spray of deep-red blood into the air. The witch crumpled to the ground, and the rock slid over the edge and bounced down the cliff.
“Aislinn!” Free, Hugo slipped and slid to where the rock had gone over and dropped to his stomach, peering down. On a bit of ledge, just wide enough to stand on, he saw Aislinn.
She waved. “Hi, lucky I wasn’t sitting down.” She smiled, but he saw the pain in her eyes. “Can you please get me out of here?”
“We can do it together, Hugo.” Punda, back as herself.
The witch lay a couple of yards away, probably dead, but he didn’t care. If they didn’t get Aislinn up soon, the cliff might give way entirely.
“What do you suggest?”
“Lower me by my ankles and I’ll reach then you can pull us both up, if you think you can?”
“Oh, I can.” He lay on his belly, holding her firmly until she could reach Aislinn with his belt.
Aislinn wrapped it around her wrist and used her feet to help support herself up the cliff until she reached the top.
When a party arrived from the resort, they found the three of them with their arms wrapped around each other.
Of the witch, there was no sign.