When a spell inadvertently creates a tear between the realms of men and the dark ether, it releases a malevolent evil.
Aodhán is sent to uncover the source, and his quest leads him to Danni, a beautiful Cauldbearer, a wielder of magic, who is being stalked by the demonic others—fallen Sidhé who will do anything to capture her and use her ability to direct magic using the Bloodstone.
Ordered by the Council of Elders to eliminate any threat to the realms, Aodhán instead saves Danni as she is being pursued by a demon, only to ignite an attraction between them.
Aodhán tries to fight it, knowing that his fiancé, Branwein, waits for him in his own realm, but as the attraction grows he yields to it and takes her to Scotland, to protect her in the fortress known as the Keep.
But Aodhán has underestimated the power of the Sidhé, and soon the two are fighting for their lives. Can he keep Danni alive long enough to reverse the tear? Or will they both succumb to the forces of darkness?
Behold the Sidhé before your eyes
In Southwest Texas, darkness came late that time of year. This evening was no different. After a tiring day at the hospital, Danni had poured a glass of wine and wandered outside to catch the last of the dying sun as it faded behind the flat Plateaus of Mexico. Her new home in El Paso overlooked the city to Juarez, Mexico to the South and Santa Teresa, New Mexico to the west. Having only moved to the area two months prior, she loved the stark vastness of the desert and the diversity of the city that wrapped around the Franklin Mountains.
She drank in the dusky sky of early evening as it slowly paved the way for the darkness and the stars waiting to make their appearance. Leaning against the railing of her redwood deck, Danni savored the fragrant aroma of the newly matured blossoms of Spanish Broom that so reminded her of the fragrant Jasmine that grew wild outside her home on the Mississippi River. She glanced around her small yard, the growing darkness making it difficult to discern the thin green stems of her yellow roses or the purple of the Texas Sage that was so beautiful that time of the evening. Soon the rhythmic chirping of the crickets would resonate in the underbrush, their mating call echoing the loneliness she felt in her soul. That night, there was not even a sliver of moon to soften the darkness, but her companions were the stars flickering overhead and the gecko that had taken up residence in her garden. It was on nights like this she was reminded of another long ago when her friends had tried to help her find something she had irrevocably lost…something she would never be able to have again. Her mother!
That long-ago night was the first of many nights that tormented Danni with a barrage of voices taking up residence in her head—the result of an experiment by her friends that had gone very wrong. She longed for those days before, when her thoughts had been her own. Since then, it seemed as if she’d lost her thoughts among the many that always gave unwanted advice or issued warnings that she ignored. When she’d first conceded that the dialogs in her head were real, Danni had sought the advice of a psychiatrist, but after years of medical intervention, she’d finally said no. No more. From that point on, she’d learned to live with her problem.
Over the years, some had faded into the background, with only a prominent one that emerged as more vocal than the rest. It was male, and subconsciously, Danni had decided to listen to it over the years. The male’s tone was more sedate and soothing, reducing her stressed agitation and often warning her of danger. She recalled just barely missing a pileup when a car had entered the freeway going in the wrong direction and headed straight for her. She’d swerved, but the car seemed to mirror every move she’d made. Danni had come to depend on that voice more than she cared to admit.
Sighing, Danni let her head fall forward as the tension at the back of her neck eased just a bit. Turning from the railing, she settled into the deep floral cushions of her bamboo patio chair under the ivy-covered pergola and stretched her legs out in front of her.
In the distance, the faint melodious sounds of a guitar playing had her wishing she’d accepted the invitation to the neighborhood block party. Two blocks up, the streets were sectioned off, and the boisterous conversations of the neighbors passing by stirred the emptiness that had lain dormant.
Rosa Resendez, the social butterfly of the neighborhood, had given her the flier when she was backing out of her drive over a week earlier. Danni had placed it on the front seat beside her. The stack of the other invitations she’d ignored was beginning to add up. This evening was different—it was their son’s graduation, and the party was on a grander scale. Danni mentally winced. She simply could not face another of Rosa's attempts at matchmaking with some perfect man who oozed too much machismo and very little brains. She just wanted to be alone. After working seventy-two hours straight as a Nurse Practitioner at the hospital, she planned to cuddle up later with a good book, a glass of wine, and Michael McDonald.
She hoped that would keep the recent round of nightmares at bay. The nightmares had started a couple of months before. Danni had woken in the middle of the night screaming out, gasping as she felt ice cold hands tighten around her throat. Reading seemed to distract her from the horrific visions of the night, but not for long, and she hoped music would soothe the savage beasts trying to take up residence in her head when she closed her eyes.
The soft strumming of the guitar strings lulled her into a rhythmic movement as her head swayed and she hummed the words to the song Spanish Guitar. The gentle breeze and melody worked to calm her mind, and Danni let out a contented sigh as she leaned her head back watching the pale, cream-colored gecko that she’d named Sliver as it foraged for small insects. She felt so lucky to live in El Paso, to have a job she loved and a friend who had led her to that place and her house. It had been a long time since she’d felt such peace…where she did not have to worry about her special gift.