By Jamaila Brinkley
Duncan Lowell’s explosive magic is fueled by an equally explosive temper. He’s stayed away from the earldom he rules from afar to escape memories of his vicious father. But when he must return, other memories surface, too – of his childhood friend and conspirator, Fiona: the future Witch of Kilgoran.
Fiona Fanshawe has dedicated her life to the people of Kilgoran. After tragedy marred her family, she’s vowed to stay aloof, serve the village, and never marry. When Duncan arrives, demanding that she retrieve the Stone that caused her family so much pain, she’s forced to re-evaluate all of her choices.
Duncan’s demons make him fear hurting those he loves; Fiona’s make her terrified of getting hurt. Now, the witch and the earl will have to decide whether they will be more dangerous together – or apart.
“If all’s well, Fergus, I’ll be leaving here tomorrow.”
“Aye. The borders’ll be here still, though. The people, too.”
Duncan sighed. “I know.”
Fergus set his feet firmly on the ground and leaned forward, meeting Duncan’s eyes. “I might not know your Miss Fiona—”
“She’s not mine.”
“Not mine either, to my regret, but I know her blood damned well, lad, and I can tell you that you’re not leaving here tomorrow.”
“We’ll see,” Duncan said. But he knew in his heart that Fergus was right.
“I thought I’d find you here.”
Duncan’s deep voice settled into Fiona’s limbs like warm honey, and she straightened from her herb basket to find him gently lifting branches aside so that he could move into the clearing without being stung by thorns. She felt her belly tighten as he straightened to his full height and wondered which memories had drawn him here to find her. The many times they’d lain here as children, discussing their dreams and practicing simple magics? Or the very last time, when he’d kissed her here, sending confusion and delight spiraling through her limbs, and then gone thundering off to have one last, cataclysmic argument with his father before leaving for good?
She’d been so confused by all of the new feelings tumbling around inside her that she’d run straight to her most trusted ally, Gran. Only to learn that things were different for men, when it came to kissing, and things were very different for her, when it came to what might come after, especially with Duncan.
She flushed. “What I do with my life is none of your business.”
“Wrong! I’m the earl. Everyone here is my business,” he shot back.
She shoved back her chair and stood. “Well, maybe you can write me a letter and tell me all about how you think I should live my life. I hear that’s how you manage being the earl, too.” She turned, her dress whipping about her ankles, and stormed out of the room.
He leapt to his feet. “Get back here!”
“Go to hell!” Her voice echoed back through the halls and he heard the thunk of the heavy front door opening hastily, and then a slam as it closed. He wondered if she’d even touched it, or if the force of her anger had thrown the door open for her by magic. His own magic was rippling furiously under his skin, his temper seeking an outlet. He looked around, then let it flow into the candles standing ready in sconces along the wide front hallway. There was too much. His control had slipped, and he winced as he saw the two candles closest to him melt rapidly into puddles on the stone floor. Damn.
The steward appeared from around the corner, somehow managing to appear as though he hadn’t been waiting there and listening to every word. “Yes, sir?”
“Have somebody clean that up, would you? And express my apologies in coin, please. I’m going down the hill.”
“To the cottage, sir?” Ermidge looked dubious, as well he should. Crossing a witch in a temper was generally a bad idea, particularly when you’d put her into it.
“Hell, no. I’m going to the inn.”
Jamaila Brinkley writes historical romance with a hint of magic. Her Wizards of London series features thieves, duchesses, witches, and more indulging in mayhem and romance in Regency England. Jamaila came to romance as an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, and found that her favorite historical romances seemed ripe for an injection of magic. Her favorite historical period is currently the Victorian era, and she's never happier than when immersed in a multi-book family series.
Jamaila lives outside Baltimore, Maryland in a house that is perpetually under renovation with her husband and twin toddlers. You can find her blogging about romance, writing, parenting, cooking, and more on her website at www.jamailabrinkley.com, and posting pictures of her lunch on Twitter as @jamaila.