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Authors: Donna Grant

Forbidden Highlander

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ST. MARTIN’S PAPERBACKS TITLES BY
DONNA GRANT

Dangerous Highlander
Forbidden Highlander

FORBIDDEN

HIGHLANDER

DONNA GRANT

St. Martin’s Paperbacks

NOTE:
If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

FORBIDDEN HIGHLANDER

Copyright © 2010 by Donna Grant.
Excerpt from
Wicked Highlander
copyright © 2010 by Donna Grant.

All rights reserved.

For information address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

ISBN: 978-0-312-38123-3

Printed in the United States of America

St. Martin’s Paberbacks edition / June 2010

St. Martin’s Paperbacks are published by St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

For Lisa Renee Jones—
Your advice, encouragement, and friendship are priceless. I’m lucky to call you friend, and I know my world is a better place with you in it.

Love,

DG

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This series wouldn’t be here without thanks to many people.

Thank you to my family for being so supportive! To my husband for coming up with great ideas for fight scenes, and my children for being so proud of my books. To my parents for always being there when I needed them.

To my exceptional editor, Monique Patterson. Thank you for all the support, encouragement, and marvelous editorial input and vision. You rock! To the best assistant out there—Holly, you’re amazing. Thank you to the art department for putting the torc around the model’s neck. Thanks also to everyone at St. Martin’s working behind the scenes to get this book on the shelves.

To my extraordinary agent, Irene Goodman, for having such passion and belief in me.

To the other great Dangerous Authors for being so supportive. I’m lucky to be involved with such a wonderful group of authors.

ONE

Summer 1603
Edinburgh Castle

Fallon stood in the corridor outside the great hall, his fists clenched at his sides as he struggled to keep his breathing steady. The sounds within were deafening. He’d been in Edinburgh Castle for only a few hours, but the need to run, hard and fast, to the shelter of his castle on the west coast of Scotland consumed him.

Calm. Stay calm
.

An image of his brothers flashed in his mind, and he was reminded of why he had left the safe haven of his home for a nest of vipers.

I’m here for Lucan and his mate, Cara. I’m here for Quinn. I’m here for our future
.

Fallon licked his lips and forced himself to open the doors and enter the great hall. As soon as he was through the doors, he moved to the shadows to watch and observe. His gaze took in the long hall, the hammer beam ceiling, and the candelabras that stood around the room offering light in addition to the sun that poured through the windows on either side.

Edinburgh Castle was massive in size, and the great hall was no different. Unlike Fallon’s hall, Edinburgh Castle’s bespoke opulence that could only come from the king himself. Everything was polished to a sparkle.

Fallon’s chest tightened at the number of bodies in the hall. He was used to having his own space and, sometimes even, the entire castle to himself. He didn’t like the crowd or how close they moved around him, brushing against him as if it were all right to do so.

It amazed him that they had no idea what he was, what was inside him that could unleash at any moment and rip them to shreds. To them, he was just a man. But he knew the death and destruction the primeval god inside him was capable of.

His heart pounded violently in his chest. If he didn’t concentrate, he would run from the hall and make his stay at the castle that much longer. With that frightening thought in mind, he forced his lungs open and leaned against the stone wall to let his gaze move around the room.

Edinburgh Castle was a fortress, a magnificent work of art. The castle, on its rocky outcrop, dominated the city. Long ago, a Celtic tribe had built a fort atop the hill for they had known the advantage of the rock. The future kings of Scotland had also seen the benefit.

“You look ill at ease, friend.”

Fallon tensed and glanced at the scrawny, pale man who sidled up next to him. He was tall, but his face was long, his nose hawkish, and his lips so thin they were almost nonexistent.

When Fallon didn’t respond, the man shifted his feet. “I’m Baron Iver MacNeil.”

“Baron,” Fallon said with a small incline of his head. He didn’t have time for pompous idiots, especially the skinny lump beside him.

A smile pulled at Fallon’s lips at the thought that he could break the baron in half with a touch from his pinkie. It was no wonder Fallon didn’t see many brawny Highlanders at the castle. They preferred to stay on their land and rule their clan. It was the oafs, the ones more interested in furthering their own ambitions, that preferred to stay as close to the king as they could.

It sickened Fallon to a degree that he wanted to lash out at everyone. Rage filled his vision. He felt his skin prickle, the telltale sign that he was about to lose control and let the beast out.

“Are you here to see the king?” Iver asked, unaware of the turmoil inside Fallon.

Fallon swallowed and fought to keep from rolling his eyes. By sheer will alone, he pulled his anger under control. “Aye. I’ve a need that I’d see settled posthaste.”

“You know the king isn’t in residence,” Iver said with a smirk. “He rarely visits Scotland anymore.”

This was not what Fallon wanted to hear. “He’s not here?”

“Not at the moment, though I did hear a rumor that he was on his way.”

Shite
. “Thank you for the information.”

Iver cackled, the sound harsh and loud to Fallon’s enhanced hearing. “I’m as close to the king as any. If you’d like, I can help you. Who are you, friend?”

“I doubt you can aid me. And my name is Fallon MacLeod.”

Just as he expected, Iver’s eyes widened. “MacLeod?”

“Aye, you heard correctly.”

Iver’s licked his lips nervously. “The MacLeod lands are long gone. They were divided by other clans centuries ago.”

As if Fallon didn’t know that already. “I know.”

“What does your laird want? Does he think King James will be able to gain him back his lands?”

Fallon turned his head to look the weasel beside him in the eye. He didn’t trust Iver and knew the insignificant man couldn’t help him in the least. Yet, Fallon got perverse pleasure in seeing him squirm. “
I
am laird, and though my family may have lost our lands, the castle still stands. It’s mine.”

“Ah, I see,” Iver said with an anxious laugh. He licked his lips again and glanced around him. “I truly may be able to help you with your request.”

Fallon decided he would hold his tongue just in case Iver could indeed help. Fallon crossed his arms over his chest and thought of his brothers, of his home, of the peace he wanted more than anything.

He had left his younger brother Lucan and Lucan’s new bride, Cara, at MacLeod Castle—a castle he was in Edinburgh to ensure reverted back to the MacLeods. The only one not at their family castle was Quinn, the youngest of them.

A fresh wave of pain washed over Fallon as he thought of his baby brother. Though it was only a little over a month since their lives had changed so drastically, it felt more like a lifetime.

Fallon still remembered finding the parchment stuck between two crumbling stones in the gatehouse wall. He had known without reading it who it was from. Deirdre.

Bile rose in his throat every time he thought of the depraved bitch. Deirdre was a
drough
, a sect of Druids who took a blood ritual and gave themselves to evil and black magic. It was black magic that had released the god inside Fallon and his brothers, a god that gave them immortality and powers to wreak havoc on unsuspecting mortals.

At least that’s what Deirdre, the most powerful
drough
, wanted in her quest for dominance. Fallon and his brothers had been the first to have their god unbound three hundred years before. He still recalled the excruciating pain when his skin had sizzled and his bones popped in and out of their joints as if the god stretched inside him.

He was a Warrior, descended from the first Warriors who accepted the primeval gods into themselves to drive Rome from Britain. The Druids, once a mighty people, had divided into two groups. The
droughs
, who preferred black magic, and the
mies
, Druids who used their magic only for good.

It was the threat of Rome and their dominance that had pulled the two sects of Druids together. They had combined their magic to create a spell that would call forth ancient gods imprisoned in Hell and long forgotten.

Their plan worked. The warriors whom the gods chose were the greatest in their tribes, and with the combined power from the gods, the men turned into Warriors. An unstoppable force that saved Britain.

For a time.

After the Romans left, the Druids were unable to coax the gods from the men as they had expected. The only recourse left to the Druids was to bind the gods. Once again, the
droughs
and
mies
combined their magic.

No one, least of all the Druids, expected the gods to move through the bloodline from father to son through the generations, residing in the strongest of the lineage each time until they could be called forth again.

The MacLeods had been such a family.

How Fallon loathed what he was. It was Deirdre who had found them, Deirdre who had destroyed his entire clan, and Deirdre who had ruined his life.

He still wasn’t sure how he, Lucan, and Quinn had escaped Deirdre and her mountain all those centuries ago, but once they had, they had kept themselves hidden. For over three hundred years they lived like ghosts in the crumbling ruin of their home, hiding from the world, hiding from themselves, but battling Deirdre in her quest for supremacy.

Then Cara had come into their lives. None of them could have foreseen what would happen to the MacLeod brothers when Lucan walked into the castle with Cara’s unconscious body in his arms.

A small smile pulled at Fallon’s lips as he thought of how protective Lucan was of his woman. Lucan, who had been the rock for him and Quinn during those awful years, deserved the love and happiness he had found.

They had discovered almost too late that Deirdre was after Cara for her Druid blood. A great battle had ensued, but not once had the brothers thought to send Cara away to save themselves. Lucan wouldn’t have allowed it anyway.

That night, that battle, changed Fallon almost as much as when his god had been released. He was no longer the man who had kept a bottle of wine in his hands at all times to dull the god’s voice within him.

He had ignored his god, denied what he was, so that when it came time to save Cara, he hadn’t been sure if he could. Yet, his god had answered his call and turned him into the Warrior, the monster, he had feared for solong.

In doing so, he had been able to help save Cara. The MacLeods had thwarted Deirdre yet again. Or so they had thought.

Until Fallon had found the parchment.

He’d memorized the words. They haunted his sleep and his waking hours, just as Quinn’s face did.

Something pricked his palms. He glanced down to see his black claws had extended and were digging into the flesh of his hands. He glanced at Iver, but the fool was too preoccupied staring at a servant’s ample breasts to notice and talking nonstop about his fortune and title. Fallon took a deep breath to manage his temper and didn’t let it out again until the god receded.