Isle of Coll, Inner Hebrides
Rennie placed the small, gold, glittered star atop what was a poor excuse for a Christmas tree. She stepped back and grimaced.
“Charlie Brown’s tree looks better than mine,” she said as her silver tabby meowed up at her. “Don’t worry, Felix, your present will be there. It’ll be the only thing under that pitiful tree, but at least there will be a present. I’d rather a wish. How about someone I can spend the rest of my life with?”
Rennie turned away from the Christmas tree with a derisive snort and looked out the living room window. Everything was gray. They sky, the water, the very air. A snowstorm was coming, but the weathermen had been saying that for days.
Not that there was much excitement on the small isle of Coll. Life was as ordinary and dull as it could get. It was a mantra she repeated to herself every day, but she couldn’t seem to leave. There was something holding her—she just hadn’t figured out what that was yet.
Felix wound around her legs, rubbing against her and purring loudly, hoping to get a treat. “It’s been two years since Aunt Marta died, Felix. I was supposed to sell this place and leave. Why can’t I seem to do that?”
And she had made up her mind a couple of times to put the land up for sale. Then she would step out onto the white sand beach of Feall Bay with its stunning blue-green water and folded rock formations with the seals playing and she couldn’t do it. Or she would stand upon the hills and watch the sunset and she would change her mind.
She might have been born in Missouri, but she wasn’t all that keen to return. Somehow, she had found a place on Coll.
Felix bumped his big head against her leg again. “All right, all right. I’ll give you a treat,” she said with a laugh as the cat darted into the kitchen and pawed at the door where she kept them.
The likelihood of Rennie finding a husband on Coll was slim to none for two reasons. Eligible men rarely came to the remote isle, and the few unmarried men already on Coll had a line of women to choose from.
It was better that she was alone. Then she didn’t have to explain the odd things she could do just by thinking of them. Like shutting a door, lighting a candle, or stirring her tea.
More importantly, she didn’t have to worry about people touching her and having visions. If the cattle or Felix had visions when she touched them, they kept it to themselves.
Out in the wilds of Coll, she was free to be who she was—a Druid.
He had finally reached Coll. Though he wasn’t sure if this would be his final destination or not. For months, every night he was assaulted by dreams of magic, magic he was undeniably drawn to. And every day when he woke, he followed the feel of that magic as if some unseen string was pulling him west, right to the shores of Coll.
It wasn’t just the dreams or the magic that pulled him. It was the inexplicable, undeniable need, a longing he couldn’t ignore or explain in the magic that called to him.
Dale kept his head low as he hurried off the ferry. He made sure to keep among the crowds, and as soon as he was in the small village, he ducked behind a shop.
It had been two days since he had eaten, and hunger made his stomach growl. He could go days without food. The smell coming from a nearby pub, however, caused him to halt. He closed his eyes and fought to put the magic he was following on hold.
It was disturbing how easily he followed the magic. As if he expected to find some answers when he found the source. That is if he actually allowed himself to find the Druid. Perhaps it would be better if he didn’t.
He snorted. As if he could ignore such exquisite, soul-stirring magic.
Dale would rather lose himself on the isle and never talk to anyone. Coll was small enough that everyone would know everyone else. He had come here to hide. But first he had to find the source of the magic that he couldn’t ignore.
Once that curiosity was satisfied, then he would disappear and the world could forget all about Dale Alexander and the awful things he had done.
He looked into the pub window and stared at a face that he didn’t recognize. His beard had grown out, covering most of his face in dark hair. Dale ran his hands over the hair growing out atop his head. It felt odd to have hair after keeping his head shaved for so many years.
The beard and hair would help disguise him, but that didn’t mean Dale liked any of it. However, his options were slim.
Dale winced and rubbed his arm where one of the many selmyr bites had been. Those evil, magical creatures had seemingly come out of nowhere after having been locked away for thousands of years.
It had been a Druid who accidentally released the creatures into the world. The selmyr fed off magic, and they sought out the Druids first, but they found a taste for Warriors.