Sands of Time: After being diagnosed with inoperable cancer, Nicole can feel what time she has slipping away. Like many, she has told herself she would do the things she has always dreamed of "later." Pressed for time, later has come: she's going to see the world. She planned to start with Scotland, and go on from there, but once she arrives she meets a man she can't resist. Ciaran offers her a hope for the future she had given up on having, but it comes with a price. For Ciaran is not what he appears to be, and his race can't risk anyone finding out they exist.
Turning Back Time: Devastated at the news of her friend's supposed death, Julie rushes to Scotland to find some answers. What she finds instead is Roarke. Unwilling to let go of her search, Julie winds up figuring out what happened to Nicole. Along the way, she finds her own chance at happiness, if she can accept that Roarke isn't human.
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Also available from All Romance eBooks
*Note: This release was previously published, and has since been re-edited and tweaked.
"I have several months before the cancer progresses too far, several months of traveling the world, seeing its wonders. I just wish I had someone to see them with. Oh, I know, Julie would have come with me. But, it's not the same as cuddling against a warm chest, feeling strong arms wrap around you as you both stare into the beauty of the sea. While I'm at it, I wish I didn't have to die, either, but I guess that old saying about wishes and horses is right."
"I hope for your sake that you're talking into a tape recorder, and not to yourself."
Nicole started, shocked to hear a deep voice some out of nowhere. Quickly standing, she turned to far the tall man who stepped towards her, seemingly separating from the shadows.
"Actually, I was talking to the cat." Nicole waved her hand towards the bench, only to turn and see that the cat had disappeared.
"What cat, lass?" He was close enough now for her to make out his features: soft black hair, long enough to curl around his ears, a strong jaw and nose. Looking into his eyes, she saw a teasing glint in the amber depths. It matched the dimples that winked at her as he smiled. "There's no cat here."
"There was." The breeze chose that moment to blow, and Nicole shivered, crossing her arms over her chest as her nipples hardened, poking at her bra.
As he moved closer, Nicole couldn't help but admire the feline grace of his movements, even as a cautious voice in her head whispered that she was alone in a strange place, with a strange man.
"I should be getting back inside." As she moved to move past his, he reached out and clasped her shoulder, his hand warm and heavy against her skin.
"I dinna mean to frighten ya, lass." As he spoke his voice deepened, his brogue becoming more evident. "My name's Ciaran. I live near here and sometimes I take a stroll through the grounds. 'Tis something peaceful about this castle, the way it stands so majestic on the cliff, watching the waves rush in."
His hand shifted, gliding down her arm to her hand, leaving a trail of sensual fire in its wake. Nicole trembled, her pulse racing as her body awakened, yearning for more of his touch. As his fingers brushed along hers, she found herself curling hers to intertwine with them, prolonging the contact.
"I'm Nicole." Without being aware of it, she had allowed herself to be guided back to the bench. She jerked as she felt the cold stone brushing against her legs as she sat down, Ciaran still holding onto her hand, his thumb brushing over her knuckles.
"A pleasure to meet you, Nicole."
Looking into his eyes, she found herself mirrored there. Her hair fluttered around her face, blown by the gentle breeze coming off of the water. He blinked, shattering the spell that wrapped around her.
Looking away from his steady gaze, Nicole took a deep breath, and simply enjoyed the quiet company Ciaran seemed willing to provide. As she sat there, her hand lightly clasped in his, she found a feeling of peace gliding over her. This country, its inhabitants, and the way she felt since she arrived, was indeed strange, but welcome.
Beneath her, waves crashed against the cliff, trying to pound the stones into submitting to nature's cycle. All throughout the castle, that cycle was at work, slowly chinking away at the stones, turning them to tiny grains to be blown away on the night breeze.
For a moment, she couldn't breathe. She was like the stones, slowly being stripped apart for her return to the Earth.
Ciaran's grip tightened on hers, almost as if he sensed the direction of her thoughts, and she struggled to push away the knowledge that her time was slipping away from her, and simply enjoy the moment.
"Do you believe in things beyond yourself, Nicole?" So softly spoken were his words, she at first doubted that he had said anything at all, until he turned to face her, a question hovering in his gaze.
"If you're asking if I believe in God, I don't know." She was curious at his topic, but willing—at least for the moment—to see where he went with it.
A smile curved his lips, softening his rugged features and sending a dart of warmth from her breast to her core. "I wasn't talking about a higher power, just things beyond what most take to be all there is. This land is ripe with things beyond our understanding. Our history is filled with tales of the Sith and other such otherworldly creatures."
"I stopped believing in fairy tales and knights in shining armor a long time ago, Ciaran." The oddity of their conversation should have worried her, but sitting there in the dark, in a country filled with folktales and stories of a monster in Lake Loch, it just seemed almost expected. "But, sitting here, where time seemed to have almost stopped several hundred years ago, I could almost believe in fairies playing in the forest."
Just then a strange glint fluttered amongst the trees, then flickered out.
"Will-o-the-wisps, lass, what you're seeing there."
Nicole turned to look into his eyes, struck for the first time at the odd shape of his pupils. They were slightly more elongated that normal. A cool chill rushed down her spine, and a curious flitting at the back of her mind warned that things were never going to be the same again.
Shrugging it off, she reminded herself that she was dying; nothing could ever be the same again.
"This land is strange indeed, and holds more wonders that you can imagine. But, it takes a brave heart and a willing mind to embrace them." Before she could ask the meaning to his cryptic comment, his head ducked and he lightly pressed a soft kiss against her lips.