|Cover Art by Meredith Russell|
Darach Gravenor is a keeper of blue Fire. He is alone in his world and he wants to rescue his friend Kian from the horrors of the Other World.
Ceithin Morgan is Cariad. Strong with Ancient magic he teaches Darach that not all children’s fairy stories should be believed. Ceithin has his
own reasons for helping Darach and shows Darach that there is magic that he never even knew existed.
They are living on borrowed time. Guardian knows what they are doing and he is coming for Ceithin. Darach and Ceithin have two choices — do they run, or do they make their stand together?
Darach – First Edition
As with all my titles originally with Silver Publishing, if you bought the original Darach, please contact me with proof of purchase and I will happily send you an updated copy.
Bike Book Reviews – 5/5 – “….The way Rj paints a picture of the alternate world is a true marvel! There is a twist in this one that will blow you away, so waste no more time, read the first then grab this one and dive right in!….”
Joyfully Jay – 4.5/5 – “….Book two in the Fire Trilogy picks up not too long after the first one ends. These books, though having different MCs, must be read in order. They are rely on prior knowledge and are a continuing tale. Darach’s Cariad ends in a bigger cliff hanger than Kian’s Hunter, but all the main plot lines are tied up and it’s only the overarching plot that carries through.
What continues here is awesome world building. Scott does a fantastic job of continuing to build on the world that she’s already created and giving it an ever more fleshed out feel. This worked perfectly within the plot, as the Cariad practice a more ancient magick than those in the City do. The clan has a better handle on Fire and elements, what they can do, and how to use them. I loved that we got to learn more about the way the magick works. The more we learn, the more things make sense. Which is exactly how a world like this should work….
….This is a fantastic series. It’s got everything—action, adventure, mystery, true love—and I’m really enjoying it. This book was no exception, and I was enthralled with the continuing story, as well as getting to see Darach finding his mate. I can only guess at what Scott has in store for the final book, and I can’t wait to find out….”
Rainbow Gold Reviews – 9/10 – “….I found the book well written with a great storyline and a different plot that leaves you wanting to know more.
Over all a fascinating book, I can’t wait for Eoin’s book….”
Gay List Book Reviews – “….Another fun, sweet and interesting installment in a series that I have been enjoying very much. I’m excited to read the last book and find all the answers to the puzzle and get Eoin’s story….”
The room Regan and Kian rented was in a small motel off a main road, one that supplied beds by the hour. The accommodation actually tended toward clean for this type of place, creating a paradox in Regan’s head. It was in his nature to be suspicious of something that looked too good to be true.
“Stop it.” Kian’s voice sounded tired, verging on irritable, and Regan straightened. He checked outside the drapes, unsettled and worried, and then looked back at his lover. Great. Miserable Kian had stood up from the bed and was pacing.
“Stop what?” he snapped back, scratching at the bandaging that covered the cuts on his arm from the alley fight. “All I’m doing is checking the parking lot.”
“For what? Random Demon drive-bys?” Kian sounded waspish and spoiled and just this side of fucking rude.
In a flurry of motion, Regan had Kian up against the wall, holding Kian’s hands above his head securely. Both men knew Kian could get away; in fact, for a few seconds, Kian did struggle. Then he stilled, pressing back against the faded wallpaper and waiting. Regan couldn’t have held back his temper if he’d tried. A hunter was only good as long as he kept surviving each fight, and today could have gone bad so many ways and so quickly Regan refused to consider them.
“What the hell is going on with you, Kian? Where the holy fuck were you tonight?”
“I was there,” Kian defended himself quickly, ineffectively tugging at Regan’s secure grip.
“You. Were. Not. There.”
“I was just behind you—”
“Don’t lie to me. I may be just a human in your eyes, but my Fire is growing strong enough to sense when you are and aren’t there.”
“You’re not just a human—” Kian started.
Regan tightened his hold in temper and saw the instant discomfort in his lover’s eyes. Guilt flooded him and warred with his irritation.
“I’m sorry, Regan, please. I wasn’t well. I tried to follow, but I couldn’t. I wish I could tell you—”
“Kian, I swear to Gods, if you don’t pull your head out of your ass and tell me what the fuck is going on, I will dump you here and leave before we both get killed by whatever’s distracting you.”
“You can’t leave me… our bond…”
Jeez, Regan thought, trust Kian to focus on the reality of the threat rather than the general menace Regan was trying to convey.
“I wouldn’t leave you, but bond or not, you’re screwing with my head. Talk to me, Kian. What’s going on? What’s wrong? We’re hunting, then you just lose consciousness, and I’m left five against one staring at you laying on the fucking ground.” There was a staring match; Kian’s green gaze ran the gamut of emotions from utter and complete determination to the rise of temper and then—shit—the most pathetic puppy-dog gaze Regan had ever seen. His stomach clenched.
Kian had his moments of introspection, and Regan always gave him space. He imagined the pain of Kian leaving his life, his family, his world, never to return. It must have been the most difficult thing any person could do. Kian needed time to process. Regan tried to be supportive and as damned understanding as he could be. In turn, Kian inevitably reassured him he wanted to be there with Regan, that he wanted to stay. That day, though? This whole collapsing moment was just another in a long list of things unnerving Regan to the point that he was thinking of finding Kian a way back home if that’s what he wanted.
“Do you want to go home?”
“I don’t want to go home.”
“Do you maybe need to go home?” That was the question he hadn’t yet asked. Kian looked momentarily confused.
“I don’t know. Jeez, Kian, is there something wrong, with you, with your Fire?” Regan kept his voice low and attempted to contain his fear. In Regan’s worst imaginings, Kian staying there with him was destroying him. He had an intense and real fear that his world, his version of Earth, was somehow toxic to Kian, stripping him of the Fire’s identity. Gods, maybe even killing him.
Kian stared directly into Regan’s eyes and spoke firmly. “I don’t need to go home. I promise you, my Fire is strong.”
“Then what the hell is wrong? Kian, you’re scaring me.”
Kian dropped his gaze, then let his whole body slump until Regan found himself holding Kian up. Shocked and concerned, Regan followed his instincts. He scooped Kian up into his arms and carried him to their bed. After settling his lover under the covers, he crawled between the sheets himself and moved Kian until the smaller man was curled into him. Kian lay stiff until Regan pulled him close. Then, muscle by muscle, Kian began to relax.
“It’s the dreams,” Kian offered quietly. Regan nodded; Kian’s sleep was broken and nightmares gripped him every night. Kian woke from them tossing and muttering and panicky, breathing normally only after Regan calmed him. “Some of them are coming to me in the light, when I’m awake, and they’re so real. More like visions.”
“Can you tell me more about them?” Regan was trying the gentle approach, stroking Kian’s back, doing what he needed to do to make his lover feel safe. He had asked about the dreams before and received some information, although Kian inevitably lost a lot of the dreams as quickly as he wakened.
“The same ones. Home, the Council, and the City where I lived.”
Regan would never know them, but he wanted to hear more about the dreams so that maybe, between the two of them, they could thrash out their meaning. He’d had enough of Kian dismissing the nightmares; he wasn’t going to let him do it anymore, especially now that Kian was getting visions.
“What is it you’re dreaming about when you’re awake?” Regan realized what he said didn’t make much sense. “I mean, what’s in the visions?”
“Darach is in there, awake or asleep.”
“Your friend?” Kian spoke often of Darach, the one thing, the only person he never wanted to leave behind.
“He wanted to come with me, but his Fire wasn’t born. Remember I told you? He had nothing in him.”
“Yeah.” Regan remembered the softly spoken story and the grief that had filled his lover’s eyes.
“His destiny is in the world I left, not here in yours.”
Regan’s belief in a preordained destiny wasn’t as clear-cut as Kian’s, and so he listened with the cautious approach of skepticism. He had to admit Kian’s foretold destiny of bonding with a Hunter was fairly spot-on, but there was also such a thing as cosmic coincidence, which, in Regan’s opinion, was far less weighty and much more likely than destiny.
“Go on,” he prompted. What he thought at the moment didn’t matter; what mattered were Kian’s feelings.
Kian didn’t reply at first. He was clearly searching for the right words. Kian swallowed and half rolled to face Regan. His face was so serious. “When I was born, my father was told my Fire bond was a Hunter, a man. Not of the world we knew but of the world here.”
“I know. Me.”
“You.” Kian went deathly quiet, and Regan could feel the tension in his lover’s body. He gentled the younger man with a firm hold and soft caressing touches with his free hand. He was getting a little fed up with Kian’s half-finished stories, and he wondered if maybe he should push Kian to talk more. Or should he possibly just kiss him until he relaxed and was pliable enough to keep talking. He struggled with the decision as only a lover could. Finally Kian’s faint trembling made Regan prompt for more. Kian was upset, and Regan didn’t know enough about Kian’s Fire to chance him turning into some kind of supernova or shit if he didn’t calm down.
“And Darach’s destiny? What was it?” His prompt was gentle but firm.
“I can’t… I don’t know how to explain. There isn’t a pronouncement for every child born. The seers only choose a certain few whose destinies are foretold. Special families.”
“There were three of us—you know that—all born close together. Eoin first, the eldest, the responsible one, then myself, and then Darach. We were close friends, and we grew up together. Our infant Fires were as different as they could be, but we were brothers in all but name.”
“I still don’t wholly get this different Fire thing.”
“I have green fire.”
“Nature, protection, nurturing, I know.”
“Darach had blue, a sapphire so brilliant everyone knew when he came of age he would be special. Then there was Eoin; his Fire was stunning and it shimmered.”
“You never told me in detail about what your Fires meant.”
Kian buried his face in Regan’s neck. His voice was muffled, and he rested a little before repeating what he had said a little louder this time. “I wasn’t so sure you would want to hear all the explanations of magik or even understand them.”
Regan huffed a laugh, curling one hand into Kian’s mop of soft hair. “Wanna try explaining the whole thing to me in words of one syllable, then?”
Kian looked directly at him and smiled, his green eyes sparking with humor. That simple gesture filled Regan with a lightness he hadn’t had in a while. They exchanged a kiss, little more than a touch of reassurance, and Kian settled back into Regan’s embrace.
“It’s all tied up with destiny, much as my destiny is tied with yours.” Regan listened carefully. He wanted to understand this and wanted to help Kian if he could. “Eoin was told his world would align with another only known as the Guardian, but Eoin died so his destiny could never be fulfilled.”
“I’m sorry,” Regan offered as he always did when Kian talked about Eoin. It seemed like the thing to say. Was Kian ready to tell him about how Eoin died? Regan decided now was a good time to ask. “How did he die?”
Kian didn’t answer immediately, shifting slightly and running a hand up Regan’s leg to rest on his hipbone, his thumb setting a steady rhythm of movement on the skin stretched taut there. Regan’s cock took notice, but he really tried hard to listen to what his lover was saying. Now was not the time to let their Fire out to play. Things were much too serious.
“It was horrific. How he died, I mean. I can still see the—” He shook his head slightly, the movement of his thumb stopping briefly. “He was the eldest by a few weeks, and didn’t we know it! He was always the sensible one, the mature one. He received his Fire first, but when his Fire was born, he was… consumed by it.” Kian said the words matter-of-factly, but Regan’s heart twisted at the mental image, not so much because of this Eoin he didn’t know, but at the thought of Kian burning to death in his Fire.
“Jesus. That happens?” Regan wished he could pull the question back as soon as it left his mouth, but Kian just reacted to his shock with a sad nod.
“We were there, Darach and I. We had been three for so long, and then suddenly, we were two. To lose Eoin, one of us, one of the three, was the hardest thing I’d ever known. Darach and I had each other, and we were strong, but we mourned Eoin. He was our friend.”
“I’m so sorry,” Regan offered again, still wondering where exactly Kian’s disjointed tale was going. So far it wasn’t so much about destiny and dreams but about horrible deaths in flames. He couldn’t help the shiver that chased down his spine.
“Darach was told he would fall from grace and his mated Fire would be the crimson and scarlet of a healer.”
“Like me? My Fire?”
“My Fire has something to do with healing? I thought you said it was passion and a warrior or something.”
Kian nodded his agreement. “All Fires have so many different things to them. Scarlet is rare as well.”
Regan couldn’t have stopped his response even if he’d tired. He smirked. “Of course it’s rare. I’m too special to have common green or blue.”
Kian pinched the skin at Regan’s hipbone in retaliation, and in revenge Regan twisted until Kian lay under him, kissing him lightly. This was the good side of them, the passion that edged into everything they did. The kisses deepened. Regan couldn’t take away talk of destiny or death in Fire, but he could kiss away the nightmares for a short time. A sudden thought had him lifting his head, Kian reaching up to chase for the kiss he was clearly enjoying.
“Wait. This Darach, mating with red… Jeez, was he supposed to bond with me?” Was that what Kian was trying to tell him? Gods no. There was no way he was going to bond with another. Kian was his as much as he was Kian’s. There would be no one else, could be no one else. Regan was confused, and Kian reached up and gripped the back of Regan’s head with strong hands.
“No, Hunter.” Soft laughter came with the word. “You were always all mine.”
“Good,” Regan offered, supporting his weight on his elbows, pressing against Kian’s fingers. His own Fire answered Kian’s green, fitting and starting in him, sparking behind his eyes. They meshed together so perfectly. He wanted to kiss more, but Kian kept talking.
“When I left, I had to leave Darach, and it broke my heart to see him standing there, watching me go. He tried to stop me, wanted me to wait for him. But I couldn’t.”
“So, why do you think you have the dreams? And what did the seer mean about a fall from grace? The way you say it… I mean, is Darach some kind of angel?” Regan thought it was a fair question, but all Kian did was snort along with his laughter, then shake his head.
“No, he is no angel. But if I believe my waking dreams, he is attempting to do something damned stupid. He is searching for a tribe of rebels called the Cariad. If or when he finds them, his fall from grace will be complete. He will be hunted like a thief and a murderer.” Kian’s tone changed from soft to hard, and the sparks from his fingers stung, causing Regan to wince and pull away.
“What the hell is a Carry-ad?” he asked, shaking his head to dispel the spark that had sizzled painfully against his skin.
“Sorry,” Kian apologized with a rueful expression on his face. After offering a kiss, he continued. “Not a Cariad, the Cariad. They are a tribe of people who have a connection to old magik.” Kian stopped and closed his eyes, appearing to recall the rest of his dreams and visions. “I see other things—it’s a jumble of random nothings that scare me. I can’t help Darach or warn him to be careful, to contact the Cariad, but to be discreet, and it terrifies me. And I feel guilty, because I left him behind to cross to this world.” He opened his eyes again. Confusion flickered in their depths briefly.
“And he couldn’t come with you because he didn’t have his Fire yet, I get that.”
“Yes, he wanted to, but the Fire protects you as you pass the veil. A normal person would die instantly, even with infant Fire in them.”
“These Cariad then, if he finds them, will they hurt him?”
Kian shook his head. “No, it was the Cariad, well, one of them in particular—Ceithin Morgan—who assisted me in crossing to here. He was a good person—they are good people, just misunderstood. They practice old magik, and it goes against everything the twelve Primary Edicts of the Council stand for. They have a home, but they are called a wandering tribe. What’s the word you use?”
“Gypsies? Travelers? Nomads?”
“The same idea. When I was a child, my mom would tell me stories of the Cariad and what she called ‘their wicked ways’. It was always whispered as bedtime stories; you never mentioned the Cariad outside of the home. When I grew, I learned there was a lot I didn’t understand about the old magik. Stories are just that, and I don’t believe them to all be true. But the Cariad are traditionally outcasts from what is perceived to be normal society, and for Darach to be involved with them is bad. He’s a reckless idiot, and he isn’t as strong as I am, and it scares me.”
“Why would it scare you? If you went to them for help, why can’t Darach?”
“It isn’t that he is in danger if he goes there. I spent time with them, and the Cariad are a peaceful tribe. Others don’t know that. They just accept what they are told and blame the Cariad for everything that goes wrong in my world. What people think, what the Council thinks about his actions? That is what worries me. If anyone knows he is associated with the outcasts, he is open for censure, imprisonment, maybe even death. The Cariad are a part of our society that is taboo.”
“It’s that serious?”
“More than. Like I said, to even speak of the Cariad outside the home is forbidden.”
Regan listened to the explanation, realizing he didn’t know enough about the world Kian had called home. He resolved to learn more, because he wanted to understand. “Can we somehow go to your world?”
“Not until All Hallows. Only then is the barrier thin enough for me to pass through without extra magik and power that I have no hope of accessing before then.”
“For us to pass through, you mean,” Regan corrected quickly.
“Us. Of course—us. And your Fire would need to be trained.”
“So if we can’t go over, and you’re this worried for him, can we find a way to help Darach from here? Seems like we should take some downtime and see what we can find out.” Unspoken were the added words I love you, Kian, and I’ll help any way I can.
Kian raised his gaze, his eyes wide, his expression hopeful. The four words he spoke sent warmth coursing through Regan’s body as his Fire responded to the energy within Kian.
“I love you, Regan.”
Ceithin Morgan had no energy left to scream.
His vocal cords were shredded, and the shudders wracking his body were impossible to control. The Council wanted information from him. They wanted his Fire. They were torturing him. And he would not give them his magik nor tell them anything they wanted to know.
A combination of ancient magik and his own stubborn determination meant he would go to his grave with his Fire intact. His scarlet Fire was weakened by what they did; no Fire could stop all the energy they threw at him. But he had protected himself with magik as old as time and in such a way that nothing they could do would break him.
They tried everything they knew, pulling at the silver-tipped crimson magik tangling around him in a messy scramble of light. Whispering words in their own magik, they ripped and pulled until his skin tore into Fire-laced shreds.
Still his skin. Still his Fire.
He knew he was bleeding; he could smell it and taste it in his mouth, hot coppery rivers, and feel it running into his eyes, half blinding him. The skin peeled away from him, and it was an agony he had to force himself to bear. He focused on the Valley, on home: the grass beneath his feet, the trees and pathways, the rainbows glittering in the waterfalls. The visions kept him centered. They couldn’t touch his memories.