Two clans attempted to leave the Brisbane camp to find their numbers quickly depleted and their women and children returning to the safety of Brisbane’s keep.
The fog from the sea never seemed to lift. The mist held the poison Grainna used to enslave the minds of her people. Yet Tatiana didn’t feel the drug of Grainna’s spell and didn’t know why.
She hung her head in shame. Unable to stay away from the MacCoinnichs’ youngest son would prove deadly to her or him, this she knew for certain.
The way the witch studied her and raped her mind after their encounters violated her more than her uncle ever had.
She was a fool to have ever thought that being at Grainna’s side would hold some redemption for her sorry existence.
Cian was everything good and pure. With him, Tatiana forgot who she was and the witch she served.
“I want each of you to bring me the severed hand of one of the knights protecting our enemies before the sun rises.” Grainna gave her orders. The knights bowed their heads and lifted their swords to her.
Tatiana’s lip trembled. “Would it not be better to capture them alive and whole?”
In painful slow motion, Grainna craned her neck toward her. She blinked twice, once revealing pitch-black eyes that appeared blind, and then a second time to dark soulless eyes. “You question me?”
Tatiana lowered her eyes and cowered. “Forgive me.” She heard her approach, but didn’t move. Why had she spoken?
Grainna reached a hand down and touched her face. Tatiana shook so violently her teeth chattered.
She didn’t dare close her eyes for fear she’d never be able to open them again.
“Where is your loyalty, my dear?”
“With you,” she whispered.
One of Grainna’s cold, pale fingers raked down her left arm, tearing her dress in its wake.
Tatiana’s knees buckled as fear washed over her. “I don’t believe you.”
“Please, forgive me,” she wept.
Grainna knelt down and forced her gaze to hers.
As she did, the stench of rotting flesh swam into Tatiana’s nose and made her eyes water. Grainna’s expression hardened. She clasped onto Tatiana’s left hand and squeezed.
Searing pain burst through her hand and deep in her bones. She tried to pull away but couldn’t.
Smoke lifted from her flesh. Tatiana didn’t realize the unearthly scream came from her until after Grainna let her loose. She fell in a ball at her feet, cradling her broken and burned hand.
“Perhaps now you’ll know never to question me.”
As Grainna walked away, the stench left with her. Before Tatiana could find her balance and seek herbs to relieve her pain, the witch spoke again. “If any knight returns without a hand, I’ll take yours instead.”
Grainna walked away laughing.
The fugitive life wasn’t something Liz could ever see herself living. She and Fin woke with the sun, packed their things, and shifted from one set of Selma’s family’s hands to another. They hopped into one rental car then another so many times Liz lost count. Cars trailed behind and surged ahead, all watching for the police or any indicator of trouble. Sometimes they spoke to one another with cell phones, other times, walkie-talkies. Liz stashed a second set in her backpack just in case they returned to the sixteenth century. Radio waves were available in Fin’s time, where cell service wasn’t. Having the ability to communicate with a short wave radio would have its advantages.
The plan was to continue moving until nightfall, then meet at the Observatory where there were bound to be hundreds of stargazers gathered for the celestial event. Selma planned to hide Fin and Liz in the crowd and sprinkle her family into the crush of people in hopes of bringing them all together to welcome the eclipse. By the time any authorities could overtake them, Liz and Fin should be gone.
With some planning, and a little luck, the plan just might work.
Sandwiched between Fin and Selma, Liz listened to yet another Mayfair cousin bringing Selma up to date on the family members who weren’t a part of their little adventure.
“If you hadn’t told us to pull out of the market when you did, we’d be in a heap of trouble now,”
Linda Mayfair, now Linda McBride said from the driver’s seat.
“I’m happy you listened. I didn’t think Stan believed in my gift.”
“He didn’t, but does now. Which is why I’m here.” The women laughed.
“Where do you live,” Liz asked.
“Vegas. Stan runs three of the biggest convention centers on the strip.”
“We appreciate your help,” Fin told her.
“Please, a free trip to LA and a family reunion.”
“Free?” Liz was wondering where all the money came from for Selma’s family to jump on planes and make it to LA within twelve hours.
“I told you about the gems in the trunk. They were worth a lot of money.”
“Enough to afford all this?”
Selma lifted a brow but didn’t commit to saying she had enough money.
“Selma, tell me you aren’t hocking yourself to the hilt for us.”
“Stop worrying about me. I’ll be okay.”
Geez, she’s going in debt. Liz wished she could get her hands on the money she’d put in the bank from the sale of the candlesticks Myra had brought with her in time. There was no way she’d be able to go into a bank and leave a free woman. Hell, there wasn’t a guarantee there was any money there at all. Who would it go to? Without Simon or Tara to inherit it, who would the authorities give it to?
There was only one answer to that.
“Let’s find a place to stop for a while.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I need to make a phone call.” The call wouldn’t be easy, but Liz didn’t see any way around it. Once they found a quiet park, they exited the car and stretched their legs.
“What are you thinking about?” Fin asked once Selma and Linda walked away.
Liz nodded toward Selma. “She’s spending her money to make this happen. I’m guessing all of it.
It’s bad enough she may have some serious explaining to do once we’re gone, if we manage to leave. But to bust her financially isn’t right.”
“’Twas her choice.”
“Really? Seems like we forced her into this.”
Fin leaned against the car and folded his arms over his chest. He’d shaved his face earlier in the day in hopes of not being noticed. Their pictures were already back in the news. Liz pulled the baseball cap further down her head, her hair tucked into it to hide the color.