“Did she follow ye here?”
“Nay. I escaped when she was not looking. I came alone.”
“Why?” Cian’s voice held ice. His expression turned to stone. “Why are ye here?”
“I came to warn ye.”
“And then?” Cian asked.
Lora glanced at Ian and spoke to him in his head. We cannot trust her.
“Where does Grainna lurk?” Ian drew closer while Cian stood and put distance between them.
She sat up and cradled her trembling hand in her lap. “Grainna changes her form. I know not how, but I’ve seen her take the shape of a crow. She is everywhere. But that is not the answer ye seek.”
Tatiana’s eyes followed Cian as he paced the far side of the tent.
“Tell my father where she is.” Cian’s harsh tone reflected his pain.
“Her camp is north of here, on the base of the cliffs. Her power there is absolute. To attempt defeating her there would mean death to any who tried.”
These words Ian believed.
“Do ye know of any weakness?”
Tatiana closed her eyes and shook her head.
“Her evil feeds her power.”
“Why did she allow ye to be with me?” Cian asked.
Sorrow filled the darkness of Tatiana’s eyes.
Amber knelt at Lora’s side and placed a hand on the girl’s shoulder.
Is she using her gift? Ian asked his wife silently.
Amber seeks the truth.
“I do not know.”
“Ye do not strike me as dense, lass,” Ian scolded.
“Nay. I am many things, but daft is not one of them. Grainna wants to destroy ye all, gain the powers ye yield, and rule all who cross her path. She did not reveal to me any goal of my knowing Cian.”
She bit her lip before continuing. “I cannot be a part of hurting anyone anymore. I cannot be a part of hurting ye, Cian.”
Amber caught Ian’s attention, stood, and walked toward him.
“Myra, Tara, fetch fresh water and have Logan bring me some ale.” Lora directed the women and coaxed Tatiana into allowing her to tend the wound.
Amber lowered her head and her voice. “She is in such pain, physical and in here.” She placed a hand to the center of her chest.
“Guilt does that.”
“Aye, guilt and remorse. I think she speaks the truth. And the way she gazes at Cian reminds me of how Myra looks at Todd, and the way Duncan coos over Tara.”
Ian had seen that for himself. The girl obviously held feelings for his son. Without a way of knowing if she were under a spell, trusting her was out of the question.
“’Tis no use, m’lady. The bones are beyond repair. In time the pain may go away, but I know I will never use it again.”
“You cannot be certain of that.”
Tara returned with ale, which Lora gave Tatiana to drink.
“Nay. I will not be under any spell, with drink or by witch.”
“But the pain…”
“Is not so great.”
Cian, who had said nothing, now walked to the girl’s side and calmly placed his healing hands on her. Tatiana flinched.
“I will not hurt ye.”
“I don’t deserve yer compassion.”
Cian said nothing, yet continued his task. He closed his eyes and held his breath in concentration.
As they all watched, Tatiana’s burned flesh slowly started to pull together. Several popping sounds, like that of wood crackling on a fire, flowed from her hand.
She gasped, but held perfectly still. With wide eyes filling with tears, Tatiana beheld the benefit of Cian’s newfound gift.
Once he backed away, she flexed her fingers and palm. Her reddened skin still held scars, but the flesh no longer oozed blood and soot.
For a moment, the two of them stared at the other as if they were the only two there. Then Cian pivoted and left the tent.
“I should leave.”
“I’ve caused enough pain.”
“We’ve no way of knowing if you are a spy and are returning to Grainna.”
“Then I have replaced one prison with another.”
Ian tilted his head back and worked some of the growing tension out of his neck with his hand. “Our prison will not damn ye to hell. Grainna’s will.”
Before Ian could leave the tent, Tatiana’s voice made him pause. “I have already seen hell.”
“It won’t be long now, love.” Fin placed his hand to the small of Liz’s back and led her through the crowd of people all staring off and into the stars.
The observatory was perched on a hill overlooking the city of Los Angeles. The twinkling lights below flickered as far as his eye could see. The sight would stay with him for his entire life. If he had to choose a perfect night to remember in Liz’s century, this one would be it. He’d listened to a man who claimed to be a weekend astronomer explain why the lunar eclipse was taking place, and how often, or in all reality how rare a full eclipse was. He wished he could have spent countless hours poring over the inside of the planetarium to learn the wonders of the universe.
He knew how lucky he was, however. How blessed to have ever stepped foot in such a time and place.
“Do you think this is going to work?” Liz hunched her shoulders and drew the backpack higher onto her arm.
“I hope so. I’d hate to think of Selma doing all this to watch our plan fail.”
Fin leaned down and placed a soft kiss on her head. “There is something in the air tonight. I feel it.” It wasn’t simply the buzz of excitement rolling off the people around them either. His gut said they were going home.
“How much longer?” he asked, staring at the fullness of the moon. The actual eclipse took longer than he thought possible. The earth had cast a shadow on the moon for nearly an hour already. The people who gathered there were focused on their telescopes and not paying much attention to them.
“About fifteen minutes until the moon turns red.” “We should change.”
Liz jerked her head toward him, her brows slid together. “Into what?”
“Our rightful clothing.”
“You want to run around here in a kilt and have me in a wool gown?”
“If we were to end up ‘landing’ in the encampment, surrounded by people, there would be enough to explain without trying to address these wee shorts.” Although he did appreciate the look of Liz’s arse in the garment she wore.