They sputtered to life. Unlike when Todd watched Myra use them, now they appeared weaker, failing.
Liz gasped for breath as each stone was lit. Todd motioned for her to stay down with a slight movement of his hand. She stayed on her knees and watched as Todd moved closer to the circle with a vigilant eye on Grainna.
In turn, the witch watched Fin light the last stone and demanded, “Send us back.”
Todd circled behind them and knew when Fin caught his movement, an unspoken agreement passed between the two men.
Fin chanted the rhyme, his words clear and loud keeping the attention of Steel and Grainna.
When the wind started to shift and the fire surrounded the ring, Todd noticed Liz inhale deeply and jump to her feet. Everything around him moved quickly, giving him no time to think and only seconds to react. Todd lunged, tackling Grainna to the earth when the world outside the circle started to shift.
Fin and Liz bolted into the circle at the same time. Liz grasped Simon around his waist and fell to the ground.
Everything outside the circle dripped from Todd’s sight.
The vortex surrounded them. With no earth under them and no gravity to pull them, they sat in a state of weightlessness.
Todd felt Grainna beneath him, her frail body struggling to be free.
He found himself coughing and losing his breath. The world around him changed. Colors swirled in different shades, more vibrant than he had ever imagined.
Maybe it was the loss of oxygen to his brain, or the realization he was traveling through time, but he could have sworn he heard Myra’s voice telling him to hang on.
As quickly as the wind hit, it stopped. Air rushed into him as he kicked out to put distance between him and the object who stole his breath.
He managed to collect enough air, crouched in a defensive position, and looked around to see what was coming.
Liz covered Simon with her body. Fin stood, with sword ready to strike at her side.
Steel hovered over Grainna, eyes confused and searching.
Todd yelled for the others to run, at the same time aiming his gun at the enemy. Without warning, he fired. Against all training, he let the round go without thinking of the consequences. Without regard for the enemy it took.
Once the shot was fired, he took off after the others. He looked over his shoulder briefly only to see Steel dragging Grainna away.
Fin heard Todd’s order. He covered Liz and her son under his protective arms. In flight, he grabbed two stones and ran.
The moist earth quieted their escape. Only the sound of panting breaths broke the silence as they ran. Because Todd had no way of knowing where he was, he followed Fin blindly, all the while thankful for every breath he took. Grainna’s power over him had been merciless. He would never again underestimate her.
The sky darkened the outline of the Keep looming above them. Fin bellowed an order for the doors to open as they approached the massive gates.
Slowly, the heavy frame of wood opened and accepted the son of the Laird and his company.
“Gregor, help Lady Elizabeth and Simon inside, quickly. Raise the gates and post extra guards.”
Todd took in Gregor’s clothes. A tunic and leggings and a double-sided sword clasped to his back and another one attached to his waist. Gregor eyed Todd’s clothing with trepidation, and unspoken questions.
Jesus, I’m not in Kansas anymore.
Not that he thought for a minute they were still in California, but the Keep and the man at the gate sealed it for him.
“Aye, My Lord.”
Gregor wasted no time following the orders sent out by Finlay.
Myra slept in a chair by the fire in her room when the commotion from below woke her from her restless dreams. It was Fin’s loud voice that made her move.
She stood at the top of the stairs and watched the scene unfolding in front of her.
Lizzy clutched Simon in her arms. The boy cried, his bruised and bloodied face streaming with tears.
Both were dressed in blue jeans and shirts. Fin ushered them to the stairs and headed to where their rooms had been during their stay.
The world tilted out of focus when her eyes landed on the lone man at the bottom of the stairs.
Joy leapt in her heart at the sight of him. Her eyes burned into the back of his head until he slowly turned in her direction.
His jaw dropped, his gaze swept over her from head to toe and his face lit up. With a twinkle in his eye, he bounded the stairs two at a time.
His name barely passed her lips before Todd folded her into his embrace. His kiss was demanding, deep with longing. She hardly believed he was there, full of life, pressed against her.
Stunned, her body molded to his, exactly where it should be. Her hands lifted to his face, held it in place for fear he would leave. She broke their kiss long enough to ask, “Are you really here?”
He seemed confused. “I don’t know.” His answer delighted her.
He didn’t stop kissing her until the sound of a throat being cleared caught their attention.
At the bottom of the stairs, Ian scowled up at the two of them. His hands perched on his hips told them both he wasn’t happy with what he saw.
“Unless you plan on marrying my daughter this very evening, I suggest you step aside.”
They both sprung back.
Myra clasped her fingers together, uncertain how she should act.
Todd helped her by taking her hand and walking her down the stairs.
“Todd Blakely,” he announced while extending his hand to her father.
Ian extended his hand in a firm grip. Myra took a small breath, thankful her father didn’t call him out right then and there.
Ian’s look never wavered or gave a clue to his emotions. “Laird Ian MacCoinnich.” He emphasized his title.
Lora stepped from the shadows breaking some of the tension rising in the room.
“Welcome to our home, Mr. Blakely,” Lora offered.
“You must be, Mrs. MacCoinnich.”
“Lady MacCoinnich,” Ian corrected, his deadly stare unwavering.
One of the servants took that moment to announce dinner was about to be served.
“Maybe we should finish the introductions once you are more suitably dressed,” Ian told him.
Lora removed her hand from her husband’s arm and moved in. “Sir Blakely, come with me. I am certain Fin has something for you to wear. We wouldn’t want too many questions that we can’t answer.”
Ian nodded his approval and watched Lora hurry Todd up the stairs. He stopped Myra when she started to follow.
“Do I have to remind you that such displays outside of marriage will not be tolerated?” He wasted no time getting to the point.