Long Hard Winter
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave Publishing
Series: White Hot Holidays
Book Length: Quickie
Book Type: eBook Also available in paperback
Keane, an ancient wizard with a chip on his shoulder, won’t return home or use his magic because of his parents’ death.
Allyn is a lady with a few secrets of her own and giving up the time she could be spending with her family for Winter Solstice, she’s takes the Fates’ mission to save the wizard from self-destruction.
As the spirit of the season brings the forgiveness Keane so desperately needs, will the bond he’s formed with Allyn be strong enough to help him forgive her for her deceit?
“Oh.” He cleared his throat and pointed straight ahead. “This way.” Allyn squinted again and Keane leaned closer to her face. She was even more beautiful up close. “Is there something wrong with your eyes?”
She burst out laughing. “Oh, well, I guess that much is obvious, is it not? Had a run-in with a bad-tempered witch. I know it probably doesn’t seem like it but I can be a bit of a smart-ass. Anyway, the witch didn’t like my ‘attitude’ is what she called it and here I am.”
“So you pissed this witch off and her only retaliation was to drop you off in the center of Ireland without a roadmap?” Keane figured the blonde had gotten off easily.
“Well that and the loss of my eyesight.”
Keane’s mouth dropped open. “You’re blind?” He waved a hand in front of her eyes to check for himself as suspicion crept up the back of his neck. Okay, so maybe she wasn’t an offering as much as a test.
She swatted his hand away. “Not yet but I will be unless I make it to Newgrange before Winter Solstice.”
“Ah,” Keane murmured as realization arrived. “The sun streaming down through the chambers. That’s supposed to restore your vision?”
Allyn squared her shoulders and nodded briskly. “Of course it will.”
“That’s a myth, you know.” But something told him she believed it anyway and if he hung around her for a little while longer, no doubt, he’d start to believe it himself.
She tipped her head to one side and glowered at him. “And I suppose you think Winter Solstice is a myth, too?” Her hands fisted on her hips. “Why don’t you tell the Mesopotamians that their festival of renewal is useless, too?”
“I would if they were alive, but I never actually said I don’t believe in Winter Solstice. It’s fine for those who want to celebrate it.”
“Has anyone ever told you that you have a very pessimistic attitude?”
He took hold of her arm and chastised himself at noticing the softness of her skin. A relationship wasn’t what he was looking for. “It doesn’t look like we’re going to get much walking done this evening. Sun’s already setting and the last thing I want to do is have to lead you around in the dark.”
Tugging her arm free, Allyn took a step away from him. “You don’t have to make me sound like a burden. I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself and I don’t recall asking you to lead me anywhere.”
The snap of the words brought another smile to Keane’s face and he realized he’d smiled more in the past twenty minutes than he had in the last three years. The knowledge sobered him. “I’m certainly not going to let you wander off by yourself now that I know you’re losing your eyesight.” Besides, he wasn’t ready to let her go.
With a toss of her head, she brushed past him. “Fine. But don’t expect me to follow your commands like a docile woman. I’ve never been one to obey very well.”