Welcome to my home on the web. You may have noted the mountains in the banner are the misty Blue Ridge of North Carolina. Did you know time traveling Highlanders live there? Curious about the big cat? Florida panther~from the Crimson Storm paranormal novel, Sea Panther.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Excerpt Wednesday - 'Tis Kissin' Season - Just Wait For Me by Dawn Marie Hamilton



'Just Wait For Me', the fourth tale in the Highland Gardens series...
 
 

Several hours passed before they broke free of the forest. The noonday sun warmed her shoulders. They climbed a hillside with a scattering of cheerful yellow blooms.

“Lovely, is it not?” Stephen said.

Jillian jerked a surprised gaze in his direction. They were the first words he’d uttered since leaving camp this morning. Maybe he felt cranky, too.

“Yes, I’m surprised to see gorse in bloom this late in the year.”

“Always some in flower. My ma used to say, when the gorse is in bloom, ’tis kissin’ season.” He laughed and his blue eyes twinkled. “You should see the golden hillsides near Castle Lachlan in springtime.”

She stared at his lips, wanting to kiss that sexy mouth. But then she glanced away. Hopefully, she’d be home in North Carolina way before spring.

“I will miss you, lass,” he said as if reading her thoughts.

She twisted toward him. “You will?”

“Aye,” he said, gravely.
 
The horses had slowed and Jillian tried to read the emotion in his eyes, getting lost in their depths. She would miss him, too. More than she wanted to admit. Perhaps, if only he—

   
 

 
 

Just Wait for me at Amazon

in e-book and in print.

 

e-book for Nook.

 

 


Hope you enjoyed this wee snippet from 'Just Wait For Me', a Highland Gardens Novel.

 
~Dawn Marie

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Red Mug and a Christmas Kiss by Dawn Marie Hamilton

My author friend, Terry Spear, challenged me to write a short, very short story inspired by a holiday picture of my choosing for her blog. I’m also sharing the wee tale here. If you’ve read Just Wait For Me from my Highland Gardens series, you met a young lad named Tevin in the epilogue. He appears again in the upcoming novella, Just Within a Highland Mist, coming Winter 2017.

In A Red Mug and a Christmas Kiss, this very short holiday tale, Tevin is all grown up and working as a Santa’s helper for the holidays at Foxgloves, the garden center owned by his mother Jillian, and her two partners…




Melinda had always wanted to be a Santa’s helper. At twenty-five, it seemed like a silly childhood dream.

Snowflakes danced on the breeze, landing on her cheeks and the tip of her nose. She shivered and sipped from the red ceramic mug she’d just purchased at the garden center’s gift shop along with hot cider. The owners of Foxgloves were Scottish and all the greenery was decorated with tartan ribbon and bows.

Wandering past rows of Christmas trees, the sharp scent of fir, along with apple and cinnamon from the cider, reminded her of Christmases long past. She missed her family. Felt alone in this new mountain town.

In the center of the display garden, a Christmas village had been erected. Young men, dressed in kilts and tunics and wearing elf hats, used hand puppets to entertain children waiting their turn to sit on Santa’s lap and give the white-bearded man their Christmas wish lists.

Melinda couldn’t help but ogle the guys’ muscular legs exposed to the chilly air. She’d be covered in goose bumps if she—

“Lass, would you be so kind as to help me with a medieval skit?”

She lifted her gaze from a firm pair of masculine legs, up a tight body, to very kissable lips that broadened into a grin. Blue eyes glinted with humor. Heat burned her cheeks. And it wasn’t from the steam rising from the red mug.

“Aren’t you cold?” she blurted. “I mean, of course, I’d be happy to help.” Gosh. She sounded silly.

“My name is Tevin,” he said.

“Mine is Melinda.”

“Pretty name.”

He handed her a puppet depicting a faerie princess and another a fair maiden and introduced her to the crowd as Santa’s Helper Melinda. She then joined him in an improvised skit where the faerie princess bestowed magic powers upon a warrior who slayed a dragon and won the hand of the fair maiden.

The children clapped.

“That was fun,” she said as they walked away from the Christmas village to a secluded picnic table.

“It was.” He pulled a flask out of his sporran. “I’m finished for the night. Would you care for some whisky?”

“Um. Sure.”

He poured a small measure of the amber liquid into the red mug and handed it over. She sipped the drink and smiled. How could she let him know of her interest in him without feeling a fool?

Tevin took the mug from her hand and drank from the spot her lips had touched. “I like the taste of your lips. May I?”

The intent glowing in his eyes near to burned her. Her stomach shimmied. Still, she nodded.

His arm encircled her waist; drew her close. The touch of his lips against hers was soft. Gentle. Stole her breath. Became demanding. She dropped the empty red mug into the snow and wrapped her arms around his neck, surrendering to the magic of his Christmas kiss.


Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!



~Dawn Marie

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Excerpt Wednesday - The Legend Behind the Romances - Twelvetide by Dawn Marie Hamilton

 
The legend behind the Enchanted Highlands romances...
 
 

THE MAGICAL GARDEN OF TRUTH


In ancient times, when dense primordial mists swamped the glens and swirled about the mountains of the Celtic world—when giants and dragons dominated the earth—the council of gods decreed that nary a one among them, should take another as concubine.

The god Holly and the goddess Ivy could not deny the love blossoming between them and, hidden within a lush forest flanked by black sided mountains, became intimate lovers. When the god Oak discovered his longtime rival possessed a weakness in Ivy, he exposed to the other gods the location of the lovers’ trysts. The attack and resulting battle led to the capture of Holly and Ivy. In retribution for the lovers’ defiance against council edict, the couple was prosecuted and condemned. Ivy agreed to give up her godly powers and become mortal to save Holly from a more harrowing fate, if, and only if, they might be reunited when three couples of purest heart found forever love through time with their fated soul mate. The likelihood of such seemed impossible to Ivy, but she found solace in the chance of a future with Holly.

Devastated by his loss, Holly planted a berry-bearing holly tree within the forest he’d once enjoyed with Ivy, deep in the Black Hills of Scotland, so whenever Ivy saw the shiny green leaves and red berries, she would think of him and remember his commitment to their love.

Oak continued to challenge Holly during the equinoxes each year. Oak to reign from March through August. Holly for the remainder of the year. Although at his strongest on the winter solstice, Holly remained alone, missing his Ivy.

Lost in a world not her own, Ivy sought refuge amongst a band of humans to whom she taught the lessons of the gods. The people became known as the enlightened ones, or Druids. They worshiped the land and listened to the whispers of the wind—listened to words of wisdom about love, death, and rebirth. They celebrated light, and the winter solstice came to be a magical time, a time when the veil between the earth and the realms of the supernatural thinned.

To others, the solstice came to be both a festive and fearful time.

Upon Ivy’s death, the furtive Druids established and nurtured a garden surrounding the holly tree planted by Holly and named it the Garden of Truth. They have nurtured the garden through wars and famine and times of plenty and still care for the garden this day. From within the soul of the holly tree, magic blossoms and grows in power, gaining strength for Ivy’s rebirth.

Over the centuries, the legend of the Garden of Truth has been the subject of many tales—some true, some not—passed on by word of mouth and although often interpreted differently, the magic holds true for those possessing a pure heart. ’Tis said, if one gathers nine holly leaves and wraps them tight, using nine knots to bind them, and places them beneath their pillow, their dreams will come true.

From the Enchanted Highlands comes the first of three tales of time travel romance intertwined with the magic of the season and forever love—Twelvetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic.

   
 


 
Hope you enjoyed the legend behind the novella Twelvetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic.
 

Twelvetide at Amazon.

 

 



Other books from the Enchanted Highlands Holiday Collection:

Stars and Stones
By April Holthaus
 
Once Upon a Winter Solstice
By Victoria Zak


~Dawn Marie


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Excerpt Wednesday - Caelan Awaits Ashley's Return - Twelvetide by Dawn Marie Hamilton


An excerpt from a special holiday novella, Twelvetide, Twelve Nights of Highland Magic...

 
 
In-between
 
Cael hadn’t kenned that the moment of death for a life cut short would begin a repetitive cycle of loneliness stuck within the in-between, only able to cross into the hidden garden maze when the veil thinned and ripped.

A ghost. He’d become a wretched ghost.

Since meeting the wee lass, he’d haunted the maze during each Yule hopeful Ashley would visit with her family to attend the festivities and he’d catch a glimpse of her as she grew to womanhood. He rubbed his empty chest over the spot where his heart would beat had he been alive. He’d kenned all along she wouldn’t come until the time was right. Still, he’d roamed the forsaken place year after year, ever yearning.

He’d sensed during the waning autumn the time neared for her return. The veil thinned, though not fast enough to suit him. Over the years, he’d never once doubted her commitment to their promise. Movement on the other side of the misty, diaphanous fabric separating the earth from the realms of the supernatural made him jounce on his heels with excitement.

There! Ashley stood beside the dolphin fountain—a newer addition to the ancient Druid garden. The maze wouldn’t appear until the solstice, but she had come as promised.

Freezing rain fell, yet still she’d come. He hoped she didn’t catch a chill from the foul weather. In one hand she held a lantern to light the way. With the other, she lifted the hood of her coat and covered her hair, but not before he noted its luster. He wanted to run his fingers through the dark brown locks the color of the finest sable fur, imagining their softness. A flush reddened her cheeks and her firm lips curved in a pout. He wanted to kiss those lips and wrap his arms around her and feel her life-giving force.

Cael could do none of that. He made a fist then flexed the fingers. For all the saints, he was a ghost. An apparition without substance. Yet Durrell had assured him on Ashley’s earlier visit that the wee lass held within her heart his destiny.

Her amber gaze darted from place to place in search of something. Likely the maze, which wouldn’t appear until the exact moment of the solstice.

Too soon. She’d come too soon.

Ashley turned toward the gate to leave and his chest tightened in panic.

Please don’t go!

She spun back as if she heard the words in his head. Kenned he stood there. Impossible. The veil hadn’t thinned enough. Not yet. He could do naught but watch in disappointment as she frowned, shook her head, and walked away.

When the Druid woman appeared, the vise on his chest loosened. The light-bearer would guide Ashley to him. ’Twas their destiny.

However, another obstacle awaited them. Durrell, the gatekeeper, had also revealed the elders required Cael to make a sacrifice. Nae matter. He would do whatever they required.

 


 
Hope you enjoyed this wee excerpt from the novella Twelvetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic.
 

Twelvetide at Amazon.

 



~Dawn Marie


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Excerpt Wednesday - Braving a Blizzard to Escape - Just in Time for a Highland Christmas

 
Here is another snowy excerpt from Just in Time for a Highland Christmas...

 
 

Archibald’s wool plaide pulled over her head gave minimal protection as they slogged through the blinding snow, the light guiding them to who kenned where. Isobell clung to Dealanach Dubh with fingers numb from cold. Icy flakes stung the exposed skin of her face. Yet they followed the light taking them further from Castle Lachlan and the man who would never forgive her for an act she didn’t commit.
As the storm worsened, Isobell wondered if she’d gone mad, risking life itself, traipsing over a countryside experiencing the worst weather of the season. For what? To escape a man she once loved. Was it worth killing her horse and possibly losing her life over such?
Should she go back and plead her case? If only she could curl into a ball and fall asleep in the snow and forget. Feeling drowsy, she started to slip, but caught herself before falling.
Isobell. Isobell. Fear not.
What? Who said that? She raised her head and tried to see through the blowing snow. The white light remained; drew them ever closer.
Emerging from the trees, they stepped out of the snow onto a mound of the most unusual green grass. Grass that should be autumn-brown. Above, a full moon shone bright. How was that possible? Isobell jerked a look over a shoulder at where they’d just been and gasped. The blizzard raged. Falling snow created a heavy curtain of white.
She patted Dealanach Dubh’s ice-crusted coat. “Where are we, lad?”
A place of magic.
“’Tis known as the Sithichean Sluaigh, a faerie knoll.” A golden-haired woman of inconceivable beauty sat a stunning white horse. “Dinnae fear this place.”


 

 
Hope you enjoyed this wee excerpt from Just in Time for a Highland Christmas, a Highland Gardens Novella.
 

Just in Time for a Highland Christmas at Amazon.

At Barnes & Noble.



~Dawn Marie


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Excerpt Wednesday - Making Snow Angels - Just in Time for a Highland Christmas


Since I'm getting in the mood for Christmas here is an excerpt from Just in Time for a Highland Christmas...

 
 
During dinner Archie’s thigh kept brushing hers, and she bit the inside of her lip to avoid reaching over and touching him. Otherwise, dinner became a jovial affair of great food and good conversation, ending with pastry and a hot drink called coffee.
Delectable food and drink—more reasons to remain in this time. If only she could convince Archie to stay too. She rubbed moist palms on her jeans. He would never forgive her. And he wasn’t staying.
“Can we make snow angels?” Scott hollered over bantering voices.
“Yes, please,” Young Iain begged, too.
Laurie urged the lads into jackets and the entire family trudged out into the snowy garden. Patrick flicked a switch. Light illuminated the area, making the snow sparkle. The lads fell onto their backs in the snow, waving their arms and legs. The imprints left behind were the images of angels. Laurie made a large one. Patrick’s even larger.
If a once powerful warrior could display a playful side so could she. Isobell dropped onto her back to make an angel of her own. To her utter surprise, Archie threw off his plaide and plopped beside her in naught but his trews and leine. As they spread their arms to make angel wings their fingers touched. Their gazes met. A thrill shot through her.
Archie’s eyes flared. He must have felt it, too.
She couldn’t let the moment pass without making one last memory with him. Isobell squeezed his fingers. “Come with me. I ken a special place.”

 

 
Hope you enjoyed this wee excerpt from Just in Time for a Highland Christmas, a Highland Gardens Novella.
 

Just in Time for a Highland Christmas at Amazon.

At Barnes & Noble.



~Dawn Marie


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Excerpt Wednesday - Jillian Meets Isobell - Just Wait For Me by Dawn Marie Hamilton

 
 
An excerpt from Just Wait For Me where Jillian meets Isobell from Just in Time for a Highland Christmas...


 
 
The raven-haired beauty dropped to a green velvet-cushioned chair and propped her legs on a small embroidered footstool with a heavy sigh of relief. The skirting of her purple gown hiked up, providing Jillian a glimpse of a pair of very modern-looking Fair Isle knit leg warmers made with synthetic fibers. Certainly not of the time period.
 
“I have recently given birth to a fine son.” Lady Isobell’s smile glowed with happiness. “My ankles and hands still swell on occasion.”
 
Jillian shut an open mouth with a snap.
 
When the other woman noticed where Jillian stared, she smirked. “Do you like my leg warmers? They were a gift from my mother-in-law, Mairi, when we visited my husband’s family in a place called Anderson Creek a couple of Christmases ago. Have you heard of it?”
 
“Uh…yeah. I live there, Lady Isobell.”
 
“No need for formality. Please. Just Isobell. I am sure we will become bosom friends.” Isobell beamed. “Do you ken the MacLachlans? Mairi and Iain? Patrick and Laurie? Elspeth and Finn?”
 
“I know them all. Laurie is my business partner. We own Foxgloves Garden Center along with our friend Caitrina.”
 
“Ah. That explains much.” The woman’s violet eyes brightened. “I have fond memories of the orchid room.”
 
“Yes. It’s lovely. Full of color, especially in winter.” This was all too bizarre. Had she fallen into a 1960’s episode of Twilight Zone?
 
“And so verra warm.” Isobell fanned herself as if the memories made her hot.
 
“The orchid room has state of the art environmental controls encouraging peak performance from the plants.”
 
“The plants? Oh, aye, they are nice. And the cushions are verra comfortable, if you understand my meaning.”
 
“Oh.” Jillian raised both eyebrows. Had the woman and her husband used the orchid room for a…an encounter? Obviously, based on the suggestive expression Isobell wore.
 
She patted Jillian’s arm. “Now, you must tell me all about my niece and nephews. I miss the wee bairns terribly. It has been some time since we visited.”
 
“You make it sound so normal. Time traveling, that is.” Jillian swallowed uneasily.
 
“Far from normal, but I have come to terms with fae activity since marrying Archibald, having our wee adventure, and living at Castle Lachlan.”
 
“It boggles my mind.” Jillian looked beyond her hostess to scan the hall, wondering what happened to Stephen and the children. Not seeing them, she returned her attention to Isobell. “You mentioned the faerie knoll. Is that how you traveled back and forth from…” Jillian glanced around again to see if anyone listened to their conversation. No one seemed to pay them any mind. “Anderson Creek?”
 
“Oh, aye. But only once. According to my father-in-law, a person can only travel through the portal once in each direction. Our faerie knoll sent us to Laurie’s garden then the garden gate returned us to the knoll.”
 
“That isn’t how I came to be here.”
 
“Nae? Do tell.”
 
 
 
 
Hope you enjoyed this wee excerpt from Just Wait For Me, a Highland Gardens Novel.
 

Just Wait For Me at Amazon.

At Barnes & Noble.



~Dawn Marie

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Excerpt Wednesday ~ Jillian and Stephen in the Waterfall's Pool ~ Just Wait For Me by Dawn Marie Hamilton

 
 
This excerpt from Just Wait For Me has been edited for inclusion here and is a follow up to the excerpt posted last Wednesday...


 
 
Stephen held his breath, not moving a muscle. How could he make his presence known without spooking the lass?
 
After the shock of seeing her in the chamber where he slept, he’d rudely exposed his ugliness. Guilt tearing at him, he hurried as best he could on his crutch to the falls. He’d hobbled deep into the pool, taking a seat in the shadows, allowing the warm water to wash over his stiff shoulders. The muscle aches and ever-gnawing pain in his leg lessened.
 
Time suspended, though he didn’t sleep. With a warrior’s alertness, he sensed the moment she entered the chamber. Why would he feel such a connection to this woman from the future? Like Lady Laurie, that’s who she must be.
 
“I know you’re there. Show yourself.” Her voice trembled.
 
Loath to cause more distress, he slowly leaned forward, out of the shadows, not far from where she sat. “I am here.”
 
She jerked her gaze to him, eyes wide.
 
“I did not wish to disturb you.”
 
“You saw me undress,” she accused, her sweet lips curving into a comely scowl.
 
He held the urge to smile at bay. He’d enjoyed the show immensely, especially the teasing stretch exposing the curve of her back. The silky garments she wore left little to the imagination. Her shapely hips lovely. Her skin ivory perfection. The need to touch her almost more than he could endure.
 
He cleared his throat, hoping she wouldn’t hear the lust in his voice. “I am sorry. I should have made my presence known, but I did not want you to run off before the fae waters healed your hands.”
 
“I’m not afraid of you.”
 
“You should not be.”
 
“Well, I’m not.”
 
“Good.”
 
The silence became awkward. Stephen groped for something to say. “You said your name is Jillian?”
 
“Yes.”
 
“Mine is Stephen. Stephen MacEwen.”
 
She smiled. More silence.
 
Of a sudden, Jillian jerked her feet up onto the shelf where she sat. Wrapping arms tightly around her legs, she stared into the water with a frown.
 
“What is wrong?” Stephen asked, sliding closer.
 
“Something brushed over my feet. Are their snakes in the water?”
 
Her horrified expression made him chuckle. “Nae. Just wee toothless fish.”
 
“Oh. Like the garra rufa that nibble away dead skin from your feet when you get a fish pedicure at one of the fancy spas in Asheville.”
 
“I dinnae ken about that, but the fish in this pool will not hurt you.”
 
She dropped her feet deeper into the water and smiled. “Tickles.”
 
“Aye. Does.” He sounded like the village idiot.
 
“I’m lost. The children told me the Gray Women would help me find my way to a phone or to a town where I could call my brother, but they keep disappearing. Do you know where I can go to make a call?”
 
“The women come and go. Mysteriously.”
 
“Why are you here?”
 
“To heal.”
 
“What happened?”
 
“Ach. ’Tis a long story.”
 
“You’re Scottish. Right? You sound a lot like my business partner’s husband, Patrick MacLachlan. He’s originally from Scotland.” She shook her head, making her braid bob. “Of course, you wouldn’t know him. Sorry. I tend to ramble when I’m nervous.”
 
“I dinnae wish to make you uncomfortable.” She kenned Patrick!
 
She smiled, and Stephen had to rub an achy spot near his heart. He didn’t ken whether it was because she affected him so or because she kenned Patrick. He missed his cousin terribly.
 
 
 
 
Hope you enjoyed this wee excerpt from Just Wait For Me, a Highland Gardens Novel.
 

Just Wait For Me at Amazon.



~Dawn Marie


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Excerpt Wednesday ~ Jillian Visits the Cave Waterfalls ~ Just Wait For Me by Dawn Marie Hamilton

Smoo Cave - Inspiration for the Caves of the Gray Women.


This excerpt from  Just Wait For Me is from Jillian's visit to the Caves of the Gray Women. She scraped her hands raw while entering the caves...


 
 
“Come. A soak in the pool will put things to rights.”

The woman led Jillian through the same tunnel the man had taken, past several off-shoots, torches set in metal holders embedded in the walls lit the way. The air became warmer and moist and the sound of running water louder as they walked. Finally, the shaft opened to another chamber.

Wow! A powerful waterfall plunged from a hole in the stone ceiling at least seventy-five feet above their heads. Sunlight glistened on wet walls and where the water cascaded into a subterranean pool that took up most of the chamber.

“Bathe. ’Twill heal your hands.”

Jillian drew back. “Are you crazy? The water must be freezing.”

“Nae. Hot water bubbles from the earth and the cold water from the waterfall makes the pool perfect for bathing and healing what ails you. ’Tis fae magic.”

Jillian’s hands stung like hell and the pool was inviting. What would it hurt to soak for a bit? Perhaps daydream about the hot blond man.

She squatted near the edge and stuck a couple fingers into the water—perfect temperature. “Okay.” She turned to face the woman, but the woman had gone.

Somewhat unsettled, Jillian glanced around. Although light came in from the hole in the ceiling, shadows played over most of the cave. Where the illumination was strongest, toweling and a small jar with an ornate bronze lid sat on a niche in the wall. She opened the lid, brought the jar to her nose and sniffed. Heather blossoms. Must be soap.

She wasn’t making any headway in getting unlost, yet perhaps she could spare a few minutes for a relaxing soak. She dropped her pack on the floor and kicked off her bike shoes. Careful of her sore hands, she slid the fleece leggings over her hips and stepped out of them. Then extending her arms toward the ceiling in a needed stretch, slowly arched her back, and cracked her spine while tugging off the fleece pullover. Dressed in bike shorts and a t-shirt, she glanced at the water. She didn’t want to get her shorts and top wet so she stripped to her bikini briefs and sports bra and folded her clothing on the pack. Making quick work of braiding her hair, she used an elastic from around her wrist to secure it then stepped into the water. Nice.

She carefully walked deeper into the pool, dragging bloodied hands through the water. The stinging eased. Sand squished between her toes. The pool deepened then became shallower as she walked toward the far wall, covered in green moss and small plants. Finding a ledge, she sat. Water rose over her breasts. Ahh! Heaven. With the warm water and gentle mist from the waterfall soothing her nerves, she leaned back and relaxed.

She must have dozed. Something jolted her awake. She sensed she wasn’t alone. A short distance away, water spilled over the edge of the pool and trickled into a stream that ran under a stalactite curtain wall. No one seemed to be there. She held still, sure someone was in the cave with her.

“Who’s there?”
 
 
 
 
Hope you enjoyed this wee excerpt from Just Wait For Me, a Highland Gardens Novel.
 

Just Wait For Me at Amazon.



~Dawn Marie

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Excerpt Wednesday : A Haircut For a Highlander : Just Wait For Me by Dawn Marie Hamilton


This excerpt from Just Wait For Me has been edited for posting here. A haircut for a Highlander...


They reached the bedchamber, and he sought something to distract his lady. The bathing alcove’s curtain hung open, and his gaze lit on the table containing a bowl, razor, and scissor. He should look his best when arriving in Jillian’s future time.

“Lass, might I ask a favor?”

“Of course.”

“Would you be so kind as to trim my hair and shave my beard? I could summon a ghilllie, but would prefer your gentle touch.”

That put a smile on Jillian’s lips as he intended. “I’ve often done the same for my brother. His hair and beard have never been quite as long as yours though.”

“So you cannot handle this mess,” he teased.

“I think I can manage. Sit.” She shoved him onto a chair near the grooming table. He dropped the plaide from his shoulder and tugged off his leine, tossing the garment aside, his chest bared to his lady.

She arched a feminine brow. “You sure you only want a haircut?”

“Aye. And much more later.” He winked.

Jillian smiled and slipped nimble fingers through his hair, kneading the scalp, sensitizing the flesh with the tips of her nails. He leaned into the sensual touch. A thrill spiraled down his spine, pooling low in his gut, making him want so much more. He choked on an abrupt intake of breath.

She laughed, well aware of her effect on him.

Perhaps he did want more sooner. He hadn’t meant for her to incite his sexual desires so quickly, yet his ploy had worked. His lady’s sweet chuckles lightened his heart. She nae longer seemed overcome with fearsome thoughts of the sheriff. Stephen shifted his weight on the chair. Would be hard to sit still with her so close, with her touch driving him mad, but he would make the effort to keep a rein on his urges for her sake. Besides, dragging out this moment of intimacy would make their lovemaking all the more urgent and fulfilling later.

Jillian detangled his hair then picked up the scissor. Stepping close, one leg positioned between his legs and the other to the side, her gown brushed over his thigh. He felt her warmth as she moved in tight and cut a lock of hair. She dropped it to the stone floor then moved in snug for another snip. Breasts at eye level, he could do naught but stare. He moistened suddenly parched lips. Her husky laugh made him harder. Needier.

Clip. Clip. Hair dropped to the floor at his feet. With each snip, she moved, rubbing against him,  causing pleasure-pain, driving him to the edge of tolerance.

“Are you okay? You seem to be breathing quite hard.”

“I am fine,” he gritted through clenched teeth. His desire for her would be the death of him.

She trimmed his hair and then beard, taunting him with each swish of her hips. When finished, she set the scissor aside and collected the container of soap with brush. She moved behind him out of sight. Then she stepped in close and cushioned his head against her bosom.

The lathered soap prickled bare skin and softened his whiskers. When Jillian put the blade to his throat, he inhaled sharply.

“I’ll be careful. If you hold still, I won’t cut you.”

“I dinnae fear such. It is just…” He searched for the right words to explain his feelings, yet fell short. “You have come to mean much to me, lass. I thank you.”

Jillian blushed. “And you mean much to me.”

Their gazes held for a heartbeat, and then Jillian proceeded to work on his beard. The rasp of the blade, her scent, her heart beating so near, her body moving against his, left him breathless. The intimacy of the moment touched him deeply, softened his heart. Life with Jillian would be good. Days and nights filled with tender love.

When finished with the task, she handed him a cloth and set the razor on the table then stood away, appraising her handiwork. “You look like a modern man.”

He shot her a grin before wiping his face and tossing the cloth aside. “Come here.”

She sidled close, and Stephen wrapped his arms around her waist determined to offer gentleness this night. He guided her onto his lap. She leaned against his chest, dropping her head onto a shoulder. She remained quiet within his embrace for several heartbeats.

“I’m scared,” she murmured.

“I ken. Dinnae fash yourself. We will get through this.” He brushed her lips with his—a whisper-soft kiss.

A heavy knocking at the door startled them both, and Jillian jumped away, alarm returning to her beloved features.
 
 
 
Hope you enjoyed this wee excerpt from Just Wait For Me, a Highland Gardens Novel.
 

Just Wait For Me at Amazon.



~Dawn Marie

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Excerpt Wednesday ~ A Vampire-Shifter for Halloween ~ Sea Panther by Dawn Marie Hamilton



Halloween is a mere five nights away. Get your paranormal fix with an excerpt from Sea Panther...


The simple act of returning the woman’s scarf had taken a dangerous turn when their fingers touched. Robert managed to control the vampire by sheer will alone. Nonetheless, the power surge coursing through his veins from the brief contact with the lass awakened the panther. He barely made it to the tall grass on the outskirts of town before being claimed by the transformation.

He chose not to fight the change. He welcomed it with every fiber of his being.

Heart raced. Blood throbbed at his temples and a tortured curse escaped his lips. He discarded his garments and clenched his teeth. Muscles ripped and tendons snapped and bones distorted to conform to the panther’s shape. Coarse golden fur tipped with a reddish tinge rippled over bare skin, making him quiver with urgency.

Nostrils flared, he sniffed the salty breeze. There would be precious few moments for his pleasure before the beast seized complete control.

He darted through the salt marsh, paws sinking into moist earth. His growl sounded out a soul-wrenching lament on the injustice of his life. Robert couldn’t shake the feminine image of the tall graceful woman with brown curls and haunted chocolate eyes. The desire to mate shook him to the core.

Far from the trappings of civilization, he slowed to a rhythmic lope. He hoped no one found the tracks. The headlines would be sensational.

Big Cats Return to South Jersey

Cougar Tracks Sighted in Cape May County

On closer inspection, a zoologist would recognize the smaller pawprints and attribute them to the Florida panther, Puma concolor coryi. Researchers would bombard the foundation with inquiries. His secret would be in jeopardy.

The panther reared its full power and forced away Robert’s human thoughts.

A raccoon moving through the reeds caught his keen gaze. He pounced on the prey. Yet on the fringes of consciousness remained the unquenched desire for his mate.
 
 
 
 

Hope you enjoyed this wee excerpt from Sea Panther, a Crimson Storm Novel.
 

Sea Panther exclusively at Amazon.



~Dawn Marie

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Excerpt Wednesday: Twelvetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic by Dawn Marie Hamilton



He has twelve nights to gain her love. She has twelve nights to save his soul. Here is an excerpt from a ghostly holiday novella...


“You came. I hoped. Prayed.” Cael reached forward to clasp both of Ashley’s hands, forgetting he had no substance and slipped through. He felt something. A tingling, but not the smooth sensation of skin stroking skin he so desired.

Her eyes widened. “Your hands went right through mine.”

“I am sorry. I did not mean to frighten you.”

“You didn’t. It’s just…I thought.” She frowned. “Well, I don’t know what I thought. You’re still a ghost. I had hoped, perhaps, you might be more real now. More solid. You claimed to be my destiny.”

“I am.”

“I don’t see how.” A carved stone bench appeared at the base of the oak tree. Ashley gave a yelp and jumped back; fingers fluttered near her throat. “Did you do that?”

“Nae. I dinnae have the ability to wield magic.” He scraped a hand over his head, frustrated with the awkwardness between them. “The garden is enchanted. You ken?”

“Well, yeah, I’ve witnessed the maze appear out of thin air.” She tossed her head, dark brown hair flowing over a slender shoulder.

He lifted a hand to touch the lustrous tresses. Remembering he wouldn’t be able to feel their fine texture, he pulled back. “Perhaps you would like to sit with me?”

She dropped to the bench, and he joined her. Though their thighs appeared to touch, he felt no mass against him. How could they possibly have a shared destiny?

He sensed her nervousness. What should he say to put her at ease? “I feared you would not come,” he blurted.

She smiled and the sun shined upon him. “We pinky swore.”

“Aye, that we did.”

“So now that I’m here…”

“Aye?”

“Explain how you are my destiny.”

He hesitated a moment too long, and she sighed heavily.

“Listen. I came because I promised. I came because you claimed to be my destiny. Actually, I came because…I want to be with you.” She twisted her body to face him and attempted to touch his cheek. Failing, she frowned and folded her hands in her lap. “To be honest, I don’t understand how we could ever be together. Am I missing something?”

“I have nae explanation.” He scrubbed a hand over his face. “Durrell, the Druid gatekeeper, told me our destinies are entwined, but nae more.”

“Wait a minute. The caretaker at the manor house is named Durrell. Perhaps he’s playing a cruel joke on both of us.”

“I dinnae think so. He came to me when you were a wee bairn. Did Aileen not explain more to you?”

“Aileen? You know of her?”

“I have watched you and her from the other side of the veil. She is a Druid light-bearer—your guide.”

“She hasn’t told me anything about you, except…” Ashley blushed. “Never mind about that. I want to know more about this destiny thing.”

“I wish I had the answers you seek.”

“What would you like to know?” Aileen had arrived in her quiet way. A holly wreath adorned her silver head in the way of Druid women and she wore a white linen gown cinched at the waist with silver braid. Her silver eyes pierced him.

Caelan rose at her approach and inclined his head in respect. Ashley jumped up beside him.

“Durrell has spoken with you, Caelan Innes?” the light-bearer asked.

“He informed me of Ashley and my entwined destinies. Aye. But how can that be as I am a ghost and a living heart beats beneath her breast? There is no way for us to be together.”




Hope you enjoyed this excerpt from Twelvetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic, an Enchanted Highlands Holiday Novella.
 

Twelvetide exclusively at Amazon.



~Dawn Marie

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Excerpt Wednesday: Just Wait For Me by Dawn Marie Hamilton


Since it is October, and Samhaina time when faeries can more easily enter our worldis approaching, I thought it would be fun to share a fantasy flavored excerpt. So here is the excerpt from Just Wait For me where Dugaid, the son of the High King and Queen of the Fae, is introduced. Caitrina's life will never be the same...

 
 


The approach to Castle Torne, the northern most castle in the Highlands

Urgency goaded Prince Dugaid to push his mount to greater speed. The midnight-black stallion galloped effortlessly through pristine snow. Forest and glen and village blurred when passed.

They halted at the edge of the North-wood. The fae horse hoofed the earth, snorted, and blew steam into the frigid air. Dugaid leaned forward over the beast’s thick neck and eyed the stone fortress, shrouded in mist, high on the distant sea cliff. To the untrained human eye, Castle Torne appeared a great stronghold, though no more so than many others in Scotland. Something else was at work there. The land and all within charmed by a most powerful fae enchantment.

Its potency pulsed over Dugaid’s flesh despite the many layers of garments and furs he wore as protection against the cold. A thrill ran through him; eager for the confrontation ahead.

Prince Torguil, an ancient sithiche prince, held court within those massive stone walls. Although a favorite noble of Dugaid’s mother, Oonagh, the High-Queen of the Fae, Torguil chose to reside on earth in this forgotten northern wilderness instead of Tir-nan-Og. ’Twas said he pined for his human wife, long since dead and buried.

Dugaid straightened his shoulders. He would need to prove his worth to gain the hand of Torguil’s halfling daughter. ’Twas time to stop waiting and put his plan into action. He wanted Caitrina with every fiber of his being. His mother would never forgive him, which made the match all the more perfect.

He scanned the approach to the castle. Out in the open for the distance, he would be exposed, though he doubted Torguil’s warriors presented a threat. Dugaid had sensed the fae scouts for the past few days, monitoring his advance. They’d let him pass so far without incident.

Dugaid walked the fine steed across the open moor at an unhurried pace, keeping his senses alert. With each step, the tingling of magic strengthened, and with it his determination.

At the base of the rise to the cliff top, he paused and twisted around in the saddle. Movement within the trees revealed the scouts still watched him.

Ice and loose stones roughened the climb, but the surefooted stallion proceeded unaffected by either the encumbrance or the tremors of magic. If only the enchantment didn’t affect Dugaid. Perhaps shifting into his alternate form…

Nae. He couldn’t allow others to lay witness to the transformation nor its results. He held the reigns in a tight fist, feeling more lightheaded as they proceeded. He hung on by sheer will alone by the time they reached the massive gates.

Without command, the outer portcullis slowly rose with a loud grating of metal. Dugaid urged the horse forward. The latticed grille dropped behind them much faster than it had been raised, and they were now caught between the two gates. If Torguil wished him ill, this was where the guards could easily take away his immortality and end his fae life with a single, well-shot iron dart to the heart.

“Who goes there?” The voice came from within one of the arrow slits cut into the side wall.

“You ken verra well who I am. Prince Dugaid, son of Oonagh.”

The inner portcullis finally rose, opening the way into the castle courtyard. The dizziness faded the moment he cleared the gate. The temperature rose, and Dugaid unwrapped multiple scarves in order to breathe in the briny sea air.

Five muscular fae warriors pounded down the keep steps. The ancient prince wasn’t taking chances with his uninvited guest.

“Welcome to the home of Torguil.” The leader waved an arm and bowed in greeting.

Although the blond faerie stood taller than his companions, Dugaid, at six-foot-seven, topped him by a good four inches. If there was trouble, Dugaid had the upper hand. A slow smile curled his lips. “I wish an audience with Prince Torguil.”

Our prince is well aware of your presence. If you follow me, I will show you to a chamber where you can make yourself presentable.”

Dugaid followed the faerie, the other four warriors falling in behind. For Danu’s sake what harm did they think he planned?

After a much-needed bath and grooming, dressed in his black leathers, he restlessly waited for a summons. After pacing the width of the chamber for the umpteenth time, a knock sounded the arrival of the blond faerie who’d greeted him in the courtyard.

“Please follow me. I will escort you to Prince Torguil’s antechamber.”

Upon entrance to the chamber, Torguil strode forward and greeted him with a warrior’s embrace. On separating, the elder prince touched the gilt brooch at Dugaid’s shoulder. “You are of the unicorn brotherhood.”

“Aye.”

“Do you bring a message from the high-queen?”

“I harbor nae love for my mother.”

Torguil rubbed his chin. “I see. Then why do you grace my hall?”

“I bring a gift.” Dugaid removed a wee leather sack secured at his hip and handed it to Torguil.

The elder prince released the thong and dropped the contents onto the table. Thirteen precious gems the size of a man’s thumbnail and the color of deepest purple settled on the tablecloth. The flawless amethysts winked in the flickering light of countless candles.

“A rare and exquisite gift.” Torguil fingered the stones set before him. “Truly beautiful. Far above par.”

“An offering for the hand of your daughter.”

“Ah!” The prince’s eyes narrowed. “Caitrina.”

“Aye.” Dugaid couldn’t read the impassive expression. Was Torguil pleased with the offer?

“Why should I grant your request? Allow you control over my greatest asset?”

“I am the only man capable of protecting her from Oonagh’s wrath.”

“Your prowess on the battlefield is well known. I would be proud to call you son.” Torguil hesitated. “Yet you dinnae speak of love?”

“I am fae.”

“As am I, yet I was verra much in love with Caitrina’s mother.” The emerald of his eyes—the same color as his daughter’s—deepened.

“There is nae time for human emotion. The third set in Oonagh’s challenge to Caitrina is in play. I will ensure your daughter wins.” Dugaid pounded a fist against his chest. “I will have her as my bride.”

“She will fight you.”

“I look forward to the taming.”
 
 
 
Hope you enjoyed this excerpt from my latest release, Just Wait For Me, the third novel in the Highland Gardens series.
 

Just Wait For Me exclusively at Amazon.



~Dawn Marie