DRAGON IN THE MIST
By Nancy Lee Badger
The castle also has an interesting history. It might have been built around the 13th century on land granted to the Durward family in 1229. Captured by Edward I of England 1296, war and clan unrest had it changing owners until falling into the hands of the MacDonald clan in 1596. The building sits on the banks of Loch Ness and is roughly in the shape of a figure eight. Unfortunately, the castle was largely destroyed in 1692 by Williamite troops who had held the castle from Jacobite forces. Better to destroy such a fortification than have it in the hands of the enemy.
I used this snippet of history—specifically the MacDonald clans black past—to give my hero a history he is compelled to follow up on. Rory Hawthorn is an American geologist who comes to Scotland’s Loch Ness area near Urquhart Castle to research an ancient family curse. He hides his mission under the guise of researching Scotland’s earthquakes. Since my heroine, Nessía, hates the MacDonalds and was responsible for the curse, all Hell breaks loose when she discovers Rory’s allegiance to the clan.
Natural decay and plundering by the locals turned the once mighty castle into ruins. Today, Urquhart Castle is open to the public with views of a wide expanse of Loch Ness. Now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, Urquhart Castle is Scotland’s third busiest tourist attraction. Sitting on the banks of Loch Ness, near the small town of Drumnadrochit, a wooden bridge crosses what used to be a defensive ditch. A visitor center welcomes guests amid great views, and the castle and grounds are surrounded by the beautiful loch. Its romantic flavor makes it the ideal location for a Scottish wedding, which they allow.
I use the castle in a scene from my latest release, DRAGON IN THE MIST. My hero, an American scientist, goes to research its crumbling walls for any clues concerning Scotland’s history of earthquakes. Unwisely accompanied by two American women who act as if he’s the only attraction around, jealousy hits my shape-shifting heroine, Nessía, when she spots them hanging all over him. What’s wrong with a little green-eyed envy? When my heroine is a fire-breathing, shape-shifting dragon, plenty!
Life without love is not worth living.
Nessía of the Loch has lived beneath the murky water of Loch Ness since ancient times. The pain of loneliness manifests in anger so strong, the entire valley shakes with earthquakes. In 1816, a Faerie queen pleads for her to cease the tremors and rewards Nessía with a human form. To stay human, she must find love. When the man she believes she loves casts her aside, Nessía responds to the betrayal by cursing the men of the MacDonald clan with the inability to keep a woman’s love. Only an act of true selflessness will break the curse.
After centuries pass, Nessía again searches for love. When Rory Hawthorn, an American scientist, arrives under the pretext of researching the earthquakes but in reality to research his MacDonald heritage and the curse, she believes she has found the perfect mate.
Amid stolen kisses, another earthquake, a steamy night of passion, and a broken heart, Nessía returns to the murky depths of the loch. When Rory dives in to follow her, he meets the green, scaly Loch Ness Monster. Assuming Nessía is in danger, he is intent on killing the monster and saving the woman he loves.
He heard the shower running.
He walked in, then stopped. Nessía’s silhouette swayed behind the frosted glass of the shower door.
How can my mouth go bone dry in the presence of all that water?
Splashes and giggles filled the air, as if Nessía had never used an indoor shower before. An increasingly strange young lady, his confused mind thought, until he spotted her clothing lay along the side of the empty tub and remembered she was naked.
In my shower.
“Here is some shampoo,” he said as he passed a complimentary bottle beyond the glass partition.
“I presume you want to wash your hair.” He’d rather not have the clean tang of the loch mar the simple fragrance he had come to know as Nessía.
Her hand slid from behind the glass and as she wrapped her wet fingers around the tiny bottle, she splashed his hand and arm with icy spray.
“Isn’t there any hot water left?”
A damp head popped out. “Hot water? Where? Show me!”
Is she for real?
Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, he stripped and stepped inside the large, tiled shower. She huddled against the back wall, her arms crossed over her ample chest, the bottle of shampoo clutched in one hand. He smiled while urging his flaccid member to stay still, then adjusted the spray. Hot water mixed with the icy shower and turned more palatable. Nessía handed him the bottle as if not knowing what to do with it, then joined him beneath the pulse. Squealing with glee, she jumped and giggled.
Rory shampooed his hair and tossed her the bottle. She sniffed the bottle’s contents and mimicked his actions. While he rinsed the soap from his face and head, a shriek threw him back against the tile wall. Wiping his eyes with the back of his hand, his gaze filled with Nessía slapping at her eyes.
“Soap. Rinse it off,” he said. He shoved her head under the spray, then reached for a towel. While the water flushed the last of the suds from her eyes, he pulled her face into the terrycloth.
Rory tried not to laugh. Why did she act as if she’d never before taken a shower nor washed her hair with bottled shampoo?
“Thank ye,” she whispered.
He grabbed the offered towel and tossed it out the door. She stared up at him, eyes rimmed in red, with wet strands of hair hanging limp on her shoulders. Rory stared down at her, a woman who appeared small and vulnerable, when earlier, she’d dumped an entire tray of food and drink in his lap.
Unable to speak, he leaned down. Rory kissed her, while he kept his hands on the walls. Not wanting to pressure her, he gently brushed his lips over her mouth, while his tongue licked drops of water from her chin.
Hell, she’s standing naked in my shower. I can wait.
About the Author
Nancy loves chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaids wrapped around a Scottish Highlander, the clang of dirks and broadswords, and the sound of bagpipes in the air. Nancy lives the dream. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, she moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. She and her family continue to volunteer at the New Hampshire Highland Games each fall. Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Sisters In Crime, Fantasy-futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers. Nancy is also a proud Army Mom. She writes romantic suspense a Nancy Lennea.
Check out her website www.nancyleebadger.com
and her blog www.RescuingRomance.nancyleebadger.com.
Follow her on Twitter @NLBadger
and on Facebook http://on.fb.me/scmtx5
Title: DRAGON IN THE MIST
Author: Nancy Lee Badger
Genre: Romantic Fantasy
Length: 17,000 words e-book
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/pzEYYh
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