The Highlander's Touch Page 2

“Except for the flask, Circenn,” Adam said. “What of it? Where is it?”

“The flask is not a hallow,” Circenn prevaricated.

“I know that,” Adam said dryly. “But the flask is a sacred relic of our race, and we could all be in danger should it fall into the wrong hands. I repeat, where is the flask?”

Circenn plunged a hand into his hair, pushing it back from his face. Adam was struck by the sensual majesty of the man. Silky black hair was gripped between elegant fingers, revealing a face composed of strong planes, a chiseled jaw, and dark brows. He had the olive-toned skin, the intense eyes, and the aggressive, dominant temperament of his Brude ancestors.

“I doona know,” Circenn finally said.

“You doona know?” Adam mimicked his brogue, aware that such an admission must have tasted foul on Circenn Brodie’s tongue. Nothing was ever out of the laird of Brodie’s control. Rules and more rules governed everything and everyone in Circenn’s world. “A flask containing a sacred elixir, created by my race, disappears from your very grasp and you doona know where it is?”

“The situation is not so dire, Adam. It is not permanently lost. Think of it as … temporarily displaced, and soon to be regained.”

Adam arched a brow. “You split hairs with a battle-ax. Skillful prevarication is a woman’s art, Brodie. What happened?”

“Ian was carrying the chest that holds the flask. When the attack came, I was on the south side of the bridge waiting for Ian to cross over from the north. He took a blow to the head and was knocked off the bridge, into the river below. The chest was whisked away by the current—”

“And you say that is not so bad? Anyone could have it now. Would you like to see the English king get his hands on that flask? Do you understand the danger it presents?”

“Of course I do. It will not come to that, Adam,” Circenn said. “I laid a geas upon the flask. It will not fall into another’s hands, because the moment it is discovered it will be returned to me.”

“A geas?” Adam snorted. “Puny magic. A proper fairy would have simply spelled it back out of the river.”

“I am not fae. I am Brude-Scot and proud of it. Count yourself fortunate I cursed it at all. You know I have no fondness for the druid ways. Curses are unpredictable.”

“What clever invocation did you choose, Circenn?” Adam asked silkily. “You did choose your words well, did you not?”

“Of course I did. Think you I have learned nothing from past mistakes? The moment the chest is opened and the flask is touched by a human hand it will be returned to me. I cursed it very specifically.”

“Did you specify whether the flask would come by itself?” Adam asked with sudden amusement.

“What?” Circenn regarded him blankly.

“The flask. Did you consider that the mortal who touches it might be transported with the flask, if you used a binding spell?”

Circenn closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead.

“You used a binding spell.” Adam sighed.

“I used a binding spell,” Circenn admitted. “It was the only one I knew,” he added defensively.

“And whose fault is that? How many times have you refused the honor of training among my people? And the answer is yes, Circenn, the man will be carried by the binding spell. Both man and flask will be delivered to you.”

Circenn growled his frustration.

“What will you do with this man when he arrives?” Adam pressed.

“Question him, then return him to his home with all haste.”

“You will kill him.”

“I knew you would say that. Adam, he may not even understand what it is. What if an innocent man finds the chest washed up on the bank of the river somewhere?”

“You will kill the innocent man, then,” Adam said easily.

“I will do no such thing.”

Adam rose with the graceful surety of a snake uncoiling for the death strike. He crossed the space between them and paused an inch from Circenn. “But you will,” he said softly. “Because you cursed it foolishly, with insufficient thought as to the outcome. Whoever comes with the flask will arrive in the midst of a Templar sanctuary. Your curse will bring him, innocent or not, into a place where none but your fugitive warriors may trespass. You think you can simply send him away with a fare-thee-well and never-speak-of-this, stranger? And a by-the-bye, please don’t mention that half the missing Templars linger within my walls, and don’t be tempted by the price on their heads.” Adam rolled his eyes. “So you will kill him, because you pledged your life to put Robert the Bruce firmly on the throne, and to take no unnecessary risks.”

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