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She glanced at Aedan who appeared to be watching the bard, but she could tell
by the tightness of his jaw that he really watched them. Aedan leaned over,
whispering something to Malcolm, raising her suspicion.
The night wore on. Wine and mead flowed endlessly into cups, but Aedan and
Malcolm did not drink much. She feared they meant to harm Galan. He could be
unbearably impudent, but a part of her cared for him.
“Well, it seems I will sleep alone tonight,” Galan remarked, staring at her, his eyes
reddened by too much wine.
Only a few people remained in the hall. Some had passed out long ago, asleep on
benches or on the rushes.
She watched Galan leave the hall and Malcolm followed him. Her senses tingled of
danger to her brother. Galan had dismissed his two guards earlier and appeared
too drunk on wine spirits to defend himself in an attack.
Domelch stood, heading for the door.
“Where are ye going?” Aedan called.
“I know what you are planning.” She stared hard at him.
“And what would that be?”
“You have sent Malcolm to inflict harm on Galan.”
“Why would that bother ye?” Jealousy clouded his eyes. “He could use a sound
She ran out of the hall, looking for Galan. Not far from the entrance, Malcolm had
him in a tight hold.
“Malcolm, release him immediately.”
Malcolm regarded her with a cool smile. “I take my orders from Aedan.”
Mordag appeared at Malcolm's side. “I take my orders from Domelch, and she
said to release him.”
“Are ye going to fight me, lass?” Malcolm laughed.
Mordag advanced on him. “Aye, old man. I will fight ye.”
The two warriors locked gazes. Domelch sensed the passion between the two.
Aedan appeared. “Release him.”
Malcolm obeyed his king, letting go of Galan with a rough jerk.
Galan smoothed down his rumpled tunic, glancing from Malcolm to Aedan, giving
them a fierce stare. “Your sense of hospitality is in sore need of improvement.”
“Ye are not one to speak of hospitality. Keep yer hands off my wife.”
“But she is my sister. What deviant thoughts you have, son of reivers,” Galan
said, his voice mocking.
Aedan grabbed onto Galan's tunic with both hands, pulling him away from the
others. Domelch followed, her heart leaping with fear.
“We both know that ye do not think of her as yer sister,” Aedan growled, keeping
his hands gripped on Galan's tunic. “If I see ye touching my wife again, she will be
the last female ye ever touch.”
“Aedan,” Domelch interjected, fearful Aedan might do something rash.
He let go of Galan and turned to Domelch, pressing his mouth close to her ear,
his voice harsh with anger. “If ye want anything to do with the likes of him, then so
be it, but I will not put up with his insolence any longer.”
Galan swayed on his feet, looking taken aback by Aedan's sudden attack.
“Mordag, see to it that my brother gets to his bed safely,” Domelch ordered,
hurrying to catch up to Aedan.
“We need to discuss this.”
“Not now. I am tired.” Aedan kept walking at a fast pace up the path to their dun.
The lamps lining the path flickered erratically as he passed them.
“Even if he remembers who I was before, that means nothing. I love you.” She
panted, trying to keep up with his quick stride.
“I saw him touch ye under the table, and ye did not stop him.”
“I—I was shocked by his behavior and slow to react, that's all.”
“It is obvious that he is still obsessed with ye.” He quickened his pace.
“Aedan, please stop,” she said, struggling to keep up with is quick stride. “He was
obsessed with Cardea. She no longer exists.”
He turned to look at her. “I am not so certain about that. Of late I see flickers of
her inside of ye. I saw her cold ruthlessness during Comran’s interrogation and in
our bedchamber…”
She turned her head away from the flickering light, hoping the night would shield
her eyes so she wouldn't reveal her struggle against her dark past. “You seem to
have no objections in our bedchamber.”
He stopped. His hot breath warmed her cheek. “Tell me that ye feel nothing for
him and I will let it go.”
“I—I feel only brotherly love for him.”
“He is not yer brother. Tell me ye feel nothing for him, for the man who kidnapped
ye and...and forced himself on ye.”
She could not. She knew that she should hate Galan for he did all those terrible
things to her, but…that part of her that she thought lost had enjoyed it. She didn't
love him. She never did, but she did care for him for he had shown her kindness
later when she needed help, when she had no one else to turn to.
“I thought as much.” His face looked frightening in the flickering light, his jaw set in
“A part of me cares for him, but I have given up everything for you. I renounced
my Goddess, betrayed Cailleach and accepted your Christian ways.”
“Ye were nothing but a demon. If anything, I saved ye.”
His arrogant tone enraged her. “You saved me? Ha. You were the one cursed
living like a miserable hermit in the forest.”
“We were both cursed if I remember it correctly.”
“I was perfectly happy as I was.”
“I think not. Ye were a wretched soul until I came along.”
Anger rose inside of her, anger only Aedan could raise. The blood rushed to her
face, ringing in her ears. “If you want me to hate you, then you have succeeded.”
She turned to flee from him.
He grabbed her arm, pulling her back into his body. “Hate me, do ye?”
Her pulse raced and her body flushed from anger. “Yes.” She struggled against
him, but the hardness of his male body aroused her and she felt his erection
pressing against her. She wanted to feel nothing for him, her anger making her
stubborn, but her body betrayed her, tingling in places she had no control over.
She stopped struggling and submitted to his touch, falling limp in his arms.
“Yer body does not hate me,” he whispered, crushing his lips to her mouth,
kissing her roughly.
Anger turned into passion. Her body burned with desire underneath his touch.

Copyright 2006 by Kelley Heckart
For each of them, spring's song has a different meaning.

Now king and queen of the powerful kingdom of Dal Riata, Aedan and Domelch
have more than just Cailleach's wrath to contend with. Aedan struggles with being
a king and being a husband. Domelch struggles with her beliefs, trying to be the
Christian woman Aedan wed, but her heart still thrums with the voices of old gods.
They must battle earthly foes—enemy kings and traitorous allies. For the first
time, the arrival of spring heralds the sound of a harsh battle horn as their foes
close in. Through all this turmoil, can their love survive?   

Gartnait, the first-born son of Aedan and Domelch, has lived in secrecy most of
his young life to escape Cailleach's wrath. Fostered in Fortriu, he has earned his
first mark of manhood and on his way to becoming a formidable warrior. He
grapples with the awakening of his true destiny and the meaning of the
appearance of a beautiful maiden in spring only he can see. Does she mean to
harm him? For him, spring brings with it the promise of new love and the thrilling
sound of the battle horn, putting those he cares about in danger.
4 Cups! This story is a remarkable one on
so many levels. The theme spoke to my
soul and touched my heart. The warrior
women made this story sing for me…I
adored the way Ms. Heckart tangled
religion and politics into a tale that held
my interest to the very end.
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More
again, why humans inflict such suffering on
each other, and why we cannot stop
fighting each other. Why is it so difficult to
truly forgive someone? The ending of
Beltaine’s Song is a tear-jerker (my mind
decided to play the theme song from
Braveheart). And I wonder: can one really
find peace in death?
I’m looking forward to Book 3, Winter’s
Reviewed by Jane Li
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