The cursed clan the comp.., p.1

The Cursed Clan: The Complete Series, page 1

 

The Cursed Clan: The Complete Series
 



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The Cursed Clan: The Complete Series


  The Cursed Clan

  The Complete Series

  Melissa Schroeder

  Harmless Publishing

  Copyright © 2019 by Melissa Schroeder

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  Contents

  Callum

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Epilogue

  Angus

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Epilogue

  Logan

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Fletcher

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Epilogue

  Anice

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Epilogue

  Also by Melissa Schroeder

  About the Author

  Callum

  Book One

  To Les, because he told me to write it no matter what anyone said. Love you, babe.

  Prologue

  Scotland, 1746

  Death would be too kind for the Clan McLennan.

  Donedella McWalton clutched her husband’s faded plaid to her chest. Even as fear slithered down her spine, she knocked on the door to the witch’s remote cottage. As she waited, a chilling gust of wind stole through the thrashing branches of the winter-bare trees.

  From above, an owl screeched. She shivered. Before her nerves settled, the door creaked open. Donedella saw no one standing before her. She hesitated in the gaping doorway, which earned her a disembodied cackle.

  “Come in, my lady,” an ancient voice called from behind the door.

  Donedella’s heart skipped a beat. Bolstering her courage, she skittered over the threshold, eyes darting around the room. With only the light from the hearth’s fire, it took a moment for Donedella’s eyesight to adjust. No bats hung from the ceiling. No potion boiled over the fire. But as the flames danced, the shadows moved and dread twisted through her.

  “You are Lady Donedella.”

  She jumped at the sound of her name and toward the voice. Donedella had imagined the woman to be older, scarier. But this woman was not much different from herself. The kerchief on her head covered what looked to be a mop of curly gray hair. Her simple peasant clothing draped over her generous figure. Even as Donedella noted the normal dress, she sensed dispassionate study from the woman who earned her keep off the misery of others.

  Donedella nodded.

  The witch walked forward, her steps sure and steady. She stopped within an inch of Donedella.

  “You want to kill someone?”

  “Nay.” She shook her head. “That would be tae easy, tae nice.”

  The old woman humphed and paced away. Donedella watched her, wondering if the witch would do what she requested. Or could. This witch was her last chance. Her last hope. Without the woman’s help, the vile McLennans would ‘ner pay for their crime. Panic raced through her, curdling her stomach. She swallowed the bile in her throat.

  The witch glanced over her shoulder, and Donedella almost gasped. The cold, calculating gleam in the other woman’s eyes sunk into her bones, chilling her from the inside out. She fought the shiver that raced down her spine.

  “For this you shall pay...handsomely?” The smile she flashed Donedella had nothing to do with pleasure.

  Drawing in a deep breath, she nodded. “Aye. I’ll pay anythin’ to have my revenge on the McLennans.”

  The older woman glanced at the plaid Donedella held. She’d almost forgotten she’d brought it. “I see you have the plaid. You know what you are asking? You know that this curse is not done lightly?”

  Before she could allow her conscience to get the better of her, Donedella let the pain of the last four months bubble up inside her. The death of her beloved, the murder of her sons, and the ending of their clan as they knew it was too much to bear. Even as she knew that the spell she sought would condemn her soul to hell, she could not stop the hate. It swept through her, whirled into her heart, into her soul, demanding vengeance.

  “I want them tae suffer.”

  “’Tis as you wish, my lady.” The fire snapped, the flames jumping as the witch nodded again and turned from her. “They will suffer, indeed.”

  Chapter One

  Present Day, Edinburgh, Scotland

  Callum Lennon dropped the file folder into his briefcase and sent his younger cousin an irritated glare. “You said she would be here at two, Angus. It’s now four, and I’ve got a meeting on the other side of town. I’ll never make it on time.”

  Angus adjusted his wire-rimmed glasses and studied him. The younger man graced Callum with an expression rife with his legendary patience.

  Damn. Every department head claimed when they received The Stare, they knew they’d lost the argument. Callum supposed this wasn’t any different.

  “She’s runn
ing a little late. It isn’t her fault London was fogged in,” Angus pointed out.

  Callum grunted. “It’s her fault for coming from London in the first place. Bloody Sassenach.”

  Angus smiled but said nothing in return. Everyone in the family knew Callum distrusted all things English. His younger cousins could have the luxury of an open mind. But Callum’s memories were still ripe, even after all these years. But then, no man walked away from watching his family and friends butchered with a whole heart or soul.

  “She’s the only expert who would travel here on short notice to talk with us.”

  Callum raised a dark brow. “That should tell you something.”

  Angus continued as if Callum hadn’t even responded. “And despite your assumptions, she is considered the best in the field. Her published works in archeology alone would qualify her. With her interest in Celtic legends and her ability to read so many dead languages, she’s a godsend. We were lucky to catch her between projects.”

  Unusual restlessness forced Callum to his feet. Even as he approached the window, he could feel worry for his cousins settling around his shoulders like a familiar cloak. Duty bound him to protect the clan at all costs, and he had fallen short of shielding them more than once.

  A fine mist covered the window due to an abnormal November shower. The weather fit his mood. A burst of wind rattled around them, a sound he found oddly calming. Callum was well acquainted with the cold. For years he had lived with it in his blood, chilling his bones, freezing his soul. Each year he seemed to slip a little further into the depths of it, until he wondered if he’d ever be free. Even if they won this battle, he knew well he might have already lost the war.

  Callum didn’t like Angus’s plan, but with everything he and his cousins had faced, he owed them this bit of hope. The other four were so optimistic about what their discovery could mean. And, hating to crush their expectations, he allowed it. It was naïve and desperate, but he understood why they wanted the quest to be true.

  But it could be true.

  Callum viciously squashed that voice in his head, the one that spun gold out of midair. As laird, he had to ignore the lure of fantasy and keep his feet planted firmly on the ground. If this dream shattered, as it had all the times before, and their lives returned to “normal,” he would handle their pain, their loss. It was his duty to look after them.

  Angus’s mobile rang, breaking into Callum’s brooding thoughts. After a few short sentences and a quick laugh, Angus hung up.

  “That was Fletcher. They’re on their way up.”

  He shot Angus another irritated glower, and then turned to look out the window again. They wanted this expert, but that didn’t mean Callum had to be nice, especially since they were paying this woman a bloody fortune.

  “Promise you’ll keep an open mind about this, Callum.”

  “I said I would.” He couldn’t—wouldn’t—hide his animosity or his impatience.

  “Be civil to Dr. Chilton. She’s the top of her field and was supposed to take a bit of a breather between assignments. She only returned from a dig last week.” He paused, and when he spoke next, his tone was measured and all levity had dissolved from it. “This might be our last chance.”

  Pushing aside his annoyance, Callum nodded—once. Angus was right.

  “I’ll be professional. By God, we’re paying the woman just to meet with us. I never promised to be civil.”

  When Angus didn’t reply, Callum realized his cousin’s attention was focused on the door. The anger there melted into a smile that Angus reserved only for women.

  “It’s so refreshing to meet a man with such honesty.”

  The voice—crisp and thoroughly English—held a tone of amused condescension that grated down Callum’s spine. He felt the heat of embarrassment creep up his throat to his face. Knowing that their guest had finally made her entrance, he turned to greet her. The moment he saw her, every bleeding thought in his brain vanished.

  Phoebe Chilton wasn’t anything like he expected. He’d seen pictures of her in her file and on the back of her books, but apparently the woman didn’t photograph well. If she had, he’d have been prepared to behold the Botticelli angel who stood before him.

  A wealth of curly blonde hair surrounded a gently rounded face. Fat drops of water clung to the curls, which had been in some kind of an arrangement, but half of it had fallen out and was now draped over her shoulders. Pale lashes framed green eyes that reminded him of the sea. One blonde brow rose as his gaze moved to her cute, slightly upturned nose, a lush, pink frowning mouth, and a pointed chin—which she lifted ever so slightly. The shoulders of her ill-fitting, tweed, brown jacket were damp from the rain, as was her skirt, which seemed to be a size too big. The run in her hose and unattractive pumps completed the outfit.

  Angus made the introductions. She didn’t offer her hand. Her gaze raked over him, reeking of disapproval. Though they did not touch, her attention sent heat leaping through his veins, not only surprising but frustrating him.

  When she made eye contact, she said, “I would say I was delighted to meet you, but then my mother taught me never to lie.”

  Sarcasm often amused him—unless it came from those on his payroll. He pushed back at the urge to respond to the woman’s barb. He definitely didn’t like the sharp punch of lust to his gut for what amounted to an employee—and an English one at that.

  “I apologize that you overheard my comments.”

  She smiled without humor. “But not for saying them?”

  He shrugged. “I don’t apologize for my opinions.”

  This time she laughed. The light, joyous sound took him by surprise, as did the dance of anticipation his pulse did when he heard it.

  “Forget it. I deal better when someone is honest with me. I don’t need anyone to pump up my ego. It’s rather big enough on its own.”

  Before Callum could respond, Angus gestured to the seat behind her. “Dr. Chilton, why don’t you have a seat?”

  She turned her attention toward Angus and smiled again. This time it reached her eyes, lighting them from within. Angus, full-grown man that he was, blushed to the tips of his ears.

  “Thank you, Mr. Lennon.”

  As she settled into the chair, Angus spoke in a voice just solicitous enough to agitate Callum. “I think to keep confusion at a minimum, you should call us by our first names.”

  Her smile turned impish, dimples winking at the corners of her mouth like a mischievous fairy. “I completely understand. With three Dr. Chiltons on a site, my parents and I tend to be informal as well.”

  Apparently forgetting about Callum and Fletcher, Angus eased his hip up onto the corner of Callum’s desk. He wore the expression of a besotted puppy as he leaned forward and rested his forearm on his leg. Callum would be amazed if Angus didn’t expect a pat on the head or a scratch behind his ear.

  “That’s right. You sometimes dig with your parents. Your husband is in the same field, correct?”

  Her happy expression faded, and her eyes lost some of their lightness. “He did. My husband passed away eighteen months ago.”

  “Oh.” Angus straightened and cleared his throat, breaking the beat of silence that followed his comment. “I’m sorry.”

  She shook her head and patted Angus’s hand, the short contact annoying Callum. “No need to apologize. Unless you move within archeological circles, you wouldn’t have heard.” She sat back and then turned her attention to Fletcher, who had taken the seat next to hers. “Thank you once again for retrieving me from the airport.”

  The smile Fletcher offered oozed charm and seduction. “It was definitely my pleasure, lass.”

  When she didn’t do more than return the pleasant expression and then direct her attention to Callum, Fletcher frowned. Callum bit back a chuckle. Fletcher wasn’t accustomed to women ignoring his charm, and it was damned refreshing to meet a woman who was immune to it.

  When he turned back to Dr. Chilton, her practiced, professional sm
ile was back in place. Frustration crawled through him until he stopped himself. Why should he care if she didn’t give him a warm smile? He didn’t, not when she was destined to be another disappointment.

  When he said nothing, that damn eyebrow rose again. “Since you seem a bit anxious, why don’t you tell me what you want, and we can get down to business.”

 
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