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Title: Ruin
Series: Kindred: The Fated #2
Release Date: May 2, 2023

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant seamlessly blends the magic of Scottish and Norse tradition in the enchanting new installment of her instantly acclaimed Kindred: The Fated series.

Love…against all odds.

Banished by his father and laird, Rory Sutherland does what he swore he’d never do—return to Scotland. But a dangerous threat has risen, and it’s turned its gaze to his beloved home. He risks everything to find the witch who can stop the growing menace. Asa’s power and beauty excites him. Her allure seduces him. She’s his match in every way. And nothing will ever be the same after being touched by her magic.

For Asa, being a witch has been a blessing and a curse. For every good thing in her life, the tragedy that follows has been crushing. She’s rudderless, adrift without a plan. Until a dark, sexy Highlander crosses her path with a dire warning. She’s being hunted by a dark force that intends to use her powerful bloodline. Bound to Rory by their quest and Fate, a passion ignites that consumes them. Against all odds they found each other, but they need to survive the coming war…or be ruined.

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Rory opened his eyes. The sun blinked at him through the branches above him. Leaves fell from their perches, slowly swirling as they glided elegantly to the ground or got caught in the wind and were deposited elsewhere.

He waited for the inevitable pain that he’d lived with for days, but there was none. Had his body finally given out? The soft knicker of a horse drew his attention. He looked over to find Abhain watching him. The stallion used his left front hoof to paw at the ground while bobbing his head up and down.
Maybe he wasn’t dead. Rory then spotted the fire, seeing the woman through the dancing flames. She was curled on her side in a gown of soft gray, thick furs around her shoulders. Her long, blond hair was how he had located her in the dark, the golden color unlike any he had seen before.

He had found her. He had also warned her. Rory recalled fighting against the weariness of his body to impart how important it was for her to leave. He frowned as he stared at her.

Obviously, he had failed to get her to understand.

He drew in a deep breath, shocked not to feel any pain. It was only as he exhaled that he felt the slight pull. He lifted his head and looked at his abdomen. The kilt he had stolen covered him. He tugged it away to find pink marks where his wounds had been. Tentatively, he touched each of them.

Then, his gaze moved back to Asa. She had healed him.

And risked her life in the process.

He sat up and ran a hand down his face. He hadn’t expected to live through the night. Most already thought him dead. He had found his quarry, but he hadn’t completed his mission. He had given his word and would ensure he kept it.

At least they were no longer in the village, but they couldn’t tarry. Time wasn’t on their side. Rory climbed to his feet and looked around. He was thirsty, but more than that, he needed to wash. The mud and dirt had been good for a disguise, but it itched now. He would take a few minutes to see to himself, but then they needed to leave. If he had to throw Asa over his shoulder to get her away, he would do exactly that.

Rory paused to listen to the forest. Birds sang, squirrels tittered to each other, and a fox cried to his left. The animals didn’t seem disturbed. Rory walked to his stallion, speaking softly to the animal as he pressed his forehead to Abhain’s.

After the greeting, he rummaged through the bag attached to his saddle and found his kilt and a shirt. He fingered the golden-brown, red, gray, and black plaid that had once meant everything to him. Then he turned and followed the sound of water. The brook wasn’t deep, but it served its purpose. Rory stripped and walked into its icy caress. He quickly but thoroughly scrubbed himself from head to toe before emerging from the brook.

He raked his fingers through his hair to untangle it. Chills raced over his still-wet skin as a cool wind brushed past him as he dressed. It felt good to wear his own clothes once more. They were on Sutherland land, so the tartan allowed him to blend in. His face, however, was one others knew. The one advantage he had was that they believed him dead. And he should’ve been with the number of times the blades had found their way into his body. He didn’t know how he had survived. Though he knew who was responsible for him walking about now: Asa.

He made his way back to the ruins, feeling more like himself than he had in days. Remnants of mist hovered, clinging to the shadows where the sun couldn’t reach it. He walked along the broken wall and looked over to find Asa sitting up, her back to him. She braided the long length of her hair, seemingly unaware of his presence, but he was sure she knew he was there. He rounded the corner where the door had once been and came to a halt when her head swiveled his way. He found himself staring into eyes so deep a blue they reminded him of the ocean.

She watched him, curiosity in her expression, and tied off a small braid near her right ear. He pulled his gaze from hers to see delicate brows, a slim nose, and a luscious mouth, all set in a heart-shaped face. Her beauty was blinding, but her determination and fortitude robbed him of thought and reason.

For a full minute, he forgot about the driving need that had made him fight against blood loss to find her. “Thank you,” he said as he forced his feet to move and take him into the ruins. “But you shouldna have wasted time healing me. You should’ve put distance between you and the sea.”

“As I told you last night, I’m done running.”

He pinched the bridge of his nose with this thumb and forefinger before tossing the kilt he had stolen onto the fire. “Then I didna impart how critical it was that you do exactly that.”

“You know me. How?”

Rory couldn’t look away from her hands as they took another section of hair and began plaiting it. The pinkie, ring finger, and index finger on each hand had simple rune markings between the first and second knuckles. The middle finger of her each had binding runes that ran from the length of her middle finger up and over the knuckle. It took him a moment to make out each meaning. On her right hand was resilience. The left was wisdom. He wanted to look at each of them closer. Instead, he forced himself to look at her face. “I’d love to tell you everything, but you’re missing the point. Your life is in danger. You need to leave. Get far from here.”

“And you nearly lost your life finding me.”

“Aye.” He wished he could lose the memory, but he would never forget the feeling of the blades or his cousin’s smile.

She eyed him. “I’m not moving until I get some answers. So, you can either fight me, which means prolonging me doing anything, or you can give me what I want.”