From DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES

DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES

Ian wobbled out the door of the pub ahead of his six brothers. Focusing as hard as he could, pushing one foot in front of the other, he stumbled across a field in the moonlight. A clump of gorse and heather brushed against his jeans.

“Brother, be careful not to step on a thistle in the dark,” Lachlan yelled in slurred speech.

“I have my boots on,” Ian snapped.

“Are you sure, little brother?” Malcolm, the oldest, called out. “You usually run barefoot and cry like a girl when you get a thorn in your foot.”

“I was five years old the last time that happened.” Tired of the lot of them, he stomped ahead. “I’d go off by myself and leave all of you here, but someone has to lead you home.”

Well past midnight, silence engulfed the field until Calin burst out laughing and couldn’t stop.

“Shut up,” Angus, the middle brother, yelled.

“He’s hammered.” Errol nodded his head toward him. “He cannot help it.”

“Well, I do not know what’s so funny or why we had to leave right when I spotted the pretty women in the pub.” Tavish kicked a stone with his foot as he tromped through the grass with his brothers.

“Because we are all drunk.” Lachlan’s body wavered, leaning forward then back. “That is why the lassies started looking so bonny to you. Those were the same ones you called old and ugly when they first came in, you bampot.”

“They were old, that was Liam’s mother and aunt.” Angus grabbed Tavish’s head and jostled it back and forth. He ducked out of Angus’ way.

“Ooch!” Ian jumped back.

“What is wrong with you?” Malcolm set his hand on his hip.

Ian pointed to the ancient mound of stones caked over with dirt and grass. “I almost stepped on a fairy mound.” His stomach knotted.

“Brother, are you afraid of a pile of old stones?” Calin threw his head back and rocked with laughter.

“It’s a cairn.” Ian’s heart still thudded from the near miss. “Any who disturb it will be cursed.”

“I dare you to knock it over.” Errol crossed his arms over his chest.

Ian stepped back, a horrified look on his handsome face. “I will not.”

“I will.” With long, sure strides, Tavish stepped toward the ancient gravesite.

“Do not do it.” Ian’s belly clenched even tighter, until he felt sharp jabs of pain.

Before the other six could stop him, Tavish drew back his foot and crashed it into the sacred cairn with a hard kick. A loud, sharp gasp from each of his brothers hung in the air. One lone stone rolled free of the mound.

Malcolm’s mouth dropped open. “You disturbed the fey.”

“You’ve done it now.” Lachlan stepped back, attempting to separate himself from the sacrilege.

“He dared me.” Tavish pointed at Errol. “I had to do it, now didn’t I?”

“Errol’s a turnip-headed bampot,” Calin shouted. “You too, Tavish.”

“I do not like it.” Ian shook his head. “It’s sacred. It’s cursed.” The knot in his stomach froze, growing as cold as ice.

“This is bad.” Angus shook his head.

“Let’s keep walking.” Calin slid his foot forward with a confident stride.

Malcolm bobbed his head. “We should hurry home before something happens.”

“We are,” Errol snapped. “We’re in this field taking a shortcut, remember?”

“Come on.” Malcolm headed away from the disturbed monument. “Walk faster.” He took the lead as the others followed.

“Look.” Ian came to an abrupt stop.

His brothers froze as their gazes turned to where he pointed his finger. Seven women, all in odd dresses of green tartan silk, stood beside the cairn. Their lush, scarlet lips curved into smiles as seductive as warm kisses.

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www.maevealpin.com: Cornelia Amiri writing Steampunk/Romance as Maeve Alpin