Excerpts from A Druid Stone

AJ wakes to find Finn watching over her

The squawking of gulls broke through AJ’s slumber. The familiar cacophony lasted only a second, but it was enough to force her awake. Everything was dark, but she was too tired to pry her eyes open. Her head ached, but it no longer pounded.

She thought she’d heard Finn’s voice just before the gulls. He’d been carrying her. She remembered being jostled, then the stabbing pain until she didn’t remember anything at all.

Her stomach hurt when she breathed, but she couldn’t remember why it would. She moved a toe as she took an assessment of her body. Had it moved? She tried another toe and felt resistance. Not knowing what that meant, she moved on to her arms. They reminded her of fallen tree limbs, damp and heavy from winter rains. But other than the light twinge in her belly, her head seemed to be her primary malady.

Then she felt his lips. His warm voice washed over her but only a few words registered—pie, palm, wife. Finn. His cedar scent mixed with that of pine. Were they in a forest? Maybe she was delirious from brain damage.

Lips brushed against her forehead, her cheek, her lips.

She reached for him, but her arms wouldn’t move. Was that his hand? She was sure of it. Then the gulls returned. Where were they?

“Gulls,” was all she managed to say. She moaned, and something warm was placed on her forehead.

Her hair was brushed back, and a languid breath slid against her skin. His cedar scent invaded every cell of her being. It was Finn. Somehow, he’d found her.

“I know you’re strong. I know you could have done this on your own.” His lips nibbled at her ear as his hand stroked her shoulder. “But I will always come for you.”

“Finn?” His name scratched out of her dry throat like sandpaper across fine wood. She tried to open her eyes but couldn’t stop the deeper darkness that skirted her delicate consciousness. He squeezed her hand again and yelled something unintelligible. It didn’t matter. The only words she’d wanted to hear had already been said. He’d always come for her.