Beyond the Loch – Seven Wardens Book 0.5 by Laura Greenwood & Skye MacKinnon

Beyond the Loch
Seven Wardens Book 0.5
By
USA Today Bestselling Authors
Skye MacKinnon
&
Laura Greenwood

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Adventure waits beyond the loch…

Before she became known as the Loch Ness Monster, Nessie was nothing more than a simple kelpie with big dreams.

When her chance for adventure comes, she grabs it with both hands, sending her to the depths of the ocean and mountain peaks. Though none of that compares to what awaits her heart when she meets a human who still believes in magic…

NOTE:
This story takes place before the Seven Wardens series but can be read as a standalone novella. There is no cliffhanger.

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Nessie is a Kelpie, she lives in a loch in northern Scotland. Young and inquisitive she wants to travel, to find answers to her painful shift from human to kelpie. With her parents blessing she leaves the loch to visit the Sea Kelpies. It is rumored that they have the answers she’s seeking.

At the beginning of her travels she meets Jonas, he is a ghost hunter of sorts. Wanting adventure she climbs Ben Nevis with him, for her it’s to see the sights for him he’s looking for the ghost from the tale she’s told him.

This is a favorite scene.

Reaching where it had gone, she noticed the small entrance to a cave. They’d have to duck, but it was clearly big enough for the two of them to get into.

“I guess we’re going in here,” she said.

“I thought you couldn’t see the ghost?” Jonas asked.

Nessie’s eyes widened. She hadn’t intended to let him know she’d been able to. “I couldn’t, but I did see a shimmer of light that you seemed to be following.”

The ghost’s chuckle filled the air around her. It seemed to know she was lying, though she had no idea how he possibly could. Especially when he wasn’t in the immediate vicinity.

Jonas nodded, clearly having believed her lie.

“Shall we?” he asked, waving towards the door.

“Might as well.” She didn’t wait for him to say anything else and ducked through the cave entrance.

After a couple of steps in complete darkness, the cave opened up and Nessie gasped at the view in front of her. Jewels twinkled in the walls in all colours, shapes, and sizes. Light bounced around, giving the cavern a mythical air.

“No one who sees this can say the supernatural isn’t real,” Jonas said when he reached her side.

She didn’t have the heart to tell him the effect was nothing to do with magic and everything to do with nature. Even if it wasn’t made that way, there was a magic in the way the place looked. Ethereal came to mind as a description.

“Welcome to the Cavern of Lights,” the ghost said, reappearing in his humanoid form, complete with kilt blowing in the non-existent wind.

“Thank you.” Jonas took a step forward. “Why have you brought us here, wise one?”

The ghost gave him an odd look before starting to laugh once more. “Wise one? Where did this one grow up?”

Nessie’s lips quirked up into a brief smile. It wasn’t Jonas’s fault he didn’t know how to address ghosts, even if that made it more amusing for her.

“My name is Gilbert. I’ll have none of this wise-one stuff.”

“Gilbert?” Jonas echoed.

“Aye. Is my name not a good one?” Menace flashed behind the ghost’s eyes. Nessie didn’t know how serious it was. She’d never met a ghost before, but from everything she’d heard, they could be rather temperamental creatures.

“It’s a very good name,” Jonas responded. “It just wasn’t what I expected.”

“You should always expect the unexpected, that way nothing ever comes as a surprise.”

“I’m not sure that’s true,” Nessie put in. “What if the expected happens? If you’re expecting the unexpected then the expected would surprise you. No?”

The ghost roared in laughter, filling the cavern with the sound as it bounced off the walls. “Now, now, I should have known better than to play word games with someone such as you. Aren’t you a long way from your loch?” He raised an eyebrow.

Nessie’s heart sank. She hoped he wouldn’t say any more, she wasn’t ready for Jonas to learn the truth about her and what she was. “Not as far as I could be.”

“I met your sort once before, while I was alive mind. She came from the sea. Beautiful, charming, but with the anger of the seas in her veins. Not one anyone should want to cross. I suspect you’re the same,” he told her.

“I’m from inland,” she countered.

“Means nought. Just because you have been something all your life, doesn’t mean that it’s what you’re meant to be. The sea is where you’ll find your answers.” His eyes pierced into her, giving weight to his words.

Nessie gulped. Maybe she should heed his words. She’d left the Loch for an adventure, after all, it wasn’t like she had a plan anyway.

“And what about me?” Jonas asked, having recovered from looking between them with a look of anger on his face. She was sure she’d have a lot of questions to answer after Gilbert had disappeared once more. At the moment, only Jonas’s eagerness to talk to the ghost before he disappeared was keeping her safe.

Gilbert studied him for a moment, a look of concentration marring his brow. “You are hard to read. I see two paths. One ends sooner than I think you’d like. The other takes you down a dangerous path that you’ll never return from.”

“If one of them ends soon, surely that’s the more dangerous path?” Nessie interrupted.

The ghost turned to her. “You think death is the most dangerous thing in the world?” He raised a ghostly eyebrow.

“It’s the most permanent,” she pointed out.

“Hardly.” He ran a hand down his body in explanation.

She had to admit he was right. He didn’t exactly support the hypothesis of death being the end. That was annoying.

“So death or danger are my options?” Jonas asked, not sounding as worried about it as Nessie would have liked considering they were talking about his future.

“Those are the paths I’m seeing, but all can still be changed. Human nature likes to change things even quicker than the unpredictable nature of the sea.”

“Should I be going to the coast too?” Jonas asked.

“Whatever gave you that idea?” Gilbert seemed genuinely taken aback by the question.

“You mentioned the sea for Nessie, and now again for me, I just thought…”

“I cannot tell either of you where you should go. All I can do is tell you what I see when I look at the two of you. Such are the restrictions of my kind.”
Greenwood, Laura. Beyond the Loch: A Seven Wardens Prequel . Peryton Press. Kindle Locations (460-499). Kindle Edition.

Once Jonas realizes she lied to him and was more than she said, he became angry causing Nessie to flee. She was off to complete her journey and learn how to shift with ease.

When she arrives at the Sea Kelpie’s domain under the sea, the welcome wasn’t what she expected. They are a bit angry, and when she meets up again with Jonas he isn’t exactly pleasant either.

Plenty of excitement, some interesting folklore, an unusual romance with sizzle, and the explanation of the Seven Wardens revealed as well as some very interesting facts about Nessie.

I am already starting the next book in this series.

5 Contented Purrs for Skye and Laura!

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Skye MacKinnon

Skye MacKinnon is a USA Today & International Bestselling Author whose books are filled with strong heroines who don’t have to choose.

She embraces her Scottishness with fantastical Scottish settings and a dash of mythology, no matter if she’s writing about Celtic gods, cat shifters, or the streets of Edinburgh.

When she’s not typing away at her favourite cafe, Skye loves dried mango, as much exotic tea as she can squeeze into her cupboards, and being covered in pet hair by her two bunnies, Emma and Darwin.

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Laura is a USA Today Bestselling Author of paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary romance. When she’s not writing, she can be found drinking ridiculous amounts of tea, trying to resist French Macaroons, and watching the Pitch Perfect trilogy for the hundredth time (at least!)

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