Love Beyond Belief
Book 7 of Morna's Legacy Series
Callum could scarcely see through the billowing smoke. The burning in his lungs made it difficult for him to think as he ran across the lawn to better see what all was aflame. Why did it get hotter the further he ran from the castle? He spun to see the source of the heat—Orick's old hut—engulfed, the thatch roof quickly disintegrating, the wood beams creaking as fire consumed them.
Frantic thoughts coursed through his mind until he landed on the one comforting fact he could grasp. None of the servants were there. He sent them all away before leaving to join the celebration with the rest of his family and friends. Thank God for that.
He allowed relief to rush over him until he heard a sound so unsettling that he couldn't believe it possible—the screams of a babe, a young one. The sound of its cries—screeching, pained, and so frightened—chilled Callum's bones even as heat rose around him.
It wasn't real. It couldn't be. He was the only one at the castle. Then he remembered Tom—the old man from the village who always came up to check on things when Callum was away. He hoped Tom was still at home with his family, that he'd come and gone long before the fire took hold. Surely the sound was his imagination. How could a child be here?
He ran to escape the cloud of smoke surrounding him and tripped over an object in his path. He regained his footing and screamed, sucking in enough smoke to make his mind swirl. Tom. Unconscious and stabbed in his abdomen, the man lay bleeding out onto the grass.
The sound. He could hear it again. Screaming. Screaming. Over and over. He had to go see. He had to save the child inside. He couldn't let the smoke overtake him until he saw the babe safe.
In one quick moment of clear thought, he ripped the shirt from his body, tying it quickly over his nose and mouth to block some of the smoke from entering his lungs. Not taking a second longer to ponder his choice, he burst into the burning hut and moved blindly toward the sound of the screams.
He found the child quickly. As he reached for it, he could see the outline of two others, clearly dead not from fire but from smoke. That same deadly threat would most likely take his life in a few short moments. He just hoped he could see the child safely outside and that by some miracle, the babe would live.
He managed to run with the child far outside the smoke before he fell from a sudden pain in his leg. He let loose of the infant, hoping it was far enough from the flames to survive. His leg was on fire, and the pain pushed away any clear thought. He rolled and swung until the fire died around him, but the pain made everything around him spin.
Nothing would stop the fire, save magic, and he wasn't a sorcerer by any stretch.
Unconsciousness threatened him. Whether it was from smoke or pain, he didn't know. Just as he began to give himself over to what he expected was death, rain started to pound upon his face. In panic, he threw himself over the child to keep her from drowning in the water.
Then he saw her—a woman. Old and cloaked she stood there, arms stretched as if she summoned the storm from willpower alone. The fire surrendered, and so did he, closing his eyes as he held the baby against him.
© Bethany Claire