Great news!!! The soft back is out!!! There has been a delay (due to a holiday rush for titles at the printer) so the hardback will take longer. When I get the phone call about the hardcover (if I’m not so excited I can’t think) I’m going to try and remember to buy the Kindle/Sony Reader thing. That has not been done yet. Here is the link to iUniverse
and Amazon has a spot for it, but it’s not out there yet
Here is most of the first chapter…
The last time I spoke with my brother that night was not pleasant. To make matters worse, he was right.
“Brother, this is silly!” I said as I followed him out of the house. He carried the two youngest children in his arms. “Why take the children in the dead of the night to a cold church and pray? If you believe so strongly that ill will fall on the world, we can all pray in the warmth of our home and not jeopardize the health of the children!”
“Sister, I will fight you no longer.” His voice rose as he lifted the children into the back of the wagon and handed them to his wife, who was already inside sitting in the hay in a nest of all of her children. “You stay if you will, but the more of us there are praying in the house of the Lord the stronger our voices are, and we will be heard.”
“William, God hears us all. We do not need to shout at Him. He is neither thickheaded nor deaf.” I was trying my hardest to be heard, to get through to him. “What good will come to the world if you and the babes die of cold and disease being out in such a harsh night as tonight?” I was hoping to feel needed and wishing that I could persuade him to stay. “And with your wife ready to bear you another child any day?”
“For the last time, Mary, Bridget and I are taking the children to church. Father is there waiting. The Lord will protect us in his place of sanctuary. If you choose to whisper for help, alone in the dark, then you are free to your solitude but we are going!”
He rode off with the children and his wife in the back of a hay cart. That poor pony, to have to pull all that weight and Bridget big and round again, I thought. I walked into the house saying to myself, “If God had only made man less thickheaded, we would all be warm and safe. I pray for you and your family, William … I pray.”
Once I was back inside, I shut the door. The room seemed empty with no one in it. The seats that surrounded the fire were vacant, even though the fire was still burning strong in the center of the room. I started to walk to the fire for warmth but stopped when I heard my name. “Mary.”
It was a man’s voice, but it was not my father or my brother. I looked around to the dark shadows at the corners of the room. I turned back to the fire thinking that the night wind might just be playing a trick on my ears. But as I turned to walk to the fire, the figure of a very large cloaked and hooded man appeared and blocked my way. The fire was behind him, making it even harder to make out any details in him other than his size. Even though the fire was strong, I could feel his coldness and could tell he was unique. “Hello, Mary, I have been watching you for a while now … You are very hard to get alone,” said a deep voice. It was so hard to tell if it was the large man in front of me or if there was another person in the room. I looked around to see if he was alone or if there were others. “I stand before you … You are not blind, and I am not hiding … this time.”
“I am always alone,” I said a bit bewildered as I heard my own heart beat in my head. It was echoing in my ears. I wasn’t as scared as I should have been, but I did want away from this man.
“Hah, never fully alone. There is always your father or big brother keeping an eye on you,” he said as he was pulling the cloak down from around his brow. “You are very lovely. My great-grandson picked well when he chose you for a bride.”
I squinted my eyes to see if there was gray in his long, dark beard. I saw none. I had heard of men who lived long enough to see more then two generations of their families, but I had never met one. “My husband never spoke of any long-lived family,” I said. I was wondering if the apocalyptic night had brought madness to this man. The belief and fear of the end being near was causing people to see and hear strange things. For some reason, I felt that he was telling the truth … but I was hoping he was a crazy liar and soon would be off to church with the rest of the known world.
“Oh.” He started to move and shift his weight. I wanted to run, but with his intimidating size, if he caught me … well, I had a better chance talking in hopes that he would just leave. “He would have had to have met me to know of me.” Now he was pacing like my brother and father did when they were feeling long-winded.
When I saw men do this, I usually worried, This speech is going to take all night. But this time, I was happy and hopeful that this speech might just take all night, so that he would still be talking when my father and brother returned.
“The truth of the matter is I am dead and alive.” Now I really was beginning to think this guy belonged in church to be healed. “You are my prey. You are my victim. I have kept close trace on my children and their families. When I knew that I had lost a grandson and then his daughter, I wanted to know who was left. I wanted to see you. And when I did, I knew I had to have you.”
“I may be kept by my brother and father, but I am not a pet. I was not picked from a tree like a fruit by your grandson. I accepted your grandson as my husband when he asked my father. I agreed that it would be a smart choice.” I was getting upset. I could hold my tongue for those I loved, but strangers … no. I would speak my mind even if I was fearful. What did I have to lose that was not already lost from me? “If you are as old as you say, then why do I see very few signs of age? Your beard is dark, your face has no cuts or deep wrinkles, and the hair on your head looks to all be there.” Even my father, who was fifty-eight, was aged enough to have wrinkles. His hair was coming off his head quickly, and the strands staying on his head were not thick and red but fluffy and silver. This man must be mad. He had now walked to where I could see his face much better. The light was behind me now. He looked to be near thirty, near the age of my brother. This man might be a few years older, but not much.
“I am flattered that you studied my looks and my face so carefully in this light, too. You must have been studying me very hard. It shows me you are interested … that you cared to notice me. I have studied every aspect of you as well.” His eyes slowly looked down from my face all the way to the floor. This made me feel even more uncomfortable. “And in very fine depth,” he said with a not-so-innocent smirk as his eyes went back up to look at my face again.
“I do not enjoy you near me, sir. Please leave.” I was hoping that might make him leave, but I had very strong doubts.
“Your spirit is as lovely and as fiery as your hair.” He touched and twirled one of my red locks around his gloved fingers. I did all I could not to flinch at his closeness. “You are one of the only people I have seen in all of my days who has eyes the color of emeralds sparkling in the sunshine, hair as red and as curly as fire … but your pale white skin doesn’t have one freckle … or blemish … You are truly lovely to look at.”
I was hurt. My daughter, the child I loved so very much, had freckles, and I loved them.
“Do you always converse with your victims, sir? Why not just kill me instead of cutting me with your words? Just cut me with your knife and leave.” He let the lock of my hair drop back down and looked into my eyes with little interest in what I had said.
“You are my first real victim ever. I have never wanted to have anyone last forever before, not even my kin. But if you were my cattle … you would have never seen me coming.”
This was getting too odd. Cattle? Food? And to last forever? Was he going to kill me or imprison me? Then he started to circle me like a bird that has found its prey.
“You are an emerald.”
His compliments made me feel unclean. Why hadn’t I gone with William?
“Before I do this, I want you to know I do pick my fruit from the tree, and I only pick the best. In my day, I was a treasure hunter. I did not take it all, but I did take the most precious.”
I was confused. What was going on?
“You are strong. You are healthy. You can stand the cold of the night. You can be alone without madness. You can let go and still love the ones in your past. You can be full of fear and still be rational and sturdy. You are lovely, and you are now mine …”
His teeth grew into fangs. I was very cold. And I was lost to the waking world forever.
Note (Dec. 9th) ~ The hard cover is now out and the book should be available in about a month on the Kindle and Sony Reader. There is no news yet about the Nook going with my publisher.