Hmm… a paranormal historical erotic romance… by Renee Luke… say whhhhat! LOL…. not sure what I’m going to do with this story in the future, but for now, I’ll post the opener and let you enjoy…. something completely different by me…
He is dying. May the Goddesses protect him.
Morrigan gulped a deep breath, exhaling slowly as she reached through the haze of thousands of miles-—through time. Pain tightened around her body, cut in against her ribs, crushed her lungs until they burned. Fingering the leather pouch of runes, she closed her eyes and allowed her soul to drift from her body. She trembled violently. Had it not been for the rough bark of the ancient oak pressing into her back, she would have collapsed to the forest floor.
The shadowed grove disappeared. The fresh sweet air scented with clover and newly blossomed wildflowers vanished, replaced by a rush of dry heat and the stench of death. Morrigan staggered. Her knees going weak and folding beneath her, she settled on a patch of lush green grass at the base of the tree, though her spirit had left her body.
Gasping, the desert sand tore at her throat. Harsh winds stung her eyes until tears flowed freely from them.
“Where are ye?” she whispered, searching the littering of bodies that covered the unforgiving earth.
Panicked that she would not find him in time, she spun around and came face to face with a kelpie—-a demon in the form of a man. She saw the cold hard line of his jaw, beady black eyes, their rigid angry glint a glimpse at hell. His face evoked terror in Morrigan’s heart, a face she would never forget. Blood marred his hands, dripped like a crimson serpent off the silver of his sword. He spoke callously to a smaller man beside him.
“He is as good as dead. Leave him for the rats, vultures, and maggots to feast upon.” The demon spit upon the body lying crumpled at his feet, as he wiped his blade against his leggings.
Morrigan felt the words, as he would have felt them. Varick, her future, her destiny. It had been many years since the Goddesses had given her such a powerful image, but she was clear in her absolute duty towards this man. The Goddesses could not be swayed.
She could hear his thoughts, knew the man who had stabbed Varick was a ruthless traitor, whose voice rang vaguely familiar and whose face evoked stark terror.
Though she knew that the demon could not see her, she waited until he had turned his back and walked away before she knelt onto the hot sand beside the dying man. Morrigan knew she must save him, reach out and bring his spirit back from the depths of death. She had only tried this one other time with her mother, but in the end her mother had died. And it had taken Morrigan weeks to recover both physically and spiritually.
Gathering her courage, Morrigan drew a deep shaky breath, then placed her hands upon his shoulder, willing her powers to reach inside of him. He lay face down, his cheek resting against the scorching sand, dirt mingling with the metallic scent of blood in his nostrils. He opened his mouth but the dusty wasteland of dry and forgotten earth caught in his throat, and any words he had attempted came out a raspy gurgle of blood.
Too weak to swallow, his mouth to gape open, blood and acidic bile dipped from his broken lips unto the merciless desert. Morrigan glanced around them, afraid that the man who had stabbed him would come back to finish the job. She saw what he saw as Varick opened his eyes to the brilliance of the sun, an orange ball of fire that lingered upon the western horizon mocking him with the splendor of his final sunset.
Death? I welcome death, Varick thought. She was one with his thoughts. She could feel his heartbeat slow as the warm thick fluid of life seeped from the gaping wound on his side. Flies were beginning to gather.
Thump-ump, thump-ump… thump-ump… …thump-ump.
Morrigan’s eyes drifted closed as she felt his pulse of life still. His body gave up the fight and slipped into death—-the Otherworld, a fathomless pit of black where he felt nothing, not even the grasp of pain or the burn from his damaged flesh. My ascent to hell. ‘Tis justice for all the lives I have taken. Death—-my destiny.
“Ye are wrong, Varick. I am yer destiny,” Morrigan demanded as she sought his mind, capturing him and giving unto him the beat of her heart, the breath of life from her lungs, through the simple touch of her hand. “Come with me,” she whispered into the black of nothingness where they both drifted. She gathered his hand more tightly, intertwining their fingers. “Come with me.”
Surely there were no angels where he was going, yet the voice whispering a cool breeze across his face was as sweet as an apple blossom, as pleasing as memories of home. Her touch was as soft as eastern silk. Varick opened his eyes. The sun was still bright overhead, though long shadows danced across his face. Cool damp grass brushed against his cheek and smelled like a fresh spring rain, the earthy scent of forest and soothing zephyrs a stark contrast to the hot dry desert west of Jerusalem.
Varick rolled to his side, then sat up, noticing at once that the pain was gone; his clothing was clean and orderly. Glancing around the grove of trees, he saw a figure beneath an ancient oak tree whose wide strong trunk and dark irregular bark thinned as it spread to sweeping branches and a rich canopy of leaves.
“Who are you?” he asked, scrabbling to his feet, his hand instinctively, going to his waist where his scabbard should have been strapped. It was gone. Puzzled, he lowered his gaze. Many years had passed since he had been without a sword on his side.
“Ye are safe here.”
“What know you of my safety? Am I dead?”
Morrigan pulled back, releasing Varick’s mind as her soul rejoined her own body. She kept her head lowered, her gaze on the bag of runes, warm against her palm, for she was not ready to look upon the man whose future so intricately wound with hers. Tired from her journey, she remained seated. Once Varick had made his decision, she would seek her bed. Her strength was depleted yet her soul was bursting with awareness only akin to excitement.
“Aiblins, but ye are dead only if ye choose not tae go back. Ye can refuse the help I offer and go on tae the Otherworld if that be yer desire.”
“The Otherworld? Do you mean hell?”