An ancient prophecy is coming to fulfillment and events are being played out across the globe by two opposing factions of immortal beings. The fragile, divine balance of all things is at stake, and the world is the ultimate prize.
Drawn into this battle are two unlikely players - Young Eve dreams of being a good mother to her unborn son. Hard-bitten Queensland detective Adley dreams of justice for a string of murdered children. The killer, Edric, dreams only of his next kill.
The immortal seer, Rashda, has brutal dreams of a world where vampires rule.
Against a background of universe-changing events and an ensemble of vivid, unforgettable characters, Eve and Adley will begin to learn the truth of The Immortal Destiny.
|Fantastic cover by the lovely Stephanie White!|
Eve tucked her hair behind her ears and straightened her blouse before stepping inside Hurrow’s Federal Hotel. Narrowed eyes and glassy stares followed her all the way to the bar. She sat down on a ruptured leather stool, listening to the juke box belt out some hit from back in the eighties. The song sounded vaguely familiar. Like something Mother had once listened to—before she became a Christian, before she found God.
“What’ll it be?” The bartender’s voice boomed beside her. Eve jumped and her heart sped. He gripped the counter, leaning forward. He was waiting for her to say something,anything. Eve opened her mouth. But no words came, so she closed it again.
This was her first drink. In her first bar. On the first night of her new life. She was finally away from her mother’s controlling rule once and for all—she was free. She stared back at the bartender as a feeling of hope fluttered low inside her belly like a weighed-down moth. Even his scowls wouldn't dampen her mood tonight. Eve couldn’t help but grin.
The bartender no longer glared at her, but exhaled, closed his eyes and swore. Beer? No. Sex on the Beach? I’m not saying that. Eve’s gaze danced along the row of bottles, trying to find something nice which didn’t look like liquid fire. “Umm. May I have a glass of champagne?”
His brows shot upwards, hovered there for a moment before his forehead creased. “Champagne? Does it fucking look like we serve champagne?”
Like a ghost, Eve’s confidence dissolved, as though it had never been there at all. Someone behind her laughed. A woman who called out behind her, “Champagne? Who does this bitch think she is?”
Eve’s face burned.
“Don’t give the girl a hard time, Trev. Can’t you see she’s nervous? Just give her something sparkling and make it expensive.”
Keeping her head still, Eve glanced sideways at the man sliding onto the seat beside her. He was older, by a lot. His pitted face and long, greasy hair matched a black ensemble of leather jacket and dirty jeans which covered his stick-like physique. He caught her staring and winked. Tiny black stumps she guessed had been teeth were revealed with a smile. She looked away and slid from her seat, her eyes drifting to the door. “No. I’m fine, thank you. I… I’ve changed my mind.”
The stranger caught her arm with a soft hold. His touch made her wince. “Nonsense, come on. You’ve come all this way. Just have one little drink.”
It wasn’t his conviction that made her hesitate—it was his words.
She had come a long way. A lot farther than the four-hour bus ride with one suitcase to her name. Her longest journey was the road she’d traveled within herself. Her fight for freedom, even though she was afraid to be alone, but more afraid she’d give in and go back, so the loneliness was bearable. You won’t survive, you’re too weak. Her mother’s parting snarl still haunted her.
Eve’s vision blurred and her throat thickened, cutting off the air to her lungs. She inhaled sharply, wheezing, coughing. The stench of sweat and nicotine filled her nose as tears blurred her gaze. She thought she’d be able to leave behind all the hurt and the hateful words. There was no new life, here or anywhere. Only the baggage of her old one she dragged behind wherever she went.
Her hair fell into her eyes and she shoved it away with the back of her hand, along with a tear. She’d never escape her father’s suicide, or the depression and Valium which followed. Eve took in the bar, now that her rose-colored glasses were gone. She didn’t belong here. She didn’t belong anywhere. But she had nowhere else to go.
The bartender slid the frosted glass toward her. The drink wasn’t champagne, but at this moment, she didn’t really care. Tiny bubbles surged from the bottom to break free on the surface. She’d tried to break free and yet somehow she still failed. The bartender waited patiently while Eve dug for a crumpled ten-dollar note. Her fingers skirted the tiny yellow pill lodged in the crease of her pocket, her weakness and her disease. She grabbed both the note and the tablet while the stranger beside her opened his wallet. His thick pile of bills was hard to miss. He pushed a twenty along the bar.
“No… please, it's okay.” She might be a lot of things, but she’d never be bought. Not for a drink in a bar, not for anything. “I can pay myself.”
She palmed the pill and slid the note across the bar. The bartender nodded snatched up her crumbled bill. “Looks like she be buyin’ her own drink tonight, Matty. You just run along now and leave the young lady alone.”
The stranger pushed off the stool to tower over her. A flash of rage filled his eyes and Eve was paralyzed. His lips slithered back over his gums. Her scalp quivered and her hands shook. He loomed over her, breathing heavily and pinning her with a piercing glare for what seemed like forever before he stormed away.
Her cheeks buzzed with heat and her hands trembled. She shoved the pill into her mouth and washed it down with the fake champagne. She wanted for one moment not to feel hurt and humiliation. She wanted for one moment not to feel anything.
For Eve, time wasn’t measured in weeks or days, or even hours. She counted time by the minutes and seconds it took for the magic pill to dissolve the grip clenching her insides, so she could breathe.
Valium and alcohol made for a dangerous combination. By the time she swallowed the last of the bubbles, she felt off-balance. The room spun out of control and took her stomach with it. Her heart beat frantically and the walls closed in around her. The barroom chatter became screams of laughter. The raucous roar was too much for her and Eve slipped from her seat, leaving the stares and snide comments behind, and stumbled for the doorway.
The November air was thick and warm. Eve fanned the bottom of her shirt to catch a breeze and headed for the alley which would lead her home. The haunting bay of a dog caught her attention. Her heavy thoughts were captured by that woeful sound while she turned and stumbled in the dark until hands dug into her back. She was shoved hard against the side of a building. The brick walls were unforgiving. Her head cracked against a wall and the pain slashed like lightening through her head. She stumbled sideways and lifted her hand toward the back of her head, her thoughts frozen.
“Fucking stuck-up bitch! You think you’re too good for someone like me?”
Eve’s world seemed slow and thick, like syrup. The snarl in her ear became distorted. She didn’t understand his words, but revulsion shot like cold fire through her veins, fighting the effects of the pill. He pushed his hand inside her shirt to fumble at the cup of her bra. Her thoughts sharpened. She screamed.
The stranger from the bar invaded her field of vision. He gripped her jaw and squeezed. Eve ignored the pain and whipped her head from side-to-side in an effort to break free. But he held on, snaking his leg around hers to pull her tight against him. Please God, no. Not like this… not like this. “Get away from me! Let me go!”
“I’ll show you. I’ll show you good, you stuck up little bitch!”
Her words were silenced by his mouth. Eve felt violated, filled with revulsion… sickened by his touch and the fear of what might happen next. His hands were everywhere. Not one part of her body was left sacred. His tongue slithered in and out of her mouth. His fetid breath, forced into her lungs, became hers as she struggled to breathe.
Valium fought against the adrenaline, pushed along by the rapid fire of her heart, Eve hit, scratched, and kicked with everything she had. Her arms felt like lead, her movements seemed as though she moved underwater. She tried to escape his touch, rolling her shoulders forward and tucking her chin down. He held her still, and his hands burrowed deeper, finding the soft flesh of her nipple. Eve's stomach rolled and the taste of acid filled her mouth. Her attacker stopped moving, his frantic fingers left her bra. Has he given up? Please God….
“I said, take your hands off her.”
A new voice bounced around the alley, low and threatening. Her attacker stilled, but he didn’t let her go. The sound of his voice reverberated against her body as he spoke. “You best be on your way. This doesn’t concern you.”
Eve thrashed, using her weight to break free. He held on, his grip on her mouth became harder, distorting her frantic words. “Pease, pease. Hep me.”
“Shut the fuck up,” her attacker growled into her ear.
The deep voice bounced around Eve once more. “I’ll not say it again. Let the woman go.”
“Or what? You best fuck off or—”
He pulled her forward and slammed her back against the wall. Her shoulders took the brunt of the impact and her head snapped back against the brick. Agony roared inside her skull, the pain took her breath away and dominated her thoughts. White lights sparked in her vision. She stumbled and her knees connected sharply with the sidewalk. Screams from her attacker filled the air. Eve lurched forward as hot wine and acid flowed from her mouth, spilling onto the pavement. Helpless, she rode the waves of panic and revulsion until only dry heaves were left.
She wiped her mouth and glanced sideways. Her attacker flailed on the ground. His body jerked and thrashed in the air and then was slammed to the ground by a blur of a hand. She caught a glimpse of a face, a beautiful face hidden behind savagery. Eve covered her ears, but his screams drilled through the gaps of her fingers. A loud snap fractured his wails. Eve looked up to the night sky. Please… please make this stop.
And the night became silent like the moon above her.
Scared to move, she stayed still and sneaked a glimpse at the fight. The streetlight cut a triangle across the alley entrance, dividing light from the dark. Shiny black shoes and the bottoms of perfectly-creased pants seem to glide toward her.
“It is okay. I will not hurt you.”
Eve wrenched her hands from her ears to grip the edges of her torn blouse.
“You have nothing to fear from me.”
Her rescuer knelt before her, his hand outstretched. The street light illuminated his broad cheek bones, revealing arctic blue eyes and glossy black hair.
Eve searched those eyes for kindness and compassion. She found none. It's enough he just saved my life, isn't it? Her gaze shifted to the unmoving feet of her attacker.
“He is not dead, merely asleep.”
Eve turned back to her rescuer. He waited for her to take his hand, like he had all the time in the world. She reached out. Her own hand hovered in the air and trembled before she grasped his and he helped her to stand. The minute she felt steady on her feet, she snatched her hand away and gripped the edges of her shirt tightly. Forcing the words through the pain in her jaw, she whispered, “Thank you.”
“Please tell me you are okay. When I saw him hurting you I thought he had already—”
She cut him off, needing to stay the words for her own reassurance. She wrenched her hand from his grasp. “No. Thank God.”
He stared at her, his eyes reflecting the street light. He smiled. “Yes, thank God. Although you really should be thanking me.”
“I’m so sorry, please forgive me. Thank you, thank you so much, Mr…?”
He shook his head and smiled.
He doesn’t want to give me his name. He’s afraid I’ll drag him into this mess… Into my mess. Can I blame him? “I am grateful for everything you’ve done for me. I’m Eve.”
“Eve. That... is... a beautiful name. The name of the woman who begat the fall of man, if I remember correctly. How... fitting….”
He moved closer to her, drawing her into his gaze. In this moment, Eve no longer stood in the darkened alley with the remnants of cheap wine drying on her lips. Instead, she floated, caught in his ice-blue gaze.
Her mind slowed and then stilled. Her panic eased until everything apart from this stranger seemed to fade away. His words were hypnotic. “May I walk you home?”
“Yes.” She answered before she’d had a chance to think it over. Her response had been so automatic. Should I really allow a stranger to walk me home at night? Shouldn’t I be concerned? Those questions seemed to slip through the numbed fingers of her mind. Instead of fleeing in fear, she found herself nodding and taking his hand when he held it out once more.
He walked beside her, not too close so they touched, nor too distant, giving her space to slip away.
“Are you afraid of me?”
His question was carried to her on the soft night breeze. Even though she wanted to pretend she hadn’t heard him, shame forced her to answer. This man had risked his life to save her. But she couldn't lie, not even to herself. Honesty forced her to accept the fact Valium was a way for her to cope, hiding the truth from her and everyone else—the truth that everything scared her.
“Look at me.”
She stopped, glimpsing the door to her apartment building in the corner of her eye. Keep walking, don't stop, said a tiny voice inside her.
“Eve. Look at me.”
There was something about his voice, something so spell-binding and compelling. It was hard not to look, impossible to not obey his commands. Eve turned toward him, yet somehow a part of her was urging her to run. But she couldn’t run, she was frozen. Eve stared into his bottomless eyes, unable to tear away from his gaze, or his touch.
“You are exactly what I am looking for, someone pure and so... tender.”
His accent was so strange, old-fashioned and rigid. It wasn’t Australian that she was sure of. It wasn’t anything she knew. He trailed his fingers down her jawbone. His finger hovered on the end of her chin and then lifted her face to his. His words were jumbled, whispered phrases she couldn't quite catch. All she could see were his perfect, soft lips. “Shall you succeed where others have failed?”
He didn’t wait for her answer. Instead he stepped closer, towering over her. “Well, we shall see, won't we?”
He stared into her eyes, as though he seemed to savor this moment, before lowering his head. “Ahh, humans,” he whispered, and then he kissed her.
(Gosh, I loved that scene... Oh who am I kidding, I loved them all! ~Phoenix)