Carmina Nightshade is a 22 year old human girl who discovers the truth about her family and clan - they are not human.
To love eternally, she has to die, to die she has to live and to live... she has to learn the difference between Myth and Truth - if there is any.
As life would have it, the voices she's heard in her head since birth has a purpose far more sinister than just being annoying. When Carmina meets the big, dark-haired Liam Moretti, she turns the entire immortal world upside down - breaking all the rules and changing history as as they know it.
This is not what you expect from a love story - it is EXACTLY what you expect from a love story, until you reach the darker side - where the reality clash with mythology. Where do you draw the line and how much is possible to endure?
I gaze up and notice the colors lashing out of an angry paintbrush over the horizon. The knot in my stomach is a vivid notification, reminding me of being as irritated as the enflamed and ginger tints marking the sky. From where I’m sitting, the towering volcano in the distance looks lonely yet proud. I marvel at the magnitude of nature rendering the likes of me insignificant. I’m just a small biological mass cowering at the foot of a fire goddess; nothing special. The prickly patches of grass and barbed brushes under my naked legs recommend moving. I inspect the scrapes and welts around my hands and knees with renewed vigor.
By the time I distinguish the human shape from the other obscure and creeping shadows, it was too late. A sense of annoyed inconvenience forces my head to look up at the person blocking my view. What I thought I’d see was a family member. What I see is two deep, gilded eyes set in the moon-pale skin topped with dark hair rivalling black lava. I feel every last nerve recoil into tiny prickly hairs, standing straight up. The view of the man in front of me is a complete opposite rendition to fire goddess I just venerated. He is an enormous portrait hauntingly hanging in mid-air. My mouth dries rapidly but the trio who live in my mind become rather loud and verbal:
“Run!” and “Hit it!” and “Stay calm dearie, for your safety.” As so many times before in my life, I ignore them altogether.
His piercing eyes leave mine and my nerves snaps back into a much more appropriate accommodation under my skin. I wonder briefly why his attention is diverted from me. While narrowing his eyes, his stance become more cautious. As if he’s reading my mind, he answers in a soothing, deep, velvety voice.
“We’re not alone.”
“I’m not afraid.” I stutter in his general direction. I am. I’m petrified. At this exact minute, I am not sure if it is because of him, or something else lurking in the shadows.
“You’re not-” He stops mid-sentence and pulls his fingers through his short, dark mane. His gold-plated eyes meet mine with overwhelming resentment all the while reaching out to me with a tranquil promise. I watch as his mouth opens marginally and I hear him inhale the air around us deeply. His lips push up on one side and I think I see confusion reflecting back at me.
Something in the manner he said it worries me. What else would I be?
Spontaneously, my mind erupts into a song I have learned as a toddler. The gypsies who visit our valley used to sing it to me whenever I became more panicked than usual - which is often, as life would have it. I have cultivated bravery out of necessity – accepting the inevitable nature of being me. Right now I am nervous too, a lethal combination.
“Then off to reap the corn and leave where I was born/ Cut a stout blackthorn to banish ghosts/ And goblin' brand new pair of brogues to rattle o'er the bogs/ And frighten all the dogs on the rocky road to Dublin' ”
I squeeze my eyes tight, and bellow the song louder and louder until it fills the corners of my awareness. I’m not sure what this will achieve but maybe when I open them, he will be gone.
“One, two, three four, five/Hunt the hare and turn her down the rocky road -And all the way to Dublin', whack-fol-la-de-da!”
“Stop that!” he barks at me and I watch as the song evaporate. His hands are digging into my shoulders and he shakes the last notes clear from conscious existence. His hands are big… and cold.
“Yes, and you will attract every predator for miles around!”
“P-Predator? What are they… looking for?” I stammer.
“I will give you one guess.” he hisses and his eyes bare sharply into my humanity. More anxiety boils and bubbles up to the surface of my skin, and even if he didn’t tell me not to sing, I don’t think I could have continued anyway
“Get away!” and “Why are you still here?!” and “Listen to him dearie, he has not hurt you…yet.” Again, I don’t acknowledge the permanent campers in my head.
He stands up with an apprehensive expression on his face at the exact moment the howling starts in the distance. Howling is not a new sound to me at all, but it is much closer than usual. Instinctively I cast my eyes to the night sky, looking for the moon. I know I am too old to believe in the childhood stories of werewolves, but I am here with a person who apparently can read my thoughts and think I will be hunted.
“Come.” he grunts at me then turns away.
“No.” I tenaciously whisper to his back.
The moment I hear myself speak I regret the decision. My mother tells me constantly to weigh my options before surrendering to my stubborn streak. Evidently, I failed to heed said advice and recall it too late.
The big, tense man stops in his tracks not turning around to face me. Hand rubbing over the back of his neck followed by a little stretch gives me the distinct sense it is me causing the ache he may be feeling. I’ve seen my brother do the same thing, calling me a pain in the neck.
“Suit yourself.” He shrugs his shoulders. “You may actually be left alone as you’re too skinny to make a proper meal anyway.”
“How rude.” And hurtful, I add in my mind. I look up to verify again the cycle of the moon. Second quarter. Fantastic! Bad things always happen during a full moon. You can read any story and see it is true. You don’t hear about a fair maiden turning into a meal during a waning moon!
“Fair maiden?” he snorts humorously.
I choose to ignore him and concentrate on getting back on my feet. The ground is uneven and I have been sitting in the same position for far too long. Needles and pins creeping up to my ankles and into my calves, further up my thighs numbing my legs. Before my brain can register what is happening with my body, I take a big step towards him and land flat-out in a sprawl at his feet. I feel the blush pushing into my face at approximately the same time as half the earth rips through the skin on my palms and the other half repeats the process on my knees. The gash from my knee towards my shin angrily spits blood back at the rocks in protest.
“Gods!” he growls at me furiously through clenched teeth and tight jaw, “Let’s give them blood too, it will help your case a lot!”
Before I can say another word he is standing by my side. A big hand grips below my palm, lifting me from the ground. Kicking out to find something solid to connect with, I find nothing. Gulping down mouths full of air the size of tennis balls which get stuck in my lungs while I try to control the anxiety blistering though the fiber of my being.
“I am fine-”
“And slow.” He answers while passing me from one hand to the other. My arm and shoulder aching under the tension of suspending my entire body from it.
“You are so rude!” I now shout at him, fuming.
“Go on.” the sarcasm drips into my mood resembling hot wax. “Bleed some more and let’s make more noise. Ought to get you the attention you seem to so desperately want,” he taunts me.
I swallow down any rebuttal I could have as the heated fury give way to a sickening feeling because of the speed we’re moving at. The realm is whizzing past me imitating a bicycle ride. The landscape around me looks like someone’s vindictively smeared all the colors in one direction on an oil painting; dark shadows sweeping up the olive and auburn colors. Either he is exceptionally tall, or supernaturally fast. My heart races along with his strides, scarcely keeping up and I search for anything to help me find my way back home.
“Both. I can take you home later.” he says and I snarl in response.
“-Rude. Yes you said that already. If you don’t have anything of value to contribute I implore you to sing your song again. It is half entertaining.”
I snap my mouth closed and resolve not to speak to him again. I want to go home.
“And where is home?” he asks in the velvet covered tone.
“Valley-” I start and then remember too late I wasn’t going to talk to him. The snicker slinking down from just above my head grating at my mood.
“I’ll get you back there.”