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Kiss of Life
A Kiss Trilogy Short Story
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Format:ebook (Digital original) $0.99 $0.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around August 6, 2013. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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A companion short story to New York Times bestselling author Debbie Viguie’s Kiss Trilogy, this e-book exclusive also includes an extended preview of the first novel in the series, Kiss of Night.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Freedom. It's all about freedom. Baron Erik von Bayer stood on the field of battle, the familiar hilt of a sword gripped in his left hand and the less familiar butt of a gun gripped in his right. Not that he needed either, but he still had an audience, after all. It had been a while since he'd held a weapon that wasn't a prop. The solid weight of the sword felt good. Night had fallen, and he was awake and ready to do what he could.
The men who stood around him called him simply Baron. The other side had given him the nickname the Baron of Death. It lacked poetry, would sound better in Italian as most things did, but it was accurate. More so than they realized.
This war had so many causes but only one meant something to him. No man deserved to be in chains, treated as an animal by those keeping him captive. He himself had spent years in a prison cell surrounded by men who were slowly reduced to animals. His own freedom had cost him everything, but in the end he had learned it was the greatest prize of all, worth any sacrifice.
He bowed his head for a moment in silent prayer that God would show His face of mercy and that all would know such freedom soon enough. That was worth killing for, worth dying for.
"Sing us a song, Baron," one of the boys beside him said, his earnest face streaked with dirt caked on blood. Others chimed in, begging him for a song.
The night was far too quiet, considering how many men were about on both sides of the battlefield. The sun had gone down minutes before but light lingered in the sky, and the nearly full moon tonight would allow the fighting to continue past when it might have.
"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord," Erik began to sing, his voice strong and clear. He could feel his lungs swelling as he forced more air in and out of them. He closed his eyes, and just for a moment he could imagine himself back onstage at the Semperoper, the opera house in Dresden, Germany.
When this war in America ended, this bloody conflict that divided families as well as a nation, he would return to his home in Europe, where he would once again reinvent himself. A young French composer, Bizet, had recently premiered an opera called Les pêcheurs de perles—The Pearl Fishers. He had gone to Paris to see it, and though the critics didn't care for it, when he heard the song "Je crois entendre encore," he decided he must play the role of Nadir. There was also a lot of talk about Charles Gounod's Faust, and Erik knew he was a perfect fit for the title role. But he would need to wait a few more years before emerging as a fresh, young talent, a new singer who would make his way to the pinnacle before disappearing as so many others had.
It was part of his curse.
He opened his eyes and forced himself to focus on the present. As he sang he felt the men around him stirring, their courage and faith renewed. The song was one of theirs, distinctly American. He remembered when the song had been known as "John Brown's Body," the lyrics coarse and focused on death. Julia Ward Howe had taken the tune and made it transcendent with new lyrics, lyrics guaranteed to move men to risk all in the service of God. Just as it was doing now.
He could smell fear drifting across the field and hear the urgent mutterings from the other side. The Baron of Death was as well known for his beautiful voice as his bloodthirsty ferocity in battle. No Confederate soldier had ever survived an encounter with him.
"As He died to make men holy let us die to make men free / Our God is marching on." He finished the song. There was a moment of silence, poignant, as if the whole world was waiting with bated breath for what came next. "Let's go boys," he said.
They all leaped forward, and he forced himself to stay with the leaders instead of race ahead as he wanted to do. Everyone knew the Baron was fast, but they didn't know how fast.
They reached the other soldiers with a mighty roar of men and steel and powder. Erik reminded himself to use the sword and the pistol instead of just ripping heads off.
The heat of battle crashed over them all, and everywhere he could smell death and blood. He grabbed a soldier and nearly ripped his throat out, but forced himself to be content with running him through with a sword.
The battle was short, brutal, and soon the surviving Confederate soldiers retreated, fleeing as fast as they could from the field of battle. Erik did not give chase. He only fought enemies that stood before him, but he would never again run one to ground. Chasing someone with the intent of killing him had changed his life forever.
He quit the field of battle before the smell of blood could completely undo him. He had worked hard to wean himself off human blood, but this war had done nothing for his resolve.
* * *
It was midmorning and the house was quiet. Jeanette Molay sat at her cousin's husband's writing desk composing letters to family at home in France and wondering how to answer the latest letter from one of her suitors. Monsieur Chauvere was nothing if not persistent. Truth be told, his attentions had been one of the reasons why she had accepted her cousin Marie's invitation to come stay with her in America for a while. Jeanette had always longed to see more of the world. She knew she would need to marry soon, and this was a rare opportunity she would not likely have again. She had responded with grateful acceptance the very next day.
It really had been a godsend. Marie had been wonderful, her two little children delightful, and she had enjoyed telling them bedtime stories and spending time with the family. America was a country in crisis, but somehow it seemed easier to handle the crisis of a country at war than to handle the pressures of her family and suitors back home. The reprieve, however, had not brought her any closer to a decision on whom she would marry when she returned.
The morning stillness was suddenly shattered by the sounds of gunfire. Jeanette lurched to her feet and flew to the window to see what was happening. It wasn't unusual to hear shots in a simple dispute between two people or a drunkard firing at the sky. But this was a time of war. From upstairs she heard the sound of running footsteps, and a moment later Marie came flying down the stairs, her skirts trailing uncharacteristically on the steps behind her.
"Where are the boys?"
"Next door playing."
More shots, closer, accompanied now by screaming. Jeanette backed away from the window.
"Something's happening," she said. She had the sudden urge to run. Her mother had told her from the time she was very young to always trust such instincts. She said that they were a special gift from God to the women in her family. It was an ability to sense evil, danger, to know when to run. Why her cousin wasn't so blessed, Jeanette didn't know, but Marie would—must—trust her. They were in danger.
She spun to Marie. "Quickly, we must go. Let us leave through the back," she said.
Marie stared at her. "What? And go where?"
There was no time to convince her, so Jeanette leaped forward, grabbed Marie's hand, and dragged her toward the back of the house. With every step she took her heart pounded harder. And with a sudden, terrible sinking feeling she realized they weren't going to make it.
She heard the front door crash open behind them. A man's voice was shouting. There were pounding footsteps.
The back door flew open just as they reached it and a man stood there, sneering at them, gun leveled right between her eyes. Her mother had not prepared her for this.
* * *
- "Both paranormal and inspy romance readers will be captured by the new twists in this exciting novel and will be looking forward to the final title to be released in 2013."—Serena Chase, USAToday.com [on Kiss of Death]
- "Breathless tension coats Raphael and Susan's interactions with a right-on-the-edge-of-passion thrill....I am eerily hooked....It's a thought-provoking read that, like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, may cause readers to question their definition of a monster."—USA Today on Kiss of Night
- "The premise is provocative: can a vampire be redeemed?... hordes of vampire fans who, after their introduction to the vampire Raphael, will clamor for book two and the movie adaptation that must star Johnny Depp."—Publisher's Weekly on Kiss of Night
- "This compelling romantic adventure takes place across centuries and throughout Europe as humans and vampires work together believably, strengthening each other's faith as they struggle with questions of redemption and loyalty. The action is fast, furious and violent, interspersed with fascinating diary entries that are slowly revealed as the cousins translate pages, creating a rising excitement that doesn't stop when the book ends."—RT Book Reviews, ****1/2 on Kiss of Night
- On Sale
- Aug 6, 2013
- Page Count
- 30 pages