Now, given that I'm feeling in the Christmas spirit, I'm giving you all a teaser of Death's Children, my upcoming January release, sequel to The Grave Watchers. You all enjoy, and have a wonderful holiday!
A heartbeat. I could hear a heartbeat. My very own heartbeat. It pounded faster and faster. My lungs burned with new breath. My muscles ached. But it was my heartbeat that made it all wrong. It beat. My heart shouldn’t be beating. It was wrong. I wasn’t alive. I wasn’t alive.
But my heart was beating.
I opened my eyes and I could see. And what I saw sent raw emotion rushing through every thread of me. It was unlike any emotion I’d ever felt. Stronger. Quicker.
It was a murderous rage.
I sat up, muscles aching and bones creaking with life. I hadn’t moved in so long. I felt the cold of the surgical instrument still stuck through my eye. I grabbed hold of the smooth handle and drew it out, like a knight unsheathing his sword. The man stood, facing away from me. His dirt-covered shirt offended me. The shovel was on the floor where he’d dropped it. The dirt on the blade from the ground where I had lain. How dare he? How dare he? He wasn’t watching. He didn’t see me.
He had to see me. He had to know why he was going to die.
“Hey, asshole.” I was mildly surprised at my language. Given the situation, however, I felt justified.
He turned around, eyes widening with something like fear, something like awe. I’d never hurt anyone in my life. But the rage was in control now. The disgust. I stabbed him in the throat. He drowned in blood. Gurgling like a fish before his knees shook him to the floor and he died there in his own blood-- jerking against the floor just as I had when I died.
I clutched the cold medical instrument tight and stared at the blood before retching spasms threw me to the floor. I wanted to crawl into a grave. I wanted to rest again. But there was something else, another emotion. I think it could have been passion. It could have been--
“Hello, Augustine.” It was a woman’s voice. Cold and soft like a cat come out of the snow. I turned, fighting to rise. She was so pale, and her eyes-- her eyes held wonders and horrors. There was never a face more beautiful.
“Who are you?”
“I have many names. What do you want to call me?”
In truth… in truth I knew who she was. She was Death. The lady death. “Lady Death. You are Lady Death.”
She smiled. “I think I’m going to like you, my daughter. A man will be here soon to get you cleaned up and settled.”
“Settled? I’m dead. I-- ” I looked around the cabin, staring at the floor with its disturbed boards and the dirt moved. Where I’d been buried, dropped into the ground like garbage. The wood had been fresh when I had died, not so now. How long had I been in the grave? I had flashes of memory, things I had seen or heard. Voices echoing above me. People walking on the floor but…had I been trapped there? Had I been in Hell? There was something missing. An echo where memory should have been.
“But you feel something else, don’t you?”
That strangeness in the pit of my stomach. Lingering emotion. Something after the rage…something after the disgust. “I don’t know.”
“It is the Calling. You rose because you are one of mine. A child of Death. It is your duty to protect the resting dead. To aid the restless and keep the worlds separate.”
Duty. Passion. Calling…no. Purpose. I had purpose. Direction in death I never had in life. “Purpose. You’ve given me meaning.”
She nodded. A regal queen even in this Hell-hole. “That’s right.” Her eyes flickered to the door and she smiled. “Ah, here he is.” She sighed softly. “Take care, my daughter.”
She was gone. Like fog burned away by the morning sun.
“You must be Augustine Fleur.” A man entered the cabin -- through the door. He was tallish, handsome. Hair gold and curly, eyes brilliant blue and strong. He smiled, revealing amazingly white teeth. “I am Sebastien Crowle. We should hurry; the police will be here soon. Believe me, you don’t want them to find you covered in blood with a dead body on the floor.” He sounded like one speaking from experience. What kind of man did that make him?
He took my hand. “Everything is going to be all right.”
For some reason, I believed him.