from the Prologue…
I’ll never forget the moment I saw her. She was lying in a heap on the forest floor, barely noticeable among the autumn leaves that had drifted down into a thick bed that covered the ground. Her simple brown cloak masked her at first, but I caught a glimpse of red boots and knew I’d found my mark.
As I drifted toward her, the wind began to howl like a wolf mourning his lost love, and a long buried sensation unexpectedly tugged at my heart. What was it? I needn’t have even asked the question. In spite of my resolve to feel nothing, this particular emotion was an old friend and once more fell upon me against my will.
It sat like a cold stone upon my chest and would’ve suffocated me had I not already died centuries before. Now it was just a special brand of torture. So many regrets, so many choices I wished I could unmake. But already behind schedule, I quickly shoved aside the memories that lurked on the edges of my mind and turned my attention back to the job I’d been given.
Take the girl.
My directives always came to me as a sharp command with no additional information. I never needed more than that. I knew what had to be done. Finely honed instincts forged in fire and blood always led me to where I needed to go. And today they had brought me here, to this woman who lay near death, exhausted, starving, heartbroken.
But in a moment, I would relieve her of her suffering. I’d reach my hand into her chest and gently remove her soul and then shepherd her on to the great hereafter. If she’d let me. Most people fought against me, cursed my name, pleaded for just a little longer. . . . But, in the end, such resistance was futile. I’d never granted a reprieve. Why should I? No one had granted one to me when I lay dying.
I knelt at the woman’s side and carefully lifted a lock of jet black hair away from her face. I gasped, struck by the loveliness of her. Her fair skin was a startling contrast to her dark hair and ruby red lips. I’d seen beautiful women before. Many, in fact. But this one . . . She stirred something deep inside me that mingled with my old friend Regret and urged me to hold her, comfort her.
Without stopping to think, I gathered her tenderly into my arms and held her close. I placed my hand over her heart, intending to slowly bring it to a stop and offer her a quiet death, but to my astonishment, I suddenly was privy to all she’d suffered, all she’d endured. Never before had I been granted such a look into the deepest recesses of a person’s heart. Staggered by her strength and loyalty, I momentarily forgot why I’d come.
It was then that her eyelids fluttered and opened, revealing to me the most amazing blue eyes I’d ever seen. They were the same shade as robins’ eggs, and they were clear and focused, determined and strong, even though she was mere moments from dying.
“You’ve come for me,” she whispered, her voice dry from thirst and lack of use.
I blinked at her in astonishment. She could actually see me? Impossible! And yet her eyes met and held mine, forbidding me to lie to her. “Yes,” I replied. “I have.”
She nestled closer, grasping onto me as she burrowed into my chest. “So cold.”
I wrapped my arms tighter around her, willing my warmth into her. She sighed a moment later, a slight smile curving her lips.
Take the girl.
I heard the directive, more insistent this time. Knew I had a job to do. Ignored it.
I smoothed the woman’s hair, peered down at her face, praying her lids would open once more and give me another glimpse of the only eyes that had seen me as I truly was since I’d left behind my own mortal coil centuries before. As if she’d heard my thoughts, she lifted her lids and met my gaze again. She must’ve seen something odd in my expression.
“I understand,” she assured me. “I do not blame you.” Then she reached up and placed her cool, slim hand against my cheek, comforting me.
Impulsively, I turned into her hand and pressed a kiss to her palm, puzzled that such a small act of kindness could have such a profound effect. And I knew I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take her. How could I possibly end the life of the one person who’d ever seen me for what I really was? How could I deprive the world—real or Make Believe—of such a woman? I couldn’t extinguish such a magnificent light—not when I craved it so desperately.
Making my decision, Reaper laws be damned, I stood, cradling her in my arms. I would grant her a reprieve, I decided. I would refuse to take her soul and deliver it as ordered. I had no idea what that would mean. I didn’t care. Whatever punishment I’d face, whatever penance I’d be forced to suffer, it’d be worth it.
by Kate SeRine
Series: Transplanted Tales #1.5
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Fairy Tales
Release Date: April 17th, 2014
Format: eBook, 100 pages
You reap what you sow…
Saying Nate Grimm has a dark past is an understatement. Fortunately, no one’s bothered to look too closely at the Fairytale Management Authority’s lead detective and part-time Reaper. And that’s the way Nate wants to keep it. For after centuries of torment and loneliness, he’s finally found happiness with the hot and hard-charging love of his life, Tess “Red” Little.
Of course, his love for Tess is the reason there’s a posse of Reaper judges after him, led by a sadistic bastard acquainted with Nate from once upon a time. Now, Tess will pay the price for Nate’s transgressions unless Nate severs his ties to the transplanted Tales–and Tess–forever. His enemy has the advantage in speed, malice and brutality. But the Reapers have underestimated the depth of Nate’s love and devotion. And the fury of his wrath. . . .