Good morning, everybody! Today is release day! YAY!
I'm so excited to have this third book out and share Lucan's story with everyone. A little secret here: In Immortal Hope I didn't particularly care for Lucan. As Immortal Surrender came around, I remember really being uncomfortable with having to write Lucan's story because I didn't have much of a feel for him. By the time I finished Immortal Trust...I had fallen in love with Lucan. He surprised me now and then, and that really made the writing fun and enjoyable.
It's Tuesday, and that means more Teasers. Last week I shared the prologue. This week, I'm sharing the first half of Chapter One. So let's dive in!
The Curse of the Templars, Book III
Winter cast a gray pallor over snowcapped fields as the SUV wound down a narrow country lane. Lucan reclined in the passenger seat, outwardly the picture of perfect knightly composure. Inside, however, naught remained at peace. In the passing of nine miles, he would set his eyes upon his seraph. The weight of her identifying serpentine torc pressed into his palm. Though he kept his hand tucked into his coat pocket, his anxiety seeped out through the clench of his fingers. Would she welcome him? Or would he face the trials Merrick and Farran had when they found their eternal mates?
He shifted in his seat, crossed the opposite ankle over his knee. His right hand tapped against the passenger door’s armrest. Four days’ travel, and he had never known a more indefinite passing of time. Even after centuries of existence, when he had become accustomed to the never-ending setting suns, the short span of time was unbearable. Salvation came with this Chloe Broussard. Escape from the eternal suspicion that plagued his wakefulness.
Love too might grace his life—if the archangel Gabriel paired him appropriately. Though, in truth, Lucan cared little about the sentimental bonds. ’Twas the tie to brotherhood, the knowledge his fate would remain in the Almighty’s hands that mattered most. All else was naught but fancy. A trifle enjoyment of comfort the Templar cast aside long ago.
He breathed deeply to quell the rapid beat of his heart. If they did not arrive soon, he would rather shove open the door and walk. Whilst a foot journey would delay his inevitable meeting further, his mind would not be preoccupied with questions. Nor would he suffer this unexplainable hope he could not seem to cast aside.
“Rest easy, brother, we have but a few more miles.” Caradoc shifted behind the wheel. The grimace that crossed his face as his aching bones settled into the leather seat belied his own suffering.
For a heartbeat, guilt swamped Lucan. He should not be so eager to embrace healing when those he cared about suffered. As a former commander and the second unto Merrick, Caradoc deserved his soul pairing far more than Lucan. Merrick and Farran each found theirs—Lucan had become convinced Caradoc would follow. But nay, Gabriel came to him. Bade him to take Caradoc, enlist Gareth from Europe, and deliver the serpents to Chloe before Azazel could ensnare her.
Laughter in the backseat washed away Lucan’s brief unease. He glanced over his shoulder to find the younger Gareth grinning broadly. “Bah, Caradoc, you expect him to rest easy when he waits to discover whether his mate bears the face of an old crone or that of an angel’s grace?”
Caradoc shrugged, but the hint of a smile fringed his grim expression. “’Tis naught more than a betrothal. We have all been down such paths. Tell me, Gareth, when you were pledged as a lad, did you pause to consider what the maid would look like?”
Gareth’s laughter deepened. “Nay. She would bear me sons. More comely wenches were made for my pleasure.”
The reminder of lives left behind tightened Lucan’s chest. Banter that should have lightened his heart only brought bitterness. Scenes of the family he had once known, and their violent demise. The maid he would have wed had killed those who shared his blood. Or rather, the forbidden love she gave to a man Lucan believed capable only of generosity and kindness. She brought that man, the one he had called brother, to an early grave as well.
As if Caradoc sensed Lucan’s discomfort, he murmured. “Leave Enid behind, Lucan. She has no place in this.”
Lucan nodded long and slow. Enid resided in the grave. Next to her beloved. He had thought little of her through the centuries. He would not make the mistake of allowing her to rise from the dead. Yet the irony of circumstance did not escape him. Chloe posed the same risks. She held the same power to bring brothers to blows. To shred ties that ran deeper than blood and destruct families. For he would kill for her, as he had killed to avenge his murdered father.
She was his seraph. His to protect against all others, including his Templar brethren, should jealousy override sense and oaths. Already the fierceness of his preordained bond filled his blood.
The road curved around a sharp bend, then flattened out once more. Tall pines sheltered the asphalt from the recent snows. Ahead, a row of vehicles tucked into the landscape marked their destination. Caradoc slowed the SUV and eased into the gravel parking lot. He shut off the engine, then swiveled in his seat. His gaze flickered between Lucan and Gareth.
“Whilst we are here for Chloe, we cannot forget the Veronica. With it, Azazel can decode the angels’ language. Once Chloe uncovers the reliquary that protects it, he will stop at naught to obtain the sacred cloth.”
Lucan met Caradoc’s heavy stare, understanding all he did not say. If Chloe were oathed by that time, she would remain untouched. If Azazel discovered her seraph’s blood before she spoke her vows, a fate far worse than death awaited. The previous attempts on Noelle’s life lent credence to the archangels’ belief Azazel wished to replace his lost lover, Lilith. Worse, should he possess a seraph, should he break the prophecy by claiming this one, Azazel’s ascension to the Almighty’s divine throne would all but become guaranteed.
Gareth broke the heavy silence by opening his door. Cold air washed into the comfortable heat. Caradoc winced as the gust cut through his heavy coat, and Lucan braced himself for the wintry outdoors. He stepped out into the snow.
Two mobile trailers sat beyond the memorial stones that marked this tiny village as a casualty of Hitler’s greed. Bits of rubble, chunks of buildings that once stood straight and proud, edged the gravel path to the trailers’ doors. Lucan surveyed the protruding rocks, sadness filling his heart. Such unnecessary destruction. Ornes could have become a great city like its sister, Verdun. ’Twas a good thing the European Templar commander, Alaric, deigned to accompany their quest. He would hate to see the nothingness his homeland had become. But like so many other strongholds that had once known glory, the le Goix legacy crumbled beneath the fist of time.
Like Lucan’s beloved Seacourt.
He shook off the momentary melancholy and fixed his gaze on the smaller trailer’s front steps. With purpose, he strode for the door. His brothers followed behind, their distance respectful.
Halfway down the path, the door burst open. Dressed in a coat so large it dwarfed her, a woman bounded out. Her long auburn hair caught in the breeze and streamed out behind her. She approached at a determined pace, arms folded across her chest.
Lucan’s pulse jumped as Chloe Broussard marched directly toward him. ’Twas time. Four days finally came to fruition with this moment. He found his smile, hoped it did not falter like the anxious stuttering behind his ribs. Letting go of her torc, he withdrew his hand from his pocket and extended it in greeting. “I am Lucan. ’Tis a pleasure to meet you.”
She came to an abrupt halt two feet before him. Her gaze dropped to his hand, before lifting to his face. Amber eyes widened for an instant, then narrowed just as quickly. “You were supposed to be here this morning. It’s almost five, almost dark, and my team’s sat idle all day waiting on the Church’s representatives to supervise what we’re perfectly capable of not only excavating, but also documenting, cleaning, and preserving for shipment. But it seems the Church didn’t trust our integrity.”
Lucan clamped his teeth together, silencing a defensive bark. God’s teeth, for once ’twould be nice if Gabriel made the bonding of seraphs easy.