Lucas and Cronan have been bound together since their deaths in 1349. Now, a Guardian and a Death Spirit, they are both responsible for a human life; Lucas must protect the life until it is Cronan's job to take it. It is a cycle that will last through seven lifetimes until their souls are set free. It seems like a simple enough task. However, Lucas repeatedly becomes attached to the lives he is responsible, much to Cronan's chagrin. And every time Lucas steps in to keep Cronan from taking a life, a cycle of seven lifetimes must be repeated.
Cronan watched the scene unfold in front of him. His scene. The moment where he would move beyond observer, to participant.
“Not this one too,” the nurse murmured. She straightened the medal the soldier had received that morning.
A perfunctory medal before dying, Cronan reflected bitterly. The fetid smell of gangrene permeated the tent and his gaze slid down to the pus-filled, blackened appendage.
The nurse pressed her nose briefly against the sleeve of her uniform. She dipped a rag into a rusty basin of water and squeezed it out. Attempting to wipe the mud off the young man’s face, her fingers lingered on his cheek. “The doctor will be here soon, I promise. Hold fast, soldier.” She picked a chat from the soldier’s fair eyebrow and absently crushed the offending louse between her fingernails.
Feeling a sudden unease, Cronan left the tent.
The distant sound of machine-gun fire filled the air. It was coupled with the wet patter of skittering rats as they swarmed like vultures.
Cronan watched as the doctor made his way along the edge of the trenches. The man slipped in the mud and righted himself. Switching his bag to his other hand, he continued towards the tent. Lucas trailed the doctor like a shadow.
Lucas! A cold fury enveloped Cronan’s senses.
There was a high-pitched whistle. Unseen, Lucas grabbed the doctor’s arm and pulled him down. An explosion lit up the night and blanked out all sound at the same time shrapnel flew over their heads at lightning speed.
The doctor scrambled to his feet and looked around, seemingly unsure how he had fallen. He picked up his bag and continued towards the make-shift hospital tent.
Cronan grimaced as Lucas made himself scarce, his damage done. When we do cross paths again, you will have to answer for that. He followed the doctor into the tent.
“Barely dodged that one.” The doctor held his palm to his ear and winced. “My ears are ringing. Let’s get this done, nurse. Where is Rogers?” He pulled a bone saw from his bag.
“I don’t know, sir." She clenched the rag she had been holding. "He left with Peterson to take that last soldier to the trench wall. He hasn't been back.”
“No time to wait, the artillery is getting closer. Hold him down as best you can while I saw the foot off. With any luck, he'll pass out." The doctor handed her a strip of leather. "I’m out of chloroform,” he added grimly. “But hopefully, we can save him. I've seen too many soldiers die today.”
The soldier’s moans turned into screams, followed by silence.
Cronan stood in the shadows of the tent. He cursed his counterpart for altering the physician’s path to avoid the shrapnel that would have ended his life.
And more importantly, the life of the soldier.
How far would you go to redeem yourself?
As a young girl, Lucinda was able to see spirits, a gift that didn't come without its problems. Now, a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that every life can be saved.
After a devastating accident, Lucinda tries to escape her past by moving to a small town. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. But there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire.
As Lucinda is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life...but a battle for their salvation.
*Second place in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2012