They are two blended souls; one being split in two. Bound by a love that is not of this world.
A cruel curse…
Forbidden from being together in the afterlife, they suffer the same edict on Earth if they ever meet: one of them will always meet a tragic, untimely end.
They have a secret weapon. When one dies, the other goes ahead (or back) in time to their departed lover’s next (or previous) incarnation, thus defying whoever (or whatever) is determined to keep them apart.
An endless circle…
This cycle of death and reunion spans over a thousand years; love and devotion that transcends all barriers, the inevitable grief and suffering, and the question of whether or not they should break the chain of pain and loss—and whether or not they have the courage—by separating forever.
It is a love story like no other, and an adventure story that transports the reader all through time; from the Dark Ages to present day….and beyond.
Targeted Age Group:: 18-on
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have always been fascinated by stories of time travel and the concept of reincarnation.
Plus, I’ve always liked a good love story (though I’ve never been particularly interested
in the “traditional” romances like Harlequin, Silhouette, etc., and I’ve always HATED
romantic comedies). Plus, writing a novel set in several different historical times was
also intriguing. I actually had the idea for this novel when I was still in my early twenties,
but then I set it aside for a long time. And then I came back to it while in my thirties.
And I’m glad I did.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The male protagonist (all four incarnations of him) was inspired by Gerard Butler, a great Scottish actor. In fact, he greatly influenced me while writing this novel, especially the romantic aspects. This is why I dedicated the book to him.
The female protagonist is (I’m almost embarrassed to say) an idealized version of me.
“They’re coming this way!” Jaela whispered to Karissa. “I can hear them!”
“So can I,” Karissa said dully.
“Oh, dear God, why’re they here?! They never come to this part of Belgica! They only stay in the cities!”
Anique babbled something in Old French as she huddled close to Karissa. Karissa put an arm around the frightened girl and asked Jaela, “What did she say?”
“She said she’s heard what the Romans do to Christians,” said Jaela, tears streaking her face. “So have I.”
“No,” Karissa said, trying to convince herself as much as them. “Not anymore. The Roman Empire has embraced Christianity. Remember Jens telling us that?”
“Yes,” Jaela said, relaxing a bit.
She repeated that to Anique, who cried, “That doesn’t mean anything! Not to Roman soldiers! They still do horrible things to their prisoners just because they can!” Jaela translated to Karissa, then said, “That’s true, too. What will these soldiers do to us? Oh, sweet Jesus, I cannot bear the thought of being tortured, or…” She trailed off as she began to cry. “Deus succurro nos,” she sobbed.
Karissa put her other arm around Jaela. After a moment, Karissa peeked out of the hut again. The men were still outside, gathered around Jens. Jens looked pale, but was calm as he spoke to them. She felt a surge of admiration. Jens Claes was definitely a rock. Then, to her surprise, all the other men turned and walked into their huts, obviously at Jens’ command.
Jens intended to face the Romans alone.
She was terrified, both for herself and him. Jens shouldn’t have to stand out there alone, even if it was his wish to do so. Mentally prodding herself, she began to crawl out the flap. Anique and Jaela grabbed her arms, pulling her back, restraining her. Fear overwhelmed her again and she allowed herself to be restrained; though she continued to look outside.
The soldiers were now in sight. She could see their faces. Actually they were wearing helmets, the kind with the brass line down the nose, so she couldn’t see much of their faces. Yet they didn’t seem like they were getting ready to attack. There weren’t even any weapons visible. Maybe they’ll pass us by, Karissa hoped. Maybe they’re just riding through the forest on their way somewhere.
Too much to hope for, of course. They rode straight up to the commune, then their leader commanded them to stop. He then got off his horse and strode toward Jens, who was still standing like a statue. Karissa looked at the soldiers. Except for their helmets, they didn’t look very much like the Roman soldiers she’d seen in movies. Their clothes didn’t, anyway. These Roman soldiers were dressed much more plainly, without capes, had longer swords, a more diverse cache of supplies on their belts, and they actually wore pants.
It was an irony that trousers had only recently been introduced to the Roman Empire—by the Huns.
Karissa’s hut was one of the nearer ones to where Jens was standing, so she could hear most of the exchange.
“You’re the master of this little commune?”
“I am, sir.”
“I’m Licinius Gaius, the centurion of this Roman century.” He looked around with seeming interest. “Such a well-hidden place. We very easily could’ve ridden right past it. In fact, we did ride past it on our way out here this morning. Is this a place sacred to Christ?” He gestured to the wooden cross Jens wore on a string around his neck.
Jens inclined his head.
“But then, why is it so hidden?” Gaius asked with seeming concern. “Surely you have no need to hide a Christian place like this. Surely you’re not ashamed of being worshippers of Christ?”
“You know we’re not, sir,” Jens said, more sad than angry. “It’s not our wish to hide this holy place. But the pagans hate us, I fear. They’re lost souls who prefer their pagan religions to the truth. And they’ve been known to do violence to us. That’s why we’ve been forced to this seclusion.”
Gaius shook his head gravely. “Yes, that is a pity. Not merely a pity, I would call it an outrage. We should call more legions down here and do something about this.”
“Oh, no, sir!” Jens exclaimed anxiously. Seeing the scowl on the Roman centurion’s face, Jens backtracked, “I thank you for your concern, but I wouldn’t wish any harm to come to them. We must let Christ judge them. And we must never give up hope that they will someday embrace the truth. Christ had no wish for people to come to Him by persecution, as a Christian like yourself surely knows.”
Gaius looked ready to severely admonish Jens—or worse—for presuming to tell a Roman centurion his duty, then seemed to think better of it. “I will take up this matter with the Patrician tomorrow. You know who he is, don’t you?”
“Yes, sir.” Jens sighed. “Flavius Ricimer. Is he here in Gaul?”
“Yes. He is a devout Christian, as I’m sure you know.” Something must have flickered across Jens’ face at that, because Gaius snapped, “Surely you don’t deny it?”
“I do not, sir.”
“And so, we, his underlings, may trust him to decide what’s best to do with these pagans who are threatening the Christians of this land.”
Karissa sighed. All the Gaulish pagans feared Christians, and this was why. All this time she’d thought it was simple hatred, intolerance. It wasn’t. It was fear. No, the Christians aren’t getting persecuted anymore. At least not publicly. Now the Roman Empire has been Christianized, so now it’s the Christians who get to do the persecuting.
“And something should be done about them,” Gaius went on cheerfully. “For they really are mad, even for pagans. They don’t even worship gods. They worship animals!” He laughed.
Jens nodded, though he didn’t laugh. “I thank you, sir, for coming here and giving us your concern. We are honored. Is there anything we can do for you?”
“In fact, there is.” Jens was nonplussed. Before he could ask, Gaius went on, “We would have some of your Christian charity. My men and I are hungry and thirsty. We’ve ridden all the way from Bononia and have had no breakfast.”
Jens Claes knew, as did they all, that refusing them wasn’t an option; though this would cause a considerable decrease in the commune’s resources. So all the soldiers dismounted, and Jens Claes beckoned to some of the men to come out of their huts and help serve them. Aimeus Geert and three other men did so, keeping their heads down and their mouths shut. They served the soldiers bread and meat and water. One soldier complained, “Nullus vino?”
Jens muttered, “I’m sorry, sir, we can’t afford wine.”
Another soldier remarked, “Are there no women in this commune?”
The men of the commune stiffened, looking at Jens, who said anxiously, “They’re in the huts with the children, praying.”
Karissa, Anique and Jaela exchanged frightened looks. The Roman centurion and his soldiers seemed amused by the Christian men’s consternation. The soldier who asked about it said, grinning, “I was only asking, of course. Don’t look so worried. Far be it for us to disturb prayer.”
The soldiers laughed.
Karissa’s relief quickly turned into resentment. Why are they doing this? Why do they want to scare us like this? Isn’t it enough that they’re helping themselves to our food? They were doing it on purpose, she knew. She hadn’t bought that asshole centurion’s act for a second. He was no Christian. Except pro forma. Roman soldiers were nothing but bullies.
Then Karissa happened to notice one soldier who stood a little off to the side, away from the others. He was leaning against a tree, looking at the ground, his arms folded. He wasn’t joining in the taunting or partaking of anything. Gaius called out to him, “Valyis! This might not be much, but it’s all we’re going to get until we get back! And it’s a long ride!”
“I’m not hungry, sir,” Valyis muttered.
“Karise, come back inside, don’t let them see you,” Jaela whispered.
Karissa ignored her. That soldier, Valyis. His voice…
All the other soliders had taken their helmets off when they started eating. Valyis only now seemed to notice this and now took off his.
Karissa froze. Literally froze. No part of her body moved, not even her heart. She did not breathe for four seconds, which is what kept her from screaming. Her fists clenched so hard that her nails drew blood, but she took absolutely no notice.
It was him.
Standing not ten feet away.
The one she’d come over a millenium and a half into the past to find.
She felt her heart begin, tentatively, to beat again.
There was no doubt, none at all.
She began to breathe again, taking a deep, shuddering breath, almost gasping.
The same crystal blue eyes—clear and unashamed.
The same intense, strong-featured face.
The very same. And yet so different.
Ian had been in his late fifties.
This man was in the prime of his life. He couldn’t have been more than thirty, if that…but it was him.
Her tentative heartbeat began to speed up, her face flushing, her eyes tearing.
Oh, God. Oh, thank You, God. Thank You, dear, sweet, merciful God…
She’d found him.
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