CAUGHT BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL
Cursed by the dark witch, Serepta, the vampire known as Quinn spends years trapped in stone until a second witch frees him.
Seleena is a white witch, determined to save Serepta from the dark path she has chosen, a path she fears will lead to her daughter's destruction.
Determined to kill the witch who cursed him, Quinn finds it difficult to keep his vow when he learns that the two witches are related. Should he take vengeance on Serepta, or spare her for the sake of the love he feels for her mother?
There are other dark forces at work in Quinn's life, hard choices to be made, before Seleena can be Quinn's Lady.
Trapped in a prison of clay. How long had it been? One year? Two? How was it even possible that he could still be alive?
Was he alive? Or was this dream-like state really hell? Periods of awareness followed by bizarre dreams and nightmares punctuated by nothingness.
He tried to remember who he was, but he had no memory of himself. No recollection of his past. Only a sense of emptiness.
How had he come to be here?
The image of a woman flashed across his mind -- a beautiful, treacherous woman with hair the color of cinnamon and eyes as black as the ebony caves of Brynn Tor.
Her name danced across the edges of his memory, always just out of reach.
A relentless hunger clawed at his vitals. All-consuming.
And then the blackness swallowed him up again.
Seleena sat in her favorite rocking chair, one hand stroking the big black cat sleeping on her lap.
She stared into the flames that danced and crackled in the fireplace while silent tears tracked her cheeks. Her daughter -- her only child -- was dead, though, in reality, she had lost Serepta years ago.
Guilt nibbled at her conscience. Was it her fault Serepta had chosen to pervert her gift and embrace dark magic? Her fault that Serepta had enhanced her magic by becoming a vampire? Should she have tried harder to redeem her? Had it even been possible?
In her heart, she knew she could have done nothing to help. Serepta had been blessed with a wonderful gift, but it hadn't been enough. She had craved power the way some craved strong drink, chased it relentlessly until she found what she was looking for. In the end, it had destroyed her…
Seleena rose so abruptly, the cat tumbled from her lap.
Serepta was dead, but what of the people she had left behind? Had they all fled the castle?
Chanting a translocation spell, she donned her cloak.
Moments later, she stood in the great hall of Serepta's castle.
It was eerily silent, as if the very walls were holding their breath. She cocked her head to the side, listening intently, but heard nothing but the faint sound of the wind xx at the door.
Feeling as though she were walking across her daughter's grave, she made her way through the castle's rooms. All were empty of life.
She went down to the dungeons last. It was here where Serepta had imprisoned the shape-shifter, Gryff Donovan. Here where she and Serepta's father, Nardik, had confronted their daughter, intending to deprive her of the magic they had once bestowed upon her. Here where Serepta had died.
Seleena closed her eyes and saw it all again…
Serepta tore free of her father's grasp. Bodies rigid, they stared at each other, a silent duel raging between them. Sparks exploded through the air.
Eyes blazing, Nardik hissed, "Now!" He lunged forward, his cloak folding around Serepta like the wings of a large black bird until it covered her from head to heel. Seleena had rushed forward at the same time, her arms wrapping around Nardik and their daughter.
Power seethed in the room as the three witches struggled.
And then, as if someone had turned a switch, the air stilled. Seleena had backed up a few steps. Nardik's cloak fell away. He stood straight and tall, his dark eyes alight.
"What have you done?" Serepta had stared at them, her eyes filled with confusion. "What have you done?" She screamed the words.
"Deprived you of your gift," Nardik said, his voice as cold as the stone floor. "You have abused it long enough."
"No! No, that's impossible!"
"I am sorry," Nardik said quietly. "Seleena, let us depart." Taking her hand, he turned to leave.
Serepta stood there, her expression blank. And then, eyes filled with rage, she had lunged at Gryff, her fangs bared, her hands like claws.
With a growl, Gryff had shifted into a large black wolf and sprang at the vampire's throat…
With a strangled cry, Seleena opened her eyes. A thought took her out of the dungeon and out of the castle.
A twisting path led her into a garden where wildflowers bloomed in profusion, even though the sun had set hours ago. Tall green ferns shared space with blood-red roses. A variety of trees grew to remarkable heights, their leafy branches intertwining at one end of the garden, providing a thick canopy that blocked both sun and rain.
Curious, she followed one of the footpaths that meandered through the verdant foliage. Stone benches were placed at intervals. Brilliantly colored peacocks wandered the grounds.
Rounding a bend in the path, she came upon a number of statues -- soldiers and peasants, warriors and maidens -- all remarkably life-like down to the last detail. The workmanship was truly amazing.
At first glance, they appeared made of stone, but Seleena as she drew closer, she realized they weren't statues at all, but flesh and blood rendered inanimate by a spell more horrible than death. She trailed her fingertips down the cheek of the nearest statue. It was a man. He wore no shirt, only a pair of tight-fitting black pants and knee-high boots.
Seleena shook her head, sickened by her daughter's cruelty, by the horror reflected in the unblinking eyes of those who had displeased her daughter and paid a terrible price. It was unlikely any still lived, but if there was a chance…
Bowing her head, she called upon her magic, felt the very air around her hum with power as she chanted softly, then unleashed the spell with a wave of her hand.
And nothing happened.
Perhaps it was just as well. Who knew what manner of men and women lurked beneath the stone?
And then the statue in front of her moved. The stone that encased him fell away and he stood there, his bright blue eyes blazing with hatred. For a moment, he pinned her with his gaze, then, in a voice rusty with disuse, he growled, "Where is she?"
"If you're asking about Serepta, she's not here."
"Where is she?"
"Nowhere you can follow," Seleena replied.
"I don't care where she's gone," he declared. "Just tell me where to find her."
"I'm afraid your need for vengeance must go unfulfilled," Seleena said quietly. "My daughter is dead."
He stared at her. "She was your daughter?" He wondered why he hadn't noticed the resemblance before. Though Seleena wasn't as tall as Serepta, their features were similar. They both had waist-length hair the color of cinnamon. But Serepta's eyes had been hell-black where Seleena's were pale gray.
Seleena nodded. "I'm sorry for the pain she caused you." He was a handsome man, tall and broad-shouldered, with shaggy brown hair and the tawny skin common to those from the north country. He might have been a soldier, she thought. Or perhaps someone in law enforcement. He had that look about him.
"Pain?" He barked the word. "Pain! Do you know what it's like, to be unable to move, to speak? To be trapped in smothering darkness?"
"No. It must have horrible. But it's over now."
"Is it? How do I get back all those years?"
"Years?" Seleena shuddered. How had he survived such a dreadful fate?
He shifted from one foot to the other. Tension poured off him like heat from a stove.
Seleena took a wary step backward as his eyes went red.
"Vampire!" She spat the word as she summoned her magic once again. "Another bloody vampire!"