by Kimberly Cummons
Since the beginning of time, the immortal Aeterni have been first-born sons. Until now...
As far as Cassandra Marston is concerned, immortality exists only in the fictional world of movies and books. Even if she did believe in living forever, becoming immortal isn’t on her bucket list. She wants to meet the right man, fall in love, have children and grow into a comfortable old age with him.
Keegan Fitzgerald has lived for thousands of years and is happiest when sequestered on his mountain, coming down only for business and the occasional one-night-stand. He has spent thousands of years looking out for himself and only himself.
On a stormy night, fate brings the immortal Keegan and the mortal Cassandra together when he kills her in an auto accident. With her inexplicable return to life, nothing will ever be the same. Keegan must learn to put the needs of a beautiful and desirable woman before his own. While Cassandra’s forced to abandon her dreams and learn to live forever. As necessity turns to passion, living forever becomes a dream come true.
Discovering her immortality isn’t natural but created by a madman bent on destroying the Aeterni way of life and keeping Cassandra for himself, Keegan and Cassandra must race against time to secure her future so they can have forever...or time will run out.
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She looked at Keegan, her beautiful emerald eyes begging him for answers to something she was going to have a very difficult time understanding. “How…how am I healing like this?” She looked over her shoulder at Derian standing behind her, his hand once again on her shoulder, and asked, “Why are you up and alive?”
Gaderian reached out and put a tender hand on her cheek. “You didn’t know it, my dear, but there’s magic in the world after all.” With a sad smile he moved away and leaned against the wall.
She turned back to Keegan, searching his face for answers. “I don’t understand.”
Keegan sighed. At the moment it didn’t matter how it’d happened, the woman was immortal, and someone had somehow succeeded in making her that way. There was a lot to understand, and it was going to be very hard for her. “Will you trust me?” he asked as softly as he could. He didn’t want to scare her again, he’d already done that enough for one evening.
“I don’t trust anyone at the moment.”
“Good answer, darlin’, and you shouldn’t. But the man who held you seems to have changed your genetic makeup and now you’re like me and my friend over there. You’re going to need us to teach you what you need to know. How to live the rest of your life. Nothing will ever be the same for you, I’m afraid.” For any of them. The Aeterni race was male only, no exception ever. Until now.
Keegan had practiced medicine long before DNA was used for anything more than a theory here and there. Still, he did understand something about genes and how they worked. He knew there was an anomaly in Aeterni that made them different than mortals. It only made sense that someone had somehow given that anomaly to her. If whoever had done this could do it to her, who else could he change? How would the Circle of Ghadan ever be able to keep up with them? Stop them from destroying the entire Aeterni population by bringing them to the notice of the mortal world? Millennia of effort could be destroyed in nothing more than a heartbeat of time.
Hiding his concerns about what was happening, he placed his hand against her cheek, wanting to erase the look of confusion in her eyes. “Hopefully we can find out what happened to you using the resources we have at our disposal.”
He really didn’t know if they’d ever find out what happened to her, did he? She didn’t need to know that, however, she needed answers. He bloody well needed answers. There were so many bad repercussions that could come from this, they didn’t have a choice but to figure out what had happened to her.
She nodded and stepped back, looking at the two of them. They were both so much larger than her, she must have felt overwhelmed by them. “Do I have a choice?” she asked.
He felt another rare smile forming, she was brave for such a little thing. “No, I’m afraid you don’t, but I swear I’ll not hurt you.” Without good reason, he added silently. At the moment she didn’t need to know he was about to cut her.
Derian stood away from the wall. “I, too, swear by my cursed gods that I will not hurt you, you’re safe with us.”
“We’ll protect you from the man who took you, I won’t let him get you back.” Keegan had never meant anything more in his life, and he wondered just why he was making such a stupid promise he doubted he’d be able to keep.
Cassandra’s eyes widened and her soft, full lips formed an “O”. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
“Do you know how you got away, darlin’?” Keegan asked.
She shook her head her eyes dropping away from his to the floor. “No, I don’t remember anything.”
“Short-term memory loss caused by the trauma. Not to mention dying probably didn’t help,” Derian said.
Keegan pulled his knife from his pocket and opened it. “I know I said I wouldn’t hurt you, but this will only sting for a second, I promise.” He hoped she’d trust him this time, he didn’t want to force her, but he had to show her what she’d become.
She looked at his knife. “Well, if you’ve already killed me as you said, what more can you do to me?”
He smiled, liking her spunk. “Nothing, lass. I’ve done the worst to you I can.” At least physically. He’d have to keep his distance to prevent any emotional damage he’d be sure to inflict on her if he allowed her to get too close to him. He held out his hand, palm up, “Give me your hand, darlin’.”
She looked at him, hesitating only a moment before she gave it to him. Ignoring his reaction to her soft warmth, he turned her hand over, palm up, and made a small cut on the tip of her thumb. No deeper than a paper cut.
She hissed at the pain and jerked her hand from his. Her eyes narrowed as she glared at him. “Holy bird turd, that’s the last time I trust you.”
His smile widened. She amused him, and he hadn’t been amused by a woman or anyone in more than a century. Not even his beautiful wife had affected him like this small slip of a woman, he realized to his amazement. He pulled his shirt out of his jeans and taking her hand back, gently wiped the blood away from her thumb. He bent down and kissed the pad. “I’m sorry I hurt you, darlin’.”
He lifted his head, looked in her eyes and felt like he’d been sucker-punched. Did he see an answering desire burning in the deep green depths? Glancing down before he did something stupid, like pull her into his arms and kiss her senseless, he turned her thumb toward her. “See, no cut. That’s what happened to your fingers.”
Her eyes widened as she stared at her thumb. “That’s just so not normal.” She ran her finger over the healed skin.
Derian took her hand and kissed her thumb where the cut had been. “It’s normal for us, my dear.”
Keegan had an inexplicable desire to ram his fist in the old Greek’s face and knock the knowing smile off his face. He bloody well knew what affect his kissing Cassandra’s hand had on Keegan. He was baiting him. The Greek had always been an arsehole.
“Why didn’t it heal before?” Cassandra asked, breaking the stare-down between the two men.
Derian looked at her. “Now that’s a good question. Are you saying you’ve never healed, ever?”
“No, until I woke here, my fingers have all been cut and bleeding. Fortunately, it’s never deep and they start to heal naturally, but the cuts never disappeared until now.”
“You were wearing your glasses when I hit you. Didn’t your vision improve while you were with the man?”
Looking as confused as Keegan felt, she shook her head. “No.”
“So, why would it work now?” Keegan asked Derian.
“My guess? Her death.”
Keegan nodded. “Yes, I noticed that healing was enhanced after my heart stopped the first time. I always healed, but beatings would take up to two days. It was only after that, getting beaten went away within hours.”
“And since your final stage was brought on before you reached full maturity, you were luckier than most of us, my friend.”
Keegan never felt lucky. “Absolutely. Someone trying to kill me when I was fifteen is something to rejoice in.”
“You don’t look fifteen.” Cassandra’s comment stopped whatever cutting remark he was sure the Greek was about to make.
Her eyes raked over him, and Keegan felt like he’d been set on fire. Good thing Derian was there, because, damn, after a look like that there was no telling what he would have done with her. Although he had a pretty good idea. And it would have been the stupidest thing he’d ever done in his life. That was saying a lot. In his early years, doing stupid shite had been one of his favorite pastimes.
Derian chuckled. “No. Lucky for him he got to keep growing.”
“Yes, he did.” Her eyes stopped at his crotch, an enticing blush spreading across her cheeks.
Bloody hell, she was making it worse. If this kept up much longer, he was going to have to go hide in his gym and beat the crap out of the bag. It was the only thing that was going to remove the images floating around in his head.
Derian laughed full out and Keegan wanted to bury his blade in him again. To make matters worse, Cassandra’s blush was followed by a smile of appreciation that was beginning to unleash a desire in him that hadn’t been unleashed in centuries. He could feel the need in him growing by leaps and bounds.
Kimberly Cummons wrote her first Gothic romance novel while still in high school. Believing there were more profitable ways to earn a living, she turned away from her first love and earned a Bachelors’ Degree in Business Education. Over the years, she’s worked at a number of interesting small businesses. Her favorite job will always be the local historical society where she met her own personal hero. Never forgetting her love of writing, Kimberly continued to write romances in different genres, but paranormal and suspense have proven to be her favorites.
Kimberly, her husband and their cat live in Michigan.
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