Even in Paradise…
by Annette McCleave on February 17th, 2009

A sultry island breeze wafts in the window, billowing the curtain. The room is dark, except for the silver wash of moonlight that spills across the terracotta floor tiles. Under the swath of mosquito netting covering the double bed, Lachlan pulls Rachel a little tighter against his chest … and waits. After four hundred years of soul gathering, he’s developed an uncanny ability to sense impending messages from Death.

Sure enough, the Blackberry on the nightstand begins to vibrate.

He snatches it, doing his best not to disturb the woman whose long legs are entwined with his, whose soft breaths stir the hairs on his chest. They had a full day—walking along the beach, hunting for souvenirs in the village marketplace, windsurfing in the cove, and dining on fresh sea bass. Unlike him, Rachel is human. She needs her sleep.

A glance at the electronic screen confirms what he already knows: a Gatherer doesn’t get vacations. In an alley behind the local rum bar, a drunken tourist is about to be mugged. Judgment impaired by alcohol, the sunburned Canadian accountant will foolishly fight to keep his wallet and end up losing his life. Lachlan used to try to save such men, but Death is ruthless and persevering. When she marks a human, they die.

He kisses the top of Rachel’s head, then carefully untangles himself and rolls off the bed. He dresses quickly, donning black jeans and a black long-sleeved shirt. With an ease that speaks to his experience, he straps a leather baldric across his broad shoulders and slides his claidheamh mòr into the sheath. Warded by ancient Romany magic, the weapon immediately vanishes from sight. Ready, he crosses to the window, then pauses to look back at Rachel.

His job is not to save the tourist’s life, but to save his soul. For every soul destined for heaven, there’s a demon thief determined to waylay it into hell, and with every gather, there’s a chance the Gatherer won’t return.

A faint smile curves Lachlan’s lips.

He promised to take Rachel scuba-diving on the reef in the morning. Even if he’s ambushed tonight by a horde of vicious martial demons, there’s no way he’ll disappoint her.

He leaps out the window, drops soundlessly to the hotel lawn thirty feet below, and merges with the shadows.

********

This is a little scene I wrote to imagine my characters from Drawn into Darkness on ‘vacation’. It’s written in present tense, but don’t worry, the book is standard past tense. Enjoy!

4 comments to “Even in Paradise…”

  1. 1

    What a gorgeous vignette, Annette! It’s like an hors d’ouvres for what promises to be a great book!


  2. 2

    Thanks, Sharon. :grin:

    Unfortunately, in my book there’s no visit to an island paradise … but I really enjoyed dreaming it up. I was able to briefly forget the cold reality outside my door.


  3. 3

    Annette, I enjoyed very much! He’s not going to save a life, but a soul, and then he’s taking Rachel scuba diving — I love this guy!


  4. 4

    Ooh, nice tease. Hard-working heroes are so sexy.


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