An endless love, for an endless price.
Jack’s immortality is exposed when he prevents a liquor store heist, forcing him to flee to protect his secret—a secret not even he understands. But when he meets Leah Winters—a mirror image of his decades-lost love, Lydia—his very soul is laid bare. He begins to question his sanity. Is she real, and if so, what does that mean for Jack and his secret?
Jack’s not the only mystery man in town. A stranger named Artagan hints at knowledge Jack is desperate to possess. But can he trust Artagan, or does the dark newcomer harbor deadly secrets of his own?
As Jack’s bond with Leah grows, so does the danger to her life. Jack must discover just how much he is willing to risk in order to save the woman he already lost once.
Hours of steady rainfall leave the streets glistening with a silver sheen. People scurry past on the sidewalk as though trying to evade the drops, but there’s no escape here. I’ve been in Portland, Maine, for weeks. Every day and every night, it rains, and I’m sick of it. My hatred for the rain is deep-seated. While Lydia lived, we both loved the gentle patter of a spring shower and the clatter of a late-autumn storm. Now the rain that dampens my clothes depresses my spirit. Too many memories cling to each stinging drop. But each moment remembered is of a century ago, and senility has yet to creep in to grant me a reprieve. The unrelenting spring weather seems to hear my inner complaints and take offense, because the rainfall intensifies. “First a rat-infested hellhole, and now this dreary place.” I glare up at the sky, hoping the elements can hear me. At least this particular dreary place has a bookshop, somewhere around here. I glance at the address I Sharpied onto my palm. I hope the help-wanted ad was current. The loss of Lydia may have transformed me from an upstanding member of society into a drifter, but a man’s got to eat. Seems starvation can’t do me in. Gravedigger and mechanic, bartender to tracklayer—the work or pay never mattered. I’ve squirreled away enough money to live completely off the radar for a while, in case my secret is discovered. But other than that, I’ve always been more concerned with obtaining a place in the hereafter than any monetary gain. With the soaked hood of my sweatshirt up over my head, I slosh through puddles. Drops of rain pool like beads along the hood’s rim. Maybe I need to come up with a better method of choosing my next home. This place reminds me too much of England. Old, yes. Merry, no. The bloody island has been the cause of many a foul mood of mine. I suppose I could leave and settle somewhere else. Somewhere sunny, I think, once more glaring skyward. But fleeing for this reason would feel like failure, as if my inability to forgive the past and move on with the present got the better of me yet again. Neither my pride nor stubbornness will stand for that. I’m staying. For the thousandth time, I replay the incident that led me to this soggy city. I seem to have the innate ability of choosing the wrong thing at the wrong time, and allowing myself to be shot in the gut is the best example yet. I still have the little souvenir lodged in the muscle of my back to prove it. And after many attempts at Tug of War, I can’t extract the blasted slug. As if Death would take notice of me after all this time. I laugh and shake my head. Idiot. Deep in thought, I round the corner and collide with someone. My hapless victim is knocked to the ground, while I merely stagger backward. Her legs, arms, and knapsack become a tangled mess of flailing appendages. “Sorry. You all right?” I extend my hand to help. “I’m fine,” she says from under a shapeless mound of yellow rain poncho among the puddles. From the spirit of her tone, she seems unharmed. I probably bruised her ego, but little else. Relieved and amused, I suppress a laugh. “I need to pay better attention to where I’m going.” “Obviously,” she mumbles, grabbing her knapsack. Either unwilling or unable to see my hand, palm up, still waiting, she hops to her feet. From beneath the brim of her oversized hood, she surveys me. A pair of vivid emerald eyes burn into mine. “Lydia?” I whisper. I stagger backward, angry at the delusion. Any memory connected to her reigns with perfect clarity. But must I be tormented every waking moment? My heart pounds in my ears, and without thought, I reach for her. She flinches. Her reaction draws me back from a memory. My arm falls to my side, but my focus doesn’t leave her eyes. She must be real. The desire to touch her surges again, and I need every bit of self-control to thrust my fists deep into my pockets. Her guarded eyes narrow. She tucks an escaping golden strand into the confines of her hood. “Do I know you?” I can’t peel my gaze from those hypnotic eyes, and I stutter out a reply. “N-no, you remind me of someone. Forgive me.” Her attention drifts away and breaks my trance, allowing my eyes to fall to the sidewalk. I concentrate on the diagonal pattern of the red bricks, but the distraction doesn’t help, and breathing has become impossible. My hands tremble in my pockets. A car horn blatting jolts me back to a semblance of reality. When I look around, she’s gone. The girl seems to have vanished into thin air, and I wonder again if Lydia’s haunting me. I snort. Sure, some guy points a gun to your chest, no problem. You beat the shit out of him. A girl looks at you, and you freeze up, lose the ability to speak, and think your long-lost love is visiting you from beyond the grave. What are you? Twelve? I thrust the incident out of my mind and trudge on down the sidewalk. I won’t allow my stupidity to take over the day. Sanity, remember sanity. I repeat the mantra in my head.
Since childhood, Jen Printy has been writing. Whether stories about a fantasy world or everyday life in Maine, Jen loved losing herself in the worlds she created on paper. The arts in all forms have always been an important part of Jen’s life, a love instilled in her by her father. When Jen isn’t writing, she’s sculpting as a freelance doll artist.
Jen lives with her husband, two daughters, and diva dog Cookie in southern Maine, where she loves spending time friends and family, finding treasures along the seashore, or enjoying a Guinness at her favorite local pub.