One last Birth of a Vixen excerpt before its print release: Lucian's final human moments...
"Selene!" I ran down the thin alleys between rag-shag buildings. My tunic snagged on the corner of the blacksmith's shop. The shit and piss that squished under my leather shoe filled the hard worn trenches. I cared not. All that mattered was getting to Selene before the paciarii escorted her to the next stop of her pilgrimage.
Echoes of angry frightened screams cried out for the witch's head, for justice. Ignorant fools would not known a witch if she bit their noses off. As dusk settled into true night I rushed into the crowd outside Tarragona Cathedral. Villagers clustered in the courtyard. Knights kept them from entering the church. Pushing and shoving, I made my way to the front. "Selene!"
Firelight lit the rose window above the entrance. The last ray of sunlight cast a haunting orange glow across the stone saints that I would never forget. When the doors opened the Domini canes, with their black cappa flowing behind them over white habits, escorted my beloved from the belly of the nave.
Wisps of her chestnut hair streamed out of her long braid and away from her face. Dirt smudged her beautiful face. Her once full lips that always had a smile for weary travelers like myself were chapped and quivered. She bowed her head in shame. Though her hands were bound she clenched the cross of infamy.
"Selene. Selene! I'm here!" I took one step toward her. That was all I got before the flat edge of a guard's sword barricaded my march. "Out of my way."
"Lucian!" She was so close now. Her dark blue eyes swam in unshed tears. She shook her head which freed her sadness. "Don't. I love you."
"No, I will not give up."
She bowed her head again. A tall, lanky priest took hold of her elbow. He ushered her through the caravan.
I pushed people aside as I sidestepped down the length of the human barrier. "I love you. I won't give up. I love you!"
"Back off, lover boy." An armored fist met my face. I fell backwards. The crowd let me fall flat on my ass. Laughter mingled with intolerant outcries. "Go. Find a live girl that hasn't sold her soul to the devil."
I fought to my feet. Any progress I made was stamped out by someone's foot or random elbow to the chin. The crowd waned. Yet I continually got knocked down over and over again. It was like they purposefully took their frustrations out on me. Not that I blamed them. I was the witch lover.
Strong hands gripped my upper arms and pulled me up. "Be a man and stand." He said in a deep baritone voice. He spun me to face him, but all I saw was his wide jaw. All else was covered in the Order of Preacher's attire. "Pull yourself together, son. What's your name?"
"Why should you care?" Nonetheless I ran a quick hand through my hair.
"I care about all God's children, especially when love is on the line. I'm a bit of a romantic. You truly love this witch?"
"She is no a witch." I refused to hit a priest. That would have only added fuel to their holy fire. Instead I turned to leave. Within a heartbeat he stood before me.
"That would be a yes. Then I suggest you come with me"
"Why? What can you do?"
He tilted his head back enough for me to see a touch more of him. He smiled a toothy grin complete with fangs. Terror rose from the deep crevasses of my soul. My heart hastened when I looked upon that demon in priest's robes. It must have shown upon my face because he chuckled. "I can give you what you need to save her."
"Stop." Lucian said to me. In a rush his memory withdrew. I was left with a pounding headache.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to do that. It kind of happened."
His jaw locked. His whole body was as frozen over me as those statues were on the cathedral. "Just stop and let me think."
I laid under him and watched him once again bury rampant painful thoughts. The only part of him that changed was eye color, hazel to emerald green to deep wooden brown. I knew people whose eyes changed depending upon the colors they wore. His changed with each passing emotion. Which explained why a vampire's eyes changed when they summoned their power. It was fueled by emotion. For as dead as we were we lived for it all.
After a few moments he said, "Let's try this again. And please try to remember we are doing this for you, not me."
"Now concentrate on what happened next."
Our gazes locked and the trip down memory lane continued.