Immortally Theirs [Legends & Myths] (Siren Publishing Ménage Amour), page 1
Legends & Myths
Dismissed as myth, the Fountain of Youth intrigued countless explorers. They chased the dream across oceans and continents, never finding the life-giving waters. But even myths can be real.
Claire Morgan is on the run from an abusive husband. Her days of freedom are numbered, though, and her husband will stop at nothing to find her. When he does, she knows she’ll die at his hands.
Christian and Stefan de la Fuente are brothers who have led separate and lonely lives for almost three hundred years. It might take a miracle, or at least a dead grandmother and one not-so-helpless damsel, to bring them together. But to save Claire, they’ll have to share the source, and curse, of their eternal youth.
A ruthless husband isn’t the only thing stalking Claire, but she’s finished letting others determine her fate. When she takes control of her future, though, even the legendary Fountain of Youth may not be enough to save her.
Note: There is no sexual relationship or touching for titillation between or among siblings.
Genre: Contemporary, Ménage a Trois/Quatre, Paranormal
Length: 36,174 words
Legends & Myths
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Ménage Amour
Copyright © 2013 by Scarlet Day
E-book ISBN: 978-1-62242-837-3
First E-book Publication: April 2013
Cover design by Harris Channing
All cover art and logo copyright © 2013 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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To my husband, who has spent many afternoons with me wandering the historic streets of St. Augustine.
Legends & Myths
Copyright © 2013
St. Augustine, Florida 1702
Christian’s lungs burned and the searing pain in his right side intensified with each breath of air he drew in. Thick, acrid smoke clouded his vision. He swiped a hand across his face, trying to wipe stinging tears out of his eyes. Cannon fire and gunshots tore through the night air, but he paid them no mind.
Where was Stefan? He scanned the ground, but there was no sign of his younger brother. He had to find him. He had to get him out of here. Christian stumbled across the uneven ground, unable to see in the dim moonlight streaming through the thick tree canopy. The pain in his side took his breath away and his legs gave out. Jolting agony rocked his body as his knees hit the ground. He pressed his hand to the wound in his side and then pulled it away. Blood covered his hand and dripped onto the dry ground. He struggled to his feet again, refusing to succumb to his injury, though he already knew he would not be in this world for much longer. But he had to find Stefan first.
Christian moved from tree to tree, using their thick trunks as much to support his weakening body as for cover from the English soldiers behind him. He could still hear them, but the sounds were more distant than they had been. The skirmish must be moving away from the city.
He forced his legs to keep moving, placing one unsteady foot in front of the other, until he caught sight of a crumpled shape at the base of a pine tree. He scrambled across the distance and dropped to his hands and knees next to the fallen man. His stomach rolled with dread as he gripped the man’s shoulders and rolled him over.
A wail as though from a wounded animal ripped from Christian’s chest. His heart felt as if it had been cut from him. He pulled his brother close to him and wrapped his arms around him. Great sobs wracked Christian’s body as he clung to Stefan. He couldn’t lose him. He couldn’t. Stefan was all he had left.
“Christian.” A familiar female voice drifted through the darkness.
Christian lifted his head from his brother’s blood-soaked chest. A woman walked toward him through the woods. No, not walked. She drifted.
“Christian, you must come.” The woman’s long black hair stirred in the gentle breeze as she drifted closer.
Christian narrowed his eyes and stared hard through the dim forest. “Nia?” Christian’s already tormented mind reeled. It couldn’t be her. His grandmother was dead.
“Come, Christian, quickly. Bring Stefan. You must come.” She drifted away, back through the woods.
Christian grabbed his brother and pulled him up, draping him across his shoulders. The burning in Christian’s side flared hotter as he struggled to his feet. Stefan’s added weight made it almost impossible to walk, but Christian forced himself to follow his grandmother through the dark woods.
The sounds of battle faded as Nia led him closer to the city. As they approached, the smoke became thicker and heat permeated the forest. Bile rose in Christian’s throat as he realized the cause of the acrid smoke and unnatural heat. Flames engulfed St. Augustine. Shock and horror threatened to overwhelm Christian. Everything was lost.
Christian said a silent prayer, thankful that most of the r
Nia stopped next to a tree and beckoned Christian forward. “Dig. Hurry.”
Christian felt certain he must be close to death. It was the one reason he could think of for his dead grandmother to appear to him. But he followed her instructions, regardless of his impending demise. He fell to his knees and lowered Stefan to the ground. With his bare hands, he dug into the sandy soil at the base of the tree. He felt his life blood oozing from his side with each scoop of sand, but he kept digging. Finally, with his strength waning, water bubbled up through the sand and pooled in the shallow hole.
“Drink, both of you.” His grandmother motioned to the water and to Stefan.
Christian cupped his hand and dipped it into the cool water. He parted Stefan’s mouth and poured the water into his brother’s lifeless body. Nia nodded and motioned for Christian to drink as well.
With his last ounce of strength, Christian leaned over the pool. He pushed his hands back into the shallow hole and then brought the water to his lips. It felt cool against his parched skin and the sweet taste soothed his parched throat.
Christian fell onto his side and looked up at his grandmother. Tears shone in her eyes as she stared down at him.
“There will be a price, child.” She knelt beside him and rested her hand against his forehead. It felt cool against his burning skin. “But you are all that is left of us. I could not stand to see you come to your end.”
Christian’s vision blurred and his grandmother faded into mist. He reached for his brother’s hand and gripped it in his. With one last rattling breath, Christian’s life drained away.
“What the hell am I doing here?” Stefan stood in the dark, empty street and stared at the white courtyard wall in front of him. It was pretty much the last place on earth he wanted to be. But when his dead grandmother showed up in the middle of the night and told him to get his ass home, he figured it was probably a good idea to do what she said. The last couple of times she had told him to do something, he had ignored her. That hadn’t turned out so well for him, so he was not going to make the same mistake again.
He hadn’t been back home in 250 years, since the Spanish exodus in 1763, when Britain gained control of Florida. He hadn’t spoken to his older brother since then, either, even though they checked up on each other through mutual acquaintances from time to time. He wondered if Christian was still lurking around the Old City, or if he had left their home in the hands of a caretaker. Thanks to his quick search through the county tax records, Stefan knew the property was still deeded in the de la Fuente family name. The ownership records had been changed every sixty or seventy years to indicate that the property had been passed down through successive generations. Except there were no successive generations. There was no one but Christian and Stefan. And that’s all there ever would be.
Stefan hitched his duffel bag higher on his shoulder and pushed the thick wooden gate open. He walked to the center of the courtyard and paused. Darkness covered the garden, but Stefan’s enhanced eyesight and keen sense of smell easily discerned the many tropical plants thriving in the manicured space. Orange trees lined a far wall. The aroma from their fragrant blooms wafted across the courtyard and wrapped him in their sweet scent. It had been a long time since he’d smelled the blossoms in full bloom. It was a smell he had always associated with home.
He heard the musical cascade of water and followed the sound to one of the courtyard walls. It shouldn’t have surprised him that the old fountain still flowed into the shallow pool he and Christian had dug together. But seeing it again still brought a myriad of emotions and memories to the forefront of his thoughts.
The house and gardens were being well-maintained. But by whom? Stefan knew his brother had made it his mission to protect St. Augustine’s visitors and locals from the things that went bump in the night. There had been enough bloodshed on this little piece of Florida’s coast to last multiple lifetimes, and the bloody history drew tourists and supernatural beings alike.
Even he and his brother had died—and been resurrected—on this very spot. Whether his brother was still here, running interference with those who refused to leave their mortal existence and grievances behind, not to mention the others that used the city’s supernatural history to hide their own nefarious activities, remained to be seen.
Stefan’s gaze roamed over the outlines of the casa, taking note of the changes since he had last seen it. He hardly recognized the place. When he and Christian had been forced to either leave their home or swear allegiance to the fledgling British Empire, they had left a one-story house behind. But the first floor had been greatly expanded and a second story had been added since then. A wide balcony graced the two-story structure and rough-hewn wooden shutters stood sentinel on either side of the upstairs windows. Red clay tiles adorned the sloping roof, providing unmistakable evidence that this was still a Spanish home.
Stefan sighed and shook his head as the hopes he and Christian had shared before they parted ways washed over him. This was meant to be the place where they would have brought wives and raised children. But that had been before they understood that their resurrections had changed them in a profound and irrevocable way. It was before they realized it would be impossible, even selfish, to share a life with any mortal woman.
What woman would want to grow old while her husband stayed forever young? And how could he or Christian offer a mortal woman the thing that would grant her immortality, but rob her of her ability to have children, her body frozen in time? They wouldn’t even have been able to adopt, for then they would have been forced to watch their children grow old and die, unless they offered them the same life-giving curse. No, it had been far better to spend their long lives as bachelors, enjoying the occasional company of women, but never growing attached.
Stefan shook off the centuries-old regrets and approached the massive front door of the casa with more than a little trepidation. He had told himself there was no reason to dread seeing his brother again, but that didn’t stop Stefan’s stomach from churning. Would Christian accept him back? Or would he shun Stefan, just as Stefan had shunned Christian so long ago? Stefan sighed and stepped up onto the porch. Why was it that immortality could cure hunger and prevent him from getting drunk, but it didn’t stop that gut-wrenching feeling whenever he was about to walk into a bad situation?
His arm felt as though it were made of lead as he lifted it to knock on the massive wooden door. Before he could grasp the heavy iron door-knocker, the door swung open and warm light bathed the porch. Stefan blinked and then stared into the face he had thought about so often but hadn’t seen in two hundred and fifty years. He opened his mouth to speak, but no words came to him. Everything he had thought he would say had fled from his mind.
Christian grabbed him by both shoulders and stared at him for long moments, as though he were looking into the eyes of a ghost. Then his older brother pulled Stefan into his arms and clutched him as though Stefan were a life preserver in a storm-tossed sea.
“Welcome home, my brother. Welcome home.”
Claire didn’t have dreams very often, or at least she didn’t remember them. But she remembered the one she’d had last night. It hadn’t even felt like a dream. It had felt so real that Claire had struggled for several minutes as she tried to separate the dream from reality.
At first, she’d thought she’d woken up in the car in the middle of the night, but there was a woman sitting in the passenger seat. Claire’s first instinct had been to scream and get out of the car. She had struggled with the door handle, but the door wouldn’t open. Near panic, she had turned back to the intruder, expecting the woman to pull a gun on her a
When Claire had woken up that morning, she’d had the strangest urge to follow the woman’s instructions and head straight to St. Augustine. But she shrugged the dream off as the consequences for eating a bad hot dog from the convenience store she had stopped at for dinner. She hadn’t been able to squelch her curiosity, though. So when she saw the exit off the highway toward St. Augustine, she’d made the split decision to check it out. Claire got out of her car and stretched. It felt good to move around after so many hours on the road. The warm sun felt soothing on her shoulders and she rolled them, trying to ease the tension that had built up over the long drive.
She looked around at the impressive stone fort near the parking lot where she had found a space to park the car. Finding a parking space hadn’t been an easy task. She had driven around the Historic District for at least half an hour trying to find an empty space. This was a metered lot, so she would have to feed the machine some quarters and find another place where she could park overnight. But considering the number of people and cars she had seen, she was happy to take what she could get. Because right now, the thing she needed more than anything was lunch.
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