Prince of the Wind
An Insane Woman's Obsession:
The world was shutting down on Riain Cree.
Riain Cree, handsome young prince of Chale, has caught the eye of Suzanna de Viennes, a woman old enough to be his mother. Despite her every effort, he will never return the wild affections of the witch.
Suzanna vows to let nothing come between her and the man she has staked claim to as her own. With the help of the demon Raphian, the Destroyer of Men's Souls, she intends to bring Riain to her and keep him there forever even if it means taking his life in the bargain.
Maeve, a mysterious sorceress who has fallen deeply in love with the young prince, has saved Riain's life many times over. Will she be able to keep him out of Suzanna's clutches or will she lose him to the dark forces of the Abyss?
An intriguing tale of obsession, lust, and love striving to break free of an evil intent on crushing it.
Suzanna was somewhere behind him in the gathering darkness. He could hear her calling his name in that wicked purr: part caress, part curse, a whisper of evil that chilled what soul he had left.
God, how he hated her voice. Hated everything about her. Not even the thunderous deluge of icy rain through which he stumbled could drown out that horrible voice and all that it promised.
Overhead, lightning flared, but he did not notice. The light in his world was nothing more than a far off tunnel toward which he struggled, a pinpoint of hope he needed to reach before she caught up to him. He moved toward that saving light as fast as his dying body could take him.
He hoped he would make it this time.
A whimper of stark terror escaped him and he looked back, knowing she was gaining on him as his strength failed.
"God, please. Not this time," he begged and strove all the harder as he moved toward that blessed light.
But God was not with Riain Cree this night. Some would say the Divine Being had turned His face away long, long ago.
Riain's foot caught on an exposed tree root and the young man fell heavily to the ground. He landed facedown in the thick red mud and it was all he could do to lever himself out of the suffocating stench, coming to his knees in an unconscious attitude of prayer as he looked to the heavens.
"Why?" he asked and his soul ached for a salvation that would never come. "What did I do wrong this time?"
For a moment, he knelt there, too heartsick and weak to do anything else. He could feel his life ebbing away; feel the cold settling deep in his chest, the warmth draining from his body. His life would soon be over. Why was he bothering to run? What more could she do to him?
She can put her filthy hands on you one more time, he thought with a shudder of revulsion, and the image of those cold, white hands on his flesh spurred him wearily to his feet.
"Riain?" Her voice came at him through the night like the searching tentacle of something hell-born.
She was close; too close.
He could smell her and her scent drove him mad with fear.
Off to his left, Riain could just make out the gurgle of the river. He turned and staggered toward it--away from the redeeming light--and felt only a momentary tug of resistance as that last contact with possible redemption faded away.
Vast, spreading live oaks draped in Spanish moss sheltered him from the rain as he made his way from one thick trunk to another--feebly hanging onto the rough bark--in an effort to stay on his feet. Pine needles and decaying leaves crunched underfoot and now again a night creature scurried furtively away at his stumbling approach. He would be--as he always had been--alone in his dying.
"You cannot escape me!" Suzanna called out.
But he could try.
The smell of the Flint River was sharp in his nostrils and he moved toward it, ignoring the blackberry brambles that tore at his jeans and drove vicious little barbs into his flesh. He waded through the bushes, sweeping them out of his way, and gasped with pain as he came up against a waist-high barbed wire fence which blocked his way. He snatched his hands back--the palms cut and stinging--and almost screamed his frustration at the obstacle.
There was always something there to block his freedom.
He recognized all too well the threat in her tone. How many times over the centuries had he heard his name snapped out in just that way? As it had many times before, it drove the fear of her deep inside him and made him oblivious to the wicked spikes of wire driving into his palms as he scrambled madly over the fence, snagging his shirt sleeves and gouging deep furrows in his arms and thighs.
There was a slight incline leading down from the fence and he almost fell before he realized it. It took what little reserve of strength he had left to keep himself erect and move away from the barbed wire barrier, putting it between him and Suzanna.
Maybe just this once..........
The roar of the river came to him up ahead and he groaned. If there was a roar, there had to be rapids of some sort and quick-flowing water. Running water. Water that was as much a barrier to him as a stone wall. But if he could just follow the river, find a bridge…...
One moment he was moving steadily toward the rushing water, the next he was sliding down a steep embankment, his arms cartwheeling as he tried to stop the rapid descent. He cried out as his heel skidded over something hard and threw all his weight to his right ankle. The joint twisted inward and sharp, excruciating pain shot up his leg as the bone broke. He began to fall, rolling sideways down the slippery incline, trying desperately to reach out to grab something to break the fall, but the small roots and dead grass he snatched at pulled free of the mud. When at last his downward momentum was arrested by a fallen log, he rolled one last time--over the waterlogged tree--and slipped halfway down the slick bank and into the frigid January waters of the Flint river, coming to rest on his back, up to his waist in the murky water. The shock of the ice-cold river water filling his ear canals as it lapped up his back brought an anguished gasp and he managed to snatch his head up and roll to his belly.
"Water!" he whimpered. "No!"
He was frozen by his fear of the lapping death spreading over him. The smell of the mud was cloying and it seemed to suck him down into the liquid death .
Rain pelted his back as he lay there--heaving for breath--and dripped down his sodden hair and along his cheek. He was growing weaker by the moment and he knew he had to get up; he had to try one last time.
Wearily, he dug his booted feet into the silt on the river bottom and pushed himself up and out of the water, scrambling with his left knee and his hands up the bank, dragging his broken right foot. But the effort took its toll of what little stamina he had left and he collapsed at the top of the incline and lay there--unable to go on--his left cheek pressed into the mud, his fingers digging deep into the dark red Georgia clay.
It was over, he thought, and tears joined the rain washing down his still face.
He had failed again.
He heard the crunch of her footfall beside him and a hard shudder ran through his body.
"Did you really think you could escape me?" she purred as she knelt down beside him.
He refused to look at her.
"You should have known better by now."
He felt her hand on his head as she smoothed the wet dark curls away from his forehead.
"You are mine, Riain Cree." Her voice was a whisper. A caress. A deadly vow.
He closed his molten gold eyes and the only thought in his darkening mind drowned out the sound of her hated voice: What would it be this time? What would she do to him tonight?
"You are mine and mine alone!"
He winced as her fingers tightened in his hair and she dragged his head back sharply.
"You have always been mine." Suzanna's anger filled the night and her revenge closed around him once again like the thick, impenetrable fog on the moors of their homeland.
There was a sharp pain along his exposed throat as the dagger kissed his flesh.
He heard her voice chasing him down through the Abyss: "And mine you will always be!"