by Natalie-Nicole Bates
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She accepts the invitation to visit an internet friend who needs help appraising a collection of antique photographs. The situation is not ideal, but Carly hopes a male presence in her life will deter the determined suitor who haunts her thoughts and dreams.
Daniel Tremont is not what Carly is expecting.
The former funeral director has a secret of his own. Not only is he eternal like Carly, he is her creation from all those years before—her abomination she thought she killed. Daniel has been searching for Carly for years. He knows she is the piece of his life that he has been missing for so long. Now that he has found her, he has no intentions of letting her go.
“Carly, my angel,” he whispered and cupped her cheek into his palm. He revealed in the silkiness and warmth of her skin. Still, she didn’t react. She was almost…a zombie.
His own body jerked in reaction to the fear she was emanating. She was clearly sleepwalking and in the throes of one hell of a nightmare, yet she didn’t cry out any longer. It was all now playing out inside her mind.
“Charlotte, see me,” he implored.
Her lips twitched at the mention of her real name.
“See me,” he repeated.
Suddenly, her body gave way and she collapsed. Catching her, he lifted her into his arms and carried her to the bed. As he laid her down, her breathing became ragged. He placed a hand over her heart as it raced, and passed healing calmness through his hand, feeling the energy pulsate against her skin. Beneath his hand, he would feel her heartbeat slow to a normal rhythm.
“Daniel?” Her voice was mere caress.
“I’m here, my angel. You’re having a nightmare. You’re frightened. It’s okay now, I’m here, and I will never leave you,” he promised.
“Everyone leaves, Daniel. You can’t understand, you can’t…” Her body started to tremble.
He climbed onto the bed and straddled her body. Leaning close to her face, he said, “Carly, let go of your fear. I can take it. Let go and see me,” he commanded.
Her breath came out in a whoosh, and a wall of fear and resistance hit him like a blow from above. It wasn’t exactly painful, more startling than anything else.
His vision flip-flopped, and he could see an image from inside her mind of two souls forever entwined as the result of one act. It made perfect sense. She was reliving the day their souls became one. The day of the fire.
He then saw black, suffocating water. She was reliving her own death, as well.
As the visions left him, he was consumed with the mishmash of fear, loneliness, and resistance within her.
He had to make her understand that it was over. “I will never leave you, Carly. That is my promise to you,” he insisted.
A flicker of life ignited in her eyes. Her hands came up to his face, and to Daniel’s surprise, tears bubbled from his own eyes. He was releasing the pain and fear he had absorbed from his beloved.
“I’m so sorry, Daniel, so sorry,” she murmured.
“There’s nothing to be sorry for, my love. It’s over. It’s time to move forward now.”
“You don’t understand what I am, Daniel.”
“I do understand, Carly. I am what you are. See me for what I am.”
In his mind, he could see the moving clockwork gears of her thoughts once again as she tried to process what he was telling her to be true.
“Just accept it, and let’s move forward.”
She drew his face to hers and her lips parted beneath his. Time blurred and he drank in the essence of his Carly. Her soft, barely covered curves molded themselves against his the hard planes of his body. Her hands were under his t-shirt, her fingers stroking him.
If he pressed on, he knew she wouldn’t refuse him. But in her vulnerable state, he wouldn’t let anything progress further that night. Carly needed time to process everything that happened. There was plenty of time to pursue a physical relationship. They weren’t going any where…he hoped.
About the Author
Natalie-Nicole Bates is a book reviewer and author.
Her passions in life include books and hockey along with Victorian and Edwardian era photography and antique poison bottles. Natalie contributes her uncharacteristic love of hockey to being born in Russia.
She currently resides in the UK where she is working on her next book and adding to her collection of 19th century post-mortem photos.
Visit Natalie online at www.natalienicolebates.com
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