Taste of Liberty – Excerpt
By Nancy Hunter
ISBN: 978 14199 17394
Release Date: 7/17/08
In a time of war and hope, loss and redemption, death and rebirth, tragedy unites two enemies who seek vengeance and find love, only to learn that it was never their destiny to be together…
Liberty MacRae, daughter of an American Revolutionary, and Sebastian Cole, a British soldier, share a vendetta against the brutal British commander who killed their loved ones. Each brings a special gift to their quest – Liberty has a second sight that allows her to predict death, and Sebastian is a Fated One, a man who died before he could kill his enemy and has been sent back by the spirits to complete the task.
When they fall in love, they have to find a way to defeat not only the murderer, but destiny as well - a destiny that demands that Sebastian either forfeit his life to defeat his enemy or forfeit his soul. Can they find a way to change their destiny before Liberty's most harrowing premonition - that of her lover's death - comes true?
Sebastian was looking for signs of life. There were only broken bodies, empty eyes. He walked among smoldering embers that hours earlier had been a peaceful village. More than once he dropped to his knees, sobbed, entreated and cursed the spirits in turn.
When he found Sunflower, he knelt beside her and cradled her in his arms. Her skin was smooth and cold, like marble. He pressed her eyelids closed and kissed her cheek, tasting the salt of her dried sweat and tears. He touched her forehead and covered his fingers in her blood,
then smeared it on his cheeks like war paint.
His rational soldier's mind dictated what he should do. Return to the fort, report the incident, request permission to take out a search party to hunt down the murderers. But his broken warrior's heart would not stand reason.
He bent to the ground, struggling to distinguish their tracks in the low light of gathering dusk. Darkness would make it more difficult to follow the trail of the killers but it would also force them to stop soon to make camp.
Sebastian swung up onto his mount and prodded the horse to a full gallop. The cold autumn air cut through his buckskins and dried the blood on his cheeks into stiff clumps. Her blood, her life, her child. Sebastian would give his own life to avenge them.
* * * * *
He came upon the men less than an hour's ride away. When he had lost their tracks, he had followed the acrid smell of their campfire. Now, ashe crouched in the brush near their encampment, Sebastian watched them gather around the fire with their red coats unbuttoned, their blood-covered hands rummaging through the pelts, tools and weapons they had stolen from the village. In the center of the butchers stood their leader, a man Sebastian recognized by reputation.
Long and lean, with dark hair and a closely cropped beard, Colonel Reginald Winters resembled the devil himself. The man was the root of all the evil gathered around him. He was the beating heart of the beast that had destroyed those innocent lives. And now he was the sole target of Sebastian's rage. Winters' men would close in around Sebastian as soon as the deed was done but that was of no consequence, as long as Winters no longer lived and breathed.
Sebastian had no concept of time as he lay in wait, watching his enemy's every move. Minutes could have passed, or hours but finally the time came. Winters moved away from the fire, away from the men and the few makeshift tents, into the woods alone.
In a flash, Sebastian covered the ground between them. His knife was already poised. The tip met flesh and bone, skidded off teeth as he stabbed wildly and cut Winters' face, then aimed for his heart.
"God damn you," Sebastian muttered. "God damn you!"
Sebastian felt a sting in his back, turned on his heel to find another man lunging at him. And the second man had his own knife. Undeterred, Sebastian slashed at Winters again but he couldn't hold off both men at once. Winters knocked the knife from his hand.
Sebastian's sense of self-preservation was in tatters but his will to live long enough to kill Winters was intact. He ran through the woods, not sure where he was going but determined to live just one more day. The footsteps behind him drew closer, the shouts of angry men
vertook him. Then a loud crack. Intense heat flared where the bullet cut through skin and muscle in his back and traveled into one of his lungs. He gasped for breath, struggled to see what loomed in front of him but the night was dark and the grass was slippery underfoot.
He had reached a clearing but still could not determine where to go, or how to escape the men behind him, or how to draw enough breath into his lungs. Then the ground beneath him gave way to empty air. He kicked futilely as he flew, fell, plunged over the edge of a precipice he hadn't seen.
He hit jagged rocks hundreds of feet below, heard his own bones shattering, felt unimaginable pain. There was nothing. Vast emptiness.
Eventually, there was a point of light. Light growing, exploding intoglorious, vibrant color. Every color of the rainbow. Then their faces. His lover, Sunflower, his best friend, Wes, the village elders. And no more tears, no more sorrow. No more pain.