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Authors: Adrienne Monson

Deliverance

BOOK: Deliverance
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Table of Contents

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and not intended by the author.

Copyright © 2016 by Adrienne Monson

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior return permission of the publisher.

First Paperback Edition: May 2016

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy or copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

For information on subsidiary rights, please contact the publisher at [email protected] For additional information, please visit our website at www.jollyfishpress.com, or write us at
Jolly Fish Press, PO Box 1773, Provo, UT 84603-1773.

Printed in the United States of America

THIS TITLE IS ALSO AVAILABLE AS AN EBOOK.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication

DataNames: Monson, Adrienne, author.
Title: Deliverance / Adrienne Monson.
Description: First paperback edition. | Provo, Utah : Jolly Fish Press, 2016. | Series: The blood inheritance trilogy ; 3
Identifiers: LCCN 2016005173 | ISBN 9781631630705 (softcover)
Subjects: LCSH: Vampires--Fiction. | Paranormal fiction. | BISAC: FICTION / Fantasy / Paranormal. | GSAFD: Fantasy fiction. | Occult fiction.
Classification: LCC PS3613.O5379 D45 2016 | DDC 813/.6--dc23
LC record available at
http://lccn.loc.gov/2016005173

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

To Noah and Katrina. May you enjoy reading as much as I do.

Also by Adrienne Monson

Dissension

Defiance

Book III of The Blood Inheritance Trilogy

by Adrienne Monson

Provo, Utah

25 BC

Though the cave was dark
and cool, sweat dripped down the back of Iliana’s neck from the long walk. The children followed dutifully, as if they had the endurance to traipse on forever. Of course, they weren’t carrying all the buckets. She had that burden for now. But once they were all filled with water from the spring, the village kids would have to carry them without spilling. She took all the buckets now in hopes that the little ones could reserve their strength. The oldest child led, holding up a torch while the other five stayed in the middle. The second oldest was just in front of her with the other torch, the rock walls sparkling in the light.

Though Iliana was happy to do her part in serving her village, there were many instances when she felt it was too mundane and boring. It was her task to lead the children through the dank tunnels to the drinking water three times daily, and she hated the feeling of walking through the enclosed space every few hours. There were many turns and dips, and the only sounds besides their footsteps were the bats squeaking in the darkness. The one advantage was that she and the children drank as much as they liked before they filled their buckets to bring to the rest of the village.

If only I could travel the world and live an exciting life!
The village healer had told her stories when Iliana was struck with fever last year, stories of people and places that sounded too amazing and beautiful to be real. She wanted to see for herself if those places really existed, and to smell the different plants and flowers that the healer had described.

But her mother and father would not even let her venture over to the village by the sea. Her father went there once a month to trade and always refused when Iliana asked to accompany him. “It is your brother’s place to join me, not yours. You must stay and help our village,” he told her. “When you help others and work hard, you will be chosen for a wife by a good, strong man. Your children will be well provided for.”

But all the men that Iliana could marry were ones she’d known her whole life. It was difficult to see any of them as husbands when she knew which ones picked their noses and teased her as a child.

They’d finally reached the source of their village drinking water. Iliana was grateful that there were other streams out in the open more accessible to do the washing with, otherwise they would be coming into the caves night and day. The pool was chest deep, and the children had to stay along the edge so that they didn’t fall in. The air held a strange scent of staleness and fresh water. Even though it was pitch dark, whenever they made it to the water, it seemed as if there was some sort of luminescence shining from the bottom. It was the one part of the cave that wasn’t scary.

After she and the children had each taken a turn to drink of the cool, rejuvenating liquid, they filled their buckets and started to go back up. Iliana stayed behind with the second torch to make sure all the children were accounted for. When the last child left the cavern, Iliana noted that two were missing. Waving her light around the softly bubbling pool, she didn’t see them.

“Ully!” she called out, but the only thing she heard in return was her echo. “Isa?” She ventured further into the shadows as she skirted the water line. “Where did you go?”

A giggle floated over the air. Iliana continued her search and discovered a small opening ten feet away from her. She had to wade through the shallows of the water to reach it. Thrusting her torch forward, she could only enter if she crouched down on her hands and knees.

Slowly entering, she had a hard time crawling because she had to keep the torch up with one hand. “Isa, darling? The others have already left. If you don’t come out now, you will starve in this empty place.”

“But we love it down here!” That was Ully. He was the only boy in the village who didn’t have dark eyes. They were an amber color instead. “We can live off of the water and eat the bats.”

“You’re going to eat bats raw?” Iliana countered.

There was a pause, then she heard scuffling and soon the two were crawling toward her.

“We like that tunnel,” Isa said, pushing her dark hair behind her shoulder. “It just keeps going deeper and deeper.”

“If you go too deep, you will be lost to us,” Iliana warned. She crawled out backwards and stepped back into the water. After watching the children climb down, she prodded them to the proper exit.

As she moved to follow them, Iliana imagined a faint whisper overhead. She stifled a shiver but couldn’t shake the sudden sense of foreboding. Turning back to the small tunnel, she pushed the torch in to look. It was empty.

The whisper came again, this time louder. She spun around, her breath catching. But there was only the cavern and the pool. Shaking her head at herself, she started walking to catch up with the kids.

“Hello.”

Her lungs froze as Iliana stared at the man directly to her left. He was standing in water that was about hip deep on him. His bare torso practically glimmered in the combined light of the pool and her torch. The tall man had to stoop to avoid hitting his head. His deep voice resonated throughout the cave. His honey-colored hair fell to his shoulders and was kissed by the sun like she’d never seen before. And his eyes. They were the most perfect green she had ever seen, as if the gods had given him jewels instead of real eyes.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“My true name cannot be spoken in your tongue. But you may call me Turney.”

She absorbed the strange name and decided this man must be one of the foreigners the healer spoke of. “Do you come from Greece? Or perhaps Rome?”

His lips stretched across his face in a dazzling closed-mouth smile. “No. I come from someplace much farther.”

“Are you lost? It’s not many who find themselves wandering into our village. And the opening to this cave is difficult to find.”

“I admit that I’m not sure how to get out of these tunnels.” He narrowed his green eyes. “You don’t appear to fear me.”

Iliana blinked. “Should I?”

He threw back his head and let out a booming laugh. It vibrated through her chest and tingled her senses. He walked toward her, his body rising from the water. Iliana realized suddenly that he was naked, and she felt her cheeks begin to burn furiously.

She saw his stomach flexing with his amusement. His muscles were strong and corded with the perfection of one who used his body actively, yet his skin looked smooth and pale, as if he’d never spent a day working in the sun. Glancing at his hands, she could see in the firelight that no calluses marred his long fingers.

“I like that you don’t fear me,” he stated. “It’s refreshing.”

Uncertain of how to respond to that, she answered with a question. “Would you like me to lead you out of the caves? I need to catch up to the children and make certain they don’t get lost. You may join me and I can even find some clothes for you to wear.”

“I have permission to join you, do I?” He continued to show amusement. Iliana was not sure if she should feel embarrassed or proud that she could make him smile. “Yes, I think I will go with you.” He gestured for her to walk ahead of him.

She tried to avoid looking at his private parts as she moved past him. She’d only seen little boys naked, and men certainly looked different than boys. Feeling blood rushing to her face again, she took long strides to hurry through the underground labyrinth.

After herding the children out, two boys volunteered their shirts so that Turney could tie them together over his hips. It didn’t cover much, but at least he wouldn’t be showing his privates to everyone in the village. The elders would have a hard enough time welcoming him as it was. They weren’t keen on strangers.

Twisting a lock of her black hair around her finger, Iliana snuck glances toward the stranger. She couldn’t help but appreciate his beauty, his unique coloring.

As they walked through the small village, people stopped and stared at the tall man. The children pushed out their chests and smiled broadly, as if they were returning home with a grand prize.

BOOK: Deliverance
12.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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