Title: Centuries of Blood
Author: S.I. Hayes
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Tour Host: Lady Amber's Tours
Tour Host: Lady Amber's Tours
Three men, a single heart. What's a girl to do? Especially when one of them has fangs...
16th Century England. A land at war. It's people fighting, dying for a king who chases skirts and takes heads on a whim. It is a time of reformation, of love, lust, betrayal and secrets. Catharine Morrigan Cecil is but sixteen years old as the tale unfolds, but her soul screams to be free of Glastonbury. Named for a child lost, she is chained to a life she doesn't want. Promised to a man whose ways foretell an unhappy life while still in love with another who will not fight for her.
Left rejected, in a reach for freedom she runs. Finding a mysterious town with an even more mysterious stranger. Alexandarious (Darious) is young, strong, and Immortal. A Blood Devourer. Knowing his nature, Catharine Morrigan dares to give him her heart. She has pierced him through and through, but his people are waring and her safety is in peril. He wants and needs the beautiful woman "Morrigan" is becoming. But his heart knows better. She deserves a full life, one he can not give her.
The marriage bed awaits her as the Ottoman War zone calls him. The pair must separate to save the people to whom they are bound. While Darious fights for his Lord and Lady, Morrigan must fight for her survival at the hands of the man she calls husband.
Can they beat the odds, find each other once more and prove that love truly is Eternal?
Rain poured down in dime-sized droplets, and violent thunder shook the house of Jonathan Cecil as he watched his wife Willomeina, heavy with child earnestly tending to their only daughter Catharine, whose body was wrecked by a long illness. According to the doctor the fight was lost, he believed she would not last much longer this was probably the girls last night on earth.
When the priest came, Jonathan tried to pull Willomeina from Catharine, protesting, "Think of the Child!"
She would not heed the disputes; she would sit the night out, if she were going to lose her daughter tonight than she herself had to be there at that moment, when Catharine’s spirit released.
He understood, after all this was his child too, but it had taken so long for the blessing of the child she now carried. What of its life? The Doctor told them that Willomeina needed rest, that she should distance herself from sickness of any kind, she was fragile, and so was the pregnancy.
Willomeina’s mind and body fought against her. Lightning surged and the wind tore open the shutters causing the candles to flicker wildly against the onslaught of rain. She tried to close the shutters as Catharine began to cough fiercely, blood staining the cloth at her lips.
"Mother" She gasped her voice broken, consumed in pain. "Please, do not try your time with me, I am forsaken."
Willomeina’s eyes were red rimmed, her face stained with tears as she wiped the beaded sweat from Catharine’s brow.
"You waste your tears, Mother." She reached out touching Willomeina’s rounded belly, "Love her." She gasped again, "Love her." Her eyes fluttered fleetingly as she let out one last exasperated breath, and was gone.
Willomeina collapsed upon her, sobbing penetratingly, her gentle woman Marian, now came to her; she too had been crying, silently outside the room, with the Cecil’s five year old boy, who had sprung out of bed with the lightning, and now clutched her skirt.
Taking Willomeina by the shoulders, Marian softly urged her to come away, but it was young Jonathan’s little hands wrapped around her belly, which brought her back.
Defeated, Willomeina calmed herself, as the boy helped Marian with his mother.
They found Jonathan senior, sitting by the fire, a log book in his lap; it was used to record the life and deaths of the family. He looked up at them, reading their faces. He scribbled in the book a moment and then closed it solemnly.
"Then it is finished." He reached out his hand to his remaining family, beckoning to them. Willomeina went to his side, little Jonathan embraced between them.
They needed father’s strength now; moreover, his strength was what they would get. Through all the months of Catharine’s sickness, he had never waned, however, when he was alone at night and the house was quiet, he would cry. As the man of the house, he did love his child, but it was his duty to show strength, always. Least he be thought woman like and weak.
This was the opinion of the men of his century. In 1525, a man was the head of the house and must always act accordingly. They stood silently together, as Marian went to attend to Catharine’s body. The Priest would return in the morning, as well as the doctor, and neither was to see her in such a state. Marian would before then, bathe and clothe her properly. For Marian this was a daunting task, and she herself was the same age as Catharine, merely fourteen years. Saddened by all of this, for promised Catharine was to a young man, Henri Vanden Meyre only months before her sickness had taken hold. The thought that this match would now, never take place broke her heart.
The months passed, Catharine was buried in the Cecil family plot, and on June 21, 1525, Willomeina gave birth to a healthy baby girl. To honor their dearly departed daughter they named her Catharine Morrigan. Willomeina swore that this child would have all the things that Catharine never did, all the things that she could ever desire.
Over the years, Catharine’s father spared no expense with her education. His wealth coming to him after years of service in the kings army, he was for all purposes considered a gentleman, although he maintained a hands on approach when the harvest was near. She was instructed in all things proper and useful to run a home and to the chagrin of Willomeina; Jonathan wanted his daughter to understand all aspects of the family trade. From how the sheep were tended to the trade routes which brought them the most equity.
Catharine excelled here as in all of her studies and was fluent in Latin and French by the age of ten. More often than not translating many of her father’s merchant letters to English for his Greek was lacking. These accomplishments however wonderful to her instructors made her quite unpopular with the other girls who struggled with even the most menial tasks, and Catharine Morrigan often spent her little leisure time with whatever book she could get her hands on.
The gossip would continue about her through the years. Catharine appeared awkward growing up, her arms and legs seemingly too long for her frame. Scolded was she when defending herself from the teasing by her peers. In spite of this, no amount of chastisement would break her of her spirit.
When her mother would ask the Abbot for advice as to what to do, "This child is in need of a good whipping," became the only answer provided. In spite of everything, this was not to be. For although Catharine was scolded, her father would never allow an unkind hand to touch her, lest a mark be left on her delicate skin. The Abbot believed that it was in her naming that the problem lay.
For she possessed two names, which was mostly unheard of in this time and age. Having this feature, in theory meant Catharine possessed two spirits, that of the deceased sister and her own. This was what made her difficult.
Her father protested and decided that the problem was not his beautiful child, rather the other children. He accordingly pulled her from the classes and paid the instructors to come to her. Catharine spent most of her time in the home with the teachers and her family. Her brother Jonathan was away at University in Cambridge and only came home to Glastonbury occasionally. When he did, he spent all of his time with her, showing her what he was learning as she absorbed the writings of Aristotle better than he did. For he believed that, she should learn all that was possible even if the other women of the time thought it useless.
"Morrigan." He called her this, always believing their mother calling her Catharine morbid. "You should try to become better than those around you, never let your sex be your limitation. Rather let it be your freedom."
This would make her smile, his believing she should be more, that she was capable of it.
Until this time, in her fourteenth year, her world began to change. It was now 1537, and Jonathan had been away nearly a year. He came home and visited with her briefly, before going to their mother and father. He had come home to ask for their blessing, as it was customary for those who were a long time from home, for he had a mind to marry.
While visiting friends in Bristol, he had met a woman named Meagan, from a wealthy Irish family. He had already approached her family and now wished to announce it to his own.
"Father?" Jonathan stood before the fireplace facing him, and wrung his hands nervously, unsure of the reaction he was about to receive. It had only been moments since he made his announcement and his father sat silently staring into the fire.
His father raised a hand silencing him once more, and now turned to look upon him for the first time, his face veiled in quiet contemptible fury.
"I see you not in nearly a year," His voice was low as smoke from his pipe ebbed from his lips like a great dragon as he spoke. "You enter to tell me you are to be married. Should I be amused?"
"And to a Celt!" He slammed his fist on the oak chair cracking it, "Not my son!"
"Jonathan!" Willomeina gasped, "Let him speak." She pleaded.
"Quiet Woman!" He stood now eye-to-eye with his son. "Tell me again why I should not throw you from my house?"
Jonathan stood sound, staring his father in the face.
"No words? You are not the man I thought you to be."
"I am not you." He stiffened; this action of pride was worthy of a lash.
But no lash would come.
Willomeina now stood between them, "Hear him out Jonathan," She looked to her husband her cerulean eyes, misted with tears.
He stood back, the look on Willomeina’s face softening him.
"Now both of you, please, sit." She motioned to the chairs by the fire.
They both sat down not looking at one another, not speaking a word. Willomeina stood waiting for one of them to speak.
She dragged a stool between them, the effort wearing her down.
Her son looked at her; she was no longer the flower of youth he remembered. Her dark obsidian hair, which once glistened like polished glass was now dull and streaked with the signs of her age.
With the fire dancing, playing on the shadows of her rounded cheeks, he glimpsed the fine lines that now extended from her beautiful eyes. In that instance when she looked at him, he saw that of a broken spirit, how he longed to take her away from him.
'The one who took it from her?' He thought.
She took a deep breath, "Jon, your father..."
"Do not speak for me."
"I will if you are to choose haste words and actions. Jonathan, I have watched you for many years now show no interest in our son, claiming he should think for himself. Yet now when he comes to us and tells us of a decision he has made, you choose to rave." She shook her head in disgust. "And you, Jon, you come to tell us you are going to marry, and yet this is the first that even I have heard of a woman. That, I do not understand. I want to know who she is. What is her family like that they would agree to such a marriage with out first a meeting with us?"
"I" He looked to his father."
"Go on then, speak boy," He muttered.
"I've spoken with Meagan's parents. They have taken a fancy to me, Mother, they believe Meagan and I to be a good match, and they will not give their final blessing until they have met the two of you, hence my coming home."
"So you would have married her already, had they only agreed?" His father huffed. "Marry the wench then."
"Jon, your Father only means-"
"Mother I know what he means. He has no use for the Irish people; he believes them to all be heathens, and heretics. But The Kilkenny's are a good family, well established in London, and she brings with her a handsome dowry." He leaned toward his father now, "Beg you, put aside your contempt and do for me what you have never done before, trust my judgment. Father, I would never do anything to tarnish the fine name you bestowed unto me. I am my Father’s son, though I am not my Father." He sat looking at them both, unsure of how it would turn out.
The silence that fell between them all was maddening. As his mother and Father sat looking at each other, not a word exchanged, then Jon saw his father squeeze his mother's hand.
She turned to Jon. "When shall this meeting take place?"
Jon’s heart eased, the silence was broken and the decision made, they would meet Meagan's Family.
"On Thursday next. I thought that would give each of you time to meet Meagan before hand."
"When will I see this child?" His father finally spoke.
"She is here in town, out in the coach actually." Jon smiled patiently.
"Go fetch her then." He answered stifled.
Willomeina stood to go with Jon, taking him by the arm they walked down the hall to the door.
"You had her in the coach? How presumptuous of you." She smiled.
"I had faith in you, Mother." He kissed her cheek, grasping the latch of the door.
"Wait." She clasped his hand.
He stopped watching her as she smoothed out the creases in her dress, straightened out her bodice and fussed with her hair. "Mother, you're beautiful." He grinned, planting a kiss on her cheek as he opened the door.
The coachman who tended the horses turned seeing them. He hurried to the door, opened it, and helped the woman inside the coach.
Her hair reflected copper in the sun light as it toppled out from beneath her bonnet, the coachman catching it as she stepped down.
She let out a genuine laugh. "So sorry." She giggled her accent a mixture of Irish and English, yet it was velvety smooth. She wore a baby blue satin dress, the bodice trimmed in pale blush pink with tiny white flowers. She stood up looking to Jon and Willomeina.
"Hello." Her face beamed as she walked up to them. "I’m Meagan Kilkenny." She curtsied, as Jon came to her side. "Jon has spoken highly of you."
"Has he? Come in, please." Willomeina wrapped her arm around the two of them as they entered the house.
Meagan's demeanor impressed Willomeina and Jonathan; rather Jonathan was impressed by her dowry. It was not that he was a greedy man, far from it; it was that he felt a woman should bring something to a marriage. Willomeina, had come with a handsome dowry upon their marriage arrangement, and although they had hoped to marry Jonathan well, it seemed he had found himself an even match in Meagan. She was intelligent, kind and above all encouraged him in his studies. Of course it helped that the Kilkenny family was protestant, and would help solidify Jonathan during this time of Reformation.
The meeting with the Kilkenny’s went on with out a hitch and Catharine was finally allowed to meet Meagan, for when she had come to the house prior, Marian had kept Catharine in her room. The Kilkenny's were pleased with Catharine, knowing Meagan had always wanted a sister, and they thought that Catharine was perfect; Catharine however was not as thrilled.
Since the announcement of the impending wedding, Jon had been home more often, but did not concern himself with her it seemed. The mutual decision was made that the wedding would take place after Jon's education and a one-year internship in The Kilkenny Law Office in Bristol.
Two years passed; Jon finished his schooling and took the position at his soon to be Father-in-Law's firm and the preparations for the wedding were made.
With the entire goings on, Catharine was not seeing much of Jon. This made her contempt for Meagan worsen; she felt that Meagan was taking Jon away from her. Yet, her mother believed in the end, this would bring them all together some how.
Catharine was not so sure. She did hope, however that once this wedding was over her life would level off and go back to normal. That did not matter though, for this day she was to meet Jon at the tailor. He had been in Bristol for a year and had not seen her. She arrived early with Marian, it was the first time this spring she had left the confines of her family's property. Over the long winter, Catharine had grown into her features and when Jon entered the shop, he did not recognize her all at once.
The dress she wore fit her newly acquired frame, showing the change in her from boyish to the full embodiment of womanhood, he could see that she had truly inherited their fathers’ height, as he had, making her all of five ten, quite tall for a woman of the period. Her raven black hair was lustrous and full with a cascade of curls, and although pulled back by her bonnet, it illuminated her fair skin no less. In a time when the women began to powder their faces, she had not the need. Jon stood in the doorway watching her read a book oblivious to the tailor, Monsieur Vanden Meyre, who hemmed her dress.
She looked up, her hypnotic green eyes, catching his in the mirror. "Jonathan!" She threw her book to Marian and gathering her skirts, hurried down from the pedestal on which she stood.
"Mademoiselle!" Monsieur Vanden Meyre protested as she pulled from him, embracing her brother, kissing his mouth gently.
"I have missed you, sister, though I almost did not recognize you." He laughed embracing her tightly again. "Oh! I have so much wanted to see you."
"Then you should have."
Monsieur Vanden Meyre cleared his throat impatiently. "Mademoiselle Cecil? May we ever finish that dress? You’re Mother-"
"Alright" Catharine dragged the word as she huffed and went back to her place before the mirror.
"So my dear Jonathan why are you late?" She smiled.
"The coachman took a wrong turn last night putting us off schedule." He looked to his sister, "Speaking of mother, where is she? I thought she would be here with you."
"Father tore a shirt; you know how she takes pride in that."
"Like Queen Katharine, always."
Monsieur Vanden Meyre nodded his head, "A woman should care for her husband, but I fear your mother may well put me out of business... Robert! Mademoiselle Cecil is waiting." He laughed. "The boy should be out momentarily."
"Fine." Jon turned his attentions to his sister once more. "Morrigan, how have you been this last year?" He tugged at the tendrils of her hair playfully.
"Quite well actually, but I do not want to talk of me. Tell me, Brother, how is Bristol? And when may I come to visit you there?"
He sighed, "Bristol is beautiful, the busy streets and shops that go on for as far as one has mind to walk. Yet the real beauty is here, not beyond this village, why would you ever want to leave, when you have all you could ever want at your fingertips?"
"Boredom." She answered her voice defeated, her mind knowing he would never understand.
She stood looking at him reflected in the mirror. 'This can not be my brother’ she thought, as Robert came from the back of the shop.
He was a handsome man of twenty. Dark hair and dark eyes, full of mischief it seemed. His presence pleased her, straitening her posture she smiled as he came in to view.
"Mademoiselle’s garment." Presenting the layers of burgundy fabric as well as farthingale to his father, a swaggering smile on his lips as his eyes met Catharine’s.
"What do you think of Robert's work?" Jon asked her.
"Lovely." She answered, trying to appear unimpressed although an affectionate smile was beginning to waltz across her lips.
Robert returned the reflection, bringing a flush to her cheeks. "Henri should be back momentarily with the proper cording, I had not the color and he went to fetch it."
Their eyes were in their natural habitat, upon one another, the flirtation unnoticed by most, except Marian who would never speak of it, but saw it often, and Jonathan who of course was not so naive.
Their stare was broken by Henri’s entrance.
Henri was the eldest son, the one who would take over the shop when the time came. At the age of thirty-three, he was however growing impatient with their fathers’ reluctance to retire. He had plans and the favor of every woman in town, yet, Catharine mystified him, for all of his efforts to please her went unnoticed. While this would have discouraged another, it only made him want her more. He would make her understand his intentions. But it was he who did not understand, for with all of Catharine’s learning, in her naivety she did not seem to see or understand his advancements as other women did.
With her, he seemed not a doter, but rather a comical figure. She did like him, he amused her, but that was all.
"Hello Jonathan," He nodded, walking past him to Robert who stood by their father.
"Did you get it?" Robert asked.
"Actually I got something better instead of the cream ribbon which disappears within the bodice I acquired this forest green cord, it will make it more beautiful." He smiled handing it to Robert.
"You may be right, I'll get the bodice, and we will see." He looked to Catharine, "If that would please you."
Catharine nodded in compliance and Robert went to the back of the shop for the rest of the dress.
Catharine went back to her book, Marian having returned it, as Henri walked over to her.
"How are you my lady?" He smiled watching her read.
"Fine." She answered without an upward glance.
"Whenever I see you," He tilted the book; "Your nose is always behind a stack of pages." He mused.
"I enjoy it." She snapped, pulling away, "Besides, books don't talk back." She mumbled turning the page. "I'm almost done with the chapter now leave me to it."
Jon laughed shaking his head.
"Catharine! Don't be rude." Marian protested.
Catharine lifted her hand in jest, "So now I can not be honest?" Turning, she saw the defeat in Henri's face.
"I'm sorry Henri," She drew out her words condescendingly, and then regaining her composure, slipped the book on to the table beside her.
"You know I jest, don't be angry." She smiled sweetly as she finished.
With a sheepish smile, Henri tilted his head as she gently touched his face.
"Don't let her kid you, Henri, she reads in her sleep." Jon laughed, "But that's my girl." He winked at Catharine.
"Ha- Ha-." She said coldly.
Monsieur Vanden Meyre smiled, as he finished the last few stitches on the hem of her dress.
"Henri let’s you and I, go help your brother prepare the dressing room for Lady Catharine."
Henri nodded to his father, helping him to his feet; they promptly went to Robert's aid.
"You do not realize the power you have over them, it’s..." Jon huffed as he helped Catharine off the pedestal. "Dangerous."
"They both dote upon you, yet you see it not."
Catharine smiled brazenly. "Don't I?"
"You Fiend. Do you care nothing of them?"
Monsieur Vanden Meyre called to her, "My Lady, we are ready."
Catharine flashed a roguish smile as she and Marian disappeared behind the curtain.
Jon sat in a satin chair, "A world of trouble that one," He laughed to himself.
Monsieur Vanden Meyre stood beside the dressing room door holding the rest of Catharine's gown.
Taking it from his out stretched hands, she smiled.
"Why the weight?" Marian asked.
"I- we, thought Catharine would benefit from this new design." Robert answered, "It is a Vertugadin Tambour, err... Tambourine Farthingale, it is less bulky, and covered by these beautiful flounces, t will give a lovely shape and be more comfortable with the stay. "
Catharine took the dress and went to work putting it on before Marian could protest further.
Monsieur Vanden Meyre wrung his hands nervously.
Moments later she came out, Monsieur Vanden Meyre let out a contented sigh.
"Beautiful." He laughed clasping his hands with joy. "Come let's see if your brother approves."
The three men were still in the front, laughing and talking of old times. They fell silent as she came out to them.
"Father." Henri broke the silence. "You've out done yourself."
"You look beautiful, sister, very grownup." he walked to her, "But." he turned her around and began to pull the pins from her hair.
"Jon? What are you doing?" She laughed, as he tossed the pins to Robert who was trying frantically to catch them, her hair falling down around Jon’s hands. "I think you should wear it down like this."
He pulled the sides of her hair back braiding it straight down, leaving the rest of her hair free, the curls intact, and falling at her waist. Tying the ends of her braid with a bit of fabric, he turned her to himself, smiling, now satisfied with what he saw, he stepped aside so all could see.
She blushed as they all nodded and said things of approval, the white of her chest growing pink, casting the shade over her now impish smile.
"You look stunning." Robert whispered. "But Father, isn't something missing?"
"Yes the overskirt, I have it here." Monsieur Vanden Meyre handed it to Robert.
It was a deep red like mulled wine, split in the front to show the layers of black silk that made up the bulk of the dresses vast width a stark and beautiful contrast to the crème stay which held her firm breasts down against her thin frame.
Robert secured it around her, breathing in the smell of her hair.
'Roses?’ he thought. He breathed again; 'yes' he pushed the hair from her back, his warm hands grazing her bare shoulder blades as he placed her hair over her shoulder. His touch sent a shiver through her body, causing her to stiffen a little; no one noticed as they talked amongst themselves, though Robert felt it.
"Excuse me," he whispered softly, his breath warm against her ear, sending another quiet tremor through her as he smoothed the dress.
"There, now it's complete." He faced her pushing her hair back beyond her shoulders.
"Perfect." Catharine smiled as he fussed with her hair.
For him this was gratifying, to be so near to her, to touch her softly scented skin, it was his job, to fuss over her and no one could protest to his attentions. These moments were why he stayed, he had been given the opportunity to sail abroad, to learn the merchant routs, but he did not want to leave her.
"I think Meagan has competition." Jonathan smiled kissing her cheek. "You look radiant."
Robert busied himself now with the fabric of the overlay, smoothing it out over her hips. She smiled, as he crouched down in front of her.
"Thank you, its beautiful Robert."
"It was our pleasure." He kissed her hand softly, then the shop door opened and Willomeina, Catharine's mother entered. Seeing this gesture caused a disdainful look to cross her face.
"Mother." She pulled her hand from Robert, who stood quickly. "I thought you weren't coming."
"Seems I've arrived just in time," She shot Robert a sideways glance. Then her features softened, as she finally looked at Catharine, "You look lovely, Catharine Morrigan." She always called her that now. "It was after all, her name." She would answer when asked.
For her daughter was not her lost Catharine. She was someone…something… different and did not act at all like her namesake. By fifteen, her lost child was going to be married, but that child was gone. This child did not seem to have any interest in those things, so she thought. Then what was this she had witnessed a moment ago?
She let it pass. For now.
"Thank you Mother." Catharine answered obediently.
Willomeina nodded, "Go change, we have much to do." She turned to her son. "Jonathan," she hugged him tightly, as Marian took Catharine to change.
Looking at him, her face was solemn. "Your father wants to see you so," She ran her fingers through his well-trimmed hair and down his shaven face. "Married... My little boy." She spoke, though not to him, it seemed more so to her self. Convincing her self-maybe, as she looked in the mirror.
"By weeks end, if the rains stay." He answered looking to the mirror as well.
"Am I so old?" She whispered.
"You’re Beautiful." He kissed her cheek.
There was no one to witness this tender moment between Mother and son. Robert attended a man who came in behind Willomeina. Monsieur Vanden Meyre and Henri waited for the pieces of the dress from Catharine as they came over or through the door.
"Married." She laughed quietly.
"Yes, now we need to get Morrigan a gentleman." He smiled as she picked lint off his lapel.
She frowned. "I do not think she'll ever marry.
"She will." He looked to Robert.
Seeing the disapproving frown on her face when Robert returned unsettled him, "Mother?" He whispered, uncomfortable.
"I don't like the way that one looks at Catharine Morrigan." She whispered back.
Before Jonathan could question further, Catharine appeared, back in her usual overly restrictive dress, her hair pulled back beneath the bonnet once more.
"This is not the time nor the place." Willomeina whispered. "Come now, Marian, you'll procure the packages and have settled with the Vanden Meyre’s?"
"Yes Madame, right away."
S.I.Hayes is the Co-Author to Awakenings: The Wrath Saga, a Paranormal drama likened to Big Brother meets The Real World, of the Preternatural.
She is currently working on the third novel in her In Dreams... Series, Due for release in 2014.
In her own words... I have a mind that is easily distracted and prone to wandering. Tangents are my forte, and if you think my characters are going to fit a cookie cutter shape of any kind, think again. They live, they love, they eat, sleep and f***. I believe that people are inherently sexual creatures and my characters be they human or something all together else are no exception.
I don't adhere to a single genera, I toe the line on several and wouldn't presume to be a master of any. So I suppose you could call me jack-of-all-trade-paperbacks.
I am a truth seeker, in my life, in my work. I’d apologize for it, but I kinda can't help m’self. It's my best and worse personality trait, well mostly, being Bi-Polar I guess you could say that is the worse. But I believe that the disorder have made me, well... Me.
I have taken this life and twisted, carved, shaped and molded it in to the worlds of my characters. Albeit with a chainsaw, and it has made all the difference.