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New Release: Tears in Time – Christian Baines

Tears in Time - Christian Baines

QSFer Christian Baines has a new MM paranormal fantasy out: Tears in Time.

Moments have passed for Reylan since he crossed the barrier between worlds to rescue his werewolf lover, Jorgas. But on their return, nothing feels right. Faithful allies have vanished, and places that once offered solace are now derelict, filled with shadows and inhabited by evil.

How can Reylan find his friends, and who can be trusted once they’re found?

The world Reylan and Jorgas returned to has destroyed the one they left behind. In this new reality, someone is playing a deadly game with time, and their fates are its prize.

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Excerpt

Michel Beauvrie had learned early in life how to satisfy both a greedy landlord and a rapidly emerging appetite for human blood. With mesmerising beauty and supernatural guile, he’d walked the docks of eighteenth-century Marseille, inviting sailors with coin and well-to-do widows alike into his bed. Such prostitution has seen many of us Blood Shades through lean times. Such are the blessings of unageing flesh.

Nature, however, had rubbed a fly into Beauvrie’s supernatural ointment. He’d been gifted immortality, but not agelessness. As the renowned allure of his twenty-something body gave way to thirty, then forty, his feeding became less transactional and more predatory. Tales of the beautiful youth with strong yet delicate hands that would attend a seafarer or sea-widow’s every desire faded from the port. In their place emerged tales of a curse on the docks, disappearing those who might once have sought decadence in Beauvrie’s bed. The mortals conjured several explanations for these vanishings, from divine punishment to a secretive drinking game with unimagined riches for the winner and dire consequences for the loser.

Some forty years passed before one witness, albeit after a night’s drinking that put his tale under heavy scrutiny, claimed to have seen a corpse-like visage bent over a woman’s throat, blood dripping on the cobblestones as sure as the contents of the witness’ bladder as he stood there, aghast at the yellow-grey skin, stretched like parchment over sharp, angular bones. When Beauvrie looked up at him, bloody fangs bared, hissing with naked rage and barely sated hunger, the drunkard fled, barely making it back to the tavern where, pants soaked with piss, he had attempted in broken French to tell of what he’d seen. He’d been laughed out, despite recounting the particularly unnerving detail that the monster’s face had been that of a young man, smooth and alluring as Beauvrie had ever been, framed in stitches. In the middle of this unbroken visage of youth, sunken, dark eyes as dead as the rest of the creature’s body had fixed on him.

The drunkard had been found two days later, hanging by his wrists from a gangway, partly flayed and eviscerated from neck to groin, his remaining skin pierced with fishhooks. Attempts to find the perpetrator yielded nothing, even after several weeks.

One story claimed Beauvrie had fled to Scotland to live among the Kelpies, seducing and dragging wayward hikers to a bloody, watery end. Besides the improbability that a ravenous Blood Shade could pass among such secretive members of the House of Magick, this optimistic interpretation had failed to account for one insurmountable factor. Once venerated for his beauty, now trapped in a rapidly decaying corpse that would not die, Beauvrie had gone quite insane.

Among humans, the once golden boy of Marseille had become the nightmarish antagonist of tavern gossip. But for all its posturing as a self-appointed ruling authority over Blood Shades, the House of Blood took such a liability more seriously. With the Scotland theory debunked, they cast their net across Europe and captured Beauvrie within the year. His sentencing coincided with a short-lived idea that instead of final execution, offenders should instead be offered a chance at redemption, as far from home as possible. This was, after all, what the mortals of the time were doing.

They transported Beauvrie in a sealed coffin with a stake through his blackened heart. This had proved necessary after the first such transport had ended in a slaughter that years later worked its way through rumour to the pen of one drunken yet industriously creative Irishman. Such a mistake was not made twice. Beauvrie’s immediate fate upon reaching Australia can only be guessed at, beyond the fate of the poor mortal fool who removed the stake. Beauvrie soon vanished into myth, until a bloody slaughter at a cattle station in south-east Queensland, along with tales of a pale, corpselike figure with sharp fangs and wispy white blond hair, had left little doubt of his survival.

Had the station’s owners not been implicated in acts of murder, rape, and kidnapping against the local Aboriginal nation, this crime might have been punished more severely. But the House, whether for appearances, or as a political manoeuvre to smooth relations with the New World’s immortals, had by this time condemned the colonial treatment of indigenous peoples. This change in policy earned Beauvrie another reprieve in the form of further banishment, this time from all inhabited dry land.

“You mean he couldn’t set foot on land at all?” Giorgios asked me, eyes wide with wonder as the tiny Blood Shade sat upright in bed, his prematurely changed body quivering. “That he was to swim in the ocean forever?”

“Was to swim?” I asked, giving the childlike immortal a wicked fanged grin in the dark. “Dear child, he plagues the waters still. Some say he circles the Australian coast, picking off surfers and divers while the riptides take the blame.”

Giorgios shook his head, a stubborn frown frozen on his little face as he threw back the blankets and got out of bed. “It sounds perfectly horrid. Why doesn’t he go into the sun? I wouldn’t want to live like that.”

I’d not expected sympathy for Beauvrie’s plight to be his takeaway from my story. But then, the Premature, though he’d come into this existence as a tender preteen, was at least as old as I. Such a mind was nothing if not agile with empathy and nuance.

“Where are you going?” I asked, following him up the torchlit hallway, where the polished wood floor gave way to bare sandstone. I couldn’t remember coming this way. Come to that, I wasn’t at all sure where we were.

“I’m thirsty.” He led me around the corner without another word.

“You’ve just fed.” An immortal trapped in the body of a child, a Premature’s appetite was as unpredictable as their deliverance into nocturnal life. “Did I mention Michel Beauvrie’s favourite delicacy is little boys who don’t stick to their bedtime?”


Author Bio

Christian Baines is an awkward nerd turned slightly less awkward author. Raised on dark humour and powered by New Zealand wine, he is the author of six novels including gay paranormal series The Arcadia Trust, Puppet Boy, Skin, and My Cat’s Guide to Online Dating. Born in Australia, he now travels the world whenever possible, living and writing in Toronto, Canada between trips.

Author Websitewww.christianbaines.com
Author Facebookwww.facebook.com/christianbainesauthor
Author Twitterwww.x.com/xtianbaines

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