There’s a scene in my August Harlequin Intrigue, MORE THAN A MAN, where Noah Fielding wakes up weak and confused. He’s survived a near-death experience, but he doesn’t know where he is–or what time period he’s in. I don’t have room in the book to go into his thoughts in depth. But I’ve written them here, from his POV in first person present tense.
Captivity. Again. But where and when?
Disjointed thoughts swirl through my head, and I can capture none of them. I hear a woman crying. Who is she? Does she weep for me? I try to grab a memory, but it slips away, and I want to scream in frustration. But I cannot speak. Cannot move. Cannot even open my eyes. And my body is on fire.
I fight the agonizing pain in every cell of my body, praying for death. But death eludes me–again.
Where am I? Do the Franciscans have me in the cellars below the abbey, confined because they think I’m in league with the devil? No, that can’t be true. I escaped from the monks long ago.
Has the Doge of Venice arrested me for shipping treasures out of his city-state? But didn’t I bribe my way out of his prison?
Am I in the clutches of the Nazis–because they think I’m spying for the Allied forces? No, I remember escaping from their transport van in a hail of bullets. They left me for dead by the side of the road.
I lie in the dark, trying to clear my head as jumbled images dance like scenes from a nightmare behind my closed lids. So many centuries. So many lives. And always I must hide my identity. I was born in a small village in England. Centuries ago. But I am always apart, separated by my long life and the need to hide my true identity. That was easier centuries ago. I could pretend to die and disappear into the mist. Today computers keep track of everything.
Computers. Ah. Finally I have a reference point. This must be late in the 20th century–or the 21st.
A woman’s cries bring another stab of pain. I have longed for love, yet over the lonely centuries each woman in my life has left me. Some have run from me in horror when they learned my secret. Some have tried to kill me in their anger when they learned my secret. But the worst is when they grow old and die, while I stay the same. Always the same. Year after year. I look like a man in my early thirties with a full head of hair, a vigorous body and a sharp mind. Yet I am centuries old.
Finally, I know where I am and that Olivia, the woman I love, is with me.
My throat constricts as I think of the anguish I have brought her. My eyes flutter open, and I try to speak. But my throat is still too raw.
Oh Lord, Olivia. I didn’t have the courage to tell you my secret for fear you would leave me. You think I’ve sacrificed myself for you. But now I’m coming back to life before your eyes. I see the joy on your face. The wonder. But also the shock and the knowledge of my betrayal. I couldn’t tell you the truth about myself, and now you’ve found out in the most horrible way imaginable.
Fear claws at me. A monster of a man named Jarred Bainbridge holds us both captive. Can I save you from him–or is it already too late?
So would you like to live forever? What are the disadvantages, do you think?