So you can read my books

Monday, May 24, 2010


And now I sail on lonely seas,
Where once the waves bore two;
And now I hunt,
But I hunt alone,
My hand empty, needing you;
Your name's a whispered blight,
The mocking winds reply
In speechless cries of night.
- Samuel McCord

There are few love stories out there. For me, at least.

Lust stories, yes. Lots of those. But love? Love that is a candle in the darkness? A haunting will-O-Wisp that lights the way even when she you loved is no more? I seldom see that kind of book.

You don't know what love is until you've learned the meaning of regret. You don't know what love is until you had to lose. You don't know how lips hurt until you've kissed and had to pay the cost.

Several of my friends have emailed me asking to see Samuel and Meilori together in a love scene. Their love is one that cannot win yet never dies. Here is a moment from RITES OF PASSAGE, set in 1853 when speech patterns were more formal, where time and tide seem to conspire to destroy the two of them :



"Can you see any hope for us, my Samuel. I cannot."

- Lady Meilori Shinseen.

The cyclop eye of the moon peered down at us from the face of the stars. We had decided to look at the endless ripples of the ocean and stand on the deck where we first met. The strong breeze tasted of salt and storm. I watched it tug at Meilori's hair. She looked up into the velvet darkness and let out a sigh.

"Has it just been forty-seven hours since first we met, Samuel? I feel as if I see the world anew. How can so much have changed in so little time?"

My chest grew tight. I couldn't believe it. She was keeping count of the hours since we'd first met.

Just like me.

I wrapped my arm around her slim waist, fearing she would pull away. But instead, she leaned in against me. I felt a weight lift off my chest.

"A life can turn all about in just a pull of a trigger. Like when Father killed Mother ... or when I killed him."

She pressed gloved fingertips against my lips. "No talk of sorrow. Not tonight. This night is magic. Can you not feel it?"

I smiled. "You are magic, Meilori."

She shook her head. "We are magic."

She pointed and hushed, "Samuel, look!"

Off to our left, not ten feet away, three dolphins leapt high in the air, coming down along side us. They kept easy pace with us, repeating their graceful leaps. It seemed they were calling out to Meilori in their haunting cries.

I stiffened as she called back to them in the same strange, piping sounds. They answered in a longer squeal of cries. She turned to me, her eyes reflecting the glow of the moon.

"They say never have they seen a light as that which burns from you, Samuel."

She lightly kissed my lips, but pulled away before I could return the favor. “Last night, in my darkness, it was your light that brought me back.”

“Same here.”



She nestled her head next to mine. “The mystery of love is greater than the mystery of life -- or death. And to that hope will I cling.”

A more mellow, yet more strident, at the same time, cry came from the black ocean. We both looked towards the source of the eerie piping. A larger dolphin cut through the dark waves as if in a race for its life.

She leapt in front of the three other dolphin. She appeared mad or scared, or a little of both. Meilori grabbed my right upper arm.

“Samuel! She is warning that death and worse than death is on this ship.”

Her face seemed to grow longer. “It is the Ancient One. I have only seen her but once before.”

“When was that?”

Meilori shivered. “When the White Dragon, Yamashiro, transformed into the terrible Bird of Death, O-Goncho. He, whose cry is the howling of a wolf.”

The three younger dolphins mewed oddly, then dived headway into the rippling surface of the heaving sea. I waited for them to come back up. They never did.

The Ancient One gave one last cry of what sounded both warning and defiance, then slid under the black waters herself, not to be seen again.

Meilori shivered again, and I led her to a row of deck chairs facing a large wooden table screwed to the deck. She sat down as if her legs wouldn’t hold her for another minute. I sat back down beside her.

Squeezing her hand, I said, “Was she talking about The Gray Man?”

Meilori shook her head slowly. “Perhaps. His is the greatest power on board supposedly.”


She took my gloved right hand in both of hers. “Oh, Samuel, the world of what Man calls the Supernatural is not the unified, coherent thing he supposes.”

She stared off into the cold night. “We dissemble, we plot, we stage diversions. But we know little of the races who war against us and one another. Quetzalcoatl and Kali are strong -- and devious. Them you know.”

“Not Kali.”

“You killed her nymphs.”

“My body did. As it kills anything that comes upon it unawares while I am asleep.”

She peered into my eyes. “How have you gone on all these years?”

I sighed. “There were always innocents naked before wolves. Without me, they would have been eaten.”

She patted the back of my right hand. “It sounds a lonely life.”

“It is -- was.”

She smiled sad. “For me as well.”

I looked deep into her eyes. “Do you know who killed Rachel?”

She stiffened and pulled away from me. “Inari says if you insist on following this hunt of yours to its conclusion, it will destroy you.”

She leaned forward, holding my hands in hers. “Oh, Samuel, forget this obsession of yours.”

“Right now, I have a lot of helpless passengers to worry about. They’re still alive. So for the moment, I’ve put Rachel’s murderer on the back burner. Me finding him -- or her -- won’t bring Rachel back. But me being side-tracked by hunting for a murderer could mean other helpless women and children dying.”

I felt my face tighten. “And I won’t be responsible for that.”

I turned to her. “Lady Inari. How did you hook up with her?”

Her eyes seemed to become deeper, less easy to read. “As you have said about Elu, it is not completely my story to tell. If she is willing, I will one day tell you.”

She shivered again, rising silent and somber. “The magic has gone from the night. I will retire to my suite.”

I turned to follow, but she put a hand on my chest and murmured, “Alone. There is much I must reflect upon.”

She looked out over the angry, black ocean, then turned back to me. “Can you see any hope for us, my Samuel? I cannot.”

I reached out for her, but she drew back, and it felt like she stabbed me.

I said soft,“I never learned to quit, Meilori. And I refuse to give up on you -- or us.”

She smiled with trembling lips. “Then, perhaps, there is hope for us yet.”

But the look in her eyes put the lie to her words. I watched her walk gracefully into the shadows. I felt my face go even tighter.

Not that I wasn’t a gentleman, but I figured I knew for sure that the revenants, (and who knew what else was lurking in the darkness of this ship), weren’t gentlemen or fair fighters. Keeping a respectful distance, I followed Meilori to make sure she made it to her suite in one piece.

Her jasmine perfume stirred uncomfortable desires inside me, but I pushed them back into the corner of my being. I was here for her, not me. I shadowed her as quiet and cat-footed as I could.

She slowed about ten feet down the deck, then stopped completely, her head down. She stood that way for long moments. If I still breathed, I would have been holding my breath. She sighed, as if coming to a decision, and turned to the walkway she had just passed. I hugged the shadows next to the wall.

Giving her time to put some distance between us, I slipped down the walkway. It lead to a set of stairs leading down to the main deck where the best suites were. I smiled. Leave it to Meilori to have the best. She deserved it.

I caught a whiff of her jasmine perfume. I crept faster after the scent, listening for her gentle footfalls. They were slowing. I gnawed my lower lip.

Trailing her wasn’t turning out to be easy. But if her slower steps indicated a preoccupied mind, I might have an edge. My stomach coiled.

But then, that edge would also belong to a would-be murderer. I hurried after the scent of jasmine a bit faster. Odd. The passageway seemed awful familiar. As I turned the corner, I stopped.

Meilori, a frown on her full lips, was waiting, arms crossed, right toe tapping, in front of my stateroom door. I swallowed with difficulty. This could get ugly. I forced my voice to work.

“I can explain, Meilori.”

“Indeed? I am waiting with bated breath.”

“You looked so upset. And I was worried for your safety. I was just going to shadow you to make sure you made it to your cabin safe.”

Her eyes glittered dangerously. “And the waves of passion I smelled coming from you?”

I tugged at my collar. “If I could think of a good lie, Meilori, I’d tell it to you. But --”


“Your nose was dead on. Damn it, Meilori. It’s just hard to love you as I do and be so close to you, yet forced to stay away. It near tears me apart.”

She sucked in her upper lip over her teeth as if fighting some strong emotion, then she lost the fight. She laughed light like a little girl. I cocked my head.

“Y-You aren’t mad?”

She walked slowly over to me. “As soon as I sensed you behind me, I knew what you were doing, Samuel. And it came to me, then.”


“That what you feared happening to me might come to you as well. And I was a fool to waste this night.”

She kissed me wild, fierce, her lips parted, her tongue running lightly over mine. “And sometimes, magic can be reborn.”

Her eyes became wider, deeper, as she husked, “Especially, if we work at it together. Are you willing?”

I had a flash of my cabin key on the bedstand. I smiled sheepishly at her. She frowned.

I rubbed a gloved hand over my burning face. “Ah, first, I’ve got to pick the lock.”

Samuel can't seem to catch a break, can he? Here is a beautiful NIGHTWISH song, "Angels Fall First."


  1. Doh! Bummer for Sam. He should just go all John Wayne and kick the door down. =D Yes!

  2. Oh my, I feel I an evesdropper, trespassing on sacred moments. How hauntingly you write, this was a pure delight to read, and I am fascinated to learn more of the bigger picture surrounding it. Thank you for sharing a snippet of your work, it's beautiful.

  3. Very beautiful, makes me wish to be young again!

  4. Very nice. I tend to write my romance a little more ragged... not quite hitting it, so people are off balance. I like the star crossed thing in fantasy stuff though.

    I have left you an award at my blog today...

  5. Why is it that it takes a jaded old bastard to write such moving words? Just kidding man, great scene!

  6. "You don't know what love is until you've learned the meaning of regret. You don't know what love is until you had to lose. You don't know how lips hurt until you've kissed and had to pay the cost."

    You don't know what love is until you have to walk away.

  7. Ohh, Roland, you've tapped into the heart. What a fabulous scene. I echo Piedmont Writer's quote above...magnificent!

  8. 'to dream, the impossible dream...'

    we lose, yet pick ourselves up and try again...

  9. Beautiful writing. Your voice captures the past yet it's updated for today's reader. It's haunting and moving too. Good show.