Michael paused from his efforts to unwrap the bundle. "Yes. Rare traits in anyone," he said thoughtfully. As though peeling off the concentric leaves of an onion bulb made of delicate crystal, Michael carefully removed the layered batting and packing paper from around the object. From the center of the folded back peels of tissue and padding, he removed a beautiful antique clock. Hand painted roman numerals adorned the clock face. The case was made of glass panels on the top and sides supported by brass struts in the corners. The thick glass panels had a greenish tint, but were perfectly clear. The mechanical workings of the clock were visible behind the glass. Michael wound the clock. A tiny three-ball regulator began to spin behind one of the glass panels.
"Wow, what a lovely clock." Trudy looked closer, admiring the antique. "Just look at the workmanship." Michael tenderly placed the clock on a shelf attached to one of the living room walls as a sort of short mantel. "Yes," he said. "It plays a little music at midnight too." He advanced the clock's hands to demonstrate. The clock began to play an exquisite musical phrase. "It's from the nineteenth century," Michael explained. "The music is from a waltz by Chopin."
"It's really beautiful. I've never heard that tune before." "Some old friends of mine run an antique shop in Sausalito. They knew I would be interested in it once I heard it play, so they put it aside for me a few weeks ago." Trudy watched Michael's face as he continued listening to the little clock play its music. He was smiling, but she noticed there was also a hint of melancholy in his expression. His eyes focused off in the distance as though he was gazing down a tunnel stretching far into the past. The music finished playing, and Michael returned to the present.
"Sorry," he said, self-consciously, "that tune takes me back to another time."
"I completely understand. There are certain songs that remind of a place, or a season, or a special moment in my life too."
She had come into his life like a whirlwind--a beauty that reminded him somewhat of a woman he had loved so many years ago. It had been so long since... he'd been married...
Michael awoke, having another dream of his past life, a dream that reminded him once again just how long he had lived...He could still feel the sword as he plunged it in to his enemy...
This man would have easily lived for at least another two decades had he not been so unlucky as to have encountered me in battle, Michael thought. Michael took a deep breath as he prepared to draw the life force out of the man and into himself. He tightened his grasp on the man's neck and pressed the man harder against the tree to reduce the possibility of any potential commotion. Then he began. He felt the life energy transfer into him like a yellowish-blue light, rejuvenating him, strengthening him. The man's time line continued to shrink end-wise approaching the present as though watching liquid drain through a bottom spigot in a clear glass cistern. Sensing something terribly wrong was happening to him, the man reacted violently by flailing about as best he could. However, escape was impossible...
Centuries had gone by. Michael was able to adjust to keep him looking around the right age in any given time or place. He was now a nurse at a hospital and had been able to help many terminal patients. An older lady for whom he had cared and gotten to know had just died. He normally needed time to adjust to what she'd asked him to do...and move on... He had made it home, but some letter had been placed under his door and he caught and slid and fell. Thinking it was from a building manager, he got up and went on to fall into bed after a very long day...
But the envelope revealed a different type of note: "I know your secret. I will contact you again. Show this to no one." Shit, Michael had thought, can't anyone around here write a decent haiku?"
For somebody who had lived as long as he had...and had to be constantly on guard, finding the typed letter was more an annoyance than concern, even taking the time to dwell on its being a very poor haiku... I found myself chuckling at this as the writer throws in comments that the reader can smile and enjoy throughout the book...
Especially when Trudy came into his life... A figure had been watching him and possibly even stalking him--maybe a hunchback or bent over man... Actually, Trudy was indeed following him, had textbooks in her backpack and finally had the opportunity to introduce herself as a history student...loving history was why she had begun working on her thesis...and the books were part of that burden.
Except she had noticed something...there were pictures of men in various wars that appeared to be Michael. Actually though, she had been very hungry and had fainted...and Michael had rescued her and took her to his apartment. Well, readers will enjoy how the two manage to get together through the rest of the book... An enjoyable romp that ensures readers get the opportunity to learn more about Michael's earlier lives and how he became immortal...
It's definitely a strange, but wonderful romance...But the more thrilling part was that letter and the fact that a killer was roaming through the halls of the hospital, somehow killing them by creating an embolism in their brains... Obviously, suspicion soon included medical staff, and Michael was one of those who had also caught attention because of his patients dying... Of course, the police recognized that he was assigned to terminally ill patients, but...still...
I enjoyed all of the characters that were uniquely drawn by author Rod Rhimes. Among my favorites are Trudy and the police inspector. The description for the hair of one of the villains is a fun caricature of a balding man, while the goddess of the river and her horse brings a touch of fantasy that is positively brilliant.
This is Rhimes' first book...and could possibly be leading to a series. If not, this first novel is well worth your time. The premise is exciting, including a bit of intrigue about there being more than one kind of immortal! Fascinating! And highly recommended!
Great news! "Taking Life" was awarded Indie Book of the Day! I am humbled by the honor.
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