Thursday, October 26, 2006

Excerpt ATONEMENT by Sherrill Quinn

What's a vampire to do when he's visited by the Prince of Lies himself and offered a way to attain redemption of his soul? Simon Trelawney is told that he must save the life of an innocent from Jack the Ripper, the vampire who made him over a hundred years ago. Tessa Long, Jack's intended victim, is the great-granddaughter of the woman who Jack originally had wanted to kill. With the fiendish killer after them, Simon and Tessa fight to live and love, and realize that they are each other's salvation. And Jack is only one of their worries.

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"I'm telling you, Trelawney, people think that Hell is an infinite expanse, and it's not. There's a limited amount of space for a limited number of people." The speaker strode around the small room, his long, auburn hair streaming behind him. He stopped and stared at Simon. "Do you know how many people we get every day? Have you any idea?"

Simon Trelawney shrugged and leaned against the fireplace mantle. He'd been at a loss for words from the moment his visitor had appeared, quite literally, out of thin air.

When he'd found out who his unexpected guest was, well…

He'd known his soul was damned, but it was unsettling, even for a vampire, to have a tête-à-tête with the Devil himself.

"Well, I'll tell you," the fallen angel went on. "Thousands. And a vampire takes up more space than a mere mortal. We're running out of room. That's why I have a proposition for you. One that may keep your soul out of my realm and open up more space for lost mortals. Interested?"

He watched Simon closely, dark blue eyes sparkling with--what? Duplicity? Annoyance? It was hard to tell. After all, he was the ultimate trickster.

"How is that possible?" Simon straightened from his slouched position against the fireplace and propped one fist on his hip. "My soul was condemned when I became one of the undead. What can you possibly do for me that God cannot?" He hardly dared to hope that what Lucifer offered was legitimate. But, to redeem his soul…!

"Ah, but is it that God cannot? Or that He will not?" the Deceiver asked in a silk-laden voice. "Is there any soul beyond His redemptive power?"

He glided forward and touched his hand to Simon's shoulder. "Let me explain my plan, then you can decide if you would like to take advantage of this opportunity for atonement."

Simon backed up a few steps. Crossing his arms over his chest, he gave a brief nod, careful not to cause offense. This was his first dealing with the Prince of Darkness, but he'd heard from others of his kind what Lucifer did to those who crossed him. "Fine," Simon murmured. "Tell me your proposition."

The other being offered a beguiling, crafty smile. "It's really quite simple. Your very nature is that of a killer, a beast of prey. My proposition is this. You protect one innocent from her untimely death and your condemnation will be reversed. Your place in Heaven will be assured." He stopped, waiting for Simon's response.

"You've got to be kidding," Simon scoffed, the stirrings of anger overriding his curiosity and cautious hope. "You must think I'm a fool to believe it would be that easy."

Eyebrows rose over glittering blue eyes. "Oh, I didn't say it would be easy. Simple, yes. Easy? On the contrary. For you must face your oldest, most brutish nemesis in order to win the prize."

"You can't mean… Jack."

"Yes, Jack. You must prevent him from taking another life."

Simon sat abruptly in the chair behind him, his entire body shaking with anger, hatred, and fear. Yes, fear. For this enemy who preyed on females was the monster who'd killed his mother, the last of his Whitechapel victims, nearly a hundred and twenty years before.

But he'd not been content with devastating Simon's life before he was a year old. No, the fiend had hunted him down and irrevocably taken his life away on his thirtieth birthday, turning him into the same damnable creature as he. "Who's his next victim?"

"You have obviously mistaken me for the Other Guy, Trelawney. I'm not omniscient."

Simon sighed, losing patience with the double talk, Devil or no. "Believe me, I don't think you're God. Sorry if that offends you. But you can find Jack, and you would know his thoughts. Why can't you find out the identity of who he's stalking by just tapping into his mind?"

"Did I say this was going to be easy for you? No, I believe we've already covered that." Sarcasm dripped from each evenly spaced word. "If you want redemption, you're going to have to work for it. I will help… pave the way once you've discovered her identity, but the discovery itself is up to you. That's my deal."

Simon pursed his lips, realizing there was a very clear "take it or leave it" hanging there, unspoken. Dare he trust Lucifer, the Father of Lies?

Dare he not?

But to do so, he would have to face down his most hated adversary, the most infamous murderer of the nineteenth century.

Jack the Ripper.

Copyright ©2006 Sherrill Quinn. All Rights Reserved.

Atonement - available now at New Concepts Publishing!

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What reviewers have said about Atonement:

"Atonement points out that there is often little difference between the good guys and the bad. Ms. Quinn writes a fast paced story of love and Atonement, with a hero to cheer for and a heroine worthy of him." (Tara, MyShelf.com)
4 Angels! "Atonement is a quick read that offers characters you will immediately be drawn to, some of which you will love and some you will be rooting against. Tessa is a strong-willed woman that finds herself attracted to a vampire. Simon is a vampire but has a heart full of compassion, driven to protect Tessa. The additional characters of the Prince of Darkness and Jack the Ripper add depth, suspense, and intrigue to the plot. With an action-packed plot and tantalizing chemistry, readers cannot go wrong with this story. Sherrill Quinn has done an outstanding job creating an imaginative story and earned herself a new fan." (Jessica, Fallen Angel Reviews)

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Sherrill Quinn
Follow your passion to the edge... and beyond
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