Love and hate. Good and evil. Life and death. The universe requires balance, whatever the cost. An ancient vampire rises, time after time, threatening the survival of the human race. An ancient warrior is reborn, again and again, with the singular purpose of halting the vampire's bloody rampage. With each encounter throughout time, their passions burn and their emotions deepen. The vampire shares his body and the warrior shares his blood. When they are no longer able to cause one another harm, the lovers hesitate to fulfill their destinies. Will the ancient warrior sacrifice the whole of the human race, in exchange for eternity in the arms of the vampire he loves?
Nights in Canaan by Kendall McKenna
Reaching over his own shoulder, Jesse silently unsheathed the powerful sword at his back. With his free hand, he pushed aside the cloth covering the dwelling's doorway. Jesse burst into the small room, knowing he held the strategic advantage of surprise.
The sight that greeted him froze Jesse in his steps. A beautiful young man lay sprawled on the dirt floor, his thin clothing askew. His skin was dark and smooth, his shoulders broad, hips narrow. An equally gorgeous man lifted his face from the neck of the first. He tilted his head back, a look of ecstasy on his features. Dark blood covered his mouth, running down his lightly bearded chin. He smiled, baring a set of wicked fangs.
Jesse gasped when the man ran his tongue over his full, bloody lips and slowly opened his eyes. The pale blue irises shone bright in the darkness, confirming this was no blood-drinking minion, this was evil in the flesh.
"Saul." Jesse's rough whisper was loud in the quiet of the room.
"Hello again, Jesse," the vampire greeted languidly.
Jesse lifted a hand that felt almost too heavy, and removed the cloth that obscured his face. Saul knew very well what Jesse was and how he looked.
"You were in Yerushalayim." Jesse accused. The fingers that clutched the hilt of his sword were numb.
"And now I am in Gina." Saul's elegant, long fingered hands caressed the smooth skin of the young man in his lap. He lifted the nearly lifeless body in his arms so that he could nuzzle the young man's throat while holding Jesse's gaze.
Jesse ached with the memory of those hands gliding over his own body. He swallowed hard, the human heart in his chest racing uncontrollably. "Set the boy aside, Saul," Jesse ordered.
"Wouldn't you rather join us?" Saul punctuated his question by dragging the flat of his tongue over the wound in the boy's throat. "He's going to be beautiful when he turns. A lovely angel of death. Can you picture it?"
"No!" Jesse tightened his grip on his sword. His wings burst into visibility as he unfurled them as much as the confined space would allow. "You will not turn him. Let the boy alone!"
Saul's suggestive smile displayed his fangs and Jesse remembered the feel of them on his own flesh, pressed to the back of his neck, nipping sharply at his hip.
"I've drained him, Jesse," Saul replied, just above a whisper. "If I don't turn him, he'll die."
"And if you turn him, he will die, along with all your minions, when I kill you." Jesse lifted his sword higher, fanning the tips of his wings.
Saul's smile faded. He let the boy fall from his arms as he slowly rose to his feet. "After Yerushalayim, I thought perhaps this time you would finally join me."
Jesse's face flushed as memories assailed him. He could almost taste Saul's skin on his tongue, feel the coarseness of Saul's sparse beard along his throat. "After Babylon, I thought you had grown wise enough not to return."
Saul's expression grew hard and angry. "Why do you protect them? They are not worthy of your attention. Do you not realize what we could be if you joined me, and I turned them all?"
Of course Jesse realized. He had known for millennia. No matter his desire for Saul, or whoever he was or will be, Jesse was reborn each time for a sole purpose. That purpose was to ensure the humans did not become an army of blood drinkers while their race was mere children.
"You are defeated, Saul. I will always defeat you," Jesse said angrily, taking a step closer. "Why put us both through it?"
"Why do you put us through it?" Saul demanded, stepping over the now dead body of the young man and reaching for Jesse.
Their lips met and Jesse tasted sweet blood and bitter ashes. He fisted his free hand in Saul's bisht, opening to Saul's aggressive tongue. How he hated being the immovable object to Saul's irresistible force.
Saul broke the kiss abruptly. He slowly backed toward a cloth draped window, watching Jesse with a thunderous expression. "There is no Hittite army at your back to drive us from Canaan."
Righteous anger flared hot in Jesse's belly at the memory of how many Amorites had fallen victim to Saul before Jesse had driven them out of Babylon. His chest tightened when he remembered Saul on the tip of Jesse's sword as the Euphrates rushed past.
He lunged, but Saul was already fleeing out the window. Jesse tucked his wings and pursued.