How long would you wait for true love? Kate Martins appears to have it all; a good career, a beautiful home, and an amazing husband. What more could anyone ask for? But when Kate’s recurring nightmares begin to cross over into her waking hours, she discovers her perfect life is not at all what it seems. It isn’t until she meets a mysterious stranger that Kate begins to question who truly she is and where she comes from. For the past four centuries, Giovanni Rossi has faced the dark powers of the Strega Negri in search of the one woman who can lift his curse of immortality. The problem? His enemy always seems to be one step ahead. Desperate to be free, Gio races against the clock to find his true love. Will he find what he is looking for in Kate, or fail once more and be doomed to another lifetime of loss?
About the Author
Much of SC's inspiration is found in the natural beauty of Northern California where she currently resides with her family, three cats, and three dogs. She enjoys music, backyard gardening, hiking and kayaking, and considers herself to be pretty darn lucky to live in such a beautiful place.
Read an Excerpt
The dream began the same every night.
I was running. Running fast among the trees, my feet bare as I trampled over the wet ground. My breath sliced the air with rapid urgency and my lungs burned for me to slow down. My throat was raw; my heart pulsed at its max. Still I ran faster.
I was in a forest. The lush greenery that comprised most of the northern California coast flew past me as I raced faster and faster. The monstrous redwoods that flanked both my left and right sides were a blur as I ran in earnest. The spongy moss gave just a little as each foot fell heavily on its furry surface.
As I flew to my unknown destination, I knew there was no alternative to failure. I'd make it on time. My conviction was strong and I would get there. I had to. And yet, in the back of my mind, I knew how this would end. It always ended the same — I'd been here before.
No matter how fast I ran, no matter how much I wanted to get there, the simple truth was that I would not make it. What I had would not be enough. I would be too late. I'd never reach him in time and there was nothing I could do about it.
I never would, but I had to try.
* * *
I sat up with a start. The room was black. Sweat poured down my brow; my breathing was labored. How long had I slept? Five minutes? An hour? Six hours? Time eluded me. I glanced over at my bedside table peeking at the red digital glow of my alarm clock. It was 3:23 a.m. Good, I still had time before I needed to get up.
"Honey? Angel?" Alex sat up slowly, rubbing his eyes. "Are you all right?"
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I was able to see him. Even at 3:23 a.m., my husband resembled a Greek god. His lean build accentuated the solid muscle of his physique. My eyes wandered across his bare chest and up toward his face. His features were dark, with a strong jaw line and perfect symmetry. The kind of perfection that would make any woman bargain for a second glance. His longish, obsidian hair stuck up in all directions, commanding attention. He ran his fingers through it as he became more aware of his surroundings. Looking at him, I almost forgot what awakened me in the first place. His eyebrows furrowed as he reached over and gently caressed my arm.
"Jesus, love. You look awful. Are you all right?" The genuine concern in his voice melted my heart, and again I struggled to focus. "Kate, what's wrong? Are you sick? Hurt?" His voice walked close to an edge. He was losing his patience. "Kate, answer me. Please."
The sound of my name snapped me out of my trance faster than being hurtled into a brick wall. Frustration rolled off his body at my non-responsiveness, and I remembered what had started this to begin with. Without hesitation, the images of my dream came flooding back over me like a dark, black wave. Involuntarily, I shuddered.
"Nothing, love," I said offering a half-smile. "I guess I just heard a noise or something."
I wasn't going into the dream again — not tonight. Every time we discussed it, I sounded more and more crazy while Alex became more and more frustrated. No, I was definitely not mentioning it.
"Are you sure? You look really bothered." Skepticism played with the tone in his voice. He wasn't fooled. He released a long breath. "What happened in the dream this time?"
Even though I was grateful to have Alex by my side, I didn't want to go through the details with him. Not again. Not tonight. I had to be more convincing if he was ever going to go back to sleep.
"No, love," I replied, my voice soft. "I'm fine. Really. Go back to sleep. It was nothing, just a noise outside — a dog barking or something."
I leaned in and pressed my mouth against his soft lips. His hand rose and brushed the side of my face as he pressed back and I was lost, not knowing who or where I was, spinning alone in a universe untouched by anyone.
Alex always affected me that way. With a simple kiss, my brain turned to mush and I forgot everything and anything except the wonder of how it happened that I was this lucky. But I couldn't get lost, not now. I had to stay focused if I wanted him to go back to sleep.
"Goodnight, see you in the morning." This time, I almost convinced myself.
I was getting better at hiding the truth from him, though I wasn't quite sure if that was a good or bad thing. I didn't think much on it. I kissed him once more before scooting over in the bed. Resting on my side, my back to him, I pretended to go to sleep.
"Goodnight, love." His voice was soft, sleepy. A fuzzy haze coated his words. He'd believed my lies ... or was at least resigned to them. "I love you."
It wouldn't be long before he was sleeping again, that much I knew. What I was not so sure of was why I kept having the same dream over and over again, night after night. And why did I feel this indescribable need to keep it a secret from Alex, my own husband?
Alex's breathing returned to the rhythmic inhale and exhale I'd grown so familiar with, and I knew he was asleep.
Not wanting to close my eyes just yet, I slowly slid out of bed and tiptoed to the bathroom. Taking great care, I closed the door as silently as I could, making sure the latch nestled into place without a sound, and blew out the breath I hadn't realized I was holding as I turned on the light.
The bathroom was cold. My feet, surrounded by the soft, warm comfort of my sheets just moments ago, were instantly assaulted by the hard, frigid flooring on which I now stood. I leaned over the sink and looked in the mirror. My forehead wrinkled as I reluctantly recognized the woman looking back at me.
The crease in my brow deepened. I scrubbed my face with my hands and inspected my reflection. There was definitely something to be desired in the face gazing back at me.
Dark eyes looked back with indifference. Raven hair framed my oval face. My fair skin, once tight and glowing like a fine piece of porcelain, looked pale and faded. It was during these times, the in-between times — too late to be night yet too early for morning — when I felt I could look at myself and see the true me.
I inhaled deeply and let the air linger in my lungs a few seconds before blowing it out. When did I get so old? Even though I'd just turned thirty a few weeks ago, time was taking an express train across my face. Within the past few weeks, laugh lines appeared around my mouth, several fine lines framed my eyes, a large crease streaked across the middle of my forehead, and four gray hairs grew in their own pattern.
The initial shock still hadn't faded from the morning I noticed the sprinkle of grays sitting close to the front of my hairline. Most women probably wouldn't have even attended to such an insignificant amount of hair, but I did. Against the contrast of my dark locks, those hairs shone brightly and shimmered in a mocking elegance like silver trails meandering through a black forest.
I continued to stare at my reflection in the mirror. However, it was only a brief respite before the haunting images of my nightmare came creeping back into my consciousness with stealth-like expertise.
The dream. The reason for this early-morning bathroom visit now came flooding back in harsh clarity.
I was running. I was always running. I was running faster this time, faster than any of the other times before. Where was I going? I shook my head in frustration. I didn't know the answer to this question, but I did know I ran to find him. And this time I got further; further than I'd ever gotten before. Yes, I was closer this time. So close. That much I was sure of. Soon I'd be with him and everything would be right again. But who? And why was I so scared? What could it mean?
"Ugh. Why can't I remember?" I grunted at my reflection.
Nothing. My brain was a dark, black vault. I pressed further. All I knew was that I had to get to him before it was too late. My future, no, our future, depended on it. It was my destiny.
I closed my eyes and squeezed them tight hoping to wring a memory out.
A flash of light. Dark hair. Blue eyes.
Crystal blue eyes the color of the sea. My heart raced. I swallowed hard and pushed deeper into my brain.
I ran to save him, the one, the man I would give my life for. The man who would save me from what would destroy me; and this man, whoever he was, was definitely not my husband. I pushed further into my brain to capture more details, but the realness slipped away, slick and impossible to hold until it vanished completely.
"Keep it together, Kate, it was just a stupid dream," I whispered out loud trying to convince myself — again.
I took another deep breath and released a sigh. No use staying awake for something I had no control over. I turned out the light and carefully opened the bathroom door.
I peeked into the bedroom. Alex was still asleep; his methodic breathing was instantly calming. With quiet feet, I stole back into bed. I snuck another glimpse at the clock. It was 4:35 a.m. Shit. I had taken longer than I'd wanted to in the bathroom, but at least there was an hour and a half before I had to get up.
I lay on my back, contemplating sleep. Anxiety roiled through my body. My stomach twisted. If only I could understand why this dream was on a continual loop night after night, I probably wouldn't be so obsessed. At the very least, I wouldn't wake Alex up with my screams on a near-nightly basis.
As all the ways in which my life would be better by understanding this damn dream flipped through my brain, my muscles sunk into the mattress. I was tired again. And although I would've done anything to avoid the unfathomable feeling of desperate terror from running through that lush, green forest while I rested, I knew if I ever wanted to find peace again, I could only do it while sleeping.
I consciously slowed my breathing and relaxed my body more. Sleep was coming and I'd be damned if I let it pass. It was my only lifeline to what I sought. It took over my body in a warm wash and I knew I should let it. I'd have to rest if I was to make it through work tomorrow anyway.
My eyelids became heavy and my breathing fell in time with Alex's. My chest expanded with one last deep breath before I allowed my eyes to fully shut. I'd welcome sleep. It wasn't the answer I was looking for, but it was the only one I had. And although I was able to justify its significance, it wasn't comforting in the least.CHAPTER 2
I often wondered what I'd do if I ever found her. Found her and won her back. She's the one, always has been — the one to complete me, make me whole again, and return my mortality. I'd been searching for a long, long time. Around every corner, under every rock ... continuously looking for her. Trying to make her mine once more.
I'd searched, half-crazed, utterly possessed, always looking for the right sign that would lead me to my destiny, for far too long. I'd been wandering around the world for over four centuries — never resting, never content, never knowing when she would be mine, again.
Sometimes I felt she was right at my fingertips, right there ... so close. I just knew it. She had to be. I'd feel her, or at least thought I did, and it was the strongest sensation of goodness and beauty. Then, in an instant, it was swept away, leaving nothing but an icy trail of numbness. So many times, I'd almost had her, touched her, felt her skin against mine. Each time, she was so close ... so close.
Yet, I was still alone.
There were times when I thought I'd never find her again, but in those times I searched for my patience and held tight to the belief she was out there waiting for me.
Each day I awoke and prayed we'd cross paths. In those tiny moments, breathless wishes, thoughts would come easy and my soul — if I'd ever had one to begin with — yearned to return to my body. Something I hadn't felt for hundreds of years.
Sometimes, when I closed my eyes, I could almost feel alive again, almost imagine what living was. I'd walked this earth far longer than anyone ever should; although, I looked no more than twenty-three, the year I stopped aging.
When I thought back to it, and I mean really put some effort into the memory, I could still recall my youth. I grew up in a small village just outside of Florence, near the Arno River. Every time I thought upon my homeland, I'd be overwhelmed with longing, with grief, with loss. My heart, hardened like an old clay ornament embedded in my chest, was overwhelmed with what could have been but was not.
I could never go back. Never would. Not, at least, until I found her.
* * *
My father was a farmer, a simple man, making a simple living. Although he didn't have much wealth, he was respected among the townspeople as being a generous, honest, and honorable man.
Honor. The concept meant a great deal to the people of my time. Not like today. Back then, men lived to achieve it, fought to defend it, and died to maintain it. It was the moral code that shaped life. But, it wasn't everything it promised, and it wasn't until much later that I realized honor in itself doesn't make or break a man. It's the people who value the ideal that determine its worth, and not everyone plays by the same rules.
When I was fifteen years of age, my father decided I was old enough to learn a trade. At the time, I wasn't sure I wanted to leave home, but both my parents encouraged me that it was time to make my own future, to make a good life on my own.
I remember the day so well. It was the day my life changed trajectories and began a much different course. It was a course that not even the most astute fortuneteller could have predicted. A course I'm not even sure I would've chosen, given the option and the outcome ahead of time. One that continues to guide my existence to this very day.
It was a cool spring morning when we headed out; my few belongings were wrapped in a cloth and tucked snugly under my arm. We were headed to Florence, where my father was determined to bargain an apprenticeship for me.
Though it took hours, we walked in near-silence. As the city got closer, my steps became slower, my feet getting heavier with each progressing stride.
"Gio," my father said as we neared the city entrance, "what's bothering you?" "Nothing, father." My eyes shifted down, my head heavy.
"Do not be afraid, son. It will be all right. You will work hard and make us proud. We know you will do your best." He placed his hand on my shoulder.
"Father" — a tremor of doubt wavered through my voice — "what if I can't do it?"
"Do not litter your future with doubt. Life is simple. Follow the honorable path and everything else will fall into place."
I can remember quite vividly the way in which he said these words. The tenor of his voice told me he'd never spoken words that held more truth than those words. Though a great many things I've forgotten as the centuries have passed, the sound of his voice still rings clear in my thoughts. Simple my ass.
It was the greatest lie ever told.
Looking up at my father and seeing his sheer conviction, I could do nothing but believe he was correct. I repeated the words over and over to myself. Do not doubt. Follow the honorable path and everything else will fall into place. Life is simple.
The honorable path. It seemed easy enough, and it appeared to serve my father well in his life. I took a deep breath and was determined to show him that I, too, would be a great man.
I was fifteen. What did I know?
As we entered the city, my eyes drank in all the activity. It was hard to believe such a place existed. It was so close to home, yet it felt part of a different world.
It wasn't until my father entered the shop of Rinato Cobisino, a local sculptor, that the doubt I'd felt earlier returned threefold and then turned into complete astonishment as I watched him negotiate my future.
Rinato's face was red and swollen, most likely the aftermath of a night of drinking. I smelled the alcohol as it leached out of his system through his sweat and wondered how my father didn't notice. I listened in silence as a place for me with this drunkard was negotiated. One head of cattle and my complete disbelief later, a deal had been struck.
And so began my apprenticeship. I worked for Rinato for several years before he even let me touch stone. Even then, it was solely for his benefit. My main duty was to clean up his shop after he finished work for the day. Though in all honesty, I could hardly complain. It was an upgrade from the house chores I had begun with. I spent the formative years of my adolescence fetching him ale, preparing his supper, doing his laundry, and cleaning up after his personals.
My life was beleaguered with irate commands that were responded to by a symphony of "yes, sirs" until it became quite apparent that I'd never be more than his servant, not an apprentice at all.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "A Life Without Living"
Copyright © 2019 SC Alban.
Excerpted by permission of Foster Embry Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kate is married to a man who is handsome and sexy, though he’s also a bit controlling. She also has very vivid dreams that she’s trying to get to—and help—the man she loves, but that man isn’t her husband, and her husband may not even be who she thinks he is. Giovanni (Gio) has been cursed with immortality. He uses every day of his life to find and save a woman he’s watched die numerous times, the woman he loves. But now there’s a timeline, it’s his last chance to save her, if only he can find her in time. As the two plot lines converge, Kate and Gio are drawn together by factors that have been in play for generations and may drive them apart forever. A Life Without Living is definitely outside of my usual reading habits, but I found the writing engaging and the storyline interesting and intriguing. I can’t wait for book 2! *I received a copy of A Life Without Living from NetGalley and Foster Embry Publishing in exchange for an honest review
Reviewed by Sherri Fulmer Moorer for Readers' Favorite A Life Without Living by S.C. Alban is a fast paced, supernatural roller coaster that starts out running and doesn't stop until the end - and even then, it leaves you hanging! Kate thought her life was perfect. She had an adoring husband, a great home, and a good job in the publishing industry. Her only problem is nightmares that have plagued her for her entire life. She tries to pass them off as nothing more than just dreams, but these visions of running away from a familiar but faceless man to someone she's never clearly seen or met continue to plague her. Then, one day, they cross the line into her waking life when she meets another man whom she's never met before, but is somehow extremely familiar to her - and she's inexplicably drawn to him, despite her perfect marriage and life. A Life Without Living is a thrilling adventure that takes you into the mysterious world of magic that weaves a thread through the ages. S.C. Alban does a wonderful job of explaining Earth based religions to people (like me) who aren't familiar with them without talking down or going into too much irrelevant detail. In fact, I found it interesting and learned a good bit about them through this book, which was a great bonus along with the wonderful love story that transcends time and ages. The characters are well developed, and the story moves along at a perfect pace that keeps readers guessing. In fact, I was still guessing at the end, which I hope opens the door to a sequel. If you enjoy supernatural romances then I highly recommend this one. It's a great read - one I couldn't put down!
Reviewed by Lisa McCombs for Readers' Favorite For as long as she could remember, Katie accepted her nightmares as just another facet of her life. She was running from something or someone. It was usually dark and the air was heavy with fear. But that was in her dreams. By day, Katie enjoyed a blissful life with Alex, the perfect man. Handsome, successful Alex would never let anything harm her. And when Alex was not by her side, Katie’s best friend David filled the void. And then there was Gio, the new guy in town. Katie had never felt safer or more loved than when in Gio’s presence. Who was he and why was she so drawn to him? Surrounded by nothing but positive light, Katie’s happy life becomes very complicated when Alex’s possessive nature becomes unbearable and Katie is forced to rethink life decisions. What or who was she running from? A Life Without Living by S.C. Alban is not your average vampire story. In fact, there are no vampires in this story at all. But the characters are four hundred years old and stuck in ageless bodies. A beautiful blend of paranormal and fantasy, A Life Without Living is far superior to any work of its genre. Alban creates a believable world of colorful characters and realistic passion that motivates the reader to anxiously turn the pages in search of answers. Alban has found that new idea for which every author searches. This is series material at its finest. I loved, loved, loved this. It is such a fresh look at an old theme! Thank you, S.C. Alban, for bringing something new to the bookshelf.
Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite A Life Without Living by S.C. Alban is a breathtaking story of a love that defies time, a love tested by unusual circumstances. Kate’s life could have been peaceful and serene when she was married to Alessandro, four hundred years ago, but she meets and falls for Gio with whom she develops a powerful bond. Alessandro finds out and that is the tragic part. Alessandro belongs to a powerful magical clan and, betrayed, he takes his revenge using his supernatural gifts. He curses Kate to be killed in every reincarnation and always whenever she is on the point of reuniting with her lover. Gio will live forever, pining for the love of his life, unable to save her. In this intriguing story, Gio spends his life looking for his love, Kate, and every time he finds her, she gets killed because Alessandro is always a step ahead of him, a powerful game maker. But this time Gio is determined to outwit him and he can only do so by using a power that can stand up against Alessandro’s magical skills. Will he be able, with the help of his friends, Willem and Claire, to save his lover before Alessandro gets to her? S.C. Alban’s A Life Without Living is the only book that has had the effect I experienced when reading Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson. Alban creates the kind of suspense that will make you turn the pages nonstop and, when you think you are done with the story, you’ll find your nerves rattled for many an hour after you turn the last page. It takes great skill to write a story fraught with impossible events and to make readers feel like it was part of everyday life. Alban seems to have just that skill. I loved the way the POV moves with the first person narrative, which makes the psychological conflict even more powerful and poignant. The writing is excellent, the plot is solid and fast-paced, and the characters are gorgeous, and wonderfully chiseled out with great originality. This is a well-conceived story with a unique and powerful theme, a page turner, and highly entertaining. You won’t put this one down!