The beautiful, seductive, and irresistible vampire Valerian seems to have it all. Known as the master of illusion, he dazzles international audiences as a magician in modern-day Las Vegas. In spite of his fame and success, Valerian is at his core a tormented man. He surrendered his soul in the dark days of the fourteenth century after losing his true love, Brenna. But once every hundred years, his beloved regains her human form—whether that form be a lusty barmaid, a singer in seventeenth century London, a courageous pioneer in the Old West, or even Daisy, a tough Las Vegas cop. Each reunion is agonizingly temporary, as she is cruelly swept away each time by a creature that has hunted them through time.
But as a new century dawns, Valerian vows that the next time he sees Brenna, he will never lose her again. He will make her immortal at any cost.
Time Without End is part of the Black Rose Chronicles quartet, by #1 New York Times– and USA Today–bestselling Linda Lael Miller, author of over one hundred historical and contemporary romances.
About the Author
Date of Birth:June 10, 1949
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Dunnett's Head, Cornwall September 1348
"You've ruined both of those lads," Noah Lazarus groused from his position next to the table, mallet in hand. His wife, Seraphina, stood gazing out of the shop window, looking for those scoundrel sons of hers. He spat in an effort to gain her notice, knowing beforehand that he would fail. "The names you gave them, Sera — Krispin, Valerian — names fit for the sons of princes and kings. And me naught but a bootmaker!"
Seraphina turned those extraordinary violet eyes on him at last, and even though they flashed with contempt, Noah was glad of her notice. He knew he was pathetic, but in such moments he couldn't make himself care.
"They are fine lads," she said acidly. The late afternoon sun came through the thick, bubbled glass of the window, playing in her rich chestnut hair. Noah marveled that such a creature had bound herself to the likes of him, under the laws of God and man, that she'd lain with him, borne the children he sired.
Just then, Noah caught a glimpse of the boys, returning from the keep overlooking the small seaside village and the wild Irish Sea. Valerian, the elder, was seventeen, tall and straight as a ship's mast, with powerful shoulders and his mother's dramatic coloring. He had strong bones, unblemished skin, and straight white teeth, Valerian did, and he was so physically perfect that Noah could hardly believe he was the get of his own loins. It was as though the boy had willfully taken all the best of his parents for himself, leaving little or none for the children who followed.
Krispin, smaller than his brother, fair-haired and as delicate as a girl, came next. He'd managed to survive, at least — that was more than could be said for the others.
Poor little Royal had been born three years after Krispin, only to have his mother confer that embarrassment of a name upon him. He'd been a blue and spindly twig of an infant; hadn't even survived a fortnight. As for the two girls, well, those wretched creatures, twins they'd been, had both given up the ghost before they could be christened.
The door of the shop swept open, and Valerian strode in. He wore the plain garb of a tradesman's son, leggings and a tunic of the cheapest wool, and yet he looked out of place, as he always did. More like a dandy down from London Town than the pauper he was. He kissed his besotted mother on the forehead, and she glowed as if she'd just been blessed by John the Baptist, or one of the lesser saints.
Valerian's eyes met Noah's, and the old knowledge passed between them; they had always despised each other. That day the whelp carried an unbelievably rare and precious item — carelessly, of course — in the curve of one arm. It was a book, bound in leather, and Noah knew without looking that its parchment pages would have been painstakingly inscribed by one monk or a succession of them, and exquisitely illustrated with vivid colors and fragile brush strokes.
Noah's heart clenched, and he felt a thin sheen of perspiration dampen his forehead and upper lip. "Where did you get that?" he demanded in a hoarse whisper. Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, the manuscript was worth more than the shop and all its contents — more, probably, than the whole village of Dunnett's Head. If such a treasure were to be damaged, or lost, there would be hell to pay.
And it would be Noah who paid, not his son. It was always Noah.
Valerian — God, how he hated that pretentious name, hated even more that it fit the young rogue so well, in its innate elegance — smiled in that way that made his father want to box his ears. Noah had done exactly that often enough, as it happened, and relished every blow, but Seraphina invariably coddled the rotter afterward and made the rest of them suffer.
"It belongs to the baron," Valerian said, following a short silence. It was as close as he'd ever come to explaining anything he said or did; he seemed to have some personal rule against giving reasons.
Krispin, that nimble shadow of a boy, spoke at last, in a quavering and earnest voice. "Our tutor told us we could take it," he burbled. "Just until we go back for our lessons. ..."
Noah felt the blood pounding under his right temple. Lessons. Books. That had been the start of it, Seraphina's foolish insistence that her sons be taught to read, to yearn after poetry and art.
The older man fixed his gaze on Valerian. "Take it back to the keep," he commanded in a tone of coldness and thunder. "Now."
Valerian's look, indeed his whole manner, was one of purest insolence. "I will not," he replied very quietly.
Noah closed one fist — he was a big man, and stronger than his son, and he wanted with all his soul to strike the impudent pup over and over, to force him to his knees, to make him bleed and whimper — but Seraphina was beside her husband in a trice. She gripped Noah's hard arm in her small hands, their tiny bones fragile as a bird's skeleton beneath her silken flesh, and looked up at him with both a plea and a warning in her strange purple eyes.
He could bear no more of it, her choosing this whelp over him, her own mate. It was an abomination! "This is still my house, my shop," Noah said evenly. "And I, God help me, am still your father. I am the master here, and you will do as I tell you or take a hiding the likes of which you've never imagined."
"Noah!" Seraphina whispered, horrified, clutching at him again.
"Enough!" he rasped at her, wrenching his arm free and nearly oversetting her in the process, glowering all the while into Valerian's magnificent, hateful young face. After a few deep and tremulous breaths, he managed to speak more calmly. "Now. What shall it be?"
Valerian spat onto the rush-covered floor.
His behavior was beyond enduring; Noah wrenched the precious manuscript from the lad's grasp, shoved it into Seraphina's, and struck his son with such force that Valerian stumbled backward and collided with a wooden support beam. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth, and the fires of deepest hell blazed in his eyes.
He didn't say that he hated his father, for there was no need to speak of it. Noah knew a moment of torturous despair, and wondered if things would have been different if he'd made Seraphina call the boys by solid, ordinary names, such as Thomas or John, Gideon or Joseph.
Seraphina screamed, but Noah could not stop himself. He cuffed the lad again and entangled a meaty peasant's hand in that mass of chestnut hair, pulling hard, forcing his firstborn to his knees.
Valerian did not fight back, even though Noah could feel the strength surging inside the youthful, granite-hard body; he endured each blow, each kick, each slap and wrench, all the time gazing upon his father with that ancient, murderous contempt in his eyes. Only when it was too late did Noah realize that this very passivity was Valerian's greatest weapon; by suffering the punishment without struggle, he had assured his mother's undying devotion. At the same time he had sealed Noah's doom, robbed him of the last shreds of Seraphina's esteem. He, this changeling with the face of an archangel, had at last destroyed that which Noah valued above all else.
He drew back his foot, with a mighty moan of sheer agony, and kicked the crouching Valerian as hard as he could.
Seraphina shrieked, kneeling in the rushes to gather her bleeding and now-unconscious offspring into her arms, cradling his head on her bosom. When she raised her eyes to Noah's face, his worst fears were confirmed; the hatred he saw in her gaze would outlive them all.
Though she might lie beside him every night, and even suffer his gropings and groans in the darkness, though she might sit across the board from him for a hundred meals, nay, a thousand, Seraphina was eternally lost to him.
Noah felt tears burning in his eyes, for he loved his wife the way a saint loves God, with fevered and unutterable devotion. He held out one hand to her, unable to speak, and she stared at the twisted, calloused fingers for a long moment, then turned her head away. She buried her face in Valerian's hair and spoke not to Noah, but to their second son.
"Take your brother to his bed," she told Krispin in a bleak, distracted tone. "I'll get a cloth and some water."
Only then could Noah manage one desperate word. Her name.
She rose, helping Krispin lift an insensate Valerian to his feet. She did not look at her husband, and her words sliced through him like a reaper's scythe honed for harvest. "May God curse you, Noah Lazarus," she murmured. "May all His angels despise your name, now and on the Day of Judgment.
I remember clearly, even after six hundred years, that I awakened sometime after sunset, in the dark, cramped little cell I shared with my brother, feeling as though I'd been trampled by the baron's horses. The straw in my pallet rustled when I moved, and I heard Krispin breathing softly in his own bed, against the opposite wall, but there was another noise tugging at the edges of my mind. It was several moments before I realized what else I was hearing — the sound of my father's drunken, disconsolate weeping.
I closed my eyes, as if to block it out, for although I had never loved Noah, I was not immune to his suffering. I did not revel in his injuries as he did in mine.
"Do you think she's left him at last?" Krispin asked.
"No," I replied, unable to withhold a small groan as I shifted on my bed, disturbing bruised muscles and broken skin. "She'll never leave him. Where would she go?"
There was a brief silence, within the room at least. Without, Father's wails grew louder and more desolate, like the cries of a wounded wolf, and I wondered if his agony would drive him to come after me again. Although he was not a cruel man in any other respect, there could be no denying that he enjoyed taking off strips of my hide.
"You're not his get," Krispin speculated, with no emotion whatsoever coming forth in his voice. "That's why he hates you so much."
The words wounded me sorely, although they shouldn't have. Certainly I'd had the same thought myself more than once, and I'd often pretended, when I was small, that I had sprung from the loins of someone far more interesting than Noah Lazarus, bootmaker, of Dunnett's Head, Cornwall. A smuggler, for example. Or a poet. Or one of the pirates who plagued the coasts of both England and France.
Alas, I had the boot-maker's broad shoulders and powerful, long-fingered hands; I had his temper and his oddly aristocratic nose, though he probably hadn't noticed the similarities. Oh, I was Noah's seed all right, but he couldn't have despised me more if I'd been begotten by the devil's great-uncle. And rather than try to make peace with him, to win his affection, I had always mocked him instead. Even now, after all these centuries, I'm not sure why I had to defy my father, to constantly rouse his ire; I only know that I could sooner have ceased breathing and stilled my own heart than begged him to love me.
"Valerian?" Krispin sounded slightly irritated; it always annoyed him when he spoke to me and I failed to reply straight away. "What do you think? Are you his son, or are you a bastard?"
I smiled in the fetid gloom, even though I ached in every conceivable part of my anatomy, even though I wanted, on some level of my being, to weep and weep until my body was dry as sun-parched straw. "I am his son," I replied, "and I am most assuredly a bastard." Krispin did not laugh at my jest, and I was sorry for that. It would have been a comfort to me, his amusement.
Things began to crash against the walls and floors in the outer part of the house where Father kept his shop. He was overturning cherished possessions now, flinging them in rage, and I shuddered inwardly, praying he would not remember me.
"He might have loved us," Krispin said at length, "if we'd wanted to be bootmakers."
I was weeping silently by then, and I didn't want my brother to know, so I didn't speak. But I knew it wasn't our rebellion that made our sire hate us, most especially me. It was the fact that our mother had always taken our part against him.
After a while Father was quiet. Krispin drifted off to sleep, and so eventually did I. On the morrow Mother gave me the book that had started the latest battle, carefully wrapped in her best shawl, and spoke to me in a subdued tone.
"You bring it upon yourself, Valerian," she said, pouring water from a ewer into my wooden cup. Father was not in the shop, and Krispin had gone down to the sea at daybreak to watch for ships, the way he always did, so Mother and I were alone. "Always baiting him, always defying him. Why do you do it?"
I was ashamed, for I knew she had endured much because of my willful nature. "I don't know," I answered glumly, tearing off a piece of coarse brown bread for my breakfast. My lower lip was swollen, and it hurt to chew and swallow. I did not express my fear that if I ever stopped rebelling against Father I would instead grovel at his feet, pleading with him to love me.
She looked upon me sternly, then touched my hair. "Be gone. He'll be back soon, with the things he needs to put the shop to rights again, and he mustn't find you here."
I nodded, snatched up a second piece of the hard, dry bread, took the manuscript shrouded in poor brown cloth, and started for the door. Matthew Challes, Brenna Afton-St. Claire's tutor, whom she generously shared with the boot-maker's boys, disliked laggards and dealt with them severely.
I was the first to enter the schoolroom, that hallowed, light-filled place, with its rush-scattered floors and windows opening onto a vista of the wild sea, and Challes gasped audibly when he saw me. He was a tall man, taller than I was by the span of my hand, with deep-set brown eyes, a poet's sensual mouth, and pale skin. There was a faint smattering of pockmarks across his right cheek. "So Noah's been at you again, has he, lad?"
I simply nodded and held out the book.
Challes set it aside, with less reverence than I would have expected, and stooped slightly, eyes narrowed, to study my battered face. "Good God, it's barbaric. How do you bear it? Why haven't you run away to London or gone to sea?"
I could not go from Dunnett's Head, though I dreamed of it, because I knew my mother would perish if I abandoned her, and because there was someone else I could not bear to leave, but of course I had too much pride to admit the truth. Blessedly, before I could be compelled to make an answer, the Lady Brenna breezed into the schoolroom, and as always, I felt my steady heartbeat turn to a violent thud-thud-thud when I saw her.
She was fifteen that year, nubile and womanly, and it was generally known that her father, the baron, was seeking far and wide for a suitable husband. He had only two requirements in a prospective son-in-law, as I recall — social rank and a respectable fortune. The contents of the baron's coffers, never remarkable, had been dwindling rapidly for a generation or so.
I remember quite clearly that I would have given my immortal soul to be her mate, to bury my hands and face in that wild cascade of lush, red-gold hair, to see myself reflected in those jewel-like green eyes, to press my body against hers, my masculine frame moving in sweet, intimate concert with her soft, lithe one.
To this day I recall that she was wearing a velvet frock that morning, rendered in a deep blue, and that it was no less beautiful for its shabbiness.
Seeing me, and my wounds and swellings, she winced in mingled amusement and sympathy. "My poor Valerian," she said, touching my cheek with a light, cool hand. "When will you learn to steer around trouble instead of sailing straight into the heart of it?"
I had no answer for her question; I was too busy wondering if she knew what even so innocent a caress did to me. Although my tunic fit loosely and hung to the middle of my thighs, thereby covering any involuntary evidence of my desire for milady, a sidelong glance at my tutor told me he'd guessed the true state of affairs.
I blushed and pretended I hadn't seen the mating of mirth and censure in his gaze. I was just opening my mouth to babble something inane to Brenna when Krispin came in, bearing an armload of autumn wild- flowers and grasses and beaming.
"For you, milady," he said, holding the gift out to Brenna and following up with a courtly bow. He adored her, as I did, and I wondered if she knew and returned his esteem in even the smallest part.
The light of pleasure blazed in her eyes, and I was bludgeoned by jealousy.
It was Challes who interceded, clearing his throat loudly. "Here, now, no more of this nonsense. Sit down, the lot of you, and we'll begin our lessons."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Time Without End"
Copyright © 1995 Linda Lael Miller.
Excerpted by permission of RosettaBooks.
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
This story is the by far the best one out of all her vampire books. I could not put it down. I fell in love with Valerian and wished I was Daisy. I have read this story several times and I will probably read it several more. I will never get board with Linda's vampire chronicles. I wish she would write more of them. Thank you Linda.
I read this book, along with the other three in this series, about a year ago and I still remember them as being the greatest books I've ever read! I read constantly and can hardly remember the titles of most of the books I read so when I remember a book that I read that long ago, it's special!
I love every book she has written,but when I ventured into the vampire love stories, It knock me dead. I buy everything by Ms. Miller, but please continue with Valerian, his God child,and Mauve. Oh! I just can't wait...Forever a fan..
Dated, but a good storyline. I enjoyed it.
Loved this book! Cant wait for the next one.
This is probably in my opinion the best book in the series so far. The characters are very likable, the story was great and it ended as it should have..
I was excited to read but it did not load why