(blogger does not claim ownership of photos)
Anyone who follows this blog or belongs to the Facebook Novel Group knows that Canaan is my new favorite character in Rabbit: Legacy, the sequel to Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider. Why do I love him so?
Granted, he’s not perfect—heck, he’s a blood-sucking Rakum with absolutely no idea of the morality we humans cling to. But he has a union with the mortal Marcy Haddle that is rarely witnessed between normal people.
Canaan, immortal and drop-dead gorgeous.
Marcy, 56 and beginning to look the part.
Canaan still sees her as that 16 year old girl from 40 years back. He loves her so much that it is so refreshing. But he recognizes the conundrum – he will live forever and she has maybe twenty years left. This dilemma plays into the plot of the book so read this novel excerpt and see if Canaan is a guy you could love too.
(forgive the weird grammatical formatting...my blogging skills are in their infancy!)
Chapter Four, Rabbit: Legacy
Canaan rubbed his eyes and nudged Marcy awake.
“Don’t you have to go in early tonight, C? It’s almost seven. We overslept.” Canaan switched on his bedside lamp while covering his eyes. Marcy groaned approximately three seconds as the gravity of his words sunk in before she jerked off the covers and hopped out of bed.
“Not again! God Canaan! Set an alarm!” More expletives trickled out as she stomped to the bath and slammed the door. Canaan chuckled and turned off the lamp.
Thirty-nine years together, and he never set an alarm. He didn’t need to. His internal clock though not error proof, was fairly reliable. Why didn’t she set the clock radio on her side of bed when they went to sleep each day? Canaan smiled. She enjoyed the drama. Marcy was at her best when under stress. Fifty-six years old with the energy of a woman half her age.
“Canaan! You up yet?”
Marcy’s edgy voice through the door got Canaan out of bed. He pulled on the sweats he’d left on the floor and headed for the kitchen shirtless. His reflection teased him as he passed the living room mirror. He was a big guy, well-muscled, with soft blonde curls that he kept quite short by Marcy’s request. His left side – shoulder, arm and chest – were black with thickly arted tattoos collected over the last three decades.
Marcy encouraged him the first time. She’d been with living with him two years, she was twenty, and the 70s were in full swing. He had to choose a crowd; the Hippies or the toughs. Canaan was no peace-loving beatnik. Leather chaps over jeans and a bandanna tied around his head suited him just fine. San Francisco, California; the place to find the best skin artists in the world and three of those were Rakum. Canaan had to use a Rakum tattooist because of the risk of contamination. He would bleed, and an Elder’s blood was nothing to leak lightly around humans.
‘Let me draw it.’ She’d said, batting her long reddish-brown eyelashes. Never one to resist her wiles, he consented. When the artist lifted his needle for the last time, her creative input was stained in his skin forever. Marcy had drawn a stylized wolf, crouching like a man, preparing to strike with claws sharp as razors.
‘This is where I shot you –right between his eyes.’ She’d told him as they studied it later in their hotel mirror. It suited him. When the novelty of it wore off a few months later, he went back for another. And then another.
‘Does it hurt?’ Marcy asked him after his fourth trip.
‘Yep.’ Canaan had replied smiling. ‘That’s why I like it.’
Marcy didn’t understand then, and now, thirty years later, the left side of his upper body was pretty much inked to capacity. Why not the right? Why not the lower body? Canaan shrugged whenever she’d ask. He had no conscious reason for only doing half. It just looked cool. And it made him look unstable. Dangerous and unpredictable.
Canaan laughed, flexed his biceps and gave himself a wink.
Turning abruptly, Canaan reached the kitchen, laughing at the old girl. She had him wrapped around her finger and he regretted none of it. Four decades with the same mortal woman and he was still smiling. How many of his brethren could boast such a track record? None that he knew.
He yanked the pot from the coffee maker and filled it with tap water. As he went through the morning ritual, he listened to the sounds of Marcy’s shower. She was humming an old Platter’s tune, Twilight Time. Her voice was one of the many things he treasured about her. How many times had she sung him to sleep? Too many to count.
She’d be scrubbing her back by now with her loofa on a stick. She was manic with the thing, but her skin was silky smooth. She knew what she was doing. And then she’d wash her hair—twice. Marcy’s shoulder-length dark red hair was wavy bordering on frizzy when the barometer allowed. Canaan recalled that the first time he saw her, he noticed her hair.
And the gun she had trained on him.
The shower shut off in the back of the apartment and Canaan leaned against the counter in the dark kitchen nook. He needed no light and she would flip it on when she made it in. He could see every detail of the small space, and as he scrutinized the dustbunnies in the far corner, he pictured Marcy that first night. She was a hellion. But wasn’t she also a lamb?
Canaan grinned, rubbed his face, and let the memories wash over him. He loved reliving the night Marcy Josephine Haddle shot him in the back.
Canaan was shoved forward by the thrust of the hit and he went to his knees to catch his breath. Sneaking up to the farmhouse was turning out to be a huge mistake. He’d audibly located the father, the mother and the little brother; all sleeping soundly in their beds. But even as he stealthily hunted the young lady that his nose told him was nearby, she had been stalking him. Possibly distracted by hunger and the excitement of taking such a young, reluctant buzz, Canaan did not realize he had been bested until he heard the shot. She shouted again for him to freeze and he slowly turned to meet her eye, braving another round if she was so inclined.
“Don’t try nothin’ funny, Mister, or I’ll shoot you again!” She spoke with a mouthy Southern accent and gestured with her weapon.
Canaan stayed on his knees and smiled at the youngster; sixteen years old, if a day, and ornery as a mule. With the full moon behind her shining through her almost burgundy hair, Canaan wondered if he should get to his feet. Her big hazel-green eyes flashed with victory and she called for her daddy through plump pink lips. Out of the corner of his eye, Canaan saw the inside light come on in the house. He and the girl were a good fifty yards away outside the hay barn. If Daddy was coming, he’d be another minute or so.
Canaan nodded his head to the girl and caught her eye.
“You’re a good shot. And brave. Ever shot a man before?” Humor in his voice, Canaan hooked his thumb toward his shoulder. “Look at my back. I want you to see what you did.”
The teen took his offer as a challenge and stepped forward, the rifle aimed at his head. Canaan removed his button-down flannel shirt and turned his shoulders as she circled behind him cautiously. She eyed his muscled build and managed a scowl.
“You deserved it, Mister. Somebody’s been poaching my daddy’s livestock and he said if I catch the guy he’d buy me a horse.”
Canaan nodded at her words and she stared at his back, the full moon providing plenty of light. He knew from long experience that such a wound would heal in a matter of moments and he listened for the girl’s reaction.
It came seconds later.
“Dang.” She whispered and stepped closer.
Canaan watched her, craning his neck to see her lean forward and reach out to touch his skin. Her cool fingers ran up and down the back of his shoulder several times before she withdrew.
“Doesn’t that just beat all…”
“Ever seen anything like that before, kiddo?” He asked, aware that the back door had opened and one or more Haddles were headed to their location.
“Sure.” The girl said and gingerly put her fingers to his back once more. “In the movies.”
Canaan remained as he was; shirt in hand, on his knees, his stomach rumbling now that she was within reach. He calculated his options as the dad approached. In ten seconds they’d have company. He could feasibly grab her and sprint out of sight. He had the ability. After all, he was a mighty Rakum Elder. Or he could murder whoever came around the corner and then carry on with his initial plans. Or…
“So what are you?” The girl whispered, lowered the gun and stood back for him to stand.
Canaan chuckled and came slowly to his feet. He towered over her but she did not back off. She was odd. She was different. And to Canaan, the combination coupled with the fact that she shot him in the back at close range made her special. And Canaan treasured rarity above all things.
“What do you say I am?” Canaan whispered so she would have to lean in to hear. She was fearless and that only intrigued him more.
“Hmmm…” The girl pondered his question and parted her lips.
“I will visit you tomorrow.” Canaan bowed a few inches and stepped back, allowing the huge maple to hide him in shadow. “Do not shoot me again.”
“My name is Marcy.” The girl whispered with a curious smile and Canaan backed out of sight. Her father reached her side with a shotgun balanced in his shaking hands.
Canaan remained hidden as he watched the teen explain away her antics without ever mentioning her trespasser.
The next evening he indeed visited her—in her bedroom. He was a gentleman and took her blood with restraint. But she asked him back, and the more time he spent with her, whispering in her room or watching the moon move across the Kentucky sky from the hay loft of the old barn, the more attached he became. Until one day, she left with him and never looked back.
What did her parents think? She sent them a card every Christmas, but never let on their address. Her little brother grew up and went off to college. He became an attorney and moved to New York City only to be hit by a cab and killed his first week on the job. Her mother and father were now in a nursing home, still cognitive but losing it fast. And Marcy was Senior Park Ranger for the State Parks system. She carried a rifle in her truck and a .45 on her hip.
Although so far, she’d kept her bullets in her gun.
“In the dark again, Canaan.” Marcy deadpanned and threw the light switch. “Oh! Hazel Walnut! Thank you, sweetie!”
Canaan grinned and she fell into his arms. She was slender and tan and she melted into him as if they were one. That is why he could never leave her. Even twenty years down the road; as she became bent, infirm and needy, he would hold her close. Somehow, they had become one person. It wasn’t very Rakum-like to have such human ideas, but—
Canaan shrugged mentally as he released his bride. Since the Rabbit debacle, he could pretty much do whatever seemed good in his own eyes. There were no Fathers to submit to and no Brethren to match wits with on every issue. Canaan was no longer inclined to hide his affection for the woman he thought of as a wife.
“Canaan, you be careful tonight.” Marcy said as she turned to pour her cup. “I had a bad dream last night. I dreamed about bats and you know that’s a bad omen. You need to stay home—”
Canaan objected with a shake of his head and interrupted her. “C, no way. I’ve stayed in three nights in a row. Your bats will just have to stuff it. I’m not a saint, hon. I gotta have a buzz or I will explode.”
Marcy regarded him with that gaze of hers and Canaan shook his head again.
“Then let it be me. I’ll call in.” Marcy set down her cup and reached for the phone. Canaan stepped up and covered her hand on the receiver.
“Hon, I’ll be fine. I am going alone, to the Shell Zone.” Canaan smiled at his rhyme, but his wife’s eye was hard.
The Shell was a bar for men, hidden in a dark corner down town. Every few weeks, it was safe to visit there and find a free voluntary meal with a man he knew as Westley; a Cow in a world without Cows. The right to hold Cows went South when their Race dissolved but there were still plenty of humans out there willing to let blood to vampires. And since he was gentle with the man, he’d never been turned down.
“Lighten up. I will be careful. I always am.” Canaan brought up his hands and cupped Marcy’s face and sang the first few words of one of her favorite show tunes. “Beautiful girl, let me take a picture…”
“Stop it.” She cooed and covered his hands with hers.
“Beautiful girl, let me call the preacher…”
“You don’t even know the words.” Marcy’s retorts were spoken through a smile framed by the lines of happy times.
“I’m in a whirl…” Canaan sang off key and pulled her lips to his.
She returned his kiss and then hugged his back, burying her face in his bare chest. He kept it waxed at her request and he rather enjoyed the discomfort the procedure brought. The sensations of pain and pleasure often melded together among his people and he was no different.
Marcy giggled as he dropped his hands to her waist and tickled her briefly.
“…over my beautiful girl…” He sang, finishing the chorus with aplomb.
“Call me on my cell when you get home, okay? Things are different now and we have to keep on guard.”
“Hon, I will know if they come around.” Canaan resumed a serious tone and waited to meet her gaze. “Do not mistake my gentleness with you for weakness with them.”
Marcy’s eyes watered a second and she wiped away her tears and cleared her throat. She was an incredibly strong woman and Canaan admired that about her.
“You said they were re-gathering. Plotting a comeback.” Marcy said and paused. “Heard anything else?”
Canaan shook his head. He used to be telepathic but now, his only mental connection to those who were left came in dreams and odd rumblings in his spirit that he rarely understood. But by the visions he received most recently, he knew enough to avoid contact for as long as possible. One name came through his last lucid dream and it was one he distrusted.
A Rakum Elder he’d spent enough time with that he knew to steer clear of him now that there was no order among their kind. And he wondered about Father Damien. As of their last contact, the man was considering changing sides. Had Rufus gotten to him yet? Canaan realized he really didn’t care. His only concern was the safety of Marcy and himself. The rest of the Brethren could go to—
“Just stay on guard.” Marcy interrupted his thoughts now wrapped in his embrace.
Canaan nodded and kissed the top of her head, the fragrance of her shampoo causing him to smile anew. He’d never brought trouble home since they’d been together, but recently, Marcy was becoming more cautious. She’d been having nightmares, usually about his dying race. After nearly four decades together, she had met plenty of his brethren, and she knew just about as much about his people as he did. But she needn’t worry about his feeding ritual. Canaan had three hundred and fifty-eight years experience. He knew how to take blood stealthily and he knew how to avoid capture. Besides, with the Fathers out of the picture, he was the strongest Rakum he knew.
“You can count on me, C. I will call you before your break.” He spoke into her hair.
Marcy squeezed him tighter and then let him go. “You better, old man. I get worried.”
Marcy slapped his rear and swigged her coffee again. “Now put on a shirt and go warm up my truck.”
Canaan flexed his muscles and tossed her a Charles Atlas pose.
“No need of a shirt Ma’am.” He teased and headed for the front door. Marcy sighed dramatically and cut her eyes away, but the corners of her mouth turned up. She was in love; head over heels with a creature that would never die.
Canaan’s smile faltered as he headed for her truck. He was an immortal who had joined himself with woman with only a few short years to live. The last forty years had passed like days and Marcy would reach retirement in a decade.
Canaan shook his head. It didn’t matter. They were one. And he was an Elder.
Elders had special proclivities…
Canaan slapped his hand on the ice-cold hood of the truck and swore, his breath making misty plumes in the night. Those thoughts would get them both killed. He’d avoided discovery by keeping his mind clear and his hands clean. But if he began to ponder the Old Days, think on ways to keep his mortal wife alive past her time, Rufus’ and his minions would become aware him. He knew by experience that even with their diminished telepathic prowess, some thoughts carried more weight than others. When a Rakum Elder began to think about marking a Rabbit – the whole bloodthirsty community was inexplicably switched on.
Canaan cursed again and revved the truck’s engine. Clearing his mind was not easy, but it necessary. Still, he could do it…
He was capable. He had the ability.
Marcy didn’t have to die.
Rakum Rabbit’s were immortal…
“Canaan!” He hissed at himself and got out of the truck. “I’ve got sunshine…on a cloudy day…” He sang loudly, not caring that he was tone deaf and couldn’t carry a tune. “When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May…”
Canaan sang all the way to the apartment and then disappeared into their room to get dressed.
He needed a fix. His mind was easier to manage when his gut was full. And he could handle watching his beloved Marcy grow old and die when his belly was buzzing with a fresh hit. But until he downed that first sip, his mind invariably turned to his options.
And how wonderful it would be to keep her with him forever.