Half the village of Breccan lies dead – slaughtered. All that stands between Antony Cardover and his freedom is his wife, Isabella, or so he believes.
In his wrath at his wife’s adultery, Antony trades his soul for the chance of vengeance. His price? An eternity as a monster – a man bearing a vampire curse. To stop him, the curse must be broken. To break the curse, Isabella and all her descendants must be destroyed. The catch? Only Antony can break the curse.
With Breccan in mourning and Antony on the rampage, only one person can help. Anna Martindale, a witch shunned by the villagers, entombs Antony within a stone sarcophagus, bound by spells and buried in hallowed ground for the rest of time.
Breccan breathes again. Time heals.
That was four hundred years ago.
Seventeenth century spells, however, are no match for twenty first century living. As Ramply Homes moves in, the secret of St Martin’s churchyard prepares to move out.
As the church is desecrated, the spells that hold Antony break. Soon, Becca Martin, a descendant of Isabella, is plagued by dreams of a time and of a man she cannot possibly have known.
As her nightmares become real, Becca has no choice but to contact the one person who will be able to help; someone she hasn’t spoken to in a decade – her mother.
Here, Becca discovers the truth about her ancestry and is forced to face up to whom and what she is. Only a wooden box and her gift hold the key to her survival.
Four hundred years ago Antony failed. He will not fail again.
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Extract From the Prologue of Bonds
Isabella’s whimpering carried on the still night air. Anna stared at her daughter; the ice that had surrounded her heart for so long was starting to melt. As despicable a person as Isabella was, she didn’t deserve this. No one deserved this.
Anna’s gaze shifted to the man who held her daughter. How on earth could she save Isabella from this monster? The reality was that she couldn’t.
‘Why, Antony? Why did you do this to yourself ?’ she asked.
‘You know why, Anna. No one makes a fool of me and gets away with it.’ He grappled with the young woman in his arms, his hand clenched over her mouth.
‘But this?’ she said, gesturing towards him with her gnarled hands. ‘Why did you have to go this far?’ Anna stared up at him. Gone were the soft brown eyes and gentle smile; the kindness and generosity. In their place lay only evil. His eyes were like coal against his chalky white skin and his mouth was a grim line. A rare smile seemed odd on his cold face and revealed the sharpness of his teeth.
‘You didn’t think I’d do it, did you, old woman?’ Antony’s sharp fingernails caressed his captive’s exposed neck as he spoke.
‘Let Isabella go, Antony. I think you’ve made your point.’
‘Made my point!’ he said, shaking Isabella as if she was a rag doll. ‘If it wasn’t for this harlot, none of this would have to have happened.’
‘Only you chose to do what you…’
‘Because of her! She betrayed me. She humiliated me and, worst of all, she made me a laughing stock. In…my…own…village! Do you have any idea what that is like?’
‘Let her go.’
‘Or else you’ll do what, old woman?’ he clenched his jaw, his teeth bared. ‘Do you honestly think you can stop me?’
‘I didn’t want it to come to this, Antony. I wanted to help you.’
‘Don’t patronise me, old woman. You’ll never defeat me. You don’t have the power.’ With a flick of his wrist he snapped Isabella’s neck and let her body slump to the ground.
‘No!’ Anna staggered over to the slain girl. Huddled over her daughter, tears running down her face, she stared up at him.
‘How could you? She was your wife.’
‘Pity she didn’t act like it then.’ He turned and started to walk away.
Anna remained hunched over Isabella, rocking the young woman back and forth, and cried. The moonlight illuminated the scene and amongst the jagged headstones she watched her son-in-law walking away. A carnal rage surged through her body and she stood up. She turned her face to the heavens and closed her eyes.
‘I call upon the power of the four elements. Of earth,’ she said, thrusting her hands towards the ground. The earth rumbled. Antony stopped.
‘Of air’ Anna whipped her hands around in a circular motion. Thunder crashed, the wind started to howl and bruised clouds scudded across the sky.
‘Of fire’ she said, pointing her power fingers towards the sky. A bolt of lightning shot down, connecting with her power. Anna shuddered as electricity coursed through her frail body, infusing her with the strength she was going to need.
‘And of water.’ She finished and clapped her hands three times. The thunder crashed overhead and the dark swirling clouds released their load.
Antony turned and stared at her, a mocking smile on his face.
‘You think that will stop me, you fool?’
‘By my Goddess and by my God, I call upon the power of the four elements. Of earth, of air, of fire, of water. I call upon you to aid me and to protect me.’ Anna spun round on the spot, her arms heavenwards, her eyes closed; the mantra repeating on her lips.
The wind roared; the thunder boomed. A bolt of lightning struck the earth in front of Antony, throwing him to the ground. The electricity sparked and fizzed in the rapidly forming puddles. He tried to get up, but his hands and feet couldn’t get traction in the mud.
Anna turned to face him and staring straight into the eyes of the man she had once loved, she pointed her arms towards him, lowered her head and started to chant the Spell O’ Binding.
She struggled to hold her position, her body convulsing as the power surged through her. Her eyes never leaving his, Anna thrust her palms to the earth and the ground began to shudder. She stumbled, but held firm. A crack appeared at her feet and zigzagged its way towards Antony, growing wider as it did so.
Anna heard his laughter through the storm, but she blocked it out, the image of her slain Isabella foremost in her mind. The crack stopped at Antony’s feet. She closed her eyes again and slowly raised her hands skywards.
Vines shot out of the gap and lashed themselves around his ankles. He used the traction to his advantage and hauled himself up, grabbing the sinewy stems with both hands, snapping them as though they were dried twigs. He strode towards Anna, her head still bowed as she chanted. She didn’t respond as he stood in front of her and hooked his finger under her chin, tilting her head upwards. She didn’t flinch as he spat in her face. She didn’t shudder as he lowered his head, his cheek brushing her hair, until his mouth was next to her ear.
‘You’ll never stop me, Anna, remember that.’ He turned to walk away and picked up the broken vines as he went. He paused for a moment and then turned back.
‘Never!’ he said and hurled the vines at Anna’s face. She staggered backwards at the force of the impact, but she didn’t break her concentration. Antony snorted in derision and turned away from her once again.
Anna regained her foothold in the mud and, drawing on all the power she had left, she thrust her palms towards him, sending a ball of light hurtling in his direction. It struck him in the lower back. Antony staggered, Anna didn’t falter. She raised her hands skywards and the crevasse soon crawled with vines, which snaked across the earth and wrapped around Antony’s ankles once again.
Anna yanked her hands down to her sides and the vines snapped backwards, dragging Antony off his feet. He crashed to the ground. More vines slithered from the earth. Antony rolled over, kicking his legs to try to free himself, but this time they held firm. He dug his fingers deep into the earth and tried to drag himself away, but it was futile, the mud was too thin.
He rolled over onto his back and sat up, yanking against his bindings with his hands, but they didn’t budge. The vines snaked up his legs, holding him firm as more and more emerged from the ground, binding his wrists to the earth and winding around his torso. He bucked and kicked, expanding his muscles as much as he could to try to burst through, but it was impossible.
Anna opened her eyes and saw the rage on his face; the veins pulsing in his neck as he strained against his fate. He looked up and caught her gaze; the vines creeping around his neck.
‘These won’t hold me forever,’ he shouted, the sound muted by the vines which now engulfed his head. Finally, he was still.
Anna nodded towards eight men who’d been hiding in the shadows. She had asked them to stay out of the way, for their own safety, and they hadn’t objected. They moved tentatively forward now and she watched as they hauled Antony’s inert form into a stone sarcophagus. The men struggled, but managed to slide the lid into place and Anna staggered forward, placing her palms flat on the lid.
‘Please make sure Isabella is put with the others,’ she said. The men nodded and retreated to the shadows. She turned her face to the heavens once again, closed her eyes and began to chant the Spell O’ Internment.
She shuddered as a lightning bolt shot through her body. Her hands glowed and the light spread around the gaps in the sarcophagus and sealed it tight. Anna raised her arms to the heavens once more and in barely a whisper she said, ‘By my Goddess and by my God, my humble thanks for supporting me. I bid you take the intention behind my actions and see it executed for all time. As I do will, so mote it be.’
She pushed her weary body away from the casket and the men crept out of hiding once again to lower it into the ground.
No one spoke to her as she left. Her walking stick was clasped in one hand, her shawl clutched around her shoulders with the other.