Authors: Aiden James
Tags: #Action & Adventure, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Historical, #Genre Fiction, #Literature & Fiction
The Dragon Coin
The Judas Chronicles
Based on an Original Concept by
Acclaim for Aiden James:
“Aiden James has written a deeply psychological, gripping tale that keeps the readers hooked from page one.”
Bookfinds review for “The Forgotten Eden”
“A variety of twists, surprises, and subplots keep the story moving forward at a good pace. My interest was piqued almost immediately and my attention never wavered as I forced my eyes to stay open well into the night. (Sleep is overrated.) Aiden James is a Master Storyteller, whose career is on the rise! Out-freaking-standing-excellent!”
Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews, for “Plague of Coins”
“The hook to this excellent suspense thriller is the twists that will keep readers wondering what is going on as nothing is quite what it seems. Adding to the excitement is that the audience will wonder whether the terror is an evil supernatural creature or an amoral human…Aiden James provides a dark thriller that grips fans from the opening.”
Harriet KLausner, for “The Forgotten Eden”
“Aiden James writing style flows very easily and I found that Cades Cove snowballed into a very gripping tale. Clearly the strengths in the piece were as the spirit's interaction became prevalent with the family…. The Indian lore and ceremonies and the flashbacks to Allie Mae's (earthly) demise were very powerful. I think those aspects separated the work from what we've seen before in horror and ghost tales.”
Evelyn Klebert, Author of “A Ghost of a Chance”, “Dragonflies”, and “An Uneasy Traveler” for “Cades Cove”
“The intense writing style of Aiden James kept my eyes glued to the story and the pages seemed to fly by at warp speed…. Twists, turns, and surprises pop up at random times to keep the reader off balance. It all blends together to create one of the best stories I have read all year.”
Detra Fitch, Huntress Reviews, for “The Devil’s Paradise”
“Aiden James is insanely talented! We are watching a master at work….Ghost stories don’t get any better than this.”
J.R. Rain, Author of “Moon Dance’ and “Vampire Moon” for “The Raven Mocker”
BOOKS BY AIDEN JAMES
CADES COVE SERIES
The Raven Mocker
THE TALISMAN CHRONICLES
The Forgotten Eden
The Devil’s Paradise
GHOSTHUNTERS 101 SERIES
The Ungrateful Dead
THE DYING OF THE DARK SERIES
The Vampires’ Last Lover
The Vampires’ Birthright
Blood Princesses of the Vampires
THE JUDAS CHRONICLES
Plague of Coins
Reign of Coins
Destiny of Coins
The Dragon Coin
WITH J.R. RAIN
The Nick Caine Adventures
Temple of the Jaguar
Treasure of the Deep
Pyramid of the Gods
(Coming summer 2013)
WITH MICHELLE WRIGHT
The Judas Reflections
Murder in Whitechapel
Curse of Stigmata
WITH LISA COLLICUTT
The Serendipitous Curse of Solomon Brandt
WITH JAMES WYMORE
(Coming August 2013)
Terror at Midnight
Pray for Daylight
In the Dead of Night
Dying of the Dark Vampires
Vampires, Ghosts, and God
Pray for Daylight
The Dragon Coin by Aiden James
Published by Aiden James
Copyright © 2013 by Aiden James
Cover design by Aiden James and Charles Seiberling
Ebook Edition, License Notes
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The Dragon Coin
Springtime in D.C. can be magical. Cherry blossoms and floral scents harken back to the gardens of my Judean youth. Gardens like the infamous Gethsemane. The city’s majestic marble monuments pull my mind back to Rome, Crete, and Athens from my early immortality. A time when Roderick and I spent nearly two centuries basking in similar spring glory along the Mediterranean coast.
He and I were almost happy back then, residing in hillside villas with cherished friends and families, though all of them have long departed this plane of existence. Almost happy—since it never quite compared to the joy I’ve since felt in the presence of my beloved Beatrice and Alistair.
But this spring promised to be especially wonderful. After a winter of miracles, the Tree of Life’s crystal spell had erased another eighteen years from Beatrice’s physical person. The loveliness and vibrancy of her previous ‘youthful’ self is nearing its full restoration. In light of this fact, who could blame me for believing this spring promised to be the best since World War II ended?
Ironically, the first hint that my high aspirations might be short lived, or dashed altogether, came at one of Washington’s prominent spring galas. Beatrice and I were accompanied by my son, Alistair, and his fiancée, Amy Golden Eagle. Amy’s brother, Jeremy, and his current girlfriend would join us midway through the event, and completing our table was Roderick, sans a date.
Roderick was running late, something detained him at the last moment.
“Maybe he decided to bring a date after all,” observed Alistair, shortly after pulling out Amy’s chair for her. For those curious, our two lovebirds had announced their wedding plans at Christmas, and decided on an extended courtship. The cautious former Georgetown professor and his equally skittish former corporate attorney fiancée settled on a date in late spring,
That evening’s gala was a formal affair, and not to be upstaged by my boy, I extended the same chivalry for Beatrice, who blushed as if all eyes were upon her. Perhaps they were, as in the past six months she had gone from being a lovely woman in her late fifties to a stunning beauty pushing forty, if that.
Beatrice looked especially ravishing in her azure aquamarine evening gown. It seemed the perfect choice for her shoulder length strawberry hair that had regained its luster and fullness in just a few months following my last update. Then again, this is my perspective, although the admiring looks she gets appear genuine. As for the blood rush to her cheeks? In all likelihood it’s merely irritation for having to endure what she considers outdated customs. She truly hated it when I pulled out the chair for her, or opened doors, even helping her into a coat during our original courtship seventy years ago. No doubt, this remains her present opinion as well.
“That’s doubtful, son,” I said, pausing to plant a loving peck on Beatrice’s cheek as I scooted in her chair for her. Her gorgeous emerald eyes ignited. “Roderick has sworn off love for a dozen centuries now.”
“Who said anything about love, Pops?”
Alistair’s brown eyes twinkled with mirth, and he snuggled close to Amy. While he bears so many similarities to a young Sean Connery, his devotion to his sweetheart of the past few years is nothing like the famed actor’s wandering eyes. Amy is quite a catch, I might add, and her long raven locks and striking green eyes evoke more admiring glances than Alistair. But neither one is prone to being shallow. I’m most proud of their sincere compassion for those around them, and their determination to make a positive difference in the world. Such mature perspectives, despite possessing crystals from the Tree of Life which have physically returned them to the ripe old age of twenty-one.
“Well, I suppose he could surprise us,” offered Beatrice, as a waiter from the Hamilton Hotel’s staff approached us. He looked concerned, which didn’t bode well for the wine selection that night. “Should we order a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for Roderick?”
“Excuse me sir,” said the waiter, nodding politely to Beatrice before turning his full attention to me. “I have a message to deliver.”
Before he even handed me the small note, I recognized Roderick’s preferred script for my name, though it appeared scribbled in haste. Dread washed over me as soon as the waiter gave it to me.
Meet me in the hotel foyer right away. My place has been vandalized, and a familiar token left on my secretary. Roderick.
“Is everything all right?” Beatrice looked worried, despite my carefree smile. I pictured cherry blossoms drifting in a gentle breeze to throw off her intuitions.
“We’ll see,” I said. “I’ll be right back.” I got up from the table, hoping to avoid any further questions until I knew more about this.
“Does it have anything to do with Roderick and why he’s late?” asked Alistair.
“I doubt it’s anything serious—I’ll be back before you know it.”
A Hollywood smile for everyone, I prayed the nagging feeling of trouble coming soon was nothing more than unfounded paranoia. It all depended on what Roderick would soon tell me, and why it required me to leave the company of those we both hold dearest.
* * * * *
“You look dashing, my friend,” said Roderick, after I joined him in an alcove near the hotel’s main lobby. “It does seem as if your taste in attire has improved since last year’s event. I daresay Beatrice’s presence has brought back the zest for style. I feared you left it in London after returning to America.”
That was 1889, when I agreed to accompany him back to the States after Scotland Yard had begun to uncover my ruse as Emmanuel Ortiz. In hindsight, I should’ve left the Whitechapel murders to the authorities. In the end it cost me dear friends, my livelihood at the time, and a palatial home in Belgravia, not to mention a farm just a day’s carriage ride to the north of London.
“You’re looking pretty dapper yourself, old chap,” I jested, admiring his Brioni. “So, what’s up? Can’t the compliments wait until you’ve joined us at our table?” I motioned toward the lavish ballroom where Mozart, performed by a string quartet, drifted out into the hall.
“Do you recall in November, when I decided to forego your dinner invitation in hopes the news I delivered to you would be better received by your family in my absence?”
“What? Is it that bad?”
“Obviously, none of what you’re about to tell me is intended for their ears. Correct?” I lowered my voice, making sure only he could hear my clipped response. He nodded, solemnly.
“My townhouse, the one I just had renovated was vandalized while I was out today,” said Roderick. “Everything was either destroyed, or compromised to ensure expensive repair.”
“Including the Chippendale suite you purchased last month at the auction in Richmond?”
“Yes, and that alone is enough to especially upset me. Or
. Did you get my note?”
“I did. Something about a token.”
“One you and I have seen before.”
It took me a moment to follow his drift, until he lowered his photochromic glasses. His brilliant blue eyes seemed to be swimming in a sea of gold leaf particles—the sure sign of his utmost irritation and stress.
Worse than how they had looked in Hong Kong, when he re-entered my life after a century’s absence, his eyes bore worry I had not seen in many years. As terrifying as it had been for us to deal with Viktor Kaslow, I recognized a level of alarm I had seen from my dear companion in only one other instance. That was when he nearly died in the early sixteenth century, as we fled the Inquisition.
“No! It cannot be,” I whispered, denying the truth of what my heart confirmed. “How could he find you?”
“I don’t know, exactly,” he said, concealing his eyes behind his dark lenses again. “But, you and I have spoken about his invasion as a voyeur on the fringe several times during the past year. If you’ll recall, I mentioned the feeling had worsened after our return from Bolivia.”
“Yes, I remember,” I agreed, shaking my head in disappointment. “So, what color was it this time?”
“Why of course, red. A single red rose, almost as crimson as the blood dripping from it.”
The favorite calling card of one of the most reviled men in history—if one excludes my crime of betraying Jesus Christ. But, I never directly murdered anyone, and certainly never tortured and killed another human being for sport. However, Vlad Tepes, better known as Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, and whose more famous name of ‘Dracul’ inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, was such a man. Rumored to have tortured and killed nearly eighty thousand souls during his storied lifetime, he certainly had murdered more than that while posing as a Cardinal enforcing the edict from Rome to purge the infidels residing in Spain. That second reign of terror followed his death at the end of 1476, when a sorcerer’s spell restored his head and new life to his decapitated body. A spell, I might add, involving another of my blood coins.