For eight hundred years it has fought tragedy. Against all odds, it has survived. Ancient Tide is the story of a love so intense that it refuses to die.
England. 1990. Lauren Kennedy rushes to the aid of a dying girl, and is shocked to find that they are identical in every way. As their hands touch, the true extent of fate's ruthless master plan erupts through their sizzling connection. In that moment, Lauren knows what she must do.
But hundreds have tried before her. All have failed. Will she succeed, or will she become another wave on fate's merciless tide?
As he watched the relentless breakers surge to shore, for the first time, James could see how they exposed mankind’s very existence for the sham it was. Somewhere out there in the distance they began their journey and then roared through a raucous adolescence. At their glorious adult peak, they waged war against the sand before dwindling to a trickling end. Life was just like that, he thought. People weren’t free. Perhaps they chose how to reach their destination like the occasional wave that veered sideways, but in the end the outcome was always the same. Death.
He knew that he should have been happier, given it was his twenty-first birthday, the day he should have received the key to the door in celebration of his coming of age. The trouble was he’d received the key a year earlier, when cancer had taken his mum. Ever since, James Jordan had been reeling. He was lost. He felt cheated. Where he had once been full of hope and expectation, there was now nothing but anger and regret. Like everyone who had lost someone, he anguished over the many missed opportunities to tell his mum he loved her and cringed at the thought of the hugs he’d hidden from. He felt he had taken her for granted. Right at that moment he would have given anything to hold her, to tell her he loved her. He missed her with all his being.
‘I love you mum!’ he screamed across the desolate English sand, but the words were plucked from his lips by a thieving coastal gale.
James gagged on the scorching liquid that he swigged from what was becoming an indispensable hipflask. It turned out vodka was a liar. It had promised him relief from his lonely suffering but all it had brought him was despair. Tears slithered down his cheeks like saline snakes and the wind seized them as they pooled at his youthful and wispy chin. He wasn’t even sure why he was there, on the beach. His birthday celebrations had finished several hours earlier and throughout the party his brave face had served him well until the guests left, and then his real emotions surfaced. He knew he needed to talk about his feelings but he had no idea how, or who to. Instead, he kept a lid on the grief and it churned inside him. He was lonely in his misery and wondered if he would ever be truly happy again. The real James seemed to have disappeared. These days, doubt and fear ruled inside him where spontaneity and confidence had once been king.
The searing ARAGONIAN sun continued its lifetime of branding on Diego’s fast-weathering skin. Its relentless power had long since banished any semblance of water from the dusty, barren soil that cracked under his feet. An occasional warm breeze whipped up an onslaught of dusty earth that invaded his eyes and infiltrated every fold of his tunic. Heat had painted over nature’s colour and left a sandy and featureless canvas. Even Diego’s clothes were monochrome. They camouflaged him seamlessly against the arid thirteenth-century landscape.
Only one person could afford vivid colours and fine linens, and that was Don Pedro de Azagra, the dreaded Lord of Albarracín. He flaunted the most recent arrivals from the rest of the continent and this year, 1212, it was blue. But his was far from an assured azure authority that commanded respect from the generic fawn; he was a tyrant. He ruled on a whim and by the sword. With a tell-tale stroke of his blanching stubble, he sentenced those who had wronged him to horrific deaths. He had no legitimacy, but his wealth and the fear that he instilled in the masses, kept him on his beloved pedestal. He was the richest man in Teruel and he made sure that everyone knew it.
The toiling serfs scratched out a living as they fought to regain what they had lost when the locust plague had hit four years earlier. Those infernal insects had pillaged the peasants’ crops like a million marauding Vikings. So total was the devastation, that even Diego’s family, the House of Marcilla, had been all but ruined. All they had now was their family name, one that Diego’s father had built up in his short period dispensing justice to the people of the town. Nowadays, Don Martin was merely a barren baron with a wife and three children to support. Diego and his brothers, Sancho and Domingo, were reduced to working the fields day in and day out, and only now were the shoots of new crops beginning to sprout.
At the corner, he stopped dead in his tracks. His jaw hit the floor like a discarded medicine ball at the end of an exhausting work-out. Across the narrow street, a girl seemed singled out by a spotlight as she spoke to a friend. Even at what must have been fifteen yards, James was dazzled by her earthy emerald eyes as they sparkled in the light. Her raven hair framed her flawless face and fell across it like an unclipped satin curtain. She seemed to be performing just for him, a leading lady on a street-corner stage, playing to a silent and enthralled audience of one. He hung on every movement of those sweet, pink lips as they spoke unknown and unimportant words, and he greeted every flick of that shoulder-length hair with rapturous applause. She was enchanting. Bewitching. Around her there seemed to be an aura that held him willingly captive. It enticed him with a warmth and passion that James had never known.
This was a sign alright, of that he was certain. There was an ethereal radiance to her. In that moment, she was like a sun. She had locked him in a helpless orbit, one he would have willingly stayed in forever.
Then she walked away, unaware of his presence and oblivious to the encore that his ovation craved. In that instant, James knew he had found purpose, even though he didn’t know how to embrace it. How long he stood there, he wasn’t sure. The theatre lasted mere moments but it was a show that would remain eternal in his mind.
Beyond the dull and rusting metal railings of the sea defence lay a pure page of golden sand. It was as yet unmarked after the tide’s recent retreat. On this stretch of beach there were none of the encroaching pebbles that defined the town’s western coast. The sweeping arm of the harbour protected it. Here there was nothing but castle-making sand. Not the flimsy and dusty Mediterranean sand that basked in perennial sunshine and ran through fingers like caster sugar. This beach received a daily drowning from the high tide and, on this particular day, it was still damp.
The pristine sand called as it always did to be defaced like freshly fallen snow, and James felt duty-bound to do so. He had lost track of how long it had been since he’d last felt its coarseness on his fingers and toes. A childish excitement that had been absent for a while paid him a fleeting visit.