Chapter One

West Siberia, Russia

1922

She was haunting him, he knew it. She won't stop. No matter where I hide, she'll follow. Miles dragged a shaking hand over his rough jaw and set to pacing again. This time he'd seen her on the outskirts of the city, a city ravaged by peasant uprisings against the newly stated policies of communism in Russia.

Miles hadn't paid attention to the world around him much. War, famine, plague and government threatened to push him further and further outside the safety net of civilization. Yet he allowed it. The sight of her alone is enough to drive a man mad.

Cries from the outside broke into his thoughts and without a doubt he knew that hers was among them. Steeling himself against the onslaught of real emotion he hadn't let himself feel for over two decades he forced open the door of his wooden prison.

Wind whipped around him like an icy death grip but he didn't fear the pain any longer. What he really feared lay inside the eyes of one woman set upon this earth to be his everlasting torment. He swore softly as he spotted a flash of skirts in the distance.

It was her. Emmaline.

The snow billowed around her in the harsh climate threatening to take the life itself from her body. He watched in horror as she stumbled and fell sideways into the brush a scant mile from his hut. Yet even at this distance he could see her clearly enough. Her face wore an expression of shock at her fast decent into the snow drifts piling up around her feet. His heart clenched at the sight. It's too soon. I've just found her.

Mounting his horse Miles urged it in her direction against its will. Several moments later he had secured her limp and unconscious body atop the saddle and was returning to the one place he had hoped to hide from her.

An hour later she was still asleep. Her skin that had once been pale and icy to the touch was now growing colored in the warmth of his cabin.

Miles set to wearing thin the rugs. He allowed himself another glance in her direction. How had she found him so soon? It had only been a year past his second decade of unrest. Wouldn't her soul ever rest? Didn't she know what this did to him? Or could she really be so unaware? He cursed loudly this time throwing his fist into the wall. He welcomed the pain, anything to focus on but her.

His eyes flitted back to her face. Gods she is beautiful. My Emmaline. His breast tightened in recognition of not only her body but her soul. The soul that had captivated him for nearly a thousand years. The one that now held only his uncertain future.

Her lips curved slightly in rest and he wondered what she dreamt of. What did this version of Emmaline hold? More things for him to realize about her that he could never have and never would again. Sliding his gaze down over her face he welcomed the momentary relief of having her safe with him. For now.

Her rich brown hair had dried into a curling mass upon the pillow and a small tendril curled over her cheek. He reached out to touch it and stifled a groan. How had he gone twenty-one years without seeing her face? Her pale skin was alight with a healthy pink flush in the firelight and he itched to trace his fingers down her jaw line. To memorize her features yet again. Each time he buried her in the Earth he felt as if her gaze had been burned into his mind, yet he found after a decade without her her visage faded in his mind.

Awash with doubt he let his fingers move slowly over her features. Her eyelids, covering stunning eyes of deep brown he remembered all too well. Her sweeping black lashes fanning out delicately on her cheeks. Her small nose, so perfect. And her full pink lips he thought never to taste again. Mine. She was once all mine.

He shook himself from the daydream. To have her so close, after so many years of running. It was a failure. He was her downfall, her death. And she? She was his curse. Sent from the pits below to always follow him in spirit, yet never be frozen into immortality. As was his other curse.

Miles pushed away from the bed in despair. He had run to the ends of the Earth from her. Dozens of times he had tried to turn her into an immortal, tried to save her. Offered up his soul, screamed his terrors into the night to take him instead. He'd consulted soothsayers, oracles, and witches. None would help him. You are the forsaken one, they'd said. Any who offered him aid would perish.

And some had, he'd appealed to a lonely witch one eve a mere fifty years past, asked for a cloaking spell, anything to shield himself from her soul, hoping he'd be able to save her from himself. Yet before the witch had even started the spell she had been cast dead before his eyes.

His curse. To know no death, and forever walk alone. Emma had always paid the price. She was his weakness. For some reason no matter how far he journeyed or how he tried, her soul always found his. Reincarnated into the same form, yet always with no memory of who she was or ever loving him.

He stopped short in front of her again, wringing his hands. She stirred slightly in her sleep and his heart thundered in his ears. Maybe, each heartbeat sang to him.

Maybe this time was different. It was the question that plagued his existence. Always eluding him. Miles realized with a jolt of alarm that it always would. As long as she is near I can't help but hope.

She awakened something within him, something always lost to the skies after she left him all too soon. Yet she was here now and all he wanted was another chance to keep her forever. He steeled himself against the future and sat on the bed beside her.

Placing a hand on either side of her face he leaned in close to her ear and whispered from his heart, "If it's the last thing I do, I'll figure out how to fix this."