Jen Printy chats with Jack Hammond
Jen: I’m here with Jack Hammond, a main character of my book, My Soul Immortal. He’s graciously agreed to come talk to us today.
Jack: Thank you for inviting me.
Jen: Let’s dive right in. You and Leah have been through a lot over the last few months. How does it feel to have Leah in your life permanently now?
Jack: Words cannot describe how liberating I feel knowing I have a future with her once again.
Jen: You’ve been on your own for a while. What parts of being in a relationship come easy for you? What parts comes hard?
Jack: Loving Leah, that has always come easy. Even when I was in denial of who she really was, I loved her. That might sounds cheesy and a bit cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true. And for the difficult parts, I suppose, honesty. Horrendous, I know. Please understand I’ve been hiding the secret of what I am for a long time, sometimes it’s hard to remember, that at least with Leah, I can be myself. Also, women and relationships have changed quite a bit in the last one hundred and fifty years, as you can imagine. I’m not complaining by any means, it’s just taken me a while to gather my bearing. Leah probably would say I still am.
Jen: What are you most afraid of?
Jack: Good question. For so long, I was afraid of never find a way to heaven, to Lydia. Following meeting Leah, I feared the day I’d lose her, first because of my secret then to death. Fate has thrown everything it had at us for quite a while. Now? Well, I’m sure I’ll find something to worry about eventually. It’s ingrained, you know.
Jen: What are your feelings about Artagan? Do you trust him?
Jack: That’s complicated. I’ll admit I’m still a tad irritated with him for keeping me out of the loop. Then again, I owe him everything. So how can I fault him? I’m just glad his little plan worked. I hope I never have to make the acquaintance of a member of the Concilium Animarum again. Excluding Artagan, of course.
Jen: Okay, it’s time of the rapid fire round.
Jack: Oh, geez.
Jack: As I’ll ever be.
Jen: The Beatles…iconic or lame?
Jack: Iconic. You’ve been talking to Leah, haven’t you?
Jen: Favorite music in Victorian times?
Jack: Anything suitable for a waltz.
Jen: Which literary character are you most like? Fitzwilliam Darcy or John Thornton?
Jen: Just answer the question.
Jen: Favorite kind of pizza?
Jack: Any kind I haven’t burnt.
Jen: Beer or wine?
Jack: Beer. Good beer, not that drivel people try to pass off as beer. Speaking of the subject, if you happen to stumble upon any Prize Old Ale, could you grab me a sixes or two? I’m becoming a bit desperate.
Jen: Sorry, my luck seems to be the same as yours. Well, that’s all the time we have today. Thanks for being with us, Jack. Hopefully, you’ll agree to join us again to promote book 2 in the Fated Eternals series.
Jack: It was my distinct pleasure.
MY SOUL IMMORTAL
An endless love, for an endless price.
Jack’s not the only mystery man in town. A stranger named Artagan hints at knowledge Jack is desperate to possess. But can he trust Artagan, or does the dark newcomer harbor deadly secrets of his own?
As Jack’s bond with Leah grows, so does the danger to her life. Jack must discover just how much he is willing to risk in order to save the woman he already lost once.
I stare at the dull-black barrel of the 9mm pointed at my chest. My gaze shifts to
my assailant’s face. His eyes narrow, and his mouth thins for an instant before
curving into a smirk.
My grip tightens on the cardboard handle, causing the beer bottles to clink
together. There’s no way this idiot is going to cost me my Prize Old Ale. It’s the
store’s last six-pack, and who knows when I’ll get more? To the ordinary Joe, this
might seem like a foolish thing to be concerned about, especially at a time like this.
But it’s the good stuff, a taste of England, and the only enjoyment I have left.
I raise my free hand and keep my voice soft, as though coaxing a feral animal.
“Let’s calm down. You don’t want to do something you’ll regret.”
The man’s glare slides to the name embroidered above the left pocket of my
navy-blue shirt, and he curses. “Jack, huh? Figures. Now you listen to me. I’m in
charge here, kid. Remember that!” The weapon jerks to the rhythm of his words,
and his eyes, although wild, are committed to finishing what he started. I recognize
that look. This man cannot be reasoned with.
Usually, I’m the only customer in here at this godforsaken hour of the night.
But tonight, Mae, the elderly lady who lives in the apartment above Irene’s Liquor,
must have decided she required self-medication to soothe her nightmares again—a
plight I sympathize with. I’ve carried her groceries upstairs enough times to know
her fondness for Jameson and her propensity for using the spirits as a sleeping aid.
Unfortunately, she came into the store at the same time the man pulled his gun.
Luckily for her, he didn’t shoot, but her thready, asthmatic gasp must’ve made him
think she was about to scream for help. He smacked her across her temple as easily
as flicking a light switch. And I, of course, unable to mind my own business,
stepped in to defend her.
A low moan rises from Mae, now sprawled on the dirty linoleum floor, and
drags my attention from the man. Her faded pink and yellow housecoat is spattered
with drying blood. Crimson trickles from the gash on her temple. Her eyes are
closed, but her chest rises and falls at a steady pace. Still breathing. But for how
long? Anger builds deep in my chest, and on cue, the sensation of icy pins and
needles shoots down my spine. I drag in a deep, ragged breath.
When my scowl meets his stare, the man squares his shoulders, his nostrils
flare, and the gun wobbles. I brace myself in anticipation of the pain. Despite
having never been shot before, I’m pretty sure this is going to sting like hell. I find
myself wondering if a bullet speeding through my chest might grab his attention,
and even though I shouldn’t allow it to, a sense of hope sprouts.
I gesture at the elderly clerk cowering by the register, and he hunches out of
sight. The gunman swings his weapon toward the counter. “Old man, are you deaf
or stupid? Stand up!”
With his attention diverted, I set my beer out of harm’s way on a shelf behind
me. I take advantage of the would-be thief’s distraction and lunge.
The gun swings back. A shot rings out. Another follows.
Each impact knocks every wisp of air from my lungs. I stumble, clutching my
abdomen, and struggle for a single breath. The pain feels like two red-hot pokers—
blunt ones, at that—being shoved through my insides. The bullets speed through
flesh and organs. Spasms quake throughout my body and slam me backward into
the shelving. The shelf teeters then collapses, taking me with down with it. Glass
shatters, and the beer’s sweet aroma rises from the shards.
I shove myself up from the wreckage. A mixture of surprise and confusion
streaks across the gunman’s face, wiping away his triumphant smile. Before he can
act, I haul back my arm. A gratifying grunt spews out of him as my fist slams into
his nose. Cartilage crunches, and he staggers backward, cupping his face with his
hand. I wrench the gun from his loosening grip then smack the butt hard against his
“You don’t hit ladies,” I say and glance down at the broken bottles at my feet.
“And that was the last sixer of Prize, dammit!” I let my finger inch toward the
trigger. I can’t help but think how easy—perhaps even noble—it would be to rid
the world of this scum. Instead, I rein my instinct and lift the gun over my
shoulder. With a restrained swing, I slam the gun against the man’s temple.
The man slumps to his knees, disoriented. I walk around him, place the sole of
my boot in the middle of his back, and apply pressure. With a rush of breath, he
falls to the floor. After tucking the gun into my waistband, I pull his arms behind
him and use the nylon twine from a nearby advertising banner to restrain them. He
doesn’t struggle; actually, he doesn’t move at all while I loop the string around his
wrists twice and yank it tight, finishing off the tether with a double-constrictor
knot. Once his hands are secure, I fold his right leg behind his back and repeat the
process then give the twine one last tug, surveying the restraint. All the while, the
old clerk frantically blabbers the Lord’s Prayer from behind the counter.
The gunman moans, and a silent sigh of relief steals through my lips. He’ll have
a whopper of a headache, but he’ll live.
The heat of adrenaline that pumped through my veins slips away, leaving a
sharp pain in my gut. I press my hand to my stomach, and a warm stickiness seeps
around my fingers. I shake my head to clear the wooziness, and my eyes flick to
the door. Hope withers when I don’t see him.
“Another no show,” I grumble. “Unreliable son of a—”
I stagger forward, my boots sliding in the remains of my beer. The shards of
glass and ruddy brown liquid froth around my feet. Nothing worth salvaging. I huff
in disgust. Losing the beer pisses me off, sure, but not as much as his failing to
I kneel to examine Mae. The bleeding has stopped, and her breathing is strong
and steady. She whimpers something incoherent.
“Shhh,” I say, wiping a loose strand of white hair from her face.
“Is she okay? I’ve called 9-1-1. Should be here soon,” the clerk says from
Dammit. I hobble to the register, slam the gun on the stained counter, and duck
out of the store into the darkness.
The clerk calls after me. His astonished babble fades away with a swing of the
door, only to be replaced by distant sirens.
Safety is five blocks away. Each step brings a new fire of radiating pain.
Despite this, I keep a steady pace. The pangs dull my sight, narrowing it to a blurry
tunnel, and I frequently melt into the shadows to listen to my surroundings. The
slightest sound—the yap of a dog or the honk of a horn—makes me flinch.
At the second intersection, three people pass. A tall, black-haired man escorts
his two female companions, a wiry arm around each, his hands low, just above the
hems of their skimpy minidresses. I’m a sight to behold. My shirt is bathed in
blood, and my jeans are stained with paths of dark scarlet. I lean against a building
and pretend to vomit in an attempt to hide the gore. Without warning, the prickle—
ancient and fresh, familiar and terrifying—stirs again and quickly blazes into an
icy burn that surges up my neck. I’ve felt the sensation too many times to count—
every time I hunger to take a life other than my own. I grit my teeth against the
cold. My rigid fingers grasp at crumbling brick and mortar. Each helps me gulp
back the craving.
The trio’s steps quicken, and the man’s baritone laughter echoes. They hustle
out of sight, taking the wintery sensation with them. How haven’t I realized how
close to the surface my monstrous need lurks? I have to get my ass home.
Once I reach Seventy-Fourth Street, I slip into the alley behind a rundown
apartment complex. The air is damp and cool. No light invades the confined space.
I relax a bit when I catch sight of the gray building. Hellhole, sweet hellhole.
I scale the back of the apartment building one step at a time. The fire escape
complains with moans and rasps, and so does my body. Every movement brings a
new wave of pain, making me groan. I slide into my apartment through my
unlocked bathroom window, yank the shade closed, and flick on the light.
I lean against the sink and breathe deeply. My hands grip the porcelain basin,
and a young man no more than twenty looks back at me from the mirror. No
external scars to remind me of what I’ve been through. My only blemish is the one
I was born with—a sickle-shaped birthmark above my left eye. I see the same
disheveled, sable hair of my youth, without an ounce of gray. My wide, square jaw
and angular features have no wrinkles even though I’m nearly the ripe old age of
one hundred seventy. The vacant blue eyes prove what I already know. I lost my
heart a long time ago, buried it too deep. “Forever blessed. What a joke.”
After splashing frigid water on my face, I strip off my blood-soaked shirt and
hunch my back to examine my wounds in the mirror. The jagged holes have begun
to heal—two entrances and one exit. I rub my hand along my spine, finding the
skin hot to the touch. I press against the hard, pea-sized protrusion under the
surface about a third of the way up my back, and I grimace. But I can’t do anything
about the bullet now. No time.
I wonder how long it’ll be until the shooting makes the news. Any normal guy
would be bleeding out in the gutter after taking two bullets to the abdomen. If I’m
found healed and healthy, I’ll become a sideshow freak and live out the rest of my
existence Lord knows where.
I tug on a T-shirt and exchange my blood-splattered jeans for a clean pair, then
I begin shoving my few belongings into a shabby black duffel.
“If he’d just shown up tonight, I wouldn’t have to deal with this crap right
now.” I thrust another handful of dirty socks into the bag.
This isn’t the first time Death has let me down. He’s stood me up many times—
stabbed through the heart and bleeding to death in a pool of my own blood, sitting
on the rocky bottom of a lake until every breath left my body—the list goes on.
Pain is as reliable as gravity, but Death never keeps his appointments. If he did, I
would be enjoying the good life in paradise, with Lydia.
At the thought of her, the ever-present ache grows as if talons are ripping away
pieces of my heart. Somehow, it keeps its endless rhythm. I know all too well that
some wounds cannot heal. Instead, they remain open and raw. Having someone
important torn away is bound to leave a hole. I gulp a deep breath, and anxiety
winds into a ball in my stomach. Memories leak in behind my eyes, calling to me,
but I groan and wrench my head to the side, ruthlessly shoving them back. I don’t
have time for an episode right now; I still have one task left to do. I stretch a
yellowed map along the flaky gray walls and pin thumbtacks into each curled
corner. No one will notice, let alone care about, the holes in the poorly treated
I step back and kiss the dart I swiped from a pub in York back in 1918 on the
day my sister died and I decided to quit England for good. Since then, the old
dart’s become a talisman of sorts. “Where are we going this time, old friend?”
With a flick of my wrist, the dart glides through the air and sticks into the map
with a thud. Just my luck. It landed in the damn Atlantic Ocean. Not caring where I
end up, I pick the closest city. Portland, Maine. Bloody marvelous. Still muttering
under my breath about the annoyances of moving, I roll up the map and thrust it
into the black duffel. I zip the bag and sling the strap over my shoulder, almost
forgetting my knapsack as I walk out of the apartment and into the graffiti-tagged
The staircase is empty, so I punt the duffel down all seven flights of stairs to rid
myself of some of the frustration. It somersaults and rolls down the steps without
objection. At the bottom, I fling the bag onto my shoulder. Taking in a deep breath,
I open the door and slink into the night, being careful to look up and down the
sidewalk. No police, no sirens, no nothing. On the dark, lonely street, I secure the
knapsack to the backseat of my old Triumph Bonneville with a couple bungees.
After I slip the strap of the duffel over my head and shoulder, I climb onto the bike.
I wriggle around, trying to find the most comfortable position. Although no longer
painful, my back is tender, and the bag’s weight is a persistent reminder. I give up
on comfort and turn the ignition. The motorcycle rumbles to life. I head out of Los
Angeles and onto the open road.
Since childhood, Jen Printy has been writing. Whether stories about a fantasy world or everyday life in Maine, Jen loved losing herself in the worlds she
created on paper. The arts in all forms have always been an important part of Jen's life, a love instilled in her by her father. When Jen isn't writing, she's sculpting as a freelance doll artist
Jen lives with her husband, two daughters, and diva dog Cookie in southern Maine, where she loves spending time friends and family, finding treasures along the seashore, or enjoying a Guinness at her favorite local pub.
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