Genre: Young Adult Romance
Word Count: 59,000
When Death falls in love with mortal Roxanne Vetrario, he is certain that his centuries-long loneliness has finally been dispelled. The youngest daughter of a Venetian glassmaker, Roxanne is everything that has fascinated Death about the humans; she is bohemian and bold, and a summer at her side amid the sparkling canals of turn-of-the-century Venice is enough to bring out the hopeless romantic in anyone. Even Death.
Before summer has turned to autumn, Roxanne’s dying day arrives, and Death is expected to part with her forever on the edges of the afterlife. But he isn’t ready to let her go without a fight.
Death begins searching for a type of glass believed to grant the holder power over death, hoping to save his love before her time runs out. But he is not the only one searching for truth in legend. Roxanne’s father is hunting too, certain he can fulfill a prophecy made on the founding stones of Venice. A prophecy that the Vetrarios would destroy Death forever.
At first, he wanted to paint everything.
The laced colors of sunset, the blushing green of the trees, the shimmer of every dust particle scattered across a beam of sunlight. And the humans – they were wondrous, with their wrinkling skin and aging bodies and emotions that bled seamlessly one into the next. He wanted to paint them all, every soul that he saved, for those were the days he still thought himself a savior. Those were the days when, if asked to describe his work, he would have layered his reply with words like privileged and rewarding.
But then, as the history of the world unfolded at his fingertips and the paint congealed upon his brushes, he found there was more he wanted to scrub away than preserve. How difficult it became to find beauty in all that suffering. And there were suddenly so many more of them – so many humans with stories to end that he lost track of them all. How heavy his hand felt as he raised it to their lips, or raised his brush to canvas, weighted by the cemeteries he had scattered behind him. He was splattered with too much blood to feel he would ever be clean.
He painted the good days. They were few. He tried to paint all the bad days as well, but found he ran out of canvas. He painted, hoping that it would ease the pain of each day being slapped in the face by their hatred as they spit at him, cursed at him, wrote sermons and poems and volumes warning him away.