Excerpt: 'The Regime'

"The Regime," released today, is the 14th book in the popular "Left Behind" series -- a prequel to the fictionalized account of the Book of Revelations, which covers the apocalyptic events leading up to the second coming of Christ.

The "Left Behind" series -- authored by minister Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins -- is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. "Left Behind" refers to all the non-believers who will be left behind after believing Christians are raised to heaven

You can read an excerpt from "The Regime" below.

Chapter One

The white Bentley glided beneath the canopy over the veranda of the most expansive estate in Romania. From the two-story foyer, Nicolae Carpathia watched through the draperies as the driver and a security guard stepped quickly from the vehicle.

The driver stood next to his door. The guard hurried to the opposite back door, awaiting Carpathia. Both, Nicolae knew, bore compact Uzis beneath their uniforms.

The approach of the car had triggered a coded signal inside the house and brought one of the maids hurrying to the door. She slowed, then stopped, when she saw Nicolae at the window.

"I have it, Gabriella," he said, without turning. He could see her bowing and retreating in the reflection.

He had to admit it was out of character to be impatiently waiting for his ride. Commonly his house staff would have to come find him in his office, or the library, or wherever. His was the only schedule that mattered.

But today Nicolae was eager. He'd enjoyed one full day and night since his ordeal -- forty days fasting in a desolate wilderness that should have cost him at least twenty-five pounds. Indeed, when he had found himself back in his bed in his tattered silk pajamas, it seemed he could see every rib, feel every bony protrusion.

Nicolae had gathered his household and import/export business staff and had them quickly bring him up to speed. Meanwhile, he slowly introduced small meals into his day. To his amazement, his body seemed to fill out and strengthen, almost as if he had not endured the fast. By the end of the day he had felt himself again. It was as if the flesh had returned to his skeleton.

If he had never before felt like a man of destiny, Nicolae did this morning. Besides what had always seemed superhuman mental acuity, after the encounter in the desert he believed he now had a mission. He had humbled himself, dedicated himself to a being greater than himself, submitted himself to the ultimate spirit guide who promised him the world in exchange for Nicolae's devotion. Such a great prize for such a small price.

His human counselors had proven inept, naïve, weak. Reiche Planchette was twice Nicolae's age and yet was easily bullied. His ersatz aunt, Viv Ivins, was immensely helpful and valuable, but too starry-eyed and fawning to take seriously as a counselor. Not that she didn't try. The staff knew she spoke for him and thus respected her; they didn't have to know he barely listened to her.

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