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       Forbidden, p.1

           Amy Miles

  Books by Amy Miles

  The Rising Trilogy Box Set

  Defiance Rising







  Waiting On Us

  Obsidian Flames

  A Love Restored

  In Your Embrace


  an Arotas novel


  Amy Miles

  Copyright © 2011 by Amy Miles

  Createspace ISBN: 978-1467931120

  This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to a person, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

  All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.

  Table of Contents

















































  Continue the Series

  Reckoning preview

  Books by Amy Miles

  About the Author

  For my family, whose love and support

  carried me through the long

  hours and restless nights.

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  Transylvania, 1689

  Roseline Dragomir peeks out from her hiding place behind the altar, searching for the man who led her wedding guests to slaughter. From the moment she had been presented to him, she saw evil in her suitor’s eyes. His stance was firm, overbearing, and far too possessive for a casual introduction. His skin was frightfully pale, his smile leering as if she were a meal to savor. She’d tried to warn her father against Vladimir Enescue’s marriage proposal, but he was blinded by Vladimir’s vast wealth, a castle, and a bloodline to rival any in Romania.

  All her father got, in return, was a sword through his chest.

  Roseline’s gaze darts about the room, flitting high over the lifeless faces that stare at the ceiling. She dares not focus on any of them for fear of her nerve crumbling entirely.

  Her fourteen-year-old sister, Adela, trembles in her arms. Tight straw-blonde curls quiver against her face; pink bows sit askew in her hair. Blood and soot smudge the freckles from her heart-shaped face. Roseline must remain strong for her.

  Vladimir’s older brother, Lucien, blocks their only exit. His maniacal gaze sweeps the aisles, searching for survivors.

  The rectory at the front of the church was set ablaze during the massacre and acrid smoke now hangs thick in the air. It coils into Roseline’s lungs, grating against her throat. Small wisps of smoke rise from the tips of her loosely curled bronze hair. She beats the embers against her white corset, wincing at the blood that clings to her narrow waist and trails down to bare feet. This blood came from her father.

  There is nowhere to go and no one left to help them. She and Adela are the only ones left alive. Roseline’s chest rises and falls rapidly, her pulse thumping in her ears as she fights back tears. Her parents are gone. Her beloved brother and friends too. Her new husband has murdered everyone she has ever cared for…except Adela. Roseline vows to do whatever it takes to save her sister.

  The wailing cries of the dying faded away a few minutes ago, only to be replaced by an odd slurping noise. Vladimir’s giddy laughter ricochets off the church walls as he celebrates with his brother.

  Roseline cradles her sister, lifting desperate prayers for protection heavenward. Fear seeps into the marrow of her bones, rooting her in place. Where is Vladimir? Why has he not finished them off yet?

  Wide baby-blue eyes stare up at Roseline. Adela’s delicate fingers claw at her arms, pleading with Roseline to flee. To make the bad men disappear. Oh, how she wishes this was all just a terrible dream.

  “Roseline,” Vladimir croons. His boots squelch in the lifeblood of her friends and family. From this vantage point, she can see her father’s family ring exposed in the aisle. It's eagle crest drips with drying blood.

  Vladimir tsks as he slowly mounts the steps toward the altar. “This is no way to treat your husband, Roseline. Your mother would be ashamed by such abhorrent manners.”

  Adela trembles in Roseline’s arms as the sound of Vladimir’s sword, trailing along the stone floor, draws near. Her pale pink lips quiver as she presses into Roseline’s chest.

  Heat from the flames licks Roseline’s face while cool moonlight filters through the church windows above. She closes her eyes against the fear that threatens to handicap her mind. They cannot wait much longer. Soon the tapestries will engulf in flames, and then the pews, and then the…bodies.

  An eerie silence hangs over the room. Roseline shivers, fighting to stave off the terror encroaching on her mind. She must be brave for Adela.

  “Come out, my love. It is time,” Vladimir calls, his words disgustingly intimate.

  Roseline shifts, tugging the soiled hem of her dress back from view. Her skin crawls. She peeks out around the edge of the altar. Someone is watching her. She can feel eyes upon her.

  Only a few feet away, Vladimir stands, twirling his bloodied sword. His chin and jaw are painted crimson, staining his pale flesh. A severe nose makes his face appear gaunt, and his crazed eyes far more fearsome than she remembered, but his eyes are not on her.

  Roseline arches her back to look to the rear of the church. Vladimir’s older brother posted himself near the exit when the massacre began, slaughtering any who dared to attempt escape. Her brother fell to Lucien’s sword, as did so many of her friends who begged for mercy. They were shown none. Now, Lucien is missing.

  She looks up. There, perched in the crossbeams of the rafters, is Lucien. A wide, gruesome grin stretches across his face. A crazed glint darkens his eyes. His lips peel back to reveal bloodstained teeth. His long hair spills over his shoulders, matted with blood. Fingernail claw marks along his arms and face make Roseline shudder. Who lived long enough to rake flesh from his cheeks?

  Adela’s hands flail as Roseline cups off her scream, squeezing her sister into submission.

  “Come out, Roseline. It is time to begin our wedding night celebrations.” Vladimir twirls; drops of blood, clinging to his three-quarter-length coat, splat
ter the altar. Roseline gags. She would rather die than let this monster touch her.

  Adela whimpers behind her hand. Roseline shakes her head, begging her sister to remain silent. Her pulse thunders in her ears as she searches for a weapon. A golden cross lies ahead, trapped under the sacrament plates.

  Her mind screams for her to snatch up the cross and protect her sister, but Lucien is overhead. A rash movement will no doubt bring Adela’s end.

  “Stay here,” she whispers, pressing her sister tightly up against the altar. Roseline stands and faces her new husband.

  “Ah, there you are,” Vladimir grins. He steps toward her, bloodied hands outstretched.

  Roseline’s legs tremble as she forces one foot in front of the next. The closer she draws to Vladimir, the more unprotected Adela becomes, but what choice does she have?

  “Please—” her voice cracks. She clears her throat, willing strength into her words. “Please do not harm my sister. She is all that remains.”

  Vladimir’s fingers slide around her wrist, pulling her to him. Roseline crashes into his broad chest, grimacing at the blood dripping from the tips of his white-blond hair. His long fingernail trails down her cheek. “You are enchanting,” he whispers.

  Something lurks within his blackened eyes. Lust? Definitely, but there is something more. Something almost bordering affection.

  Adela’s scream wrenches Roseline back from Vladimir’s gaze. She whips around, tethered to his hand. “No!”

  Lucien appears from behind Adela’s shoulder, fingers curling through her hair. Strands of gold part from her scalp as she strains against his hold, only a few feet away. Lucien’s dark eyes inflame with blood lust. His nostrils flare as he sniffs Adela’s neck.

  Vladimir smirks. “Easy, brother. There will be time for that later.”

  Adela’s wide eyes latch onto Roseline. Mewling sounds rise from her throat as she strains against Lucien’s grasp. The muscles along her forearms pull taut as she fights to touch Roseline’s outstretched hands.

  “It is time, brother,” Lucien growls, his eyes focused on the moonlight streaming through the windows.

  “Time for what?” Roseline whimpers, turning to look at Vladimir.

  He smiles down at her, curling his finger along her cheekbone. “Do not worry. It will all be over soon.”

  Adela’s piercing screams tear at her as Lucien waves a blade before her sister’s eyes. Adela frantically bucks the arm that snakes around her chest. Her cries give way to wailing pleas.

  “No, please,” Roseline begs, tears spilling from her eyes. “Take me instead. Just let her go.”

  Vladimir’s hauntingly handsome face shows no emotion. “The pain will only be for a moment.”

  “Roseli—” Adela’s cry gurgled from her throat as the blade slices cleanly through her flesh. A thin red line appears first, and then a shower of blood cascades down her neck, staining her pale pink dress. Her eyes bulge as she fights for breath. Delicate fingers attempt to staunch the outpouring.

  As the life in Adela’s eyes begins to fade away, a scream blots out all other sound in the room, wrapping Roseline in a crescendo of torment. Adela’s blood spurts onto the gossamer fabric of her wedding dress, adding her lifeblood to that of her family.

  She is completely alone now.

  Lucien holds the dagger out to Vladimir as he steps back, releasing Adela. Roseline’s heart falters as her sister pitches forward, out of her sight. Vladimir’s face replaces Adela’s, only inches from her own.

  Roseline blinks rapidly, trying to focus. Vladimir’s words sound muffled in her ears.

  “Tonight is the celebration of our union and your birth. Your sister has given her life so that you may have yours. All ties have been severed to your past now so that you may join me in molding the future.”

  Vladimir wipes the soiled blade on his white dress shirt. Roseline focuses on the blood, unable to tear her gaze away, even as the dagger pierces her heart. Pain ripples through her chest, making it hard to breathe as her knees buckle.

  Her head smacks against the floor; her gaze locks onto the vacant eyes of her fallen sister. Roseline clenches her eyes closed, praying that death will find her quickly. A veil of numbness settles over her.

  A sweet aroma tickles her nose as she teeters on the brink of consciousness. There is a rustling of fabric as something warm brushed along her lips. The scent of Adela’s lavender oil disappears under the metallic scent surrounding her. “Drink, dearest.”

  A finger parts her lips. She gags on the thick liquid that floods down her constricted throat. Hauntingly beautiful words fill the air, wrapping tightly around her. She can feel their power as an ancient magic weaves through her being. The pain in her chest begins to recede. Cells begin to mend. The fissure, created by the knife, knits back together.

  A burning begins in her stomach. Her toes curl, fingers clenching into claws, as she clings to the taste. Need gives way to unrelenting hunger. Healing warmth floods through every inch of her body.

  Then…the pain begins.


  Romania, Present Day

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