A Vampire's Embrace, p.17Part #2 of Blood Rose Time Travel series by Caris Roane
His eyes burned. He couldn’t imagine what her life had been like for two years, the horror she’d suffered.
He couldn’t do anything for her right now, though, not with the sun up. But as soon as full dark arrived, he’d be ready and Holly was committed to helping him.
Finally, his eyes closed and he dropped into a sleep about as fast as Holly had.
Sometime later, he awoke abruptly. Holly was thrashing.
As he sat up, she swung her arm wide. With her fist closed, she clobbered him in the face.
Instinctively, he caught her arm. He expected her to wake up. Instead, with eyes closed, she settled down. He released his hold on her arm and she turned on her side away from him.
He lay back down. But with his adrenaline pumping, he had a hard time falling back asleep.
Maybe an hour or two later, the same thing occurred. She was moaning and moving her head around, then her hips. Her legs came next. He had enough sense to catch her arms before she hit him again. But this time, she was talking, “I can’t fall in love with a man who makes war. I won’t lose another one.”
Since Holly had never dated a fighting man, he knew she was talking about the loss of her brother, Scott.
His issues were as dark as they could get. But he often forgot what it was like for Holly that she’d lost her best friend when her brother had died.
They’d both suffered deep, painful losses.
He moved in behind her, spooning her. He wrapped his arm around her tight and pulled her close. “You’re okay, Baby.” He kept his voice low and petted her head. “We’ll both be okay. You’ll see.”
In her sleep, she heaved a deep sigh.
Holly forced herself to wake up. It wasn’t always this way with her. But after everything that had happened, she swore she could have slept for days.
She heard the shower shut off. Rolling onto her back, she stared up at the ceiling. She wasn’t sure Rez had seen it. She’d painted a starry night sky streaked with wispy clouds over the whole then added smooth, dark wood beams.
She never tired of looking at the mural during the day. But when the shutters rose, she’d go outside and enjoy the real thing. She had a wood lounge chair on the gravel in the yard for just that purpose. She often spent her early morning hours before dawn, bundled up with a soft blanket, a glass of wine in her hand, her gaze fixed to the night sky.
Maybe the mural eased the vampire in her, the less dominant half of her realm nature.
Thoughts of her vampire-self made her touch her gums once more. They’d healed through the night. She recalled taking Rez’s blood. Without warning, her body shivered and shuddered and her sex tightened erotically.
She was so surprised by the strong visceral reaction, she cried out, “Oh.”
A moment later, Rez called back, “You okay in there?” She realized the shower had stopped running.
“I’m fine.” She clamped a hand over her mouth.
He appeared in the doorway near the bank of windows and her hand eased away. Sometimes life served up a whole series of shocks, however, because seeing him gave her another serious jolt. He was working a towel through his hair and wore only a second towel wrapped low on his hips.
His warrior body.
He was built on powerful lines. His six-five frame with so many well-defined muscles made her heart skip a beat.
“You sure you’re okay? Last night was, well, full of a lot of new and difficult situations.”
She leaned up on her elbows, though she kept the sheet pulled over her breasts. “As it was for you.”
“But I’m used to battle.” He settled the loose towel around his neck then sat down on the side of the bed.
He covered her hand. “You must be exhausted.” He looked concerned.
“Actually, now that I’m more awake I think I feel pretty great. I slept well. Although for a moment there, when I first opened my eyes, I swore I could have slept for a year.” When his brows rose, she added, “What?”
He chuckled. “You don’t remember, do you?”
“Remember what? Last night? Of course, I do.”
When he shook his head, she asked again. “Okay. What don’t I remember?”
“You woke me up thrashing. You even punched me in the face. Later, you were talking in your sleep.”
“Oh, no.” Holly put a hand to her cheek. The covers had slipped a bit so she tugged them back up. “I’m so sorry I hit you. But what did I say?”
He appeared to debate telling her. “Not sure. You mumbled something about your brother. That much I know.”
“Oh, right. He’s been on my mind lately. Maybe because of battling the Invictus last night.” She looked away from him and drew a deep breath. “But I really am okay. Have you given much thought to the night’s plan?”
He let go of her hand and rose to his feet. “I have a few ideas. But coffee first?”
“Sweet Goddess, yes!”
He laughed again. “Coming up.” He grabbed his gear and returned to the bathroom.
She was surprised to learn she’d been thrashing since she felt so well-rested.
She reviewed the prior night’s events from the beginning. She’d healed Rez and felt so sexually driven toward him that she had hot sex against an oak tree. They’d battled five Invictus pairs using the time-path. Oregis and Davido showed up and off they went once more within the continuum to discover and investigate the lair of a heinous dark fae name Lanarae and her accomplice, Mastyr Cruce.
Her thoughts settled down as she pondered the terrible reality of all those wraiths penned up in the cavern. She knew instinctively they were being used as blood cattle. It now seemed likely Lanarae had found a method of creating Invictus pairs by using wraith-blood.
For a long moment, she began to wonder what was happening to her. Her faeness had kicked in as it never had before. She was caught up in an extraordinary point in time, a kind of convergence.
She put a hand to her chest. She was a blood rose. She could feel the beginnings of a new supply for Rez. She could also detect the level of his blood-need and it was low. This alone was extraordinary.
She sat up slowly and shoved some of the comforter behind her to keep her lower back warm. Wrapping her arms around her knees, she stared at the shutters opposite the bed. With the sun setting, it wouldn’t be long before they rose for the night.
Settling her chin on her knees, what struck her was the incredible reality that she now had fangs. She touched her tongue to the place on her gums where they would emerge from a very complex arrangement near her incisors. She felt the slightly raw spots and sent more healing.
A sudden, powerful memory, of taking Rez’s blood, surged once more. What followed was a wave of sexual energy and a need that almost had her crying out, even calling for Rez.
But how wise would that be? Though her libido wanted to hop on the bullet train, she experienced a profound need to put on the breaks.
So, she did.
Rez was suddenly in her mind however. What’s going on? Then in a lower timbre, he added, Do you need me? Even within her head, his voice had dropped to a deeper, sexier octave. He was making an offer, but she knew she needed to refuse.
I’m fine. Just hopping in the shower. She made good on her response by shoving the covers back and heading to the bathroom.
~ ~ ~
Rez didn’t mistake the scent that perfumed the whole house and it was sex. He wore a fresh set of leathers that was so tight right across the crotch he could hardly breath.
He had no idea what had given sudden rise to her desire for him. But it took every ounce of strength he possessed not to head back to the bedroom and hunt her down.
He tried picking up his mug, but his hands shook. He focused on breathing.
It helped that the shutters began to rise. He shifted to watch the forest and the distant stars come into view.
Holly had cleared a viewing path to the forest mountains i
At last, his body calmed down. He picked up his coffee and crossed to the large picture window. Squirrels raced across the needle strewn ground. His world was very like earth, except even the birds and animals were active at night in the Nine Realms.
He felt a powerful vibration against his telepathy. Someone was asking permission to talk to him.
It took him a few seconds recognize the caller.
The ruling mastyr of Tannisford would be their first stop. Holly and I have news. Big news. Can we meet up?
Glad to hear it and yes. Be at my lake house in ten.
Holly needs to eat and she’s showering. Given how rugged the night before had been and that tonight’s activities would no doubt be equally as taxing, she deserved a shower and a good meal to start. How about a half hour? I want to make sure she’s taken care of.
Done. Davido says you can get here no problem through the time-path? Is that true?
Looks like it.
Okay. I want to hear everything. Stone pathed the location then ended the telepathic call.
Rez eased up his hold on his mug. Memories of the beating he’d taken came back suddenly and in full force. Only this time, he finally understood Stone’s reaction prompting the attack in the first place.
He brought his mug to his lips and drank. He returned to the kitchen to scramble a few eggs and make some toast.
He only paused when Holly arrived. “I’m starving. That smells like heaven.”
As he buttered the bread his gaze became fixed to hers. She didn’t even seem real somehow. A blood rose. A powerful fae. Rare fangs.
So beautiful with her long hair to her waist. He doubted she had the smallest idea how appealing she was. There was an innocence to her that got to him. Her male students probably had hard-ons the whole time she taught.
He could smell the rich, healing quality of her blood and detected the extra supply she was making for him. The scent carried geranium, but mostly it was her.
He looked away abruptly and busied himself with loading the plates. He added a fork for each then slid hers along the counter. “Stone wants us at his lake house in thirty.”
She picked up her plate then carried it to the table. She sat where she had the morning before. “His lake house. I understand it’s hidden behind mist. But isn’t that where Margetta attacked the Combined Forces not long before the final battle?”
“It is.” A recounting had been in all the papers. Stone had delivered the details himself.
He brought his own plate to the table and sat down.
She took a bite of toast. Her gaze slid over his bare shoulders since he wore only a tank. She blinked slowly. He resisted the urge to flex for her.
She looked away and settled her gaze out the window. He wasn’t fooled. A rush of her mating scent washed over him. His balls tingled and his cock hardened.
This wasn’t going to be easy.
He tackled his breakfast and didn’t care if he was being rude. She watched him then laughed.
He met her gaze and with his mouth way too full, he mumbled, “What?” There was nothing funny about this.
“I was just remembering what it was like to be sixteen, how I felt on the verge of sex every other second. Only with you, with how you’re built, and with all my blood rose hormones racing through me, well, it’s about a thousand times worse.”
He chuckled and stopped wolfing. It was good to laugh. They were in it now. Each had decided on this path. He wasn’t alone.
It seemed strange to even have the thought: He wasn’t alone.
He’d been alone for two years.
He frowned needing to make his reality clear both to himself and to her. For the present, they had a job to do. “I can’t be with you. Long term, I mean. I need you to know that.”
~ ~ ~
Holly sighed. “You think it’ll be that simple, Rez? I have my own reasons, as you know, for not being happy about this arrangement. But after last night, I don’t know what’s going to happen next. For one thing, I never thought I’d have fangs and engage in a blood draw, but now I swear it’s all I think about.”
She put her hand to her chest. “I’m building a new supply and I know exactly how much as of this minute you need. It’s as though the part of me that is a blood rose releases a steady stream of energy straight to your core. I’m constantly taking measurements. Can you feel it as well?”
He shook his head slowly.
Holly frowned. “Really?”
She watched him gather up a last bite of eggs on his fork. “Nope. Not at all.” The fork went into his mouth.
“Then I wonder if this would apply to all the mastyrs I meet.”
His arm shot out and he grabbed her wrist, though he gentled his hold at the last second. “Don’t even think it.”
She was stunned on so many levels. He had hold of her arm in an aggressive way all because she’d mentioned ‘other mastyrs’. Worse though, his touch thrilled her and sent shivers chasing each other all over her body.
His gaze dropped to the hold he had on her and it seemed he made a monumental decision to let her go. “Sorry about that.”
She chuckled again. “Yeah. This will be so-o-o simple.”
He picked up his plate and rose from the table. “Okay, maybe it’s not going to be easy and straightforward.” He continued speaking as he moved into the kitchen. “But, I repeat, I don’t have a damn thing for you long-term. We’ll just have to figure something out when the time comes.”
She gained her feet as well and gathered up her own dishes. “But don’t you see the predicament that puts me in? I’m going to have to go out there at some point in the very near future and find a vampire mate. And I don’t want to.”
She swore his hands shook as he started rinsing the dishes. She also felt a wave of his mastyr power rush over her, full of possession, in the same way he’d grabbed her wrist.
His jaw was rigid. “I promise you, I’ll help you do just that.”
She hardly knew what to say. It was the last thing she’d expected to hear from him after a day’s sleep. His words rankled. His attitude as well. Wasn’t she good enough for the deserter? Except he wasn’t a deserter and it now seemed disloyal of her to even think it. He’d served the entire northeast for the past two years and had saved dozens of lives in the process, especially in those places the Guard couldn’t have reached quickly enough.
Still, why wasn’t she good enough for him?
“You know, I’m considered a catch at university.”
He took her dishes from her hands. Somehow her words poked a hole in the tension and he smiled. “I’m sure you are. You’re not the woman I thought you were, either. You’ve surprised me several times since this all began.”
She opened her mouth to protest, when another thought struck. “I just realized I could say the same thing of you. You’re not at all what I expected.”
She glanced at the remnants of eggs in the frying pan and the crumbs by the toaster. She lifted her brows and nudged him away from the sink. “I won’t leave my kitchen dirty. Period.”
His smile broadened. “I’ll help.”
~ ~ ~
“I had you investigated.”
Rez shifted his gaze to Stone, but the ruling mastyr didn’t look at him. Instead, he stood facing the lake, arms crossed over his chest, gaze fixed to the skies.
Rez felt his heels start to dig in. “Investigated about what?”
This was not a good beginning. He wondered if he and Stone would end up fighting again. Maybe they should have stayed with their women since the last time this happened, Rez had thrown a punch.
Stone lifted an arm and gestured with a sweep across the sky and well above the lake, east to west. “Margetta was there surrounded by powerful Invictus mastyrs. She’d created an impenetrable mist. I wasn’t sure any of us would survive.”
Rez remained silent.
Stone finally shifted in Rez’s direction, both arms lowered, neither in fists.
But Rez was ready. If he needed to battle Stone, he would. So be it, but like hell he was apologizing for the decisions he’d made.
“You weren’t here, Mastyr Rez.”
“No. I wasn’t.” Rez kept his breathing steady and slow, though his hands had already begun to ball into fists.
“At the same time the Guard was here, there was an Invictus incident not far from Millerell, a hamlet called Rockpoint. A troll child by the name of Seth, seven-years-old, was plucked off the street. By all accounts, seems a vampire warrior type went in pursuit, saved the child and dispatched the wraith-pair.”
Rez looked away from Stone. He remembered getting the panicked call. He’d gone out in his blue jeans, tank, and no shoes. He’d flown like a maniac.
He’d heard the child’s screams. The wraith had her fangs ready to sink into the boy’s throat.
When children were involved, a switch always got thrown for Rez. He couldn’t remember the details of the fight. That was a blur. But by the time he reached the female wraith, Rez had already sliced her vampire Invictus mate to the spine. With her mate dead, she’d fallen in a heap and the boy had rolled from her arms. Ending the wraith’s life had taken a split-second.
He’d picked up the child, limp in his arms, and had flown him to a fae healer who lived on the outskirts of the village. He’d gotten the child to her in time.
Stone’s voice cut through the memory. “You slaughtered an Invictus pair and saved a child.”
“Yes. Seth. I remember him.”
Stone’s lips quirked. “You weren’t wearing shoes. That’s what was in the report. That’s what the villagers recalled.”
He shook his head. “As soon as I got the call, I was in the air. Didn’t stop to think.”
Stone huffed a sigh. “My Guardsman is still out in the field investigating. He’s texted several incidences, from the past two years, in that village alone.”
A Vampire's Embrace by Caris Roane / Romance & Love / Mystery & Detective have rating 4.6 out of 5 / Based on41 votes