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A vampires embrace, p.19
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       A Vampire's Embrace, p.19

         Part #2 of Blood Rose Time Travel series by Caris Roane
 
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  Her throat tightened as reality worked through body.

  The worst had happened. In the space of one night, she’d fallen in love with the vampire.

  He glanced around. “Have you got a washcloth handy?”

  It took her a moment to corral her thoughts and focus. “I was thinking the same thing. Just pull out the second drawer on the left.”

  He reached over, grabbed a cloth and eased out of her body. As he did, he pressed it against her sex.

  He took a moment to clean up then gave her some privacy. She was grateful for it, not just for the awkward movements necessary to take care of business herself, but the emotional space. She couldn’t believe they’d just done this. Again.

  And it had been freaking hot.

  As she tidied her hair, her gaze fell to the two small puncture wounds at her throat. They hadn’t completely disappeared yet and there was still some redness around them. She could have sent some healing straight to each spot. Instead, she touched them and remembered what it was like to feed Rez while he made love to her.

  She drew a soft intake of breath. She’d loved it, yet love didn’t seem quite the right word, not specific enough.

  More like, cherished.

  Feeding this man had become important to her. What she couldn’t discern was whether this had real personal significance or if she’d feel this way about any mastyr because she was a blood rose.

  She lifted her arm to her nose and sniffed. His scent was there, something so specific to Rez she would know it anywhere.

  Rez.

  He wasn’t anything like she’d thought he would be. He was intense, of course. Her brother had been in the same mold. She supposed it came from having a dominant warrior gene. He was handsome as hell and a wonderful lover. He was always right with her, looking at her, feeling her. It was a kind of attentiveness that was also new to her. She didn’t like comparing any man to a former lover, but this quality set him apart from the others.

  The same attribute spilled over to other parts of their relationship. She thought about how he’d been during two meals now. He’d made sure she’d eaten. He’d prepared breakfast earlier. And coffee.

  She’d had several boyfriends before Rez. She knew from experience these were not small things, though they were in some ways incidental. He made sure she was taken care of.

  She sighed suddenly as she thought of her brother. He’d always admired Rez as a fellow warrior. Yet, if Rez had returned to the Guard, would her brother still be alive?

  On the other hand, if he’d rejoined the ranks, wouldn’t that have meant the deaths of all the villagers Rez had saved?

  Rez’s voice entered her mind. We should get going.

  Almost done.

  She took a moment to heal the wounds, put on a fresh thong, then levitated back to the living room. Easier than walking in stilettos.

  Rez stood by the bank of windows looking out at the forest. Even in profile he was deadly good-looking. No, nothing about this arrangement or this man was simple. Blood rose or not, she was deeply attracted to him. This much she could admit to herself.

  He turned toward her as she drew close. “Oregis will meet us at my house.”

  “Isn’t that pretty far for him to be levitating?”

  “Would be, but apparently Davido’s helping out.”

  “Davido?” The fact that one of the most powerful of realm-folk had remained involved, even if just to transport Oregis, surprised her. “That’s something, isn’t it?”

  “What do you mean?” Rez frowned slightly.

  “Well, how often have you been in Davido’s company during your lifetime? Now he’s going to move Oregis from place-to-place?”

  “Point taken. Then again, I think we both know we’re in the middle of something extraordinary on several levels. But let’s get to my house. Oregis has suggested I turn up the heat level on my own clothes as well.”

  She purred softly. “I like the sound of that.”

  He chuckled, a sound she was growing to love.

  When he offered his arm, she took it, warmed up her time-pathing frequency then focused on his home. The trip was so quick, she’d arrived in the center of his house near the kitchen before she’d blinked.

  “That was fast.” Even Rez seemed surprised.

  “It was, wasn’t it?”

  “I’ll be quick, too.”

  Holly thought about the speed for a second. Her powers were increasing, another result of her blood rose capacity coming online.

  She glanced at her hands. They weren’t shaking and she didn’t feel dizzy. She’d taken Rez’s blood, was that part of the equation as well?

  A few minutes later, Rez returned to the living room. “I feel like an idiot wearing this get up. But this was Oregis’s orders via Davido and Vojalie. What do you think?”

  Holly turned in his direction and swore her heart stopped, though the gasp coming out of her throat didn’t. He wore his usual black tank but had added several small thick chains around his neck. It was the rest of his outfit, however, that got to her. He wore a black suit coat, designed with a pull-back at the hips to reveal sleek leathers. And damn, he’d donned the sexiest hip boots she’d ever seen with lines of silver studs across the top of each.

  He looked like something out of every woman’s fantasy.

  His smile was crooked as he moved close. He planted his hands on her waist. “Do you like me in this?”

  She opened her mouth. “Rez, you’re sexy as hell and you know it.”

  She then kissed him. Of course, this left behind a whole lot of her red lipstick, which she quickly rubbed off his lips. “Sorry about that.”

  “Don’t apologize.” It took her a moment to realize something had changed. With him.

  “What?”

  “Holly, what’s happening here? With you and me?”

  She placed a hand on his face. “I don’t know. I feel like I’m coming to know you, really know you. It’s as though we’re connected through my blood rose gift in ways we never could have been in the normal realm world. Every minute that passes feels like a day with you.”

  He nodded. “There’s a subtle vibration between us as well. I feel it, too. I’m sensing things you’re experiencing and feeling. As for our current mission, I want you to know how grateful I am that you’re willing to go to Underworld with me. It will be a dangerous situation.”

  “I know.” She felt she needed to add, “But with the time-path, we have some protection and that’s a huge part of my willingness.”

  “You’re getting better at it as well, aren’t you?”

  She spread her hands wide and even turned them palms up. “There’s more here now. Power, I mean. It’s phenomenal.”

  “So, are we ready?” His lips curved. Devastating.

  She couldn’t help but smile. “I guess we are.”

  She turned abruptly and gestured into what was the living room. “We have visitors.”

  A split-second later, Oregis and Davido arrived.

  Rez’s voice entered her mind. Definitely more power.

  The gremlin looked resplendent in a shimmering blue-black coat, also tacked back like Rez’s coat. He had on an embroidered scarlet vest beneath and he’d changed into formal pants and more tailored hip boots.

  He levitated and looked them both over. “You’re a pair, all right.”

  Davido joined them. He took both of Holly’s hands, gave them a squeeze then levitated to kiss each of her cheeks. He pathed, Vojalie said you are to mind the ghosts. Do whatever they say and make sure Rez does the same. All depends on this.

  She would have asked what he meant but Davido turned his attention to Rez. “You’re to obey your woman in this situation. Rely on her, my boy.” He levitated to meet Rez’s eyes dead on. “Can you hear me in this?”

  Rez nodded slowly. “I do hear you and I will.”

  It almost appeared as though Davido had used his charisma to get Rez’s acquiescence. Maybe he had.

  Davido bid
them well then vanished.

  Oregis whipped around. “That man sure knows how to make an exit.” He then clapped his hands together. “So, did you two kids have sex, or what? You did, didn’t you? Well done.” He grinned and his ears swiveled.

  Holly felt her cheeks warm up. Rez just shook his head.

  “You don’t need to be embarrassed. I gave my wife a good one before I left. Of course, it helped to have a bag of rubies in my hand. Sex is good. The rest of you realm-folk are way too uptight about it.”

  “All right, Oregis. We don’t need a lecture on best sexual practices from a horn-dog like you.”

  Oregis burst out laughing. “Horn-dog. I haven’t heard that in a decade.”

  ~ ~ ~

  Rez wasn’t sure how Holly was taking Oregis’s attitudes. But then, she knew him and his proclivities. He was sure the shoes she had on, with the hot red bows he’d felt slide up and down his ass a couple of times, had been purchased on the black market.

  He’d always be grateful she’d been on board for a quickie. When he’d choked on his whisky just by looking at her, a hard-on had followed so fast he’d about buckled over in pain.

  He’d watched her list at the same time, which he suspected had something to do with his mastyr mating scent. The rest had been a small miracle and one of the best experiences of his life.

  What a surprise she’d proved to be, this woman, this blood rose. Game, strong, passionate, good-hearted. She was with him, really with him. He loved it.

  For a moment, he’d almost thought he could have a different sort of life.

  For a moment.

  Reality had set in, of course. They were chasing Invictus-makers again, some bad guys in the form of Cruce and Lanarae. Who the hell knew how much power these two had going on. The Nine Realms were no safer right now than when Margetta had been using her hiding mist and building her army.

  Seemed Cruce had been doing likewise.

  Different asshole. Same stinking piece of garbage.

  “You two ready?”

  “Hell, yeah.” Oregis drew close and perched on Rez’s shoulder. He grabbed a fist of Rez’s hair and held on.

  Rez glanced at him. “You probably won’t need to do that.”

  “It’s a precaution. Remember, you’ve never been my size. Hell, you probably came out of your mama’s honey-glide bigger than me.”

  Holly turned away from them both. At first, he thought she was offended. Instead, her shoulders started to shake then he heard a chuckle or two escape.

  He gave her a moment.

  Holly pathed. Honey-glide?

  I know. He’s hopeless.

  When she faced him once more, her cheeks might have been red, but she’d composed herself. “Are you ready, Mistress Holly?”

  She positioned herself beside him. Sorry. I kind of lost it. She was smiling. But I really don’t want to encourage him.

  Believe me, I get it.

  He took her hand and when she met his gaze he saw her eyes still glimmered with amusement. He couldn’t help saying, I’m glad you’re with me.

  Me, too. You ready to rumble? She asked.

  Let’s do it.

  She shifted her gaze forward and he felt her time-pathing vibrations light on fire. “Oregis?”

  “Yeah?”

  “I’m going to move us into the time-path. Ready?”

  “Take us in.”

  Holly slid the three of them within the continuum. Oregis said. “Hey. The trees outside aren’t blowing in the breeze anymore. They look frozen. Everything does.”

  Rez asked Holly to explain the nature of things before they took off. Oregis listened then responded. “Okey-dokey. Let’s hit it.”

  Rez pressed Holly’s hand. “Hold just a minute, Holly.” He angled his head in Oregis’s direction. He was incredibly light on his shoulder. “I haven’t been to the black market in a few days. Has anything changed? Anything new we should know about? Same shifters guarding everything and growling?” The black market was located behind Tricksey’s, an old country bar not far from the U.S. access point and at the foot of the western reaches of the Tannisford Mountains. The bar itself served as a front.

  “Same bad-asses throwing their weight around. As for merchandise, just a couple of stalls selling antique radios from the U.S. 1950s. Dull stuff.”

  He squeezed Holly’s hand. “We’re good to go.”

  “All right. I’m picturing the bar. Oregis, this may take a few seconds.”

  But it wasn’t like before, suddenly they were right there.

  “That’s fast.” Yep, more power.

  Oregis chimed in. “Nanoseconds, maybe.”

  Holly shook her head. “I guess things have changed.”

  Rez surveyed the gravel parking lot and what on the surface looked like a run-down bar with cheap wood siding painted red. Several beer signs in the windows reminded him of the Wild Boar. The bar was named Tricksey’s after a wild troll who had originally owned the place then lost it in a night of gambling. Shifters took it over, a mean female and her mate. Both were well known to the black marketers.

  The parking lot was already loaded with vehicles of every kind especially trucks for hauling merchandise away. Shifters checked those coming in and turned anyone back who appeared to be working for the Tannisford Goods and Services Department.

  “Take us in closer.”

  Holly didn’t hesitate. She moved them to the front.

  The joint was alive with tunes from an old-fashioned music box, enough drunks to fill a police station tank, and working women on the prowl.

  Oregis said, “I understand the concept of the blurred walls, but why is everyone moving? I thought they’d be frozen in time.”

  “Because we’re a few minutes in the past,” Holly explained.

  “We are? Sweet Goddess. Okay, got it.”

  Rez addressed his biggest concern. “Oregis, where do you suggest we launch to hunt for Underworld? I want to save as much time as possible.”

  “We should head to the far north end. Things get kinky up there. My guess is we’ll get our best intel from that area.”

  “Let’s do it.”

  Holly took them deep inside what was a massive cavern system that had been modified to house hundreds of thousands of illegal wares.

  Oregis leaned forward. “Keep going. But tell you what. There’s a toilet near the end. We can come out of one of the stalls as though we’d always been here.”

  “Sounds good.” Holly was outwardly calm, though Rez sensed she was nerved up. Not a bad thing.

  Holly kept moving. The black market was big business and went on for a full two miles with realm-folk moving goods on hand carts every which way. Occasionally, they passed an auction in progress. Food stalls sold questionable edibles and some kind of altercation took place every few hundred yards.

  If nothing else, the black market wasn’t boring.

  “We’re coming to the end,” Oregis said.

  “Is that the bathroom? There on the right?”

  “Yup. Where those two lady trolls came out tucking their boobs back in. This could be good.”

  “Oregis.” Rez spoke in a sharp voice.

  “Right. Sorry, Holly.”

  Rez answered for her. “Just stay focused, Horn-Dog.”

  Oregis laughed again.

  The bathroom was poorly lit and made up of twenty wide stalls. Rez could see it was a hook-up place more than anything else. It wasn’t clean and about three different sets of moans and grunts were going on at the same time.

  Rez could feel how close they were to the present and knew when they’d reached it because the realm-folk inside the bathroom all appeared to freeze.

  Holly chose an empty stall, took them within then said, “I’m levitating. The hell my fine shoes are touching whatever is on the floor here. Sweet Goddess, what is that? Never mind. You two ready?”

  Rez answered in the affirmative as did Oregis.

  When the time-path vibration ceased, they were ba
ck to the present.

  Oregis called out in a loud voice. “That was great.” He then shoved at the stall door. It snapped wide and hit a shifter.

  The wolf turned and batted at Oregis, who flipped in the air several times avoiding the swats. “I’ll get you, you little freak.”

  Rez moved out into the open area. The shifter took one look at him and backed up. Oregis moved in to perch on Rez’s shoulder.

  “Go ahead,” Oregis taunted. “Mess with me, asshole. See what ya get.” He patted Rez’s head for good measure.

  The shifter, lean from drug use, took a good look at Rez then lifted both hands. “Meant no offense.”

  Rez gave him the stink-eye but said nothing.

  Holly’s voice entered his head. I’ve got to get out of this bathroom. I’m about ready to puke.

  He caught her hand and they were moving. The smell was rather ripe.

  What a delicate word for what was in there. Sweet Goddess.

  Rez chuckled. She was right though. Rez’s stomach had churned a few times as well.

  He hadn’t been to this end of the black market. He’d been cautioned to stay away by enough stall owners and the entire gremlin population to keep his distance. He had sufficient respect for all involved to heed their warnings.

  What he saw was the usual sex trade and the farther they moved, the seedier the people involved.

  Holly drew close and slid her arm around his waist. I’m not liking the way half the women and all the men are looking at me. I’m not just a piece of meat. I’m something they want to cut up and barbecue.

  I’m getting the same vibe. Let me stake my claim. That should help. He leaned down, getting his lips close. Kiss me and make it look good.

  Holly turned into him and planted a big one on his lips, both hands on his face. He bent her over until he heard a few whistles around them.

  When he drew back, she once more wiped the lipstick off his mouth.

  Oregis tapped on his head and whispered. “There, to the right. That tunnel. I’ve heard talk that it’s a one way-ticket.”

  Rez thought it best to ask the fae. “Holly, what do you think? What are you getting?”

  “I hate to say this, but I need to get closer. Why don’t we head over there and have a look?”

 
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