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A vampires embrace, p.2
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       A Vampire's Embrace, p.2

         Part #2 of Blood Rose Time Travel series by Caris Roane
 
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  She’d left soon after. Mastyr Rez was the one thing she could never forgive: He was a deserter.

  With this last thought, she was brought back to the present within the continuum. Despite her disapproval of his choices, she had work to do on his behalf. Again.

  As she made her plans, her nerves grew jumpy. She would have to travel the time-path until she found the exact moment the poison had been used on Rez. This meant she would see the perpetrator.

  She focused on the past, on Rez and on the dead Invictus. The continuum obeyed her thoughts. Though she remained in one place, time moved in front of her. She was able, because of her training, to keep the pace slow.

  She steeled herself as she approached the moment when Rez fought the last of the Invictus. She knew he’d been struck in his stomach with an axe, something she didn’t really want to see. But there was no other way to find out how he’d been poisoned.

  When she reached the beginnings of the battle, for a moment, she got lost in watching him. A fury was on him, an unwillingness to let these Invictus take one more life.

  The odd thought went through her mind that he looked like a god. His entire body was tense and alive.

  When the axe appeared in the hand of the enemy, Rez released a killing wave of blue battle energy from his hands and arms.

  She let the moment play out. She was sure this had to be it.

  The swiftly thrown axe struck Rez at the same moment that his battle power hit the vampire. The latter flew backward and smashed into the street. Holly knew he’d died instantly.

  Rez lowered his arms and grabbed the axe handle with both hands.

  The time had come.

  Holly felt a heavy ripple in time that knocked her sideways. She levitated to regain her balance. Though she’d never experienced this phenomenon while time-pathing, she knew what it was: Another time traveler had come for Rez.

  Fear pierced her heart. She could feel darkness envelop her.

  As Rez drew the axe from his body, in that precise split-second, a shadow figure, reeking of the dark fae, slid up behind him while in the time-path then breached time.

  The fae stepped into the past so she was fully present with Rez and visible in time. She stuck a needle into Rez’s shoulder and delivered the poison. A split-second later, she slipped back inside the continuum to disappear.

  The fae had long straight blond hair, braided down her back with peacock feathers. She wore an ankle-length tight navy dress, tall, dark blue and tan espadrilles, and a lot of bangles on her arms. Dark fae.

  The attack had been so quick and from behind, it was no wonder Rez hadn’t been aware what had happened to him.

  Holly only had a second to act or she’d lose the opportunity. She drew close to the puncture sight, entered the past, sniffed the injection site then returned behind the safety of the continuum.

  She needed to remain within the continuum as long as possible. Once she returned to present time to prepare the antidote, the clock would start ticking.

  She slowly opened the full length of her olfactory ability.

  She had only a faint scent to go on, but she’d trained hard with Vojalie for this specific kind of situation. Over the past two years, she’d sniffed hundreds of dark fae poison concoctions. Vojalie had given her dozens of tests, pushed her hard. But she’d never had such a faint sample before.

  Her heart hammered in her chest all over again as she struggled to separate the different scents. For a moment, she feared she wasn’t up to it and Rez would die because of her inexperience.

  By training, she forced herself to focus. She began eliminating one ingredient after another, until the full recipe revealed itself. She caught the grassy scent Rez had mentioned.

  At the core, however, was the most insidious poison of all: Realm Wolfsbane. It brought on paralysis of lung tissue unless treated quickly.

  In real-time, Rez would begin to feel short of breath and his vision would go dark.

  Now that she knew what needed to be done, she returned to her workroom while still in the continuum, then stepped into real time. The clock started up again.

  She had less than two minutes to save Rez.

  She gathered the ingredients necessary to counteract the deadly wolfsbane. She used her mortar and pestle, added a liquid, then strained it quickly.

  She filled a syringe with the working antidote.

  Her fingers trembled. Rez had barely a minute to live.

  With the syringe in hand, she returned to the continuum then pushed her way back to Rez.

  Since she’d spent a full minute preparing the antidote, he now sat slumped against the wall, his eyes barely open, breathing shallow.

  One last prayer. “Goddess, help me.”

  She stepped into the present, moved close to him, and sat down next to him. She slid her arm around his shoulders and gave a tug so that he fell across her lap. He was closer to death than she thought.

  “Stay with me, Mastyr.”

  She quickly located the original entry point, pushed the fabric of his black tank aside, then said, “This will hurt like hell, Rez.”

  She slammed the hypodermic home.

  Chapter Two

  Rez’s back arched as something sharp jabbed an already painful wound at the back of his shoulder.

  Though his eyes were open, he was blind.

  Sweet Goddess, fire ate through his skin where he’d been poisoned. He tried to lift his left hand to reach the wound, but he couldn’t. His body wouldn’t budge, not even an inch to his stern orders.

  Except for the fire in his shoulder, most of his body was ice cold, especially his torso. He shivered and his teeth banged against each other. His mind swayed one way, then pivoted to rock the other. He couldn’t focus.

  He couldn’t remember where he was or what had happened to him.

  Suddenly, he felt pressure on the top of his head. A wave of warmth moved through him and he could finally take a deep breath.

  Air helped.

  When had he stopped breathing?

  The warm waves flowed into his neck and his shoulders. He focused on taking in more air.

  One draw of his lungs followed another.

  The fire had dimmed in his shoulder, though a deep ache remained and throbbed. The pain was intense.

  Slowly, his body began to warm back up and the trembling stopped. He realized he was half-reclining on something soft.

  A scent reached his nose, like geraniums. He loved it.

  Holly.

  She’d found him.

  She was healing him. Again.

  He released a deep sigh of relief. She’d made it. He’d walked the edge of death and she’d brought him back.

  He owed her.

  After a time, his vision returned, though his mind still felt loose. Where was he? What had happened to him?

  Still reclining on Holly’s lap, he had an odd, sideways view of what looked like corpses nearby and a diminishing fire. He saw a fire truck, trolls, hoses, a lot of water, and smoke.

  Right. The village square in Millerell.

  He’d fought two Invictus wraith-pairs, but how was that possible when there weren’t supposed to be any left?

  A final battle against Margetta, the Ancient Fae, had ended the dominance of the Invictus in the Nine Realms or so it was believed. Stone, the ruling mastyr of Tannisford Realm, had sent his Vampire Guard into every crevice of his domain to root out the last of the wraith-pairs.

  So, where had these two pairs come from? How had they remained hidden from the Tannisford Guard?

  Within a few minutes, the pain from the axe wound and the poison was almost gone. The usual stomach cramps remained, however. Nothing could take care of the familiar affliction of his chronic blood starvation. All mastyr vampires suffered perpetual pain.

  Yet right now, he felt unearthly peaceful.

  Holly had done this for him.

  Her hands were still settled gently on top of his head. Her healing continued to flow in strong waves.
He didn’t want it to end.

  When he felt fully restored, he rose to a sitting position and her hands fell away. He leaned once more against the low stone wall.

  She angled her body toward him, her hands now in her lap. She wore a red tunic over soft, red-flowered pants. She sat on the cobbled stones of the sidewalk next to him and stretched out her legs. Her loafers struck him as very expensive. Odd, he would notice that.

  His gaze slid over the cobbles. Sweet Goddess, his blood was everywhere.

  “Better?” she asked.

  “Much.” He turned to meet her gaze. “Didn’t we do this two months ago?”

  Her lips quirked. “Yes, but not with a lethal dose of dark fae poison.”

  He rubbed his jaw. “No, just a brain-and-face shattering dose of Stone’s iron fist.”

  She chuckled softly. “At least your sense of humor is still intact. Do you have any pain at the injection site?”

  “So that’s what happened?”

  “Yes.” She reached around and touched the back of his shoulder. “You were poisoned here. I gave you an antidote.”

  He didn’t know much about the fae mysteries of herbs, plants and roots. All he knew was the depth of his gratitude. He took her hand. “Thank you, Holly.”

  “No problem.” Her voice sounded breathy.

  He held her gaze, feeling a need to say or do more. She’d saved his life. Yet, no words came to mind to adequately express his gratitude. He managed another solemn, ‘thank you.’

  “My pleasure.”

  He knew he should let her hand go, but it was the last thing he wanted to do. He’d felt this before, when she’d healed him last time, how drawn he was to her.

  A stillness came over him, a very vampire reaction. His heart picked up speed, the beats heavy. His lips parted.

  Holly was a beautiful woman.

  She had long, thick, curly black hair, which hung to her waist. Her face had the shape of a heart with a wide brow and softly pointed fae chin. Her large, exquisite eyes were part green with shards of gold, gray and brown, a true hazel. Her lips were full. Kissable.

  Her creamy complexion enhanced the black night of her hair.

  Where his hand held hers, a warmth grew.

  On its heels, desire began to flow.

  But it wasn’t just sexual. He couldn’t explain it. His whole being seemed to reach for her.

  A powerful craving followed and his gaze fell to her throat. He remembered from two months ago, how once she’d healed him, he’d craved her blood. He still craved it like a madness he could barely control.

  When he saw the fear in her eyes, he knew she felt it as well, the profound state of his need.

  Her hand rose to her neck protectively.

  He could smell her blood now, like the way she smelled, a sweet yet edgy scent of geranium and woman combined. His nostrils flared and his mouth filled with saliva. His grip on her hand tightened.

  When he felt her pull away, he forced himself to let her go.

  He lifted his gaze back to her eyes. “The poison didn’t help, but my blood-needs are off the chart right now. I apologize as I tell you this, but you’d better get a donor over here or I won’t answer for what happens next.”

  ~ ~ ~

  Holly had never been so torn in her life. It was as though every aspect of her life had been building to this moment, to being on the hard, cobbled sidewalk of Millerell once more, of healing a difficult vampire who’d almost sailed his ship to the shores of death, then desiring beyond reason to open a vein for him.

  Every particle of her being wanted to feed Rez, though she’d never fed a vampire before. She’d never wanted to, even though she was half-vampire herself. Right now, however, her heart pounded and her chest felt full.

  She could smell the man as well, a dark sensual scent like eucalyptus and thyme blended together, only very much Rez. She breathed in the different layers, which seemed to work itself into her brain increasing her desire to feed him.

  She’d heard her friends talk about it, she’d read dozens of blogs, and of course her own fae father fed her vampire mother.

  She knew offering a vein was a spectrum of experience, from friendly sharing and the resolving of a vampire’s basic need, to wild, earthy sex. She had no doubt with Rez, if she ever succumbed, the latter category would prevail.

  Rez was sex to her.

  Once he was at her throat, she’d want to take him deep into her body. But she didn’t want this man.

  Rez was a deserter. He’d quit the Vampire Guard when Tannisford Realm needed him most. He hadn’t even fought in the final battle against Margetta and her vast army of Invictus wraith-pairs.

  She forced herself to look away from him. She glanced around the village square and saw the remnants of the mist Rez had told her about when he’d first contacted her. None of the villagers had been able to see Rez until this point. But it was clear they saw and recognized him now. Holly heard his name spoken more than once.

  Whatever the case, she had to find Rez a donor.

  She rose to her feet and moved past the last remnants of the mist then called out. “Mastyr Rez must have his blood-needs met. I know it’s asking a lot, but will anyone come forward to care for him in this way?” She had no idea what the response would be. She had her own reasons for disapproving of Rez’s life choices, but she wasn’t sure if he’d developed a bad reputation here in Millerell. On the other hand, he’d slain two wraith-pairs, so maybe someone would be willing to help him out.

  What surprised, no, stunned her, was that four women immediately called out they’d be happy to. Each headed in Holly’s direction.

  A familiar troll, however, hurried forward and all but shouted, “I’ve got this.” Her firm tone and uplifted arms stopped the other women in their tracks.

  Holly recognized her immediately. Wanda was one of the trolls who worked at the Wild Boar.

  The woman ran swiftly in Holly’s direction, rounded the wall then stopped as the corpses came into view. “Oh, Goddess in heaven. I wasn’t able to see them from across the street. But what were wraith-pairs doing in Millerell?”

  “I don’t know.”

  She moved past Holly and cried out. “Rez, what the hell happened here? You’re as pale as death.”

  For a sudden moment, Holly experienced a terrible impulse to grab Wanda by the dark roots of her fake blond, curly hair and toss her a mile into the night sky. She didn’t want her anywhere near Rez.

  Holly glanced at her hands which were now shaped like claws. She gasped and took a step back. She couldn’t believe she’d even thought such a thing, especially for someone donating so generously.

  Despite the gore on the street and the sidewalk, Wanda sat down next to Rez, drew her long-sleeved sweater up and over her elbow, then extended her arm to him. Using both hands, he took Wanda’s arm above and below the elbow, then drew close. Wanda made swift adjustments as she positioned herself closer to Rez.

  Holly watched his fangs emerge, which set her own heart pounding heavily. Rez quickly nipped the strong vein on the inside of Wanda’s elbow and began to suck.

  Holly wrapped herself up with both arms and held on tight. She wanted to look away, but couldn’t. Instead, her gaze was fixed on the way Rez’s head bobbed as he took down Wanda’s life force.

  It should be me.

  She squeezed her eyes shut. Where had such an errant thought come from? She’d never wanted to feed a vampire, even though she knew her father took care of her mother’s blood-needs as a matter of course. She knew it was a natural process.

  It just wasn’t for her.

  She finally forced her feet to move and pivot away from the feeding.

  The other sight, however, caused her stomach to turn. Four dead Invictus. She took a new set of deep breaths.

  The air was full of smoke and the smell of wet, burned wood. The firefighters had the blaze contained.

  The villagers filled the square now. Since the mist was gone, more people drew clos
e to stare at the dead. A few of the mothers started ushering their children away from the gruesome sight.

  She supposed the Vampire Guard would arrive soon to make sure clean-up was done properly. All wraith-pairs were taken to morgues and run through the missing realm-folk databases for possible identification. When a realm-person was abducted and transformed, he or she lost their essential nature and became something wild and beastly, even unrecognizable.

  She wanted to leave, but she felt obligated to stay until she knew all was well in the village.

  She turned back to Rez and his doneuse, hoping they were about done. But it was a mistake. As Rez sucked, he lifted his gaze to her. His nostrils flared and he sucked harder.

  She tried once more to look away, but this time, she couldn’t. Instead, her heart began to beat harder than ever and her gaze fell to his lips. His scent wafted over her full of eucalyptus, thyme and what she knew to be Rez.

  Sudden jealousy struck hard again. She didn’t want the woman donating to Rez. This was her job. Hers alone.

  Her mouth fell open. She could hardly breathe. Her fingers once more curled into claws. Her gaze fell to Wanda who had her free hand on top of Rez’s head.

  A raw, possessive instinct fired up like jet rockets. She didn’t understand what was happening to her, but she had to leave Millerell immediately or she’d do something she’d regret the rest of her life.

  She shifted her gaze back to Rez, then pathed. I must leave, or I’ll hurt the troll.

  She didn’t wait for him to respond. She closed her eyes, focused on the time-path and slipped inside. With a few more thoughts and waves of pathing energy, she was back in her home in the mountains to the north.

  ~ ~ ~

  Rez blinked and paused in his feeding. As far as he could with his mouth still fixed to Wanda’s arm, he looked around for Holly. She hadn’t levitated. He would have seen her do that. So, where did she go? He only knew a handful of realm-folk who could teleport. Vojalie and Davido were two of them. He’d also heard Stone could as well as his new bride, Rosamunde.

  But Holly? He didn’t think she was at their level.

  “Everything okay, Mastyr?”

  Wanda’s voice woke him to the important job at hand. He resumed nursing on the inside of her arm, taking her blood down his throat.

 
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