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A vampires embrace, p.23
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       A Vampire's Embrace, p.23

         Part #2 of Blood Rose Time Travel series by Caris Roane
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  The next moment, a male voice pushed into his head. Devyn here. We’ve got your daughter, Isobel. She’s safe. Holly set it up. But now the dark fae has her, the one called Lanarae.

  Isobel is with Vojalie right now. She’s being looked after but you’d better go after Holly. Now. Looks like she was the object all along.

  I hear you. I’m on it.

  If you need me, Rez. Nothing more needed to be said.

  Dev, thanks. I’ve got this.

  Go get her.

  The telepathic conversation ended with the same jolt it had begun. He relayed the details to Stone.

  Stone’s jaw worked, but he said nothing. He’d called it and now Holly was trapped.

  For a moment, time froze.

  The worst had happened just as Stone had predicted.

  What hit Rez the hardest was his first thought. I don’t want to lose her.

  It was everything. He loved the woman. She’d stumbled into his life as a healer and a blood rose and he’d fallen in love with her in the space of two short nights.

  Isobel was safe because Holly had gone to rescue her. She’d saved his daughter. She’d gone the distance and then some.

  Now Holly was in danger.

  She’d been right about one thing. He couldn’t have handled seeing his daughter in a captive situation. His rage would have eclipsed his rational mind.

  He grew very still. In the distance, he heard Oregis say, “He’s doing his vampire statue thing again, isn’t he?”

  “Yes,” Stone responded. “Be quiet, gremlin.”

  Life was a mystery never to be fully understood. Rez had loved once and lost not just his woman but his sons. He’d vowed never to love again.

  Yet Holly had come anyway and here was his truth: He loved her. It seemed impossible that he’d found love again, but he had.

  He took all that love and forged it into a telepathic message. Holly, please hear me. Holly. I love you.

  Only static returned, a very specific kind manufactured by an evil fae. Why had she wanted Holly, though? Why set a trap using Isobel?

  Then he recalled the way Cruce had looked at Holly at the start of the auction. Cruce. A mastyr vampire.

  Cruce had tremendous power in his own right, nearly as much as Stone. But a bond with a blood rose, no doubt envisioned by Lanarae, would increase his natural power exponentially.

  Even if he hadn’t just discovered how important Holly was to him, Rez couldn’t allow Cruce to forge the bond. The entire realm would be put into jeopardy.

  As he settled into this reality, he forced himself to remain calm. He couldn’t use his telepathy to reach Holly, but there was something else he could do, something he’d heard about through the grapevine.

  He opened his mating vibration and let it run at full bore. He focused on Holly and it was as though time and space gave way completely to love and bonding.

  He found her quickly. But a horror awaited him. Cruce was pounding his own mating vibration hard against hers. He sensed she’d been drugged, as well, which only made sense. Lanarae and Cruce had planned this moment for a long time. Holly would never have agreed to a bond without being forced.

  But her mating vibration didn’t operate under the same rules as her physical body. It was as though the moment her frequency sensed his, she opened for him. He rushed in, surrounded her, caressed her and spoke his love without having to be present physically.

  She responded with a rush of answering affection and desire. Their frequencies became one, a perfect merging, blending and acceptance.

  In the blink of an eye, he’d started the bonding sequence with his blood rose.

  Power always came with the bond and he could sense something formidable on the way.

  He waited, his heart pounding in his chest.

  He drew a deep breath. Then another.

  The shock wave hit him, causing his back to arch. He felt Oregis fly off his shoulder. Power, like nothing he’d ever known before, flowed through him.

  He righted himself in the air and extended his hands. It was as though an electrical current kept flowing from one hand up his arm, across his shoulders and down his other arm. His muscles flexed and unflexed. His vision became sharper and clearer.

  He could sense what was happening to Holly. He turned to face Stone.

  “I need a lift. Won’t take but a few seconds.”

  Stone smiled and nodded. “Your mating frequencies have bonded and you know where she is.”

  “I do. I’ll be keeping Cruce busy for the next few minutes. Might be the right time to take out his army.”

  Stone planted his hand on Rez’s shoulder. “Just make a picture in your head and we’re there.”

  Before Rez could confirm whether Stone had seen the location, they arrived.

  Lanarae was flying around the room shrieking like a wraith. A fury was on her.

  Holly was on the floor at the foot of Cruce’s bed. He in turn stared down at Holly, horrified. He had blood trailing over his chin. He’d been at her vein when the bond must have shoved him off her.

  Stone wished him Goddess-speed then took off.

  It was seeing the puncture wounds and bruising on Holly’s throat, however, that lit Rez’s battle energy on fire. Now was the time to go full-bore.

  Cruce would be experiencing a power surge of his own because he’d fed from Holly. But what Rez experienced felt nuclear as he lifted his hands and arms. He aimed one in Cruce’s direction and met his Invictus based red stream of power. At the same time, he aimed his other hand at the dark fae now flying straight at him.

  Lanarae had a hypodermic in her hand. When his energy stream struck, it hit her high in the chest, knocked her head up and back, then smashed her against the far wall. Her chest was smoking. She wouldn’t rise again. Ever. Holly was safe from her.

  He turned his full attention toward Cruce. With only one stream aimed at him, he’d barely held his own and Cruce pressed him hard. But when Rez brought both hands together, the two fields collided above Holly’s body and showered sparks down on her.

  Rez couldn’t have that. He gave a shout and sent a deep wave of battle energy at Cruce. It pushed him to the right of his bed.

  Rez then shifted and aimed his battle stream at the nearby windows. He shattered every last one of them. Cool mountain air flowed into the space.

  As Cruce rose to his feet, Rez sent another blast in a sweeping motion, down and up. It lifted Cruce into the air then rolled him out the now empty space. Cruce levitated and took off into the night.

  Rez followed him like a rocket. From his periphery, he saw the battle below where Cruce’s army was encamped. He heard fighting but had only one object right now.

  Cruce flew fast. Rez summoned the blood rose bond and more power flowed. He could even feel Holly stirring now. He could tell she was sitting up. Holly, you okay?

  I’m good. Finish the monster.

  Her voice in his head along with her awareness of what he was doing, heightened his sense of purpose. Like a rocket boost, he shot forward and caught Cruce around the back of his neck and jerked hard, throwing him into a lateral spin.

  The vampire cried out as he lost control in the air. Rez followed him and added a pulse of energy. He hit the left side of Cruce’s body, which increased the spin. As soon as started to regain his balance, Rez hit the other side.

  He kept up the pressure as Cruce plummeted toward the earth. Cruce hit a pine tree and kept falling. Rez stayed after him.

  Cruce landed on the earth hard. The branches of the tree had torn up his skin and ripped his clothes. He was covered in blood.

  He lay on his back breathing in rough pants. Rez levelled both hands at him then realized Cruce been impaled on part of sharp branch. Blood poured out of his right side. His eyes rolled around unable to settle.

  Cruce was dying.

  He finally focused on Rez. “I almost had her. She would have been a beautiful piece of ass.”

  Though Rez knew Cruce taunted him, he de
cided he needed to be done with him. He wanted to get back to Holly.

  He aimed a strong pulse straight at Cruce’s head and let loose. The battle stream pierced his skull. Cruce’s body jerked once then fell still.

  Rez took off, shooting straight up into the air, flying faster than ever before. He returned to the blown-out window and shot through.

  Holly stood where she’d by lying unconscious earlier, near Cruce’s bed. “You’re okay.” Her first words to him, the caring woman that she was.

  He smiled and launched at her. He caught her up in his arms and spun her midair about a dozen times. He heard her laugh. When he set her on her feet, she had tears rolling down her cheeks.

  He held her tight again. How about you take us somewhere. I have things I want to say to you, but not here.

  He barely felt the shift into the continuum, then saw only a slight blur as she moved them to the old oak tree in his back pasture. Here was where their relationship had taken its first step.

  As she brought them into the present and the blur disappeared, he thumbed the tears off her cheeks. “We bonded, Holly. You and me. I sure as hell hope you’re okay with that.”

  She chuckled, then threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. Her voice was suddenly in his head, But what about you, Rez? I thought you wanted me out of your life for good.

  He needed to look at her as he said what he wanted to say. “The moment I realized what was happening, that Cruce intended to force a bond, it was as though my mind righted itself. I finally saw everything clearly, including how much, even in such a short period of time, I’d come to love you and to need you.

  “I was kidding myself when I thought it would be a simple thing to part ways.” He smiled. “I was already in deep. I’m here now, though. The bond was and is exactly right for me. I just need to be sure it’s what you want. I mean, it was forged under horrifying circumstances. It’s possible Vojalie could do something. Maybe break it –”

  He got no further. She kissed him again and at the same time pathed, You are more than I ever hoped to have. I love you, Rez.

  His chest filled with emotion. Love had found them both.

  And I love you, Holly. With all my heart, I just never thought this could happen for me again, not in this lifetime.

  He held her for a long time. He professed his love more than once. A dozen kisses followed.

  He drew back. “I want to take you to bed, but –”

  She nodded several times. “You have to go see your daughter. Let me contact Vojalie. See how things are going.”

  He realized she was protecting both him and Isobel. His heart grew warm with affection all over again.

  As he watched her path with Vojalie, he slid his hand beneath the waterfall of her curly black hair and cupped her neck. He stroked her face.

  When she returned to him, her smile was soft on her lips. She caught his hand and pressed it against her cheek. “We’re good. She’s at Stone’s house. Both Rosamunde and Vojalie are taking care of her. They have her in the guest suite. They’ve been healing her and now she’s eating. But they say this would be a good time.

  “There’s a warning, too. Rez, she’s very thin. Neither of our fae leaders want you to react if you possibly can. She needs tenderness and love. You’ve already dealt with the monsters who did this. But Isobel will need time. It’s important you understand all these things before I can take you over.”

  He didn’t think he could love Holly more than at this moment. He forced himself to calm down. He’d done battle against the evil that had destroyed his family. Now his daughter needed him, but not in a warrior state.

  He thought back to all the years he’d had with her when she was an infant and toddler, to the sassy, argumentative schoolkid that had made him laugh so often, and finally to the older sister who had loved her younger brothers more than anything. They’d both lost so much and she’d been traumatized for two years.

  Now she was back. “It would be foolish to think she won’t need years of therapy.”

  “She will. But her recovery has already begun and she’s in the best possible hands, as you know. Vojalie will do right by her. Davido might even step in if he’s needed. You have nothing to worry about.”

  “But you’re worried about me.”

  “I am. Mostly, I need you to see this from her perspective. You must set aside your own feelings right now, your rage, even your sorrow. Be there for her and her alone. That will go a long way toward her healing, especially this first encounter. Be what she needs.”

  And here was another reason to be grateful for the miracle of a second love. He would never have thought of these things if Holly hadn’t brought them to his attention.

  “Tell you what. I want to get cleaned up before we go over.”

  At these words, Holly visibly relaxed. “We’ll both do that. I’ll head home to shower this time, but I won’t be gone more than fifteen minutes.”

  He kissed her. “Counting on it.”

  Chapter Fourteen

  Holly stood in the guest room, but remained at a distance as she watched the tender, tearful reunion between daughter and father.

  The initial embrace had lasted several minutes. Both had wept, for her suffering and for the loss of Isobel’s mother and brothers.

  Holly couldn’t stem her own tears and finally stopped trying. Vojalie brought her some tissues which she used until they were a hardened damp wad in her hand.

  Rosamunde had left the room early on, also weeping.

  More poignant still were the ghosts who stood close by Rez. Each was smiling. Marion turned to look at Holly and nodded slowly once. Rez’s wife as well.

  The latter approached her, a beautiful vampire. She lifted a hand to Holly’s face. There wasn’t a real physical connection, but Holly could feel the spiritual warmth.

  A resonant voice moved inside her head. Take care of them both. Rez is a good man and deserves you. I’m more grateful than I can say that you’ve come into his life and into my daughter’s.

  Holly wanted to respond, but the spirit faded away then disappeared. Marion stayed a little longer. When she approached Holly, she was smiling. You did good. I’m so proud of you. Thank you for loving and taking care of my son.

  Again, Holly wanted to respond, but Marion disappeared as well. Their job was done.

  Holly was left with Vojalie standing beside her and Rez sitting on the bed and talking quietly to Isobel. His daughter was even able to sit up. Vojalie had helped her tremendously during the time from Isobel’s rescue until now.

  To Vojalie, Holly pathed. You’ll let him know when she needs to rest?

  I will. Just a couple minutes more. Don’t worry, Holly. We’ll all take care of her.

  Vojalie took hold of Holly’s hand. She’d needed the contact and the reassurance and squeezed in response.

  Much later, she stood beside Rez sipping a glass of red wine. Rez had his arm around her waist where it had been since he’d emerged from Isobel’s room. He looked both euphoric and exhausted. He’d come to the end of a two-year difficult, impossible search.

  Holly could tell his blood needs had risen because of the battle. But Cruce had taken so much from her, she still hadn’t built the supply he needed. Rosamunde was preparing a buffet. Food would help, though Holly wished more than anything she could meet his needs right this moment.

  Or maybe the ache belonged to him. Now that she was bonded to Rez, she could feel what he was experiencing one moment to the next. It would take some getting used to. The deep internal pain she felt may have been what he was feeling for his daughter, a poignant, lonely sensation, part grief, part celebration. His daughter had been returned to him. But it was also a reminder of what they’d lost as a family.

  She thought maybe some diversion would help. She leaned close to him and pathed, I wonder what my father will say when I bring a vampire home as my bonded mate?

  He kissed her cheek. He’d done that several times already. I don’t think he’ll
mind too much. Remember, he fell in love with a vampire himself.

  She shifted just enough to meet his gaze. He did, didn’t he? Guess I never thought of it like that.

  Regrets? She saw the concern in his eye, something she didn’t think would go away for a while. The moment of their bonding had been rushed and not even verbally acknowledged.

  Though there were several people present, including Emily and Devyn, she turned into him. Embracing him fully, she kissed him on the lips. No regrets.

  Still, when he drew back, she saw the doubt in his expression, a slight furrowing of his brows.

  She kissed him. Guess I’m just going to have to prove it to you. Though for what I have in mind, it will have to wait til later. As a promise, she kissed him again.

  “Oh, Goody,” a familiar gremlin voice called out. “Dinner and a show.”

  Holly drew back just enough to see that Davido had arrived with Oregis balanced on his shoulder.

  Vojalie came in from the kitchen and called out. “My darling is here!”

  She hurried toward her husband as he levitated to meet her. She kissed him on the cheek. In turn, he swept his right arm around her waist. They’d been married for centuries, yet, somehow, they seemed to be on a perpetual honeymoon. She wondered what their secret was.

  When Vojalie returned to the kitchen to help Rosamunde, Davido approached Holly and Rez. He congratulated Rez on the restoration of his daughter.

  “I have Holly to thank for that.” With a lift of his arm, he gestured behind Davido. “And Emily and Devyn as well. The three of them secured Isobel’s release.”

  Davido turned and with a wave of his arm, drew Emily and Devyn into the circle. Davido patted Devyn on the shoulder and offered a glittering, charismatic smile to Emily. “We have, indeed, been blessed with so many gifted folk here tonight. Ah, and here is Rosamunde with some champagne. Your timing is perfection, my dear.”

  Rosamunde held the tray first for Holly. She took a flute as Rosamunde spoke over her shoulder to Davido. “Stone will be with us shortly. The battle went well, but he wanted a shower before joining us.”

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