A Vampire's Embrace, p.7Part #2 of Blood Rose Time Travel series by Caris Roane
She touched the signature. At some point, her father and Rez had met in one of his classes. Apparently, Rez had studied under her father.
She loved, admired, and respected Joseph McCrae more than any man in the Nine Realms or on human earth. In this single line, he’d indicated Rez had been an excellent student.
How was that possible?
She closed the book, pushed it back where it belonged then left the room.
She didn’t know what to think.
When her stomach rumbled, she realized she was ready for a meal. She headed into the kitchen through a doorway across from the bookshelves and decanters. Finishing her drink, she washed out her glass. In the distance, she could hear a blow-dryer running. Great invention, that.
Taking his earlier suggestion, she thought she’d heat up the soup.
But just as she reached for the fridge door, something stopped her and she grew very still, vampire still. She rarely experienced her mother’s genetics. Yet, instinctively she knew that being with Rez had awakened this tougher side of her nature.
Yet, her fae senses were equally heightened, especially her time-pathing frequency. She felt a strong pull toward the past, but she had no idea why.
What had Vojalie instructed her to do in such moments? She must rely on her instincts a thousand times more than her rational mind. Very fae.
Without hesitation, she entered the time-path and as expected she saw the kitchen as though it was slightly blurred. Her fae senses told her, however, she wasn’t in the time-path to observe Rez in the past. Something very different needed to happen here.
She focused on the kitchen itself and felt decades of life and movement, of hands preparing meals, of laughter, of the occasional squabble especially during the holidays. She saw glimpses of Rez, his wife teasing him when they would bring the children to visit his father, his children at various ages. Rez’s father doting on his grandchildren when they were very young. She didn’t, however, see his mother.
Her throat grew tight knowing this was what Rez had lost, what had changed him so completely. Maybe her brother had died, but she still had the comfort of her parents, her sister, grandparents and several generations of great-grandparents, as well as a host of aunts, uncles and cousins.
What did Rez have by comparison?
She kept moving backward swiftly until the continuum itself drew her to a stop. This time, she saw Rez’s mother and was stunned by how much he favored her, from her wavy brown hair, light blue eyes, the shape of her face.
The room had changed significantly given that Rez was nearly a hundred years old. Gone was the more modern, though antiquated gas oven and stove. In its place was an ancient black cast iron version fed with wood or perhaps coal.
Rez’s mother stood with a towel-wrapped casserole in her hands. The stove was behind her and she faced into the room. “Who are you?” she asked. “It’s okay. You can come to me, if you want. I know you’re there. I’ve been expecting you.”
Once more, Holly was sincerely surprised. She knew Rez’s mother was speaking to her. Again, she didn’t hesitate, but stepped out of the time-path and into the past. Her vampire nature especially could feel the year and the day. It was almost a hundred years ago.
“I’m Holly. I work with Vojalie. I’m fae and I’m a time traveler.”
“And I’m Marion. I’m half-fae myself, though I’m vampire dominant. But my fae-self has been shouting at me all day. Now you’re here.”
The woman teared up. Her jaw worked as she crossed to set the steaming potato dish on the wood counter near Holly. She turned back in the tight quarters and closed the oven door. “He’ll be here soon, so we don’t have much time. You know my son, Rez?”
She’d just made love with him in the future against the oak tree in the back pasture. “Yes. I know Rez.”
“I’ve been feeling it all day, the future crowding me, speaking to me. I wasn’t expecting you so much as something to happen. Now I know it will.”
Her eyes once more flooded. “My time has come and I won’t get to see my grandchildren. But I can feel them in the future. Oh, Sweet Goddess. There is too much pain coming for Rez. Too much.”
Holly began to hurt. It was one thing to be distressed by a man’s choices, but another to be confronted with this powerful wave of a mother’s love for him. “What can I do, Marion? How can I help?”
Marion nodded quickly. “Please, you must tell him not to be angry that I had to leave him. But as sure as I’m standing here, I know I have something to do for him on his behalf well into the future. I believe it has to do with his children, maybe even his daughter. Yes. His daughter.”
Holly drew close, staring hard at the woman. She felt a profound connection to her.
Marion gripped her arms. “Thank you for coming. I couldn’t have born leaving him otherwise.” But as Holly touched her, and the past and future came together, Marion’s blue eyes lit up with an otherworldly glow. “It’s you. Oh, it is you. My dear child. I have seen you in the future.”
Suddenly, Holly was wrapped up in an embrace that felt full of warmth and light. “Thank you, Holly. Thank you. I know this won’t make any sense to you right now, but I promise it will soon. Now you must go. He’s coming.”
Marion turned toward the doorway that led to the hall and the smaller bedroom. She dipped down and held out her arms as a young child raced into the room his eyes alive with life and every possibility.
Holly gasped and took a step backward. This was too much. She pressed her hand to her chest trying to hold back the emotions.
She knew the child was Rez. He was only a toddler. And she had to leave as Marion gathered him up in her arms and held him close. She turned in such a way that his back was to Holly.
So much love.
Holly had tears running down her face as she slipped into the time-path. She watched mother and son, but only for a moment.
She hurt so deep in her chest, she could hardly breathe. She swept the time-path back to the close-present in what was the very same kitchen, but with the more modern, yet outdated appliances. She remained frozen in time for a long moment, her hand still pressed to her chest.
She’d seen Rez as a toddler and her heart ached now. Fiercely. The encounter with Rez’s mother in the past had shaken her to her core. But what still vibrated so strongly through her was how for a brief second, time had converged, especially for Marion. The woman had felt Holly’s future and her own present combine into a formidable experience.
The trouble was, Marion hadn’t shared any details. She’d only spoken of Rez’s daughter. The whole thing was so strange and way outside anything for which Vojalie had prepared her.
When dizziness assailed her, she knew she had to leave the time-path. She stepped into the present. Time resumed its normal course. The distant blow-dryer continued for a moment, then stopped.
A chore would help ease the unexpected nature of the time-path.
She busied herself pulling the soup from the fridge, then a pot from the cupboard. She turned the oven on and found some foil. She wrapped up the loaf of bread and set it within to warm.
She knew this was only the beginning. She was caught in something bigger than herself and she was frightened.
When Rez arrived at the kitchen doorway, her hand stopped mid-stir, then resumed slower than before.
“What’s wrong? You’re distressed. I can feel it.”
She kept stirring, her gaze fixed on the pot. How much should she tell him? She shook her head, but more to clear her mind that to offer a negative. “Nothing at all. Though I admit I’m somewhat overwhelmed.”
He drew close, a movement that required one step given the small size of the kitchen. He planted a hand on her shoulder. “You’ll be okay. We both will. We’ll get through this.”
He glanced at the stove. “I appreciate you starting the meal.”
“Of course. We need to eat.”
By the time he came back with the tray, she settled the foil-wrapped bread off to the side, set the bowls on the tray and ladled out the soup.
He busied himself behind her opening a bottle of wine.
He bumped into her a couple of times. “Sorry. It’s a small space.”
She chuckled softly. “And you’re a big man and I’m not exactly a petite thing myself.”
He had the wine in hand as he moved to the door. She carried the tray bearing the soup and bread. He waited for her to pass him. “No. You’re not. You’re perfect.”
Sweet Goddess, his gorgeous face, a soft smile, the dimple in his chin and those blue eyes all drove a stake through her female heart. He looked amazing in black leathers studded down each side and hip boots. He wore a fresh, black tank top.
It didn’t help that in a flash she was watching his mother pick him up as a little boy.
Her heart swelled up. Then she felt it, a sensation that had to be about her blood rose abilities. She could feel her body building a new supply, something meant to feed Rez.
She had to remind herself that her new nature wasn’t designed specifically for Rez. She would feel this way about any mastyr vampire. But it was Rez who stood by the small table, looking magnificent and pouring her a glass of white wine.
Once seated and sipping her wine, she got lost in her new reality. She might have tasted some of the soup she ate. Maybe the bread. Mostly, images had hold of her mind, of healing Rez in Millerell, of craving him then feeding him beneath the oak.
But it was afterward, after her shower and in the kitchen, that soon took possession of her mind. Not even her fear about being a blood rose could supplant the powerful force of meeting Rez’s mother and of Marion recognizing Holly as an entity she’d known was coming.
Rez gripped her wrist suddenly, not in a harsh way, though it brought her gaze shooting to his. “Are you sure something isn’t bothering you?”
She shook her head. She glanced back at her bowl. When had she finished her soup? Her wine? Her bread? She wasn’t sure what to do, how much to say. “I’m caught in a time-loop.”
She was speaking metaphorically, but she realized he didn’t know anything at this point about time-pathing. “What I mean is, I can’t stop thinking about things that happened tonight.”
“Well, spill it. I mean, what’s bugging you the most?” He released her wrist.
“What happened in the kitchen.”
He frowned and sipped his wine, then, “When I bumped into you?”
She held his gaze. She had to tell him. Every fae sense she possessed suddenly came into sharp focus. “Rez, I met your mother tonight. Just now.”
His mouth fell agape and he tilted his head. “What the hell do you mean?” He glanced around, maybe wondering if he would see a ghost.
“In the kitchen, while you were still in the bathroom.” She rushed on and told him about the entire encounter. She talked about time-pathing and Vojalie then spoke of the hardest part. “Your mother said she needed you not to be angry that she died when she did. She said she had something important to do on your behalf. In the future.” Holly felt uncomfortable saying the rest of it, about seeing him as a little boy. She knew this would also be where much of his pain and grief resided.
When his cheeks became drawn and he shaded his eyes, she reached over and gripped his shoulder. “This isn’t without context. She seemed almost determined about something that will happen in the future. She said she was meant to perform a service for your daughter, but she wasn’t sure what it would be.”
His hand dropped away from his face and he turned to stare at her. For a long moment as she held his gaze, she couldn’t register what his expression meant. He’d gone vampire still for one thing, which meant she could detect nothing from him.
Except that the blue of his eyes hardened suddenly. He was angry.
She leaned back in her chair. This couldn’t be good.
He stood up abruptly and his chair almost fell over. He caught it quickly and set it on its feet. “You are insane to be saying these things to me. Time-pathing is a myth and there’s no way you spoke to my mother just now.”
She started to protest, but he was already moving toward the front stairs which were barely six feet away. She heard him pounding down them, then the sound of the street-level front door opening. A rush of cool air followed as it flowed up the stairwell. She jumped as the front door slammed shut.
She wasn’t sure the night could get stranger or more twisted if it could.
Then it did. Suddenly, the time-path was calling to her once more and demanding she go after Rez.
What the hell?
“No.” She spoke aloud, hoping to somehow stop what was happening. Then she was on her feet.
Something was terribly wrong and it had to do with Rez, though not with his current anger. This was something else and deadly, something heading toward him.
She rushed after him, levitating down the stairs. She whipped the door open. “Rez!” He was flying toward the west along the street a few feet above the ground.
Without looking back, he lifted his hand and in earth fashion, flipped her the bird.
She understood his anger completely, but the vampire was in danger.
She felt it now.
She turned to look the opposite direction and saw a red wind and several wraith-pairs. They were moving fast, Invictus, that shouldn’t be in the Nine Realms anymore, and it was a large force.
She flew in a swift dart toward Rez. The wraith-pairs were almost on them. She didn’t even have time to contact him telepathically.
Instead, she landed on his back hard. Because of the momentum, he fell face first to the cobbled street, though he caught himself with his hand. “What the hell, Holly.”
Without offering a bit of explanation, she summoned her time-pathing ability and hauled him into the continuum.
Rez stood up and faced Holly. He had no idea why she’d knocked him down. “What the hell was that?”
Holly didn’t speak, instead, she lifted an arm and pointed to the east. The high street of Boylbury rose toward a line of trees. Within those trees was a familiar red haze, yet somehow blurred, distorted. Five wraith-pairs hovered in the air as if frozen all along the High Street. They looked confused.
“Invictus? Again? Here?”
“Yes. They were almost on us, when I tackled you.”
He began to wind up his battle energy, but Holly caught his arm. “You can’t fire that in here.”
“What do you mean in here?” He glanced around, even turning in a circle. Everything was blurred and very still beyond the blur. He saw realm-folk on the cobbled sidewalks as though frozen mid-stride. The owner of a small grocery store stood in the open doorway. He wore an old-fashioned white apron. But he didn’t move either.
Rez knew him, of course. He knew all the villagers on the street.
“I don’t get it. And why don’t the Invictus advance?”
“Because we’re in the time-path. It’s a way of circumventing time, though we can’t stay here indefinitely.”
Holly’s eyes were bright with adrenaline. If he was to understand what was going on, he needed answers. He took hold of her arm just above the elbow and pivoted her to face him. “Talk to me. You mentioned it when you spoke of my mother. What is time-pathing? And where are we exactly?”
“We’re in a state of time-flow called the continuum. We’ve gotten here through my realm vibration that Vojalie has said is called time-pathing.”
“Vojalie. Right. Exactly how is she involved?”
“She’s been training me and several others. Emily can time-path. You’ve probably heard
Holly was right, but he hadn’t given them much thought. Emily was a blood rose as well and was bonded to his neighbor and friend, Mastyr Devyn. Devyn had remained with the Tannisford Guard.
“This is how I spoke with your mother. While in your kitchen, I felt called to the past. So, I went with my fae instincts. In the same way, as soon as you left the house, I knew you were in danger.”
He was still stunned by her revelations of past events and future premonitions. But if this was the how of it, his current situation began to make sense. “I didn’t believe the rumor about Emily. I truly thought time-pathing was a myth.”
She smiled, her lips twisting. “Like being a blood rose?”
“Here’s the deal, Rez. I don’t know why, but just a few seconds before you went outside, I began to experience a warning about the Invictus. My fae senses were shouting at me. That’s why I called after you and knocked you down.”
He glanced toward the street once more. “So, if we stayed here, in the continuum, what would happen?”
“We can’t remain here very long, if that’s what you’re getting at. Ten minutes creates a terrible pressure on the realm body. Vojalie had me do it once so I would understand the problem. I suffered a kind of paralytic lethargy afterward. I couldn’t move when I returned to the present.”
“You were vulnerable then.”
He watched her gaze shift erratically. He waited for her to continue.
“The thing is, I’ve never done this before. I’ve never taken someone in and out of the time-path like this. Vojalie said it’s rare to be able to do it. I’m not sure how to keep this going or what to do next?”
He stared at her. “You’re still a novice, is that it?”
“Very much so. But Vojalie has pushed all of us hard. I think she knew this was coming.”
“What exactly did she think was coming?”
She gestured with her hand, waving it back and forth between them. “This. The need for some of us, like Emily and Devyn, to work together against this latest form of wraith-pairing. At least for a time.”
A Vampire's Embrace by Caris Roane / Romance & Love / Mystery & Detective have rating 4.6 out of 5 / Based on41 votes