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A vampires embrace, p.9
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       A Vampire's Embrace, p.9

         Part #2 of Blood Rose Time Travel series by Caris Roane
 
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  She stayed several feet away, again in the shadow of the nearest street lamp. Once more, she sensed his tremendous mastyr power flood his hands and arms through his battle frequency.

  Just as one of the pairs turned, he fired. They dropped where they were hit. The other pair had a powerful shifter in the mix that roared and headed straight for them. As he shot through the air, he shifted into his wolf form, fangs bared.

  Now, Holly.

  Just before the wolf struck, Rez got off one shot. Holly launched into the air toward Rez, touched his shoulder and pulled him into the time-path. Through the blur, she could see the wolf lying on the cobbles.

  She took him toward the beech tree once more and released the time-path. Rez lay on the ground. She sat next to him, sick as anything because of moving so many times in and out of the continuum. Yet one more wraith-pair remained.

  Turning toward him, she again settled her hands on top of his head.

  She took several deep breaths and reached within her faeness for every ounce of healing she could muster. She let it flow and heard Rez moan with relief. She was doing some good. But fatigue had begun settling into her bones.

  Rez struggled to sit up. There was still some fighting to be done, but she’d never seen him look so pale.

  Instinctively, she knew what she needed to do.

  “Damn.” She shifted position and shoved her wrist beneath his nose. “You’ve got to feed. Don’t worry, I have plenty. I’ve been making extra.” She really was a blood rose.

  She could hear him breathe deeply. His fangs struck so fast she didn’t have time to react. He was drinking heavily which in turn increased her own level of fatigue. But after only twenty seconds at most, he swiped the wounds with his tongue then rose to his feet sufficiently renewed to continue.

  “Let’s go.”

  She levitated with him, more determined than ever, but she felt like someone had pulled the plug. She struggled to keep up with him. But if he was willing to go into battle, so was she.

  As before, he chose a different route. This time he came in from the south, levitating up and over the rooftops. Only one pair was in the street and didn’t seem all that motivated. The female, a small troll, flew in tight circles around her vampire mate. She, too, had yellow eyes and dark lips.

  Because the pair was down in the street, the troll’s shriek-like cries sent fear piercing Holly’s heart. She knew it was a battle technique used by every fae and human culture in both worlds. Making noise to terrify the enemy always had an effect.

  Except on Rez. All she felt from him was a steadiness of purpose that kept Holly on course as well. She levitated a few feet behind him.

  This is it, Holly.

  I’m here. I’m with you.

  As before, she felt his battle energy winding up. It wasn’t as strong as last time. Would it be enough to take out the most vicious-looking vampire she’d ever seen?

  Not good. Rez’s voice hit her mind.

  What?

  This one is close to mastyr status.

  Can you take him?

  I don’t know.

  Rez’s uncertainty should have sent her into panic mode. But that’s not what happened.

  Instead, her fae instincts kicked in and she levitated straight up behind him. She then planted her hand on the center of his back and let her power flow. Only, it wasn’t her healing energy. This was something new. Unexpected.

  She felt his chest expand. Holly, what are you doing?

  I … I have no idea. I’m going with my gut. Though I think what you’re feeling comes from the part of me that’s a blood rose.

  It’s like you’ve plugged into a new power source.

  Her gaze became fixed on the vampire below. Take him.

  Rez levitated away from her and flipped in the air so that he dove toward the vampire. His battle energy fired up at the same time, hands and arms outstretched.

  The bonded, near-mastyr-level vampire looked up and bared his fangs. The troll, already in flight, banked then headed toward Rez.

  He fired a quick blast of energy at the troll-wraith and sent her into a spin. She caught herself before slamming into the nearby stone wall of the bakery, then flew back toward her mate.

  At the same time, Rez opened fire on the vampire. Holly could tell he was giving everything he could, but it still wasn’t enough.

  Once more, she flew toward him and put her hands on his back. She let the same blood rose vibration flow. Rez’s output increased and she watched as the vampire’s red Invictus battle energy began to falter and recede against the blue fire coming from Rex’s hands and arms.

  The vampire’s eyes widened, his nostrils flared and he roared, but to no avail. Holly’s support of Rez’s battle power created enough force to overwhelm the vampire. He suddenly flew backward, hitting the building behind him, chest smoking. The troll flew to her mate and landed beside him. She slumped over his body, her eyes rolling in her head. Mated pairs often died together if the other suffered a mortal wound.

  Rez began a slow descent to the street. Holly tracked with him. Five Invictus pairs lay dead or dying.

  His levitation wobbled. He seemed to have a destination in mind as he passed above the battlefield and landed on the cobbled sidewalk near the door to the bakery. He dropped down heavily to the sidewalk, face down with his head on his forearm.

  Holly wasn’t in much better shape. But she managed to land near him and not fall. She eased herself next to the wall and slid to sit beside him. She scooted close and tugged on his arm. “If you can manage it, Rez, you can rest your head on my lap while you recover.”

  It appeared to take all his strength as he pushed with one arm and moved close. He ended up on his side, but his head now had a softer cushion.

  She settled her hand on his shoulder, then pathed, I’d offer some healing, but I’m fresh out.

  She felt him attempt to chuckle. You weren’t kidding about the lethargy. Well, the Goddess help us if the enemy sends even their weakest Invictus pair.

  I might be able to take us into the time-path.

  But you’re not sure.

  No. I’m not. She’d never been this incapacitated before, not during any of the exercises she’d run while under Vojalie’s guidance.

  She leaned her head against the wall and felt so sleepy.

  Though it went against every instinct of self-preservation, she began to drift off.

  She didn’t even care when Rez pathed, I think someone’s coming.

  She only hoped it was one of the villagers or maybe the Tannisford Vampire Guard.

  Right now, she didn’t care.

  Chapter Six

  Though Rez’s vision faded in and out, he knew someone was coming.

  But there wasn’t a thing he could do. He couldn’t see and he could hardly move. The continuum lethargy was on him hard.

  He struggled to move his hand. Maybe if he could access his battle power, he could fight the intruder off.

  Sweet Goddess, he couldn’t even keep his eyes open.

  Holly?

  Nothing returned. He sensed she was okay. Maybe she’d passed out. He was that close himself. But he had to try. He had to keep her safe. Can you take us back into the Continuum?

  But there was no answer except her even, steady breathing. The woman was asleep.

  A figure arrived to stand over him and blocked the light from the nearby streetlamp. Rez still couldn’t see, but the blurred image was Guardsman big.

  Rez forced himself to speak, though he sounded hoarse and weak. “If you’re going to kill us, then get on with it. You’ll never get a chance like this again and that’s a promise.”

  He heard a deep chuckle. “Thought I’d killed you the first time.”

  The familiar voice sounded like he was hearing the man speak underwater. But he couldn’t place it.

  “When was that, asshole? When did you … and I …ever tangle?”

  “About two months ago.”

  Rez had to protect
Holly somehow. He struggled to get up on his elbow. The best he could do was extend his arm in front of Holly. Yeah, that would help.

  The big shadow dropped to its haunches. He felt a hand on his shoulder, then healing flowed. “Ease down, Warrior. You’ve done good work here tonight. You’ve saved lives. The Guard will be here soon. I’ve got your back.”

  Nothing could have felt better in that moment than the power flowing through him. But there was something he had to do.

  He opened his eyes and blinked. He was feeling better by the second and his vision cleared. “I need to see the female vampires, if there were any. It’s important.” Only then did he realize he was staring at the ruling Mastyr of Tannisford, Stone himself.

  “Sure, Rez. Whatever you need.” He kept his hand pinned. The healing continued to flow. All vampires could self-heal and in a pinch, they could share some of that healing with others. Of course, it was nothing like fae healing, like what Holly could do. But it was getting rid of his lethargy fast.

  “I only saw one,” Stone said. “She’s close.”

  “Only one?”

  “That’s right.”

  Rez struggled to sit up. He could see the female vampire. Her bare right arm was thrown wide. Isobel had a birth mark on the inside of the same arm. No mark.

  Thank the Goddess.

  He fell inside himself for a difficult moment. He’d been hunting for his daughter with all his might for two years now. He’d spent a fortune in bribes on the black market to try to track her down in case she’d ended up alive but enslaved. He never let his thoughts dwell for too long on what her life must be if she’d been used in the sex trade. He’d go mad if he did.

  Every time he battled an Invictus pair, his first thought was for Isobel.

  He’d never found a single trace of her.

  Stone pierced his spiraling thoughts. “Feeling better?”

  “Much. Thank you.”

  Stone withdrew his hand. “Who’s this with you and what exactly happened here?”

  Rez shifted to sit against the wall next to Holly. Her mouth was slightly agape. She was sound asleep, her long black hair draped over her arm.

  “Holly McCrae.”

  “The professor’s daughter?”

  “Yes.” He stared up at Stone, at the man who’d beat him senseless two months ago. Rez hadn’t done anything except respond to Rosamunde’s clear invitation to take a draw.

  Rez finally gained his feet. Stone was a couple inches taller than Rez or any of his Guardsman. He was big on all counts and had a short fuse.

  Stone gestured with his thumb toward the Invictus. “What the hell is this?”

  Rez could do little more than shake his head. “I don’t know what they’re doing or why there are so many of them. I thought your Guard had the last of the Invictus rounded up a week after Margetta’s defeat.”

  Stone scowled. “We get the occasional pair on a feeding frenzy because they’ve been hiding out. But nothing like this.” He shook his head.

  Rez glanced up the street then down. “Wait a minute. Why are you here? We contacted the Com Center requesting assistance.” What was the ruler of Tannisford doing in Boylbury. By himself. It didn’t make sense. “I didn’t expect you to show up.”

  “You were never dimwitted. The fact is, Vojalie sent me.”

  “Vojalie?” What the hell was going on?

  “Yes, but I don’t know why, either.”

  As he met Stone’s gaze once more he thought about the Wild Boar and Rosamunde.

  Time to man-up. “I didn’t know she was your woman, Rosamunde I mean, when she came into the bar that night. I wouldn’t have touched her otherwise. I had no idea what the blood rose phenomenon could be like. I apologize, Stone.”

  Stone blew the air from his cheeks. “There’s no need. Besides, I was out of line and almost killed you. I’m the one who should be sorry. And I am.”

  Rez palmed his jaw. “You broke it, you know.” Then he laughed. “But on some level, I deserved it. You weren’t the first unhappy boyfriend to come after my ass. Just the strongest.”

  Stone jerked his head toward Holly. “I know she’s a fae with ability, but why is she asleep like that? And why were you in such a weak state? You’re not wounded. Nothing that I’m seeing here makes sense: Not your presence, hers or this large force of Invictus which apparently, you defeated. How? Rez, what’s going on?”

  “I don’t know.”

  In the distance, coming from the east, he saw the Guard patrol arrive. Stone saw them as well. “Let me take care of this. I’ll be back.”

  Stone levitated in a whip-like fashion and handed out orders. The patrol immediately dispersed toward the various Invictus and started processing the battlefield.

  While Stone was busy, Rez crossed to the female vampire. He wanted to make sure. But the dead eyes that stared back at him weren’t anything like his daughter’s.

  He felt a new, but gentle presence arrive, another realm-person capable of teleporting. To his astonishment, he turned to find Vojalie next to him. She was tall with brown eyes and wore her long dark brown hair braided on top of her head. She was a real beauty. Vojalie presided over the Sidhe Council and was married to the ugliest, most charismatic troll in all the realms, Davido the Wise, sometimes the Ancient.

  “Rez, it’s so good to see you again. Not under these circumstances, of course. Bernice misses you.”

  Rez had known both Davido and Vojalie a long time. Decades, in fact. Their latest offspring, Bernice, was a favorite of his.

  Vojalie glanced around then toward the darkened windows of the bakery. “I’ve been here a couple of times. That shop makes the best pies.”

  “It does.” There was a gentleness to the woman and a calmness of spirit that invited trust.

  Her gaze shifted toward the street and the Invictus. When she glanced at the female vampire, she asked, “She isn’t your daughter, is she?”

  Vojalie knew about his hunt for Isobel. “No, she’s not.”

  He glanced back at Holly. “Will she be okay?”

  Vojalie turned to look at her as well. “She’s fine. Tougher than she looks. Smart as a whip. But I imagine you’ve discovered some of that for yourself tonight.”

  He settled his gaze on Holly who appeared to be waking up. “She surprised me more than once. I couldn’t have done this tonight without her. Even toward the end, she shared her power with me.”

  “Ah, yes. Her blood rose ability. It has many applications. And are you without pain, Mastyr?”

  That Vojalie of the Nine Realms would use his title so respectfully meant a great deal to him. “I have no more pain.”

  “Good.”

  “What is it you know, Mistress?”

  At that, she smiled. “Too much.”

  He thought he understood. “It becomes burden.”

  “You have a great deal of perception, Mastyr. But I fear you will need more of it in the coming hours and nights.” She drew a deep breath. “Stone would like to speak with you and Holly at his home. Rosamunde will be there. You haven’t seen her since the incident at the Wild Boar, have you?”

  He shook his head.

  “All will be well. I’m told she’s serving a hearty beef soup with pumpernickel bread and a castle-brewed beer, her own recipe. I hear it’s outstanding and would have won awards over the centuries had she been able to enter any of our realm fairs.”

  Rosamunde had lived a hidden life until the last year when the existence of Ferrenden Peace, lost for a thousand years, was finally revealed. The cloistered queen now had a life with Stone in Tannisford.

  “So, you’re able to time-path.”

  Vojalie nodded once firmly. “Yes. Davido as well.”

  Rez frowned. “Did you know this was coming?” He felt angry suddenly. Put upon. A warning and some instruction would have been useful. Holly could have died tonight.

  Vojalie held his gaze, her expression solemn. “I don’t actively pursue the future. I did at one time, but
it becomes almost unbearable to know what’s around every corner. I take great pains to hold the future at bay, to take the challenges as they come.

  “As for tonight, my prescience told me Holly would need my support. I’ve spent time this evening meditating on her behalf. The vision that came to me was of you, oddly enough, hunting here for your daughter. I saw nothing specific, but I had an overwhelming sense that several elements had been put in motion tonight, including that Stone and Rosamunde would need to be involved in a peripheral manner. But that is all. I called Rosamunde and asked her to prepare a meal.”

  She then smiled. “Just a suggestion, but you and Holly would do well to eat frequently over the next night or so.”

  He thought of the meal they’d shared at his home. But he knew the cost of battling. Food was good. So was tapping a vein.

  “I’ll explain more at supper. I’ll be taking Holly with me and offering what healing I can. It’s very good to see you again. You were always a favorite of mine.”

  He felt an odd flush on his neck as he watched her go. She’d offered him a profound compliment.

  Stone approached. “She’s an incredible woman.”

  “Yes, she is.”

  “So, looks like you’re invited to dinner.”

  He heard the hard note in Stone’s voice. Was he remembering? Didn’t matter. Rez had already made his apologies.

  Stone changed the subject. “What do you make of this?” He waved a hand to encompass the battlefield.

  “I think there’s a chance they were after me.”

  Stone’s scowl returned. “Why do you say that?”

  There was only one response that mattered. “Holly’s a blood rose.”

  Stone muttered a string of invectives. Choice words. Fit for the moment.

  “Exactly.”

  ~ ~ ~

  Holly stood in the shower of her mountaintop home. She’d asked Vojalie to bring her here first and yes, teleporting rocked. She couldn’t have made use of the time-path again, not right away. So, she was grateful for the lift.

  She was also extremely thankful to be away from Boylbury and the dead Invictus in the street. To a lesser degree, it also eased her to be away from Rez and her growing responsibilities toward her new blood rose abilities. Even now, her heart felt laden again.

 
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