Rapture’s Edge 2 VEILED
‘He smiled, a knowing smile, full of wickedness and intent….’ from VEILED
Duncan and Rachel continue their journey to Third Earth as members of Endelle’s elite black ops team. Each story of Rapture’s Edge is a stand-alone, yet part of a larger whole in which we follow the lives of Endelle, Luken, Merl and the warriors of Duncan’s original squad – Owen, Joshua, and Alex. Scroll for buy links and for an excerpt from chapter one scroll down even farther!
And here’s the fabulous cover created by Carol Webb of Bella Media Management!
Veiled is part of my Guardians of Ascension series and continues the journey of Rachel and Duncan and the black ops team of Second Earth. In many ways, each episode is a standalone story, but reading the series in order is highly recommended.
Endelle and Luken, from the original series published by St. Martin’s Press, are featured prominently in the Rapture’s Edge saga and each will finally find love as the series unfolds.
I chose to continue the series in an episodic form, because it was the best way to tell the ongoing journey for all my hunky Warriors of the Blood and those Militia Warriors advancing to “What-Bee” power.
“Veiled” comes right after “Awakening”, a story that began the romance between Rachel and Duncan.
“Veiled” opens one month after events in the previous episode, “Awakening”, and we find Duncan and Rachel struggling to connect with each other despite Duncan’s professed willingness ‘to try’.
The breh-hedden (vampire mate-bonding) is still alive and well, and harassing both Duncan and Rachel, as it has all previous eight warriors so far: Kerrick, Marcus, Antony, Jean-Pierre, Thorne, Leto, Gideon, and Samuel.
Brief Synopsis of Veiled
Duncan wants to love his woman, but he’s tortured by his past…
For the last few weeks, since Warrior Duncan professed his intention ‘to try’ to make his relationship with Rachel work, he’s failed on all fronts. But how can he explain that a serpent lives in his gut, poisoning him against her? As his visions return in full-force, and the black ops team heads back to the Third Earth darkening grid, he must confront his demons or lose everything he holds dear. But will Rachel be there for him?
Rachel longs for her breh, her vampire mate, but old issues keep tearing them apart…
Rachel refuses to give up on Duncan. Though he’s remained aloof because of his tortured past, she needs him more than ever. Her desire for him has reached outrageous levels as the breh-hedden continues to keep her focused solely on the man she loves. But will he finally be able to let go of his past suffering and embrace a life with her?
And now, here are some pics that have inspired my journey with VEILED.
Pics from Shutterstock
Excerpt from Chapter One: VEILED
The Continuing Saga of
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By Caris Roane
She walks beneath a bright cloud
Hidden from all who would know her
Waiting for the unveiling
She sees him coming
A blond god of ancient Norse worlds
His arm bears a righteous sword
His eyes are lit with a holy fire
Come, she whispers
Lift the veil and know who I am
Collected Poems, by Beatrice of Fourth
Duncan Wallace held his wrecker shotgun in both hands, knees bent, sweating like a madman. He knew if he didn’t take down the next Third grid warrior to come along, he’d be dead. He had only one advantage: Wreckers didn’t see him as any kind of threat.
But where the hell was the rest of his team? They’d been running a standard grid-entry drill through the portal Merl had in his private residence. Merl had been hoping to lock onto a location on Third Earth he thought might work as a base camp for the black ops team. He’d just fired up his wrist scanner when Duncan had gotten swept somewhere else in the grid.
He didn’t know what happened. One minute, he’d been standing next to Rachel and Merl, listening to the distant rumbling of wrecker warriors and waiting for them to appear. The next, he felt a soft vibration and now he was here.
He suspected Yolanthe, a Third Earth princess, was somehow involved. She’d held him in a trance for two weeks trying to bring him completely under her control. If she’d somehow found his grid signature and locked on, she could have gotten him away from the other two members of his team. But if that was true, why didn’t she simply bring him straight to her?
Unless she wasn’t in the grid yet. She may have moved him through an external grid operator.
Sweet Christ, he was in trouble.
He closed his eyes and took several deep breaths, as he tried to figure out what had happened and what to do next.
He reached out with his senses and focused on Yolanthe. Seconds passed, each one like a drumbeat inside his head.
The former mind-link he’d shared with Yolanthe had left a residual sense of her. He could feel the woman now, which meant if she hadn’t been in the grid before, she was now. Fortunately, she was still pretty far away.
He had time, then, but not much.
He opened his eyes and glanced around. So, where was he?
Unlike Merl, he didn’t have a wrist scanner, a device capable of tracking other people once inside the grid, as well as establishing a location. Only those with Third Earth powers could use it and Duncan hadn’t reached Third level. For weeks now, he’d been stuck. He might have achieved Warrior of the Blood status on Second Earth, but he still couldn’t access his Third gifts.
He wasn’t alone since the rest of the black ops team had failed to advance as well, including Luken.
Basically, they were fucked.
He pressed himself up against the darkening grid wall, forcing himself to stay calm. At least he didn’t hear the familiar distant rumbling of the wreckers. For the moment he was safe.
He contacted Rachel telepathically, wondering if he’d even be able to reach her within the grid. Rachel, are you there?
Duncan, thank God. I’m still with Merl, but we don’t know how we got split up. He’s using the grid scanner to try to locate you. What happened?
I felt a faint vibration and now I’m alone, though still in the grid. Has to be Yolanthe and I have a sense of her presence, but she’s not close, at least not yet.
Hang tough. We’re on it.
From the time he’d broken his mind-link with Yolanthe, she’d been working hard to pin him down and bring him back under her control. She wanted him to lead her to Rapture’s Edge, though at this point he had no idea where or what it was. Although, he knew in his gut he had to find Rapture’s Edge first if Second Earth was to survive its current state of war. The mythical place had the ability to enhance power to an astronomical level. The one who acquired a vast increase in ability could rule two worlds, which left Duncan and his team with one major goal: to keep the bad guys on Third from taking possession of Rapture’s Edge.
He glanced at the opposite, semi-opaque grid walls. Images flew by, reflecting the ever-shifting property of the darkening as well as various places on Third Earth. Sometimes deep red flames would appear followed by a stretch of ocean, forest, desert, or cities, then more flames.
The darkening was one of the mysteries of the ascended dimensions, a place ‘between’, something occurring in each of the five worlds above Mortal Earth.
Third Earth ascenders had built a grid to form a structure through the darkening, making travel through it possible for most ascenders. The fluctuating aspect of this part of nether-space, however, meant he didn’t know where he would land if he tried to leave. Though he could blow a hole in the grid wall with his wrecker shotgun, he could easily fall into a wall of fire and be killed instantly.
The darkening required finesse as well as Third Earth power. Neither quality was in his current wheelhouse.
A distant rumbling set another powerful burst of adrenaline plowing his veins. Wreckers.
Rachel, tell Merl to hurry. I’ve got bad guys on my ass.
Remaining in place with his shotgun hidden behind his right leg, he let his preternatural power flow from his wing-locks, up his back, and down his right arm. Once the flow of energy connected with his wrecking shotgun, he could take on a grid wrecker.
A blast from another part of the grid blew a hole in the wall twenty feet distant and brought Duncan face to face with a wrecker. He was a typical Third Earth Militia Warrior, wearing a black leather kilt and maroon battle harness. Three long braids hung on either side of his face.
With a confident smile, he spoke into his com at his shoulder. “I’ve got him, Your Highness.”
Yep, Yolanthe was here.
The wrecker smiled.
The split-second the charge flowed over Duncan’s weapon, he pivoted, brought his weapon into the open and lifted it to his shoulder.
The wrecker mouthed the words ‘oh shit’, his brows high as Duncan fired both barrels.
The blast cut the warrior in two and spread his internals over a ten-foot radius. The smell alone was enough to make his stomach curl into a knot.
Plucking two more specialized cartridges from a chest-strap, he reloaded. The sound of additional boots slamming against the grid floor and coming from the same direction as the initial wrecker set his heart into over-drive.
Rachel, he shouted telepathically.
Still here. Merl says he’s almost got your location and to get moving.
He turned away from the running feet and while recharging through his wings once more, and gripping his weapon hard, he began to run along the grid in the opposite direction. With any luck, Merl or Rachel would pick up his signal and come to him.
His heart hammered in his ears, the sound like an automatic weapon firing. With his left hand, he wiped sweat from his forehead.
Talk about a nightmare.
I’m on the move, he sent.
I can tell, Rachel returned, each word tense as though she was running right alongside him. Merl just nodded to me. We’ve got you on the scanner as well as Yolanthe. She’s not far from you. But keep running. Movement helps. We’ll fold from our position within fifty yards of your forward trajectory.
Suddenly, Duncan could sense Yolanthe’s presence like a wave of heat in front of him. And his wrecking gun wouldn’t be able to stop her. The woman had power.
Rachel, she’s close now.
We’ve folded to position and I can hear you running. Keep going. You won’t be able to see us because I’ve got Merl shielded.
But Yolanthe materialized, cutting off his path only a dozen feet away from him.
He came to a halt, almost falling into a roll because of his momentum. Shit. She’s right in front of me.
He tried to fold down the hall, as far as he could see, but Yolanthe lifted a hand and a surge of her power prevented him from moving.
I’m coming to you, Rachel sent, and I’ll use my shield. Merl will hold his current position since he has a location set for Militia Warrior HQ on Two. He’s getting ready to blow the grid wall, but our timing will be tight.
He wanted to respond to Rachel, but Yolanthe had already invaded his mind with her entrancing abilities.
Merl had told Duncan repeatedly he’d need a Third Earth grayle power to fend her off. But Duncan hadn’t yet been able to access it. For a man supposed to have the power to locate Rapture’s Edge, Duncan fell woefully short. He searched within the center of his being for a hint of the grayle power, but found nothing.
Instead, he became painfully dizzy as he stared into the woman’s pale blue eyes.
Princess Yolanthe had on oddly serene presence as she returned his gaze. “I found you again, Duncan.” She held out her arms to him and the dizziness in his head thickened. “Come to me. I’ve missed you and we have incredible plans to forge together. Come.”
She was beautiful in a strange way. A dark purple gloss covered her lips in sickly contrast to her milky white skin. She wore her red hair in at least two dozen thin braids wrapped haphazardly around her head. She looked the same as a month ago when he’d last seen her, wearing a long gown of violet silk to the floor.
Holding his gaze, she added a pressure within his mind, her power beginning to sink deeper and deeper. If she continued, she’d forge another mind-link with him and he’d be lost forever.
“We’ll complete our journey together, Duncan. And I’ll forgive you everything, I promise.”
He began moving toward the woman completely against his will and each of his battle sandals felt weighed down as if covered in cement. The pounding of feet behind him let him know a new squad of wreckers had just arrived, no doubt part of Yolanthe’s army, to back her up. He couldn’t fight them and he couldn’t resist her. If Rachel didn’t get to him soon, he was done for.
Yolanthe was ten feet away. Nine … Eight …
With what little strength he had left, he called for help. Rachel. Trouble.
He was about to ask, ‘For what’. But the next moment he was flying backward and Rachel was on top of him, her protective energy shield vibrating over them both. At the same moment, the deadly trance-like sensations vanished.
“Fire!” He heard Yolanthe shout. She wanted him alive, but if she couldn’t have him, she’d kill him to keep him out of the hands of other Third ascenders.
On instinct, Duncan rolled Rachel toward the grid wall as wrecker guns exploded the floor where they’d just been. Holding Rachel tight, he then folded her within the corridor well beyond Yolanthe. And at the exact moment he slipped into nether-space, Yolanthe’s wreckers fired into the side walls of the grid. If he hadn’t gotten them out of there, they would have both been dead.
Held within Rachel’s shield, he gauged the next distance he could take her and landed them down the darkening corridor another thirty feet. Within the grid, he could only fold the distance he could see. If he tried to transport them without seeing a destination, they could end up outside the darkening and anywhere on Third Earth.
He glanced down the corridor. Where’s Merl?
She smiled, then drew out of his arms. This way.
When she took off running, he kept pace. More feet sounded on the grid floor behind them, pounding hard in pursuit. The corridors were curved and branched off at least every twenty yards, a true grid. Rachel kept them moving fast.
Merl’s around the next turn. He felt her shift her telepathic communication and knew she was talking to Merl. When her voice returned to him, she said, He’s blasting the grid wall in three … two … one.
The sound of Merl’s wrecking gun arrived at the same moment he caught sight of Merl. He felt Rachel’s shield disintegrate.
“Good. You’re here,” Merl shouted. “Move it. We’ve only got a few seconds.”
Duncan reached for Rachel’s shoulder and once he made contact, he did a quick fold, taking Rachel to Merl’s position. The grid wall wavered as all three of them jumped through the opening.
They landed in the desert at Apache Junction Two, right outside HQ. The rest of the team was there waiting, each of them tense and facing the gaping grid hole, shotguns in hand, all except for Luken.
The leader of the black ops team sat in the dirt at a distance, his face pale, his wings busted.
Duncan jumped to his feet and brought his shotgun to his shoulder. His wing-power still flowed up his back and down his arm, charging his weapon. He listened for the faint rumbling sound of an imminent wrecker assault, but the grid was quiet until finally the shattered wall began to fade then disappear.
It was over.
Even Yolanthe wouldn’t be able to find them now because of the constantly shifting nature of nether-space.
He breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
Luken leaned forward slightly as Horace, the most powerful healer on Second Earth, worked on his wings. Luken had attempted a fold in full-mount and when he’d materialized, his wings had been twisted. None of them could do it yet, not even Luken who had the most natural power of any of them.
Luken’s lips were a white seam. Still, he called out, “What the hell happened? You were supposed to be on a recon mission to locate a base camp.”
Duncan gave a quick rundown of events, ending with, “Yolanthe showed up.”
The squad muttered a few obscenities.
“Sounds like she has your signature.” Luken shifted his gaze to Merl. “Can she fold someone using a wrist scanner? Is that how she did this?”
Merl shrugged. “Maybe. Although, she might have done the initial fold from the Grid Operating Center. Either way, she has enough power to pull it off.”
“If that’s the case,” Rachel said, “Then why didn’t she take Duncan with her when she had the chance?”
Merl shut his scanner down. “It’s obvious she has limits and I’ll thank the Creator for it.”
Luken met Merl’s gaze. “Was Duncan taken when he was shielded? Did Yolanthe have the power to remove him while Rachel covered him with her shield?” He glanced at both Duncan and Rachel, then back to Merl.
Rachel lifted her chin. “I wasn’t shielding either Merl or Duncan when we went into the grid. I only intended to use the power if wreckers approached. As soon as Duncan was taken, I shielded Merl, but it was never the plan to go in shielded.”
“Fuck.” Luken pulled his hands into a pair of powerful fists. “All right, I want to go over this point by point. Spare no detail. Let’s see if we can figure this out, how to do better for the next mission, though it seems clear we go in shielded from now on…”
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I hope you enjoyed this look at VEILED. Scroll back up to the cover for buy links!
And now, have a wonderful day and an even better night! For more information about my books, keep scrolling! Live the fang!
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Be sure to look for your welcome letter which has the link to your free e-book!
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Most Recent Releases:
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More about Caris Roane and her books!!!
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THE GUARDIANS OF ASCENSION SERIES
(After Ascension, Burning Skies, Wings of Fire, Born of Ashes, Obsidian Flame and Gates of Rapture)
Includes Sub-Series: Dawn of Ascension and the Rapture’s Edge Saga
Warrior Gideon swore he would never see Elise Jordan again even though they’d been passionate lovers for two years. Her human nature couldn’t survive in his ascended vampire world; she would be vulnerable to attack on every front if he tried to continue a relationship with her.
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Fearing that his newly emerged grayle power will kill innocent ascenders, Samuel Daman struggles to keep his distance from beautiful Vela Stillwell. But the breh-hedden has struck and her light floral scent tears at his restraint.
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For the last few weeks, since Warrior Duncan professed his intention ‘to try’ to make his relationship with Rachel work, he’s failed on all fronts. But how can he explain that a serpent lives in his gut, poisoning him against her?
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For decades, Warrior Duncan has had an on-again, off-again relationship with a woman opposed to his warrior lifestyle. When Rachel shows up in his life again, he wants to keep his distance, but the infamous breh-hedden, the myth-that-isn’t-a myth, bears down on him keeping him in a perpetual caveman-like state.
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THE BLOOD ROSE SERIES – SHORT WORKS
The Blood Rose Tales, are much shorter stories than the “Embrace” books of the Blood Rose Series. Each ‘tale’ highlights one particular aspect of the world of the Nine Realms as well as a mastyr vampire in pursuit of his Blood Rose.
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Zephyr can’t keep away from Alesia and feels obligated to keep her safe. They’d broken up, unable to reconcile painfully opposing views on what should be done to the evil Invictus pairs. But when several wraith-pairs attack her diner, he flies her to safety, taking her home where they’re trapped together for the entire day.
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THE BLOOD ROSE SERIES – THE BOOKS
Enter a world of blood-starved mastyr vampires and the rare women who can satisfy their deepest needs…
How can he resist his blood rose…
Gerrod, mastyr vampire of the Merhaine Realm, never thought to have his blood-needs satisfied by a mere human. But Abigail is no ordinary woman.
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Ethan, mastyr vampire of the Bergisson Realm, never thought to find his blood rose, the one woman who could ease the blood-starvation he’s endured for decades. But Samantha carries a surprising level of power as her newly discovered fae heritage emerges..
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Quinlan must keep Grochaire Realm safe from the enemy at all costs. As ruler of his realm, a woman has no permanent place in his day-to-day existence. But when his lust takes him to Batya’s bedroom, he soon discovers he’s deep into a powerful experience that threatens to blow his life apart.
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Mastyr Vampire Malik has only one goal: to serve the realm he loves. Battling both the dreaded Invictus wraith-pairs and an element in Ashleaf Realm that wants all innocent wraiths dead, Malik can’t afford to get distracted. But Willow has already become an obsession as he lusts for the powerful fae whose blood he craves.
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Mastyr Vampire Zane didn’t want another woman in his life not after the dreaded Invictus killed his wife five years ago. He serves Swanicott Realm, the land he rules, and doesn’t want anything to interfere with his war against the enemy.
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Mastyr Vampire Ian never wanted to see Regan again. He blamed her for the massacre at Raven’s Overlook, an attack that killed his sister and her children. He’s convinced Regan enthralled him, using her extensive fae powers to keep him by her side. If he’d been in his realm that night, he could have saved 200 people.
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Mastyr Vampire Griffin hates his enslavement in Margetta’s fortress. He sought death a thousand times because of it, but was denied when the Ancient Fae brought him back repeatedly, forcing him to train her evil army. When a beautiful fae-slave, Sandra, tells him to live, he begins to believe his life could have more meaning…
Caris Roane is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty-seven paranormal romance books. Writing as Valerie King, she has published fifty novels and novellas in Regency Romance. Caris lives in Phoenix, Arizona, loves gardening, enjoys the birds and lizards in her yard, but encourages the scorpions to inhabit elsewhere! Her motto: Live the Fang!
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