REVEALED Chapter One
Hi, Everyone! Welcome to REVEALED Chapter One. REVEALED is the third book of the Rapture’s Edge Series and the eleventh book of the Guardians of Ascension Series.
To read more details about REVEALED…
REVEALED is preceded by AWAKENING and VEILED. Each of these books tells part of Duncan and Rachel’s story as well as the ongoing saga of Endelle and Luken. In the Rapture’s Edge Series, also part of Guardians of Ascension, we are building to both Endelle’s story and Luken’s, so stay-tuned! For the reading order, go Here!
He’s a warrior deep in his bones, but all she ever wanted was peace…
~ ~ ~
And now, here is Chapter One of REVEALED, A Paranormal Romance
The future is glimpsed
Never fully seen
Even by the most powerful seers.
~ ~ Collected Proverbs, Beatrice of Fourth
In the early hours of the morning, Duncan folded his sword into his hand, lowered his knees and smiled. Though debris cluttered the filthy alley of Glendale Three and all kinds of smells assaulted him, he didn’t care. Death vamps were up to no good and he was ready.
Looks like we’ve got three live ones. Owen’s telepathic voice carried a warrior’s cadence, hard and focused.
We sure do. Rachel sounded different these days, her words clipped like the warrior she’d become.
Duncan scanned the Third Earth death vampires feeding on a recent kill. The smell of dying blood tainted the air. His nostrils flared and his muscles tensed. Rage burned through his system.
Two of the vampires hovered not far from the body as the third one fed. Their wings flapped in triumph, unaware they were about to bite steel.
In the air. As Duncan gave the order, both Rachel and Owen levitated several feet and started to release their wings. The muscles of his own back swelled and his wing-locks streamed fluid. Adrenaline pumped through his body. His grayle power began to rise from his wing-locks, thighs and wrists in a pale blue smoke. It was the grayle power that fueled all their Third Earth moves, like folding while in wing-mount or levitating. All good.
He directed one last order to Rachel. Stay back. No daggers. Owen and I have got this, but keep that righteous, Fourth Earth shield up.
You got it.
He loved his woman’s voice in his head.
The three of them were a small unit this late at night, patrolling the streets of the Third Earth town. Luken, who led their black ops team, often broke the group up into smaller parts just before dawn in order to police as many of the communities in the Phoenix Three area as they could. It was good practice for improving their Third Earth abilities. Hunting for the enemy also saved a helluva lot of ascenders from the persistent killing sprees of death vampires.
As Duncan took to the air, he could feel Rachel’s shield holding him tight, a clinging sensation that kept him aware that no one would be able to see him. Rachel was his shield, possessing a Fourth Earth power she shouldn’t even have. Yet she did, for reasons still not completely understood by Luken’s black ops team. Not even Endelle could make sense of why he and Rachel functioned as they did. But he also knew this was the mysterious way of ascended life.
Owen flew next to him, his wings at half-mount, the tips flapping just enough to propel him forward and match Duncan’s position. They each employed Third Earth levitation as well. The two skills combined provided tremendous control.
Within thirty feet, he was ready for the enemy to see them. He called to Rachel. Release the shield.
Within seconds, the clinging sensation disappeared. He and Owen by habit sped up and aimed straight for the three vampires. The one on the left, flapping in the air, caught sight of them and gave a shout. His airborne comrade turned in their direction. At the same time, the death vamp on the ground dropped the dead man, a thump on the asphalt that rang hard through Duncan’s mind.
He lifted his sword and shouted a war cry.
Owen joined him.
By Merl’s training and with his wings mounted, Duncan folded behind the vampire on the left. One practiced swing and he took off his fucking head. Blood flew in a sickening spray as the vampire’s body collapsed. Owen had the in-flight killer engaged with his sword. The sounds of rasping metal and a series of grunts filled the narrow alley.
When the third death vampire turned and ran, Duncan gave chase. He wasn’t surprised when the vampire mounted his wings and flew straight up into the air. Third Earth was a very different kind of battleground and the enemy had more power than any death vampire on Second.
Rachel, follow at a distance and shield us. I don’t want the local population watching any of this.
I’m on it.
A second later, the cling of the shield surrounded him once more and extended to envelop his quarry.
Duncan continued with both levitation and flight. He pulled his wings into close-mount and added speed so that he flew like a rocket toward the vampire.
When he was close enough, he grabbed the man’s ankle, jerked hard and sent him into a dangerous spiral heading straight toward the local market square. Duncan had an image of the death vampire landing on one of the colorful canvas booths and he couldn’t let that happen. It might be close to dawn, but a few shoppers were still milling among the tents and awnings.
He dove hard at the spinning vampire, caught his hand and took him in a wild flight back toward the alley.
He made sure the vampire’s wings got hit hard by the corner of a building. The murdering bastard shouted his agony. Wings were more sensitive than they looked. As he returned to the alley, he used a similar technique and slammed the death vamp’s head hard onto the asphalt then flipped his wrist. The vamp rolled a few times then landed next to his two dead friends. Blood poured from his injured head. A moment later, and he was gone.
Good fucking riddance.
Owen had his Third Earth cell phone in hand and spoke in a low voice to the local officials asking for clean-up. Rachel approached and he felt her shield extend to wrap up the rest of the gruesome collection.
The victim turned out to be a teenage kid.
The air left Duncan’s body in a sudden rush and he couldn’t seem to bring anything back in. Battling always pummeled his soul at some point, but it was worse when kids were involved.
As Rachel flew toward him, he whipped in her direction. He reached her with a couple of swift downward sweeps of his wings then caught her arm forcing her to stop. It’s a bad one, Sweetheart. Don’t go in.
She hovered in the air beside him and met his gaze. “We’re talking young?”
He dipped his chin. “A teen.”
He didn’t give this kind of warning often. But Rachel took it hard when kids got hurt and killed, maybe even harder now than she had when they’d first started battling together.
She’d made amazing strides as a Warrior of the Blood in her own right, but it wasn’t her first choice. Hell, it wasn’t her hundredth. She served on Luken’s black ops team like they all did, at personal sacrifice.
She nodded once, then turned around and levitated upward, facing away from the carnage. It wasn’t long before she breached the top of the building. Owen would deal with the local officials to clean up the site, so Duncan followed after her.
He reached her side, then levitated with her high in the air above the roof of the building. You okay? He couldn’t help it. He was always worried about her.
Sure, but I’m grateful you warned me away. She glanced around then down at the town square. I’m seeing a whole lot of canvas awnings and booths, lots of things for sale. Think I’ll check it out.
Better not. It’s almost dawn and you know Merl wants us back before the sky pinks up. Besides, at this hour there can’t be much left and I’m ready for a beer.
She turned to him, caught his hand and gave a squeeze. She even smiled. You know you don’t have a choice, right? I love this kind of flea market. Besides, I won’t be long. Three minutes, tops, then we’re outta here.
That had better be a promise.
It is. She flapped the tips of her wings with a backward thrust, which had the happy effect of shoving her right against his chest. He caught her with his hands on her waist and pulled her close. She kissed him once on the lips, then pushed off.
He smiled as he released her. She flew in a beautiful arc high into the air. She had exquisite green and brown banded wings and he loved watching her fly. Of course it helped that her black leather flight suit hugged every amazing curve.
As she disappeared toward the canvas awnings, he could tell that her shield still held. His woman had skills. Even at what would be a hundred yards and at least one apartment complex between them, she could sustain her shield not only around herself, but around him and all the way to Owen and the clean-up scene.
Make it fast, he sent straight into her head. Despite his willingness to let her do what she wanted, he answered to both Merl and Luken. Neither liked her jaunts into the various marketplaces in whatever towns or villages they happened to be. Rachel knew this, yet still continued to indulge her love of handmade crafts. Duncan thought that at the very least, for all she had personally sacrificed, buying a few trinkets now and then wouldn’t hurt anyone.
You know I will.
As she disappeared into the wound-down street fair, he remained in the air where she’d left him. He had an uneasy feeling, though, and took a slow spin to check out the environs. Yet everything looked quiet. No death vampires or any sign of Chustaffus’s Militia Warriors with their black leather kilts, burgundy battle vests, long hair and side braids.
He shifted his focus within and opened himself to the source of his visions. He’d received dozens of warnings in this way, and it was possible they were still at risk. But no vision emerged and for that he was grateful. Hell, he could almost breathe.
Rex and Merl had kept the team working hard. None of them complained. Each knew what was at stake. They had to cram centuries of Third Earth battle training into a few short months. Merl drilled them relentlessly and each night the missions became more and more difficult. Sometimes Duncan had one of his specialized mission-based visions that needed to be accomplished. Mostly, however, Merl sent them on patrols to hunt down and slaughter the heinous death vampires that preyed on every age of ascender, draining their victims to death. Dying blood was a swiftly addictive substance that kept death vamps constantly hunting their next victim.
Being with Rachel, however, made everything better. She eased him after a night of battling.
The sex had been great for the past month, probably because the breh-hedden held them each in a tight grip. Yet Rachel had never been more sensual, more easily aroused than at any other time of their long history together.
Even her body had changed. He didn’t want to say anything, but she’d put on weight. Not that he minded. He loved that her breasts were bigger. Even her ass had more shape and given her strength and conditioning, lovemaking was sensational.
She probably could have worked her metabolism with her ascended powers. That she chose not to, seemed a little odd. Rachel had always been conscious of her figure. But then she liked to keep things as natural as possible.
Truth? He really didn’t care. He shared a bed with her every day, made love with her often, and enjoyed her company. There didn’t seem to be any real friction between them.
Except. Yeah, how remote she was.
And his own internal viper occasionally reared its head reminding him he wasn’t worthy of Rachel’s love.
Until they’d arrived on Third Earth together, with the breh-hedden haunting them both, he hadn’t been as in-tune with her as he was now. But what he sensed from her was that she had one foot out the door.
Though he’d asked her about it a couple of times, she’d told him he had nothing to worry about. She wasn’t going anywhere. He knew she believed her own words, but he could sense that something was off, an issue unresolved.
There were plenty of reasons why he and Rachel had never made it to the finish line as a couple. The Creator knew he had his own damns reasons.
He’d finally figured out, however, that Rachel did, too. Their resistance to completing the ritual of mate-bonding wasn’t just on him. Neither of them had been able to move forward. For that reason, he rarely brought up the breh-hedden and the possibility of completing the bond that would bind them together forever.
The night was almost gone and he and Rachel would soon head back to their quiet side canyon home. He almost smiled. Dawn had become his favorite time of day when he got cleaned up, shared a beer or two with Rachel, then took her to bed.
Shivers chased up and down his thighs and grabbed his balls. Making love to her was everything. Everything.
He couldn’t help but send, Rachel, I’m sure looking forward to getting back to our house.
He heard a telepathic chuckle in response. Me, too. My wing-locks are tingling.
His cock jerked beneath his battle kilt. He and Rachel may have their unresolved issues, but sex with her had always been stellar. The thought of sliding his tongue over her wing-locks, taking in her earthy taste as her locks swelled with pleasure, had him warming up way too much.
He stared up at the star laden sky and took a few deep breaths. It would do no good to be levitating midair and getting a superb hard-on since there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it.
Once he had command of himself and with Rachel’s shield holding steady, he headed back in Owen’s direction.
The locals had arrived and Owen must have asked Rachel to release part of her shield since clean-up was already underway. Yet something nagged at him like a chore left undone.
Owen stood near the crew and chatted with their local contact. As a cover, Merl had made the arrangements while posing as an adjunct to the Warriors of the Blood. As the former leader of the What-Bees on Third Earth, Merl had strong connections to most of the towns around this part of the world. He’d provided untraceable phones to the black ops team, each cell loaded with contact information for local community assistance.
Right now, Duncan missed Jeannie and Carla who manned the Central Command station on Second. They had technology that allowed for instant on-site clean-up. In many ways, Chustaffus was way behind or he didn’t care. Probably the latter. Chustaffus ruled a majority of Third Earth territories, but most of his domain resembled impoverished Mortal Earth countries.
Duncan and the rest of the team had long since made peace with Merl, the man who had once acted more like a lounge lizard than the renowned warrior he was. His true identity and abilities had since earned him a mountain of respect.
Where’s Rachel? Owen sent.
Owen chuckled. Should’ve known.
A shiver went down Duncan’s back.
The uneasy sensation had returned.
Something was definitely wrong. He just didn’t know what.
~ ~ ~
Rachel smiled as she coasted above the middle row of vendors near the east end of the market. Glendale Three had a beautiful central town square, with tall sissoo trees here and there to protect against the scorching sun when summer came around again.
In January, the weather in the Sonoran Desert was mild for the dead of winter. Snow was rare and given the leather of her flight suit, she was comfortable against the relative chill of the early morning air.
She finally spotted exactly what she had in mind in the end stall and was grateful Duncan wasn’t with her. She didn’t want him to see what she was about to purchase.
While still levitating above the deep purple canvas awning, she drew in her wings, then descended with slow levitation to land on the stone pavers.
Her heart squished up into a mushy knot of pure love as she stared down at three knit baby sweaters and matching booties. In this moment, despite that her daggers were caked with blood and she’d killed several death vampires earlier in the night all by herself, she was being very female.
Her heartrate increased as she perused three different sets, each in a soft pastel: Pink, blue and lavender. Her throat tightened and her hand went as it often did to her lower abdomen. She could feel her daughter’s heartbeat, quick, strong and steady, pulsing away inside her.
She carried Duncan’s child, his daughter, but she hadn’t told him yet. She kept waiting for the exact right moment. Yet, somehow, it still hadn’t come and she was two-plus months along. She wouldn’t be able to keep her secret much longer.
She also wondered why he hadn’t seemed to notice that her breasts were about twice their normal size. But then again, he was a man.
Still cloaked behind her shield, she made her decision and went with predictable pink. She reached into the hip pocket of her battle suit and pulled out her change purse. Third Earth sellers accepted all kinds of currency, but Rex had made sure they were each kept flush with ‘staffs’ in ones, fives and tens. Staffs were the preferred currency of Third Earth and each paper bill had Chustaffus’s image stamped front and center, the egotistical bastard that he was.
She glanced to her right and there it was, a statue of Chustaffus, at least twenty feet tall, cast in bronze. Almost every town had one.
She’d grown to despise the ruler of Third Earth. He was unimaginably cruel, like most dictators. Though his cousin, known as The Prince, ruled one-third of this dimension with democratic policies, Chustaffus was a monster who cared nothing for his people. Every one of his adult citizens was required to serve as a slave in decade-long rotations. Some of those slaves had fabricated the bronze monstrosities and shipped them to every territory under his control.
Though several nearby vendors were already packing up for the night, the couple beneath the purple awning seemed content to stay. Both were dressed in the woven robes of the locals, though she could see a beautiful length of the woman’s red hair curling away from her outer scarf. She sat on a stool and never looked up from her knitting needles, which no doubt meant Rachel’s shield held. The long needles clacked softly as Rachel drew close.
She was grateful for the battle vests. She could tuck her treasure inside and Duncan would never know what she bought.
Rachel? Duncan’s telepathic timbre sounded as deep as his real voice.
Hey, don’t worry. I’m almost done.
That’s not it. Something doesn’t feel right. I’m heading your direction.
Fine. But everything’s quiet here.
Rachel lifted her head from the infant clothes. The man in the booth was very handsome though for a moment he seemed oddly familiar to her. He was warrior tall but had a hump on his back which the soft fall of his robe did little to disguise. When he yawned, she smiled as she sent to Duncan, I’m sure everything’s okay.
A disturbance thirty feet beyond the booths, however, caught Rachel’s eye. A woman had just entered the main square, an infant cradled in her painfully thin arm. She had a red patch near her right eye, indicating the removal of a slave tattoo. Rachel knew enough about Third Earth to know the woman had recently been released from her enslaved position probably because of her child.
Rachel drew in a deep breath. Here was one of the worst aspects of Chustaffus’s brand of slavery. Once a woman with a child was freed from duty, often shortly after childbirth, she was left to her own devices. She had no money, nowhere to live, no food. She would be dumped off at the nearest town or village.
Duncan, are you close enough to the market square to see that woman? The one with the infant? She’s standing near the north entrance.
Give me a sec. I’m cresting the apartments now and yes, I can see her.
She needs help. She has a newborn in her arms and look, she can hardly stand up. The woman leaned against the wall of the closest building then slowly slid to sit on the sidewalk.
It’s a fucking crime. But you know there’s nothing we can do for her. And Rachel, we’ve got to leave. A vision’s trying to come through, but it’s being blocked. An entity of power is nearby. I can feel it now. Rachel?
All right. I just need to leave a few staffs for my purchase.
She grabbed the pink sweater and booties, then shoved them beneath her battle vest. She was about to open her change pouch, to leave payment behind, when the man suddenly lunged for her and caught her wrists, holding them in a tight grip. “You gonna pay for that, Rachel?”
She was so startled she couldn’t even speak. Who was this deformed man, at least as tall as Duncan? How could he see her when she held her shield tight? And how the hell did he know her name, know who she was?
Finally, she managed. “Who are you?”
The woman with the red hair called out from her corner. “Well, well, if it isn’t Warrior Duncan’s woman. Hello, Rachel. It’s time we finally met.” She rose from her stool and threw the knitting needles on the pavers at her feet.
Recognition broke over Rachel in a heavy painful wave. Her heart pounded so hard she could hear each beat thumping in her ears. “Yolanthe.”
“You’re not an idiot. I’ll give you that. And it’s been what, at least a month, since you and your team broke Katlynn as well as several Third Earth warriors out of my prison?” Her eyes narrowed. “And I still don’t know how your team managed such an extraordinary display of power.”
Rachel switched to telepathy. Duncan, Yolanthe is here.
An odd sound returned, like static. What did you say? Something’s haywire. Fuck, I can’t even see you now. Rachel, where are you? Where did you go?
The vendor with the purple awning at the east end. Yolanthe and a guard of hers got control of me. Duncan, help!
Yolanthe clucked her tongue. “Are you telepathing with Duncan? Unfortunately, he won’t be able to find you until it’s too late. Sorry, Rachel, but your time is up. Go ahead, Zander, use your blade. Time to finish what we started.”
Rachel turned her eyes to the man called ‘Zander’ who still held her wrists in an iron grip. She tried to pull away, but Zander jerked hard, drawing her toward him until she slammed against the counter. Rachel saw the dagger at his waist.
He drew her arms up to control her better, which brought her face-to-face with him. The moment his silvery blue eyes met hers, though, something shifted and his expression became horror-stricken.
She felt dizzy suddenly. Then she understood. He was inside her, reading her mind and her soul. She realized she had an opening. She might even be able to survive if she could reach him. Zander, you don’t know me but please don’t do this. I don’t want to die. Please, Zander.
His voice, even telepathically, was deep and resonant. I’m seeing something. The future. And you’re there. I’m there as well. I don’t know what to do. She saw sudden tears in his eyes. Creator, help me.
Rachel didn’t understand what was happening with this man with the terrible hump on his back who was clearly aligned with Yolanthe. He’d just had a vision of the future and she was in it, which meant he wouldn’t be using his blade right now. She also had a sudden and profound awareness of his intense, sensitive nature. How, then, could someone like him possibly be connected to Yolanthe, the woman the black ops team called the bitch princess?
Yolanthe moved in suddenly. “Don’t worry, Zander. I know you’re not used to making war. So, I’ll happily take care of our enemy.”
Dread filled Rachel’s heart as she shifted her gaze to Yolanthe. Zander still held Rachel with his hands clamped around her wrists.
Rachel blinked as she watched Yolanthe lift a thick carved piece of wood like an old-fashioned walking stick. She smiled as she swung. Rachel shifted, trying to avoid contact. Zander even let go of her arms and she gained a few more inches of separation. But the stick still connected. She heard the crack then felt her knees disappear beneath her.
~ ~ ~
Duncan flew over the market square above the canvas awnings, but there was no sign of Rachel. His adrenaline had spiked and he had to work hard to keep his wings level. He’d tried to contact her, but a weird static returned. Something had gone shitfest wrong.
Suddenly, near the statue of Chustaffus, he saw a whip of red hair and his chest seized.
He had no doubt that whatever had happened to Rachel, the bitch princess was at the bottom of it.
She was struggling with a tall man who appeared to have something strapped to his back. They were locked in battle, but he had no idea why.
The man shouted, “You don’t understand. I need to get back to her. To help her. She can’t die, Yolanthe, or we’ll lose everything.”
Duncan didn’t have time to explain a thing to Owen. Instead, he shot forward in close-mount and aimed for Yolanthe. She’d done something to Rachel, and he needed to find out where she was. Now.
But before he could reach her, the man caught sight of him. At the last second, he put his hand on Yolanthe’s shoulder and folded them both away. Instead of plowing into her as Duncan had planned, he flew headlong toward a block wall.
Shit, this was either going to hurt like hell or put him on a tall cremation pyre.
Instead, he received a powerful bump on his lower left hip that sent him flying off the opposite direction and up into the air.
Thank the Creator.
Duncan adjusted swiftly and headed in an upward trajectory. He cleared the rooftops then circled back.
Owen’s voice hit his mind. I’ve got her, Duncan. I’ve got Rachel. She’s unconscious, but she’s breathing. Come to the purple awning.
Duncan found them easily because Rachel’s shield had disappeared and a few venue owners had grouped near the booth to offer assistance.
Owen cradled Rachel like a child. But the sight of his woman in another man’s arms had Duncan’s mating instincts firing up and ready to do battle. Damn the breh-hedden.
By the time he landed, his wings were rigid as he took Rachel out of Owen’s arms. Using resonance, he growled. “Keep your hands off my woman.”
Owen covered his ears and several of the bystanders groaned in pain. A distant part of his mind knew he was out of control, besides ungrateful, but this was the fucking breh-hedden. Rachel was his woman, and no man should ever touch her.
When Owen had recovered from the painful use of shouting with resonance, he glanced at Duncan and his lips quirked. “How about we get the hell out of here before someone calls Chustaffus’s Militia on us. Then you can beat the shit out of me if you still want to.”
He knew Owen was making sense, but Duncan shook all over as he stared back. The man needed a lesson.
When Duncan lowered his chin and snorted, Owen rolled his eyes, grabbed the shoulder strap of Duncan’s battle vest, and folded the three of them out of the market square. The next moment, Duncan’s feet touched down at the Paradise Three landing platforms near the north end of Apache Falls.
The fold had a powerful effect on Duncan. For one thing, it cleared his head. For another, he realized that he’d made an ass of himself. He glanced at Owen and said what needed saying. “Apologies.”
Owen just shook his head. “Ain’t the breh-hedden a bowl of giggles?”
Right. Owen was in the same damn boat now. At least the brother understood and the matter was closed.
When the platform’s officer let them pass, Duncan levitated down the ramp. But he was stunned to find Seer Megan waiting for him at the bottom. She looked deeply distressed as she stared at Rachel. Even her eyes were red. Had she been weeping? Was Megan that attached to Rachel?
“Is she all right?” The woman lifted a kerchief to dab at her torn, scarred lip.
Duncan had never seen Megan look so upset.
“She’s breathing. We don’t know what happened. Did you see something in the future streams?”
Megan nodded. “Yolanthe struck her with some kind of carved, wooden cane. But it was the man with her who saved Rachel’s life. He was a humpback, very handsome. Yolanthe wanted to finish Rachel off, but he released his hold on Rachel at the last second and gave her enough distance that she didn’t take the full brunt of the blow. There was a lot of screaming on Yolanthe’s part. That woman has a temper on her.”
“Yes, she does.”
After all this time, Yolanthe still wanted Rachel dead. And why wouldn’t she? The bitch princess had plans for Duncan that she could fulfill easily if he didn’t have the benefit of Rachel’s shield during their nightly missions.
“Bring her to my Meditation Chapel. Let me tend to her.” She put her hand on Duncan’s shoulder. “May I fold you both?”
Duncan glanced at Owen, who quickly said, “You know where I’ll be.”
The moment Duncan jerked his chin in agreement, Owen vanished. Shifting his gaze back to Megan, he said simply, “Please.”
He wasn’t sure he trusted anyone as much as he did the prime seer of Paradise Three. There was something spiritual and evolved about her and he always felt at peace in her presence.
The next moment, he and Rachel were flying through netherspace once more, a trip so quick it was hardly a blink.
~ ~ ~
Yolanthe couldn’t stop shaking.
Rage held her captive.
Zander kept his distance and even her snow leopard, Zadeer, was nowhere to be seen.
“I had her. She would be dead, Zander, and all our prayers answered if you had only done what you were supposed to do. And even when you couldn’t, why didn’t you let me finish her off? I had my club in my hand.” She faced him, remembering the feel of the gnarly, granite-like wood between her palms.
All her dreams would have come to fruition in that moment. With Rachel dead and her shield gone, she would have found Duncan in a heartbeat. The man she needed to complete her centuries-long plan had been within her grasp, and Zander had ruined the moment. He’d even folded Yolanthe back here, to her Mexico City Three villa, completely against her will.
She’d tried to return to Glendale Three, to the public market place where she’d sent Warrior Rachel into the pavers. Yet still, Zander had persisted in preventing her.
He stared at her now, his beautiful silvery blue eyes lit with an almost spiritual fervor. He looked like he’d gone mad.
He grasped her joined hands and held on. She felt a wash of healing flow from where his skin touched hers. But she was too angry to do anything except close her eyes and screech in frustration.
“Calm down, Yolanthe. You must listen to me.”
He was her brother. But because he was ten years younger, she’d raised him like her son, in secret, away from the scrutiny of their father, Chustaffus. For nine hundred years, she’d had charge of him and kept him safe. As soon as Chustaffus had seen his infant son’s mangled wings, he’d ordered Zander’s death.
Yolanthe had saved him, raised him, loved him. He was the only pure thing in her life and she would die for him.
But tonight, or rather, this morning, he’d betrayed her.
Zander was her only full-blood sibling. The other three surviving males spawned from Chustaffus’s jewel sacks, were half-brothers for whom she felt nothing but contempt. Each had been in the favor of their parent all these centuries, while she had been, literally, a whipping boy for most of their misdeeds.
Zander’s continued healing effort began to calm her rage and bring her down from the ledge of her fury. The last time she’d given free rein to her anger, she’d set her villa on fire and smashed all the furniture.
She wanted to break something now.
Instead, Zander’s warmth began to suffuse her heart and her mind. Finally, she could breathe without her lungs feeling like they would soon release a dragon’s path of destruction.
She moved to her chaise-longue and stretched out. Her leopard, no doubt sensing the shift in her mood, came running, leaped up next to her and by long habit molded his body to her side. He then offered his chin for a good scratch.
With a thought, Zander brought his specially made chair from across the room to sit close to her. He took hold of Zadeer’s tail and gave it a tug then delivered more caresses to the spoiled cat.
Her servants came next offering libations. Seemed everyone knew when to keep their distance and when to come quickly. “I need new slaves for my chamber. I’m glad the next Blythe Three auction is coming up. I’ve grown bored.”
Chustaffus allowed his closest supporters as well as his family the pick of the new slaves that would be reporting for a decade of labor. She approved of this aspect of her father’s administration. Slavery had built the great beauty of his domain and she had enjoyed having slaves tend her every need for the nine centuries of her long life.
She couldn’t imagine living any other way.
But her sex slaves no longer pleased her as they had when they first arrived a year ago. She needed fresh blood, especially a couple of young male virgins. They were always so eager to ply their strong male members.
“You seem happier, Yolanthe. You’re even smiling.”
“Just thinking about the coming auction. And I can’t wait for the spectacle event which is in only two night’s time. Father has said there will be an execution, an actual Warrior of the Blood. Isn’t that wonderful?”
She sipped her chocolate wine then shifted just enough to see his face better. He was the splitting image of their father, though perhaps handsomer because of the slight softening of the lines of his face. Their lovely deceased mother had given him that extra layer of beauty. Zander was wonderful to look at.
Why he had deformed wings, no one knew and no one had been able to heal them. She’d never said anything to him, but one of the reasons she wanted her father to have control of Rapture’s Edge was so she could heal her brother of his deformity.
Now that she was calm once more, she addressed the issue. “So tell me, Zander, exactly why did you prevent me from killing that horrible woman?”
Zander drew a deep breath. He’d never looked more somber. “I was fully prepared to cut her throat just as we’d planned and I had no qualms about doing it. Not one. She stood in the way of what you desire most, that is, to please Chustaffus, and I wanted you to have your victory. But when I held both her wrists in my hands, and looked into her eyes, something happened to me and right then, a future streams vision poured through my head.”
At that, Yolanthe leaned up on her elbow, resting her other arm on Zadeer’s warm side. The cat purred. “You had a vision?”
“I tried to tell you when I moved us close to the bronze statue, but you were in the stratosphere.”
She wouldn’t deny that truth. “So what was the vision about?”
“Of Rachel saving my life. I don’t know the circumstances exactly, but she works hard to keep me alive. But there’s something more. She saves your life as well.”
~ ~ ~
Endelle stood on a raised round platform, like a bride scrutinizing her wedding gown. Only, it wasn’t white and wasn’t made for no damn wedding.
Still, she wanted perfection. A tuck here. More blade charms there. Less skirt. More boob.
“What the hell is this supposed to be, anyway?”
Endelle glanced down at her head seamstress, Sebastiana. She was a short Third Ascender, with a mouth that rivalled Endelle’s. “What do you mean, little fucktress?”
Sebastiana chuckled. “You can’t distract me with your cute word creations.” She pulled the sheer black fabric away from Endelle’s bare hip. “You’ve got a couple of messages going on here which means I can’t figure out if this is a dominance fantasy outfit, or something you intend to make war in. So which is it?”
Endelle understood the confusion but Sebastiana’s take on it made her smile. Her mind flew to Rex and his broad shoulders. Was it fantasy or war? “Both.”
But she could hardly wear this in front of all the men or they’d be doubled over in dick pain in no time flat. She knew the beauty of her body and didn’t mind displaying her treasures, the more the better. Still, she needed to show some compassion.
As for the current design, the small blade-like charms covered a black leather bustier cut low to reveal her outstanding cleavage. Clever side panels pushed her breasts together giving just the right support. Because of a keyhole created to reveal the bottom half of her cleavage, a man – say, someone like Rex the Magnificent – could get his fingers in below her breasts and do some real good. Hell, she’d designed the ‘battle suit’ with the creator-builder-administrator of Paradise Three in mind.
The Creator have mercy.
Rex had dug out this massive canyon to his own vision which meant there was no other place like it on any of the other five dimensions. And definitely not on Second.
Sebastiana narrowed her eyes. “Let me put it this way, just who the fuck are you trying to seduce?”
Rex. Rex. Rex. Rex.
She squeezed her eyes shut. She needed to get a handle on her hormones but it was as though this man had lit them all on fire and he’d never even touched her. “No one. I like showing off the Creator’s best work.”
“You’re humble, too.”
“Fuck, humble. Life’s too short.” She turned sideways to admire the visible curve of her left breast.
“Says the woman who’s lived nine-thousand-plus years.”
She glanced down at Sebastiana, frowning. “You’re in a mood. One of your pin cushions crawl up your butt?”
Sebastiana rose up from her knees, then levitated so she could meet Endelle’s gaze straight on. She was a blond beauty, who liked wearing her long hair in a dozen or so braids. Braids were popular in this dimension. Even Chustaffus’s Militia had long hair but worn with braids at the sides of their faces.
Sebastiana had a big heart and a husband even prettier than she was. Her face twisted up as she lowered her voice. “One of the girls, she’s about five, is showing signs of depression. I don’t know what to do. She’s stopped eating. So yeah, I’m in a mood. I’m pissed and worried.”
Endelle lifted her brows. Sebastiana was right. Endelle had lived a long time and her compassion quotient was a touch low at present. She’d seen a lot in her nine millennia. “I don’t know why you even keep those brats.”
Sebastiana rolled her eyes and descended back to the floor. “And for a moment there, I thought you were going to be human.”
“I’m not human. I’m a Goddamn, righteous, fucking ascended vampire.” And she used to be the ruler of Second Earth. She didn’t know what the future held for her, but right now, she was Luken’s Guardian of Ascension. She had to keep the powerful warrior safe, she had to talk him through tough moments, and she had to prepare him to make a lawful ascension to Third Earth.
Sebastiana dropped to her knees once more and pulled one of the pins from the cushion strapped to her wrist. She set the pin in the sheer fabric. “You can’t fool me, She Who Would Live. Maybe you’ve got everyone else snowed, but I know you have a heart. Hell’s bells, every time you come to my orphanage you end up with a child in your arms.”
Endelle scoffed. “That’s because you’re always thrusting the brats at me. I can hardly throw them to the ground.”
“Why do you sing to them, then?”
“I do not sing to your idiot orphans.”
“Always the hard-ass.”
“Fine.” Sebastiana shifted position. “Rex was watching you the last time you were there. Did you know that?”
Endelle whirled to once more stare down at the top of Sebastiana’s head. “What? When did he see me and how did I not see him?”
“He arrived like the ghost I swear he is and put his finger to his lips.” She winked. “I obey Rex in everything.”
“You should have told me.” Endelle resumed her position and felt the skirt tug this way then that as Sebastiana made her careful adjustments. The woman was a genius. “But then, what do I care if he was there.”
So Rex had seen her at Sebastiana’s orphanage.
A chime sounded in the distance. “Let me see who that is?” She vanished, then returned almost instantly. She grinned up at Endelle. “El Magnifico, himself.”
A jolt of electricity passed through Endelle’s jaw, neck and chest. She felt dizzy as hell and spread her hands out in front of her to keep her balance.
Sebastiana tapped her foot. “Yeah. You never think about Rex. He’s nothing to you. Dust on the bottom of your battle stilettos.”
Endelle reached both hands in her seamstress’s direction and let a zap fly. She had a lot of control which meant instead of frying the woman’s brain, she merely sent her careful braids zipping in several directions at once until they all came apart. In the end, her long hair floated in a tangled cloud around her shoulders.
Once more, Sebastiana made a scoffing sound. “His majestic-ness wishes to speak to you. Something about Warrior Rachel getting her head bashed in.”
“What the fuck?”
“That’s what he said.”
“Yes, Madame Supremeness.”
It was Endelle’s turn to roll her eyes as she left the fitting room.
So, Rachel had gotten hurt. Endelle couldn’t imagine under what circumstances that could have happened. Rachel was careful as hell during any kind of battle engagement. Plus, she had all that shielding power.
She moved to the front living area of Sebastiana’s home, a stylish white and black marble with zebra rugs scattered here and there. Endelle approved. Of course, what was not to love about marble? Or zebra rugs.
Rex Vega hadn’t entered the house, but stood on the wide front walk. He was turned slightly away, his gaze fixed as she’d seen it often, to the tall distant horizon. The intricate mist dome he’d created to keep the canyon and attached reservoir a secret was visible to Endelle. No one else in the canyon could see the strong gray streaks that traveled from one side of Paradise Three to the other.
There was power in Rex’s mist, like the man himself.
She tried to keep her heart from hammering, but her body was already shouting a few hallelujah’s at the sight of the ancient warrior. The man had the thickest black hair, wavy and worn long like the warriors. He, too, had braids on either side of his face, but he pulled the mass back and wore it in a loose clasp.
Sexy. As. Hell.
He was a man’s man, stem to stern. He had full lips that she’d dreamed about kissing and feeling on every part of her body. But it was his eyes, surrounded by thick black lashes that tended to melt her into a puddle. She could hardly describe them. They were brown with shards of gray or maybe it was gray with streaks of brown. Steel and wood.
He was a big man, at least six-eight and a warrior to the bone. Muscle for muscle, he was on Luken’s scale. Okay, maybe not quite as big as Luken, but close. He was taller, though, which didn’t help Endelle at all. In her bare feet, she’d be shorter than him by at least three inches. She was six-five, very tall for a woman any dimension.
Rex exuded an animal scent as well that made her weak at her knees and achy deep between her thighs. Her India Two tigers, the big jungle cats that they were, smelled like he did, raw and musky.
But did he pursue her as he should have?
And it bugged the shit out of her because she couldn’t figure out why not. She was a beautiful, available, stacked woman.
Maybe he wasn’t attracted to her.
Like hell. His lids tended to fall to this place halfway down his eyeballs, letting her know he liked what he saw or smelled or sensed. His gaze always took her in head-to-toe, like he could see exactly what she looked minus whatever awesome outfit she happened to be wearing.
Rex didn’t put everything on display, either. She’d give him that. His clothes were typical canyon garb, lots of woven, embroidered cotton and leather. His boots were a fine leather and handmade, but gorgeous. Again, the earthy nature of it spoke to something deep inside her.
Tonight, however, he’d turned up the heat a little. He’d thrown back his woven gray cape, exposing his powerful and very-bare right arm. The sight of all that skin and the massive curves almost caused her to trip in her damn stilettos.
Her forward movement slowed to a crawl as she made her way toward him, her gaze fixed on his shoulder and arm. She watched as the muscles rippled, a symphony of male beauty that had her lungs wrestling to draw in enough air. She grew dizzy again, as she often did in his presence. Her mind performed its usual disappearing act until a series of extremely erotic images took hold. In this fantasy, she was no longer in Sebastiana’s home but in some kind of stone dungeon set-up. She was completely naked with her arms bound high overhead.
And Rex was kissing his way up the insides of her thighs. His lips were warm and wet. He had his powerful hands hooked into the flesh of her ass, supporting and massaging her. Higher he kissed her.
She encouraged him telepathically. That’s it, Rex. Come on. Just a little higher. Please, please, please.
Rex’s deep voice, full of amusement, drew her sharply from the insanely seductive visuals that had taken over her mind. She had to blink several times just to bring him back into focus.
“Yes?” She frowned at him. What had just happened? How on earth could she have slipped so quickly into such a vivid fantasy? “Right. You’ve brought word about Rachel.” She closed the distance to the threshold.
“I have.” He turned toward her fully now.
As she stared up at him, at the strong collection of masculine features, the sensual mouth and aquiline nose, she had the same chest-sinking sensation she’d experienced from the first. He wasn’t the most handsome man she’d ever met, but he had an abundance of pure sexual magnetism that made him more attractive than anyone she’d met in a long, long time.
He settled his hand on her arm. “You okay? You look a little pale.” And there it was, the faintest curve of his lips.
He was making fun of her. Somehow, he knew the nature of her recent fantasy and apparently found it oh-so-funny.
She shook his hand off. “I’m fine, Rex. So, what happened to our shield-maiden?”
He chuckled. “I like that. Shield-maiden, like something out of Viking lore.”
A whole bunch of internal walls began going up as she waited for him to get to the point. She didn’t trust Rex. That is, she did. But she didn’t. Not with something as fragile as her heart and dammit if she didn’t just realize, in exactly this moment, that Rex the Magnificent could really get to her. He could dig his screws in deep and pin her to the earth.
She crossed her arms over her chest, which caused his gaze to fall to her excellent cleavage. Let him suffer.
Though he took a nice long look, and she was just beginning to feel like she could gain the upper hand, he shifted his gaze back to her eyes and appeared completely unmoved.
The bastard. Was she the only one in agony here?
He narrowed his gaze. “I’m worried. So is my prime seer. Megan tells me that death was what she saw in the encounter.”
“What she saw? You mean, Megan knew of this beforehand? And she told no one?”
“She learned of it only seconds before it happened, trust me, or I would have called for the entire Paradise Three Brigade to fly with me to keep her safe.”
She knew that about Rex. He personally ran the Paradise Militia Warrior Brigade which policed the residents of the canyon. He cared about everyone under his command. In that way, she could relate to him. She’d been the leader of Second Earth for thousands of years until her recent and quite sudden call to serve as Luken’s Guardian of Ascension to Third.
She still couldn’t believe she was off-dimension. She’d been bound to Second for as long as she could remember. “So who hurt Rachel? A death vampire or one of Chustaffus’s Militia Warriors? Or was it his Staff Guard?” Chustaffus had a private regiment of real bad-ass types that served as his personal security.
Rex shook his head slowly.
“Someone else?” Once again, she was stunned.
“Who do you think?”
Her eyes widened. “Holy fuck. Yolanthe got to her?”
“Rachel should have died, Endelle. What we don’t know yet, is why she didn’t. Megan says she believes it has to do with an entity near Yolanthe, another seer of tremendous power. Megan suspects Yolanthe has been using this seer for a very long time to gain access to Duncan. Yet, somehow, in the ensuing attempt on Rachel’s life, this same person, this powerful seer protected Rachel.”
“Despite the fact that Yolanthe wanted her dead?”
“Sounds like it.”
“So we’re back in it. Dammit, we had a month with hardly any Yolanthe action, now the bitch is on our asses again.”
He eyed her for a long moment, almost a stare but more like he was trying to read her.
“Endelle, you’re a powerful woman, more than I think any of your black ops team knows. Maybe more than you know.”
She shrugged as in ‘yeah, so what’.
He broke a smile and chuckled. “Keeping it close to the vest, are we?”
“Always.” Like hell she needed him knowing all kinds of things about her, not with his capacity to throw her off kilter with a slight lift of his chin or the smallest flex of his arm. But just once, she would like to see his ass, naked and unadorned.
He was danger personified, especially since she hadn’t heard from Braulio in months, the bastard. She had the worst feeling the vampire was out of her life for good though she had no idea why.
Rex drew close and dropped his voice yet again. “I’ve known about you my entire life and I just want to say it’s been a privilege having you here in Paradise Three.”
“You trying to butter me up?”
His smile was slow. “Maybe.”
“So what exactly do you want from me, Rex?”
A light flashed through his brown-gray eyes and the former images returned abruptly so that she could feel the leather straps holding her suspended in the air, arms over head, only this time, she felt his tongue take a good long swipe right over her sex.
His voice came to her from outside the images. “I don’t need anything from you right now. Just giving you a heads up.”
In the vision or fantasy or whatever the hell this was, he lifted his head and smiled at her then licked her sex again.
After a moment, the images faded and she returned to her usual self. But Rex was already moving down the walkway, his back to her.
A strong suspicion entered her mind. Was it possible he was creating these images himself? Making her want him? Giving her fantasies like she’d never had before?
He didn’t turn back to look at her, however, and he didn’t send his thoughts her direction again.
He just kept walking and like the lust-stricken female she was, she kept on looking…
~ ~ ~
I hope you enjoyed Chapter One of REVEALED A Paranormal Romance!
He’s a warrior deep in his bones, but all she ever wanted was peace…
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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Do you enjoy free books!?! All year, I’ll be giving away copies of my e-books through my newsletter. I also run subscriber-exclusive giveaways, so be sure to sign up on my home page in the right hand column where it says: Subscribe to Our Mailing List! Once you do, you’ll receive a welcome letter with a link to your free e-book! Enjoy and hugs, Caris Roane!
Be sure to look for your welcome letter which has the link to your free e-book!
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Most Recent Releases:
A VAMPIRE’S SOFT EMBRACE
Taking the vampire into the past, changed the future…
The man held her heart in his hand.
He had for the past five years.
Did he even have the smallest clue?
~ A Vampire’s Soft Embrace
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REVEALED: Rapture’s Edge 3, A Guardians of Ascension Novel #11
He’s a warrior deep in his bones, but all she ever wanted was peace…
As Duncan battles the dangerous death vampires at night, during the day he fights an even greater monster: He can’t believe he’s worthy of the woman he loves.
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Mastyr Vampire Stone wants to bond with Aralynn, his battle partner, until he learns she lives a double life as a woman he despises…
For hundreds of years, Stone has lived a solitary life, serving Tannisford Realm as he battles the deadly Invictus wraith-pairs with his Vampire Guard.
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More about Caris Roane and her books!!!
THE FLAME SERIES
Vampire Officer Connor of the Crescent Border Patrol tries to suppress his desire for Iris, a powerful witch. Because the woman possesses the ability to kill him with the tips of her fingers, how can he possibly fall in love with her? When a double homicide throws them together, he soon finds his deepest fantasies fulfilled as Iris succumbs to his seductions.
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Vampire Officer Vaughn of the Crescent Border Patrol gets called to a triple homicide in a deadly place called the Graveyard. When he finds that Emma Delacey has been summoned to the same crime scene, warning bells sound. He’s tried to suppress his desire for the beautiful witch knowing nothing good can come of a relationship in the alter world of Five Bridges.
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Brannick works with Juliet Tunney to help several human women escape the nightmare of Five Bridges. But something isn’t right. Juliet acts as though she knows him really well, yet he’s only met her once. Unless…the dreams he’s been having about her aren’t dreams at all.
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AMBER FLAME, Book #4 of the Flame Series
Fergus has been without an alpha-mate for three years, from the time his wife was murdered. He’s failed repeatedly to bond with the female wolves of the Gordion Pack. When he rescues a fae woman from a sex club, his need to bond with her goes into overdrive.
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On Christmas Eve, vampire Officer Kyle Drake has finally persuaded the shy wolf shifter, Verena, to go on a first date. His plans include a little mistletoe and a lot of seduction.
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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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Yolen keeps his love life and his work life separate with one goal in mind – to protect Brianna. After seeing his best friend slaughtered by the enemy, he will do whatever it takes to ensure Brianna’s safety even if it means holding her at a distance.
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For weeks, Mastyr Willem, agent for the Realm Investigative Unit, has been tracking Charlotte Vail, a human college student at the local Grochaire University. He’s had a thing for Charlotte that he doesn’t quite understand.
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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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Seth, Mastyr Vampire of Walvashorr Realm, craves Lorelei, his new bodyguard, but he has a hands-off policy with those under his command. However, the sexy glint in her eye, as well as her wolf-shifter ways, keeps him in a fevered state.
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Mastyr Vampire Jude has kept his distance from all women because he lost his wife and daughter to an enemy attack a hundred years ago. He won’t go through that kind of loss again. And he won’t jeopardize another woman’s life while the deadly Invictus wraith-pairs still pose a threat in the Nine Realms.
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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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