1 Embrace the Dark

Photo of Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorHi, Everyone!  Welcome to the first installment of the Blood Rose Series called:  EMBRACE THE DARK!! 

I created the Blood Rose Series by asking the following questions:  What if there was only one woman in the world that could take care of the blood-needs of a master vampire, only one woman?  Who would she be?  Would she take to the task or feel that her life had ended?  And how would the master vampire feel about demanding that this woman take care of his needs? 

The concept intrigued me so much that I even developed a name for it:  a blood rose.  The first story was born as I began considering what kind of world this would be: the world of the 9 realms ~~ who the enemy would be: the lethal Invictus wraith-pairs ~~ who the realm-folk would be: vampires, faeries, elves, gremlins, shifters, wraiths, trolls, and many others ~~ and finally, what would the connection to the human world be: thirty years ago, the realm world made contact and it’s been a bumpy ride since.  

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Embrace the Dark: Blood Rose Series 1

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EMBRACE THE DARK

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. She stuns him with her telepathy as well as the richness of her blood. However, her human DNA makes her an unacceptable mate. Yet how can Gerrod turn her away when she alone has satisfied his blood-starvation for the first time in a hundred-and-fifty-years?

Will she fall to temptation and give herself to a vampire…

When the dreaded enemy of all realm-folk, the Invictus, attacks at a fae wedding, Abigail’s simple human life gets turned upside down. She doesn’t know if she has the courage to pursue a path that means giving herself body and soul to a mastyr vampire. Will she return to her normal existence in Flagstaff, Arizona? Or will she embrace the dark…

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Review OF EMBRACE THE DARK from Do I Wanna Read That?

   Bella Media Management“Embrace the Dark” by Caris Roane, the first of what she’s calling “The Blood Rose Series.”  I’d heard of Caris Roane’s vampire series, even started “The Ascension,” but I managed to leave the book somewhere and never finished reading it.  And now I’m rather sad about that, because this novella is delicious. 

            Roane uses the novella-length perfectly, providing more world-building and development than could be found in a typical short story and yet offering a fun read that does not require the time investment of reading a typical novel.  At around 120 pages, “Embrace the Dark” is an ideal length for an quick escapist read.  The characters are intriguing and definitely not shallow caricatures; instead human Abigail and vampire Gerrod are well-developed, with room and potential growth if they (as I suspect they will) reappear in later series works and even the supporting characters are crafted with a skill and charm that make them memorable.  Their relationship is neither quick nor easy, despite the limits of the novella form, and Roane deftly uses the sexual scenes to expand her story, not merely to titillate the reader. 

            Culture conflict, family loyalty, personal sacrifice, all of these themes play out as human and vampire attempt to negotiate their unexpected, even undesired, relationship and find happiness with each other. Richly erotic, yet balanced with both humor and drama, “Embrace the Dark” is an excellent read for fans of paranormal romance looking for a new series to explore.  I eagerly look forward to more.

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And here is the entire first chapter of:  EMBRACE THE DARK

Chapter One

            Mastyr Vampire Gerrod, of Merhaine Realm, lifted a hand toward the human, Abigail, then let it fall away. She stood with her back to him, ignoring him, delighting in the wedding festivities, laughing often.

Sweet Goddess, even her laughter spiked his blood-need, which caused other needs to rise as well. His desire for her was never far away and deepened now, echoing through each cell of his vampire body, stiffening muscles and other parts, begging for sustenance, all kinds.

He should have been beyond such madness. He was three-hundred-years-old, for the Goddess’s sake. But ever since Abigail Kirkland had made her presence known and felt in Merhaine, he’d been held hostage by even the scent of her.

Like crushed rosemary.

He breathed in, his nostrils flaring. A full sliver of heaven in that delicate scent, with just enough woman beneath to rob him of rational thought.

And she a human.

He flexed his biceps: he was that mad. He had to work not to let his fangs descend, else everything he felt would be on display for even the lesser folk to know and understand. He wouldn’t let her humiliate him.

This madness was maddening.

He stood behind her, and a little off to her right side. He could almost see her profile. She knew he was there, but she was ignoring him. She had told him that his temper irked her and she wished he would be silent.

He could have her killed for saying such a thing to him, he, the Mastyr Vampire of the Merhaine Realm, one of the Nine Realms of North America. Did she not understand that he ruled this realm?

He should walk away. There were many at the wedding reception expecting his attention, several mayors, council members.

Yet he couldn’t do so since apparently his leather boots had rooted to the earth. What power was this she held over him? He had never understood, not in the entire year he’d known her.

As the best man spoke into the mic and delivered a slightly slurred toast to the groom, Gerrod’s gaze roved Abigail, his hunger increasing. Her bare shoulders tempted him, called to him, begged for his lips, his fingers, the full length of his tongue. His nostrils flared a little more. Her gown, a soft cream, revealed a portion of her fair back, a large window of skin that set his jaw to trembling. Her long red hair was curled and pulled forward to dangle over her shoulder in beautiful layers over one breast. She had extraordinary eyes, a beautiful light green. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so taken with a woman.

May the heavens help him. Abigail had teased his mating frequency into a frenzy and he was overwrought. Yet he could do nothing about it. The damn woman was human. He would no more give himself to such a ridiculous creature than he would bring forest gremlins into his bed.

He’d be damned first.

He felt a different frequency resonate, a warning within his mind. Derek’s voice telepathed along his Guardsman lane. We’ve got Invictus sign in the southeast.

Invictus. Not tonight. Damn and hell and back. The enemy was abroad.

 Gerrod telepathed. Are you sure?

The red wind is blowing.

There were only a handful who could detect the telltale red wind, he and his castle Guard. Several on the Sidhe Council had sufficient power as well as his constant most cherished advisor, Vojalie. Some said the red wind was made of blood that the Invictus sweated when they took to the air. Vampires might have needed blood to live, but the Invictus took blood to sustain their unnatural bonds and didn’t care what they left behind, life or death.

Gerrod turned away from Abigail slightly. Can you contain? he asked.

I’ll need assistance. I’ve counted eleven in the breach.

The Invictus came from the wastelands in the south, the place they preferred to live once each vile couple invoked the perverted rituals that created their kind. Any combination of realm specie would do, so long as one of the pair was a wraith: Vampire, faerie, elf, troll, shifter, it didn’t matter. There were few true wraiths left, those that adhered to simple things like truth and civility, justice and the law. But they were always looked upon with suspicion, which couldn’t be helped at this late hour.

The Invictus killed without conscience, without reason and usually in a sadistic manner.

They were a scourge to be feared and to be slaughtered.

Once a wraith took an Invictus mate, the couple was sealed into a symbiotic relationship that tended to break down goodness and give rise to all that was bad. Thievery was preferred to hard work. Killing to the support and nurturing of life. Insular frenzied hedonism to the sacrifices of marriage and family.

When the Invictus took blood, the realm-folk screamed at the draining, no pleasure, all pain. Nor did the Invictus discern, all blood was acceptable. Specie, age, gender, none of it mattered. Just the living, that’s all the Invictus needed.

How far away? Gerrod asked. The wedding is still mid-reception.

Gerrod’s gaze swept in the direction of the bride and groom, a long-awaited fae wedding. They were fair of face, this couple, and toasting each other with bubbling cider. She was already with child, a tradition among the Merhaine faeries. A child was a promise of a blessed union between souls favored by the Goddess. Gillet, the groom, had served on his castle staff for the last century. He had waited a long time for his bride.

Now the Invictus, tonight of all nights. Why? Was there a reason? Had the festivities drawn them? Every media outlet across the realm had made a fuss over the couple. The Hollow County Enquirer had carried a daily piece on every aspect of the couple: The announcement of the forthcoming birth, the betrothal, and wedding preparations.

Even the Invictus would have known of the wedding. Many Merhaine notables were in attendance as well, several city mayors and council members.

Another team member, Jason, telepathed the battle frequency. The southeastern sector is clear tonight. Gerrod, shall I join Derek?

Yes, Gerrod pathed. Rest of the team, report? A world of pathways and frequencies had tremendous advantages. Long distance communication with those powerful enough to telepath, was a tremendous blessing. All Guards of the Realm could path.

The Invictus were ruthless combatants and never fought with anything resembling decency or honor. A decade ago, Gerrod had lost a valiant vampire Guardsman when an Invictus wraith threw a jug of gasoline on him and set him on fire, laughing all the while.

In the poorer southern regions, drug addicts and prostitutes, even in his realm, often went missing, never to be seen again.

Training had become more rigorous because of the increasing activity. Each Guard now knew to anticipate the unexpected, and training camps had been established for the purpose of evaluating any young vampire, fae, troll, shifter, or elf, who wanted to try for Guard status, male or female. The effort had brought some talent into the castle Guard. Muscle for muscle, however, vampires still had the advantage over other realm-folk so that most Guardsmen were vampires.

One by one, the remaining five Guardsmen gave an all clear for the rest of the realm, at least for now. Yet he felt uneasy. He lifted his chin and issued the orders, All except Jason, join Derek now. Jason, come to the castle grounds and patrol here but keep a low profile. And Jason, have the head of the patrols get the rest of the Guard out tonight, emergency levels.

Done.

His sense of uneasiness grew. At least his men had speed. They could lock onto their traveling frequencies better than all realm-folk. Though Jason was over a hundred miles away, he would arrive in less than twenty minutes. Not half-damn bad.

His gaze never stopped moving over the crowd, or into the forest, or even high into the night sky which was clear, star-studded, and just a circle of dark surrounded by the tips of ponderosa pine trees.

He loved the forest and the dark. Each realm had some manner of forest and dense woodland attached. Vampires needed a place to shelter if caught outside during the day. Tree canopies were necessary to those who had difficulty tolerating sunlight.

Even faeries and elves didn’t tolerate sunlight well. The realm world was, for the most part, a world of the night and of the dark.

He shifted his gaze to eye-level and bored his vision deep between the trees, hunting for the peculiar red-wind Invictus sign.

Sweet Goddess, but his land was in trouble, as all the Nine Realms of North America were, if the Invictus engaged in yet another uprising.

At least for now, the wedding party was safe and he could share in the joy of Gillet and his woman.

Abigail chuckled once more, which brought Gerrod’s attention sharply back to the woman who had been tormenting him for an entire year. Her laughter glided over his nerves like a fine oil, which simply sent his temper into the top of his head all over again. Why did the human have to be here and why, by all that was worthy in his world, did he have to be drawn to her?

He cast about for the source of her laughter. She looked off to the right so he followed her gaze. One of the trolls had imbibed far too much wedding punch and was listing about. He had already bumped into a few of the guests. Next he jostled a large vampire, who in turn picked him up by the lapels of his lavender silk coat, and glared at the troll face to face. The wedding guests drew a combined gasp.

Vampires were not known for their sweet tempers. Fucking understatement that.

But the troll smiled sloppily and kissed the vampire on the nose. The vampire grimaced, called out a loud growling ‘ack’, spat off to his left side, but released the troll. The guests breathed again and many chuckled, especially Abigail, as the troll turned and shambled away.

By all the elf-lords, the damned woman laughed too much.

More than anything, he wished he had never heard of Abigail of Flagstaff, a mere human, a bakery owner, the latter being the why of her presence in his realm.

He had opposed the Merhaine Council approving her partnership with a fae to open a bakery in the nearby county of Hollow, one of Merhaine’s seven counties. He had believed from the first it was a mistake. However, and this for reasons he could not explain, Abigail was a favorite among realm-folk. She had been providing the sweet-loving trolls, faeries, and elves of his realm with cupcakes—for all the Nine Realms, cupcakes!—for well over a year. His castle even had a standing weekly order with her Flagstaff enterprise, a place called Just Too Sweet! Yes, with an exclamation point.

And now he felt like spitting.

Some of the council were looking to expand into the human world as well, which he believed to be a mistake of enormous proportions. Some of the drugs of the human world had already infected the less prosperous portions of his realm. Didn’t his realm have enough trouble managing the constant threat of the Invictus?

And yet, as he sniffed the breeze that flowed over the woman’s long red tresses, he could scent rosemary again, and he knew exactly what her skin would taste like beneath his tongue. His body reacted, sharpening, hardening, shuddering, until he was once more grateful for the long leather coat of his Guardsman uniform, and the snug buckled leather pants that held all his absurd firmness well in place.

The woman be damned.

His gaze shifted back to the drunken troll, who now listed sideways and fell into the three-tiered sage-and-honey wedding cake. The fae bride cried out and the groom’s cheeks showed an angry wash of red.

The guests, however, began to laugh and Abigail joined them.

He was angry all over again. How dare she laugh?

It was time he took her down a slat or two.

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“You find our customs amusing?”

Abigail turned slightly at the almost growling sound. The words were spoken in a deep low voice, emanating from the vampire Guardsman next to Abigail, the leader of the Merhaine Realm, Mastyr Vampire Gerrod. Of course, he didn’t exactly stand next to her. He would never deign to do that. God, forbid, or ‘Goddess’, as he would say. Instead, he stood slightly behind her, a position of power and control no doubt. She could feel him fuming behind her. Some burr had gotten stuck inside those boots of his.

Abigail turned a little more and glanced up at him. As always, she felt an almost overwhelming attraction to Mastyr Gerrod. He was six-five and though she considered herself tall for a human at five-eleven, still she had to look up, though perhaps not as far this evening since she wore four-inch heels. A very slight advantage against his formidable scowl and heavily muscled body.

The vampire was stunning and ferocious. Because of the books she’d read, she had thought his kind would be pale-skinned from lack of blood, an un-beating heart, and the inability to get a decent tan because of an intolerance for sunlight. But the world of the Realm produced vampires of every possible hue, from the deepest browns and blacks to almost pure white. The solar disability and the persistent blood-needs had nothing to do with skin-tone.

His Guard uniform did not help at all. The man looked like a fierce pirate with a soft maroon woven shirt, topped by a thick black calf-length leather coat. The coat wasn’t exactly a coat because it didn’t have sleeves, just a thick pad of very soft leather at the shoulders that descended in two panels that hung open in the front.

A black leather shoulder strap crossed over his chest, and angled to his waist, undoubtedly a throw-back to times when swords were used. No swords now, just the power that a Guardsman could gather through his battling frequency and send outward through his arms, hands, and chest, tight beams of killing energy. Black leather pants and silver-buckled top boots finished off the uniform that had most women doing double and triple takes.

Gerrod was magnificent, well-built with broad shoulders, as all the fighting Guardsmen were, his skin an exquisite golden color. He held himself in a proud manner, as befitted his leadership status. Even now his arms were crossed over his chest as he glowered at her.

He had long black hair that flowed away from strong features. His cheeks were pronounced and sharp, his jaw-line angled, his lips full and sensual. But it was his eyes that tore at her, that made his presence almost unbearable. They were the clear blue of a summer mountain sky, so clear that often when she looked at him, she felt as though she was looking back in time and forward all at once.

Of course that he affected her in such a way that she often wanted to simply shed her clothes and fall down on her back, ticked her off. Thank God she was made of sterner stuff, because all these unhelpful reactions strengthened her intention to keep the vampire at bay.

Besides, he was such a pain in the ass, like now. So typical. He’d been standing behind her, forever. And when he finally did speak to her, he used that wretched, oh-so-familiar hostile tone of his, this time to challenge her because she’d been laughing.

 “You think I’m laughing at your customs?” she returned.

“And what else would you be laughing at, Mistress Abigail?” His words were hard, as they usually were when he spoke to her. She’d at least grown accustomed to that. But because she sensed that he either disliked her or disapproved of her, or both, she simply didn’t know why he stayed anywhere near her, like now.

She lifted her chin. “I would never laugh at Merhaine customs. I might disagree with them because I find some to be abhorrent to the status of women in your culture, but I would never laugh.”

“I heard you laughing.”

She chuckled again but shook her head. She moved back to stand beside him. She wasn’t going to continue this conversation staggered as they were, like stair-steps.

“Mastyr Gerrod,” she said, lowering her voice. “I found the wedding ceremony, including the way their arms were bound with a vine, charming, poignant, even moving. I laughed just now because a troll fell into a wedding cake. Come on. That was funny.”

He grunted his disapproval.

At that, she turned to face him fully. She was exasperated to say the least. “You know, you really need to lighten up.”

He glanced down at her. “I have no idea what that means. I have heard the expression time and again, but it makes no sense to me.”

“It just means not to take everything so seriously.” She waved a hand in the direction of the now smashed wedding cake. “The troll is drunk, that alone is funny. Wouldn’t you agree? He’s still wobbling around and he has a streak of frosting now between the second and third ridges of his forehead.” She glanced over her shoulder then back. “And now his wife is beating him over the head with their son’s teddy-shifter-bear. Come on. Even the bride is smiling now and it’s her cake that the troll ruined.”

Gerrod’s lips twitched, and the right side of his lips almost curved creating a faint, lop-sided smile. But that was when she made her mistake. “Yeah, like that. Smile. Lighten up.” She poked his arm with two fingers, intent on teasing him a little more.

But the moment she made physical contact with him, the very first ever in her year-long acquaintance with him, something very strange happened. She felt odd waves rolling toward her, waves that felt like fingers gliding over her skin, exploring her, savoring her.

She looked up meeting his gaze. Now he turned fully toward her so that they were face to face. Her lips were parted because she was having trouble dragging in air. Why his were, only he could speak to that.

Touching a mastyr vampire wasn’t precisely forbidden, but Gerrod had always kept his distance. This was something she’d noticed from the first day she’d met him, that as soon as she was within two feet of him, he stepped away another foot. She had thought it an annoying habit, a sure sign of his continued disapproval. But right now, because she’d touched him, she wasn’t so sure.

Abigail’s heart began to race. She’d had many concerns about entering into business with a fae partner and opening a bakery deep into Merhaine territory. But right now she realized this was the real danger she faced, that the vampire Mastyr Gerrod, ruler of Merhaine, affected her as though she was always within a hair’s breadth of tumbling into bed with him.

She knew the danger the terrible Invictus presented, she even understood that there were factions among the realm-folk who didn’t want humans in Merhaine and would do whatever they could to get rid of her and her kind. Yes, these things worried her very much. But as she looked into Gerrod’s intense blue eyes, she finally understood the true source of every reticence she’d experienced since she’d come to this realm: Dammit, she had the hots for a friggin vampire.

She desired him with a need that seemed to burn through her and touching him just now, brought all that need rushing to the surface yet again.

His gaze shifted from her eyes to her lips and even to her breasts. She could feel the sudden hardening of her nipples as the need spread. How many times had she wondered if he was doing this to her, using vampire powers. But the realm-folk she knew had assured her that vampires, however much the Earth-based myths said otherwise, didn’t have the power to enthrall.

The fae population could, but not vampires.

Very strange, this realm world.

So what was this she felt, this deep desire for Gerrod and why, when he looked at her with his eyelids heavy, his lips parted, his nostrils flaring, did she want to take his hand, lead him deep into the forest, and beg him to have his way with her. What was this need?

He stepped closer and though he was frowning heavily like his temper was ready to take off the top of his head, he actually touched her, sliding his hand over her arm. Once again, she felt those strange waves emanating from him and her desire increased almost to a painful stage.

What is that? Her mind cried.

But he leaned close now and stared harder, peering into her eyes. What did you say?

She glanced at his lips. They hadn’t moved. Telepathy? No, oh, God no. This couldn’t be happening, wasn’t happening. She knew many in Merhaine could communicate through telepathic frequencies, pathing was what they called it.

Could she?

This couldn’t be happening, couldn’t be true. She stared into his eyes, horrified, yet she had to know the truth. So, once more she aimed her thoughts carefully, I wanted to know what I was feeling from your hand. It felt like waves flowing out of you and into me.

The thought of it, the presence of it, the feel of it beating into her body, brought desire hurtling through her. She planted her hand on his chest. The waves pounded through her now, engulfing her.

He looked so angry and his grip on her arm became painful. This can’t be happening. You can’t feel these waves and you can’t be reaching me telepathically. It’s. Not. Possible.

Gerrod, what are you doing to me? And please, you are hurting my arm. Vampires were strong.

The pressure diminished but his expression hardened. You are speaking to me telepathically and you are experiencing my personal frequency, my realm vibration. No one can do that except when I allow it, but you accessed it freely. And you are…human. This cannot not be happening.

She was struggling to breathe. But his touch, and the flowing waves, had her trapped. She strained toward him, but he kept a grip on her arm, holding her away from him. He squeezed his eyes shut. This is impossible. You can’t be what you seem to be. You can’t be. You’re human. This is unacceptable.

Abigail slid her hand up his chest and reached his mouth. She ran her thumb over his lips.

How inappropriate and thank goodness they were standing at the back of the crowd. In the distance, she could hear another groomsman making a toast. Though it was nighttime, the floodlights lit mostly the band, the bridal table, and the dance floor. This far back, she stood in the shadows.

Time came to a swift stumbling halt.

Abigail looked at Gerrod as if for the first time. She felt a call so deep in her soul, driving her toward him, that to not respond, not to say ‘yes’, felt like a crime for which she would be punished if she didn’t obey. She needed this vampire, craved him. For the first time, her vein began to rise in her throat, because that’s the only way she could describe what she experienced. She needed him to take her blood because that would complete something essential between them, as essential as the nature of a kiss, as critical as the fulfillment of lovemaking.

Yet, she was human and didn’t truly belong in the realm world. She belonged in Flagstaff, the nearest access point to the Merhaine Realm.

The tip of his tongue teased her thumb. You taste of the sweetest herbs. Dear Goddess, please forgive me.

Before she knew what he meant by sending that particular message, he took hold of her arm, swung her in the direction of the forest, and led her twenty yards into the dark, a good distance from the crowd that now applauded. Music began at the same time, a lively folk song made for dancing.

He dragged her behind a tree and hauled her into his arms.

She fell against him, limp, her body in full surrender and not caring that this was so inappropriate and doomed to cause all kinds of problems.

For some strange reason as she stared up at him, though the forest was dark, his face was lit in a glow. Vampire magic? He was incredibly beautiful, his black brows thick and arched, his clear blue eyes thickly fringed, his nose straight, his lips full, his cheeks pronounced.

He leaned close, his lips trembling over hers.

“Do I have permission to kiss you?”

God, yes.

“Yes,” she whispered, panting against him, her fingers grasping the soft cloth of his loose Guard’s shirt. She dug deeper until her fingers found purchase in the hard muscles of his arms. His lips touched hers and the previous waves began to flow, heavier now.

She parted her lips and his tongue entered her, piercing her, plunging in and out.

She connected her hips low and felt the long rope of him. Her knees weakened further.

She suckled his tongue and he groaned again. The waves came faster now and seemed to pluck at every part of her body at once. She wanted to fall on the ground, but in gentle stages he eased back. But by then she was in agony and breathed hard. She pressed her forehead into his shoulder.

What is happening? she asked.

I fear it is something that will alter your life forever, unless you are wise, and choose to leave Merhaine. You would be wise, Abigail, not to come back and I’m begging you to do just that. You are not realm. You don’t understand our customs. My people would have great difficulty accepting you.

But beyond that, the Invictus have grown active again. A polite euphemism for death and destruction.

She drew back, but in her heels the uneven ground put her off-balance. She started to fall.

He caught her, righting her, then held her steady.

“Just tell me one thing,” she said. “What are the waves that you send through my body. They almost undo me. I…that is…you could have…I wouldn’t have objected.”

She met his gaze but she was blushing.

A soft strange growl left his lips. So vampires growled at such moments. He wasn’t human, but why didn’t that seem to matter to her? And why could she speak with him mind to mind? She should have cared, it should have been paramount. And her vein still throbbed, begging for him to take her very life-force.

“I swear you’ve enthralled me,” he said, a deep furrow now between his brows. “This must be your doing, Abigail. It was there from the first.”

“Gerrod are you saying that you’ve been attracted to me since that first day?”

“I won’t deny it.”

“I thought you disapproved of me.”

“I’m frustrated, even distressed, that I’m drawn to you, a very different thing.”

She put her finger in the furrow between his brows and rubbed. He let loose with a sigh, closing his eyes. She added, “You’re worried all the time.”

“Yes.” His voice was always little more than a deep, gravelly growl.

“One of the fae told me that there are a million realm in Merhaine. Is this true?”

He nodded.

“You have charge of a million souls then?”

“I do.”

“No wonder you rarely laugh.” She had meant to tease him but when he didn’t even smile, when he looked away from her, she finally understood his most essential self. He was responsible and he put those responsibilities above everything else in his life including his own happiness.

“No wonder your people thrive,” she said.

His gaze snapped back to her. “Why do you say that?” Again that deep furrow appeared.

“You’ve laid your life down for your people, no doubt for decades. Why wouldn’t they thrive? But what of you, Gerrod? What of your own happiness?”

He stared down at her with a stunned look in his eye as though she had asked something never heard of before. Then he just looked confused. But as other thoughts intruded, his face hardened. He looked like a vampire who had been standing in a strong wind for a very long time, centuries perhaps.

“We should get back.”

She nodded. The moment had passed. The only understanding that had been reached was that she desired him and he desired her, and that the realm world had no place for a human female in a mastyr vampire’s life.

As he turned to offer his arm, however, a strange keening sound broke through the forest, a sound that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once.

Abigail turned toward the sound and watched as a red mist moved between the trees toward the reception.

“Red wind,” she whispered.

His gaze shot to her once more. “You can see that?”

She nodded.

He turned back as well. “The Invictus are here. Dear Goddess help us this night.”

 *** *** ***

            “I will path you,” Gerrod said. “It’s the fastest way. Do you trust me?”

She blinked as though surprised. “Yes, of course.”

He didn’t exactly have time to explain. He slid his arm around her waist, dragged her against his side, lifted her off her feet, and sped back to the reception.

Her hand clutched his soft shirt, but other than a small, ‘oh,’ she didn’t offer a single protest.

Five seconds later, he took her to Augustus. “The Invictus are coming. See to everyone.”

“Yes, Mastyr.”

He turned to Abigail. “Go with Gus.”

She nodded in several quick bobs of her head.

He looked around, still holding her hand. There were at least three hundred realm-folk at the festivities, including the caterers and musicians.

He telepathed Jason. How far away are you?

Seven minutes.

Hurry. We’ve got Invictus sign.

He looked down at Abigail’s hand not understanding why he was so damn reluctant to let it go. He met her gaze and saw in her eyes so much compassion that he had to look away.

Finally, he released her hand. “Go to the castle with Gus. Go quickly.”

Again, she did nothing more than nod in agreement as though she understood. Well, she had been in and out of Merhaine for a year now and she had numerous realm friends. She would have heard many times about the Invictus. She would understand the trouble they faced.

“Go,” she said softly. “Do what you do best.”

He searched her gaze. Satisfied that she truly was all right, he turned on his heel and headed straight for the groom. He spoke swiftly to him. Gillet handed him the microphone.

He faced the people he knew so well. The red wind drew closer, flowing through the trees, brightening. He was always surprised that so few could see it.

 “The Invictus are upon us. Please move into the castle with all due haste. Stay away from the forest. No one will be safe there. I will create a shield.”

He heard Gus calling out in a powerful voice, bidding the guests follow him. The wedding party began to move, a little slow at first, as though stunned. But soon, those closest to the castle were running.

Once the crowd was past him, he began spreading his power off to each side, high in the air, wider and wider, a barrier of protection. The Invictus would not be able to pass, but would be forced to do battle with him. As he had done for the past century and a half, since he had reached mastyr vampire status, he gathered his battling power.

And there they were, at least twenty powerful Invictus wraith pairs. Their mates came to do battle as well, some vampires, a couple of trolls, several fae, and one elf. But all were soldiers now. Most of the realm-folk that had made the decision to bond with a wraith, sported spiked hair and gold loops hanging from their ears. All were air-borne in a strong form of levitation. Apparently, pairing with a wraith to form Invictus sharpened all powers. Blades of varying kinds were the weapon of choice.

As though the numerous pairs acted as one, the blades began to spin and then fly toward him. The massive shield held, deflecting the blades, which made it possible for him to bring his battling power down his arms, readying at the tips of his fingers, the frequency vibrating strongly. Once he was warmed up, the same power would also fly in scattered blasts from his chest, shoulders and arms.

The real battle commenced as he released his frequency power in bursts of focused killing energy. He moved his arms and hands swiftly, aiming for the wraiths who had the greater battling skill. The wraiths, however, had their own frequency energy and began to answer his powerful strikes, so that soon he saw dozens of red streams of light flying toward him again and again.

Though his shield held and kept him safe, each hit weakened him in the depths of his battle energy. He wouldn’t be able to do this forever.

He hoped to hell that Jason arrived soon…

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I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from EMBRACE THE DARK!!!  Let the Blood Rose Series  become a new journey for you!

And now, have a wonderful day and an even better night! For more information about my books, keep scrolling! Live the fang!

Caris Roane Home Page

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Caris Roane Home PageDo 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

A Vampire's Soft Embrace - Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorA VAMPIRE’S SOFT EMBRACE, Novella 1 of The Blood Rose Time Travel Series

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 - Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorREVEALED: 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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Embrace the Power Paranormal RomanceEmbrace the Power: Blood Rose Series 9

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

Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorBlood Flame – #1 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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorAmethyst Flame – #2 Flame Series

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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorDark Flame – #3 Flame Series

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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorAMBER 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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorChristmas Flame – A Holiday Novella

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

Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorBRINK OF ETERNITY as part of VAMPIRE COLLECTION

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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorTHE DARKENING

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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorVEILED: Rapture’s Edge Book 2

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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorRAPTURE’S EDGE 1 Awakening

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

Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorTRAPPED, HUNGER, SEDUCED…

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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorBlood Rose Tale #1 – TRAPPED

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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorBlood Rose Tale #2 – HUNGER

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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorBlood Rose Tale #3 – SEDUCED

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…

Blood Rose 1 –  Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorEMBRACE THE DARK  

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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorBlood Rose 2 – EMBRACE THE MAGIC

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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  Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorBlood Rose 3 – EMBRACE THE MYSTERY

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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorBlood Rose 4 – EMBRACE THE PASSION

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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorBlood Rose 5 – EMBRACE THE NIGHT

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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorBlood Rose 6 – EMBRACE THE WILD

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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorBlood Rose 7 – EMBRACE THE WIND

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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorBlood Rose 8 – EMBRACE THE HUNT

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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Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorLove in the Fortress: Blood Rose Series 8.1

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…

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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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