3 Embrace the Mystery – Chapter 1

Photo of Caris Roane Paranormal Romance AuthorHi, everyone!  The next installment of the Blood Rose Series, EMBRACE THE MYSTERY, is now available!  Hooray!  If you’re anxious to read the first chapter, here is Embrace the Mystery – Chapter 1! Just scroll down a bit…

Embrace the Mystery: Blood Rose Series 3

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This third look into the world of the Nine Realms follows hunky Mastyr Quinlan and his unwilling blood rose, Batya, as together they work to save Lorelei from the ancient fae.  Lorelei is an anomaly in Grochaire Realm and a key to winning the war against the dreaded enemy, The Invictus.

And here’s the cover, created by the fabulous Carol Webb of Bella Media Management!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000030_00040]And now the details about EMBRACE THE MYSTERY!

Mastyr Quinlan pursues the artist, Batya, with only one thing in mind but soon discovers that his desire for her is just the beginning of an earth-shattering affair…

 He doesn’t want a woman in his life…

1 Blue Card - 600 X 400 - Canvas Dark NewQuinlan 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.  He wants Batya with a feverish desire that makes no sense in his logical, warrior world.  But when an ancient fae attacks Batya’s gallery, he launches into protector mode and soon finds himself embroiled — body, soul, and fangs — with a woman he’d only meant to bed a couple of times.

She has no desire to get involved with a mastyr vampire…

 Batya’s intense desire for Mastyr Quinlan stuns and baffles her.  She doesn’t want to be involved with the vampire on any level.  His sole focus of ruling Grochaire Realm has kept him from staying with one woman longer than the proud length of his fangs.  Besides, she’s built a life for herself in Lebanon, Tennessee as an artist and healer to the realm ex-patriot community. But when the ancient fae attacks Quinlan at her gallery, then attempts to kidnap her assistant, Batya finds herself catapulted into an astonishing adventure.  Even so, she works steadily to get back to her free-clinic and her painting, but how can she leave Quinlan behind when he’s commanded her like no other man ever has?

And now, here’s the entire first chapter of EMBRACE THE MYSTERY!!!!

Chapter One

What would the woman, Batya, taste like?

The question had many layers and burned like fire in Quinlan’s vampire mind.

He leaned against a brick building and stared up at a wide plate glass window on the other side of the street. His pursuit of Batya Cole had taken him away from Grochaire Realm way too often, as well as his duties as mastyr. He was in charge of a million realm souls and took his job seriously.

Yet, here he was because he couldn’t seem to help himself. Batya’s blood called to him, like no woman he’d ever known.

His instincts warned him away from the ex-patriot who lived a bohemian artist’s life in the small U.S. town of Lebanon, Tennessee. But she’d been on his radar for weeks now and he wanted her in his bed.

Nothing more.

And literally nothing less.

Once he set his sights on a goal, very little could move him.

He could picture her lying on her back, hands gripping the wrought-iron head-board of her bed, the mass of her wavy-blond hair spread out on her pillows.

He’d been through her gallery, her free clinic, her bedroom. Bastard that he was, he’d been spying on her. A couple of times in the process, he’d wondered at his obsession, only to realize the nature of his pursuit didn’t matter, only that he conquered his prey.

He wanted to sink his fingers into her hair, lean close and smell all across the line of her cheek. He’d gotten near enough to her once, trapping her in a corner of her gallery, to catch a fragrance that smelled wonderfully rich, like an exotic tropical flower. He didn’t have a name for her scent, but he wanted his tongue on her to find out every nuance of her deepest flavor.

He’d been seducing her for the past hour with just his telepathy and of course his mating vibration, a serious realm-ability he’d developed over the past seven-hundred-plus-years of his life. He released another set of waves.

How does that feel, Cha?

He heard her moan, a soft whimper through the window.

Stop calling me that.

His telepathy with Batya rang clear as a bell, one more reason he knew they’d be good together. He’d be able to whisper her name through her mind while he kissed her and moved inside her, working his magic.

His mating vibration, the one that emanated from deep within his body, flowed in a stream straight up and through the second story bedroom window. He loved his mastyr status in these moments that he could do things most other vampires couldn’t. He could stand across the street and touch Batya low with just a thought and a vibrating stream of energy that had found the sweetest nest between her legs.

He added a jolt and heard her cry out. He extended his hearing so he could savor every whimper.

You should leave, Quinlan. Stop tormenting me.

Another jolt and again, she cried out. He liked punishing her with pleasure. That’s for telling me to leave. For the fun of it, he added another intense stream.

She sighed, purred, and moaned, one after the other. He had her now. He’d bring her, like he did last time, but he wanted to get closer. He wanted to watch this time and he wanted her watching him. And this time, he’d let her see what he had to offer.

I want in, Batya. Now. You’ve kept me outside long enough. He increased the force of the vibration and she groaned heavily.

This is a bad idea, Quinlan. She panted while she pathed to him. You know it is.

I don’t care. We’ll be good together.

He levitated and drifted across the street, moving close to the window. He saw her through a haze of multicolored sheers so that she appeared as though surrounded by ripples of golden, blue-violet light. He couldn’t see her clearly, but she writhed on the bed, her hands gripping the wrought iron bars just as he’d imagined.

I see you.

She rolled her head in his direction. You bastard. I never wanted this.

You didn’t have to let it get this far tonight.

Why did you come after me? You can have any woman in the Nine Realms you want and maybe a couple billion here on earth as well.

It’s all your fault. You shouldn’t have smelled so good when I first came here, remember? As soon as he’d touched her, her sex had bloomed and her exotic scent had filled him with purpose.

I can’t help how I smell.

And I can’t help how bad I want to bury myself between your legs. Besides, you refused me and I always face up to a challenge.

 * * *  * * *  * * *

 Batya could barely see Quinlan behind the layering of sheer gold, blue, and hot pink fabric that hung in loose swathes over her window, but she caught his scent, like smoky applewood, something burning hot on a barbeque. And he smelled wonderful.

She felt him, too.

Oh, God did she feel him.

His vibration moved inside her the way other things could move, in and out, but with an added shimmer of sensation both sideways and in an erotic swirl that had her aching for more.

And he knew it.

For weeks, she’d tried to resist.

Then one night, about two weeks ago, he’d brought her slowly out of a dream state and had her so worked up that by the time she finally came to consciousness the orgasm spilled over her like a sudden waterfall.

And all he’d done was use his outrageous, built-in-Grochaire realm vibration that he’d somehow turned into the seduction trick of the century. She tried not to think about just how many women he’d bedded by using just a few flicks of that vibration.

Plenty, no doubt. He had one helluva reputation. Sensible women never got near him.

But here she was, about as close as she could get to an orgasm, only this time he wanted inside her house. And the damn vampire was honorable and wouldn’t come in unless invited, so it wasn’t like she could call foul-play or anything.

The vibration inside her began to slow down, easing her back from the most delicious edge.

She murmured her frustration, but still held onto the wrought-iron as though her life depended on it.

She hated having to make this decision and wished he’d just bust through the window and take her, good and hard.

Instead, she’d have to ask for it.

Let me in, Cha. Let me give you everything this time. It’ll be good.

She settled her breathing down, trying to focus on why she needed to send him back to Grochaire. He represented what she’d been trying to escape for decades now. He belonged to Grochaire. In many ways, he was the realm he served. Of all the mastyrs of the Nine Realms, she’d never seen one more committed to governing his land than Quinlan.

But her home was here now, in the continental United States, and here she planned to stay the rest of her long-lived life. So what good was it to have Quinlan anywhere near her? No good at all.

It’s almost dawn, mastyr. Go home.

I have plenty of time to find shelter and still take care of you. Let me take care of you.

She’d had enough experience with men to know he’d be as good as his word, probably better, which defined her current predicament.

It was her own fault. She’d been without a man way too long. Now she was so hungry, she’d even sleep with Quinlan, a vampire known to use up women and cast them aside like candy wrappers. He had no room in his world, his life, his heart for a relationship. She didn’t know all the details, but the horrific event surrounding his parents’ deaths had set him on this course, so good luck to any woman trying to overturn a childhood trauma.

At last, she released her death grip on the wrought iron and sat up. He’d given her time to think, to let her smarts work for her right now instead of her hormones.

Unfortunately, she still wanted the vampire bad.

And he still streamed his vibration, teasing her between her legs, but gently now, a reminder of what he could do to her if they were together, that he could sustain the sensation in a dozen places at once while he worked her physically with a nice list of attributes. She’d heard the rumors about him, which didn’t help either.

You know we’ll do this eventually. Even in her head his deep voice rumbled, another seductive layer that weakened her resolve. Quinlan had one of the deepest voices she’d ever heard, a rich bass. So, why not tonight, Cha?

She picked up her brush and pulled forward a heavy length of her thick hair. By long-established ritual, she started at the tips and began working out the tangles one by one. Brushing helped her to think, to remember, to coalesce thoughts and arguments, to synthesize opposing threads.

Quinlan…bad.

Grochaire Realm…bad.

Her artist’s life in Lebanon…good.

She brushed and brushed, scowling and thinking, his vibration still an easy, seductive presence. For reasons she couldn’t explain, she felt utterly threatened by Quinlan, that something about him could destroy the precious life she’d built for herself outside of her birth realm.

She knew who she was in Lebanon.

Grochaire and the Realm-world swallowed her up, using her combo troll-fae powers until she sank under the weight of it.

She could never go back to that life and yet here she was, about ready to open herself up to the Mastyr of Grochaire Realm himself, the legendary Quinlan and his god-like physique.

Her brush fell from her hands as she lifted her gaze back to the window, where she could see him hovering, holding himself in place through levitation alone, his vibration still a beautiful sensation.

Hang-it-all, she was going to let him in.

But just as she slipped from bed and her long skirts fell into place to her ankles, a brilliant white-yellow light flashed behind Quinlan. He whipped around, then dropped from sight as shrieking sounded outside her building, the kind that came from Invictus wraith-pairs.

She heard him shout something, maybe the word, ‘run’. She wasn’t sure, but the high-pitched battle screams meant only one thing, Invictus.

She couldn’t believe that the Invictus had come to Lebanon. From what she’d always understood, the deadly wraith-pairs didn’t have the ability to pass the realm access points and enter the U.S. She’d always thought herself safe because of it.

In the street, a red wind streamed.

  * * *  * * *  * * *

  Quinlan stood on the sidewalk with his back to Batya’s art gallery, uncertain what the hell he was looking at. He waited with lowered shoulders, his arms firing up his battle frequency so that he could release killing energy in streams through the palms of his hands. He even had a dagger in his leathers if this battle got up-close-and-personal.

But what the hell was he looking at?

He could almost make out the shape of a woman held within a bright yellow glow, a sight that made his vampire eyes ache. He smelled the female though, a dark rancid scent that he knew from a battle six months ago in Bergisson Realm. An ancient fae had cursed the area and dammed up the waterfall at Sweet Gorge. Together, the Mastyr of Bergisson and his blood rose, Samantha, had created a new paradise there and the fae’s stench was gone.

But Quinlan would never forget that smell and it was here now, in Lebanon.

However, it would appear she’d shifted her attention to him, or maybe to Batya. But what would the ancient fae want with an ex-patriot, living at the Tennessee human earth access point, and running a free-clinic for other disenfranchised realm-folk? Batya wasn’t exactly a threat to the Invictus, the deadly wraith-pairs that many now believed the ancient fae had created.

But whatever this was, Batya was no match for the powerful fae, which was why he’d shouted for her to run.

From the shadows behind the golden glow, four figures emerged, levitating just a few feet above the ground.

Invictus wraith-pairs.

Yet something more.

Bigger.

Deadlier.

Two female wraiths each bonded with Guard-sized vampires, as big as him. But they weren’t regular vampires at all. Holy shit, each was a mastyr vampire. The Nine Realms had over two dozen mastyr vampires beyond those, like him, who ruled each realm. Only the most powerful mastyrs became rulers, a law that had been part of the Nine Realm world for millennia.

His nostrils flared. A bitter edge reached him, emanating from the Invictus, something cloying that reeked of the ancient fae and both pairs smelled of it, like wet ashes, a sure sign that this new version of the Invictus was her creation.

Great.

The battling vibration of both Invictus pairs swarmed toward him and in this moment he knew he was dead.

He could have fought a dozen normal wraith-pairs, but not these two together. Maybe not even one alone because the bond between wraith and mastyr vampire had created unimaginable power between each couple.

He thought of Batya in her studio. What would happen to her if he couldn’t stop them? He didn’t want to think about that.

A woman’s voice called out. “This is all wrong. He’s not supposed to be here.” The ancient fae drifted sideways, her features indistinct, her glow still hurting the backs of his corneas. He shaded a hand over his eyes.

And why wasn’t he supposed to be here?

Her words meant only one thing, that she’d come for Batya.

The thought of her in the hands of any of these monsters increased and focused his battle energy. He lifted his hands. “All right, motherfuckers, which of you wants to die first?”

 * * *  * * *  * * *

 Trembling, Batya made her way to the lower gallery floor and hid behind one of the pillars. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing and her heart beat so hard in her chest she thought it would explode.

A soft, feminine voice called to her from behind. “Batya, what’s going on?”

Batya turned toward the doorway that led to the back rooms and her assistant’s apartment. Lorelei had been her solid right-arm for two years now, helping her run both the gallery and the free-clinic. “I don’t know, but I think Mastyr Quinlan’s in trouble.”

Lorelei drew close. She stood just slightly shorter than Batya as she stared out at the strange golden light and the massive wraith-pairs that looked ready to eat Quinlan alive.

“He’ll never stand against her.”

“Against who?” Batya could vaguely make out a woman’s shape.

“She’s the one, the ancient fae.”

A serious shock ripped through Batya’s body. “Holy shit. You mean the one that caused all those problems in Bergisson, at Sweet Gorge?”

Lorelei nodded. “I know her.”

Batya felt as though she’d been kicked in the stomach. “What the hell do you mean you know her? You know the ancient fae?”

Lorelei sighed heavily. “Yes. I can see her plainly, too. Can you?”

“No. I see a female figure. That’s all.”

“Mastyr Quinlan won’t survive this attack. She has too much power.”

Batya didn’t know what to do. She could sense Quinlan’s battle frequency gearing up, but she could also feel the other vampires, that they were super-charged. She understood then that Quinlan showed nothing but bravado, that he knew he was going to die.

“We only want the woman.” The ancient fae’s voice sounded rough.

“You can’t have her.” Quinlan’s deep voice roared along the street, easily breaching the gallery window.

“I have to do something. He can’t die. I can’t let this happen.”

“But what can you do?” Lorelei asked. “We’re lost. All of us. No one can withstand the ancient fae. Even now, her power ripples over my skin.”

Batya turned to Lorelei and saw that tears tracked her pale cheeks. She trembled head-to-foot. Fear reeked from her as well, but not a sudden kind of panic, something that tasted metallic on the air like she’d lived with it for decades.

She didn’t know very much about Lorelei. She’d shown up a couple of years ago and stayed to help, but Batya didn’t ask questions, one of her rules in the ex-pat community. She believed it was important for all ex-patriots, those realm-folk who chose to live in the U.S apart from their birth-realms, to feel like they could start over without having their histories made public.

Suddenly, the air outside the gallery lit up and streams of killing energy passed from Quinlan to the hovering wraith-pairs. Quinlan rose into the air as well, at least three feet off the ground.

He looked magnificent, even from behind, because he held his arms wide and flung impossible arrays of battle energy at the enemy, something that would have destroyed a normal wraith-pair with the first blow.

Yet the Invictus couples barely moved as they slowly advanced on him, pressing their joined energy hard at him in brilliant streams of alternating red and blue light.

The golden aura of the ancient fae grew brighter as the battle raged. Maybe she gained energy from the sight of destruction.

Probably.

The woman was evil.

Batya heard Lorelei’s soft sobs, but her own inclination leaned away from sadness or even pity in this moment. She’d grown up with the destruction that the Invictus pairs could inflict, which was one of the reasons she’d left Grochaire in the first place. She’d had enough of the war.

The other reason began to forge a heavy vibration through her body, the part of her that was monumentally and powerfully fae. For a moment, she even wondered if she could pull this off, because she’d kept her power dormant for the past century.

Yet with one man’s life hanging by a couple of blue streams of energy, she gathered her power. Quinlan belonged to her, not to these vile, wraith-vampire Invictus pairs and he sure as hell didn’t belong to an ancient fae who even she could detect smelled like rotting garbage.

“Stay back, Lorelei. But don’t worry, this won’t hurt you.”

Batya moved forward and began accessing one of her powers, a realm frequency that many fae shared that made use of enthrallment in many different forms. The canvases and easels all around her began to vibrate and shake as she gathered her power. Some of them even fell to the floor.

Damn the Invictus anyway and if this ancient fae had charge of them, damn her as well.

Everything happened at once.

Both massive wraith-pairs charged Quinlan. A brief flash of red and blue light flew into the air on impact, then Quinlan crashed through the window.

“There she is,” the ancient fae called out. “Get her.”

But without giving it too much thought, Batya sent her enthrallment power outward and wrapped her gallery up inside a shield, like she’d just set a hard cement wall all around the perimeter of the entire building.

Beyond the shield, the woman ensconced in the golden light writhed. “Where is she? What happened? Where did everything go? What the hell is this?”

“Mistress we don’t know. But we hit Mastyr Quinlan with everything. Wherever he is, he’s probably dead.”

“Do you think that’s any consolation? I don’t give a ripe fig about his ass. I wanted the woman.” Her voice vibrated with rage.

Lorelei joined her. “What did you do, Mistress Batya?”

Normally, Batya didn’t allow anyone to address her in the ancient realm way, but she let it pass for now since she had a bigger problem. She had one half-dead mastyr vampire lying on a bed of shattered glass.

She dropped to her knees beside Quinlan. He had burns all over his body and most of his heavy battle leathers and Guardsman coat were gone. His long, thick, black hair remained intact, but she wasn’t sure how.

“Will you help me, Lorelei? I need to get him to the healing room.”

“Of course, but will your shield hold?”

“Yes.”

Lorelei glanced toward the broken window. “But how are you maintaining it?”

Batya met her gaze, staring at her hard. “The same way, I think, that you were able to see that bitch out there.”

A blush crawled up Lorelei’s cheeks. Batya had suspected for a long time that Lorelei had many secrets and tonight she’d put a spotlight on at least one of them.

Lorelei merely nodded. “Fair enough.”

“Now do you, or do you not, have levitation powers here?” Batya’s own abilities in that area, much to her dismay, left a lot to be desired. Many powerful fae could fly, but even with her three-hundred-plus years, she still couldn’t lift her feet off the ground. But she could raise other things for short bursts, like near-dead vampires.

Lorelei sighed. “I do.”

“Then you take one side of this big Guardsman and I’ll take the other.”

When Batya slid her arms beneath Quinlan, he moaned heavily. She sensed that a number of his bones were broken and that left alone, he’d die.

She sent a calming vibration through his mind and somehow that did the trick. He dropped into a much-needed coma.

When Lorelei worked her arms beneath Quinlan as well, and she opened her levitating power, some of it zinged against Batya.

I’ve never felt anything like that. Who the hell are you?

Lorelei’s lips quirked. An ex-pat, like you. That’s all.

Like hell. But Batya smiled.

“On three.” She counted down and together, two Grochaire ex-pats, levitated a near-dead mastyr vampire, weighing in at a heavily muscled two-forty and not an ounce less, and carried him through the blown-apart gallery to the infirmary off the back hallway.

The healing room held a large bed so that family members could often sleep beside their loved ones, or just be near them when they passed.

Mostly realm-folk survived whatever trauma or disease came at them, one of the perks of being long-lived.

Yet Batya had noticed that sometimes the spirit of her fellow realm inhabitants gave out when a human spirit didn’t. That was one of the mysteries of her world.

As she and Lorelei worked to get the blood-feeding-tube down Quinlan’s throat, she doubted he’d succumb to a loss of will, or anything else like that. Only these levels of burns and physical destruction could take Mastyr Quinlan out.

For the next several hours, she and Lorelei took turns donating blood to the feeding-tube apparatus. Vampires were excellent self-healers and more than anything, blood would do the trick. So together, they donated and watched as minute upon minute his skin knitted together and his broken bones stretched out and re-formed properly.

She kept him out cold so that anytime his powerful conscious mind tried to rise back to the surface, she’d send a reassuring vibration, from her healing frequency, straight to the center of his brain. He seemed to know her and to acknowledge her presence, because he didn’t fight her, but each time settled back into his unconscious state to let his body do the work.

Lorelei brought her a tray of food of fresh fruit, an orange muffin, and a vanilla yogurt. Batya didn’t speak as she ate, but she did inspect the enthrallment shield she’d created. The preternatural wall held and wouldn’t budge unless she made a decision to release it. She could also open up small portions in order to let people come and go if necessary.

Though the wraith-pairs had left at dawn, an elven female, wearing protective sun-gear, stood guard across the street within a faint enthrallment shield so that the humans couldn’t see them. The ancient fae was having her gallery watched.

By nightfall, having been up for twenty-four hours, Lorelei needed some sleep.

Quinlan was well on his way to healing and she’d removed the blood-feeding tube. He’d be waking up in the next few hours at which time she’d give him a solid wrist-feed.

For now, however, with Quinlan’s skin mostly restored and sleeping as he was on his back, she stretched out on the bed, pulled a separate blanket over her and turned on her side to look at him. With all the lights in the room off, she altered her vision and saw him in a soft glow.

He had an incredible profile. His nose was slightly crooked like it had been broken in some way he couldn’t repair or maybe he’d been born that way, but she’d always thought it his sexiest feature. He had thick black brows, and his hair lay twisted and matted beneath him. She didn’t envy him that brush-job.

Her hair was similar so she knew exactly what he faced when he finally recovered.

She tucked her hand beneath her cheek and sighed. Not a bad night-and-day’s work, saving a mastyr vampire from an ancient fae and two uber-powerful Invictus wraith-pairs.

Was this the future then? An army of wraith-pairs that could defeat even a powerful mastyr vampire?

If this were true, then what would happen to the Nine Realms? How could Grochaire or any of the other North American realms stand?

Well, she couldn’t solve all the world’s problems, at least not tonight.

She smiled as she fell sound asleep.

 * * *  * * *  * * *

 Quinlan woke up slowly, his mind cluttered with images that he couldn’t quite make sense of, like huge vampires and wraiths, snowfields, and a deadly net flying through the air.

But beneath the revolving spin of scattered sights and sounds, rode a sense that he should be up and doing something. He just didn’t know what.

His eyes took their time opening and they hurt in a strange way, like he’d been staring at the sun, a very bad thing for a vampire.

He recalled seeing something gold and glowing, but what?

Some of his bones ached, especially his ribs, and he could feel them reforming, which meant he’d been hurt recently, but how? Why?

A weight across his upper thighs and another across his chest stung a little where his skin hadn’t completely healed.

So he must have been burned as well.

He reached down to remove the first weight and found a woman’s arm.

An arm.

He smiled. Though he wasn’t sure why, he liked the woman’s arm over his chest and he could live with the moderate pain it caused.

He sighed and his mind drifted back into oblivion once more.

Sometime later, he awoke again with a new weight pressed on his chest, something heavier this time and his nose tickled.

Opening his eyes, which didn’t sting nearly as much as earlier, he lifted a hand to rub the tip of his nose. He found several strands of coarse hair curled just so to make his skin itch.

Blond hair. Very thick and wavy.

He knew this hair. He was sure of it.

Ah, the woman again.

She lay on his chest, the cause of that heavy weight.

His ribs still hurt, but not that much, not enough to make him want to wake the woman up and tell her to move.

Instead, his lips curved once more. Oddly, he felt more relaxed than he had in a long time, in decades, maybe even centuries. His stomach didn’t even hurt.

Weird, that.

He wanted to explore why his stomach wasn’t all cramped up with blood-hunger, but he drifted off once more.

When he finally woke up for good, the first thing he realized was that he was in a fully aroused state and the woman lay partially on top of him.

He opened his eyes and found that no aches remained in or near the sockets, but his stomach warned him that he was low on fuel and not the kind that a meal could provide.

He needed blood.

The woman was still on him, only this time she lay completely over him, snoring gently.

He cradled her with one arm. She wore a skirt of some kind and a blouse. A bra.

He wore nothing and the sheet that had once covered him hung around his knees.

Shifting slightly, the woman snuggled closer, tilting her face into his neck. She found the skin at his throat and slowly started nibbling, then she began to suck.

His cock loved what she was doing, but somehow the whole thing seemed wrong. If only his brain would pull together and work properly, then he could figure this out, like who she was, where he was.

He looked up at the ceiling and saw a beautiful painting of a woman with wings, an angel perhaps, in flight. The colors were navy and a violet or purple. He wasn’t sure about the names for the different hues.

She seemed happy and somehow the painting made him feel at ease, which he supposed was the purpose, if someone was in what he could only interpret as a kind of healing facility. Glancing around, he recognized fae-paraphernalia, some scented candles, a blood-feeding tube.

At that, he frowned. He needed to feed again, but given the severity of his injuries, the woman must have already donated through the tube.

And just like that, the images coalesced. He recalled flying through Batya’s art gallery, having been thrown through the window. He remembered a painting of a snowfield, and another in a meadow littered with the unique camping tents that his troll brigade used in the mountains. There were other images like streams and maybe a river, of a trail through a fall forest, almost brilliant orange, and burning or maybe it was just the colors of fire.

Batya’s paintings of course, remembered in vivid detail.

Batya. Yes.

He held her in his arms, the woman who suckled his neck softly in her slumbers. He squeezed her and his cock moved against her abdomen.

He drifted his nose, as he’d been wanting to for weeks, along the line of her cheek. He dragged in air and there it was, the scent he now associated with her, an erotic, flowery fragrance, like something found in the tropics.

For a moment, he thought about moving his hips on a downward trajectory, until he could position himself between her legs. He knew her sleep-style a little, since the first time he’d brought her to ecstasy, she’d barely been awake, just coming out of her slumbers. Very wicked of him, but it had been worth it.

On the other hand, he didn’t feel right about invading her like this. Seduction was one thing, but taking advantage of a vulnerable female was not his style, despite that she sucked his neck and now rolled her hips into his with matching need.

He groaned then squeezed her waist, shaking her just a little. He needed her to wake up, to stop moving on him.

She cooed in her half-sleep. “Quinlan?”

“I’m here.”

“Oh, that voice of yours, as deep as the ocean, and you smell so good, like wood-smoke.”

“I know what you mean.”

She swirled her tongue over his neck.

“You need to stop doing that.”

“But you taste so good.”

“Open your eyes.”

“They are open.”

“No, they’re not.”

She chuckled softly. “Yes, they are.”

He drew back just enough to look at her, wondering if he was mistaken, but her eyes were fully closed. Yep, still half-slumbering and he knew he could take her. Was ever a woman more accessible at this point in her sleep than Batya?

“Wake up.” He spoke in a sharp tone, which snapped her eyes open.

“Quinlan? What are you–” She broke the question off mid-sentence and blinked several times. “What am I doing here?”

He chuckled softly. “It’s okay.”

“Did you pull me on top of you? Quinlan, is that you pressing into my belly?”

“The answer to your first question is, no, I did not pull you on top of me like this. I awoke in just this position. Several times in fact, and each time you were sprawled over me, but this is your latest arrangement.” He cleared his throat. “As for the second question, yes, that’s me pressing into your abdomen.”

She didn’t move for a very long moment, though her limbs had stiffened slightly. She just kept looking at him, and blinking rapidly. He couldn’t imagine her thoughts and he had no idea what she would address first.

But a faint smile made him hopeful as she said, “Well, the rumors about you are exactly spot on, but I won’t say more about that.”

He smiled. He knew what she meant and damn him for loving that she’d just said it. His cock twitched appreciatively.

She drew back a little and searched his face. “How do you feel? Any pain? You’d been fried to a crisp and had a bunch of broken bones when we brought you in here.”

“I’m fine. Just a little soreness here and there, but I’ll need to feed soon.”

At that, she relaxed against him and offered her wrist. “Go ahead. Take what you need.”

Quinlan stared at her for a good long moment. He’d expected a lot of things, but not Batya offering up her arm. He knew she was generous: she had a free-clinic and had brought in some kind of ex-pat to help her out, a woman who lived in an apartment on her premises.

He also knew he was the last man who deserved that kind of generosity. He had no illusions about who he was. He’d spent his life trying to atone for his father’s death.

But that Batya would donate so freely when he’d been harassing her for weeks about needing to get into her bed, crushed something inside his chest.

He didn’t press her either about finding another doneuse. To refuse her wrist would have been tacky after all she’d done for him.

When she curled her arm so that he could take her wrist at a good angle, and without giving it too much thought, he lowered his fangs and struck to the exact, practiced depth and began to suck down the sweetest tasting blood, flowery and erotic, just as he’d imagined.

However, given that she still lay on top of him, his other problem suddenly got worse.

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 Batya realized her mistake when she watched Quinlan’s eyes roll back in his head with his first draw at her wrist. An involuntary flex of his hips followed so that she felt his cock glide up her lower abdomen in one long erotic stroke.

Sweet Goddess, I’m sorry, Batya, but you don’t know what you taste like. Don’t worry. Just ignore my response.

But Batya couldn’t. He’d been working her up for weeks. He’d brought her to climax several times with just his vibration and he looked so good close up, with his golden skin and sexy crooked nose, his full lips plundering her wrist.

A simple idea came to her given their shared level of need, so with her free hand, she carefully drew her skirts up so that when she turned back to him, she felt him skin-to-skin, the base of his cock pressing against her mound.

Heaven.

What are you doing? He pathed. His eyes looked frantic as he watched her.

Just keep taking what you need. She held his gaze as he sucked and she pressed herself against him and began to rock into him.

He groaned as he sucked. Can you come like this, even though I’m not inside you? His deep voice in her head almost brought her.

She nodded. Oh, yeah. Can you? She searched his dark eyes.

Fuck, yeah, especially with your blood flowing down my throat.

She reached around and grabbed his ass to keep the pressure anchored. He shifted just enough and began to push against her as well, quick upward jabs, holding her gaze.

Come for me, Cha. Come for me. His voice. Sweet Goddess, that rumbling bass voice.

And before she knew it, he added his vibration which pushed her over the edge and she groaned as ecstasy poured through her. She cried out, grinding against his cock. He left her wrist and held her close, his cock jerking repeatedly as he came. He grunted heavily as he pushed his hips into her over and over, extending the moment.

“Your vibrations, Quinlan. They get me every time.”

“Your response gets me.”

Her breathing slowed. His as well.

“Short but sweet.”

She smiled. “I love your voice.”

He drew her against him, cradling her again, rocking her just a little.

Thank you, Batya. That was a double kindness. I owe you one.

Well, you took care of me, too, so maybe we’re even.

He chuckled.

After a couple of minutes, she leaned up on her elbow to better see him. “Your hair’s a mess.”

“Hey, I almost died.”

“I’m not making a comment on fashion or tidiness, just remarking that you’ll have a couple of tangles to clear up once you shower. I have a really good crème rinse, though. You’re welcome to it.”

He reached up and touched the matted hair at the nape of his neck, then winced. “You weren’t kidding.”

“Look at it this way, you didn’t lose your hair though half your body was burned bad.”

He frowned suddenly and looked around. “Can you explain to me why I’m still alive, why you’re still here and not dead? How did you survive the attack?”

She looked anywhere but at him. She’d known this moment would come, that she’d have to tell him the truth about her radical fae powers, but she didn’t want to. She slid off him, pulling her skirts away.

“Where are you going? Batya, what’s going on?”

She kicked the blanket off her legs and sat at an angle on the side of the bed, mostly away from him. Time to confess. “When you crashed through the window, I gathered my power and set up an enthrallment shield.”

“You did what?”

She waved her right hand. “Can’t you see that? Feel that?”

He looked around, then settled his gaze on the window that overlooked the alley. The blinds and drapes were drawn for privacy.

She watched him as his gaze scanned the window, the drapes, the wall. He closed his eyes for a moment then opened them. I sense a very faint vibration, nothing more.

“Good. I’m glad. For me it’s like an air-conditioning unit that’s been running full bore, all night, right next to my head and I wish I could shut it off. But the ancient fae has one of her minions stationed across the street from my gallery, about where you were last night. She’s a pretty elf who’s been chain-smoking for the past several hours.

“She’s watching your home?”

“She’s waiting for me to lower my shields so she can bring in the big boys. You know those wraith-pairs you fought two nights ago?”

His brow rose. “Two nights ago? Sweet Goddess. I’ve been out that long?”

“Do you remember the pain?”

“Not really.” He shook his head slowly. “Just, I don’t know, I remember something entering my mind, a kind of ease.”

“That was me.”

“No wonder I slept and healed so damn fast. I really do owe you, don’t I?”

“Kind of. But do you think the ancient fae was really after me?”

“I do remember her words. She wasn’t expecting me to be there, so if it wasn’t me, then it had to be you.”

“I guess. I just don’t know what to do next. I mean if they were after me, because of what I can do, and they could take you down like that, where will I ever be safe?

“Besides, I’ve built a life here, one that I love.” She lifted her chin and met his gaze straight on. “I don’t ever plan on living anywhere else, either.”

He crossed his arms over his chest. “A real ex-pat.”

“Absolutely, and proud of it.”

His gaze skated away from hers. He sounded almost reverent as he said, “I can’t imagine living anywhere but in Grochaire.”

She felt a familiar twinge of guilt when she thought of the Nine Realms, especially in the face of Quinlan’s dedication to her birth-world.

“So let me understand something, Batya. You’ve got sufficient power to sustain an enthrallment shield around your entire building, for what appears to be an indefinite amount of time.”

“Pretty much.”

He released a sigh. “I had no idea you had this kind of power, but then it explains why the ancient fae would be after you.”

“I suppose.”

“I’ll pay for the window, of course.”

“It’s not necessary. The Invictus did this and that she-devil who created them. ”

He rubbed his thumb over what was now a crevice between his thick black brows.

Even upset he looked sexy as hell and it didn’t help that the sheet he’d just pulled up hung below his navel. She had a perfect view of a spectacular chest, tight abs, and heavy pecs that she wanted her mouth on.

His gaze shifted toward her and his hand dropped away from his face. “What’s with all the scent now rolling at me?”

She looked up at the ceiling. “You know, I’ve been thinking of changing that mural.”

“Well, it shouldn’t be a problem since you changed the subject as quick as lightning.”

She laughed and met his gaze once more. “You look good to me right now and before that goes to your head it’s only because I’ve come to realize that I’ve been without a man for too long and as soon as we get this situation sorted out, I’m going to start dating again.”

“Date me.”

She laughed. “That’s not dating. That’s sex.”

“Then sex me. Use me. I can handle it.”

She tilted her head. “I want more and I know you can’t deliver what I want.”

He sat up, grabbed her arm and let some of his wicked vibration float over her skin. She shivered, a full body shake that made her gasp. “How do you do that?”

He released her and sank back down on the bed, his hands clasped behind his head. He looked so smug, so self-satisfied. “I’ve had lots and lots of practice. Now just imagine all that vibration, elsewhere, in conjunction with other things. I wouldn’t dismiss a purely sexual relationship, Batya, not one with me.” His dark eyes glittered.

She stood up and let her skirts fall where they may. “I’ve been trying to avoid exactly this kind of liaison since you first started sniffing around here. But we don’t need to settle anything right now. I don’t know about you, but I’m starved.”

“You changed the subject again.”

“Yeah, I’m pretty good at it.”

She didn’t wait for him to make another suggestive remark but headed toward the door. But before moving into the hall she said he could use Lorelei’s shower, that she’d find him some clothes, and bring him her special crème rinse.”

“Thank you, Batya. I mean it. You saved my life.”

Her throat tightened as she nodded. “Anytime, mastyr. Anytime.”

As she moved into the hall, she drew a deep breath. The ancient fae had intruded in her world and right now she had no idea how long her siege would last, or if her life would ever return to normal…

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1 Blue Card - 600 X 400 - Canvas Dark NewI hope you enjoyed this glimpse into EMBRACE THE MYSTERY!!!  Let the Blood Rose Series become a new journey for you!!!

Embrace the Mystery: Blood Rose Series 3

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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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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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