8.1 Love in the Fortress

000 Caris Roane - Author Photo 2Hi, Everyone! And welcome to LOVE IN THE FORTRESS, Blood Rose Series 8.1. This book is a shorter, companion story to EMBRACE THE HUNT, Blood Rose Series 8. 

In this book, you’ll meet Sandra, the fae-slave from EMBRACE THE HUNT, who serves the villainous Ancient Fae in her castle-like fortress in the Dauphaire Mountains.
Sandra plays a critical role in EMBRACE THE HUNT when she delivers a key to the Ruby Fae that enables her to escape her imprisonment.

Bella Media ManagementWhen Sandra first appeared, I had the sense she would make a great heroine and I was right! With the help of Mastyr Vampire Griffin, a Guardsman also enslaved in Margetta’s fortress, the pair work together to not only aid Regan in making her escape, but in the process of one night they discover that love can actually happen even in the worst of circumstances. Their only problem now is how to escape the wall of spelled mist that has kept the fortress and Margetta’s army hidden from the rest of the Nine Realms for hundreds of years…

 

Love in the Fortress: Blood Rose Series 8.1

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A Mastyr Vampire. A beautiful fae-slave. Trapped in a fortress. Can love bloom in the midst of a nightmare?

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 than a tortured existence in Margetta’s hidden army camp. But will his growing love for Sandra put her at even greater risk?

Sandra has served the Ancient Fae as her slave for thirty years after an Invictus attack destroyed her family. Sent to work in Margetta’s fortress, grief for the loss of her husband and young son have dominated her heart. When Mastyr Griffin arrives, however, she begins to see that love can exist even in the midst of a nightmare. But when she reaches out to the solitary mastyr vampire, the dangers of fortress life threaten her at every turn, especially when she discovers she’s one of the most coveted women in the Nine Realms: a blood rose.

Excerpt from Chapter One

“Sandra, don’t.” Griffin held her arm in a gentle clasp, his voice low and insistent. “It’s too dangerous. You’ve lasted this long. Why risk everything now?”

Sandra glanced up at him, at his intense light blue eyes, and her heart tightened in her chest. Sometimes the way he looked at her, like he did now, made her think the Goddess hadn’t forgotten about her after all.

Griffin was always looking out for her.

But right now she had a job to do and meant to see it through.

She kept her voice to a whisper. “I have to do this. I have to help the Ruby Fae escape. It’s my destiny. The reason I’m here. I’m convinced of it.”

“There’s no such thing as ‘destiny’. Only survival. And I need you to survive. You’ve become important to me. Dammit, Sandra, don’t do this.”

She searched his eyes, stunned by his words. Was it possible he cared about her as much as she’d come to rely on him? He’d made the last year in the fortress a place of hope for her. Maybe she’d done the same for him.

He stood six-five in his traditional Guardsman black leather pants and incredibly sexy thigh boots. He had long hair like all the warriors who served Mastyr Ian of Camberlaune. Though since his capture, he’d lost the traditional woven clasp to hold it back. Instead, he used a piece of leather to keep his thick black hair in place.

Her heart responded as it always did to the warrior, like it had never known how to beat before. Or at least not for a long time, not since she’d come to the Ancient Fae’s fortress thirty years ago.

And he was worried about her.

Still holding her arm, he glanced up and down the corridor.

She felt his nerves.

Hers were the same.

On fire.

She stood with him in the hallway by the fortress kitchen, her hands shaking. She was attempting to match the black wrought iron key she held in her hand to the duplicates hanging like laundry on a row of pegs down the corridor. If she could slip Mistress Regan a key, the woman could finally escape her tower cell and flee the fortress. At least, that was Sandra’s current hope and plan.

Margetta had abducted Regan, also known as the Ruby Fae, from her Fae Guild retreat in Swanicott Realm a full month ago. The entire fortress and adjacent army camp had talked of little else since. Having Regan locked up in the fortress tower was a tremendous coup for Margetta. Rumors had flow that soon the Ancient Fae would put her massive army in motion and complete her takeover of the Nine Realms.

Sandra despised Margetta and her Invictus army more than anything. And the longer Regan had remained locked up, the more powerful Sandra’s drive had become to do what she could, even to risk her life, to help the woman escape. The Ruby Fae had a wonderful reputation among all Realm-folk. She was known as a very wise, gifted fae who spent her years training lesser fae in their powers and in the ways of the Fae Guild.

Yes, Sandra believed it her destiny, something that might redeem her thirty years of dressing Margetta’s hair, preparing her rose water baths, and trimming her disgusting toenails.

Griffin could argue with her all he wanted, but Sandra had to find the duplicate key.
She’d stolen the original from the fat troll guard who had command of a number of the fortress keys, including the one to the tower cell. She’d brought him a forbidden pint of fortress-brewed beer while he was on duty, knowing he’d soon be taking his tour of the dungeon cells. While he guzzled, she’d slipped behind him and taken the key from its hook. Before he could gather his senses, she’d offered to walk with him to the stairwell. He’d leered at her in his usual way, twirling the key ring on his finger.

As soon as she located the duplicate and matched it to the original, she would return the key to the guardroom. But it had to be soon, before the guard climbed the stairs and reached his station once more. If he discovered the tower key was missing, he’d sound the alarm, which is why she didn’t want to give the original to Regan. Handing over the duplicate to the Ruby Fae would offer Sandra a layer of protection.

Griffin leaned close again. “And how do you propose getting the key to the Ruby Fae once you find it? Or have you forgotten you have company every time you head to the tower?” The same troll guard went with her, key in hand, to unlock the cell door. He was also known as one of Margetta’s most loyal spies.

“That’s the easy part. I’ll roll it in a towel and take it with me for the next meal.” One of her jobs was to carry meal trays to Regan’s cell three times a night, a service she performed happily for the fortress housekeeper, Yvonne.

The good woman, a troll enslaved to Margetta for the past sixty years, was presently having a lie-down in her bedroom. She often stretched out on her bed between meal preparations, a brandy bottle clutched to her chest. At this hour, most of the house staff was outside gathering food for the next meal, combing the forest for deadfall for the camp fires, or doing the army staff’s bidding.

Sandra, as one of three personal maids to the most wretched woman in all the Nine Realms, rarely left the stone walls of the fortress. She had recently finished dressing Margetta’s blond hair in the long curls she preferred, which meant Sandra wouldn’t be needed by her mistress for at least a couple of hours. So, if she was going to steal the duplicate key, now was the time.

Despite Griffin’s disapproval of her plan, he stuck close as she checked key after key.
“I hear someone coming,” he whispered. “We should get out of here.”

At that, she had to smile, but kept her voice low. “With your vampire hearing, no doubt you just zoned in on the rats scuttling through the upstairs bedrooms.”

He grunted. “You shouldn’t be doing this. You realize if Margetta finds out, she’ll have you tortured and killed.”

Sandra repressed a sigh. In so many ways, she was dead already. She’d served in the stone, castle-like fortress for nearly three decades as a house slave. Only the last year, since Griffin arrived, had she begun to feel alive again. But they were both fortress slaves, so what good would it do to get too attached to him, or anyone for that matter?

The past rose up suddenly like a terrible wind. She blinked slowly, her mind caught on the memory of losing her husband and young son during an Invictus attack. All the images became a demanding horror show, like watching a movie she couldn’t turn off. Her boy, only four, had clung to her, burying his face against her hip as an Invictus pair slaughtered her kind-hearted fae husband.

The child had been next. The wraith had taken him to the corner and feasted. In turn, the wraith’s bonded vampire had shoved Sandra to the floor, pushed her legs wide, and done painful things to her. These she barely remembered because her gaze had been fixed on her son, on hearing his screams, on the tragedy of being unable to save what she loved most.

After her family had drifted so quickly and painfully to the afterlife, she was sure she would be next, had prayed for it. Instead, though bleeding badly, she’d been carted off to the fortress. Years later, she’d learned Margetta had ordered her abduction. She’d wanted Sandra in her service specifically because of her looks. The Ancient Fae loved having beautiful slaves tending her.

How lucky could a fae woman get?

How cursed she felt.

And still did, except for Griffin’s warm, surprising presence in her nightmare existence.

As the memory rolled away and the here-and-now returned, she realized Griffin stood in front of her. He had both hands on her arms, shaking her gently. “Come back to me, Sandra.”

When she blinked rapidly and his strong Guardsman features came into focus, she nodded. “I’m here.”

Griffin was so handsome, with light blue eyes, a straight nose, and a tough warrior demeanor. He had a constant frown between his brows and a way of shifting his eyes that made her think of a hawk in constant search of prey. He’d fought in the Camberlaune Vampire Guard, alongside Mastyr Ian and his brothers-in-arms for over a century.

Now he was here, captured in a raid on the hamlet of Wayford a year ago and forced to serve as a sparring partner for the Invictus warriors. It was that or suffer endless torture since Margetta would never let him die.

After one of the torture sessions, Sandra had begged him to stop putting himself in harm’s way and to live.

He’d shifted his thinking after that.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“Yes.” But her chest felt caved in.

When she saw the pit of concern between his brows, she reached up with her thumb and pressed the furrowed skin. “I’m sorry, Griffin. Sometimes, without warning, the memories return.”

He knew the story. She’d only known Griffin a month when she’d told him what had happened to her family. “I loved them both so much. Henrik was a soulful, worthy man and had never harmed another Realm-person in his life. Sweet Goddess, I hurt, even after all this time.”

As though it were the most natural thing in the world, he pulled her gently into his arms and held her. She was stunned that even in the middle of captivity, something so precious had happened to her.

She smelled his skin, the soap he used, the leather of his work vest. All seemed to combine in a rich, heady fragrance like a warm summer field, that set her mind reeling. Was it her imagination, or had his scent become something richer and deeper. Or maybe her affection for him had. She loved being with him and wished more than anything she’d come to know him in some place other than the Ancient Fae’s fortress…

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Bella Media ManagementLove in the Fortress: Blood Rose Series 8.1

Amazon US // iBooks // Barnes & Noble
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I hope you enjoyed this look at LOVE IN THE FORTRESS!  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!

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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!

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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…

For Buy Links and to Read More…

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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One thought on “8.1 Love in the Fortress

  1. Love you book new reader just read savage chains first book read. Love your sharing other authors books as well as your own. THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROUSITY. Sharing your creativity with the world.

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