Dark Flame 3 Chapter 1

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Dark Flame 3 Chapter 1

Welcome to Chapter 1 of DARK FLAME, the third installment of the Flame Series. DARK FLAME, a paranormal romance, features vampires, ghosts, witches and wolves. All the flame stories are set in the corrupt world of Five Bridges where insidious flame drugs have turned Phoenix upside down for the last thirty years, and kept the alter species locked in a war led by powerful drug lords!

Bella Media ManagementDARK FLAME

Committed to the rule of law, Brannick falls hard for a beautiful fae woman who illegally seduces him in his dreams…

For the buy links and to read more about DARK FLAME, go here!

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Do you love alpha warriors haunted by dark pasts? Do vampires, shifters and fae make your night? Meet vampire Border Patrol Officer Robert Brannick…

And now, here’s the entire first chapter of DARK FLAME:

Chapter One

Robert Brannick stared at Juliet, every suspicion lit on fire. She’d been the star of a recent dream and the hot-as-hell images kept streaming through his head like a porn movie he couldn’t shut off.

Yet something about the dream wasn’t right.

He just didn’t know why.

He was in the garage of a private homeowner, moving boxes away from a secret tunnel entrance he’d built to smuggle abused human females out of Five Bridges. Tonight, Juliet had driven the van containing four of them, each rescued from Revel Territory sex clubs. With the vehicle in the garage and the door shut, the neighbors wouldn’t be able to see what they were up to.

He steadily shifted boxes and plastic tubs out of the way.

Another image flashed.

Juliet’s long curly hair splayed out on his red sheets.

Lips parted.

His body moving over hers, connected.

Her cries filled his bedroom.

He could see each freckle on her creamy skin and her hair smelled like strawberries.

So real, like more than a dream.

Doubt nagged at him about what had actually happened between them, as in something very fae and highly illegal.

He glanced at Juliet again, the star of his cockfest and a beautiful alter fae woman. He couldn’t seem to move as he watched her.

She stood next to the van and wore a loose, light green dress, a gauzy thing that draped her curves. He’d seen those curves in his dream, beautiful, lush, full. His hands and mouth had been all over her. Would she look the same as what he’d pictured beneath the dress?

She glanced at him and turned her hand in question, probably because he was staring at her. She had large, dark blue eyes, even delicate features and all those faint freckles that in the dream he’d kissed over and over.

She was about to open the door, but when he remained silent and staring, she let go of the latch and turned in his direction.

“Everything okay?” Her voice had a soft, melodious sound. She was a feminine kind of woman, not like the vampire females he banged noisily in Crescent Territory. But then Juliet was an alter fae who lived in Revel, not vampire at all. In many ways, she was his opposite.

He tore his gaze away from her, resisting the urge to clear his throat, then put his feet in motion. He called out, “Everything’s fine.”

But he knew in his gut it wasn’t. As soon as they got the women to safety, he’d have to confront her about what he suspected was going on.

He heard the van door slide open, then Juliet as she spoke quietly to the women inside. “I need all of you to refrain from talking. We’re on a residential street and don’t want to alert anyone in the area of our presence here. But please don’t worry. You’re in good hands and you’ll be back in the human part of Phoenix within the hour.

“We work with excellent people as dedicated as we are to ending this nightmare in Revel Territory. And that man over there? Moving the boxes? That’s Officer Brannick of the Crescent Territory Border Patrol. He’s the one who’s set up this whole operation.”

Brannick scowled as he shifted a dusty, rolled up carpet out of the way. He didn’t like to hear that kind of praise, though he understood Juliet’s motivation. The women had been badly used by men for a long time. They would need to know he was someone they could trust.

He forced himself to focus on the task at hand and set the box on the growing pile off to the side. The owners of the house had agreed to let him run a tunnel up to their garage so that he could get abducted women out of Five Bridges. It was a dangerous set-up for everyone involved.

Brannick took great care to keep his operation on the down low. For that reason, he hadn’t used this particular tunnel in two months, a policy that helped keep suspicious neighbors from reporting unusual activity.

The three cartels that ruled Five Bridges paid a lot of money for tips leading to the discovery of exactly this kind of covert operation.

The upper part of the door leading down to the underground tunnel was half visible now. He needed to let the sex dream go and pick up the pace. He shifted a couple more dusty bags and plastic tubs.

Juliet wasn’t even supposed to be driving the van tonight. That was Mary’s job. Juliet coordinated with a team of Revel Border Patrol officers who worked their off-hours to rescue abducted humans, mostly female. The women were used in the sex trade in Revel Territory while pumped full of the dark flame drug. Each bore the teal flame markings on their hands, necks and faces. Drug addiction was hard to disguise in Five Bridges.

So where was Mary? For as long as he’d worked with her, she’d never missed a run.

As Juliet continued to talk to the women, answering their hushed questions, he glanced at her again. She wore her long, curly hair pinned up but with a lot of curls hanging free. She looked messy in an artsy way, but then she didn’t. She looked fresh and alive. Beautiful.

He’d played with those curls in his dream.

Shit, that dream again and how the woman would make, intense cries of passion…

Once more, he forced himself to look away and to keep shifting the boxes. He pulled a heavy one, but set it off to the side. It should be closer to the bottom. He didn’t want the stack to fall over after they were gone. The door needed to be kept hidden at all costs.

He’d met Juliet five months ago, having arranged to look her over at the White Flame club in Elegance, to see if she might be a good fit for his operation. She’d come highly recommended by one of his extraction team, a hard-core Revel Border Patrol officer by the name of Keelen.

Maybe it was the vampire in him, or maybe the human part that had always been able to read people, but he’d trusted Juliet right away. He’d liked the way she held his gaze, spoke in a clear direct if soft manner, and set her chin when he asked about her commitment.

He’d liked her so much in fact that apparently he’d made her the star of his dreams.

The truth was, he hadn’t seen Juliet since his meeting with her at the club. He’d spoken with her several times on the phone and he’d checked her out on the net. She was an up-and-coming civic leader in Revel Territory as an apprentice to Agnes Munroe, who served on the Revel Board of Sages.

Mary was the one who drove the van to the exit-point houses each week. But she hadn’t shown up and when questioned, Juliet had said she didn’t know why.

Brannick had been shocked as hell when Juliet had pulled into the garage. He was profoundly attracted to the fae woman, something that didn’t make him happy at all. The moment he’d realized she was in the van and not Mary, his jaw had dropped and that dream had started playing over and over in his head.

The weird part, however, was that when she’d crossed the garage floor to greet him and shake his hand, he’d felt as though he was looking at a really good friend. If he believed in past lives, he’d say they’d known each other in one.

Or maybe, as he suspected, something else had been going on, something a powerful fae could have done with him.

Or to him.

Despite his drive toward the woman, he kept moving boxes. But that didn’t keep him from looking in her direction about every third trip.

Right now, one of the women wept. She sat in the seat closest to the open door and Juliet was comforting her. The human woman had bruises on her face and up and down her bare arms. She was missing a couple of teeth and of course had the teal colored flames on her cheeks.

Juliet went to the front seat of the van and returned with a small box of tissues. She handed the woman one, who in turn blew her nose. Blood came out.

He watched Juliet rubbing the woman’s shoulder as she spoke to her in a low voice. She kept handing her tissues and taking away the bloody ones. The woman leaned her head back and closed her eyes, her fingers pinched over the bridge.

There were only four women in the van, against the hundreds, maybe even thousands, who needed his help. He felt grim about the whole thing, about how impossible the odds were against any kind of success, long-term or not. As many humans as he rescued, more were abducted from the Southwest to fill the void.

He wouldn’t give up though, despite the numbers. He reminded himself of something he’d heard recently, an old quote from a Chinese philosopher, ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.’ And this journey was at least a thousand miles, maybe more like ten thousand.

He frowned. He swore he’d heard the saying spoken to him in the past few days, but he couldn’t recall who’d said it? He’d begun to wonder if living in Five Bridges for thirteen years as an alter vampire had started affecting his mind.

But as he turned back to his task, rage boiled all over again at the state of the world he lived in. Years ago, Five Bridges had devolved into a ghetto because of the drug and human trafficking that had made a cesspool of the place.

Sometimes his hatred of the flame drugs and their companion alter serums got to him. Thirteen years ago his family had been wiped out in one trip to the supermarket. He’d taken his family north from Phoenix to their cabin in Flagstaff to escape the summer heat. His wife had gone to the store for groceries and among the provisions was a six pack of corrupt soda.

He’d heard of this kind of thing happening, but he felt sure his family was safe in Flagstaff. Most of the alter serum crimes occurred in the Phoenix area, not in the more remote satellite towns of Arizona.

But over the past thirty years, Phoenix had become an increasingly difficult place to live as had all the major cities of the U.S. A large portion of north Phoenix had become the province of Five Bridges where each of the five alter species had been segregated in order to protect the human population.

The U.S. had its own border patrol guarding the entrance and exit points of the five main bridges leading into his world. Human visitors could come and go at their own risk, but only a few alter species could leave and then only on official business. Most of the workers at the Tribunal, the main governing body for Five Bridges, had passports that allowed them to travel to the human part of Phoenix on limited business. Everyone else had to stay put or risk on-the-spot execution in the human part of the world.

Unfortunately, the full panorama of the flame drugs had become a highly popular recreational substance. And the three powerful cartels worked hard to keep the supply moving. Humans came into Five Bridges every night by the hundreds, and on the weekends by the thousands, to score drugs and to take advantage of the dozens of sex clubs scattered throughout all five territories.

The world he lived in had become a freak show of drugs and a nightmare of trafficked women who got used up in the clubs. Very few escaped. Most died at the hands of their captors.

He glanced back at the van. The women had emerged and Juliet stood with her arm supporting the one with the bruises and bloody nose. They were a quiet, broken bunch and would need years of therapy to recover.

Brannick shifted the last of the boxes away from the entrance to the tunnel. Moving close to the door, he knocked quietly three times, until he heard the answering response of one rap, a pause, then two rapid knocks. He changed the signal often to alert him to treachery. If he’d heard anything other than the correct order and frequency of knocks, he would have piled the women back in the van and taken off.

He glanced at Juliet and held up his hand to her. She understood and turned to the women, a finger to her lips. Silence fell; no one breathed.

The signal might have been correct, but he wasn’t taking any chances.

He drew his Glock, standard issue for the Crescent Border Patrol, then pulled the door open.

Lily stood there. She was the dispatch operator at the station and smiled as she glanced down at the barrel of his gun. “Good evening, Officer Brannick. Good thing you don’t have an itchy trigger finger.”

Brannick relaxed and holstered his gun. He trusted Lily with his life.

The feisty woman had short, white-blond hair and gold-green eyes. She was tall at six feet and had one of the toughest jobs in Crescent Territory. She had to balance her dislike of half the officers who were on the take with the other half who tried to do some good in Five Bridges.

Their chief, Easton, was as corrupt as they came. He’d been sleeping with the cartels for a long time. Yet somehow, Lily combined pragmatism with a certain amount of stealth and made it all work.

He drew in a deep breath and smiled in return. “How you doin’, Lily? Are we secure below?”

“We are. We have a half-dozen female support staff in place ready to walk the women out. Our contacts are waiting at the other end with an emergency vehicle to transport them to the hospital in Deer Valley.” Lily glanced at the group and frowned. “They’re pretty beat up. Did they come from one of Roche’s establishments?”

“Yep.”

“He’s a real bastard, that one.”

“He’s at least that.”

Neal Roche ran one of the biggest sex and drug trades in Revel. He was hooked up tight with the cartels and was rumored to have a large, underground manufacturing set-up that produced dark flame. The powerful drug supposedly helped some of the more gifted fae in his employ to engage in an intoxicating form of sex during dreamgliding, something peculiar to Revel Territory

Roche also had a reputation for dropping off female corpses at the Graveyard every single night.

Brannick gestured for the women to come forward. They moved slowly, shuffling and in pain, a sight that made him wince.

He moved himself to the far side of the garage as the women drew close. They’d been handled so badly by men that he didn’t want to add to their current distress. He waited as Juliet and Lily ushered them through the door, down the stairs and into the tunnel.

Juliet returned a few minutes later. She appeared at the threshold, her eyes brimming with tears. She crossed into the garage, then turned and closed the door firmly behind her.

He drew close and kept his voice low. “Hey, what’s wrong?”

She shook her head and pressed the crook of her finger beneath each eye. “Nothing. I’m so happy for them and for a stupid moment, I felt sorry for myself.”

“What? Why?”

She turned to face him more fully. “Honestly, once I saw the tunnel, all I wanted to do was keep walking. They’ll be free, but I won’t. I’m an alter fae. I’ll never be free again.”

A feeling of familiarity swamped him once more, as though they always talked like this, like she’d said similar things to him before. Yet he’d only met her once at the club.

The sound of a vehicle on the street drew his attention away from her. He turned to listen. The car stopped outside the house.

He glanced at Juliet. Her eyes were wide as she drew close. The tunnel house was owned by a vampire couple who wanted to help. They were both intelligent and wouldn’t have arranged for any kind of delivery or service appointment at the same hour Brannick was working to get another group of humans into the tunnel.

His heart pounded in his chest. He could hear steps up the walk, a man’s stride.

He followed the sounds, turning his body with each footstep. He drew his Glock, then extended his hearing. The doorbell rang and he listened hard. Carl, the owner, asked, “Can I help you?”

When he heard the stranger’s voice, he cursed softly.

Juliet tapped his telepathy. You recognize him, don’t you?

He glanced at her, surprised that she could communicate mind-to-mind. The woman had power.

He dipped his chin once. He’s corrupt. This isn’t good.

What’s he saying? I can only hear a mumbling sound and you vampires have much sharper hearing than the rest of us.

He’s asking about me. He’s saying I told him I was headed over here. But Carl is playing it smart. He says he only met me once in a pool hall near some Chinese Restaurant east of Rotten Row. He doesn’t know why I’d say I was coming to his house. The officer is pressing him, but he’s not getting anywhere, thank God.

He felt Juliet’s hand on his arm. She was trembling.

He held her gaze. Hold steady. We’re still okay.

She squeezed his arm. I know.

Our host is shutting the door. The officer is moving away.

The man’s footsteps echoed all the way down the walk. A moment later, the vehicle roared to life and a few seconds later rumbled down the street.

“Oh, thank God.” Juliet turned into him and as though he’d done it a thousand times, he surrounded her with both arms. She shook from head to foot. With his heart slamming around in his chest as well, he wasn’t doing much better.

If things had gone south, he would have been forced to kill the man and the gunshots would have been reported. He was grateful it hadn’t come to that.

Juliet pulled out of his arms. “Sorry, Brann. But that was a close one.” She put a hand to her chest. “My heart is racing.”

He stared at her. Wait a minute. Had she just called him ‘Brann’? No one called him that. His wife had when they’d been married, but no one else and definitely no one in Five Bridges.

A sudden dizziness hit him hard. He stepped away from Juliet. He could barely keep himself upright and stumbled sideways.

He felt her hand on his shoulder. “Brann, what’s wrong?”

There it was again. ‘Brann.’

He squeezed his eyes shut. He couldn’t think. He didn’t know what was going on.

Then suddenly, the erotic dream from earlier exploded through his mind, only this time in full color, every sensual detail and smell and taste hitting him like a Tsunami. It hadn’t been an ordinary dream after all.

Juliet was under him and he had his fangs buried in her neck, tasting blood that wasn’t blood. The sounds of her moans pushed him on, drove him harder. He wanted her to come.

He’d said things to her, wicked things. Her hands moved over his back. ‘Brann.’

She’d called him Brann in the dream.

A dream that was more than a dream.

Regaining his balance, he stared at her, his heart pounding in his chest all over again. The reality of what must have really happened struck him hard, like a hammer between the eyes.

“Juliet, what the fuck have you done to me?”

~ ~ ~

Juliet Tunney stared at Brannick for a long, difficult moment. Something had happened just now, but she didn’t know what and she was afraid she’d say the wrong thing. So she remained silent, watching him carefully.

She could hardly breathe. She suspected it might have to do with their secret bedroom activities, but his dream-self had sworn her never to reveal the truth. The real-time Brannick wasn’t supposed to know what they did together in her fae dreamglide.

Yet here they were, face-to-face, and it looked like he’d just remembered one or more of their shared dreamgliding experiences.

She decided the best course, given her gag order, was to pretend she didn’t know what he was talking about. “I don’t know what you mean, but you seem really upset. What’s going on?”

He narrowed his green eyes. “I’m not sure, Juliet, but what I just saw flashing through my head in extraordinary detail makes me think it wasn’t a dream, but something else. A dreamglide, in fact.”

Juliet had feared this moment for a long time, when Brannick’s sub-conscious mind would finally force the truth to the surface. However, it appeared he was only recalling one dream and not everything that had happened between them.

She shuddered just thinking about how Brannick would react once he knew the whole truth, especially how their affair had gotten started. She was guilty of breaking a law, a big one in both Revel Territory and Five Bridges. Once Brannick knew what she’d done, he could prosecute her.

She needed to buy herself some time.

She glanced at the closed tunnel door. “We need to get this job done, then get out of here.”

Brannick glanced at the boxes then back to her. “You’re right. But then we’re going to talk.”

“Of course.” She’d have to stay calm and let him lead the conversation. She didn’t need to tell him anything he couldn’t remember.

He headed over to the scattered tubs, bags and boxes and started picking them up and moving them back into place.

She offered to help, but he said he’d prefer to arrange them according to weight and it would be faster without her assistance.

She didn’t argue. If anything, she wanted distance from him right now.

She moved to the van. The sliding door was still open, so she reached inside and grabbed a bottle of water from the small cooler. Water would help. Staying hydrated in the desert, even for an alter fae, was important.

The van was sufficiently large and her ass just small enough that she could sit on a combination of the floor and the running board. Wearing a dress, she angled her knees away from Brannick.

She unscrewed the lid of her water bottle and took a sip, then repressed a heavy sigh. She’d been dreading this moment for months now and couldn’t believe it had come. Although, she suspected it had happened because they were together physically for the first time since the dreamgliding sex had started up.

She’d been warned this could happen. Her sage teacher, Agnes, had told her all about dreamgliding, how it was done and how only fae of a certain level of power could engage in a dreamglide. Though it was also true that the dark flame drug could prompt dreamgliding even in humans.

She could kick herself for not having provided a secondary transport option for the women. Mary always drove which had prevented Juliet from ever seeing Brannick in real-time.

Up until tonight, Mary had been completely reliable. But life happened, especially in Five Bridges, and moving forward Juliet would engage a back-up driver.

She took her cell from the pocket of her dress and checked for a text from Mary, but nothing was there. So, where was she?

Juliet smiled. Mary was tall, blond and gorgeous and had been a model in her previous, human life. She always had men buzzing around her. Maybe one of them had finally caught her eye, and Mary had lost track of time.

The van would stay in the garage for at least a week, and Juliet would fly out with Brannick, just as Mary always did.

Juliet would have him take her to her canal home in Revel, using his vampire cloaking ability to shield them from any other species that might be out flying. It was an easy way to get home and at the same time avoid the requisite vehicle stops at either of the intervening main bridges and their security checkpoints.

As Brannick worked to stack up the boxes, Juliet wished the van faced a different direction so she didn’t have to look at him. Like most of the male, border patrol officers, he had a body to die for. Watching him move around tore at every resolution she’d worked so hard to build over the past several months.

He wore a typical border patrol uniform of black leathers, a way-too-sexy tank top, and his Glock holstered on his belt, though he’d left off the short sword. The uniforms of Five Bridges were very different from the human part of Phoenix and enhanced the physiology of the alter species. The essential change in DNA added to the muscles and power of the men designed for law enforcement, a necessary component for any species grappling with drug-runners and killers every night.

Brannick was a gorgeous man and the mere thought of what they’d been doing in secret, had her trembling all over. She sipped some more water and tried to calm down, but she had it bad for the vampire. She wished it otherwise, but she’d gotten to know him over the five months they’d been seeing each other in the dream-world.

Five months ago, she’d offered to become part of Brannick’s operation to rescue abducted human women out of the Revel sex clubs. The brief time she’d spent with him at the White Flame club while he interviewed her had been intoxicating.

She’d responded to him like a woman on a date and that alone had felt miraculous, besides being sexy as hell. She’d experienced a sudden powerful attraction to him the moment she laid eyes on him.

After she’d gone home, the solitary and very lonely nature of her existence had hit her hard.

So it was, in a moment of terrible weakness, she’d entered her fae-based dreamglide for the first time but with only one intention: To find Brannick.

She’d found him all right. All she’d done was picture him and whoosh, she was there, hovering her dreamglide above him while he lay asleep in bed.

She’d done a very bad thing when she’d penetrated his dreams and essentially hijacked him into her dreamglide without his permission. This boundary was considered sacred by both Revel Territory and Tribunal law.

Within the dreamglide, she’d kept him in a half-sleep state while she climbed into his bed and began seducing him. By the time she’d brought him to a dreamglide level of consciousness, he was fully aroused and she was on top of him.

She’d meant to explain the situation, especially to let him know he could send her packing if he wanted to. But he’d been shockingly ready to be with her and had taken her on a ride that to this day caused shivers and chills to chase all over her body.

The man knew his way around a woman.

Now she was here, uncertain what to tell real-time Brannick about everything they’d been doing for the past five months.

She tilted her water bottle back and let more of the liquid flow down her throat.

As she watched Brannick, she’d thought more than once that he would have made an exceptional subject. She’d been a photographer before the alter transformation and couldn’t help but see Brannick as through a lens. And it wasn’t just the perfection of his face and body, but something more, something Brannick exuded through the sheer strength of his personality. He was like staring at a massive and very beautiful wall of granite.

He wore his dark brown hair combed straight back and had the most beautiful green eyes, though they had a pinched look most of the time. She understood why, since she’d come to know him so well over the past few months. The man spent his nights trying to right the wrongs of his past. Guilt drove him relentlessly.

She’d screwed up, though, calling him ‘Brann’. No wonder his conscious mind had started filling in the blanks.

It was a weird conundrum to face the man she’d been having sex with for the past several months and unable to tell him that’s what they’d been doing. Or how it was done. Or even that he’d forbidden her not to say a word. Very bizarre.

But there was another reason why she didn’t want Brann to consciously know the truth. She knew, with every cell of her body, that the moment she fessed up, he’d never come near her again. Brannick had demons that kept him locked up tight as a drum. He’d gone berserk when he became an alter vampire and lost his family to the alter serum.

She’d heard about his mania and how he’d become a one-man death squad, attacking anyone in the drug trade. He’d kept it up until the cartels had sent assassins to take out his parents and abduct his sister, Tracy. Only then had he stopped his vigilante killing spree.

Juliet had heard many versions of his sister’s fate, but the one consistent element was that Brannick had been forced to watch while dark coven witches used her as a human sacrifice.

Juliet couldn’t imagine how Brannick had survived both the loss of his wife and children, then the guilt because of the deaths of his remaining family.

She cut the man a lot of slack because of it.

She sighed. She really, really didn’t want her time with Brannick to end. She wanted him in her dreamgliding bed until she was lying in the Tribunal’s overburdened morgue, an inch away from cremation.

She released a heavy sigh.

“Feeling guilty?”

She’d been staring at the cement of the garage floor, lost in thought. Brannick now stood in front her having finished stacking the boxes.

Looking up at him, she shook her head. “I don’t know what you mean.” She’d play dumb as long as she could.

“You’re dreamgliding me, aren’t you?”

He didn’t look nearly as upset as he had earlier, but she still wasn’t going to tell him anything. “What got you all upset before?”

He planted his fists on his hips, his biceps flexing. His lips turned down. “So you’re going to play it this way, dumb as shit?”

She sighed. “I’m under a strong obligation to keep my mouth shut.”

His green eyes narrowed a little more. “I don’t get it. Who has you under an obligation?”

“You do.”

He snorted. “Oh, that’s damn convenient.” He turned away from her. She could see he wanted to let loose with a few obscenities. His lips were definitely mouthing the words.

Then he grew very still and frowned, though staring at nothing. “I remember that we talked and you asked me something. You asked me if I would finally give my permission, but I refused.” He turned back to her. “Permission for what? Does this have to do with drugs?”

“No. Oh, God no.” She waved a hand in the air. “No drugs, I promise you.”

“Juliet … ” His deep voice carried the exact tone he used in the dreamglide, affectionate and almost weightless. “Talk to me.”

She rose slowly to her feet as another compressed sigh forced its way from her body. “I can’t, Brann. You have to trust me in this.”

“Can you at least tell me how long this has been going on?”

“You told me not to tell you anything,” she said.

“As much as I can’t imagine how some dreamlike part of me would insist on your silence, I’m giving my permission now, here, in real-time. So, how long have you been sexing me up in the dreamglide?”

It took her a moment to make the decision, but she finally decided she couldn’t hold back. “Five months.”

“Holy shit.” He shook his head back and forth very slowly. His lips worked again, only this time she didn’t think he was uttering obscenities. Maybe he was trying to frame the right words for what was going through his head right now.

He frowned even harder. “You want to know what I saw earlier? What came to me?”

She put her hands to her throat and smoothed her fingers down the length. She was trying to ease the knot that now felt like a noose. Given that every dreamglide she’d ever had with Brannick either began or ended with sex, she found it hard to breathe.

The Brannick in the dreamglide was all in, one-hundred-percent. He was an exceptional lover and an engaging companion. If Juliet had to guess, they’d probably spent as much time in conversation as they had tangled up in each other’s arms.

But there was only one answer to give him in this situation. “Yes, I want to know. Please tell me what you saw.”

He moved to stand just a couple of feet from her. “We made love, in my bed, and you said the color of my red comforter was called Alabama Crimson. Dreams usually don’t have such specific details, do they?”

“Sometimes they do.” And just like that, she was right back there, with him. They often made love in his bed, sometimes in hers, sometimes they ended up in all sorts of places. The dreamglide could be amazing.

But this time, yes, she’d been in his bed.

He searched her eyes as though trying to understand. She knew he was thinking the whole thing over.

He moved closer still and took her arms in his hands. “It’s as though I’m two people right now, Juliet. One of them knows you extremely well, the other is a stranger.”

He leaned close and ran his nose over her temple, drawing in his breath at the same time. “You feel so familiar to me, yet not, and you smell like strawberries.”

“It’s my shampoo. And Brann?”

“Yes.”

“I’m sorry.”

He drew back and met her gaze. “Well, I’m angry.”

How many times had she stared into his haunted, green eyes? A hundred? A thousand?

She knew he was struggling with the nature of the situation. She also knew that this could be the last time she’d ever be close to him in real-time. For one thing, he could easily drop her from his operation and she’d never see him again.

So, she slid a hand around the nape of his neck and mirrored what he’d done to her. She swept her nose over his cheek. She smelled soap and the citrus fragrance of an aftershave, only everything was more vivid because it was real-time.

She also caught the scent of him, the sweat on his skin, his vampire masculinity. All was new, yet familiar at the same time. The dreamglide could communicate part of the sensory experience, but not all of it.

She pressed herself up against Brann and slowly met his lips with hers. When he didn’t pull away, she kissed him harder.

The same.

But different.

Yet so much better.

Real. So real.

She trembled as his arms slid around her in response.

Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. Maybe this would make things a thousand times worse. After all, Brannick would never forgive her for coming to him illegally as she had. He was a man of rules, procedures and control.

She started to draw back, but he followed with his lips and captured her mouth. She gave a cry as his tongue drove within, familiar, yet so much more.

She slung both arms around his neck.

Brann.

She hadn’t meant to communicate telepathically, but she was overcome.

She was in his arms at long last, this time for real…

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I hope you enjoyed Chapter 1 of  Bella Media ManagementDARK FLAME – Book #3 of the Flame Series

For the buy links and to read more about DARK FLAME, go here!

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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!

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 forty 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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