An alpha wolf sizzling with storm power. An invisible witch. An evil wizard who wants them both dead.
Hi, Everyone, and welcome to EMERALD FLAME Chapter One. EMERALD FLAME is the 6th book of the Flame Series. Set in the world of Five Bridges with five territories at war, EMERALD FLAME takes us to Savage Territory where the alter wolves live.
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Chapter One of EMERALD FLAME ~ The Entire Chapter
The air felt wrong, like a thousand tiny needles pressing into the flesh of Alex Warren’s arms and shoulders.
He sat in his Border Patrol SUV in front of the Savage Territory station. His shift was over for the night, but he wasn’t ready to head in just yet.
Something was going down. He just didn’t know what.
He glanced at the row of black vehicles parked at an angle to the gray, cement-block building. He’d spoken with dispatch. Everyone had checked in for the night. No casualties. A few bruises, a couple of gunshot wounds, a knifing or two. But all souls accounted for.
He had an hour before dawn, so there was plenty of time to burrow down for the day. Given the needle sensation, he decided to stay put for a few more minutes. If something was in the wind, he wanted to know what was going on.
He had a companion as well, one he hadn’t asked for and who’d refused to head home on his command.
You still there, Kiara? Apparently, telepathy worked best when a witch was invisible.
Of course, I am. I’ve already told you. I’m sticking close until you’re back at Caldion for the night.
Kiara was a beauty with large, dark brown eyes and long brown hair and he had a thing for her. But he didn’t want her close, not when every wolf instinct he possessed told him something bad was going down tonight. He needed to find a way to get rid of her, if he could.
So, you’re playing at being my bodyguard. What are you? A buck-ten?
I’ve got more curves than that, Handsome.
His jaw worked as he ground his molars. She’d taken to calling him ‘handsome’ when he was anything but. He bore hideous scars over the left side of his face and into his scalp. His left eye had been closed up for the eight years he’d been in Five Bridges. Calling him handsome was a joke.
Except she wasn’t joking.
He’d objected to the nickname when Kiara had first used it, but the woman had a stubborn streak and wouldn’t let it go. She kept saying she saw past the scars. She saw who he was and that handsome was the right word.
He might have been passable before his alter transformation, before he’d entered Five Bridges. But a witch had used a poisoned paste on him and left him deformed. He would have died if Alpha Fergus hadn’t gotten him the help he needed.
It had been a fiery baptism into the alter world of Five Bridges. He’d faced death a thousand times since, so at this point, he thought the introduction a fitting precursor to his normal everyday life.
If he saw trouble, he went after it.
Some said he had a death wish. He saw it differently. He stayed in the thick of things because he’d vowed to do all he could to put Five Bridges right and make Savage a better place for his wolves.
Or he’d die trying.
He was also resigned to going it alone. If he was going to face off with the Grim Reaper every night, he saw no reason to put a woman through that kind of torment.
Which brought him back to his night’s shadow.
Kiara Fleming was an intense, powerful witch who had been tracking him all week, not to mention off and on for the past month-and-a-half. He wouldn’t say he was used to her presence and for the most part she’d stayed out of his way. But she’d become a problem he didn’t know how to solve.
For one thing, his alpha-mating cycle had reached a peak and for whatever reason, he wanted the witch bad. She had a familiar floral scent that kept him locked in a vicious cycle of lust. He even knew the scent: Freesias. Sweet, delicate and something he wanted to devour.
The bigger problem was that Kiara was invisible. She’d created a spell around herself so that she couldn’t be seen and that grated on him. Could he really trust this woman? His history said he couldn’t.
So, where exactly are you? he asked. Right now. Are you on the sidewalk in front of the station? He peered straight ahead and searched the area closest to the front glass doors, trying to locate her. But he saw nothing that would indicate she was there.
I’m standing by your door, so don’t open it suddenly. I’m not in an alternate reality.
That much I remember. If he punched the air and made contact, she’d get hurt. Her invisibility shield wasn’t about protection, just subterfuge.
He still couldn’t believe she was so close. Or that she’d stuck with him all night. What gives, Kiara? Why are you still here? All this week, you’ve left by two or three. Right now, it’s past four. Dawn arrived early in the desert in July.
She didn’t answer right away. He couldn’t see her, but he could feel her nerves. Something’s not right, Warren. I’ve felt it for hours.
He repressed a sigh. He agreed with her. I know what you mean. So, maybe you should take off. I don’t want you caught in the crossfire if things go south.
No, thanks. I’m here to stay.
Kiara, seriously. I need you to leave, get yourself to safety for Christ’s sake.
Not gonna happen. I’m sticking this one out. Definitely stubborn.
He smiled. Thought I was the only one with a death wish.
That’s the last thing you have, Warren. I know the truth about you.
There it was again, her insistence she knew him. He ground his molars in quiet protest. I’m getting out of the SUV.
I’ve moved toward the rear. You’re good to go.
As he opened the door, he felt more needles, this time along both arms, a similar sensation to getting a tattoo, though not as painful. He rubbed his arms like he had a chill, but this was no chill.
He looked up into the night sky. A storm was coming. He could see a line of clouds piling in from the north. The summer monsoon season was on the city of Phoenix, and would be through August.
His scalp felt odd as though narrow lines of electricity ran over his skin. His long blond hair would begin to move around his shoulders as the storm got closer. It had happened before. Something about his wolf had started connecting with thunderstorms, another mystery of his alter existence in Five Bridges. He’d asked around, but no one had heard of the phenomenon. It seemed to be peculiar to him.
Her voice pierced his head once more. Is your storm coming?
‘His’ storm. That’s what she’d started calling it.
He had only one answer. Yes…
~ ~ ~
Kiara tried to understand how she’d gotten here, standing near the rear bumper of Alpha Warren’s Border Patrol SUV, all but stalking him.
Except she wasn’t. She had a connection to him she didn’t yet understand. But whatever it was, she knew her role in his life was critical to the future of Savage Territory and possibly even Five Bridges.
She didn’t like being an alter witch, but fate or destiny or the gods, or whatever, had sent her here. So, she would do all she could to serve her new world.
Warren was her role model. He laid down his life for not just his pack, but every wolf in Savage, every night. The least she could do, given the present threat, was to help make sure he stayed alive.
She gave voice to her biggest concern. Do you think Julio intends to move against you? As in, tonight? Julio was an ambitious man who worked for the cartels. She’d seen him a few times. He was a big man, almost as tall as Warren and well-muscled. He wore his long black hair in a multitude of braids with small silver and blue beads as accents throughout.
She watched Warren take a long look around, beyond the street to the strip center opposite, the buildings next door, the parking lot. He took in every detail, his gaze scanning intently. I think he’s been working up to it.
In recent months, Julio had taken over two packs, assassinating their alphas. He’d gotten the deed done so fast, neither Warren nor Alpha Fergus had known about it until it was too late. Julio had forged the bond swiftly and ended the possibility of an intervention. Once a pack acknowledged its leader, the relationship was sacrosanct unless the alpha died, dissolved the bond or was supplanted in a dominance battle. None of these seemed likely to occur in the near future.
See anything unusual? She asked. She fixed her gaze to him as he kept looking.
Nothing. A distant flash of lightning lit up his face. His scars looked like a patchwork of silvery rivers. She bore similar scars on her chest from a recent abduction by a dark witch. She’d been tortured for three weeks with a flesh-consuming poisoned paste. She would have died if her friend Maeve and her bonded wolf-mate, Braden, hadn’t rescued her.
Maybe that was part of the reason Kiara was here. She’d been given a second chance and she wanted to be sure she used her time and power as wisely as possible.
Dark forces were moving in Five Bridges and not just in Savage Territory. Each of the territories that made up their confined world was under siege. The cartels that produced and sold a variety of flame drugs kept working to solidify their power. Anyone standing in their way got mowed down.
The three main cartels running drugs in and out of Five Bridges had ramped up their operations. Sex trafficking was at an all-time high. But there was a third element that had her more concerned than anything else. The flame drugs and alter serum that had created the five alter species, had unleashed more preternatural power than anyone yet understood. Warren, with his bizarre storm-related abilities was a perfect example. If his powers were rising, and to a similar degree, her own, what other alter species were also increasing in power. Not everyone was good, like Warren. In fact, it seemed the other way around.
She even suspected Julio may not have acted alone. If he’d had assistance in taking over the packs, who was helping him?
With her gaze still settled on Warren, she wasn’t surprised when the ends of his hair started lifting into the air and flowing in waves. She’d seen this happen twice before. Once when a storm approached like the winds now picking up from the north. The other time had been just two days ago, though there hadn’t been a cloud in the sky. Instead, he’d been on patrol and had been duking it out with a wolf high on emerald flame.
She’d watched at a safe distance. The wolf had been like a maniac because of the drug. A dark green flame pattern had pulsed on his neck indicating his addiction. The drug had also enhanced his abilities, giving him more strength and agility than he would normally have had. He’d elongated his jaw and brought his wolf canines into play. He could have easily bitten Warren’s throat in half.
Warren, seeing the threat, had revved up his adrenaline. The result had been first the movement of his hair, then small sparks of lightning flickering up and down his arms. He’d levitated and flown in a tornado-like circle around the wolf, punched him in his kidneys and brought him down. She’d never seen an alter creature whip through the air with such speed, as though disappearing then reappearing in a new spot.
Afterward, with the wolf cuffed inside the SUV and fully incapacitated, Warren had paced next to his vehicle. He’d rubbed his arms and stomped his feet as though trying to get rid of the excess energy.
She’d remained at a distance but had felt his storm. She’d found the sight of him a completely exhilarating experience.
She called it his storm power. But what did it mean? Why did he possess it? Was this what had called her to move in stride beside him, though cloaked with her invisibility spell?
What she feared, however, was something more human in nature. As her gaze took him in, head-to-toe, a longing deep inside her came alive. Warren was a god, scarred up a bit, but a god all the same.
He wore the Border Patrol uniform of all Five Bridges officers: Black tank, black leathers, thick boots. It was hot in July in the Phoenix Metro area. His skin glistened with sweat, which seemed to enhance the contours of his muscled frame. Leather wouldn’t have been the choice of humans, but something about the alter condition made it better for the officers.
He was six-six with thick, heavily muscled shoulders set off by his tank. His good eye was an exquisite emerald in color, his brows arched and strong. Without the scarring, he would have been movie-star handsome with a rugged chin, straight nose and high chiseled cheekbones. He wore the right side of his long blond hair in a thick braid. Loose strands clung to his bare arms. She resisted the urge to draw close and peel them off.
The left side of his face, his eye, and two inches of his scalp were heavily scarred. No hair grew from the damaged skin in the section above his ear. He’d covered the scars with sexy tattoos. His hair on the rest of his head was a thick blond mane that ran halfway down his back.
In addition, he had a unique scent that drew her in every time. He smelled like the wild elements of the approaching monsoon storm combined with the musk of his wolf. The combination was electric. Whenever she caught his scent, the pleasure centers of her brain lit up like small fireworks going off inside her head.
To say she was drawn to Warren was to say fire was hot. But it wasn’t just his superlative gorgeousness. He was considered by his peers as one of the most powerful in Savage Territory. She’d often thought if he’d been a more self-interested man, he could simply take over all the packs and be done with it.
But she knew him. He had a profound commitment to the wolves of Savage as well as to the rule of law. He worked to protect all the packs that had formed over the thirty years the alter world of Five Bridges had been in existence. Of all his qualities, she loved his integrity the best. When he could have owned it all, he chose what was right for each pack.
Another flash of lightning lit up the sky. A rumble of thunder followed, though not too close. Dawn was still an hour or so away, but the sky was getting ready to open up.
A shiver went down her spine and she glanced behind her. She could feel it now, a tangible creep across her nerves. Something was going down tonight. She didn’t know when, how or what was going to happen, but the air crackled with intent and it wasn’t good.
Another flash of light and roll of thunder.
We need to get inside. His deep voice moved through her mind.
I agree. I’ll follow you in. Right on your heels.
Once inside the station, she watched Warren wave to Helena, the wolf working dispatch. She shot him a broad, come-and-get-me smile. Kiara’s fists balled up and an odd, un-witch-like growl formed in her throat.
Warren shifted his attention to a group of fellow officers who called to him from the corner, off to the right. They’d just cuffed an unsteady, word-slurring wolf to a nearby railing meant for that purpose. The wolf wasn’t going anywhere.
Hold up, Kiara. He then addressed the officers. “Do me a favor and take him back to the drunk tank.”
The wolves grew very quiet and turned to stare at him. Each dipped his chin slowly. It was a wolf deference move, a sign of Warren’s pack status. None of them argued. But it was something more as well. Each noticed the unusual lifting of his hair. Warren made no explanation and none of them asked.
While Warren waited, they uncuffed the drunk and hauled him away.
Warren then turned toward the staff behind the counter.
Kiara realized the five remaining personnel had all stopped what they were doing. They were staring at Warren as well, mouths agape.
She glanced at him and wasn’t surprised to find that his hair moved rapidly now. Even through her shield, she could feel his storm growing stronger.
“Helena, I want the silent alarm that will trigger a lockdown, but no overt signals. Can you do that?” Kiara knew the drill, the shutters would start to descend, even over the front doors. But they were only meant to block the sunlight, not to withstand gunfire. They could only delay a full-on assault.
He gestured to the rest with a toss of his hand. “Each of you, slowly gather whatever you’re working on then head to the hall. I’m going to Roberts now.” Roberts was the station chief.
Kiara moved to the window. What came to her caused her heart to leap into her throat. She called to Warren telepathically. Julio is here. I can feel him out there now.
Me, too. You’d better get into the hall as well, since you’re not safe in your shield. Go now.
The sharpness of his command had her moving swiftly. He shifted sideways to let her pass. She switched to levitation and bumped his arm as she slipped by him.
I felt that, he said.
Exactly. Her heart beat so hard it was drumming in her ears.
She reached for Warren’s arm. He turned in her direction, but of course he couldn’t see her. He clamped his hand over hers.
He started to speak, but there was something she understood now, something he needed to know. She telepathed quickly, They’re after you, Warren. You’re the target. You’re the key to taking over Savage and Julio won’t rest until you’re dead.
~ ~ ~
As soon as Kiara’s words ran through his head, he knew it was true. He’d become a target and it made sense. If he was eliminated, Julio would have a much easier time taking over the entire territory. The Caldion Pack would be thrown into chaos. Without an alpha, his wolves would be unable to mount a counter-offensive.
Julio Mendez had risen in rank in the Viento cartel during the past five years. Viento was currently the prime source of illegal trafficking in Savage and Julio the man in charge. He’d kept a low profile until recent months when his ambitions prompted him to go after the two lowest packs. He was the kind of wolf Warren despised above all others because he treated his pack members like slaves. He was an alpha who only cared about himself.
Warren had also seen for himself that a large portion of Julio’s combined pack, El Lobo Grande, was now addicted to emerald flame. Keeping wolves addicted made them easier to control.
Hearing Kiara give voice to Julio’s intentions solidified something within Warren’s spirit. He’d been appalled by Julio’s takeover, but until this moment he hadn’t made it his mission to go after Julio with everything he had. He’d been biding his time, waiting for the right moment. He’d somehow thought the El Lobo Grande pack would be enough for the man. Instead, he was convinced there was no limit to Julio’s ambitions.
The first order of business, however, was much more immediate. He needed to get everyone out of the station in one piece.
As the steel shutters came down, he headed to Roberts’s office. The chief was already on his feet and moving toward the door. Warren wasn’t sure where Kiara was, but he stepped away from Roberts to let him pass. “I saw some of Julio’s men moving in from the woods opposite.” Julio’s force wore black tanks with silver bands and emblems. They were hard to miss.
Once in the hall, Roberts called out. “We’re under attack. Everyone in the locker room. Now. Warren, search the rooms.”
Warren moved at a clip and went from room to room. He sent anyone he found to the locker room. He got the drunk out of the tank and turned him over to one of the officers. By the time he made it to the locker room near the back of the station, heavy rounds of automatic gunfire sounded at the front entrance. He could hear the bullets bang against the thin steel, then a moment later glass started shattering as the shutters were shot off their hinges.
The locker room held a total of nineteen people. Most were officers, the rest support staff and a couple of criminals, besides the drunk. The mood was bleak.
When gunfire sounded at the nearby back door, Roberts put his hand to his head. A few choice words left his lips.
Warren glanced toward the door. With no one returning gunfire, Julio’s troops would move in. Each of the officers was armed with AR-15s slung over their shoulders, pistols in holsters.
Warren. Kiara’s voice shot through his head.
I’m in the locker room. Are you here as well?
I’m in the security room looking at the monitors. Julio has dozens of troops stationed at the back and the front. But he doesn’t have anyone in the air.
Warren considered what she was saying. Even if everyone got to the roof, it wouldn’t take long for Julio to figure out what we were doing. It would be a duck shoot.
Not if I helped. I could take everyone into the air inside my shield. We wouldn’t be seen.
Several thoughts rumbled through his head at once. Could she do it? Could it be done fast enough? Was she really that powerful? All that mattered, however, was getting everyone out alive.
Warren turned to face Roberts. “I’ve got a witch here who can help.”
Roberts shook his head. “How?” He glanced around. “Where is she? What’s her name?”
“She’s the one Veyda tortured. She has an invisibility shield.”
“Jesus. You’re talking about Kiara.”
Warren was surprised. “You know Kiara?”
“Of course, I do.” He switched to telepathy so that only Warren could hear the rest. Kiara rescues wolves. I gave her permission to set up a refuge in Savage some time ago. So, yes, I know her very well. She’s a good woman and I trust her. If she can do the invisible thing, we’ve got a chance.
Kiara had a refuge in Savage? All of this was new to Warren, but it wasn’t the time for a discussion. Let me get this set up with her.
As the rifle fire continued slamming in heavy sprays against the front entrance and the rear exit, he forced himself to focus. “I want everyone heading up to the roof.”
He switched to telepathy. Kiara, come to the locker room.
He addressed the group. “Kiara is going to get us out of here. Who can levitate?” Most of the hands went up. Only a couple of the support staff were without flight capacity and the drunk would have to be corralled.
He gestured to them. “Pair up with an officer. We’re leaving by way of the roof. Let’s go.”
He didn’t try to explain the mechanics. He headed to the service stairs at a run, trusting everyone to keep up.
Kiara, where are you? But by the time he was halfway up the stairs, he already knew since the door to the roof was standing wide open.
Then suddenly Kiara appeared at the top landing, but away from the doorway. “I’m not sure how many I can take at a time.”
“Tell us what to do.”
“First, all of you need to know this is going to hurt.”
Warren lowered his chin. “We can take it.” He saw the bright glint in her eyes.
“Give me the first three.”
Warren waved three forward. Kiara started instructing them. Each nodded. Three powerful wolf officers grabbed hold of her arms. Muffled shouts of pain followed then they all disappeared.
Kiara’s voice was in his head. We’re taking off. Can you see us?
Not even a little.
The next thirty seconds were painful as he waited. Three wolves safe. Sixteen to go.
Kiara reappeared. “Let me try four this time.”
Warren shoved the next four up the stairs. “Do as she says.” No one argued.
He could hear gunfire now inside the building. He had to take action or Julio’s forces would find them trapped on the stairs. As he ran down, he issued orders for everyone to obey Kiara to the letter.
He grabbed two officers he trusted. “We’ll defend the station until everyone is out.”
Roberts joined them, pulling his rifle in front of him.
Warren saw the set of chin and that fur now lined his cheeks in thin arrows. Roberts hadn’t served in regular border patrol work for years, but he’d do.
He had the two officers head to the rear exit and start firing at the door to keep Julio’s forces from coming in that way. Then he and Roberts moved toward the front. Using some filing cabinets as cover, he fired at the three wolves who had breached the main entrance. Each let loose with several rounds. Julio’s men went down.
Both Warren and Roberts sank to the floor as Julio’s outside force started hitting the building again.
He directed his thoughts to Kiara. How we doin’?
I’ve got another four in the air. I’m releasing them now. Two more groups of four, and we’re good. I’m almost at the doorway. Okay, I’m gathering the last group that’s on the stairs. But where are you and the other three?
I’ve got them with me, including Roberts. We’re holding off Julio’s forces.
Okay. I’ll let you know the second I’m heading back.
Warren heard the wolves at the rear exit. They’d kept up a steady fire. He and Roberts hit the doorway once more with a fine spray of bullets. The steel shutters that were supposed to cover the front glass doors now hung at an angle.
When Julio once more started firing at the front of the building, Warren dropped to the floor again.
He crept toward Roberts. “Kiara’s almost ready for us. Let’s fire off a few final rounds then get to the roof.”
When there was a lull in the shooting, they rose up and let loose with another serious hard spray.
“That should do it,” Roberts said.
He took off and Warren followed. On the way, he grabbed the remaining two officers and the four of them raced up the stairs.
Kiara’s voice was in his head again. Almost at the roof.
A few seconds later, he was pounding up the stairs. Kiara was visible and waiting for them. When the four of them were on the landing, she told them to grab hold of her arms and prepare for some hurt.
The next few seconds felt like his entire body was being shoved through barbed wire. All of them shouted from the sudden, swift shards of pain.
But when the cloak surrounded him, she said, “You can let go of my arms, but stick close and follow me. Head straight up.”
Each pair of eyes was fixed to Kiara. The moment she began to rise, each man followed suit. When she moved faster, they tracked with her. She kept rising in a tight line up into the air. In the distance, lightning flashed, and thunder rumbled a few seconds later. But the storm was still at a distance.
Once they were fifty feet up, she drew everyone to a halt. “I’m going to take you out of the shield, but this is going to hurt. Try to keep quiet.” She didn’t say anything else. Instead, she began reversing the process and yet again, it was like getting put through several strands of barbed wire. All four men were cursing in low tones by the time she’d released them from the cloak.
Roberts gestured to the two officers. “You men head home. Now.” The men took off.
Roberts addressed Warren. “I’ll contact the Tribunal about this, though I don’t expect much support.” He turned to Kiara, “You saved our asses tonight.” He gripped her arm. “Thank you.”
He spoke to Warren once more. “You got a place you can stay through the day because Fergus called in just before you reached my office. It seems Julio’s got some of his men laying in wait at Caldion. Looks like the station was the first part of the plan. I’m guessing they’re after you.” He then turned to Kiara. “He could stay at your refuge.”
“You told him?”
“Earlier. At the station. You okay with me telling him?”
She glanced at Warren. “I am. Just wish you’d known all along.”
“Well, I know now.”
“You will be safe there. I’ve got it hidden behind a strong security spell.”
Roberts glanced around. “You’d better get going before Julio figures out what happened and starts searching the air. I’ll be in touch.” He nodded once then took off heading northeast.
Kiara took Warren’s hand and without asking permission, she once again pulled him into her cloak.
He shouted this time. “Why did you do that?”
Look behind you?
He turned and saw a force of ten men headed in their direction. Shit. Roberts said it exactly right.
Kiara tugged him in a straight-up direction. He followed her lead until they were both forty feet higher. Seconds later, the crew fired at their previous location.
She released his hand. My refuge isn’t far from Caldion. She turned in the air as she spoke and began to fly north.
He caught up with her and flew alongside her. He tried to picture where her refuge might be. He knew all the houses and their occupants in an eighth-of-a-mile radius around his compound. Where did you say your refuge was?
I guess I didn’t.
He heard it then, a strong hesitation, almost reluctance, but he wanted an explanation. It felt like betrayal to him. He would have stopped her midair to get an answer, but the monsoon storm was winding up and getting closer. Besides, he wanted as much space between them and Julio’s men as he could get.
The wind was really starting to blow.
He glanced at her. He was bristled up and could feel lines of fur along his cheekbones and down his back. His reaction was as much a result of their recent escape as from her typical witch secrecy.
He’d had many conversations with Kiara about her witchness and his dislike of Elegance Territory. She tended to agree with him. But she’d also helped him to understand that it was the dark witch covens and those warlocks and wizards who had embraced the dark side of their powers that had given them all a bad name.
Even so, he was pissed to learn she’d built a refuge in Savage he didn’t know about.
Yet even as he had these thoughts, the part of him that was pure male felt a troubling amount of excitement that he’d be spending some alone time with Kiara. Sex came to mind, as it always did with her. He tried to tamp down his desire, but his damn mating-cycle was acting up.
Of course, the real trouble, as he saw it, was that he believed in the goodness of Kiara’s heart. She cared about their world and tonight she’d put her life on the line to save species different from her own alter curse.
He liked her. Hell, he admired her.
But she was still a damn witch.
And a powerful one.
And she’d built a secret refuge in his territory without saying a word all this time.
To say he had serious mixed feelings about the woman, was to say the least.
They were high enough in the air that by the time they cleared the central pine forest he could see the Sand Pit. They had reached the northernmost part of Savage, where the twelve main packs had built a large arena for major dominance battles. Fergus had defeated a wolf in this pit, a vile man who had illegally taken over the Gordion Pack through an attempted murder. Mary, a fae from Revel Territory, had found Fergus in a brink-of-death state in the Graveyard. She’d called on Warren to save him with a transfusion.
The sight of the Sand Pit, however, confused Warren even more. He saw more trees and a few houses in between the Sand Pit and the Caldion compound to the west. He knew the occupants of every home. But not one of those dwellings could possibly be Kiara’s refuge.
She slowed then drew him to a stop.
He floated in the air, but struggled to hold his position given the wind. Lightning once more flashed in the distance. Thunder rumbled.
He shook his head as he searched the ground below once more. What gives? You can’t have a refuge here.
He watched her expression grow grim and her lips tighten into a determined line. I’ll apologize right now for not being up front with you, for doing what I’ve done in secrecy. As I look back now, I wish I’d told you.
But Roberts knows.
She shrugged. It was his idea that I move forward and build the refuge without anyone knowing. Not you. Not alpha Fergus. No one, except him. I’m only grateful he didn’t mention it in front of everyone.
Jesus. He supposed it helped a little to know she’d received permission from his station chief. All right. So, where the hell is it?
He watched her swallow hard. Behind a powerful security spell, the strongest one I’ve ever made.
When the first drop of rain hit, she offered her hand. Ready?
He couldn’t believe this was happening. He slid his palm against hers. Let’s see what you’ve got.
She tugged and pulled him through the spell that protected her refuge from view.
What appeared was a small piece of property, fully landscaped around the perimeter with rocks and evergreens. He could see the nearest houses, the ones he knew well. He flew over them all the time, but he’d thought they were much closer than they were. What kind of illusion had she created? How? Her spellcasting ability once again astonished him.
She took him to the front walk where she landed then released his hand. He didn’t follow her to the front door. Instead, he took a good long look around. The front yard was tidy, nothing out of place.
He heard her footsteps on the gravel path as she joined him. “I’ve found that order is calming to the wolves. Most of them have a form of PTSD from severe abuse by the time they come here.”
He turned to face her. “You run a tight ship.”
“I do. And once the women are inside, I make all the rules clear, as well as what’s expected of the women and what they can expect from me and from their rehab.”
He shook his head. “I’m mad as fire you didn’t tell me.”
“I know and I don’t blame you. In hindsight, I should have told you. I mean, you, of all people deserved to know what I was doing. Yet it seemed like the right decision at the time. But I would wish it otherwise.”
Another flash of lightning and quick roll of thunder, brought a pelting of rain. She ran for cover on the porch and this time he followed her.
The refuge was a modest block home that had probably been one of the original houses when Five Bridges had been created as an alter ghetto thirty years ago. But it had fresh beige paint and white trim around the windows. A new roof. Very tidy.
She turned toward him. “Before we go in, I need to take us out of the cloak. You ready?”
He winced, unhappy that he’d have to experience her shield again. “Sure.”
“Try to relax and flow with it.”
He drew a deep breath, but couldn’t quite resolve all of his tension.
When she took him out of her shield, it didn’t hurt quite as bad as the last couple of times.
Her brows rose. “You’re doing better with it. I can tell.”
He frowned. “It’s still an Elegance spell and you know how I feel about that.”
She chuckled softly. “I do know. But let’s go inside and I’ll show you my set-up. I just hope you won’t take too long to forgive me.”
Forgive her? That she had kept a spelled property hidden inside Savage might be something he could never forgive. “We’ll see about that.”
She nodded solemnly but there was an amused glint in her eye. Now why did that have to charm him instead of adding fuel to his outrage?
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To read more details about The Flame Series, go here.
To Purchase EMERALD FLAME:
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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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Do you enjoy free books!?! All year, I’ll be giving away copies of my e-books through my newsletter. I also run subscriber-exclusive giveaways, so be sure to sign up on my home page in the right hand column where it says: Subscribe to Our Mailing List! Once you do, you’ll receive a welcome letter with a link to your free e-book! Enjoy and hugs, Caris Roane!
Be sure to look for your welcome letter which has the link to your free e-book!
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Most Recent Releases:
A TOUCH OF FLAME
A powerful alpha wolf. A gifted witch. Each haunted by death. Can passion drive them to an everlasting love? Or will the enemy forge a hopeless chasm?
‘The Graveyard was not the place Mark Braden thought he’d breathe his last. He was sure he’d die in the pine forest of Savage Territory, chasing a drug-runner and getting hit by a spray of bullets.
Instead, he’d been ambushed…
~ A Touch of Flame
A VAMPIRE’S EMBRACE
Having lost his entire family, Mastyr Rez vowed never to love again…
‘Rez drew closer and caught her softly pointed fae chin. “You buy shoes on the black market because it’s exciting and different. You can’t fool me, Holly. You’re a secret rebel.”’
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A VAMPIRE’S SOFT EMBRACE
Taking the vampire into the past, changed the future…
The man held her heart in his hand.
He had for the past five years.
Did he even have the smallest clue?
~ A Vampire’s Soft Embrace
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REVEALED: Rapture’s Edge 3, A Guardians of Ascension Novel #11
He’s a warrior deep in his bones, but all she ever wanted was peace…
As Duncan battles the dangerous death vampires at night, during the day he fights an even greater monster: He can’t believe he’s worthy of the woman he loves.
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Mastyr Vampire Stone wants to bond with Aralynn, his battle partner, until he learns she lives a double life as a woman he despises…
For hundreds of years, Stone has lived a solitary life, serving Tannisford Realm as he battles the deadly Invictus wraith-pairs with his Vampire Guard.
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More about Caris Roane and her books!!!
THE FLAME SERIES
Vampire Officer Connor of the Crescent Border Patrol tries to suppress his desire for Iris, a powerful witch. Because the woman possesses the ability to kill him with the tips of her fingers, how can he possibly fall in love with her? When a double homicide throws them together, he soon finds his deepest fantasies fulfilled as Iris succumbs to his seductions.
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Vampire Officer Vaughn of the Crescent Border Patrol gets called to a triple homicide in a deadly place called the Graveyard. When he finds that Emma Delacey has been summoned to the same crime scene, warning bells sound. He’s tried to suppress his desire for the beautiful witch knowing nothing good can come of a relationship in the alter world of Five Bridges.
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Brannick works with Juliet Tunney to help several human women escape the nightmare of Five Bridges. But something isn’t right. Juliet acts as though she knows him really well, yet he’s only met her once. Unless…the dreams he’s been having about her aren’t dreams at all.
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AMBER FLAME, Book #4 of the Flame Series
Fergus has been without an alpha-mate for three years, from the time his wife was murdered. He’s failed repeatedly to bond with the female wolves of the Gordion Pack. When he rescues a fae woman from a sex club, his need to bond with her goes into overdrive.
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On Christmas Eve, vampire Officer Kyle Drake has finally persuaded the shy wolf shifter, Verena, to go on a first date. His plans include a little mistletoe and a lot of seduction.
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THE GUARDIANS OF ASCENSION SERIES
(After Ascension, Burning Skies, Wings of Fire, Born of Ashes, Obsidian Flame and Gates of Rapture)
Includes Sub-Series: Dawn of Ascension and the Rapture’s Edge Saga
Warrior Gideon swore he would never see Elise Jordan again even though they’d been passionate lovers for two years. Her human nature couldn’t survive in his ascended vampire world; she would be vulnerable to attack on every front if he tried to continue a relationship with her.
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Fearing that his newly emerged grayle power will kill innocent ascenders, Samuel Daman struggles to keep his distance from beautiful Vela Stillwell. But the breh-hedden has struck and her light floral scent tears at his restraint.
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For the last few weeks, since Warrior Duncan professed his intention ‘to try’ to make his relationship with Rachel work, he’s failed on all fronts. But how can he explain that a serpent lives in his gut, poisoning him against her?
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For decades, Warrior Duncan has had an on-again, off-again relationship with a woman opposed to his warrior lifestyle. When Rachel shows up in his life again, he wants to keep his distance, but the infamous breh-hedden, the myth-that-isn’t-a myth, bears down on him keeping him in a perpetual caveman-like state.
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THE BLOOD ROSE SERIES – SHORT WORKS
The Blood Rose Tales, are much shorter stories than the “Embrace” books of the Blood Rose Series. Each ‘tale’ highlights one particular aspect of the world of the Nine Realms as well as a mastyr vampire in pursuit of his Blood Rose.
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Zephyr can’t keep away from Alesia and feels obligated to keep her safe. They’d broken up, unable to reconcile painfully opposing views on what should be done to the evil Invictus pairs. But when several wraith-pairs attack her diner, he flies her to safety, taking her home where they’re trapped together for the entire day.
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Yolen keeps his love life and his work life separate with one goal in mind – to protect Brianna. After seeing his best friend slaughtered by the enemy, he will do whatever it takes to ensure Brianna’s safety even if it means holding her at a distance.
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For weeks, Mastyr Willem, agent for the Realm Investigative Unit, has been tracking Charlotte Vail, a human college student at the local Grochaire University. He’s had a thing for Charlotte that he doesn’t quite understand.
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THE BLOOD ROSE SERIES – THE BOOKS
Enter a world of blood-starved mastyr vampires and the rare women who can satisfy their deepest needs…
How can he resist his blood rose…
Gerrod, mastyr vampire of the Merhaine Realm, never thought to have his blood-needs satisfied by a mere human. But Abigail is no ordinary woman.
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Ethan, mastyr vampire of the Bergisson Realm, never thought to find his blood rose, the one woman who could ease the blood-starvation he’s endured for decades. But Samantha carries a surprising level of power as her newly discovered fae heritage emerges..
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Quinlan must keep Grochaire Realm safe from the enemy at all costs. As ruler of his realm, a woman has no permanent place in his day-to-day existence. But when his lust takes him to Batya’s bedroom, he soon discovers he’s deep into a powerful experience that threatens to blow his life apart.
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Seth, Mastyr Vampire of Walvashorr Realm, craves Lorelei, his new bodyguard, but he has a hands-off policy with those under his command. However, the sexy glint in her eye, as well as her wolf-shifter ways, keeps him in a fevered state.
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Mastyr Vampire Jude has kept his distance from all women because he lost his wife and daughter to an enemy attack a hundred years ago. He won’t go through that kind of loss again. And he won’t jeopardize another woman’s life while the deadly Invictus wraith-pairs still pose a threat in the Nine Realms.
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Mastyr Vampire Malik has only one goal: to serve the realm he loves. Battling both the dreaded Invictus wraith-pairs and an element in Ashleaf Realm that wants all innocent wraiths dead, Malik can’t afford to get distracted. But Willow has already become an obsession as he lusts for the powerful fae whose blood he craves.
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Mastyr Vampire Zane didn’t want another woman in his life not after the dreaded Invictus killed his wife five years ago. He serves Swanicott Realm, the land he rules, and doesn’t want anything to interfere with his war against the enemy.
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Mastyr Vampire Ian never wanted to see Regan again. He blamed her for the massacre at Raven’s Overlook, an attack that killed his sister and her children. He’s convinced Regan enthralled him, using her extensive fae powers to keep him by her side. If he’d been in his realm that night, he could have saved 200 people.
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Mastyr Vampire Griffin hates his enslavement in Margetta’s fortress. He sought death a thousand times because of it, but was denied when the Ancient Fae brought him back repeatedly, forcing him to train her evil army. When a beautiful fae-slave, Sandra, tells him to live, he begins to believe his life could have more meaning…
Caris Roane is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty-nine 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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