A river of poison runs through Rose’s veins.
Ten years ago, Rose Carrado was just a child who made the mistake of trying to catch snowflakes. Boston was overrun by creatures no human had ever seen, or even believed existed. Rose was easy prey. As she lay bleeding—dying—she came face-to-face with an ancient being, one who commanded her to live.
So she did.
Now a young woman, Rose lives with the consequences of that command. Changed by the creature who bit her, she’s a reminder of a time humans want to forget.
But she was left with something else: a connection to those ancient vampires who saved her life so long ago. When brothers Ra, Seti, and Horus return to Boston, the ties that bind them to Rose snap tight. For the first time, they encounter someone who has the power to throw their unending existence into the best sort of chaos, and they won’t allow anything—not life, not death—to take her from them.
Rose is always in pain. It began she was attacked by the demon during the nightmare and survived. The reason she survived was that she was told she wouldn’t die, it was almost an order. She describes that occurence as her guardian angel. That’s not the only thing that happened, there are days when she likens her skin to metal, nothing will penetrate it easily, and she heals rapidly from all injuries.
After she is attacked again in daylight, in the arboretum she returns to the hospital where they had taken blood just this morning. Maybe there was something Dr. Stone could learn from the saliva where the creature tried and failed to bite her. He was the only one who believed her, the only one who would treat her or so she thought.
This is a favorite scene.
“All this time you let me think you believed me.” A horrifying thought occurred to her. What if nobody had believed her. Her mom— before she’d died— acted as though she believed her. But what if she hadn’t? For the life of her, Rose couldn’t remember her mother ever saying the words. She was going to be sick.
Standing, she said, “I need to go.”
“You need to let me make sure you’re okay,” he said.
“I’m not,” she replied, and he opened his mouth to reply. She cut him off before he could say anything else. “Physically, I’m fine. You saw me this morning. It couldn’t cut me or bite me.”
“Bite you?” His eyes narrowed again.
“Or whatever I think happened,” she replied bitterly. She walked to the door, grabbing her camera bag on the way there. She didn’t even remember setting it on the floor. Maybe he was right and she was just a head case.
“I can’t force you, but I think you should reconsider,” he said, but she opened the door anyway.
“Thanks for your concern,” she said as her stomach roiled. It was a warning that the pain was about to get much worse. She didn’t want to be stuck on a bus when it hit. “I’ll be fine.”
Dr. Stone sighed but held the door open for her. The back of her neck prickled as she passed by the receptionist and out the door, like they were both watching her.
Making her way to the elevator, she raked her fingers through her curls and found pieces of grass and leaves stuck in it. No wonder people thought she was crazy. She let the leaf fall from her fingers before she pushed the button on the elevator.
God. She was a mess. Her hands were dirty. There was mud on the knees of her jeans. One pant leg had been torn from knee to ankle. The material gaped around her leg, turned into fringe by the thing’s teeth.
There was a ding, and the doors opened. Her head pounded at the sound and a wave of heat, followed by a chill, raced down her back. She needed to get home as fast as she could.
Alone in the small space, she held onto the rails and shut her eyes, willing herself not to throw up and not to curl into a ball.
It jerked to a stop and she opened her eyes in time to see the doors open. She wasn’t expecting the heat that filled her, or the way it would chase away her pain so quickly she swayed.
Two men stood framed between the open doors and stared at her.
She recognized one of them. She’d seen him this morning. Dark eyes. Serious face. Short hair. He touched his chest as he stared at her but then seemed to recover himself.
Did he feel it, too? Was such a thing possible?
He stepped into the elevator, his shoulders blocking her view to see if the other man followed him.
His gaze traveled from her hair to her feet, and he took in a breath. The change that overtook him was instantaneous. His nostrils flared, and his black pupils swallowed up the dark brown. “Who are you?”
“Rose,” she answered, like her name was drawn from her. Why are you talking to him? Nothing about him seemed friendly. Deep frown lines appeared next to his mouth, like he was often displeased.
But his hand was still on his chest, which meant he felt what she did. It had to mean that, right?
The confidence she’d worked so hard to cultivate was gone though. Today had shaken her foundation as much as being attacked the first time, and then later, losing her mother, had.
“You smell like a crawler,” he said, and she held on tighter to the rail.
A crawler. Soft skin. Sharp teeth. Sharp nails. Pain. Burning. Pain.
“She’s panicking, Horus. Back off.” The man was pushed out of the way and another man approached her. Palms out as if proving he was no threat, he moved toward her. “You’re all right. We’re not going to hurt you.”
The warmth in her chest flared, and she touched it. In front of her, the man suddenly winced and touched his own chest.
Just like Horus.
“My name is Seti. This is my brother Horus.” He had thick dark brows that only made his eyes look brighter, and longer hair that fell across his forehead. He smiled as if he was trying to set her at ease, but something was off. How did they know about the creature?
Pain. Burning. Pain.
You’re not going to die.
The world was closing in on her, and she edged toward the row of buttons at the front of the box.
“She’s human,” Horus observed, and panic threatened to overwhelm her. Human? Shit. This was bad. She smacked the buttons, desperate for any floor that would open those doors immediately, but Seti stopped her before she could connect.
“We’re not going to hurt you,” he said again, but Rose could barely hear him. She lashed out mindlessly. The only thing she could think about was getting out.
“Calm.” Horus held his palms out the way Seti had earlier. “You’re safe with us.”
Arms tightened around hers, and she realized Seti held her against his chest. He didn’t squeeze her, or hurt her, but caged her in, keeping her from hitting him.
Part of her thought she should apologize, but the other part, the part that grew up in Boston and had just kicked the head off of some Creature from the Black Lagoon, wouldn’t.
“Okay,” she said, forcing her muscles to relax. Seti loosened his hold, and she let her weight drop. Surprised, he let her go and she dove at the buttons. Somehow, perhaps by divine intervention, she connected.
Placing her back to the panel of buttons, she faced the brothers. “Don’t stop me from leaving.”
“We could easily overpower you,” Horus observed, and Seti cast him a narrow-eyed glare.
“You’re not helping.”
The elevator dinged, and the doors slid open. They were right. Both of them were taller, broad with muscles that their coats couldn’t hide. They could overpower her.
But they didn’t.
Horus wanted to, she suspected. He rolled back and forth on his heels like he was ready to erupt off a starting block, but he remained in place.
Seti let his hands fall to his sides and nodded once. “Goodbye, Rose.”
She didn’t answer but took a step to the side and then off the elevator. “Don’t follow me,” she said. “Or I’ll scream.”
Voices filtered toward her, background noise that would mask anything they said to each other.
Unless she screamed.
Screaming would get attention.
Leaning forward, Seti hit one of the buttons. She stood there to be sure the doors closed, and they stayed true to their word.
The doors shut, and Rose took a stumbling step backward. Then another until the rest of the hospital came into her peripheral vision.
She had to get out of here. Find a safe place and hunker down.
The poison began to seep back into her system, bringing with it the familiar pain. Turning, she hurried to the exit. Just as she hit the doors, the pain returned full-force, nearly bowling her over.
There was the bus that would bring her home. One foot in front of the other. The only thing she could control right now was her forward momentum, but she had no illusions.
Nowhere was safe.
Ripley Proserpina. Rose: Daylight’s Crown, Book One (Kindle Locations 421-481).
A starling revelation from the doctor, and meeting with Horus and Seti on the elevator has Rose fleeing for safety.
I love the way this book slowly escalates from that initial meeting. Her meeting Ra, the one who told her she would live is not as one would expect. It the immediate relief from pain when the guys are with her that is startling as much as the return of it when they leave here.
It’s great seeing Briar and her family again too. I really have to go back and re-read the Midnight Crown series before the next book in this series comes out.
Action, intrigue and many surprises as the relationship between Rose, Ra, Horus and Seti begins to develop into something more than just friendship.
5 Contented Purrs for Ripley!
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Ripley Proserpina spends her days huddled near a fire in the frozen northern wilds of Vermont. She lives with her family, two magnificent cats, and one dog who aspires to cat-hood. She is the author of the Reverse Harem series, The Searchers, Midnight’s Crown, and the young adult/fantasy duet, Wishes and Curses.