Rose of Crimson
by Zrinka Jelic
KATE ROKOV‘s grades are plummeting. She needs to get the voice out of her head or she will flunk her finals.
MATTHIAS ZRIN, a three centuries old immortal, born into an aristocratic family as Miles Rušinić, is enthralled with Kate. It is his voice preventing Kate from sleeping and her ignorance is testing his limits. He wants her to write down his story to settle his wife’s earthbound spirit. His tragic love story has become Kate’s obsession since fifth grade during her summer trip to Rušinić castle.
Their coming together settles the ol d spirit and breaks an ancient curse, and in doing so, a flame spanning over three centuries reignites and burns with wild desire. In this tale of two life times and desire versus emotional need, both know some dreams will have to wait for the right time, but the magic between them is impossible to withstand.
About the Author:
Zrinka Jelic lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband and two children. A member of the Romance Writers of America and its chapter Fantasy Futuristic &Paranormal, as well as Savvy Authors, she writes contemporary fiction—which leans toward the paranormal—and adds a pinch of history. Her characters come from all walks of life, and although she prefers red, romance comes in many colors. Given Jelic’s love for her native Croatia and the Adriatic Sea, her characters usually find themselves dealing with a fair amount of sunshine, but that’s about the only break they get. “Alas,” Jelic says, with a grin. “Some rain must fall in everyone’s life.”
“I guess we’ll leave it here.” He pulled Kate to her feet with him. “It’s getting late and you have to study.”
Inhaling deeply, she opened her eyes and blinked as if she’d just woken from some sweet dream. A hint of anger mixed with her disappointment. “Ah, why stop
now? I felt deep sadness in you at the sight of the tall ship docked in the small harbor. You married her off to this Master Rokov, but you didn’t want to
give her up. Am I right? That is where my last name comes from.”
His piercing stare caused her to lower her gaze. “Save some fun for another day.” With soft fingers, he cupped her chin and forced her to look at him.
“Will tomorrow after your classes be too soon?”
She closed her eyes, surrendering to his feathery touch while butterflies stirred in her stomach. “Not soon enough.” Her husky whisper betrayed her attempt
to stay composed. “This beast inside you, does it stir again? When you leave me so abruptly, I feel like you’re doing it for my protection.”
His stare deepened and he closed his eyes then gave a slight nod. “So far I’m able to control it, but promise me one thing. If I ever urge you to run away from me, you’ll do it.”
She exhaled a shaky breath. “Oh, God, Miles. I hope it’ll never come to that. Where would I go? Or hide? When you turn into the beast or when the entity takes over, do your senses heighten?”
“Yes, they do. I can hear tiniest sounds and smell fear in my prey. My vision changes, I see in darkness. I hope you never discover any of my beastly ability. It’s inhumane. That’s why you must promise me. I cannot be in your company if you don’t know what I’m capable of. If I don’t visit for a while, it’s because of the beast. I must conquer it before I put you in danger.”
“I understand.” She swallowed. “It’ll be hard without you here, but I can bear it. How will you placate this beast?” Not with another unsuccessful suicide, she almost blurted, but thought better of it.
“I doubt the entity has the same grip on me as it did centuries ago, still I must be certain. There are no drugs or treatments for this, only love can cure me.” He cast her a shy smile.
She loved him, but couldn’t admit it to him. Maybe this speech was his way of getting into her pants, but so be it. Still, she couldn’t bring herself to make the first move and plant a kiss on his lips. If his beast fully emerged, she’d try to help him overcome its urges. From a safe distance, and with a Taser in her hand. She tapped her finger on her chin as realization dawned. “You could’ve stayed away from my great-great grandma and not hurt her like you did.”
He lowered his gaze at his feet. Was he ashamed of his actions or her remark? “This is how I know the beast has no power over me. Each time I denied its urges, I somehow found Kate. That’s how it started. Just an innocent chasing, cornering her, then I’d watch my hands squeezing her breast hard. She laughed at first, but when I carried it overboard, she’d cry out and pulled back. I’d grab her again and pinch her harder, next thing, I’d press my body on hers and my hands ripped the bodice of her dress.” “Her mother or your father never suspected what was going on between you two?” Kate crossed her arms over her chest. Should she pity him or blame him? His story about the beast seemed farfetched, a fabrication to excuse him for ill-treatment of her great-great grandma. Yet, deep down she sensed it was the truth. The man standing before her wouldn’t hurt anyone on his own accord.
“No, my father only cared that I stayed away from the Vitturi Castle and Kate was darn good at hiding her bruises and mending her clothes I tore from her body.” “Suddenly I have a whole new respect for her. Maybe that is what she’s looking for, someone to understand what she’s been through. Then her curse will be broken.” “Seems plausible. Now I should leave you to your studies.” He raised his hand at her wide eyes and sharp gasp. “Don’t fret. It’s not because of the beast. I too have obligations. Thank you for the wonderful evening.” Leaning toward her and wrapping his arms around her, he planted a kiss on her forehead.
Sad to see him go, she nodded as he pulled back. Did he hear the mad drumming of her heart? Or her crazy thoughts? “Good to know you’re not being possessed at the moment.”
He paused by the opened door and harrumphed. “Taser might work.”
What? How could he know what she was thinking? She was beyond stunned.
“Don’t forget the door.” With a single nod, he stepped out and she locked up after him.
He’d be back tomorrow. The power of wanting him near grew in her. Once again, she longed to be in his embrace. Did he know how much his company made her happy? Tomorrow she’d wake silent and resigned, and for the rest of the day she’d try hard to concentrate on anything other than him.
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