Cover Reveal - Crimson Flames (The Crimson Series#2) by Ashley Robertson
Book Details:Crimson Flames (The Crimson Series#2) by Ashley Robertson
Half-vampire Abby Tate is determined to learn more about the sorceress powers that were awakened inside her when she was turned into a vampire—making her a whole new hybrid species. There’s a group of rogue vamps banding together and forming a Resistance against the vampire governing body, The Head Council, and Abby’s newly discovered powers are the key to the Council’s victory. Now the Resistance will do anything possible to remove the hybrid threat, and with no other options, Abby is forced to rely on the aid of the Council, yet can she trust the very vampires that hunt for her human lover? And even worse, can she fight the unwelcome attraction that’s growing between her and one of those ancient vampire rulers?
resides in sunny Orlando, Florida and loves reading and writing about everything urban fantasy and paranormal romance. When she isn’t writing you’ll find her spending time with family and friends, training in her home gym, traveling and exploring new places, drinking fine red wines, and making gourmet coffees with her Nespresso machine. Visit her website to learn about her upcoming releases, guest blog posts, and featured giveaways at: www.AshleyRobertsonBooks.com
Abigail Tate was a normal human girl—until the day Bronx the vampire barges into her life and turns her against her will. Held captive while forced to deal with never-ending cravings for blood, Abby prays for a way to escape. Only when an opportunity arises, it’s with the aid of an innocent human named Tyler—except vampires are forbidden to interact with the unbitten. But Abby quickly learns this human has secrets of his own...secrets that can either help her or get her killed. Only Abby soon discovers that she is the one with the biggest secret of all.
Chapter One Crimson Flames Sneak Peek
MY STOMACH CLENCHED as I sensed the vampire’s approach. He was close. So close I could feel the thrum of his power vibrating along my skin. The hairs on the back of my neck rose, and I knew if I was going to use my power for defense, then I needed to bring it forth now. I closed my eyes, forcing myself to breathe as deeply as I could—which thankfully had gotten easier with practice. I focused on the energy inside me, willing it to the surface, and as I felt it swelling, building like an approaching storm, I threw out my hand, gripped Stone’s shirtsleeve, and urged him to the floor. “Get down! He’s here!”Stone raked me with a look that told me he was not too pleased, but then fear swept over his face when he realized just how little time we had.
The wooden door to the pub suddenly burst open—bits of wood and dust raining down from the force.
Even though Stone should’ve cowered behind me—since his gift of reading blood wasn’t something he could fight with—somehow he’d found some bravery and boldly stood by my side. Though I appreciated it, I didn’t like it, and desperately wished he had listened to me. But I couldn’t think about that and call forth the fire within me at the same time. So I pushed Stone to the back of my mind with the silent promise of dealing with him later. Then I returned my attention to the power building inside me. One last deep breath and my heart shuddered to life inside my chest, making a rhythmic pattern with my faux breathing. A tingling warmth spread from head to toe, then settled on my awaiting hands. Seconds later, there was a glowing orb of fire (about the size of a basketball) cupped inside my palms. And just as the vampire appeared through the settling fog, I called out, “Not another step, Tristan, or it will be your last!”
“I think you should reconsider your threat,” Tristan shot back. “We are on the same side.”
That I sincerely doubted, but I knew killing a member of the Head Council would definitely put me on the
“Most Wanted” list. Which I might already be on, since I’d helped the human this vampire was here to claim escape.
“She’s not bluffing!” Stone said through a snarl. I wanted to glare him into silence, but I refused to take my eyes off of the vampire standing in the broken doorway, wearing a black Armani-looking suit—now lightly covered with dust. It was a custom for all members of the Head Council to wear black suits, but each of them would wear shoes and an undershirt of their own choosing. I guess it was a way to express their individual personalities. Yet this one seemed to express himself through his spiked, platinum blond hair, not the basic black undershirt and matching boots—which were much more boring compared to what I’d seen a few of the other Council members wearing. But this vampire was far from boring. He was a tracker for the Council—one of the best hunters on earth. And he was after my human boyfriend.
“You know why I’m here, Abigail,” Tristan bit out. “The human was here.”
I felt my gaze narrow as I carefully took a step forward, the ball of flames growing hotter in my hands. “Yes, he was. It’s my fault he wasn’t captured.”
“That’s not exactly true,” said Stone as he moved up beside me.
I stole a few deep breaths, fighting the urge to throw my fireball at him instead of the blond vampire in the suit.
“Please explain!” Tristan ordered with impatience. But as Stone attempted a reply, he was cut off. “Not you!
I want to hear this directly from Abigail!”
“Abby,” I corrected, feeling sweat forming above my brows and pooling between my breasts.
The blond vampire smirked, folding his arms in front of his chest.
“I did not restrain him because I do not believe he will be kept safe once in your hands,” I went on. “And until I can prove his innocence in all of this, I feel it’s best that he stay far away from you.”
A tinge of red formed a ring around Tristan’s irises as he scowled. “That is not your decision. He must pay for his involvement with those rogue vampires, including Bronx. He cannot get away with helping them try to destroy our stronghold.”
“I made an agreement with the other Council members,” I reminded him. “Doesn’t that count for something?
Your word is nothing if your actions do not back up what you say.” My voice was getting louder, my patience thinning. And the angrier I got, the more difficult it became to control the fire in my hands.
“Yes. We have a deal,” Tristan assured. “We will not kill him or harm him—just as we told you—but that does not mean he won’t be punished some other way.”
“I don’t believe you,” I snapped.
Stone put his hand on my shoulder.
“Abby, maybe you should—”
In a flash of movement, the vampire closed the distance between us and held Stone in a headlock from behind with his fangs hovering over my friend’s neck. And since it wasn’t to drink Stone’s blood, since Stone was also a vampire, then that meant it was a threat to rip out my friend’s jugular. From there it would be too easy to finish Stone by ripping off his head. And that’s when my patience snapped. There were only two ways to kill a vampire—burning to death or decapitation—and he was about to find out firsthand just how very dangerous I was. Sure, he could threaten to kill my friend, but he’d be burned alive before Stone’s head hit the ground. I placed all my focus on the orb of heat in my hand, willing it to retract to half its size while intensifying, growing hotter, then I thrust it at Tristan’s face. In a blur of motion, he ducked, throwing Stone to the floor as the fireball grazed over his head, singeing the soft tips of his hair. A snarl erupted from his throat as his fiery gaze locked onto mine. There was a brief hesitation, burnt hair and musk filling my senses, then something similar to curiosity flashed over his eyes and he was airborne, plunging straight for me. My body shuddered as heat blasted out of every pore, radiating from me like invisible steam. Throwing his arms over his face, the vampire faltered midair and fell sideways, then jumped back once he landed and retreated by the door from which he’d entered. Satisfied I’d made my point, I pulled all the heat back inside me, then rushed over to Stone and helped him up. “You okay?” I asked.
He nodded by way of an answer, then ran his hand through his coffee-colored hair—which was completely messed up now.
My eyes narrowing, I fixed my gaze on Tristan across the bar by the door. “Do that again and I’ll kill you,” I warned.
Tristan brushed some of the dust off of his pants. “Abigail, I’d rather not have to repeat that again. Hopefully
I’ve made my point by now,” he said, his mouth curling into an amused grin that nearly reached his eyes. The hints of crimson were gone—for now anyway. “I would not have harmed your friend, as I’m sure Mr. Rayver here is already aware.” He glanced at my disheveled friend, a smirk still pulling at his lips; then his gaze slid back to me. “Your powers make you far greater than just any other Enforcer. You are an equal with us. We should work side by side, you making the sixth, and final member, of the Council. But you must not argue with our protocol. If rules are broken, there are, and will always be, consequences. There are no exceptions to this. Ever. The rules of our kind are ageless. It’s been that way for centuries and shall remain that way indefinitely.”
Well that was news to me. I knew the Head Council wanted my services, but I’d thought they just wanted me to be one of their many Enforcers. Enforcers were gifted vampires like me. Well, kind of. A few months ago I’d been kidnapped by an evil vampire named Bronx and turned against my will, which awakened the sorceress’s bloodline inside me, unbeknownst to me. But Bronx knew all about it, and he’d planned to use my powers to defeat the Head Council. Only I’d killed him before he got the chance. Later on, I’d learned about my real mother being an all-powerful sorceress and how she’d used her magic to impregnate her vampire lover—my father. So I never really was just another vampire. Or even an Enforcer. I was always more than that. A whole new species altogether, a hybrid, and a hot commodity among the vampire world—since there was no other like me. Yet if the Head Council really wanted my partnership, then I just gained a whole lot of leverage. Anxiety curled through my belly. “If you want me to work with you, and of course the others, then I will need you to be more flexible. Rules are always in place for guidance, but we both know they are not in stone. Especially when I believe innocence is a key component.”
“When there is proof of one’s innocence, then we have a trial,” Tristan explained. “But there is no proof of that with this human.”
I thought about that for a moment. Sure, I didn’t have “proof” per se, but I had Tyler’s word. And though he’d lied to me about his alliance with Bronx, and the fact he’d known about my father’s death all along, for some crazy reason I believed him now. “Allow me the time to find the proof you require and I will consider partnering with you.”
Tristan shot me a lasered glare. His face softened but I had absolutely no idea what his thoughts were. Mind reading wasn’t one of my gifts—yet. Since no one could predict what other gifts I’d inherit.
“How can you possibly believe this human didn’t help those rogue vampires?” he asked at last.
Keeping my eyes on Tristan’s, I shook my head. “He was involved. I’m not saying I can prove that differently. He’s innocent of knowing what Bronx’s intentions were, what those rogue vampires’ intentions were.” I paused a moment to suppress some of the heat inside me, though I didn’t completely extinguish it just in case things got hostile again. “He thought he was helping them,” I went on. “He thought they were in trouble. He didn’t realize he was working for the bad guys until…until it was too late.”
Stone snorted in disbelief, but kept his mouth shut. Smart vampire.
Tristan’s eyes widened. “How can you possibly believe that? He must have you brainwashed!”
“That isn’t possible,” I told him.
“What are you speaking of?”—confusion in Tristan’s voice. “Bronx would have claimed you with his mind control had you not killed him first.”
“No, it’s not possible to brainwash me,” I explained. “And that is how I was able to kill Bronx.” Saying that struck a pang inside my chest: I didn’t want to be a murderer any more than I wanted to be a vampire, err hybrid. “I have the ability of blocking powers.”
A wave of surprise flashed over Tristan’s face. “There is so much to learn about you, Abigail,” he said.