Read Desolate, Book I of the Immortal Rose Trilogy Online

Authors: Amy Miles

Tags: #Romance, #Romania, #Young Adult, #Vampire myth, #Vampires, #fantasy, #Angels, #Paranormal Romance, #Teen and Young Adult, #Vampire, #Immortals, #Coming of Age, #Fantasy, #Immortal, #romance, #paranormal, #Action, #Mythology, #Science Fiction and Fantasy, #Sword and Sorcery

Desolate, Book I of the Immortal Rose Trilogy

Desolate

an IMMORTAL ROSE novel

BY

Amy Miles

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real
people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters,
places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, and any
resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is
entirely coincidental.

All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced
in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Copyright © 2014 by Amy Miles Books, LLC.

http://www.AmyMilesBooks.com

ISBN: 9781311928931

For Rick and Landon.

Thoughts from the author:

This book contains
some very sensitive and mature topics that are not suitable for some
young adult fans. I recommend that parents please preview the book
first.

My
Arotas
trilogy hinted as to what Roseline’s life was like living as a
prisoner with a man who thrived off people’s pain. It is deeply
disturbing to me to place myself in the mind of an abuser, but for
the sake of being real with this story, I chose to show the full
extent of Roseline’s transformation, without dwelling on it or
being overly graphic.

While writing
DESOLATE, I found it to be very difficult to put myself in Roseline’s
mind as well, to allow myself to not only feel her pain, but also her
helplessness and utter brokenness. I cannot begin to fathom the
anguish that comes with someone stealing your innocence, of reveling
in your pain, but it is sadly a fact of life for many girls. I only
hope that through the words of this book I can show that though
terrible times may seek to destroy you, strength is birthed from
trials.

An abuser cannot
define who you are.

ONE

1690,
Transylvania

Caro de carne
mea. Os ex ossibus meis. Lorem nocte in saecula saeculorum.

The
words whisper through my mind like a long-forgotten song as my eyes
flutter open. Light and dark battle around me, seeking purchase on
the room. Flames lick the wooden walls, trailing overhead to embrace
the knotted timbers that hold the inflamed roof aloft.

Ash
pelts down upon me like a livid rain, singeing flesh and hair. I cry
out as I roll away from the gaping hole above, beating at the embers
that set the hem of my dress alight.

I
pause as my fingers glide across the rich fabric of my voluminous
skirts, seizing it between my fingers to draw it up so I can see it
in the dim light. The material was once white and adorned with bits
of lace along the hem, accustomed for a wedding. It is now a dingy
gray, soiled and charred into fraying bits. The ruffled hem of my
dress crumbles into ash as I run my finger along it, fluttering down
to land upon my bare feet.

I
had slippers,
I
think as I turn to look about me, confused and dazed by my odd
surroundings.

Heat
from the flames strokes my cheek with mounting intensity. I can feel
my eyelashes beginning to mat together with sweat that drips from my
brow. I swipe the beads away with the back of my hand and realize a
fever has ensnared me.

The
air hangs thick before me, weighted with smoke and the scent of
something repulsive, as if the grave itself spewed forth its
inhabitants. I blink to see through the haze, startled to discover
that when I focus, I can see each particle of ash that drifts to the
floorboards, leaving a thick dusting on everything within sight.

“Hello?”
I call, my throat croaking from the lack of moisture in the air.

My
hands tremble as I push against the floor, attempting to rise. My leg
muscles coil and I am sent careening backward. The wind is knocked
from my chest as I slide down the inflamed wall. The scent of my
burning hair stings in my nose as I crawl forward to escape the
sweltering heat.

How
did I jump like that?
I
stare down at my fingers, noting the definition of my skin stretched
taut over pale flesh.

I
was never one for hiding from the sun as some ladies were accustomed
to. I lived for the moment when I could escape the confines of my
father’s home and be free. My mother loved to scold me about my
freckles and sun-kissed skin, though as I turn my hands over, I
realize the golden hue of my flesh has been stripped away.

My
gaze trails up from my hands, pausing over the corded muscles that
now lie just beneath the nearly translucent flesh of my forearms. I
poke at the muscle, bewildered by its presence, though I have only a
scant second to wonder at the changes in my body before I become
aware of the blood that coats my upper arms, vining down to my
wrists. I draw my hands up to my face and see drying blood caked
within the half-crescent circle of my chipped fingernails.

“Hello?”
I call again as I lower my hands and stare in horror at the billowing
smoke before me. The fire has begun to spread to all corners of the
room. I hear movement in the darkened shadows; however, I cannot
decipher what causes it. “Is anyone there?”

A
low, guttural chuckle rises from somewhere within the depths of the
thick cloud before me. My stomach clenches painfully as the laughter
rolls over me like a glacial downpour.

A
memory seizes me: my family, perched resolutely in long wooden pews.
My brother Petru sat beside my mother, stiff backed and vexed to
silence. Storm clouds brewed along his handsome features, darkening
his eyes. His hair was combed and slicked with mother’s cooking
oil, a look that would have brought tears to my eyes had I not been
so preoccupied with my own ordeal.

My
sister Adela sat beside him, prim and proper in her beautiful dress
and ribbons. Her hair shone like waves of summer wheat in the
candlelight and her heart-shaped face lit with excitement. This was
her first wedding.

Ahead
of me had been an altar of glossed wood and gold, achingly familiar
from my mornings spent in this very room for weekly service. A large
crucifix stood atop the altar and an aged, cracking leather Bible
rested atop its polished surface. I fixed my gaze on the likeness of
Christ, praying for deliverance, though none came.

I
can remember hearing my feet whisper across the wooden plank floor as
I slowly made my way down the aisle. My father’s rotund stomach
jiggled as he nodded at each of the guests seated nearest the aisle.

My
cousins arrived just this morning for the wedding, all the way from
the southern province of Wallachia. I had not seen them since their
youngest, a wee pig-faced runt of a boy, was added to their rather
excessive litter. My entire family gathered from near and far for the
occasion, nearly fifty people in all. My father had seen to that.

It
is not every day that a Dragomir marries into such a highborn family.

I
remember the feel of my intended’s hand as he clasped mine in
his. His flesh was supple with youth and oddly warm to the touch. If
I had reason to care, I would have questioned him as to his health,
though I dared not. Not after I met his eye.

Hunger…
that is what I saw when I looked at him for the first time, not one
moon past. It was as obvious as it was appalling. His dark gaze made
my skin crawl and my fingers tremble from within the confines of my
skirts when my father presented me to him.

There
was something indescribably evil about my betrothed. Why was I the
only one to see it?

I
suspect that Petru knew, yet he was too busy chasing skirts to think
much of it until Father announced a deal had been struck. I was sold
like cattle in a market. My pleas did little good. Nor did my tears.

I
believe my mother knew of my distress, although she had learned long
ago that no one defied my father’s wishes. His word was law in
the Dragomir household, and to many without. My sister, dear sweet
Adela, knew of my fears. She would cradle me in the night, just as I
used to do for her when nightmares plagued her as a child. She would
whisper to me, plotting our escape. We would head to Wallachia and
marry farmers and be blissfully happy. Childish dreams, still I
prayed for them nonetheless.

When
Vladimir Enescue seized my hand before the altar, I wanted to pull
back, to run and hide in the woods so I could not be found, although
his grip was far too tight and my father’s reprove fierce.

I was trapped.

I
do so pledge.
My
own damning words echo endlessly through my mind as I crawl forward,
my hands flailing about before me in search of the pews my family sat
upon. Heated splinters easily burrow into the flesh of my palms as I
hunt, drawn inexplicably toward a sweet yet oddly tinny scent.

My
hand touches something damp and sticky and I rear back. My knees ache
from kneeling upon the hard floor, yet I dare not move. “No,”
I moan as I stare down at my mother’s corpse. The flesh of her
throat has been shredded, as if a rabid animal tore at her
repeatedly. The front of her gown is a blanket of crimson. It clings
to her like a vile sludge.

I
turn away as my stomach contracts. I know I am about to be ill;
however, my convulsion stutters to a halt as I spy my father’s
hand just beyond my mother, sticking out from behind the second pew.
Only his hand. I cannot see where the remainder of his body has gone.

Beyond
him I see piles of my fair-haired relations strewn about the room,
some dangling over the backs of pews while others have been
carelessly tossed aside in the aisle. Their clothes are alight from
the embers that flitter down from the crumbling ceiling.

The
scent of death rises in my nostrils and I gag. Bile burns in my
throat as I peer through the smoke that now escapes through the
charred hole in the roof to see my brother’s body hung from the
double doors leading into the church. A rusty nail impales through
Petru’s shoulder so that he slumps to one side, his chin
propped against his sunken chest. Blood coats his wedding clothes,
dripping from the tips of his shoes. The sheath at his hip is barren,
his sword lost among the carnage.

I
remember everything.
I
turn about in place, searching for my new husband. I know he is here
somewhere.

Vladimir
Enescue did this. He and his horrid brother.

Threads
from the woven tapestries along the walls drift to the floor in
charred piles of irreplaceable ash. The plank walls groan as the
foundation of the church begins to deteriorate.

The
fire appears to leap from body to body before me as I lurch to my
feet and weave among the blue flames, desperately trying to fight
against the pain swelling in my chest. It is not the dull ache of
remorse, but a sharp, jagged pain that steals away my breath. Warm
blood clings to my throat and chest like a second skin, sticky and
maddening. My bronze hairs feel heavy laden as the thick strands slap
against my face, matted with congealing blood.

The
scent of boiling flesh needles at my eyes and turns my stomach
rancid. The flames chase after me as I frantically scour the pews in
search of my sister.

I
cannot see my husband, though I know he is here. I can hear his
laughter all around me, caged within the shadows. I can feel his
taunting eyes upon me as he watches and waits.

Blood
rains down from my hair, splattering against the bodice of my wedding
dress, melding with the crimson design that spans my bodice. I do not
know to whom the blood belongs. Myself? My husband? My sister?

“Adela!”
My voice is hoarse as I grip a pew to pull myself over a slain
cousin, Remus, and his young wife Valeria beside him. I try not to
think of the unborn child within her womb that will never see the
light of day.

My
nails dig deep into the flesh of the pine seatback, crying out as the
pew tears free from the floor and crashes atop Remus. I stare in
disbelief at the flames that crawl up through the new cavity I opened
in the floor.
How
did I manage that? Surely it is because the floor is severely
compromised by the fire.

As
I move to step around Remus, I spy deep indentations where my fingers
lay buried within the wood. I step forward to brush my fingers across
the markings. A sickening squelch from below my foot makes me feel
faint.
Oh,
my Lord! Whom did I tread upon?

I
dare not look for fear of losing my nerve as I pick my way through
the carnage. Dismembered body parts lie scattered before me like a
gruesome puzzle. Is this Lucien Enescue’s doing? My husband’s
brother was the one who butchered my family and stole the life of my
brother as I watched in stunted horror. I have never met a more vile
man.

My
hands tremble as I clutch my stomach and lurch to the side, expelling
the acid that burns in my throat. I wipe my mouth clean, though the
taste of guilt lingers. My chest rises and falls as the sound of
crackling flames consumes my mind. The smoke grows thicker, hanging
heavily in the air before me. Though much of it rises from the
blistered slant of the church gable, the smoke pouring from the walls
around me is suffocating.

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