Vowed, p.1
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       Vowed, p.1

         Part #7 of The Vampire Journals series by Morgan Rice
 
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Vowed


  vowed

  (book #7 in the vampire journals)

  morgan rice

  Also by Morgan Rice

  TURNED (Book #1 in the Vampire Journals)

  LOVED (Book #2 in the Vampire Journals)

  BETRAYED (Book #3 in the Vampire Journals)

  DESTINED (Book #4 in the Vampire Journals)

  DESIRED (Book #5 in the Vampire Journals)

  BETROTHED (Book #6 in the Vampire Journals)

  Copyright © 2011 by Morgan Rice

  All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior permission of the author.

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Cover model: Jennifer Onvie. Cover photography: Adam Luke Studios, New York. Cover makeup artist: Ruthie Weems. If you would like to contact any of these artists, please contact Morgan Rice.

  FACT:

  The remote Isle of Skye (Nordic for “the isle of mist”), located off the Western coast of Scotland, is an ancient place, where kings have lived and fought, where castles still exist, and where the most elite warriors trained for centuries.

  FACT:

  On the Isle of Skye, there exists a place in the landscape named Faerie Glen, where, it is said, if you make a wish, it must come true.

  FACT:

  Rosslyn Chapel, located in a small town in Scotland, is widely rumored to be the final resting place of the Holy Grail, rumored to be concealed behind a hidden wall, in a crypt in its lower levels.

  JULIET: What satisfaction canst thou have to-night?

  ROMEO: The exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine.

  JULIET: I gave thee mine before thou didst request it:

  And yet I would it were to give again….

  My bounty is as boundless as the sea,

  My love as deep; the more I give to thee,

  The more I have, for both are infinite.

  --William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

  CHAPTER ONE

  Highlands, Scotland

  (1350)

  Caitlin woke to a blood red sun. It filled the entire sky, a ball on the horizon, impossibly large.

  Standing against it was a lone silhouette, a figure she sensed could only be her father. He held out both arms, as if wanting her to run to him.

  She desperately wanted to. But as she tried to sit up, she looked down and saw she was chained to a rock, iron clasps holding her wrists and feet in place. In one hand she held three keys—the keys she knew she needed to reach her father—and in the other, her necklace, its small silver cross dangling in her palm. She struggled as hard as she could, yet she could not move.

  Caitlin blinked, and suddenly her father was standing over her, smiling down. She could feel the love radiating off of him. He knelt down, and gently unlocked her chains.

  Caitlin leaned forward and hugged him, and she could feel his warmth, his reassurance. It felt so good to be in his arms; she could feel the tears pouring down her cheeks.

  “I’m sorry, father. I let you down.”

  He pulled back and looked at her, smiling, as he stared directly into her eyes.

  “You have done all I could have hoped for, and more,” he answered. “Just one last key, and we will be together. Forever.”

  Caitlin blinked, and when she opened her eyes, he was gone.

  In his place were two figures, lying motionless on a rocky plateau. Caleb and Scarlet.

  Suddenly, Caitlin remembered. Their sickness.

  She tried to move from the rock, but she was still chained, and struggle as she did, she couldn’t reach them. She blinked, and Scarlet suddenly stood over her, looking down.

  “Mommy?” she asked.

  Scarlet smiled down at her, and Caitlin could feel her love enveloping her. She wanted to hug her, and she struggled for all she had, but she could not break free.

  “Mommy?” Scarlet asked again, reaching out a single, small hand.

  Caitlin sat bolt upright.

  Breathing hard, she ran her hands along her sides, trying to figure out if she were still chained, or if she were free. She moved her hands and feet freely, and looked around, and saw no signs of chains. She looked up, and saw a huge, blood-red sun sitting on the horizon, then looked around, and saw that she was lying on a rocky plateau. Just as in her dream.

  Dawn was just breaking over the horizon. As far as she could see were mountain peaks, covered in mist, endlessly beautiful against the open sky. She peered into the muted light of dawn, trying to make out her surroundings, and as she did, her heart leapt. There, lying in the distance, were two figures, unmoving. She could already sense who it was: Caleb and Scarlet.

  Caitlin jumped to her feet and ran over to them, kneeling between them, reaching out one hand to each of their chests, shaking them lightly. Her heart pounded with fear as she struggled to remember the events of their previous incarnation. Horrific image after image flashed through her mind, as she remembered how sick they had been, Scarlet covered in boils from smallpox, and Caleb dying from vampire poison. Last she had seen them, it had seemed certain that they would both die.

  Caitlin reached down and felt her own neck, felt the two small scars. She recalled that final, fateful moment when Caleb had fed on her. Had it worked? Had it brought him back?

  Caitlin shook each one frantically.

  “Caleb!” she cried. “Scarlet!”

  Caitlin felt tears well up, as she tried not to think about what life would be like without them. It was too much to even contemplate. If they could not be with her, then she would rather not go on.

  Suddenly, Scarlet moved. Caitlin’s heart soared with hope as she watched her shift and then slowly, gradually, reach up and rub her eyes. She looked up at Caitlin, and Caitlin could see her skin was completely healed, her small, blue eyes bright and shining.

  Scarlet broke into a wide smile, and Caitlin’s heart lifted.

  “Mommy!” Scarlet said. “Where were you?”

  Caitlin burst into tears of joy, as she reached down and pulled Scarlet to her, holding her. Over her shoulder, she said, “I’m right here, sweetheart.”

  “I was dreaming that I couldn’t find you,” she said. “And that I was sick.” Caitlin breathed with relief, sensing that Scarlet was completely healed.

  “It was just a bad dream,” Caitlin said. “You’re okay now. Everything is going to be okay.” There was a sudden barking, and Caitlin turned to see Ruth charging around the corner, right for them. She was overjoyed to see that she had made it back, too, and amazed to see how large Ruth had grown, now a full-size wolf. Yet Ruth still acted like a puppy, wagging her tail excitedly, as she ran into Scarlet’s arms.

  “Ruth!” Scarlet screamed, peeling away from Caitlin, and hugging her.

  Ruth could barely contain her excitement, charging her with such force, that she knocked Scarlet over.

  Scarlet bounced back up, screaming with laughter and delight.

  “What’s all the commotion?” came a voice.

  Caleb.

  Caitlin wheeled, feeling a thrill at the sound of Ca
leb’s voice. He was standing over her, smiling.

  She couldn’t believe it. He looked so young and healthy, better than she’d ever seen him.

  She jumped up and gave him a hug, so grateful he was alive. She felt his strong muscles as he hugged her back, and it felt so good to be in his arms again. Finally, everything was right in the world. It had been like a long, bad dream.

  “I was so scared you had died,” Caitlin said, over his shoulder.

  She leaned back and looked at him.

  “Do you remember?” she asked. “Do you remember being sick?” He furrowed his brow.

  “Vaguely,” he answered. “It all feels like a dream. I remember…seeing Jade. And…feeding on you.” Suddenly Caleb looked at her, eyes wide. “You saved me,” he said, awestruck.

  He leaned in and hugged her.

  “I love you,” she whispered into his ear, as he held her.

  “I love you, too,” he answered.

  “Daddy!”

  Caleb lifted Scarlet in a huge embrace. He then reached down and petted Ruth, as did Caitlin.

  Ruth couldn’t be happier with all the attention, jumping up and whining, trying to hug them back.

  After some time, Caleb took Caitlin’s hand and together they turned and looked out over the horizon. A soft, morning light filled the endless sky before them, mountain peaks punctuating the horizon, the rose-colored light swirling through the mist. The peaks stretched on forever, and looking down, she could see that they were at an elevation of thousands of feet. She wondered where on earth they could be.

  “I was wondering the same thing,” Caleb said, reading her thoughts.

  They surveyed the horizon, turning completely in every direction.

  “Do you recognize it?” Caitlin asked.

  He slowly shook his head.

  “Well, it looks like we only have two options,” she continued. “Up or down. We’re so high up already, I say we go up. Let’s see what’s to be seen from the top.” Caleb nodded his approval, Caitlin reached out and took Scarlet’s hand, and the three of them began to hike up the slope.

  It was cold up here, and Caitlin was barely dressed for this weather. She still had on her black leather boots, her tightly fitting black pants, and a fitted black long-sleeved shirt, from her sparring time in England. But it wasn’t warm enough to shield her from these cold, mountain winds.

  They pressed on, climbing up the slope, grabbing onto boulders and pulling their way up.

  As the sun rose higher in the sky, just as she was beginning to wonder if they’d made the right decision, finally, they reached the highest peak.

  Out of breath, they stopped and surveyed their surroundings, finally able to see over the ridge.

  The sight took Caitlin’s breath away. There, spread out before them, was the other side of the mountain range, stretching as far as the eye could see. Beyond that, an ocean. Far out into the ocean, she could see a mountainous, rocky island, covered in green. A primordial island, jutting out from the ocean, it was more picturesque than anything she had ever seen. It looked like a place of fairytales, especially in the early morning light, covered in an eerie mist, and in an orange and purple glow.

  Even more dramatic, the only thing connecting the island to the mainland was an endlessly long rope bridge, which swayed violently in the wind and looked hundreds of years old. Beneath it was a drop of hundreds of feet to the ocean.

  “Yes,” Caleb said. “That is it. That island is familiar.” He surveyed it in awe.

  “Where are we?” Caitlin asked.

  He looked out at the sight with reverence, then turned and faced her, excitement in his eyes.

  “Skye,” he said to her. “The legendary Isle of Skye. Home to warriors, and to our kind, for thousands of years. We are in Scotland, then,” he said. “near the approach to Skye. Clearly, that is where we are meant to go. It is a sacred place.”

  “Let’s fly,” Caitlin said, feeling her wings already active.

  Caleb shook his head.

  “Skye is one of the few places on earth where that is not possible. There will surely be vampire warriors guarding it, and more importantly, there will be an energy shield protecting it from direct overhead flight. The water creates a psychic barrier to this place. No vampire can enter without being invited.” He turned and looked at her. “We’re going to have to enter the hard way: by crossing that rope bridge.”

  Caitlin stared at the bridge, swaying in the wind.

  “But that bridge is treacherous,” she said.

  Caleb sighed.

  “Skye is unlike any other place. Only the worthy are allowed to enter. Most people who try to approach it, meet their deaths, in one way or another.”

  Caleb looked at her.

  “We can turn back,” he offered.

  Caitlin thought about it, then shook her head.

  “No,” she answered, determined. “We were placed here for a reason. Let’s do it.” CHAPTER TWO

  Sam woke with a start. His world was spinning, then rocking violently, and he couldn’t understand where he was, or what was happening. He was lying on his back, that much he knew, on what felt like wood, slumped in an uncomfortable position. He was looking straight up at the sky, and he saw the clouds moving erratically.

  Sam reached over, grabbed hold of a piece of wood, and pulled himself up. He sat there, blinking, his world still spinning, and got a hold of his surroundings. He couldn’t believe it. He was on a boat, a small, wooden rowboat, lying on the floor, in the middle of an ocean.

  It rocked violently in the rough sea, the waves lifting it and bringing it back down. It creaked and groaned as it moved, bobbing up and down, rocking side to side. Sam saw the foam of the waves crashing all around him, felt the cold, salty wind spray him in his hair and on his face. It was early morning, in fact, a beautiful dawn, with the sky breaking in a myriad of colors. He wondered how on earth he had ended up here.

  Sam spun around and surveyed the boat, and as he did, he spotted a figure lying there, in the dim morning light, on the far side, curled up, on the floor, and covered with a shawl. He wondered who it could be, stuck with him on this small boat in the middle of nowhere. And then he sensed it.

  It went through him, like an electric shock. He didn’t have to see her face.

  Polly.

  Every bone in Sam’s body told him. He was surprised at how definitively he knew, at how connected he was with her, how deep his feelings ran for her—almost as if they were one. He didn’t understand how it had happened so quickly.

  As he sat there, looking at her, unmoving, he suddenly felt a feeling of dread. He couldn’t tell if she were alive or not, and at that moment, he realized how devastated he would be if she were not.

  That was when he realized, finally, unequivocally, that he loved her.

  Sam got to his feet, stumbling in the small boat as a wave turned and lifted it, and managed to take a few steps and kneel by her side. He reached over and gently pulled back the shawl, and shook her shoulders. She didn’t respond, and his heart pounded as he waited.

  “Polly?” he asked.

  No reply.

  “Polly,” he said, more firmly. “Wake up. It’s me, Sam.” But she didn’t budge, and as Sam brushed the bare skin of her shoulder, it felt too cold to him.

  His heart stopped. Could it be possible?

  Sam leaned over and held her face in his hands. She was as beautiful as he remembered, her skin a very pale shade of translucent white, her hair a light brown, and her perfectly-chiseled features exquisite in the glow of the early morning light. He saw her perfect, full lips, her small nose, her large eyes, her long, brown hair. He remembered those eyes when they were open, an incredible, crystal blue, like the ocean. He longed to see them open again now; he would do anything. He longed to see her smile, to hear her voice, her laughter. In the past, it had sometimes bothered him when she talked too much. But now, he would give anything to hear her talk forever.

  But her skin was too cold
in his hands. Ice cold. And he was beginning to despair that her eyes would never open again.

  “Polly!” he screamed, and as he did, he could hear the despair in his own voice, as it rose to the sky, and blended with the screech of a bird overhead.

  Sam was growing desperate. He had no idea what to do. He was shaking her harder and harder, but she was just not responding. He thought back to the time and place he had last seen her. Sergei’s palace. He remembered freeing her. They had gone back, to Aiden’s castle, and had found Caitlin and Caleb and Scarlet, all lying lifeless on that bed. Aiden had told him that they had gone back in time, without them. He had implored Aiden to send them back, too. Aiden had shook his head, saying it was not meant to be, that it would interfere with destiny. But Sam had insisted.

  Finally, Aiden had performed the ritual.

  Had she died on the trip back?

  Sam looked down and shook Polly again. Still nothing.

  Finally, Sam reached down and pulled Polly close to him. He pulled her long, beautiful hair out of her face, placed one hand back behind her neck, and pulled her face close. He leaned down and kissed her.

  It was a long, full kiss, planted fully on her lips, and Sam realized then, that this was only the second time they had ever really kissed. Her lips felt so soft, so perfect in his. But also too cold, too devoid of life. As he kissed her, he tried to focus on sending his love through her, on willing her back to life. In his mind, he tried to send a clear message. I’ll do anything. I’ll pay whatever price. I’ll do anything to have you back. Just come back to me.

 
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