The Crystal Rose
The Crystal Rose
Rite World 6: Rite of the Warlock 3
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A she-wolf destined to become a shifter queen. A warlock who’s done playing fair. And a magical, dark path that unites their fates as one …
Keeran and I have decided to be together, but the world is intent on ripping us apart. His magic is driving him mad, and I’m left alone to decide how to take down Isalia. But I’ve made too many promises, and I’ve sworn to protect too many people. To win this war, I’ll have to accept a destiny I’ve never faced— and a crown I didn’t even know was my birthright.
I’m hiding secrets from Luana— secrets that are killing me. I love her, but I’m losing my mind, and I don’t know how to regain my sanity. War isn’t coming, it’s already here, and I’m the only one who can stop it. To protect my love, I’ll have to do the unthinkable… and make an irreversible sacrifice.
Hearts race and alliances are forged in The Crystal Rose, the final book in Luana and Keeran’s romance. This exciting paranormal love story of wolves, warlocks, witches and war will leave readers howling in delight at its magical ending.
Intro into Chapter One
Intro into Chapter One
There was a human saying I thought of often these days.
All good things end.
It had been a week since Keeran defeated his father and locked him inside the amulet. A week since Farrah and Keeran broke the spell holding Wyatt hostage. A week we had been pretending we were carefree and normal.
But we were far from normal.
The fight was far from over. We still had to defeat Isalia, her she-wolves, and Soren’s warlocks—most of them had stayed with Isalia.
Only then, would we be free.
I lay back on a rock along the lake’s shore and closed my eyes, enjoying the last of the sun’s warmth. Fall was starting, and the air was already chilly after dark here in the north.
Somewhere in the lake, Keeran paddled, his legs and arms splashing against the water. A moment later, he went quiet. For some reason, he had been trying to sneak up on me lately, but how could he when I was able to hear his heartbeat and breathing from a mile away?
This time was no different. He submerged in the water and swam close to the water’s edge. With careful steps, he emerged and tiptoed closer to me.
“Don’t even think about it,” I warned, my eyes still closed.
“Damn it, you’re no fun.”
Dripping wet, Keeran threw himself over me. I gasped as the cold from the water sizzled against my warm body.
His lips crashed over mine. Lost in the moment, I opened my mouth and let him in. His body pressed against mine as he teased me with his tongue, ripping a moan from my throat.
I wanted to tune everything out, to allow my mind and soul to completely melt into Keeran’s arms, to make love to him right here, right now.
But there were a couple of problems. One, we were out in the open. Farrah or Wyatt could walk in on us at any second, and I wouldn’t hear them until it was too late. Besides, if we weren’t indoors and far away, Wyatt could hear us with his werewolf hearing. I just hoped that every time I had slept with Keeran, Wyatt had tuned out his super hearing.
Two, it was time to go.
After a week of resting, relaxing and pretending to be normal, it was time to face the world.
It was time to go to Unity.
Using my agility, I wrapped my legs around Keeran’s waist and spun us around. Breaking the kiss, I straddled him.
Keeran reached up and ran a hand over the faint scars on my face, lines my arch-enemy left behind. I hated them. They were a testament to my weakness, to my failure. And, sadly, they made me feel self-conscious. I never minded the nakedness that came with being a werewolf, but I did mind having scars permanently etched on my cheek. I turned my head away.
“Don’t.” Keeran hooked a finger under my chin and pulled my head back, but I avoided his gaze. “Don’t hide from me. You’re beautiful and nothing, not even these scars, will ever make you any less.”
His words warmed my heart. Knowing he was being truthful, I returned my eyes to his. I shifted my weight over him, rubbing my hips against his. “Comfortable?”
“Mmm, oh, yes, I think I like this better,” he said, a teasing note in his voice. It was great seeing him in a good mood this morning. Ever since imprisoning his father in the amulet, he had been quiet and snapping more at everyone.
I glanced at the silver and white amulet resting on his chest. His father was in there.
And just like that, my desire was gone. I couldn't touch Keeran with his father between us.
I shot to my feet. “It’s time to go.” He reached for me, but I stepped back. “It’s almost mid-morning. Wyatt and Farrah are waiting for us.”
Grumbling under his breath, Keeran unfolded his long, golden body and stood right in front of me, just a pair of swim shorts covering his toned frame. As usual, my eyes seemed glued to the muscles beneath his skin.
One corner of his lips curled up. “Are you sure you want to go?”
I rolled my eyes and forced myself to move. “It’s not that I want to go, but we need to.” After all, we had agreed to meet Wyatt and Farrah at my family’s cabin at nine in the morning, so we could start our journey.
I walked away from the lake, and Keeran hurried his steps. When he fell into step with me, he entwined his fingers with mine. “Can I at least hold my mate’s hand?”
A smile broke out across my lips. “Always.”
Walking side by side with Keeran like this sometimes felt as if we had been together for years. Decades.
He made me feel comfortable, safe, loved—things I hadn’t felt in so long.
As expected, Farrah was in front of my cabin. Her long, silver hair gleamed in the sunlight, such an odd contrast to the black leather clothes covering her lean body. A small backpack hung from shoulders, a sign she was ready.
“Where’s Wyatt?” Keeran stole the question from me.
Farrah turned her bright, blue eyes to us. “Inside the house.” She gestured to the cabin beside mine, where Wyatt had been buried for the past week. “He says it’s better if he doesn’t go.”
By the moon, we had been through this already.
I still had to change and grab my bags. The later we left, the later we would arrive at Unity, and as it was, we would arrive late already.
“Go talk to him.” Keeran let go of my hand. “I’ll go change and get everything ready. Don’t worry.”
Would he change my clothes for me too? I let out a long sigh, trying to calm down before my temper rose.
I stepped into the small cabin and found the place neat, organized. Probably all Farrah’s work since Wyatt barely moved. Once arriving, he had sat down on the frail couch in the living room and only gotten up a handful of times. His brown eyes stared ahead, at a blank spot on the plain wall.
Ready for the fight that was sure to come, I put my hands on my waist. “Why aren’t you ready?” He didn’t answer. “Wyatt, by the moon, don’t make me pull rank on you.”
Slowly, Wyatt turned his gaze to me—a deep sadness etched into his eyes. “Because I shouldn’t be with you.”
A growl started low in my chest. We had already talked about this. More than once, actually.
A few weeks ago, Wyatt had been spelled by Soren, practically brainwashed. On Soren’s orders, he had killed many innocent supernaturals—and he remembered it all. Farrah had told me he had many nightmares and often woke up screaming, drenched in a cold sweat.
Farrah, Keeran, and I had told him it wasn’t his fault. He wasn’t himself when he was acting that way. It wasn’t his will. But it didn’t matter. The images were carved in his mind, and now he had to relive them all while conscious of how wrong all of it had been.
I understood, but I also thought that if he allowed himself to fall into a deep depression, he would never be able to pull himself out of it.
Since he didn’t seem to care, the rest of us were making choices for him, and our first decision was to take Wyatt with us to Unity. Hopefully, we would be able to relax and heal while we waited for Isalia to give birth.
All that mattered was that he was okay in the end.
“By the moon, Wyatt …” I counted to ten, then twenty, before I lost my patience. “I’m sorry, but I’m going to pull rank. You are coming with us. Right now. That's an order.”
His gaze hardened. A moment later, he stood from the couch. Being almost one head taller than me, he could have been truly fearsome, but with his depression and close-off behavior, I could only sympathize with him.
“As you wish,” he said through gritted teeth.
“Get your things and meet us outside in ten minutes,” I ordered. That should be enough time for me to change my clothes and get my bag.
Like an obedient pup, Wyatt lowered his head. “Ok.”
A mix of anger, frustration and sympathy filled my chest and pushed past my ribs. I stomped out of the house, knowing Wyatt would follow through with my order.
Farrah stared at me with big eyes as I stomp past her. “So? Is he coming?”
I snorted. Did she have any doubt I wouldn’t make him come? “Of course.”
The young fae girl let out a long, relieved breath. She whispered some words in fae, then said, “Thank you.”
I waved her off and walked into my house to get ready. We didn’t have time to waste.
* * *
We trudged through the forest, toward the hidden town. Keeran marched by my side, while Farrah trailed a few steps behind us.
Wyatt, though, was yards away. I kept my ears trained on him, in case he decided to run. Oh, I wouldn’t let him. Not because I wanted him to stay and be part of our two-wolf pack, but because I was worried about him. If he stayed alone now, I wasn’t sure what he would do.
Being the only warlock in the group, Keeran didn’t have the same stamina or endurance as Farrah, Wyatt, and me. He tried hiding it, but I could hear his fast heartbeat and labored breathing.
Judging that we had made good time so far, I slowed my pace. Hopefully, it would be enough to allow him to catch his breath before we arrived in Unity—which would be in less than an hour.
In the moonlit darkness, the four of us kept going, our senses alert, and our minds eager to get to this hidden paradise. To be honest, I was the one eager to show them how all supernaturals could coexist in harmony.
“Wait,” Farrah said forty minutes later.
Keeran and I slowed down and let her fell into step with us. “What is it?” I asked.
“I can sense something.” She glanced around, as if searching for something no one else could see.
I opened my wolf senses, hoping to find whatever she had felt, but other than the forest creatures, there was nothing. “I don’t hear or feel anything.”
“What is it?” Keeran asked.
Farrah pressed a hand to her chest. “It’s odd. I can’t really tell.” She searched the area more.
Wyatt approached us, his posture tense, but his eyes were soft toward the young fae. “What is it?”
Farrah dropped her hand. “It’s nothing. Let’s keep going.”
Without looking at Wyatt, Farrah walked on. Keeran and I followed her, but Wyatt waited, putting space between us and him again.
I wondered if there was a way I could help him, other than kick his ass. I wasn’t good at this sort of thing, but I was starting to think that if I waited for him to come around, I would end up losing him.
We plodded on, this time with Farrah in front. I couldn’t help but notice how she tensed and glanced around, as if she sensed whatever had spooked her.
Why couldn’t I sense it, though? Was it just a fae thing? I would have to ask her about it later, once she didn’t look so edgy.
Eagerness laced my chest as I recognized the shape of the trees snaking up a hill. “We’re close,” I announced.
Without meaning to, I hurried my steps.
We went up the hill, then down the other side, and into a line of trees. To anyone else, it looked like random trees in the forest, but I knew where to look—when in the right spot, the trees flanked a narrow trail. I guided our group down the trail and—
I halted, sensing people a few seconds before they walked from behind the trees and bushes and surrounded us.
“What …?” Keeran would probably have cursed, but his voice faded as a few orbs of white light flooded the darkness, showing us the group of soldiers pointing their spears at us.
Werewolves, vampires, witches, and even a fae.
Wyatt, who had been farther behind, was pushed toward us by two warlocks, their long, sharp spears pointed at his back.
“I think Unity isn’t happy to see us,” Wyatt whispered.
I raised my hands and looked around, trying to find a face I recognized among the soldiers. One of them was bound to remember me, right? “We’re not looking for trouble.”
The sea of soldiers parted and a tall woman wearing a white and gray dress walked past them, toward us.
Almae smiled at us. “Welcome to Unity.”