The Reluctant King Chapters One and Two

Chapter One


This was not how I wanted to spend my afternoon. This was not how I wanted to spend any afternoon, but especially this one. It was nice outside after weeks of seemingly endless rain. The Romanian sun was finally shining; the birds were chirping, the leaves were changing colors…. and all that other BS.

I shifted uncomfortably on the hard, gold seat and kicked my heal back against the solid base. Dangit, that hurt. No amount of magic could make a throne comfortable.

None.

They were horrible to sit in. And even worse to try to be hospitable in.

“What do you think, Avalon?” Gabriel asked from across the room. I stifled a laugh at how serious he looked in his priest’s outfit. I got it, the whole…. dedicated to the cause thing. I mean, seriously, if anybody got marrying oneself to an endeavor, it was me. But I also knew that Gabriel was a badass fighter, with the temper of an angry bull, so the whole black suit, white collar thing looked drastically out of place.

Despite my rude sense of humor, I glared back at him. He knew I wasn’t listening. He knew I never listened.

My gaze moved from Gabriel who was sitting stoically with that disappointed look on his face again to Silas, who seemed annoyingly entertained to Angelica and Talbott who were both trying to hint discretely at how I should respond.

At least I could count on them. But really, they were all traitors. The whole lot of them.

It had been three years since Eden and I destroyed the Monarchy. Three freaking years. And here I sat, ruling from this damn uncomfortable throne, the same one I had promised myself I would melt down into tiny little action figures of myself like an upgrade of G.I. Joes, as if the only thing we actually did was lead a successful political coup.

I wanted a democracy. Hell, I would have even taken a corrupt republic over this. Ok…. maybe I was done with the corruption. But none of it mattered anyway because in their first act as a freed people, my freed people voted to maintain the Monarchy.

And voted to keep me as king. Well, me and my brother-in-law.

Traitors.

All of them.

Besides, who had ever heard of being co-king. It was so not a recorded historical event.

So a whole lot of good that whole Resistance thing did me.

Granted, the status of the Kingdom was exceptionally improved and my people actually were free in every sense of the word; marriage was open, nobody was being hunted, tortured or killed on a regular basis and my sister got to marry her prince charming. So all was right in the world.

Except that I wanted a people that believed in themselves enough to govern themselves, and a sister who was actually around once in a while, instead of honeymooning her life away. They had been gone for two and a half years. Two and a half years. What on earth could one couple do for almost three whole years without wanting to kill each other or die of boredom?

Ok, I knew in theory what they could be doing. But that was something I would never, ever, ever, in a million years think about. She’s my sister. So gross.

And what about my freedom? I wanted to be free too! Instead I had to put up with an uncooperative know-it-all board of advisors, the same advisors I wanted to give to the people as their democratic council and was shot down, and sit on this God-awful throne for eight hours a day listening to people whine about their problems or even worse I was forced to meet eligible girl after eligible girl.

Ok, but that’s all I was doing really…. whining about my problems. So I took a breath, and tried to read Talbott again, he was usually the best at giving me a sign. I figured it was from years of prompting Kiran.

“I…. agree,” I announced tentatively and then when Talbott started shaking his head furiously I retracted my statement immediately, “I mean, I disagree.” I nodded my head authoritatively and propped one elbow onto the arm of the throne with my fist extended in a symbol of power and confidence.

“You disagree about what?” Gabriel asked, his tone of impatience firmly chastising me.

“Uh….what was the question?” I gave in sheepishly and admitted that I wasn’t listening.

“The question was simply what you would like to serve at the homecoming dinner for Kiran and Eden,” Gabriel repeated. His narrowed orange eyes flickered like a flame and I knew I was in for one of those, “but this is your destiny” speeches.

“Oh, right,” I mumbled. I looked down at the man that originally asked the question and realized for the first time that he was the head chef. If I would have been paying one iota of attention I could have put two and two together. Shoot. “Uh, let’s have steak. That’s Eden’s favorite.”

“Steak, sir?” The head chef clarified. I forgot his name. I forgot everyone’s name….

“Why? Is that not Ok?” I asked, feeling like he was patronizing me. Or maybe I was just being paranoid. I wasn’t good with trusting people anymore. They always had an alternative motive since the crown became a permanent part of my wardrobe, one that usually consisted of me marrying their daughter, or niece, or granddaughter, or goddaughter…. or any female within spitting distance.

“It’s just….,” he hesitated and I watched the internal battle he waged. After three years of my laid back if not aloof reign, people still treated me as if I was Lucan’s tyrant replacement. I encouraged him with a benevolent smile, one that I had practiced in the mirror because apparently it was difficult for me to look benevolent. “Steak is fine, sir.” He finished without even attempting an argument. Apparently I needed to get back in front of a mirror. “What should I serve for the vegetarian option?”

I tried not to laugh. “Vegetarian option? Do we have very many vegetarians attending the party?” I was not the best at paying attention, but I was certain in the countless dinners and affairs I’d been forced to host over the past three years I had not once been asked my opinion on a “vegetarian option.”

“For Princess Amelia,” the chef explained and I ground my teeth at the word “princess.” She was only a princess by association to the Kendrick line and no matter how well I get along with my brother in law these days I had been working very hard at disassociating all of us with monarchial terms. It was nothing personal against Amelia, I didn’t even really know the girl.

“Well, I’m sure whatever you come up with will be fine,” I nodded to let him know I was finished speaking with him and then tried that benevolent smile again. He scurried from the room.

Yep, I needed to practice that some more.

“Somebody please explain to me why I have to waste my day away making menu plans and talking about vegetarian options?” I demanded when it was finally just my board of advisors and me alone in the throne room.

“You’re awfully testy today,” Angelica clucked her tongue from her place in between Silas and Gabriel. She was more of a mother figure than an advisor, but when I decided to choose one from each kind I knew there was no Witch I trusted more than her.

“I have a headache,” I mumbled, letting my head fall into my fingertips.

“You don’t have a headache,” she scolded me. She stood up to busy herself with something on the other side of the room and that was how I knew she was worried about me even if I couldn’t technically get a physical headache. Her hair had turned a blinding shade of white and I could swear it was from the stress of three years ago. She aged over the yearlong battle with Lucan. She was still stunning for a grandma type, all handsome, gentle beauty, but that year was hard on all of us.

“Trust me, my head hurts,” I complained.

“Only because you refuse to use it,” Gabriel snapped. I sat up, ready to argue, but he was already on his way to a lecture, there was no stopping him now. “Avalon we get it, you don’t want to be king, but right now you don’t have a choice. This was the future you wanted for your people; tyranny is dead, they are free, and the magic is whole once again. Granted it’s not exactly how we imagined life after Lucan, I understand that, but this is what your people want. And by acting like this…. this… petulant child you are refusing to give them what they want, what they deserve. You are as bad as Lucan at this point.”

“Don’t compare me to him,” I growled, standing up from the dead king’s throne to distance myself as far from his memory as I could. “We are not comparable.”

“What he means is, you’re as bad as Lucan today,” Silas clarified in his thick Jamaican accent and if it was anyone else he was talking to I would have laughed.

“Oh, now I feel better,” I rolled my eyes and turn to Angelica for help. I could always count on her.

“Maybe if you got married, things wouldn’t seem so difficult,” she offered and I realized sharply I couldn’t count on any of them today. “Maybe if you had someone to share the burden of the throne, things wouldn’t feel so impossible. You wouldn’t feel so grumpy.”

“No, no, I am not having this conversation again!” I sighed. “I already have someone to share the throne with. Actually I have two somebody’s to share the throne with, they are just never here! Although, maybe I should follow their example and find someone to marry just so I can go on a three year honeymoon!” I threw myself back into the hard, golden chair and ignored the pain shooting up my back from my childish behavior.

“Sure, if that’s the kind of incentive you need, then by all means marry someone and take your extended honeymoon. You will get no argument from any of us,” Gabriel laughed humorlessly.

He knew I would never leave the Kingdom in someone else’s hands for that long, not even Eden’s, not without a stable government in place to fill my stead. And he also knew I was so far from getting married or even thinking about getting married that it was a joke. I hated it when he called my bluff.

“What do you want from me?” I asked Gabriel, knowing he would tell me whether I wanted to hear it or not.

His orange eyes flashed with gravity. “I want you to be the leader you’re destined to be. You’ve done an adequate job so far, but we know what you’re doing Avalon and the Kingdom isn’t going to dismiss the Monarchy just because you are trying to prove to them they don’t need you. They want you, and your sister and her husband. So, instead of pouting around and not paying attention, why don’t you try taking your role seriously? Why don’t you explore all the good that could come out of that?”

I opened my mouth to respond, but then closed it. Gabriel had a point. Who was I kidding? I knew he had a point; I just didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of telling him so. Which I also knew was very immature. But they were the ones that demanded I become king at eighteen years old.

Now at twenty-one I was very worried resentment had stunted my growth.

My mental growth.

Talbott’s phone beeped, interrupting the pregnant pause and saving me from
having to reply verbally. Although by the look Gabriel sent me and the dull suppression of his eye color, I knew he knew I thought he was right.

“That was the front gate,” Talbott announced after clicking off his cellphone. “Jericho is here. I told them to have him meet you in the receiving room.”

I rolled my eyes at Talbott’s formal behavior. I was the one that appointed him head Titan, so I really couldn’t complain. But still, the receiving room? I didn’t need to meet Jericho in the receiving room. I needed to meet Jericho wherever I damned well pleased and then we both needed to get the hell out of Dodge, or uh, the Citadel in this case.

Gabriel glared at me, sending me one of his “I know exactly what you’re thinking right now” looks and I swallowed back the leftovers of a Rebellion I was supposed to be done fighting.

“Thank you Talbott,” I replied formally.

I started to leave the room before I made myself turn around and act like the responsible ruler of a nation I knew I was. “You’re right Gabriel. I need to stop pouting. The people want a king and I am in no position to argue with them since I killed their last one. Besides, Eden will be back today and she can share the responsibility. I will do my best to embrace this position and do what I can to better our existence for our people.” I finished a little bit dramatically, but overall I thought it was a very diplomatic speech.

“So you’ll consider finding a wife?” Angelica piped up.

And I needed to get out of the room. I could try to be diplomatic, but not that diplomatic. I watched right along with the rest of the Kingdom how love turned my sister’s world upside down. And not in a good way…. There was absolutely no way in hell I was going to get sucked into the rabbit hole called Love.

It wasn’t worth it.


Chapter Two


I walked through the somewhat empty corridors of the old castle trying to suppress my love for the ancient building. The stone walls and worn tapestries should feel cold and distant. The massive size of the building itself should feel overwhelming.

But it didn’t.

I reluctantly loved it here.

I was always trying to talk myself out of it. My people were tortured and imprisoned here, some were even killed. A tyrant walked these same halls and brought the magic that ran through my people’s blood to near extinction. The walls that surrounded the Citadel had been impenetrable for centuries. I was nearly murdered here. My sister was nearly murdered here. My parents were murdered here.

I should definitely hate this place.

And yet…. it had crawled its way into my small, skeptical, unfeeling heart and made a home. This was where my grandfather was originally chosen to be king, where it all started. This was where my people had realized that Lucan couldn’t continue to hold them under his thumb and had fought back. And this was where I could feel my parents…. Not because of some creepy reason like their ghosts haunted the grounds. But because this was where they had fallen in love, this was the last place they had really called home before they went on the run. And this was where we had spent the majority of our relationship.

Up until they were murdered.

Lucan was so lucky he was already dead.

When Eden had exchanged herself for me, she had not only saved my life, but she had given up the one thing that could never be taken from me. The one thing I could never repay her for.

Time with our parents.

I opened the door to the receiving room before I could have another thought about it. My best friend in the world turned from the window and looked at me incredulously. There was no awe in his expression, no reverence, not even a hint that he’d missed me.

Thank God for Jericho.

“What are you so pissed off about?” I huffed.

“You make people wait for you now?” he rolled his eyes. “You really have turned into a pretentious prick.”

I laughed, loud and full, a sound that felt foreign even to my own ears. “That’s what happens when all your friends abandon you! You lose sight of the little people and embrace the douchebag crown you were given.””

He cracked his wide grin and walked forward to take my hand. “It’s good to see you again, Avalon, even if you are a complete and utter sell out.”

I let out another burst of laughter and my lungs definitely felt underused. “Where have you been?”

Jericho’s face turned serious, his smile faded and I noticed the lines around his smile and near his eyes. He was by no means old, only in his early twenties, but there were signs of stress since I saw him last. Or maybe I hadn’t noticed them before, maybe Angelica wasn’t the only one showing signs from that year.

“I needed some time away,” he cleared his throat uncomfortably and dropped my hand roughly. “I needed some space from this place, you know?”

Ok, so I was the only one that still felt attached to the castle. There was definitely something wrong with that.

I cleared my throat too. “Yeah, I know what you mean.” I lied.

We were both silent for a few seconds, turning our attention elsewhere in the room designed to be welcoming and comfortable. I wondered if it was a wasted effort as I looked at the chocolate-leather upholstered couches that had stiff, dark wood bench seats and a matching coffee table on top of a burgundy oriental rug. The walls were still stone and the windows were long and narrow barely letting any natural light in.

“So, where am I staying?” Jericho interrupted the comfortable silence, his eyes meeting mine again.

“You decided to stay?” I asked, trying to disguise the hope I felt with a masculine tone.

“Yeah, I, uh, I don’t have anything better to do,” Jericho shifted uncomfortably, which in turn made me shift uncomfortably.

I knew he was over my sister. Well…. for the most part. But I knew seeing her again after all this time was not going to be easy for him either. He had loved her; like the real deal loved her and she had chosen someone else. Well, truthfully, he had walked away before she could officially choose Kiran, but he had been hurt pretty bad.

That sucked. Just another reason to avoid the whole love fiasco waiting to happen.

“Oh, I get it,” I smirked, needing to ease the heavy tension in the room. “You missed me.” I winked at him, knowing it would get under his skin.

“Geez, it’s like that gold has seeped right into your brain and made you so damn sure of yourself. It’s disgusting really,” he joked. God, it was good to have someone around with a sense of humor. “Are you sure they counted those votes right?”

“They better have,” I growled, more serious than Jericho was. “I made them recount them by hand five times.”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Jericho sighed.

I walked to the door and held it open for him to pass through. “Oh, I’m sorry, do you want this job? Because you can have it! I will take this crown off right now and give it to you.” I lifted the heavy piece of gold off my head and held it out to him, internally wishing he would actually take it from me and release me from the impossible burden.

“No thank you,” he laughed. “But uh, I’ve been meaning to ask you…. the whole crooked thing? I mean, that wasn’t just a Lucan-fashion-statement? Or are you simply trying to emulate our dearly departed former leader?”

“It’s heavy as hell, dude,” I slipped the questionable piece of jewelry back onto my head and it fell to the side so that it lay crooked on my long hair. “You try keeping this thing on straight. It’s impossible.”

“Huh,” Jericho mumbled thoughtfully.
We caught up as I walked him to the room he would be staying in during the
homecoming festival. We talked every other week on the phone, but it wasn’t the same. Jericho and I had always been like girls with how much we talked to each other. It was kind of annoying. And kind of awesome at the same time. He wasn’t technically on salary, but he had been traveling all over the world, checking in on different settlements of Immortals. As much as I hated being king, we were all worried about another rebellion.
For the most part the Kingdom seemed happy. But they had seemed happy with Lucan too. And I had never really gotten over the notion that there were others out there plotting Lucan’s downfall. My sister had been kidnapped by a rouge group of Immortals that wanted different leadership but the same kind of oppressive power. Those were the people that kept me stationary and willing to lead. I wasn’t prepared to let this people suffer under another dictator.

Jericho was one of the only people I trusted enough to report back the absolute truth and see through everyone else’s BS at the same time. And he was unattached and looking for a distraction. He was the perfect candidate.

“Jericho,” Talbott called from down the hall. He met us with a huge grin on his face and a handshake extended for Jericho. “It’s good to have you back.” Talbott’s Romanian accent rolled over his words, made even thicker by his excitement.

“Talbott,” Jericho replied carefully, taking his hand with extra precaution.

“What?” Talbott laughed, noticing Jericho’s skeptical eye.

“People aren’t used to it yet,” I explained, but by the curious looks both of them gave me I knew I had to use more words. “The happiness Talbott, people aren’t used to your smile.” I gestured to his olive skinned face where a big ass smile seemed way out of place next to his military haircut and thick neck bred for bodyguard positions like his.

Talbott let out a bark of laughter and I watched Jericho flinch from the sound. I smiled at Jericho’s uncomfortable attitude.

“It’s weird,” Jericho muttered, eying Talbott over again like he had been abducted by aliens. “It’s drugs isn’t it? You’re on drugs. The pressure finally got to you, didn’t it?”

“No, not drugs,” Talbott grinned wider. “It’s Lilly. Lilly finally said yes!”

“That’s great, man,” I laughed with him too and then turned to explain it to Jericho. “Talbott’s been trying to get Lilly to marry him for over a year now, but I think she’s been trying to keep her options open. Talbott must have finally worn her down.”

“It’s not that,” Talbott all but growled at me. There was the fun-loving guy everyone would remember. “She’s been nervous; she doesn’t want to be the first interracial couple to get married because she knows it will get a lot of attention. I don’t want the attention either, but we love each other, it’s silly to wait any longer.”

“Congratulations, Talbott,” Jericho replied, a huge grin spread wide across his face too. “That’s really exciting, I’m happy for you.”

“I’m happy for you too,” I offered and I really was.

“Only because this helps promote your life-style philosophy for the Kingdom,” Talbott called me out.

I laughed, knowing it was true. “That’s only part of the truth,” I admitted. “I really am happy for the two of you. I can’t wait to throw a big old shindig here just to celebrate the two of you!”

“Oh really?” Talbott narrowed his wise eyes on me.

“And invite the whole Kingdom to celebrate,” I all but squealed like a girl, envisioning how great this was going to be to promote relationships between our kind. Even though the people were free, they were still a bit skittish of actually dating someone from a different race than them. It was like a couple thousand years of it being illegal affected them or something…. This would definitely be a step in the right direction.

“And there we go, there’s the truth,” Talbott announced triumphantly.

“Well that and I was worried I was going to have to steal Lilly from you and make her an honest woman myself,” I smirked, happy to shut him up.

I was saved from whatever response Talbott could come up with by girls actually squealing…. scratch that, it wasn’t squealing, it was screaming, and in the ear-piercing pitch only really excited girls could reach.

“Ah, there’s the fiancĂ©e now,” Talbott murmured all love struck.

I was writhing in pain, worried about the health of my ear drums and he was googly eyed and dreamy looking. Gross.

“I take it that’s Eden?” Jericho asked in a low voice.

“I’m thinking yes,” I replied, but I knew without a doubt it was her. I could feel her. I had felt her since she entered the country hours ago. Although we had turned off our shared monologue since she was now a married woman and neither one of us wanted to do irreparable damage to our subconscious, I was still forever connected to my twin sister. And I would never complain about that.

Not even in a joke.

“Point me in the direction of my room?” Jericho mumbled after Talbott had taken off in the direction of the still shrill sounds.

“I thought things were alright between the three of you?” I probed a little, wondering what the big deal was. There had been lots of girls between Eden and now, even if he hadn’t actually fallen in love with any of them. Who cared, anyway, things seemed incredibly easier for him now.

“They are,” he shrugged. “I’m just tired and don’t feel like dealing with all that.” He gestured toward the sounds and I instantly got it.

“I don’t blame you,” I nodded, understanding completely. “Up in my wing, you’re on the first level. I don’t know which room exactly, but nobody else has arrived yet and your things should be there for you. If you get lost, just ask one of the serv- uh, employees,” I clarified. The castle used to be run by servants, but one dead king and three hundred monthly paychecks later and I could officially call the palace staff employees.

“Thanks,” Jericho smiled. “It’s good to see you again, man. It’s been too long.”

“Agreed,” I nodded, trying to avoid the awkward road to feelings-ville. “Now go get your beauty rest, sleeping beauty, because tonight we celebrate!”

We turned in our opposite directions and I followed the sound of girls chattering. There was silence for a beat and by the time I turned the corner to the main entrance corridor Eden had started screaming again, holding Lilly’s pale hand in hers. I narrowed my eyes and realized it was the new engagement ring that had her so excited.

I leaned against the wall and stood back to observe. Talbott stood with his arm protectively around his future bride while she blushed to the color of her curly red hair. Sebastian, who had met up with Eden and Kiran somewhere in Western Europe was shaking Talbott’s hand while Kiran kept both hands on Eden’s shoulders as he towered over them.

My heart relaxed at the sight of them all standing together. We hadn’t been together much since the night Lucan died, not like this. We had mourned the loss of parents and friends and we had celebrated Eden and Kiran’s wedding, but we had never been like this together, we had never just been normal.

It wasn’t just my heart that relaxed; it was like my whole body sighed at the peaceful nature of our reunion. Eden’s black eyes flickered up to mine and we shared an understanding look. It was harder to keep things so separated between us now that we were so close, and I felt her relief and excitement in the same way she felt mine.

“E,” I acknowledged her, tilting my chin.

She wasn’t having that though. She raced across the carpeted corridor, ripping out of Kiran’s hands and flying into my chest. Her arms wrapped around my neck and she hugged me until I could barely breathe.

“I’ve missed you, sis,” I whispered, trying to disguise the sudden surge of emotion in my throat.

“I’ve missed you so much!” She cried. Actually cried. I could feel her hot tears on my shoulder, soaking through my t-shirt. “It’s good to be home,” she breathed and detached herself from around my neck. She kept her arm around my waist though and I smiled down at her.

“Home,” I echoed. Maybe I wasn’t the only one that had grown attached to the Citadel.

Everyone had joined us by now and I took Kiran’s outstretched hand when he offered it to me and shook it firmly. I hoped he wasn’t going to hug me and cry too.

“Those things are a pain in the arse to wear, am I right?” Kiran gestured at the crown on my head and I rolled my eyes in response.

“I was accused of wearing it crooked as a fashion statement,” I grunted and then tried to push it back into the center position on my head.

“Ah,” Kiran nodded understandingly. “Nobody’s head is shaped quite right for that.”

Sebastian stuck his hand out next and I took it. “Where’s the girlfriend?” I asked, wondering if Seraphina had finally gotten under his skin enough to scare him back into bachelorhood. For some reason I had a hard time picture Sebastian actually settling down, let alone with the likes of Seraphina who was as high maintenance as they came.

“She’s with my sister,” he explained, expelling the notion that all of my people were free. Apparently some of them stayed imprisoned by choice. “They’ll be along shortly, but Mimi wanted to visit some of the villages nearby.”

“Ah,” I offered noncommittally, I didn’t really know how to respond to that. I had forgotten that people called Sebastian’s sister Mimi, but in all honesty I couldn’t really remember her that well. I had only met her briefly at the wedding, and only because she was one of Eden’s bridesmaids. I did remember that she was really young though and had seemed a bit out of place and awkward next to all of the other bridesmaids that had been my age or older.

“It’s so good to be with you again, Avalon,” Eden gushed, filling the awkward silence. I smiled down at her; she was so adorable with her mass of hair flowing around her and her black eyes sparkling like onyx.

“Honestly, I’m glad you guys are back,” I admitted, trying to cover for my emotional reaction to having my only remaining family near me again. “There are probably one hundred decisions left to be made for this damned homecoming dinner you have me throwing for you and if I am asked to pick out a tablecloth color one more time I’m going to assassinate myself.”

“Oh no!” Eden gasped. “Are there really a lot of decisions left to be made?” She looked to Talbott and Lilly for the truth. Smart girl.

“You have no idea,” Lilly laughed, shaking her head at me. Lilly was probably the only girl in the world I was as comfortable around other than Eden. She was like a sister, especially since Eden had been gone for a while and Lilly had stuck around the castle in order to be close to Talbott. She had taken on the job of kind of running the castle, since I didn’t have a wife and Angelica seemed overwhelmed with just advising me. If she wasn’t so in love with Talbott I would have proposed to her myself just to get the Kingdom off my back…. and because I knew I could tolerate her for long periods of time. “Getting Avalon to make a decision about anything other than Kingdom policy is like pulling teeth.”

Everyone laughed at my expense.

Psht.

“Hey,” I put my hands up and backed away. “You guys are home now, why don’t you take a crack at it. I’m sure you have a better opinion on which China pattern you want to use,” I narrowed my eyes at Eden and Kiran, not even caring about the exasperated look Kiran gave me. He married the girl, China patterns were his responsibility now.

“You’re right,” Eden sighed. “Besides I haven’t made a decision yet as Queen, what better way to initiate myself.”

“This way, your Highness,” Lilly laughed, and led Eden down the hallway with Kiran, Sebastian and Talbott following closely behind.

Eden turned to give me a small wave and a look that promised she would find me later to catch up. I gave her an encouraging smile and watched the group walk away. Eden had grown up a lot since I saw her last. She had always amazed me with her ability to make quick decisions and take everything in stride, Lord knows she was thrown into this world without much warning. But she had struggled to adjust; nobody knew that more than me. She had fought tooth and nail against this life, but now that she had it…. it suited her. Kiran, royalty, married life…. it suited her. She was at peace for the first time maybe ever and so disgustingly happy that I couldn’t ignore the pang in my gut that envied her.

Was it love that did that to a person? Probably not. It probably felt good just to not have someone constantly trying to kill you. I mean, I felt that sense of relief too, so I was probably just as happy as her….

The big brass doors of the castle entrance opened and the late fall light streamed into the corridor turning my eyes. Long, tanned, perfect legs caught my attention first. The hazy sunlight lit up around those two extraordinary limbs and my eyes followed the flawless line from tiny, delicate ankle to where the hem of her shorts stopped mid-thigh. I snapped my mouth shut.

In my defense, cascading light from the doorway partially blocked her from view until the door had firmly closed behind her. But if I was really honest with myself those legs demanded attention, and her tiny little fashionable shorts put them on display seemingly just for me. My eyes finally traveled up an effortlessly sexy figure and to the most startling golden brown eyes I had ever seen.

In our culture, our people had every shade and color of eyes. Angelica’s were actually purple. Golden brown should not have been so startling, but the richness and depth to that particular brown displayed underneath thick lashes and on a face so perfectly pretty and delicate was a little disconcerting.

Their owner cleared her throat, waiting for me to acknowledge her. Had she said something? Was I supposed to answer a question? Shoot, I had spaced out again but this time for an entirely different reason.

“I’m sorry, did you say something?” I asked, still in a daze over those mile long legs.

“Have you seen my brother?” she asked, her voice a touch amused and a touch…. irritated? “Seraphina and I changed our minds; we want to borrow his car.”

“Your brother?” I clarified, my eyes falling from those startling golden brown eyes to her full lips that were pouted into a frown. “Uh… who’s your brother?”

“Sebastian Cartier?” she clarified like I was the biggest idiot on the planet. “He just walked in here, I swear.” She had the sweetest English accent that clipped all her consonants precisely.

“Uh, he went that way,” I muttered like an idiot.

She straightened her shoulders and flicked her eyes over me with an obvious tone of disgust. What had I done to her?

“At least when Lucan was king I didn’t have to worry about him ogling me like a caveman,” she mumbled walking past me.

Ah, that’s what I had done. I consciously hinged my mouth shut and tried not to snap at the way she defended Lucan. She was right…. I was ogling her.

“I apolo-“ I started.

“Don’t bother,” she looked over her shoulder, dismissing me. Dismissing me!

“Mimi,” I snapped my fingers, proud of myself for remembering her name.

“Amelia.” She corrected me, turning around and walking backwards. Immortal or not, I was always impressed when a girl could balance in high heels and hers looked especially dangerous as she walked backwards. I forced my mind back to her face as my eyes wanted to linger on those legs and the word “dangerous….” “Only people I like get to call me Mimi,” her tone was ice, but those golden brown eyes were definitely not cold.

“Then I’ll have to convince you that you like me,” I returned, feeling proud of myself for very unpracticed witty banter.

“Fat chance of that,” she laughed mockingly in her cute British accent and then turned around and walked away.

I shook my head, still not really sure what just happened. That was Mimi? She was definitely not a child. I stared after those legs wondering if maybe I was remembering the wrong person from three years ago….

Rachel

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8 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness this writing is amazing!!!!!!!! I think I was laughing and smiling like a total freak the entire time I was reading this. All my favorite characters in the whole wide world!!! I cannot wait for the whole book to be out!!! Thank you so much Rachel for continuing the story from the Star-Crossed Series. When those books had ended I was so sad that it was over but now I know it isn't over! Right now it is like if J.K. Rowling were to write more books based in the magical world of Harry Potter; uncontrollable excitement!! That's what's up! I don't care if the book doesn't come out till two years from now. I will still be here waiting for my chance to read it.

    Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is it Christmas? No? Well it sure feels like it to me!!!!!!!!! Thank you Jesus for Rachel and her awesomeness!!!!!!!!!!!

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  2. I have missed them all!! Can hardly wait for the release. ;)

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  3. Thanks for the preview, can't wait to read the entire series. Seriously, no rush though... my life is crazy too and I don't have time for all night reading sessions right now lol. Good luck with the four kids, you'll adjust (your house will never be the same but your heart won't either, trade offs).

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  4. Thank you for the preview! I cannot wait to read the book!

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  5. I cannot wait!!!! Ahhhh, so excited! <3 I'm sorry you had such a rough weekend and really hate you didn't get things settled by the end of October, but we all totally understand! You are a wife, mother, writer, and many other things in your life! You can't expect the unexpected, that's for sure. Good luck on your to-do list and I will be patiently awaiting the release!!!!! :)

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  6. Oh wow! most definitely excited! :D Thanks so much for the preview!!!

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  7. Wow, just wow! I love this series and I'm so glad you decided to continue with it.

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  8. Thank you so very much for continuing this story Rachel. I definitely will read it. Take your time to write it, but honestly I can't hardy wait now after read those 2 chapters :D

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