#Read An #Excerpt From Family Secrets By Stephanie Amox
1 The day after
I sighed happily, as I lay in Talon’s arms. The room had gradually returned to normal while the last of the sparks slowly rained to the floor. I still couldn’t believe we were joined … I would get to spend the rest of my life with Talon. He had guaranteed that last night when he got down on one knee and recited the ancient text that bound us together. I couldn’t wait to tell Leah everything, but for now, I was content simply to lie within the confines of the luxurious pillow-top mattress. Talon tightened his powerful arms around me and gently kissed the top of my head.
“Shall we order room service and go out onto the lanai to watch the sunrise?” Talon murmured into my ear.
I smiled at him shyly. “How did I get so lucky? What did I ever do to deserve having you in my life?”
Talon surprised me by laughing. He sounded so carefree and seeing him like this—he looked so young.
“I don’t know if lucky is the way I would describe it. I’m not sure you know what you have gotten yourself into, A Varyo joins for life. When you are away from me too long—it will cause me physical pain, as well as make me extremely agitated. Not to mention I will be worried about you – well, more than usual.”
I giggled. “And that would be different from normal because…?”
He growled and tickled my ribs. “The joke is on you, my little pixie, because now you will experience the same. I have to admit it works to my benefit—so can’t say I’m very sorry about it.” He shot me a boyish grin.
“Oh great—that’s just great –something else to make me uncomfortable in my own skin,” I said in mock anger.
Talon winked at me as he got up and headed to the door. “Well, that’s something you should have thought about before you agreed—no, you demanded—to be mine.
I threw a pillow at him and flopped back onto the bed. I wrapped my arms around myself, completely content. So much had changed over the last few weeks. My best friend, Leah, and I had gone from painfully ordinary juniors at Marcus High School to finding out we were from an ancient mythical race, called the Feydall, who are best described as fairies, and live in a kingdom of the same name.
We also found ourselves with Talon and Jace as our protectors – members of an ancient group called the Turvata. The Turvata were legendary for protecting royalty, and Talon and Jace were highly respected – even within that elite group. We still didn’t know whom to thank for sending them to us.
Talon is Varyo, a very ancient people known for their warriors. Driven by their duty to protect the ones to which they are assigned. They can become so immersed that they can lose the ability to see colors and often become emotionally numb – they just don’t care about anything but the job at hand. In very rare cases, they will find their true mate and their senses become extremely heightened. They become extremely attuned to their mate’s wants, needs and feelings.
Another unique feature of Talon’s is his eyes. When he is calm and at ease, his eyes are a soft chocolate brown, but when his emotions are heightened – regardless of whether he’s angry or simply passionate about something – his eyes turn a beautiful, deep blue.
Jace, on the other hand, is Lykaios, able to shift into animal forms and has an acute sense of smell. He absolutely worships Leah, and I adore him for it.
Guess my mom and my ‘Uncle’ Johr were one of the biggest shocks in my life so far. Mom is a fairy princess… an honest-to-God fairy princess! Isn’t that unbelievable? Anyways, I very strongly suspect, due to some recent events, Johr is my true biological father, not Jason, the man I had called Dad —who we lived with my entire life. Jason was a Corpora, or human, who died in a car accident several months before my baby brother, Brady, was born – almost 10 years ago now.
Johr and my mom were together before she left Feydall. When she came to Corpora, also known as the human world, she met Jason and stayed. I know there’s more to that story, but I’d have to ask her at another time, since we haven’t seen either of them since the night the Accendersi raided our house.
Leah and I were able to create a portal that night—to Maui of all places—and escape safely with Talon and Jace. Now I fear my mother and Johr are going to have a few choice words about my newfound status as Mrs. Raikaa. As I said, Talon and I joined through an ancient rite, which we performed the previous night. Kinda like being married, just a whole lot more permanent.
I threw my legs over the side of the bed and sat up. Feeling completely refreshed and full of energy, this was surprising since we didn’t get a lot of sleep. I felt great… actually better than great—like being surrounded by a glow that comes from deep inside and explodes outward. Knowing me, with the right incentive, I could probably power half the island of Maui.
I skipped across the room, into the sprawling master bathroom and filled the tub with the soothing smell of the honey-mango bubble bath. I twisted my hair into a loose bun on top of my head and sank down into the water until the bubbles reached my neck and laid there, completely content, until I heard a small knock at the door. Talon popped his head in the doorway.
“My ves’tacha, your breakfast is ready…” He gave me a mischievous smile. “Unless, of course, you would prefer me to come join you in here?”
I cupped water in my hands and tossed it in his general direction. He ducked, laughing
“Hurry up, love—before everything gets cold. I have already laid out something for you to wear today.” He said with a grin as he closed the door behind him.
I stretched for a moment, grabbed the large fluffy towel with the Grand Wailea logo and wrapped it around me. I padded into the bedroom. The first thing I noticed was my emerald green bikini and a transparent black cover-up. Smiling to myself as I also spotted the matching black and green Billabong flip-flops I had pointed out in the store window the day before I shook my head in wonder.
I truly had no idea how he did it. He amazed me at every turn.
Talon rattled around in the living area. I didn’t want to make him wait, and if I was being honest with myself—I was very anxious to be with him as quickly as possible too. He had been away from me for perhaps thirty minutes, but the wings of ten thousand butterflies were already beating in my stomach, intensifying the longer we were apart. I put on the swimsuit and threw the cover-up over my shoulder, pushing the door open silently. My heart thudded in anticipation and must have beat louder than I thought, for Talon stopped what he was doing and turned to me with a mind-blowing smile.
He wore only a pair of black and green board shorts while his broad shoulders and muscular chest were left bare. I wondered if he had intentionally worn the same colors he laid out for me. I eyed him appreciatively but he held his hand, palm up signaling for me to wait where I was, then he strode past me into the master bedroom.
He came back with my brush and took me by the hand leading me back to the couch motioning for me to sit on the floor in front of him. I complied immediately—happy to simply be near him. He slid his feet forward, effectively cradling me while he pulled the ponytail holder free and dragged the brush through my hair with long strokes until we could practically hear it crackling. Talon put the brush down and began running his fingers through my hair murmuring “exquisite”.
There was a timid knock at the door separating our suite from Leah and Jace’s. Jumping up, I stepped over Talon and quickly headed to the door, I dropped my cover-up in my haste. Talon spun around on the couch and gasped audibly when he saw my swimsuit. I whipped around.
“Talon! What’s wrong?”
He didn’t answer, but instead jumped over the back of the couch. He grabbed me in his arms and covered my lips with his. He finally pulled back and gave a deep laugh. “Go on. Open the door before they think you were devoured for breakfast.”
I gave him a wry smile and headed back to the door. His diet was the one point of contention we had early in our relationship… since it consisted mostly of blood from anonymous donors. The Varyo are strange in that way. Most people might see him as a vampire, but nothing could be further from the truth. Talon loves being outside in the sun, surfing, swimming – you name it. He can eat normal foods; they just have to be extremely rare. Their main source of nutrition would be human blood. If they are still un-joined, they will seek out willing donors, but never take from the same one more than once in a month. To do so would run the risk of the donor going through the transformation and most Corpora don’t survive the process. Originally, Talon had refused to share this experience with me. He was so worried I might start the transformation. However, that was before we found out I was a true Ethereal and therefore immune to the dangers of the transformation. I couldn’t stand the thought of him having that kind of relationship with anyone else, so I had – in a way, forced his hand and tricked him into feeding on me. Unfortunately, Johr had walked in on that and it hadn’t gone very well.
I had hardly turned the lock when Leah burst through the door and grabbed me around the neck.
“Caiti! Oh my gosh! We saw the blue glow under the door last night and Jace told me what it meant. We are so excited for you—well… for you both! We have to celebrate today! What should we do?” She clapped her hands together in excitement.
Talon watched me avidly – anxious to hear what would make me happy.
Jace stepped out of the adjoining room, enveloping me in his strong arms. “Good morning, my little pixie. You are absolutely ravishing. Life with our Talon is going to suit you quite well.” He winked at Talon over the top of my head and continued. “So, you ladies were going to tell us how you wanted to spend the day celebrating?”
Leah grinned at him broadly before turning back to me with an expectant expression on her face. “Yeah, Caiti. What are we going to do?” I gave Leah an impish grin before reaching out to her mind.
Leah, just go along with me for a bit.
She grinned at me. Ok, whatever you say.
“Hey Leah, did you see the new flip-flops Talon got to go with my swimsuit? It’s a shame it’s been such a long time since we had a pedicure.” I said, chagrined. Leah sputtered as she tried to refrain from laughing out loud. Peeking at Talon out of the corner of my eye revealed his own twin orbs, blazing blue, as he tried to hold back the laughter.
“Okay, okay, my ’tacha. We will start your day of celebration with an afternoon at the spa with Leah. What would you like to do after that?”
“Well, actually I was thinking about having another smoothie, like the one I had yesterday, then simply lay about, ocean-side, and take a nap with you. After that, maybe we could play in the ocean and call room service for dinner on our lanai. Does that sound too boring for everyone else?”
Talon’s eyes lit up in blue flame. “That sounds absolutely perfect to me,” he said in a low voice. He referred to Leah and Jace. “What about you two? Does that work for you?”
Leah studied Jace for a minute and said, “Well, it sounds great except for one small thing.”
Jace’s brow furrowed. “What’s wrong?”
She let a slow smile spread across her face. “I don’t really want to take a nap with Talon. Maybe would it be okay if I shared a lounge with you instead?”
We all laughed.
Jace set about serving us pancakes from the huge stack on the table, while Talon spoke with the spa making arrangements for our special day.
“This is Talon Raikaa and I would like to make an appointment for my wife and Mrs. Leah Adair. Yes, give them the works. Start them with a manicure and pedicure, and then follow it up with a one hour massage.”
I was still in shock at Talon’s generosity. He had paid for everything from the moment we set foot in Maui, never complaining once about the cost. I seemed to be the only one worried about his finances. He kept assuring me that when you lived as long as he had you had a tendency to amass a great deal of money.
Leaning back in my chair I called over my shoulder. “Talon, can you please ask them to set it up as a couples massage? It always makes me a little uncomfortable being in the room with them by myself—seeing as we are ‘commando’ under the sheet.”
Talon’s eyes smoldered at me before he focused his attention back to the phone. “I’m sorry, but you will need to set that up in one of the couples rooms so the ladies can stay together. No, that is fine—the cost is not an issue. Make sure they can have lunch brought in if they want. Perfect. Thank you very much.”
He returned to us with a smile.
“Okay, ladies. You are all set up. You have about one hour before your spa appointment. You will have your manicure and pedicure first and then on to your massage. So, that leaves one question—how do you ladies want to spend the next hour?”
“Wow, is that a loaded question or what?” asked Jace.
We grinned at each other and said in unison. “The beach!”
Jace doubled over laughing. “Sometimes I think you two share the same brain. Okay, Leah—you better go put on your swimsuit so we can head out.”
Leah jumped up from the table and ran through the adjoining door with Jace right on her heels.
Rising from the table as well, I headed toward the master suite to touch up my makeup and grab my shoes. I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, gazing at my reflection. My eyes seemed brighter and my hair seemed glossier and a slightly more vibrant shade of red. I dug through my makeup bag on the counter. Talon appeared behind me, wrapping his strong arms around me and my heart immediately jumped into overdrive. The fire in his eyes grew, and I knew the change in my pulse hadn’t gone unnoticed. I met his intense gaze in the mirror and he quickly spun me around and pulled me into his arms, carrying me back into our room.
I was infinitely happy.
As if he heard my thoughts—his lips crashed down on mine and his pulse sped up to match my own. His lips trailed across my jaw line and down my throat and I let my head fall backwards as he buried his hands in my hair. He used his nose and slightly nudged the top edge of my bikini away and sunk in his teeth just below my collarbone.
As he fed, I whispered “I love you”.
He raised his head and stared at me as one red tear slipped down his cheek. “You have no idea how happy you make me. I finally feel complete.”
I stared back at him—speechless. How could anyone like him want someone as ordinary as me?
I wish she understood how much she means to me. Without her, my life would be nothing but darkness and shadow. The butterflies would be lost to me forever.
“Do you really mean that?” I asked him in a whisper.
His body twitched in shock. “What do you mean?”
“Did you mean it when you said without me your ‘life would be nothing but darkness and shadow’?” I asked timidly.
He suddenly crushed me to him, squeezing so tightly I thought my ribs might crack.
“By all that is sacred! Caitlin, you just read my mind!” he exclaimed.
Jumping back, startled. “I did? I didn’t even realize.”
He cupped my chin in his hand. “Have you ever been able to hear me before?” he asked anxiously.
Shaking my head slowly, “No, I’ve never been able to hear anything from you or Jace.”
He smiled gently. “You shouldn’t be able to hear anything from us. Our races have what you might call a built-in defense system against mind readers. Wonder if it works the other way as well? Can you project your thoughts to me?” he asked excitedly.
I felt my excitement growing to match his. “I don’t know. I’ll try.”
Taking a deep breath, I focused all my concentration and formed an image in my mind—the memory of Talon, down on one knee, reciting the words which would bind me to him. He needed to see himself from my viewpoint. Mentally pushing the image to Talon with the words “I love you”, I watched intently for a reaction. I knew the moment my thought reached him.
Talon’s head jerked up and he slowly lowered himself to the edge of the bed. He sat there with his hands shaking for several moments.
“Is that really the way you see me?” he asked quietly.
I looked at him, alarmed, afraid the thought hadn’t come across accurately. “Talon, what did you see?”
He took my hands in his, “No, please do not misunderstand. It was amazing—the greatest gift I have ever received.”
My heart constricted as the tears slowly rolled down my flushed cheeks. A knock on the door interrupted us.
“Cay! Are you guys ready to go? We have to hurry if we are going to relax on the beach before we have to go to the spa,” Leah called through the door.
I walked to the door and opened it, my cheeks still flushed.
Leah raised her eyebrows and fought back a smile.
My face only reddened further. I quickly tried to divert her attention. “Let me see if I have this right—we need to hurry up so we can relax…before we go to the spa to relax?”
“Exactly!” She grinned at me brightly while Jace and Talon chuckled in the background. I jumped at the sound. I hadn’t even heard Talon follow me to the door.
“Well, let’s go then,” gesturing pointedly at Talon and Jace, “Are you guys ready?”
“Just one second,” Talon called over his shoulder while he ran back into our room. He came out with my cover-up and shoes in his hands. “Now, we’re ready,” he said with a smile.
Leah grabbed him around the neck and gave him a quick hug. “Thank you for taking such good care of my best friend.” Talon appeared genuinely surprised and then smiled back at her.
Jace wrapped an arm around my waist and squeezed gently. I elbowed him in the ribs and he raised his eyebrows as I said, “You turkey, you better take very good care of her. Understand? She is extremely important to me. Leah has always been there for me and I couldn’t bear to see her unhappy.”
“Me either,” Jace said seriously.
Jace let go of me to reach over and pull Leah into his arms. Talon wrapped his arms around me leaning me back against his massive chest.
A few minutes later, the four of us walked out of the suite hand in hand. Talon raised my left hand and kissed my knuckle just below my ring. He spun me, and then lifted me under my arms until we were at eye level. I wrapped my arms around him, kissing him softly before he gently set me down on my feet and we started down the path to the beach after Leah and Jace.
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Wailea, Maui would be a paradise by just about anyone’s standards. Caitlin and Leah are no different. They are living like rock stars with Talon and Jace in one of the poshest hotels on the island. Just when they think things can’t possibly get any better—everything falls apart. Their short lived paradise is ripped out from under them. Once again, they are on the run.
A mysterious man appears and attempts to drive a wedge between Caitlin and Talon. He whisks her away to an ancient world where she is treated like a princess yet held completely against her will. She is shown events, consequences and affairs she never dreamed possible. Will the secrets of her family destroy her happiness, or will she rely on her instincts to find a way back to the life she found with Talon?
About The Author:
Stephanie Amox attended the University of Texas at Arlington, where she met her husband. Her life did an about-face in January 2009 and the future of her career looked bleak. Her husband encouraged her to follow her dream and finally write the story which had been buzzing around in her head for a number of years, thus The Lumina Saga was born.
These days she spends her time in Flower Mound, Texas with her husband, two children and a couple of crazy Jack Russell Terriers. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time watching her son play hockey or visiting her daughter at Oklahoma State University.
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