Birthright (The Stone Legacy Series Book 5)

Birthright

 

Book 5 of

The Stone Legacy Series

 

 

Theresa Dalayne

 

 

Birthright

 

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa DaLayne.

All rights reserved.

First Print Edition:April 2016

 

 

Limitless Publishing, LLC

Kailua, HI 96734

www.limitlesspublishing.com

 

Formatting: Limitless Publishing

 

ISBN-13: 978-1-68058-602-2

ISBN-10: 1-68058-602-5

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.

 

Dedication

 

This final Stone Legacy book is dedicated to my mother, Winnie Donat, who bore more responsibility than her share, all to see me fulfill my dream of completing this series. You pushed me forward, challenged me to write better, and cooked more dinners than I can count so I could hide in my office and meet deadlines. I know that without your ongoing support and encouragement, I wouldn't be celebrating this success. I love you so much, Mom.

And I promise if I make a boatload of money from this series, I'm totally buying you that cabin in the woods. Now it's in writing, like a contract signed in blood. But that's creepy, so not really.

 

 

 

 

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Chapter One

 

 

Zanya

 

The road was deserted just outside the city of Tikal. The car was quiet, and the air was thick with tension, making it harder and harder to breathe.

Zanya slouched in the passenger seat and pulled her knees to her chest. “I can’t believe that just happened.” She combed her fingers through her hair, pulling strands away from her heated cheeks. “I don’t understand. I mean…” Her bottom lip trembled through her effort to hide it. “My mom wanted me to choose between you and her. How could she?”

Arwan trained his gaze on the long, straight highway, gripping the steering wheel so tightly his knuckles turned dusky, and the tendons that wound up his forearm bulged with every movement. “She should understand.” He flexed his jaw. “She fell in love with a human once, even though nobody approved of their love.”

“But they never bonded.” Humans and Riyata couldn’t bond, but then again… She dragged her gaze to Arwan’s angled jaw and dark, piercing eyes. “What happened back there? We shouldn’t have been able to bond.”

For the first time, he tore his attention away from the road and examined her. “I don’t know.”

The lights of aurora never should have chosen her and Arwan to be soul mates. He as partial underworlder, and she as the Stone Guardian. They were incompatible—or so they were told.

A flutter rolled in Zanya’s belly as she looked into Arwan’s smoky eyes. It was just hours ago, while standing on the grassy hill that overlooked the solstice celebration, she was sure any hope of them being together was lost forever. Now her world had been turned upside-down, and their bond had been sealed. The heaven spirits—the gods of Tamoanchan—must have seen something in him. Something that made him worthy.

She exhaled and placed her feet back on the floorboard. “Where are we going?”

“Into the city. We’ll at least have a place to spend the night.”

Heat wound around her muscles and crawled down the backs of her legs. Spend the night? As in—together? After their bonding, it never occurred to her what came next. She flushed just from being near him, let alone staying the night with him.

Her first solstice was over and the effect it had on her carnal instincts was supposed to have worn off. Apparently that wasn’t the case. It didn’t help she sensed the anchor of their bond deep in her bones. Her skin flushed with another rush of heat.

“Are you okay?”

Zanya tucked hair behind her ear. “Yeah, I think so. Why?”

“I can hear your heart racing.”

“Right. I forgot about that whole instinct thing.”

He grinned, ever so slightly. “At least you’re not crying anymore.”

Her soft smile vanished as her mind flashed back to her mother’s death-glare. She really hated Arwan, with every fiber of her being. The way she seethed to see them standing together was chilling. Her mother had never seemed so cold.

“We’ll stop at an ATM, and then find a hotel. I’ll call Renato. He’ll know what we should do.”

“An ATM? Did Renato give you a bank card or something?”

“No.” He stole another glance at her. “I have some savings stored away.”

“Savings?” As far as she knew, he’d spent his entire life at Renato’s house. “How did you save anything? I thought you’d never lived outside of Toledo.”

His features grew sober. “I inherited enough to keep us comfortable. It was the one tangible thing my mother left behind.”

From his mother who abandoned him? That didn’t sound like something a careless woman would do. But it was too sore of a topic to bring up now, and in all honesty, it wasn’t important. As long as they had enough money to eat and keep a roof over their heads until they figured out what to do next, everything else was secondary.

As long as they were together, it didn’t matter.

Zanya leaned her head against the leather seat. They’d taken the car from the solstice celebration—another issue they’d have to deal with later. The hum of the engine and the muffled roar of wind flowing through the cracked windows blended into white noise and relaxed her rigid muscles.

Her stone vibrated from its pouch on the bracelet her mother had given her. She sucked in a tiny breath. Her stone. It must have been terrified after everything that’d happened, even though it hadn’t translated it to her. In fact, it seemed calm.

She opened the pouch and slipped her stone into the palm of her hand. “Hey.” She held it between her fingers and rolled it around. It glowed with warm hues of orange. “I know it’s a lot to take in.” It glowed brighter, blanketing her with tranquility. “Hm. Not so tough, then, huh?” She glanced at Arwan. “Yeah, he’s not so bad.”

“I suppose I’ll have to get used to you talking to your rock?” He snickered.

“Shh.” She hugged it against her chest. “It’ll hear you call it a rock.”

“And?” Arwan’s eyes lit up. “What’s it going to do?”

“You shouldn’t be afraid of what
it’ll
do.” She pressed her index finger on his biceps and summoned a pulse of electricity to course over her hand. The shock kissed his skin with a thwack of light.

He swerved and shouted. “Are you trying to kill us both?” He rubbed his arm, still half-grinning.

Zanya couldn’t tear her attention away from his caramel skin, dark lashes, and teasing smirk.

His grin spread. “Your heart is racing again.”

She blew out a puff of air and slouched back in her chair. “You’ve got to stop using your heightened senses for your personal advantage.”

He placed his hand on her thigh. “Why?”

She suppressed the quiver crawling up her leg.

She hadn’t been with anyone before. Jayden was her first real boyfriend—if there were such a thing in a mental institution—but they’d never gotten past second base.

It was all too much to wrap her mind around at once.

Arwan slid his hand down to her knee and squeezed it, just once, before returning his hand to the wheel, as if he knew what she was thinking.

The coil that gripped her lungs slowly relaxed, but not before she realized the light in her chest had flickered on—a dead giveaway to her anxiety.

She drew in a slow, deep breath and turned on the radio. Some music would help pass the time, at least until they got to the city. Then they’d call Renato and find out when it was safe to go home.

Something told her it would be a while, if ever, before her mother would welcome them back.

 

***

 

Arwan

 

He’d driven through the night, watching the secluded desert terrain morph into wide highways and twinkling lights from towering buildings in the distance.

Zanya had been asleep for almost an hour. Her rhythmic breathing and steady heartbeat kept him calm while he searched for an explanation.

She was right. They never should have been allowed to bond.

He grabbed his cellphone from the cup holder and flipped it open. He’d hoped to talk to Renato in private. This would have to do. Once Zanya woke, he didn’t want to shut her out, though he didn’t want to alarm her with his conversation with Renato, in case anything unexpected came up.

He tapped his thumb over the buttons and pressed the phone to his ear. It rang just once before Renato picked up.

“Arwan. Are you two all right?”

“Yeah. We’re okay.”

“Where are you?”

“Driving.” They’d spend a few nights in random hotels, but he still didn’t know where they’d go after that. “We’re both confused, and Zanya is still trying to wrap her mind around her mother’s ultimatum.”

“I know. I’m sure you are both very shaken up. Ellie hasn’t given Marzena a moment’s rest since you two left, begging her to somehow connect with Zanya using her ability. She’s terribly worried for Zanya’s safety. She still believes you’re going to hurt her.”

The mention of anyone hurting Zanya drove a spike of adrenaline through his blood. He’d protect her from anyone or anything, no matter what, and with his life. “Tell Marzena we appreciate her giving us our privacy.”

“Marzena has insisted nothing less. I’ve spent every waking moment researching, trying to understand exactly what happened. The gods of Tamoanchan must have somehow blessed your union with—” There was a brief pause. “Your bond. How could I have neglected to congratulate you? I’m terribly sorry. It’s just that under the circumstances—”

“Don’t worry about that, Renato.” The corners of his mouth turned up while he admired Zanya for a fleeting moment—curled into a ball, still deeply asleep. “Thank you. It’s…” His chest tightened as the link between them deepened, boring into his soul. “It’s nothing like I ever thought possible. I don’t…” To say it aloud felt somehow wrong, but it was the absolute truth. “I don’t hate myself anymore. It’s like I’m finally at peace.”

“That’s truly outstanding. I couldn’t be happier for you both, even if the union is somewhat unconventional. How is Zanya coping with the bond? Neither of you expected it, and I’m sure the sudden link has had a jarring impact on you.”

“So far we’re both handing the bond fairly well.” In fact, not a lot had changed for him. He had always been connected to Zanya. Even before Drina interpreted the passage from the book of Popul Vuh, revealing they were truly destined for each other, he somehow knew.

“Very good. Please keep a close watch over her, as I know you will. I’ll work to get Ellie under control and find a way to bring both of you back.”

Arwan nodded. “Okay. Meanwhile, Zanya and I are going to stay in the city.”

“Why would you choose to stay there?”

“What choice do we have?”

Renato was silent for a long moment. “There is a second option. Perhaps it’s time to tell you.”

“Tell me…” He paused. “Tell me what?”

“About your home.”

Arwan’s throat tightened, and he pulled the car to a stop in the emergency lane. “Home?” He gripped the wheel tighter with one hand. “What are you talking about?”

Renato breathed into the phone—the kind of breath you let out when you dreaded what you were about to say. “Do you remember the home you grew up in, before you came to Toledo? Before you lived with me?”

He could barely remember what his mother looked like, let alone his childhood home. If it weren’t for the sketches hung on his bedroom wall in Renato’s house, Drina’s brief link outside her hut in Belize, and the fleeting moment he watched her through Contessa’s magical haze in Moscow, he probably would have forgotten her entirely.

“I’ll take your silence as a no.” Renato’s voice snapped him out of his thoughts. “Spend as long as you’d like in the city, but when you’re ready, travel to Mexico.”

“Mexico?” His breaths quickened. “Is that where I’m from?”

“That is where you were born, and where you spent your childhood—in your mother’s home.”

“It’s still there? You’re sure?” It had been nearly fifteen years since he left when he was six.

“I received a piece of mail many years ago with nothing but the deed to the home in your mother’s name, postmarked. I could only assume it was your mother who sent it. It wasn’t signed, and there was no note to accompany it.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this before? You gave me my money inheritance, but not this? I should have known—” He clamped his teeth and gripped his chest tighter. His darker half whipped and burrowed into him. Arwan groaned and leaned into the steering wheel.

“Are you all right, Arwan?” Renato’s voice was muffled in his ears. He drew in a shaky breath, concentrating on putting his darker half at rest. Soon, it settled down and became dormant again.

“Text me the address,” he whispered, not wanting to wake Zanya and worry her. “I have to go.”

Arwan hung up the phone and tossed it in the back seat, then mounted both hands on the wheel and stared ahead. His palms were clammy and his head throbbed from the rush of darkness slithering through him.

There would be no staying at a hotel. He’d push through this and keep driving—all the way to the airport.

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