Centaur Redemption (Touched Series) (5 page)

BOOK: Centaur Redemption (Touched Series)
4.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Zandra had taught me the story of how Centaurs came to be; Katherine just filled in the pieces Zandra had left out.  Because of Lila's love for Rupert, the goddess Athena gave Katherine’s family magic to help protect all of their offspring, and now, at least a thousand years later, Katherine assigned herself to me.  The magic she possessed wasn’t like what the Centaurides could do.  She couldn’t move objects, read minds, or see the future, but she could make others see what she wanted them to see.

Having her protection had come in handy in South Dakota.  I was grateful that she had decided to accompany me, but I worried what would happen to her if things went badly at the Centaur Council.  Humans weren’t supposed to know about Centaurs.  Katherine knew because she was a Lapith, but that made things even worse – Lapiths were Centaurs’ natural enemy.  Did the Centaur Council even know that Lapiths weren’t extinct?  When we met in South Dakota, Brent said he thought there weren’t any left.

Ben and Bart refused to go into hiding if the rest of our family was going to meet the Centaur Council.  So we were “Centaurs, party of fourteen,” walking through a South African airport. 

A small voice brought me back to the present.  “Look, Mommy, they’re on television.  I want to be on the television, too!”

A small child with blonde ringlets framing her face was pointing her little finger directly at Drake and me.  I looked up at the T.V. just to our left to see our photographs staring back at me from the television screen.  Panic gripped me.  The broadcast was in English, . . .“they are wanted for murder and are believed to be in the local area.  If you see them, you’re asked to call the number on the screen.  Do not approach them and use extreme caution.” 

I stood staring at the screen when Katherine came up and took my hand.  Her eyes were squinted shut.  I knew what she was trying to do; she was trying to disguise my appearance just like she had done with the highway patrolman and Jessica in South Dakota.  She had somehow changed the way Jessica looked to him and convinced him that Jessica was not sitting in the backseat of the car. Katherine began mumbling, “Asian tourists, Asian tourists,. . . “ 

It must have worked because the mother looked at the screen, then to our group and back to the television.  “Where?” she asked the little girl.  The little girl looked confused staring directly at me.  She must have been too young to verbalize her confusion because she said nothing else and began skipping down the hallway when her mother took her hand.

Once the mother and daughter were out of ear-shot, I asked Katherine, “How long can you do it?”

“Not long, I'm just doing you and Drake, but I may have to do all of us. We need to get out of here.”

When we were in South Dakota, Katherine had disguised Jessica for less than five minutes, and she became exhausted.  I could only imagine how much of a drain this would be on her.  Without a moment to lose, I said, “Okay, everybody, we need to pick up the pace.”




South Africa was not at all what I had expected.  When we emerged from the airport, the sky was a brilliant blue.  White clouds hugged the sky but did nothing to try to filter the sun.  The rays from the sun were hard to describe; although bright, they didn’t blare down on us the way they had in Cancun.  The sun’s rays felt less like a laser burning our skin and more like a warm blanket softly wrapped around us.

The Centaur Council meeting was scheduled for tomorrow in Centauride.  After I wasn’t able to find it on a map, Will told me it was a very small district inside the city of Centurion.  We wanted to be close to Centurion, but didn’t want to stay there for fear of being spotted.  We chose a resort that was known to be a popular destination year round, in a hope to blend in with the thousands of other international tourists.  Sun City was a popular destination, and we chose the Palace of the Lost City resort as our hideaway in plain sight.

Bianca told me I’d love it and showed me pictures on her phone, but nothing prepared me for what I saw when we drove up to check in.  The palace, and there was really no other way to describe it, stuck up out of the dense vegetation; we could see it from miles away before we arrived.  The castle itself stood six stories tall, while large turquoise domes covered observatories at nearly every angle of the building.  Imagining this castle as a real fortress rather than as a tourist destination was easy.  It was easy to visualize guards positioned at each observatory to stave off an attack.

Twelve life-sized elephant statues flanked either side of the driveway leading up to the resort’s main entrance.  Intimidating and elaborate, it gave me the sense that we were royalty, guarded by majestic beasts standing ready to charge anyone who would try to do us harm.  I knew it was built for tourists, but it was hard to ignore the feeling that we were really staying in a long forgotten city.  The resort did something I would never have dreamed possible – it made me feel protected.

Will had gone into the hotel with Ben to check in and to gather room keys while the rest of us stayed tucked discreetly inside black Mercedes SUVs.  The two returned to pass out room keys and directed all of us to different entrances to the hotel.  Although there was strength in numbers, our plan was to blend in, and the less time we all spent together in the next twenty-four hours, the safer Will believed we would be.

Drake and I walked directly to our room through a side entrance and up a staircase.  Our room was on the third floor, and our only suitcase was the oversized backpack we had picked up when we arrived in Cancun.  The rules normally reserved for Centaur and Centauride interaction were not applied to Katherine and Brent.  I wasn’t sure which one of them had spoken to Will ahead of time, but when he had come back to the group with room assignments, the two were given the same key. 

Katherine and Brent would stay on the same floor as Drake and I were.  The two were told to wait in the SUV for five minutes after we left so the four of us would be less likely to attract attention.  She looked exhausted:  Katherine had masked Drake and me from the moment of our discovery in the airport until we got into the SUV.  Katherine had offered to keep us looking like Asian tourists until we got to our room, but we believed we could make it into our room without incident.  Drake and I purposely didn’t make eye contact with anyone on the way.  Having our photographs broadcast on the local television stations was a problem, so we were extra careful not to give anyone more than a cursory glance as we passed them in the hallways.

After climbing the stairs, I opened the door to be surprised by an entire suite, large and meticulously decorated.  A living room greeted us when we walked in, complete with an overstuffed sofa, two Queen Anne chairs, and a dinette off to one side.  There were two doors:  one led into a small galley kitchen complete with a pre-stocked refrigerator and the second into a spacious bedroom.  An enormous bed covered with a pile of pillows greeted us as we stepped inside.  Just to the side of the bed was an entryway into a spa.  A two person circular jetted tub was tucked off beside a frosted picture window, and multiple shower heads adorned the walk-in shower.  Fuzzy white robes hung patiently waiting for us on the wall. 

Art was tastefully arranged, nothing ornate, but prints of ocean scenes trimmed in gold frames hung on the walls.  The fabrics covering the oversized furniture felt luxurious and welcomed us.  A fresh basket of fruit waited patiently for us on a narrow table by the window.  I walked over to give the basket a closer inspection; the view from the window behind it was hypnotic.  The window looked over a private lagoon with bright blue umbrellas peppered around the sides. 

I could get lost here.  I’d never stayed anywhere so lavish.  A fantasy began playing in my head, where Drake and I were able to escape the Centaur Council’s reach behind the tall fences of this resort.  If that fantasy could come true, I would never ask to leave.  I knew better.  No matter the draw I felt to this place, my family had death warrants on their heads.  We could be killed without warning.  Beautiful or not, our stay here would be short. 

Drake motioned toward the bed.  It was our first moment alone in a full day.  He lay stretched out and patted the pillow beside him.  “Are you tired?  Do you want to rest before we eat?”

Seeing Drake stretched out on the bed, rest wasn’t my first thought.  I snuggled in next to him, my back to his chest, spooned in tight enough that I could feel every inch of his body.  We lay wrapped in each other’s arms long enough that Drake succumbed to the jet lag.  I could feel Drake’s chest rise and fall against my back.  I watched as tender moments between the two of us played brilliantly in his dreams.  I lay still, enjoying them.  It was strange to see myself through his eyes; every image of me that played through his mind was flawless.

It was an odd sensation to see myself as he saw me.  No one could possibly smile that brilliantly, stare that earnestly, or run as adeptly as his memories remembered.  He was dreaming, that explained it.  Surely, if it were really memories of me, there would be more looks of worry and fear etched into my features, a scared girl doing the best she could.

I jerked as my phone rang across the room.  I moved swiftly to get out of the bed and answer it, but Drake’s arms gripped me more tightly.  His voice echoed behind me, “No.  Not yet.”

I leaned back against him heavily, countering, “It could be important.”

His arms didn’t slack.  “If it was important, Bianca or Gretchen, or one of the other Centaurides would have contacted you telepathically.  Let it go to voicemail.  Stay here with me.”

He was right.  Everyone but Katherine could contact me telepathically.  I acted as a relay if any of them had a message they needed to send to the other Centaurs in our group.  We had all learned that every Centaur, Centauride and Lapith could hear the thoughts I broadcast to them.  We’d tested it on the plane before we arrived.  We had all agreed that no one would leave the resort area.  The confines of the Lost City Resort would ensure that we remained close enough to communicate with one another.  Cancun had taught us that there was strength in numbers. 

By Katherine and Brent staying in a room in our same hallway, she was sure she was close enough to mask my “signature” so long as I stayed in my room.  My phone rang again.

I squeezed Drake’s arm that still wound around me.  “It could be Katherine.  Maybe she wants to go downstairs to eat?  Or maybe she hasn’t recovered from the airport and Brent needs us.”

Drake’s arms reluctantly slacked.  He was as indebted to Katherine as I was.  I leaped to my feet and caught it on the third ring.  I eyed the display to see who it was before I answered.  “Hi, Will.  What’s up?”

His voice answered solemnly, “We have a problem.”

My heart sank.  My father, Will, went out of his way to try to paint a rosy picture every time he opened his mouth.  Hearing that he believed we had a problem was. . . well, a problem.  “Okay.  What is it?”

“Cameron just arrived with the enforcer you set free yesterday.”

Giddily, I answered, “Cameron?  My brother?  That’s great!”  I ran for my bag and pulled out a pair of shorts and a tee, and flicked on a light to find my flops.  “Where is he?”

“Camille, he’s with an enforcer.”

His words sank in.  “Do you think he’s a prisoner?”

“No.  I want you and Drake to stay in your room.  There could be more enforcers we just haven’t identified.  Stay where you are.”

Stay where I was?  Cameron and I hadn’t seen each other since we were just days old.  I’d never met him and was elated at the thought he was here – right here, in this hotel.  Why would Will be trying to keep us apart?  “I need to see him.  If he’s a prisoner, Drake can help him.”  At the mention of his name, Drake blurred before my eyes; he stood in front of the door before Will could even answer me.

Will’s voice deepened, “He doesn’t look like he’s being held against his will.”

There was something in Will’s voice.  Something was wrong, but he didn’t want me to know what it was.  Frankly, I didn’t care.  “I have to see him.  Where is he?”

He hesitated briefly, then asked, “Can I talk to Drake?”

The giddiness I had been feeling began to ebb as frustration bubbled in my blood, “No.  Where’s Cameron?  If you don’t tell me, I’ll find him on my own.”

Just then the strangest sensation came over me.  It was as if my own voice was calling me in my head.  “
Camille?  Camille, where are you?  Camille, I need to see you.

It was Cameron; it had to be him.  I hung up the phone, no longer wanting to argue with Will and refusing to let him sway Drake.  I opened my mind completely to the voice.  “
I’m here.  Is that you, Cameron?

Come down to the lobby.  I need to see you.

Elation poured out of me at the thought of finally meeting him.  “Drake, Cameron’s here!  He’s downstairs right now.  C’mon!”  Drake stood in front of the door, his arms crossed, looking as menacing as I’d ever seen him.  “What?  Didn’t you hear me?  Cameron’s downstairs!”

“Who was on the phone?”

I shook my head, “It was Will.  But never mind, we need to go downstairs.  Cameron just called me in my head; he sounds just like me!”

Drake eyed me suspiciously, “What did Will tell you?”

“I don’t care what Will had to say.  My brother’s here.  Don’t you know what that means?”

BOOK: Centaur Redemption (Touched Series)
4.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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