Centaur Redemption (Touched Series) (9 page)

BOOK: Centaur Redemption (Touched Series)
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His grip loosened but he still held my arms.  I leaned back into the stream of water to rinse off as he stood in front of me.  Almost absently, Drake asked, “Are you sure?  How did you know she was planting memories?”

“At first, I didn’t.  I was only semi-conscious.  When I began to wake up, I don’t know . . . they looked wrong.  The memories were too shiny or something.  You know the part that bothers me is no way did Phyllis do this on her own.”

Drake’s eyebrows furrowed, “Phyllis?  I thought you said Phineas’ daughter’s name was Violet?  How do you mean?”

“All that time I spent at Zandra’s house, she talked to me about every bit of mythology I’d ever forgotten, and a ton I’d never learned.  King Sisyphus should never have been able to board the ferry to begin with.”

The subject change had caught Drake off guard.  “What?”

“The king couldn’t have gotten on the ferry by himself.  He wasn’t a soul and only souls are permitted to board the ferry – they’re the only ones capable of traversing the River Styx to Hades.  Someone else had to have been involved.”

Drake’s head cocked to the side as he contemplated my theory.  “Say that again.”

I turned off the still hot water, wrung out my hair onto the floor of the shower, and reached for a towel.  “It bothered me ever since Will told me Zeus put the death decree on the Lost Herd, but I couldn’t put my finger on why it bothered me.  When we were in Cancun, Katherine told me how Athena helped to protect the Lost Herd from Zeus – that’s when it hit me.  One of the gods had to have been involved when King Sisyphus boarded the ferry.  He couldn’t have boarded the ferry on his own.  Yet, no one seems the least bit concerned about that part.”  I handed Drake a towel as he stood looking dumbfounded, “I guess it’s easier to blame a Centauride and her whole family for an idea rather than a god who was guilty of taking action.”

“You’re right.”  Drake pulled me hard against him, smashing me into his bulky frame.  “Holy shit, you’re right!  One of the gods has kept quiet all this time and no one ever questioned it.  Who cares about an idea being inserted in someone’s head – a god had to have helped the King.  One that was deliberately responsible.  Cami, you’re a genius!”

I wasn’t a genius.  I was an exhausted Centauride. . . soaking wet in a shower, with a husband that was more attractive than a lottery jackpot.  I could feel something radiating from him, his aura maybe.  That aura or whatever was radiating off of him felt like – joy.

My hand found its way to his cheek.  I could feel the love through his eyes as he looked down into mine.  We stood there motionless, no thoughts shared between us, but longing for the other was as clear as if the words were spoken.  Drake reached down and picked me up, my legs draped over one of his arms as my back was cradled by his other. 

We emerged from the bathroom into our dark room.  He slowly made his way through the darkness to the enormous bed that had greeted us when we arrived.  He set me on my feet just to the side of it.  Drake’s forearms lay against both my shoulders while his hands cradled the back of my head and his thumbs caressed my earlobes. 

His voice was pained, “After tomorrow all of this will be behind us.  I promise, you will never want for anything.”

“I only want for one thing right now.”  I stood on my tip toes as my lips gently brushed his.  As I began to ease back, Drake brought his mouth to mine – hard.  Sparks rained on me from the inside out.  I wanted him, I wanted everything about him.  If things didn’t go well tomorrow with the Council, I would never be satisfied with just eternity with him.  I wasn’t willing to give up this life.  I wanted this touch, this physical thirst quenched every day for the rest of my life.  I wanted the rest of my life.

Drake reached down and flung the covers open on the bed.  His weight pressed against me as we fell onto it together.  “Maybe you didn’t hear me. . . I said you’ll never want for anything.”

His strong hands turned light as a feather when they began caressing the length of me.  Goose bumps erupted on my skin from his touch.  Drake murmured, “You are beautiful.”

The words were like a comforting melody to my ears.  I remembered the flawless images of me playing in his dreams as he had napped earlier.  I wondered if he could see himself through my eyes?  His blond hair with streaks of gold from the sun, his chiseled chest that looked like it might have been molded from a statue, the way the blue of his eyes was more calming than the sky on a bright summer’s day.  “You’re pretty sexy yourself.”

Beyond his physical attractiveness, there was something about Drake.  Each night when we drifted off to sleep, his arms wrapped around me in a protective cocoon, the rhythm of our heartbeats in sync as his warmth encompassed me.

Drake rolled onto his back and slid my body over his, so I was draped across him.  His eyes were locked on mine as his smile faded.  Drake’s words echoed the love in both our hearts when he said, “I need you.”

His hand reached behind my head and pulled my lips down onto his, crushing me into him.  His tongue slid into my mouth desperately seeking mine, as a quiet moan released from deep inside him.  Our bodies were pressed together, skin on skin, as his hands began kneading their way up and down my back. 

Just when I thought I couldn’t wait one more second, he lifted me onto him and we made love.  Slow thrusts prolonged the pleasure.  His touch awakened the desire that sat just under the surface of my skin.  We moved together as if our bodies were made for each other, existing for the sole purpose of finding pleasure in the other’s body.  Our release came together as we stayed wrapped in each other’s arms. 

Minutes passed as the euphoria I felt hung in the air.  There was no place else in the world I wanted to be.  There was no room in my head to consider what we would be up against tomorrow, because every ounce of me wanted only to remain in this moment.

Drake cleared his throat, “I hope I was able to get your mind off of Cameron.”

He had.  Although I’m sure it wasn’t his intention, I found humor in his words.  “So, that’s your plan?  Whenever it looks like I’m going to have a meltdown, you’ll just pull me into a dark room and make love to me?”

“Well, I’d like to say I did it just for your benefit, but it may have been a little selfish on my part, too.”





Chapter 7

(Zethus Chiron – South Africa)


This airport was selected long ago for its proximity to Centurion.  Each family built hangars that stand empty most of the year.  Too many family planes in one location would create unwanted attention and spur curiosity.  The staff at this airport learned long ago to turn a blind eye to our planes; in return their wallets grew fat each time a Centaur Council meeting was held.  My jet had just taxied into the hangar when I saw the tail markings on the aircraft touching down on the runway.  Hers was the only other family plane to carry the Chiron crest.

I left my wife and sons at home, though all three had wanted to come along.  Zandra had forbidden me to leave Thessaly when she became the Chairman.  I had never had a reason to leave the serenity of Thessaly, until now.  My banishment from Centaur society had happened so long ago that few, if any, even knew I was still alive. 

I could have flown commercial.  I could have chartered a private jet, but something inside me wouldn’t let me.  The judgment passed on me was for murders I had never committed.  It was Zandra who should have been locked away all those years.  She stole the lives of our parents and in the process stole them both from me.  No, I would no longer confine myself to Thessaly.  It was time her precious Council knew the truth.

I thought of my boys at home with their mother, still furious with me for refusing to bring them with me.  Both had argued that I would be safer with a son flanking me on each side.  I shook my head as if still trying to convince myself –
the further away they are from Centurion, the better
.  This Centaur Council meeting could turn volatile, and I would draw no comfort taking them with me to the pasture. 

I got off my plane with little fanfare; no passengers or stowaways accompanied me, so I gingerly made my way down the metal stairs onto the crumbling cement floor.  Halfway here I had begun to question my decision and nearly asked the pilot to turn around and take me home. 
This wasn’t my fight.  I had no feelings for the Tak herd one way or the other
.  I felt my lips twitch at the lie.  When Camille had come to my home in Ireland, I felt a draw to her – she was special. 

Camille had her mother’s eyes, but the strength she wielded was all her own.  I had only met Angela once; it was when she was pregnant.  Angela had spent several weeks at my home trying to make sense of her circumstances – I could offer her little more than advice at the time.  Ultimately, I had failed Angela.  I wouldn’t make the same mistake with her daughter; I would do whatever I could for Camille.

My sister needed to be stopped.  I couldn’t idly stand by and let history repeat itself.  I wouldn’t allow her to murder another carrying the Chiron blood.  I crept in the shadows, unintentionally holding my breath, silently waiting in the corner of the hangar for her plane to be pulled in.  A few minutes from now she would see my plane and know I had left Thessaly. 

The wings of her plane had barely made it inside the hangar when the jet’s door opened.  The plane eased to a stop as a set of metal stairs was rolled to the open door.  This ground crew was faster than a scalded dog.

She stood at the top of the metal stairs and looked at my plane.  Her lips pursed together tightly in a scowl as I felt my own grow to a satisfied grin. 
Welcome, sister
, I thought from the shadows.  She couldn’t hear my thoughts – we had long ago severed our twin connection.  The satisfaction in seeing her disdain for my presence warmed my insides.  She ambled down the stairs, making a straight line for an awaiting SUV.  I called out, “Ah, Sister.  I’d hoped the rumors that you were still alive were wrong and you would be sun-bathing in hell by now.”

Her scowl set deeper as she stopped abruptly.  Zandra and I had long ago parted ways.  My heart was hard and cold where she was concerned.  Many a night I thought back to the evening she’d murdered our parents in cold blood.  I couldn't count the number of times I’d woken in a cold sweat, having dreamed that my eyes were the last thing she saw as I squeezed the life out of her evil body in revenge for our parents. 

My hands began to tremble at my side.  Aside from the enforcer waiting in the car, I sensed no other Centaurs in the vicinity.  The trembling didn’t arrive out of fear; it was the idea that I could exact revenge, here, with no one to stop me.  Adrenaline pumped wildly through my veins as I remembered images of Mam and Dad lying on the floor in a pool of their own blood.

Zandra didn’t seem the least bit rattled by my presence.  “Zethus, I am surprised you finally left the serenity of Thessaly.  Feeling brave, are you?  You still have many enemies among the Centaur.” 

I hadn’t heard my own sister’s voice in decades; she now spoke with an American accent.  It didn’t suit her.  Her hair was loose at her shoulders; the years had faded her sunny blonde hair to a brilliant white.  As I drew closer, her face wasn’t the one I remembered; wrinkles were now set deep in her face.  The sister I remembered was barely visible anymore.  I wasn’t sure why it never occurred to me she would have aged just as I had.  My response was measured and slow, “I have only one enemy.”

Her scowl deepened to a grimace.  “Why are you here?  You’re too old to be considered for Chairman.  You have no business here in Centauride.”  The clip of her words did nothing to cloak the condescension of her tone.

“I bought that plane after I met your granddaughter.  I’d like to think that my opinion is o’ some value to the Council.”

Zandra crossed her arms as she spat, “Keep thinking it.  You’re the only one who believes it.”

She tried to walk past me.  My hands were still shaking.  I didn’t reach out to try to stop her, but I said, “I met your granddaughter.”

Her answer might as well have been wrapped in hate and tied up with a hostile bow.  “I’m aware.”

“I’ve heard rumors o’ her betrothed.”  Near fantastical rumors, I needed to see for myself.  I wanted the rumors to be true.  If Drake really were a Centaur Warrior, Camille could ask for no better protection.  A chairman with a true warrior at her side could make hard decisions, lead our race without fear. 

Her answer was emotionless, “They’re no longer betrothed.  They’ve married.  Why are
interested in the rumors?”

I thought it quite obvious.  “If they’re true, Chiron has spoken.”

“Chiron did not speak.  The same would have happened to any Centaur dumb enough to hold Hercules’ arrow.  Drake Nash drained what was left of our family’s magic.  It’s nothing more than the protection promised to our line generations ago.”

I could hardly believe my ears.  Did she believe what she was saying?  “It’s more than that an’ you know it.”

Her brown eyes narrowed on mine.  “Do not pretend to know what I do, Brother.”

I didn’t like the way she said it.  It was I who saved her life all those years ago.  I sacrificed everything for her; and what did I get for it?  Whispers in dark pubs, glares from strangers, people pointing and gossiping about my wife and children.  I always believed the guilt she must have carried with her every day of her life was a more fitting punishment, so I let her lies go unchecked.  Here, decades later, in this empty hangar I refused to let her pretend anymore. 

BOOK: Centaur Redemption (Touched Series)
9.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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