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Authors: S. K. Munt

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The Marked Ones

BOOK: The Marked Ones
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The Marked Ones

Book 1 of the Fairytail Saga

 

S.K Munt

 

©Copyright 2013 Samantha Munt

 

 

To my husband, who is the embodiment of every romantic hero, my mother who taught me to love books, ‘The Evil Trio’ who stayed up until 3am, reinforcing my belief in every word and to Tegan-who saw the mermaids too.

 

 

 

1.

As sleep eluded her for the third hour, Ivyanne thrashed against her pillows, shifting her weight and kicking her aching legs free of the prickly blankets. She wanted to cry out in frustration but couldn’t with her roommate slumbering beside her.

Just enough moonlight filtered through the thin curtains to illuminate Adele in the bed across the room. Adele’s chest rose and fell like a swelling sea, and she was snoring lightly. In sleep, she looked sweet, and almost innocent, but waking her would shatter that facade. Ivyanne had expected to be welcomed with a degree of warmth from the head bartender, but Adele had been cold and defensive around Ivyanne from the moment she’d moved into the bungalow that afternoon.

Of course Ivyanne knew why Adele had disliked her at first sight. She’d felt her boss’s gaze, raking her ice blue eyes up and down Ivyanne with that gleam of envy only humans could muster. Apparently, Ivyanne was a beauty. Well, according to everyone she’d ever met, that was. But if that was the case, beauty was not something which could be felt, because Ivyanne couldn’t remember the last time she’d caught her own reflection and felt that rush of pleasure she was apparently entitled to.

Ironically, it was Ivyanne who envied Adele, and the effortless sleep she had slipped into while Ivyanne’s body tortured her from the inside out. Ivyanne made a face and rotated again, forcing herself to breathe deeply and evenly as she stared at the faux-pine wallpaper on the bungalow wall.

If I make it through to sunrise, I’ll be okay. She reminded herself. But her inner dialogue lacked conviction.The suffocation hung over her like a shroud. The skin on her shoulders prickled, her heart thumped erratically in her chest, her legs twitched and burned like they might after a six hour sprint, while the rest of her felt heavy and out of alignment. There was no air conditioning in the bungalow, which should have been a small mercy, but it was a still night and the sheets that were tangled around her legs felt as sticky as fur. She couldn’t believe her physical being could manifest worry and frustration like this. How did the others do it? Was it possible to actually die from withdrawals?

Somewhere in the distance, Ivyanne heard the muted hiss of a wave breaking the shore, and the sound had an immediate effect on her. First a chill raced down her spine, followed by the immediate sensation of levity, as though her soul was escaping her tortured body.

I can’t do it! She thought with sudden clarity. I just can’t! She bolted upright in bed, kicking off the sheets. Coming back to the Seaview had been awful idea. It wouldn’t be the same without him, anyway-and wasn’t that what had really drawn her back? The memories of her human?

The realization of her impending failure was freeing to her. She scrambled out of the bed, heart racing with excitement. She couldn’t fight it, so she would give in. It was the only solution, and such an easy one. How could she have not realized this hours before?

Ivyanne managed to contain her excitement enough to step lightly through the room. She’d already learned that the glass sliding door of the bungalow suffered with a squeal, so she crossed to the open window beside her bed. The thick shrubbery of the rainforest pressed against the glass, leaving her little room to maneuver. She hitched her leg over the sill, pushed off the edge and landed on all fours in the garden. The ferns were moist and whispery against her skin, and pine bark shifted under her weight.

She sprung back into
a crouch and bolted through the night, following the paved footpath which wound between the bungalows.They were illuminated by garden lights, but she did not need them to guide her. The path leading from the resort to the sea was an escape route-one she had memorized within moments of arriving there that afternoon.

Her speed generated a light wind across her overheated face as she weaved between the pool and the restaurant, soothing the crawling sensation on her scalp. Her feet ached from being on the hard ground all day, but she pressed past the pain and kept going until she reached the peak of the hill which led down to the beach. She paused there only long enough to look around for any witnesses before launching forward. She ran down the hillside grinning, the grass slick and cool under her feet, the few trees which dotted it were shadows in the dark night, and easy to avoid even as the decline caused her to pick up speed. She didn’t slow even when the grass gave way to cool sand-this spurred her on faster.  Over the boardwalk and down the dunes she went, ripping her white cotton nightgown over her head and flinging it behind her. The ocean breeze was a soothing kiss against her bare skin.

Once she cleared the low sand dunes, Ivyanne paused, relishing the sight, barely out of breath from the run but savoring the fresh salty air which expanded her lungs. The ocean lay before her, black and cool and inviting, broken only by a few wisps of foam and the reflection of moonlight on the water. It was low tide so she still had a bit of ground to cover-but there it was, beckoning to her.

I’m coming!
She screamed in her head, resuming her sprint, driven now by raw urgency. She no longer cared about the consequences of giving up, and didn’t want to be reminded of those who did. She had made the decision to come to the mainland, and now she was making the decision to return home.

But Ivyanne was only five feet away from the water when the hand grabbed her by the upper arm and tossed her back against the sand.

‘Not going to happen!’ A young, male voice said firmly. ‘Not tonight, princess.’


Ugh!’ Ivyanne landed hard, instantly winded, and already plotting the death of her attacker, batting her cloak of curls out of her eyes with wet, sandy hands. ‘Who the-?!’ It took Ivyanne a moment to collect herself. Her backside hurt from the impact of landing on the cold sand. She stared up at her assailant and sprang to her feet, rage clouding her mind instantly when she recognized his silhouette in the moonlight. ‘Ardhi...!’

Ardhi stepped forward to block her path to the ocean with his body, catching the hand she’d meant to strike him with and forcing it down. She allowed this, only because she didn’t
really want to wrestle him while unclothed.

His dark grey eyes glinted like steel in the muted light. ‘You can thank me later when you start to deal with the withdrawals, okay?’

‘Thank you?’ she repeated, snatching her hand back, hugging herself. ‘Get out of my way so you can thank me for not killing you! Haven’t you made enough of a mess of my life for one year?’ She moved to push past him but he shoved her back and stepped closer again.

‘You’ve spent the last three months of your life begging to go to the mainland,’ Ardhi said quietly. ‘I can’t let you quit on the first night.’

Ivyanne was furious with him for prolonging her suffering. ‘You’ve never mainstreamed! You don’t know what it’s like! It’s like I can’t breathe!’

He took her by the upper arms and leaned his face into hers so she was forced to meet his gaze. ‘You’ve been here less than a
day Ivyanne. We’ve all done that. You’ve done it hundreds of time before yourself!’

She shook her head. ‘It’s different, knowing that you can’t-’ her voice broke. ‘I can’t acclimatize to it Ardhi. You warned me, didn’t you? You knew I was too weak.’

Her oldest friend bent down to a crouch, pulling her with him to keep their eyes level. ‘I know it’s hard. And yes, I warned you that it would be harder for you. You and me, we never practiced like we should.’ He frowned. ‘But that doesn’t mean that you won’t get better.  I mean, who will trust your judgement ever again if you prove yourself to be so weak-willed?’ His lip twitched. ‘Unless you’ve made your decision already, of course…?’

Made her decision?
Ivyanne almost laughed at the very notion of having resolved such a complex problem so swiftly. She sniffled, the dull ache in her limbs rising to a blinding pain as she felt his ocean-damp skin brush against hers. ‘I don’t care about which one of you idiots I marry!’ she whimpered, piteously, ‘I just want to go home.’

‘You only think that now, because the first week is the hardest,’ he said in a soothing tone, stroking her hair. ‘You
know it will get better.’

Ivyanne sniffled again, barely hearing him. His appearance had sobered her, but the devious siren inside her was already searching for ways through him and past him. Ardhi had been her best friend since the year she had turned sixteen, and usually, she would have listened to him.

But he wasn’t just her friend anymore-she had his heart in more ways than one now, and that was an advantage she could finally use. Ivyanne went into auto pilot before her logic could talk her out of the plan.


Please?!’ Ivyanne flung her arms around him, knocking him off balance, her bare breasts against his wet skin, forcing the kind of intimacy she had come to the mainland to avoid. Her lips grazed over the small tattoo on the crook of his shoulder, three wavy lines, three black dots. So simple yet so symbolic. And so similar to her own. He tasted like salt.

‘It’s like burning
alive in that bed....’ She knew she’d reflect on this moment and wince-but none of that mattered to her at that time. He was a roadblock, and she had to get him out of her way. ‘I missed you so much!’ she whispered in his ear, before hiding her flaming face in his neck. ‘You were right, I belong down there...with you...’ Ivyanne tightened the embrace around him and smiled when she felt his heartbeat quicken through his hard chest.

‘Ivyanne...’ her name came out as a soft moan. Ardhi returned her embrace, one hand pressing against the small of her back, the other going to her hair and pulling her face closer, temptation getting the better of him as she’d known it would. ‘You can’t give in so quickly...’

‘Think of it as me giving in to you,’ she returned, looking over his shoulder and at the dark sea wantonly. All she needed was one minute in there, so she could think clearly...whatever it took to get in. ‘Finally….’

She leaned into him, moving her lips closer to his. Even in her frenzied state, part of Ivyanne was sensible enough to detach itself from the situation and realize that what she was doing was callous and manipulative. She wished she could ignore the guilt but the feeling of Ardhi’s hands on her was so peculiar that it kept her hovering between a dream and reality. But she was so desperate to go home to her family that she’d agree to marry him right
then and there if it meant escaping the mainland!

Suddenly, Ardhi stiffened in her arms. Ivyanne tore her gaze once again from the ocean behind him and back to his eyes, her heart sinking when she saw the hurt and disbelief in them.

‘Oh wow.’ He released her and stumbled back like she was a venomous snake. ‘You’re putting one over me!’ He gaped at her, towering over her. ‘Bribing me with sex? I can’t believe you’d stoop to that!’

Ivyanne had toppled onto the sand on her hands and knees when he left her, and now she glared up at him angrily. How dare he judge her like some demigod? ‘Don’t be so dramatic,’ she scoffed, getting to her feet and brushing the sand off her knees. ‘I only wanted you to kiss me and then take me home.’

‘Where you could go back to calling me a stalker?’ he asked, hands on narrow hips.

‘Oh
no...’ her voice dripped with sarcasm. She crossed her arms over her bare chest and cocked her head to the side, feeling the irritation flare inside her once more as she spat out a strand of hair that had worked it’s way into her mouth. ‘Call the man lingering in the shallows of the beach near where I work on the off-chance that I might run- a stalker?’ She rolled her eyes. ‘Never.’

‘I’m here for your protection,’ he insisted. ‘If lust was controlling
my every move we’d be kissing right now.’ The word kissing sounded awkward coming from his virginal mouth. He frowned deeply, a movement of shadows in the moonlight. ‘How can you use me like that?”


Use you?’ She rolled her eyes heavenward. ‘Why can’t a kiss just be a kiss? You were my friend, Ardhi. Just my friend. One day, one stupid, horrible day changed everything in my life-including you-and it’s not fair! Why must every move I make be so planned and analyzed now?’

He glowered at her. ‘You
know why.’

‘Oh, right!’ She slapped herself on the forehead. ‘I forgot! I’m the virgin princess marked for sacrifice, right?’

Ardhi laughed. ‘Don’t expect me to feel sorry for you-everyone should be so lucky as to have your problems!’

‘You don’t know anything!’ she said. ‘Nothing!’

‘Fine. Then let’s end the conversation, huh? You needed to the mainland and think? Well ......go back and do it. Because you need a mental tidy as of yesterday.’

Annoyance and rage coursed through Ivyanne, replacing the feeling of suffocation she’d been drowning in. Suddenly, Adele seemed like excellent company.

‘You know what? I will!’ Ivyanne gave him a little shove. ‘Thank you very much for reminding me of why the suffering up there beats suffocating from you!’ Ivyanne knew her words would cut him deeply, but she didn’t care. He’d stopped being on her team when he’d fallen in love with her. She turned her back on him and began stalking back up the beach.

‘Fine. Walk away,’ he said. ‘Meanwhile, those of us who have our act together are going to happily
swim away.’

Ivyanne gnashed her teeth together so hard she was astounded that they didn’t break. She pivoted to call back: ‘Well you better get in quick. By the look of things,’ she dropped her gaze to his hips, ‘you’re a little, uh,
cold anyway.’ She curled her lips in her meanest smile. ‘Not exactly putting your best foot forward in the husband marathon there, old friend.’

BOOK: The Marked Ones
11.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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