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Beyond the Veil by Caroline Peckham & Susanne Valenti


Beyond the Veil

by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti

Self-Published

Book 8.5 in the Zodiac Academy series


The stars called us.

The Veil closed at our backs.

And now death holds us in its clutches.


We were torn from life before our time, a Savage King, his queen, a betrayed son, a wronged brother, a scorned wife and so many more. We watch those we left behind as they struggle against the grip of the stars, the answers to so many of their questions within our grasp and yet out of their reach.

But what if we could find a way to answer their pleas? What if we could find a way to help them from this side of the divide? And what price would such a thing come at?

Genre:


Triggers:

Violence

 

After the excitement that was Zodiac Academy 8, I was thirsty for any Zodiac Academy content I could get to hold me over to the last book. So when Caroline and Susanne announced that they were released Beyond the Veil as a bridge between book 8 and 9, with the preorder incentive of extra POV chapters from previous books, I preordered it immediately.

I was so excited.

I was so let down.

Let me start this off by saying I love Caroline and Susanne's work, their brilliant, twisted brains, and Zodiac Academy.

Considering the amount of money I've dropped on special editions of these books, I mean, obviously I do.

But when I tell you I was dead ass bored reading this book, it is not an exaggeration.

First of all, I thought this was supposed to be a bridging novella?

This was a novel. Over 500 pages.

And a lot of the content wasn't needed.

Very little of what goes on in this book is relevant to the story as a whole.

It's just a very long, drawn out rehashing of ZA8 from Darius's and other dead characters POV's.

My best friend, who loves Zodiac Academy as much as I do, dnf'd it.

I pushed through because I was hoping for a big pay off. After all, the sisters said you find out something big in this book.

But did we? I don't think we did.

Were there things I liked? Of course there was.

  • I liked getting to know Azriel Orion. I appreciated Caroline and Susanne showing the similarities between him and Lance, yet not making Azriel a carbon copy of him. I loved seeing his deep love for his son, Darcy and Tory. He is such a proud father.

  • I liked seeing how deep Darius's love for Tory went. To not giving up on getting back to her, until he realizes she puts herself at risk by doing so. I just didn't need 500 pages of longing.

  • I enjoyed seeing Hail and Merissa supporting and loving their daughters. And Hail not being entirely forgiving for all Darius has done to Tory. But I also like that Darius didn't grovel. That wouldn't have felt true to his character.

  • I loved that Merissa knew Darius and Tory were mates, because when she held him as a baby, she saw it.

  • Azriel's comments on how he wished Lance and Darius had fallen in love ... before Darcy of course, were gold.

  • Merissa and Hail's obvious love for Gabriel. After reading Ruthless Boys, and knowing the pain his character has been through, knowing he has two people in the afterlife that love him so much is beautiful. I like that we also get more of his biological father as well ... despite it also being a bit sad.

  • The best part of this book was Felisia's story. I could have read a whole book on them.

  • Tory, Darius and the phantom hand was pretty hot.

  • Getting to know Radcliff was interesting.

  • When Haymitch and Catalina died, I never even thought about Hay's first wife (Geraldine's mother) being in the Veil. It was handled really well.

  • Second best part of the book was Darius getting stuck in the room with Caleb and Seth when they finally hook up. It brought some classic ZA humor to an otherwise dull book. He said he was looking forward to having fun with his friends and getting back at them for having sex on his wife's bed and using unsanctioned sex toys with his face on in. I can't fucking wait. lol

Sadly, I only like these parts. 90% of this book could have been cut, and the story would have been still there. It was too long, with not a lot of actual plot. I would have rather they put their time and effort into writing the final book - or if they really wanted this story told, they should have heavily edited it down to the bare bones. Despite the over 4 star rating on goodreads, from the reviews I have read, others agree. Beyond the Veil was a downer.





I couldn’t be in a place without her. I couldn’t go back on the oaths I’d made to her so soon. She was mine and I was hers. We weren’t destined to be apart. I refused it. Darius: “You can do this. You were born to wear the crown, and you can bear the weight of it no matter how heavy it becomes,”

I swore to her. Her jaw tightened and I growled my approval.

Darius: “Fate has never forced you to bend to it before,” Merissa: “When one falls to the dark, the other shall be their guiding light,”

Merissa murmured with a frown, those words familiar to me.

Hail: “What is it?”

I asked in concern, laying my hand on her knee.

Merissa: “When they were born, those words were whispered to me by the stars,”

Hail: “Yes, I remember now,”

I said, nodding slowly.

Hail: “It must mean they balance one another. A harmony forged of fire and ice. Between is where they find true peace.”

Merissa: “If they cannot find their way back to one another, I fear what will happen. The balance starts with them, but it does not end there,” Hail: “My daughters have been forged in a fire far hotter than any a Dragon might hope to tame.” Darius: “I made a vow,”

I said, ignoring his sneering. I didn’t really care if he liked me or not, I just needed to know where to start looking for the fate I intended to seize.

Hail: “Which vow was that? The one where you swore to chase my daughters out of their academy? To rid them of their birth right and inheritance in one fell swoop? The one which drove you to make them relive their worst fears and ended with you near drowning my-”

Darius: “The one where I swore to love and protect your daughter with all that I was for all the time I had in that world and the next. The one that I joined her in when she vowed to change our fate at the cost of the stars if that was what it required. She has sworn to defy destiny in the matter of my death, and I have sworn to do all I can to defy it too. So will you help me, or would you rather allow your distaste for me to leave her grieving and alone for the rest of her life?”

I demanded. Hail sighed heavily.

Hail: “I preferred the blonde one,” Merissa: “I meant what I said before. You made up for your poor choices in my eyes as well as in the eyes of my daughter. Besides, I always knew you’d be the one for her. I held you as a baby when I was pregnant, and I saw it.” Azriel: “This is…cozy,”

Azriel said, turning slowly to take in the blank walls and blanker floor.

Azriel: “Your taste is very…minimal.”

Darius: “My taste is fire and ruin tempered by the kiss of a woman who has always and will always be out of my league,” Azriel: “Darius, I don’t blame you for the actions of your father. Hell, Lance only had any light in his life at all because of you for a very long time. For a while, I even hoped the two of you might become something more-”

Darius: “Me and Lance?”

I scoffed.

Darius: “He fucking wishes.” Azriel: "It was rather disappointing when I realized the two of you hadn’t actually done the deed.”

Darius: “By the stars.”

I turned away from him, swiping a hand down my face.

Azriel: “Anyway, now I see that he was always meant to be with Gwendalina, er, I mean, Darcy. I think the two of you would have been a little too…well, never mind all that.”

Azriel cleared his throat, and I shook my head, wondering how the fuck I’d even ended up having this conversation with him. Merissa: "He just needs a little longer to see in you what Roxanya does. He knows you make her happy, he sees what you’ve given for her.”

Darius: “Honestly, I don’t care. My own father never liked me so why should I wish to have hers feel differently? I’ve only ever held value to men like that through the worth they put on me. My father wanted me to be powerful to bolster his own name, Hail wants me to be powerful to bolster his daughter’s. Who I am has little to do with it. What I am even less so. I know the only reason he tolerates me at all is because she chose me in the end, and he won’t go against her. But I get it, I’m not good enough. The thing is, the only person I’m ever going to care about proving myself to in that regard is her. So Hail can hate me all he likes, my focus won’t shift from what she needs, and right now that means I need to find a way back to her.”

Merissa smirked at me, her elbow knocking against my arm.

Merissa: “See, I knew she picked well.” Merissa: “I love you, Gabriel. You’re my little star, my guiding light.” Hail: “Marcel,”

Marcel: “Yes?”

he called innocently.

Hail: “Do that again and I’ll rip your wings off and shove them up your ass.”

Marcel: “Touchy little king today, aren’t you?” Wilbur: “We still need to decide on a group name,”

Wilbur said keenly.

Wilbur: “Perhaps the Dashing Outcast Nerds Group.”

Darius: “The Dong?”

I deadpanned and Ren snorted.

Wilbur: “Pull my walloper,”

Wilbur gasped, clapping a hand to his mouth.

Wilbur: “Minds of filth, the lot of you.” Felisia: “Stay,”

I said, the word coming out huskily. He met my eyes and I knew he felt the depths of that request, the unspoken reason for why I couldn’t bear for him to leave which neither of us voiced or dared act upon.

Ren: “I can’t stay forever,”

Felisia: “Stay a while longer at least,”

I pleaded.

Felisia: “Don’t just take the first boat to anywhere.”

Ren: “The longer I stay, the harder it’ll be to leave in the end,”

he said darkly, his brows drawing low as his gaze tracked the length of my leg.

Felisia: “Then don’t go at all,”

I said, a smile quirking up the corner of my lips.

Ren: “There’s no fate in which I don’t go, Fee. I will always be no one here.”

Felisia: “Not to me,”

I said passionately, my victory bolstering my confidence, making me speak the words which had been waiting on my tongue for too long.

Felisia: “You’re the best kind of someone to me.” Felisia: “I’m never going to be enough unless I prove I’m worthy of my family name. If I seized the Guild Stones from the Vegas, how could they ever question my power again?”

Ren: “You don’t need to prove your worth to them,”

he said in a low tone.

Ren: “You’re worth everything to us. To me.” Wilbur: “We are but flowers that bloomed in the shade together, dear Felisia. All of us are. We formed the Dashing Outcast Nerds Group. And I shall never, upon my nelly, forget the bond we have forged in the dark valley of the D.O.N.G.”

Felisia: “Yeah, we really need to talk about that name again,” Marcel: “I know you. Even if you will never know me. And I am so very proud, my darling boy. I have loved you from beyond The Veil for so many years, watching you whenever I was deemed lucky enough by the stars. I am sorry I could not be there, that I am not here now. Death is wicked like that. A partition of souls that yearn for one another, how cruel. But please know that I do yearn for you, Gabriel. My son, my wonder. And I will never stop.”

He laid a kiss upon his brow and Gabriel’s features relaxed a little, his fingers flexing against the arm rest as if reaching for Marcel. I watched as my son’s biological father grew a little clearer, his edges sharpening, features brightening, unsure what to feel on the matter. Though perhaps I felt a touch relieved. Darius: “Trust me, if I could go back to the moment I trapped Roxy in that swimming pool, I’d bring down a world of wrath on the man I was that day. There are so many things I’d change. But how am I to destroy a monster who is me?”

he asked bitterly, hatred glossing his eyes. I sighed heavily, knowing that feeling too.

Hail: “Your father Dark Coerced you in many ways, perhaps not so many as I, but I assure you I know the bitter taste of regret for the things I did under his influence. And I believe I have seen enough of your love for Roxanya to know that you are a changed man. You are free of your father’s taint, and I believe, had you stayed in the realm of the living, you would have made an…adequate husband to her.”

Darius: “Had to cut me down at the last moment there, didn’t you, relic?”

he smirked.

Hail: “I cannot have you growing a bigger head than you already have, poor choice,” Darius Acrux was not all bad, I supposed. And if there was one thing we had in common that neither of us could deny, it was that we were both pining for more time with a girl who had been lost to us. My little love, who was not so little anymore. Tory: “You’re ravenous, dude,”

she mumbled, her spine arching like a cat while that word built a growl in the back of my throat.

Darius: “What have I told you about that word?”

I asked and her eyes flickered open in surprise as she realized I wasn’t beside her at all, a flash of confusion passing over her features as she spotted me by the door.

Tory: “What word?”

she asked innocently, refusing to so much as blink at the illusion I was using on her.

Darius: “I’m not your dude.”

She smiled tauntingly, rolling onto her back and leaning on her elbows as she looked at me.

Tory: “Sure you are. We hang out, go running together, grab food in the same places and-”

I cut off her words with a shove of my will into the illusion, the phantom hand fisting around her panties and ripping them clean off of her, leaving her there in nothing but my shirt, the oversized material swamping her smaller frame. Roxy bit down on her lip then had the nerve to continue.

Tory: “We have the same friends, we like to party, we even-”

The phantom hand took hold of her chin, the shadow of my thumb pushing between those wicked lips, stopping her words, making her suck on it while I held her in place with the magic. Roxy moaned as she took it into her mouth, her body always so willing to seek pleasure in mine, her rough voice turned to much sweeter sounds as she sucked.

Darius: “If I were simply one of your dudes, you wouldn’t purr for me so prettily,” Tory: “So, what’s this then?”

Roxy asked, her attention shifting from me to the false version.

Tory: “Are we playing something new?”

Darius: “Don’t go accusing me of playing, Roxy, or I’ll have to remind you how serious I am again.”

Tory: “Don’t go making promises unless you plan on keeping them, big man,”

she replied, her attention shifting from me to the fake me again.

Darius: “You think I won’t?”

I challenged, the idea of this more appealing with every moment.

Tory: “I think your jealousy runs so deep that you won’t be able to stand it. Remember when we were in that amplification chamber with Caleb and-”

Darius: “No,”

I snarled, heat tearing through my core as I took a step closer to her, the illusion reaching down to unbuckle his belt.

Darius: “I only remember you. Only ever you.” I smiled darkly stalking towards the bed.

Darius: “Take the shirt off,”

I commanded. As expected, she gave me a flat look of refusal, but while her attention was on me, my illusion grasped the hem of it and tugged it over her head for me. Roxy cursed as it fell to the floor by the bed, her nipples diamond pointed, her breaths coming shallowly, pupils dilating.

Tory: “You were bossy enough when there was only one of you,”

Darius: “And you’re mouthy enough for two even while you sit there alone.” Tory: “You really think you can concentrate on keeping it up once I’m riding you?”

she asked, the doubt in her voice clear.

Tory: “You usually forget your own name when I remind you who owns you, baby. Ren: “I said I will have no regrets, but I didn’t say I would have no heartbreak,”

he growled and something in his tone made me hesitate on blasting him away from me. He took another step closer, his eyes unblinking, boring into mine. So familiar, dark, and blazing.

Ren: “I will not regret walking away from you because your path is climbing to the stars, and mine is descending into the dirt at my feet. Until I can change that and find my own way towards the sky, I will never be a good enough Fae. Maybe in your eyes, but not mine. I would grow bitter, hateful, and I would never inflict that upon you, Fee. But I will suffer in every moment we are apart for the rest of time. I know that. Yet I still choose to leave because once shame is cast, it cannot be undone. Not here anyway. Though perhaps it can be in another land, a place where I can become worthy again, a Fae I am proud to be. So yes, I stayed for you, for a while longer, because I’m weak. And walking away from you will destroy me more certainly than the moon falling from the sky and crashing into the earth. I will miss you in every breath I take when I go. But I will go, Fee. Just not…yet.” Felisia: “My name will one day pass through the ages, descendant to descendant. It’ll be immortalized in history books and plays will be written to capture the glory of my life. But you? You will be forgotten. I will make sure of it.” The fine clothes and golden cloak tumbled across my flesh as I returned to my Fae form, and I glanced down at them in surprise.

Darius: “Makes a difference from having to stand around with my cock out,”

I muttered, taking in the strangeness of finding myself fully clothed without any effort at all.

Azriel: “The Veil provides.”

Azriel nodded.

Hail: “Thank the stars,”

Hail added in an undertone.

Darius: “Yes, thank the heavens that you didn’t have to see it and suffer the crippling inferiority complex brought on by the comparison,”

I quipped, strolling towards my mother who drew me into her arms with a fearful gasp.

Hail: “If you would like proof that no such thing is the case-”

Hail began but Merissa waved him off.

Merissa: “You can enjoy a dick comparison with your son-in-law later, Hail,” Hail: “When it comes down to it, you’d burn the entire fucking world to ash for a single smile from her lips, wouldn’t you?”

Darius: “Is there a problem with that?”

I asked, uncertain if it was meant as a compliment or not. Hail snorted.

Hail: “I think heroes are supposed to put the good of all before their own selfishness. But you are selfish when it comes to her, utterly, unerringly selfish. She’s the one and only thing you won’t ever question, the one thing you put above all else. If the world had to end to see her safe, you’d light the fuse that blew it from existence.”

Darius: “Damn right I would,”

I agreed, no element of doubt in my tone.

Darius: “Besides, a hero is never going to be what it takes to bring my father down. He moulded me into a villain and so that’s what I am. For her. For him. Damnation isn’t good enough for that piece of shit. And heroics aren’t good enough for her. So hand me the fuse, oh Savage King, because I’m ready to burn it all.” Radcliff: “Woohoo!”

Radcliff cried, leaping forward and clapping Xavier on the arm.

Radcliff: “Did you see that, Cat?”

He elbowed Catalina.

Radcliff: “Your boy’s a man now.”

Catalina: “He was a man long before this moment,”

Catalina said, raising her chin. Radcliff: “Good palace. Daddy Hail is here,”

Radcliff said, placing a hand on my shoulder and lending me his strength.

Radcliff: “Now open your door nice and wide for him.” Darius: “The problem is that we have spent far too long following the path of the stars. Letting fate and prophecy take choice from our hands. But I met a girl who took one look at fate and said fuck you. She found her own path. She told me no when the stars gave us our one and only chance at being mated then told them no when they tried to keep us apart against her will. She stood before the wings of fate and told them to get fucked and she was right. Because why should the circumstances of our birth or upbringing define all we are and all we ever can be? Why shouldn’t we all get to pick precisely who and what we want to be and tell destiny, providence, or circumstance to step aside so that we can make our own fates? Roxanya Vega taught me to defy the stars in all things and I have never once regretted it when I followed her advice. So no, I won’t simply walk this path into my demise and stay put like a good boy. And no, I won’t be climbing that tower to beg for some deal or promise or desperate hope from them. There is power in this world which doesn’t simply belong to them. There is power in the truth of my heart and the knowledge of who and what I am and who I want to be. Death has come knocking for Roxy time and again and she has told it to fuck off. Now it’s my turn to do the same.” Azriel: “Tell Lance,”

he began hesitantly.

Azriel: “Tell him I am forever with him. That I love him and that I know he is worthy of the position he is yet to rise to. Tell him I will be watching him through every moment of it and that I couldn’t hold more pride in my heart if I tried. And tell Darcy how grateful I am for all she has done for my boy, and that I will be celebrating with all the lost souls who adore her when she seizes her crown.” Darius: “Lance is the man he is because of you. His love for you has always given him the strength he needed in the darkest of times. Thank you for creating one of the most important people in my life. Lance was one of the few bright points in my existence for a very long time and he has that brightness because of you.” Seth: “Is she moisturizing her perfect tits or lubricating her vag or doing something equally feminine somewhere?”

Darius: “That’s a weird set of fucking questions,”

I growled, the jealous beast in me rising to the bait of his words about my wife, and I narrowed my eyes on Seth as he glared at Cal. He retrieved a note scribbled in Roxy’s handwriting and I snorted in amusement as I leaned closer to Seth to read what it said.

I’ve reached my limit with this shit, so I’ve gone to take my destiny back from the stars. Gerry, I love you – lead the rebels against the Court of Solaria like you suggested. Make that scaley bastard pay. The rest of you, try not to cry too much if I don’t make it back, I was a mean bitch anyway. x

Darius: “That’s pretty funny. But if either of you calls her a mean bitch, I’ll break your nose.” Darius: “Never thought you’d actually bite the bullet and break your tattoo virginity.”

Seth: “Yeah,”

Seth grunted, replying to Caleb who was just kind of staring at it, giving no real comment at all because this wasn’t his bag. This was all me and dammit, I needed Seth to hear my fucking opinion.

Caleb: “You added stuff to it,”

Darius: “Whose work is this?”

I demanded, but Seth only answered Cal.

Seth: “Yeah,”

Caleb: “What does it mean?”

Darius: “It means he’s gonna get a Dragon next in memory of me, asshole,”

I muttered, looking to Seth like he might laugh at the joke but no, still nothing for me. Seth shrugged, saying no more. Knowing him he’d just gotten it because it looked cool because the longing in the eyes of that Wolf on his skin wasn’t something Seth was even interested in feeling for one person. Caleb shot closer to him, coming to a halt right behind him and reaching out to trace the lines of ink with his fingertips.

Caleb: “It’s beautiful,”

Caleb murmured, and I rolled my eyes.

Darius: “Fucking poetic, that is. Point out how badass that shading is and look at the linework around the moon’s craters. I need to know who did this piece. Ask him that. Ask him how long he sat for it. Ask him if he howled like a little bitch while getting it done.”

I tried elbowing Caleb to get some reaction from him, hoping he might ask at least one relevant question, but my elbow just sailed straight through his arm, bringing a huff of irritation to my lips.

Seth: “Stop,”

Seth growled.

Caleb: “Why?”

Darius: “Because you’re stroking him like he’s a pet cat and it’s fucking weird, man,”

I pointed out, arching an eyebrow at Caleb and wondering if he was thirsty or something because he was being a bit of a lurker, and touchy-feely wasn’t usually his thing. Caleb started to move his hand again, but Seth whirled on him, snatching his wrist into his grasp and throwing him back against the wall, pinning him there with a feral snarl. I barked a laugh.

Darius: “Told you, you were being weird,”

I pointed out, almost feeling like I was a part of this little hang out, back with my boys again. Caleb shot towards Seth with a snarl, his fangs snapping out as he went for him, but he instantly collided with an air shield, the force of the impact breaking his damn nose as he hit it at full speed and stumbled back.

Darius: “Oh shit,”

I laughed, knowing that if he could have heard me, he’d be coming for me next but come on, asshole, that was a rookie mistake. A vine snapped around Caleb’s ankle and threw him across the room onto the bed, blood pissing down his face from his broken nose.

Darius: “Oooh,”

I cringed on Cal’s behalf as Seth handed his ass to him, watching as Seth snarled like a beast and pounced on him. He caught Caleb’s wrists in his hands, pinning them above his head as he straddled him, snarling like a heathen.

Darius: “That was embarrassing, man,” I told Caleb, crossing the room to the bed, and dropping down beside them to look at him.

Darius: “Are you just gonna lie there and take that?”

Seth: “You look good down there, Caleb. Wanna know how good it can feel subbing for me too?”

Weird choice of taunt, but okay. Caleb bared his fangs, trying to buck Seth off, but he still wasn’t using his magic to try and fight back.

Darius:" “Are you tapped out, man?”

I asked him, tilting my head to assess him.

Darius: “I’d offer you a bite but I’m kinda lacking in a body right now.”

I snorted at my own joke which really was pathetic when I thought about it. Here I was lingering on the fringes of life, hanging out with my friends who couldn’t even tell I was here, making jokes about my own demise which neither of them could appreciate and laughing to myself.

Caleb: “I think subbing suits you better,”

Caleb hissed, yanking on his arms which Seth had secured with vines now too.

Caleb: “You practically melted for me when I called you a good pup.”

Darius: “I thought I was your perfect dom fantasy, Seth? Have you really moved on already? I feel like you could have picked Dante or someone a bit more rugged though – Cal is too pretty to really pull off the daddy vibes, don’t you think?” Darius: “Are you…what is this? Ah shit, Seth, please don’t go all Wolf kink while I’m right here watching. If I have to see you do that nipple thing in the flesh, I’m gonna come back to life simply to kick your hairy ass.” Oh for fuck’s sake, I did not need to see Caleb’s cock. Caleb kissed him and I groaned because it wasn’t over. Of course it wasn’t fucking over. I shoved against The Veil, snarling furiously as it refused to welcome me back into its embrace.

Darius: “Help!”

I yelled, wondering if some spirit might take pity on me and pull me back. Every time I’d done this before it had happened so naturally that I couldn’t pinpoint what specifically had drawn me away to replicate it. Seth and Caleb were moving on the bed, and I was looking pretty much anywhere but at them, blocking out their heated words, pretending I did not hear Caleb ask Seth to show him how he liked it because I didn’t want to know. I. Did. Not. Want. To. Know.

Darius: “Merissa?”

I yelled, wondering if she might be able to help pull me back. She’d been dead far longer than me, so she had to know how to reach me.

Merissa: “Yes?”

Merissa asked as she appeared before me, and I groaned as Hail materialized at her back. I tried to move between them and the two Heirs who were now half naked and- yeah, Caleb was basically choking on Seth’s dick, so that was fucking peachy.

Hail: “Did you just summon your mother-in-law to watch your friends fucking?”

Hail asked in outrage, and I groaned, trying to block Merissa’s view of the bed while she made no attempt at all to look away, a laugh falling from her lips.

Darius: “No. I was calling for help because they won’t stop doing…that.”

I waved my hand in their general direction upping my voice to try and cover Seth’s as he cried out in ecstasy behind me.

Seth: “Shit, Caleb, I can’t keep holding back,”

Seth panted.

Darius: “And I can’t leave,”

I added loudly, pretending not to hear Caleb’s reply.

Caleb: “Then stop holding back,”

he commanded, and we all heard him. Me, my mother-in-law and my father-in-law. Brilliant.

Hail: “Why can’t you leave?”

Hail demanded and I scowled at him.

Darius: “I don’t know, that’s why I called for help.”

There was a lot of groaning and moaning and out of the corner of my eye I could see a lot of thrusting going on and I really needed to get the fuck out of here. Seth howled loud enough to rattle the damn walls as he came, Caleb groaning as he fucking swallowed and I was caught holding eye contact with Hail motherfucking Vega the entire time. Seth: “By the stars, where is the lube when we fucking need it?”

Seth hissed.

Darius: “Get me out of here,”

I begged, looking back to Merissa who seemed for too amused by my predicament.

Merissa: “You just have to want to leave,”

Darius: “That’s a lie,”

I snarled just as Caleb spoke again.

Caleb: “There’s some here,”

he said, and as one, all of us looked to the box of unlicensed sex toys which sat on the floor between us and the bed.

Seth: “How would you know that?”

Seth growled, his Wolf rising in his expression.

Caleb: “Because I found this earlier.”

Caleb leaned down and grabbed the box from the floor, ripping it open. An enormous, golden Dragon dick vibrator fell out and smacked Seth on the chest, followed by the rest of the contents which tumbled onto the bed beside them.

Hail: “Is that your face on the side of that box?”

Hail asked, stepping closer.

Darius: “No,”

I snapped but it obviously was me and Merissa pressed her lips into a flat line as she fought a laugh.

Darius: “It’s not licensed,”

I protested.

Seth: “Oooh, blind bag!”

Seth cooed, and Caleb knocked the Dragon dick vibrator from the bed, causing it to fly straight through Hail’s ass. My lips parted, but honestly, what the fuck was I supposed to say when a golden Dragon cock had accidentally penetrated him?

Seth: “How vanilla are you feeling, Altair?”

Seth purred, licking a fucking butt plug and I was done. I was done.

Darius: “Get me out of here,”

I snarled as Merissa gave up on holding back and started laughing loudly. When I got back to life, I was going to make them pay for keeping this from me and for doing it on Roxy’s bed too. Oh yes, I was going to have a lot of fun with my best friends when I saw them again, and they would rue the day they used unlicensed sex toys with my face on them. Azriel: "Would you like to come in for coffee? The illusion of it is quite real.”

Francesca: “Thank you, but my mom’s waiting for me in The Room of Knowledge. Plus, I suppose it would be strange to have coffee with me after everything.”

Azriel: “Strange?”

Francesca: “Well, Lance and I were a thing for a while. I could have been your daughter in law.”

She laughed and I squinted at her, trying to remember a time I had seen my son have such inclinations towards her. It had seemed he had made himself quite clear in his final words with her that he had never desired her as such. Francesca: “Not once Darcy arrived of course. But in another life, perhaps. Where he hadn’t met his Elysian Mate.”

Azriel: “If the Vega twins had not come to Solaria, I think then he might have ended up with Darius Acrux. The two always seemed so well suited to one another, always tussling and laughing together, bound by their cause against Lionel. But it does not surprise me that each of them fell for a Vega twin. How could they not fall for their power, their passion, their fire? It is rather poetic, I feel, that they would be made family in that way.”

Francesca: “Well, if Darius had not been in the mix, it could have been me,”

she laughed, though the laughter was more strained this time.

Azriel: “Yes, perhaps. Although, I do believe my son had some serious interest from a Lion Shifter once – Leon Night, do you know him? He licked Lance, which in the Lion world means he is his apparently. But again, it was not to be. Another life though, like you say.”

Francesca: “Yes, or perhaps I-”

Azriel: “Then there is Gabriel Nox, of course. My son drank a love potion once and fell head over heels for him. I thought that might be the start of something wonderful, as they seemed to get on so well and were so very fond of one another. Yes, they would have been a fine match too, but I am overjoyed that it is Darcy. I truly love her, I do. I wish I could meet her, to bathe in that light of hers for a moment which my son adores so deeply. It is clear as day why he has fallen for her, why she of all people could pull him from the dark.”

Francesca: “Well I’d…best be going,”

Francesca said and I smiled, waving her goodbye. Lance: “You’d better be watching, sir. Because this fight is for the Vegas,”

Lance said, making my heart lurch, those words meant for me. He knew I was here, or at least suspected it and I moved to stand at his back, placing my hand on his shoulder to lend him what power I could.

Hail: “Oh, I’m watching alright, good choice,”

I said with a dark laugh and Azriel moved to lend him power too, gazing at me with a soppy ass look.

Hail: “Now remind me why the stars selected you as a match for my daughter.” Hail: “He hasn’t even proposed to her. There will be no wedding if she does not wish it. Besides, he hasn’t asked our permission.”

Merissa: “And how is he meant to ask the permission of two dead Fae?”

Merissa asked dryly.

Merissa: “Honestly Hail, you were just as uppity over this when Roxanya married Darius.”

Hail: “Don’t remind me, or I will think twice on letting that go. I would like to think that Lance would at least make an effort. Hold a séance perhaps.”

Merissa: “You’re ridiculous,” Darcy: “Just because we’re mated doesn’t mean you get to skip a proposal.”

Gwendalina shot him a sharp look and I smirked. Give him hell, little darling.

Darcy: “So you’d better ask really, really nicely the next time you bring this up. And I am making no promises that I’ll say yes.”

Gabriel: “Or that I’ll agree to it,”

Gabriel tossed back over his shoulder, and I barked a laugh.

Hail: “Good boy,” Hail: “Darius…I shed you of the Acrux name.”

Darius: “Already happened. When I married your-”

Hail: “I shed you of the Acrux name,”

I repeated louder.

Hail: “I am proud to call you a Vega.”

His next retort died on his lips, and I gave him a tight smile.

Hail: “Say hello to my daughter from me.”

 



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