Zodiac Academy: Shadow Princess
by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti
Book 4 in the Beasts and Bullies Series
After the events of the Lunar Eclipse, Tory and Darcy must learn to deal with the darkness which shadows their lives.
With a secret binding them to Darius and Orion, they must find a way to all work together for the greater good. But some things are easier said than done...
Zodiac Academy: Shadow Princess is the fourth book from Caroline Packham's and Susana Valenti's Beasts and Bullies series, and centers around the Vega twins - Darcy and Tory - The Heirs - Darius, Seth, Max and Caleb - and their Cardinal Magic Professor (and Darius's sworn guardian) - Lance Orion. After the events from the last book, Darcy and Tory are now tied to Darius and Orion. Keeping the secrets of the darkness that is now in each of them is harder than they thought, and it forces them to work together. Of course, working with your enemy for the greater good is easier said then done. Bonds are formed and ripped apart in this Zodiac Academy book.
Guys. How did I end up in this tangled web. I went from reluctantly liking this series, to spending every free moment of my days reading this - admittedly way too long - books. This was one I was looking forward to, because the end of the third book has SO much shit happening, that I just knew we were heading to plot thick waters. I also knew from some milk spoilers that this book epically pissed off a lot of Zodiac Academy fans, and I needed to know why. Before I get into THAT, I want to discuss my thoughts on story. It's still a fun and interesting premise. It's still a little too heavy on pointless writing, BUT does get better. A decent chunk of time actually does go by, and we aren't having to read a play by play of each person's day. Thank god. We are getting to see these characters in different situations, and it's giving them a bit more depth. ----------spoiler ----------> Orion and Darcy's relationship in the hands of Seth added a layer of discomfort and ache for my favorite people in this series. While I didn't believe Seth would tell anyone, we got less Darcy and Orion because of it, and that's a bummer. I will admit, that I think Orion could have put his anger aside long enough to talk to Darius earlier and save poor Darcy all the grief Seth was giving her. Tory and Darius's relationship was so hot and cold this book, it killed me. The part where they have sex ON HER FATHER'S THRONE was insanely hot. And fuck, yes I root for them, but much like Tory, I also hate them together. I GET why fans are angry with Tory for her decision during her and Darius's divine moment, and yeah, I'm annoyed about it. But I also get it. We might be four books deep now, but it's only been four months since she met Darius. In that time, they may have been drawn to one another, and they may have had the hottest sex either of them have ever had - but their relationship with one another has been nothing but Darius dragging Tory through the dirt, almost killing her, and feelings for each other that they hated themselves for. These two characters had too much pride to be put in that moment and make that decision. It kind of had an aura of "karma is a bitch". Do I hope this changes both of them for the better. So much so. I also hope that this is a test, and they are the first to get a second divine moment. Because if not - fate is cruel as fuck. <--------------------
After the intense cliffhanger ending of this book, I didn't even care that I needed to, you know, sleep. I dived right into that fifth book, because shit is about to get so real in this series. I just hope it doesn't make my heart ache too much. Cross fingers for me (and yourself, if you are reading this series too).
You all passed the reckoning ... the stars must be fucking with me. HAHAHAHAHAHA
Orion's promise to Darcy of forever
The bar, and Orion and Tory working together to steal a guys scarf
Darcy's IOU's and the classroom sex
Darcy kicking ass in Pitball
Orion forcing Tory into cheerleading ... actually the whole cheerleading scene was hilarious
Orion telling Darcy he thinks they are Elysian Mates
Tory sitting in Darius's spot on the couch
Tory stealing Darius's bike and destroying it, and when Darius catches her THEY FINALLY HAVE SEX
Orion helping Darcy when Seth placed a spell on her to turn her into a bunny
Orion daring Tory to trying captaining her own cheerleading team
Orion's picnic date for Darcy, and telling her he loved her
How Tory finds out about Darcy and Orion is funny
Tory and Darcy's first time at the castle
SNOWBALL FIGHT! And everyone turning Caleb into a snowman
Tory: “Well, lucky for me I went poof at midnight and turned into a pumpkin like Cinderella before I could make that lapse in judgment,”
I agreed because it was damn lucky. Moon Tory absolutely wouldn’t have said no to Darius if we’d spent even another moment alone down on the beach.
Caleb: “That’s…not how that story goes. Cinderella isn’t the pumpkin. How can you even get it that wrong?” Tory: “I’m not really a Princess kind of girl,”
Tory: "You don’t want me long term, so why would I commit to you short term? We have fun Caleb but I’m not your girl. If you can’t handle the idea of me meeting other people, maybe even hooking up with them, then we can just call time on this thing between us. Because I’m not ever going to put my life on hold for a man. Especially one who doesn’t think I’m good enough to make the cut long term.” Tory: “I’m not a lamppost to be pissed on. If you try and kiss me here in front of all these people I’ll launch you across the room.” Tory: “Geraldine… Did you get lucky during the Eclipse?”
Darcy inhaled excitedly, her eyes widening as she looked to Geraldine too and Sofia sat up straighter in her chair. Geraldine’s cheeks pinked as she looked between all of us. Her lips parted and for a moment I thought she wasn’t going to admit to anything then she fell back in her chair dramatically, laying her hand over her brow.
Geraldine: “I’m afraid to admit I did. My Lady Petunia set her gaze on a rather virile Siren and he fell prey to her amorous adventures.”
Angelica spat out a mouthful of coffee as a bark of laughter fell from my lips.
Tory: “Did you just call your vagina Lady Petunia?”
I choked. Darcy covered her mouth to hold back her laughter and Sofia was actually crying real tears.
Geraldine: “Alas I did. And she’s a real predator when she sets her gaze on a tempting piece of banana drama,”
Geraldine: “Yes. I’m afraid the scallywag will just have to accept I hit it and quit it. No need to go riding the same horse again, there are plenty more fillies to break in.” YOU ALL PASSED THE RECKONING.
I arched a brow, glancing at Tory.
Darcy: “That’s almost a compliment,”
I breathed and she laughed, but our amusement died away as Orion added more to the board.
THE STARS MUST BE FUCKING WITH ME. Orion: “Look, I don’t know what this thing is between us or where it’s going, Blue, but after everything that’s happened, the one thing that’s clear to me is that I don’t want anyone else. So this crystal is a promise from me that I’m yours. For now. Forever. Or till it all goes to shit, I don’t know which yet.” Text: Darius: I’m coming home tonight. I’ve been invited to funsville. See you soon. .
Xavier: Yes! Bringing anyone with you……..? Darius: Yes...
Xavier: Are they hot? ;)
Darius: Dark hair, legs that look great in short shorts and a smile to die for.
Xavier: Drool. If you don’t date her, I will.
Darius: Great. I’ll let Lance know you’re interested. The stars only know he needs some action.
I huffed, rolling my eyes as I shot him a reply.
Darius: Vamp humper. I pointed at Tory and her eyebrows shot up.
Orion: “Come on, thief, I seem to recall you’re great at stealing things.”
She passed Darius a grin at that and he glowered back.
Darius: “Yeah Roxy’s real good at deceiving people,”
Tory: “Not as good as you are. Honestly, I don’t think half your friends have realized you have no personality yet,” Orion: “You flirt with him and I’ll get the neckerchief from behind.”
Tory cracked a laugh, shaking her head at me.
Tory: “That guy is gayer than the day is long, dude. So you flirt with him and I’ll get the neckerchief.”
She slipped away into the crowd before I could respond to that and I scraped a hand through my hair, remaining in place. Shit. A waitress sailed by with a tray of shots and I grabbed a bright pink one, knocking it back and wincing against the powerfully sweet taste. Heat burned in my chest and I headed through the crowd toward the bar, the melodic thump of the bass pounding in my ears. I pushed through a group of girls who giggled and tried to snare me for a dance, but I waved them off and made it to the bar where the guy was leaning against it, still twirling his damn moustache. Tory was already behind him, trying to get the barman’s attention. She glanced over her shoulder, catching my eye and fighting a grin. I cleared my throat, stepping up next to the guy and letting my gaze slide down his dark blazer before dragging it slowly back up again.
I said with a nod and half a smile. His eyes whipped up and down me too and apparently I made the cut as he stepped closer.
He smiled back and I caught Tory rolling her eyes at me over his shoulder. She mouthed try harder and I let my inhibitions fly away as I stepped closer to him. I wasn’t going to lose at this. I fucking invented this game.
Orion: “Do you want a drink?”
I offered. He twirled his moustache again and I inwardly cringed. He shifted closer, reaching out to splay his hand across my chest.
Guy: “Yeah I want something tall, dark and handsome.”
Orion: “Well…order’s up.”
I nearly cracked up as Tory fell into silent hysterics behind him.
She grabbed my arm, her eyes bright with amusement.
Tory: “Did he notice?” “No. He was too busy tweaking my fucking nipple,” What I’d give for the whole world to freeze right now so I could steal a kiss. I was drunk. So fucuuuking drunk. And horny. Plan of dreams: Step one…get Blue naked. Oh shit wait, I need more steps. Orion: “Do you know how many times I’ve wanted you in this classroom?”
I asked between kisses, running my mouth down to her throat. She tilted her head to one side, clawing her hands through my hair as her thighs latched tighter around me.
Darcy: “How many?”
Orion: “Four million, three hundred thousand, two hundred and ninety eight – no make that ninety nine times.” Tory: “I can’t wait to see Max’s face when-”
Tory started but she was cut off by the devil himself as he jumped into the pool beside us. Water sprayed over us and he smiled predatorily at Geraldine as he closed in.
Max: “When you what, little Vega?
Tory: "When you realize your swimming trunks are transparent,”
Tory changed lanes with a smirk and Max quickly dropped his gaze to them, causing the three of us to burst out laughing. He scowled as he looked up, folding his arms across the taut muscles of his chest.
Max: “Hilarious. Even if they were see-through, do you really think I’d have anything to worry about? Tell ‘em, Grus.”
He glanced at her knowingly and she planted her hand on her hip.
Geraldine: “I don’t keep a fil-o-fax of floppy fiddlesticks I’ve cadoodled with.”
Geraldine rolled her eyes.
Max: “It wasn’t floppy,” Geraldine waved a hand like she couldn’t care less and Tory and I fell into silent giggles. “
Geraldine: Besides, Lady Petunia has danced with many courtiers this week. How on the moon would I even remember what your floppy spatula looked like?”
Max: “It wasn’t floppy! And hang on a second, are you saying you’ve fucked a bunch of dudes since me? It’s only been a week!”
Geraldine: “I’m not going to stand here discussing how many breadsticks I’ve dipped in my honeypot since yours, Max Rigel. It’s none of your business.”
Text: Caleb: Hey, sweetheart. Do you wanna hang out tonight? X
I watched as the red ticks illuminated to let me know she’d read the message. She was probably trying to think up the perfect thing to say back to me. Agonizing over it, debating it with her friends and trying to figure out how best to keep me-
For fuck’s sake. Not even a fucking kiss. Seth: “Alright! I’ll tell you!”
Seth gushed like we’d all been desperately waiting for him to finish his story.
Seth: “I made Maurice sit outside. In the fucking naughty corner! All night!”
We all started laughing just as a flash of movement caught the corner of my eye. A pineapple hit Seth square in the face and knocked him flying off of his seat with a curse. Darius got up and offered him a hand as laughter rang out around the room.
Orion: “Detention, Capella! You were warned.”
Seth: “What the thuck! You bwoke my nothe you thucking thycopaff!”
Seth shouted as he got to his feet, blood running freely down his face. Geraldine: “Fine. If you insist on philandering instead of educating yourself then I will make use of your bothersome presence. Feel free to exert your oh so impressive powers over me.” Max smiled widely and let his power go at full force. Pretty much everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and looked at him. Guys and girls alike moaned in a way that was way too sexual for the middle of a Cardinal Magic lesson and I spotted Damien Evergile rubbing his thighs excitedly. Geraldine looked back at Max impassively, seeming close to bored and he growled as he upped the power again. For a few seconds I was gripped with the urge to go to him, drop to my knees and offer him a blowjob, right before I slammed my mental walls into place more firmly and dismissed the idea.
Darius: “Fucking hell. If she doesn’t jump on him in the next five seconds I’m pretty sure the rest of the class will.”
Geraldine slowly lifted her hand and I watched in amusement, expecting her to start caressing Max’s thigh which was planted several inches in front of her on her desk. Instead, she curled her fingers, turning her hand back towards her as she inspected her nails, casual as fuck.
Caleb: “I think I just fell in love with Geraldine Grus,”
I joked as Max’s forehead furrowed with concentration. Someone threw their panties at him and another girl started unbuttoning her shirt as she strode across the room with intention.
Orion: “That’s enough, thank you very much, Mr Rigel! I don’t want to fill out the paperwork that would be required to explain why half of my class descended into a sex party." Professor Faun: “Numerology will give an indicator of the life you’ll lead and can help guide you along your path. All of your power numbers influence your decisions. They’re as bound to you as your DNA. If you are born to lead, then lead you will. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you will rule Solaria.”
Kylie: “Good, because the day I bow to the Vega Whores is the day I hang myself from a tree in The Wailing Wood,”
Darcy: “I think I just got my first real incentive to claim the throne.” Kylie: “I don’t like her,”
Kylie whisper shouted behind her hand to the other girls. Tory: “Boo to the fucking hoo, I don’t like you either. It’s not really the point though, is it?” My gaze slid to Orion as he took in my new, peppy as fuck appearance and he smirked at me like a goddamn psychopath.
Orion: “Very nice, Tory, I can see your inner pep shining through already,”
he called. I scowled and flipped him off. He barked a laugh.
Orion: “Five points from Ignis. And you’d better start cheering if you don’t want to lose more.”
Tory: “You’re a fucking sadist,” She clapped her hands which apparently was some kind of signal because the other girls all ran and started building a pyramid. Seven of them kneeled in the sand at the edge of the pitch and Marguerite pointed to the end of the row, clearly expecting me to get down there beside them.
Tory: “No thanks, hun. There’s only one thing I ever get on my knees for.”
I pushed my tongue into my cheek tauntingly and she practically spat a fireball at me. Max: “Looking good, little Vega. I hope you’re practicing chants with my name in them.”
Tory: “Oh yeah of course I have been,”
I replied brightly, shaking my pom-poms at him.
Tory: “Max! Max! His hair’s so shiny. It’s just a shame his dick’s so tiny!”
Caleb barked a laugh and Max rolled his eyes, cupping his junk.
Max: “I can easily prove that bullshit false.”
Tory: “No need. Geraldine told me all about it.”
I held my thumb and forefinger close together and offered him a smile. Max narrowed his eyes on me then turned sharply.
he yelled, drawing a look from Geraldine just as she bent over in a stretch. She eyed Max while folded in half, looking through her legs with her ass in the air.
Geraldine: “I’m currently engaged in a cool down routine and don’t have time for chats with floppy flounders,”
Tory: “Why are you pouting, Caleb?”
Caleb: “I’m not. I just wanted to have a fun evening with you and it’s not really going to plan…” Tory: “Well then why don’t we just call time on this fiasco? You find me a burrito, I’ll give you a blowjob and we’re all good,”
he asked, perking up at that.
Tory: “About the burrito? Hell yes. The blowjob? You just took me on what was arguably the worst date of my life. And I once went out with a guy who took me to a bridge over a ravine filled with junk so that we could ‘look at the view’ and he could do a drug deal. So I’m thinking no.” Orion: “I trust you instinctively, Blue. Since the first day we met, the stars have reeled you towards me and me towards you. Don’t you feel it?”
I nodded, unable to drag my eyes from his as I was pulled into their glittering depths.
Darcy: “But why?”
His mouth twitched at the corner and he broke my gaze again.
Orion: “There’s only one reason that makes sense to me, but I could be wrong. Maybe I fear I’m wrong too.”
I pressed. Sure, I’d had thoughts about why this bond between us was so powerful, but I could explain it away through the intensity of a forbidden relationship. If I was being really honest with myself though, I knew it was more than that. I hadn’t trusted anyone for years, why would my heart suddenly choose the most risky man possible for me to put my faith in? It didn’t make any sense. Not unless there was more to it…
Orion: “I think….maybe…”
Orion frowned then let the barriers around his magic down and I gasped as my power rushed to meet his. I moaned from the feel of it, his magic soaking into my blood and settling there like it was where it belonged. He felt like air and light and freedom.
I said breathlessly as he caught my hand and more of his magic crashed into mine like two waves colliding in a stormy sea.
Orion: “I think the stars picked you for me, Blue. I think you’re my Elysian Mate.”
Orion: “When Lionel brought you down into that pit, I relived my worst nightmare. I don’t ever want to be in that position again. Powerless, unable to save you. But I realized you don’t need me to rescue you, Blue. You and your sister came back from the dark without anyone’s help. And Lionel should fear you both for that reason alone.” Tory: “You don’t know anything about me,”
Darius: “Yeah I do. And that’s what you can’t stand. Because we’re the same you and me. Both fucked up, broken pieces on a game board that’s bigger than we can cope with. Both hoping to find some way of winning despite the odds being stacked against us all the damn time. Both addicted to things that push our boundaries and make us feel alive. Because at the end of the day, even feeling the worst of things is better than feeling nothing at all.” Tory: “Why? Why not just go after someone else?”
Darius: “Because we don’t get to choose our obsessions. And you’re mine.” Geraldine: “Oh give me a gander! I do like an eyeful of man meat from time to time.”
Tory: “Fuck, Geraldine. Man meat?! Seriously, you can’t call a guy’s junk man meat. Or banana drama for that matter.”
Geraldine: “Well what shall I call it then? His long Sherman?”
Tory: “No! Someone help me out here!”
Sofia was pissing herself with laughter and Darcy looked like she was almost crying.
Geraldine: “Dingle dongle?”
Geraldine suggested and I cracked up. He strode up to Seth with his fangs bared.
Orion: “If you hurt her, I’ll kill you. I don’t care if you’re an Heir or if I end up in Darkmore Penitentiary for the rest of my fucking life. I’ll take any fate for her, so just remember that when you’re playing your little game, Capella.”
Tory: “I came because all I want is to be free. And fear shackles you just as easily as chains if you let it. So do your worst…or don’t. I can’t control what you choose to do, but I can choose what I do.” Orion: “If I was a stronger man, I’d tell you to stay away from me. I’d break this off and let the dust settle until Capella had nothing to hold against us. There’s no video, no evidence, and his memory will fade in a year or so. It wouldn’t stand up in court even if they used a Cyclops. There’s a point where memories become inadmissible in court.”
Darcy: “I don’t want to stay away,”
I whispered, because I knew it was impossible for me to. I felt bound to him like the stars had wrapped golden thread around us and refused to let us go. In the very root of my bones, I knew we belonged together.
Orion: “Good. Because I’m not a better man. I’m the devil and I want you. I want you like I’ve never wanted anything or anyone. And I will fight to make you mine, no matter what it takes. No force in Solaria will rip us apart.”
I stared at him in awe of his words, lost to the power of them. I clutched his hand and nodded firmly.
Darcy: “I’ll fight for you too, Lance Orion. Whatever it takes.”
Orion: “Whatever it takes,”
Darcy: “Do you think I care what people say about me? What you say about me?”
I moved up as close as I could get with his air shield barring my way to him.
Darcy: “You’re nothing, Seth Capella. You’re just a boy kicking his toys out of the pram because I bother you. I get under your skin and you can’t handle that like a man. This isn’t facing me like Fae, it’s pathetic. And if you think you’ve won, you are so wrong. The stars are on my side because they see you for the worthless creature that you are. And they’ll pay you back through me.” Washer swung his hips and I didn’t know what the hell he was trying to achieve. If it was to make my balls jump up inside me then he could have a gold fucking star. Darcy: “Don’t laugh,”
Orion: “I’m not going to.”
He lifted a hand and I felt the pressure of a silencing bubble slip out around us.
Orion: “Do you have a cotton tail?”