Zodiac Academy: The Reckoning
by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti
Book 3 in the Beasts and Bullies Series
The answer to your question will be revealed on the Lunar Eclipse. But when finding the truth, don't let the shadows take you.
The week of The Reckoning has begun. And senior students have been tasked with making the freshmen's lives pure hell as they prepare to take their fateful assessment.
With the Lunar Eclipse on the horizon, Tory and Darcy have more to worry about than just passing their exams. A dark plot is unfolding and the shadows are drawing closer...
Zodiac Academy: The Reckoning is the third book in Caroline Peckham's and Susanne Valenti's Beast and Bullies series, and picks up where the second book left off. Despite Tory and Darcy saving multiple lives with their mysterious fire power, the Heir's are not happy. If anything, their throne is at risk to the twins more than ever. But Tory and Darcy can't focus on that - it's Hell Week. A week where the freshman are preyed on by the rest of the student body, making it harder for them to complete their Element trials, and passing The Reckoning - which they must do to keep their spot at Zodiac Academy. With everyone rooting against them, can the twins pass their trails and ensure their spot in the fae world?
Now this was better. Am I still in love with the series? Will I buy the physical books for my bookshelf of favorites? No. But it was way better than the last two. Tory and Darcy keep getting stronger, which I am all for. I love that their order FINALLY emerged --------spoiler-------> Phoenixes. Literally never crossed my mind. <------------------, and how epic it is. The dialogue is fun, and quite a few times I would laugh out loud - especially Tory's one liners. I do think there are problems, though. Three books in, and the bullying is still happening! Now, don't get me wrong, I don't have much experience when it comes to bully romances, but from what I have heard, by now the bullying is done with. And yeah, yeah, I know that in this world, this is the fae way ... but it's getting tiresome. The one story I am most invested in is Darcy and Orion. I truly do believe they are mates. But this is a problem. I'm supposed to be invested in both these girls. And hell, I like Tory's character. She is funny, and I love that she takes no shit. But the love triangle has gone on too long. And while I really enjoy Tory and Caleb's games - and of the four guys, Caleb is probably m favorite - I want to see Darius and Tory together. The chemistry is there, and now I want it on page damn it.
Three books in, and I finally feel like we are getting somewhere plot wise. Part of the problem is the timeline. Each book covers, what? Like a couple weeks at a time. So plot wise, these books are drawn out. Too much in my opinion. But with the way The Reckoning ended, I'm crossing fingers we are getting into the meatier part of the story now.
Tory and Darius's power connecting
Orion and Darcy first liaison meeting after the kiss
The girls planting the sex toys on the boys couch
SEX EDUCATION CLASS! OH MY GOD!
Darcy running over to Orion's and OMG THEY FINALLY DID IT
Tory's support for Xavier
Tory and Darius sleeping in the same bed
Darcy finding Orion in bed with his numerology book
Orion standing up for the girls when Darius is angry about finding out about Tory burning his room down
Caleb and Tory dancing around the fact that Tory is the one responsible for the Pegasus rumors
Orion and Darcy finally hashing things out
DARCY AND ORION CAR SEX!
Um ... Orion "punishing" Darcy ... holy shit.
Orion fighting to save Darcy in the pit, and his heartbreaking "Blue"
Darcy: “You’re popular this morning,”
Tory: “Caleb’s just trying to get into my pants again.”
She snorted a laugh.
Darcy: “How hard are you going to make him work for it?”
Tory: “He took part in the whole throwing us in a pit business. So I’m thinking I’m done with him,”
Darcy: “Yeah, you totally should be. But that look in your eye says you’re not.”
Tory: “That’s just the part of my brain which is blinded by his hotness. I refuse to listen to her because she’s a slut. The sensible part of my brain says hell no and I’ll be keeping company with her and her chastity belt from now on.” Orion: “We have a serious fucking problem. Corbin, tell me what it is.”
He pointed at Tyler who remained dead silent, shrugging his shoulders.
Orion asked Diego who shook his head. His eyes skipped onto me.
Orion: “Miss Vega?”
Darcy: “That our Cardinal Magic teacher is a psycho?”
I offered, rage still simmering in me from him attacking my sister. His jaw ticked in a deadly way and my heart thumped out of rhythm.
Orion: “I prefer the term unbalanced and frankly it's the least of your problems.”
His mouth twitched with amusement as he looked away. Sofia: “Did he catch you?”
Sofia asked with wide eyes.
I sighed, though the memory of him kissing me took the sting out of the bite. Maybe Orion had a point about me starting to like it. I’d have to consider going for the throat punch next time.
Darcy: “Well maybe it’s not worth playing his games if he’s just going to catch you anyway?”
Tory: “It gives me a shot at escaping. Besides… it’s pretty hot.”
Darcy: “There it is,”
Darcy said, rolling her eyes as Sofia laughed. Caleb: “Stop power fucking her and start working on what Pyro wants,”
Caleb called and I flinched, yanking my magic back again as I looked around at him and Darcy. Darius: “Are you afraid I’m going to steal her attention from you, Cal?”
Darius asked Caleb with the hint of a smile playing around his lips.
Caleb: “Not likely,”
Caleb replied dismissively but his eyes narrowed.
Tory: “I’m still here. And neither of you are interesting enough to keep my attention for long so there’s no point in you getting your panties in a twist over it. Tory: “Oh my god, puke,”
Tory said and I blew out a laugh.
Tory: “If you keep singing at us I’ll throat punch you like I did to Max.”
Caleb shot to her side in a blur of motion, slinging his arm around her shoulders.
Caleb: “Ohh what beautiful poetry you weave for me, sweetheart. Gets me so hard.” Text:
Lance: I know what it meant. Darius told me after the Fall Party. But I have my own (better) meaning and Solaria has one too.
P.S I fully intend to break that guy’s legs once you give me his name by the way.
Lance: I guess you’re about to go back to radio silence so for what it’s worth…
In Solaria blue means royal.
And to me, blue means you. Orion: “Get something to eat before you head back to your House. And if you get caught then I’m not covering for you. I already had that FIB asshole sniffing around, asking questions about us,”
Darius: “Anyone would think you were embarrassed about luring students out to sneak around after dark with you in your secret cave,”
Orion: “I’m mostly embarrassed it’s you. You’re not even hot.”
Darius: “Bite me,”
Orion: “Don’t tempt me.” Max dropped into his seat the same moment Caleb did and he instantly shifted to yank the horn vibrator out from under his cushion. Geraldine was walking past them and stopped to point, calling out loudly as she spotted what Max was holding.
Geraldine: “For the love of sanitary sausages, please tell me you aren’t bringing your depraved hobbies in here where we all eat our meals! It’s bad enough you paid a griffin to take a dump on your chest without bringing your randy rocket out with you for breakfast!”
Darcy and I nearly choked on our laughter at what she’d accused him of - it was goddamn genius. Orion: “Hungover, Miss Vega?”
he growled and she sighed, realizing her mistake.
Tory: “Yes, sir. If you fancy sending any of your healing magic this way, that would be swell.”
Orion gave her one of his darkest smiles that said he definitely wasn't her friend right then.
Orion: “Oh I won't be doing that. If you turn up to my class hungover you can deal with the consequences.”
He shot to her side at a fierce speed and bellowed,
Orion: “CAN'T YOU?!”
in her ear. It even made me flinch, but Tory winced with pure pain.
Tory: “Ah no shhhh.”
She covered her ears and Orion stalked back to the board with a chuckle. Darcy: “Sir?”
I called and he looked over, raising a brow.
Darcy: “Can Tory have another peach?”
He headed to his desk, picking up another one and shooting over to Tory's desk at high speed.
Orion: “HERE YOU GO, MISS VEGA!”
he boomed and she covered her whole head with her arms.
Tory: “Whhhy?” I imagined a shield into existence, willing it to surround the peach. The fruit pinged off of my desk as air exploded from my palm and it smacked right into the center of the board, bursting into a cascade of orange pulp.
I breathed while Tory fell apart beside me. Tory: “Oh my god, Darcy, do not try that on yourself." He was behind me in a flash, one hand on my throat and one on my stomach as he jerked me back into his chest. His teeth grazed my ear and my whole body convulsed with pleasure.
Orion: “You're supposed to fight back."
Darcy: "I will if you try to bite me, but that's not what you want.”
I turned in his arms, gazing up at him under my lashes as my heart fell into a rampant beat.
Darcy: “Is it?”
He swallowed and his Adam's apple rose and fell.
Orion: “The Lunar Eclipse is approaching. All Fae act crazy when that happens. I can't be blamed.”
A smile danced around the corners of his mouth, revealing the dimple in his right cheek.
Darcy: “That sounds like a very convenient excuse to break the rules,” Tory: “Someone could see us,”
Caleb: “Don’t worry, sweetheart. I promise to stop if I hear someone coming... aside from you of course.” Tory: “What does The Empress even mean anyway?”
Sofia: “She’s associated with all things maternal. She often represents the creation of life, pregnancy, romance-”
Tory: “Well let’s hope this isn’t a prediction,”
I said with an exaggerated shudder.
Tory: “The last thing I need is a little vampire baby nipping at my ankles.” Darcy laughed.
Darcy: “You’d better make sure you learn that spell Orion taught us before you go near Caleb again. I’m not babysitting a kid that bites.” Text: Darcy: You can have a picture if you tell me the real reason you attacked Diego.
I hit send, laughing as I hugged a pillow to my chest. Why is this so exciting?
Lance: Fine. Seeing another guy's hands on you makes me want to rip out their eyes so they never get to look at you again. Darcy:“You haven't made any comment on me coming here,”
I said, growing hot all over and throwing a glance at the exit again. He caught my chin, tugging me back to look at him, sending my heart ricocheting through my chest.
Orion: “Give a guy a second. One minute I'm messaging you wishing I could have you right here and the next thing...”
He leaned in, kissing the corner of my mouth and I melted. Or that was what it felt like anyway. As if there wasn't a single solid organ in my body.
Orion: “Here you are.” I gave him my answer with my kiss. I needed this like the grass needed rain. Without it, I’d wither and die. Orion: “I want you to the point of pain, Blue.”
His old nickname for me made a smile pull at my lips. I slid my hands over his shoulders, digging my nails in as that frustrated ache spilled into every corner of my body.
Darcy: “Then have me,” Orion: “I hope you brought your peach,”
Lance said and a laugh tumbled from my throat as I leaned away.
Darcy: “You're such an asshole,”
I thumped his shoulder and he chuckled, his hands sliding beneath the waistband at the back of my shorts. Orion: “I know.” Orion: “I'm gonna lose my mind over you,” Orion: “If we ever get caught, I'll do everything in my power to ensure you don't get expelled,”
I brushed my fingers across it as my heart beat a little quicker.
Darcy: “Let's plan never to get caught.”
Orion: “Plans are the best way to make the stars laugh,”
Darcy: “Well let them laugh.” Marguerute: “Are you lost?”
Tory: “I don’t think so. I was looking for the hall of basic bitches and average assholes and it looks like I’ve found it now that I see you here.”
I smiled sweetly while quickly tossing up a wall of solid air around me and reinforcing my shields against Coercion.
Marguerute: “Tell me why you’re here,”
Marguerite demanded, her voice laced with Coercion as I’d expected. Her power crashed against my mental shield but I let the look of disdain slip from my face and widened my eyes so that she’d believe the next words from my lips were the truth she’d wanted.
Tory: “I’m here because I spend all of my spare time watching you and wanting to be like you but you’re mean to me and won’t be my best friend forever like I sooo wish you would. So I decided to become you instead. I’m starting off by creeping up here to seduce your precious Darius and screw him senseless just to make you cry. Then I’m going to dye my hair the cheapest, shittiest shade of red I can find and finally I’ll become the head cheerleader because I fucking love being cheery. Mostly I’m going to do it because I’m obsessed with you but partly because I’m a psycho bitch who just wants to ruin your life.” Tory: “You might want to remember this if you come at me again. Because I get the feeling you just threw the extent of your power at me but I barely even scratched the surface of my magic in retaliation.”
Marguerite glared up at me from her puddle on the floor but she didn’t respond. I swung her door shut between us and turned to find the rest of the hall’s occupants standing in their doorways watching our exchange. More than a few of them gave me an appraising look and one guy even bowed his head a little before turning back into his room.
Darius: “I hope you meant the part about screwing me senseless.”
Darius stood leaning against his doorframe at the end of the hall and I mentally shrugged off the altercation with Marguerite as I stalked towards him. I rolled my eyes at him.
Tory: “In your dreams.”
Darius: “Every night,”
he agreed and his tone was serious enough that it brought a blush to my cheeks. Darius: “You met Roxy at the party for a bit. She’s come to lose a race against me on my bikes.”
I scoffed lightly, not bothering to respond to that.
Xavier: “Yeah, I remember. You’re not easy to forget,”
Tory: “Neither are you. I still can’t believe Darius is related to someone who’s not entirely obnoxious.” Xavier: “If you’re a Dragon maybe you can marry Darius and save him from Mildred,”
I half choked on my coke and set it down quickly as I coughed.
Tory: “Fuck no. Mildred is welcome to him. I want a front row seat to their wedding so that I can laugh my ass off but that’s the only reason I’ll be attending.” Tory: “I’m not pure. There’s nothing clean and innocent about me. I might be a princess but my crown would be made of broken, dirty things, not gold and jewels. I’d never be good enough for Daddy Acrux. And that’s just the way I like it.” Tory: “Well shit. No wonder I like you so much. You skipped the asshole Dragon genes!” Darius" “Trust you not to even notice when you’ve stumbled upon a secret that could get you killed. No one can know that Xavier isn’t a Dragon.”
Tory: “Why? He’s beautiful. And I’d much sooner be a Pegasus than a grumpy ass Dragon.” Xavier suddenly shifted back into his Fae form and I squeaked in surprise as I found myself in the arms of a very naked boy. He squeezed me against him so tightly that I could hardly breathe.
Xavier: “Thank you,”
Tory: “For what?”
I asked in complete confusion, not really hugging him back because he was really fucking naked. I opted for awkwardly patting him on the back as he refused to release me.
Xavier: “For not even batting an eye. For actually thinking there’s something good about this.” Tory: “I have a perfectly good bed downstairs. Why would you want me to stay?”
Darius frowned like he wasn’t sure what to say to that but he inched a little closer all the same.
Darius: “Because it feels right,” he breathed. Tory: “Are you going to admit that I won?”
I asked, a faint smile pulling at my lips again as I reached the door.
Tory: “Then I guess this is goodnight.”
I pulled the door open and stepped outside quickly, closing it between us before heading down to my room. It was nearly two am and I needed to get some sleep in before the trial tomorrow. I quickly changed into my pajamas and slid into my bed, pulling the duvet up around me to ward off the chill left in my bones by the storm. I flicked my Atlas on to set an alarm for the morning and it pinged just before I closed my eyes. I pulled it closer to read the message quickly and I bit my lip against the smile which wanted to break free in response to what I read.
Darius: But maybe we could call it a draw? Orion: “What? Do you think I’ve got a girl here?”
I snorted and he raised a brow as he turned back to me. My heart hit a frantic beat and I knew it was partly because I was lying to him. I didn’t think I’d ever lied to him before about anything and I wished I didn’t have to. The thought made me kind of ill and I hoped the bond between us didn’t let him sense that.
Darius: “Apparently not. So I guess you were just in the middle of jerking off over your Numerology book. Again.”
Orion: “Numbers are hot,. But I was actually busy jerking off over your mom. She sent me some dirty pictures. Again.”
Darius: “I made it clear that Milton is being shunned,”
he snarled as we made it into a corner beside one of the fires which burned around the edges of The Orb. He placed a hand on the wall beside my head as I pressed my back to the golden wall but I arranged my features into a mask of mildly bored rather than giving any reaction to his intimidation tactics.
Tory: “And I made it clear I don’t do as I’m told,”
I replied with a shrug, looking up at him as I toyed with the lemonade bottle in my hands.
Tory: “Are you going to punish me?”
Darius growled at me and I smiled despite the shiver that ran down my spine in warning.
Tory: “Do you growl at everyone like that or do I get under your skin more than most people?”
Darius: “I find you particularly frustrating,” Darius: “Your smart mouth is going to get you into trouble with me one of these days,”
Tory: “Is that a promise?” Caleb appeared between us in the blink of an eye, perching on the edge of our table and inspecting his fingernails.
Caleb: “We have a problem, sweetheart,”
he said to me, though he continued to inspect his nails.
Tory: “I know. There’s a Vampire sitting on our dinner,” Caleb: “Do you always hang out with frigid virgins or do you make an exception for this specimen?”
Caleb asked me in a whisper shout which carried to everyone.
Tory: “My main criteria is non assholes so really you’re the one who’s out of place.”
I shrugged at him and he smiled. Darius: “Did you break into my room and steal that dagger?”
he demanded, his voice low and predatory. My heart was pounding, fear licking through my limbs like a living thing but a spark of defiance burned strong in the depths of my soul. Yes he had me at his mercy. Yes he had me beaten. But he would never break me. And after everything he’d done to me, I refused to cower beneath him now.
Tory: “You burned my clothes off of my body on my first day here. You encouraged every asshole in this school to make my life hell. You tortured and tormented me every second you got the chance and you laughed while you did it. You took my deepest fear and dragged me to that pool so that you could force me to relive it and you almost fucking killed me,”
I hissed, all the venom of all the hatred I’d ever felt for him pouring out of me like it was an open wound.
Tory: “So yes. I broke into your goddamn room and I stole your precious fucking treasure and that psycho dagger while I was th