Excerpt: Dreams of the Forgotten
I woke up with a jolting start, hands clutching at someone, something that wasn’t there. My heart pounded like a drum in my chest.
It was only a dream, and the images faded fast. Groggily, I tried to catch it and bring it back, as I struggled to remember. It was important. There was something I wasn’t supposed to forget, something I needed to do. I nearly growled in frustration as the contents of the dream, like smoke, drifted away from me until all I remembered were a pair of piercing blue eyes, hopeful and pleading.
I scrubbed my hands over my face in frustration. These dreams plagued me every time I closed my eyes. Always I woke with a sense of urgency but recalled nothing when the fuzziness of sleep cleared. If I only remembered, maybe I could do something, but as it was, I woke frustrated and saddened.
Some mornings the sense of loss was so overwhelming I hid from Ushna until the mood subsided. I didn’t know how to explain why I was so affected by my dreams. On the mornings I needed to conceal myself, I’d sit in my dark office. The sorrow was so strong it seemed as if my chest had been cracked open. I prayed he would never see me in those minutes of consuming grief. What could I say to make him understand when I couldn’t comprehend it myself?
This time, I had awakened with the impression of a task incomplete. Not with enough sadness to steal my breath but with a purpose. I had something more; it was only names my mind seemed to pluck out of the air but it was somewhere to start. I needed answers, and I had a hunch they were to be found with these new clues from my dream; Angelo Giannis and Nikita Minoas. I didn’t know who they were but given time I’d find out.
The sun hadn’t yet breached the horizon. I lay in bed, warm and cozy next to Ushna, and listened to the soft inhalations of his breathing while I stared at his beautiful, masculine face. Long, dark eyelashes brushed the tops of his cheeks, lips pink and slightly pouty in rest, his blue-black hair sweeping across his brow and getting caught in the dark stubble along his cheek. His sun-darkened skin glowed vibrantly even in sleep.
Dreams aside, I loved waking up before Ushna so I could watch the sun paint the face of my consort with the colors of dawn. I’d listen to his breathing and watch his chest rise and fall, making the iridescent scales of his albino caduceus appear as liquid silver. Being with him in moments like these, I knew where I was supposed to be.
Much had happened in the three months since I’d found out that I wasn’t only Lycan royalty but the last and only prince of the Enkidu bloodline. This jolting revelation had changed my life forever. I went from being an insignificant alpha with a tribe of two to having one of the fastest growing tribes with the largest contingent of Lycan warriors outside of the hearth tribe back home in Georgia.
Changes were being made to our ranch as a part of the infrastructure before Ushna and I stepped from the shadows and revealed our identities to all Lycans as the royal couple, and me as the future king. Having security in place before going public with the announcement was imperative because assassins had murdered those who came before me. Recent events with the Magi College made us question who to trust, especially after Caspian MacCuill, a member of the governing Magi Triad, attempted to kidnap Ushna, as well as our childhood friend and Magi, Gregori Borchetta.
If I only had myself to care for, I would disappear. But I had Ushna and now our children to watch over and protect. Our people needed us, and I couldn’t find it within myself to abandon them. Even though there were dangers to both of us and the family we planned to have, if we backed down—if we left and acquiesced to our safety—our race would not survive the forces striving to destroy us.
Even with my firm resolve, I worried about my ability to protect Ushna. He believed it was his job to protect me, but shouldn’t it go both ways? There were forces that would harm him for associating with me. They’d murder him if they knew he was my husband.
I stroked my hand down over my large, swollen stomach. Nine weeks into my sixteen week pregnancy, and I was already huge. I was no longer the last of my line, and once the assassins found out, my life would be more dangerous than it had ever been.
Running fingertips over the swell of Ushna’s chest, I rested my palm over his heart. He moved under my hand, moaning deliciously. I studied his sun-bronzed features and his solid muscular planes, shaped by hard work. There were moments when I was amazed he loved me. Only me. The knowledge humbled me even as it strengthened me.