Authors: Tami Lund
Lightbearer Series, Book 2
Published by Liquid Silver Books, imprint of Atlantic Bridge Publishing, 10509 Sedgegrass Dr, Indianapolis, Indiana 46235. Copyright © Published 2014, Tami Lund. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Liquid Silver Books
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
The Lightbearers are a group of magical beings who have lived for five hundred years hidden away in their warded and protected coterie. Now that the princess of the Lightbearers is mated to a shifter, their peaceful lives have been turned upside down.
In this second installment of the Lightbearer Series, shifter Finnegan Hennigan is doing his damnedest to keep lightbearer Cecilia Druthers out of trouble. His job is made all the more difficult by the fact that Cecilia doesn't want to stay out of trouble.
Despite their mutual annoyance, sparks ignite between this odd couple. As it becomes increasingly more apparent that someone is out to get Cecilia, the flares of attraction become impossible to resist, and soon, Cecilia and Finn tumble into, well, a closet together. And then the bed. And if Finn wants to keep her there, he's going to need to keep her alive.
Which means figuring out who the hell keeps trying to kill her.
Sheri—you make me believe others will love the Lightbearers as much as you do!
Thank you, Liquid Silver Books, for taking my words and helping mold them into a book paranormal romance fans will want to read. Thank you to my wonderful beta readers for encouraging me to send Finn and Cecilia’s story to LSB. And a special thank you to everyone who reads this book. It is truly my pleasure to share it with you.
“You aren’t my father.”
“Thank the Fates for small favors.”
Cecilia lifted her chin. “And you aren’t my mate.”
“Thank the Fates for
She narrowed her eyes and glared at the shifter who’d uttered the perceived insult. “So
telling me what to do.”
He grinned. His name was Finnegan Hennigan, and he was a refugee from Quentin Lyons’ now defunct pack from out in Wyoming. Quentin was dead, although his belief that killing a lightbearer meant you inherited her magic was dying a significantly slower death. Or so Cecilia assumed. Otherwise, she could not imagine why Tanner Lyons, now essentially the ruler of the lightbearer’s coterie, would insist that she not leave the safety of the magical wards surrounding the lightbearers’ home, unless accompanied by Finn.
She didn’t want Finn to accompany her anywhere. He was bossy and rude and called her Cici sometimes, because he knew damn well that nickname was reserved only for her dearest and closest friends. Finn certainly did not qualify, and she told him so at every available opportunity.
He was also far too handsome, with his coppery hair and unshaven jawline, those blue eyes that were slightly darker than those of most shifters. From what she’d learned about shifters, they either had black or pale blue eyes, rarely anything in between. Naturally, he had to be unique.
He was huge, too, towering over nearly every male lightbearer in the coterie, intimidating them, no doubt on purpose. Tanner had assigned him as a trainer, to whip the lightbearers into shape, teaching them how to fight, how to defend themselves. Finn was ruthless about it. Ruthless and obnoxious. He found it amazing—and not in a good way—that no one other than the guards had ever had any sort of defensive training before. Cecilia had tried to explain that the magical wards that hid them from the outside world had always been enough, and he’d retorted, “What the hell happens when you’re outside the coterie?”
She didn’t tell him as much, but normally, when she was outside the magical wards, she was enjoying the company of one of the human males who lived in the nearest town. Usually, they were naked by the end of the evening. She didn’t have a need to protect herself. She didn’t want to. Cecilia had needs and desires, and she most certainly could not fulfill them with someone living
“I speak with the authority of your king,” Finnegan replied, still grinning. “That means, actually, I
get to tell you what to do.”
“Uncle Sander would never assign
to watch over me,” Cecilia said with a sniff. “He would assign Dane or Samuel.” She gave an involuntary shiver at the mention of Samuel’s name. It would be a difficult choice, if she had to choose Finnegan or Samuel. Whereas Finn was just a giant, obnoxious pain, Samuel was utterly smitten with her and determined that they should be mated. Since Cecilia had no interest in mating with anyone—and certainly not a lightbearer—she supposed she would choose Finn. But it was certainly grudgingly.
“Probably not,” Finn acknowledged. “But Tanner would. And since he speaks for the king…” He let his voice trail away, and at Cecilia’s outraged look, he shrugged. “Your king should not have run this place into near bankruptcy. If he hadn’t, Tanner wouldn’t have had to give over every dime to his name to save it, thus indebting the king for life.”
“Tanner gave that money with no strings attached. I was there. I heard him utter the words.”
“So was I. Which means I heard the part where he informed the king that he would from this point forward be nothing more than a figurehead, while Tanner calls the shots from the background.”
He was right, which only irritated her further. She hated losing their little sparring matches. “We should never have allowed shifters into our coterie,” she muttered.
“If you hadn’t, you’d probably be dead right now.”
Again, he was right, damn it. Before he’d ever moved to the coterie, before he swore his allegiance to Tanner, Finn had saved both Cecilia and Olivia from members of his own pack on more than one occasion. Cecilia hated the idea that she owed him her life. She hated it so much so that she felt an almost overwhelming urge to get away from him.
She contemplated using her magic to summon a great flash of light that would temporarily blind Finnegan, so that she could escape from his overprotective clutches. But if she did that, it would almost surely deplete nearly all of her magical stores, and even Cecilia was willing to acknowledge that slipping into the human world without a full store of magic at her disposal was not a good idea.
The largest threat to lightbearers was dead, but that did not mean other shifters and even other magical beings did not bear ill will toward their kind. They had lived for five hundred years within their magically warded home, essentially cut off from the rest of the world. They had no earthly idea what dangers lurked out there.
“Fine,” she grumbled. She turned away from him and began stomping back through the woods toward the beach house where the king and queen lived. Thanks to the thick canopy of evergreens, the coating of snow on the ground in this heavily wooded area was far easier to manage than it was on the expanse of lawn she would eventually have to cross in order to get back to the beach house.
Finn fell into step beside her. She deliberately ignored him. It was not, unfortunately, easy to do. She could practically feel the higher-than-average body heat radiating off him. Shifters’ body temperatures were naturally several degrees warmer than a lightbearer’s. Olivia said it was like snuggling with her own personal heater in bed, except he was big and powerful, with sharply defined muscles and yet a soft touch.
Cecilia glanced sideways at her counterpart. His shoulders were ridiculously wide, his chest was sharply defined, his backside was far too grabbable in those just-tight-enough jeans he wore. If his personality wasn’t so damn bossy and domineering, Cecilia was half-afraid she would find herself attracted to him.
“If it helps, I don’t like Cecilia Duty any more than you do.”
She abruptly stopped walking and turned to stare at him. “
” She all but choked on the words.
He grinned again, the bastard. She wanted to slap him. He was forever foiling her plans to escape the coterie and then finding great joy in his successes.
“It’s an apt name, don’t you think?”
“Is that what Tanner says?”
Finn shook his head. “Nope. He calls it guard duty. But guard duty’s a piece of cake compared to constantly tracking you down and keeping you from endangering yourself.”
“I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself,” she said with all of the haughtiness she’d inherited as a result of being raised side by side with the lightbearer princess.
Finn snorted. Cecilia narrowed her eyes again. “You are the most annoyingly frustrating male I have ever experienced in my life. And trust me when I say I have come across some exceedingly annoying men.”
“I’m sure you have. You attract them like damn flies.”
Unfortunately, she couldn’t disagree. He was right. She did have the uncanny ability to attract the worst possible type of male.
aren’t falling at my feet, begging for my attentions,” she retorted, figuring it was the best insult she could come up with at the moment. She began walking, and Finn fell into step beside her again.
“You aren’t my type.”
“Oh, really? What is your type?”
“Not annoying. Not disobedient. Not intent upon putting herself into danger on an all-too regular basis. And not so damn skinny.”
Cecilia stopped walking again. She flung around to face him, fisting her hands on her hips. “
So damn skinny?
What the hell does that mean?”
He waved at her person. “You. You look as if a stiff wind could knock you off your feet. You look like you weigh next to nothing. Females your age ought to have more meat on their bones.”
” she repeated indignantly. “I’ve just passed twenty-seven summers. What does my age have to do with my weight? Which, by the way, is perfectly fine,” she said with a sniff.
Finn shook his head and then promptly picked her up and tossed her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. He wrapped his arm around the back of her thighs and began walking at a brisk pace toward the beach house. Cecilia screeched and shrieked and in general protested the caveman-like ministrations.
* * * *
Finn ignored her protests. He’d caught her—again—just as she was about to slip through the magical wards. Honest to fate, he’d never met someone so intent upon putting herself in danger as Cecilia Druthers. The coterie was the safest place on the planet for the lightbearer, so she naturally wanted to be anywhere but there. And then she had the nerve to act like there was something wrong with him for wanting to keep her safe.
The process of returning to the beach house was excruciatingly slow, because she felt the need to stop every few feet and attempt to give him a dressing-down. He considered just telling her outright not to bother, because he really didn’t give a rat’s ass what she thought about him.
Finn cared about the opinions of a few select individuals. His parents and his siblings. His new pack master, Tanner Lyons. And…that was pretty much it.
Tanner wanted him to protect Cecilia from herself, so that’s what Finn planned to do. Cecilia, unfortunately, wasn’t a fan of being protected. Well, Finn didn’t particularly relish the task either, he just did it because his pack master told him to.
He would much rather be warming the bed of the lightbearer named Daisy. She’d caught his eye three days ago when she sauntered up to him and commented that she heard shifters were big in all the right places. He hadn’t bothered to resist showing her that what she heard was true. He’d lived in the lightbearers’ village for four months at that point, and had been more focused on adjusting to his new life than tending to his own physical needs.
Daisy was just the sort of female Finn was attracted to, although he could admit that she too was on the thin side. Most of the lightbearer females were petite and thin. He supposed he was getting used to it by now, but he had still been half-afraid he was going to break her when they tumbled into bed together. Finn was a pretty damn big guy.
The first lightbearer Finn had ever encountered was Tanner’s mate, Olivia, when Tanner’s father had captured her and intended to kill her for her magic. The first lightbearer Finn had ever come into physical contact with had been Cecilia Druthers, the king of the lightbearers’ niece. The first time they’d touched, magic flared between them, hot and potent. It had shot straight to his groin, and he’d developed a hard-on, right in the middle of a battle during which he was pretending to be Quentin Lyons’ tracker, but really was trying to help Tanner and his lightbearers escape. Damned inconvenient, to say the least.