Authors: Meg Xuemei X
Tags: #Fantasy, #Young Adult, #Thriller, #Suspense, #Historical
The red queen
LAMENTS OF ANGELS & DARK CHEMISTRY
Meg Xuemei X
Copyright © 2015 by Meg Xuemei X
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photography, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author. Requests for permission should be sent to [email protected]
Silver Wheel Publishing
Printed in the United States of America
Cover design by Laura Gordon
“...not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” saith the Lord of Hosts.
Thanks to Alexis Razevich, Richard Casey, Randal K Jackson, Dan McNeil, and Angel Chen for their friendship, critique, and chocolates. To John Briggings and Lucinda Leavens for editing The Red Queen and Mehgan Tea for proofreading it.
I heartily thank all the readers for keeping reading
Laments of Angels & Dark Chemistry
Also by Meg Xuemei X
LAMENTS OF ANGELS & DARK CHEMISTRY, # 1
"A flawless blend of sci-fi, YA fantasy, supernatural events, romance, adventure, action, suspense and intrigue ... The Siren is a one of a kind young adult story and the start of a truly captivating series. I cannot wait to read book 2 and see where this awesome adventure takes us."
LAMENTS OF ANGELS & DARK CHEMISTRY, # 2
"If you are looking for a sci-fi adventure with cutting edge battles, sophisticated heroes and villains, lost ancient powers, and an impossible love interest that can only end in disaster, look no further."
YA Books Online
“I would recommend Love’s Prey to readers who enjoy stories of first love, romance in general, YA fiction, and romance set in other cultures.”
E. Lucas, Amazon top reviewer
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CONFESSION OF LOVE
SNIPERS IN PLAKA
THE THIRD SCROLL
POISON OF LOVE
BEACH AND BOYS
SISTER IN LOVE
THE EYE OF TIME
RIVER OF FIRE
PHOENIX IN ASHES
Where am I
A sea of red. Was it fire or blood? Lucienne Lam couldn’t tell. Fog filled her mind, clouding her judgment. She twirled around in difficulty and found herself trapped underwater.
She felt heat. It was fire. It licked the surface of the ocean. She’d drown if she didn’t go up, but who would take a chance with the endless fire? Her burning, bursting lungs answered the question. Kicking her legs, Lucienne swam up, looking for gaps in the inferno.
Every stroke was an ordeal. Something was wrong with her body—she was combusting inside.
, she summoned.
The power from her Siren’s mark responded like a trail of static.
. Blood Tear had infected aether, one of the five elements of Forbidden Glory. That was what had brought the sense of wrongness. She was on her own, forced to keep moving up. The sound of water pounded harshly in her eardrums, and yet, amid the rushing water, she heard voices. Distant voices, but distinct nonetheless.
“Are we just going to sit around, watching her like this?” She made out Kian’s voice, and it was laced with fear, despair, and anger.
Her people were around her somewhere. Relief washed over her. But where were they?
“We thinned her blood,” said Dr. Wren, her family doctor. “We’ve tried everything possible, but everything we’ve done has only worsened her condition.”
“We need to figure out the hidden code in her genome.” That sounded like Dr. Christophersen, the Norwegian geneticist.
“Your team will work around the clock until you find the cure,” Kian said. “From now on, the lab is where you eat, poop, and sleep.”
Lucienne wanted to tell Kian that that was an unreasonable demand, but first she had to reach him. “Kian,” she called, “put out the fire!”
He was still barking orders at the doctors and scientists. For a split second she was upset that he ignored her, but then she realized he couldn’t hear her. She was this distant, floating body that couldn’t talk underwater. With one strenuous stroke, she approached the surface, but immediately fell back as the flames bore down on her.
A wall of fire sealed every inch of the sea. The temperature was too high for her to break through. She had one choice—drown or be torched.
She bit her lip. No, this couldn’t be her end. She’d survived Blood Tear’s poison. She’d passed the trial of fire at the age of eight when she became Siren. Fire was part of her. It was her lifeline.
She would live through this.
Quenching her fear, she summoned Forbidden Glory again.
Fire is your element
Take me through this fire.
Her power whimpered.
If I die,
you’ll be trapped in ash and bone.
This time, Forbidden Glory responded like a raindrop.
At least that’s an improvement
. She could only hope her power still had a spark left—a spark that would shield her flesh from the earthly fire.
She went up again. Despite the unbearable heat, she pushed on, at least until she touched the flame. Only the fear of drowning kept her from screaming in agony.
Her hair singed. Her skin peeled from her face.
Lucienne plummeted. Drowning would be easier.
Water poured into her lungs. They burned too.
“What is happening to her? She’s choking!” Kian shouted in raw fear. “Lucia, wake up! Wake up, kid! Please.”
So this was a dream? A nightmare? That could be good news. All she needed to do was wake up, and the flood and fire would leave her alone. She blinked hard, once, twice, three times. She still couldn’t breathe. She pinched herself. She bit down on her tongue and tasted blood. Nothing worked. No, this wasn’t a dream. She couldn’t wake herself. The burning was real.
“Bring her back!” Kian yelled in fury.
Just put out the fire and I’ll get through!
she shouted at her audience, but it was as if they were on the other side of a soundproof door unaware of her cries.
What kind of hell was she in this time?
Drowning and burning.
“She isn’t waking!” Dr. Wren’s panicked voice passed by her ear in the rushing water. “Her heartbeat is weakening.”
“Should we use the defibrillator?” Christophersen asked.
“This isn’t a guessing game!” Kian grated. “A wrong move will kill her. You kill her, and I’ll skin you.”
Cold metal hit Lucienne’s chest. The doctors tried to jumpstart her heart. Forceful electricity shocked through her.
You’re electrocuting me!
she roared to no effect.
Lucienne went limp and plummeted, face up.
Someone charged into the room and cussed profusely. Was it Ash? He never swore, yet the harsh voice was his.
Where was Vladimir? Why didn’t she hear him? Had Kian and the men taken him out while she was incapacitated and unable to protect him? Fear pumped vigor into her. She surged up again toward the surface fire and instantly dropped back with another shriek.
“You never should have sedated her!” Ash said.
“She had an episode,” Wren said with a pang of regret. “She turned violent. We couldn’t let her hurt herself or the others.”
“I don’t care if she hurts a hundred of them. You never, ever put her under again,” Ashburn said in a stormy voice. “She’s struggling to come back but can’t make it. The drug neutralized her power. Next time, just get me!”
“Never sedate her again!” Kian yelled through his clenched teeth.
Lucienne could imagine the doctors cringing under Kian’s menace. Then she stopped falling toward the abyss of the ocean. An unseen force held her waist.
“Lucia, fight.” Ashburn wasn’t present, but his voice whispered in her ear, “Take my strength.”
The water around her pulsed. She tried to raise her hand, but the electrified water passed through her fingers.
“It’s not working!” Christophersen said. “We must try something more scientific than—”
“Come back to me, Lucienne Lam!” Ashburn called. “Do not abandon me again!”
She abandoned him? When?
Warm, soft lips found hers, slating over her open mouth. Ashburn was not just giving her air—he was branding her as his. He was kissing her from the other side. Normally she’d fight back; resist any man’s attempt to brand her, but in this world, trapped underwater, forever drowning, Lucienne hadn’t much choice. She blinked under the water, then kissed him back. She was surprised that she had the strength to reciprocate.
Something shimmered in the water. The Lure. It whisked around her with a song. The ancient siren’s song. She felt her heartbeat at the connection.
You found me, Ash
, she whispered.
I’ll always find you, love.
His kiss deepened, and air streamed into her lungs.
Forbidden Glory switched on. Its angel’s fire erupted from Lucienne and swept away the earthly fire that dominated the surface of the ocean.
Lucienne gasped, and her eyes flashed open.
She was in bed in her room in Sphinxes.
A hand, masculine and beautiful, lay on her chest, its heel against her cleavage. While scorching pain cleaving to her, pleasure sprouted from the touch point and spread outward, downward. The Lure had followed her back from the other side.
The Lure originated from TimeDust, an ancient power inside Ashburn. It forced a supernatural attraction between her and Ash. Whenever they resisted its pull, it was like being hit by a runaway train.
“Ash, thank you,” Lucienne whispered. Her mind had cleared of the fog, though her head still throbbed.
Ashburn pulled her into an embrace, his face buried against her shoulder blade. “Lucia.” He was trembling. “I thought I’d lost you again.”
She stroked his silver hair to comfort him and show her gratitude, but then her hand halted. Where was Vladimir? A quick scan of the room showed he wasn’t here. Over Ashburn’s shoulder stood Kian and Dr. Wren; behind them were Christophersen and her tearful nanny, Aida. All hovered over her as worried as Ashburn that she’d been lost forever.
The guards blocked the door, their expressions grim. Oliver had red scratches across his boyish face. The young guard joined Sphinxes’ team a year ago. His uncle, Orlando Sutherland, had been one of Lucienne's most trusted guards. The man sacrificed himself to save her from the fatal blow of Seraphen, an unidentified species, a year ago. Had she hurt Orlando’s only family? Dr. Wren had said she had become violent. Her face paled. No, it couldn’t be. She would never hurt her own people, but guilt fell in her stomach like iron, followed by shame and anxiety. She turned to lock her gaze on Kian, in desperate need of assurance and consolation, but all she saw in his sapphire eyes was a churning sea of uncertainty and agony.
Kian collected himself and warmth returned to his eyes, easing his edge. “How are you feeling, kid?”
“My head hurts like a bad hangover,” she groaned, still sagging against Ashburn.
“I'm glad you haven't reached the legal age for drinking,” said Kian.
She might never reach that age. When she was named Siren, her family had attempted to make sure she’d never reach adulthood. Ten years later, her ancient enemy, the Sealers, had finally succeeded in poisoning her with Blood Tear.
“We have aspirin,” Christophersen offered.
“I said all drugs are banned!” Kian said, unnecessarily harsh on the geneticist. “And Lucia won’t be taking any painkillers either.”
Lucienne desperately wanted an aspirin to reduce her horrible headache, but painkillers weren’t for Sirens. Her race regenerated faster than ordinary humans, but narcotics prolonged their recovery time. The Sirens had to experience pain—part of the curse for her bloodline.
She didn’t want to complain anymore how wrecked she felt, so she smiled at Kian, then at the others. “Why do you all look like you’re at my funeral?” she said, trying to lighten the mood in the room.
Their faces only paled.
“Look, I’m okay,” she groaned.
Then she saw shards of a broken Qing dynasty vase on the floor, one of her favorite antiques. Aida and the guards hadn't had the time or mood to clean up the evidence of her outburst. She shot a glance at Oliver again. He looked back at her. There wasn’t the slightest accusation in his eyes—just sadness and regret.
She’d lapsed again, and it was worse this time. She’d hurt one of the guards. In dread, she looked down at her red gown.
Ever since the ancient poison had entered her blood, she started to wear only two colors. When she sank into insanity, she craved red. When she was herself again, she dressed in white, fully repulsed by the mere sight of red.
Aether’s color was pure and white before the poison had polluted it. Red symbolized sin and revenge, brought by Blood Tear. And now all she wanted was to tear the crimson gown from her.
“I need a moment alone,” Lucienne said.
Everyone except Aida filed out of the room in grave silence. Lucienne shrugged off the red gown and tossed it to the floor. The nanny selected a white, flowery dress from a closet and helped Lucienne put it on, then quickly removed the gown from her sight.
Aida brought Lucienne a glass of white grape juice. Lucienne drained it and put the glass on the desk. “Aida, I've become such a burden to you.”
“You're never a burden, my sweet girl.” The nanny perched on the edge of the bed and wiped beads of sweat off her charge’s forehead. “You're more than a daughter to me.”
Lucienne rested her head against Aida's shoulder and let her nanny hold her. “Raising me wasn’t an easy task. The only reason I do not become a monster is because of you and Kian.” Then she was stuck in a thought. Would the poison turn her into that monster?
“I wish I could take your poison into me,” Aida said.
“I forbid you to say that or pray to your gods for that,” Lucienne said, then sat upright. As soon as she stood up, she dropped back on the bed as smoothly as she could manage. The throbbing in her head exploded at her sudden movement.
“Where’s Vlad?” she asked casually to conceal her anxiety.
She’d kept him near to protect him from her men’s wrath.
Vladimir and Ashburn had moved into her mansion, after she’d returned from the war, despite her protests that she didn’t need babysitters.
Kian also placed a team of round-the-clock guards in adjoining guestrooms. He checked on her every morning before hurrying off to his chief’s duties. Dr. Wren often accompanied him. Nothing Lucienne did could drive these men away. Ashburn hovered around her whenever Vladimir showed up. Kian, who no longer trusted the Czech prince, backed up Ashburn’s every move. The two didn’t want her and Vladimir to be alone. Not for a second.
Ziyi Wen, a leading force on her tech team, had also tried to move in with her. No matter how much Lucienne loved that girl, she knew Ziyi would be a pest if she let her friend reside in her house.