August Book Release: A Secret Proposal Part 1

It’s a Saturday here in New Zealand, and it is a lovely day. The sun is shining despite the cold this morning. It was only yesterday as I stood waiting for my dear sister Wanitta to pick me up after work that I noticed some of the Sakura trees along the streets are budding. This could only mean one thing! Spring is coming! And it is awesome. I can’t wait for the Sakura trees to be in full bloom so I could take some pictures with my new camera. And maybe starts shooting our YouTube video, too. Hehe. We’ve been planning for ages.

Anyway, Bazi wise August is the month of Shen Monkey (date: August 8th – September 7th). Sheng Monkey is a metal element, and Sheng Monkey is both an ungrateful punishment and destruction to the Si Snake in my chart. On top of this, it is also a harm to my Hai Pig. Thus far, there is nothing major that is distressing to me. But then again, this is the year of Yi Wei, so this might act as a patting to the blow? Though I could not say the same for next year as 2016 will be the year of the Shen Monkey. Triple Sheng Monkey! Eek! Shen Monkey 10 Years Luck – Sheng Monkey Year – Sheng Monkey Month.

But is it really an Eek? Metal is one of my favorite elements to balance my chart because Metal produces water, which is my most needed element as my chart is very hot and dry. Metal to my Day Master (Yi Wood) is my Influence star, especially my Direct Officer star. Direct Officer star, among other things, represents my husband star and my name and fame. Okay, let’s not talk about that possible other half. We know it’s not going to happen because of the punishment, destruction and harm. But what about my name and fame? Could this explain why my book A Secret Proposal got to the top of the Apple iBookstore top paid list on the release date? And furthermore, His Hired Girlfriend, A Secret Kiss, and Chained to You – The Contract is in the top 100 free section on the Apple iBooks store? Spread the name???

Screenshot 2015-08-19 23.17.13

Book Release: A Secret Proposal Part 1

Yes, in saying that, A Secret Proposal Part 1 is available to buy from all the major online ebook stores below.

2015 A Secret Proposal Part 1

Amazon | Apple iBooks | B&N | Google Play | Kobo | Smashwords

Don’t forget to get your free copy of His Hired Girlfriend while it’s still free. I will be taking it off FREE at the end of September. And of course get a copy of Chained to You – The Contract as well as A Secret Kiss from the listed links below ^_^

Book 1 - Falling For Sakura A Secret Kiss 2015 His Hired Girlfriend - A Kiwi Bride Novel 2015 - Chained to You the Contract v1

A Secret Kiss: Amazon | Apple iBooks | B&N | Google | Kobo | Smashwords
His Hired Girlfriend: Amazon | Apple iBooks | B&NSmashwords
Chained to You: Apple iBooks | B&NSmashwords

Next month September is the You Rooster Month (date: September 8th – Oct 7th). You Rooster is pure metal. It represents the 7 Killing to my Day Master. 7 Killing is more notorious and unstable and of course it clashes with my Mao Rabbit. *Sigh* It’s a never ending battle these clashes, harms, punishments and destructions. So, we’ll see how my books and I fare during this month. If I can survive that, then maybe I can survive 2017 because it will be a Ding You Rooster year, and of course, my next 10 years luck (Xin You) as that is where I will be heading within the next three years. Xin You is freakingly strong pure, pure, pure, and I mean pure 7 Killing. Can you just imagine a very sharp knife or scissors cutting cute, little plant? The scissors cut the dead branches and leaves, shaping the little plant into a beautiful flower. But one wrong move. Snip! The flower is gone. And I mean gone! You can’t fix it. It’s a done deal. Yi Wood does not like 7 Killing. Yi Wood likes Direct Officer better. At least there is still a few more years for me to learn bazi and get to know how to fully use the 7 Killing properly ^_^

Bazi, Romance, and Sakura and the Princeton Brothers: Which brother is her real husband? Sebastian or Darcy?

I know, I’m going on about Bazi (Four Pillars of Destiny) like a broken radio. But this time, really, you might be able to learn something. How about finding that awesome Mr. Right you’re always dreaming about? All right then. How about Bazi and Romance? Better yet, how about Sakura and the Princeton brothers. That’s if you’re a fan of them and the books. Which brother is her real husband? Gorgeously hot Sebastian with his pale blond hair and azure blue eyes or broodingly handsome Darcy with his jet black hair and mauve-gray eyes?

Romance and relationship is just one of the many facets of life we human beings are always fascinated about. More so for some, and indeed for those some, they go the extra mile and dig deep in order to get a peek at what their romantic future might hold.

Well, my dear readers, if you are indeed one of those some, then allow me to inform you that you can do so with bazi. Okay, speaking the truth here. I am indeed one of those some. Crazy you might say? Maybe. But I will tell you this and that is the consultation was eye opening for me. I now understand myself better. My flaws were being pointed out to me bluntly – in big, bold letters in my mind, of course. Yes, I have flaws. Many of them, in fact, that I am ashamed of myself. But to improve oneself, one needs to know one’s flaws, no? Analyzing one’s bazi chart is like going to a doctor to find out what’s wrong with you. But instead of your health you are diagnosing, it’s your life. Hence, Bazi Analysis is the diagnosis of your life whilst using Feng Shui to help improve what is wrong is the prescription. I know it only accounts for 33% of the life luck, but heck, 33% is better than a big, fat zero, right?

A while ago, a friend pointed out to me why I am so fascinated about this stuff and why I needed to pay someone to simply tell me what’s wrong with my life. First off, I came across bazi merely by chance a long time ago by picking up a book in the Feng Shui section. Yes, I was interested in Feng Shui first. And yes, I know quite a bit about Feng Shui. As a side note, Feng Shui is NOT the art of object placement to make your life better. It’s total bullshit! You simply can’t place a figurine in certain sectors of your house and voila, your life is better! That’s total garbage. Okay, I’m not going to rant about it here now. Though I might in the future.

Back to bazi then. Like a friend said, why pay someone to tell you your life sucks? Being me, I like to get the whole picture and dig deep. My goal? I want to be a successful person. To get there, I need to understand myself and know roughly what I need to do and what will happen. Another word, I want a guarantee. The friend told me why bother? If you know your future, then it takes the fun out of living. I guess the friend is right in a way. But see? I am a very conservative type of person. I don’t like to live dangerously. Thanks to my Direct Officer star. My analogy is – would you drive to an unknown destination without at least having a roughly drawn map of the road in your mind? Nope. Today there are GPS and google map for you to use if you’re going to be travelling some place you’ve never been to before. That’s how I see life. I need to know at least a little bit of what is likely to happen. You know, just to prepare myself.

All right. That’s enough about Bazi and my view of it. Let’s talk about romance and bazi, and of course, Sakura and the Princeton brothers and how one uses bazi to determine one’s other half. Please note that I am no expert in this field of bazi, and merely muse about the subject because it’s fun. Please also note that in life there is no such thing as that one other half. Rather, there are a few people who fits the criteria of that other half and it is up to you and your action to make things happen. Phew! I think I phrased that right.

Sakura and the Princeton Brothers: Which brother is her true other half?

If you haven’t already read Falling for Sakura: A Secret Kiss, then I have no idea where you’ve been. The book is completely free to download from all the major online book stores such as Amazon, iBooks, B&N, Google, Kobo, and Smashwords. If you don’t want to download from these stores, I’ve posted it up to read for free on Wattpad. It has over 2 million reads and getting to 3 million soon. Yup. Not exaggerating. In fact, I tend to understate. I usually do and I have no idea why. Anyway, go download the damn book and read it to understand what the hell I’m ranting about.

Book 1 - Falling For Sakura A Secret Kiss

We all know Sakura Princeton/Tanaka is in love with two very hot brothers, Sebastian and Darcy. Though to be honest, I have never intended for the book to turn out this way. But heck, it did and I can’t change that now. I just have to keep going. Anyway, so why am I brining Sakura and her love triangle up with the subject of bazi? That’s because via bazi you can find out who your true spouse/husband star is and when you’ll meet him. That’s in the real world, and I’m just using Sakura and her made up bazi chart to show you how it’s done.

Before I begin, I need to show you what a real bazi chart looks like. Below is an example. If you want to see what yours looks like, you can just google by using the key words “Plot Bazi Chart” etc. I use Joey Yap’s tool. Then of course you need to plot in your date of birth. Hence, year, month, day, and of course, time. You need all four to have a complete chart.

Bazi Sample Chart

Freaked out yet? Yes, it’s a lot. And yes, it’s confusing. Let’s not go there yet. I’ll just show you the basic.

The Spouse Star

In bazi, the true husband star for a female is the Direct Officer (DO) star. We are talking about a female chart here because Sakura is a female. For a male, the true wife star is the Direct Wealth (DW) star. If a bazi chart doesn’t have DO, then the 7 Killing (7K) is taken as the husband star. Note also that 7K is generally considered as the boyfriend star. For a male, if there is no DW star, then the Indirect Wealth or IW (generally considered as the girlfriend star) is taken as the wife star.

Sakura’s True Husband Star

So who is Sakura’s true husband star? Sebastian or Darcy? Below is her made up chart designed by me. Hehe.

Sakura Chart

Let’s go over the chart. In the Day Pillar where it says Sakura DM, this is Sakura’s Day Master. This represents her and who she is in elemental term and how she presents herself to the world. Here I chose the Xin Metal (jewelry and small metal) as her DM as an example, although she could be any one of the ten day masters such as Jia Wood (big woods), Yi Wood (flowers and little plants), Bing Fire (fire of the sun), Ding Fire (fire of candle light), Jia Earth (mountains), Ji Earth (soft earth), Ren Water (sea water), Gui Water (rain water), or Geng Metal (swords and large metal).

Below the DM where it says Spouse Palace is, as stated, the husband palace. It is a very important and untouchable palace out of all of the palaces. By untouchable I mean it cannot be clash, harm, punish, destroy or combine in any way, shape or form. If any of the afore-mentioned touches this palace, you can kiss a wonderful, romantic relationship goodbye. Of course in real life, there is no such things as a wonderful and lasting romantic relationship. Your ten years luck pillars and annual pillars change. The cycle of these interacts with your personal chart, making it super awesome, good, okay, or simply a horrible year for you depending on the composition of your chart.

For a woman to have a good romantic relationship, she needs to have the DO star within the spouse palace. Please don’t panic if you don’t see it straight of in your spouse palace. You need to look in the hidden stem which is shown below the spouse palace. Hidden stem is actually within the earthly branch. It’s just that the stars are hidden. If you still don’t have the DO star in the hidden stem, please remain calm. As long as you have a favorable element to the DM within the spouse palace, all is well in the relationship front. Just as long also that this palace is not clashed, harmed, punished or combined in anyway as mentioned before.

Next, the DO star needs to be a favorable element to the DM. In Sakura’s case, because she is a Xin Metal DM, she needs the DO star, the Bing Fire element, to be favorable to her DM. In this case, Sakura DM has to be strong because a strong DM favors the Influence Stars (DO and 7K), Wealth Stars (DW and IW), and Output Stars (EG and HO). She does not like Resource Stars (DR and IR) and Friend/Self Stars (Friend and RW).

Remember the ultimate goal for the chart is balance. You don’t any one element to be too strong. That’s why a strong DM needs to be controlled by the Influence stars (DO and/or 7K), produce Output Stars (EG/HO) and controls another element which means Wealth (DW and IW). This is all in order to reduce the strength of the DM. If the DM is weak then the DM needs resource (DR and IR) and friends/self-element to help strengthen it.

According to her Chart

So which is for real? Note that in Sakura’s chart, there are two influence stars, DO and/or 7K flanking on either side of her DM in the heavenly stem? Note: The top column is called the heavenly stem and the bottom is called the earthly branch. Heavenly stem is weak and doesn’t whole as much weight as the earthly branch. This means that to the outside and on the surface, Sakura appears to have two DO/husband stars. Hence, translate to life, this means she has two men to choose from as her love interest. In the hour pillar, I plotted it either as DO or 7K because I wanted to show that either she appears to have two husband stars or that she appears to have one husband star and one boyfriend star. As I’ve mentioned before, the heavenly stem is only an appearance. The stars/elements need to be rooted, meaning appearing in the earthly branch and straight down to the hidden stem to have any real lasting/meaning. In this case, Sakura chart has the DO right in the spouse palace. So she does have a true husband star that is strong and rooted. But really? Do the husband star means Sebastian or Darcy? This depends on Sakura’s decision. But for a more sure thing, one needs to look at both Sebastian’s and Darcy’s chart. If the chart fits, meaning one of the men’s chart is going through a wealth ten years luck pillar or that there is a combination forming a very strong wealth element for him (as mentioned before wealth also represent wife for a man), then you bet it’s him.

Sebastian – 27 years old multibillionaire real estate investor and businessman. You bet he’s going through his wealth 10 years luck pillar.

Darcy – 24 years old multibillionaire game designer and entrepreneur. You bet he’s going through his wealth 10 years luck pillar.

Damn! This is so hard.

When Sakura meets Sebastian and Darcy

In Falling for Sakura Book 1: A Secret Kiss, Sakura meets the Princeton brothers when they return home to St. Joseph Island for their cousin’s wedding. Of course they literally drove into Sakura whilst she’s out taking photos of nature. She’s an artist. More on bazi and her characteristics later. When she meets them again, she’s twenty-three years old. Now let us see how bazi help us decipher this. Below are her natal chart, 10 years luck pillar, and an annual pillar. I take the annual pillar as 2026 because in 2026, it is the year of Bing Wu, which is Bing Fire in the heavenly stem and Wu Horse (Yang Fire) in the earthly branch.

Skaura's Chart1

In 2026 when the year of Bing Wu comes around, Sakura will meet her potential husband. Bing is the fire of the sun, Wu Horse is Yang Fire which is also the fire of the sun. The element of fire represents the DO star for Sakura. When this star appears in both her 10 years luck pillar, as it is in the 23 to 33 years cycle, and the annual pillar, as it is in 2026, the husband himself will make an appearance and they will meet. See? Not so hard, right? But of course in reality, whether this meeting will turn into a relationship depends on the person’s action and whether there are clashes, harm, punishment and/or a combination between the pillars. And trust me, character such as Sakura with all her problems such as being an orphan, people being jealous of her and bullying her during her childhood years, and her having so much inner conflict will have some of these within her chart. More on that in later posts.

Of course the appearance of the Husband Star (DO or 7K) in the 10 years luck pillar and the annual pillar is not the only way a woman will meet her husband. Another way is when there is a combination of the elements, either via the formation of the Three Combination or the Directional Combination. In Sakura’s case, this occurs when her chart meets a 10 year luck and annual pillar of Yin Tiger and Xu Dog. Hence, Yin Tiger – Wu Horse – Xu Dog will form a Three Combination Fire Structure that is extremely strong. The same will happen if her chart meets the Si Snake and Wei Goat. Hence, the Si Snake – Wu Horse – Wei Goat form an extremely strong Directional Combination of Summer, which is also the element of fire, a Xin Metal DO/husband star.

Bottom story? If your chart say you will meet your other half, you will met him when the time comes. If it’s not now, why not concentrate on doing something else that your chart says will make you a success? Such as career (output/influence), accumulating wealth (wealth stars), or self-improvement (resource stars)? But then again, bazi is subjective and complex. There is no one star to consider but a combination in any area of life. Take career for example. For your career to be a success, three different stars are taken into consideration; Output, Influence and Wealth. It’s how good and hard you work (output), who your boss is (Influence) and how much money you make (wealth). For a man, well, wealth is not only wealth, but his wife, too. So no wealth? No wife! Or at least it will be very hard for him to find/connect with that special someone. You will notice a trend that when a man starts making money, he’d probably be getting married soon, or at least find his true other half (as mentioned above with Sebastian and Darcy).

Okay. Enough bazi.  For now, let’s just enjoy Falling for Sakura, why don’t we? Book 2, A Secret Proposal Part 1 is coming out on the 18th of August, that’s like only a week and a bit away. If you haven’t pre-order one, there’s still time to do that. It’s available on Apple iBooks, B&N, Google, Kobo, and Smashwords. The book will also be available on Amazon on the day of release. A Secret Proposal Part 2 will continue updating on Wattpad in October.

Book 2 - Falling For Sakura A Secret Proposal

Of course A Secret Proposal Part 2 is also up for pre-order on the Apple iBooks Store ^_^

2015 A Secret Proposal Part 2

Cheer and peace ^_^

Alexia

Top 50 Fictional Writer – World beyond imagination

AlexiaPraks:

Kevin’s blog article makes it sound like I’m kind of in the right field. Being a writer! Super awesome ^_^

Originally posted on Cheat Sheet to Life:

Pen

Creative fictional writing, were a new world is born and shape by the very person that is penning (keyboarding) it down. Here i have fish out among the Top 50 fictional writer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_fiction_authors) and have a look at what is in common in their chart.

Top 50 Fictional Writer DM

Day Master is rather dominated by Ji Earth. Ji Earth being the most malleable element of all, you would used clay/soft earth to make all sort sculpture and art peaces. Their willingness to accept the unknown open their mind to possibility. Next highest being Bing Fire. Generosity of sharing with other and the utter need of attention may have drive fellow Bing Fire creative bone. Being the sun fire, boundless and limitless with their way of expressing. Being the bottom dweller, Ren Water have the lowest representation, too much logic and intelligence hindering the ability to walk the “bullshit” path.

Top 50 Fictional Writer Element

If we look at the…

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Bazi, Health, Inspiration and Writing

I’ve been neglecting to update this blog for a wee while now, and I feel the need to write and post articles once again. So I’m going to be going over a little about my poor health of late, which I have notified everyone of on Wattpad, and my current state of inspiration for writing.

Health wise, I’m not going so great at the moment. I will admit that I was never a fit nor healthy child when I grew up. Now as an adult, I am getting healthier. Come on, growing up in a refugee camp and surviving on barely anything to eat wasn’t an ideal childhood. And since I’ve learn and have come to a better understanding of Bazi (four pillars of destiny), I can appreciate why my health isn’t great, especially during the period between May to July. Check out my chart below.
My Bazi Table - Clash

In bazi, the months between May and July is the summer season. May is the Si Snake, June is the Wu Horse and July is the Wei Goat. These three months mark the summer season.

Now how does this affect me, health wise? I am a Yi Wood Day Master. Yi Wood is small plant such as flowers and shrubs. I was born, according to my month of birth which is May, in summer which is fire element. In summer, wood is weak, recall that wood produces fire in the elemental cycle. Once an element produces another element, the self-element will be weak. So in very basic bazi, I am a weak Yi Wood Day Master.

Since I was born in summer, my whole chart is very hot. Hence, the most important element needed to cool my chart down is water. I do have the water element in my chart in the year pillar, being born in a Hai Pig year. I’m not surprise I’m more attracted to friends with cold chart, especially those born during the winter season which is the months of December, January and February. Most of my friends and of course my younger twin sisters were born in these months.

The Pig and Snake Clash

Even if you don’t know bazi, you would have heard people telling you that people born in the pig year shouldn’t marry or be friend with people born in the year of the snake because the two animals clash. First off, this is a load of bullshit! Pardon my German. Because you’re born in the year of the pig simply doesn’t mean you can’t get along with those born in the year of the snake. Bazi wise, however, this hold true that the pig and snake clashes. So from here, you can tell that my year pillar clashes with my month pillar.

Boo! I’m so sad my chart clashes.

LOL! I will admit that having a clash chart isn’t fun in life. Generally, the clash between the year and month pillar denotes difficult childhood, as the two pillars represent age between one to thirty-five years. After thirty-five, the problem will not go away though it will lessen in effect. Of course, this depends on what the two elements of the chart represent to the person as well in order to analyze what type of difficulty the person has. For me, the Hai Pig water element is the resource elements, which represent, among other things; health, the state of my emotion and mentally, and of course help and support from noble people. The Si Snake fire, on the other hand, is my output elements which represent work and products etc. So which element wins? The Si Snake Fire, of course. Why? Because I was born in the season of summer in May when fire is at its most prosperous. Hence, Fire wins and, as the saying goes, clashes away the water element. LOL! Not surprising here. Get the picture?

No? Here’s one for you. Imagine two boxers in a boxing ring. One is red. He’s big, muscular and super awesome. The other one, the blue one, is pale, skinny, weak, and looks more than a little sick. He should be in a hospital bed with IV lines supporting his life. The match begins. In an instant the red knocks the blue one dead in a second flat. Ding! The red wins!

So how does this translate from bazi to real life? It simply means that there is a lot of hard work and very little support in anything. Health wise? Come May, June and July, my health goes down the drain. Picture wise? Imagine a little flower trying to survive in the hot desert. This is the picture of my chart during these three months. When these months arrive every year, I get the hit. Over work and stress with very little time to relax (relaxation and holiday are govern by the recourse stars, which is water in my case) leads to poor health.

istock_flower_in_desert_med

Inspiration and time to write wise?

The resource element, among other things, represent inspiration and time to enjoy life and smell the rose. Writing to me is enjoying my time and smelling the roses. Conclusion? Over work lead to stress lead to poor health and cannot find the energy to get inspire or write. Sigh! For the longest time I have always wondered why the snake months and years were so horrible for me. Now I know and will endeavor to relax more and not put myself through so much work during these times when they come around.

Ways to get inspiration

When I have no inspiration to write, I watch movies and anime and read books and manga. LOL! Speaking of books. I have recently bought about thirty from a Book Sales from our public library. It’s awesome. And it only costed me $23. So will start reading those soon.

As I’ve mentioned before, I watch anime in order to connect better with my resource stars. Relaxing and entertaining yourself is one way to connecting with your resource stars. So I’ve been watching ‘Say I Love You’ or Sukitte Ii na yo in Japanese. It’s a sweet high school romance. I highly recommend it if you haven’t already seen it. Watch it here on Anime Kiss.

Say I love You Manga and Anime

It’s also because I loved Sakurai Takahiro’s voice. He has such an awesome voice. And every time I hear him speak, my blood sings. It just sings. I have also been reading manga and listening to his Drama CDs. One of them is Adekan. It is classified as Yaoi and Shounen Ai. So if you don’t like Yaoi (boys love) or Shounen Ai (boys friendship), then don’t read it. Although I must admit there isn’t much of the Yaoi but more of the Shounen Ai. Just subtext Yaoi. But I do love all three mains—all males. Yes, I love male harem. Just males. Judge me if you want to. But that’s who I am.

tumblr_inline_moxobylaeh1qz4rgp

 

Adekan Characters:

Adekan 3 Adekan 2

Shiro (Middle) : Voiced by Jun Fukuyama (one of my favorite voice actors)
Anri (Left with blond hair): Voiced by of course the awesome Sakurai Takahiro
Kojiro (Right): Voiced by Maeno Tomoaki (my other favorite voice actor)

Now then, I must return to editing Falling for Sakura: A Secret Proposal Part 1 and updating When the Sun Courts the Moon on Wattpad. These two, are by the way, on pre-order on iBooks, B&N and Smashwords.

Book 2 - Falling For Sakura A Secret Proposal When the Sun Courts the Moon - A Kiwi Bride Novel

So chillax and reconnect with your own resource stars by doing what I like to do. Read books!

Cheer and look after yourself ^_^

CHAINED TO YOU: Chapter 1

So I’ve just released a novella, CHAINED TO YOU: The Contract, which is basically a taste of what CHAINED TO YOU the novel will be. You can download CHAINED TO YOU from Amazon. Here’s Chapter 1.

Chained to You - the contract 1

CHAPTER 1

Mia

It was a mistake to let Andy leave the country, and I’d known it the moment he told me he’d be going.

“Better job prospects there,” he’d said. “Friends of mine promised to find me a good one.”

A good one to Andy meant a job that would offer very good pay and didn’t require any university qualifications, since he didn’t have any. I wasn’t one to argue though, since I didn’t have any either, and working as a kitchen hand in a restaurant at minimum wage wasn’t something both of us planned for the rest of our lives. Andy wanted to study business and, one day, own his own big corporation with hundreds of employees and a very cool office with an outstanding view, high in the building. Me, I wanted to teach.

“You won’t have to work those shitty long hours anymore, Mia. We won’t have to worry about money. You can quit that pathetic job and say good-bye to that arsehole boss of yours.”

“Pathetic job,” I murmured under my breath as I stared out the small window to my right. “Arsehole boss.” I hugged myself tight as I gazed at the view.

It was beautiful, with bright gold and blues, and just below the plane, there were thick white clouds all along the endless horizon. I’d always wanted to see this exquisite scenery for real, since I’d spotted it in a beauty magazine I bought from a secondhand bookstore. I even had the picture glued in my notebook of places I wanted to go and things I wanted to do and accomplish before I die. I’d also wanted to be in a plane, too.

At the moment, however, both were the furthest from my mind. In a few hours, the plane would land, and I’d be in Los Angeles, California—a place I’d never been to before and hadn’t even wanted to visit. Paris, Tokyo, and Rome were the cities I desperately wanted to see. Not Los Angeles. Never Los Angeles. And the fact I didn’t know where I was going or what I’d be doing there really worried me. No, that wasn’t true. What really worried me was I wouldn’t know who I’d be facing and how the hell I’d be getting Andy out of his mess.

During the next few painstakingly slow hours, I remained paralyzed, seized by fear of the unknown. Fear of what would happen to Andy if I couldn’t help him.

“Andy,” I murmured. “Why?”

He’d been such a good little brother. I understood it had been hard for him since the death of our parents, as it had for me. Understood shit happened in everyone’s life, though it seemed to happen a lot more for us. But we had to carry on living, didn’t we? And Andy? He was just that gullible, more than the most gullible person on the planet. I’d known that, yet I’d let him go. Allowed the wolves to have a taste of him, to play and dance with him. And now he was stuck, and I didn’t know how I could save him.

At the moment, I knew I was charging forward blindly. The wolves, these billionaire businessmen who didn’t hesitate to play dirty, were who I would be dealing with.

“Maxwell.” I said the name softly under my breath, a shiver passing down my spine. Even the name itself radiated power, and it scared the hell out of me.

All I’d gotten was a phone call from Andy and then an email—a threatening email—from a man simply called J. Maxwell. That email was short and to the point. Even now, I felt a little dizzy thinking about it.

Ms. Donovan,

 I would like to inform you that your brother, Andy Donovan, has done a very unwise thing. He and his friends have swindled and lost two million dollars of mine in a gamble. He is currently under our protection. Negotiation between us is prudent, and I urgently advise you to make an appointment to meet me.

J. Maxwell

The bastard had made it sound like he was the police with the words protection and negotiate. But then again, Andy and his so-called friends had swindled millions from the billionaire, and now, it was my job to replace them. Once again, the number of zeros following that two made my head spin. How the heck was I supposed to supply two million US dollars?

The plane landed, and I found myself shuffling through thousands of people I didn’t know. I tried to pass them as quick as I could, clutching my backpack close to me. I knew I looked like a fish out of water here, and those staring at me with the look were evidence of that. I didn’t care though. I had a mission to accomplish, and their judgement wasn’t going to faze me.

I sighed with some small relief once I was outside where there were less people to encounter. It was hot. So hot in fact I had to take off my jumper. I knew I had to take the bus into town because a taxi was way too expensive, and I couldn’t afford that, what with only three hundred bucks cash in my wallet.

I jumped into the bus a few minutes later, and after paying my fees, I settled in a lone seat, placing my backpack on my lap in front of me. I kept to myself throughout the whole journey. When the bus stopped in town, I took another up to Beverly Hills and then another one farther out. This took me another hour, and by the time it stopped at the very end of the route, I was exhausted and thirsty.

Out on the rather deserted street lined with big mansions that both terrified and amazed me, I took out the Google map I’d printed out and peered at the white, neatly folded piece of paper. The glare was getting to my eyes, so I moved around, trying to find a bit of shade. My finger followed the line of roads on the map as I muttered to myself, “Where am I? Where am I?”

An angry, long, loud beep blared from the distance. Tires screeched against asphalt. I lifted my head, and my eyes rounded with dread. Panic sized me the moment I saw the car heading toward me. I reacted by staggering back, just in time, as the vehicle came to a sudden halt inches from me.

I fell on my backside, my heart pumping loud and fast. I was still paralyzed with fright when the door of that expensive car opened. Shiny black shoes landed on the pavement, followed by clean black trousers.

I watched, suddenly fascinated as that pair of shoes came my way. They stopped right in front of me, as if waiting patiently for me to lift my head. And I did. My eyes slowly drifted up to the long legs trousers and then to the slim waist and expensive-looking pale-blue shirt and dark jacket, and then… My breath was taken away the moment my eyes met his.

Strong, aquiline nose, deep-set eyes, prominent jawline, and dark hair—this was the type of face found in fashion magazines. The male models in ads for perfume and expensive suits. The type that was out of my reach. The rich, expensive type that every girl drooled over and dreamed of dating.

He was the type that scared the shit out of me, and he was doing so right now. My breathing became shorter and faster. At that moment, I just wanted to run. My legs, however, seemed to have become numb, and I couldn’t command them to move.

The handsome stranger made my condition worse by coming down to one knee. I was surprised he actually allowed those expensive, clean trousers to touch the dirt.

When he faced me, I swallowed.

Prussian blue. The color of his eyes. Dark yet bright, with an ominous feel to them. A shade of blue that had fascinated me since I was a child. It was the shade of the sky I’d seen when I opened my eyes that day many years ago, my whole body aching in agony and my bones broken. The sound of sirens and people shouting, asking me if I was all right. I’d never been all right. I was dying from a car accident. And they asked me, a child of twelve, if I was all right.

I flicked my mind back to the present, to the man in front of me, and bit my dry lip. I subconsciously licked them—a mistake. His Prussian blue eyes drifted to my lips, and suddenly, my whole body reacted in a way it had never reacted before.

It flared with heat and delicious sensation coursed through me, making me almost breathless. I was trembling more fiercely than I had when I’d thought the car was going to hit me. My whole body trembled beneath his stare, at the sudden electrical sparks that charged and pulsated between us.

He narrowed his eyes—against the glare of the sun or a knowing sign, I didn’t know which. When he grinned at me, one that would take any girl’s breath away, I knew it was the latter. He was way too handsome for my peace of mind. It was a crime for such a man to exist. He was too much.

“Are you all right?” he asked, his voice timbre deep.

A thrill rushed down my spine. I tentatively nodded and wished he’d just up and go.

He didn’t, which both angered and pleased me at the same time. At that moment, I didn’t understand my own feelings. Yes, I wanted him to leave me alone, but at the same time, I didn’t want him to go.

He surprised me by wrapping one large, strong hand over my arm. I jolted at the touch, and my whole body went into a frenzy of sensation, a whirlwind of heat.

He pulled me along as he stood, and I mindlessly followed. My head barely reached to his massive broad shoulders. I swallowed as I stared at his shirt.

“Don’t walk into the road without looking if you don’t want to get hit,” he said.

I nodded, still not looking at him. “Thanks,” I said, stepping back. I felt his hand releasing me, his warmth leaving me.

I turned, picked up my backpack, and gave him a small smile. I saw him cocking his head to one side before turning away. I was still trembling when a few moments later I watched his car speed by.

* * * * *

Again, you can download CHAINED TO YOU: The Contract from Amazon. You can also join my Mailing List to get notification of when the next parts of CHAINED TO YOU are released ^_^

A Demon’s Wrath: Chapter 9

2015 A Demon Wrath Book Cover Version 1Chapter IX

 

 

THEY WATCHED THE TRAINING FOR a little while before Julius came to fetch Lucifer for his lessons. After much groaning and moaning, the boy finally followed his teacher back to the study room that was joined to the library. Vera excused herself to attend to her work as mistress of the palace, a job she loved and found much comfort in.

Alone, Cecelia took the opportunity to explore the sections of the castle where she was allowed to roam freely, drawing a map within her mind of the palace’s perimeter and its surroundings. Her objective was to find a route to the Cave of Doom within the forbidden forest where the Pearl of Life resided. By midafternoon, she hadn’t accomplished much more than when she’d started. Furthermore, she was getting too sweaty and hot and a little dizzy from dehydration.

She was about to turn back when she heard water splashing. Curious, she rounded the corner of a bush and came to view a secluded, small lake that resided within the thick woods. She scanned about the place but noted no one was in sight. Thirsty as she was, she couldn’t turn down the sight of refreshment that was presented to her by mere incident. She thankfully went to the side where a series of big rocks stood, got to her knees, and bent down. She scooped water in her cupped hands and brought the clear, chilled liquid to her lips. Then she began to sip. The freshness and the coolness made her sigh with pleasure. She dipped her hands into the water again and splashed some on her hot face with a content smile.

“Care to join me?”

The query made Cecelia look up, and the moment she met the gaze of the demon king, she jumped back, her backside slamming on the bed of rocks, hard. She groaned in pain and embarrassment whilst Drake laughed.

She blinked and gazed in awe at the demon as a deep sound much like thunder roared up from within the depths of this throat and bellowed loud about her ears.

Drake crossed the small distance between them, and as he came up, Cecelia noted he was completely and utterly naked. She blushed and quickly averted her gaze from the lower portion of his body where his private parts nestled between his legs. She thought it was safer to look at his face. She was wrong. His eyes were deep and scorching with a hidden hunger that made her stomach flutter with exhilaration.

Drake caught her hand and pulled her up to him. Cecelia obeyed him, much to her dismay. He was a big demon, and standing this close to him really unsettled her. His skin, tanned and smooth, glistened with droplets of water, and his face, the aquiline features and deep-set eyes, did nothing to stop Cecelia’s heart from pumping out of rhythm.

Drake tilted up her face with his thumb at the small of her chin, as if to scrutinize her features as he did a horse. To Cecelia’s surprise, he wasn’t frowning this time. Nor, however, was he smiling. She wondered if he was always so broody looking.

“How do you find us demons, Brian?” he asked. “And our home?”

Cecelia blinked as her whole body tensed. He was now moving his fingers down the delicate line of her throat, as if he found that part of her anatomy very interesting.

“Why did you avert your gaze from me? Do you find me repulsive?”

Cecelia automatically shook her head. “Nay, sire.” She told him the truth. She found him fascinating and a bit too attractive for her liking.

“Then why do you avert your gaze?” His eyes were on her lips now as she bit the lower flesh.

She blushed, and he chuckled.

“Human and demon are not different, Brian. Your body and mine are but the same.” He moved his face closer so his hot breath fanned the skin of her forehead. “I am curious, however, if you humans accept same-sex lovers. Are you interested?”

Cecelia’s blush deepened, and confusion reigned over her eyes as to the meaning of his words. She brushed his hand off her and took a step back.

“I see,” he said quietly, accepting her withdrawal as her refusal to his proposal. He changed the subject. “Have you satisfied your curiosity yet of the perimeters of our castle?”

“What are you implying, sire?” she asked.

He mistook her query and cocked his head to one side. “Are you not here as a spy? I wonder. Or is it something else you’re after?”

That made Cecelia angry. She refused to let him go any further with his assumption and turned on her heel. “Good day to you, sire,” she said coolly and headed toward the woods, leaving Drake to stand there gazing after her with an amused smile on his face.

Her heart was still pounding from the run when Vera found her near the palace wall. The woman had a basket of sustenance in her hands. With Cecelia’s curious gaze, she said, “Our picnic.”

They had their luncheon picnic as planned near the stream to the eastern sector, close to the vineyard. Cecelia couldn’t believe just how beautiful this kingdom was. It was their summer, after all, and wildflowers were everywhere, with different shades of color unimaginable to her. The scent was lovely, rich with honeysuckle, wild lilies, and lavender. Bees and butterflies were everywhere. Cecelia closed her eyes, listening to the water running and the birds chirping.

Though the scene was indeed very beautiful, the air was lovely, and atmosphere was pleasant, Cecelia was tense. Surrounding her was not only Vera and Lucifer, but Drake, who was sitting slightly behind her to her left, Leon to her right, Gerick beside her, and Julius yonder to the front. Adam was close beside Vera, and Lucifer was sitting on his lap. She could sense the dark, intense gaze of the demon king on her person. Oddly enough, she felt her skin tingling with an unexplained excitement yet fear.

“How is your lunch, Brian?” Vera asked.

“It’s very nice, thank you,” Cecelia replied. “This place is wonderful.”

“Which is simply why so many wanted it,” Gerick said, moving closer to Cecelia. He rested his weight on his elbow, his body facing her. He took a peek at Drake and saw the demon king giving him a dark scowl, reminding him of his threat from last night. Gerick took no notice and returned his undivided attention to Cecelia.

Cecelia, in turn, looked at the handsome demon beside her, her brows raised in question.

Gerick said, “For many centuries, our kingdom had been at war with other kingdoms simply because our land is so rich. Not only is our land so fertile, but our sea is filled with great sea creatures. We have mines too, silver and gold.”

“Gold?”

“Aye, gold. And of course, since we have returned from our many sea adventures, Drake started his own vineyard.”

“Vineyard?” Cecelia fought the urge to turn to look at Drake.

“Aye, there.” Gerick pointed across from where they sat near the top of the hill.

Cecelia could make out rows and rows of grapes. A vineyard indeed. Just like Rosevalley.

“If you want to, we could take you to have a look,” Lucifer said, chewing his sandwiches. “You know what?” he said to Cecelia.

“What?”

“When I grow up, I’m going to go on a sea adventure just like Papa and Uncle Drake and Uncle Gerick and Leon.”

“And your teacher Julius,” Julius gladly corrected his student.

Lucifer rolled his eyes if as to say sure. He said, “I’m going to get myself a grand ship. You’re welcome to join if you want to,” he thought to add.

Cecelia smiled and thought that was very fine indeed. She glanced at Drake, who was resting his body against a tree. His sharp eyes were on her. She quickly glanced away, her mind once again examining the meaning of his question back at the lake.

“Have you ever been on a sea adventure, Brian?” Drake asked from behind her.

Cecelia shook her head. “Nay, sire. That is, until recently.”

“How do you find it?”

“Not to my liking at all, sire.”

He laughed. The deep, timber caused Cecelia to shiver deliciously. Her cheeks turned crimson and her heart jumped crazily in her chest. Him laughing at her comment was very disturbing indeed.

“A pity. You’ll meet many more cutthroats like those men in the future.”

Lucifer jumped up from his father’s lap and rushed around to where Drake was sitting. “I think it’ll be fun. You’ll have to teach me how to sail, Uncle Drake.”

“Indeed I will, Lucifer, in time,” Drake said, tousling his nephew’s hair.

“And you can teach Brian too,” Lucifer added.

“No, that won’t be necessary,” Cecelia interjected quickly. I will have to return home soon, she added in her head. Tomorrow if possible.

“Where is your home, Brian?” Julius asked as if he’d just read her mind.

Cecelia hesitated for a moment. “Very far from here. The vineyard, it reminded me of my home.”

“That vineyard reminded me of Rosevalley,” Drake said mildly, his eyes gazing off into the distance.

Cecelia turned to look at him. She was still afraid of him, but she couldn’t seem to take her eyes from his as he watched her.

“Yes, reminds me of that place too,” Gerick said. “Lord Van Zandt is such a stingy man. He wouldn’t give us any of his beautiful wine when we left.”

“You and your wine.” Adam snorted. “All you ever think about is drinking and wenching.”

“Hey, what better way to live than drinking and wenching?” Gerick said, laughing.

“What’s wenching?” Lucifer asked.

Adam glared at Gerick. “Nothing important, Lucifer. Take yourself off, Gerick, and prepare our horses for the hunt.”

“I want to come help,” Lucifer said, jumping up.

“Right, I’ll be off, then,” Gerick said and stood. “Come along, Lucifer. Let’s get the horses.” And then they were off, Lucifer skipping beside Gerick.

“How long ago were you in Rosevalley?” Cecelia asked Drake.

He closed his eyes. Cecelia couldn’t help admiring his physical appearance. He wasn’t that handsome. Not like Gerick, who she was sure even human females would fall head over heels in love with on first sight. Nay, the demon king had harsh features and a dark scowl that most would find petrifying upon first meeting him. Even then, she found him ruggedly handsome and simply too attractive for her peace of mind.

He opened his eyes and studied her intensely. Her throat became very dry at his stare.

“Many years ago, when I was but a young demon,” Drake said. “Have you been to Rosevalley yourself?”

Cecelia lowered her eyes. “I have heard of it. They say it is a very beautiful place. But it was destroyed by a raid three years ago.”

“Such a pity,” Drake said.

Cecelia gritted her teeth. What was he saying? Such a pity? Was that all he could think as a reply? He was the one who had destroyed her home. And here he was sitting there with not a care in the world. Oh, he was such a demon all right. He had no feelings whatsoever. He deserved no admiration from her, nor respect. He only deserved hatred from her.

“Come on,” he said abruptly and got up. “We go hunting.”

Cecelia looked up to see his hand before her.

“I’m sure you will enjoy the hunt,” he said, his gray eyes boring into hers.

Cecelia licked her lips and said politely, “Nay, thank you.”

“Come now, Brian, you will enjoy it,” Leon said, smiling at her.

She stubbornly shook her head in the negative.

Drake took matters into his own hands and caught her small arm. Cecelia jumped at the contact. His eyes were twinkling despite the dark scowl on his face. Amazing, she thought. Such mysterious, beautiful eyes. She was lost in the sea of gray clouds.

He jerked her up and dragged her after him toward the stables.

Vera shouted, “Have fun.”

Not long afterward, Cecelia found herself riding on a beige stallion. Leading the pack was Drake himself, riding on his sinfully black, dangerous steed Wildfire. Both master and beast looked foreboding to ones who didn’t know them. Even to her, Cecelia shivered at the prospect of meeting this demon alone in such a forbidden forest.

Lucifer was smiling with glee as he rode with his father. Suddenly, Cecelia had a longing. She longed to see Brian smile like that once again. She longed for him to enjoy such activity instead of dreading it and coming back hurt both physically and mentally. Those boys back at the palace, they were so cruel to have bullied Brian.

“Brian, I see it. I see it!” Lucifer shouted excitedly as he pointed his finger toward a bush.

Cecelia looked at where he was pointing. She saw rustling in the bush.

“Shh,” Drake signaled to Lucifer. When he winked, Lucifer nodded, his eyes twinkling with excitement.

All was silent as they watched. Then a boar rushed out. Cecelia gasped as the big animal ran toward the other side of the woods. In all of her life, she’d never seen a wild pig so big. A prize indeed, if caught. And Cecelia wondered why none of them were moving. They were just sitting there on their stallions, still as rocks, watching the creature running away. Cecelia couldn’t seem to breathe. She, too, stayed still, watching, wondering what they were doing.

Silence. And then whoosh!

Cecelia blinked.

At lightning speed, Drake and his stallion were off after the boar. Lucifer shouted, and he and his father were off too. Gerick and then Leon followed. Cecelia watched as they all raced after the animal. She couldn’t very well stay behind, so she kicked her stallion and went off after them.

They were going fast, zigzagging about the tall, thick trees. Her heart was pumping like mad as she concentrated on trying not to smash the stallion and herself into shrubs. She was scared, but she was also very excited.

“Whoa!” Gerick shouted into the hushed woods. The woods itself echoed back at him. Whoa!

Adam and Leon laughed. Their deep voices were like a lovely song in Cecelia’s ears. For the first time in weeks, she smiled. She felt light and happy. There was no heavy burden hanging on her small shoulders. She felt quite amazing. But that feeling was short lived when she felt something behind her.

She turned, and to her horror, another boar was chasing her. This one was even bigger than the other. She panicked when she saw the angry, determined look in the boar’s black eyes. It was huffing at her.

She kicked at her stallion to gallop faster. She turned back to look at where she was going. There her eyes widened in horror. She watched as Drake’s stallion jumped over a big log that lay across their path. Demon and beast were one, flying over that huge log with air and grace and strength. She caught her breath at the back of her throat and wanted to cry at the sheer awe and madness of it. She’d never done this before.

Then she watched, as her stallion took her nearer to the log, both Adam and Lucifer glided over and then Gerick and Leon after them.

She didn’t know what to do and so, as her time came near, she kicked her stallion once more and hugged her body flat on its back. She closed her eyes as the steed started jumping. She felt like she was flying, the hot wind on her face. Then suddenly, she felt she was pulled down, and in the next instance, she fell off the horse and landed with a thud on the hard earth.

She closed her eyes at the sheer pain in her body. She watched above her, the trees spinning around her. She squeezed her eyes shut and groaned in pain. When she opened them again, she saw Drake looking down at her. He was still saddled atop his steed. He glanced at something across from her. Then with his powerful hand, he swiftly grabbed her arm and pulled her up. Cecelia had to blink several times to clear away her confusion. That was when she saw her stallion running toward the other side of the forest. And there was the boar, charging toward her. Drake wrapped his arm round her waist and hauled her up onto the saddle in front of him.

Cecelia nearly fainted. She’d never fainted before, but with this demon’s hands touching her body and him so close to her, she really did feel like fainting.

Drake nudged his stallion. They raced toward the other side of the forest where the others were waiting. There they stopped. Cecelia wondered why they didn’t continue their escape. The boar was charging at them for God’s sake. Surely they must run. But she couldn’t tell them that because she was too busy trying to breathe properly and was too fascinated at the angry charging boar that was coming toward them.

Slowly, Drake drew out his bow and arrow. Cecelia became aware of this when she saw the lethal weapon in front of her. She was also aware of his heat behind her, not to mention his wonderful smell—the smell of the outdoors, pinewood and earth. Her whole body shivered deliciously in response. Then she nearly stopped breathing when he moved his face near hers, his lips near her left ear so she could feel his hot breath on her sensitive skin.

“Take the bow and arrow,” he whispered.

A nice, hot liquid thrill slowly glided its way through her being, and Cecelia held her breath.

“Take the weapon,” he repeated. When she didn’t respond, he caught her hand and guided it to the bow. She couldn’t resist his gentle command.

“Just aim,” he said.

Cecelia shuddered. She just realized what he wanted her to do. He wanted her to kill the boar.

She shook her head and said, “I can’t.”

“Yes, you can,” he replied. “Aim.”

Cecelia was pretty good with bow and arrow, but not with him so near. She couldn’t concentrate. She was too aware of him to focus on anything else.

“I’ll guide you,” he whispered as he stared at the boar charging at them. “Pull!” he commanded.

With his hands over hers, guiding her, she pulled the bow. And then they both released it. The arrow flew across the distance and smack. It hit the charging boar right on the forehead.

Cecelia stared with wide, disbelieving eyes at the dying animal.

“Well done, Brian,” he whispered softly into her ear.

Cecelia shivered deliciously again and felt her body melt weakly. She turned back slightly to look up at him. What she saw in his eyes was pure darkness and passion. She caught her breath at the back of her throat as Drake wrapped his arm around her waist.

“You’re too soft, Brian, even for a human,” he said playfully.

Cecelia didn’t have time to respond, for he kicked on his stallion, jerking them both forward, riding toward the dead boar.

“Yeah, Brian, you killed the boar,” Lucifer shouted.

“Good on you, Brian,” Adam said, patting Cecelia’s back as he rode past.

Gerick jumped down from this horse, picked up the boar as if it were a kitten, and laid it across his stallion’s back.

“Come, we have a feast tonight,” he said, climbing onto the saddle and laughing as he rode away. Lucifer and Adam followed behind him.

“That was a very good shot, Brian,” Leon said as he trotted past.

Drake started forward, when Cecelia said, “Wait, what about my stallion?”

He stated, “It’ll find its way home.”

With that, they followed the others back to the palace.

* * * * *

A Demon’s Wrath: Chapter 8

2015 A Demon Wrath Book Cover Version 1Chapter VIII

 

 

CECELIA WAS READY THE NEXT morning when Lucifer came to her room, running and jumping as though he couldn’t wait to see her and show her around the palace. As they were having their breakfast, which contained an array of delicious fare to choose from, such as toast, hot rolls, baked savory cakes, grilled asparagus and potatoes, and of course, tea to wash it all down, she wondered about the demon king and his comrades. Were they like her uncle and most of the nobilities and ministers residing in the Van Zandt Palace, still abed this late in the morning? Or were they like her father? Up even before dawn, training his small, loyal armies—an army that had died with him the night they had been raided by the demons.

It wasn’t long when Lucifer hastily came around to her and excitedly pulled her off her chair, leading her toward the door. Vera chuckled and followed closely behind them.

“You’ll love Storm,” Lucifer said cheerfully, his bright-blue eyes twinkling. “He’s my pony. Uncle Drake gave him to me last year for my birthday. He said he’ll grow very big if I take good care of him.”

Vera said, “Lucifer, my love, why don’t we show Brian the library first? Then we can show him the stables.”

Lucifer practiced his dark scowl with a pursed lip at his mother. “Do we have to?”

Vera couldn’t help but chuckle at her son’s funny face. He was trying to look like his father and uncle, of course, who, more often than not, sported a brooding scowl on their faces. Most of the women found them intimidating and wouldn’t go near them. Oddly enough, Vera found herself attracted to her husband, even with that dark frown on Adam’s face. She, however, couldn’t say the same for Drake. She loved and respected Drake as her in-law and her king, but at times, she still felt intimidated by him.

“Yes, love,” she said to her son.

“Why?”

“Because Brian is a good student. He studies plants in different kingdoms, and he would want to explore our library,” Vera replied. “And you, my love, would do well to follow him.”

Lucifer groaned, his lips downturned. “I don’t like studying. Julius makes me study so hard. I like going out hunting with Uncle Drake and Uncle Gerick.” He grabbed for Cecelia’s hand and then steered her reluctantly toward the library instead of the door that would lead them outside.

“Hey, Brian,” Lucifer said a few seconds later. “Papa is teaching me how to fence. He’s very good with his big sword. Can you fence, Brian?”

Cecelia said, “A little.”

“Only a little?” Lucifer sniffed and nodded. “Well, you humans are not very good at fencing like we demons are. Papa and Uncle Drake are the best. I’ll ask Papa to teach you. How about that?” Then he began to skip, but those animated steps stopped as quickly as they started once they came to a huge door leading into the library.

“Well, here we are,” the little demon said unenthusiastically, looking at the gigantic double doors.

“Why don’t you show Brian in, Lucifer?” Vera suggested.

With a big ill-disposed sigh, he nodded and headed into the library, pulling Cecelia by the hand along with him.

Inside, Cecelia could only stare wide-eyed at the thousands of books that surrounded her. The library was enormous and neatly furbished with thousands of volumes shelved on all sides of the two stories walls.

“Well?” Lucifer asked, looking at her with some expectation.

“Whoa,” Cecelia expressed, her breath taken away. “This place is amazing.”

Lucifer pulled a shocked face in disbelief. When he saw his mother laughing, he straightened himself and said, “Julius makes me read them, you know, the books.”

Vera, who finally managed to halt her mirth of her son’s peculiar face, said, “Lucifer doesn’t like studying, as you can tell.”

Cecelia nodded.

“Mama, can we go now?” Lucifer asked when he saw Julius coming down from the second floor with a book in his hands. He rushed to hide behind Vera as Julius came toward them.

“Ah, young Brian,” Julius said. “And is that my bright student I see hiding behind his mother’s skirts?”

Lucifer clamped his lips and poked his head to the side to peek at Julius.

Julius said, “A brave demon doesn’t hide behind his mother.”

Lucifer hesitantly stepped to the side and announced, “I’m brave.”

Cecelia said, “Of course you are, Lucifer. You didn’t even cry when that madman beat you.”

Lucifer widened his eyes as he looked at Cecelia. Clearly, he’d forgotten the fact that he was indeed very courageous when he’d been kidnapped by the pirates. He nodded furiously in agreement. “Yes, yes, see. I didn’t cry at all when that madman beat me. I am brave.”

Vera laughed. “Yes, you are, sweetheart,” she said, stroking his blond hair lovingly, feeling the urge to grab him in her arms once again just to assure herself he was back home with her, safe and sound. Last night she’d felt utter relief sweeping through her being and couldn’t help but cry her heart out as she embraced him tight against her in bed, with Adam hugging her and Lucifer in his strong arms.

“Is that the Pearl of Life?” Cecelia asked, staring at the colorful drawing in the book Julius was holding. On the cover page of the thick ancient book, in neat, big bold letters, it read: RECIPE FOR THE PEARL OF LIFE.

Julius said, “Yes, it is. This book contains the formula for the Healing of Life Potion and such likes. Its main ingredient is the elixir of the Pearl of Life.”

“I didn’t know the Pearl of Life needed a formula to work,” Cecelia stated, confused.

“Oh, yes, it does.” Julius moved closer to Cecelia and turned a page. At the top, in beautiful bold writing, it read, THE HEALING OF LIFE POTION. Cecelia read below the heading.

The Healing of Life Potion is used to heal life-threatening poison such as the Westwick Poison from the Northeast, the Naga Poison from the Southeast, and the Green Snake Poison from the East.

Below that, the book was set out like a normal recipe book with ingredients and methods.

“Mama, can we go now?” Lucifer whispered to Vera.

“I’ve never heard of the Naga Poison and the Green Snake Poison before,” Cecelia said, curious. She’d thought the only life-threatening poison she’d ever known was the Westwick Poison, created by the Westwick family from the Virdis Kingdom in the thirteen century.

“Oh, yes, the Naga Poison is very powerful indeed. When Drake, Adam, Gerick, Leon, and I were in our youth, we went exploring. One of the kingdoms we visited was the Moha-Angkor Kingdom. A very dangerous and barbaric place if you ask me.”

With Cecelia’s nod, he continued, “Gerick was, of course, very careless. He went swimming in the South Sea and a Naga bit him. Luckily, it wasn’t the Naga king himself. The poison isn’t so powerful. They were warned. I told them before we left that the Angkorian people are very superstitious. They believe and value their god-king as much as they believe and value their dead and many other unexplained things. And they should be careful not to cross paths with a Naga. We sailed back in a hurry to save Gerick. Thank God for the Pearl of Life.”

“Where does the Naga king live?” Cecelia asked.

Julius said, “Ah, I believe Lucifer can answer that question.”

All eyes turned to Lucifer expectantly.

Lucifer went bright red in the cheeks and said reluctantly, “Under the Southeast Sea. Their castle is protected by a powerful barrier.”

Julius said, “Who created the barrier?”

Lucifer sighed and then said, “The Naga king.”

“Who is the Naga king?” Julius continued quizzing his student.

Lucifer gazed up at Vera. He looked as though he really hated being there with Julius questioning him in such a way in front of his new friend Brian.

He sighed again, indignantly, and said, “The Naga king used to be Prince Jay in the Moha-Angkor Kingdom a hundred years ago. He got cursed and turned into a Naga by his mortal enemy, Prince Surya.”

“And who is—”

“Prince Surya?” Lucifer cut into Julius’s question.

Julius winked at Cecelia. He said to Lucifer, “Well done. You know my question before I even finish it.”

At this point, Lucifer was losing his patience and said quickly, “Prince Surya is Prince Jay’s mortal enemy. After using black magic to curse Prince Jay, King Naga got very angry and used black magic to curse Prince Surya into a Garuda. Prince Surya became a Garuda king living in the Cloud Palace.”

“That’s amazing,” Cecelia said.

“That’s only a little history of the southeast,” Julius said. Indeed, he sounded very proud of his student. And then he changed the subject, which made Lucifer sigh with relief.

“The Pearl of Life has special power only in the hands of the demon king and those very few who know how to draw out its magic. The Pearl of Life, however, is just like any other pearl in human hands. Unless, of course, the person knows the spell or recipe to withdraw its elixir,” Julius said as though he were explaining important history to Cecelia. He was, after all, a teacher, and if anyone showed any interest, Julius couldn’t help himself by granting such studious person his full knowledge of the subject.

“But of course,” he continued, “no one is allowed to use this powerful pearl without the permission of the king himself, for it belongs to him from birth. It is his gem. His seed, if you will.”

Vera said, ignoring once again Lucifer’s plea to leave, “One of the potions is Eternal Beauty.”

“Yes, that one. Hmm, I must warn you, Brian—though I can see from within your aura that you are not the type to want eternal beauty—that potion is very powerful.”

“Mama!” Lucifer whispered with cupped hand near his mouth so Julius wouldn’t notice. “Storm might be asleep when Brian gets there. Can we go now?”

With a raised brow, Julius looked down at his student through the rim of his spectacle. Lucifer blushed and quieted down immediately.

Vera said, “Black Potion, that one.”

Julius nodded. “Three generations ago, Queen Josephine was so vain she stole the Pearl of Life from the demon king and made the Eternal Beauty Potion. She became the most beautiful demon in our kingdom. Not only that, but she also became the most beautiful being ever to have existed in our world. But her beauty, it turned out, was only skin deep. She was so poisonous inside that she killed her own sisters, fearing they would one day exceed her in beauty. Eventually, she became so bitter within herself that she went mad and committed suicide.

“Of course, the wizard also found out later that she was poisoned inside. Her heart was dying from the toxin. That recipe, instead of extracting the goodness from the pearl, draws out the toxic chemicals that reside within the thin external layer of the pearl. Hence, they concluded the toxic chemical causes madness as well as slowly killing the heart muscles as it flows through the blood.”

“But that’s horrible,” Cecelia said.

Julius nodded. “Yes, it is horrible. Luckily, or not so luckily, the recipe for that potion was lost a hundred years ago. And our old king was only too happy to see it gone, as it caused the kingdom naught at that time but grief.”

“Mama, can we go now?” Lucifer begged once again, this time louder as he tugged at Vera’s skirt.

Vera turned her eyes to her beloved son and patted his head fondly. She said, “The potion is a horrible one. No one should ever use it again.”

“Mama,” Lucifer begged.

Julius shut the book then and looked pointedly at Lucifer as he said, “Showing Brian around, are we?”

Lucifer nodded enthusiastically, giving Julius a toothy grin.

“The stables?”

Again Lucifer nodded.

“We better go,” Vera said, “before this little demon gets annoyed with us.”

Cecelia nodded in agreement. They left the library, and Lucifer gleefully ran outside the palace toward the stables even before Julius could say good-bye.

The warm morning breeze was nice against Cecelia’s skin. The smell of wild lily and honeysuckle caressed her senses, which reminded her of Rosevalley.

Across the vast land to the north were orchards growing with pears, apples, stone fruits, and many types of berries. The vineyard to the east once again reminded her of her home and her mother and brother, which made Cecelia’s heart ache. To the south, spilled over across in the wide expansion was the city itself, with stone buildings, large and narrow lanes, markets, the town square, and demons going about their days and doing their business.

It was when they headed farther toward the west that Cecelia began to hear clanging noises of metal against metal and men grunting. She narrowed her eyes against the bright sunlight in search of the clatters that grew louder and louder. Then as they came around the thick stone wall and into the clearing behind the castle, Cecelia gasped in awe at the sight she beheld before her.

Demons. There were at least a few thousand of them in the vast open field, training, sharpening their battle skills. She blinked as she watched men wrestling, fencing, spear-throwing, fighting, and much more. She felt overwhelmed. This training camp was a hundred times bigger and a hundred times more energetic than the one she’d witnessed back at home in Rosevalley as a child.

“There’s Papa!” Lucifer shrieked excitedly. He jumped on his spot and waved to his father animatedly. When he saw his papa raise a sword at him in salute, he laughed elatedly. Vera giggled as she too waved back at her husband.

Cecelia couldn’t take her eyes off the scene before her. These demon warriors were terrifyingly skilled with their weapons and techniques in battle. No wonder the humans feared them.

It was then she noticed the demon king Drake amongst his soldiers. He was training a group of well-honed yet nervous-looking warriors. There were eight of them surrounding him, swords in their hands, ready to take him on. Drake, in only his breeches and a sword in his right hand, swung his sharp, lethal weapon forward and began the combat. He was quick and precise with his blows, and within a minute, the eight warriors were all defeated, lying flat on the ground, their bodies brutally beaten. Drake, who stood eyeing his crushed warriors with an unsatisfied frown, suddenly glanced up and caught Cecelia’s eyes.

Though she was trembling in the sheer awe and fear of the demon, Cecelia couldn’t look away. He fascinated her beyond belief as she stared at his half-naked body with bulging muscles that sent her body tingling. His bronze, smooth skin glistened with sweat and his chestnut-brown hair hung over his scowling face. His gaze was hot and intense, and even at this great distance, glued her to her spot. Then he gave her an astute smile that made Cecelia’s stomach flutter with an odd excitement in response. She caught her breath at the back of her throat and quickly glanced away.

“We’ll come back and watch them after I show you the stables,” Lucifer stated as he began leading her along the narrow path to the other side. Cecelia felt Drake’s fervid gaze on her person as they passed, and she held her breath until they were out of sight of the training camp.

“There’s the stables,” Lucifer shouted, dragging her across the clearing. “Storm, Storm, Storm,” he sang as he hopped along.

Cecelia glanced at Vera, who was smiling. “He loves Storm,” she explained.

Cecelia nodded. She understood perfectly how attached the little demon was to his pony. She herself had been very attached to her mare Snow.

“Here we are,” Lucifer announced. “He’s in here, he’s in here,” he shouted as he ran into the stables.

Inside, Cecelia saw the steeds were like those she’d seen the day before—beautiful, big, and strong. The place was warm and smelled of hay, earth, and animals.

“Come here, come here,” Lucifer shouted, his hand waving wildly at Cecelia. “Storm’s here. You want to pet him?”

“Of course,” Cecelia said, chuckling. She walked to the little, cute demon’s side and bent low to pat the gray pony that didn’t at all look like a pony she’d ever seen. “It’s, err, nice,” she stated and gave him a confused look that made Lucifer roll his eyes heavenward, informing her with his far more superior knowledge that she didn’t know anything.

“He’s a pony,” he stated, pointing to the animal that did indeed look like a pony, but at the same time didn’t. It had beautiful, fluffy fur, striped gold and black, almost like a cat. The animal itself, however, had pointy horns and a body like a unicorn. “See? he queried. “He’s more than nice. He’s the best.”

“Yes,” Cecelia said, nodding, “he’s the best.” She stroked the animal, loving the warmth and softness of the fur under her fingertips. The pony groaned in response and nuzzled closer to her.

Lucifer laughed. “See, he likes you touching him,” he said, nodding his blond head.

Cecelia smiled as the pony groaned some more and, shoving its head toward her, begged her to pet it again. It was then that a series of loud snorts came from the next stall. Cecelia jumped and glanced up, nearly falling on her backside in surprise. Another grunt came and went, and Cecelia was utterly scared and curious.

Slowly she stood, her eyes wide as she came to face the most beautiful beast she’d ever seen. Sinfully black, muscles firm and tone in stunning shape. Cecelia was mesmerized by the creature’s beauty.

“What a beautiful horse,” she commented, watching as the muscles of the animal’s hind legs rippled as it moved.

Lucifer straightened and stood on tiptoe so he could look at the animal. “Oh, that’s Wildfire. He’s being naughty. That’s why Uncle Drake put him in there.”

Cecelia looked at Lucifer with her brows raised. “Naughty?”

“Hum.” Lucifer nodded.

“Would you like to take Storm for a ride, Lucifer?” Vera asked behind them.

Lucifer turned to face his mother and shook his head. “No, I’m going hunting with Papa and everyone after luncheon.”

“What will you hunt this time?” Vera asked with interest.

“Papa said last night that we’re getting a wild boar,” Lucifer supplied.

Cecelia frowned and said, “But surely, hunting is very unpredictable. How do you know you’ll get a wild boar?”

Lucifer looked at her as though she didn’t know anything of importance. He said, as though lecturing somebody much younger than himself, “We are getting a wild boar. That’s what Papa said. And what he says goes.”

Wildfire hissed again, its hind legs kicking against the unstable wooden door. Cecelia worried the animal might break the door down and topple on them, especially Lucifer, who didn’t seemed to have a care that this might happen.

“He’s upset he’s stuck in there. Poor Wildfire,” Lucifer said, shaking his head.

“Does Wildfire not like to stay in his stable?” Cecelia asked, pulling Lucifer away from the door.

Lucifer looked up at her and said, “Wildfire doesn’t stay in the stable. He runs and flies around. If he’s in the stable, it means he did something very terrible that Uncle Drake doesn’t like, to teach him a lesson.”

“Fly?” Cecelia asked, looking at the young demon.

Lucifer nodded. Vera saw the look of confusion on Cecelia’s face and stepped in to explain. “Wildfire, Brian, is a special breed of steed in the demon kingdom. It can fly.”

Just then, Wildfire turned about and faced them. Cecelia widened her eyes at the twisted black horn on the steed’s forehead. Its eyes were pitch black. Then it started to snort at them again, tapping its two front hooves on the ground.

“Does it fly very fast?” Cecelia asked curiously.

“Oh, yes,” Vera said. “So much so that one couldn’t catch up on horseback.”

Cecelia stared at the steed long and hard.

Then Lucifer said, “Hey, you like Wildfire more than Storm.”

Cecelia didn’t hear what Lucifer had said. She was staring at the beast, her mind racing.

“Hey!” Lucifer said, nudging Cecelia’s hand.

Cecelia jumped. “I’m sorry. What did you say?”

“You like Wildfire more than Storm,” Lucifer repeated unhappily.

“Now, Lucifer, it is enough that you love Storm. It is, after all, your pony, not Brian’s,” Vera said.

Lucifer clamped his lips together and then nodded. “No, I wouldn’t like it if Storm liked Brian more than me. Okay, let’s go watch Papa train the younger warriors. I’m going to be like him when I grow up,” he thought to add before running out of the stables.

“Come along,” Vera said to Cecelia.

Cecelia turned once more to look at Wildfire and then followed Vera out of the stables.

* * * * *

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