As heir to the throne of the Azorea Cay Phoenix Clan, Ember Bailey is committed to
being as strong and fair as her mother. Her people deserved nothing less in their queen.
Attending the Academy of the Phoenix is the first step to learning the business side of
things while training with her three dads built up her strength to protect the clan. Those
two things keep her away from exploring the new relationship with her four mates.
But nothing is without sacrifice. At least she has Lucent by her side and can video chat
with the other three men. You know, a nice normal collage princess lifestyle.
But trying to find a sense of normalcy after spending months at the Wicked Reform
School, proves to be impossible. As the Academy of the Phoenix is ravaged by a ghost
with a grudge, death and foul play plague the campus. With one teacher dead and
another missing, can Ember, Zelphar, Karn, Lucent and Caleb track down the evil spirit
and vanquish it before it has a chance to kill again?1
“You need to take that off.”
My hand instantly went to the pendant around my neck. It was a gift from Hera to conceal my bond with Lucent from everyone around us. Of course, it was only meant for me to wear while at the reform school. It was crucial for us to conceal the fact we had formed the mating bond. It wasn’t that we planned for it to happen the first time we had sex, but the Fates had other plans.
Lucent reminded me of that fact at least a couple times a week, the last few months since we’d returned home from the Wicked Reform School. I wasn’t sure why I was putting it off. Well, I actually did. There were three reasons—Cross, Flint, and Gauge—my dads.
I wasn’t sure how they would react to me having four mates, and I was bonded to one of them—especially Cross. He was the alpha male of my mother’s three mates and a wolf shifter, the poster child of a dominant, overprotective male.
Lucent took my hands in his, forcing me to meet his green eyes. Kissing my fingers, he held my stare. “Your dads may be scary and overbearing, but they love you. They will be happy you have found your mates.”
Not releasing Lucent’s hands, I sank down into the small pool of water fed by a waterfall not far from our clan’s village. My best friend and bonded mate swam backward, pulling me with him through the cool water.
“I know they will be happy for me, after they tortured you, Caleb, Zelphar, and Karn.” I released Lucent’s hands and floated on my back with my arms straight out from either side of my body.
Saying my other three mates’ names aloud made my chest tightened. I missed the twins and Caleb. We talked on the phone about once a week, at least Caleb and I did. The twins, Zelphar and Karn, Zeus’s sons, lived in the Underworld with Hades and Persephone most of the time, who raised them since they were twelve.
“They won’t torture us… much.” Lucent’s tone was low, with notes of uncertainty hidden in the words.
I’d heard that same tone come from him a little too often since we’d been home. When I asked him what was bothering him, he would brush it off and tell me it was nothing. Doing what a good girlfriend would do, I gave him his space, figuring he’d open up and come to me if there was something truly wrong.
Well, today, I wasn’t in the mood to be the good girlfriend anymore.
I sank under the water and swam over to him. Breaking the surface, I glared at him. “What is wrong with you? And don’t tell me nothing.” He shook his head and pulled away. Oh, hell no. I wrapped my legs around his waist and pulled him to me. “I’m not dropping it this time. Spill.”
My heart hammered. Was it the twins or Caleb? Had something happened to them? Did they not want to be in this poly relationship?
Lucent cupped my cheek and ran his thumb over my bottom lip. “I don’t understand why you keep putting off telling your parents about all of us. Especially since you and I have completed the mating. I want to tell my mom and walk through the village with a ‘fuck you, I got her first.’”
I jerked my head back and studied him. Was that it?
“I’m sorry. Since we’ve been back, Mom has put pressure on me to focus on my studies. Not just school, but training and shadowing her as much as I can. I don’t want her or my dads to think I’m not taking my duties as the clan heir seriously.”
As the words flowed from me, I realized I also had to work on my relationship with Lucent. We’d fallen into our usual routine and the comfort zone where we were best friends—but he was much more than just my BFF.
Wrapping my arms around his neck, I closed the small space between our bodies. “I’ve been keeping you at a distance, and I haven’t meant to.”
A rush of breath left him, and he hugged me close. “It’s not all you. I haven’t known how I should act. We went from denying our feeling for one another to being mated. That’s a big change.”
Again, there was a dip in his tone that hit me hard in the chest. Lucent was keeping something from me, and I didn’t like it. However, if I asked him about it, he’d get defensive, and we’d argue. I had enough shit to deal with at the moment to fight with him, but he was right. There was a lot to adjust to.
Pushing away my insecurities, which might be all in my head because of the pressure Mom was putting on me, I played with his hair at the base of his neck and studied him. His green eyes sparked with desire, fueling my own.
“We’ll tell them tonight.”
His features lit up a little. “I’ll be at your side. They won’t be as bad as you think. Besides, I think they know or suspect something.”
I jerked my head back a little. “What do you mean?”
Had I been too busy to notice the obvious? That was highly possible. With school and shadowing Mom, I hadn’t spent too much time with my dads, except for Cross during training, but he was hard to read on good days.
Lucent traced my lips with his thumb. “They watch me more closely. I don’t know. Maybe I’m being paranoid, or it’s wishful thinking.”
When he grinned, I laughed, then kissed him. I meant it to be quick, but he tightened his hold on me. His tongue slid through my lips, and I groaned. We definitely hadn’t made enough time for each other.
I was going to fix that—tell my parents about him and my other three mates—and also tell them they can deal with it because I was an adult. Technically, anyway, even though old traditions within phoenix clans said the age of maturity was twenty-one. I had two years to go, which was also why Mom was pushing me to train to be the best Alpha I could be.
Lucent’s hands fisted in my hair as if he knew my mind had drifted from him. Heat filled me and banished all thoughts of my parents, school, and training. Hooking my legs around his waist, I pulled him closer and rolled my hips. He hissed out a groan.
Then a growl sounded close by, breaking us apart. I knew that growl all too well—I grew up on the receiving end of it all my life.
I narrowed my eyes on the white wolf stepping out from behind a nearby tree.
How long had he been lurking without me noticing? Shit. That just proved my focus was off. I moved, so I was treaded water in front of Lucent and glared at the wolf. Moments later, Cross shook slightly, then in a flash transformed into his human form, not bothering to use magic to clothe his body.
Even though we were shifters, and nudity wasn’t something we were shy about, I hated it when Cross shifted in the nude. It was weird. Phoenixes possessed magic in our veins that allowed us to conjure clothes. Typically, wolves didn’t, but Cross was mated to a phoenix and could share my mother’s power, and he was using his lack of clothes to throw me off.
Not today, buddy. I was already off, distracted and overwhelmed. At the moment, I was annoyed my alone time with Lucent was disturbed.
With a low growl, I swam to the bank of the small watering hole and lifted myself out. Lucent’s and my private oasis was a natural sinkhole that filled up with water from the mountains above, with no shallow part to walk out of the water.
I squeezed out the water from my hair as I stared into Cross’ copper eyes. His wolf was at the surface and didn’t appear happy about catching Lucent and me together. Tough shit.
“Good afternoon, Cross.”
I swore one corner of his mouth twitched as if he was fighting a smile. That had to be a good sign. Then again, with Cross, one could never tell.
“You are late for training.” Cross moved his lethal stare to Lucent, who was climbing out of the pool a few feet behind me. “I’ll see you at dinner, Lucent.”
I almost turned around and smacked my mate when he chuckled, but refrained from giving either of them any emotions. Through our bond, I felt his amusement as he said, “Yes, sir.”
Cross shifted back into his wolf form and trotted off into the woods, in the direction of the training center.
Great. Training with Cross after this was going to be so much fun.