HERO: Lucas Strigoi
HEROINE: Reagan Aliat
QUOTE: For one as old as me, you would think nothing would surprise me. ~ Lucas
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A bet between Eros, the God of love & desire, and Chloe (Chlotho), the Fate of birth, leads to a year filled with match-making and passion.
Lucas Strigoi has lived a long, long life; over five-hundred years actually. In that time, he’s loved and lost. Gained money and experience. Found places he’s considered home and, at times, watched them burn down to the ground. Basically, he’s lived many lives and has many more to go. He’s hit the age when settling down should be his primary focus, but he’d thought he’d already found the One sixteen years ago. He was wrong, and he has no plans to repeat that mistake. He’ll stick to running his tattoo shop and living through his employees.
Reagan Aliat is an Ally. The literal translation of her last name. Her family has been connected to the Strigoi Vampire family for too many centuries to count. At one point, her older sister was romantically involved with one of them and everyone, including Lucas, thought they were destined to be Bondmates. Her sister had other plans, though, and broke his heart after six years of togetherness. Lucas disappeared from their lives and took with him Reagan’s undying love. Yes, she fell for her sister’s boyfriend. Who wouldn’t, he was the epitome of the perfect man? Now, Reagan’s family is thrusting themselves into Lucas’s life, whether he likes it or not, by sending her to retrieve him. All because her sister is getting married and the mark of the Ally, a designator all allies wear, needs to be removed. According to her family, he’s the only one that can do it.
Seeing each other again after ten years, Reagan and Lucas must travel across the United States to get back to her family. Reagan knows she needs to fight the love and attraction she’d always felt for the vampire, resolute in the belief that Lucas will never be hers. Lucas, on the other hand, is realizing his mistake so many years ago was worse than he’d thought, and the woman he should have been with is his ex’s little sister.
NOTE: Mystic Zodiac is a 12 book series. It is NOT a serial. Each book ends in a happily ever after for the main couple. However, the prologue and epilogue of each story follows the Gods that kick off the series, Eros and Chlotho (aka Chloe). At the end of the series the bet between the two will come to a conclusion.
“I’ve met the man of my dreams.” Taryn breezed into the apartment and flung herself on Reagan’s couch. Why did she ever give that woman a key to her place? Oh yeah, because she was related to her by blood.
Reagan’s only outward reaction—a raised eyebrow and cursory glance in her sister’s direction. Taryn was always meeting the man of her dreams. As far as she was concerned, Taryn had the man of her dreams when she was younger, but decided it wasn’t quite right, and dropped the sexy vampire like it was nothing after being together for six years. That had been ten years ago, and Reagan still thought her sister had made a mistake.
“I’m serious this time,” Taryn said, looking over the back of the couch.
“I’m sure you are,” Reagan mumbled, not bothering to look up again. She flipped the page of her book and took a sip of coffee. Yet another thing about her sister—she was always serious about her newest beau.
Taryn popped up off the couch and made her way to where Reagan sat at the small dining table. “No, really,” she insisted. “He’s the One. I’ve never felt so right in someone’s arms before. Like I’ve met my soul mate,” she sighed and took a seat in the chair across from Reagan. There was a wistful, dreamy look on her sister’s face when Reagan peeked at her.
That was undeniably new. Reagan raised her head and studied her sister for a moment. The woman practically glowed with happiness. Sickening, sweet, she wanted to gag happiness. “Huh,” she huffed in surprise.
Taryn snapped out of whatever trance she’d been in and grinned. “And the best part,” she paused, and Reagan knew her sister waited for her obligatory response.
“What’s the best part?” She couldn’t help how unenthused she sounded. Taryn was like an excitable puppy. Everything was awesome and fantastic and the best thing ever. No one would guess Taryn was the older of the two of them. She was flighty and pampered. She did what she wanted, when she wanted; without thinking of the consequences. Everything was a game, and life was meant to be lived, fun and free.
“We’re getting married,” she squealed and thrust her left hand in Reagan’s face. A huge square diamond ring swallowed Taryn’s ring finger.
Reagan’s eyes bugged out, and her mouth dropped open. Every thought in her brain screeched to a grinding halt. “Excuse me?” Because she couldn’t have heard her sister correctly. This was the first time she had heard of this new guy. And trust her, Taryn spent a lot of time telling everyone about the flame of the month. “You can’t be getting married. When did you even meet this guy?”
“Last night at the club.” Taryn jumped from her chair. Excited energy vibrated off her and filled the room. If Reagan could, she would have batted it all away, or stuffed it back down her sister’s throat. It was thick and cloying; like horrible floral perfume the women at the mall pushed as though it was the next best drug on the market.
“You’ve got to be kidding. Do Mom and Dad know?”
Taryn stopped flitting around the room. She wrung her hands and bit her lips. That sad puppy dog look radiated from her big brown eyes. “Not yet. That’s why I’m here.”
Reagan snapped her book shut and pushed it aside. “Oh, no. I’m not telling them for you.”
Taryn giggled. “No silly, I don’t need you to tell them. I need you to tell me how to tell them.”
Reagan frowned. “I’m sure saying you’ve met the man of your dreams, and you’re getting married will suffice.”
“But I just met him last night.”
“Nothing like stating the obvious,” Reagan mumbled. Her sister, of course, didn’t hear her. She started pacing and doing that annoying clicking/flicking thing she did with her nails.
“We had the most beautiful evening together. We danced until the club closed. Then we went for a midnight stroll. We stopped in the park and spent the rest of the evening talking.” She smiled softly and looked at Reagan. “He was so sweet when he realized I was cold. We went back to his place, which is in your building. Oh my God, such a coincidence. Anyway, he lit candles and we drank wine. That’s when he proposed. He said it was crazy.”
“Ya think?” she murmured.
Taryn scrunched her nose and rolled her eyes. “But you know, it wasn’t crazy. We clicked, and it was like that last little puzzle piece falling into place in my heart. He swept me off my feet, and I never want to get down.”
Reagan finished her coffee and stood. “That’s what you should tell Mom and Dad then. And you might want to take him with you. Any man worth your time would be there with you.”
Two hours later, Reagan was subjected to Taryn and her story of love all over again. Except this time, there was a little more entertainment in the form of shocked…then strangely overjoyed…parents. She didn’t get why they’d be overjoyed. Their daughter was marrying a virtual stranger.
“But they just met,” Reagan reiterated, in case her parents didn’t grasp that the first time. Because she was seriously beginning to wonder about them all.
Their mother rushed forward to fold Taryn in her arms, after the surprise announcement. She oohed and ahhed over the ring, then drug Taryn to the couch to talk in super high-pitched voices that scared their dog from the room.
Their father frowned heavily and crossed his arms over his chest. He hadn’t said anything since the announcement. Reagan didn’t blame him. The love of Taryn’s life hadn’t shown up yet. According to her sister, he would be there.
“Oh pumpkin,” her mother said in that irritating tone, like she was talking to a child. Granted, Reagan was their child; but she was thirty-two damn years old. “You’ll understand one day when you meet your soul mate.”
Reagan barely held back her snort of disbelief and the word ‘unlikely’ that tried to escape. There was only one man in the world she had ever wanted, and he had been in love with her sister. Unrequited love sucked, especially at the tender age of sixteen.
A solid knock sounded from the front door. Taryn and her mother jumped up from the couch; while her dad stormed over to the door. He opened it and Reagan immediately wanted to stab herself—repeatedly. Taryn’s love of her life was Marc. Reagan’s too-handsome-for-his-own-good, downstairs neighbor. The man she’d been flirting with for the past month whenever they saw each other in passing.
Kill. Her. Now.
Marc, who hadn’t seen her, stood on the front porch, flowers in one hand and a bottle of scotch in the other. A cover model smile graced his cover model face. The same smile he used to bestow on her.
Taryn raced across the room and jumped into his full arms. “Hey, baby,” he cooed.
Reagan turned away from the group gathered by the door and went straight to the liquor cabinet. Her father, bless him, kept it fully stocked and ready for use. She plunked two cubes of ice into a tumbler and filled it with whatever high-end single malt Scotch (because her dad didn’t drink anything but) that hit her hand first. There was no two-fingers worth of measurement. There was straight up, fill it to the brim, and start drinking.
She’d chugged half of it before the front door closed, and the rest of her family filed into the living room. Taryn and Marc took center stage, sitting on the couch. Her mom sat on the overstuffed matching chair, while her father perched on the arm of it.
If Reagan was lucky, they’d forget she was even there, and the embarrassment of losing yet another man to her sister could wait for another day. Like, maybe, after the wedding and honeymoon. She could forego it altogether by moving to another state …or country. That would work for her. She’d be fine with never seeing them again.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The ice in her glass melted and clinked, pulling Taryn’s gaze. “Oh my god, Reagan, I forgot you were here. Come and meet Marc.”
Marc’s blue eyes tracked right to her. They rounded, and he grinned a little lopsided. “Reagan?”
“Hey, Marc.” She held the glass up in some sort of greeting.
Taryn’s eyes grew large and she looked between them. “You two know each other?”
Before Marc could open his big mouth, Reagan jumped in. “Yeah, he’s my downstairs neighbor. We see each other in passing every once in a while.” I flirt and he flirts back. We laugh and I hope he’ll ask me out. Guess that won’t be happening now. So many words needed to be left unsaid.
“That’s amazing,” Taryn trilled. “We’re going to be so close now, Reggie.”
Reagan forced a grin and held up her drink again. “Yay,” she said softly, before chugging the Scotch. She took the glass to the kitchen and decided to make a break for it. Taryn didn’t need her there anymore, and Reagan didn’t need to be around if Marc said anything about their non-existent relationship. “So, congrats you guys,” she said, inching her way to the door. “I need to get going. Laundry to do.” Yeah, go with the worst excuse ever.
Taryn stood abruptly. “Wait, we haven’t told you the best part.”
Reagan may have groaned, but she wouldn’t swear to it. She stopped a few feet from the door.
“We’ve decided we don’t want a long engagement, and we are going to get married in three weeks. That should be plenty of time to get everything ready. I mean, I have been planning my wedding since I was fifteen, and have everything already picked out. It’s just a matter of ordering it all.”
“That soon, Taryn?” Their mother asked, a hint of worry in her voice. Oddly, her father only snickered.
“Come on, Camille. We were the same way.” He leaned over and kissed his wife on the head. Her mother blushed, and Reagan was ready to throw up. “When you meet the One, then it’s all systems go.”
All right. That was probably way more than she wanted to know about her parents. “Okay, well, that’s awesome. I’m thrilled for you guys, but I really need to get going.” She waved pathetically in the direction of the door. “Laundry, and all that. Just let me know what you need me to do and I’ll be there.”
Taryn rushed over and crushed her in a hug. “Thank you so much, Reggie.”
Reagan patted her back lightly. She wasn’t a touchy-feely person like her sister. “Yeah.”
Taryn finally let go after what felt like an hour, but was probably only a minute or two.
Reagan inched back and put her hand on the door handle. “So, like I said. Let me know if you need anything. Seriously. Anything.”
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