Publication Day 12th February 2020
The Evoxian Legacies
A half human, half alien.
A violet-eyed shapeshifter.
Their destinies bound by magic from a disappearing world.
Ever since free-spirited Lexie Mills learned she was half human, half alien, her life has been far from ordinary. But living a privileged life in a Cotswold manor with her over-protective family isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and not helped by her confusing feelings for her best friend, Drew.
Evoxian shapeshifter, Drew Morgan, longs to tell Lexie he’s her destined soulmate, but until she embraces her alien heritage, he must wait. Trouble is, staying in the friend zone proves harder than he thought.
Tensions sizzle and chemistry sparks between them, but as their friendship blossoms into something magical, Lexie uncovers a heart-breaking truth about Drew and she must make a choice…
Forgive Drew and accept her destiny, or decide her own fate?
READ CHAPTER ONE FREE HERE:
Good little Lexie Mills always did as she was told, right?
Wrong. Not anymore.
Her stomach churned, but there was no going back now. She had to do this for her own sanity.
Three sets of violet eyes stared expectantly at her.
Lexie’s gaze flitted around the opulent sitting room of Hawton Hall, the eighteenth-century Cotswold manor she felt privileged to call home, but it was also a gilded cage.
She blurted it out before she lost her nerve. “I want to get a job.” Now for the repercussions.
The room fell silent, as she’d predicted.
Scents of beeswax and decades-old fabrics mingled with the aromatic, seasoned oakwood that burned inside the huge Georgian fireplace. The antique clock ticked monotonously on the mantlepiece, like the calm before the storm.
“Over my dead body,” Drew declared, his sudden hostility taking her by surprise.
Her heart sank. She’d expected more from him, at least hoped he would be on her side.
From the moment she’d met Drew—when her mum learned of her alien heritage—he’d impressed her with his shape-shifting abilities. He’d become like a big brother and a best friend wrapped into one, her confidant, the person who made her laugh when everything had changed so rapidly, and he was usually so amicable. But not today, it seemed.
Drew folded his giant arms, drawing her attention to the striking tattoo of the naghari that snaked around his forearm, a fearsome creature he could morph into in three seconds if he wanted to. His jaw tightened, and his expression took on an arrogant stubbornness, evoking a sudden urge within to slap him across his handsome face.
What right does he have to tell me what I can and can’t do?
She looked to her parents, pleading they would understand her need for independence.
“You don’t need a job, love,” her mum, Bree, told her. “It’s not as if we need the money anymore.”
Yeah right, because her Evoxian royal heritage, and the numerous properties and land on Earth her family owned, meant she could buy anything and everything she could ever want.
Everything except her freedom.
“No disrespect, Mum, but I’m an adult now—albeit a lot sooner than we expected. I’m capable of making my own decisions, and I’ve decided to get a job. I want to make myself useful for a change.”
“If you wanted a job, you only needed to ask,” said her dad. “I’m sure we can find something for you to do around the manor.”
“No, Dad.” Stepdad officially, but she’d never thought of Quinn as anything but the father she’d always wanted, because her real father was a self-absorbed loser who hadn’t bothered to contact her in years. “I want a job where I can meet people, human people, other than Auntie Jane and Margaret, I mean.” She glanced to the oak-panelled door that led to the hallway, hoping their housekeeper and dear friend was not eavesdropping, because it was Margaret who’d inadvertently planted the seeds of Lexie’s plan. She squared her shoulders and prepared to announce her next bombshell. “In fact, with any luck, I think I might already have one.”
The clock chimed quarter past the hour, its high-pitched ting ringing around the room.
The fire danced and crackled, making the room stiflingly hot. Or was it her?
Lexie slipped her hand around the back of her neck and flipped her hair away from her clammy skin. She coiled a chocolate-brown strand around her forefinger, a tress so long she ran out of finger. Her hair had grown down to her backside, yet again; another thing she’d had to contend with since the day she’d harnessed the power of her talisman, the crystal necklace Gramps insisted she wore.
Flipping talisman. Everything had changed that day, or so her parents told her, because thanks to the gaping holes in her memory, she couldn’t remember a lot of things.
The only things she did recall were the sudden, curious change in her eye colour, once ice blue, but now with distinct splashes of violet, and the accelerated growth that transformed her from a nine-year-old child into a young woman in four years. She wished it would all stop; the constant measuring, the blood tests, her accelerated ageing.
Even if she could figure out how to use her talisman, or remember what power it gave her, she would never use it again, that much was certain.
“Not happening, Lex,” Drew said, his gravelly voice oddly emotional. “You’re staying here at the manor. It’s not safe outside. If Michael Locke ever found you…” He didn’t finish.
And there it was, the elephant in the room. Michael Locke—aka evil alien psycho who’d kidnapped her mum.
Sometimes she wondered if they’d invented him to keep her inside the manor and its guarded grounds.
Lexie glared at Drew, taking in the way his polo shirt stretched across his massive chest and biceps the size of watermelons, and how his jeans clung to his barrelled thighs like a second skin…
Her belly fluttered.
Why did it keep doing that every time she looked at him lately? It never had before. About a week ago, an inexplicable interest in him, different from how she used to see him, as though she’d never noticed how devilishly handsome he was, or how the way he moved made every one of his ripped muscles demand her attention. Or how his wolfish, lopsided grin made her heart beat a little faster.
And the dreams.
Since she came to the manor, she’d been plagued by the strange dreams, taking her to a desolate place she didn’t recognise, but now, more disturbingly, this past week those dreams were of Drew, as though something visceral and sensuous was compelling her toward him, like she had no choice and no control. And she didn’t like it. Or maybe she did.
She swallowed. “I’m fully aware of what that nutter is capable of, Drew, but I’m not changing my mind.” She stopped fiddling with her hair and crossed her arms to stop her hands shaking. “Maybe you should ask about the job first, before you dismiss the idea without hearing what I have to say. No one ever listens to what I want.” She cringed inwardly, aware she sounded like a spoilt child.
“Okay, love, why don’t you tell us.” Her mum offered a half smile. “Where is it?”
“It’s in the next village. I saw the job online for an assistant at a café.” Okay, that part was a little white lie. Margaret mentioned the job after she’d spotted it in the café window, but she didn’t want to get her into trouble. “I phoned the owner, Kim Butler, and she seems nice. She said I sounded perfect for the job, and she wants to meet me tomorrow.”
Drew’s flawless, chiselled jaw clenched and unclenched. “Forget it. You’re not working in some greasy spoon café.”
The nerve of the guy. Her own anger bubbled inside. “It’s not a greasy spoon, it’s a tearoom. They sell cream teas and make their own cakes and pastries on the premises. Mainly for tourists, and with the Easter holidays coming up…” Lexie noted her mum’s familiar, worried expression, but she continued regardless. “It’s only for a few hours a week, so I’ll still have time to study with Stuart.” Not that she needed to, she’d already read every book in the manor’s extensive library. “I’ll be less than five miles away. It’ll be perfectly safe.”
“How can you possibly know that?” Drew spat out. “Have you even done a background check on this Kim Butler woman?”
“No, but I’m sure you will.” She sighed. “If by some miracle I get the job, one of my bodyguards can drop me off and then pick me up at the end of my shift.”
“You can’t be serious!” Drew paced the room like a caged animal. “Even if we were to agree on this absurd, hairbrained idea of yours, there’s not a chance in hell I’ll let you work there on your own.”
Any second now, she expected him to shape-shift into his white tiger and roar at her—because his tiger was a kitten compared to his naghari, so he kept telling her. She’d often asked Drew to morph into the dragon-like creature from Evox, but he’d always refused, saying it was too dangerous. How she hated that word. Everything was always too dangerous for her.
But she wasn’t scared of Drew. For a giant of a guy, Drew was a softie inside, with a gentle power she admired. A big guy with an even bigger heart.
Although, at that moment, his overreaction was making things worse.
“It’s not your decision to make,” she told him.
“Your dual heritage makes you unique, Lexie,” Quinn said. “I know it’s partly our fault, having to keep you safe and protected here at the manor, but you’re inexperienced in the ways of this world. Perhaps in a few more years?”
Lexie jumped on the unexpected opportunity to convince them further. “Exactly. That’s why I want this job. It will be the perfect way to learn about real life before it’s too late.” She twiddled her hair again, winding it so tight the tip of her finger turned purple. “If I carry on ageing like this, it won’t be long before I’ll look older than you, Mum.” Not that her mum looked old, but she was a pure blood Evoxian and wouldn’t age for a long time.
Unlike herself, a weirdo half alien, half human misfit.
“Adam is doing everything he can—”
“Yeah, I know, Dad,” she interrupted. “According to Gramps, I’m already in my early twenties. Before I know it, I’ll be a sad, wrinkled old lady with no life experiences whose only friends are the rabid cats that will probably eat me as I lie there dying of boredom.” Yep, try to make a joke of it.
Her mum sighed. “We’ve had this discussion before, Lexie. Your ageing will slow down. It has to.”
“We don’t know for certain.” Even with all the medical tests, her great grandfather didn’t know how long she’d live.
She uncoiled her hair from her finger and fiddled with her necklace instead. The violet and blue crystal had a lot to answer for.
“You have to be patient.”
“I’m sick of being patient,” she stated. “It feels like my life is over before it’s even begun. I want to experience real life, to see the world beyond the manor, and I want to visit Evox. Before it’s too late and I get eaten by those rabid cats,” she added, again her tone too cheery.
“What’s really brought this on?”
“Nothing.” Liar. “I need to get the job in the tearoom, but even if I don’t get it, I’ll find another job.”
Drew emitted a frustrated grunt. He still paced the room, scrubbing at the back of his neck like he was trying to rid himself of an irritating rash. “I won’t allow such a blatant disregard for your own safety.”
His over-protectiveness was infuriating, yet oddly touching too.
Her defiant gaze followed him as he marched backwards and forwards over the same ten feet of carpet. “And I won’t allow you to dictate to me, Drew. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not a child anymore.”
He came to an abrupt halt. “I’ve noticed all right.” Violet eyes brimmed with fury, and his lips were set in a tight line, but something else lay beneath the surface, something intense and impassioned that made her heart skip a beat.
She continued to meet his gaze, kind of enjoying the thrill, the challenge of his will against hers. Despite her best attempt, she couldn’t hold back the smile that pulled at the corner of her mouth. “Thank goodness you’ve stopped all that pacing. I thought you were going to wear a hole in the carpet.”
He snorted, but she caught the ghost of a smile on his lips before he stomped off toward the tall sash windows that offered spectacular views over the Gloucester countryside.
“Perhaps we could do as Drew suggested,” Quinn said. “It wouldn’t hurt to arrange a background check on the owner of the café, and we could ask Adam to send his men to look over the place too.”
“But this could be the opportunity Michael Locke has been waiting for,” her mum pointed out.
Lexie tore her gaze away from Drew. “How can it, Mum? He doesn’t even know what I look like now. He’ll be looking for a child, if he’s even bothering to look at all.”
“I’m sorry, but no.”
Her mum’s words, spoken quietly, yet loaded with an assertiveness she could not overlook, because her word was law around here, and no one ever challenged Patari Brianna’s decisions.
Maybe if her great grandfather was here, he might be able to sway her mum towards her point of view, but he was busy. Gramps had become preoccupied of late, determined to find a cure to her ageing, and spent most of his time hidden away in his laboratory on the top floor. Either that, or he was on Evox, preparing for the Evoxians imminent relocation to Earth. She’d begged him to take her, yearned to see their planet before it perished, but as usual, it was deemed too dangerous for her.
Her parents assured her that she would be allowed to visit one day, and they were planning an elaborate welcoming ceremony for her when the time was right, but she had her doubts it would happen.
Lexie’s stomach muscles tightened. If she couldn’t find the courage to speak up, she’d go crazy. “Sorry, Mum, but it’s already arranged. I’m meeting the owner tomorrow at eleven.”
Mum shook her head, a determined set to her chin.
So, that was it? Decision made. No leeway for even a smidge of negotiation. No more discussion, and no amount of reasoning would change her mind.
First, Drew telling her what she could and couldn’t do, and now Mum, like they had some secret arrangement between them to make sure she conformed to their rules. Despite her dad sticking up for her, Quinn would always take her mum’s side over hers. The strength of their love and their unwavering commitment to each other was something she only half understood, like they were destined soulmates or something—another Evoxian secret they refused to explain.
Frustration loomed, then twisted into an anger that smouldered deep within. “If you won’t let me get a job, then I’m leaving all this behind.” She waved her arm around the lounge, implying not only the manor, but the way they treated her too. “I’ll track down my real father and go and live with him. A normal, human life.” Her voice cracked, and she clasped her palm over her mouth.
The hurt on Quinn’s face was too much to bear.
Oh God, Dad, no, I didn’t mean…
Hot tears prickled at the back of her eyes as she fled from the room, desperate to be alone with her guilt and self-hatred, to wallow in the unfairness of her privileged life, like the spoilt little princess she was.
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