Everything changed for Cynda Vargas the day her fathers died. Left alone with a jealous mother and two spoiled sisters, she’s known nothing but loneliness and neglect for years. An infertile human female, rejected from the Academy, an embarrassment to her family, she has no time to dream when she’s simply trying to survive.
The path to happily-ever-after isn’t an easy one, but when fate brings these two lost souls together, all it takes is one kiss and a little magic to leave them both completely spellbound.
Stars, it was like being run over by the sweetest, bubbliest freighter in the universe. Xi was no help, either. Every time she tried appealing to him, he’d simply smiled and told her not to worry. When that didn’t work, he’d remind her that his sister was pregnant and highly emotional. They wouldn’t want to upset her, would they?
It was a dirty trick, but so far, one that had worked every time. So, she wasn’t surprised when Xi only shook his head and laughed this time as well.
“Probably best not to argue, fayah.”
Okay, fine. If it would make the siblings happy, she’d try it on. There wasn’t any rule saying she actually had to buy it. Besides, it really was beautiful. The lavender material complimented her skin tone, and the fabric flowed between her fingers like water. The tiny white flowers made it appear casual, while the plunging neckline gave it a hint of sensuality.
A few minutes later, as she stared at her reflection in the dressing room mirror, she’d completely changed her mind about the dress. Clearly, Jael had misjudged her size, because the damn thing clung to her in the most unflattering way, accentuating every flaw. The neckline she’d thought sexy actually dipped so low between her breasts it verged on indecent.
And if that wasn’t humiliating enough, the zipper was stuck. No matter how much she twisted and contorted, she couldn’t get it to budge. Pink-cheeked and breathing heavily from the exertion, she finally gave in with a wounded sigh and accepted that she’d have to ask for help.
Sliding the door open, she hid as much of herself behind it as she could, peeking around the fogged glass as she searched for Jael. Instead, she found Xi standing just a few feet away, his stance wide and his arms crossed over his chest. The moment he spotted her, he relaxed his posture and started toward her.
Cynda squeaked and slammed the door closed hard enough to make the glass rattle in its frame.
“Fayah?” Concern bled into his voice as he knocked gently on the door. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing! Everything is fine.” Crap, crap, crap. “Can you get Jael, please?”
“She’s in the other changing room.” The door vibrated on its metal tracks as he tried to force it open. “Cynda, open the door. Tell me what’s wrong.”
She wrung her hands together and paced in the enclosed space. She could wait for Jael, but judging by the urgency in Xi’s voice, he wouldn’t. Sure enough, the pounding started a moment later, his fist hitting the frame so hard she feared the clouded glass would shatter.
“Okay,” she called as she unlocked the door. It wasn’t fair to make him worry, especially because of something so silly. “Just…don’t laugh.”
Still standing behind the door, she opened it just wide enough for Xi to slip into the changing room with her. Stars, he seemed to take up a lot more space than logic argued he should. He might have been taking in more than his share of oxygen as well because she suddenly found it hard to breathe.
“What’s wrong?” he demanded. “Why did you—” His words ended on a choked groan as his eyes went impossibly wide. “You look…”
“Ridiculous,” she moaned, her face burning with her embarrassment. “I know, but the zipper’s stuck.”
“Stunning.” Closing the distance between them, he backed her against the wall, trapping her there with his hard body. “I was going to say that you look stunning.”
Then, his mouth was on hers, his tongue plunging between her lips in a hard, searching kiss that made her head spin and her legs tremble. She’d been kissed before, but never like this. Never so thoroughly and passionately that she felt it in every cell of her being.
Then, just as suddenly as the kiss had started, Xi jerked away to stare down at her.
“We need to go.” The markings on his arms and neck shimmered almost as intensely as the hunger blazing in his eyes.
His growl sent a wave of moisture pooling between her legs, and she nodded up at him dazedly. “Okay.”
“Fuck.” Taking her wrist, he jerked the door open and practically dragged her from the room. “We have to go. Now.”