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To Fight A Fate (Southern Sanctuary - Book 11), страница 1

 

To Fight A Fate (Southern Sanctuary - Book 11)
 


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To Fight A Fate (Southern Sanctuary - Book 11)


  To Fight A Fate

  Southern Sanctuary – Book Eleven

  Jane Cousins

  Copyright©2017 All rights reserved by the author. Do not copy or re-distribute.

  This is a work of fiction.

  Front cover design; Fiona Jayde

  There’s a real Riya. I borrowed the name and the eyes, but other than that my book version is fiction. Come on, we both know you can’t sew worth a damn. Thanks for being my friend. For all the chats. The never ending laughter. And sharing all those overseas adventures. Can’t wait until our next one.

  Epilogue - Riya

  Riya Tong hugged her pillow a little bit tighter. Contentment seeping into her bones. After growing up in a household that would have done an injustice to the words chaotic and loud, waking up in her delightfully peaceful apartment was a luxury she would never take for granted.

  It was too early to stir yet. The world on the other side of her closed eyelids a dark grey, indicating that the sun was only just beginning to impact the horizon. Hmmm, she really wanted to get back to the dream she’d been having. There had been a man. A really gorgeous man. With sensuous lips, and talented hands. One who kept whispering all sorts of delightfully sinful things into her ear.

  Ouch, Riya flinched slightly. Rolling away from the person who’d just kicked her. Her brow wrinkled in confusion but she stubbornly pushed reality away. Just a little bit longer, please. Come on dream guy, where are you? Oh, there he was. Riya sighed, sinking happily into the muscular arms of her fantasy lover. Now, what had he been saying… she smiled, as his heated breath played across the sensitive skin of her throat.

  “Riya.”

  Hmm, she couldn’t help but smile in anticipation. Whatever naughty suggestion he made she would have no problem in complying. That’s what dreams were for, to live out your fantasies.

  “Riya, you need to get up… it’s your turn to change the baby.”

  What? That was weird. And totally not where she thought this dream was going. Baby? That was a little too much reality for comfort. Time to ditch disappointing dream guy and move on to a fantasy partner willing to curl her toes with a heated, mindless, guilt free tumble… or two.

  “Riya.”

  Crap, dream guy would just not give up.

  “The baby’s crying. Probably hungry… you need to wake up.”

  Grrr, what was up with this guy? Going on about babies? This was not what she’d signed up for. Restlessly, Riya tried to get comfortable. Why did her sheet suddenly feel like it weighed a ton? And why couldn’t she curl up into a ball? Stupid pillow must be in the way.

  She attempted to push it away. Hmm, that was strange, not a pillow, something firm. Absently, Riya patted at it… that was… no, that couldn’t be her stomach. She pressed down harder. Something kicked her palm away hard.

  What the hell? Riya’s eyes flew open, frantically scrambling away from what ever had just kicked her. Huddled by the headboard, her gaze swept the room, seeking out the intruder. Except there wasn’t anyone. No one in her bed. No one in her room.

  Urgh, this position was making her back ache and legs tremble. Her nightie felt too tight, it must have become twisted during the night. A ripple swept through her, beyond her description, almost like a large fish had done a somersault inside her belly and flicked her with its tail.

  Riya look down. Oh, no. No. No! NO. She was pregnant! How was that even possible? Not only had her sex life been drier than a desert for the last eleven months, more significant, she hadn’t been pregnant when she’d gone to bed last night.

  Slowly, tentatively, Riya reached down to place a wary hand over her navel. The largish bump felt all too real. And as if to further give proof of its existence, she felt the baby somersault once again. Yikes, she wasn’t sure she wanted to get used to that feeling.

  Hiking up her nightie, Riya stared down at the taut drum that was now her belly. No, she wasn’t dreaming, she was definitely pregnant. The question remained though… how? Or should that be, who?

  You’d think she’d recall an alien probing. No, she was ninety-eight percent certain aliens didn’t exist. Which only left one option open - magic. And if that were the case, if magic could appear a baby… then magic was going to damn well disappear the thing. She was so not ready to be a single mother.

  * * *

  Riya stomped across the grass, headed for the bar. The party, celebrating Hadleigh and Vaughn’s melding, was in full swing.

  With a scowl clinging to her face, Riya silently dared all the relatives she passed by to say anything about her condition… just one little word. It was official, she was pregnant. But the last thing Riya intended to do was talk about it. For that matter, even acknowledge her current status.

  According to her cousin, Doctor Nell Montgomery, who had rushed over to make an emergency house-call just as the sun cleared the horizon, Riya appeared to be approximately seven months pregnant. Diagnosing her condition as a genuine magical medical mystery.

  Nell, using her healing powers, checked out the baby, declaring it happy and healthy. But her cousin was unable to provide a reason as to why the baby had appeared… and more importantly, how to make it go away.

  A baby? It was insane. Riya huffed out a breath, blowing the tips of her longish heavy fringe out of her eyes. It was beyond insane, it was…. grrr, magic. She glared down at the gorgeous raspberry coloured maternity sundress she was wearing. The one that irrefutably proved that her pregnancy was not an accident, it was Fate.

  Riya had always thought being a Fate Weaver was kind of a cool calling. It wasn’t a flashy power or scary, instead it was intrinsic, affecting others at a soul deep level. She’d inherited her talents from her father’s Great-Great-Great-Grandmother, who it was said could weave a person’s Fate in the skies with a flap of her wings.

  Being only half-dragon, Riya’s gift had manifested itself in a much more literal sense. She created clothes. And not just ordinary clothes, perfect clothes. Exactly right for when you were poised at a crossroads in life; the job interview, the first date, the meeting at the bank to request a loan.

  It was a universally unspoken truth - what you wear can have a surprising sway in how major life events unfold. They can make you feel bold and confident. Act as a shield. Or a disguise.

  Most women got it immediately, it usually took men longer to understand the importance of wearing the right clothes in order to help make the correct major life changing decision. The perfect outfit could win a war, save the day, defeat a rival, attract true love, or just make you happy.

  Fate. Riya’s clothes were threads of a person’s Fate. Often while she was designing and creating an outfit, Riya would catch flashes of the potential pathways open. Other times, she was mysteriously blocked, working blind, guided by her instincts. Fate unwilling to allow her any glimpse of what the future might hold.

  When Riya had created the raspberry maternity sundress soon after her cousin Gaia was melded, she’d naturally assumed the dress was meant for her. But no happy announcement had been proclaimed as yet. And for some unfathomable reason, Riya had hung the raspberry sundress on the back of her own bedroom door, waking to the sight of it every morning for the last few months.

  And this morning, after Nell had left, and her situation had begun to sink in, Riya’s eyes had settled on the dress and for the first time she truly saw what she had created. The maternity dress had never been meant for Gaia, who was extremely well endowed in the chest region and not terribly tall. No, this dress, she’d created it for herself.

  It made her straight black hair that fell to her shoulder blades shimmer like a silken waterfall. It brought ou
t the bright green threads in her light hazel eyes. And it made her slightly tanned skin glow, the soft natural pink colour suffusing her cheeks a perfect compliment.

  Grrr, magic. Fate. Riya so needed a drink. Flat gold sandals slapped loudly at the ground as she waddled onwards. Waddled? But what else could she do, her centre of gravity had shifted dramatically. Riya upped her scowl, sending a few more surprised and obviously curious relatives scurrying out of her way. The scowl wouldn’t hold them off for long. She needed to get to the bar, now, before they rallied and descended.

  She was almost there, only five feet away, perhaps less, when a tall, curvaceous blonde wearing a short, clinging, strapless white dress stepped in front of her, blocking the path. Judgemental blue eyes swept down Riya’s five foot nine frame, zeroing in on her burgeoning stomach.

  “No.” The blonde issued one word and it was beyond icy.

  All of Riya’s hackles immediately shot to attention. “What do you mean, no?”

  “Riya, this is completely unacceptable.”

  “Oh, Goddess, you’re going to make this all about you, aren’t you?” Riya’s hazel eyes narrowed as she looked up at the statuesque blonde who had graced the front page of newspapers around the world over a dozen times. Had won Gold at both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Had climbed Everest twice, the last time without oxygen.

  “I’ve barely gotten used to being a Mother. I’m in no way prepared to take on the Grandma mantle.”

  Riya chuffed an exasperated laugh. “You’ve had twenty-seven years to get used to being a mother.”

  Elisabeth Bright-Tong shook her head, golden hair rippling. “It takes longer for some women to hit their maternal stride.”

  Riya rolled her eyes, she was sure when she was in her dotage her mother would still be saying the same thing.

  “Now, about… this.” Elisabeth waved her hand at Riya’s stomach.

  “Don’t worry, it’s just temporary.”

  “Hah.” Elisabeth snorted loudly, but somehow still managed to look and sound gorgeous doing so. “Children are a life sentence, trust me on this.”

  “No, I beg you. Do not tell me the story of how you were tricked into motherhood.” Riya could recite the damn tale by heart, she’d heard it so many times over the years.

  “It was entrapment. That damn Great-Aunt of yours. I can’t believe she’s back. If I get my hands on Alma, I fully intend to throttle her until that bloody smug smile disappears for good. Interfering, tricky, matchmaking cow.”

  Crap, the bar was so near, yet so far. “Mum, please. You’re happily melded to the dragon of your dreams and have twelve healthy, wonderful children.”

  “Twelve.” Elisabeth shook her head, seemingly still after twenty-seven years in sheer disbelief at her misfortune. “You know for some.” She eyed Riya’s stomach with dismay. “It begins with just one and snowballs from there.”

  “Oh, what would you know about pregnancy? Dad, did all the hard work hatching us.” Riya had a devious thought. “Do you want to feel?” She thrust her stomach at her mother.

  Elisabeth’s blue eyes filled with surprise and a small measure of distaste. “No. That’s quite alright. In fact, it’s probably time I mingled. Next time we meet, I expect you to have taken care of that. You wouldn’t want your father to see you like this.”

  “He’s not here?” Riya could only hope.

  “No, he’s organising a protest against cargo ships travelling too close to the Barrier Reef.”

  That was a relief. Nothing took precedence in her father’s life when it came to the environment except the welfare and happiness of his twelve children. If he caught wind of Riya’s pregnancy, there would be an angry dragon burning the world looking for answers.

  Elisabeth leaned over, brushing a tender kiss against Riya’s cheek before sashaying away. Her mother was all contradictions and bluster. It had made for an interesting childhood.

  Now, time for that drink.

  “Thank Goddess. I thought she’d never leave.”

  Riya turned, smiling at the sound of her brother’s voice. “Jules.” Going up on tip-toe to kiss his cheek in welcome. “How goes the Time Wars?”

  Jules shook his head, absently running a hand through choppy black hair that had a large streak of silvery blue down the left side, the colour exactly matching his silvery blue eyes. “I’m not Doctor Who, there are no Time Wars.”

  Riya smirked. “Please, enough with the lying. You’re a half-dragon, time-travelling, Fate Agent. Righting wrongs throughout history and tracking down rogue time transgressors.”

  Jules barked a laugh, his eyes shimmering. “Still with all that Fate Fixers crap? It’s not anything like that, or even half as exciting.”

  “So, you’re trying to tell me you’re just here to enjoy the family party? No mission? No hidden agenda?” Riya couldn’t help but eye Jules’s outfit sceptically. No one wore black tactical pants and a matching jacket on such a warm afternoon unless they were hiding an array of weapons.

  Jules shrugged apologetically. “Actually, I’m tracking one of those rogue time transgressors you were just talking about.” Bending over, Jules wagged his finger back and forth in front of Riya’s burgeoning belly. “Bad baby.”

  “Oh.” Riya automatically placed a protective hand over her belly. “Are you saying my baby… my future baby is going to be like you? With all the time-travelling and stuff?”

  “Kind of.” Jules shrugged lean, muscular shoulders.

  “Kind of?”

  “You know I can’t give away spoilers.” Jules smiled, feeling as if he’d said those words over a thousand times.

  “So why has… he? She? It decided to make a rather dramatic appearance here today, of all days?”

  Jules glanced at the sleek black watch on his left wrist, the dial twirling and flickering with information too quickly for anyone but Jules to absorb and understand. “I can only presume the baby wanted to be present the first time its parents meet.”

  “Excuse me? Are you saying I’m having sex today and getting pregnant?”

  “No, that’s not what I said, stop leaping ahead.”

  “Hey.” Riya placed her hands on her hips, glaring down at her too large belly. “I’m not the one leaping ahead of things here.”

  “All you do today is meet the guy.”

  “The father of my future child is here?” Riya swung around quickly to survey the party-goers. “Which one is he?” Perhaps one of the sturdy, handsome, visiting Valhalla relatives? There was certainly enough of them present to choose from.

  “You know better than to ask stuff like that. Just go about your normal business. It’s a party, have fun. Fate will happen.”

  Riya rolled her eyes. Seriously? “You seemed to have forgotten one little factor…. I’m seven months pregnant. No man in their right mind is going to want to have anything to do with me.” The baby somersaulted and kicked out. “Ugh, I really really hate it when it does that.”

  Jules grinned, pulling his phone from his pocket and snapping a quick photo of his sister. “Sorry, you don’t get riled often and this will make a great shot for baby’s first photo album.”

  “Jules! Honestly, does the baby really think that being here… like this.” Riya waved a hand at her protruding stomach. “…is a conducive way for me to meet men… let alone the future baby-daddy of my child?”

  “I’m not sure exactly how realised the baby’s thought processes are… and I’m only guessing here, but until you do the big meet and greet, that baby is probably not going anywhere.”

  “You’re the big, tough, time-travel cop, can’t you do something about it?”

  “This is a first.” Jules laughed, silvery blue eyes sparkling. “And to my knowledge they don’t make handcuffs small enough to fit a foetus, or come with instructions on how I’d go about putting them on, even if they did.”

  Riya thumped her brother hard on the arm. “I hate you right now.”

  “Nah, you love me. Now go, have fun. I
ll stay in the background and monitor. And don’t worry, everything is going to be fine.”

  “Fine?” Riya blinked, and in that moment Jules disappeared. “Grrr, he must know how annoying that it.” She patted her belly. “Remind me after you’re born to ensure Uncle Jules is signed up for a lot of babysitting.” Great, and now she was talking to her future – yet to even be conceived – unborn child. It was enough to drive anyone to drink, and luckily for her, the bar was only four feet away. Finally.

  Being a Fate Weaver, Riya had always been a big advocate of destiny. It was hard to remain a fan though, when who should she bump into the moment she had her glass of champagne and was moving away from the bar? Her cousin, Gaia. Oh, what fresh hell was this?

  Gaia, prior to her melding just over five months ago had been a sweet, earthy, easy going person, prone to dressing like a hippie. Since meeting her meld mate, Gaia had changed. And Riya wasn’t talking about the wincingly tight low cut tops she had taken to wearing, ensuring her new husband’s attention never strayed far.

  Turning into bridezilla for her meld wedding, Gaia’s first shot across the bow had been to insist that her nine cousins wear horrific swamp coloured bridesmaid dresses.

  Only mega tall and curvy Hadleigh had managed to defy expectation and still look gorgeous. The less said the better about the subsequent catfight at the altar and the bride’s black eye.

  Being the first to meld since the family’s official matchmaker - Great-Aunt Alma - returned from her sabbatical, appeared to have gone to Gaia’s head. Suddenly she was determined to be the first in everything. From the day Hadleigh had unofficially melded with Vaughn, Gaia had been trying to get pregnant. Determined to give birth to the first Southern Sanctuary baby in well over a decade.

  Determined and competitive were not words Riya would have used to describe Gaia six months ago, but now… well… Gaia’s face drained of all colour as she came face to face with Riya’s delicate condition. Her mouth opening and closing as she sought to form words. Her big blue eyes filling with not just surprise but hurt, and a small measure of anger. “Riya, how are you… you of all people, pregnant?”

 
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