Callyx & Theo (Excerpt 1)
This excerpt is taken from a book from the first book of a 6-book series. It is a fantasy romance series as well. Each book represents a couple, but it progresses the actual storyline and plot that is threaded throughout the novels. The first couple is Callyx and Theo.
Callyx Archer watched as her old friends filed into the Great Hall of the main holding of the fortress and filled the tables. It had been a long time since she had seen them. Her eyes traveled over them, noticing the dramatic changes both physical and internal. They had all grown-up and grown into their roles as protectors of Pearl and guardians of the world.
She had only seen Amos cry once in their youth and had promised she’d never breathe a word of it. Now decades later, she watched as the evermore burly and gruff Amos once again break into tears at the sight of her. In fact, within the eyes of most of the angels unshed tears shimmered. It was only one that didn’t show any emotion. She had expected it and believed she would be prepared for it, but she had been wrong.
It was her undoing when her eyes caught his eyes, but Theo quickly looked away. Callyx sighed. It bothered her more than she cared to realize that his resolve to hold a grudge all this time upset her. Perhaps, she had hoped if they ever did reunite that all would be pardon. Wishful thinking, she thought, allowing herself to take in the sight of him.
Theodavian Emberlynd had grown into the man she knew he’d be. His size is what took her breath away the moment she saw him. No more wonderfully boyish looks, but instead, he stood before her in his masculine glory. The breadth of his shoulders and bulges of his muscular arms – she had no doubts that both the kingdom of Pearl and the world felt safe upon such shoulders. Before Callyx could stop herself, she bitterly thought this sinfully handsome angel must’ve broken many hearts. Her eyes noticed his big hands and her eyes narrowed. Must’ve held many loyal admirers as well…
It was when Theo moved that Callyx lifted her eyes to his. She found him staring her down suspiciously. Caught, she coughed embarrassed and quickly bowed her head. Ashamed, she realized she had let her emotions get the best of her as she blinked back her tears. It was best to leave the past behind and keep herself focused on the present and future.
She squared her shoulder and straightened her back. It’s time to show her old friends who they were dealing with now. She was no longer the sweet darling they remembered. Times have changed and things were different.
“Welcome! Please, sit.” She waited for everyone to do what she said before she continued. “All of you know me in different ways. To some I’m an old friend and to others I’m a beacon of hope.”
“Oh, Callie. You’ve always been my beacon of hope,” Aidan called out. A huge smile crossed his face.
Callyx smirked, shaking her head. “And you were a troublesome pain,” she said. She winked at Aidan. “I suspect you still are. A loveable one though nonetheless.”
“Aye, troublesome pain. But loveable?” Amos grumbled, shoving Aidan. Callyx laughed in unison with the others when Aidan scowled at his twin brother. “This brute is a hazard to women. I’m certain they wouldn’t even dare to call him loveable.”
“I have it on good authority that they find me quite loveable.”
“As much as I’d like to see Amos take some sense into you, my dear Aidan,” Callyx called out as she recognized the hint of a heated debate brewing. “There are some things I’d like to… discuss.”
The entire hall came to an abrupt silence. The tension was once again building and thickening. Her eyes scanned the Great Hall, making certain she had everyone’s attention. For a moment, she let her eyes settle on Theo who was now looking her with attentive curiosity. She licked her lips then opened her mouth.
When nothing came out, she gave a small but nervous smile before taking a sip of wine from her goblet. Then she gave it another try.
“As some of you know, I was the daughter of a blacksmith,” she began, looking at her old friends before looking at all her companions and allies. “And all of you I suspect are familiar with the Archer Legacy. The legendary Archer bloodline that was chosen has to slay the vampiress--”
“But through the daughters of the Archer bloodline.”
Callyx gulped when she realized who had spoken. It had been Theo. She looked at him and nodded her head. He nodded and continued: “Yes, we’re familiar with the Archer Legacy. It’s also now been prophesized that the Slayer is a part of the Chosen Ones’ prophecy made by the great Shayla Seer.”
“I’m-I’m aware of that,” she stammered. She flushed at her stammering and bit her bottom lip as she looked at her old friends.
Amos exchanged looks with Theo before speaking. “However, nobody knows who the Slayer is. Lysabet Archer was rumored to have died, but her body was never recovered. No known heiress has ever stepped up or out of the shadows.” He shrugged. “Well, that we know of. We believe she’ll show up when the time is right and she’ll announce her presence and existence.”
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She exhaled and looked at her old friends. “My mother was Lysabet Archer. I’m her daughter.” She glanced into Theo’s shocked eyes and she held his stare. “The Archer Legacy was passed down to me. I am the prophesized Slayer.”
It was silent. Her eyes swooped around waiting for the first to react. When the reactions erupted, Callyx couldn’t seem to feel swayed to answer the series of questions thrown at her. All she could see was Theo rising to his feet and making his way out of the Great Hall.
* * *
Theo sat in the closest stairwell near the Great Hall. His mind was reeling. Memories seemed to flood his thoughts and clues he never realized surfaced. He had met Lysabet Archer, except she had introduced herself as Lysabet Rosenlance. He should’ve asked more questions, paid more attention. Why hadn’t she ever told him? He was her best friend. At least at the time, he had been.
He shook his head. How could she have kept this from him? He forced himself to his feet and made his way to the entranceway of the Great Hall. Even though he had left, he had heard every single word she had said afterward. She had explained. She gave her reasons, but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to satisfy him. He knew even before she finished that he and his men would pledge their allegiance to her cause.
It was inevitable. He knew it from the moment that they stepped foot in this fortress that he was fated to take up this cause. He and his men had promised to do what was necessary to get to the bottom of the Elovaisus mystery. It was no surprise when Amos was the first to pledge his allegiance then the flurry of allegiances followed.
When Callyx looked at him, he crossed his arm and kept their eye contact locked. “My men have spoken. As long as the vampiress lives, we shall be with you until the very end.”
Like that, his fate and destiny was sealed to the one person he had once cared for with his entire life. Theo didn’t feel the need to converse with her – at least not yet. He knew in time that he’d have to, but at the moment, he’d let silence speak for itself.
* * *
Callyx gazed out from the South Watchtower, watching for any sign of movement. The Ebony Forrest was eerily silent. She exhaled and eyed the cloud of her breath puff out from her lips.
Her eyes glanced down at the sudden appearance of a goblet within a gloved hand. However, she didn’t even need to ask who it was nor fear for her life. She wasn’t even surprised by the prince’s surprise visit. She already knew that he was there even before the offering was made. She always knew when he was around. She’d just feel his presence. It would intensify at his closeness.
She took the offering. “Thank you.”
When she had taken a few gulps of the hot apple-spiced cider, he finally talked. “It is mighty different from the likes of Pearl,” he murmured. He placed his hands upon the thick stone wall as he surveyed the horizon. “It could almost be enchanting if it weren’t for the--”
“Atmosphere,” she cut in, knowingly. She vaguely noticed him nod his head. “Aye, this entire forest used to be a safe-haven – a place where the child’s imagination played with the many wondrous tales. Lady Crystobelle mourns the loss of its intended mystery. We all pray in time that some day and somehow everything will be restored.”
“I’ve only heard of an upcoming threat. Ever since my men and I have set foot in this forest, we sensed the dramatic shift. I mean we’ve noticed the subtle hints and changes in the air and we can sense it in Pearl, but it’s stifling and imminent here.”
Sadly, Callyx nodded in agreement. “Aye. When you had told me decades ago about your childhood adventures here when your father brought you, it’s hard to see it now.” Tears shimmered in her eyes as she bravely faced Theo by fully turning and looking his eyes. She continued, “When I first got here two decades ago, it was exactly like you said it would be. I’ve had to watch it and feel it chance. I’ve had to witness it all.”
Theo gazed mesmerized into her eyes and Callyx realized she had left herself open. She was like an open-book. It wasn’t until his eyes began to soften and his presence began to surround her that she truly snapped out of the trance. Quickly breaking eye contact, she turned and faced the endless horizon. She felt the warmth of his presence disappear as if he was closing himself off to her.
She heard him sigh, but she knew his eyes never left her. They burned into her and she was thankful there was only a limited amount of light. How would she explain the rosy tint she knew was covering her cheeks?
A bit belatedly she realized she could blame the cold chill as a gust of wind bit into her bare skin. Bust as it were, it didn’t matter either way. She almost breathed a sigh of relief when she felt his eyes leave her.
“Callie…” Her old nickname was expressed with such tenderness and anguish. Callyx turned to Theo to make certain he had truly spoken. His eyes once again were soft, familiar, and intense. “Why? Callie, why didn’t you tell me?”
Callyx shut her eyes whether it was to keep the temptation to cry at bay or to rid the image of him caring again. She didn’t know. She bit her lip nervously. “I did what I had to. I cannot chance what I’ve done, Angel-Prince. There’s no sense in reveling in past reasoning – only know I did what I thought was right and true. Leave it at that.”
When she tried to leave, he grabbed her arm preventing her from retreating.
“That’s not good enough.” His voice was low and harsh through gritted teeth. His eyes flashed. “Two decades and that’s all you can say to defend yourself?”
“What do you want me to say honestly, Theodavian? What is done is done.”
Callyx tried to rip her arm away from his vice-like grip, but his hand just tightened with his increasing anger. “What I want?! What I want you to – Aren’t you even one bit sorry that you left all of us worried sick about you? Aren’t you at all regretting the actions you took? Callie, you saw them! Didn’t you see them they all reacting in knowing you were truly alive and well? We thought you were dead, lost to us forever—never to see ever again--”
“It hurt me too, Theo! You’re-You’re not the only one that suffered!”
“Right,” he said, sarcastically.
As he let her go and moved towards the exit, Callyx felt a renewed sense of anger, pain, and helplessness. “It did! It hurt having to leave everything and everything I’ve ever known and loved behind--”
He whirled around. “Then why did you? Why did you just leave without a trace? Without saying goodbye? Without telling anyone your whereabouts?”
“Because I couldn’t let anyone else get involved!” she gasped. “Do not even try to tell me you wouldn’t have led a search party if I had known my whereabouts! If I had even attempted to say goodbye, you would’ve never let me go.”
“There are different ways! Messenger? Message? Letter? Something!”
“It’s not that simple, Theo! There was no time!” She burst into tears. “I watched her kill her! They made me watch my mother die! I couldn’t do anything! I couldn’t save her!”
“Wait. Wait. What?”