Byron is in love with Nadia but he has a secret…he’s the only living heir to the throne of Vellamo, goddess of the sea. Fated to take over his family’s royal battle against the sea monster Tursas, he’s been granted only 1000 days to live on land before he must return to his kingdom. He’s on day 999.
Nadia is your average college cheerleader but she has a secret past. Abandoned and put up for adoption at the age of eight, she has no memories of her painful history. But someone knows her and he's come out of the dark just to reclaim her.
With the clock ticking and the call to water beckoning Byron at every turn, he must soon face an eternity at sea without the woman he loves. And suddenly, Nadia must find the unlikely courage to save them both. But will they learn in time what it means to be...the Forstaken?
Byron hadn’t seen the ice-cold water as much as felt it drench his shorts-clad legs. After examining himself in the car window’s reflection, he’d been suddenly inspired to find Nadia and spill the beans but had been waylaid by a full frontal assault. Even as the water struck him, intense pressure built inside him. His skin was crawling as his body threatened to force a flux right there in the parking lot.
Without so much as another thought, he’d taken off in a full run. Gasping with pain, he’d headed for the nearby locker rooms with only one thought in mind. Hide.
But even as he high-tailed it away from the crowded parking lot, he’d heard the words vibrate behind his eardrums.
“How do you like that, Doc?”
It was the cowboy, and he knew, now, this guy was definitely not just an average student playing a prank.
Byron would have loved nothing better than to smash the punk-ass with all the might he possessed, but for the moment he didn’t have time to argue or play immature games. He had to get the hell out of here and fast.
Out of breath, he crouched down in the locker room. The smell of body spray and wet linens wafted up his nostrils as he fought the powerful nature of his true being. Earlier today he’d had only a few shapes appear on one leg. This time both his thighs were covered in them. His skin had thinned out over them, and he could almost make out the greenish tint beneath.
As the noonday sun turned the black, Florida asphalt into a sizzling surface, he knew within twelve hours, the call of the sea would be unbearable. He scratched at the surface of his legs. Maybe he could give himself a cortisone injection to ease the pain. He wasn’t sure it would even work, but if he could make it to the medical center, he could try.
As it was, he wanted to rip the through the skin and extract the slick scales.
Nadia’s voice drew his attention away from his panic as he heard the soft patter of her shoes on the cement floor. He edged back into the shadows.
Nadia rounded the corner. He could just make out the silhouette of her lithe figure before the metal door clanged shut behind her blocking the outside light.
“Byron? Are you in here?”
His breathing shallow, the pain nearly crippling him, he saw a soiled towel draped over a nearby wooden bench. He reached for it with his fingertips. His hand trembled with the effort.
To fight a water-induced flux was akin to suffering through a second-degree burn with no anesthetic. It was excruciating and beyond torturous. But giving into to his natural-born transformation was simply not possible right now. So he fought it.
“Byron! Answer me!”
Nadia’s voice was a cross between worry and anger. She was of Russian descent, and her temper was never far beneath the surface. He heard her take a few steps in his direction, and then the room was flooded with the garish overhead fluorescent lights.
Luckily, he’d been able to pull the towel across his lap, and, even more fortunate for him, it had been dry instead of damp.
She stared down at him from only a few feet away, her face concerned, her eyes curious.
“Are you okay?”
He feigned a smile but knew it wasn’t convincing when she moved rapidly toward him and crouched down.
“Let me see. Are you hurt or something?”
Byron tried to turn away. He wasn’t sure what to say. So he said nothing.
“Are you burned? What happened to your legs, baby?”
Byron shook his head.
Nadia tore her gaze away from Byron’s legs and made eye contact with him, taking him by the shoulders she searched his eyes.
“You’re in pain. In shock. Let’s get you to the hospital.”
Nadia stood and leaned down to help Byron to his feet, but he didn’t budge.
Nadia’s voice grew louder, more insistent.
“I know you don’t like other doctors, but we have to go. Whatever this is, you can’t treat it yourself. Sometimes you have to ask others for help. I’ll be with you. Don’t worry.”
His chest ached at the tender, caring words. He wished his reluctance to visit medical personnel was all about a simple fear or dislike of other doctors. Instead it was about the ugly truth they’d discover if he were to ever be examined closely by a real medical professional.
That was exactly why he’d chosen to present himself here as a physician in the first place. It was the perfect cover.
“I can’t go. You don’t understand.” Byron pled with Nadia. He wanted her to understand. He had to tell her the truth.
Nadia raised her hand to her mouth and began to nervously nibble at her nails. It was her own precious way of dealing with stress, and he loved every little thing about her.
But he knew she was waiting for something he couldn’t give her. Didn’t know how to give her. She watched his face for answers.
“Something is going on with you today. I don’t know what it is, but I just have this feeling it is something really bad. Are you leaving me?”
The words surprised Byron. Nadia had hit home with her random question. The fear of abandonment was something Nadia struggled with already. Having been a foster child in Russia she’d often wondered why her parents had left her. Luckily, she’d been adopted by a loving American family, but the fears and insecurities of her childhood remained.
Byron swallowed. He’d have to come clean and risk the hatred and disgust he was sure he’d see in her face. Time was ticking away, and the only answer here was the truth.
“Listen. There’s something I have to tell you.”