Kissed by Fate [The Tiburon Duet 3]
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by Lara Santiago
Description: Alex of Tiburon breaks off life-partner negotiations with a woman he doesn't love after discovering her with another. Relieved to be free, he journeys to Earth to explore the distant planet where his mother was raised and experience a world he's only read about never expecting to find true love. Lizzie, disappointed by the lackluster kisses she's received from every guy she's ever dated, gets the shock of her life when the kiss, delivered by the gorgeous mystery man at a party not only tastes like chocolate, but is also satisfying at an orgasmic level. Fate in the form of a single kiss changes Alex and Lizzie's future to an unexpected happily ever after, until unanticipated events threaten to separate them. Will being kissed by fate keep them apart forever? (This title was previously published as The Sins of their Fathers. This version has a new scene added.) [Erotic Romance: Contains graphic sexual content and adult language.]
eBook Publisher: Siren-BookStrand, Inc./Siren Classic, 2009 2009
eBookwise Release Date: October 2009
43 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [207 KB]
Reading time: 120-169 min.
Earth, a dozen years after a particular magical kiss...
Gabrielle stood at the doorway to her daughter's bedroom and witnessed pandemonium. Twin beds flanked the room in dishabille as both her daughters pelted each other with stuffed animals.
"Girls, girls. Bedtime."
"We want to play, Mama." Lizzie chucked a small purple dog over to Emma Ruth's bed hitting her sister on the nose. Emma Ruth squealed in delight and hurled a pink elephant back at Lizzie catching her on the side of the head.
Chaos ensued along with more furry flying animals.
"Stop throwing toys. It's past time for you to be sleeping." Gabrielle risked being bombarded to stand between the girl warriors of the household.
They stopped the assault giggling as they gathered up the furry ammunition for tomorrow's battle.
"Tell us a story, Mama."
"Tell us about the beautiful princess in the blue light that kissed the king because he was sick."
"Again? Aren't you tired of that story?"
"No. Tell us," they cried in unison.
"All right. Under the covers." Once they were tucked securely in bed, Gabrielle turned their nightlight on before she began her oft told tale.
"Once upon a time, a beautiful princess ran from someone scary--"
"Like the boogie man?" Emma Ruth broke in.
"Yes, exactly like the boogie man. She ran until she saw a shaft of magic blue light and jumped inside to safety. Once inside, there were big tall warriors in a circle guarding a future king. The beautiful princess was left alone with the ailing king and when he awoke from his slumber, he begged her for--"
"The king begged?" Keller interrupted. He stood in the doorway, eyebrow arched in amusement. "I can't imagine that a king would beg."
"Hi, Daddy." The girls smiled at their father.
Gabrielle crossed her arms and grinned. "Well, this is my story and the king definitely begged."
Keller moved into the room bending to hug first one daughter and then the other before asking, "What did the king beg for?"
"A magic kiss," the girls answered in harmony. They had heard this story a time or two before.
Keller crossed to where she sat in the chair she'd rocked the girls in. He ran his fingertips across Gabrielle's face. His thumb grazed her lips before he turned and exited the room. Gabrielle understood immediately that there would be magic kissing later on tonight and she might be the one begging.
"The story, Mommy, finish the story."
Gabrielle sighed and continued. "After the beautiful princess kissed the king, she knew they were destined to be together because he tasted just like chocolate..."
* * * *
Planet Tiburon, many years later
"You do understand what's at stake with your life partnership to the Commander's son?"
Shauna nodded solemnly. "I've known my whole life."
"And Alex is enamored of you? He's ready to declare your life partnership date soon?"
"Of course, we've been in negotiations for ages. I am a daughter of the house of Fairfax and among the most beautiful women on our planet. Why wouldn't he select me as his life partner?"
"Being beautiful isn't enough, especially if he's anything like his father, Crag. Your mother, Lena, tried and failed ... twice."
"I won't fail you." Shauna swallowed hard, admitting silently, she was a little frightened. Alex had not been as cooperative as she'd hoped with regard to hurrying along the announcement.
"I hope not. I'd hate to be disappointed." The stern glare she received, pierced her conscience. "Our ultimate plan hinges on this union."
Shauna held the pointed gaze. "The gala celebration for The Commander and his insipid earthling life partner, Ellie, is next week. I expect Alex to announce our coming nuptials before the evening comes to a close."
"Let's hope so. We've waited a long time to connect our family with a powerful Tiburon political position." A wheeze and a lengthy raspy cough ensued. "Too long to leave it to chance."
"What else can I do?" Shauna frowned. She'd already done everything she could think of to keep Alex interested and furthering negotiations on track.
"Lure him into a compromising position. If you convinced him to mouth-touch you--"
"No!" Shauna broke in and earned another volatile glare. "Even though he isn't directly in line to take over as Commander, honor dictates his actions. He'd never allow it." The truth was she'd already tried that tactic long ago and failed, but held her tongue declining to confess the unsuccessful effort.
"Try anyway. If someone were to accidentally catch you during in the act, all the better."
Shauna nodded once, but held her rioting emotions in check. She knew the importance of uniting with Alex and the imperative connection it afforded her family, but she also worried that Alex wasn't as enamored of her as she'd just guaranteed. He'd been quiet of late. Even quieter than usual.
Physically, Alex was built exactly like his father; tall, brawny and striking. While he spent inordinate amounts of time studying history and other tedious scholarly pursuits, as the only son of the current Commander, Crag, Alex was well trained in the art of combat.
Shauna also acknowledged Alex could be dangerous when provoked to anger.
* * * *
Out of the corner of his eye, Alex saw his best friend, Bern, approach the stoic position he'd assumed near the exit. Bern's gaze traveled to Shauna and Ria and Alex's followed along.
Without preamble, Bern asked, "Are you really going to announce a life partnership to Shauna in the near future?"
No! Alex wanted to scream the answer, but merely shrugged his shoulders and remained silent. Bern's arrival afforded him a few more moments of peace.
A tall, quiet man, Bern piloted a space craft around Tiburon's planetary system transporting supplies and people as the occasion called for it. With his primary service of catering to the transportation needs of the Queen and the Commander of Tiburon, Alex enjoyed unlimited transport in their galaxy as Crag's only son. Unfortunately, he didn't want to visit anywhere in his galaxy. He secretly desired a trip to a distant planet.
From across the room of the gala celebrating his parent's long life partnership, Alex watched Shauna fidget impatiently in her chair and search the room with her narrowed hawk-like gaze likely looking for him. Clingy and more annoying than usual tonight, she'd driven him from their table seeking solace from her persistent suggestion of an announcement he refused to make.
The scrutiny from a distance offered Alex an unexpected epiphany. Deep down in his soul, Alex knew that Shauna wasn't the one. His vitamatia. His true life mate.
"Rumor has it from her countless circle of friends that there will be an important announcement tonight." Bern cleared his throat. "I didn't realize your negotiations had reached that point."
Alex exhaled and kept his gaze focused on the table. "They haven't. She's presuming. I'm not announcing anything tonight." Or ever. Up to now, the negotiations for their union had proceeded slowly. Due entirely to the fact that he had dragged his feet during the process. Now he understood why.
"But will she be your choice?" Bern persisted.
"I'm not sure, but I haven't done anything I can't take back yet."
Bern's quiet amused laughter made Alex uncomfortable. "If not Shauna, then who else would you consider?"
Alex shrugged again, unwilling to share his secrets. "Perhaps someone I haven't met yet."
"And here I thought every eligible girl on the planet had been trotted past you for possible selection as the mate of the future Commander's brother. What woman got missed in the covetous feminine parade?"
Alex responded with an exasperated sigh and declined to speak the answer he longed to express. An Earth girl.
What if his vitamatia lived on Earth? That's where his father had found his mother. As a matter of fact, Alex was half earthling. Shouldn't he at least make an effort to try and find his true life mate on Earth?
Alex refocused his attention on Shauna. She turned her head to lock gazes with him and he realized the time had come to go speak with her. She would demand an explanation. He wasn't sure what he would tell her. Better get rid of Ria first though. The conversation always deteriorated quickly when the three of them were together, and Alex ended up being the referee.
Noticing that Bern still watched their table, Alex said, "Go ask my sister to dance."
"She and Shauna haven't come to blows yet, but if we leave them there too long it's only a matter of time. You know that."
The two women were pointedly not talking to each other. Usually, they didn't bother with the pretense of politeness, but ostensibly remained on their best behavior for tonight's special family celebration. Alex didn't expect their civility would last much longer without intervention.
Bern crossed his arms. "So?"
"So ... get Ria away from the table."
Bern raised his gaze to the ceiling. "What if I don't want to dance with your sister?"
"Do it as a favor to me. You're the only one I trust her with. I'll owe you."
A long suffering sigh escaped Bern's lips, but he uncrossed his arms and strolled to the table. He bent at the waist and whispered Ria's ear. She looked surprised, but smiled and took his arm to go dance.
Shauna glanced in Alex's direction again. Her eyes sent him a hurry up--get over here--and explain yourself stare. He braced himself, ambled toward the table and sat in the chair next to hers facing the dancing couples. If she brought it up, he would be hard pressed to keep his decision to himself.
Ria looked delighted to be dancing with Bern. Certainly happier than she had been while sitting with Shauna. They twirled around the dance floor with ease as if they'd practiced together.
Shauna's acid tone broke through his reverie. "Where have you been, Alex? I've been sitting here all alone waiting for you."
Alex regarded her through narrowed eyes. "You weren't alone. My sister was here."
Shauna allowed a small sneer before guarding her expression. "You know your sister and I don't have much in common."
"You have me in common."
Shauna's eyes narrowed in speculation as if she sensed his discord. "What is wrong with you tonight?"
Placing a fake smile on his face, he murmured, "Nothing is wrong." Liar. "Would you like to dance?"
"You know I don't like to dance." Her acerbic tone grated against his conscience.
"Yes. I remember." He signaled an attendant and ordered a strong beverage to see him through the evening. He refused to get sucked into an argument.
"May I assume no announcement is forthcoming?" she asked.
Alex braced himself for her anger. "I already told you it wasn't coming. This is my parents' celebration. It's not the right time." He didn't comment further. He didn't trust himself not to spill his decision to call things off. And he didn't want the inevitable scene Shauna would create to ruin his parents' party.
Watching Bern dance with Ria only strengthened Alex's resolve to end his future alliance with Shauna. Even with Bern's initial resistance to his request, Alex could see how much fun they were having together, if the grinning and laughter were any indication. Alex thought back and couldn't recall a single instance where he and Shauna had laughed together.
With Ria as the next Commander, Alex could do anything he wanted with his life. His passion was the study of history. Any history. Not only had he acquired a healthy knowledge of Tiburon's turbulent past, he'd also spent a great deal of his time studying all the complexities of days gone by on Earth. He adored learning about the planet his mother had been born and raised on. Secretly, he longed to visit, but trips outside Tiburon's galaxy were rarely sanctioned.
Shauna didn't care for his passion of learning or the past. Her attitude was more forward thinking. She told him repeatedly that reading about days gone by was a waste of time and that she didn't wish to talk about the past. This alone made him even more certain that they shouldn't partner. He'd always thought he would one day teach. To share his love of history with those eager to learn was another dream. How could he spend the rest of his life with someone unwilling to share his greatest passion?
As if she sensed the direction of his thoughts, Shauna said very little as the remainder of the evening continued. Thankfully, it didn't last long. Bern returned to the table from his lengthy sojourn on the dance floor with his sister, but Ria didn't come back with him choosing to join their parents instead. Alex longed to do the same.
The moment Bern seated himself, Shauna launched to her feet and announced, "I'm going home to retire. It's been a long evening."
Alex stood. "I'll walk you home."
"No, thank you. I'll be fine." She swept from the room with the fluid grace of royalty and disappeared from his sight. Alex, disturbed that his only feeling at her departure was relief, sighed and crossed his arms.
"You should tell her now if you don't intend to go through with the partnership negotiations." Bern remarked in a low tone. "The longer you wait, the louder she'll condemn you to everyone within earshot."
Alex turned to stare at Bern only slightly surprised that his best friend could apparently read his mind and had another epiphany. A part of him knew that he never intended to go through with the life partnership with Shauna. Bern was right about something else. Alex needed to end the negotiation process as soon as possible. Tonight would be best after all.
"You're right. I'll go catch up before she gets home and break the news. Let's hope she doesn't murder me."
"Want me to tag along as your bodyguard?"
Alex laughed. "No, thanks." The mere suggestion of removing himself from negotiations with Shauna lifted his heart and made his soul sing with the prospect of the freedom to find his true love.
"Keep your barrier in place," Bern joked. "She can't kill you then."
"Very funny." Alex gave Bern a casual salute and exited the elegant party after stopping to congratulate his parents. He didn't share the immediate plan to end his relationship with Shauna with his parents. Tomorrow was soon enough to inform his family about his decision. If Shauna didn't herald it to the far reaches of Tiburon before then.
Alex followed various paths through Tiburon's extensive biosphere-like connected tunnels in the direction of Shauna's residence and rehearsed the words he wanted to say. There was no need to be cruel, but simple words were usually best to deliver bad news. He'd simply tell her he didn't love her and that they each deserved a chance to find their true life mates.
Unlike the cramped environments he'd read about on Earth, several sections of Tiburon's protected world were very open with areas sporting ceilings higher than the naked eye could discern. Shauna's home was located in one of those very prestigious areas.
Approaching Shauna's house with reluctance, Alex was surprised to see her suddenly exit from a side door. Dressed in an oversized shoulder to ankle garment, he watched as she pulled a large hood up to conceal her features. He started to call out, but something in her demeanor made him pause. He ducked to keep from being seen and peered around some foliage. She crept slowly to the street, turned and walked in the opposite direction seemingly keeping to the shadows.
Intrigued, Alex followed at a discrete distance. He'd heard rumors of a long held penchant for gambling which ran in her family. Her father had been very enamored of games of chance. Was Shauna similarly addicted?
She rounded a corner and disappeared from sight. Alex slowed his pace and looked carefully around the corner where she'd gone.
Down a trash-ridden narrow passage, which dead ended, Alex saw a lean, blond man waiting. Alex had seen the man before somewhere, but couldn't remember his name. The guilt marring his heart evaporated when Shauna sped her last few steps and rushed into the stranger's open arms. The man held her close, eyes closed, and whispered words Alex was too far away to hear.
Disbelief flooded, Alex. He hadn't ever suspected Shauna had another man waiting. Which begged the question, why did she want to life partner with him so desperately? What he'd expected all along became inherently clear. She partnered with him for the sake of a prestigious match to the lofty Commander-at-Arms family, despite being obviously in love with someone else. The oppressive load of guilt resting on his shoulders from his apathy toward Shauna lifted.
No longer weighed down by the remorse, Alex turned the corner into the alley and walked slowly down the passage with the intention to confront and dissolve any lingering ideas of partnership. Negotiations had come to an end. Alex was free.
Obviously not seeing his approach, Shauna broke from the stranger, touched fingers to her lips and blew the touch without taking her gaze from the man holding her. The sacred gesture brought Alex to a complete halt.
"You'd rather be dead than to life partner with anyone else?" Alex asked. The words rushing around in his head spilled out before he could stop them.
The two spun to face him. Shauna paled as a gasp escaped from her lips. "Alex, what are you doing here?"
He laughed and gestured to her friend. "I should ask you the same question."
Shauna stepped toward him, but the man stopped her. He glared at Alex with distaste. She broke his hold and approached. "I didn't want you to find out like this."
Alex laughed again. "Oh? How did you want me to find out? After we'd pledged our lives to each other in partnership?" For all the shock of the past few minutes, he was immensely grateful to have escaped a life long affiliation with a woman in love with someone else.
Her mouth tightened, but she didn't respond. Alex glanced over her shoulder, locking his gaze to the other man. "I'm officially calling off negotiations between us. I'm sure you understand. Best of luck to you." Alex turned with hope in his soul and with a spring in his step for the first time in a long while.
He kept walking. "Don't worry, Shauna. I'm not angry and I won't mention your new friend in the official dissolution of negotiations paperwork," he called over one shoulder as he exited the alley.
He strolled home with a new outlook on his future. He'd pursue his history career without reproach from Shauna. First, however, the next step in his plan for ultimate happiness was permission to embark on an off planet adventure. He'd speak to his father about it when he informed his parents about Shauna, her new love and the end of their association.
The Commander at Arms controlled all sanctioned trips off planet. Hopefully, his father wouldn't disallow a trip for Alex. He'd explain it as a chance to put all of his historical knowledge of Earth into practical application.
He'd search for his vitamatia during his exploration of Earth, but even if he didn't find her, the experience on Earth would be invaluable to his future.