House of Royale (Secret Keepers #4)(4)

Or was it possible that this was linked to yesterday? Did those maniacs with the guns decide to up their arsenal?

My first thought was for the dark-haired girl. She’s nothing to you, Avalon. Seriously, one would think she was my sister, that’s how worried I immediately was. Not family. Not. Family. If I repeated it enough, hopefully it would sink in. Apparently I was so hard up for a family now, I was simply going to create a fantasy world where I had one out there, waiting for me.

Diving lower to hide under some of the rocks, I waited to see what was coming through the water. A more intelligent person would have gotten out of there, but I was pretty confident in my underwater abilities. If this was a threat, I’d be able to get away in time.

Spiraling water was the first thing I saw, and whatever was moving at those speeds was hidden within that spiral. I was already holding my breath, being under the water and all, but it felt like everything inside of me was on edge waiting to see what could move that fast.

Excitement, fear, and anticipation warred inside of me, but despite the small part of me that dreaded what I was about to see, I didn’t leave. Just before it neared the first rocks, the turbulent water started to ease, then slowed and stopped completely.


A long pair of well-muscled arms came into view, followed by the rest of a male body—thankfully, because it would have been some sort of horror story otherwise. I thought I’d been pretty well hidden in my crevice, but as soon as he stopped moving, his gaze shot straight to where I was, our eyes meeting through the water.

Fuck! I should have taken off when I had the chance, because apparently there was a massive, blond, tanned, muscled man who could swim even faster than me. And he was heading right in my direction. Go! a part of me screamed over and over, like it could propel me into action. But I couldn’t seem to move. I’d have to eventually; I was going to run out of air sooner or later. But right then I found myself edging out of the rocks and into open water, dancing—that’s what I always called it when I was upright under water—closer to him. He danced the same way I did, drifting forward as if gliding.

At first I was fascinated by the hypnotic blue of his eyes. They were almost electric. As we moved even closer together, I noticed small slashes of deep green that bisected right near his iris, like the ocean had crashed into his eyes and he bore all the colors of it. His hair was blond, but not like the gray tones of mine, more yellow, and it almost looked like he had tattoos on one side of his head and neck, partially hidden by his thick hair.

Wait … was that a rainbow sheen? He had a freaking sheen, just like me. I froze, my brain unable to comprehend that I might finally be meeting someone like me. Of course, I wasn’t stunned enough not to notice all of his golden skin stretched taunt over heavily roped muscles. He was not as lithe as most swimmers I’d seen, but he moved gracefully. His lower half was still covered in swirling water, so I couldn’t see anything but his broad chest.

My lungs started to protest then—the first sign that I needed to start thinking about getting some air. The first discomfort usually meant I had a minute left, maybe two. I was only about fifteen feet down, so it wasn’t a big deal.

The boat noises from before roared over our heads, and then the engine cut off, almost directly over the top of us. Unease flickered inside of me. A boat and a speed-swimming stranger made me nervous. I had the sudden thought that I was in a very vulnerable position right now.

I’d just decided to take off when he lifted his right hand and pursed his lips like he was going to blow me a kiss. I blinked as a bubble formed on his palm. It drifted away from him toward me, growing larger as it moved. I wasn’t sure what to do; I couldn’t look away. Not even when it grew bigger than my head. I expected it to pop when it hit me, and I closed my eyes waiting for the impact.

But there was no pop. Instead it enclosed my head, trapping me inside.

The water drained out of it in an instant and I sucked in a deep breath, able to breathe again. Holy freaking hell. What was happening right now? How could he control water like this?

And why hadn’t I swum away yet?

A small waterspout shot off my bubble, spiraling toward the guy, and then he too wore a bubble around his head.

“What’s your name?”

A deep voice echoed around my new little air pocket, and if jumping under water was possible, I’d have been six feet higher than usual. How in the…. Did he just talk to me?

“I don’t understand.” I felt stupid speaking like this.

His reply was almost immediate. “My name is Xander,” he started, his voice accented and rumbly. “I don’t want to scare you, but we are running out of time. You need to come with me for your own safety.”

Creepy. Seriously, this was too creepy. Even for me, the girl who wanted to live in the ocean. I decided to see if I could break free from the bubble. I had enough air now to swim a decent distance. I might even make it to shore.

“Wait,” he called as I started to back up. “I know you’re scared, I get it, but you should know that the girl you saved yesterday … she is just like you. An advanced human.”

I knew it! I knew there had to be a reason I felt a connection to her. I wasn’t just a crazy needy person. But how was it possible that the two of us ended up in the same bad place together? I slowed my retreat, giving him one last chance to speak.

“The people shooting at her, they are looking for you as well. We’re the only ones who can protect you. I’ll explain it all if you come with me now.”

Jaymin Eve's Books