House of Royale (Secret Keepers #4)(8)

“I’m sorry, Ava. I really wish there was an easier way to tell you it all.”

I waved my hand at her, clearing my throat. “No, I told you to just hit me with it. I’m standing by that. I … I won’t run until you’ve finished.”

She moved, almost like she was going to hug me, but stopped at the last moment. I was both grateful and kinda sad that she did.

“Okay, so Daelighters and humans have a treaty,” she continued. “This is the reason you were born in Overworld. You’re part of the treaty.”

I managed not to comment on this, wanting her to finish.

“Basically, there are four houses in Overworld: Darken, Imperial, Leights, and Royale. These four houses have a wormhole transporter thing set up between Earth and Overworld. It’s permanent and the government knows about it. In exchange for this transporter—which helps to power the land of Overworld—the humans got a stone. Starslight stone, to be exact. Which is very powerful and was buried somewhere near the equator to stop an out-of-control series of storms that was rocking Earth.”

This was insane, but it would certainly make a great sci-fi television show. Reality, not so fun.

“How do I come into this?” I murmured.

She shot me a wry grin. “Well, the stone is so powerful that it’s hidden from everyone except for one Daelighter and four humans. The four humans are like a map. Together they lead to the stone if the need ever arises to find it. They’re called the secret keepers.”

“And I’m one of them,” I guessed.

Maya nodded. “You are number four, actually. The final one who can lead us to the stone.”

“You were born in Overworld, in the House of Royale.” Xander spoke up, his voice low and dangerously rumbly. “My house.”

His assertion felt right; not believing would only be pure stubbornness at this stage. Maybe if I hadn’t spent most of my life under the water, with abilities far beyond a human’s, I would be more skeptical. But truth be told, the story made sense. Especially with the evidence of Xander right in front of me.

Land came into sight then and this spurred Maya on. She hurriedly explained the rest to me. She told me about the four overlord minors—Xander and Chase were apparently royalty in their land, which explained the arrogance. And she went into a little more detail about the four secret keepers, and then finally about Laous.

The one creating all the drama in both worlds.

This Laous was a Daelighter who wanted to find the stone, wanted the power, and would stop at nothing to get it. He’d hurt and killed and kidnapped his way through the first three keepers. All that was left was me. It had been his people who’d shot at us yesterday. I rubbed my arm. The bandage was long gone now, just a thin line of stitches from Doc’s handiwork remaining.

“What happened to your arm?” Xander’s question was abrupt. I wasn’t sure why he’d bothered to ask when he clearly didn’t give a shit.

Not wanting to look at him, but not able to be that rude, I gave him a quick glance and said, “Just a scrape from yesterday. A bullet grazed me.”

Before I could avert my eyes, I noticed his darkened from blue to something that resembled a sky about to rain bloody hell down on earth, dark and stormy.

Swallowing hard, I turned away and hurried to say, “I have no idea at all where this stone is … like, not a freakin’ clue. If I’m the final, and I’m the one who is supposed to hold the knowledge of this location, then shouldn’t I … know?”

Chase turned, hands still on the wheel holding us steady in the ocean. “I have a theory about that, actually. We can talk more about it when we get back to our home.”

“Secret lair,” Maya cut in, shooting her mate a cheeky grin. “Home would be a little … homier.”

Ugh, they were just too darn cute. Couldn’t they take that somewhere else so us lonely people didn’t have to hate them through envy? Deciding it would be easier if I just turned away, I swiveled around again to face forward. Xander stayed on the side, just in the periphery of my vision. Annoying squid.

We were closing in fast on land now, and I was somewhat excited by the prospect of meeting the others. I’d heard a bit about Emma and Callie, the first and second of the secret keepers. Apparently the four of us had a special sort of bond. They’d been waiting for me to see if we would feel a stronger connection together.

Someone had been waiting for me. Pretty sure that was a first.

Chase took the boat around familiar headland. We were no longer on Lanai but I knew a lot of these islands well. He slowed and docked on a private mooring. “The others are still out searching for you,” Maya explained as we moved to get off. “You were moving around so much every time we tried to track you using the crystal.”

The crystal part was a little extra weird. Apparently when dipped in the blood of the previous keeper, it would track the next one. Daelighters really needed to come up with a better system for hiding their things.

“I was moving across the island last night,” I confirmed. “Walking to reach my friend. He’s a doctor. He patched me up. And then this morning I was swimming all over.”

Maya’s face fell. “I’m so sorry you got hurt because of me. Laous is…. He needs to die. Nothing else will suffice.”

My very brief and limited experience with Laous had me agreeing with her. He’d been power-spraying bullets into the ocean like a madman, trying to pick us off like we were nothing more than animals. In fact, he might have actually hit some of the sea creatures, and that was not okay with me.

Jaymin Eve's Books