Eternal Envy by Paloma Beck
Seven sisters are entwined in a legacy, one originating back from the time of the Italian Wars in the 1500s. One by one, they will find their mates from the immortal Valendite Breeds and secure their place in history.
Eloise has lived with bitter envy her entire life until the moment she fell into the arms of Caedon. Once claimed by her mate, she will covet nothing more for eternity, especially now that she has it all. Caedon plans to fulfill her every need if he can just keep her safe. With their secret so close to being exposed and a mate who finds herself in the midst of the drama, Caedon has enough to keep his hands full.
Then Caedon’s parents, believed dead for a century, come across the Terrorist Elimination Unit’s (TEU) radar. Can he save his parents while protecting his newfound mate?
Caedon rose, dropped his hands to his hips and looked down at her. He was huge, larger even than he looked in the shadows, but so incredibly gentle as he reached down to lift her. Since he was well over six feet, Eloise came to his shoulders with her own 5’8” frame, and for the first time, she felt small and delicate.
Carefully, she placed her weight on her foot and winced. Caedon immediately picked her up again. Eloise’s entire world shifted in his arms. She closed her eyes to absorb the moment and when she brought her eyes back to his, she saw him wet his lips before swallowing.
“You feel it too, right?” His insecurity was as charming as everything else about him. Should she play with him? Surely not, she thought to herself.
“Yes. I feel it.” Eloise smiled and Caedon returned the gesture before pulling her to his chest again and ducking his head into her neck. His breathing was labored, but he seemed to be working to steady his breaths.
“So, Eloise, what were you doing wandering the vineyards?”
“I don’t remember,” Eloise shrugged, unclear about what had led her here in the first place. “I decided on a walk once the ceremony ended. Wait, why weren’t you at the ceremony?” Eloise suddenly realized she knew nothing about this man who was holding her. His grasp on her changed from warm and safe to frightening. Memories of Layla and Gracie’s kidnapping assaulted her mind.
“Relax,” Caedon reassured Eloise. “I work with Madden. I run the comm room, which meant I had to hold back today. Someone had to watch the compound.”
“So why are you out here now?” Still doubtful but unable to pull herself from his hold, Eloise looked him directly in the eye, challenging him to lie to her.
“I saw someone heading this way. Since it wasn’t in the direction of the wedding party, I thought I’d check it out.”
It all sounded good, but Eloise couldn’t help but be skeptical. There had been so many years of wanting–of envying-others’ happiness; to have this man who was her mate holding her was simply too good to be true. She had spent so much time envying others and she had not considered ever getting her own complete joy. Without a doubt, this is what it was. She had not a single drip of envy. It was as if suddenly she could breathe more deeply. She wanted nothing more than Caedon and he was hers.
When she looked back up at him, he was staring at her, and Eloise realized she must’ve zoned out and gotten lost in her own thoughts. Caedon was smirking at her. “W-were you saying something?” Eloise’s cheeks must’ve been scarlet; she was so embarrassed.
“I was noticing the outrageous shoes you’re wearing. What possessed you to wear these to walk through a vineyard? You’re lucky you didn’t break your ankle,” Caedon admonished her.
“I wore these shoes for my sister’s Pronouncement. And I’ll have you know, these are the very latest in my line.” A shoe designer might not be an admirable profession but Eloise was very proud of her accomplishments. And this shoe was one of her best-selling designs.
“I’ll have you know, you won’t be wearing that type of heels anymore.”
Eloise pushed away from Caedon’s chest and gave him her most rebellious look. “I will not be told what I can and cannot wear. I have a closet full of shoes that I love more than anything and I plan to wear them each and every day as I’ve always done.”
“Ostinata,” Caedon mumbled to himself as he began to move in the direction of the wedding.
“Where are we going? I can walk.” Eloise struggled to get out of Caedon’s grasp but it was like cutting through steel. Resigned, she sank into his hold, “Ostinato.”
Caedon looked bemused, “You speak Italian.”
“Are you always this challenging? This stubborn?”
“I am independent. I’m not stubborn. Though if you continue to call me stubborn, I can certainly show you just how much challenge I can provide a bossy man like you.”
At her words, Caedon let out a roar of laughter, “Oh, Ostinata, you are perfection.”
Paloma Beck is an erotic romance author writing in both the Contemporary and Paranormal realms. Living a life of total contradiction, Paloma runs carpool service for her sons, volunteers in PTA and teaches religious education. Then in the moments when her characters talk to her, she journals their stories – and they are anything but PG.