With: Randi Cooley Wilson
Tristan and Serena:
With a lazy grin, I stretch my arms over my head, causing my shirt to ride up a bit at the bottom. Both ladies flush at the sight, averting their gazes when I catch them.
Serena clears her throat. “Why are you here, Tristan?”
I return her stare with a shrug. “I was walking and heard you scream. I thought perhaps you were in . . . danger.”
Her gaze narrows at the lie, as does the nymph’s.
“As you can see, I’m not in . . . danger,” she mocks.
“Why were you screaming then?” I counter.
Serena looks to Freya, who offers a slight shake of her head, before turning her attention back to me. It’s obvious they’re working together to hide something. Interesting.
“I, um,” Serena stretches.
“Yes?” The annoyance in my voice is unmistakable.
“Thought I saw a frog.”
“A frog?” I repeat in disbelief.
“You’re afraid of amphibians?” I question.
“Of a toad?”
“Toads, newts, salamanders, all amphibians really.”
I try to hold back my smile. “Why is that?”
She swallows, uncomfortable with lying. “Well,” her eyes dart around the forest, searching for an answer. “They’re tailless and slimy. Unpredictable when they leap,” she adds. “Full of warts and stuff,” her voice trails off.
I watch her fake a shiver for effect. It’s awkward, yet amusing, that she thinks I’m buying her pathetic reasoning.
“They also have that weird sac in their throat that makes that awful croaking sound,” Freya adds in a murmur.
Serena nods her head in agreement. “That, too. The,” she forces out the words, “weird sound, thingy, they make.”
I raise a brow and press my lips, while filling my tone with sarcasm. “I can see how that would be . . . terrifying.”
“Petrifying, really,” Serena continues.
“Chilling, even,” I add.
“Frogs!” I announce.
We hold one another’s gaze in a gentle manner. The connection between us is palpable.
For one perfect moment, everything around us fades out and it’s just me and her.
Serena has a bright future etched in stone.
Tristan has a dark past that haunts him.
Together, they have a love that can never be.
Sheltered, and unable to escape her bloodline, Serena St. Michael has spent the last two years training at the Royal Protector Academy. Struggling with a dark past, Tristan Gallagher’s current assignment is to protect a lifetime of secrets. One chance encounter will change everything. Serena must decide if she will follow her heart, forsaking all she’s ever known and risking a future worse than non-existence. Tristan will break every rule to save Serena, even if he can’t keep her. In their world of darkness, one love will ignite an ancient war. When pasts collide with the present, and secrets are revealed, will love be enough? Or will one lie destroy it all?
When you’ve hidden behind a mask for so long, would you reveal yourself for love? Vernal, the first novel in The Royal Protector Academy series is a dangerously exciting and darkly romantic tale that will take your breath away.
Randi Cooley Wilson is a bestselling author of paranormal, urban fantasy, and contemporary romance books. Randi was born and raised in Massachusetts where she attended Bridgewater State University and graduated with a degree in Communication Studies. After graduation she moved to California where she lived happily bathed in sunshine and warm weather for fifteen years. Randi makes stuff up, devours romance books, drinks lots of wine and coffee, and has a slight addiction to bracelets. She currently resides in Massachusetts with her daughter and husband. Randi loves to hear from readers, you can reach out to her via social media: