Centauri 1: Centauri Dawn
Romance Fantasy Sci-Fi
Also available in print:
Audra is a normal grad student in law school in Boulder, Colorado. Until the day she finds out she isn't. She's a princess from the planet Centauri. Her mission, whether or not she chooses to accept it, is to marry an alien and save the world, in order to save her family.
Darius is charged with delivering his brother's bride home to Centauri, ready to be queen. Falling in love isn't just forbidden, it's a death sentence for him and for his world.
Romcon Readers Crown finalists (2012)
Best Reviewed Book - 2nd Place - Sci-Fi (2012)
Snuggling deeper into the blankets, Crown Princess Dayanara, heir to the throne of Centauri rolled away from the sound.
Darius Coridian’s patience strained. “Princess, you must awaken.”
She tossed and turned in her sleep, burying her head in the pillow.
“Wake up!” he commanded.
“It’s too early,” she groaned and rolled flat on her stomach.
Decorum be damned--he shook her by her bare shoulders.
Sitting bolt upright, she screamed, then scrambled backward over and off the bed, landing with a thump.
He winced. Leaning over the bed, he looked down at her sprawled form. “Are you injured?”
“Who the hell are you? Get out of here before I call the police.”
He moved closer to her, reaching out a hand. “May I assist you?”
“No! Leave me alone,” she screamed, struggling to get to her feet. She lunged across the bed, reaching for the telephone.
“Now, Princess, please calm down.” Darius dropped her pillow, reached for the phone, and ripped it from the wall. “I mean you no harm, but we must talk and there is little time.” He fell to one knee, bowing in front of her.
Her eyes wide, she grabbed the next available object, a tiny pink lamp on the bedside table. She held it out in front of her like a sword then swung at him. He deflected the blow with his forearm as he stood, denting the lampshade in the process.
“Princess. Someone is going to get hurt if you do not allow me to speak.” He wrestled the mangled lamp from her. “Hear what I have to say. Please,” he implored. “You must return home. Immediately.”
“Help! Somebody help me!” Screaming, she kicked out at him with her foot, trying to take his head off but her skills were no match for his.
Blocking her kick with one arm, he grabbed her leg with both his hands, flipped her completely around and back on to the bed.
“No one can hear you. Stop screaming.” Darius could not help but notice her garment, actually her lack of garment. It was held on her body by two thin straps and dipped dangerously low in front, revealing the firm, lush mounds of her breasts. She was very short to begin with and holding her leg in his hand he saw clear up to where her thighs met and knew she wore nothing underneath the slippery material.
Audra stopped to catch her breath. Breathing hard, she rolled to her back and eyed him from top to bottom. “You look like you just came from a Star Trek convention.” And just like the man in my dream.
Could it be? She’d had dreams come true before, but nothing like this. Never about a man. At least never about a man like this one. Oh, no. She would have remembered him, in her dreams or in reality. She definitely would have remembered him.
He released her. “Yes, I have trekked across the stars in search of you, Princess.” His words were odd, clipped, very formal, as though learned from a book.
“What are you talking about?” This man, dream or not, was in her bedroom and she couldn’t imagine how in the world he got in there.
She yanked at the straps of her gown, resettling them on her shoulders. He held out his hand to help her up but she swatted it away.
“Who are you? Really? How did you get in here and...and who are you?” She lunged for the lamp in his hands.
Placing the lamp out of her reach, he said. “I am Coridian, brother of your betrothed. I am here to escort you home.”
“Betrothed? You’ve escaped from the asylum, haven’t you? You’re some kind of nut and...”
“My lady, I am not an escapee from an asylum, and I am not a pecan.”
“Then, why do you keep spouting nonsense? I’m not a princess!”
“May I rise? I’ll explain--.”
She shook her head and backed up a step. “You--”
He held up his hand to stop her. “Then you can ask your questions.”
“You--you stay right where you are.”
In the next instant, she grabbed the hairspray can from her dressing table, threw it at his head and bolted for the door. He leapt forward and caught her before she’d taken two steps, slamming her up against his chest, trapping her there within his arms. The lamp crashed to the floor, shattered.
Kicking wildly, Audra connected with his groin. His knees buckled, but he was quick to recover and never loosened his hold on her. Her heart raced as she twisted, freed an arm, and slammed the heel of her hand into his face. If he hadn’t turned, she would have broken his nose. Her strike was solid enough though, she heard him groan in pain before he released her.
Triumphant, she spun around, connecting her right foot with his solar plexus, knocking the wind from him. Now on the attack she switched feet and with her left foot, launched him backward, sending him landing on his back. Regaining her balance before he did, she straddled his chest, her knees and feet trapping his arms. “Now. Tell me what I want to know or I’ll make sure you don’t see another day.”
He smiled, actually smiled at her. “I have told you who I am. Only your aunt can tell you more. I have no wish to harm you, my lady.” His eyes fell to half-mast. “I rather like you sitting on me like this.”
“Are you mad? I could kill you.” Instead, he bucked sideways, sending her toppling to the floor. Before she could rise, he had her back on the floor, straddled her, his body pressing her down.
“Now. Are you ready to listen?”
Looking up at him, she finally nodded. He moved, rising swiftly to his feet. Her body tingled from where he’d straddled her. She didn’t like, actually, she liked too much, how it felt to have his weight upon her.
She ignored his outstretched hand, stood and stepped away from him, her gaze darting toward the door.
Smiling, he shook his finger at her. “Do not even think it. I would have you before you took two steps. Again.”
Raising her chin, she nodded. She wasn’t afraid of him...her dream man. She was afraid of her feelings, the electricity, the urgent need to touch his body, run her fingers through his hair. Somehow she felt, no she knew, that this man would never hurt her, would rather die than cause her pain. How did she know that? “Fine. Tell me what you want and get out.”
Walking to the window, he gave her some space. “I am Coridian. Darius Coridian. My brother, Anton, is your betrothed. He sent me here to bring you home. To Centauri.”
“Anton? I don’t know any Anton and I’ve never heard of Centauri.”
“Allow me to finish. You are Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Dayanara, and heir to the throne of the planet Centauri in the system you know as Alpha Centauri, approximately four light years from here.
“You have been living here on Earth for the last twenty-four years. This was done to protect you from your enemies. Now, however, both of your parents are dead and you must return with me to claim your throne and marry my brother.”
“You’ve got the wrong girl.” She shoved off the bed, wrapping her arms about her.
“Princess.” He stood next to her, but did not touch her. “Audra. Look at me.”
She did and looked up into those dark, midnight blue eyes, framed with incredibly thick lashes...and felt an instant and unwelcome thrill of recognition. It was the same as in her dream. His proximity made her aware of nothing but him. The room seemed smaller, the air thinner. Her heart beat faster, her pulse raced.
“Let us go see your...mother. She will explain everything to your satisfaction.” His voice was gentle, coaxing, almost mesmerizing. “Then we must leave quickly. The trip home will be long, but not nearly long enough. You have many things to learn on the way.”
His words brought her back to reality. She walked over to her nightstand, where her phone used to be. “Give me back my phone. I’m calling the police.”
“I will give you the device, if you agree to contact Princess Margareta.”
Taking a deep breath, she decided she would find out if her dreams were correct or if they were nothing more than the musings of a sexually repressed female mind. Rolling her eyes at her thoughts, she reached for the phone he handed her.
“Fine, I’ll call Mom.” As she groped for the plug, she never took her eyes off him.
“I can’t, you broke the damn thing.” Dropping the phone to the floor, she said, “I’ll have to use my cell. You wait outside. I’ll let you know what she says, and then you can leave.”
“No,” he said as if he could read her mind. “I’ll wait right here. My mission is too important to play games. Call her. Now. I give you my oath as Coridian, Captain of the Dragonera and Lord Protector of the Throne of Centauri, I won’t move.”
“Fine.” She found her cell in her purse and dialed the number. “Mom’s going to think I’m crazy for letting you talk me into calling her.”
“We will see, Princess.” He smiled. “We will see.”
There was something about him, more than the fact he was a stranger in her bedroom that left her feeling uneasy. Fear that he might be telling the truth.
“Hello. Mom?” Audra remained facing Coridian, never turning her back to him.
Her mother answered. “Audra? This is early for you to be up on a Saturday, Sweetheart. I didn’t expect you to call today. Aren’t you coming for dinner tomorrow?”
“Mom, there’s a man here named Coridian who keeps calling me ‘Princess’ and says that you can explain.”
The sharp intake of breath heard through the receiver surprised Audra, telling her that indeed the man, Coridian, might be telling the truth. Her heart stalled. “Mom? What’s wrong? Talk to me.”
Her mother’s reply sounded strained, a little shaky. “What did you say his name was?”
“Coridian. He said his name is Coridian.”
“Oh, Lord,” her mother gasped. “Audra, bring that man with you and come home right now. I’ll explain when you get here. I love you, dear.” The phone receiver went dead. Her mother hung up on her!
She listened dumbly to the dial tone in her ear. Her mother never wanted anything done immediately. She always told her children to slow down and take it easy.
This was not good.
She hung up the phone and turned to Coridian. “She didn’t deny it. I’m supposed to bring you home immediately and we will get it straightened out.” She covered her face with her hands. “I just don’t believe it.”
“It is truly not as bad as you seem to think.” His voice was soft, almost a caress, and when she looked up at him he smiled. “Your mother is expecting us. I will leave you to dress and meet you out front in...” he looked down at something on his arm that might have been a watch, but unlike any watch she’d ever seen, “ten Earth minutes. Will that be sufficient?”
“Yeah, that’ll be fine.”
He nodded, bowed, and left the room.
Audra quickly changed into blue jeans, a red T-shirt that said ‘Women Rule the Universe!’ and old tennis shoes. Grabbing her keys, she threw open the bedroom door and promptly collided with a brick wall.
A warm, nice smelling, brick wall.
Coridian! He caught her in his arms before she could fall.
“Oh! I thought you’d be outside.” She righted herself and pulled away from him, but not before a surge of heat coursed through her. Funny, she’d thought her earlier reaction to him had been because of heat of the moment, the fight, the delayed stress. But now...now she knew it was none of those things, it was an attraction to him from deep within her being, as though every cell in her body recognized him. It frightened her almost as much as it thrilled her.
One corner of his mouth turned upward into a crooked smile. “This is outside. Outside your bedroom, you needed privacy, not a way to escape. I like your shirt.” There was laughter in his voice and appreciation in his eyes.
“Huh?” It was hard for her to look away from his gaze, it was so...hypnotic. She managed only by lowering her head and pretending to look for her keys. Licking her lips, she said, “Follow me.”
They went out to the parking lot to her car. She looked him up and down, noticing that he was not only tall, but had the broadest chest she’d ever seen. “You may be a tad cramped, but it gets me where I need to go.”
He looked at her tiny green car with its rust spots over the fenders and dimples in the doors. “This resembles a crouching amphibian. A frog, if my memory serves correctly. What is it? A toy?”
“No. It’s a Ford Fiesta, forty miles to the gallon.” She paused, putting her hands on her hips. “Hey, if you don’t like the transportation we can always cancel the trip.”
Grumbling, he opened her door for her. “Let’s go. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can be on our way home.”
“Yeah, right. The sooner we get there, the sooner you can be on your way home.”
What a super story, love it I give it 5 STARS. I like some more ot that.
What an enchanting world Cynthia has created! Almost like a fairy-tale, but with enough suspense to keep you turning pages! A keeper!
A fairy tale with a great twist!
Did you ever wonder if perhaps your life was a mistake--that you were actually a princess who'd been kidnapped as a baby? That someday your prince would arrive to take you back to the wealth and privilege you just know you were born to? Welcome to your story! Audra's about to get what's coming to her, if she can survive long enough. Ms. Woolf has created a delightful tale of hidden royalty, death threats, a flight through the galaxy and an earthling who isn't. A fun romp!