by Leigh Hall (BirthRight #1)
No matter how hard you fight it—destiny has a mind of its own!
Since foreseeing the imminent death of her parents six years earlier, Chloe has lived a simple, not-so-charmed-life away from her remaining Wiccan family.
No close friendships.
While struggling to bench-press more guilt than any nineteen-year-old ever should.
But fate intervenes and forces Chloe to return home. As if being an in-the-closet-Seer wasn’t bad enough, now she has to spend summer break with the snarky sister who hates her—and the magical birthright she was hell-bent on denying for all eternity.
Luckily, meeting Mr. Perfect takes the edge off her endless family drama. Hunter’s twenty-five, sometimes old-fashioned in a Jane Austen hero sort of way, and more delicious than molten-lava cake. But the more she tries to hide her family’s magical secrets from this ever-present stranger, the more quickly she realizes he’s hiding a few doozies of his own.
Will the lies and betrayal destroy their relationship before it really begins? Or will learning of their tethered future create an unbreakable bond neither can deny? Either way, their hearts will be forever entwined by destiny.
I’m jolted awake as someone grabs my arm.
I squint, trying to see who it is.
With his chiseled face only inches away, his minty breath grazes my cheek.
“There you are.” He caresses my forearm. “You had me freaked out for a second. I kept calling your name but you wouldn’t wake up.”
Crap. “Sorry about that.”
“Do you always talk in your sleep?” His head tilts to the left, eyes narrowing.
I push myself up to a sitting position, realizing everyone else had left the room. I look back to Hunter. “How long have you been here?” And how long was I out?
“Oh, only for a few minutes. I ran into your family in the hall and they told me to see if you were awake. I didn’t want to bother you, but you were having a bad dream again.” He clears his throat. “I couldn’t leave you like that.”
I run my fingers through my hair, just in case it’s sticking up somewhere. “Thanks for waking me.” I lean on my elbow, acclimating myself to my surroundings.
My insides shake, recalling my dream with such clarity.
“You okay? You still seem out of it.” With a gentle touch, he strokes my hand. It pulls at my heart like a tug-of-war.
It’s too much. Damn it. I can’t do this.
I need to change the subject—and fast. “Hey, I have a question for you…but you have to promise you won’t laugh at me for asking.” It’s time to find fault in this seemingly perfect stranger. That will snap me of this ridiculous infatuation.
“Hmm. I don’t know if I can make a promise like that. You do sort of make it easy to laugh at you, you know.” He smirks.
“Come on. Promise me?” I pretend to pout. Unsuccessfully, I’m sure.
“Okay, okay. Anything to avoid seeing that face again. I promise I won’t laugh.”
“Thank you.” Proud of myself, I sit up straight. “So I was wondering—and maybe I should pre-empt this first by saying—your answer doesn’t mean anything one way or the other. I’m only asking out of curiosity, so there’s no wrong answer.” Guilt creeps through my stomach before I even ask.
“Well, now you have me curious. Just ask already, woman.” He sits on the couch beside me.
I hunker down in my seat, preparing for his reaction. “Do you by chance know any famous poets?”
He leans back, squinting as he parts his lips. What on earth is going through his head?
Great. He must think I’m evil for asking something I know he’s clueless about.
His look of confusion turns into one of tenderness. His eyes widen. Face softens a bit.
What’s that about?
I can’t help but ask, “What? Did I say something wrong?”
He smiles, his right eyebrow rising.
“I carry your heart with me.
I carry it in my heart.
I am never without it, anywhere I go you go, my dear.
And whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling I fear.
No fate, for you are my fate, my sweet.
I want no world for beautiful you are my world, my true.
And it’s you who are whatever a moon has always meant.
And whatever a sun will always sing is you.
Here is the deepest secret nobody knows.
Here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life, which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide, and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart.
“I carry your heart.
I carry it in my heart.”
Hunter gazes into my eyes, the corner of his mouth twitching.
Where the hell did that come from?
My mouth hangs open in veneration.
I have no words. Though what words could I possibly speak anyway?
He looks amused, grinning like the fool who just told a hilarious joke. “Oh, I’m sorry. You asked if I know any famous poets. My bad. I didn’t answer you properly. E. E. Cummings. There. Will that suffice, Miss Chloe?”
I manage to find my voice after the initial shock wears off. “Ah, yeah. That will more than suffice.” My cheeks enflame. “Um, mind if I ask where you picked up poetry?”
“Oh, a little here…a little there.” He won’t wipe the stupid grin off his face.
“Okay…you can stop gloating anytime now.” I look up, shaking my head. Of course, I would have to look like a fool. Again.