Victoria Saccenti

Only the quality of the soul matters. I see yours, and it’s perfect.

Paranormal

Titanian’s Phoenix – Titanian Chronicles

She’s the mate he never expected. And she has powers she never asked for…

Maya Brown is New York tough. She doesn’t believe in magic—until she’s kidnapped along with her eccentric godmother, Anna. By elves.

Freed by a strange power, and reeling from bizarre revelations about her heritage, Maya follows Anna’s plea to seek out a man named Soren at—of all things—a magical bar. Maya doesn’t believe in love at first sight, either, but when she encounters seven-plus feet of muscle and mood-changing eyes, her body does a full-on reset.

Nothing shakes up Soren Westerberg, Titanian Enforcer assigned to NYC. Until a beautiful human woman with golden skin and lost brown eyes walks into a bar. In one trembling instant he knows that she’s his mate—who promptly faints away in his arms.

Their bond is instant, gloriously intense, and a miracle. Soren’s life scroll never foretold a mate, but now that he has her, he’ll protect her at all costs. Because she’s not just his—she’s an extraordinary being coming into her power. And ready or not, that makes her a target of his cruelest enemy.

 

Titanian’s Phoenix Book Trailer

 

EXCERPT:

PROLOGUE

Lord Gustaf Westerberg had reached the edge of his patience. Muttering a string of invectives under his breath, he lowered his dense ebony eyebrows at his reflection. Several times, he’d been tempted to kick the massive gilded mirror before him in utter frustration. His broad fingertips made it nearly impossible to fasten the tiny buttons of his formal shirt and his crisp white vest. Finally, he finished with the last button and flexed his fingers, encouraging blood flow. He pulled a linen handkerchief from the pocket of his slacks and wiped his damp forehead dry.

With a bit more composure, he turned to pick up the oblong black velvet box on his dresser. He selected the essential choice for tonight’s event: his silver-and-sapphire cuff links. The stunning heirlooms had belonged to his father, Lord Troels, who in turn had received the pair from his father long centuries ago. Family tradition dictated that the ancient set, fashioned with the Titanian symbol, the wide T and Celtic ribbon wrapped around the middle, should be passed down through the ages from one Titanian leader to the next.

He linked the cuffs and dropped his hands to his sides. A soft movement behind him got his attention. Beatrix had entered the master chamber. Draped on her right wrist was his bow tie. A wooden hanger with his tailcoat jacket dangled from her left hand.

“I detest these functions.” He smiled, contradicting his words. “But they’re all worth it just to see you dressed like a goddess, my love. Älskling, you are a vision.”

Indeed, she was. Her gossamer gown embroidered with silver thread, tiny sapphires, and diamonds encased her beautiful lithe body within a shimmering cloud. The high neckline demurely covered her phoenix mate mark from strangers’ eyes. The crimson bird, poised for flight, was private, his to enjoy and love, no one else’s. She piled her fire-red hair—a nod to her Scottish ancestry—in a high twist anchored with sapphire-and-silver combs. He had to resist the temptation to pull that silky cascade down and run his fingers through it as he inhaled its delicious scent.

“And you are a such a charmer,” Beatrix responded, a light blush covering her cheeks. She hooked the hanger on the mahogany valet stand. With a soft swish of skirts, she stood next to Gustav.

“Will you do the honors?” he murmured.

“Always. Can’t let you receive our guests with a crooked tie.”

“It’s the twenty-first century. By now, all of us should’ve learned to relax, be less stuffy. I can say the identical ancient formalities and pleasantries wearing a T-shirt and jeans.”

Beatrix laughed, a musical trill that delighted his heart. “Ah, yes. Except Ambassador Devon is a stick-in-the-mud representative whose ego needs to be massaged with as much pomp and circumstance as he can get.” She lifted the tips of his collar, slid the tie in place, and made a bow with unerring accuracy. “There, you’re perfect.”

She returned to the valet stand, held up the jacket, and helped him slide his arms through.

“How do I look?”

“Be still my heart.” She fluttered her eyelids. Her dark blue irises sparkled above her perfect straight nose. “I’ll explain in detail when the banquet is over.”

He turned to her. “That’s it. I’m canceling dinner and sending everyone home with a doggie bag.”

“No, sir.” Laughing, she grasped him by his wide shoulders and, despite the height difference of a foot and half between them, turned him around with ease.

“You’re a tough customer,” he sighed, opening the heavy paneled door. “After you, my lady.” He stood aside, allowing Beatrix to exit their chamber first.

Ornate bronze sconces, spaced every ten feet, illuminated the arched corridor outside their door. Wrought iron railings lined the open spaces under each arch and the elegant round staircase that led downstairs. The muted sounds of violins playing in the main level and soft conversation streamed upstairs. Despite the raging winter storm outside, his sturdy windows safeguarded the sophisticated environment, ideal for negotiations and treaties.

Utterly pleased, Gustaf offered his arm to Beatrix.

She flicked her finger at him. “Not yet. The ambassador is in the antechamber to your office.”

“Oh?”

“Devon said he had some important matters to discuss before supper, so I ushered him in there.”

Frowning, he grasped her hand. “The situation with Roald and his mate was happily resolved. I haven’t heard a peep from Soren or Brant in New York. I wonder… Maybe he’s aware of the recent unexplained deaths. However, we’ve kept a tight lid on that matter. If he knows, it means someone in the inner circle leaked the information.”

Beatrix eyed him intently. “That’s why I brought him to the antechamber.”

“Let’s go find out.”

She resisted his tug. “Do you think I should go in with you?”

“Absolutely.”

With Beatrix in tow, Gustaf opened the door to the antechamber and scanned the room. The ambassador was nowhere to be seen. Giving his wife a worried side-glance, he opened the door to his office.

The single bouillotte lamp on his mahogany desktop illuminated the circumference around its base. Otherwise, the rest of his office was basically dark.

Holding his long white hair away from his eyes, the ambassador bent over Gustaf’s desk, intently studying a Titanian family scroll. When he heard Gustaf and Beatrix enter, he jerked up his head.

“Riveting read, isn’t it? May I help you find anything…Ambassador?” Gustaf couldn’t suppress the twinge of sarcasm in his voice.

Straightening, Ambassador Devon flicked his hair over his shoulder, revealing a beet-red pointy ear. He offered an apologetic look at Gustaf as he released the ends of the scroll. The edges curved up, wanting to return to their original rolled position.

Gustaf huffed softly. Beatrix squeezed his hand. Her discreet warning to hold his temper reached home. After centuries together, Beatrix knew when he seethed with anger. What the hell was the ambassador doing searching around the Titanian family’s most intimate records?

“Well, I… You see, uh… Titanian scrolls are legendary. Items of great interest for those of us who’ve never seen one.” Color tinged the ambassador’s usually pale skin. “I saw this one just over there.” He pointed at Gustaf’s tall mahogany cabinet and shrugged. “And couldn’t resist the temptation. It’s quite beautiful, with all the gilded lettering and mysterious symbols. I suppose you know what everything means.”

The ambassador was an unflappable minister. He must’ve honed deceit and subterfuge to a fine art through long years of service to his race. Despite all that work, the lie still glared in the elf’s expression, and that was the problem. Gustaf’s stomach churned with impotence. He couldn’t call him on it without creating all sorts of alliance debacles, scandals that would rip apart relationships.

Beatrix squeezed his hand again. He took a deep breath and calmed his fury. He went around the desk, picked up the scroll with the tips of his fingers, and moved to the ornate cabinet where the rest of the family’s ancient scrolls were stored. With slow and deliberate gestures, he opened a drawer, tucked the scroll inside, and slammed it shut. The message to the ambassador was clear: I know you snooped and went through my belongings without my consent.

“I understand you want to discuss certain issues, Ambassador.”

Ambassador Devon’s face grew redder than his ears. “I…ah. Perhaps after supper is best.” With that, the elf slipped around Gustaf and Beatrix and crossed the antechamber. Instead of waiting for his hosts, he disappeared into the hallway.

Gustaf blew out his cheeks. “What is he up to, älskling? Doesn’t he understand I could kick his uppity ass out of my house? I’m so angry, I could pull all that stringy white hair out of his scalp. That was a complete breach of etiquette.”

“Yes.” She nodded. “But think of the diplomatic consequences before acting. Could you tell which scroll he was reading?”

“Hmmm… I’m almost certain he was reading the scroll that follows Soren’s and maybe part of Hagen’s path. Son of a bitch. He’s given me itchy ants all over my body.”

“I don’t like it either. We need to study the scroll. There’s something in Soren’s path he wanted to learn.”

“Evidently, but what?” Gustaf rubbed his chin. “And why was he snooping? He could’ve asked. Elves are supposed to be allies, not spies.”

Beatrix kissed his hand. “Supper and guests first. When they’re gone, we’ll come back and check what’s in it. It’s possible a new symbol appeared. Sound good?”

“Yes, my love.”

“Remember, Soren isn’t alone in New York. Brant is with him. They watch each other’s backs.”

“Thanks for reminding me. That makes me feel a little better.” He offered Beatrix his arm, feigning a calm he didn’t feel at all. He wouldn’t stop worrying until that bastard left the ancestral home and he could check every detail in Soren’s scroll.

 

CHAPTER ONE

The F train arrived at the Jackson Heights platform, stopped with a screeching sound of metal grinding metal, and opened its doors. Maya fought with the aggressive sea of humanity as half pushed in while the other half shoved out. She rode the outbound wave and dashed across the platform to the E train before it pulled out on her. Missing her connection meant she’d have to wait thirty to forty minutes for the next train.

A kind soul saw her struggle. He stuck his foot between the closing doors, forcing them to retract with an angry jump. Maya slipped in, followed closely by a burly man who must have also noticed the rare opportunity and took it. She sent a grateful glance at the young man. He nodded in quick acknowledgment and returned to his private space of headphones and twice-folded newspaper.

One more stop and she was a few blocks from home. Counting the minutes, she hung on to the pole as the car lurched side to side. Maya was exhausted and hungry. Her tummy groaned, emphasizing the sensation of emptiness. If she hurried, she could make it to JoJu before it closed. An image of the scrumptious Hot Chick sandwich—Joju’s most popular menu item—with extra garlic mayo formed in her mind. Her mouth salivated, anticipating the first crunchy bite with the ensuing explosion of flavor.

Her thoughts shifted to her sweet godmother, Anna, the angel who’d rescued her with unconditional love and showed her a new world existed beyond Chandler.

When Maya came to New York from Oklahoma at the age of fourteen, she’d never heard of Vietnamese food. Chinese was the closest thing to Asian cuisine most Chandler residents knew. The scant offerings available in nearby Oklahoma City weren’t as good or as authentic tasting—she learned that later with Anna.

Dear, sweet Anna. In the midst of a tragedy, she’d been a true godsend, the soothing presence Maya had needed when her parents perished in a freak accident. They’d gone hiking to Bell Cow Lake. When they didn’t return late that night, Maya reported them missing. Their bodies were recovered floating on the water three days later. Her parents were both excellent swimmers, so the police discounted drowning. Martha and John Brown were a quiet couple. They had no enemies. Folks knew how much they loved each other. Therefore, a crime of passion was also discarded. Plus, there were no signs of violence or trauma on their bodies. The authorities did discover a superficial round black mark on their right temples, which bewildered everyone. When the autopsy couldn’t link their demise to anything specific, the district attorney stopped investigating and the constant traffic in and out of her home ended. The reckoning silence of tragedy arrived.

That’s when Anna knocked on her door.

Maya had a vague, almost faded memory of the short, dark-haired lady. Anna’s kind brown eyes melted Maya’s initial shyness. And later, when Anna showed Maya photos of her baptism, several baby pictures, party images with her parents while laughing and drinking beer, her reticence disappeared and the bond was formed. Anna opened her affectionate godmother’s arms to grieving Maya and allowed her to cry her young heart out. Once the funeral was over, Anna took Maya to the shiny metropolis in the east.

New York was a whirlwind of excitement, eye-opening and wild. Maya went everywhere, visited, shopped, tasted, and, most importantly, learned. The dynamic diversity the city offered widened her horizons to possibilities she’d never before entertained. Little by little, an urban lady replaced the naïve country teen.

The subway car wobbled side to side on the track as it hit a curve and jerked. She snapped to the present, tightening her grip on the storyboard case before it flew across the floor. Everyone in the ad agency had toiled day and night to prepare for next week’s presentation. They’d shoot her if she lost or damaged it. Tonight, she had to look over the VP’s notes, edit the three graphics he’d requested, and the project was ready for presentation.

The Elmhurst station’s sign came into view; the train slowed and stopped. Its doors opened with a pneumatic swish, and Maya bolted out.

As she turned to the right-hand stairs, she caught a glimpse of the burly man who’d rushed behind her at the Jackson Heights station. She watched him for a second. When he exited to the left, she forgot about him as she ran up the stairs.

Outside, most of the shops along Broadway had closed or were in the process of lowering their metal shutters. She walked quickly, zigzagging between foot traffic. She crossed the corners of Elmhurst and Whitney, and then she saw it, JoJu’s flashing neon sign, a lime-green oasis promising exquisite nourishment to the starved. She was going to make it.

As Maya entered the brightly lit establishment, Sam ignored the customers trying to get their last-minute orders in and waved at her. “Hi, missy. You good. Enough time before closing. Same ol’ same ol’, Hot Chick, ya?”

“Mmm-hmm.” She held up a thumb, glancing at the delicious-looking food photos hanging on the walls. The scent of garlic and spices wafted in the air. Her tummy danced with happiness. Again, her mouth watered.

“I make one for you and one for auntie?” Sam’s slanted eyes crinkled with humor.

Maya thought for a moment. Should I call Anna and ask? What if she ate already? Nah. If Anna doesn’t want it, she’ll have the sandwich for lunch tomorrow.

“Two, please.”

“Ten minutes. Spicy?”

“Green bomb.” She giggled. “You know us. We love spicy.”

“Okay, missy. Right away.”

At this hour, most customers came to JoJu for takeout, and a short line had formed. She got out of their way, pulled out a metal chair from an empty table, and sat. Exactly ten minutes later, Sam came out holding a large white paper bag. She paid him, sent her regards to his wife, Joon, and left.

The cool early-April breeze brushed her skin. She took a deep breath, ignoring the additional funky smells city living spread in the air, and walked on. Holding on to her precious paper bag, she crossed Dongan Avenue, made it to the corner, and stopped dead. From shoulder to shoulder, a weird prickle ran across her back.

Her street-tuned senses went on full alert.

She blinked and listened, seeking any sounds out of the ordinary.

Nothing.

A moment passed, and so did the sensation.

Releasing a deep breath, she shook her shoulders to relax the tension and turned left on St. James.

Anna called these sensations warnings from the universe. On occasion, she claimed magical beings existed alongside mankind, except human sight was normally blind to that world. It would take a life-changing event, something really critical, close to death, to lift the barrier. Maya would laugh, amused by her godmother’s eccentric ideas and vivid imagination.

Odd. She wasn’t laughing now,

Maya crossed 88th Street. Halfway up the block, the prickle returned. Did she hear…footfalls? This time, she turned around. The sidewalk was empty. She scanned the area. No fleeting shadows. No movement. Even the bushes lining the fronts of the buildings were absolutely still.

Only a distant siren shattered the silence.

The tiny hairs on her arms stood.

She turned on the tips of her toes and broke into a jog as she searched inside the pocket of her slacks for her keys, a habit Anna had ingrained in her. “Keep your keys close. Always. They open doors quickly. In a pinch, they’re weapons.” She sped into the empty lobby of her building. The door swung shut behind her as she fumbled with her purse, storyboard case, and paper bag until she got her phone out. If a stranger appeared, she’d dial 911.

Panting she waited. No one showed. The walkway remained empty. A tenant shuffled behind her with a loaded laundry basket in his arms, mumbled a greeting, and turned into the laundry room.

The waning heat of the sandwiches got her moving. She rode the elevator alone, walked along the pale-yellow hallway—its air saturated with cooking smells—and entered their apartment.

“I’m home,” she called out, turning on the light switch. “Anna?”

Strange, the TV was off, and other than a dim light coming from Anna’s bedroom, the apartment was dark. Was she asleep?

“Wake up, sleepyhead. Look what I brought us. JoJu was open.” Maya swept past the small dining-living room space, dropped the storyboard case on the table, and entered the kitchen. She placed her precious JoJu’s bag on the countertop and flipped on a light, then opened the refrigerator to pull out a bottle of water.

Out of nowhere, a huge hand muffled her nose and mouth. As she fought to get free and tried to scream, a sharp needle stung her neck.

Countless black pinpoints blotted out her vision.

The bottle slipped out of her hand and hit the floor…

 

 

 

 

Her dark irises flamed with a red hue. The phoenix was rising. The majestic bird knew what was necessary.

— Soren Westerberg

Beloved Titanian – Titanian Chronicles

He’s a riddle I can’t solve…until one night rips away the veil.

I always felt there was something peculiar about Roald Trenton, that behind his blindness he saw me better than I saw myself. When a frightening creature, a being out of a horror movie attacks me, a glowing silvery defender comes to my rescue, sweeping me away to safety, reaching inside me and pulling the poison from my body. Setting fire to my desires, he ignites a connection to a world I knew nothing about…until now.

Expect demons, shifters and the fae in this exciting start of the Titanian Chronicles.

“The man I dream about is that, a fantasy, a figment, someone I made up. He ain’t real.”

— Regina Karallas

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