When Doctor Jayla Tralukan fails to cure a child, she is betrayed by her best friend as being the daughter of the couple burnt at the stake twenty-six years ago. A couple accused of magic, shapeshifting, and witchcraft, and killing the former queen.
The people of Djambadora are superstitious and dwell in fear of magic and shapeshifters. When the gossip flies that she is the daughter of the couple who killed the queen, they ready a pyre to give her the same fate.
All Jayla wants is to defend herself, to stand trial. But the gods and her grandfather have something else in store for her.
“The goddess told me I would find you here.”
The deep male voice coming from behind startled her. Jayla swung around to face a tall man. He had raven-black hair, like her, except his was curly with a silver streak down the side. It fell in waves to his shoulders, and curly tendrils framed his face giving him a boyish look. His eyes were bright green, and his form-fitting tunic and tights left nothing to the imagination. This was no ordinary man. He was a sculpture of a god come to life.
“Who are you?” she asked softly.
“I am Quri Twigona, Chief Advisor to Lord Drakan, the governor of our colony. I need to take you to meet with him and Lady Zonari.”
Jayla frowned. “Is this the Celestial Sanctuary?”
“Yes. You have come to the right place.”
Oh, but this man was hotter than the biggest fire pyre. Never in her life had she met such a male, especially one who set her blood boiling. All this time, she had avoided relationships. Occasionally, she had dated a man, but because of her powers and shifting abilities, she had never dared take it any further than just the occasional date. Mama had warned her about getting too deeply involved with a mortal human. And she had listened, resigning herself to growing old alone. This man was no ordinary human. Was he a bird shifter? He had to be. The goddess had told her the sanctuary was only visible to the shifters.
“Please, come with me?” He held out his hand.
Hesitantly, Jayla placed her hand in his. Currents shot up through her veins, to her armpit, straight to her heart. What strange occurrence was this?
He led her through cobbled streets lined with cute cottages to a much larger home built on an elevation that overlooked the village. It had the appearance of a palace.
“All new arrivals have to appear before our governor. You are the first in many years,” Quri told her.
Still holding her hand, Quri led her up marble steps to a set of ornate wooden doors. The beautiful carvings on them took her breath away.
Maybe she had burnt on the pyre…this was the afterlife. She now dwelt in the Fields of Grace, or…perhaps it was all a hallucination.
A guard opened the doors, and they walked into an out-of-this-world entrance hall. The floor was highly polished white marble, the walls made up of matching white marble blocks. Gold vases stood everywhere, filled with fragrant white and pink sprays of blossoms, their heady scent drifting on the air. Paintings with gilded frames adorned the walls.
“Come. Lord Drakan and Lady Zonari are awaiting us in their quarters.”
Quri tugged on her hand again, sending electrical impulses straight up her arm and to her heart.
“What is your name? The goddess did not tell me. All she said was to expect a new arrival,” Quri asked.
Jayla looked up at him, into those brilliant green depths. Her heart fluttered. “Jayla of the House of Tralukan.” Was it her imagination, or did something flash across his green irises? A reaction to her name… How strange.