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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Juniper's Princess by Chelsea O'Neal

Juniper's Princess 
Debut book by Chelsea O'Neal

Daniah is different, she always has been and now her dreams and visions of the future are increasing, she knows her life is changing. She just doesn't know by how much...
Jaiden is different, but he knows why and he knows his responsibilities. He must find the saviour of his race, the angel human half-breeds who are fighting a war for humanity's souls. If he can't convince Daniah she is more than just a little different - she is the princess of their people - they are all going to die.
Unfortunately Daniah doesn't have many reasons to trust Jaiden, especially when he is caught in a web of his own lies.
In a world where half-breed angels walk among us, fighting an evil for our souls, Daniah must find the strength to become the princess we all need.

Chelsea O'Neal has a unique voice in storytelling, threading the characters lives together intricately to give us a complex web of good versus evil in a world descending into chaos...

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Chapter 1 Daniah
~Present Day Fall 2026~

““Your eleven forty-five is here, Dani,”” Cassie says as she walks in to the back room and hands me a clipboard.
““Thanks Cass, did you offer refreshments?”” I ask, as I finish my coffee. She nods that she did. ““I’’ll be right out.””
““His name is Jaiden,”” Cassie calls, as she walks back to the reception desk.

As I rinse out my coffee mug and place it on a towel to dry I decide that I did a smart thing hiring Cass. Cassie has been my friend for a while now, she is taking night classes for Cosmetology, and if she wants, I will have her work here in my extra chair when she is done. She is very efficient and friendly; she also helps me to be able to rest. I think about all the long years that I had been working mostly by myself. Most days I didn’’t even get lunch I was so busy. Rachel has been working here as a nail technician for about four years, and she helps but she is pretty busy herself. Cassie, Rachel and I are good together, and we try to go out outside of work as often as possible.

Lately I have been so tired, more exhausted, like I have been running a marathon all night. I’’ve been having these strange dreams and they keep my brain working so I can’’t rest. I see random people in the dreams and I always feel like there is something I need to do; I just can’’t reach them or figure out what it is. I push the dreams out of my mind as I walk to the front desk, I think of all the appointments I have today. I’’m anxious about when I will be able to go home; maybe I’’ll be able to get to sleep early. I love my job, but today I want to head home and kick up my feet and rest. Luckily I only have one morning appointment and four in the afternoon. Rachel was here most of the morning and she handled all the extra appointments.

““Jaiden,”” Cassie calls out as I reach the front, holding the clipboard that Cass handed me in the back room; I haven’’t even looked at it yet. I look down at the information on the paper all clients fill out. Jaiden Storm it says, age blank, emergency contact blank, address says Juniper only. Huh, I think to myself, mysterious, and a bit annoying.
““That’’s me,”” a deep voice booms from the reception area.
I look up and almost forget to breathe. He is gorgeous. Rachel is going to be mad she missed this appointment.

Jaiden is tall probably six feet two inches. He looks to be around thirty years old. He has on black converse shoes, dark blue jeans and a dark green T-shirt with black trim around the neck and arms; from what I can see through the stretch in the material he is built. As my gaze travels up to his face his eyes lock on mine, and I feel slightly dizzy. He has the greenest eyes I have ever seen, like bright, sparkling emeralds. I could probably stare at them forever. I tear my eyes from his to look at his hair, which is dark, wavy and almost to his shoulders. He has a neatly trimmed doorknocker beard, and full lips that are slightly turned up into a knowing smirk. He seems to have a dark way about him, he moves like he knows he is cute, so I try to ignore it. I wipe all emotion from my face take a deep breath and introduce myself.

““Hello, my name is Dani and I will be working with you today.”” I hold out my hand for a handshake, seeing Cassie’’s mouth drop out of the corner of my eye.
He grasps my hand but instead of a handshake he turns my hand, brings it to his mouth and kisses the back while looking up at me through his lashes. ““It’’s a pleasure,”” he purrs.
Cassie gasps; I drop his hand and say only, ““follow me.””
““Anywhere, babe,”” Jaiden replies with a smile and a cocky wink before I can turn around.

I turn my back and head to the first room off the front, managing not to stomp down the hall. I hate being called babe. I open the door and he swaggers in like he doesn’’t have a care in the world. I motion to the two chairs; he lounges in one, kicking his feet out and leaning back. I close the door and sit on the edge of the other chair with my back straight opposite him.
I clear my throat as I glance back at the clipboard then say, ““so you are here for a chest wax?”” I guess I get to look under that shirt after all.
““Yes, I believe I am,”” he answers as he glances down at my chest with a grin on his face.
““Have you had your chest waxed before?”” I ask, ignoring his look.
 ““No, have you?”” I give him one of my best are-you-kidding disgusted looks and instead
reply, ““have you had any part of your body waxed before?””
 He raises his eyebrows and I swear he is going to say something inappropriate so I narrow my eyes and he answers, ““no.””
 ““Okay, well just to give you another option, waxing is a bit painful, have
you considered shaving?”” I ask as I do with all my waxing clients whom haven’’t done this before.
He smiles at me like he is keeping a secret. ““Someone suggested I do this, so I decided that I will.””
““I understand, but it isn’’t like ripping a band aid off, your chest is a big area, it will probably hurt.””
““I imagine it will probably sting, but I can handle it,”” he replies with a bit of disdain, acting like a tough guy.

At this point I nod my acceptance and explain what will happen and each step. I inform him of the upkeep, what to do when he gets home, and the cost. 

Then I ask, ““would you like to wax anything else while you are here today, maybe shape your eyebrows?”” I look him directly in the eye and smile. A flash of surprise crosses his features. 
““Are you suggesting something?”” he asks, with a half laugh. “
“Nope, just doing my job.”” 
““Sure, let’’s also do the eyebrows,”” Jaiden says, shrugging. ““Why not?”” 
““Okay well, we will start with your chest wax and after that I will shape your eyebrows; this way your skin can calm a bit before you replace your shirt.”” I stand up and walk to the counter where my supplies are and set down the clipboard. ““So if you will remove your shirt and lay down on the table there,”” I tell him, gesturing to the table that looks more like a lounge chair completely reclined, as I go over his form and check my supplies. I make sure he filled out the medical part of the form completely and nothing is going to interfere with the wax.

““Not one to dawdle, are you, babe?”” Jaiden asks with his deep voice. He’’s standing close behind me next to the table.
““My name is Dani, and don’’t……”” I cut off as I turn around, my face at perfect chest level, and see him without his shirt.

Wow is all I can think, crap he is more than gorgeous. He has some hair on his chest but he isn’’t excessively hairy. Calm down, I tell myself, breathe Dani.
““And don’’t...?”” he asks, smiling up at me as he sits on the table then swings his legs up and lies down.
““Huh?”” I reply, completely forgetting what I was doing. He is ripped. His abs are perfectly sculpted and his skin looks so smooth I want to run my hands over him. His skin is tanned and looks tight, and every time he moves his muscles flex. How am I going to be able to do this, I wonder.
““Wax? That is the first step, right?”” Jaiden says, winking at me and breaking me out of my thoughts.

Holy crow! What just happened? Get a grip Dani. I take a deep breath and walk over to the wax; well I guess I do get to run my hands over him. How embarrassing! I can feel myself flushing; this is going to be a long appointment!

““Okay,”” I say as I clear my throat, ““yes, wax is the first step. Are you ready?”” I ask as I pick up a stick to dip in the wax, trying to avoid eye contact.
““Ready for you,”” he says; the double meaning is loud and clear.
It might be my imagination so pushing that to the back of my mind, I start to apply the wax to his chest, working my way from center out at his collar bone.
““That’’s warm,”” he says as he watches my every move. “
“Oh yeah, it is warm but it will cool down and as it does the wax attaches to the hair, then the hair comes out when I pull,”” I explain, trying to keep my mind on the wax and not his gorgeous body.
““Are you pulling this off all at once?”” he asks, a bit of anxiety in his voice. I had applied a space covered in wax the size of a textbook.
““No, I will pull it off in strips,”” I answer with a bit of a laugh. I hold up a wax strip to show him how big. He’’s not so tough now is he I think to myself. Smiling, I look at his face.
““Did you just laugh at me?””
““Oh no, sorry,”” I say, flushing as I meet his eyes. ““You ready?”” I ask as I lay down the strip on top of the wax.
““Yes,”” he replies, slowly eyeing me.

I place the strip across his chest and rub over the strip to make sure the wax adheres to the strip. I press the heel of my hand on his skin to hold it taut as I grip the strip to pull and as my hand touches the skin I feel something like a bolt of electricity shoot up my arm. I see a vivid picture of a woman’’s face I have never seen before in my mind. I blink then look up at Jaiden in surprise as he looks at me in astonishment. Slowly he starts to smile.
““Your hands are cold, babe,”” he says with a smug smile.

I scowl at him as I grip the strip and rip it off quickly. I see his eyes widen and even though he doesn’’t have much hair on his chest, I’’m sure it hurt. He wasn’’t expecting anything like that. I place the strip back down in the wax next to where I just pulled it off, rub then rip again. I do this three more times quickly, Jaiden flinching each time, but not saying a word. On anyone else I normally would place my hand on the skin to cool the sting in between each pull. Instead I do the whole section and then rest my hands against his chest. It may be petty but it probably was a bit more painful than it should have been. When I look up at Jaiden he has tears brimming in his eyes. He shouldn’’t have called me babe.

I smile at him and ask, ““are my hands still cold?
He grimaces, ““nope, I really didn’’t think it would hurt that much.”” He looks down at his chest. ““Damn bet, well, we can’’t leave it like this can we?”” he asks, looking like he really wants to stop.
““I wouldn’’t if it was me, but if you promise not to call me babe I will try to be gentler,”” I reason with a smug smile.
He looks at me in shock. ““You made it hurt more didn’’t you?”” ““Maybe.”” ““Deal. I won’’t call you babe, but can I call you beautiful?”” ““What?”” I glance over, narrowing my eyes at his smirk. Now it is my turn
to be shocked. ““Sorry,”” he amends with a solemn look. ““I will be good, just try not to
cause me undue pain, please.”” I give him one last look, and then go about putting more wax on his chest
and pulling off the strips then pressing to ease the pain this time. ““Bet, huh?”” I ask.

He shrugs his shoulders; he seems like he is in less pain this time and watches me the whole time. As I move down to his abs, I explain that if he flexes his muscles it will pull the skin taut and it would probably hurt less. He does as I instruct without saying anything. I finish with the wax and inspect his chest by getting down on eye level with it to make sure I removed all the hair, catching a few I had missed. Then I grab my waxy residue remover, a bottle of oil, and absently start rubbing his skin to remove any leftover wax. To make sure there is no wax left on him so his clothes won’’t stick to his skin, I start at the top of his chest and work my way down to his abs. As I get to where I had him tuck a towel in his jeans at his waist I slide my hand under the edge of the towel, not more than a half inch. Jaiden then sucks in a breath and grabs my wrists.

Startled, I look up at him and notice he has a very strange look on his face. He is looking at my hands; apparently when they slipped under the towel at the waistband of his jeans he thought something of it. He glances up to my face, I blush and I quickly try to pull my hands away to get a towel to wipe my hands and his chest off. He won’’t let my hands go, he continues to stare at me. Slowly his face softens and he smiles.

I flush again, on principle. I wasn’’t trying to feel him up, but now I am embarrassed.
““I, ah……”” I can’’t figure out what to say. He lets go and I quickly get a towel, and clear my throat.
““Well, we are done, if you want to go ahead and finish wiping the wax remover off of your chest, then you can put your shirt on and Cass can help you at the front.”” I hold the towel out to him so that he can wipe off the oil. I half turn to head out the door when he finally talks.
““What about my eyebrows?””
““Damn.”” I suck in a breath and cover my mouth with my hand. What is wrong with me today? I am not acting professional and suddenly I am so tired. I close my eyes and slowly turn to face him. I open my eyes to meet Jaiden’’s and sigh. ““I’’m sorry,”” I apologize, and look down. ““I’’m not usually this rude.””
““Dani,”” he says and waits for me to look up. ““I’’m sorry as well, I didn’’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable. It is my fault.”” He sits up and reaches out to take the towel from me.
““Oh no, it’’s okay, I……”” I stumble over my words. I walk over to him and put my hand on his shoulder and push him back. ““I will finish this,”” I say as I motion to his chest. ““Please lay back and we will be done in no time,”” I encourage him.

Taking a breath to steady myself, I wait for him to lean back. I wipe all the oil away from his chest and then grab the aloe to cool his skin.
““This is aloe; it will help to cool your skin. I know it probably burns a bit,”” I explain as I squeeze some on to my palm, talking to keep myself thinking about the task at hand.
““Burns! I feel like my chest is on fire!”” he scowls at me. ““Oh!”” he exclaims as I start to rub in the aloe, ““that feels wonderful.”” He lets out a breath and closes his eyes.

I look over his face while I rub the aloe on to his skin. With his face relaxed, he looks younger than I initially thought. Being careful not to rub too close to his waistband I follow all the lines of his abs and chest, marveling at his masculine beauty. I can’’t believe that this gorgeous man is laying here and I am rubbing his chest. I look up to see him watching me, not my hands but my face, and I flush again.
““How does it feel?”” Jaiden asks, trying to act serious but failing.
““Huh?”” I ask stupidly, pulling my hands away from him and wiping the excess off onto a towel.
““I was told that after you wax it feels really smooth, does it?””
 ““Um, yeah it does.”” I walk over to the wax to do his eyebrows. 

I dip the small stick in and as I look over to bring it over to his face, he is looking directly up at me with those bright green eyes. I look down into his face and it feels like we are locked together in this gaze and I can’’t break it.
““You, you have to close your eyes, so I don’’t get wax on your eyelashes,”” I tell him. It is like a magnetic pull, I can’’t look away.
““But you are beautiful, I like looking at you.””
““Oh, ah...”” I mumble and clear my throat. ““Please,”” I whisper. 

I am starting to see pictures of faces in my mind while trying to pull my eyes from his, a face of a woman becoming suddenly clear in my mind. The same woman from earlier; she has blond hair and blue eyes.
He smiles and closes his eyes. When the contact is broken I feel like I can barely stand, my knees are weak and I have to put my hand on the table to steady myself. What the heck?
There is something about this man that is affecting me, I feel like there is some sort of connection between us. Like I should know who he is, or why I feel so affected. He is very cute, he has a gorgeous body, he’’s nice though a little sarcastic. He has made comments about me being pretty, but he is most likely joking, he is way out of my league. That all very well may add to it, but I need to get a grip.

I take a deep breath, steadying myself, clearing my head and dip the stick in to the wax. I wax both his eyebrows, clean the wax off and rub in the aloe. It is much easier to focus when he has his eyes closed, even if they are great to look at. When I finish with his brows, I grab a mirror and hold it over his face.

““OK, I’’m done, how do they look?”” I ask.
He opens his eyes slowly and instead of looking straight up at the mirror his eyes focus on me.
““I would be honored if you would join me for dinner tonight,”” he says as our gazes lock again.

What is going on? There is a half-naked gorgeous man laying here asking me out and no man ever asks me out. Looking at his eyes I feel like there is a strange pull coming from him again, like even if I wanted to walk away from him, I instead walk toward him. This is so strange and I can’’t remember what I’’m supposed to be doing. I just want to keep staring into his eyes. The room starts to disappear around me, I can’’t remember where I am, was I supposed to say something? I swallow, my knees feel weak again, all I can see is Jaiden’’s face, all I want is to reach out and touch his cheek. I feel my hand moving as if it has a mind of its own, and watch as my hand lands on his cheek.

““Um...”” is the only response I can think of. Staring into his eyes, I lean against the table for fear that I will fall.

Jaiden takes the mirror from me without even glancing at his reflection, and puts it down on the table as he sits up. My hand falls to my side, and I am frozen in place, I can’’t even blink. After he sits up he is very close to my face. He shifts so that I am standing in between his legs.

““Ah...”” Why can’’t I make a coherent sentence, what was the question anyway? What am I supposed to be doing?
““Dani,”” Jaiden begins, ““would you do me the honor of joining me for dinner?”” 

Can he read my mind? I wonder to myself and as I’’m still staring at him he raises one eyebrow as if to say your answer should be yes, of course.

““Yes, okay, sure I will go to dinner with you,”” I finally sputter out as my knees start feeling like spaghetti. It is the only answer I can think of.
““I’’ll pick you up at seven, is that okay?”” he asks smiling at me.
““Yeah,”” I whisper as my knees finally give out, and I start to slide down to the floor. 
Jaiden reaches out to steady me with a hand on each side of my hip.
““Whoa,”” he says as he breaks eye contact, and I blink fiercely. 

He leads me to one of the chairs and sits me down. He kneels down in front of me, leans in and kisses my cheek.
“I’’ll walk myself out, see you tonight.”” Jaiden stands, grabs his shirt and pulls it on as he leaves the room.
Holy crow! What did I just get myself into? How is he picking me up he doesn’’t even know where I live? Why do I feel so weak? What is going on?

““Hey, do you want to do lunch?”” Cassie asks as she walks into the wax room.
““What time is it?”” I ask, wondering how long we have been in here. “
“Almost two,”” she replies, ““I’’m hungry, want to get take-out?”” 
““Sure, sounds good. No wonder I feel so shaky.”” 
We have been in here nearly two hours. 
““Let’’s go, I’’ll clean this up after lunch.”” 
As I walk with Cassie to get our purses I feel like the fuzz in my mind is clearing and I am more exhausted than I was this morning. 
Unfortunately, it now looks as if a quiet night at home isn’’t going to happen.

 Author Biography
Chelsea O’Neal lives in her fantasy world where people can fly, vampires could be real, money is never an issue and the romantic meeting of your true love is a normal happening.   
When not relaxing in Chelsea-ville, she enjoys talking with animals who talk back and taking long walks with her prince charming.

Actually Chelsea lives in the United States in Nebraska, where she was born and raised, with her black lab Daisey, who hasn’t spoken actual words to her but she is pretty sure Daisey understands her. She is yet to meet her prince charming, though she is quite sure he is out there.  Chelsea enjoys working in a library as well as a cosmetologist. She is an avid reader and writing has always been her passion. Juniper’s Princess is her first novel, and she is working on her next book now.

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