Highest Light Series Book 2

Worlds apart and on the run, star-crossed lovers Alaric and Elysia dive into their darkest night of the soul for a second chance at saving Atlantis and their happily ever after. Atlantis Splitting, sequel to Atlantis Writhing, finds the soulmates facing their personal demons in order to overcome the evil toppling their mysterious ancient empire. Yet with the Highest Light fellowship split and scattered, a Dark Heart queen emerges – one whose otherworldly magic powers are poised to overthrow a king playing all sides against his madness.

Pulse-pounding thrills reign in this can’t-put-it-down epic romantic fantasy of betrayal, back-door deals, and bedroom alliances – will the cruel karma ever end?


Excerpt from Atlantis Splitting © Copyright 2024 Jean Brannon

“Ahhh, my lovely.” Again, he laughed, but melancholy and not mirth flooded his features. “You always think Source is asking if you’d prefer rainbows or unicorns. But those rose-colored glasses blind you to the truth.”

“What truth?”

“That we’re all being played.”

“I know.”

“With all due respect, Elysia,” he continued. “You do not know the depth or breadth or height of all that is transpiring here.”

“I know all that I need to know.”

“You’re not even aware that you’re bleeding.” He flicked a monogrammed handkerchief from his breast pocket. “Your endless optimism, even as life force leaks from your nose, is exasperating.”

“Your caring nature, even as you continue to be consumed by the Lesser Light narrative, is uplifting.” She dabbed at her nose. “Thank you.”

“Of course.” He smiled at her, and this time genuine warmth lit his ebony eyes. “I’m a scoundrel and a whore and all sorts of Dark Heart madness. Yet, I haven’t ever been able to harden myself against you.”

“Do you see how we aren’t so very different, you and I?”

“You know, I meant ‘harden’ in the emotional sense, my lady. You must be aware that the physical part of me – ”

“Gadeirus,” she warned.

“I mean every part of my physical vessel – ”

“Gadeirus!” She shook her head as she giggled. “I hear you.”

“Then hear me fully.”

“All right.”

“That kiss is all that happened physically between us.” His shiny purple bootheels clacked the fractured floor as he shifted his feet. “I want to reassure you about that. For what it’s worth, you have my word.”

“Thank you,” she whispered as tears drowned her lashes. “When I first awoke next to you, I thought – ”

“Yes, I know.” Sighing, he cleared his throat. “But I assure you. You’ve not been tainted by me. I did strike you, and for that I’m deeply sorry. In fact, I hope you’ll forgive me.”

“I already have.” She realized as she stared at this broken king that he didn’t remember his earlier apology. “You have such gifts. A son of the Sea God himself and his Atlantean queen. You could do much good here if you choose to.”

“My choices were made long ago.” He glanced about the structure, taking in its splitting perfection. “My fate is sealed.”

“No,” she whispered. “That’s not true.”

“Oh, but it is.” His chortling showed her how he teetered upon the knife-edge of sanity. “When you have as much blood on your hands as I do, eventually you have to accept inevitable consequences.”

“Nothing is set in stone, Gadeirus. Everything is fluid. Every choice brings a new reality.”

“Lords with swords!” His stare pierced her, and she dropped even more deeply under her breath. “Why do you still see the good no matter what evil stands before you?”

“Because I choose to.” He whirled from her, hands in his tangled locks, as she raced after him. “And because all of our choices keep changing things. They matter. Now more than ever!”

“You impossible bitch!” Spinning on slick heels, he stopped and she slammed into him. He broke her fall by twisting onto his back while she toppled on top of him. He smelled of tobacco and decay as he whispered into her ear. “Don’t fear me, my lady. They cannot hear you when you are this close – and only when you are this close. I had that little bit of privacy built into their prying and spying so the specifics of my whoring wouldn’t feed the gossip machines any more than they already have.”

“All right.” She looked into bleary-eyed exhaustion, but for all of his self-ruining insistence, she could still see strength and cleverness in equal measure. “What now?”

“Forgive me if my mind wanders momentarily to all the wicked ways I wish to have you.” He grinned, and the truly benevolent nature emanating from him teased a smile to her lips. “I’m beyond redemption, but not past reason. Not just yet anyway.”

“Go on.”

“I know not who remains loyal to me. We are in uncharted waters, my lady. Where ally and adversary are making the strangest bedfellows as the very bedrock of this island splits and separates.”

“That’s it exactly.” For a moment, she marveled at how he’d come to the same conclusion Source had shown her. “So, what now? And how long may we speak like this before someone gets suspicious?”

“Not much longer. When we arise from this floor, I want you to talk to me like I have just defiled you.”

“What?! But – ”

“While I have not touched your gorgeousness in any of the ways I would like, I regret to inform you that I have sullied your reputation.” With gentle fingers, he whisked a ginger lock that had fallen across her widening eyes. “I had to…mislead…the Civic Security Council. They didn’t buy it when I told them I had no idea how you escaped from my chambers – after so many influentials had reported back to them that you’d been carried to my quarters. Nor did they believe me when I told them I knew nothing of your whereabouts.”

“Oh, Gadeirus – ”

“Yet, they do believe in my vile nature,” he continued. “They believed my insinuation that I bedded you against your will. And they will believe that I came upon you here and wished to have my way with you again.”

“Oh, my goodness – ”

“Rest assured, the psychics already know as we speak that we are here together. The only saving grace we have is the narrative I’ve already created. That I’ve finally turned you into one of my whores.”

“Are you kidding me right now – ”

“Not at all, my lady.”

“And so, you’re telling me that many of the influential Poseidians I met last month now think you’ve slept with me.”

“Not many of them, Elysia,” he said evenly, as relief flooded her face. “I daresay all of them.”

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