Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Excerpt from Chatel's Vision

Chatel’s Vision
A Cheetah Princess Novel
By Glenn McCorkhill and Joan Conning Afman
Fantasy/ Fantasy Romance
Champagne Books:

A king and queen’s desperate quest leads Chatel into the arms of a handsome stranger.


The clatter of rushing footsteps jolted Queen Dsanna awake even before the bedroom door burst open. She sat up, not quite awake, but knowing instinctively that something terrible had happened. She shook her head, trying to rid herself of the face—Vadent’s—that had invaded her dreams. Arshane, king by marriage to Dsanna, instinctively leapt from the bed, grabbed his sword from the side table and stood at the ready to defend his love.

But it wasn’t an enemy. It was two palace guards, supporting Jydee, the children’s governess, between them.

“What in blazes is this about?” roared Arshane.

Dsanna cast a quick look at her husband, his face a mask of confused emotions. His customary quiet confidence seemed to have deserted him.

“It’s the children, Sire,” the taller of the two green-garbed guards blurted. “They’re missing.”

“What are you saying?” Dsanna cried, full awareness hitting her like a slap across the face. “Sandrissa and Adair? How can that be?”

The guards drew Jydee to a standing position between them. The woman staggered, hardly able to stand.

“Something woke me—although I never heard anything—I went to check on them, Your Majesty, and they were not in their beds. I didn’t hear a thing. I looked everywhere—”

Dsanna clapped her hands over her ears. “How could that be? The palace security—Kiboli?”

The woman could hardly get the words out, as tears streamed down her cheeks. “Kiboli is dead. We found his body on the stairs.”

Arshane staggered a few steps backwards. “Show us.”

“Oh, Mirelle, no...” Dsanna screamed. Feelings of dread slashed through her, sharp as a knife. Surely this was a nightmare. She rushed after Jydee and the guards, Arshane at her heels. They grasped each other’s hands.

“It can’t be, my dearest,” he breathed into her ear. “It just can’t be.”

She hoped with all her heart that he was right, but she stopped with a gasp when they came upon the royal cheetah’s long white body stretched across three steps of the staircase leading up to the children’s quarters.

She fell to her knees, her heart folding in on itself. She threw her arms around her beloved cat, tears cutting her cheeks like blades. Her face to his chest, she felt the faint pulse.

“He’s still alive,” she cried. She pointed to one of the guards. “Take care of him—now.”

But as much as she adored Kiboli, her lifelong friend and protector, she loved her children more. She scrambled to her feet and the royal couple raced up the stairs, chased by the two guards and the sobbing governess. The agonized Queen gazed around in disbelief. The children’s beds were rumpled, as if they had been slept in, but there were no children.

“Have you searched everywhere?” Arshane demanded.

“We have, Sire. There’s no trace of them anywhere.”

“Get the entire palace staff up here. Wake them all. Search every inch of the palace. On the double, now.”

The guards fled the room, and Jydee collapsed as her tears wet the marble floor. “I will never forgive myself for this. I never heard a thing.”

Arshane bent and lifted the distraught woman. “It was not your fault, Jydee.” He carried her to little Sandrissa’s bed and laid her down. “This was obviously a professional job. Nobody could have got past Kiboli.”

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