I'm going to tease you with the first scene in The Tyrant King, the sequel to The Peasant Queen. Why? I know some of you have read The Wild Queen and have to be asking yourselves what I'm planning to do to tie all these fun story lines together. This first scene doesn't give much away, but it's a fun little taste of what's to come. Next week, I'll give you an even more exclusive peek into The Lost Princess.
Krystal closed her eyes, sensing the book in her hand more than feeling it. She focused all her energy on it, and willed it to rise.
“I know you can do it,” Jareth said.
“Hush.” She dared a peek through her lashes. The book hadn’t moved. She sighed and let her shoulders drop.
“Don’t give up.” Jareth faced her. “It just takes more practice.”
“I’ve been practicing,” she said. “Maybe I’ve learned all the magic I can.”
Jareth moved a lock of blonde hair away from his eyes. “It’s only been four years. Give yourself more time.”
“Says the man who can move mountains.” Krystal looked up into his clear blue eyes. “My love, don’t you think that’s plenty of time to learn a skill beyond throwing fireballs?”
“Throwing fireballs is a useful talent,” he argued. “And I wouldn’t move mountains. That kind of magic has dire consequences.” He took her gently by the shoulders, in the process pushing her golden brown hair to hang down her back. “Not every kingdom can boast of a queen with such ability. And you’ve developed amazing control.”
She tightened her hold on the book and let her hand drop. “Yes, at least I’m no longer setting fire to the draperies trying to light candles. How many times did we have to replace the drapes in the king’s study?”
He shrugged. “I don’t think more than four or five. But just think what we did for the drapery master’s business. He’s thriving now.”
“Horrid man.” Krystal shuddered. “Every time he saw me, his eyes turned to gold coins.”
“Now you’re exaggerating.” Jareth kissed her forehead.
She relaxed against him. “Maybe a little. Still, I wish I had more useful magic. You can help a farm plagued by drought, or relieve a farmer who’s had nothing but flooding. I can light a room. Anyone with a candle can do that.”
“My magic and the bond I share with the land had been cultivated since my childhood, and cemented when I became King,” he said. “Your magical abilities are unknown, and untested. Just be patient. My father once said he could never be certain if my mother’s talent with plants came from a natural talent or magic she got from her bond with him.”
A knock sounded at their door, and Jareth turned to bid them entrance. Calum opened the door and bowed to them both. “Majesties,” he said. “You have a visitor.”
“We have several visitors,” said Jareth with a smile. “My sister is getting married in two days.”
Krystal noticed Calum did not return his friend’s smile. “This one is different. He has requested to see you at once.” He ran a hand through his dark hair in a nervous gesture.
Jareth looked down at her. “You go,” Krystal said.
Calum coughed. “He has asked to see you both.”
“I’ll be down in a few minutes,” she said. “I want to check on my son before I do anything else.” Krystal tugged on Jareth’s tunic playfully. “Remember, you have an appointment with him in half an hour.”
“I haven’t forgotten,” he said with another easy smile. “I look forward to our time together as much as he does.”
“Good.” Krystal leaned up to kiss him; he met her halfway. “I’ll see you shortly.”
He squeezed her free hand. “Don’t be long.”
Krystal watched Jareth leave with Calum, and then put the book she’d been practicing with on the table and went to the door that connected their bedchamber to the nursery. She had no sooner opened the door when a small body hit her legs.
She laughed, and knelt to be eye level with her three year old son. “Hello, young man. Have you a proper greeting for your mother?”
In response, he threw his arms around her neck and planted a sloppy kiss on her cheek. Krystal laughed again, and took him in her arms. Damen, lounging near the bed, lifted his head and looked at her. She smiled at her pet. Her great black dog had transferred affections to her son after Landry was born. Damen almost never left his side.
“I’m not sure that’s what your mother had in mind, Landry,” Lysabith said from across the room. She flicked her long, brunette braid over her shoulder as she gazed fondly at the little boy.
“He’ll learn,” Krystal said. “I don’t care to follow silly protocols every moment of my life.”
“I was just about to get him dressed for his ride with the king,” said Lysabith.
“Excellent.” Krystal put Landry down and tousled his wavy blonde hair. “Calum says there’s a new visitor who has asked to meet us, but I wanted to check on my boy before going down to the throne room.”
“He has napped, eaten, and is ready to ride with his father.”
Krystal smiled at her. “I knew he would be. You do such wonders with him, Lysa. I’m so glad you agreed to be his nanny.”
“My queen, I could hardly turn down such a generous request, as I have said before.” Lysabith smiled. “He is such a joy. These past few years have been the happiest of my life.”
“Mine, too, for the most part,” said Krystal. Then she made a face. “With the exception of the queen training Minister Bettencourt insisted I undertake. I’m so glad to be done with it.” Her eyes followed Landry, who, having grown bored with their conversation, had returned to his toys.
“I suspect he is as well. You weren’t exactly the ideal student.” Lysabith’s brown eyes twinkled.
Krystal feigned insult. “I apologized for throwing that vase at him, but, in my defense, his master’s robe had caught fire.”
A smile played at Lysa’s mouth. “And how did it catch fire?”
Krystal laughed aloud at the memory. “I’ve never claimed to have an even temper.”
“Your aim, however, is impeccable.”
“Stop teasing me,” Krystal said. “I have to get downstairs.”
“I’ll change the prince, and bring him down soon.”
“Thank you.” Krystal blew her son a kiss, and returned to her room. She stepped in front of her mirror for a moment to check her appearance, straightened the crown on her head, and smoothed her hair. A hand dropped to her belly as she felt a surge of nerves. Calum’s worried brown eyes kept returning to her mind. He hadn’t seemed pleased to report about this new visitor. What had unsettled him?
She passed several people in the halls. The entire castle had been in an uproar of preparations for Alana’s wedding to Count Alexander. Though the upcoming marriage thrilled her, Krystal would be happy when the castle returned to normal. Her own wedding hadn’t been nearly so hectic, but she had to admit it had been mostly because her marriage to Jareth had come so quickly on the heels of becoming Gregory’s widow.
However, no one could consider that time in Fayterra’s history ordinary. Jareth’s kingdom had seen years of dissention, starting when Gregory, king of Demarde in his own right, challenged his brother-in-law’s rightful claim to the crown of Fayterra. By the time Gregory had finally been defeated, he’d murdered Jareth’s father, imprisoned Jareth, claimed Fayterra for himself and married Krystal—Jareth’s true love.
Krystal pushed the thought of Gregory from her mind. She didn’t think of him often anymore, and had no desire to dwell on him now. His death made him a part of her past—she need never fear his influence again.
The doors of the throne room stood open. Krystal smiled as she recognized Jareth’s broad shoulders, but she couldn’t see the person he faced. Calum stood next to Jareth, his face an impossible mask. Krystal entered the room and moved toward her husband.
Then she saw the person speaking to Jareth, and the smile froze on her face.