Here is Chapter Two of Veil of Mist!
This picks the morning after Teryn and Cora’s first kiss.
SPOILERS AHEAD – If you haven’t read Shadows of Lela Book One, this excerpt will definitely spoil the ending, so proceed at your own risk 🙂
VEIL OF MIST
By Tessonja Odette
Chapter Two: Morning
“Good morning, princess.”
The sing-song voice startled me from sleep. I raised my head from the plump pillow, and Lurel’s face, framed with wisps of dark-blonde hair, came into view.
She held a waif-like hand toward me. “I’m here to get you dressed and fitted, Your Highness.”
I clasped her hand and let her pull me to sitting, but my heart sank when I could no longer feel the warmth of the blankets. “If I could bring one thing home with me from Verlot, it would be this bed.”
Lurel giggled. “I’m sure you have lovely furnishings in your castle.”
I stifled a laugh, knowing how wrong she was. It dawned on me how much work would need to be done upon returning to Ridine.
Lurel beckoned me to the vanity and sat me before the mirror. “I wish I could go with you to Ridine. I’ve never been to Kero.” She began to brush my long, dark-brown hair. Despite all the work she’d done on it the day before, it had returned to a mass of wild tangles. She furrowed her brow at the brush as if it were somehow responsible, and her frown deepened as she redoubled her efforts.
I cocked my head, sensing conflict in her. Even though my empathic powers were strong, she took no effort to read. She wore her feelings so openly, I had to tighten control over my power so as not to feel them myself. “What’s wrong, Lurel? You seem upset about something.”
She met my eyes in the mirror and sighed. “It’s just that…I heard the saddest news this morning.”
“Princess Mareleau is married to Prince Larylis, not Prince Teryn.”
I suppressed a grin, remembering last night’s kiss. Twice. “Why is that a sad thing?”
“I just don’t understand it. She was promised to Prince Teryn. Something awful must have happened. I’ve heard the most terrible rumors.”
“I wouldn’t give too much weight to rumors.”
She giggled. “Mother says the same thing. I just hate to think Princess Mareleau married the wrong man.”
What will she think when she hears about my engagement to Teryn? I pressed my lips together. “I’m sure you’ll see the truth for yourself. If she seems happy, then there’s nothing to worry about.”
Lurel nodded. “You’re right. Now, come. It’s time to have you fitted.”
“For what?” I asked, following Lurel to the center of the room. She left me there and opened the door.
In walked two women carrying boxes of colorful fabrics. They curtsied as they approached me. “Your Highness.”
“You’re being fitted for a new wardrobe.” Lurel clasped her hands proudly together. “Ordered by King Verdian himself.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Why would he do that?”
“Rumors say Sele and Kero are allies now,” she explained. “King Verdian is helping you and your brother reclaim your titles.”
That rumor, at least, seemed to be true. The seamstresses fluttered around me, taking measurements and holding different shades of fabric in velvet, lace, silk, and brocade. Was this a display of King Verdian’s wealth? To show I was in debt to his goodwill? Whatever the case, I could do nothing but accept the attention.
A sound of disgust came from behind me. I turned to see Lurel pulling my dusty, grime-covered cloak from the wardrobe. My heart fluttered at the sight, delivering a rush of memories: Roije offering me the cloak the night I’d found Valorre; sleeping beneath its warmth during my travels; meeting Teryn; cutting the hem to wrap his wound at the battle at Centerpointe Rock.
“She’ll need a new cloak,” Lurel told the women.
“That’s not necessary. It will be good for my journey home,” I said.
“We can make you a much better one, Your Highness. One without…whatever this is.” She pointed to a stain that was unmistakably blood.
My throat constricted at the thought of discarding it, but I couldn’t think of a convincing argument. “At least let me keep it until my new one has been made. I’ll leave it behind when I depart.”
Lurel widened her eyes both at me and the cloak before she returned it to the wardrobe. “As you wish, princess.”
When the women were finished with their work, they repacked their things. “We will return with your new garments with haste,” one said.
“It’s no rush. Take your time.”
The women exchanged a look. “King Verdian says with haste.” And with that they scuttled out of my room.
Lurel pulled a dress from the wardrobe and brought it to me. “Until your clothing has been made, you’ll have to wear another one of Princess Mareleau’s dresses. This one is from when she was eleven, so it should fit you even better than the last.”
I examined the gown in gold and cream taffeta with ivory lace at the hem and sleeves. “You’re saying I have the body of an eleven-year-old?”
Lurel hid her laughter behind a hand. “An eleven-year-old Mareleau. This one is quite modest compared to the last, but it should suit you for the day.” She pulled the gown over my head and secured the buttons and tightened the laces. She was right about it being more modest. It was simple and high-cut at the chest, but the length was perfect. She placed a pair of brown slippers before me.
When I looked in the mirror, I was satisfied with what I saw. Modest or no, at least I looked like a princess.
“Now you’re ready,” Lurel said.
“For the meeting, of course.”
“Meeting? I was never told of a meeting.”
Lurel seemed unperturbed. “King Verdian announced it this morning. Everyone will be there.”
“The king, the queen, Princess Mareleau, Queen Bethaeny, and the twin princes. Oh, and your brother, King Dimetreus.”
My heart felt warm when she mentioned the twin princes, but it did a flip at my brother’s name. I hadn’t seen him since we’d left Centerpointe Rock. “My brother will be there?”
“He’s waiting outside your door to accompany you.”
A grin stretched over my face, and I all but ran to the door with Lurel hurrying at my heels. Flinging the door wide, I found Dimetreus and was struck by his change in appearance. Last I’d seen him, he’d been worn and aged with hollow cheeks and thinning hair. Even though he’d been in a dungeon for the best part of the last few weeks, color had returned to his flesh, and his eyes shone with their bright-green hue. His hair still bore more gray than it should have for his age, but it had been nicely combed. The beard sprouting from his chin reminded me of our father.
My eyes filled with tears as I ran into his arms. “Dimi, I’m so glad to see you are well.”
Dimetreus patted me gently on the back. “So am I.” His voice held a hoarse quality, as if he’d lost some of it to Morkai’s torture and control. Yet, his tone was far gentler than it had been during that time.
We parted, and he offered me his arm. I brushed the tears from my cheeks and placed my hand in the crook of his elbow. As we walked, I felt like I was floating on air; engaged to the man I desired with my brother at my side, I thought there was no way my morning could get any better.
I was right. It was about to get worse.
I hope you enjoyed reading the second chapter in Veil of Mist! Cora is heading to a meeting and she has no idea what to expect. In Chapter Three, Cora discovers just what awaits. Veil of Mist will be published July 3rd 2018, and is available for pre-order!
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