How about a sneak peek at part of one of the chapters? Here's a glimpse at what Ethelinda is up to. :)
The birds chirped outside the open window, a soft breeze blowing the curtains inside. The smell of last night’s rain drifted on the breeze, sweetening the air in the western suite. Ethelinda sat at the small writing table in the sitting room, dressed in a long sleeved blue gown that matched her eyes. She drummed her fingers on the table, staring at the piece of parchment in front of her. She snatched it up, rereading the words from her father.
It is time and past that you either dispose of the peasant or challenge her directly. You deserve more than you currently have.
She glared and stood. Her father had no vision, she decided, and tossed the letter into the fire. Bernie leaned against the door frame, watching her. Infernal man, she thought to herself. He was always watching. She tugged her sleeves down, ensuring the loop over each middle finger was secure and hiding the green dragon on her arms.
:You shouldn't trust him,: Shivti said in the back of her mind.
:Be silent!: she snapped at the beast. She had enough on her plate without some creature intruding on her personal thoughts.
“Well?” Bernie demanded. “What are the orders?”
Her lips tightened. “I do not recall giving you leave to speak,” she snapped. He glared at her, but kept his lips pressed together. He was a peasant, but he was clever enough to avoid real trouble. She paced, thoughts racing. “It is time for me to return south,” she decided. “I need to speak with father in person. You will stay here and continue to gather information.”
He arched an eyebrow. “Is that so?” he asked.
“Are you questioning me?” she hissed.
“As a matter o’ fact, I am,” he said. He straightened from the door frame and removed a piece of parchment from inside his tunic. “Let’s see, ‘Peasant,’” he read. He paused and smirked at her. “Tha’s what your father calls me, too.”
Ethelinda gasped and hurried forward, grabbing the paper from his hands. Her eyes scanned the paper. “How dare he!”
“It seems you’ve lost your father’s trust,” Bernie commented. He crossed his arms and leaned against the door frame again. Ethelinda narrowed her eyes on him and activated her Gift. She found his jumble of emotions, separated his loyalty, and pushed. Bernie stood straight, glaring, as the pressure of her Gift pressed on his mind. “I have given you no cause to doubt my loyalty.”
Ethelinda hesitated. “No, you haven’t,” she agreed. She pulled her Gift back from him. “But that doesn’t mean you won’t.”
“Why don’t we make a deal?” he asked. He straightened from his slouch.
“What do you want?” she responded.
“The same thing you do,” he answered. She crossed her arms and tapped her toe. “Power,” he qualified. “We already know we work well together. If we strike out on our own, we could take the entire kingdom.”
She tapped her chin with the missive to Bernie from her father, watching him through narrowed eyes. “Let me think on this. I will give you an answer before I leave.”
“And where are you going? Those aren’t your orders,” he challenged.
Ethelinda’s palm stung, the crack of her slap on Bernie shocking even her. “Do not overstep your bounds, peasant!” she snapped. “Be grateful I even consider you as part of my plan.”
To her chagrin, Bernie did not even reach up to rub his cheek. “As you wish, m’lady. I shall await your decision,” he said. He bowed at the waist and left.
Ethelinda stared into the flames, dismissing Bernie and his ridiculous ideas from her mind. She would return south, but not to her father. She needed a stronger ally than him. Someone whose own lust for power nearly equaled her own. Someone with nothing to lose.
Ethelinda sat at her desk and drew out a fresh piece of parchment. “Dear Mother.”