For her pet’s lewd behavior? Preposterous!
This had to be a bad dream. A very bad dream. The only thing keeping Angelique firmly planted in reality was the fact she was currently being escorted through the gardens by two guards like a common criminal.
After entering the lush palace, the guards led Angelique to a room off the main hall. One motioned her to sit in the single chair that graced the tiny chamber while the other departed without a further word. She complied and placed Lancelot upon her lap. He curled up and began to purr as if nothing had happened. Aggravation burned deep within her. She’d known better than to bring Lancelot, but she hadn’t been able to bear being without him. Unable to hold back her frustration any longer, she thumped him soundly on the ear.
Ouch. What was that for? Lancelot twisted his head and glared at her.
I asked you to behave, and you couldn’t even control yourself for one minute. You just had to chase after that ridiculous fluff ball of a cat—and now look where we are! She thumped him again for good measure. Lancelot flinched and folded his ears back against his head.
I get the point. Now cease your abuse. How was I to know the king had a law against me tupping a royal cat? She was quite the tasty little morsel, don’t you agree? Lancelot’s tongue whipped out of his mouth, smoothing over his upper lip. Besides, she was ripe for the plucking, and I do believe she rather enjoyed herself, thank you. He flicked his tail in short, jerky movements.
Angelique looked cautiously around the room. Too often she’d witnessed how others reacted to her ability to see into the future and mind-speak with various animals. In the past she’d been declared a witch, a sorceress, and a demon.
With no one left to protect her after her father’s death, she and her mother had been forced to flee deep into the woods to a cottage that had been part of her mother’s dowry. Her mother died but a year after that horrifying night. Angelique learned to accept solitude with only her cat for companionship—actually preferred it that way. Never would she allow herself to again be persecuted for a gift she’d never asked to possess.
For now, she would clear up this foolish mess her cat had created, give the king her vital warning, and then hurry back to the safety of her secluded existence.
The other guard returned. “The king will see you.” Angelique rose and draped Lancelot over her shoulder.
Behave. I mean it, Lancelot. We are in enough trouble thanks to your inability to control your…your lust, Angelique warned.
Yes, yes. I understand. I shall be the purrrrfect pet. Lancelot extended his claws and pricked the skin of her shoulder. She winced from the unexpected sting.
I cannot imagine why I do not believe you.
She followed the guard into a large open room. Against the far wall sat the king, flanked on either side by his two mistresses. The large woman who’d caused her arrest that afternoon held the fluffy white cat Lancelot had mated with in her arms. She pointed an angry finger in Angelique’s direction and opened her mouth to speak.
A loud bang echoed through the room, causing Angelique to whip her head around and focus her attention on the most beautiful man she’d ever seen. His presence filled the room like an ethereal vapor and choked the breath from her lungs.
Dressed in black from head to foot, the man posed a menacing figure. He wore no wig, but merely his own long, dark hair tied neatly back from his chiseled face. His black silk shirt was opened at the neck and tucked into leg forming breeches. Black boots adorned his muscular calves. A contradiction to fashion she found intriguing.
Who was this man to walk so boldly into the king’s presence without announcement? Angelique shivered as his masculine vibrations encapsulated her. He sauntered to the dais and leaned over to whisper something only the king was privy to. The king grinned, showing his age-stained teeth.
The dark figure swiveled and narrowed his yellow-gold eyes on her. His blatant perusal heated her skin and confused her senses. The passion in the depths of his smoldering eyes startled her. Her pulse quickened in response to his continuous stare, and her legs threatened to collapse.
A strange buzzing sounded in her head as words sped through her mind too fast to capture. It was as if some unknown presence tried to infiltrate her head. Her body swayed and her eyes shut as visions of the man before her penetrated her mind.
Fangs. Blood. Death.
Her eyes opened in horror as she contemplated the man who now cradled her within his embrace. Damnation! How had he gotten here?
His animal-like eyes studied her with interest…and something else she didn’t quite comprehend. His nearness overwhelmed her. Aware of the strength and warmth of his body, her instinctive response was powerful and unfamiliar. His sensual firm lips lingered mere inches from her own as his hot breath fanned across her face.
“Damien, vat ails her? And someone get dat blasted cat before all hell breaks loose,” bellowed the king.
“I believe she fainted, Your Grace.”
“For your information, sir, I do not swoon.” Angelique pushed herself up onto her elbows and searched for Lancelot. Before panic could set in, the black fur ball jumped onto her lap, puffed up, and hissed at the man the king had called Damien.
He stood and glared at her cowering pet. His large frame towered over them, and Lancelot ducked his head under her arm.
What is the matter with you? Angelique inquired.
I sense danger.
The king clapped his hands together. “Take the voman away vile I decide vat to do.”
The guards led Angelique back to the tiny anteroom to await her fate.