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Chatel's Vision - print

The Cheetah Princess, 2

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

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    When a stranger shows up at the door of her parents' rundown farm, Chatel hopes her dreams have come true. But he seems consumed with a desire for wealth and power, and shows little interest in her.

    However, his arrival will sweep her up into an epic adventure across Futurah, with her loyal pet cheetah at her side. She will encounter a king and queen on a desperate quest, accompanied by their own cheetah and a handsome young man who hopes to make her dreams a reality.


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    Chatel's Vision - print

    Chatel's Vision - print

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


    Chatel's father burst in through the backdoor. “Well, that’s it.” He fell wearily into his seat at the table, clothing already covered in grease and dirt. “The axle is split, and I can’t fix it.” Pent-up anger tinged his voice.

    Her mother shoveled food onto his plate; they knew how he acted on an empty stomach. “We can get a new one after the crops are sold.”

    Willgen stirred the food around, not taking a bite. “We can’t sell the crops unless we bring them to town, and I can’t get them to town without the scarmy wagon.” They both gasped, for her father rarely used such language. He rose from the table and stormed from the room, soon followed by the sound of a door being slammed.

    “Give him a little time, he’ll calm down.” Chatel’s mother sighed as she placed her husband’s hearty plate of food on the floor. “Looks like this is going to be yours, Teekay.”

    Instead of heading for the feast, Teekay dropped into a crouch and let out a long, low growl, the hair along her back standing on end. A wagon traveled much too fast along the gravel road that crossed their small farm. Then there was silence, until a sudden pounding on the front door. Chatel jumped, and her mother’s eyes darted toward the entrance.

    “Relax, mama. I’ll see who it is,” Chatel volunteered as she rose from her seat.

    Her heart beat a little more quickly. Maybe, just maybe it was the handsome suitor come looking for her at last. She checked herself in the hall mirror, shook her long hair over her shoulders, and wished she looked more presentable.

    When she pulled the door open, it took her a moment to take in the sight of the fine gentleman. A gilded sword sheathed to his waist sparkled in the morning light, and his bright blue eyes pierced into hers in a strange, mesmerizing way.

    Hope surged, and she took in a quick breath, but quickly realized he didn’t seem interested in getting to know her, barely looked at her, in fact. And he was somewhat older than she hoped her true love would be. She swallowed her disappointment.

    “I need provisions. And directions,” he ordered. Although obviously a man of breeding, his tone seemed rough, impatient, as if unused to waiting for what he wanted.

    “Mama, Papa, we have a visitor,” she called back toward the kitchen, but immediately returned her gaze to the handsome stranger and his exquisite weapon. She stepped back when her father approached and greeted the man with a handshake, welcoming him inside. Had he reined in his anger?

    “I am Willgen, and this is my daughter, Chatel. What can we do for you, sir?”

    “Passing through, but I need more supplies. Can you tell me where the closest town might be?”

    Chatel turned her attention from their mysterious guest to an unseen but still growling cheetah. “No, Teekay,” she whispered in the direction the cat might be lurking. “This is not the time.”

    “You’re about as far from a town as one can get, unfortunately. But that just means we keep ourselves well-stocked. If you have some money handy, could save you a lengthy trip.”

    She knew her father wasn’t going to let a stranger pass by without enriching their lives. Especially having a wagon in need of urgent repairs.

    The cat charged into the room, teeth bared and claws tearing shards from the wooden floor. The man grabbed for the hilt of his sword, unable to draw it only because her father placed a heavy hand upon his arm.

    “No one pulls a weapon in my house,” he informed the stranger in a stern voice. “Time we stepped outside.”

    The two men walked out onto the rickety porch. Chatel yearned to follow them, but the cat seemed determined that she should not. Using her foot, she pushed Teekay back far enough to exit and close the door behind her. Breathing in the cool morning air, she leaned against one railing and listened while the men talked.

    “Cheetahs and I have never been on good terms,” the mysterious stranger said. “And they all seem to know it. Never expected to find one way out here.” He dug into his pocket and held up a large gold coin. “This is yours, in exchange for food and your family’s silence.” He placed the coin in her father’s palm.

    Willgen held the coin up in his callused fingers for a better look, then turned toward Chatel. She knew what to do.

    Running to the barn, she collected dried fruits strung from the rafters, and stuffed them into a canvas sack. She added potatoes and carrots from the garden. A few of the hens had laid, and she arranged the eggs carefully on top before pulling the drawstring taught. Carrying the bounty back to the wagon, she overheard her father and the stranger still on the porch, discussing where the mountain roads led.

    She attempted to secure the sack among the hay bales and furs that overflowed from the cargo bed. “What a mess.”

    “Hello?” inquired a frightened little voice.

    Startled, Chatel leaned toward the sound of the voice. “Is somebody there?”

    A small boy’s face and shoulders peeked out from behind one of the furs. He looked as though he had not been asleep for some time. He shivered in his night clothes, and dark circles surrounded his pleading eyes. “I am Adair, the Cheetah Prince. You must help us get back home.” His voice was raspy, and he gazed all around them, as if he were afraid to be noticed.

    Oh how cute, a child pretending to be a kidnapped prince. How many times had she played the same games around the farm by herself as a small child?

    She smiled at him. “Oh, don’t worry. It looks like my father is giving your father directions right now. He will have you home real soon, I’m sure.” Chatel spied a young girl cowering nearby. “Hi, sweetie.”

    “Hey, you. Get away from there,” the stranger shouted.

    Startled by his tone, Chatel hurried back to the house. She felt bad for the children who lived with this father, so strict and uncaring, and she glared at him as she ran up the porch steps, hoping he would get the point that she did not like him. A chill raced down her spine at the icy stare he returned. In the house, she discovered Teekay still nervously pacing about the room.

    The cheetah fixed her green eyes onto Chatel’s and growled again.

    “Quiet, girl,” she ordered, and closed the door behind her almost completely, leaving just a small gap to see through. With another handshake, the two men said their goodbyes before the stranger ran back down the steps for his wagon.

    “By the way,” her father called. “Have not seen you around here before. What is your name?”

    The man turned, impatience in every motion, and gave Willgen a hard look before answering. “You can call me, uh…Davent.” Then, with a shake of the reins, he and the children were gone.

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