Hello everyone. I hope you all had a great holiday this last week. I know we’ve got another holiday coming up in a few days. I thought I would start off the new year by featuring a fellow Christian author’s book that releases on January 1st. Check out the first chapter and make sure to pre-order it before everyone else.
Princess of Beasts
The cheetah yowled from the wound on its leg and hissed. Princess Sahri narrowly slid her hand out of the way in time to avoid the female’s sharpened fangs. “There… It is going to be alright,” she murmured. As she stroked the female cheetah’s fur, she concentrated and used her powers to speak the words into the cheetah’s mind.
Immediately, the creature relaxed. That gave her time to turn back to the wound. It was in the cheetah’s back upper thigh and would turn her lame if Sahri didn’t do something about it.
“Well, Princess Sahri?” the middle-aged woman asked, clasping her hands together. “Can you save her?”
Princess Sahri gnawed on her lower lip as she held her hands over the wound. Energy poured from her body, fleeing her and entering the cheetah. Sweat covered her forehead and her hands trembled violently as she gritted her teeth with a nod. “Y—yes, I think so.”
The woman sighed in relief. “Oh, thank the King of Heaven!” Not everyone believed in the King of Heaven, but those who did—like Princess Sahri and most of her family—were devout followers. Unfortunately, some people in their land preferred to follow gods of greed and warfare against their neighboring kingdom instead.
“There.” Sahri leaned back with a sigh. The female cheetah sat up with a yowl, but her owner caught up the leather lead and led her away from the thick crowd, so she wouldn’t attack anyone. “Who is next?”
“Me!” a little redheaded girl bound up to her, holding a tiny fawn in her arms. “I found him sleeping in our barn…”
“Kelsie! Don’t go running too far ahead of me, now.” A man with a wooden stump hobbled behind her and placed a hand on the redheaded girl Kelsie’s, shoulder.
Kelsie’s cheeks blushed as she glanced up at the man. “Sorry, Papa. I just got excited.”
“We found this little guy in our barn and couldn’t find the mother. Figured a giant bear must’ve gotten her,” he said, lowering the last part of the sentence to a whisper; likely for Kelsie’s sake.
Sahri picked the fawn up and cuddled it against her chest as she connected with him. The vicious slash marks on his chest were indeed from a giant bear. She could see the entire attack replaying in the fawn’s mind over and over—and his mother had indeed died. Tears filled her eyes as she murmured to the infant deer in his mind to try to calm him. “There, there. Your mother is gone, but you are safe now.” The first thing she did was use her energy to help him to sleep. The fawn’s wounds were too painful and he was utterly exhausted.
“You can help him, right?” Kelsie asked, eyes widened with hope.
Sahri met Kelsie’s eyes. “Yes, I can. But he is going to need extensive care. I’m afraid I need to take him home with me, so I can keep monitoring his condition. Is that alright?”
The man nodded, rubbing the back of his neck. “Uh—ye—yeah. We don’t need any more animals, anyway.”
Kelsie stomped her foot. “B—but, Papa, he’s mine. I love him and want him to stay with us. He’ll be best friends with Noor!”
The man shook his head. “No deer is going to be friends with a tiger—even a miniature one. Noor is meant to herd our animals and keep deer from eating our crop. There’s no way he and this little guy would get along.”
Kelsie’s eyes filled with tears as she turned toward Sahri. “Does he really have to stay with you?”
Sahri nodded as she continued releasing her energy into the baby deer. “If you want him to live, then yes. I am afraid so.”
“Will you take good care of him?” The tears in Kelsie’s eyes finally spilled over as she met Sahri’s gaze intensely.
Sahri nodded and smiled at the little girl. “Of course, I will. Tending to animals is what I do, remember?”
“Oh, right…” Kelsie leaned down and gently kissed the fawn on the forehead. She reached out to snatch her father’s hand. “Thank you, Princess Sahri!” she called.
“Yes, thank you, Your Highness.” The man inclined his head.
Standing behind Princess Sahri, stood her bodyguard, Jekre. He cleared his throat and leaned down so that only she could hear him speak. “You’re using up all your energy again. Besides, your stalker is here to see you. We should go.”
Sahri glanced up at the back of the crowd full of people who had brought animals for her to tend to. Sure enough, the scrawny man stared deeply at her from his typical spot, which made Sahri’s skin crawl. Most everyone loved her and how she did what she could for the animals; their world was lush and full of wildlife, so even some of their world’s predators were tamed and invited into homes. The big cats all over the land had been tamed long ago. They were still wild and dangerous, of course, but animals helped the people in their every day lives.
And replaced people who weren’t able to work.
Sahri stood but resisted the urge to shake out her legs and wiggle her hips. Her legs and backside had fallen asleep since she had sat on the wooden stool for several hours without moving again. As a princess, however, she fought the urge and won. Instead, she stood before the still-large crowd, as elegant and graceful as ever. With a pleasant smile, she slid her gaze over the people in line closest to her. “With humblest apologies, I will retire for the day. I will be back tomorrow to see the rest of you, then.” Sahri turned her head toward her personal butler, named Widton. “Please take a list of names so that we may restore the proper line order tomorrow.”
Widton inclined his bald head to her. “Of course, Princess Sahri.”
With that, Sahri took the lead, but it only took Jekre less than a second to catch her with his long stride. As was the custom for bodyguards, he fell into step beside her, to better protect her from danger.
The square to the city capital where she saw people’s animals was only a brief walk from the palace. The city of Roacha had five different centers and squares, but her parents, naturally only allowed her to travel to the one a breadth away from the palace.
Just ahead of them, the palace walls loomed, made more for appearances than defense. The entire city had three walls around its front, so this one around the palace itself was more to separate them from the common folk living in Roacha. Through the golden front gates, Sahri could see the dazzling courtyard, filled with blooming flowers of all colors. Even from this distance, she could smell their fresh aroma, teasing her nose with pleasant, flowery scents.
Something about it also reminded her just how hungry she was. Her stomach growled, eliciting a sideways glance from Jekre, but she waved it off.
“Sounds like you should get something to eat,” he murmured. “Not that I’m allowed to tell you what to do.”
“Of course not. It is just a friendly suggestion, right?” Sahri peeked at him out of the corner of her eye.
Jekre nodded. “Aye, it is.”
Sahri chuckled and shook her head at him. “Ah, I see. You are only ‘suggesting’ it because you’re hungry and want to eat. Right?”
Jekre ignored her. His mouth pressed into a firm, thin line.
Sahri sighed and pursed her lips. Just like that, the teasing was gone. Any fun they had together was squelched in a few seconds and their teasing never lasted any longer than a minute or more. It bothered Sahri but there was nothing she could do about Jekre’s behavior. Sometimes, it was like he wanted to tease her and laugh with her and have fun with her, and then others, it was as if he would rather pretend she didn’t exist.
Which was exactly what he was doing at that very moment.
Sahri stared down at the fawn in her arms. “He is not doing too well. We will return to my room so I can work on him.”
Once again, Jekre didn’t respond. He only stayed in step beside her and refused to glance in her direction.
Sahri sighed. What was wrong with him?
Princess of Beasts
by: Joanna White
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance/Fantasy
In the entire kingdom of Ahri, Princess Sahri is the only person who can talk to animals and heal them. She’s beloved by the people, but she’s living a lie. Deep inside, she wants a man who she’s not just forbidden to be with, but he’s also a criminal, part of the Ahri Reformation—using the Rune of Obedience to force criminals who fight well to put their talents to better use. What’s worse, is the man—her bodyguard, Jekre—hates her and the entire royal family for what they’ve done.
But those are the least of Sahri’s worries.
The Anati are creatures who bring life and springtime to Ahri every time they return from their long migration across the Sea. But when someone murders them, the kingdom faces a famine that will destroy them all.
Not all hope is lost—yet.
Two of the Anati had eggs. If Sahri can use her powers to keep the eggs long enough to help them get to the nesting grounds, the Anati will live. As the young ones grow, they can heal the land and save the kingdom and Sahri’s people.
The only problem is that her parents ordered her bodyguard to keep her inside the palace. The Rune of Obedience forces Jekre to comply—which means he’ll do whatever it takes to keep Sahri inside.
Who killed the Anati? The threat to the kingdom is a mystery, unknown by everyone except Jekre. And he’s been sworn to silence.
Can Sahri escape, and if she does, will she be able to get the eggs to the nesting ground in time?
Or will a famine bring Ahri to its knees?