Princess Rachel Goes to Summer Camp (Chapter 3 — The Unexpected Visitor)

Rachel went to the front door and wrenched it open. On the stoop was an older woman with curly black hair, hoop earrings, and a floral print robe. She gave Rachel a quick scan. “Oh my, do servants here often answer the door in their pajamas?”

“We don’t have servants. I’m Princess Rachel.”

“Are you? Well, I’m Carlene, a representative of Princess Summer Camp. I’m here to get you ready.”

“I wasn’t aware anyone from the camp was coming today.”

Carlene pushed her way in. “Quite all right. Your parents may have forgotten to tell you. That’s not the first time that has happened.” She looked around the hall, casting a critical eye on the tapestries and suits of armor. “Oh, how very last millennia. I do hope your clothes are more up-to-date than these furnishings.”

Rachel frowned. She already didn’t like this woman.

Tim appeared, rubbing his backside. “Oh, hello.” Spotting Carlene, he extended a hand and smiled. “My name is Tim.”

Carlene recoiled and looked at Rachel. “Is this your grandfather?”

Tim narrowed his eyes. “No, I’m a babysitter.”

She looked to Rachel, who nodded.

Whipping around, Carlene flashed a smile. “Well, isn’t that special?” With a quick movement, she reached into her robe and retrieved a handkerchief. Wrapping it around her hand, she shook Tim’s.

He frowned.

“This is Carlene from Princess Summer Camp,” Rachel offered with an eye roll.

Carlene added, “I’m here to ensure Miss Rachel is ready for camp.”

“That’s my job,” Tim shot back.

She looked sidelong at him. “Somehow, I doubt you do that for a living like I do. Pray tell, what do you do for employment?”

“I’m a wizard.”

Her eyebrows went up. “That’s a skill, not a job.”

Rachel resisted a grin. The way Tim does it, I’m not sure that it is either.

“What do you know about getting a Princess ready for summer camp?”

Tim glanced at the ceiling. “I know she needs clean underwear.”

Carlene gritted her teeth and sighed. “What she needs is riding equipment, a ballroom dress, grooming equipment, makeup, and perfume, to name a few.” She flashed her card in front of Tim.

He read it aloud. Carlene Fourntnoi, Specialist in Princess Preparation And Matchmaking (SPPAM). Your future is just a prince away.”

Rachel cringed. “SPAM? You’re kidding.”

“That’s S-P-P-A-M. Don’t forget the extra P. It makes all the difference.”

Tim tried but failed to conceal a smile. “I’m sure it does.” At that, he broke out into snorts of laughter.

Rachel also tried not to laugh but whispered to Tim, “What are you, six years old?”

“I’m young at heart,” he answered.

Carlene continued to move about the room, looking behind the tapestries and pinching the throw pillows. “Now that we have that out of the way, let us see what Ms. Rachel has, and we can get her things together.”

“I’m not sure I believe any of this,” Rachel whispered to Tim.

He cleared his throat. “If you don’t mind, Ms. Fourntnoi, I should probably contact Rachel’s parents and confirm your appointment.”

She sighed and replied with an exasperated tone, “Oh, very well then. But if we don’t get started soon, I won’t be able to help her prepare. I have another appointment at three.”

“This won’t take long,” Tim replied. He waved Rachel over toward the kitchen. “Get a bowl, preferably the largest one you can find, then fill it a third of the way up with water.”


“Just do it. I’m going to contact your parents.”

Rachel grabbed a large bowl, set it on the dining room table, and filled it with a pitcher.

Tim stood over the bowl and closed his eyes. “Water to water, face to face, make a connection across time and space.” The water glowed blue briefly, then swirled.

“Is it supposed to do that?” Rachel asked.

“Yes, the spell is searching for water on your parent’s end to connect to, then it will set up a connection.” Suddenly the bowl flashed green, then turned vaguely orange, and the King appeared, staring down into it.

“YIKES!” he exclaimed. “Tim, why are you in my Tequila Sunrise?”

A woman’s hand appeared on the King’s forehead. “Dear, why are you talking to your cocktail? Are you sick?” asked the Queen’s voice.

The King waved away the Queen’s appendage. “No, dear, Tim’s communicating through my drink. Take a look.”

The Queen’s face filled the bowl. “Oh, hello, Tim. Hi Rachel!”

Rachel leaned over and waved. “Hi, Mom.”

The King reappeared. “Can we make this quick? What’s the problem?”

Tim explained Carlene’s appearance at the door.

“Oh, yes, I forgot about that. Fourtnoi should be allowed to work with Rachel to get her ready.”

“Okay, thanks for the update,” Tim replied. The bowl stopped glowing and returned to normal. He looked up at Rachel. “Well, there you have it. It’s legit.”

Rachel rolled her eyes. Ms. Fourtnoi lifted the visors on the suits of armor in the foyer and sniffed inside.

Tim spoke first. “Rachel’s parents forgot to tell us about your appointment. Please forgive the confusion.”

“Quite all right,” Carlene replied. She let go of the visor, and it snapped shut on her fingertip. “Ouch!” She jerked her finger away and stuck it in her mouth. After glancing at them, she regained her composure, pulled her finger out, and studied it. “Very well.” She turned to Rachel. “Let’s go to your room and see what you have for Camp.”

Trying hard not to grit her teeth, Rachel nodded, and together they began heading for the stairs. Once they reached them, Rachel noticed Tim slinking away to the kitchen. “Aren’t you coming too?”

“Not if I can help it,” he replied.

Carlene took hold of Rachel’s shoulders. “Believe me, dear, we are better off. The only thing men can do is swing blades at each other and fall off horses.” She turned and walked up the stairs. Tim stuck fingers to the sides of his head to make devil horns and waggled a tongue at Carlene’s backside. Rachel stifled a laugh but hurried to catch up.

* * *

“OH, MY GOD!” Carlene screeched when she reached the top of the stairs. “There’s a farm animal in your room.” Rachel glanced in to see Oscar passed out on the rug, lying in a sunny spot.

“Oh, that is just Oscar, my pet pig.”

Carlene grimaced. “You have a pig for a pet. Is this a joke? Who gives a princess a pig for a pet?”

“That was Dad’s idea. But not completely, though. He misunderstood that I wanted a wig for my birthday, not a pig.”

“You wanted a wig?”

“Ah well, I was going through my Lady Gogo phase.”

Staring at her with wide eyes, Carlene muttered, “Okay then.”

Hours later, Carlene tossed another dress on the growing pile of discarded outfits.

“Child, you don’t have much to wear, do you?”

“I have all I need,” Rachel groused back.

“For a garage sale, maybe, but not a cotillion.”

“Cotillion? What is that?”

“I’ll explain later. For now, what I have picked out should do. We will find some other things on the way to Camp.”

Shopping. Ugh, that’s mom’s hobby, not mine. She preferred to walk a trail rather than stalking the shelves at the mall. Taking a chance of being eaten by a witch was more appealing that browsing bargain racks. “If we must,” she replied.

“Come now, have the right attitude – you want to fit in, right?”

“Well, yes.” Tim’s words rang in her mind. Maybe. It wasn’t fitting in that worried her; instead, she didn’t want to draw attention to herself.

Being both a tomboy and an adventure hound, she suspected she had many differences from other “conventional” princesses. Makeup and dresses were foreign to her, and jewelry looked nice. But there was no way she would let someone punch holes in her ear lobes. A shiver ran up her spine at the very thought.

No, she enjoyed the outdoors too much, seeing what she could find and what was around the next bend in the trail. That sometimes led to trouble, but she had always found a way out.

I guess summer camp is no different than that idea – an adventure in the making.

Would she enjoy it? Who knows?

Carlene left for her next appointment, and not surprisingly, Tim reappeared.

Rachel gave him a glare. “Ah, I see you resurfaced.”

“Just wanted to see the scene of the crime.”

“What crime is that?”

“Fashion murder.”

“I’m no slave to fashion. know that.”

“Indeed I do, but I’m always leery of other people telling me what to do, especially regarding clothes.”

Rachel considered Tim’s ratty robe. “It wouldn’t hurt for you to listen.”

“On the contrary, I suffer immeasurably when I have to listen to others’ opinions.”

“How so?”

“I had the misfortune to hear someone rave about a pair of underwear with velcro in them.”

Rachel pinched her eyes shut. “Too much information.”

He looked over her shoulder at the piles of clothing and barely filled clothing trunks. “So, what are you going to take? You’re not going naked, are you?”

She cocked her head to one side. “Gee, that won’t make me stand out now, will it?” Then she pointed at the trunks. “That’s all Carlene said is acceptable at Camp. Not even sure how much of this still fits.”

“Better try it on. There is no sense taking stuff that doesn’t fit.”

An hour later, Rachel slammed shut a single trunk and looked at Tim. “Okay, all done.”

“So, how much are you taking?”

“I’ve got enough to get me through a week. After that, I’m in trouble. Looks like I’m going to be hitting the mall on the way to summer camp.”

“You have my sympathy.”


He smirked. “No, not really. Better you than me.”

“So, what will you do after I go off to camp?”

“I’m going to have to take care of Oscar.” A squeal erupted from the stairs, and they both turned. He sat there with a bowl in his mouth. “Good Lord, how often does he eat?”

“Seven times a day if he can get away with it.”

“What does he eat?”

“The better question is — What doesn’t he eat?”

Tim rubbed his beard. “Well, I don’t know. Is he willing to eat apples and cheese curls?”

“I don’t think that will be a problem.”

“Are you going to miss him?”

Rachel sighed. “Oh, of course, but I’m sure he won’t miss me.”

Oscar dropped the bowl and let out a high-pitched squeal.

“At least not as much as his next meal.”

Vengeance Deferred

[ An excerpt from “The Dragon Heartstone,” book 2 of my Westfal series. ]

The road along the Silver River snaked with it, undulating over many ridgelines that radiated from the northern end of the Krador Mountains. Small, scattered patches of woodland lined the turns and twists, filling valleys and spilling along the shorelines.

Hiding in the dark underbrush, Riasean rubbed his arms, struggling to keep warm. Even as he ate berries and roots scavenged from nearby plants, his stomach complained. Throbbing in his legs remained constant from his unyielding pace. But he dare not slow, not even for a moment. Otherwise, he might lose sight of Faline. The tempo she kept amazed him as she moved east along the road toward some unknown destination. He had hoped she might slow or even stop to rest, but he had not been so lucky.

He licked his lips to keep them moist, staving off thirst until he could dart to the river and drink his fill. While his body cried out, he focused on his goal–to bury a knife into Faline in the same savage way she had done to Larah.

Yet, when Faline did stop at noon, he enjoyed the respite, fighting off the desire to race forward to finish the job. As he caught his breath, his attention stayed on his blonde-haired, black-robed quarry.

* * *

Faline stood, eyes closed, focusing her mind eastward. Her body screamed in pain, despite the simple Druidic charms and spells she had used to mask the effort. Despite the discomfort, there remained the need to locate the Shatain, the shadow warriors bound to her. Using black magic, this task would have been simple. But that was no longer an option. She tried to compensate, using skills not tapped in centuries. Taking a deep breath, she pushed her consciousness beyond the limitations of her ancient Druidic training. Yet, once again, the effort came up empty. A sigh escaped as exhaustion and despair poured in. Maybe tomorrow. For now, she must continue moving along this path, marshal the patience required to cross northern Bretagne, and close the distance with the Shatain.

Opening her eyes, she took in her surroundings and let the aesthetics wash over her. Autumn colors graced the trees, and brilliant sunlight streamed through the branches as they drifted in the still-warm afternoon breezes. A faint memory of a similar sojourn floated by in another time and place. What had it been called? Her mind sifted through almost a millennium of memories before returning to the correct phrase: destiny quest. This journey was much like that one, where she had to leave the sanctuary of Avalir for a year. Like then, she traveled alone, with only her Druidic training to sustain her.

She had gained—and lost—much since then. Most notably, her dark arts ability had been eliminated by the healing received from the Grail of Culloden. Still, she had survived. With a final glance at the beauty surrounding her, she dismissed it. Such things served no purpose, least of all hers. Once more, she stepped upon the path.

She kept trying to reach the Shatain during brief pauses until the sun sank beneath the far distant Black Shadow Mountains and plunged the area into darkness. To continue risked losing the trail. Likewise, she could no longer ignore her physical need for rest. To her left, a ridge jutted out into the river. Near the top, a clearly defined outcrop revealed a cave opening that might provide shelter.

She slipped off the road and picked her way up the stony slope of the ridge. As the darkness deepened, she grasped at hand holds in the grayish moss-covered rocks and slipped a few times as she sought to gain a foothold. With sweat slipping off her forehead and her breath rising in clouds in the cooling night air, she finally arrived at the cave opening. By now, the surrounding darkness was so thick she could not see into the cave. She grabbed a stray rock and muttered, “illustras [Light].”

The rock’s surface erupted in light, and holding it aloft, she probed the entrance. With a sigh of relief, it proved to be empty and full of smooth rock crevasses, any of which she could comfortably settle into. Satisfied, she turned to the cave mouth and, with a sweep of her arm, charmed it with a simple warning spell. Finding a secluded spot in the wall, she tucked herself into it and pulled her cloak around her. With a final gesture, she raised the rock and whispered, “extinguere [Extinguish].”

The light flared out, and the cave fell into darkness. The cave walls dully reflected the moonlight, which also lingered on the tendrils of fog rising from the river waters below. The sound of rushing water beat incessantly against her ears, drowning the doubts and concerns in her mind. Sleep soon followed.

* * *

As Riasean slipped up the slope toward the cave opening, his eyes stayed focused on the crest. His experience and training allowed his hands and feet to easily find their way into gaps in the surrounding surfaces. The nearly cloudless night, with some ambient moonlight, was a perfect killing moon. These ideal circumstances allowed him to ignore the nagging voice of reason, cautioning against pursuing personal vendettas. Killing was simply a means to an end, a bag of gold to support a precarious existence. There is no gold this time, but finishing this viper would be satisfying. But then what?

While he could ignore his doubts, such was not the case for the rising fog. The streamers of mist floated past his eyes, obscuring the crest until his line of sight extended only a few feet. Clambering over the last moss-covered rocks, he emerged outside the cave. Pulling his obsidian knife, he peered inside. His half-Elvish eyes swept the surroundings and quickly revealed the coiled-up form of the she-witch. Gripping the hilt tighter, he stepped into the cave entrance. In an instant, the world disappeared into a grayish haze of impenetrable mist.

His sense of awareness tingled; everything had changed drastically. He stood perfectly still, knife in his cocked arm, scanning the mist. The rushing water sound had disappeared, as had nearly every physical feature he had to orient himself. What was going on?

“Riasean,” a voice echoed out of the darkness. “I mean you no harm.”

He swiveled toward the sound, knife at the ready. “Who is this?” he hissed.

A form seemingly coalesced out of the fog, “I am Lenor.” The figure approached him, appearing as a woman in dark blue clothing, her long brown hair pulled back into a braid that ran down to her hips. Piercing silver, cat-like eyes studied him, even as he backed into a protective crouch.

His mind churned. This must be a Caretaker, one of those powerful but unpredictable immortal spirits. He’d encountered one before–and it had saved his life–but only after binding his life thread to Larah’s.

“What do you want from me? Why do you stand between me and my prey?”

Lenor’s eyes sparkled in the moonlight. “You will not harm her, for that is not your destiny. I am giving you a new task.”

Riasean tensed. “I do not care what you intend; you will not stop me from ending the life of the she-witch.” He tightened the grip on the knife and stepped toward the Caretaker.

She laughed in a high, cold, piercing tone that set his nerves tingling. “Do you really think you have a choice in this matter,” she said, then snapped her fingers. The fog disappeared, and the curled-up form of Faline lay at his feet. “Do what you want, and see what happens. But be forewarned. It will not be what you expect.”

He looked down at the woman, her youthful face framed by stray curls of blond hair. Her chest rose and fell, even as he stood over her with a blade. It would be easy to clamp a hand over Faline’s mouth and slash her unprotected throat.

But his instincts knew better. Nothing was easy, even if it looked that way. Lenor continued to study him like a cat watching its prey. She was playing with him. “Why do you protect this viper? She deserves no pity, least of all from the likes of you.”

“Who are you to make such a judgment? How many life threads have you snipped before their time? Did none of them deserve compassion or pity?” The Caretaker flashed a close-lipped smile. “Our ways are simply beyond your understanding. Everyone has a purpose and a plan for their life, and whether that aligns with what mortals want, it matters not.”

Lenor’s words stung, even as he acknowledged their truth. He dropped his knife arm to his side. “What do you want me to do, and why should I?”

“You are to retrieve the Dragon Heartstone and give it to The Watcher–the Brin Shar, and if you do this, then what was lost will be returned to you.”

Lost? What was this fiend talking about? Riasean’s chest tightened. Like a bolt of lightning, the context of what she referred to raced to the front of his mind. But he immediately rejected it. “Larah? She is better off without me and has others to look out for her. Besides, why should I want to retrieve this artifact for you?”

“You must find the Dragon Heartstone, or Larah will die,” Lenor stated without amplification.

Riasean gritted his teeth. “Is this another of your entrapments? Like when you bound my life to Larah’s to help her retrieve the Grail?”

“No. What I said is merely a statement of fact. If you wish to ignore this, then you know the consequences.”

Riasean let the warning wash over him before looking again at Faline’s sleeping form. “When I do this, will I be able to kill this wretch?”

Lenor smiled in reply.

He sighed and sheathed his knife. “Very well then, what must I do?”

* * *

An hour later, guided by dim moonlight, Riasean rode a horse along the road, hastening to where it forked. The east road continued across the northern extremes of Bretagne, and the south road meandered through the Shadowlands, a high plateau of striated rock outcroppings, before emptying out onto the broad flatlands leading into the heart of Bretagne. So once again, a Caretaker had pulled strings, forcing him to perform like a marionette. Still, she did provide him with everything he asked for. His fingers ran through the horse’s mane as he peered ahead. No longer focused on pursuing Faline, his mind touched on his memories of Larah, and a dull pain throbbed in his chest. Struggling to not linger on what could have been, he focused on the darkened trail. He hoped the task before him would fill the emptiness inside.

* * *

Princess Rachel Goes to Summer Camp (Chapter 1 — Bad News)

“You’re going to summer camp,” the King announced, then promptly cringed.

A shriek carried through the air like a banshee finding gum in her hair.

As he covered his ears, the King continued, “Really, you should try out for drama club or at least opera.”

“But I don’t want to,” Princess Rachel cried. “I want to stay at the castle this summer.”

“No dice, honey,” the King retorted. “Your mother and I have decided to vacation on Coconut Island.”

“An island? I’d love to go.”

“I’m sure you would, but this is a wedding anniversary gift for your mother, and I want it to be just the two of us.”

Rachel stuck out her lower lip. “You don’t love me.”

“We both love you, but we need to spend some time together – alone.”

“You’re together all the time at home anyway.”

Not in the way I want to be. “Waiting on you mostly. We’ve discussed this, and that is what we are doing.”

“What if I refuse to go?”

“Then you are going to stay with that fairy, Ferrella. She needs a live-in babysitter.”

Rachel’s eyes widened. “Good God, no! Those leg-munching fairy children will kill me!”

“Let’s be clear. Maiming is not the same as killing. Regardless, that is your alternative.”

She frowned. “Okay, fine, I’ll go. I won’t know anyone there.”

“All the neighboring kingdoms are sending their daughters; you’ll be making new friends.”

She narrowed her eyes. “Rosie isn’t going to be there, is she?”

The King pursed his lips. Good God, I think I’ll jump from the nearest tower if I have to hear about that girl again. “No honey, she has moved to Tocanus and is gleefully pulling off scorpion stingers.”

“Good, because I can’t stand her. In first grade, she – “

The King looked at his watch. “Gee, I’ve got to get your mother. It has been six hours; she should be done shopping now.” He started to leave, “By the way, we are leaving for the island tomorrow.”

“Wait! When does summer camp start?”

“In two days. Tim is going to look after you.”

“Tim? I thought he wasn’t allowed in the castle.”

“He is now. I changed all the locks on my liquor cabinet and have hidden all the snack foods.”

“But daddy . . .”

“Sorry honey, I told you we were planning this months ago. That should not be a surprise.”

Rachel’s head drooped.

King leaned down and kissed her on the head. “I know you don’t like change or doing anything new, but you can’t avoid it whether you want to or not. Learning how to deal with change is part of growing up.”

She stayed silent and stared at the floor.

“We’ll be by in the morning to say goodbye.” He glanced out the window at the rising sun. “Speaking of deadlines, that rotten wizard ought to be here by now.” The dull thud of a door knocker echoed throughout the castle. “Ah, that must be him.” He left to go to the door.

The door swung open, and there stood a stoop-shouldered gray-haired man wearing what looked like a tattered blue bathrobe covered with crescent moons and a soup pan on his head. The handle swung slowly from side to side as the man tried to make eye contact with the King.

 “Uh, hello, Tim. What gives with the soup pan?” the King asked.

“I forgot my tin-foil hat.”

Well, that was as clear as mud. “Okay, come on in.”

Tim slipped inside and took off his ‘hat.’ “Hey, I love what you did with the place.”

“It’s no different than the last time you were here.”

“Really?” Tim paused and placed a finger on his chin as he thought. “Perhaps. If I remember correctly, I was running for my life, which may have had something to do with it.”

The King suddenly remembered the incident involving a mop and an ambulation spell. The crazy wizard might have done less damage with an axe. “Are you sure you can do this?” the King said.

“Do what?” Tim asked.

The King quickly suppressed the urge to choke the clueless magician. “Remember what we discussed—the need for you to babysit Rachel until it is time for her to go to summer camp.”

“Oh, that. Yes, I’m ready.” He reached into his robes and pulled out a bag of cheese curls. “See, I’m prepared.”

“Um, okay. Have a seat but be careful. The last time you left orange fingerprints on all the furniture.”

“Sorry about that. I understand that Rachel is going to summer camp in two days?”

“That’s correct.”

“Do you want me to escort her to camp?”

“No, that is all right. I have someone else in mind for that.”

“And whom might that be?”

“Drek Mustypants.”

Tim recoiled. “Seriously, I don’t know why you’re letting a witch escort her to summer camp when I could easily do it myself.”

“Need I remind you what happened the last time you accompanied Rachel out of the castle? I spent three days being chased by angry monkeys.”

“Well, who knew that monkeys worshiped that golden coconut I stole – err – found?”

“Someone should have, and I expected it would have been you.”

Tim shrugged. “My monkey lore isn’t what it used to be.”

“Enough already. Drek will be here in two days. Have Rachel ready.”

Tim frowned. “As you wish, your majesty.” The King turned to go, but Tim added, “Say one other thing. What about Oscar?”

The King flinched. “Her pet pig? Oh no, I forgot about him. It’s too late to put him in a kennel. Could you look after him?”

“You want me to take care of a pig. Where is he going to stay?”

“How about your treehouse? No one will notice with the way you keep that place.”

“Hey, that is kind of insulting.”


 “Of course, it is also true.” Tim sighed. “Okay, I will, but under one condition.”

“What’s that?”

“I get to use your swimming pool.”

The King looked at the ceiling for a moment. “The last time I let you do that, the pool drain was clogged with scales and hair.”

“How was I supposed to know that mermaids are slobs?”

“Don’t let it happen again.”

“Yes, sir.”

* * *

The King walked back upstairs and found the Queen in Rachel’s room.

“It will be okay, my dear. Mykla will be at Summer Camp too.”

Rachel frowned. “I don’t really like her. She’s a bit too aggressive.”

“I’m sure that hitting you in the head with a crochet mallet was just a mistake.”

“I’m not sure. She also tried to trim my hair with a machete.”

“You won’t be there with just Mykla. There will be lots of other girls there too.”

“Yes, and I will know none of them.”

The Queen patted her on the arm. “You won’t know any of them unless you meet them, and summer camp is a great way to do that.”

“Did you do summer camp when you were a kid?”

The Queen backed away a bit. “Uh, yes, I did.”

The King stifled a snicker, but the Queen shot him a dirty look.

Rachel looked between them. “Okay, obviously, that is not the whole story. Tell me the truth. What happened?”

The Queen’s cheeks reddened. “I had a bit of an accident.”

“Accident? happened? Did you fall off a horse?”

“No, not exactly.” The King guffawed a few times, and the Queen shot him a few more nasty looks.

Rachel’s eyes narrowed. “What sort of accident was it?”

The Queen bit her lower lip, her cheeks turning very red. “I … ah …”

“She wet her pants,” the King interjected, then laughed.

Rachel’s mouth dropped open. “MOM!”

The Queen fired a few eye daggers at the King. “Thanks for nothing, Charles.” Her face almost scarlet, the Queen looked at Rachel. “It was during the bonfire; everyone was telling ghost stories. I got scared.”

“Really? How old were you?”


“That’s kind of old to be peeing on yourself.”

“I had a very active imagination.”

“I’ll say,” the King shot in. “Once she dreamt she was –”

The Queen turned on her heel. “Guess what else you’ll be imagining on our vacation?” She stormed out of the room.

The King grimaced. “Uh oh.”

Rachel rubbed her eyes. “I have no idea what you are talking about.”

“That is a good thing. See you tomorrow morning,” the King turned and chased after the Queen.

* * *

Rachel sat on her bed, then flopped back onto it. She didn’t want to go camping and had no real alternatives to avoid going. One thing was sure. No way she was going to deal with fairy babies. It had taken weeks to get the nightmares of those little beasts out of her head. So, she had to go and be away from the castle for at least six weeks.

What was the name of that place? Oh yeah, Princess Academy Instruction and Networking Information Center. She had heard awful stories, how incredibly mean some other princesses were, and how they often made outsiders feel unwelcome. What made my parents want to send me there?

She rolled over and stared at a poster of pop music’s latest sensation, Justin Keebler. “So, what do you think, Justin? Should I run away?”

Surprisingly or not, the poster continued to smirk at her. What did I expect? You’ve got tattoos and look like something I’d need shots for after kissing!