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Kimberly Loth Books

Queen of the Dawn

Queen of the Dawn

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Zwaantie doesn’t how she can keep living. 

In fact, she doesn’t want to. 

But she discovers devastating information about both kingdoms. And she has to step up and be queen or more of her friends could die. 

When the Voice takes control of both Stella and Sol, Zwaantie has to fight for the very survival of both kingdoms. 

Download this exciting conclusion that will blow you away.

Synopsis

Zwaantie doesn’t how she can keep living.

In fact, she doesn’t want to.

But she discovers devastating information about both kingdoms. And she has to step up and be queen or more of her friends could die.

When the Voice takes control of both Stella and Sol, Zwaantie has to fight for the very survival of both kingdoms.

Download this exciting conclusion that will blow you away.

First Chapter

Chapter 1

The Pain

Zwaantie didn’t pay attention to where they were
going. She couldn’t see beyond the tears. A pain settled deep in her chest, and
she could barely breathe. Leo led her deep into the castle, the concrete walls
crowding in on her. They wove around and around, going up stairs and down. She
was certain wherever they were going, she’d never been there before.

Ari would never return. Never smile at her. Never
kiss her. Never drive her crazy with his touch. Never make her laugh. Gone.

She hyperventilated and was unable to move. She
sucked in long deep breaths, and sobs overtook her.

“Zwaantie, stay with me. We’ve got to get you
somewhere safe.” Leo tugged on her hand.

She jerked her hand out of his, collapsed, and curled
into a ball, the pain in her chest too much. She could still feel Ari’s
lifeless body in her arms, the way his eyes fluttered shut and how his smile fell
slack. The blood on his chest. She howled. Ari was dead.

Leo stooped down, swung her up against his chest,
and raced down a set of stairs. She cried into his shoulder, clutching and soaking
his vest, needing to hang on to something.

Eventually he stopped, pushed open a door, and
set her down carefully on a couch. Her sobs were calming now, an emptiness
slowly replacing the pain. Would she ever be happy again? The bigger question
was, would she ever be free of sadness? It didn’t seem possible.

Leo locked the door and sat next to her. She
stared blankly at him. He wiped at his own tears and dropped his head in his hands.
The circular room was small but had couches and chairs scattered about. There
were no windows, no pictures or tapestries on the walls, only bare stone.
Zwaantie rubbed her arms, a chill settling over her.

Leo’s body was deathly still, and for a half
second Zwaantie worried that he might be dead as well, but he turned and stared
at her.

“I can’t believe he’s gone.” Leo kept a hand over
his mouth, and his eyes spoke of the pain she was certain reflected in her own
eyes.

“Me either,” she muttered and pulled her knees to
her chest, resting her head on them, her eyes still leaking.

Leo dropped his arms and scooted closer to her,
his face stony. “I know this is hard, but I need to know what happened.”

He put a hand on her knee, and she jerked away
from him. “What happened? Ari’s dead.” The ache in her chest swelled. How could
he ask these questions of her? She didn’t have a clue what happened to Ari.

“Did you see who killed him?”

Pain shot through her body. Surely everyone saw
who killed him. “It was Raaf,” she choked out. Her brother killed the love of
her life.

Leo gave a slow node. “Okay, just making sure we
saw the same thing. I didn’t want to accuse him if my eyes had deceived me. Why
would Raaf want to kill you?”

A sob escaped. “He didn’t kill me.” Raaf loved her. She was closer to
him than she was to her parents. Sure, he’d been different when he came home from
training, but he was still Raaf. How could he betray her?

“I know, but you were his target. Any ideas why?”
Leo asked. She could see the wheels turning in Leo’s head as he took out his disc.
“Probably for the throne, do you think?”

“I said I don’t know,” she screeched. Panic crept
across her veins, and she felt as if she was going to crawl out of her skin. She
was nearing hysteria. Ari was dead. Raaf killed him. Who else in her life would
betray her? From Phoenix, to Wilma, to Luna, to Raaf. Could she trust no one
from Sol?

It came down to the Voice. Whoever or whatever it
was, it had to be destroyed because it had killed everyone she loved. Her mind
cleared a little. It was good to have something to focus he rage on. As long as
the Voice existed, she would be in danger, as well as those around her.

“Raaf wouldn’t want to kill me. It’s the Voice.”
Which was her father, or at least that’s what they thought. Maybe it wasn’t.
Maybe they were wrong. Did he want her dead so much that he sent Raaf to kill
her? How barbaric.

“The Voice?”

She’d forgotten she’d told Sage not to tell him. His
mother knew of course, but Zwaantie had asked Lyra to keep it quiet as well. She
felt stupid for keeping this a secret. If they’d tried harder to eliminate the
Voice before now, maybe Ari would still be alive. This was her fault. She
gripped her sides and leaned over, the tears coming in earnest again.

Someone knocked hard on the door, and Zwaantie
cowered.

Leo moved to the door and placed his hand on the
wood. “Call first.”

Leo’s disc buzzed. Zwaantie curled into herself
once again and stared at the stone walls. She heard the king say, “It’s me.”

Leo undid the locks, clicking and clanking. The sound
jarred Zwaantie’s ears. Several voices floated in from the hall. Zwaantie
didn’t recognize any of them. Sage collapsed on the floor and wrapped her arms
around Zwaantie. Her hands were warm and welcome.

Zwaantie’s well burst again, and Sage sobbed with
her. Zwaantie cried for the loss of her husband. Sage for the loss of her best
friend. A hole opened up in their lives and would never be filled again.

People spoke in low voices around them, but
Zwaantie didn’t pay attention. She only wanted to escape the pain. Nothing else
existed. It was so raw and real and would never go away.

A voice rose above the rest.

“Unhand me at once,” Zwaantie’s mother yelled.
“This is an outrage. How dare you humiliate me like this.”

Zwaantie untangled herself from Sage. This was a
problem she had to handle even if she didn’t feel like it was possible to
handle anything at the moment.

King Ajax hovered over Mother, his face filled
with rage. “Your son killed my son. You’re lucky you aren’t locked up in the
dungeon. Sol just became an enemy of Stella.”

Zwaantie had trouble comprehending his words. Did
that mean they were going to kick her out as well? Mother sputtered. “I saw no
such thing. Raaf would never kill anyone.”

Zwaantie jumped up and spun on her mother. This
was too much. She might not know the details, but she knew exactly how her
husband died. “Yes, he did. But he was trying to kill me. Not Ari. Ari saved my
life.” She turned to the guards. “Get her out of her and lock her up.” Raaf was
acting under the influence of the Voice, but Mother was being spiteful. Zwaantie
wouldn’t let anyone distort the reality of Ari’s death.

Mother turned to Zwaantie, her face a mask of
anger. “How dare you.”

Zwaantie clenched her clammy fists. “The Voice
wants me dead. He can control anyone including you. I’m not safe with you in
this room. Get her out.” The guards didn’t move. Perhaps they were suspicious
of her as well.

Mother’s bright blue eyes bored into Zwaantie’s.
Sage climbed off the couch and fished a necklace out of her pocket. She clasped
it around Mother’s neck. They must’ve taken them off before the wedding. Fools.

“Why did you remove that necklace? We told you it
was for your own safety,” Zwaantie said.

Mother smoothed her skirt. “It didn’t match my
dress. I’m Queen of Sol. I had to make a good impression.”

Zwaantie gripped her own hair. “If you’d kept
them on, Ari would still be alive. This is your fault.” She couldn’t even begin
to fathom their stupidity. For the first time in her life, Mother expressed
some vanity, and now Ari was dead.

Mother snorted. “You think Raaf did this? You
must’ve seen it wrong. You were focused on your groom and distracted.”

Zwaantie grabbed her mother’s shoulders and shook
her. “Raaf killed Ari. I saw it with my own eyes.”

The annoyance in Mother’s face didn’t change, and
they stood staring at each other for a few moments, neither one saying anything.
Zwaantie’s fingers dug into her mother’s shoulder.

Mother glanced down. “Let. Go. Of. Me.”

Zwaantie shoved her away. “Get her out of here,”
she commanded the guards.

Mother struggled as they dragged her out of the
room. Zwaantie should feel some guilt, but instead she felt relief. This was
one less thing she’d have to deal with, one less complication she didn’t need. Especially
now after defending Raaf.

 “Have they
caught Raaf?” Zwaantie asked the king.

“No. We’ll be staying in here for the time being.
He could be halfway to Sol by now though if he had people in town hiding him.
If not, we’ll find him. Guards are scouring the castle.”

Zwaantie let out a breath. She worried this would
be her life. Constantly hiding from others who might want to do her harm. Even
her own father wanted to hurt her if he was the Voice. She’d never say that out
loud to Mother. Not without proof. She hoped she was wrong.

Zwaantie’s mother was stuck in Stella for now.
Zwaantie wanted the border sealed up tight. Solites would stay on their side as
long as she was in danger. The ones she loved were dying. But a sealed border
would mean the kingdoms weren’t truly joined, and the vipers might start killing
people again. One night of peace did not mean they were gone for good.

She couldn’t wrap her head around anything. She
needed Ari. He always knew what to say and would comfort her. But Ari was dead.

Zwaantie looked around at those with her. The
king, Leo, Sage, and Lyra.

She wiped her eyes and let out a breath, ready to
tackle the problem at hand. Anything to distract her from the pain. “How are we
going to find Raaf?”

King Ajax put a hand on her shoulder. “You aren’t
going to do anything but stay safe. We’ll find him.”

“Excuse me? He’s my brother.” She saw Raaf kill
Ari, but she planned on asking Raaf how the Voice had gotten to him to discover
exactly what drove him to shoot at her.

“He wants to kill you.”

Zwaantie clenched her fists, knowing she would be
fighting an uphill battle. “What will you do to him when you find him?”

“That depends on how we find him,” King Ajax said
with a frown.

She squeezed her eyes shut. “He’s under the
influence of the Voice. You can’t hurt him.”

Leo snorted. “He killed Ari. How can you be
thinking of him?”

She wrung her hands. She didn’t know how to
explain how powerful the Voice could be. “I know, but it’s not his fault. It’s
the Voice.”

“She’s right,” Sage said. “Can I lead the
investigation?”

“Yes,” Zwaantie said, relieved Sage was helping
her. This had to count for something. The two people who loved Ari the most
defending Raaf. “Sage knows everything, and she’ll make sure Raaf doesn’t get
hurt in the process.”

The king ran a hand along his face. “I don’t
understand anything about this Voice. We’re stuck here until they determine Raaf
is no longer in the castle or even City of Stars. The guards should finish
their search sometime this evening. We need to get some rest, and then I need a
briefing on everything. We can’t make any decisions right now.”

“No. We need to make a plan to find the Voice and
destroy it.” Zwaantie needed purpose, a job. Something to move her forward, or
she might fall apart. The Voice had taken everything from her. It had to go.

Sage tugged on Zwaantie’s hand. “We can’t do
anything in here. Come, I have a sleeping potion. When you wake up, we’ll
gather everyone together and make a real plan.”

Zwaantie wanted to argue, but no one else wanted
to fix the problem now. Except her. Though it wouldn’t bring Ari back. Her
heart clenched again. He was really gone. Maybe she would let Sage give her a
potion, and she’d wake up and find Ari alive and breathing.

Zwaantie collapsed next to Sage on the couch,
took the potion, and swallowed it before she could change her mind.

Sage wrapped her arms around Zwaantie. Ari filled
her thoughts as she fell into the darkness.

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