Down the Rabbithole: Alice in Shifterland Chapter Twenty-One #WonderlandWednesday (18+)
Welcome back to a new installment of the campy, erotic adventure through Shifterland. This is the rough sneak peek of chapter twenty-one. I haven’t even proofed it once, but for those of you who can’t wait to find out what happens next, please enjoy the preview!
Alice checked her gear as the sounds of Davidson’s chuckles resounded in the air between them. “I can’t believe you told the King so much bullshit. Getting an armored car on that old-ass boat would have been a pain-in-the-ass, but we never could have gotten one through the portal to start with.”
She zipped her pack and shrugged before throwing the bag over her shoulder. “He didn’t know that. He’s never been to our world.”
“True enough.” Davidson ran his thumb along the magazine of his gun before holstering the weapon. “Your two boys look ridiculous with their old revolvers. I’m surprised they still fire.”
“You’d be surprised. Time works differently here, and one of those boys is a future king. Perhaps you’ll help them update.” She winged an eyebrow as she caught his gaze.
Davidson’s lips flattened into a grim line. Alice understood he was there to protect her, but approved of her taste in men or relationships. “You like those boys, but I didn’t raise a fool. You have a lot to lose; don’t be so eager to even the playing field.” She smirked and he rolled his eyes. “You knew exactly what I was going to say.”
“Before you say it.” She glanced across the way at the huge tiger-shifter towering over the other citizens as he distributed the food and supplies Alice had finagled for the people. His anaconda-like arms bulged with muscles, and even beneath his loose-fitting robes, she could tell he was ripped. His dreadlocks had been pulled into a ponytail, accenting his strong jaw and dark eyes.” So, what did you think of Nyame?”
“He’s been the protector of your citizens for some time now, and as refugees, they’ve needed his help.”
“He’s not my blood, but he’s nobility.” Buck had referred to him as Lord Nyame, but the Red Prince had been quick to indicate Nyame’s family had been up-jumped from landed knights to Barons. “I’d do well to win his loyalty.”
A smile spread across Davidson’s face. “Clever, girl, but he’s staying here to look after your people. His step-daughter, Crimson will be accompanying us as a guide as well as a young noble, Goldie.” Davidson’s voice was a low whisper.
Alice scoffed before catching herself and slapping her hand over her mouth. “Why?” She leaned close and kept her tone as low as she could. “I mean, I get Crimson. She’s a tight, toned fierce machine, but Goldie? I’ve seen more capable girls on the Manhattan social scene.”
Her family has served yours for generations, and she’s eager to pick up the mantle of lady-in-waiting.”
Alice palmed her face. “Does she realize I’m headed out to challenge a monster?”
Davidson closed the lid of a trunk he’d been inventorying before he and Monroe loaded the heavy box of supplies onto one of their mule-driven carts. “She’s adamant about going with us.”
“Let her go. She’s hot.” Johnson licked his lips.
Alice rolled her eyes. “Do we have everything now?”
The most sadistic of the mercenaries twirled the handle of his large knife as he smirked. “We’re set, but I don’t know about all your fancy boys.”
Alice stepped closer to him. “Two of them are royalty. I don’t take much stock in such things, but you’re in the Red Kingdom, and I’ve no doubt Buck would make you a head shorter for even a minor insult.”
He threw his head back and roared with laughter. “He could try.”
“Shut it, soldier.” Monroe’s gruff voice sent vibrations down Alice’s spine.
While Buck’s honor guard worked at forming up a processional, to venture through the Looking Glass into the White Kingdom, Alice approached Nyame. “Hello, Lord Nyame.”
He bowed low. “Highness, a pleasure to see you again.” His tone was both respectful and a little flirty.
“Before I leave, I wanted to thank you for all you have done in my absence.”
“My pleasure.” He matched-up his fingertips and thumbs on each hand, forming a pyramid-shape as he dipped his head again. She had seen several of the refugees make the same gesture but she wasn’t even sure how she was expected to respond.
There’s so much I don’t know. She returned the gesture, hoping she wasn’t making a jackass of herself. “Once it’s safe to return to the White Kingdom, I’m going to need a council of loyal advisors.”
“It would be my honor to serve you in any capacity to see fit.” His dark eyes lit up with as he beamed with pride, his grin, showing off his chiseled bone structure and white teeth. As the two spoke, a man of little means crawled up on his hands and knees. He rested his forehead on the toe of her boot. He reached for the hem of her pant’s leg, but at the last moment, he seemed to think better of touching her, curling his fingers into a ball as he retracted his hand.
“Majesty, majesty, our savior.” From his voice, Alice could tell he was weeping even with his face turned toward her shoe.
“Please, stand. You must fawn over me. I’m just a woman like your mother or your sister. My being queen is nothing but an accident of birth. You must stand.”
She glanced at Nyame’s face, finding his eyes wide and his eyebrows lifted high. As he caught her gaze, he intervened, stepping forward and yanking the man to his feet. “You embarrass the queen. Do not approach her without invitation.”
As the Barron shoved the man, Alice saw the man’s unlined, fresh face. He wasn’t much more than a boy. Back home, he’d still be considered a child perhaps just learning to drive a car. His tattered clothing swallowed his gaunt frame. She reached out and grasped his shoulder, steadying his wobbly stance. “Really, it’s okay. The boy is clearly hungry. Is there any bread and cheese left?”
“Raydo has already received his portion, Highness.”
“Raydo, is it? How old are you?”
“I’ve had fourteen summers. I stand before you a man. When you slay the Jabberwocky, I will return home and become a merchant as my father had been, take a wife, and have many pretty daughters.” Alice smiled. Everywhere back on her world, men wanted sons, but the people of her kingdom wanted “Life-givers.”
“I’m sure you will. Perhaps, I have something extra for you in my bag.” He pulled her backpack off her shoulder before beginning to pull the zipper.
“No, shoo, away with you, Raydo. The Queen will need all of her supplies for her trip through The Looking Glass. Go!” The handsome noble waved off the boy as if he were some wayward goat.
Alice parted her lips to speak, her eyes wide, but before the words would come to her, Raydo had bent at the waist and was walking backward, her parting words an apology. Come to think of it, why haven’t more people approached me? Other than the small group she’d eaten breakfast with, and another informal meeting, she’d insisted upon having with some of the women, she’d mostly been left alone.
She turned in a circle, looking around in all directions. The schematics hit her like a ton of bricks. From a few feet away, two of Davidson’s men shadowed her, armed to the teeth. A bit further out, a circle of Buck’s men, who Alice had only at that moment realize had been assigned to look after her, kept their swords ready, not to mention Hat’s personal guard.
The Dark Prince had traveled with the finest warriors the Principality of Spades had to offer. The majority of them were flanking around him and Witt as if the retinue was a tornado intent of trapping those two in the eye. One woman, Bellisima “Lisi” Blade was notably absent, but Alice needn’t look far to find the orphaned former street rat and cutthroat turned bodyguard. The tiny smidge of a girl’s mousy brown hair had been braided and pulled into an updo before she’d been dressed in Lady’s gown and deposited right up Alice’s backside. A quick perusal of the general area found the girl in the center of a group of children who were adorning her hair with flowers.
As Alice’s gaze met Lisi’s, her pixie-like features shifted as a tight, slice of a smile curled her lips on one side. She small hands held a ringlet of daisies, but a tiny glint of steal peeping out from beneath her long-sleeve caught the sunlight. Alice hadn’t even noticed her so-called-lady-in-waiting was nearby, but she had no doubt the girl’s eyes had been open and focused on her the entire time.
As a buxom beauty, dressed in a gorgeous if impractical green dress pushed her way into the circle and insinuated herself into the action, Lisi’s nostrils flared and her smirk dropped into a blank stare. Highlights from the girl in green’s lovely, long mass of curls glimmered as the sun shone on her golden mane.
Alice’s other lady-in-waiting, Goldie Lox, was clearly a White Kingdom girl through and through. She wondered how long that corset-top dress, cinching the young woman’s waist while presenting her more than ample cleavage in such an enticing manner, had languished in a trunk while Goldie bided her time in the up-tight and staunch Red Kingdom. She flounced the shift before sitting on the ground next to Lisi whose Spade-style dress more of a cross between a BDSM get-up and a military uniform with a detachable skirt.
The children, who were obviously familiar with Goldie, fawned over the blond. Many of the young girls threw their arms around her, and she smiled happily as she hugged them back. One of the smaller girls plopped her bottom down in the plump blonde, bunny-shifter’s lap. Goldie began to weave the child’s hair into an adorable fishtail braid style as some of the older girls styled a portion of the blonde’s locks into a bow made complexly of her own hair before securing the hairdo with a bit of tied-off vine.
Many of the Red Kingdom soldiers stared at the scene. Some wore expressions of lust as they surveyed Goldie’s legs exposed between her ankle boots and the hem of her dress, falling several inches above her knee. A few of the men looked angry, and Alice suspected they would have punished Goldie in a most unchivalrous fashion if she hadn’t been there. A squeezing sensation burned in her chest as the display of such attitudes towards women reminded her there was more than material gain at stake for her people. She glimpsed a look of particular disdain on one soldier’s face, and with one look she understood he was the type of man that took Goldie’s choice of dress as somehow being about him. In his mind, she had offered not only an invitation but a temptation, seducing him to commit sin.
Fury stirring in her belly, Alice stormed over to the tall, disagreeable warrior. One side of his nose pulled up in a haughty sneer as he judged Goldie, not even noticing the Queen standing before him. As one of his fellow soldiers opened his mouth to intervene, the White Queen placed her hands on his chest and shoved him. “Take responsibility for your own thoughts and actions. You don’t have to keep staring! You’re supposed to be guarding me, right? Why are you looking at her? Do your damn job!”
The soldier’s expression morphed from disgust to surprise to anger. He grasped the handle of his sword, unsheathing half-way, his fury at having a woman speak down to him glaring through onyx eyes, but just as quickly. He jarred his weapon back in his scabbard. The man’s blood-red face and the way he bowed his head in deference as he looked off to the side said all he did not. He hated her and any woman who did not cower before him, but he was at least smart enough to realize when he had a gun to his head…quite literally.
Johnson had walked up behind him and pressed the barrel against his skull as he demanded to know what happened. At some point, Lisi had bound into action because Alice found herself standing behind the tiny assassin, the small, but sharp knife concealed behind her palm and ready to hurl toward the soldier’s jugular. “Highness? What happened?” She spoke with a Spade’s accent.
The soldier who had been eyeing Goldie with disgust held up both hands above his head. “I did nothing. I was only guarding the Queen and her ladies.”
The crowd parted as Prince Buck demanded, many people, both soldiers and refugees taking a knee as he approached. He didn’t even have to raise his voice or lift a finger. Even Lisi moved but only slightly to Alice’s side to allow his approach.
“We are ready to depart, my love. How has this man offended you? Never mind, it matters not.” He pulled his sword. “I’ll take his damn head off.”
Alice gasped as the soldier offered his neck from his perch on the ground, not even offering an argument. “No. Just send him back to the castle. I don’t want a misogynist traveling with us.”
Buck squinted, tilting his head as if the word, misogynist, was new to him. It probably was, as was the concept. The Red Prince said nothing, a mere lift of his chin in the direction from which they’d traveled was enough to send the soldier fleeing. Buck placed his palm on the small of Alice’s back, a far more familiar gesture than she was comfortable with, as he grinned. “My apologies for my man’s offense.” He leaned closer, his lips by her ear as he lowered his voice, “You must tell me what liberties he took that offended you so. I will ensure the rest of my men are properly educated.”
She huffed. “Fine. You can ride in the carriage with me, and we’ll talk.”
Buck pulled his head back, his eyes wide and his lips parted as his face paled. “My love, carriages are for ladies. A man rides a steed.”
She snorted before turning to face him. Lifting her hand, she crooked one finger and made a come-hither motion. He dipped his head, and she whispered, “I’m far more fun to ride than any horse.”
His eyes widened and his jaw dropped. “Change of plans. Relocate my sister and the other ladies and their belongings to the open wagon. The queen and I will be taking the carriage.” He made a simple waving gesture and his people fell all over themselves, running off to do as he bid.
Alice licked her bottom lip before pressing them into a seductive pout. I’m going to make you so fucking miserable.
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