I’m so excited Gargoyle is officially out! Here’s another excerpt to celebrate.
“Mr. Riemma!” I turned to see Mr. Chevalier striding toward me, his robes dramatically swishing behind him.
My hand released the door handle to my room. “What is it, sir?”
With a smile, he stopped in front of me. “I wanted to bring this to you personally.” The white envelope he held up had a wax seal with a pressed stamp mark in the middle. “It’s a letter from the King.”
My shoulders drooped. “Ugh. Not another one.”
His brow drew together as he handed it to me. “You’ve received letters from the King before?”
Nodding, I pushed open my door. “When we were children my sister and I used to play at the palace while the King and my father went hunting. Every year he invites me to court.”
Mr. Chevalier stood in the doorway as I entered my room. “And you turn him down?”
I nodded as I ripped open the seal. “Oh, sorry. You may come in.” I slyly glanced over at the balcony doors to make sure they were shut. There was still about an hour before Aelius would wake up. It was a little unnerving to have Mr. Chevalier, with his lips and eyebrows like Aelius, standing in my room.
He respectfully closed the door behind him. Unfolding the letter, I read the neat handwriting out loud. “Dear Erro Riemma, as I have tried on numerous occasions to get you to the palace, it has occurred to me that you are obviously too busy tending to your inheritance. You have increased in wealth, and I am impressed that you have fared so well in light of your family’s passing. Since I know you are not able to come to me, I hereby grant you the title of Erro Riemma, Duke of Caserta…” I blinked and shook my head, my voice trailing off. I looked up to Mr. Chevalier’s wide eyes, then back to the parchment again. “Did I read that right?” I held it out to him.
He took it with curiosity and re-read the lines. “I hereby grant you the title of Erro Riemma, Duke of Caserta. Please visit me at the palace the next chance you get. It would be good to see how you are these days. Sincerely, Umberto Savoy, King of Italy.”
He handed the paper back. I read the letter through once more. I couldn’t believe it. I was a Duke. Just like that. And I was only eighteen . How did this happen?
“Your Grace.” Mr. Chevalier’s voice pulled me from the astonishment to see him in a stately bow next to me, with his hand over his heart. Oh my goodness, he and Aelius even bowed the same!
I blew out a deep breath. “Mr. Chevalier, I’ll donate a large sum of money to the arts department if you never do that again.”
He stood from his bow with an evil grin on his lips. “Not a chance, your Grace. It is my duty to report to the Headmaster the standing of every student under his care. The teachers must address you appropriately.” I rolled my eyes. “Why are you running from this Erro? I mean, your Grace?”
I tossed the letter on my desk. “I don’t want people to respect me because of some title. I want the boys here to stop picking on me because of my character. Plus, this is Lorella’s doing.”
He shook his head at me, still smiling at me. “How long has it been since you’ve had a confrontation? Not since you broke Damaso’s nose, right?”
I thought back, trying to find an incident in my memory that had happened after I’d stood up for myself. But I couldn’t find one, because it hadn’t happened. I had to nod in agreement
“That was four months ago. And then there was those mysterious happenings to the more unruly children here.” His smile quirked. “ The animals in the rooms, the furniture, the boy with the blue ink mustache… Those events seemed to seal your safety for all eternity as far as I’m concerned. This title won’t make them respect you more, you’ve done that on your own.”
Had it really been that long since I’d had those problems? Time seemed to fly since Aelius had come into my life.
Mr. Chevalier’s head cocked to the side with a sudden scowl. “Who’s Lorella?”
“My fiancé.” I wanted to die. “The King’s great-niece. She was often there while everyone went hunting. We’ve been betrothed since she was born. I think she’s one year younger than me. And I believe she’s part of the reason the King always remembers to invite me to Court. I’m sure she intends to inspect me.”
“Well, you’ve grown lately, your Grace. I’m sure she won’t have anything bad to say about her fiancé.”
I groaned. “Believe me, Mr. Chevalier, I’m not ready for this marriage. I wish I could find some way around it.”
He smiled broadly. “I’ve heard that from friends before. And their wives always do them good. Give her a chance. It’s not like she’s a complete stranger.”
I numbly fell into my desk chair. “I’m sure you’re right, teacher.” Only I’d like to be the wife in a relationship, I thought dryly.
Then my thoughts came crashing down as reality sunk in. I was a Duke now. The highest rank next to royalty. Dressing above one’s station was a huge offense, let alone the fact that I wasn’t Erro. There would be no mercy on me if anyone found out I was a girl.
Thanks for stopping by! If you liked the excerpt you can find Gargoyle here- http://www.amazon.com/Gargoyle-ebook/dp/B009Z641KA/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1351792107&sr=1-2-fkmr0&keywords=gargoyle+shalley+martin