Ice Princess Preview
“Are you, aware tonight is the annual event?” his mother asked the moment he stepped into her private chambers, a deep frown marking her otherwise flawless forehead.
Queen Mayala used most of her spare time making sure time didn’t leave its prints on her and the rest of the time trying to get some sense into her son’s head.
“Yes, mother, I’m well aware of that,” he sighed brushing his fingers through his white hair, as he walked straight to the window. “Once more, I’ll have to go through the torture of being introduced to dozens of baby girls that will either cry or puke on me… I couldn’t be more thrilled!” he assured her in a sarcastic tone.
“I’m sure I don’t have to remind you just how important this is. You need to find your soul mate or your father’s lineage will end with him,” she said, getting up from the chair she was sitting on and closing distance between them. “Despite your rebellion to our traditions, I know you would hate to see your uncle take your father’s place.”
Zorban sighed and turned to face his mother. “Of course, I would. Father should have changed this stupid rule a long time ago,” he grumbled.
The woman cradled his face. “You know he can’t. Your uncle would take that opportunity to turn the council against your father, and only the gods know what might come out of that,” Queen Mayala pointed out. “Once you’ve found the one, you won’t have to go through these events, and you’ll have time to enjoy your life while your bride grows to be your queen.”
Zorban turned his face to kiss his mother’s hand. “Then, pray I find her tonight.”
“You will, I’m sure of it.” She leaned closer and kissed her son’s face. “Now, please, go and get ready for the party,” she asked him, hustling him out of her chambers.
“Please, don’t be late,” she warned him. “Your father hates it when you’re late.”
“Yes, mother, I won’t be late.” He walked out and went straight to his own chambers. Krad, his best friend, was already there waiting for him.
“So, did your mother give you the usual speech?” he asked him as he entered the room.
They had been friends since they were babies and there was little Krad didn’t know about Zorban.
“Yes, she did. I know she’s worried. My father found her in his second event. This is my tenth, so I guess she has reasons to be worried,” he granted his mother, walking straight to a small table and grabbing a glass of his favorite juice from it. His assistant made sure he had it there at all times. “I still hate to have to attend it, but I also know I don’t have a choice,” he accepted, after taking a long sip of his cold drink.
“With luck, you’ll find her tonight,” his friend said, trying to cheer him up, as he jumped out of the chair where he was sitting.
“I really would love that. I know it would put a deadline on my freedom, but at least, I wouldn’t have to go through this every year,” Zorban admitted.
“And it would kill your uncle’s expectations of ever taking your father’s place.”
“Exactly. We all know that would be a total disaster. Of course, if my parents had had more children, I wouldn’t be going through this hell,” he pointed out.
“I’ve always felt suspicious about your mother’s accident,” Krad confessed. “It was way too convenient to your uncle’s plans.”
“I know, and my father always suspected he was behind it, but he is too careful to leave any evidence behind. We were never able to connect him or any of his men to the accident,” Zorban explained.
His mother’s accident, a few weeks after she gave birth to him, had prevented her from having other children, increasing his uncle’s ambitions to take over the throne.
“Well, if you find your soul mate tonight, you’ll finally get rid of your uncle,” Krad said, patting his friend’s back.
But Zorban shook his head. “He won’t give up that fast. A lot of things can happen in eighteen solar rotations, and though the baby girl and her family will be under our protection, I’m sure my uncle will do all in his power for me not to mate her,” Zorban voiced his biggest fear.
He knew his uncle wouldn’t kill the girl. Once a soul mate died, the other was free to find a new one. The Thalians lived too long lives to live them alone. But as long as his soul mate was alive, he couldn’t mate another one, and only a mated male could take the Thalian throne.
“You know you can count on my men and me to protect her,” Krad told him. He was one of the king’s generals, and Zorban had no doubt of his loyalty.
“Yes, I know, and I’m sure we’ll need all the protection you can provide,” Zorban assured his friend. He finished his drink and headed to the bathing room. “I better get ready to find her first,” he said, with a scowl, as he walked out of the room.
The ballroom was crowded. A hundred families had been invited, and they were all there. Every Thalian mother’s dream was to have her daughter chosen by the crown prince. They knew fate was the one making the decision, but that didn’t stop them from trying to make their babies more attractive.
Zorban was standing next to the throne with his parents waiting for the ceremony to start. They were waiting for all the guests to be there so they could begin.
“How many baby girls are here this year?” Zorban asked his mother, guessing he would have a very long night.
She gave him a wavering smile that betrayed her nervousness. “One hundred. I believe it’s a record.”
“Perhaps, that means you’ll finally find the one,” his father pointed out, in a stern tone, while he looked at where his brother stood with all his family.
Unlike the king, his brother had a very large family, with seven sons and four daughters. Fortunately, none of his girls had been Zorban’s soul mate.
“Yes, that would be a relief for all of us,” Zorban admitted, feeling a bit restless that night as if sensing something he couldn’t quite identify. “So, what am I supposed to feel when I’m introduced to the one?” he asked his mother, as he did every year.
The whole ceremony had always felt a bit fantastic and unreal, but his father always told him he would know the minute he laid his eyes on the girl.
“You’ll know she’s the one. Your heart and soul will tell you without a doubt you’ve found the one meant to share the rest of your lifetime,” his mother said, as she always did.
“Our people should learn a bit more about romance and the pleasure of conquering your soul mate,” he said, with a scowl. Having traveled around the galaxy, he knew not all people chose their mates the way his people did.
His father frowned at his comment. “I guess it takes the excitement from the courtship, but believe me, you won’t want anyone else, once you’ve met her,” he assured him.
“Your majesty, we’re ready to start,” his father’s prime councilor informed the king, and he nodded.
Zorban took a deep breath and prepared himself to go through another harsh night. However, as the line grew shorter, his restlessness grew stronger. Something was different that night, he could feel it, but he had no idea what it was.
Taking a deep breath, he raised his eyes above the couple standing in front of him and his parents and allowed his eyes to peruse the people still waiting in line as if looking for something.
A loud giggle made his heart stop for a second and his eyes went straight to the little girl that had escaped her mother’s grip and rushed to the middle of the room with wavering steps. She looked like a little angel, in her white dress, adorned with tiny, light pink flowers, the same ones she had on her almost white curls.
Before he knew what he was doing, Zorban had rushed to where she was, picking her up into his arms just before she stumbled to the floor. The little girl let out a small cry that went silent the minute she looked into the eyes of her savior. After a few moments, she let out a shy chuckle before she cradled his face with her little hands, mesmerized with him.
Zorban had to take a few deep breaths before he could make himself take his eyes off the little girl he was still holding in his arms.
The girl’s mother was standing next to him, clearly embarrassed by the situation.
“I’m terribly sorry, your highness… ever since she learned to walk… it’s impossible to keep her still…” the woman mumbled, still unaware of what had happened.
“What’s her name?” he asked her, turning his eyes to the little girl once more. He was able to see his parents rushing to where he was, but it didn’t surprise him.
“Her name is Leena, your highness,” the girl’s father replied, stepping next to his family. “We didn’t mean to disrupt the ceremony…” the man started saying, but the king interrupted him.
“There’s no need for apologies. I believe they were both impatient to meet each other,” the king said, with a faint smile, looking at his son. “Isn’t that right, Zorban?”
The little girl wrapped her arms around Zorban’s neck and rested her head on his broad shoulder, knowing instinctively she was where she belonged.
Zorban looked at his father and nodded. “Yes, father.” He had found his soul mate. Just as his mother had told him, his heart and his soul told him without a doubt he had found her.
His mother let out a small cry of happiness, and the whole room went silent.
“Is she your soul mate, Zorban?” the king asked his son, with a broad smile, wanting to hear it out loud.
“Yes, father, Leena is my soul mate,” he announced with a firm tone and after another moment of astounded silence, the whole room cheered at the news.
The prince had found his soul mate.
A few minutes later, after the cheering and wishes of eternal happiness, they were finally able to go to a more private room with Leena’s family.
Zorban still had her in his arms, and the little girl had fallen asleep. A fierce protective instinct rushed through his veins, and he had little desire to return her to her parents.
“We haven’t been properly introduced,” the queen pointed out. “Please, call me Mayala, after all, now we’re family.”
“My name is Wyn, and my soul mate is Tanulia, queen Mayala,” the girl’s father replied, still hesitating to call the king and the queen by their names.
“Welcome to the family, Wyn, and Tanulia. My soul mate Hurick and I couldn’t be happier to welcome you and your family to join our family,” the queen assured him, with a broad smile.
“Yes, this is a day of joy for all of us,” the king added, smiling too.
“How old is your daughter?” the queen asked Leena’s mother, puzzled. The girl looked older than the girls they had seen that night, most under the age of one sun rotation.
“She’s eighteen moon cycles, my queen. She was supposed to be introduced to the prince on the past event, but she fell ill that night, with a bellyache, so we weren’t able to bring her that night,” Wyn replied, with a concerned tone.
They were aware of the rules that stated that all girls born during the sun rotation were to be taken to the palace on the event that followed the girl’s birth.
“Some things escape our best plans,” the king appeased the man’s worries. “We’ll have to discuss a million details now that my son has met Leena, but we’ll have enough time for that, in the morning. It’s time to celebrate.”
Leena’s parents nodded, and Tanulia reached out to take her sleeping baby from Zorban’s arms. He reluctantly handed her to her mother, immediately feeling he missed her.
“Why don’t we take the girl to the palace nursery room? Our nannies will take good care of her while we enjoy the rest of the evening,” the queen suggested, with a smile, watching the sleeping little girl.
“I’m sure that’s not necessary, mother. You’ve brought your stroller, haven’t you?” Zorban asked Tanulia, unwilling to send Leena out of his sight.
Tanulia looked uncomfortable. “I’m afraid not. We hadn’t planned to stay beyond the presentation,” she explained. “We have three more children, and we don’t like to leave them with the nannies for long,” she explained, with a faint smile. “It never occurred to us Leena would be the one.”
“That’s alright, I understand your feelings, but now people expect you to stay for the celebration,” the queen said, with a smile.
“Of course, and we are honored to be a part of it, we’re just not prepared to stay,” Wyn explained.
“Then, let’s take Leena to the nursery room. She will be well taken care of there,” the queen insisted, and Leena’s parents finally agreed.
A nursery room was prepared with enough cribs to host the babies while the parents enjoyed the party after the event. Several women were employed that day to take care of the babies, and several of the palace guards guarded the room. Zorban knew Leena would be safe there, but he still didn’t like the idea, though he kept his doubts to himself.
He accompanied Leena’s parents to the nursery room, making sure she was safe in a crib before they returned to the ballroom.
The banquet proceeded as usual, but Zorban had trouble concentrating on what was happening around him. He still couldn’t believe the emotions that little girl had stirred inside him, how his heart and soul had gone out to her at the sound of her innocent giggle.
Waiting for her to grow up would give him the time to know her and for his love to mature and he knew he would wait impatiently for the day they would finally be announced as mates.
He spent the whole time feeling restless and wishing he could go and make sure Leena was safe in her crib, but he knew people would worry if they noticed his concern, so he put on a congenial smile and went through the whole event as best as he could.
When the ball finally ended, he walked Leena’s parents to get her from the nursery room, and that was then when the hell was set loose.
Leena wasn’t anywhere to be found. Someone had taken her away from her crib, and now she was gone.
Zorban looked at his friend sitting across the table and shook his head, astonished. “You’re getting married?”
Matthew sighed. “I really don’t understand why you sound so surprised. You know I have been dating Joanna for over a year now, and I’m sure she’s the one,” he said, in a defensive tone.
“How can you be so sure?” Zorban asked. The ways of this planet still amazed him. People didn’t have the instinct to guide them when mating and the number of broken relationships was mesmerizing.
“I love her and I know I want to spend the rest of my life with her,” his friend assured him. “I want her to be the mother of my children and believe me, that’s something I’ve never wished before. Joanne is sweet, romantic, loving and the hottest woman I’ve met in my whole life,” he added, his eyes shining as he described the woman he intended to marry.
“If you’re so sure about her, how come you’ve never introduced her to me?” Zorban asked, with a frown.
He and Matthew had been friends for five years now. They had met shortly after Zorban had arrived at the planet, looking for a place to hide and lick his wounds. He hadn’t been in a good place back then, but Matthew had taken him under his wing and had forced him out of his dark mood.
Matthew looked uncomfortable and squirmed on the chair for a few moments before he answered his question. “Because I was afraid to lose her.”
“What? What the hell are you talking about?” he asked, with a deep frown.
His friend sighed and jumped out of his chair to walk to the huge window that opened up to Elliot Bay. He stayed there in silence for a few moments before he turned around and looked at Zorban. “You’re a woman’s magnet. So far, I haven’t met a woman that hasn’t melted at the sight of you,” he confessed. “When I met Joanne, I decided I had to keep her away from you, no matter what.”
Zorban’s frown became even more profound. “You know I would never hit on a woman you were dating,” he protested.
“I know that. You don’t have to. They throw themselves at your feet and sometimes, you don’t even see them,” Matthew said, with a hint of jealousy in his tone.
“What changed? Why do you feel comfortable to introduce her to me now?” Zorban asked, not sure he liked his friend’s description of him. He had been with many females ever since he had arrived at planet Earth, but he hadn’t noticed women reacted differently to his presence. “Aren’t you afraid she might fall for me?” he asked with a sarcastic tone.
Matthew scowled. “I deserve that, I know… but no, I’m not afraid of that anymore. Joanne loves me as much as I love her. Meeting you won’t change her feelings.”
“Well, then I can’t wait to meet her.”
Matthew returned to his seat in front of Zorban’s desk. “There’s something else,” he said, with a smile. “I want you to be my best man.”
Zorban had been to a few weddings by now, and he knew the importance of his friend’s request. He smiled, pleased. “It will be my pleasure,” he assured him.
“Good. I’ll have a dinner party this weekend for you to meet Joanne and some of her friends. Please, try not to seduce any of the bride’s maids.”
Zorban frowned. “You exaggerate my seduction skills.”
“I wish I did,” Matthew sighed. “Can I count on you?”
“I’ll be there.”
“Have you checked the new cell phone? George told me he would be sending it to you today,” he asked, changing the subject.
When Zorban arrived at planet Earth, he had been lost for a few months, not sure how he would make a life for himself on a strange planet. Everything was unfamiliar, and the planet’s technology seemed too rudimentary for him. He was complaining about it to Matthew one night, and his friend’s answer had changed both their lives: ‘Why don’t you do something about it?’
He had done something about it, with Matthew’s help and now they owned a multimillion-dollar company that manufactured cell phones, tablets, laptops, and a few other electronic devices.
“Yes, he has. I’m not very pleased with the case, but they are already working on the changes I suggested,” Zorban explained.
“Perfect.” He got up again. “I have to go now. Joanne is cooking dinner for me tonight, and I can’t wait to get home.”
Zorban smiled. “Have fun. I’ll see you in the morning.”
After his friend left, Zorban got up and walked to the window. He never got tired of the view, it had been one of the reasons he chose that office. Seattle was a lovely city. Not too small, nor too big, and cold enough to make him feel comfortable. Whenever he was homesick, he would fly to Mount Rainier and enjoy the reinvigorating cold air and the gentle caress of the snow.
The sun finally disappeared and gave way to a full moon and a starry night. It was time for him to go back to his place. He had bought a penthouse not far from work, where he spent most of his free time.
Staying off the radar was vital for him. He knew his fictional past wouldn’t stand a thorough investigation, so he had asked Matthew to be the company’s face. Not many people knew who he was, or what he did and he wanted things to stay just like that.
Not even the women he dated knew much about him, and none lasted more than a few weeks in his life. He had lost his soulmate, and he knew he wasn’t going to find another one, so he saw no reason to give them hope of a future he knew was impossible.
Once at home, he went straight to his office. He needed to contact his mother, back on Thalia and he kept his communication device hidden in there. He knew it was risky, but he couldn’t cut all communication with his home planet, he just couldn’t.
“Zorban, darling, I’m so happy to see you,” his mother greeted him, with a faint smile. He could tell she was worried.
“Hello mother, what’s going on?”
“Your father is ill, and I’m suspecting your uncle is behind his sudden illness,” the queen confessed, in a low whisper. He knew she feared someone could hear her, or find her talking to him.
“You know he’s desperate to take over the throne. With me out of the way it’s just a matter of time,” Zorban pointed out, in a bitter tone.
“You should have stayed here, where you belong,” she complained, wiping a tear from her fair cheek.
“I didn’t have a choice; mother and you know it. After fifteen solar rotations looking for a new soulmate, it was more than obvious for everyone that I wasn’t going to find one,” he said, running his fingers through his long hair.
“We all know he was responsible for Leena’s disappearance,” Queen Mayala said, her fury and impotence evident in each word.
“Yes, but no one was able to prove it. I’m destined to be alone, mother and there isn’t much we can do about it.”
“I refuse to believe that. I refuse to believe Thalia is to fall into the hands of a murderer, a person capable of anything to get what he wants. That would be the destruction of our people, and you know it,” she grumbled through gritted teeth.
“I know, mother, but there isn’t a thing I can do. Jharb has too many supporters amongst father’s council, and I warned him about it, but he chose to ignore my warnings,” he ranted, though he knew his mother was not to blame for that. “Those men helped Jharb to get me thrown off Thalia under father’s watch.”
“How can you say that? Your father…” his mother tried to defend her husband, but he didn’t allow her. Not this time.
“My father had the power to put an end to Jharb’s ambitions, and he didn’t. He chose to hope for the best and his inaction has brought us to this.”
His mother sobbed, but this time Zorban didn’t take back his words. It was time his mother understood she was married to a weak man, afraid to confront his own brother and stop his nefarious plans for Thalia and its people.
Queen Mayala wiped the tears from her face with a tiny handkerchief before she looked at her son. “This is why you need to be here. A lot of people were against sending you away, and I’m sure they would be more than happy to help you reestablish the natural order of things,” she said, using her best persuasive tone.
Zorban sighed. “No one will support a man with no mate, mother and we both know that.”
“Your mate wasn’t born yet, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find one. Jharb pressed the council members to rule you as unable to succeed your father on the throne, just to assure his own position, but I’m sure your mate is out there, somewhere,” his mother refuted his words.
“We can’t know that for sure, mother. Not everybody finds a second mate,” he pointed out, tired of the whole situation.
Queen Mayala sighed. “If your father dies, we’re doomed,” his mother said in a low tone.
“Then, keep him alive as long as you can, mother, and start looking for a possible heir, someone willing to stand up against Jharb.”
“I already have that heir, Zorban, he came out of me,” she protested and ended the call.
Copyright © 2018 by T.J. Quinn
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Ice Princess by T. J. Quinn – Review by Christine Myers
Ice Princess is a classic second chance romance set in science fiction. The crown prince of Thalia, Zorban loses his soul mate the day he found her. Unless he has a mate, he can never become King. After he is unsuccessful in finding another one after losing her, he eventually gives up on finding love and goes to Earth where he makes a new life for himself.
Even though I figured out the twist not far into the book, the main characters were drawn in such a way that I had to keep reading while I rooted for them to figure out, they belonged together. I remember thinking more than a few times that I really like how a scene was written.
This is a kind of adult fairy tale with aliens and some fairly steamy love scenes—and a HEA ending. It’s well worth the read.
I have to say I loved it, and it gets 5-stars from me. That’s not just because I work with her. I don’t always give her 5-stars. Just ask her.