My active work-in-progress is The Best-Laid Plans, a sequel for my novelette, The Contingency Plan. I haven’t written the blurb yet, but to give readers who haven’t read the first book a little context for this excerpt, here’s the blurb for The Contingency Plan:
A sheltered prince. A sudden death. An unexpected choice. How will Prince Marcelo react to discovering he’s The Contingency Plan?
For eighteen years, there has been peace between Sheburat and the kingdom of Zioneven. The untimely death of a princess throws the marriage arrangement—the final phase to complete the terms of the treaty—into disarray, and the contingency plan is put into motion. Now the Crown Prince of Zioneven gets to make his own choice from among the princess’s younger siblings.
As a rare royal son in the matriarchal sovereignty of Sheburat, Prince Marcelo grew up knowing he would never marry. Never. Royal sons did not marry. Period. Except, Prince Efren isn’t from Sheburat, and he has other plans.
Basically, The Contingency Plan is about Prince Marcelo coming to terms with his fate and realizing he might actually be better off and have more opportunity to reach his potential in Prince Efren’s realm. The reader is left being able to imagine the happy princes riding off into their HEA. That was all I’d originally intended for them, but alas, their story calls to me (and readers have clamored for more for them), and there must be some drama in their continuing story.
So, although I’ve not written the blurb, here’s the basic setup for the story: It turns out that the death of Marcelo’s sister wasn’t as accidental as it had seemed, so the caravan from Zioneven faces potential danger on their trip home. Political intrigue, death, kidnapping! Both princes will get scenes from their POV in this longer, novella length story, but here’s a short excerpt from The Best-Laid Plans told from Prince Marcelo’s POV:
EXCERPT - The Best-Laid Plans
The dull thud of something heavy dropping to the ground pulled Marcelo from his dream with a shudder as if he’d fallen. He rubbed his arms to ward off the cold, and sat.
Efren no longer lay next to him. Marcelo blinked as his eyes adjusted to the dark. He shook his head, trying to clear a persistent sluggishness from his mind, and a threadlike hint of wet dog odor from his sinuses. People continued to scurry about outside the tent. A shiver not caused by the chilly air ran up his spine.
It was too dark for the caravan to be readying for the new day’s travel. He didn’t know the precise time, only that it was too dark for the activity to be that. Traveling in such conditions would be dangerous, and a difference in customs wouldn’t explain discounting such a pointless risk.
A scraping…dragging noise from the entrance to the tent caught Marcelo’s attention, and he turned in time to see feet disappearing under the entry flap.
For a brief moment he doubted his vision. It didn’t make sense. None of this did. Until his mind flooded with visions of his mother offering additional guards for their travel after learning of Gagel’s duplicity, and Efren’s repeated consultations with his security captain, and suddenly it made perfect sense.
Marcelo shifted to his knees as his heart leapt into his throat. Whose feet were those? Efren’s? Was Efren—?
No. Marcelo shook off that horrific thought. Maybe he was being naïve, but he couldn’t face such a possibility.
But what could he do that might help Efren? A knot tightened in his gut, and he was never so sorry for his pampered upbringing as he was in that moment. Because there was precious little he could do.
He swiveled his head as he searched fruitlessly through the darkness for something…anything…that he could use. A cup? Worthless. The water pitcher? Those sad offerings were the most he had at his disposal. Efren’s scabbard was empty, confirming his fears. And there was nothing he could think to do to even protect himself as the noises outside the tent mounted, let alone do to help Efren.
He’d failed his new husband before their promising life together had truly begun.
With a shaky hand, Marcelo reached for the tray that still held their clothing. Whatever he was about to face, he was going to do it with his trousers on. Efren’s clothing was still there, so he hadn’t allowed himself that dignity, but for Efren, time would have been of the essence.
Marcelo blew out a shuddering breath. He was too worthless for it to matter if he rushed out of the tent. He didn’t even know which would be the wiser move—to go out and face their enemy or to stay in the tent and meekly await his fate? His mind whirled, and he continued to scan the room as he pulled on trousers and a tunic. Then his gaze lit on a corner of the small, makeshift room, where the thick linen tent material was pulled taut.
A tent stake? That could make a good weapon. Maybe. The forged steel was hard and sharp. Not honed like a blade, but he’d been able to pound them into the hard earth with minimal effort. The stakes didn’t have a proper handgrip, but he could probably clasp one well enough to wield it like a dagger. Not that he knew how to correctly handle any kind of knife in hand-to-hand combat, but trying would be better than doing nothing.
Problem was, the tent stakes were on the outside of the tent’s walls. Marcelo cast a nervous glance at the entry flap and scurried to one of the pinning points. He stretched out on the ground and slipped a hand beneath the linen wall.