BELONGING (The Royal Cleaner: Book Nine) Preview

So, here it is.

The final Royal Cleaner book!

It’s sad to see these characters go, but I hope that I’ve written them a worthy final chapter.

If you’ve been waiting for the series to finish before starting, you can find the first book (and the rest of the series) here, or if you’re all caught up, you can pre-order Book Nine from your favourite ebook stores.

If you’d rather see what’s to come, however, here are the first two chapters:

Chapter One

“Ah, Persephone. You’re here just in time.”

“Uther, please, stop.” Seph approached where her brother was standing, in the middle of a crowded street in the centre of town. “Whatever you’re planning on doing, please stop. Before it’s too late.”

He shook his head. “You’ve left me no choice, dear sister.”

Dark Energy pulsed around him as he recited a spell Seph didn’t recognise.

Mina and Caroline tried to lunge forward to stop him, but neither reached him.

Mina dropped to the ground, clutching her head in agony.

Caroline followed just a moment later.

Seph went to run to Mina, distressed by the blood dripping from her face, but she stopped as she realised that Mina and Caroline weren’t the only ones who had dropped to the ground.

No, everyone around them was also clutching their head.

Everyone but her and Uther.

“What did you do?”

Uther smirked. “It was rather foolish of Caroline to bind herself to a Human, don’t you think? They are, after all, so fragile. I had only meant to harm the Humans, but now Caroline will join them in death, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Nothing you can do to save your loves. And nothing you can do to stop me from exposing magic. A curse like this? There’s no way it will stay quiet for long. Too many higher ups in the Human governments know about magic now, and they will need some explanation to calm their people. An enemy to point to.

“It will be a rallying cry for Humans to fight us, and we will fight them, dear sister. Yes, the rest of the nobility will see that we need to take the stand that Queen Freya is too weak to, and her reign will soon be over.”

Chapter Two

Caroline pulled her vest top over her head before grabbing her hairbrush and taking her hair out of its ponytail. Pulling on her top had completely wrecked it.

As she brushed her hair back, she couldn’t help but smile at the sleeping figure in the bed.

Seph was as bad as Mina when it came to sleeping in. And while Mina had work in the morning, Seph didn’t, so she tended to stay in bed while the other two got ready.

Caroline’s smile widened a little at the reminder that Seph had basically moved in with them since they’d rescued her from Uther.

Much like when Caroline had moved in, there had been some token suggestion of her finding another place, but then she had settled into the large apartment, and there had been no need for her to move, so it had been forgotten.

Caroline’s smile faded, however, as Seph began to toss and turn in her sleep, reminding Caroline of the downside of her penchant for lying in.

As soon as Caroline and Mina woke, the connection to the dream stone – a magical device that let them control and share their dreams at night – was severed, and Seph was left to the mercy of her visions.

Caroline desperately wanted to wake her from whatever she was seeing, but she knew better at this point.

Seph was as powerful a Demon as Caroline, even if she’d never trained for combat, so when shocked awake from her worst visions, she could produce a blast of magical Energy capable of sending Caroline clear across the room.

Eventually, however, the vision ended and Seph bolted upright with a groan, her hand going to her head.

“Another vision of Uther?” Caroline asked softly as she went to sit down on the edge of the bed.

Seph nodded.

“What was he up to this time?”

“The same as last time. That curse on all the Humans in the city.”

Caroline smiled. “Well, that’s a good thing, right? That the vision is the same as last time, I mean. Doesn’t that mean that this is the plan he’s sticking to?”

Seph groaned once more. “I wouldn’t call the idea that he’s sticking to this plan ‘good’, Caroline. Both you and Mina died in my vision, along with half the city.”

“Yes, but that’s only because we haven’t gotten to work on a counter-offensive yet. We were waiting for a plan to stick. But now it looks like we’ve got one, we can start figuring out how to stop him.”

In all honesty, Caroline had hated the last few weeks. Ever since Seph had started to get visions of Uther’s final plan, Caroline had been itching to stop him, and she knew that Mina wasn’t much better. But with Seph’s visions of the plan changing every night, there had been no point in working to counter a plan that might never happen.

But if this really was the final version of the plan, then they could finally get to work.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Seph agreed, though her tone lacked enthusiasm for the idea as the bathroom door opened and Mina stepped back through.

“Hey,” she said softly as she realised Seph was awake. “Did you have another vision?”

Seph nodded. “It was the same one as last night.”

“Which is good,” Caroline said, hoping to drive the point home for Seph. “If it’s the same plan, then we can start figuring out how to fight it.”

Mina nodded. “Yeah, you’re right, this is good news. We can start looking at how to counter this curse as soon as we get into work. For now, I’m going to make sure that the kids are up and ready.”

Once she was out of the room, Seph turned to Caroline with a raised eyebrow. “She does know that as a Witch she can just cast a glamour instead of subjecting her hair to that awful dye job, right? Or, Creator, if she doesn’t want the drain on her magic, there are potions that would be a thousand times better than boxed dye.”

Caroline frowned. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that her hair looks awful and there’s a vicious smell of chemicals coming from the bathroom.”

Caroline had to admit that the chemical smell had been bothering her since Mina had opened the door, but she hadn’t noticed anything wrong with her hair, and she was confused by Human beauty products in general. They tended to be gunky or goopy, and Caroline liked neither on her face.

“But her hair was still black. Why would she dye her hair the same colour it’s always been?”

“Probably for the same reason she keeps insisting that she doesn’t need reading glasses.”

“Yes, but that doesn’t make sense to me either. If she’s struggling to see, and there’s a device that would help her, I don’t understand why she’s so reluctant to use it.”

“Because she only needs them because she’s getting older. And she’s dyeing her hair to cover up the grey in it. Caroline, we both still look like we’re in our twenties. Maybe someone will peg us for early thirties, but that will have more to do with how we carry ourselves than any physical signs of ageing. It will be centuries before either of us gets a wrinkle or grey hair, but Mina’s getting them now. Her access to your magic will likely slow the process and extend her lifespan a little, but nowhere near as long as ours.”

Caroline looked away, a lump forming in her throat. It wasn’t that she wasn’t aware of what Seph was saying. She’d always known that Mina would age faster than her and have a lifespan that was a fraction of her own.

But it wasn’t exactly something she liked to think about.

She turned to Seph. “Have you ever looked into the future to see what happens with… With us in the long-term?”

Seph shook her head. “Our fight against Uther is clouding the future. As I said before, my current visions show you both dying when we face him. Until he’s gone, I can’t get a clear read on what our future will be like when we win. But even if I did, I’m not sure I would tell you. People shouldn’t know their fates, Caroline.”

“You know yours.”

“I know. And there is some degree to which I will have to keep looking for everyone’s safety. I’ve already seen anchor points…”

She trailed off, and Caroline had figured out why at this point.

Seph didn’t want to worry her or Mina, but she’d seen glimpses of the children’s futures. Points where they would be tied to momentous events.

But that was far from now and defeating Uther would likely have ripple effects across everyone’s fates.

It was a problem for tomorrow.

Seph looked away. “I’m not going to look further into our futures, Caroline. Beyond danger that we can avoid, I don’t want to know. I’ll keep an eye on Demon dangers and an eye on immediate health issues, but nothing more.” She sighed. “Not that any of this will actually matter if we don’t defeat my brother.”

Caroline leaned close to Seph, her hand going to her cheek. “We’ll deal with him, Seph. I promise you, we’ll figure this out, and we’ll have a future together beyond him.”

Seph leaned into her touch and Carolinecouldn’t help but revel in that. It wasn’t too long ago that Seph was pullingaway from her altogether, and Caroline was more than thankful for the change asshe leaned in close, bringing her lips to Seph’s.

Want to continue reading? You can pre-order the book from your favourite ebook stores!

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