Sampler: Escape from Wheel by Michael Scott Cliffton
September 2, 2020
Her journey begins a new life in a new world filled with troubles she could have never imagined.
Alexandria Duvalier’s new life on the magical world of Meredith takes a shattering twist when her father, the Duke of Wheel, pledges her hand in marriage to the cruel lord, Rodric Regret. Desperate to escape his clutches, Alex flees the city with the help of her friend, Tell Tollet, a handsome lieutenant in the city guard. But their freedom is short-lived when Rodric’s brutal brother, Stefan, joins in the pursuit.
Hotheaded Prince Tal, heir to the throne of Meredith, has but one goal: kill the Dark Queen and destroy the Veil, the enchanted barrier which has ensnared generations of his people. He discovers a breach in the magical wall, and leads an army through, bent on completing his mission.
When an unusual and potent magic calls to him, he follows its trail back to Alex. Thrown together by circumstances and pursued across the wilderness by the ruthless Lord Stefan, Tal and Alex are drawn to each other by the greatest magic of all—love.
Now they just need to stay alive…
Sampler: Escape from Wheel
Dorothea, the Duchess of the Duchy of Wheel, poured water into a crystal bowl.
She muttered words of power and touched the liquid with the tip of her finger. A languid ripple appeared, and her reflection stared back to reveal a pale face with ice-blue eyes. More undulations disturbed the water, and then stilled.
Another face now stared at the Duchess.
Lord Rodric Regret flashed a cruel smile at Dorothea, ivory teeth displayed like a predator prepared to take a particularly juicy bite. Dark eyes cast a penetrating gaze from above a hawkish nose and narrow face. A crown of long black hair, plaited in a braid, looped across his collar.
“Dorothea. To what do I owe the pleasure? Especially since you banished me from Wheel less than a fortnight ago. Do you miss me already?”
The Duchess’s mouth curled. “Your memory is as short as your self-control, Rodric. Or have you forgotten already your ill-conceived attack on the Duke’s daughter, Alexandria? The very woman you are to be betrothed to?”
Rodric laughed. “Such fun, and yet my talents continue to be unappreciated.”
“You are a fool!” Dorothea snapped. “However, I am in need of the very talents you boast of.”
Rodric’s eyes gleamed. “Oh, do tell. I’m all ears.”
Dorothea snorted. “I’m afraid it doesn’t involve torture or pulling wings off helpless insects.”
A disappointed sigh escaped Rodric. “Very well. What is it you need?”
“A shade. One I can use to track Alexandria’s movements.”
“Why? You already have guards posted at her door every night.”
“Because the Duke has given her permission to roam the city!” Dorothea barked. “And because I don’t trust her! Since recovering from her fall she has behaved oddly…almost like she is a different person. She needs to be watched at all times.”
Rodric tapped his lips. “Hmmm. I agree. She indeed seems changed. The Alexandria before the accident was more malleable.” He leered and added, “And much more open to the concept of what it means to give and receive pleasure.”
The insolent smile returned. “I’ll decant a shade tonight. Be prepared to receive it by tomorrow.”
Dorothea nodded in acknowledgment, and the watery image wavered and disappeared.
The Duchess pursed her lips. “Don’t ever try to match wits with me, Alexandria,” she whispered. She picked up the bowl and hurled it against the wall where it shattered into a thousand glittering shards.
“Because you won’t like the results.”
Lost in thought, Alexandria Duvalier sat beneath an ornamental tree on the terrace. A cup of warm tea, untouched, sat forgotten near her fingertips.
Gardeners moved about the terrace pruning, pulling weeds, and tending to the numerous flower beds. She stirred and eyed them uneasily.
Outside of Tell and Darcy, I don’t know who I can trust.
Since rousing from the accident on Earth which left her in a coma, everything about her life had changed in an instant. She found herself on a new world with a new body and a new identity.
And faced with new problems and threats.
Mona Parker—her former self—was a plain and homely teenager, a penniless foster child bullied to the point of suicide by a rich and arrogant classmate. Her guardian angel, Thaddeus Finkle, appeared one night with a proposition;
Exchange a life with someone else.
Faced with the cruel bullying paired with her otherwise drab existence, the choice seemed easy. What did she have to lose? The next thing Mona knew, she woke from unconsciousness to find herself on the world of Meredith as Alexandria, a beautiful woman and the daughter of a Duke complete with servants and riches. Her wildest dreams had come true.
Only then did she learn the cost of her bargain.
Trapped behind the Veil, a curtain of magic, the Duchy of Wheel was the last major province still unconquered by Marlinda, the evil creator of the Veil. The Dark Queen’s brutal subjugation of the populace—ongoing for over a thousand years—was now almost complete.
But, bad as that prospect seemed, worse lay in store for her.
Attacked her first night on Meredith by her handmaiden, Darcy, the poor girl’s body had been mystically commandeered by Rodric—the man her father, Duke Alton Duvalier, was determined she would marry. Via Darcy’s body, Rodric’s brutal assault almost killed her. Saved by a sudden explosion of power from within her—something she still couldn’t explain—the experience even now, in bright sunshine, continued to chill her blood.
The final evidence of her dire circumstances came last night. Given a magical book by Thaddeus Finkle, she found herself actually pulled into the volume. There she became part of a narrative where she witnessed firsthand the initial meeting between Marlinda and Jack. Now dubbed the Veil Queen and King, the poisonous fruit of this malevolent partnership became the magical barrier known as the Veil.
Alex reached for the tea and took a sip.
Still shaky from this surreal experience within her angel’s book, she arose early and spent most of the morning lost in thought. No amount of meditation, however, could change her situation. Her only choice was to grab hold of her new life and move forward.
I am Alexandria Duvalier, heir to the Duchy of Dalfur…and I need to start acting like it.
No more “Mona” moments of indecision or fear of change. No more feeling sorry for myself. And most of all, no more dependency on Thaddeus Finkle…for anything! His last visit made clear, I’m on my own.
Her guardian angel—at times rude and condescending, and other times, warm and empathetic—never revealed more to her than snippets of what to expect.
Meredith is a world of magic and wonder where magic has replaced technology. But with dreams there are also nightmares.
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