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Winter's Warrior: Mark of the Monarch (Winter's Saga 4)
Author:Karen Luellen

Winter's Warrior: Mark of the Monarch (Winter's Saga 4)

Karen Luellen




For Dan

Your Faith Lifts Me

*

To everyone who has loved so deeply

That your own breath was only worth taking if

Those who mean the world to you

Are there to breathe life back into you.



My family, my breath.

*

Special thanks to my beta readers.

(They named themselves “Betaheads.” Ha!)

You wonderful people made the editing process

so much easier with everyone helping me look for errors and disconnects.

Warrior is a far better book because of you!

I love you all and am very thankful to you for your hours of effort.

You are the best!

Caryn Bartle, Susan Campbell, Jamie Castle, Wendy Chartier, Lynne Couvier,

Marge Crowther, Kelly Domerstad, Crystal Faux, Nereid Gwilliams, Jamey Lubeck, Elise Marion,

Madison Moore, Christina Nelson, Beth Sigmund, Catherine Trieu, Jen Wiseleyand Mia Zabriskie





MetaMonarchs, Part 1

New Haven, Connecticut

14 years ago



Dr. Kenneth Williams wondered if the delicious stench of decomposition was already tickling the senses of the flies that had made their homes in the tall grass surrounding the sickly pond. He was trying to resist the urge to go back and see for himself.

Had they laid their eggs in the drifter’s torn flesh? Were larvae already starting to form, ready to feast on the decayed tissue? Had anyone found the wretched body?

Absently, the doctor reached into the deep pocket of his white lab coat and fingered the lumpy spheres he had kept as souvenirs. They were still mostly frozen. He was no fool. He had cleaned them thoroughly and shaped them with his expert scalpel until they were as pristine and perfect as possible. He rubbed the bulbous lumps with his thumb reverently, as though they could grant wishes if touched in just the right way.

What would I wish for? Dr. Kenneth Williams thought. A smirk played at the corners of his lips.

He pondered all he had already accomplished. He had a beautiful, well-connected fiancée from an affluent family, a successful start to his medical career and all the respect and prestige that went with it. He satisfied his primal and scientific urges with the little excursions across the country by luring the homeless and destitute into his rented luxury cars, injecting them with a neuromuscular-blocking agent and playing with them even as they were paralyzed but conscious.

The young doctor couldn’t help but smile at the thought of the numerous subjects he’d savored as he watched death slip across their faces at his hands.

What he would wish for, though, was the respect of one very powerful professor: Donovan Arkdone. Now, that was one man who lived and breathed the kind of science Kenneth Williams craved. He waited patiently for Professor Arkdone as he rolled the cold eyeballs around in his pocket.

“Good afternoon, Dr. Williams,” a commanding voice interrupted his reverie.

“Professor Arkdone, so good of you to meet me. I know you’ve been busy with the upcoming election.” Williams stood from the leather recliner as he released the eyeballs back into the crisp pocket and reached out with the same hand to greet the professor with a hardy handshake, as was expected between colleagues.

“Oh, yes, well—once I’m Senator, life will be even busier. I’m glad to have made time for you.” Arkdone beckoned one of the many waiters over. “What are you drinking, Williams?”

“Scotch and water, sir.”

“Oh, excellent choice.” He turned back to the waiter and said, “I’ll have a twelve-year-old, single malt Scotch.” He nodded dismissively at the help and turned his attention back to Williams.

“Good idea to meet at the country club lodge. It’s better to have our discussion where we can enjoy privacy.” The waiter came back immediately with a lead crystal tumbler filled halfway with golden liquid on a silver platter.

The attendant waited patiently as Professor Arkdone slowly rolled the tumbler in his hand, and held the liquid up to the light before bringing it to his aristocratic nose and sniffing deeply. He brought the edge of the glass to his chiseled lips and sipped just enough to swish around in his mouth. He nodded once to the help then waved his hand as though shooing a fly. The waiter got the hint and backed out of the private room the men had reserved, closing the door behind him with a quiet click.

“So, tell me what’s on your mind, Doctor,” Arkdone asked innocently.