As Doon celebrates the queen’s newfound health, Mackenna focuses on organizing a festival complete with theater productions. But just as her dream of bringing a musical to Doon comes to life, strange catastrophes begin to sweep the kingdom, and the once-unshakable Jamie’s behavior is becoming more dangerous and erratic as well, and soon he and his brother, Duncan, are at serious and seeming irreparable odds.
It is left to Vee and Kenna to rescue Jamie from himself—but in doing so, they could forever alter Doon and give the witch the power she’s always craved.
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About the Author
Lorie Langdon is an Amazon bestselling author of six YA novels, including the Doon series, Gilt Hollow, and Olivia Twist, which received a starred review from Booklist Magazine and is being sold in Target Stores across the nation. She is an international speaker who has been featured on media outlets such as USA Today.com, NPR Radio, Entertainment Weekly.com, Redbook Magazine.com, Girl’s Life Magazine, and Broadway World.com. Her first novel has been optioned for film by Dreamstreet and Lonetree Entertainment. She is a self-professed Wonder Woman Wannabe who lives in Ohio with her husband and two superhero-obsessed teenage sons.
Read an Excerpt
Shades of Doon
By Carey Corp, Lorie Moeggenberg
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2015 Carey Corp and Lorie Moeggenberg
All rights reserved.
Cheating death tends to make you live with your whole heart — to take risks and enjoy each moment, no matter how gritty. I reminded myself of this as all of Doon stood in hushed anticipation of a potential bloodbath. One involving the boy I loved.
A resounding boom split the silence, and a line of drummers emerged from the arched opening at the east end of the arena.
Their leader in full highland regalia, including a headdress over a foot tall, marched into the stadium while brandishing a bronze staff. The drum beats quickened, echoing in time with my heart as they ushered in flag bearers waving standards from every Doon citizen's nation of origin.
Italy, Africa, China, America, India, Australia ... the flags kept coming, their kaleidoscope of colors snapping in the breeze. Everyone in the stadium rose to their feet, and the realization washed over me that this was my kingdom — the beautifully diverse land I was so very privileged to lead.
Sensing my flood of emotion, my best friend, Kenna, wrapped her arm around my shoulders, and we leaned our heads together as the procession filed into rows, and then continued to march in place. The grand marshal twirled his staff and threw it high into the air. The second he caught it, the drums cut off.
Several dozen bagpipers, dressed in traditional kilts, high socks, and matching black tams, streamed in from both sides of the stadium. Their music wove its spell around me, and when the drums joined in, the effect was breathtaking. This dramatic ceremony ushered in the final day of the festival celebrating both our freedom from the evil limbus that had almost destroyed us all and my seemingly miraculous recovery.
The final notes of the song faded away, and the grand marshal gestured for everyone to be seated. I smoothed the fabric of my full-length skirt and adjusted the MacCrae tartan draped across my bodice. Fiona, my ever-wise advisor and friend, had suggested a traditional Doonian dress of celery and forest green stripes. She'd also insisted on fixing my hair herself, plaiting the length into a side braid adorned with silk butterflies and matching ribbons.
The stadium began to shake as two massive war horses, manes and tails flying out behind them, galloped onto the field. Warmth rose in my cheeks at the exhilarating sight of my prince astride his chestnut stallion, Crusoe.
"What are they doing?" Kenna asked, both of us sitting a little straighter as the MacCrae brothers hurtled full speed in our direction.
I glanced down at my schedule of events, but didn't see anything between the closing ceremonies and the big fight. "I have no clue."
The brothers, bare chested and wearing identical kilts in blue and green MacCrae tartan, pulled their mounts to a stop directly in front of the royal box. Duncan, riding his ebony mare, Mabel, quirked a lopsided grin as Jamie dismounted and jogged up the stairs to where we sat in the stands.
Jamie stopped on the stoop in front of us, his gorgeous face a study of contrasts — eyes glinting with mischief while his lips and jaw were set in solemn lines. He bowed with an exaggerated flourish of his hand, drawing giggles from my self-appointed ladies-in-waiting — Gabby Rosetti and her gaggle of girlfriends.
Playing along, I lifted my chin and hiked up my brows, adopting the most royal expression I could manage. But the moment Jamie's dark gaze met mine, my pretense melted into a wide smile. His stare grew warm as he stated his request in a deep, resounding voice. "I fight this day in your honor, my lady queen. And would humbly request a token to take into battle."
The Doonians clapped and hooted their encouragement. I bit my lip. A token? Was I supposed to give him a kiss, or something more tangible? I tried to remember what I'd seen in movies.
Kenna tugged on the tip of my braid and instructed, "Give him something he can wear, Highney."
I shot my smart-apple friend a glare at the nickname she'd taken to using recently — a combination of Highness and behind. To keep me humble, she claimed. I rolled my eyes at her as I stood and pulled an emerald ribbon from my hair. Getting into the spirit of the moment, I cleared my throat and proclaimed, "Prince James Thomas Kellan MacCrae, my bravest knight, I bestow my favor upon thee!"
There were whoops and applause as Jamie took a knee and bowed his head over his flexed right arm. I would never get used to the boy who'd been groomed from birth to be king, kneeling to me. Hastily, I tugged him to his feet.
With the entire kingdom watching, I brushed my fingers over his sun-warmed skin and wrapped the ribbon around his bulging bicep, just below his tattoo. Even placing it at the indention of his muscles, the ends of the cloth barely met. As I pulled the knot tight, Jamie leaned down and murmured against my ear, "Thank you, my heart."
A shiver ricocheted up my spine, and when he caught my gaze with that wicked spark in his eye, I knew he'd felt my reaction.
I adjusted the band of fabric and whispered, "Try not to get yourself killed. I may require your services later." Jamie grew still and I arched a brow at him, curling up one side of my mouth. "As a chaperone for the festival, of course."
A low chuckle escaped his chest and our eyes met in silent understanding before he turned and jumped off the bleachers. Once on the field, he swung up onto Crusoe's back, took the reins, and wheeled the horse around in one graceful, seamless motion. Then he glanced back over his shoulder to make sure I was watching. Show off.
As Duncan guided Mabel away from the stands, Kenna shot to her feet and shouted his name. Just as he turned back, she chucked a dark ball in his direction. Duncan reached up and caught it. Then, to the delight of the crowd, Kenna yelled, "Go get 'em, ogre!"
He gave a salute and then galloped after his brother. Together, they rode to the center of the arena, where the pipers had cleared off and a group of boys were constructing a fighting ring made of ropes and weighted poles.
I glanced at my BFF just as she slipped her pale foot back into her shoe.
"Did you just give Duncan your sock?" I squeaked.
"Yep." She nodded and then turned to me with an impish grin. "I just hope he ties it somewhere far away from his nose."
With a hoot of laughter, I grabbed her hand and pulled her against me. "I love you."
She wrinkled her nose and shrugged. "I know."
Back on the field, Duncan was wisely attaching Kenna's sock to the weapon holster at his waist while Jamie loosened up by rolling his neck from side to side. The brothers' competitors had arrived — Fergus and his only slightly less mountainous cousin, Ewan Lockhart. Fergus tied the length of his strawberry-blond hair back from his face and blew someone in the audience a kiss. I leaned forward and saw Fiona catch it and hold it to her chest, giving her husband a broad wink. They had to be the cutest married couple I'd ever known.
"Esteemed ladies and gents of Doon!" the announcer boomed.
We took our seats and Kenna tilted her head to the side. "The acoustics in here are great. That guy isn't even shouting."
But I was barely listening. I smoothed the hair around my crown, tugged on the sleeves of my blouse, and worked to paste a calm expression on my face. I hated this part.
The announcer continued. "Today, an ancient feud that dates back hundreds of years before the Covenant will be played out before our eyes! The esteemed clan Lockhart versus the noble clan MacCrae!"
The crowd roared, the reverberation of their joined voices and stamping feet signaling the beginning of the fight. Duncan and Fergus exited the ring. Apparently this was a tag team match, and Jamie was up first.
Ewan Lockhart crouched in one corner. With his thick build, shaggy dark hair, and beard, he resembled a Sasquatch ready to pounce. In the diagonal corner, Jamie drew his weapon and bounced on the balls of his feet, my pulse jumping with him. The Doonians had been chattering about this match for weeks, making friendly wagers and trash talking — it was the highlight of the games. Too bad I wasn't going to get to enjoy it.
"Vee, open your eyes," Kenna hissed. "This fight is happening whether you watch it or not."
She had a point. I squinted open one eye and gripped the arms of my chair so hard I broke a fingernail.
The referee gave a signal and the competitors leapt forward. Jamie swung his sword in a forceful arc, the blade angled toward Ewan's head. I leaned forward, both eyes wide as Ewan blocked the blow with a deafening clang. Their swords clashed and they forced each other across the ring and back, neither one of them gaining an advantage, until Ewan's ham-sized fist connected with Jamie's jaw. I cringed as he stumbled back several steps. With a shake of his head, he recovered and charged.
"Don't worry, Vee," Kenna whispered. "It's not real. They're just putting on a good show."
I wasn't so sure about that. I'd seen Jamie and Duncan training in the Brother Cave. They were out for blood. Not to kill or maim, of course, but first blood was a big deal — bragging rights for weeks after. And this was a tournament in front of the entirety of Doon.
Jamie landed a kidney punch just below Ewan's chain mail vest as Duncan and Fergus yelled advice from the sidelines. With a snarl, Ewan lunged, his blade coming within millimeters of my boyfriend's exposed throat. Jamie dodged, but it was way too close for comfort.
Oh yeah, they were taking this seriously. I shot to my feet, but as I yelled, "Stop!" the spectators surged up around me, their screams and applause drowning me out.
Kenna made her way to her feet a moment later. "He knows what he's doing. Have a little faith."
As if to prove her point, Jamie landed a blow to Ewan's back with the flat of his sword, making the giant stagger forward. Kenna clapped in response and shouted, "Whoohoo! Go Surfer Dude!"
I choked on a laugh. Surfer Dude was the name she'd given Jamie when we first arrived in Doon, and it in no way described my intense, fiercely protective leader of a prince — other than his longish tawny hair, of course.
A spastic movement down in the front row caught my eye. Lachlan MacPhee, the cute boy who'd first shown me Jamie's playful side with a mock sword-fight in the marketplace, mimicked his royal idol's every move. He rotated his arms in a wide arc, as Jamie's sword smashed against Ewan's with a clang. The other pre-teens surrounding Lachlan shouted and pumped their fists like zealous fans at a professional wrestling event.
Their rapt excitement reminded me that this was supposed to be fun. But as Ewan swung wide and Jamie ducked, avoiding the blade at the last possible second, my attention riveted back on the match. Jamie rose and whirled behind the bigger guy, hooking his arm around Ewan's neck. With a snarl, Ewan flipped Jamie over his head. Jamie landed in the dirt, but didn't even pause. Muscles flexing, he sprang to his feet with powerful grace and the two were back at it, sparring in a complex sequence that had them dancing all over the ring.
"Oh, they're good," Kenna commented, not taking her eyes from the action.
Ewan charged, and one side of Jamie's mouth curled as he climbed the ropes and then jumped and spun, delivering a roundhouse kick to his giant opponent's chest. Ewan teetered back and then fell face-first into the dirt. Jamie, who'd landed on his feet, pumped a fist in the air and the crowd exploded in cheers. My neck and shoulders slumped, the tension breaking free. Ken was right; I needed to trust Jamie. Clearly, he could hold his own.
When Ewan staggered to his feet but couldn't maintain his balance, Duncan and Fergus tagged in. The size discrepancy between Duncan and Fergus was roughly the same as Jamie and his opponent, but the bigger guys moved with less agility and more force. As Duncan and Fergus clashed swords, Kenna stilled beside me. I smirked and opened my mouth to tease her, but bit back the comment when Fergus disarmed Duncan, his sword clanking across the ring.
A hush descended on the audience and my vision went blurry. I rubbed my temples and took a few cleansing breaths before I opened my eyes and — saw a car on the far side of the arena. Not a horse-drawn wagon or a carriage. A freaking modern-day car.
Shimmering like a mirage, the dull red Toyota chugged along and cruised behind the ring. My veins turned to ice as my eyes followed the vehicle until it vanished from view.
Someone to my left gasped, and I twisted to see my assistant, Emily, clapping. Back in the ring, Duncan had regained his sword. My eyes locked on Jamie as he gripped the ropes, shouting at his brother. But it was like I watched him through a window screen. I blinked, desperate to recalibrate my vision, but the walls of the stadium, the people, even the bleachers began to fade around me. The noise of the crowd became muffled, sounding farther and farther away. The floor tilted beneath me. This could not be happening again.
Was Doon disappearing, or was I?CHAPTER 2
Holy Schwartz! I watched the red car disappear down an asphalt lane that had materialized in the center of the coliseum. The ground, which had been flat dirt moments ago, was now covered in gently sloping grass littered with billboards. Duncan, Jamie, and the rest of the Doonians shimmered like ghostly mirages while I grappled with my bearings.
Queasy and coated in a fine sheen of sweat, I dug my nails into the palms of my hands — an old trick for stage fright. The sharp sensation pulled my focus inward and away from the cirque du bizarre happening in the arena. Around me I heard the crowd cheer, but it was muted, as if someone had turned the sound down low.
I took a deep breath as I closed my eyes, and when I opened them again — the road was still there. A blue minicar appeared, following in the red car's path. At the opposite end of the stadium, a flatbed truck barreled toward the tiny car at high speed.
This had to be some sort of sun-induced delusion. Heat stroke or something. Squinting skyward, I discounted the explanation almost immediately. The early morning sun had not yet crested the stadium bleachers. And the temperatures were fall-like, not scorching.
My surroundings were eerily quiet, and although I could still see the Doonians, my head ached when I tried to focus on them. Beside me, I heard Vee's unmistakable yogic breathing. I glanced in her direction and then followed her wide-eyed stare to the impending collision of the truck and the car.
Without so much as a honk of its horn, the truck smashed into the much smaller vehicle. The sickening crunch of twisting metal filled my ears, along with a strange buzzing noise. The sound surged and became thunderous cheers as Doon snapped back into place. The car accident was gone, leaving me with a discomforting sense of vertigo as I noted Duncan and Jamie standing over their disarmed opponents. They'd won the match.
Fighting the urge to barf, I clapped for Team MacCrae, whom I'd dubbed Surfer Dude and the Amazing Ogre in honor of Vee's and my first time in Doon. So much had happened since then. My Indiana bestie had defeated the evil witch and, in doing so, became queen of the legendary Scottish kingdom. I'd faced my fears in order to destroy the zombie fungus and gotten a second chance at happily ever after with the boy of my dreams. It was the stuff of fairy tales ... and yet, Cinderella's epilogue had never included delusions of a head-on collision between two horseless carriages.
I glanced at Vee, who was wildly applauding her Charming. She had that manic aspect of someone committed to avoiding their present reality. When she caught my eye, her facade cracked. Her face turned a sickly shade of yellowish-green that mirrored how I felt on the inside.
Jamie, Duncan, Fergus, and Ewan exited at the opposite end of the arena. Guessing that we would not see them again until they'd cleaned up, I placed my hand under Vee's elbow and lifted her to her feet as I stood. "The queen and I need to use the royal restroom."
Vee's brow furrowed. "No, I don't."
"Well, I do." I tugged at her sleeve. "Are you sure you don't need to tinkle?"
Excerpted from Shades of Doon by Carey Corp, Lorie Moeggenberg. Copyright © 2015 Carey Corp and Lorie Moeggenberg. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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