The Falcon Princeby Karen Kelley
Come Fly With Me...
Rhianna Lancaster has always been "different"and not in that quirky, small-town Texas way. Nope, Ria's unique qualities are downright bizarre, which is why she tries to keep them to herself, thank you very much. So maybe she should be glad when, out for a run, she encounters a guy even weirder than she isnot to mention naked as a
Come Fly With Me...
Rhianna Lancaster has always been "different"and not in that quirky, small-town Texas way. Nope, Ria's unique qualities are downright bizarre, which is why she tries to keep them to herself, thank you very much. So maybe she should be glad when, out for a run, she encounters a guy even weirder than she isnot to mention naked as a jaybird...
What Ria learns from this "Prince Kristor" person is that he's an alien sent to help her get in touch with her powers and rescue her from a mortally unfulfilling life here on earth. Good to know. Also good to know the local law enforcement, whom Ria calls after macing Good Prince Naked and running for her life. Problem is, she can't stop
"Her books are funny and romantic with the perfect blend of spice!" Gena Showalter
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The Falcon Prince
By KAREN KELLEY
BRAVA BOOKSCopyright © 2010 Karen Kelley
All right reserved.
Chapter OneRianna Lancaster's feet pounded the winding trail, adrenaline rushing through her veins, wind on her face, her heavy breathing the only sound in the quiet of the piney woods. That, and the cry of a hawk circling somewhere overhead. This was what being alive was all about. Just her and nature. Inner peace. Pure freedom ...
Yeah, right. If you'd listen to me, we could be flying. Talk about wind on your face. I can almost feel it now. So close, yet so far away.
Ria missed a step but quickly recovered.
It was just her, and the voice inside her head, running along the trail. Ria's parents had told her that everyone had a voice inside their head. She had a feeling it wasn't quite like the voice inside her head.
Maybe insanity ran in her family. It was possible. She'd been adopted when she was three and knew nothing about her biological parents.
The voice did cause her some concern, though. She frowned. And it caused a few of the townspeople concern, too. That was her problem. Well, one of her problems. The major one. Living in the small Texas town of Miller Bend, which had a population of a whopping three thousand, made it pretty much a gimme that everyone knew everyone else's business. It seemed they thought she was a little, well, daft. Unfortunately, sometimes she had a tendency to agree with them.
I said we could be soaring through the sky. Were you listening to me?
"No, I wasn't," she panted, not wanting to break her stride. "Go away."
Not gonna happen.
No, Ria hadn't really thought the voice would leave her alone. It never had before.
The delusional voice inside her head had a name-Shintara. Because it had a name, did that make Ria crazier than the usual, say, run-of-the-mill, crazy person?
She worked around animals too much. Another problem. Not that she didn't love her Pet Purr-Fect Grooming shop. She was proud that she was doing a booming business, but maybe she did need to get away for a while. If her new assistant worked out, she would seriously think about taking off for a week or two.
Okay, she needed to clear her head. Nothing in life mattered when she was out running. This was her time. She didn't have to worry that people thought she was a little mentally off-balance. She didn't have to ...
A hawk swooped down, landing on the trail in front of her.
She came to a grinding halt, feet still running in place, and then stopping altogether.
What the hell? Hawks didn't just land in front of people. And it should have taken off as soon as it spotted her.
Ria stared at the bird as she tried to catch her breath, bending over and resting her sweaty palms on her knees.
The hawk was magnificent, with a creamy white breast and speckled, dark-brown wings that blended into black tips. The bird was so close she could see its sharp talons. Talons that were made for catching and holding prey. Something about this wasn't good. Probably because the hawk still hadn't moved. It stared at her as though it were silently trying to communicate. This was weird. No, it was more than weird.
Almost as weird as the thick fog rolling in. She straightened, her gaze flitting from tree to tree until she could no longer make them out. An icy chill raced down her back as if someone had run an ice cube over her spine.
Fog wasn't that unusual. Right? It was early morning, and the trail behind her house was in a low spot. Except this fog wasn't like any fog she'd ever seen. Kind of Friday the 13th creepy.
Alrighty, maybe this was her cue to leave.
Someone groaned, but the fog was so thick now she couldn't see a thing. Ria hesitated. What if the hawk had been trying to tell her that his owner was hurt? That ... that ...
It had finally happened. She had completely lost her freakin' mind.
But the fog began to dissipate enough that she could make out a man's face. A very tall man. At least six-two. With short dark hair. Strong chin. Green eyes that studied her. Tanned skin. Muscular chest ...
Her assessment came to a screeching halt.
Muscular bare chest.
Yum! Shintara's voice came through to Ria's thoughts.
"Shut up," she told the voice.
Well, he is hot.
The man stepped forward. "I'm Prince Kristor, from New Symtaria. I'm here to take you back to my planet," he said in a deep, commanding voice.
The fog vanished.
The man was totally naked.
Birds took flight.
Small animals scurried into hiding.
Fear cemented her feet to the ground, and no matter how much her brain screamed-Run, you idiot!-they weren't budging.
Her sweaty hands fumbled with the small can of mace hooked onto her waist purse, her heart slamming against her ribcage.
She got it loose, raising it as he stepped closer. "Like hell you will! Take this!" She thrust out her arm and sprayed. He grabbed his face and yelled, his voice a thundering boom that bounced off the trees. She didn't waste any time turning and running as if the devil were on her heels and, as far as she knew, he just might be.
"Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God. Please don't let me die!" she prayed as she stumbled down the path toward her house, accidentally dropping the small can of protection. There was no way she was going to stop and pick it up.
Why hadn't she gone to church last Sunday? This was her punishment. She was going to die. She could almost feel a knife plunging into her back. Not that the guy had had a knife. He hadn't had anything. He'd been bare-assed naked.
But he could choke her to death. He'd had big hands.
That wasn't all that was rather large, Shintara said.
"Shut up," she wheezed.
Home. She had to make it back. There she would be safe. She tried to take a deep breath, but it was as if she'd lost her ability to inhale.
Who was the naked man? A mugger?
No, a serial killer!
She needed to call the sheriff. Phone! Crap. She had her cell with her. Why hadn't she already thought about calling the cops? She fumbled with the zipper of her waist purse, not stopping in case the guy was behind her.
Ria finally tugged it out, did a juggle that any circus performer would've been proud of, steadied the phone, then punched in 9-1-1 as she ran up the steps of her house. She shoved the door open, gasping for her next breath right before she slammed the door behind her.
"Nine-one-one, what's your emergency?"
"A man. He was naked. In the woods. Hurry." God, she still couldn't take a deep breath. She leaned against the door, gasping for air and trembling all the way down to her toes.
"Calm down, ma'am. I need an address."
"This is Ria. Rianna Lancaster. I'm inside my house, but I was running ..."
The dispatcher distinctly cleared her throat. "Oh, it's you, Ria."
Ria moved the phone away from her ear and glared at it before bringing it back. "And what's that supposed to mean?" Why did Tilly have to be the dispatcher on duty? She was a real pain in the butt, besides being the biggest gossip in town.
Deep sigh. "I'll send Heath over."
"Fine! And tell him to hurry."
"They always do, dear."
The line went dead.
Ria straightened and reared back her arm, but stopped just short of throwing her phone against the wall. Destroying her cell wasn't an option-she needed it. Besides, it wasn't her phone's fault the dispatcher was a moron-of epic proportions. In the end, she only snapped it closed. But really hard. Life was so not fair.
She began to pace the living room. Tilly hadn't believed her. No one ever believed her. There had been a naked man in the woods. Dammit! She'd seen him.
Her gaze fell on the front door. When she'd turned the lock, it had clicked. Right? She hurried over to check it again. Locked. She ran a shaky hand across her forehead. Safe. Nothing could get her.
Her gaze strayed toward the back of the house. Oh, God, the back door wasn't locked. She ran down the hall, slid around the kitchen table, grabbed the doorknob, and then clicked the lock, double checking to make sure. She breathed a sigh of relief. Now she was safe from naked men.
Like that's been a problem lately. Shintara's words dripped with sarcasm.
Ria grimaced. "I haven't wanted to date anyone, thank you very much." If she wanted a man, she could get one. There was a big difference between wanting one and needing one.
What if there was one already in the house? He could have sneaked inside while she was in the front room.
Goose bumps popped up on her arms. She grabbed the heavy flashlight off the kitchen counter. If anyone stepped out, she'd whack him over the head. Holding it in front of her like the Olympic torch, she tiptoed to the bedroom. She glanced inside, then hurried to the other side of the door, and did another quick scan.
It looked empty.
You're really being overly dramatic. I thought the naked guy was hot.
"Shush," Ria whispered as she eased along the bedroom wall and poked open the bathroom door with the toe of her tennis shoe.
Behind the shower curtain? She swallowed hard. That's where all the killers hid; just waiting for some poor naked woman to pull the curtain back so she could take a shower.
Not this time!
She raised the flashlight, then flung the curtain open.
She set the flashlight on the counter, then sat on the toilet.
Everything she'd been through began to sink in. She'd survived a ... an attack. He'd come at her, probably meaning to kill her, or worse, although she couldn't think of anything worse than being dead. But Ria had remembered the training she'd taken at summer camp when she was thirteen. A satisfied smirk lifted the corners of her mouth. She'd maced his butt.
Technically, you maced his face.
Ria would do it again if she had to. Nobody better mess with this girl!
As she sat there, she stared at her bed. Had the dust ruffle just moved? There it was again. Her bravado quickly disappeared.
What if someone was under it? Killers hid there, too, just waiting for an unsuspecting woman clad in a lacy teddy.... Wow, maybe she did need to get laid. But not by a killer. She jumped to her feet, grabbed the flashlight and eased into the bedroom.
"If you're under there, you might as well come out," she said in a firm voice. Oh, yeah, that was really smart. If there was someone under her bed, did she really want them to come out? No, she wanted them to stay there until Heath arrived.
Drama queen, singsonged through her head.
But Ria couldn't resist checking under the bed. She could escape before anyone scrambled out. She flipped the bottom of the bedspread onto the bed, then backed far away, and squatted down until she could see under it.
"Ruffles, what are you doing under there?" She eyed the black-and-white cat.
"Meow." Her tail bumped where the dust ruffle would've been.
Ruffles pretty much stayed under the bed, hence the name. Shaking her head, Ria came to her feet, then went to the front window and peered out. No sign of the naked guy. What had he said? His name was Crisco, or something, and he was from another planet. An alien? More like a psycho on the loose.
But very sexy, the voice in her head said.
"Shut up," she automatically mumbled.
She was tempted to call and see where the deputy was but forced herself to wait a few more minutes. Tilly would blow everything Ria said out of proportion if she called again.
Okay, she might be just a little ... excitable at times, but was that a crime? Besides, she'd had good reason in the past to call the sheriff's office. Like the time there had been a wolf in her backyard.
How the heck could she have known that Matt Jenson had bought a new show dog? It had looked like a wolf to her-sort of. And the big dog scared her when it came barreling around the corner while she was painting the back porch a pretty purple.
She actually thought the purple made the dog look very unusual ... cute. And she had only gotten a little on his tail.
Matt hadn't agreed.
People in a small town just never seemed to forget things. Even giving Matt's dog a year of free grooming had only made things marginally better.
When she saw the patrol car pull up, her body sagged against the window frame. Tears threatened, but she rapidly blinked them away. Now she was truly safe. She unlocked the front door and hurried outside.
Heath climbed out of the patrol car with a tired sigh, and pushed his hat a little higher on his forehead. "What's this about a naked man? You know your momma will skin you alive if you have a naked man in your house."
She frowned. "I don't have a naked man in the house." She squared her shoulders. "Not that it would matter. I'm twenty-eight years old. If I want to have a naked man in my house, I will."
"And that's why I have to deal with your naked man, because you young kids don't listen to your folks. Marry the guy first, and you won't have nearly as many problems."
She stomped her foot. "I don't have a naked man in my house!"
"You don't have to get testy. I'm here because you called about him, not the other way around. If he's gone, then your problem is solved."
She opened her mouth, then snapped it closed. She should sell her shop and move far, far away. Right now, that sounded like a good idea.
After taking a deep breath, she tried again, speaking slowly and calmly. "I was out running. That's where I saw the naked man. In the woods."
Heath tensed, eyes narrowing, his police instincts going on full alert, hand moving toward his gun. "Why didn't you say that in the first place?" His gaze searched the wooded area for any movement.
"I did. At least, that's what I tried to tell the stupid dispatcher."
"I'll need a description." He pulled a pad and pencil out of his shirt pocket.
She thought back. "Tall." He was a lot taller than her. And tanned. "Dark." Wow, it was really hard to actually give a description of someone she had seen for a brief moment, and she really didn't think Heath would appreciate her saying the naked guy was ... well endowed.
Heath cleared his throat.
All right already, she was thinking.
The naked guy had been nice looking, in a serial killer sort of way, though. "Handsome," she finished.
His pencil paused above the pad. "Tall, dark, and handsome?"
It sounded bad now that she thought about it. "Well, he was," she defended herself. Where was it in any rule book that serial killers had to be ugly?
He sighed. "What was he wearing?'
"He was naked. I told you that already."
"I guess you did." He studied her for a moment. "Maybe you'd better tell me exactly what happened." He motioned for her to go up on the porch.
Whatever. She walked up the steps and plopped down on the porch swing. Heath followed, then leaned against the railing.
"I was out running, and this hawk landed in front of me."
"A hawk?" His eyebrows drew together. "I thought you said it was a naked man."
"The first thing I saw was a hawk."
"That's not normal. I mean, having one land in front of you."
"I know. It was almost creepy the way the bird just stared at me. And then a heavy fog rolled in."
"Fog?" He looked at the blue sky, then back at her.
"Yeah, it was really weird."
"I heard someone groan."
She shook her head. "I thought it might be the hawk's owner or something. Then the fog sort of drifted away, and there was a man."
"The naked man?"
She sighed with relief. He was finally getting it. "Yes, the naked man."
"What did he say?"
"That his name was Crisco, and he was from another planet. I forget what name he called it. And that he was here to take me back with him. That's when I maced him and ran home."
He closed the pad and slipped it, along with his pencil, back in his pocket.
"Do you want me to show you where I saw him?"
"I don't think that will be necessary." He came to his feet and marched down the steps, heading toward his patrol car with purposeful strides.
"Where are you going?" She jumped up and followed.
He suddenly turned, and she had to skid to a halt to keep from plowing into him.
"Ria, if it wasn't for the fact that I've known your mom and dad for at least twenty years, I'd run your butt in for making a false report," he said with more than a touch of exasperation.
"But he was there."
"Think about what you're saying, girl." His eyes suddenly filled with pity. "A hawk lands in front of you, fog rolls in when the sun is out. Then, apparently, the bird turns into a naked man who tells you he's an alien and wants to take you back to his planet."
Okay, it did sound crazy. "But it happened."
"Do you want me to call your mother for you?"
She shoved her hands down deep inside her pockets. "No, I don't want you to call Mom. I'm not having a spell or anything."
Excerpted from The Falcon Prince by KAREN KELLEY Copyright © 2010 by Karen Kelley. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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In Miller Bend, Texas the naked male hunk comes out of the fog to the amazement of Rianna Lancaster. He insists he came for her to bring her home to the planet of New Symtaria. She reacts like any American female would; she sprays him with Mace and dials 911 as she runs away from the intruder. The residents believe dog groomer Ria is a fruitcake as she behaves so different than a Texan; the sheriff ignores her insistence of a streaker and her adopted parents betray her when they rent her bedroom to the wealthy Prince Kristor. Ria detests his arrogance, but finds she also wants him. He insists she is a royal from his orb and they belong together forever. She insists she is a Texan and they belong together for a tryst. The second Prince of Symtaria romantic science fiction (see The Jaguar Prince) is a zany tale of an illegal alien and a citizen with questionable legal status fighting, fussing and falling in love. This lighthearted frolic may be over the top of New Symtaria and contains a rushed climax, but fans will relish the star-crossed amusing yet heated tale of love in small-town Texas.
This was a fun read. Definitely a funny story and liked the characters, both of them. I wish it hadnt ended so fast...I would have liked to see his planet, something more to be said to the best friend and her parents, would liked to have seen her introduced to HIS parents and to see the planet, so it ended way too soon. Maybe a little novella follow up? That would be nice :) definitely recommend it.
As always Karen Kelley gives you a fun read that keeps you coming back for more.
The Falcon Prince will be the second book in Karen Kelley's series about the Princes of Symtaria. Ms. Kelley has again weaved a paranormal shape shifting story that will take us to great heights, and can be a stand alone read.**********Rhianna Lancaster lives the small Texas town of Miller Bend. Having been adopted at an early age, she knows nothing of her biological parents and has always known she was different from others around her. Ria has always had a special connection with animals and uses this to her advantage by running a successful dog grooming business. Now if only she could get a handle on the voice in her head who could be very opinionated. When a naked man appears before her when she is out for a jog with a bizarre story about aliens and secret powers she begins to wonder if they are as far fetched as first thought.***********Prince Kristor Valkyir had been sent from his home planet of New Symtaria to bring Ria back to their planet. This mission was soon becoming impossible to do, as he found Ria not very co-operative to his suggestion. As he settles into her home town until he can change her mind he is unaware of the dangers that would come. What he did know was his intense desire for Ria and how he had to hold it at bay, or did he?**********Ms. Kelley has weaved an enjoyable read that will keep you in suspense, but also mixed in her humor and then there are the sparks that only intensify between Ria and Kristor and make the pages sizzle at times. I enjoyed this read and would recommend it and look forward to the next in this series coming in the fall.