“C’mon Precious, come on girl! See the mouse?” Aramina coaxes her snow leopard through the hoop. “Good girl! Good girl Precious!” Aramina cooed, rewarding her with a plump mouse. The leopard curled her tail neatly around her paws then dug in. “Now lie down Precious, lie down!” Precious lowered her head gently, “Good girl!” Aramina exclaims. She threw a rabbit up in the air. Precious bunched up her muscles and leapt in the air. The sunlight showed off her fur like dazzling snow.
“ARAMINA!!!!!!!!!!!!! Come up here this instant!”
Aramina groaned, “Coming Mom!” she called. She gave Precious a pat, fed her one last mouse then hurried in the castle.
She hesitated right outside her mother’s door, then gave a reluctant knock.
“Come in” a rather calm voice said.
Aramina opened the door, both her parents were there.
“Aramina, you are 17 now. We are getting old and soon you will have to rule this kingdom.” Her mother said, her voice sounding pretty young to Aramina.
“Now, now Aramina, what your mother and I are trying to say is it’s time you get married.” Her father says gently.
Aramina gasped, a spark of hope in her eyes
“No!” her mother said sharply, “Not Stephan”
Aramina looked down at her shoes, worn out from all her time in the woods.
“Celestia, let the girl live her dream.” Her father defended. “After all, you were a pauper. Weren’t you?”
Celestia shot an indignant look at King Alvord, “Nicholas Alvord, I was a…a…a pauper with a job!” she replied back weakly.
“Stephan has a job, he cleans shoes!” Aramina retaliates.
Celestia rolled her eyes, “I made dresses, for your grandmother.” She says smugly, “Didn’t I Nicholas? You said yourself your mother like my dresses.”
“Celestia, there is only one shoe shop so who do you think cleans your shoes?” her father reasoned.
Her mother frowned, “1 against 2 isn’t fair. I’ll let you marry Stephan if he can complete 3 tasks that I set up for him.” Celestia says slowly her dark brown eyes glittering. Aramina gasps, ‘If Stephan does this he will get hurt!’ Aramina thinks. Her father knows this too.
“Celestia, what are the three tasks?” he murmurs lowly. The queen laughs, “You will see.”
King Alvord pursed his lips, “Celestia…” he warns, “Wait, WHERE IS ARAMINA?!” he roars, worry clear in his voice. Celestia, getting back to her mothering nature, runs out the room, calling for her.
“CELESTIA!!!!!!!” he growls, “This is ALL YOUR FAULT!” he screams, his shoulders shaking. Celestia comes running in, tears streaming down her face. “YOU THINK I MEANT TO DO THIS!” She screeches. King Alvord storms out and Celestia collapses on the bed, sobs racking her body.
Aramina wiped away her tears. She took a black coat and tucked the letter gently in the pocket. Then clutching on to the papers, she slid out her newly built window. After retrieving her arrow, she raced into the forest. Gingerly tucking the letter in their hibiscus bush, she raced back out and reorganized her bag.
Taking a silver whistle, she blew in it twice. A streak of white dappled fur appeared out of nowhere then padded silently to her. Suddenly, the leopards ears perked up, her nose quivered. “Go ahead” Aramina laughed. The leopard hurtled into the thicket of greens. Seconds later, returning with a rabbit and a squirrel. Aramina applauded, “Good girl!” she cheered. She took the rabbit and the squirrel then headed to the stables.
“Hey Moonwalk” she whispered softly while brushing through her cream colored coat. She saddled up then called to Precious. “Walk Snowy” she ordered with a gently squeeze of her knees. The beautiful mare trotted gracefully out the stable. Her mind raced back a year….
“Can I open my eyes now?” Aramina teased, secretly wanting Stephan’s strong hands around her forever.
“Nope, not yet your majesty.” He replied back just as playfully. Finally Stephan’s hands parted and Aramina let out a small gasp. She was in the palace stables and right there in front of her was the most beautiful horse in the world. The young mare had warm chocolate eyes with a breathtaking white coat that glowed silver in the moon.
“Oh my lord…” Aramina begins but is lost for words.
“Happy 16th birthday Aramina” Stephan murmured, gently brushing her cheek.
Aramina smiled, “I think I’ll name her Moonwalk.” She laughed as the horse raced around the track. “Thanks SO much!” Aramina exclaimed. Stephan’s eyes glowed with pleasure and something else.
Precious mewed anxiously, Aramina’s head snapped up. “Sorry Precious” she said hastily, quickly veering on to the right path. Moonwalk snorted but kept calm, Aramina gazed fondly at her pets.
“Hey Aramina!! Wait up!” an achingly familiar voice called out.
Aramina turned around, her eyes clouded with sorrow. “I’m so sorry Stephan.” Aramina said softly, laced with pain.
“Aramina?” Stephan pleaded, Aramina memorized his perfect face. She stared into his eyes with a lifetime of love then quickly galloped away so he wouldn’t see her tears.
Heir of Stardust Chapter 3