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The Gender Game 2: The Gender Secret

Bella Forrest

Copyright ยฉ 2016 by Bella Forrest

Nightlight Press

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.



Prologue: Queen Elena

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Also by Bella Forrest


Prologue: Queen Elena

I knelt in front of the throne as the crown was lowered onto my head. The crowd that filled the royal courtyard gave a half-hearted cheer. I could sense their pain and confusion. They had not been given enough time to mournโ€”none of us had. My motherโ€™s death had come too soon, and nobody had been prepared.

The official who had presided over my coronation placed a hand on my shoulder, squeezing softly. I looked up, and could see the unshed tears forming at the corners of her eyes, her mask crumbling. Gathering the skirts of my blood-red dress, I stood. This was not a time for tears.

It was a time for war.

โ€œWomen of Matrus,โ€ I spoke, my voice ringing out across the crowd, thanks to the microphone attached to my ceremonial gown. The crowd started to hush as all eyes fixed on me. I placed my right hand on my chest and took a step forward. โ€œMy sisters. We have been robbed.โ€ A few shouted out in agreement, but the rest of the assembly remained silent.

I took another step forward, my skirts brushing against the banister of the balcony. โ€œWe have been robbed,โ€ I repeated, nodding. โ€œIt should not be me standing before you today. It should be my mother. It should be Queen Rina.โ€ I could see the crowd agreeing in whispers that swept through the crowd like wildfire. โ€œNone of us expected that this day would come. But how could we have known? How could we have ever expected this?โ€ I shook my head, letting my new crown glint in the sun.

Taking a deep breath, I looked out, setting my face into a mask of immutable sadness. โ€œMy mother was the truest queen Matrus has ever known. She knew when to be strongโ€ฆ and she knew when to show mercy. It is what I admired most in her. And I swear to you now that I will do everything in my power to be every bit the queen my mother was. I swear to you; I will be fair. I will be merciful. But most importantly, I will be strong.โ€ I let the word roll out over the crowd like thunder, watching the people shift under the might of my voice.

โ€œI will search out my motherโ€™s killers, and show them what Matrian justice is. And if there is, indeed, a Patrian element behind this dastardly plot of murderโ€ฆ we must take our battle to their doorstep.โ€

The crowd stirred with tense murmurings.

I raised both hands. โ€œI know, Sisters. I know. Sparking a war is against every principle our motherland was founded on. My mother strived to maintain peace throughout her leadership, at all costs. But we all need to accept that if indeed Patrus is responsible for my motherโ€™s death, we are not the ones causing the sparkโ€ฆ Also remember: King Maxen is different than his father King Patrick was, and thus we cannot deal with him in the same way. Maxen is a man we cannot respond to with silence!โ€

I pressed my fist over my heart, and then thrust my hand forward, out toward the assembly. The crowd warmed at the gesture, and soon the courtyard was awash with applause.

I was pleased by the effect my speech had on them. Gone were the mourning faces, replaced by a righteous wrath that I had fueled. It was a better response than I had hoped for. And it had set the stage for future speeches. With timing and patience, I would fuel the spark into a flame, and that flame into a fire.

I basked in their cheers for a few more moments, and then turned on my heel and left, entering the palace.

โ€œThat was your speech?โ€ a familiar voice called to me.

I turned to find my sister, Tabitha, leaning against the door of my motherโ€™s library. She seemed pleased, which wasnโ€™t very surprisingโ€”Tabitha was always itching for a good fight.

Tabitha was the second sister, next in line for succession, and she stood out like a sore thumb compared to the other members of our family. We were all tall, but she was heavyset too, her body roped with muscles that had always set us apart in our defense classes. She was wearing black now, like she always did, but had managed to dress it up in a way that clung to her muscular figure, in a manner that was both flattering and impressive. She had a semi-sardonic look on her faceโ€”one that she always seemed to have when I was around. She also had her dagger out and was using it to clean her nails. I lifted an eyebrow at her, letting my expression do the talking.

She slid the dagger into the hidden sheath at her belt before lifting her hand, twirling her fingers around in a circle. With a sigh, I turned around slowly, allowing her to inspect my new queenly appearance. After making the circle, I folded my hands in front of me and furrowed my brows.

โ€œSo, they went with the red,โ€ Tabitha remarked. โ€œItโ€™s a good color, considering the theme of revenge and war.โ€ She grinned, her wide mouth revealing a pair of wicked canines.

โ€œI knew youโ€™d be pleased,โ€ I said, pulling my skirts open to reveal my black pants and knee-high boots underneath. I unbuttoned the

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