Table of Contents
Poppyâsweetest tabby girl.
GROSSET & DUNLAP
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eISBN : 978-1-101-17104-2
There was a dazzling white flash and a burst of silver sparkles. Where a young white lion had stood just a minute ago now crouched a tiny silver kitten. “Uncle Ebony!” gasped the silver kitten, leaping behind a huge rock just as the shadow of an enormous adult lion fell across him.
Flame's tiny kitten heart beat fast as his uncle passed close by where he hid. He could hear Ebony's angry roar and imagined his fierce, ice-cold eyes.
“Flame must be found and then he will die!” Ebony hissed aloud.
Suddenly a huge paw, almost as large as the kitten's entire body, reached around the rock. Flame laid his tiny ears flat and bit back a whimper as he was scooped up. This was it. He was dead.
But instead of being dragged out on to the sand, he found himself being swept further back into the safety of the rocks. An old gray lion looked down at him.
“Cirrus! Thank you,” Flame meowed gratefully.
Cirrus bowed respectfully. “I am glad to see you again, Prince Flame. But it is not safe for you to stay here.”
Flame lifted his chin. “I must regain the Lion Throne!”
Cirrus's kindly hot breath ruffled the kitten's fuzzy fur. “True. But first you must grow strong and wise. Your uncle is powerful and heartless and he has many spies. Stay in your kitten disguise and hide far from here.”
Flame's big emerald eyes sparked with anger. “I will, but only until my powers are stronger. Then Ebony's rule will end!”
Cirrus smiled with pride and affection. “May that day come soon. Go now, Prince Flame. Go . . .”
Flame felt the power building within him. Sparks ignited in his silver fur and his whiskers crackled. He gave a tiny meow of alarm as he felt himself falling. Falling . . .
“Mia's here. I'll let her in!” Kim Taylor called excitedly to her mom, who was putting sheets on the spare bed.
Kim ran down the stairs two at a time. It had been a year since she saw her cousin.
Mia's parents were both musicians. They took turns living in the houses they owned in France and Italy. Now Mia was staying for a week during her spring break, so there would be tons of time to catch up and do exciting things. Kim couldn't wait.
As she opened the front door, Kim smiled at the young girl standing in front of her.
Mia was tall with short, feathery, blond hair. She was wearing expensive-looking clothes, sneakers, and held a glittery pink backpack that dangled by its straps.
“Your hair looks so cool!” Kim said, leaning forward to give Mia a hug. “I'm so glad you're here. We're going to have a great time!”
Mia pulled away from Kim, looking awkward. “Yeah, well, that's what Mom and Dad said and I didn't believe
either. They don't care if I die of boredom as long as I'm out of the way while they go and do a tour of nightclubs with their band!” She rolled her eyes and sighed dramatically. “Anyway, I'm here now.”
“Excuse me, you two!”
Mia and Kim stood back as Kim's dad staggered in with two enormous suitcases which he had brought in from the car.
“Are you staying for a whole year?” he joked to Mia. From the look on Mia's face, she did not think that was a funny joke.
Kim felt awful. She thought Mia had really wanted to come to their house for vacation. She wasn't sure what to say.
Kim looked down. The complaining noise came from a cute, plastic pet carrier at Mia's feet, which she hadn't seen to begin with.
“All right, Bibi. You can come out in a minute,” Mia said.
Kim crouched by the carrier to look inside. All she could see was a mass of fluffy cream fur and big round eyes. “What kind of cat is she?” Kim asked excitedly.
“A pedigree Persian,” Mia said proudly. “Mom and Dad bought her for me before they went on tour. Bibi cost a lot of money and she's won so many ribbons and cups at cat shows. Her full name is Beautiful Lady of Bromford Farm.”
“That's a long name. No wonder you call her Bibi!” Kim said.
Mia put her hands on her hips. “All pedigree cats have long names. Don't you know that? Where's Aunt Joan? I have a card for her from Mom.”
Mia picked up the pet carrier and marched right past Kim into the house.
Kim frowned as she followed her in and went through to the kitchen. Maybe her cousin was just tired. She knew that could make people mean and grumpy.
Mia sat at the pine table. Mrs. Taylor was giving her a glass of orange juice.
“Thanks, Aunt Joan. And thanks for letting me come and stay,” Mia said sweetly.
“You're welcome, Mia,” Mrs. Taylor said. “Kim's been dying to spend some time with you. You know, you two were very close when you were small.”
Mia gave Kim a long look. Kim thought she saw a ghost of a smile cross Mia's face, but it was gone before she could smile back.
“Meow-wow-wow!” Another loud wail of protest came from the pet carrier.
“It sounds like poor Bibi's fed up with being shut in there. Should I let her out or do you want to do it, Mia?” Kim asked helpfully.
“No. You can do it, Kim,” Mia said.
“Hello, girl. Don't be nervous,” Kim said gently, kneeling down to open the door. She was dying to see what a champion, prize-winning Persian looked like.
A huge fluffy cream cat came out slowly into the room. Bibi backed up against the fridge and gazed around the kitchen with big orange eyes. She had a flat face, with a wrinkled forehead and a tiny nose.
“Do you want to make friends?” Kim rubbed her fingertips together and made a friendly noise.
Bibi opened her mouth and hissed loudly. Suddenly, she ran around to hide behind Kim.
“Ow-oww!” Kim yelled in pain as sharp claws dug into her leg through her jeans. She straightened up and wiggled her leg, trying to shake Bibi off. “Help, Mia! Call her off!” she shouted.
Mia just started laughing. “You should see yourself!”
Kim's mom acted quickly. She filled a small glass with water and threw it over the angry cat. Bibi gave a yowl, let go of Kim's ankle, and ran under the table.
“Hey!” Mia ducked down to scoop up her pet. “Did that mean lady throw water on you?” she soothed, petting Bibi's wet fur.
“Are you all right, Kim?” asked her mom.
Kim nodded shakily. She rolled up her jeans and examined her leg. There were two long scratches. They stung like crazy, but luckily they didn't look very deep.